February 27, 2004


Maybe we'll finally get some answers:

WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI on Friday ordered a formal review of some aspects of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing investigation, reopening the question of whether Timothy McVeigh may have had more accomplices in the worst domestic terrorist attack in U.S. history, The Associated Press has learned.

Reacting to an AP story earlier this week, the FBI ordered agents to determine why some documents did not properly reach the bureau's Oklahoma City task force during the original investigation or get turned over to McVeigh's lawyers before he was executed in 2001, officials said.

The review of evidence and documents will also try to determine whether FBI agents in a separate investigation of white supremacist bank robbers may have failed to alert the Oklahoma City investigation of a possible link between the robbers and McVeigh, and allowed some of that evidence to be destroyed.

Those bank robbers could be the "others unknown" who were included in the original indictments but were never pursued or prosecuted. In fact, the "others unknown" were never even identified. But with tantalizing evidence suggesting Middle Eastern, even al Qaeda, connections to OKC, perhaps the FBI's renewed interest will lead to some answers on that front as well.

Additionally, Terry Nichols' state trial will begin on Monday, which will hopefully provide further opportunities to explore his possible connections to Abu Sayyaf, the Philippine branch of al Qaeda.

As the FBI investigation and Nichols trial progress, IntelWire will no doubt be the best place to follow both. Set your bookmarks accordingly, because both of these tracks should prove very interesting over the next few months and no one has followed the story more closely or more doggedly over the past couple of years than J.M. Berger over at IntelWire.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Sixpence None the Richer is calling it quits.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The media will assume its usual role of cheerleading for whatever cockamamy scheme the left wants enacted, that you can count on as much as you can be assured that tomorrow the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

Kevin Holtsberry has found a case in point.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Susan Hawk may or may not win this season's Survivor all-star contest, but she may get a jury to vote Viacom off the island and a fellow contestant into jail. That's because CBS, corporate child of giant Viacom, is offering sexual assualt as entertainment. And bragging about it Watch the video preview on that page, and note the story line involving Susan and Richard.

Richard Hatch, the "fat naked gay guy" (that's what he called himself) who won Surivor's first season, is back for this season's all-star contest. He's best known for walking about and competing in the buff, which Survivor's producers allow both because it's his repulsive style of play and because it creates buzz and controversy. This time producers allowed him to compete au naturale in a contest revolving entirely around close bodily contact, and during the course of the game, which included wrestling and pushing, he appears to rudely sexually assault Hawk by intentionally pushing himself up against her and asking if she "wants some." As the preview makes clear, Hawk is understandably outraged at Hatch, at the show's host, presumably at the producers and anyone else involved. But to CBS, it's not a crime, it's an opportunity! Let's milk the assault for drama and ratings! Tune in next week to watch Susan get all uppity about having a penis shoved up against her!

Where are the feminazis, I ask you?

Make no mistake about this--if it happened in any other context, Hatch's actions would constitute a crime. He shoved his bare essentials against a woman without her consent. That he is gay does not absolve him in any way--we have been told for decades that rape and sexual assault aren't about the sex, but about the violence and intimidation. This time it's about winning some contrived game show using that intimidation. That makes it no less an actionable crime. But rather than apologize or make amends, CBS is marketing it for the cashola and slapping a "parental discretion" label on it to get people talking (there was no nudity shown). Despicable. Just watch the video preview linked off the page above if you don't believe it. CBS is marketing a real sexual assault on the heels of Justin Timberlake's faux assault.

At the very least, the victim of the CBS sexplay, Susan Hawk, probably has herself a massive lawsuit opportunity against Viacom, and that appears to be the only thing that will wake Viacom up (she probably also has grounds to lock Hatch up). Another of its corporate children, MTV, has already gone back on its post-Super Bowl decision to move raunchy music videos to the wee hours. Britney Spears' "Toxic" is back in prime.

So Viacom has apparently learned that it's smart to make loud public pronouncements when everyone's upset, but switch back to its old ways when the heat is off. Hawk could easily stake a claim to CBS' profits from the current series based on the fact that it is shamelessly marketing her misfortune for the sake of ratings and is thus a party to the crime after the fact. They also created the perfect conditions for her to be assaulted, and for them to take advantage of her when it happened. She will likely have a sympathetic jury of Super Bowl watching parents to bring the hammer down. Maybe, just maybe, losing such a lawsuit and a pile of cash along with it would serve as a boot to the head for Viacom. As Drudge would say: Developing...

(Thanks to Reality Blurred. B. Preston contributed to this report.)


CBS actually edited the latest episode in a way that made her look like a scheming psycho nutball -- as in the "nuts and sluts defense." They offered no apology to her for allowing the guy to play the challenge naked and to rub his bare genitals on her bare skin. And they did not show a single person criticize the producers for putting her in that position. It was obviously edited to sway any potential jury. Nobody in the press criticized CBS and Viacom for hyping the sex assault on one episode, and smearing her for fun on the next. Very weird. Had it been the pretty Elizabeth (Filarski) Hasselbeck of ABC's The View getting "rubbed the wrong way" and then exploited, I can guarantee there would have been more outrage.

CBS and Viacom made millions off the incident, and had their best ratings since the show's post-Super Bowl debut.

Sexual assault pays for those that know how to play the game. CBS posted an article about how the survivor is "getting past it" with the help of CBS' Early Show:

Smith asked her if she was tired and hungry, and if perhaps physical deprivation contributed to her emotional response. But Hawk said it did not.

"I wasn't thirsty or hungry," she explained. "We had a lot of food there… I was in really good shape physically and mentally. I wasn't thinking about home and I wasn't thinking about food. It was actually easier this time around."

She told Smith, "Feeling Richard naked next to you is not a good feeling. That's all… You know, I don't want to brush up against naked people."

. . .On Thursday night's "Survivor: All-Stars," both tribes were shocked by Hawk's sudden departure, but continued with the game.

Some of Hawk's tribe mates reacted to her departure with glee. Bursting into a song and dance, flapping his arms and stomping his feet in a jerky chicken strut, contestant Tom Buchanan, who made no secret of his dislike for Hawk, honked out a celebratory chorus of "Ding dong, the witch is dead."

Everyone was just filled with joy seeing the weak nutty witch get what she deserved.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


[H]e is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

--James 1:8

Why does that verse remind me of John Kerry?

In his most explicit remarks on the subject yet, Kerry told the Globe that he would support a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit gay marrriage so long as, while outlawing gay marriage, it also ensured that same-sex couples have access to all legal rights that married couples receive.


Saying at the time that he opposed gay marriage, Kerry was one of 14 senators to vote against a federal law in 1996 defining marriage as a union only of a man and woman, saying it amounted to gay-bashing. Kerry has also denounced the push by President Bush this week to amend the US Constitution to outlaw gay marriage.

What is the substantive difference between amending a state constitution and amending the Constitution? Anyone?

Posted by B. Preston at 10:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 26, 2004


Blacklisting has returned to Tinseltown. It's a short list, with just one name:

Neither of the chairmen would speak for attribution, but as one explained: "It doesn't matter what I say. It'll matter what I do. I will do something. I won't hire him. I won't support anything he's part of. Personally that's all I can do."

Guess who?

Posted by B. Preston at 02:04 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Sometimes the news of the day is just too depressing. We have another racist Democrat on our hands, and Sen. Kerry's 1971 testimony appears to have been inspired by Soviet propaganda.

First, the racist:

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown verbally attacked a top Bush administration official during a briefing on the Haiti crisis Wednesday, calling the President's policy on the beleaguered nation "racist" and his representatives "a bunch of white men."

Her outburst was directed at Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Noriega, a Mexican-American, is the State Department's top official for Latin America. . . .

Noriega later told Brown: "As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man," according to three participants.

Brown then told him "you all look alike to me," the participants said.

I agree with InstaPundit--a resignation is in order. The US Congress is no place for such a bigot. And the journalist who wrote the story about her remarks should also get a reprimand. Nowhere in it is her party ID mentioned. Can you imagine such an omission if she were a Republican?

Next, Kerry's possible Soviet roots. This comes from a man who was a KGB officer during the Vietnam era, and whose responsibility during those years was creating and disseminating anti-American propaganda:

Part of Senator John Kerry's appeal to a certain segment of Americans is his Vietnam-veteran status coupled with his antiwar activism during that period. On April 12, 1971, Kerry told the U.S. Congress that American soldiers claimed to him that they had, "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned on the power, cut off limbs, blew up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."

The exact sources of that assertion should be tracked down. Kerry also ought to be asked who, exactly, told him any such thing, and what it was, exactly, that they said they did in Vietnam. Statutes of limitation now protect these individuals from prosecution for any such admissions. Or did Senator Kerry merely hear allegations of that sort as hearsay bandied about by members of antiwar groups (much of which has since been discredited)? To me, this assertion sounds exactly like the disinformation line that the Soviets were sowing worldwide throughout the Vietnam era. KGB priority number one at that time was to damage American power, judgment, and credibility. One of its favorite tools was the fabrication of such evidence as photographs and "news reports" about invented American war atrocities. These tales were purveyed in KGB-operated magazines that would then flack them to reputable news organizations. Often enough, they would be picked up. News organizations are notoriously sloppy about verifying their sources. All in all, it was amazingly easy for Soviet-bloc spy organizations to fake many such reports and spread them around the free world.

As a spy chief and a general in the former Soviet satellite of Romania, I produced the very same vitriol Kerry repeated to the U.S. Congress almost word for word and planted it in leftist movements throughout Europe. KGB chairman Yuri Andropov managed our anti-Vietnam War operation. He often bragged about having damaged the U.S. foreign-policy consensus, poisoned domestic debate in the U.S., and built a credibility gap between America and European public opinion through our disinformation operations. Vietnam was, he once told me, "our most significant success."

Kerry must answer for this.

And it's depressing to think that a political party that includes a Corrine Brown and is set to nominate a John Kerry is all but guaranteed to remain a viable political force in our country. It's sickening.

MORE: “Politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs. And you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship…” ---John Kerry, 1971

Posted by B. Preston at 09:55 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 25, 2004


Andrew Sullivan is currently running a smear campaign, running emails from people claiming to be disgusted by President Bush's announced support for the federal marriage amendment. I question the authenticity of some of the letters he is posting, as they seem to share writing styles and form their arguments in nearly identical ways, but that's incidental and may perhaps make an interesting discussion another time. It is the substance of the smear campaign itself, from his own pen, that concerns me more than whether he is running fake emails.

On a deeper level, his smear campaign has been going on since long before President Bush announced support for a Constitutional amendment to uphold the long-standing definition of marriage. I noticed it not long after 9-11, when he began to refer to the war as a struggle not for Old Glory or even for America as such, but against fundamentalism. That word--fundamentalism--is as loaded as it is generic. It means many different things to different people, depending on many factors such as culture, geography and who is using the word. In Sullivan's case, it soon became clear that he meant for the war to be fought not only against the Islamic fundamentalists who perpetrated 9-11. He meant to use that necessary war to fight his own personal battle against fundamentalist Christians and other Christians who disagreed with him about almost anything.

He soon began trying to create epithets for us--"theocons" emerging as his favorite. He has long smeared us as out of the mainstream, when it is Sullivan who is out of the mainstream on so many issues. In using loaded terms--theocons, fundamentalist and the like--he is intentionally painting with a terribly broad brush, and perpetrating the very same kind of thuggery that he often condemns when he sees it in others.

But this week he has reached a new low. He is printing letters that equate mainstream Christianity with anti-Semitism, implicitly placing innocent Christians on the side of the terrorists in our current war. He cites one lone example of utterly immoral stupidity on the part of a small group of Christians to smear America's 30 million evangelicals as one big gang of racists and anti-Semites. In reacting to the president's FMA announcement, Sullivan wrote the following:

To those who say that this amendment is merely a codification of existing marriage law and doesn't target homosexuals, the answer is obvious. If it weren't for the possibility that gay couples might become equal under the law, this amendment wouldn't even exist. Pro-marriage amendments could have been introduced before now every year for decades - to ban no-fault divorce, for example. But none was. This one is entirely designed to single out gay couples for Constitutional exclusion. It therefore seems to me that I'm not the one who needs to defend his position. It's the president who has to answer to the charge that in wartime, he chose to divide this country over the most profound symbol there can be: the Constitution itself. I refuse, in short, to be put in a position where I have to pick between a vital war and fundamental civil equality. The two are inextricable. They are the same war. And this time, the president has picked the wrong side. He will live to be ashamed that he did.

Sullivan should award himself a Sontag nomination for that one. It is literally full of distortions and outright lies. The truth is, there would be no push for the FMA if not for the oppressive and extreme actions of a group of judges and one rogue mayor. With a little patience, his side in the struggle stood a good chance of winning, and in a peaceful manner. But because his allies have grossly overreached, we will have to fight this battle while we're fighting a real war, rendering unity impossible. In the passage above Sullivan literally put President Bush on the side of the very governments he has been toppling for two years. That, in my mind, crosses a line from mere political disagreement to politically obscene hate speech. I can see no other way to understand it.

**warning, graphic images are linked in the following paragraphs, so click on them at your own risk**

In equating President Bush and anyone else who opposes the judicial imposition of gay marriage by pure and undemocratic fiat, Andrew Sullivan is equating our president and millions of peace-loving and law-abiding Americans with the animals who did this:


And this:


And these:



There are many, many more examples of the kind of barbarity that President Bush has fought to end, and with which he is being smeared by Andrew Sullivan.

President Bush led our nation in toppling two of the most odious regimes ever to darken the face of the earth. The Taliban engaged in public beatings of women, in collapsing brick walls on homosexuals, in cutting off the hands of petty offenders--and then wearing those severed hands tied on ropes around their shoulders while they strutted around Kabul. Saddam Hussein imprisoned children, had his men rape the wives and daughters of his political opponents, and buried hundreds of thousands in mass graves after slaughtering them with conventional and unconventional weapons.

And Andrew Sullivan writes that in voicing support for an amendment to stop a clear overreach on the part of a court and a mayor, the very kind of overreach he would normally condemn if it took place around any other issue, the president has joined the wrong side in the war for the Constitution and is thus in a sense the enemy. He has long used similar smears against people like me--simply because we're Christians. Sullivan's actions amount to base thuggery. He is resorting to the lowest, cheapest, dirtiest and most dishonest form of politics. His actions are hysterical and irresponsible, and should have no place in political discourse. He has gone one obscenity too far.

(image source--Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

Posted by B. Preston at 11:56 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


Gravitational lenses...I hate 'em. They're scientifically useful, but otherwise gigantic pains in the backside.

So I don't hate them, per se. Actually, I hate having to figure out how to explain them in a video in about 30 seconds or less. It isn't easy.

You have to explain gravity's effects on space, which effects light by bending it. You have to point out that galaxies have lots of mass, and therefore their gravity is strong, but then you have to point out that most of a given galaxy's mass is tied up in dark matter, and then you might want to explain what that is to the extent that anyone can explain what dark matter is, and why anyone should care. Then you might get around to explain that because galaxies are massive they can, if concentrated in a cluster of galaxies, bend the light coming from galaxies far behind them, acting as a zoom lens that lets us see galaxies that we otherwise wouldn't be able to detect. They end up distorted in light arcs around the galactic zoom lens cluster, but we can see them all the same.

Which, as I said, is scientifically useful in a number of ways. We can see ancient galaxies that might ordinarily lie beyond our capability of seeing them, thus getting a view of the early universe (the whole light travel time thing, which you should also probably explain somewhere in the script). We can also do some tricky math to come up with how much dark matter is lurking in the galaxies that we're using as the zoom lens, thus getting a better grasp of just how much dark matter there may be in the universe. And since Einstein predicted all of this was possible, we can prove him right. Again.

But explaining all of this in a video, one argument after another, in a way that is concise and interesting and that I can pull off visually? Ugh. It's giving me a headache.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


It is generally accepted that Israel occupies land it gained in wars against several Arab states in 1967 and 1973. Israel fought those wars defensively; that is, it was either attacked first or knew of an imminent attack and responded, defeating its attackers.

But today, to hear much of the left talk about Israel, the occupied territories and all that, you'd think that Israel was the aggressor. Israel is often cast in the role of oppressing a hapless minority, though in reality Israel is defending itself from terrorists who kill innocent men, women and children. It's a turning of the tables that the left is executing because it's easier to demagogue an aggressor than a defender, and it is very difficult to win public sympathy for terrorists if you call them as such.

On 9-11, the United States was viciously attacked on its own soil. The only responsible thing to do was respond with force sufficient to destroy those who perpetrated that attack and their allies and try and change the culture of the Middle East that breeds the hatred that leads to terrorism. Yet to hear much of the left discuss the war, you'd assume that George W. Bush is nothing more than a war-monger attacking innocent countries for policital or financial purposes. Again, it's a turning of the tables that the left is attempting here, with the aim of casting Bush in the role of aggressor to discredit him and remove him from office.

I only bring these situations up to build a pattern in your mind: The left generally tries to support the side it prefers in a given dispute through casting the characters as either the aggrieved victim, helpless against a mighty onslaught, or the authors of the mighty onslaught aimed at oppressing some helpless person or group. I am not in any sense equating terrorism with the situation I am about to describe, just in case anyone gets confused. I am demonstrating a pattern that I hope will illuminate the following.

With that pattern in mind, let's look how the gay marriage issue is being cast. The facts are that the Western man-woman definition of marriage has stood for millenia. The facts are that a minority seeks to overturn or alter this definition in some way, though there is a dispute over how extensive the change they seek really is. The facts are that that minority and its allies have been attempting to use first the judicial process and then a rogue mayor to accomplish the change they seek. At no time has this minority or its allies resorted to the democratic process to get what it wants, and it has not bothered much with actually persuading anyone that the change it seeks will be beneficial to society at large or will not have unintended adverse effects. When questioned, this minority and its allies usually resort to demagoguery and name-calling.

As a response to these circumstances and actions, several groups have countered with actions of their own. They have gathered data to support their view that marriage should not be redefined. They have built arguments around that data, and around the history of marriage and the philosophical and social context that makes marriage an essential component of our society. And they have proposed taking the question to the voters in the form of a Constitutional amendment, believing that ultimately the question should be up to the voters and their elected representatives as opposed to judicial activists.

Who is the aggressor in this situation? Who is the defender?

When you read headlines that state "Bush seeks a ban on gay marriage," as opposed to "Bush seeks to defend the traditional definition of marriage," what impression do those headlines make? When you read Andrew Sullivan's attempt to cast Bush in the role of "attacking" gays, where do you mentally cast Bush and his allies versus gays and their allies?

Sullivan et al are attempting a giant effort to turn the tables here. They are taking the aggressors, those advocating a change to the existing situation, and pitting them as helpless victims of aggressive Bush, when he is doing nothing more than defending the status quo.

And that is the ultimate test when deciding who is the aggressor and who is the defender: What does each side want to accomplish? Gays want to change something in a fundamental way. FMA supporters merely want to preserve the status quo. By definition, therefore, it is the gays who are acting as aggressors and FMA supporters who are on defense, Andrew Sullivan's disingenuous spin notwithstanding.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:50 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Surprising and eloquent piece by the sci-fi writer, Democrat, supporter of the Iraq war and now FMA supporter:

You can't add a runway to an airport in America without years of carefully researched environmental impact statements. But you can radically reorder the fundamental social unit of society without political process or serious research.

Let me put it another way. The sex life of the people around me is none of my business; the homosexuality of some of my friends and associates has made no barrier between us, and as far as I know, my heterosexuality hasn't bothered them. That's what tolerance looks like.

But homosexual "marriage" is an act of intolerance. It is an attempt to eliminate any special preference for marriage in society -- to erase the protected status of marriage in the constant balancing act between civilization and individual reproduction.


The politically correct elite think they have the power to make these changes, because they control the courts.

They don't have to consult the people, because the courts nowadays have usurped the power to make new law.

Democracy? What a joke. These people hate putting questions like this to a vote. Like any good totalitarians, they know what's best for the people, and they'll force it down our throats any way they can.

That's what the Democratic filibuster in the Senate to block Bush's judicial appointments is all about -- to keep the anti-family values of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in control of our government.

And when you add this insult onto the already deep injuries to marriage caused by the widespread acceptance of nonmonogamous behavior, will there be anything left at all?


either civilized people will succeed in establishing a government that protects the family; or civilized people will withdraw their allegiance from the government that won't protect it; or the politically correct barbarians will have complete victory over the family -- and, lacking the strong family structure on which civilization depends, our civilization will collapse or fade away.

Remember how long Iraq's powerful military lasted against a determined enemy, when the Iraqi soldiers no longer had any loyalty to the Iraqi leadership. That wasn't an aberration. It's how great nations and empires fall.

Depriving us of any democratic voice in these sweeping changes may not lead to revolution or even resistance. But it will be just as deadly if it leads to despair. For in the crisis, few citizens will lift a finger to protect or sustain the elite that treated the things we valued -- our marriages, our children, and our right to self-government -- with such contempt.

Read the whole thing.

(thanks to Spoons)

Posted by B. Preston at 09:48 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


The JYB seems to be a lightning rod for all sorts of controversy tonight, which is fine by me. So let's toss out another bone to chew on.

Wintersoldier.com is apparently a one-stop shop for the lies and smears upon which John Kerry has built his career. At that site, you will find exerpts from Kerry's 1971 book The New Soldier, including photographs. You will also find some of the "evidence" that the "veterans" in Kerry's anti-war group proffered, and which he recited in 1971 before the Senate. And you will find the debunking of many of those "veterans" and their fabricated stories.

So why, after more than 30 years, does any of this matter?

If Kerry acknowledged that what he did back then was wrong, honestly, it wouldn't matter. If he had turned against all of that, he would deserve forgiveness. I still woudn't vote for him because I think he record as a Senator is enough to deny him the White House. But I wouldn't harp on his anti-war activities either.

But he hasn't turned against any of it. He has built his entire career on it. When confronted about it on CNN last week, he lied about it.

So it matters.

(big hat tip to E.L. Core)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 24, 2004


Since Allah is crediting Spoons with omniscience for predicting what has been bloody obvious for several months--namely, that Andrew Sullivan will find some reason to renounce the GOP and Bush--I thought I'd get into the act.

My prediction: Martha Stewart will be cleared.

Bonus prediction: John Kerry will regret bringing Vietnam up so much. I mean, he will really regret it.

Bonus bonus prediction: We're going to see another attempt to substitute a candidate for office at the last minute, such as happened with Torricelli/Lautenberg in New Jersey. And it will be for the presidency, on the Democrat side.

Ok, the bonus bonus is a long shot. But I think the other two are pretty solid.

UPDATE: Prediction #1 is looking good:

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge on Friday threw out the most serious charge against Martha Stewart, securities fraud, just before her trial goes to a jury.

The charge accused Stewart of deceiving investors in her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, by lying about her sale of ImClone Systems stock.

Securities fraud was the charge from which all the other charges, which she still faces, flowed. Those charges include lying to investigators, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. I were on that jury I'd probably vote to acquit on the grounds that she is innocent of the original charge for which she was in trouble in the first place.

Posted by B. Preston at 06:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

MARCH, 1999

That's when the CIA was given specific, credible intelligence that could have led to the terrorists plotting 9-11:

In March 1999, German intelligence officials gave the Central Intelligence Agency the first name and telephone number of Marwan al-Shehhi, and asked the Americans to track him.

The name and phone number in the United Arab Emirates had been obtained by the Germans by monitoring the telephone of Mohamed Heidar Zammar, an Islamic militant in Hamburg who was closely linked to the important Qaeda plotters who ultimately mastermined the Sept. 11 attacks, German officials said.

After the Germans passed the information on to the C.I.A., they did not hear from the Americans about the matter until after Sept. 11, a senior German intelligence official said.

"There was no response" at the time, the official said. After receiving the tip, the C.I.A. decided that "Marwan" was probably an associate of Osama bin Laden, but never tracked him down, American officials say.

The Germans considered the information on Mr. Shehhi particularly valuable, and the commission is keenly interested in why it apparently did not lead to greater scrutiny of him.

The information concerning Mr. Shehhi, the man who took over the controls of United Airlines Flight 175, which flew into the south tower of the World Trade Center, came months earlier than well-documented tips about other hijackers, including two who were discovered to have attended a meeting of militants in Malaysia in January 2000.


The incident is of particular importance because Mr. Shehhi was a crucial member of the Qaeda cell in Hamburg at the heart of the Sept. 11 plot. Close surveillance of Mr. Shehhi in 1999 might have led investigators to other plot leaders, including Mohammed Atta, who was Mr. Shehhi's roommate.

March, 1999. That would be Clinton's watch, wouldn't it?

Just keep this in mind the next time some dunderhead tells you that our intelligence failures are all Bush's fault.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


What we have in President George W. Bush is a man who takes stands. He does not waffle, he does not try to be all things to all people, and he does not try to be on three sides of a two-sided issue. He is a grown-up with strong beliefs and the backbone to say what he believes and to act based on those beliefs. He is exactly the right man in the right place at the right time.

The most obvious evidence for all this is the president's steadfast conduct of the war, and I see no need to recite all of the particulars at the moment. Suffice it to say that against petulent, often childishly shrill domestic opposition, President Bush has conducted our necessary war with vision, honor and skill, and because of that we are winning.

Two announcements from today underscore the fact that we have an adult in charge of the country. First, he has come out backing a federal marriage amendment that if passed will keep activist judges and rogue public officials from overriding the clear and expressed will of the people in keeping the sanctity of marriage defined as between one man and one woman. President Bush has not tried to have this issue both ways, because as an adult he recognizes that you cannot have it both ways sometimes. You can't just close your eyes and hope the thorny issues magically go away. Difficult choices must be made for the greater good, in this case preserving the definition of marriage as it has stood in Western thought and culture for millenia. President Bush has taken his stand. Many such as myself will support him, while others will no doubt oppose him--but at least we all know where he stands and why he stands there.

The second announcement concerns Iran. The unelected and brutal mullahcracy held sham elections there, though the press has tried to pretend that those elections were fair and free. Instead of mouthing the press line or pretending that Iran isn't what it is, President Bush has condemned the elections as a farce. Similar to his treatment of the Kyoto accord, an economic attack dressed up as an environmental treaty so bad that even the Clinton administration never sought ratification, calling Iran on its fake election is a bit of truth-telling that you can no longer expect from most politicians--but we got it from President Bush. The man is a plain-spoken grown-up, pure and simple.

MORE: Andrew Sullivan's reactionary rant is a fine example of childishly shrill opposition to the FMA. He describes the proposed amendment as "graffiti" on the Constitution, as an "attack" on gays, and so forth. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution is, of course, neither graffiti nor an attack. It is a resort to this nation's democratic process as enshrined in the Constitution itself. Instead of relying on a tiny group of judges in our most leftist state to decide this question for us all, the nation can now decide for itself what to do about the vexing question of defining marriage, or redefining it. Isn't this what democracy is all about?

Sullivan's response is obviously borne of fear. Not fear that there will suddenly be physical attacks against gays--no reasonable person expects that to happen. He simply fears that the truth will out, about the whole question. The far left's attempt to use gay marriage to undermine traditional marriage will see the light of day. The American people will rightly reject attempts to further erode an already endangered yet vital institution. In short, Sullivan fears that his side will lose. So he would rather resort to judicial fiat to force the majority to accept something that it has no desire nor moral need to accept. Sullivan's anti-democratic thuggery is shocking, but hardly surprising. He usually resorts to name-calling and insults when he doesn't get his way--just like a spoiled child.

MORE: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been at the center of the San Francisco whirlpool since it began on Valentines Day. At first he was mum, then began to speak on the issue but was clearly reluctant to take a formal stand, and finally over the weekend began to move against the clear and present campaign to violate state law underway in San Fran. There is now the first indirect evidence that his slowness to act has hurt him:

Also Tuesday, a statewide Field Poll found that Schwarzenegger's highest disapproval rating on nine issues came in same-sex marriage, where 42 percent of people disapprove of his performance, 39 percent approve and 19 percent have no opinion. The survey of 306 registered voters was conducted in the two days after the governor's call Friday for Lockyer to take action. The margin of error is 6 percentage points.

The relevant question is, do the voters disapprove of his actions or of his failure to act for so long? I'd bet it's the latter, since they had had more time to consider it than whether or not he should have taken the specific action of calling on the state attorney general. Then again, with a margin bar of 6, it's possible that opinion hasn't formed yet to the point that it can be understood via polling.

MORE: And the childishness continues. Sullivan is now calling the FMA the "religious right amendment to the Constitution." It's just more fear talking. He's got the fair democratic fight he never wanted and expects to lose, instead of the unfair judicial fight he thought he had and expected to win. Too bad.

UPDATE: I go away from the site for awhile, to come back and find scads of comments. Must be that Instalink at work.

A couple of points--to the fellow arguing that simply adding numbers to something makes it stronger, why then does the liberal left often argue against overpopulation? And, does adding a whole bunch of rusted out links make a chain any stronger?

To the one wondering when I'll back an amdendment outlawing interracial marriage, the answer is "Never." Being one half of an interracial marriage myself, I'd have a hard time justifying that particular stance.

The fact is, while some opposition to gay marriage is no doubt rooted in bigotry, it's also clear that many proponents of gay marriage are no less bigoted. Read any comment Andrew Sullivan has written about any Christian other than himself in the past year, and you'll see what I mean. So let's just take that particular argument off the table and address the issues at hand.

Three major fields bring many questions to mind:

1. Why do gay marriage proponents oppose using the democratic process to settle this argument? Surely you realize that amending the Constitution is very difficult. You folks only have to win one-fourth of the states to block the amendment. The odds are with you. So why the vitriolic opposition?

2. Why should those of us who oppose gay marriage trust you to stop at that? We believe that gay marriage will lead inevitably to polygamy, which will in turn erode most of the body of law we have dealing with marriage. We believe that history in places that have experimented with gay marriage--mostly Scandinavia--proves us right. By what logic or Constitutional reasoning will you stop with one-on-one gay marriage? Why not allow a bisexual man to marry both a man and a woman, since that would be an expression of his nature?

3. Would gay marriage proponents be fine with a mayor who, against relevant state law, ordered his employees to break the law and issue, say, gun permits or drivers licenses to people who otherwise would not qualify? Why, or why not? What would you want done with such a mayor?

UPDATE: How does proposing a Constitutional amendment "prevent" the country from figuring out whether gay marriage will ultimately be a good thing or not? I confess that I don't get that logic at all.

It seems to me that the worst possible solution to all this is to let a few courts rule gay marriage in--or out--of law by judicial fiat. One of the reasons we still have wrenching arguments over abortion today is that, more than 30 years ago, the courts foisted abortion on demand on a country that was not prepared for it and had not made the decision to allow it.

Or look at Florida, circa 2000. The bloody shirt that the left waves to this day is that in their minds President Bush was "selected, not elected." Had not that election ended up in the Supreme Court, they would not have that bloody shirt to wave, but as things stand now they will wave it for decades, dividing themselves from reasoned discourse about anything Bush says or does.

The same will happen, I think, if we simply turn the decisions regarding gay marriage over to the courts. Whichever way the courts rule, the losing side will believe it has been deprived of its say at the ballot box. It will chafe and grumble and foment rage at the winning side. The country will never get over it.

If we pursue and either pass or reject the FMA, winners and loser can say "The people have spoken." That won't put the matter entirely to rest, and we will see in the coming decades what effect the decision will ultimately have, but isn't it better to have all of this hashed out in the open air of an amendment campaign rather than in the closed chambers of an activist judiciary?

I think so. I think the people should make this decision, and not have it made for them. If we're going to have this debate, the democratic process is the best way to have it.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:15 PM | Comments (81) | TrackBack


Check out the statements of someone who appears to be another lefty wannabee:

He said: "Banning the headscarves in France is in line with burning villages with its inhabitants in Afghanistan, bringing houses down on the heads of sleeping Palestinians, with killing children in Iraq and robbing their oil using false pretexts ... (and) torturing them (Muslims) in the cells of Guantanamo."

Except for the bit about criticizing France (a nation above reproach among the left), all of that is right out of the left's anti-war playbook. Make up stuff about the war that makes us look bad, while ignoring all the good that comes from toppling two dictatorships and freeing 50 million people. Par for the course.

Oh, wait. It's not a lefty pol talking. It's Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's #2.

My bad.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


I think I fractured my lower mandible on this one:

Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley contended that the leading Democrat's activity with the radical leftist group Vietnam Veterans Against the War was an attempt by the future presidential candidate to build a legal case against his own country.

"He was really trying to get an indictment going against the U.S. government - for misadventures in Vietnam, or, one might say, war crimes," Brinkley told Newsday.

I stand by what I wrote the other day--many Vietnam protestors, and apparently we can include John Kerry among them, were not simply protesting the war. They had joined the other side.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:42 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Tim Blair manages to catch John F-in' Kerry in two, count 'em, two flips today.

Which means it's a slow day. But it's still early--JFK still has lots of time for more.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


James Joyner has been downsized. If your company is looking for an intel analyst, please give Mr. Joyner a look.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004


Rolling up terror networks is as much art as science. One fragment leads to a source, who leads to more fragments and perhaps a cell, which leads further up the chain to commanders and cash networks. The science is obvious: Investigators gather data and sort it, classify it, catalogue it and understand it. The art comes in play as agents sift clues to determine where and how terrorists plan to strike, who is bankrolling and leading them, and how the whole thing shapes up. Inferences play as great a role as hard data, because the hard data you gather never amounts to completing the picture in all its shades and hues.

The New York Times, frail gray lady that she is these days, reports on US efforts to chase down the science of terrorism, using the stray schrapnel and debris from terrorist bombs to discern how those bombs were made and detonated, hopefully leading back to the big question--"by whom?" Mentioned in the report are bombs great and small, from Africa and the Middle East to Asia, and the linkages that the evidence gathered so far suggests a global network of bomb-makers. So behind all these bombs--Iraq and Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the Philippines--is a single group, probably led by a single mind:

"Linkages have been made in devices that have been used in different continents," said one forensic expert involved in the intelligence effort. "We know that we have the same bomb maker, or different bomb makers are using the same instructions."

Which should some as no great shock, since we're at war against a specific terrorist enemy, known as al Qaeda. If there is a shock here, I suppose that today's terrorists seem to draw from a small set of bomb blueprints, as though there is a set or book of master plans out there somewhere that has been disseminated widely enough so that bomb-making expertise is decentralized. Again, no great shock.

But here is a shock. The Times article draws on reports from US intelligence analysts who have pored over ever nearly major bombing in the past several decades, and not a few minor bombings, and not a few attempted bombings. For instance, the Shoe Bomber wore evidence of this global bomb-making network when he tried to take out a transatlantic flight more than two years ago:

The study of the unexploded device built into the sole of the shoe worn by Richard Reid, a British citizen who was sentenced to life in prison, is a model for how the new analysis center will operate. In that case, forensic examiners were aided by experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration.

Mr. Reid acknowledged he was a follower of Al Qaeda. But subsequent forensic investigation showed that the design of his shoe bomb followed specific details in training manuals found by American forces at training camps in Afghanistan. The design closely followed the manuals. For example, the fuse was cut at precisely the angle the manual advised.

It remains unknown who built the shoe bomb, but investigators doubt it was Mr. Reid. Forensic analysts found a partial fingerprint on the bomb and a single strand of human hair, but neither matched Mr. Reid's.

So Mr. Reid had help. Most bomb deliverers do--they're just mules meant to carry the bombs made by smarter men, whose knowledge allows them to live to bomb another day.

The article, and if one can surmise from it the US analysis itself, leaves out one very large bomb and its alleged builders. Nowhere are Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, or their ammonium-nitrate nitromethane truck bomb, mentioned.

Why would that be? At the time, the Oklahoma City bombing was the single largest terrorist attack on US soil in our history, killing 168. The bomb used was large enough to deface a large urban building, doing so much damage that it ultimately had to be razed.

Further, that bomb was similar to ones used in the past by known Middle Eastern terrorist groups. Though according to IntelWire, it did deviate from known bomb designs in one curious detail:

The Bojinka airline-bombing plot, exposed by an accidental fire in Yousef's Manila apartment in early January 1995, resulted in the arrest of Abdul Hakim Murad (who later claimed responsibility in the Oklahoma bombing).

A spiral-bound notebook seized when Murad was arrested contained a page of instructions on the properties of nitromethane, one of the Oklahoma City bomb components, according to evidence presented at Murad's trial. Murad had used the notebook to record instructions on bomb-making provided by Yousef, who is universally considered an explosives genius.

The notation on nitromethane is located in a section of the notebook that can be dated to late December 1994, at which time Terry Nichols was staying in the Philippines, according to trial testimony.


The basic idea for the Oklahoma City bomb is widely thought to have been inspired by the racist novel "The Turner Diaries," which describes white supremacists using an ammonium nitrate-fuel oil bomb to blow up FBI headquarters. According to Peter Lance, author of 1000 Years for Revenge, Ramzi Yousef employed a similar ammonium nitrate-diesel fuel oil bomb in a thwarted attempt to destroy the Israeli embassy in Bangkok just a few months earlier, in March 1994.

McVeigh and Nichols followed the "Turner" blueprint closely, but the choice to replace fuel oil with nitromethane was a deviation that made the bomb more powerful. The specific recipe appears to have been first used in Oklahoma City.

So Mr. Murad was found in possession of a notebook with a new thought about truck bombs--substitute nitromethane for fuel oil to make them more powerful--and his notebook can be dated to a time when Terry Nichols was known to be in the Philippines, which was where Murad was arrested. And that very design change showed up first in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, just a few months later.

Interesting. Even more interesting is a scrap of evidence found in an abandoned al Qaeda safehouse after the fall of the Taliban:

A bomb manual found in Afghanistan contained a recipe for an ammonium nitrate-based bomb marked with the handrwritten notation "Was used in Oklahoma," according to the New York Times.

So there's the science--a new design proposed in an al Qaeda manual shows up in Oklahoma City, and then in subsequent bombings known to have been engineered by al Qaeda elsewhere around the world. Will America's artful investigators ever make the obvious connection?

(thanks to JM Berger and IntelWire)

Posted by B. Preston at 04:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Remarkably positive review from Ebert and Roeper:

Giving "Passion" their trademark stamp of approval of "two thumbs way up," Ebert and Roeper called it "a great film."

"It's the only religious movie I've seen, with the exception of 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by [Italian director Pier Paolo] Pasolini, that really seems to deal with what actually happened," said Ebert, who is the Sun-Times film critic.

"This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film," said Roeper, a Sun-Times columnist. "Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime. You have to admire not just Gibson for his vision and his directing abilities, but Jim Caviezel [as Christ] and the rest of the cast."

As for the controversy over whether the movie promotes anti-Semitism, Ebert said, "I hope people will see this movie for themselves and then judge. I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic. Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish. Yes, [in the movie] some Jewish priests call for his death. [But] they're threatened by his assault on their establishment. Institutions protect their power structures. [Besides] most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see."

So far, the best and most in-depth review of the film I've read is Ramesh Ponnuru's for National Review. Unfortunately, it's behind a subscription firewall so I can't link it. Watching The Making Of The Passion on Pax TV last night, I came away impressed that the film is visually stunning and overwhelming. Hopefully I'll get the chance to see it soon. I had the chance to see a screening tonight, but had to turn it down.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The law of unintended consequences dictates that for any action you take, some other action or reaction will occur as a result of your action that you neither intended nor anticipated. That unintended consequence usually takes the form of something detrimental to your purpose, but now always.

Allowing the marriage gate-crash in San Francisco to continue, and indeed allowing same-sex marriage to occur nationwide, will have consequences neither intended nor forseen by gay marriage advocates or their allies. You can take that fact to the bank--there will be additional consequences. To deny that is to stick your head so far down in the sand that you cannot get it back out.

One of those unintended consequences will be opening the gates to polygamy, which is currently a crime. Most gay marriage advocates scoff at the notion that their marriages will lead to a further redefinition of marriage to include all sorts of numerical permutations, but what will be the Constitutional or legal barrier to allowing, say, a bisexual to marry both a man and a woman as his expression of his own state of nature? Once the taboo against same-sex marriage is abolished using a twisted reading of the Constitution, there will be no logical barrier to opposing polygamy and polyamory, and they will follow. It is only a matter of time.

Once that happens, what happens to divorce law? Currently, it's a crime to marry someone if you are already married to someone else. Polyamory's Constitutional consecration will remove that, thus making serial marriage legal. What is the likely result of that?

A man marries his beloved and together they have two children. For some reason he wants out of the marriage, but doesn't want the hassle of divorce, the expense of alimony or child support, so he bugs out--just disappears. His abandoned wife lacks the means to chase him down since he made sure to empty their bank accounts on his way out of town, so he is lost to her. She is destitute, with two children to feed.

He moves to another state, marries another woman, and together they have two more children. He soon grows tired of the marriage scene and departs. Again, wife #2 lacks the financial means to hunt him down because he made off with their savings, and she has no legal weapons at hand--they are still legally married and there have been no legal injunctions of any kind against the deadbeat dad from his first, still perfectly valid, marriage. And since his second marriage is in another state and is anywise perfectly legal, it isn't likely to ping any searches for him, which aren't likely to be going on anyway since wife #1 can't scrape up the means to legally divorce him. And since he's absent, she can't just divorce him unilaterally and has no way to force him back home for any sort of adjudication. We now have two single moms raising four children with no legal means whatsoever to collect from the one deadbeat deserter. Take this process and repeat it across a few thousand men, and you have an entire subclass of single moms raising multiple children who have no way of gaining the support they deserve. Either they will have to find some way to remedy their husbands' absence, or the state will have to step in and boost the welfare state to assist them. And guess who pays when the welfare state takes on new wards. You do, and so do I.

A few of these serial abandonment situations will create a need for divorce in absentia, so that women can collect from their feckless men. Thus, it is then easier and easier to dissolve marriage, and a woman could also turn that eroded law into a weapon, waiting for the opportune moment--an extended business trip, say--and divorce her husband while he's briefly but legitimately out of the picture and abscond with everything they had built up together. And it would all, one presumes, be perfectly legal.

You say you don't think could happen? Well, why not? We're all set to knock down a standard that has stood for millenia, namely, opposite-sex marriage for two being the only legal norm. Once that's gone, the law will have to change to accomodate the new situations that will inevitably arise. To deny this is to take an overly simplistic view of reality.

But we need not even take the most charitable view of gay marriage advocates. Many of them see that there will indeed be additional consequences to allowing gay marriage, and they're perfectly fine with it because it all works to the one purpose they see as highest--namely, the destruction of marriage itself.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:01 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Ariel Cohen has a round-up on the Oil-For-Food bribery scandal.

Several important lessons arise from discovery of Saddam's buddy list. First, this is just the beginning: There are thousands of documents in Baghdad that American and Iraqi intelligence officers need to catalog, translate, analyze and investigate. The precedent -- the Eastern German intelligence service STASI archives, which exposed hundreds of spies in Europe and America. Second, the U.N. may have done more damage than good in Iraq -- and may do so again. The U.N. oil-for-food officials knew about the global bribery effort and did nothing to stop it. Moreover, it is possible the officials in that august body facilitated and benefited from at least some of the transactions.

A key question is whether a "Mr. Sevan" who allegedly received oil export vouchers in Panama is the same person as the U.N. Assistant Secretary General Benon V. Sevan, who ran the oil-for-food program. So far, U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan has refused an internal investigation, and the U.N. bureaucracy has stonewalled and resisted an external investigation of the oil-for-food program.

Once again, UN delenda est. In the US and similar nations in which leaders are elected according to the law and popular will, corruption has a remedy, which is political opposition and access to the legal system. That remedy, which can take the form of public censure or formal investigation, is often overused and abused but is nonetheless a valid and vital component of maintaining a healthy state with a healthy respect for its citizens. The UN, on the other hand, is accountable to no one. There are no voters mobilized in political opposition to anyone or anything that goes on within the UN. Thus, when a scandal such as this massive oil bribery scheme come to light, there is no way to force the UN to investigate itself. And should it investigate corruption, there is no way to guarantee that such an investigation will be as fair and thorough as needed.

Over time, such an organization is virtually guaranteed to become corrupt, as bureaucrats discover that a little move here or there, a little threat here or there, can generate immense piles of cash and power. It's just human nature at work.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Cuba is a despotic hellhole. It's is run by a windbag of a tyrant who imprisons people for their thoughts and who has ruthlessly held the reigns of power for decades. Cuba is an apartheid regime, extending privilege to the politically correct and punishing and imprisoning everyone who is deemed a threat for any reason.

According to a new human rights report, the UN agrees--Cuba has an abyssmal human rights record:

The condition of the 70 political prisoners in Cuba, sentenced in April on changes of working with U.S. diplomats against Cuban President Fidel Castro, is physically and mentally alarming, a U.N. envoy on human rights, Christine Chanet, says in a new report released today in Geneva.

According to Chanet, the prisoners, some of them over 60 years of age, are kept in very poor conditions, either in total isolation or along with common criminals. They are also often moved to prisons far away from their families, making visits difficult (BBC Brasil, Feb. 17, U.N. Wire translation).

These prisoners aren't terrorists, they aren't criminals, and they aren't even dangerous--unless you stand in the way of democracy. They're just like you and me, and all they want is the freedom to live, love and work without the heavy hand of Communist government constantly on their backs. For that, Castro has imprisoned them.

And the UN agrees. So far, so good, right? Right. But then the UN report gets around to assigning blame, and guess who's responsible for Castro's brutality:

"The extreme tension between Cuba and the United States creates a climate that is unfavorable to the development of freedom of expression and assembly. U.S. laws and the financial support given to 'the building of democracy in Cuba' make political opponents on the island look like sympathizers with foreigners," she added.

Because Cuba has refused to allow Chanet to visit the island, the report was based on interviews with activists, human rights investigators and other governments (Naomi Koppel, Associated Press/Newsday, Feb. 17).

In the report, Chanet also criticized the 40-year U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which she said has had "disastrous" economic, social and political consequences (BBC Online, Feb. 17).

That's right, my fellow Americans, it's your fault that a Communist dictator isn't nicer to his people. If you people would just lighten up, so would Castro, because you see, he has to be mean to anyone agitating for liberty because they just might be on the take from those evil Americans.

But guess what? Intrepid Castro manages some good in spite of our terrible, wicked embargo:

Despite the economic embargo, Chanet stressed, the Cuban government has managed to offer a good health and education system to its population. One hundred percent of the children in the country are enrolled in school and the illiteracy level is 0.2 percent.

As they say, he makes the trains run on time, and to some people that's all that matters. Even if you point out that statistics compiled by dictatorships are about as reliable an indicator of truth as "elections" in the Iranian mullahcracy.

UN delenda est!

Posted by B. Preston at 10:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack