May 03, 2003

UN ORDERS LOOTING OF CAFETERIAS

After Kofi Annan criticized the U.S. for looting in a war zone, the massive museum looting story turned out to be an urban legend. Now we get this actual case of officially ordered looting at the UN in NYC:

Kofi Annan, who had a private lunch previously scheduled with the members of the Security Council in the Delegates Dining Room, found they were only served the main course. After that, they were on their own — no desserts, no cleanup, no coffee for Kofi. And the service was no better for anyone else at the U.N. But as tensions grew and stomachs growled, a high-ranking U.N. official boldly ordered that all the cafeterias open their doors for business even without staff. The restaurants had been locked shut by security until about 1:00 pm when the doors flung open.

The decision to make the cafeterias into "no pay zones" spread through the 40-acre complex like wildfire. Soon, the hungry patrons came running. "It was chaos, wild, something out of a war scene," said one Aramark executive who was present. "They took everything, even the silverware," she said. Another witness from U.N. security said the cafeteria was "stripped bare." And another told TIME that the cafeteria raid was "unbelievable, crowds of people just taking everything in sight; they stripped the place bare." And yet another astonished witness said that "chickens, turkeys, souffles, casseroles all went out the door (unpaid)."

The mob then moved on to the Viennese Café, a popular snack bar in the U.N.'s conference room facility. It was also stripped bare. The takers included some well-known diplomats who finished off the raid with free drinks at the lounge for delegates. When asked how much liquor was lifted from the U.N. bar, one U.S. diplomat responded: "I stopped counting the bottles."

Let's kick these prima donnas out of our country. At the very least, the ultra-arrogant Kofi Annan should resign. While we're on the subject, let's not allow Bill Clinton to be UN Sec Gen though, since his staff looted the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on his way into office, just as they trashed the White House on the way out.

UPDATE: Get ready for Kofi to be outraged over Iraqi looting again. Iraqis have now looted radioactive sites. Some Iraqis are blaming the International Atomic Energy Agency for not cleaning up the sites before the war. The IAEA and others are blaming us though.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"OUTING" PEOPLE IS IN AGAIN, THANKS TO NEWSWEEK

Legal gambling, if you're a rich Republican writer with some morals, and have a photo with George Bush that can be used for the story, is going to get you "outed" this election cycle. No prostitute required. No big debt needed either, just proof that you gamble big in Vegas or Atlantic City. This story about Bill Bennett reeks like it was commissioned by Larry Flynt or Clinton's P.I., Terry Lenzner. Yet, it's not even a scoop. It's old news being re-reported as another pre-election smear on the GOP. In fact Drudge found it was reported before, during a previous election cycle in 1996. He didn't hide it then either. Bennett has been gambling in public for years, and never said it was wrong if kept under control, and within your means. Even though he's done that, keep an eye out for a NY Times cover story during the 2008 race if Bennett is still gambling.

The "grave sin" here, as with Santorum, is to think that morals are important. Do that, and the amoral left will smear you. Then, when the time is right, they'll "out" you for anything short of Jesus-like perfection. It's strange when the Left decides there are moral standards after all, but they're only good when used to smear people. Sticks out like a loser's sore thumb, or maybe a sore loser's thumb. Bennett's crime is not even being a hypocrite either, since he considers gambling something that should be controlled be the individual, and controlled by government, but not eliminated. Imagine if we tried a prohibition crackdown on all gambling. I don't think there's a Christian in the world who thinks that is a realistic public policy idea.

Nice try with the latest smear on those moral Republicans, but Newsweek forgot about the unintended consequences. If you can now get a major reputable newsmagazine to "out" a rich guy who doesn't play pro sports for gambling -- something that a majority of rich people do every month -- then all bets are off. Closeted gays are going to feel more pressure after Newsweek's tactics. Like poor Elian Gonzalez, if they refuse to come out of the closet, the tabloids can now forcibly drag them out with pride and arrogance. It will be seen as a "professional hit" -- a Newsweek-style investigative report. Given all the new databases, tracking technology and cameras available today, compared to when "outing" gays was legit news before, this round could be brutal on closeted gays of all political persuasions.

There will be more Tom Cruise-like court cases as people get paid bigger cash for dubious information. In fact, we just had two mainstream reporters busted in Utah for selling gay rumors to the tabloids. The tabloids must now feel vindicated, since mainstream reporters at Newsweek and the Salt Lake Tribune are reaffirming and joining their mission to seek and destroy people. Larry Flynt, with his Vegas connections, must have some other stories on Republicans up his sleeve if he passed on this one, and allowed Newsweek in the game to gamble their reputation. Flynt is currently working on obtaining a rumored video of Bush's daughter, Barbara Bush, nude at a Yale party. He's offering $1.6 million, so we may soon find out if she's "Gone Wild" and kissing other girls. It's probably just a publicity stunt for a non-existent video, but since Uday Hussein is no longer in the Bush daughter video market with all his oil-for-porn cash, Flynt is the sole bidder. He's obviously going to team up with the DNC again for some dirty tricks to embarrass Republicans in 2004.

Back to Larry Flynt's less-talented business peers at Newsweek. They've made this old news about Bennett a major "Internet-exclusive" cover story. This is on the same week they refused to put a no-brainer, thrilling photo of Bush hugging troops on the carrier deck, on their cover. A greeting that will go down in history as a heart-warming classic, like his visit to Ground Zero, was ignored for political reasons. Instead, Newsweek is playing CNN-style business-death politics, and will lose sales and customers by running a standard photo of Bush at the podium. Pathetic, petty liberals. They can't even run a business right, let alone a government. Just as with the NY Times, "They Decide (the news that's fit to print), We Report (the truth)."

UPDATE: The gambling story has succeeded only in annoying Bennett's wife. She also says the report that he lost $8 million is a lie.

Elayne Bennett, wife of conservative virtues maven William Bennett, says her husband is "not addicted" to gambling and has not lost millions of dollars at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. "We are financially solvent," she said Sunday from their Chevy Chase, Md., home. "All our bills are paid."

But expressing annoyance at the attention generated by news about his gambling, she said her husband may have pulled his last slot-machine lever.

Notice how she refuses to say if he drank alcoholic beverages or smoked cigars on his trips though. Very suspicious. This is Newsweek's Watergate, I just know it. If they can only assign more reporters to this, Jonathan Alter will win a Pulitzer. Finding a maid who can testify she once found the stub of a Cuban cigar in his room might break this case wide open.
Posted by Chris Regan at 11:04 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 02, 2003

COURT KILLS BAN ON FREE SPEECH

The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law was gutted by a federal three-judge panel today. Next stop: SCOTUS. Where what's left of it will probably die too.

The problem with McCain-Feingold has always been that it essentially restricts what citizens, individually and collectively, can do to influence politics. Influence is a good thing--it's how we let the criminal class in Washington politicians know what we the people want them to do. Sure, it's also how various interest groups wield influence. But them's the breaks. Besides, most "interest groups" are nothing more than groups of citizens who have banded together for some cause. Why is that a bad thing?

Significantly, McCain-Feingold did nothing to prevent a recurrence of the problem that started up much of the campaign finance movement in the first place, which was the Clinton-Gore campaign's shameless acceptance of cash from dubious foreign sources in 1996. It was impossible to get any measure through that would even tacitly acknowledge just how awful that whole thing was, so it never got into the bills that became law.

Cleaning up the cash-for-influence problems in politics is fairly simple: Demand full disclosure, as close to real time as possible, of all contributors to all campaigns and all parties. Such disclosure would surely clean up much of the system on its own as citizens became aware of just who was financially behind which candidates and parties. As a case in point, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) was largely undone when it became clear that she was not only anti-Semitic, but that she also accepted large and numerous contributions from a host of people with connections to Islamic radicalism. Her contribution list made that fact known, and was her undoing. So provide full and timely disclosure, but don't infringe on the average Joe's or even the wealthy Joe's ability to impact politics.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

LEAVE THE U.N.

Ron Silver on Fox:

HANNITY: But one of the things that really bothered me, the things I have been hearing here tonight, beyond this notion, Ron Silver, that we're going to bow at the altar of the United Nations and gather their blessing and approval to do what's in our best national security interest, you heard on this program here tonight that we went into this effort to control the oil, which is not true. And that we're not viewed as a liberating force, and all of our reporters have said quite the controversy. There have been open arms and flowers and happiness among the Iraqi people. That's what bothers me. The people that were wrong about going in, now they're wrong and lying about these things.

SILVER: It's also useful, I think, to think of the U.N. as an institution in terms of what it really is. They're a group of sovereign nations with their own national interests there. So there's no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the U.N. as an institution. You're talking about Russia protecting its interests, France protecting its interests, whether it's oil, whether it's whatever it is that they're trying to protect. Now, if you want to talk about the U.N., the last four and a half years the Congo has been having a civil war; 3.5 million people have been butchered, massacred, slaughtered. There's about three million people with HIV. There's a token U.N. force. It doesn't come up in the Security Council. It's not in the general -- in the Sudan, two million animists and Christians have been slaughtered by Muslims in the last several decades -- in the last five years. It doesn't come up at the U.N. Why do we look to the U.N. for -- to do the right thing?


Yup. Silver is one actor who knows his facts. The UN is worse than useless. Time to toss it overboard.

(thanks to Hanks)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DID REP. MCDERMOTT TAKE SADDAM'S MONEY?

As reported in NewsMax, the Weekly Standard (story not online--I checked) says apparently he did, via a middleman. The story goes that McDermott accepted the cash within a month of his infamous visit to Baghdad last year--a visit during which he accused President Bush of lying in order to get America into war with Iraq. And McDermott's cash source is connected to another curious Saddamite apologist:

McDermott collected the payment from Shakir al-Khafaji, the same Detroit-based Baghdad apologist who paid former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter $400,000 two years ago to make a pro-Saddam documentary about Iraq.

Appearing live from Baghdad on the Sept. 29 broadcast of ABC's "This Week," McDermott proclaimed, "The president of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war." The comment generated a firestorm of criticism in the U.S. that earned him the moniker "Baghdad Jim."

A little less than a month later, on Oct. 25, McDermott accepted a check from al-Khafaji for $5,000, made out to the anti-war Democrat's "Legal Expense Trust."


This looks mighty treasonous if it turns out to be true. Can't say I'm surprised. In fact, I can say advantage JunkYardBlog, if this turns out to be true.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

TO CASTRO'S DEFENSE

Having failed to save one tinpot dictator in Iraq, the world's leading idiotarians are now flocking to Fidel Castro's side. You see, he's been busy using the cover of a distant war to jail and kill dissidents in his own despotic kingdom. But to some, it's all America's fault. It always is, except when something good happens, and then it's America's fault that it isn't perfect. It's a familiar refrain--the US is bad, very bad, and the dictatorial, terror-sponsoring, journalist-jailing thug standing against the US is good, very good. Or at least not as bad as the US. And there are some familiar faces, too. A few Nobel laureates, the Nobel apparently now a sign of achieving utter moral blindness, and a few actors. Danny Glover, enriched on a life in Hollywood and making commercials for MCI, says the US is provoking war with Cuba. Harry Belafonte agrees. Apparently the 75 dissidents that Castro recently jailed up for life don't count as slaves in the same way as, say, Secretary of State Colin Powell counts as a slave. The linked story is a Reuters piece, so naturally it calls the Castro backers "intellectuals." I thought one had to display some evidence of intellect before earning that title. Apparently not.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2003

COWBOYS' JERRY JONES GETS THE SANTORUM TREATMENT

Non-football fans: stick with the post to get to the greater point.

Jerry Jones clarifies Deion comparison:

Those in the media who were quick to say Jones compared his new cornerback to Deion Sanders weren't exactly listening too closely to the Cowboys owner Saturday afternoon. And Jones made sure he clarified his comments the following day when the subject came up again.

When asked if Terence Newman compared to any other cornerback the Cowboys have had, Jones did say Newman's quick burst and catch-up speed was similar to that of Sanders'. He also added other intangibles were similar to that of Kevin Smith.

But something was lost in translation, and when new head coach Bill Parcells was asked about Newman, he was asked what he thought about Jones comparing Newman to Sanders. Parcells was quick to diffuse any such comparisons, and rightfully so, saying it would not be fair to compare a rookie corner to a guy who is headed to the Hall of Fame.

So when asked on Sunday if he and Parcells were taking different roads toward describing Newman, Jones was quick to clarify exactly what he said - and meant - when he was talking about Newman.

"I think he's got a point," Jones said of Parcells' answer. "You can't compare any rookie to someone who is already earned the Hall of Fame. I was talking more about Newman's burst and his times over 10 and 20 yards. And they do remind me some of Deion. There's no hyperbole there for once. I know what their bursts are. We have them recorded."


See how misleading and loaded the word "compare" (and the more inflammatory "equate") can be when there is no real comparison, but someone simply points out factually that A and B are both part of a subgroup C(ornerback) and have similarity S(peed) in common? A reporter need only leave out the context -- other points about the similarity being simply a technical observation -- and it's reported that they said A = B. Perfect recipe for putting someone on the defensive for an "outrageous" comment. Now, it would follow, using the standard Santorum line of attack, that Jerry Jones outrageously declared all fast cornerbacks are equal. Just ignore all the other technical considerations that come into play. And while Bill Parcells is known for not playing favorites with his veteran stars, and first-round draft picks like Newman, it cannot be said that he feels all football players are equal unless you confuse his coaching style with his talent and attitude analysis. This is the kind of illogic at the heart of the Santorum controversy.

As with Santorum, it shouldn't have to be said that Jerry Jones has a right to discuss the technical arguments that will determine a personnel case coming up before the coaches to judge. Should he have to step down from his team leadership post and keep his athletic analysis and "speed bias" to himself? Nope. Any football fan knows that even the NFL can "hate the speed and love the player." Ask Terrell Suggs, with his 24 sacks in college last year.

Now, people might nitpick the point made here, or miss the point entirely and say I just "equated" football to sex, but let's not deconstruct the football analogy as a side issue. Some people, like Andrew Sullivan, have been parsing Santorum's words, then deconstructing the English language to make their case. I thought we settled what the meaning of the word "is" is. Now Sullivan is saying the word "not" means "equal to."

Santorum is actually just pointing out that various objectionable activities are in the same legal subgroup, and the privacy case before the SCOTUS would open that can of worms. He's right. The defendant in the case takes the same position in court. Yet people insist on claiming false outrage that Santorum equated gays with multi-wived pedophiles, etc. Just because all sin is equally offensive to God in a spiritual sense, doesn't mean all sin is equated in a legal-moral sense by government or even "theo-conservative" politicians. It's a bit strange, though, to see homosexuals talk about how offended they are at supposedly being equated to people they obviously see as the really perverted ones in society. Why be so judgmental? Everyone needs someone worse off than themselves to point at and establish a boundary for their actions. Homosexual sexual moralizing is an interesting phenomenon to watch. Here's Sullivan doing some more:

If [Santorum] supports sodomy laws because they violate Church teaching, then why does he not suppport laws banning contraception? Or masturbation, for that matter? These are all sins on exactly the same level as homosexual sex. Why do Santorum and other theo-conservatives want to make gay sex illegal but not the others? This is the crux of the matter.

No, actually it's not the crux of the matter. Sullivan has just turned the legal argument on it's head without batting an eye. First, he makes a moral judgment for himself and "exactly" compares gay sex with contraception and masturbation on the sliding scale of sin. It's Sulli who's now doing the equating where it makes no sense. Secondly, sin is sin in God's eyes, what we see as a societal interest to control is something else. Sullivan just hates where we have traditionally drawn the line.

The natural breaking point along that scale for society and government instead falls where more than one person is involved. Then, when those two people aren't a married couple we scientifically, and thus legally, recognize as a biologically normal sexual match, it creates various "issues" -- some just moral, some codified in order to preserve order or human society in general. So this isn't just a religious argument. In this case religion follows science. If all members of any species became homosexuals, the species would die a fast natural death. So it's hard to argue scientifically that it's a productive choice, inclination or trait that society should embrace wholeheartedly without reservation. But that's what is being, not only argued but, demanded by the Santorum smear-meisters.

Still, the true crux of Santorum's legal argument is that this court case wouldn't be targeted enough to provide legal protection only for homosexuals, so the government's case must be upheld and states should decide their laws. All homosexuals really have to do is spend less time attacking and labeling honest men and figure out a way to legally differentiate their own actions from other more questionable "private" sexual relationships, and the court might agree with them. Most states already do. The lawyer in this case couldn't do that though when asked by the Texas judge.

Also, if they really want homosexual sodomy to be protected -- like it usually is for heterosexual adults -- they would seriously help their case if society saw gay men displaying some moral sub-boundaries. The common pursuit of young boys (even by non-priests), rampant anonymous sex in public places like restrooms and parks, and the reported (and only partially disputed) efforts of some to spread AIDS intentionally are public actions that do not help their cause. But, whatever floats their boat right? I wonder if that last group of guys who are essentially sexually attracted to viruses should be a Constitutionally protected class? Should society object if they're turned on by little viral parasites? What if it's privately done, in their own home, for reproductive purposes? Virus babies are babies too I guess. Come on now guys, talk to some lesbian friends about how to become more mainstream.

Lastly, Sullivan is using the term "theo-conservative" to imply Christians like Santorum are part of some bizarre fringe that threatens America. Stop for a second and think about the irony and utter intellectual bankruptcy of this emotional bigotry. Using terms like that can go both ways Sulli, so you should drop it in favor of better logic. Just because others have used theocon to be cute doesn't mean it's right or even accurate. And you should probably apologize, because I'll bet "homo-conservative"or "homo-con" is a term you would prefer not to be labeled with for viewing politics almost exclusively through the prism of homosexuality.

Serious Catholic bloggers shouldn't use sleight of logic and labels to demonize serious Christian politicians. Besides, Christian doctrine in practice is more forgiving than our secular society at large due to the belief that even our small sins make us no better than the worst sinners on earth in God's eyes, until we repent and ask forgiveness. Then we're all equal again. People who can't grasp the beauty of that, and mock those who "hate the sin and love the sinner," are fools. Becoming arrogant and proud of sin -- and trying to push acceptance of it on others -- is another easy way out of the guilt, but then it becomes a compound sin. It can also divide a religion and nation. Christian/Catholic homosexuals want to force a radical change in Christianity, pervert the institution of marriage, invert the idea of repentance, etc, all so they can participate in a new faux-Christianity and soothe their spiritual guilt. They would actually much rather do that than change the laws. Traditional Christians are supposed to get out of the way and move to the back of the church.

(Note: visit the last link for the spiritual shock of your life. Bill Clinton taking Hillary to the Methodist "church" in San Francisco was said by her to be "the best Mother's day present anyone ever gave me." So be prepared. Here's a follow-up written for people who can't believe it. There's a second link at the top of both pages to the Clinton's regular D.C. Methodist church.)

UPDATE: A.M. Siriano talks about drawing lines (and shades) in the same spirit of understanding the big picture. He's more optimistic that legislatures can keep the activist judiciary at bay by hashing out well-crafted laws, as long as we and our lawmakers are allowed to speak freely.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

PROTESTING THE INVASION...OF NORMANDY?

I don't know how much stock to put in this, but according to a post at IndyMedia, a bunch of Eurotrash will protest the D-Day invasion on May 25. Yes, D-Day--June 6, 1944. And they're protesting it as another example of American "imperialism." Oooooookay. Kicking out Nazis constitutes "imperialism," but actually being a continent-conquering Nazi doesn't.

Idiots.

(via Jerk Sauce)
Posted by B. Preston at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A PRESIDENT WITH GUTS

President Bush is apparently going to land on a moving aircraft carrier to deliver a speech in which he will say that the bulk of fighting in Iraq is over. Well, duh. But who cares about the speech--Bush is landing on an aircraft carrier! The USS Abraham Lincoln, appropriately.

He is, as they say, stones up to do that. Unbelievable.

I've landed on moving ships a few times, but not in a fixed-wing aircraft. All landings involved helicopters, and even then it could be a real knee-knocker. The first time was a little jaunt to the USS Independence off the coast of Japan. That wasn't so bad, but to see the deck sway even gently beneath my feet as we neared it was...interesting. Your landing target just shouldn't move like that. The wildest time was a trip aboard the USS Blue Ridge. I and a few others had requested and gotten permission to take a ride up and shoot (video and photos) it from the air as it cruised from Tokyo to Nagasaki. The ride up was great, the shooting went well (first time I'd ever literally hung out of a helicopter, and with a $30k video camera on my shoulder), but it was windy and the seas were rough. When we landed, that ship tossed about like a cork, and the helicopter slammed into the deck a bit. No damage done, but it was memorable, to say the least.

But what Bush is doing is entirely different. It's an E-ticket ride, landing or launching from a carrier in a fixed-wing. When you land, you hit at 150 mph and go to a dead stop in an instant. When you launch, it's the reverse, and the thrust from the catapult/engine combination pins you back in your seat like a vise as you go from zero to flight in no time.

He speaks Spanish fluently. Call him President Cajones for this one.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:34 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

WHO'S THE REAL BIGOT?

I know I said I was going away for a few days, and I am, but something's been stuck in my craw for a couple days and so I decided to post on it and get it out of my system.

Here's the deal: I think Andrew Sullivan is a bigot. For all his talk of his Catholic faith, he's essentially an anti-Christian bigot.

But you say "C'mon, he's a member of an oppressed minority, how can he be a bigot?" Because he is.

The debate over gay marriage is a wrenching one, forcing people to examine for the first time one of the foundational components of Western society--marriage as traditionally defined. It's a difficult, vexing question with no easy answers. Polls over the past few years show consistently that a majority of between 51 and 67 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage depending on how the question is asked, yet to read Sullivan's characterization of the opposition to gay marriage, only far-right Christians stand in the way. If it's really the case that only far-right Christians (for whom Sullivan has coined the term "theocon"--more about that later), then there are a lot more of us "theocons" than I thought. We're either a working or heavy majority. Sullivan knows that isn't true, and he knows that we "theocons" represent somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of the population, but he's using us as a straw man to attack general opposition to gay marriage. That's the action of a bigot, or at least of someone who is deeply dishonest.

And why single us out? Because we stand for something, we're outspoken and we are today's most target-rich population for demonization. We get attacked constantly by the far and mid-left, from the so-called moderates, and from the libertarians as well. Libertarians attack pretty much everybody, so they're excused as far as I'm concerned. Attacking the rest of the country's politics is just what they do. By associating gay marriage opposition with us "theocons," Sullivan is attempting to marginalize such opposition as "extreme." Therefore, he hopes people who otherwise don't like "theocons" will favor gay marriage because we oppose it, and we're the bad guys and no one wants to side with the bad guys. Further, Sullivan contends that gay marriage is a "conservative" position from a legal point of view, in that it might promote monogamy and chastity among gay men, who have been notoriously promiscuous by Sullivan's own admission and example. Perhaps, but that still doesn't necessarily mean that supporting gay marriage is a conservative position. Conservatism is not only about limiting government and defending basic liberty, it is also about respecting the traditions and institutions of Western thought and society. Gay marriage has never been an integral part of our tradition. At best, conservatives should be in some intellectual conflict on the matter--from a purely legal point of view, gay marriage might promote monogamy and chastity among gays, but it might also lead to other mutations on the meaning of marriage. We can't know which outcome will happen, so it's hardly an obvious conservative position to support something that at least has the potential of destroying one of our society's most basic structures. And from a traditional point of view, it's difficult to make a rational argument that gay marriage has enjoyed widespread support anywhere, at any time, in Western history.

About that term--"theocon." Sullivan doubtless knows what he's doing in deploying it. In the recent war debate, the term "neocon" became a Democrat code word for Jewish conservatives who supported the war, the implication being that their support was more about loyalty to Israel than to the US. It was a coded racial slur, of the type the Democrats often accuse Republicans of using against other racial minorities. Sullivan has taken "neocon" and twisted it around to "theocon," thereby using the left's racist code language to describe Christians with whom he happens to disagree on gay marriage and other issues. This is the action of a bigot.

Sullivan doesn't like conservative Christians. Fair enough, and he has every right to say so. But for someone who wags his own Catholic faith in front of the world daily, it's a bit hypochritical and bigoted to single out other Christians--fellow Christians--for doing what he does, which is bringing our faith to our politics. To expect us to do otherwise amounts to repressing our freedom of religion. So Andrew Sullivan doesn't have to like what we believe, but he shouldn't be shocked that we don't like or support what he believes either. This is allegedly a free country. If he doesn't like our opposition to gay marriage, a position which currently enjoys majority support in America, tough. He should try to win support for his side without the demagoguery and name-calling, and the open anti-Christian bigotry he so often displays.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:08 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 30, 2003

PERSONAL NOTE

It's likely I won't be blogging much for the next few days. If recent history is any guide, that won't impact the site much except maybe make it a little more interesting. Chris has a knack for picking out and piecing together stories that amaze me, and that get attention from the bigger fish in the blog pond, which brings more and more of you to this humble blog.

So I'll be out for a few days tending to some family stuff. The JYB is in good hands with Chris, and we may have a well-known guest blogger come on and post something in the next few days too. And I'll be back before most of you realize I was gone.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CONTROLLING CROWDS IN IRAQ

Here's an interesting excerpt from Ed Koch, who wrote it a couple of weeks ago when there was a looting "crisis" in Baghdad. It may still be applicable if the Iranian-instigated protests in Iraq go beyond snipers shooting from the crowd, and become riots. It's unfortunate that we have to kill people around the shooter but, if they're smart, it might encourage them to clean out any gunmen they have in their ranks.


Police tactics call for engaging a mob only if there are sufficient numbers of cops to control the rioters. After the New York City blackout of 1977, when Abe Beame was mayor and looting occurred, I asked Police Commissioner Bob McGuire why the looters had not been arrested or shot when they did not submit to police authority. He responded, "If we don't have enough cops to arrest them without shooting them, we will retreat. Remember, Mayor, if the looters were arrested and convicted, they are not subject to the death penalty, and the police should not execute them. We will be back when we have sufficient numbers to arrest them."
Posted by Chris Regan at 01:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

JDAM ARAFAT TO HELL

As the elderly terrorist's handpicked prime minister took the oath of office, a homicide bomber blew himself up in a Tel Aviv bar, killing three Israeli citizens. A group linked to that new PM, whose name is Mahmoud Abbas, claimed guilt, stating that their killing was intended as a message--to Abbas. The message--to Abbas but written in Jewish blood--was that the terror groups won't disarm without a "political settlement." Here's a thought--if you want to send a message, try sending him a memo. To twist a phrase, murdering innocent civilians is not the answer.

Meanwhile, not too far away similar violence is starting to crop up in Iraq. Armed men, presumably but not necessarily non-Iraqi, have on successive days goaded US troops into firing on disarmed Iraqi citizens. They have done this by hiding among the crowds and opening fire, drawing a lethal response from our soldiers. It's action that has a clear and obvious aim--get some Iraqis killed by Americans, to turn the liberation into a bloodbath, and the liberators into oppressors. It's bringing life on the Gaza strip to the streets of Iraq, and it must be stopped.

Had Arafat never been allowed to return to Israel, the present situation would likely be very different. It's easier to marginalize someone who is trying to command from a distance--setting Arafat up in Gaza, and legitimizing him with handshake ceremonies on the White House lawn, has clearly done nothing to curb Palestinian terrorism. On the contrary, the violence has only escalated since Arafat's return. Bringing back from exile has clearly backfired, turning the so-called "peace process" into a bloody farce.

It's time we sent our own message to Mr. Arafat, and to his immitators and collaborators in Iraq. Not a memo--communiques obviously haven't gotten the job done. It's time to put Yasser Arafat out of the killing business for good.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2003

NEW BLOG IN THE YARD

A.M. Siriano writes up a storm, and writes well. Check him out.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A HERO'S CANTICLE

The Iraqi lawyer who helped rescue Pfc. Jessica Lynch is coming to America. His name is Mohammed Odeh Al Rehaief, and we'll be a better country if he becomes a citizen.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

THE SARS SCARE

There's nothing funny about a disease that's killed hundreds of people, forced travel bans and threatens the economy. But the coverage of SARS is funny, because it's so off-base. Take a look at this. All the media can think of is showing people with breathing masks on; they're all just lemmings chasing a story they don't understand.

SARS is a corona virus. To the best of my knowledge (or to be more accurate, to the best of StratFor's knowledge, since they're my source here), that means it's not easily transmitted by air. It needs drops of bodily fluid for transmission from one person to another. The breathing masks are irrelevant. But there they are, gracing the covers of respectable magazines.

UPDATE: After the media and politicians, probably the third most panicky group of people in America is our educators. In Ohio, they have shut down a whole school district based on the possibility that some students may have been exposed to SARS during a recent trip to Toronto. None of the students is actually sick; none have even shown a wisp of illness. Nevertheless, the Weathersfield School District in Youngstown is out of business for the time being.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 28, 2003

A CLEAN-UP JOB

Sometimes, you never know how dirty a thing is until you try to clean it up.

Like most bloggers, I tend to stay up late trolling for stories, working on posts, digging for links and seeing what others are saying. I'd done that Sunday night, so Monday morning I really needed a strong cup of coffee. Once I'd cleared away the cobwebs from a night that had been far too short, I immediately set about for a cup of joe, getting the grounds ready, filling the pot and getting our coffee maker going on the job. Then I turned to my mug. It's a little ceramic mug, nothing special. I use it daily for coffee, tea, whatever gets me through the day. On Friday afternoon I'd finished the day with a cup of chai (yup, a conservative who's hooked on chai). By Monday the remnants of the chai had formed a thin little film on the bottom, so thin that in my need for a caffeine fix I almost just let it go. I was tired, and it didn't look that bad. But I decided to give it a rinse, figuring it would take two seconds, no more. I got it to the sink, turned on the water, and to my horror that thin little film from the weekend was a bit thicker and a lot tougher than I'd thought. I ended up having to rip down a couple of sturdy paper towels to get it all out, scrubbing until the chai went swirling down the drain. I was glad I'd decided to wash the thing properly. Chai is good, coffee is great, but three-day-old chai mixed with fresh coffee probably isn't worth drinking. I ended up spending nearly ten minutes cleaning a mug that I expected to take two seconds.

In my yard, I have three big maples that drop leaves and other detritus pretty much year round. To deal with it, I have a big gas-powered leaf shred-n-vac. I've had it for more than four years now without giving it a proper cleaning, and though its plastic shell still *looks* white, I know that as soon as I take a rag to it I'll be spending an entire Saturday cleaning more nooks and crannies than I ever thought it had. That's just how clean-up jobs are. They start out appearing to be quickies, but turn into monsters before you know it.

Yes, there is a point to this.

Since 9-11 the United States has been engaged in a clean-up job overseas. Of our allies in Europe and elsewhere we have asked for support in capturing terrorists and disrupting their networks. Of our rivals such as China, we have asked only that they stay out of the way while we tend to business. Of terror-sponsoring states, we have asked that they stop such sponsorship or face the might of the US military. So far, two such regimes have declined our request, and have met violent American justice. They had their chances, and squandered them. Now they've been driven from power.

But what we're now learning is that the clean-up job in the Islamic world may prove more stubborn than we expected. No, I'm not talking quagmire here. I'm lamenting the sad state of affairs throughout the Muslim world, because it's worse than I thought it was.

Since 9-11 we non-Muslims have been led to believe, both by our own secular government as well as Muslims who call themselves moderate, that the Islamists who perpetrated the hijackings and subsequent mass murder are the minority. They don't represent most Muslims, or even true Islam. It's a line I've bought, because objectively the evidence seems to back it up. After all, there are a billion Muslims in the world. If they all were jihadists, we'd have a 9-11 three or four times a week, somewhere. Further, it is true that moderate Muslims are out there. This site has attracted Muslim readership, a small portion of which has been hostile but the vast majority has been cordial, even friendly. Though I haven't heard from him in a while, one of my favorite correspondents is a Muslim. This person's views on liberty and freedom, on morality and justice, are virtually indistinguishable from my own. And looking outward a bit, where would we be in this war without Mansour Ijaz, a moderate Muslim who over the years tried to get the US government to take Osama bin Laden seriously, even take him into custody? Ijaz has doggedly stayed on the case chasing loose ends wherever he can, at great risk to himself.

But recent events have me jolted. Not in Iraq or Afghanistan per se--anyone who expected an immediate conversion from tyranny to democracy was naive in the extreme. The US even had to have a second try, scrapping the useless Articles of Confederation before adopting the brilliant, majestic Constitution, a process that took most of a decade. And that was with men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson leading the way. If Iraq has such leaders, they've yet to emerge. Our founders had been committed to some kind of liberty-based government for years before the Revolution.

No, the reason I think the clean-up job we're forced to do may be much more difficult than I'd previously thought is because I'm wondering just how many "moderate" Muslims there really are, and whether or not they have what it takes to build a just society. When a moderate Muslim engages in anti-Jewish blood libel and then defends it, it's a seismic event, at least to me. How can a liberal democracy such as ours, and such as we are trying to build in two Islamic societies, function if the "moderates" believe the worst Islamist propaganda and absolutely refuse to see reason? How can such thinking coexist with freedom of religion, one of the bedrock freedoms in any civilized nation?

It can't.

So I'm now looking at the Islam-based societies as though I'm seeing them for the first time. Before I saw a few patches of dirt, a little mud here, some grease there, nothing that would take more than a little while to clean up good as new. Now I see filth, grime and blood. Stains that go deep into the fabric of those societies, that seem to permeate their very souls.

Our clean-up job is going to take longer, and be much more difficult, than we expected. But we have no choice. We must clean up the Islamic mess, as well as we can, or we'll see events that make 9-11 seem trivial.

Ironically, what this means is that the "moderate" Muslims now face a very stark choice: Join us or die. Let me explain. Islamists, the radicals of 9-11 and countless other atrocities large and small, are murderously intolerant. They hate Christians, they hate Jews, they hate animists and Hindus and Buddhists, and even other Muslims who aren't as "pure" as they are. In societies where the Islamists rule, they kill wantonly. They kill non-believers, and believers who don't tow the radical line. For moderate Muslims, there is no hope in such a society. The Islamists will eventually kill or imprison them, once they've exterminated the Jews and the Christians and everyone else.

So if the moderate Muslims don't join us, their own kin will kill them. It's just a matter of time. If they do join us, and help us take down the Islamists, there's a chance they'll get to live. Yes, wars are dangerous and unpredictable, and some moderates will get killed as we take down Islamist regimes and networks. Crossfire is a terrible thing. But when we go in, we go in to win, and we plan to leave at least fledgling democracies in our wake. In such democracies the moderates, who claim to be the majority of Muslims, will have more than just a voice--they'll have the reins. They can take care of the Islamic Nazis in their midst, preventing us from having to return to mete out more justice.

But this can only happen if two things are true. Moderate Muslims must be the majority of Muslims as they claim to be, and moderate Muslims must be reasonable. They must give up the Jew-hate, and they must give up the blind intolerance of other faiths. Moderate Muslims spreading blood libel bodes ill for the future. It has me worried that in spite of our best efforts and intentions, the post 9-11 clean-up job may turn into an scouring. No one on our side wants that. Moderate Muslims can prevent it. If they don't, a measure of the blood from the wars that will inevitably result will be on their hands.

UPDATE: There are signs of hope. The most popular news channel in free Iraq is Fox--because it was most supportive of the war.

YET ANOTHER: Speaking of Mansour Ijaz, his column today is a must-read.

(Thanks to Hanks for the Ijaz link)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:28 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

WHO IS LARA JAKES JORDAN?

She's the Santorum hit "reporter"/activist. Bryan covered her bias and close proximity to the now notorious Santorum-hater, Teresa Heinz Kerry, in an earlier post but here's more details:

For starters, she is married to veteran Democratic Party operative Jim Jordan, the former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and manager of Sen. John Kerry's presidential bid.

Not surprisingly, the Massachusetts Democrat was among the first to criticize Santorum's remarks, using it as an opportunity to attack the White House. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Kerry got an advance copy of the article given his connections.

But there's more to the Lara Jakes Jordan story.

In January of this year, Mrs. Jordan was one of the signatories on a letter to her bosses at the AP attacking the news organization for "rolling back diversity" by not extending benefits to domestic partners.

In a symbolic move, the signatories to the letter returned key chains AP management gave them to "celebrate" its corporate diversity. The key chains carried the slogan: "AP Diversity: Many Views, One Vision.

It seems Mrs. Jordan's ideological fervor is not reserved only for her private life and her corporate politicking. This woman clearly ambushed Santorum on an issue near and dear to her bleeding heart.

I've been in the daily news business for 25 years. When I got started a quarter century ago, there was an old newsroom saying that went like this: "I don't care if you sleep with elephants as long as you don't cover the circus."

Mrs. Jordan violated that old newsroom ethic. She abdicated her right to cover the circus because she was sleeping with an elephant – or, in this case, a donkey.

That's why I say these catcalls for the head of Rick Santorum are nothing more than a political sideshow. It's not Rick Santorum who should be forced from office for clearly stating views that have been considered mainstream for the last 5,000 years. It's Lara Jakes Jordan who should be drummed out of the news profession for scoring cheap political points under the guise of news reporting.

Now all someone has to do is reveal how close Lara Jakes Jordan and Teresa Heinz Kerry have been recently. My hunch is that Teresa encouraged Lara to conduct the hit on Santorum. From the same article:

It was a set-up. It was what we call in the news business a "hatchet job." Rick Santorum is a young, good-looking, articulate conservative in the Senate's Republican leadership. He was deliberately targeted by a political activist disguised as a reporter – Lara Jakes Jordan.

I invite you to read her original story and see for yourself how it is dripping in venom. It's an editorial camouflaged as a news story. And she wrote it for the largest and most powerful news-gathering operation in the world, ensuring it would get maximum play in newspapers throughout the world.

This is why it's critical that bloggers think before they post -- even if it's just a few minutes spent analyzing the tone of a "report." Don't get used by the mainstream press. Subvert it. The AP is still hoping to create the Trent Lott "weblog effect," but they failed already. Some bloggers early on played right along with the mainstream media script -- essentially just spreading a rumor. Here's one litmus test: If anyone still maintains Santorum "equated" homosexuals with ________ they are a blithering idiot and need to apologize to regain credibility. George Will faced three such fools on ABC's This Week Sunday. He was a man among fetuses, intellectually speaking. Santorum really didn't even "compare" sodomy with ________ either, but that's a finer point involving context and logical fallacy.
Posted by Chris Regan at 04:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

ANTHRAX ON THE HIGH SEAS

It seems an Egyptian sailor has died in Brazil after exposure to anthrax. It was apparently in his luggage, which he made the fatal mistake of opening:

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) - A crew member of an Egyptian merchant ship has died in northern Brazil, almost certainly from anthrax, after opening a suitcase suspected of containing the substance which he was taking to Canada.

A spokesman for Brazilian (news - web sites) federal police in the Amazon state of Para said on Monday an autopsy of the Egyptian man, whom he named as Ibrahim Saved Soliman Ibrahim, showed that he had died after vomiting, internal bleeding and multiple organ failure.

"He was the victim of anthrax," said Castro, adding that police were 90 percent certain that Ibrahim had died of anthrax.

Ibrahim died in the hotel were he was staying on April 11. Several health workers who found his body were taken to a hospital after becoming ill but are now out of danger.

Ibrahim had traveled to Brazil from Cairo to join his ship, the Wabi Alaras, which loaded bauxite in the Amazon to take to Canada.

"We imagine that this is about bioterrorism and Brazil was just used as a point of transfer," said Castro.


Interesting. I'm sure the appropriate folks are checking the manifest on his ship, looking for ports of call, listed owners of cargo, those sorts of things. And I'm sure the FBI will pin it on Steven Hatfill anyway.

(via The 12th Man)
Posted by B. Preston at 04:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

REBUILDING IRAQ

Have you ever heard of Noah Feldman? I hadn't until he became Jay Garner's legal advisor. Garner, as you likely already know, is the man President Bush has tapped to rebuild and democratize Iraq. Gen. Garner seems like a sensible sort, tough and no-nonsense yet fair--exactly the kind of temperament need to help put Iraq back together. I would have preferred Gen. Schwartzkopf for his intimate knowledge of the region, but for whatever reason he didn't get the job so Garner will do. Feldman, who is an assistant law professor at NYU, is currently on his way to Iraq to advise Garner as he shapes the Iraq of the future. Mr. Feldman will likely have a key role in writing Iraq's constitution and map the course of the Middle East's politics for the next few years, if not decades. Feldman's beliefs are disturbing, and point to an administration that still may not get how large and difficult the task ahead will be. Or that no one in the administration is willing to heed the advice of scholars like Daniel Pipes or Bernard Lewis, instead turning to less known and less wise heads.

In short, Feldman believes that Iraq can function as a non-secular democracy. An Islamist democracy, in other words.

What's an "Islamist democracy?" Well, there's one right next door to Iraq. It's big, rich, a regional power and mortally hostile to the US. It elects most of its officials via democratic process, but places most of its real power in the hands of unelected mullahs. It's Iran, perhaps the second most dangerous nation on earth after North Korea.

Surely Iran isn't Feldman's ideal for post-Saddam Iraq, yet if we allow an Islamist democracy--an Islamist anything--to take root in Iraq, another Iran is probably what we'll get. We'll get a state bent on eradicating Israel via terrorism, bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, and bent on thwarting US policy at every turn. We'll get another Iran, precisely when Iran itself may become more pro-American via internal revolution. This would be a setback of monumental proportions, likely ruining any credibility we have left in the Middle East by allowing totalitarians to enslave Iraq once again.

We're taking on terror-sponsoring regimes precisely to end international terrorism, and key to that is defeating Islamism, the blend of Nazism and Islam that fuels groups like Hezbollah and al Qaeda, and regimes like Saddam Hussein's and Bashar Assad's, and the ayatollahs' in Iran. Islamism must be stopped, and so must those supporting it in any way. Including assistant law professors seeking to codify Islamism into post-Saddam Iraq's future.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I DON'T LIKE THIS ONE BIT

Aziz Poonwalla is a well-known and highly regarding blogger. Sharp, witty and well-informed, Aziz blogs from the perspective of a moderate Muslim, anti-jihadist and anti-mullahcracy. But now he's gone and repeated a blood libel against Israel concerning rumors that it is working on a WMD that can discriminate between Jews and Arabs. Such a project is theoretically possible, but so technically difficult and so beyond the bounds of reason that it amounts to equating Israel with a genocidal state of the last century. It's an awful, terrible thought that shouldn't see the light of day on a "moderate" Muslim--or anyone else's--blog.

That post has spawned a conflagration that's enraged bloggers across the spectrum--it even brought one blogger out of retirement to post comments.

Here's why I don't like this, and why I'm posting this little note: Moderate Muslims, you are in some ways our only hope. We can't run your countries for you. We can, within certain limits, only kick out the madmen oppressing you, killing you and enslaving you. Once we've done that, and helped you back on your feet, it's up to you to keep the Islamists from seizing power and starting up the jihad again. It's up to you to build a culture that respects individual rights, religious rights, the rights of free association and all of the other rights that make up a viable civilization and that therefore don't wage holy wars against the West. We can't do that for you, as much as we'd like to if for no other reason than to keep from repeating 9-11 and the wars that have followed it. We can help, but ending the war is really your responsibility.

If "moderate" Muslims buy into the blood libels against Israel as Aziz' post indicates, our only hope is no hope at all, other than more war, more death, more destruction, until one side defeats the other completely. If that's the case, better your countries get destroyed than ours. It's that simple, and that's how we'll fight. Trust me.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:38 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, MR POWELL

I think this excellent summary of Colin Powell's recent teflon-coated career shows a real lack of leadership qualities beyond the integrity and charisma that make him so popular in the 90's. That would still double Bill Clinton's count of leadership qualities, but it's stunning for a man who is actually supposed to be a great leader. Additional aspects of leadership like vision, initiative, and bold risk-taking that everyone sees thoroughly permeating George Bush's entire being are missing in Powell. He could have easily led a revolution in the State Dept. as Rumsfeld did in the Pentagon. Instead, he became just another weak follower of the status quo, and a rusty cog in the machine -- except when prodded by his boss to help out.

It almost seems like Sept 11 was just another date to rip off the wall calendar in the State Dept. Powell didn't step up to the plate and show us what he was made of. Or, if he did, and I missed it, then he and the rest of his team simply struck out. Neither conclusion is good for his legacy. Most of us would have eagerly voted for him if he ran for President in 96 just based on trust and reputation. His window of opportunity has closed on that though. Those days when we elected charismatic followers will not return for a while.

Bush should really think about appointing a new Secretary of State in 2004. Maybe Condoleeza Rice. Someone who better understands the modern world should be our chief diplomat. If she's willing and able to make a difference and can stop the State Dept. from undermining America's interests, Condi would put Madeline Albright to shame, and be a better alternative to Powell. From what I hear, she's the whole package when it comes to leadership strength -- just like her boss. A few years at State and we would have a better idea about her as a Presidential candidate for 2008.

Imagine Hillary's rage if she has to run against a smart, likeable, black Republican female leader. Did I mention Condi's very feminine, yet tough too? In other words, a real woman America could elect President. It would further expose Democrat Party leaders as frauds who have lied about the GOP for a living. The DNC and Hillary would insist that Bill Clinton counted as their black president, arguing that black voters should be satisfied and not defect to the GOP. And they would conversely call Condi a white racist in black skin who doesn't really count. It would be the final nail in their political coffin. I have a feeling Hillary might be caught screaming more than her usual "f---ing Jew Bastard!" slurs behind the scenes as she goes down to defeat. She'd probably sound more like Bill and Roger Clinton before saying:

Ohhh! You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Ohhh! Look out! Look out! I'm going. Ohhh...Ohhhhh!


UPDATE:

Just saw saw George Will wrote his latest column on African American Inroads for the GOP.

It looks like Hillary may still be thinking of avoiding an unknown 2008 nightmare and allowing herself to be "drafted" for 2004 against Bush. She just launched a trial baloon in the form of her "long-awaited" book. This is what Al Gore did. The books failed to sell and he dropped out of the race. Pray for rain to melt her sales. Otherwise, as mentioned in the comments, Bush w/Rice as VP in 2004 would be the perfect response if Cheney wants to retire.
Posted by Chris Regan at 12:22 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 27, 2003

LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD HAVE FASCINATING DATES

I pointed out earlier how the letter discovered in Baghdad revealing that Russia provided a list of available Western assassins for Saddam was dated the day after Katherine Harris certified George Bush winner of the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. A very curious fact, considering Saddam had attempted in 1993 to bomb the Bush family motorcade in Kuwait.

Now it looks like the letters discovered connecting Saddam to Al Qaeda also show an interesting date and location pattern: Sudan, February 1998. That month is also infamously related to the Clinton Administration's continued inaction in Sudan following the U.S. refusal in 1996 to accept custody of bin Laden from the Sudanese. Sandy Berger instead urged the expulsion of bin Laden to his terrorist utopia in Afghanistan (and Pakistan). More on that later.

It seems Saddam was probably offering the remaining Sudanese al-Qaeda a safe backup home in the region in exchange for their assistance. It may have never gone through exactly as planned, but Saddam has already been tied to other al-Qaeda through literally hundreds of links. More will be known soon enough. Saddam's powerfully connected intel agency likely anticipated Clinton would eventually accept Sudan's increasingly persistent offers to root the rest of al-Qaeda out. I assume the original terror meeting overture came from Sudan though, since the terrorists must have felt the heat and figured the U.S. would descend on Sudan in force. They may have been wanting to get out as soon as they bombed our two embassies in Africa. Here's what happened on our end first though:

A further change took place in Sudanese thinking in April 1997. The government dropped its demand that Washington lift sanctions in exchange for terrorism cooperation. Sudan's president, in a letter that Ijaz delivered to U.S. authorities, offered FBI and CIA counter-terrorism units unfettered and unconditional access to Khartoum's intelligence.

Sudan's policy shift sparked a debate at the State Department, where foreign service officers believed the United States should reengage Khartoum. By the end of summer 1997, they persuaded incoming Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to let at least some diplomatic staff return to Sudan to press for a resolution of the civil war and pursue offers to cooperate on terrorism. A formal announcement was made in late September.

Two individuals, however, disagreed. NSC terrorism specialist Richard Clarke and NSC Africa specialist Susan Rice, who was about to become assistant secretary of State for African affairs, persuaded Berger, then national security adviser, to overrule Albright. The new policy was reversed after two days. Overturning a months-long interagency process undermined U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

In a final attempt to find a way of cooperating with U.S. authorities, Sudan's intelligence chief repeated the unconditional offer to share terrorism data with the FBI in a [practically gushing, 5th] February, 1998 letter addressed directly to Middle East and North Africa special agent-in-charge David Williams. But the White House and Susan Rice objected.

Documents discovered in Baghdad reveal Saddam connected with Sudanese al-Qaeda two weeks later:

One paper is marked "Top Secret and Urgent". It is signed "MDA", a codename believed to be the director of one of the intelligence sections within the Mukhabarat, and dated February 19, 1998. It refers to the planned trip from Sudan by bin Laden's unnamed envoy and refers to the arrangements for his visit.

A letter with this document says the envoy is a trusted confidant of bin Laden. It adds: "According to the above, we suggest permission to call the Khartoum station [Iraq's intelligence office in Sudan] to facilitate the travel arrangements for the above-mentioned person to Iraq. And that our body carry all the travel and hotel costs inside Iraq to gain the knowledge of the message from bin Laden and to convey to his envoy an oral message from us to bin Laden."

The letter refers to al-Qa'eda's leader as an opponent of the Saudi Arabian regime and says that the message to convey to him through the envoy "would relate to the future of our relationship with him, bin Laden, and to achieve a direct meeting with him."

. . .The other documents then confirm that the envoy travelled from Khartoum to Baghdad in March 1998, staying at al-Mansour Melia, a first-class hotel. It mentions that his visit was extended by a week. In the notes in a margin, a name "Mohammed F. Mohammed Ahmed" is mentioned, but it is not clear whether this is the the envoy or an agent.

Intriguingly, the Iraqis talk about sending back an oral message to bin Laden, perhaps aware of the risk of a written message being intercepted. However, the documents do not mention if any meeting took place between bin Laden and Iraqi officials.

Just four days after that letter:

on February 23, 1998, Osama bin Laden issued his blood- curdling fatwa from his hideout in Afghanistan, calling on all Muslims to kill Americans and Jews, adding that civilians were now to be regarded as targets.

From that same link, we go back to the U.S. non-response to the Sudanese:

David Williams did not reply to al-Mahdi's letter for another four months. "Unfortunately," he wrote on June 24 "I am not currently in a position to accept your kind invitation." He hoped "future circumstances" might allow it, but for now the offer had to be rejected. Six weeks after that, bin Laden's al-Qaeda network succeeded in exploding two pick- up trucks at the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. They were reduced to piles of bloody rubble in which 224 people lay dead or dying.

Two weeks later, Bill Clinton thanked the Sudanese for their kind offers of intelligence by destroying Sudan's main pharmaceutical plant for show. He said the innocent owner was a terrorist who was producing chemical weapons. That was an invention, since we really had no clue what was going on inside Sudan. Because he had no real evidence except a supposed soil sample the CIA obtained for him, Clinton also ignored the advice of his astonished generals and failed to consult the FBI first. Then, even after the Sudanese lost their medicine factory:

A few months later, in yet another attempt to induce a thaw, the Mukhabarat chief, Gutbi al-Mahdi, invited McElligott (another go-between like Ijaz) to Khartoum. He gave her a hand-written note, which she delivered to the office of the then F.B.I. director, Louis Freeh. It related the circumstances of the two [Pakistani] suspects' arrest and the offer to send them to America, adding, "The bombardment of the pharmaceutical factory blew up the link we established with the F.B.I. and the co-operation that developed on the situation." However, their interrogation had revealed "some information," and, as McEIligott reminded the F.B.I., the Mukha-barat al-Qaeda files still awaited inspection.

Through McElligott, the F.B.I. tentatively suggested a meeting with al-Mahdi in Europe. Before it could take place, the State Department vetoed it. In Sudan, the ongoing U.S. attitude produced bewilderment. "We felt it was an irrational attitude," al-Mahdi says. "We were extending our hand to someone who badly needed help, for our mutual benefit, and it was being rejected." He goes on to echo the claim made by Ambassador Carney: "If [the F.B.I.] had taken up my offer in February 1998, they could have prevented the [embassy] bombings.

They had very little information at that time: they were shooting in the dark. Had they engaged with the Sudan, they could have stopped a lot of things." It is hard to conceive of a more serious allegation, and it appears to stand up to scrutiny.

. . .It was not until May 2000 that the Clinton administration responded to pressure from the US intelligence community and agreed to send a joint F.B.I.- C.I.A. team to Sudan.

Even then its mission was not to examine the Mukhabarat files but to ascertain whether Sudan was really sponsoring terror. In the summer of 2001 the team gave the country a clean bill of health. There were no "training camps" or sanctuaries for murderers after all. Gutbi al-Mahdi, the former Mukhabarat chief, says that a few weeks before September 11 the American team finally asked to examine the Sudanese material on al-Qaeda. Events suggest that by then it was too late.

Where did they all go? Iraq? Possibly. Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan most likely. As Mansoor Ijaz says, "We're still living with the consequences of the U.S. policy and intelligence failure in Sudan. Khartoum offered us the best chance to engage radical Islamists and stop bin Laden early. If the United States is to account for the failures that led to the attacks of Sept. 11, we need to better understand our failures in Sudan." Those failures now include missing an early link to Saddam Hussein.

The last major outrage was that, even after the USS Cole was bombed in Oct 2000, the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, scuttled the FBI investigation into al-Qaeda operatives there for petty personal and diplomatic reasons. It was headed up by The Man Who Knew that al-Qaeda would soon try to finish the job and finally bring down the Twin Towers. His name was John O'Neill, and he was thrilled about having the hot al-Qaeda leads he had been waiting for his entire career. It's very likely that, had Bodine not locked him out of Yemen, he could have stopped the second WTC attack. Instead, the brilliant visionary was finally hounded out of the FBI, and no one filled his shoes. Information like terrorists training in flight schools just got filed away. In an ironic twist of fate, he died Sept 11th, 2001 when the towers crumbled down on him. It was his first day on the job as WTC Director of Security. A true American hero, single-mindedly dedicated to fighting the bureaucracy and stopping our "second Pearl Harbor."

Career diplomat Barbara Bodine has since remarked to the O'Neill documentary producer that she couldn't believe anyone would want to spend 90 minutes of television on John O'Neill. Then she refused to be interviewed. Nice lady. She's now been assigned to rule over central Iraq out of Baghdad, where she can continue to protect terrorists "State Dept-style."

UPDATE:

It turns out that when Sandy Berger told the Sudan to send bin Laden on his way in 96 he took his key HQ operatives with him:

bin Laden went to Afghanistan, along with "Ayman Zawahiri, considered by the U.S. to be the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks; Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who traveled frequently to Germany to obtain electronic equipment for al-Qaeda; Wadih El-Hage, Bin Laden's personal secretary and roving emissary, now serving a life sentence in the U.S. for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya; and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saif Adel, also accused of carrying out the embassy attacks.”

I added more details on exact dates, and new links with quotes to the second half of the timeline just above the last two paragraphs of the main post. I also want to suggest that NYC somehow uniquely commemorate the life and work of John O'Neill at any Ground Zero memorial. I'm sure the other families would demand it if they only knew of the years he singularly devoted to preventing the attack on their loved ones. We also owe the nation of Sudan a giant thank you and apology. They tried their absolute best since 1996 to, not only avoid harboring terrorists, but to track them down for us. They were simply ignored until we strangely decided to bomb them. They probably assumed the only logical explanation for the treatment was pure racism. Had we engaged the nation as they desired we could have cleaned house all around, and helped them embrace moderation. We would have helped to alleviate famine, and maybe also to free the Christian slaves from southern Sudan that the Left cares so little about.

Well anyhow, this post really took on a life of it's own in bracketing that February 1998 date. I'm sure the extra details will come in handy though, and the post will inspire others as we sift through the millions of documents in Iraq. A George Galloway (the U.K. traitor for $$$) Baghdad document date/activity timeline will be a good one too. Much thanks to Mansoor Ijaz for standing tough against the lies and smears of Clinton cronies. Turns out Clinton's political epitaph may be: "It's the Sudan, Stupid."

UPDATE: Mansoor Ijaz is now on the Baghdad document case.
Posted by Chris Regan at 05:24 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack