November 21, 2003


James Lileks slams Salam Pax for becoming al Snarqa. You know what? I saw this coming. Months ago. Here's Lileks ranting at Salam, in exceptionally fine form.

Let me explain this in simple terms, habibi. You would have spent the rest of your life under Ba’athist rule. You might have gotten some nice architectural commissions to do a house for someone whose aroma was temporarily acceptable to the Tikriti mob. You might have worked your international connections, made it back to Vienna, lived a comfy exile’s life. What’s certain is that none of your pals would ever have gotten rid of that “scary guy without the hideous moustache” (as if his greatest sin was somehow a fashion faux pas) and the Saddam regime would have prospered into the next generation precisely because of people like you.

It's those last three words that make all the difference...people like you. What kind of person is Salam Pax? He's a Baathist, or at least the son of a Baathist. In another of those many pieces I've written over the past year that hardly anyone read, I said as much and more. Salam Pax, everybody's golden boy before and during the war, had deep connections to the Saddamites. His daddy's one of 'em:

His Baathist connection is through his grandfather, a tribal chief, and therefore through his father and uncle, both of who seem to have had some weight in the old regime. His uncle is a banker of some authority in Baghdad, possibly a Baathist financier. His father's career led to opportunities outside Iraq, rare enough in a dictatorship, and to Salam's trilingual education in Vienna (in addition to Arabic and English, Salam speaks German). The Vienna route suggests but doesn't necessarily demand a connection to the Iraqi oil industry — Vienna is OPEC's headquarters. It's just as likely that Salam's father was an oilman as he was just an Iraqi bureaucrat either attending OPEC meetings or keeping tabs on Iraq's representatives. Salam once maintained his own flat in Vienna, suggesting a freedom to travel that has long been rare in Iraq.

Is it poor form to quote yourself in a blog post? Ah, heck, I wrote this six months ago--by Clinton standards, I was so much younger then that I'm a different person now.

Anyhow, Salam was certainly no sycophant of Saddam...but:

Since Salam resurfaced after the war, his posts have generated even more speculation and intrigue. In one of the entries he angrily denounced the Iraqi National Congress for appropriating the elite Iraqi Hunting Club and Mansour Social Club, wondering where he and other members would go for indoor swimming.

He doesn't like what the war has done to his lifestyle. Pity the poor boy; he went from scion of a murderous regime to just another Abdul trying to make a buck. My conclusion about Salam, six months ago:

As a supposed insider, his opinions carry weight with his numerous readers in a way that official Pentagon briefings or U.S. press reports do not. They shouldn't, because those opinions still flow from his old elite ways, and from a lifetime of steep indoctrination in party thinking. He is interested in reworking the truth about the Baath party both to assuage his own guilt and to get himself a leg up in the chaotic new Iraq. But that doesn't make him an official agent of influence. It just makes him a quirky, iconoclastic Iraqi whose life of irresponsible leisure has come to an abrupt end. His anti-American spin reflects an unconscionable irresponsibility and an effort to save himself, and truth just gets in the way of that. Thus, he is an untrustworthy witness to history.

I think that last sentence has been proven right--Salam is completely untrustworthy. Yet the Guardian hired him anyway, and they're getting from him exactly what I expected and predicted--garbage designed to lessen the Baathists' brutality while undermining our war to free his people--from people like him.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:37 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

November 20, 2003


I know Gen. Clark is a smart guy, as he's quick to tell anyone who asks. But what to make of his flips on the Iraq war? Looks like evidence of airheadism to me.

If you were running for president, in today's climate, what questions would you automatically expect the press to ask of you?

--Your stand on the progress or lack in war? Of course.
--How should we combat terrorism in general? Of course.
--Your stand on the tax cuts? Of course.
--Your stand on blah blah blah? Naturally.

Surely, you'd expect some reporter, somewhere, at some time to ask what you thought about Iraq. You know--should we have gone in when we did, was it a good thing that we knocked off Saddam, what should do with the place now? I'd expect that question to come up. Any reasonable person would expect that question to come up. In fact, any reasonable person would expect that a reporter would automatically ask a frickin' General who's running for president about his thoughts on a frickin' war, no?

But not Wesley Clark. On 60 Minutes II, he says it took him by surprise:

Clark says he wants to be president, but he discovered that he wasn’t ready for the political combat of a campaign. He stumbled right out of the gate.

First, he told reporters he would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to go to war against Saddam. Then, he said he wasn’t sure, and then he said would have voted against it.

“At the time I did this, I made this statement, I was having what I thought was an informal, I wasn’t clear whether it was on-the-record or off-the-record discussion about the philosophy of sort of entering the presidency. And somehow the Iraq question got thrown in,” says Clark, who told Rather he didn’t expect to be asked that question. “But when it came, it’s the kind of, it’s the, there’s no question that it wasn’t what I wanted to say.”

Now, Clark says he wouldn’t have voted for the resolution that passed, but a different one that Congress never voted on: “I always said I would vote for a resolution that gave the president the leverage to go to the United Nations and then come back to the Congress for the authority to go to force.”

Somehow the Iraq question got thrown in...? Uh, General, the Iraq question is, like, the biggest question in the world right now. It has 70,000 or so Brits worked up enough to make giant puppets and parade them around London. And you're running for president, a position that, should you get it, would sort of force you to deal with the whole Iraq thing. Think of these press talks as job interviews, which in fact they are. Learn to anticipate these kinds of questions. It'll save you more than a few headaches.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:19 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack


Not my words--no siree. That sentiment belongs to Yasser Arafat himself.

Arafat, declared irrelevant by the Bush administration, has worked out a strategy that calls for no progress on the U.S.-created peace "road map" for at least a year.

He expects that the fighting in Iraq will make Bush a one-term president and that his Democratic replacement will be much easier to deal with, Israeli intelligence officials say.

The other day, Arafat's national security adviser, Jibril Rajoub, even praised Iraqi attacks on Americans as "the right of the Iraqis to defend themselves against occupation," the same language used to praise anti-Israeli terror.

That's Yasser, always choosing the wrong side--in war, and now in politics.

(thanks to Hootinan)

Posted by B. Preston at 04:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


InstaPundit links to a story about US and British journalists who have infiltrated protest groups, just to see what they're really all about. They found some interesting training going on:

They report that the London Action Resource Center -- describing itself as non-violent -- has taught demonstrators how to charge police lines and has discussed whether or not the hurling of petrol bombs constitutes an act of violence.

They're not making any of that up, and the following is not a parody. It's from the online journal of an anti-globo activist gearing up to protest some world trade goings on in Miami this week:

We are out in the backyard of the Pagan Cluster House, holding a training for the cluster. I'm tired, and my right shoulder blade is tied in a tight knot that all the massage therapists at the Unitarian ritual were unable to undo, but I'm grateful to have a slightly relaxed morning, where we can train in our back yard instead of running off to deal with a crisis somewhere.

We do a quick role play--the police are raiding the house--what do you do? The group is scattered, confused, but makes some good decisions and some not so good. Juniper and I play the cops, run around to the doors and bang on them. The cluster locks the doors and doesn't let us in. A small group comes out on the sidewalk to negotiate with us. I send Juniper off to the side, tell them, "Look, I'm your friend here. There's no problem unless you create one. Officer Juniper, she gets a bit out of control. I wouldn't want to let her loose in your house. But all we need is a bit of information.…"


We form a circle and I suggest we create a space in which we consciously support each other's strong emotions, whatever they are. We might visualize that as cheering, or as sending a flow of water, or a beam of light, or whatever each person wants--but as a group we create an energy base that can give us room to express the feelings we haven't yet had time to deal with, grief or fear or rage. Even as we begin, a few people are crying. One by one, people step into the circle and speak from the heart. "I'm new to this, and I'm completely terrified." "I'm absolutely enraged that we have to be doing this." "I feel this incredible fear and incredible hope, and I'm overwhelmed with the responsibility of helping to make this transformation happen. There's so much at stake." Some just cry, others ask for a song, Around the circle we are sobbing. Something has happened to me since Cancun: I'm not stuck in the state of calm fatality that is so useful when preparing to go dance into a line of riot cops. I'm fully feeling my own well of grief, the pain that I can so easily stir up if I let myself think too much about Genoa or Palestine or just the everyday level of force I've seen used against us. Or if I let in the pain of the homeless woman on the street or the millions, the billions, she stands for. I want to go into the center and say that I spent weeks of the summer crying alone every day about what I'd seen in the spring in Palestine, releasing the grief I'd held from supporting the teams who'd been with Rachel Corrie when she died, and Brian Avery when he was shot, and Tom Hurndall when he was shot in Rafah. I'd trained Tom, just a few days before, running him and the group through role plays, teaching them to ground and stay in wide awareness.

So...they role-play for when the cops show up, training each other to keep mum and resist the cops. And this Starhawk person trained a guy who got himself shot defending Palestinian murder-bombers. I wonder what that "training" consists of. "Staying in wide awareness" is just vague enough to sound, I don't know, odd. Anyhow...

And with the grief comes the fear, and with the fear the rage that I never, never get to fully express. Finally I step into the center, grab a newspaper baton, and simply beat the ground. I'm beating with the wide swing of a drummer, knowing the power comes from freedom of motion, and the rage, which is after all just energy, is flowing freely through me and it feels so, so good.

Ooooookay. Take your frustrations out on the poor earth if you want. That'll do a fat lot of good.

To move the story along, the FBI eventually does visit, thanks to complaints of the odd goings-on from the neighbors. Might also have something to do with the trade thing--just a guess. The agents hang around, ask a few questions, and leave. For Starhawk, the FBI's visit was foreordained:

The incident confirms what I saw in last night's vision--eyes watching us. Being here in Miami is a bit like being under the red, all-seeing eye of Mordor, a sense of continuously being under a hostile gaze. We always assume they are watching us--and there's actually nothing we're trying to hide. Goddess knows, all they have to do is check my website to find out everything I'm doing in Miami. I've been a public person for twenty-five years, a writer whose trade is the exposure of my own most intimate emotions, and that's just not compatible with clandestine actions or weapons production. We know they know who we are--if we had any doubts, the five customs agents who met my plane coming back from Cancun and took me off for a special search were a hint. It's the kind of welcome that makes a girl feel real special!

Sheesh, scrub up and get a date already. And if you want to cut down on those disturbing visions, cut back on those funky mushrooms. It'll work like a charm.

The anti-war activists are also the anti-globo activists for the most part--glue-sniffing, soap-dodging maggot-infested snotnoses with nothing better to do than feel important for standing up to Sauron's languid gaze. Except Sauron doesn't exist, so they're mostly just stinking the place up for nothing. And they do train each other to combat the police and to stand up for terrorists.

Nice people.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


From the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation:

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in London to protest against George W Bush and the war on Iraq. Organisers claim more than 150,000 have joined the march in central London, although police put the figure closer to 70,000.

Protestors pulled down an effigy of Mr Bush to loud cheers in Trafalgar Square.

Meanwhile the US president has carried on with his engagements which have included talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair on Iraq and Aids in Africa.

The two leaders jointly condemned Thursday's bomb attacks in Turkey and reiterated their war on terror. (emphasis mine)

Their war. Not the war, the West's war, or, heaven forbid, our war against Islamist terrorism. It's Bush's and Blair's war to the BBC.

MORE: And here's what looks like another example of media bias. What would you think if you read a headline saying "Iraqi Leader Supportive of US Killed," with the subhead "Military Drops Massive Bombs in Central Iraq"? If you didn't read the story, you're likely to assume that the bombs we dropped had something to do with the Iraqi leader getting killed, right? That was the reaction of JG, who sent in a scan from a story in the Express, a free pub handed out to commuters on the DC Metro. It's published by the Washington Post. Here's the scan--click on it and you'll get the full-rez shot:


So what's the problem? Well, read the story. The pro-US Iraqi leader targeted--by car-bombers, not the US military--wasn't killed. He wasn't even injured. Some other leader was killed in an entirey different attack, but the story never makes his take on the US clear. One could reasonably assume he's fairly pro-US since he has a local leadership role in education, but it's by no means a slam-dunk. There are plenty of Iraqis running local affairs who aren't too keen on our presence. As for the bombs we dropped--well, that bit was just tacked on to the end of a story that otherwise has nothing do with the US military's response to terrorist strikes. The story is really about two terror attacks against two Iraqis, one of which succeeded in killing its intended target and one of which failed, instead killing a little kid. But if you just read the headlines, you're likely to come away with very different impressions, i.e, that the US military screwed up and killed one of the good guys.

Now, as I mentioned, the Express is a commuter pub. How many people actually take the time to read the stories and try and match their content up to the headlines? Having ridden the Metro during rush hour myself, I'd say very few. Which may be exactly what the headline writers were counting on.

MORE: And now we switch back to the Beeb, whose reporters ask fair questions such as "What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder-to-shoulder with a controversial American President? And, Mr. President, if I could ask you, with thousands on the street -- with thousands marching on the streets today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?"

Side note, who the heck is arguing that Blair and Bush appearing before the press has gotten anyone killed or maimed? That's the mother of all non sequiturs. Anyhow, want more? Here ya go--

"Why do they hate you, Mr. President? Why do they hate you in such numbers?"

How I wish he'd give that question the type of answer it deserves, like "Because they're addle-brained boobs, incapable of distinguishing between terrorists and elected leaders who try and stop terrorists. Or perhaps because they just like terrorists and hope to stop me from daisy cuttering them in large numbers."
Too bad we'll never hear that.

(thanks to Hanks for the Beeb briefing link)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack


As much as I hate to link to the LA Slimes, the rag has a pretty good piece that tries to make sense of the spate of terrorist bombings in the past month. Essentially, in order to survive the various allied offensives against them, al Qaeda has gone native:

A spate of suicide bombings in several countries illustrates that Al Qaeda has survived by mutating into a more decentralized network relying on local allies to launch more frequent attacks on varied targets, experts say.

In bombings from Turkey to Morocco, experts say, evidence suggests that Al Qaeda provided support through training, financing or ideological inspiration to local extremists. Through an evolving and loose alliance of semiautonomous terrorist cells, the network has been able to export its violence and "brand name" with only limited involvement in the attacks themselves.

So it's al Qaeda the meme now, not necessarily al Qaeda the actual force with camps and leaders and plans. But--those camps and leaders and plans still do play a role:

Al Qaeda allegedly gave the direct order for some of the attacks, investigators say, including one in Indonesia and the May bombing of a residential compound in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital. But in others, its local affiliates appeared to have operated more independently. The May suicide bombings in Casablanca, Morocco, are seen as a model of the network's emerging strategy.

Here's how the local groups get their skills:

The global threat persists because of the years Al Qaeda spent "training the trainers" — tens of thousands of operatives molded in the movement's camps in Afghanistan. Many have returned to their homelands and are trying to whip local extremists into killing shape, U.S. and European counter-terrorism officials say.

So if we had ripped up those camps in Sudan and later Afghanistan earlier, we could have prevented the current wave of grass-roots terrorism. The kamikaze captains would have never been trained to spread their ideology. We lost roughly three years in this fight, from the time the Clinton administration declared war on terrorism to when the Bush administration actually began to prosecute it--and we're paying for that long delay now.

The question now is, how do we counter and ultimately defeat this threat? A hydra-headed enemy requires a multi-dimensional response, but in what specific forms? The most obvious response is to destroy the base camps where al Qaeda forms its ideology and indoctrinates its operatives--that we have done, in Afghanistan, the Philippines (assisting local forces, for the most part) and Iraq (Ansar al-Islam, a group few dispute is an al Qaeda offshoot). The challenge now is to make sure no similar camps can be established anywhere in the future. Most likely safe havens for future camps would be Iran, where many top al Qaeda officers are said to be either holed up or "in custody" if you believe the mullahs who run the place, and probably Syria and Lebanon, where they can easily blend in with the terror groups already operating there. And you can't rule out the border territory between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban still enjoys some popular support and probably get a hand from elements of the Pakistani ISI.

But what else can we do? Cut off their finances--they have to have cash flow to operate. There's evidence we're having some success there--the Bali bombers were caught in a bank-robbery scheme that was intended to generate cash for future attacks, implying that they had no direct source to tap for funding. But the intifada festivals in Bahrain are evidence that terrorists can find a zillion ways to generate cash, from charities to televised beg-a-thons. We'll never stop the terrorists' cash flow entirely, but we can slow it down and monitor it to pick up the trail of the terrorists themselves. We can also credibly threaten terror-supporting regimes with certain extinction; Saddam and the Taliban are our object lessons. We seem to be having some success in these areas, but that success seems to have slowed down lately. When was the last major terror figure outside of the Iraqi Baath structure captured or killed? I can't remember, it's been so long.

Somehow, we have to counter the terrorists in their air--ideology. Their savagery appeals to a wide swath of the Arab middle class--why? Root cause theory would say that poverty is the cause, and a social worker approach is the answer. But the facts mostly contradict that--most terrorists are educated, upper or middle class, affluent Arabs. The Casablanca bombers were apparently slum residents, but so far they're the exception and not the rule. How do we convince affluent and educated people with everything to live for that they in fact should live for those things instead of vaporizing themselves and taking scores of innocents with them? We have to discredit their ideology.

Our Japan experience is somewhat instructive here. For decades prior to World War II, the Imperial government fed the Japanese people a steady diet of propaganda portraying Americans as barbaric savages who would eat the children and rape the women of any nation or culture that opposed them. This propaganda bore bloody fruit on Okinawa, where advancing US troops witnessed the unthinkable--Japanese women, knowing they stood in the path of the oncoming savages, threw their children off cliffs or into volcanic vents before committing suicide. Japanese soldiers would almost never surrender, preferring to provoke an attack sure to kill them rather than lay down their weapons. Of the more than 20,000 Imperial troops placed to defend Iwo Jima from American invasion, barely a handful survived. Most died down in the island's caves, refusing to surrender even while flamethrowers and bulldozers made quick work of their hideouts.

How did we counter this ghastly ideology? We discredited it. Their Emperor was believed to be divine and infallible, and any course he set the nation on was guaranteed to succeed. He had set in a course for a grand and victorious war; defeat immediately rendered him a mere human and his ideas worse than lies. Further, our behavior as occupiers showed the pre-war propaganda for what it was. We came in and ushered in a true democracy, we respected the rule of law and local customs, and defended a war-weakened Japan both from possible Soviet and later Communist Chinese invasion.

We can do the same for Iraq. We've defeated Saddam Hussein, but until he is captured or verifiably killed, he is not completely discredited. The same goes for Osama bin Laden. I believe he's dead, but we need a body to dangle before his sycophants. The complete, humiliating defeat of these two criminal masterminds would do far more good in the war on terror than most people realize.

It will obviously take much more than the public humiliation of two thug kingpins to win this war, and I certainly don't have all the answers. Problem is, it seems no one else does either.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2003


Queer Eye for the Bloodthirsty Guy?

Posted by B. Preston at 04:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


[M]ost Democrats would rather take the easy route of criticizing the present than the risky one of offering a new path for the future. In a Google search, the phrase "Democrats attack Bush" turns up nearly 50 times as often in the past year as "Democrats offer plan."

How about this:

On national security, some in our party believe that all we have to say on Iraq is "I told you so." To the contrary, Democrats must show their commitment to staying the course and winning in Iraq. We believe, as Tony Blair has said, that the gravest threat to our future is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists or rogue states. Whatever anyone thought before, this isn't Bush's war now, it's America's war, and the free world's war on terror.

Both quotes are from a column penned by Democrat Leadership Conference CIO Al From and DLC President Bruce Reed, Nov. 19, 2003. Fortunately for President Bush (but unfortunately for the purpose of national unity in the face of war), most Democrats won't listen to them.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Earlier today, a well-placed source received a media advisory from the crew at ABC's Nightline. It noted that tonight's program would include a segment on the president's visit to the UK, followed by a segment on Wacko Jacko. No mention of gay marriage.

Later on in the day, same well-placed source received an update: No Bush, wall to wall Wacko Jacko.

We're at war, and the president is on a state visit to our closest ally--a visit fraught with import. A state supreme court has overturned several millennia of our understanding of marriage and family. But the only story worth a half hour with the Koppelgangers is the pending arrest of a 45-year-old weirded out has-been entertainer.

Says something about the times we live in, doesn't it?

Posted by B. Preston at 03:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


It seems someone with a conscience sits on the left side of the aisle in the Senate. First, a Democrat memo outlining strategy for politicizing our intelligence-gathering and investigating agencies gets leaked to the press. Now, a whole raft of memos that demonstrate clearly why the Senate Democrats have been blocking and filibustering Bush judicial nominees has been leaked. These memos show clearly that the Democrats have been bought and are now wholly owned by, among others, People for the American Way and similar radical left activist groups. It's a shocking read.

Among other things, it's clear from the memos that the Dems have been instructed to oppose Miguel Estrada (one of Ted Kennedy's Neaanderthals) for the sin of being Latino (their word). That same memo puts Estrada and Janice Rogers Brown (another Neanderthal) in a category of judicial nominees marked "Ugly." Nice. One way the radical groups seem to rate judicial nominees is by which organizations have given money to them in the past. Applying that standard to, oh, to just pull one name out of a hat--Cynthia McKinney (who took lots and lots of money from radical Islamists)--is probably not going to work in the left's favor long term. It might lead to some of these ant-war groups that have in the past been Soviet-funded agitators, and are today fueling the rise of the hard left in Democrat politics.

The sheer number and content of these memos is staggering. Democrats, are you comfortable with unelected, indeed unelectable, people like Ralph Neas and Kate Michelman directing your party's political strategies from the shadows? Not merely influencing--directing. The memos show clearly that that's what is going on, and has been for some time.

MORE: The Corner has more, including the Dems' collective outrage at the leak. Heh. Irony ain't dead, not by a long shot. The Dems are mad that someone leaked their memos. These same Dems opposed Miguel Estrada because, in addition to the fact that he's Hispanic, the Justice Department refused to hand over a stack of his memos that they wanted. What were they going to do with those memos? Vet them for the juiciest bits, and then leak those to the press to portray Estrada as a ghoul. Live by the leak, die by the leak.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:00 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Czech intelligence believes to this day that 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta probably met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in April 2001 in Prague, a meeting that may have facilitated 9-11 in some way. If true, Iraq is directly tied to 9-11. You want your causus belli? You got your causus belli.

But the FBI's behavior in all this is puzzling, even disturbing:

On Sept. 18, 2001, the Associated Press reported, "A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States has received information from a foreign intelligence service that Mohamed Atta, a hijacker aboard one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, met earlier this year in Europe with an Iraqi intelligence agent." CBS then reported that Atta had been seen with al-Ani.

In Washington, the FBI moved to quiet the Prague connection by telling journalists that it had car rentals and records that put Atta in Virginia Beach, Va., and Florida close to, if not during, the period when he was supposed to be in Prague. The New York Times, citing information provided by "federal law enforcement officials," reported that Atta was in Virginia Beach on April 2, 2001, and by April 11, "Atta was back in Florida, renting a car." Newsweek reported that, "the FBI pointed out Atta was traveling at the time [in early April 2001] between Florida and Virginia Beach, Va.," adding, "The bureau had his rental car and hotel receipts." And intelligence expert James Bamford, after quoting FBI Director Robert Mueller as saying that the FBI "ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on," reported in USA Today, "The records revealed that Atta was in Virginia Beach during the time he supposedly met the Iraqi in Prague."


All these reports attributed to the FBI were, as it turns out, erroneous. There were no car rental records in Virginia, Florida, or anywhere else in April 2001 for Mohamed Atta, since he had not yet obtained his Florida license. His international license was at his father's home in Cairo, Egypt (where his roommate Marwan al-Shehhi picked it up in late April). Nor were there other records in the hands of the FBI that put Atta in the United States at the time. Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet testified to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2002, "It is possible that Atta traveled under an unknown alias" to "meet with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague." Clearly, it was not beyond the capabilities of the 9/11 hijackers to use aliases.

So was the FBI wrong unintentionally, or intentionally?

And then there's this:

Czech intelligence services could not solve this puzzle without access to crucial information about Atta's movements in the United States, Germany, and other countries in which the plot unfolded, but it soon became clear that such cooperation would not be forthcoming. Even after al-Ani was taken prisoner by U.S. forces in Iraq in July 2003 and presumably questioned about Atta, no report was furnished to the Czech side of the investigation. "It was anything but a two-way street," a top Czech government official overseeing the case explained. "The FBI wanted complete control. The FBI agents provided us with nothing from their side of the investigation."

Why? Why is the FBI acting like it has something to hide here? Do we have a mole in the FBI, operating on orders from al Qaeda or Saddam's intel services? It's possible Osama could have hired a Robert Hanson-type to run interference. Or did the FBI have some embarrassing connection with Atta prior to 9-11, that the Prague revelations threaten to expose? Or is it such a bungling bunch of Keystones that it can't even work out a basic investigation without somehow tainting the possible results? Or have politics finally taken over our investigative agencies to such an extent that they are no longer capable of functioning?

Confirming or putting to rest questions about the Prague connection could blunt forever any question about justifying the Iraq war. The FBI is apparently not up to the job of doing that. We need to know why, but our government's intel oversight committees, politicized by the Senate Democrats, are no longer up to the job of finding out why the FBI cannot do its job.

One suspects politics are at work here, with politicized agents quashing facts that don't help their side of the aisle, and politicized Senators aiding them in order to keep doubts about Iraq alive long enough to dent Bush and either cost him next year's election or at least trim his coattails. I hope that's not the case, but the pattern is disturbing.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


How peaceful is the average Muslim in Bahrain? Um, not very:

TWO festivals to celebrate the Palestinian intifada are to held in Bahrain tonight and tomorrow night.

The events coincide with the International Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day, commemorated worldwide on the last Friday of Ramadan.

The first festival has been organised by the Islamic Enlightenment Society and will be held at the Saar Ma'tam, in Saar, tonight.

The event, at 8.45pm, will include speeches by society chairman Shaikh Saeed Al Noori, visiting Egyptian scholar El Dimerdash Al Okaali and Hamas Group representative in Lebanon Osamah Hamdan.

It will also include a documentary on the history of Zionist settlement in Palestine, poetry recital by famous Bahraini poets and songs by Islamic music groups.

"Our festival will serve as a wake-up call for everyone in Bahrain that peace with Israel would lead to chaos," said society information and Al Quds committees chairman Jaffar Al Qaddami.

Money will be collected for the support of the Palestinians throughout the festival.

To take the last bit first, the festival is nothing more or less than a fund-raiser for murderers. Scholars, singers and poets will be on hand to bathe in the blood and carnage of an endless, pointless scourge of dupes killing innocents at the behest of madmen. It's hard to overstate how monstrous this festival really is--it's a rallying call to try and prevent peace with Israel at all costs.

And how prominent a place with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion take in that documentary, d'ya think? I'd suspect it will play quite a high profile role.

And to think--Bahrain has been one of our more dependable allies in the MidEast lately. That whole region is sick.

MORE: To put this in some perspective, the two terrorist festivals are expected to garner roughly 20,000 attendees each. Some will be the same people, of course, but let's just stipulate that 40,000 show up for these things. So what, right? It's just 40,000 people gathering to celebrate mass murder--enough to fill Camden Yard in Baltimore. Well, according to the CIA Bahrain's total population is 667, 238, therefore 40,000 would be about 7% of the entire nation's population. If a festival were expecting a similar percentage of the population to show up in the States, you'd have more than 20 million people on hand. In other words, the entire state of Texas would have to show up.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2003


I'm sure Josh Marshall will do everything he can to avoid responding to this great post.

The fact is, having read much of Marshall's North Korea work, I've come to the conclusion that he just omits inconvenient facts in order to build a case that, whatever happens in North Korea, the bad will be Bush's fault and the good will be someone else's gain. He thinks Bush is being a unilateralist when in fact Bush has built a broad 11-state coalition to deal with Kim's nukes. He thinks Bush is being belligerent when it's Kim who's threatening to rain nuclear death on Seoul, Tokyo and LA (not to mention Australia), and Bush who is trying to talk him out of it without much help from the likes of Marshall or from some of the players in the region. And he thinks Bush is being a dumb cowboy when in fact Bush has gotten even the Chinese and French to see things mostly our way, while forging a remarkably strong relationship with Japan. South Korea is another matter, but then again South Korea is nearly always another matter. And even they are less about triangulation between us and Kim than they were a year or so ago.

The Marmot does a pretty fine job of skewering Marshall's selective rendering of some of the facts. And like I said, because of that Marshall is very unlikely to send up a rebuttal. He prefers to hit and run. Having been hit with this fisking, he's likely to run.

MORE: On a related note, I have just sent Josh Marshall the following email:

Hello Mr. Marshall,

I've read with interest many of your posts regarding North Korea. Particularly, I find your insistence that the Bush administration has pursued a unilateralist policy intriguing. How do you square your stance with a creature called the Proliferation Security Initiative? Never heard of it? Judging from your posts, I didn't think you had.

Let me give you a brief overview. A little over two months ago, the US and ten other states (Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain) finalized an agreement to interdict North Korean vessels suspected of trafficking in WMDs and components used to manufacture WMDs, long range missiles, you get the idea. It's a very significant group, consisting of most of the top economic powers in the world and, not coincidentally, most of the top blue-water navies in the world (you need blue-water navies to interdict shipping running via unorthodox lanes, as well as patrol vast coastlines, etc). The PSI is wholly a Bush administration creation, begun as an effort to blockade Kim without actually, formally blockading him. Though South Korea and China decided not to join, China has in effect become a part of it as well--it has agreed to an export control policy that will in effect (if they participate in good faith) keep WMD-related components and such from reach Kim from outside sources. South Korea is part of that deal as well. Chinese airspace is obviously critical as a shipping lane into North Korea; the Chinese have in effect cut that lane off.

None of this woud have happened if the Bush administration were acting unilaterally and without consulting with our allies in the region and around the world. None of it would have happened had the Bush administration simply given in to NoKo demands for bilateral talks, as you have suggested they do. By maintaining its resolve for multilateral talks and by keeping in close contact with the allies--and by not running to Pyongyang in a panic every time Kim's mouthpieces act up--the Bush team has formed an alliance that will help keep Kim in a cage. While the PSI and related treaties don't get us out of the nuclear woods completely, surely they deserve a mention on your widely-read blog? I'm sure you can find a way to spin it so that Bush won't get any credit, which seems to be your real aim after all.

I do think that your silence on the PSI, etc hurt your credibiilty with anyone who knows anything about North Korea. It looks like you are selectively burying inconvenient facts, while playing up other impressions to build your case that Bush has botched the situation. In short, your silence creates the appearance of disingenuous criticism levelled for purely partisan gain.

I hope you'll look into the Proliferation Security Initiative. I hope you'll see that its existence contradicts your assertions that the Bush team continues to operate along unilateral lines, and that in fact the Bush approach to NoKo has been both less aggressive and more multilateral than previous approaches. After all, Bush has yet to park any aircraft carrier battle groups off the NoKo coast, and has yet to leak draft attack plans. Clinton did both during the NoKo crises that occurred on his watch (and they were good moves, imho).

I hope you'll do all those things, but I'm not holding my breath. I am, however, posting an item on my blog informing my admittedly limited readership that you have been made aware of the PSI. You now know that the Bush administration has forged an alliance centered on countering the threat posed by Kim Jong-Il.

Have a nice day,

Bryan Preston

UPDATE: After sending off the above note last night, Marshall and I got into an email exchange. To say that he didn't like my missive understates things, a little. But after a little back and forth, Marshall acknowledged that he already knew about PSI but had just elected not to write about it. He never really justified the silence, arguing that there are lots of things he's aware of that he chooses not to write about. Fair enough, I guess, but I believe he does owe it to his readers to at least address evidence that militates against his contention that the Bush administration is operating arrogantly and unilaterally, and the existence of PSI is such evidence. In fact, it is very strong evidence that the Bush team has in fact been operating multilaterally behind the scenes for months, if not years. Since its existence is an argument against Marshall's opinion, he simply ignores it.

It seemed to me before, and still seems to me now, that his silence on some issues while playing up others is quite selective, and does not portray an attempt to argue fairly against Bush's North Korea policy.

Posted by B. Preston at 06:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Massachusetts' Supreme Court has, predictably, overreached--this time overturning several thousand years of cultural heritage, tradition and law in formulating a new definition of marriage that is, essentially, without meaning. If its decision somehow becomes the law of the land, marriage as an institution with any legal standing or meaning will evaporate over the next few decades.

To be sure, people will still get married, but they will increasingly get married for reasons having little or nothing to do with the institution's purpose, which is to provide a stable context in which to usher in and civilize future generations. Yes, people do that now, but allowing men to marry each other and women to marry each other virtually guarantees yet more abuse of the institution, and therefore less meaning within it. And to be sure, we heterosexuals have done our part over the past several decades to undermine marriage, from no-fault divorce and all that. But the fact remained, until today, that marriage was meant to create families that were geared to socialize children and raise them into functioning members of society. Now, marriage's purpose will be...? Well, pretty much anything anyone wants it to be, but most likely some form of extracting benefits from state and employer. How romantic.

In the next few years, as the initial backlash gives way to the hard fact of meaningless marriage and the social confusion that will follow, religious conservatives (the demonized "Christian right," which takes it on the chin from more political angles more often than terrorists these days) will be marginalized or will swallow the adder and go along to get along. Our churches will come under attack from the Virginia Postrels of the world--intelligent people without principle or a sense of tradition, people who seldom set foot in an evangelical setting yet feel qualified to pontificate on our deficiencies, and who place style above all else. We will be forced, not requested, but forced one way or another, to either permit and then accept and then condone gay marriage, or we will be shut down. If we utter a peep in protest, we will be prosecuted as hate criminals. That's not possible today, but it is of a piece with general trends.

Or if persecution isn't the rule, then the church will probably lose its power to conduct marriages. It will all be in the name of fairness, naturally, and in the name of separation of church and state. Adam and Steve will petition their local Baptist congregation to allow them to marry in their building. The Baptists will refuse. Adam and Steve will sue, and the court will so rule that while it cannot force the Baptists to allow the ceremony to take place in their privately-held property, it can take away Baptists' function as marriage facilitators. Preachers and priests will lose the ability to pronounce anyone man and wife so that some government official can pronounce us all one big happy married conglomerate, with full health coverage for all.

I'm being facetious, but not by much. The fact is we're looking at the beginning of a pretty ugly turn: Either gays get what they want and then turn to demand still more, or they don't get what they want and marriage survives, battered but not broken by the experience. Either way, gay marriage opponents--who are not, by the way, all evangelical Christian righties--will look like the bad guys, proponents get to cast themselves in the role of tolerant advocate and gays themselves get to play the victim. The real victim will be marriage itself, and possibly future generations that will grow up under some truly non-nuclear family arrangements, but who cares about that? Abstractions mean little when feelings rule.

We will likely see the Massachusetts legislature knuckle under and pass laws officially recognizing gay marriage, or we will see the court force the legislature to do so. We will see gay couples fly up to Massachusetts to get married and then return to their homes in Alabama to see how far the Full Faith and Credit clause goes. Eventually the United States Supreme Court will pull another Roe, and we'll all be locked in yet another political feedback loop. And all of this to satisfy a minority of a minority against the wishes of the majority. Democracy these days seems to work in adverse proportions--the fewer numbers you have, the more likely you are to get your way, and the more numbers you have, the more likely you are to be marginalized. How else understand why America's 30 to 40 million evangelicals take so much abuse at the hands of the extreme ends of the political and moral spectrum? Fiscal conservatives and liberals may not agree on much, but they do see eye to eye on one thing--we evangelical Christians are the worst thing going.

Why, it was just last night I caught a snippet of political Rasputin Dick Morris opining on the future fortunes of the GOP. He said--and I'm not making this up--the Republicans could actually start to win elections if they dumped the Christian right. That's darn near a verbatim quote, but while I got the words close to right Morris gets the facts entirely wrong. Maybe he missed 1994, and 2000, and 2002 and isn't reading the numbers for 2004--all years in which the GOP either won or is likely to win, with its Christian base firmly intact. But in his wish to see us marginalized because he just doesn't like us, he'll lie, or bend the data, whatever. Chameleons like Morris just don't like people with principle, and say what you want about us, we Christian righties do espouse coherent principles. We don't always live up to them, but we do advocate them.

The gay marriage debate will exacerbate religious tensions further. If it ends with full sanction for gay marriage, it effectively tears the heart out of our cultural foundations. If it doesn't, well, expect more vitriol from all sides, continued legal challenges, more anger, far more heat in American politics at the expense of light. Whatever the outcome, it won't be pretty.

MUST-READS: Stanley Kurtz on the political implications of Goodridge, and Maggie Gallagher on the court's misreading of the purpose of marriage, among other things.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:31 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack


Turkey has linked the Istanbul bombing to al Qaeda elements working from Afghanistan.

It's no surprise because Afghanistan is becoming a problem again, thanks in no small part to the internationlization of the mission there. There are currently roughly 5700 international troops providing security in Kabul--but only three helicopters. Yeah, you read that right--three. Why so few?

Belgium offered more choppers and then got cold feet once it realised the cost, Greece declined to send any because it was too stretched by preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics and Turkey is now sitting on a last-ditch request to fill the gap.

And Howard Dean and most of the Democrats think it would be a good idea to internationalize Iraq along the same lines? The question they never answer, because they're never asked, is how? Where will all these capable international troops come from? France--which couldn't even tame the Ivory Coast? Russia--Chechnya, anyone?

I've got news for them--when it comes to projectable military power, we're it. Sure, the British can hold their own, especially in terms of infantry, but their military is a fraction of the size of ours. It would be great if other nations would pitch in and help rebuild Iraq, but we're the only nation capable of truly projecting enough force where and when we need to, and we're the only ones capable of sustaining a massive operation such as Iraq thousands of miles from our shores. No one else can do it, and those in the neighborhood who could help out choose not to, or choose to delay and obfuscate. And mounting casualties from terrorist strikes scare others, such as South Korea and Japan, from inserting their own capable troops.

We might as well face it--internationalizing Iraq along Afghanistan lines is a bad idea. It probably won't work, for a variety of unchangable reasons having mostly to do with how other countries have organized their armed forces. It's time someone called Dean et al on it and at least got them to provide some details to back up their criticisms of Bush admin policy.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


On February 18, 1998, President Bill Clinton sent his foreign policy team--Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and White House National Security Adviser Sandy Berger to Ohio State University for a 90-minute town hall meeting. The purpose was to guage the nation's mood and drum up support for pending military action against Iraq. Why? At the time, there were two interpretations, one overt and one simmering beneath the surface. The overt reason was Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of the UN weapons inspections regime in apparent pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The simmering reason was l'affaire Lewinsky, and suggestions that a new war with Iraq would push Monica off the front pages and perhaps blunt the growing scandal before it could sink Clinton's presidency. Wag the dog, in other words. But that was a minority view; most Americans took the threat of Saddam Hussein armed with weapons of mass destruction seriously enough to consider another war against him if the goal was to remove him from power, and provided US casualties were minimal.

The Ohio State town hall meeting was intended to shore up war support by bringing the American people into a conversation about war and peace and Saddam Hussein, but the White House blundered badly going in by allowing CNN exclusive rights to cover it. This limited the other newtorks to airing just two minutes of the event, thus shrinking the potential audience. The other nets responded by airing interviews with the principles while protesting CNN's exclusivity, diluting the serious discussion of war and peace by coupling it with criticism of its media strategy. The exclusive CNN deal had the unintended effect of casting the entire question of war in a less serious light than it deserved.

The event did not go well. A small but vocal minority heckled the administration officials for promoting a "racist war" against Iraq, chanted "Bull----!" during replies to audience questions, and interrupted Albright et al at nearly every turn. European allies called it a "tactical mistake" that probably cheered up Saddam Hussein, while Republican John Boehner of Ohio compared it to the Oprah Winfrey show. In the end, the Ohio State event failed and Saddam Hussein remained in power. But the arguments that Albright, Cohen and Berger used to justify action would sound right at home in the Bush administration's run-up to this year's final reckoning with Saddam Hussein.

In one telling exchange:

As shouts erupted from the audience, [Albright] added, "I'm really surprised that people feel they need to defend the rights of Saddam Hussein."

"You're not answering my question, Madame Albright," the questioner said.

"As a former university professor," Albright said, "I suggest, sir, that you study carefully what American foreign policy is. Every one of the violations has been pointed out on what is not right, and I would be happy to spend 50 minutes with you after the forum to explain it."

The violations she referred to are, of course, the same violations that sparked this year's war that finally ended Saddam's rule: Violation of UN Security Council resolution 687, which ended the 1991 Gulf War and 16 subsequent resolutions tied to Saddam's illicit weapons programs. The one major legal difference between 1998 and 2003 was yet another resolution, 1441, which promised "serious consequences" should Saddam fail to comply one more time. That resolution amounted to tying up the previous 17 resolutions into one enforcable package, but did not substantially change the legal framework for dealing with Saddam Hussein. A second difference would be 9-11; a third might be the party in charge of US foreign policy. More about that later.

The Ohio State hecklers pounded Albright and co. with questions about how they could sleep at night knowing their policies would kill innocent Iraqis. Albright's response was uncharasterically brilliant:

"What we are doing," replied Albright, "is so that you all can sleep at night. I am very proud of what we are doing. We are the greatest nation in the world ..."

She stopped as the audience rose and applauded.

"... and what we are doing," she resumed, "is being the indispensable nation, willing to make the world safe for our children and grandchildren, and for nations who follow the rules."

Indeed, and in light of 9-11 America became even more indispensable. Or so it would seem. What other nation could so quickly and effectively marshall enough force to topple a rogue state on the other side of the world with minimal loss of civilian life, to say nothing of the minimal loss to its own military? What other nation could organize financial and diplomatic force to strangle the vast and various global terror networks? No other nation could do these things. Responding effectively to 9-11 was America's responsibility.

But 9-11 did not happen apart from history. Neither did the war in Iraq, now castigated by the same Madeline Albright who argued so forcefully in favor of it five years earlier. Both events happened in the context of a global war on terrorism, a war declared against the US in 1996 by Osama bin Laden.

So what changed? Surely not the behavior of our "allies," most notably the French. During the 1998 crisis, France went to the mat for Saddam Hussein as they did in 2002 and 2003. Russia and China joined France's diplomatic side; the trio worked simultaneously both to restrain the Clinton administration and to end the UN sanctions imposed on Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

Saddam Hussein certainly didn't change between 1998 and 2003. He tossed the UN inspectors out of Iraq in December 1998; they would not return until early 2003. Appearing on Meet the Press on January 2, 2000, Albright once again defended Clinton administration hawkishness toward Saddam's Iraq. She stressed the lack of effective monitoring, as well as Saddam's history of both possessing and deploying weapons of mass destruction. Further, host Tim Russert quoted her boss' take on Saddam and WMD:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you what the President said a year ago and get your sense of it as we look at it today: "A rather scary threat to regional stability becomes increasingly alarming. Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein is successfully staving off attempts at the United Nations to reinstate weapons inspectors in his country."

One year ago, President Clinton himself summed up the likely
consequences of allowing Mr. Hussein to go uninspected for
too long. "Mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass
destruction, he will deploy them, he will use them."

Asserting that the French, Chinese and Russians essentially opposed US policy at the UN, Russert asked Albright what would happen if Saddam failed once again to comply. Her answer:

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we still continue to have the possibilities that we've had before of taking unilateral or multilateral action if we need to. But I think we should -- I can't say that we have accomplished everything we've wanted with Iraq. But we, I think, are on the right track in terms of keeping them, as I've said, in the box, of working with the opposition and working towards regime change, and making quite clear to the neighboring countries and to the rest of the world and our partners at the United Nations that what Saddam Hussein is doing is unacceptable.

She clearly laid unilateral action on the table as a viable option. She stressed that Saddam's actions had been unacceptable. She talked the talk of war when she was given the chance.

So I ask again, what changed between 1998 and 2003? The same Madeline Albright who argued in favor of toppling Saddam Hussein in 1998 now criticizes the administration that actually followed through, on the grounds that it manipulated intelligence in order to mislead the American public into supporting war. But that same American public actually supported the war she wanted in 1998. Returning to the Ohio State town hall meeting:

While those opposing a "racist war" were a tiny, if vocal, minority, there were many others in the audience who agreed with a veteran who asked if "we're going to do it half-assed the way we did before?"

A caller from Oklahoma echoed that sentiment, asking, "How many times are we going to send our children and our children's children to fight Saddam Hussein?"


Another caller noted that the U.S. encouraged an uprising in southern Iraq but did not help those who responded, and that they were subsequently "slaughtered" by Iraqi troops.

"Our policy has been to support opposition groups, and it continues to be our policy," Cohen began, but he was drowned out by chants of "Bull----! Bull----!"

Another member of the audience screamed at the chanters, "Shut up!"


A caller from Germany who identified himself as a member of the U.S. armed forces, told the panel that he agreed with what they were trying to do. "And if lives need to be lost," he said, "let it start with mine."

Why did these Americans support the war that never was in 1998? Were they misled, too, Madame Secretary?

One thing, and one thing alone, changed between 1998 and 2003 that can explain Albright's turn on Iraq. The hawkish Secretary of State became the dovish critic for purely political reasons. Her administration supported containing and, if necessary, toppling Saddam Hussein. Her administration based its stance on Saddam's violent history and his pursuit of WMDs, as well as the legal case held against him in the UN. Her administration actually launched a limited air campaign against Iraq in December 1998, though its timing (it began the day before the US House was to vote on articles impeaching Clinton for his conduct in the Lewinsky scandal) was highly suspect. In spite of that timing, it should be noted, most Republicans gave the Desert Fox campaign their qualified support (and 76% of Americans approved). The attacks on 9-11 should have demonstrated the true depth of the terrorist threat posed by a Saddam Hussein, armed with WMDs, allied to terror groups--an alliance that the Clinton administration accepted as fact. But instead she and former Vice President Al Gore and others criticize, as do many other Democrats who once argued for military action, simply because the wrong party is leading the war. Albright and the other hawks with clipped wings oppose the war they had no stomach to prosecute fully precisely because their successors believed in its necessity enough to actually follow through, and because their successors happen to be Republicans instead of Democrats.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Jose Padilla, arrested in June 2002 on suspicion that he was scouting a "dirty bomb" project for al Qaeda, has been in a brig, incommunicado, ever since. He hasn't had access to an attorney. Now, a large group is challenging his status in an apparent effort to allow him to meet with his attorney.

Frankly, the Padilla case has disturbed me from day one. He is an American, arrested on US soil, but the evidence against him as an al Qaeda operative is compelling: Captured al Qaeda terrorists said he would arrive in Chicago on a certain date and time to begin his scout mission, and sure enough there he was. How would the al Qaeda terrorists have known he would be there unless they knew of his mission, which circumstantially makes for a strong case to arrest and hold him.

So based on that, it would not seem like a good idea to let him walk the streets or post bail or any of the usual things we allow defendants. It's highly likely he would just continue on his terrorist mission. On the other hand, it's corrosive to allow him to rot away in a military brig without the usual protections of due process. And that's why his case bothers me: There are no easy or clear-cut answers.

But I am glad that two things are going on. First, I'm obviously glad he was caught before he could attack, and I am glad he isn't on the streets. I hope that if he has any connections to other terror attacks past or future, the feds are using their extended time with him well. But I am also glad many are challenging his status. Not that I want to see him freed, nor do I want to see his defense attorneys become witting or unwitting conduits for him to pass information to possible fellow terrorists, but I do want his status overseen by the courts. Checks and balances help use human nature as a check against itself, and against possible abuses by one branch of government operating independently from the other two. Hopefully the legal challenges can settle his status and provide some needed guidance for dealing with future Jose Padillas--and I'm sure there will be future Jose Padillas.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2003


Stunning. Thought I'd never see it happen, to be honest--the director of Amnesty International says his troops should focus some of its bile at, you know, terrorists and people who want to kill us all with horrible weapons. Instead of, you know, President Bush for trying to protect us from said terrorists.

It's nice to hear. They're a little slow on the uptake, I'll grant, since we're now over two years and two wars into the anti-terror project. But better late than never, I guess.

On the other hand--he still thinks the anti-war left should approach terrorism with the same zeal with which it attacks Bush? The same--not more? Not even a little more? And, his angle is to keep the anti-war left relevant, as opposed to, say, just getting aligned with the right side of the argument because it's right. They're still morally clueless, after all.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Janice Rogers Brown

Miguel Estrada

I'm not calling anyone a "neanderthal"--I'll leave such racist remarks to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Chappaquiddick).

Posted by B. Preston at 05:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Good way to spend a Saturday:

Let me tell you a little story 'bout a kid named Analog,
Who wrote with Mark and Neal at RNS (a blog),
He heard about a protest by the Not In Our Name crew,
So he called up Dave and Sondra, he knew what they had to do.

Counter protest.
Piss off the Socialistas.

And they've got pictures!

Posted by B. Preston at 12:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Beltway sniper John Muhammad has been convicted of capital murder.

MORE: Now that the penalty phase of Muhammad's trial will get underway to, d'ya think any of this will come up? Nah--the press will just go on referring to him as an Army vet--but they'll leave out that, after converting to Islam, he tried to frag his officers. Or how about the fact that his spree started on Oct 2, 2002?

Posted by B. Preston at 12:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Saddam and al Qaeda reached an understanding leading to cooperation on funding, strategic planning, safe harbour and free movement. I'm not talking about that Weekly Standard article everyone's rightly buzzing about--I'm referring to a Justice Department memo dated 04 November 1998. You may find said memo here. It refers to an indictment handed down that same day against bin Laden and Mohammed Atef for the Africa bombings on August 7 of that same year:

The 238-count indictment charges, among other things, that bin Laden and Atef along with co-defendants Wadih el Hage, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, and Mohamed Rashed Daoud al'Owhali, acted together with other members of "al Qaeda" -- the worldwide terrorist organization led by bin Laden -- to murder US nationals, including members of the American military stationed in Saudi Arabia following the Gulf War and in Somalia as part of UN Operation Restore Hope, as well as those employed at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. They established front companies, provided false identity and travel documents, and provided false information to authorities in various countries.

Bin Laden's "al Qaeda" organization functioned both on its own and through other terrorist organizations, including the Al Jihad group based in Egypt, the Islamic Group also known as el Gamaa Islamia led at one time by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and a number of other jihad groups in countries such as Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia.


According to the indictment, bin Laden and al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the Government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah with the goal of working together against their common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.

"In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq," the indictment said.

Beginning in 1992, bin Laden allegedly issued through his "fatwah" committees a series of escalating "fatwahs" against the United States, certain military personnel, and, eventually in February 1998, a "fatwah" stating that Muslims should kill Americans -- including civilians -- anywhere in the world they can be found.

While the indictment isn't a conviction and is also not necessarily a reflection of official Clinton-era policy, its use in a JD memo does indicate support for its contents. That memo highlighted, among other things, the al Qaeda-Iraqi connection. The Clinton Justice Department believed such a connection was at least a strong possibility, or it would not have issued a memo highlighting it.

Not long after the August 7, 1998 African embassy bombings, the Clinton administration started what amounted to a full-court press aimed at steeling the American people for what it said would be a long, difficult war.

Secretary of State Madeline Albright, on PBS Newshour, August 25, 1998:

I think it's very important for the American people to understand that we are involved here in a long-term struggle. We have been affected by this before. This is, unfortunately, the war of the future, and I think that we have to understand the importance of having a sustained operations here.

That same day, on the same program, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger:

What we did on Thursday [the cruise missile strikes on a chemical plant in Sudan, believed by the Clinton administration to have been a terror-connected chemical weapons plant, and on a suspected terrorist camp in Afghanistan] is to say that while we need a course to defend ourselves, to harden our embassies and protect ourselves, you can't fight this enemy simply on defense. You have to also be prepared to go on offense, as well as, where we believe it's appropriate. (emphasis mine)

Offense? Is Berger talking about pre-emption? Sure sounds like it.

Albright again:

We are involved in really a long-term struggle here with terrorist forces and this is but one stage in it. And I think we have to understand that this is a long-term problem for the United States and the civilized world.

That problem did not go away with the missile strikes, of course. It returned in small ways on an almost daily basis in Israel, where Saddam Hussein and other regional despots funded Palestinian bombers, and on October 12, 2000 when terrorists bombed the USS Cole while in port in Yemen. And it returned with a vengeance on September 11, 2001.

The Clinton administration's various spokesmen clearly articulated the nature of the al Qaeda threat. They stated that the US and civilized world faced a long-term struggle against it, a struggle that would demand resolve if we were to win it. Then they lost power, and several of them have become critics of that same war's prosecution--a prosecution which has been carried out along lines they themselves hinted would be necessary. And because several of those officials, most notably Albright and former Vice President Al Gore, have become such harsh critics of the war on terrorism, many of their partisan supporters have followed suit, and today the nation is divided on several questions relating to the war, namely, whether we should fight it, where we should fight it and when we should fight it. Were the Clinton administration still in power, or if Gore had become president in 2000, it's reasonable to assume that most of those criticizing the war from the left today would support it and any domestic terror-related laws passed to secure the homefront. Today they do not support it simply because the wrong party is leading it. And they continue to ignore the evidence of an Iraqi-al Qaeda connection for the same reason.

About that connection: Stephen Hayes has written a couple of gems in the past few months looking at how deeply Saddam and bin Laden were connected. The first was a couple months back, and is worth a second look now. His most recent piece is based on a DoD memo sent by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith to the now politicized Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's chair and co-chair, Sen. Pat Roberts and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, respectively. Rockefeller, we should remeber, is at the center of Memogate--the strategy memo detailing how Democrat members of the Committee should use their positions to attack President Bush and the conduct of the war for partisan advantage. The Feith memo is dated October 27, 2003. Here are a couple of highlights:

4. According to a May 2003 debriefing of a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda. The first meeting in 1992 between the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) and al Qaeda was brokered by al-Turabi. Former IIS deputy director Faruq Hijazi and senior al Qaeda leader [Ayman al] Zawahiri were at the meeting--the first of several between 1992 and 1995 in Sudan. Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes.


5. A CIA report from a contact with good access, some of whose reporting has been corroborated, said that certain elements in the "Islamic Army" of bin Laden were against the secular regime of Saddam. Overriding the internal factional strife that was developing, bin Laden came to an "understanding" with Saddam that the Islamic Army would no longer support anti-Saddam activities. According to sensitive reporting released in U.S. court documents during the African Embassy trial, in 1993 bin Laden reached an "understanding" with Saddam under which he (bin Laden) forbade al Qaeda operations to be mounted against the Iraqi leader.


8. Reporting from a well placed source disclosed that bin Laden was receiving training on bomb making from the IIS's [Iraqi Intelligence Service] principal technical expert on making sophisticated explosives, Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed. Brigadier Salim was observed at bin Laden's farm in Khartoum in Sept.-Oct. 1995 and again in July 1996, in the company of the Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti.


10. The Director of Iraqi Intelligence, Mani abd-al-Rashid al-Tikriti, met privately with bin Laden at his farm in Sudan in July 1996. Tikriti used an Iraqi delegation traveling to Khartoum to discuss bilateral cooperation as his "cover" for his own entry into Sudan to meet with bin Laden and Hassan al-Turabi. The Iraqi intelligence chief and two other IIS officers met at bin Laden's farm and discussed bin Laden's request for IIS technical assistance in: a) making letter and parcel bombs; b) making bombs which could be placed on aircraft and detonated by changes in barometric pressure; and c) making false passport [sic]. Bin Laden specifically requested that [Brigadier Salim al-Ahmed], Iraqi intelligence's premier explosives maker--especially skilled in making car bombs--remain with him in Sudan. The Iraqi intelligence chief instructed Salim to remain in Sudan with bin Laden as long as required.

Read the whole thing, as there is quite a bit more. The Feith memo makes a compelling case that Clinton-era officials had access to data revealing a substantial relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. While much of it is uncorroborated, much of it has been verified by multiple sources. I wonder now about the timing of the Rockefeller memo (for lack of a better name, until we find out who actually wrote it, "Rockefeller memo" will refer to the Democrat Intel Committee strategy memo). What did the Senate Democrats know, and when did they know it? Had they read the Feith memo before drafting their partisan strategy memo? Did they know about mounting evidence supporting an Iraq-al Qaeda connection before or after they decided to hijack the Intel Committee for purely partisan gain? That question is critical to understanding the nature and depth of anti-war sentiment among Democrats on the Hill and running for president. If they are knowingly burying evidence supporting intelligence-based conclusions vis a vis Iraq and al Qaeda, and if in spite of that evidence are still willing to politicize the very nature we gather and investigate intelligence relating to the war, it's clear that they are willing to sacrifice national security in the quest for political power.

(thanks to InstaPundit, Roger Simon, and others)

UPDATE: DoD's take on the Feith memo leak: It shouldn't have been leaked and doesn't represent DoD's firm conclusions regarding ties between Iraq and al Qeada. True on both counts. But it's a sign of the times that leaks of memos have become the chief means of dialogue in Washington concerning the war. It's hard to see how we win if this keeps up.

MORE: Victor Davis Hanson, in a related vein:

In the future, the American military must accept that if it is asked to go to war under a Republican administration, its public-relations problems will pose as much a dilemma as the campaign itself — as the New York Times, National Public Radio, the campuses, the major networks, and the Europeans will almost immediately seek to oppose and caricature America's efforts. In contrast, in our contemporary therapeutic society that gives currency to lip-biting, publicly feeling pain, and professions of utopianism, Democrats can pretty much use the military as they wish — secure they will always be seen as sober and judiciously using force only as a "last resort."

Such generalizations have little to do with history: In both World War I and World War II, Democrats were seen as engaged internationalists, Republicans as shrill isolationists. Nor are these fault lines necessarily permanent trends, given that there is nothing in Democratic ideology that inherently rules out the use of force in a necessary cause.

Nevertheless, the present public perceptions and political realities will likely persist, since recent popular ideologies like multiculturalism and utopianism have become embedded in the postwar Democratic party. Both notions tend to characterize the American military not as a force for good, but as an extension of American pathology that legitimizes if not promotes an oppressive globalism, racism, sexism, colonialism, and economic oppression.

If one finds that stereotype unfair, remember the pathetic scene of a Gen. Clark during the recent Democratic debate, who castigated the president of the United States at a time of war while deferring to the wisdom of Al Sharpton. Take out a mass murderer, free 26 million, and you will earn charges of incompetence if not treason; slander a DA, fabricate a crime, and fan the flames of riot and racial hatred, and you will win respect from a Democratic frontrunner. For Republicans who must resort to war, the primary challenge will not be the fighting itself, but rather the perception that the United States was inherently wrong to have fought in the first place.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack