March 19, 2004

THAT BRAHMIN CHARM

John Foreign? Feckless? Kerry is a charming chap:

His next trip down, a reporter and a camera crew were allowed to follow along on skis — just in time to see Mr. Kerry taken out by one of the Secret Service men, who had inadvertently moved into his path, sending him into the snow.

When asked about the mishap a moment later, he said sharply, "I don't fall down," then used an expletive to describe the agent who "knocked me over."

The incident occurred near the summit. No one was hurt, and Mr. Kerry came careering down the mountain moments later, a look of intensity on his face, his lanky frame bent low to the ground.

Cuss the agents sworn to protect you with their lives? Nice.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:43 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

DOES THE F STAND FOR "FOREIGN" OR "FECKLESS"?

A third FAA official has come forward with evidence that John Kerry was in a position to prevent 9-11, but did nothing.

WASHINGTON – A third federal aviation-security agent, one still with the government, has stepped forward to say he also warned Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry about security lapses at Boston's Logan International Airport before the 9-11 hijackings there.

Earlier this week, two former FAA agents said the Democratic presidential hopeful failed to take effective action after they gave him a prophetic warning that his home airport was vulnerable to multiple hijackings.

Brian Sullivan, a retired special agent from the Boston area, advised Kerry in a May 7, 2001, letter (page 1, page 2) that Logan was ripe for a "jihad" suicide operation possibly involving "a coordinated attack." He cited serious breaches at Logan security checkpoints exposed by an undercover investigation he and another former agent helped a Boston TV news station conduct.

Sullivan says he had a copy of the undercover videotape hand-delivered to Kerry's office.

It turns out the person who delivered it was a senior FAA agent in Washington who's now with the Transportation Security Administration. The agent, Bogdan Dzakovic, headed covert testing of airport security across the country before TSA took over aviation security from FAA after 9-11.

In an exclusive interview, he says he gave the tape to Jamie Wise, a Kerry staffer at the time.

After the office visit, "I received no feedback from anyone there," Dzakovic told WorldNetDaily.

Kerry boasts in campaign ads he "sounded the alarm on terrorism years before 9-11."

Like so much else that Kerry says, that claim is apparently false.

Sullivan – a registered independent who's also critical of Bush's handling of aviation security, both before and since 9-11 – thinks Kerry could have saved the Twin Towers, which were toppled by the Boston jetliners, and thousands of lives.

"John Kerry should have – and could have – prevented 9-11," he said.

How? "He could have taken direct action to address the concerns we had identified by visiting Logan and the MassPort authorities at Logan or the Massachusetts State Police," he said.

If that didn't work to bring about corrective action, he could have applied political pressure by having Sullivan and other agents testify before Congress, he says.

"Enhanced security would have prevented the hijackings, virtually without question," Elson agreed. If nothing else, it might have discouraged ringleader Mohamed Atta, who monitored security procedures at Logan weeks before the hijackings.

Phone calls to Kerry's campaign were not returned.

I wonder why.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:18 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

THE MEDIA FLIP-FLOPS ON SPAIN

Once upon a time, America was the unilateral power going it alone in Iraq. It didn't matter to the media that we had around 40 countries watching our six--we were cowboys riding across the deserts of Iraq all by our lonesome, an image that made the left's anti-war case easier to make.

Then one of the maligned allies got bombed out of the war, and suddenly it's as though our entire alliance is crumbling, and it's all a serious blow to US interests.

How can losing an ally be a serious blow if our entire alliance was a fraud in the first place? Well, never think too lowly of the media. Leaps of illogic to suit changing circumstances are part of its M.O. Brent Bozell nails 'em:

Rewind to Jan. 30, 2003. The Wall Street Journal published a letter from eight European leaders, including Spain's Aznar, declaring America had liberated Europe from the twin terrors of Nazism and communism, and they now stood behind the American aim of uprooting Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

The networks were not impressed. ABC covered it but dismissed it as "solicited" by the Wall Street Journal, and said it "sounds almost as if it could have been written" by the Bushies. NBC ignored the letter in favor of a story selling the leftist-protester notion that the United States was only interested in Iraqi oil. Andrea Mitchell claimed, "It's the accusation the administration cannot seem to shake." (At least not so long as NBC keeps putting it on the air.)

CBS gave the letter from Aznar & Co. a sentence or two, and then devoted a whole story to Nelson Mandela, puffed as a Nobel laureate and "one of the world's most respected elder statesmen," viciously attacking Bush as "a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."

But as America awoke on Monday morning, March 15, to the news of the Aznar party's defeat, the networks were again highlighting the most anti-Bush angle. NBC's "Today" found a "huge" upset, a "huge loss" for Aznar, a "blow to the U.S. and to President Bush." ABC wondered: "Is support for the U.S. occupation in Iraq dwindling among our allies in Europe?" Watching ABC, I thought we didn't have any allies in Europe supporting us in Iraq. Peter Jennings specialized in implying that the United States was "going it alone" in Iraq.

Over at CBS, "The Early Show" announced it first and foremost as "bad news for the administration." Spain was an "important if symbolic" coalition member, and its military withdrawal "will not have a large impact on operations, but it will make a large dent in the appearance of a cohesive coalition."

How can the potential loss of Spain as an ally make a "large" public relations dent when their appearance in the coalition has almost never been recognized the TV news elite? That doesn't make any sense. But if you're the media, you can make them up as you go along. Whatever helps the Left is the standard.

Yup.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:53 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

THE MONEY MAP

Here's an interesting and useful way to gauge support for the Bush and Kerry campaigns...um, and also check up to see who your neighbors are donating to.

Personally, I like the national map. It shows the same pattern that emerged after the 2000 election. Bush wins the American heartland by a landslide, while the Democrats dominate the godless urban centers, especially New York and LA. Dallas and Houston seem to be the most GOP-friendly large cities, which actually is a bit of a surprise to me. I grew up watching Dallas politics, and that city seemed anything but Republican territory.

Oh, and check this out. "Silver foot in his mouth" Ann Richards donated a couple grand to George W. Bush. So did Howard Dean. George Lucas also turns out to be a Bush backer.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THE PASSION TAKES A BITE OUT OF CRIME

Mel Gibson's movie has helped solved a bank robbery:

In December 2001, James Anderson stormed into a Palm Beach Gardens bank, grabbed an employee and -- he now admits -- forced tellers to hand over $25,000 in large bills.

He drove off and vanished, stumping police.

But the money went fast, while the guilt and paranoia remained.

On Tuesday, more than two years later, he turned himself in.

---

The reasoning process that brought Anderson from total freedom to a jail cell seemed a complicated one, according to investigators who interviewed him.

When a sheriff's detective asked him why he gave himself up, Anderson said he was stirred deeply after watching The Passion of the Christ and felt compelled to come clean.

"He said, 'I saw The Passion and that made my decision,' " sheriff's office spokesman Paul Miller said. "And he sort of urged (the detective) to see the movie too."

Well, that's his stated reason for turning himself in. But there may be more to it:

But Palm Beach Gardens police, who interrogated him at length, say Anderson's surrender was far more calculated.

Anderson is broke and convinced he has prostate cancer, said Palm Beach Gardens police Sgt. Richard Geist.

What's more, he's tired of living in his car and falling to pieces every time a cop pulls him over.

"He's looking for medical attention he doesn't have to pay for," Geist said. "That, and he's probably tired of living out on the streets."

Makes sense I guess. He'll get free medical care, three squares a day and free cable TV. And you and I get to pay for it, one way or another.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

OSAMA'S DEPUTY SURROUNDED?

Hoo-boy, let's hope this is true:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani troops believe they have surrounded al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri in an operation near the Afghan border, three senior Pakistani officials said Thursday.

The officials told The Associated Press that intelligence indicated the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s top deputy, has been cornered in an operation that began Tuesday in South Waziristan involving hundreds of troops and paramilitary rangers.

"We have been receiving intelligence and information from our agents who are working in the tribal areas that al-Zawahri could be among the people hiding there," a military official said. "All of our efforts are to capture him."

If recent events are any guide, the Clinton rules of catch-him-alive-or-not-at-all will not be in play.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

JOBLESS CLAIMS DOWN, ECONOMY LOOKING UP

Jobless claims have hit a three-year low. Steve Verdon has details.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

JOHN FOREIGN KERRY PICKS UP AN ENDORSEMENT

Maybe John "the F stands for Foreign" Kerry wasn't making up claims of international support after all. The JYB did help publicize an unmasking of earlier endorsers. Now we've got a real live one, on the record:

Mahathir Mohamad, who as Malaysia's soft-on-terrorism prime minister last year urged fellow Muslim leaders to achieve a "final victory" over the Jews who "rule the world by proxy," today endorsed Kerry's effort to defeat President Bush.

"I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world," Mahathir, who retired in October after 22 years in power, told the Associated Press.

You remember him, don't you? At an Islamic conference a few months back, he pressed for a "final victory" over Israel, which is not dissimilar to another "final solution" once pursued by a certain regime in Germany. In case you don't remember, here's what Mahathir said:

Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohammed, speaking at the Islamic Summit Conference (OIC) in his country last week, bemoaned the ineffectual and feeble state of Moslems and Arabs around the world, lacing his words with some of the most anti-Semitic statements sounded by a world leader in the past several decades. "1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews," he said. "There must be a way... We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

And now John Kerry has the old anti-Semite's endorsement. So I guess it's true--Kerry does have foreign support. Wherever you find sympathy for anti-Semitism and terrorism, whether it's Malaysia or France or Iran, you'll find leaders who like Kerry.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

IRAN'S TERROROST JAMBOREE AND THE NEW PARADIGM

President Bush didn't name Iran in the Axis of Evil for nothing:

The other day at the World Economic Forum's inaugural session at Davos, Switzerland, Iran's President Mohammed Khatami repeatedly nodded his head in approval as the forum's founder Klaus Schwab called for the eradication of international terrorism.

In his own address to the forum, Khatami called for a "dialogue of civilisations" as an alternative to war and terror.

But at almost exactly the same time, militants from some 40 countries spread across the globe were trekking to Tehran for a 10-day "revolutionary jamboree" in which "a new strategy to confront the American Great Satan" will be hammered out. The event is scheduled to start on February 1 to mark the 25th anniversary of the return to Iran from exile of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the "Islamic Revolution".

Buried deep down in the story is this gem:

Iranian officials claim that the presence of these organisations is limited to "cultural and information activities". The militant offices are known as daftar ertebat which means "contact bureau" while the training offered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards is presented as "courses in self- defence".

The war in Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussain, however, have shaken the traditional Khomeinist assumption that the US will never risk a direct confrontation with the Iranian regime.

That view is expressed in a celebrated dictum of Khomeini that is painted on the walls of the conference centre where the militants will meet.

It reads: America Cannot Do A Damn Thing! Now, however, many in Tehran believe that unless the regime modifies aspects of its behaviour, notably in its relations with terrorist organisations, it might find itself in military conflict with the US.

It's called the "demonstration effect." Take down one bad guy, and several others get nervous.

Guess who's coming to Ayatollah Khamenei's dinner party:

The militants going to Tehran this week are likely to be told that they must lie as low as possible for the next few months without abandoning their radical goals.

The Tehran gathering is also expected to deepen the recent informal alliances made between Islamist militant groups and a variety of communist, anarchist and environmentalist militant groups against the "American common enemy".

(Dead mullah Ayatollah) Khomeini himself presided over an alliance of Islamists, Communists, and other Marxist-Leninist groups that brought down the Shah's regime in 1979. "Today, mankind has a common enemy", says Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, who heads the powerful Guardians Council in Tehran. (my emphasis)

I keep hearing that Islamicists and secular socialists don't get along well enough to form alliances. Then again, aren't we always hearing that line from secular socialists? You don't suppose it could be a cover, do you?

The timing of Iran's terrorist confab is very interesting. It took place in late January/early February. It seems to have included enviros, anti-American socialists and other assorted Western leftist participation. What do you suppose these Westerners discussed with their new terrorist friends?

Well, it's pretty clear from the Spanish bombings and their aftermath that the terrorists have turned a corner in their approach to our US-European-Asian anti-terror alliance. In the past, terrorists would just attack whoever they could wherever they could, with the idea that killing lots of people would intimidate nations into capitulating. On 9-11 and on 10-11 (2002, Bali), that essentially was the strategy--kill to intimidate. But it backfired. 9-11 forced the Bush administration to declare a real war on terrorists and to start hunting them down and killing them. The Bali attack likewise angered Australia enough that it decided to join our Iraq coalition.

The next few attacks seem to have been more of the same, but on a smaller scale and against softer regional targets. The terrorists' global reach seemed to have gone away. Those attacks--in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia, etc--just angered the local governments into action. Today, Saudi Arabia is actually far more helpful as an anti-terrorist ally that it ever has been. We still have our problems with them, but they're coming around, and we have al Qaeda's stupidity to thank for it.

But then terrorists meet with Western operators in Tehran, January-February 2004. And on 3-11 in Madrid, Spain, terrorists hit hard in the West for the first time in a long time, and their timing is uncanny. They hit at a time when the pro-US Popular Party stood for election against the Socialists. The Popular Party seemed to be cruising to another win until the 3-11 attack, which turned the election upside down. The Popular Party, sensing how the Spanish people would react to knowledge that al Qaeda, not Basque separatists, had hit Spain as punishment for participating in the Iraq reconstruction, downplayed Qaeda links and played up ETA links. It backfired, and Spain elected the Socialists. The Socialists' first act: Pull Spanish troops out of Iraq, and maintain merely "cordial" relations with the US.

The 3-11 attack represents a new paradigm in terrorist thinking, imho. The possibly fake letter that followed, in which a terrorist group claimed a truce with Spain as reward for pulling out of Iraq and became cheerleaders for President Bush (in a reverse psych game to get soft-on-terror John Foreign Kerry elected), again reflects a new paradigm. The terrorists are keenly aware of how their claims and actions affect Western politics now. Where did they get this knowledge?

I'd say a good guess is that they got it in Tehran in January-February 2004--from the Western leftists they met there.

(story link via The Command Post. Chris Regan contributed to this report.)


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

March 17, 2004

AL QAEDA'S BRILLIANT GAMBIT

The other day one of the JYB's top operatives speculated that al Qaeda could cook up a brilliant move in the wake of Spain's turn from the war. Basically, what the terrorists could do is announce a truce with Spain, state that they are pulling out all operatives and vowing not to harm Spanish interests around the world.

The move would plant in Spanish voters' minds the belief that they made the right choice in kicking out the pro-US Popular Party. It would tell other fence-sitters that the quickest way out of the war is to become hostile to the US and stop fighting terrorists. It would send a global signal that if you want to live, stop resisting al Qaeda. If you want to roll the dice and maybe die, keep on fighting.

I discounted the idea. I just didn't think al Qaeda was crafty enough to think of it. Perhaps I was wrong.

A group claiming to have links with al Qaeda said on Wednesday it was calling a truce in its Spanish operations to see if the new Madrid government would withdraw its troops from Iraq (news - web sites), a pan-Arab newspaper said.

In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings that killed 201 people, also urged its European units to stop all operations.

"Because of this decision, the leadership has decided to stop all operations within the Spanish territories... until we know the intentions of the new government that has promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq," the statement said.

"And we repeat this to all the brigades present in European lands: Stop all operations."

This letter could be a fake. But in some ways that's irrelevant. The first message--side with the US and we'll attack you--was sent on 3-11. The Spanish replied with a loud "No mas!" And now, the reply from the terrorists---"You've done what we want, so we'll leave you alone."

And Spain has voted itself out of the alliance, with Honduras and likely a few others to follow.

So what else could these suddenly savvy terrorists do? Well, they could openly root for President Bush's reelection. Nobody wants to vote for the guy that the terrorists seem to want to win, right? That way, they actually get the soft-on-terror John Foreign Kerry they really want.

But surely they're not that smart.

Well...

The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."

In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:

"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization."

"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."

So if this letter is authentic, the terrorists are now openly meddling in our elections. I guess we should expect them to set up a 527 and start running ads. Since they're basically running on the same line--that Bush is a fool--that many Democrats seem to buy, maybe George Soros will float them a loan.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:29 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

NEW BLOG IN THE YARD

In No Particular Order is online to swing at life and the political scene from a "right-wing libertarian" point of view.

And the Beltway-area blogger is off to a promising start--offering up a prime fisking of the NYT's Nick Kristoff for your entertainment.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

THE PENTAGON'S NEW MAP: AN INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS P. M. BARNETT

Sure to be one of the most interesting and controversial books of the year, Thomas Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century outlines the strategic situation facing an America that has won the Cold War, only to ask "What do we do now?" as the spectre of global terrorism rises to the fore. Barnett's geopolitical map defines three major regions of the world, the Core, the Gap and the Seam, with the Core being America and the industrialized or industrializing world; the Gap being the Caribbean, most of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia (the "Gap" name reflecting those states' disconnected political and economic nature), and the Seam being the borders between Core and Gap. Barnett argues that the way to win the war on terror is to shrink the Gap by force, by globalization's economic forces, by non-governmental charitable intervention and by politics.

I recently interviewed Professor Barnett about his book, his ideas, and where he sees the war going in the next few years. Below is an exerpt:

Spain has now had its 9-11. In the long run, how do you think that attack will affect the US-led anti-terror alliance? Will it encourage more or less cooperation with us among the Core states?

Terrorist attacks in Europe—or anywhere across the Core, for that matter—can increase long-term cooperation in this global war on terrorism, but only if the U.S. effectively sends the signal—in both word and deed—that what we seek in this war is not merely an increase in our national defense, but an increase in the Core’s collective security. Here again, I chide the Bush Administration for a bit too much of the “my way or the highway” tone that animates our foreign policy. The worst outcome of a Madrid “3/11” is that the rest of the Core says, “That’s what you get for siding with those cowboy Americans in this crazy, myopic war of theirs!” Right now the Chinese leadership talks a seemingly more sophisticated game regarding globalization than we do, because, to much of the world, it seems like the U.S. is all about this global war on terrorism and little else. Think about how odd that sounds. But compare the speeches of President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao in the Australian parliament last year and then tell me I’m wrong. More than a few Australian legislators walked away from those two seminal presentations (held within just days of one another in October) thinking China is the country of the future and it’s the United States that seems stuck in some militaristic past. I find these perceptions very disturbing.

How will Spain’s elections—in which the anti-war Socialists defeated Aznar’s pro-American Popular Party—effect the Core’s ability to collectively act against terrorism?

I think what the election shows is that governments will rise and fall based on their populations' perceptions of how well or how badly they wage this global war on terrorism. If it is perceived that al Qaeda's strikes can actually swing an election in a major Core state, then 3/11 will go down as a significant System Perturbation that sends the Old Core's security rule sets into great flux. Typically, having the U.S. get behind something security-wise made it a sure bet--thus the positive potential for bandwagoning in coalitions. If 3/11 demonstrates that one bloody nose is all it takes to remove a Spain from the roster, then al Qaeda should feel greatly emboldened to strike on--especially against the Europeans. However, I wouldn't extrapolate the EU to the entire Core. The Russians, Chinese, Indians and Latin American states all are far more like the U.S. in their ability to withstand significant numbers of deaths than the Europeans. Japan will be an interesting question, but--strange as it may seem to say--they may well follow the lead of the Chinese, who don't have the European fear of spilling or shedding blood. In the end, the true impact of the 3/11 System Perturbation (if it goes down as one, and it's looking more and more like one) will be to put Western Europe on the sideline for a very long haul, thus offering significant strategic opportunities to Russia, India, and China in terms of partnering with the U.S. to deal with the Middle East. Rather than asking ourselves, How do we make the (old) Europeans happy? We should be asking ourselves how we make the Russians, Indians, and Chinese happy? We need to look to the New Core that is far more incentivized to wage a GWOT consistently over time rather than Old Core (Japan, West Europe) which may openly seek free ridership on this collective good.

The rest of the interview is posted here.

Here's another exerpt:

You describe the Bush administration’s decision to topple Saddam Hussein as courageous, and the catalyst for a “Big Bang” that will transform the Middle East. Ten years from now, what do you expect the Middle East to be like, and how much of that change would you credit to the 2003 Iraq war?

I don’t think either a Bush or a Kerry administration will be willing to let Iraq really fail in the direction of autocracy again, nor turn into some permanently war-torn Lebanon or Sudan. Avoiding both extremes will require our military presence for roughly a decade, within which time a couple of peaceful transitions of leadership can occur. That’s usually the tipping point for stability over the long term.

Meanwhile, I would see an Iraqi society connecting itself up dramatically with the world at large because—in general—people there seem quite hungry for that after all those years of isolation. Yes, it will be messy (Iraq is a real crossroads of civilizations), and yes there will be plenty of terrorism from those determined to re-isolate that country from “Westoxification,” but Iraq is really a good place to start in the Middle East, given its relative secularism under the Ba’ath Party over the decades and the fact that you’re talking about a fairly educated population with long-suppressed ambition for a better life.

Like a fragmenting Yugoslavia, a fragmenting Iraq wouldn’t be as bad as some make out. The reality of several countries trapped within one border will force plenty of compromises, so long as the Leviathan of U.S. military power remains, and the examples set by some in their quest for greater connectivity with the outside world (say, the Kurds in the north) will spur the rest. If they all remain equally disconnected, then they fight with each other over what none of them really have—a better life. But if one or more parts of that country show success in leveraging connectivity with the outside world, the internal squabbles fade over time because more and more of Iraqi society will come to understand their collective economic future is not some fixed pie to fight over, but something to be grown over time. But that, of course, means Iraq becomes more than just a source of oil for the global economy.

Ten years from now I expect the Middle East to be deep into a perestroika-like unleashing of democratic movement led by a generation of impatient youth demanding a better transaction with the outside world beyond the barebones oil-for-money most of the region’s autocratic regimes enjoy today. The region is on the verge of seeing a host of aging despots pass from the scene. In ten years virtually all of the cast of leaders who’ve dominated regional politics over the past thirty years will be gone from the stage, and their replacements will chose connectivity with the outside world over the isolationist threat presented by the fundamentalists. But that choice will only make sense if the rest of the world—or more specifically what I call the Functioning Core of globalization—makes the effort to facilitate that connectivity. So it’s not a matter of the Core “getting off oil” to get out of the Middle East, but helping the Middle East connect on more levels than just oil.

In the end, the war in Iraq will be viewed as a trigger that helped unleash larger forces for change, but not the source of change itself. Ultimately, what forces the Middle East to choose connectivity over disconnectedness will be the end of the reign of king oil in the global economy. That day is coming faster than anyone in the region realizes.

The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century is due from Putnam in late April, 2004.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

HOWARD DEAN TO PLAY GERRY ADAMS FOR AL QAEDA?

Before the UK essentially capitulated to the Irish Republican Army's terrorists, Sinn Fein acted as the terrorists' political voice. Sinn Fein's activists kept their hands clean by staying away from participation in actual attacks, but nevertheless used their political positions to advocate and agitate on the terrorists' behalf. They plotted their PR strategies to coincide with IRA attacks. They won local office as well as seats in Parliament, and used them to launch political broadsides against the British government. They would strut before press cameras to blame the Crown for their allies' acts of murder and violence. Gerry Adams has long been Sinn Fein's best known spokesman, traveling the world to put a smiley face on a murdering army of thugs.

Well, on this St. Patrick's Day, it looks like al Qaeda has found its Gerry Adams and maybe its Sinn Fein as well. Howard Dean:

Former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean said Tuesday that President Bush's decision to send troops to Iraq appears to have contributed to the bombing deaths of 201 in Spain.

---

European intelligence agencies are trying to identify a purported al-Qaida operative who claimed in a videotape that the group carried out the bombings to punish Spain for backing of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The tape was discovered in a trash bin near Madrid's largest mosque on Saturday after a telephone tip to a Madrid TV station.

Dean referred to the videotape when asked whether he was linking U.S. troops in Iraq to the deaths in Spain.

"That was what they said in the tape," Dean said. "They made that connection, I'm simply repeating it."

Dean's comment came as he was defending former rival John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, from a Bush campaign ad accusing Kerry of turning his back on U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq.

So...HoDean, on a conference call to defend his new friend John Kerry, asserts al Qaeda's stated rationale for killing Spanish civilians and, like al Qaeda, blames President Bush. Osama, if you're still alive, you have your Gerry Adams.

Which, if the Democrats of the Dean left continue along this line, would make them al Qaeda's Sinn Fein.

Oh, I know, Dean later backtracked, said there was no justification for terrorism, and all that. But his first instinct was to use al Qaeda's own statement to blame the Madrid bombings on President Bush. His gut reaction, based on how he really sees the world, was to basically take the terrorists' point of view as read and use it slam the President of the United States.

Thank God that Dean flamed out. Unfortunately for Kerry, Dean has endorsed him and this Adamseque statement came during a conference call in which Dean was supposed to be stumping for Kerry's campaign. So it reflects directly back on the Kerry campaign.

The Kerry folks distanced themselves from Dean's comments post haste. They may want to do the same with Dean himself. He's about as Midas-like as his friend and endorser, Al Gore.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2004

CLINTON COULD HAVE PREVENTED 9-11

The CIA had Osama bin Laden in its gunsights a year before 9-11, but because the Clinton White House had ordered agents to take bin Laden alive or not at all, he lived on to kill another day:

secret CIA videotape shows that the Clinton administration had pinpointed the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden a year before the 9/11 attacks, but declined to kill him because of White House orders that he should be taken alive.

The video, obtained and broadcast by NBC News, "illustrates an enormous opportunity the Clinton administration had to kill or capture bin Laden," the network reported Tuesday.

Images filmed in Afghanistan by CIA Predator Drones show a man clad in white robes who towers over his entourage. [Bin Laden is 6' 5" tall.]

The film was shot over Tarnak Farm, the walled compound where bin Laden was believed to live at the time. The layout of the buildings in the Predator video perfectly matches previous photos and diagrams of Tarnak Farm prepared by U.S. intelligence.

---

Though President Clinton has boasted repeatedly that he issued orders to kill bin Laden, no action was taken when the White House finally got its chance.

Why not?

Gary Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, told NBC that the White House had in fact ordered the CIA to do just the opposite - take bin Laden alive or not at all.

The order "reduced the odds from, say, a 50 percent chance down to, say, 25 percent chance that we were going to be able to get him,” Schroen told the network.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, but didn't. And thousands died, and we're at war.

If you liked Clinton's feckless approach to terrorism, you'll just love John Kerry.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:52 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

PONTIUS KERRY COULD HAVE PREVENTED 9-11

Alert JYB reader James G. sends in this bombshell:

SEN. John Kerry boasts how he "sounded the alarm on terrorism years before 9/ 11," referring to his 1997 book "The New War." Too bad he didn't blast it when it really counted - four months before the hijackings, when he was hand-delivered evidence of serious security breaches at Logan International Airport, with specific warnings that terrorists could exploit them. Former FAA security officials say the Massachusetts senator had the power to prevent at least the Boston hijackings and save the World Trade Center and thousands of lives, yet he failed to take effective action after they gave him a prophetic warning that his state's main airport was vulnerable to multiple hijackings.

"He just did the Pontius Pilate thing and passed the buck" on back through the federal bureaucracy, said Brian Sullivan, a retired FAA special agent from the Boston area who in May 2001 personally warned Kerry that Logan was ripe for a "jihad" suicide operation possibly involving "a coordinated attack."

Hoo-boy. These guys had the scoop, passed it Senatory Kerry, who passed it to the circular file.

Rewind to May 6, 2001. That night, a Boston TV station (Fox-25) aired reporter Deborah Sherman's story on an undercover investigation at Logan that Sullivan and another retired agent helped set up. In nine of 10 tries, a crew got knives and other weapons through security checkpoints - including the very ones the 9/11 hijackers would later exploit.

The next day, Sullivan fired off a two-page letter to Kerry highlighting the systemic failures.

"With the concept of jihad, do you think it would be difficult for a determined terrorist to get on a plane and destroy himself and all other passengers?" he warned. "Think what the result would be of a coordinated attack which took down several domestic flights on the same day. With our current screening, this is more than possible. It is almost likely." The toll from such an attack would be economic, as well as human, he predicted with chilling accuracy.

Sullivan followed up by having the undercover videotape hand-delivered to Kerry's office.

More than 11 weeks later, Kerry finally replied to his well-informed and anxious constituent. "I have forwarded your tape to the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General [DOT OIG]," he said in a brief July 24, 2001, letter, a copy of which I've obtained.

Yet Sullivan had made it clear in his letter that going to his old agency was a dead end. He and other agents had complained about security lapses for years and got nowhere. "The DOT OIG has become an ineffective overseer of the FAA," he told Kerry. Sullivan suggested he show the tape to peers on committees with FAA oversight. He even volunteered to testify before them.

But he never heard from Kerry again.

Read the whole thing. It's a shocker from one end to the other.

And so much for Kerry playing offense in the war. He can't even play defense.

UPDATE: John Kerry on the topic of airport security from November 4, 2001:


...Airport security is as clear an issue of national security as you'll find, and it requires a force that takes its responsibilities seriously. Security must be the only bottom line, protecting citizens - not profit margins - the only objective. We know from history there are some things only the government can do - maintaining security is one of them.

...The only way we can guarantee the highest quality security at our nation's airports is if we have direct federal accountability. To keep terrorists off airplanes requires close coordination between intelligence communities and federal and state law enforcement agencies. Airport security personnel must be a full partner in that network.

...Ensuring homeland security requires more than words - it takes actions, commitment and leadership. We know what it takes to make America's airports not just safer, but as safe as they can be. The only question remaining is whether politics - the politics of ideological rigidity and delay - will be allowed to trump the security needs of our nation.


Kerry should have entitled the pompous letter Note To Self and CC'ed Al Gore.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

UPRISING IN IRAN

It looks like there's a mullah hunt on.

The Islamic republic regime's anti-riot units and plainclothes men have opened the charge, at this time 21:35 local time, against the demonstrators in southern Tehran, Esfahan's Tchahr Bagh and the city of Mashad by using knives, clubs and chains. Unconfirmed reports are stating about the use of plastic bullets in Esfahan and the Sadeghieh square of Tehran.

Several have been badly wounded during the attacks but fierce resistance is being made by thousands of young Iranians, male and female, who are opposing the attacks by the use of all available tools and especially Molotov cocktails which were made for such eventuality.

---

Sporadic and minor clashes have started in several areas of the Iranian Capital, Tehran and its suburbs, especially in the southern, eastern and western areas as the night has fall and streets are enflame with thousands of fire set for celebrating the traditional but banned "Tchahar Shanbe Soori".

This time is no more the security forces that are taking initiative of attack but young exasperated Iranians who are throwing hand made grenades and powerful fire crackers against them and forcing them take distance. Several security patrols cars and bikes caught in the middle of the crowd have been damaged by fire or abandoned as its occupants preferred to escape from crowd which is making use of the sirens and speakers of governmental confiscated repressive tools for broadcasting songs under the desperate eyes of the regime forces.

Same trend is getting followed in several provincial cities, such as Esfahan, Shiraz, Hamedan and Kermanshah.

Never, never, Iran had witnessed such celebration as the issue has become of a matter of National and Freedom emblem for millions of Iranians.

The night is just at its start and major actions of defiance are expected till the early hours of Wednesday.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NOW THE TRUTH CAN BE TOLD

Kerry's foreign leader brigades are unmasked.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WAR--WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Apparently it's a tool for ridding the world of two terrorist states and getting a bloodless bankshot win with a third:

Diplomacy alone was failing to lead Gadhafi to break from the past. It wasn't until U.S. and British troops crossed into Iraq on March 19, 2003, that Gadhafi detailed Foreign Minister Mohammed Abderrahmane Chalgam to begin talks with British and U.S. officials in London.

"The Iraq war made it clear that the U.S. and the U.K. were serious about going after countries with WMD [weapons of mass destruction]," the British official adds.

Even so, during the first meeting in March, "the Libyans were not candid. We had to show them that we knew more than they thought we knew before they opened up."

Behind the scenes, advisers to Gadhafi were arguing that Libya's security would be enhanced, not reduced, by giving up the nuclear program.

"We had no delivery system," a top Gadhafi adviser tells Insight at the Libyan leader's office outside of Sirte. "I told the guide, 'If Libya were to start a nuclear war, our missiles won't even reach Malta. If the U.S. starts it, Libya will be erased from the map.'"

He said he told Gadhafi as the meetings with the United States and the United Kingdom got under way in London last spring that it was better to get rid of the weapons and redirect the resources toward improving the economy than to risk an American attack.

Edwin Starr was wrong. War isn't good for "absolutely nothin'--good God, y'all." One little war and one medium-sized war helped avert yet another medium-sized war, and one that might have included nuclear weapons. And now that the world knows we're serious, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars will probably save us from having to fight even more bigger wars with nuclear-armed nutcases down the road.

MORE: The Iraq war has also made most Iraqis happier and more optimistic than they ever could be under Saddam.

Maybe we should change the lyrics to the old song:

War--What is it good for?
(War is pretty useful--say it again-huh!)
War--What is it good for?
(Stops terrorism by killing terrorists)

Ok, that last line needs some work. Any lyricists in the house?

Posted by B. Preston at 01:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WHAT KIND OF WARTIME PRESIDENT WOULD JOHN KERRY BE?

The junior but most liberal senator from Massachusetts has finally laid out his anti-terrorism vision. I find it lame. Bill Hobbs goes into detail about why it's a bad strategy:

Kerry goes on the promise big new spending for equipping firefighters and other "first responders" - so they'll be better able to respond to the next attack. He wants to spend more money screening ship cargo at our ports. We'll let the terrorists bring a dirty bomb all the way into the harbor at Baltimore, or New Orleans, or Seattle, but no further. He wants to spend more money screening airplane passengers. We'll let the terrorists into our country and into our airports, and try to snag them at the last possible check point. Kerry promises to enhance "intelligence sharing" among police and local officials across multiple jurisdictions. We'll let the terrorists into our country, and try to find them before they blow up a commuter train.

For John Kerry, our "first responders" in the War on Terror are the people who respond to an attack with firehoses, bulldozers and cadaver dogs. For President George Bush, our "first responders" are the 101st Airborne, the Third Infantry Division, the Navy and the Air Force. They get no mention in Kerry's self-described "Agenda to Support Front Lines in America's War on Terror," which contains not a single single word about offense.

That's why the French love Kerry--he wants to fight the war on European terms, which essentially means sitting back and waiting to get hit and picking up the pieces--destroyed buildings, fragmented bodies, shattered lives--afterward. It's a vision that's more death wish than optimism, more defeatist and even nihilist than hopeful. It's a recipe for defeat and disaster.

In short, if you liked 9-11, you'll just love President Kerry--because his strategy will allow more 9-11s to happen.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

TERRORISM IS A FAMILY AFFAIR

The subhead for this story might be "Canada: Run by Fools for Terrorists." Our neighbors to the north haven't a clue.

Their saga began in 1975, when Ahmad Said al-Khadr left his native Egypt for Canada and soon after married a local Palestinian woman. He studied computer engineering at the University of Ottawa and engaged in research for a major telecommunications firm. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Khadr went to work for Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based charity founded in 1980 with the purported aim to "alleviate human suffering," but with a record of promoting militant Islam.

In 1985, in the course of working in Afghanistan, Khadr met bin Laden and became his close associate. Sometimes Khadr was described as the highest ranking of Al Qaeda's 75 Canadian operatives.

The federal Canadian government, living up to its naïve reputation, contributed $325,000 in Canadian dollars to HCI. From 1988 to 1997 in particular, HCI was simultaneously receiving Canadian taxpayer funding and working with Al Qaeda.

The bureaucratic ingénues in Ottawa continued to find nothing wrong with Khadr even after his arrest by Pakistani authorities in 1995 for siphoning off HCI funds to pay for an Al Qaeda terrorist operation that year — an attack on the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan, which killed 18. Quite the contrary, Canada's prime minister, Jean Chrétien took advantage of a state visit to Pakistan to intercede with his Pakistani counterpart on Khadr's behalf.

This highly unusual step succeeded; Khadr was soon released, and returned to Canada. In 1996, he and his wife set up an Islamic charity they named "Health and Education Project International." When the Taliban took control in Afghanistan a few months later, the parents and their six children decamped there. As he worked closely with bin Laden, Khadr became known for his militant Islamic vitriol, leading one Frenchman in Afghanistan to observe about him," I never met such hostility, someone so against the West."

Khadr eventually died in a firefight in Pakistan in October 2003. His family, though, is still all about fighting us infidels:

Wife Maha Elsamnah took her then 14-year-old son Omar from Canada to Pakistan in 2001 and enrolled him for Al Qaeda training. Daughter Zaynab, 23, was engaged to one terrorist and married, with Osama bin Laden himself present at the nuptials, a Qaeda member in 1999. Zaynab endorses the 9/11 atrocities and hopes her infant daughter will die fighting Americans. Son Abdullah, 22, is a Qaeda fugitive constantly on the move to elude capture. Canadian intelligence states he ran a Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during the Taliban period, something Abdullah denies. Son Omar, 17, stands accused of hurling a grenade in July 2002, killing an American medic in Afghanistan. Omar lost sight in one eye in the fighting and is now a U.S. detainee in Guantánamo. Son Abdul Karim, 14, half-paralyzed by wounds sustained in the October 2003 shoot-out that left his father dead, is presently prisoner in a Pakistani hospital.

Fortunately, there is also one positive story:

Son Abdurahman, 21, reluctantly trained with Al Qaeda, was captured by coalition forces in November 2001 and agreed to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in Kabul, Guantánamo, and Bosnia. He returned to Canada in October 2003, where he denounced both extremism ("I want to be a good, strong, civilized, peaceful Muslim" ) and his family's terroristic ways.

How can any parent raise their child hoping to see them die violently in a futile war against us?


Posted by B. Preston at 09:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

WAIT JUST A MINUTE

Hold the phone--I thought Saddam wasn't connected to terrorism, because secularists and Islamicists don't mix. It seems Saddam didn't get the memo. He supported, among others, a terrorist connected with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing:

Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was indicted for mixing the chemicals for the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six New Yorkers and injured over 1,000. Yasin fled to Baghdad after the attack, where he was given sanctuary and lived for years afterward.

Khala Khadar al-Salahat, a top Palestinian deputy to Abu Nidal, who reportedly furnished Libyan agents with the Semtex explosive used to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988. The attack killed all 259 passengers, including 189 Americans. Al-Salahat was in Baghdad last April and was taken into custody by U.S. Marines.

Abu Nidal, whose terror organization is credited with dozens of attacks that killed over 400 people, including 10 Americans, and wounding 788 more. Nidal lived in Baghdad from 1999 till August 2002, when he was found shot to death in his state-supplied home.

Abu Abbas, who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship, during which wheelchair-bound American Leon Klinghoffer was pushed over the side to his death. U.S. troops captured Abbas in Baghdad on April 14, 2003. He died in U.S. custody last week.

Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who ran an Ansar al-Islam terrorist training camp in northern Iraq and reportedly arranged the October 2002 assassination of U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan. Al Zarqawi is still at large.

Ramzi Yousef, who entered the U.S. on an Iraqi passport and was the architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as Operation Bojinka, a foiled plot to explode 12 U.S. airliners over the Pacific. Bojinka was later adopted by Yousef's cousin Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as the blueprint for the Sept. 11 attacks.
Arrested in Pakistan in 1995, Yousef is currently serving a triple life sentence in Colorado's Supermax federal lockup.


Mahmoud Besharat, the Palestinian businessman who traveled to Baghdad in March 2002 to collect funding from Saddam for the Palestinian Intifada. Besharat and others disbursed the funds in payments of $10,000 to $25,000 to West Bank families of terrorists who died trying to kill Israelis.
After Saddam announced his Intifada reward plan, 28 Palestinian homicide bombers killed 211 Israelis in attacks that also killed 12 Americans. A total of 1,209 people were injured.

You want details? Get them here.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 15, 2004

CHINA AND FRANCE TEAM UP TO INTIMIDATE TAIWAN?

In 1996 on the eve of elections in Taiwan, China test fired missiles conveniently aimed right at the island quasi-state. China held extensive military drills and built up its forces on its side of the strait to such an extreme that the Clinton administration decided to act. It sent in a couple of aircraft carrier battle groups, the Independence and Kitty Hawk if I remember right, to "observe." Our observations amounted to a tacit threat to China--attack Taiwan and you'll find yourself dealing with us.

Fast forward to 2004. Taiwan is again on the eve of an election, which includes a referendum on missile defense. As usual, China is displeased and has been making bellicose noise in Taiwan's direction. Nothing new there. But here is something new: This time, Chinese forces will be joined by French forces.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

China's official Xinhua news agency made no link between the exercises off Qingdao -- about 780 miles from Taiwan's northernmost point -- and the election.

But the show of military strength and solidarity signaled China's desire to isolate the self-governing island before the vote and its first-ever referendum, which Beijing views as a provocative step toward independence.

"It's the biggest in scale and the most substantial in content of an exercise between the Chinese navy and a foreign navy," Xinhua said on Monday, quoting Ju Xinchun, the captain of the destroyer "Harbin."

"Through this joint exercise, we hope to learn the French navy's combat training experience and combat thought," Ju was quoted as saying.

The words "French" and "combat thought" haven't belonged in the same sentence since the days of Napoleon, but I digress. What possible business does France have in joining the Red Chinese in intimidating a nascent democracy?

Ah, there's the rub. France has all kinds of business participating in this exercise. They're trying to gin up sales:

French President Jacques Chirac, keen to strengthen ties with China and win French business a firm footing in the rapidly growing market, sided with China in January in opposing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a referendum on missile defense alongside presidential elections on March 20.

The United States regularly stands accused of exploiting the people of the world for our own personal gain, though as often as not we're willing to spill our blood and spend our treasure merely to help failing states get back on their feet. There may be some long-term business interests at play, but it's mostly about building societies that don't end up attacking us. Yet we're the ones accused of crassly exploiting the world for ourselves.

But here's France extending its prestige or what's left of it to help big, menacing China intimidate tiny Taiwan on the eve of a free election--the kind of election we won't see in mainland China for decades to come. France is selling Taiwan out so that it can really sell out to China's billions. Disgusting. Chirac obviously has no shame--he's lost Saddam, so he's cozying up another set of dictators. If the French send their lone carrier, the Charles DeGualle, anywhere near the Taiwan Straits during this exercise, wouldn't it just be a pity if it had an "accident" near one of our silent, invisible Los Angeles class submarines?

MORE: Relax, I'm kidding about sinking the French aircraft carrier. We're not going to go around sinking the French navy. But France does seem to have assumed the role of global rogue among the industrialized states.

There is, actually, an alternative explanation to this whole thing. The easy read is the one I've proffered above, which is that the whole thing is about the French turning Ferengi and putting bidness above all else. But. The US and South Korea will have a joint military exercise starting March 22. The French-Chinese exercise is starting today or tomorrow. France is part of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, the de facto blockade of North Korea's illicit weapons trade. China and South Korea are not, but they have been more or less cooperating with some aspects of PSI, and they do seem to be on board with the idea of keeping North Korea from trafficking in nukes and other WMDs.

Now, imagine you're Kim Jong-Il. You've seen one hostile power send its ships to the area to train with the Chinese, who are becoming ever more wary of you. Then that gets followed up by the American-South Korean exercise, which is usually about training for some kind of joint defense of the South from invasion. Obviously, it's a readiness exercise to make sure we and the SoKos can repel the Norks if we have to.

This whole thing, or actually these two whole things, could be aimed at bugging Kim Jong-Il. It's not my story so I'm not sticking to it--it's just a theory--and to believe it one does have to take a very charitable view of the French, a view that is not usually supported by the facts. But it is a possibility.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:42 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

WHO GOT TO PATRICK HEALY?

Patrick Healy, reporter for the Boston Globe, first aired the quote in which Senator John Kerry cited support from "world leaders" in his campaign to replace President Bush in the White House. Since that time, about a week ago, Kerry has not once disavowed the quote. He has never said he was misquoted, and never maligned the quote or questioned the reporter in any way. He has put no pressure, publicly at any rate, to change, fix or correct the quote. In fact, he has said similar things when pressed about the original quote.

But the reporter, Patrick Healy, has done just that. He has unilaterally retracted the "world leaders" quote, having found the light after giving his audio tapes one more listen.

How many reporters have you ever heard of going back, without anyone asking them, and retracted or corrected their own work? A week later?

Instead of saying:

"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that," he said.

Healy says that after listening to Kerry again, the quote should read:

"I've been hearing it, I'll tell ya. The news, the coverage in other countries, the news in other places. I've met more leaders who can't go out and say it all publicly, but boy they look at you and say, you gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy, things like that. So there is enormous energy out there. Tell them, whereever they can find an American abroad, they can contribute," a reference to donations, prompting laughter from the crowd. (my emphases)

In context, does "more leaders" make any sense at all? I don't think it does. "Foreign leaders," on the other hand, makes perfect sense. Kerry goes on to talk about Americans abroad, even hinting that either "more" or "foreign" leaders could use them to contribute something to the Kerry campaign (and if he's talking dollars, that's illegal). Or maybe he's just urging these "more" or "foreign" leaders to find Americans abroad and tell them that they can contribute. Whatever. It's a weird quote, made weirder if you insert "more" versus "foreign."

But back to Healy. Why correct the quote now? Kerry hasn't publicly taken Healy to task. But that doesn't mean Kerry's people--in Boston, where Healy works--haven't said something, become a little bit persuasive, and gotten him to retract the quote. And I suspect they have. It's a bit of thuggish behavior, probably a little free-lancing along the lines of another Kerry staffer who grabbed a woman's pro-life sign from her hands at a rally and tore it up. The Kerry campaign is turning out to be equal parts incompetents and thugs, with a dash of sinister backchannel tactics to boot. Surely you've heard by now that the most critical "non-partisan" groups attacking Bush on everything from his first ads to administration science policy are hacks purchased with the Heinz fortunes?

But why now? It's simple. Kerry made the whole thing up, thinking it would help him. That's how he thinks--he seems to believe that Americans will persuaded to vote for him because of our affinity with unnamed world leaders. So he made up the international support bit, couldn't name any support when pressed because there wasn't any to name, and then much to his surprise, the story had legs. He thought it might have positive legs, but was shocked to see that, surprise! Americans don't care what foreign leaders think--especially certain foreign leaders who live in a country that Kerry looks like he's from. He began to take real damage from it when GOP types and bloggers speculated that perhaps those foreign leaders might be Jacques Chirac, Yassir Arafat, the Iranian mullahs or Kim Jong-Il. So his people talked to Healy, Healy listened to his tape one more time, and retrofit the quote to keep it from becoming a weapon against Kerry later in the election. I'm sure visions of Bush commercials blasting away at Kerry, not so subtly suggesting that his foreign support resides in Tehran and Pyongyang as well as Paris and so forth, had Kerry's handlers losing sleep. A throwaway line became a serious albatross around Kerry's neck, so his people had to do something about it. And they did.

However the big question remains, what did Kerry actually say? Did he say "more" or "foreign?" It's a big difference, and a legitimate question. The solution to this whole thing is pretty simple, fortunately. Healy should release the tape to the rest of the media. He's already proven that he's an unreliable scribe--he either got it wrong the first time or he's getting it wrong now. It's possible he got it wrong both times. So release it. Release it, and let the American people decide whether Kerry was talking nonsense about "more" leaders, or blowing smoke about "foreign" leaders.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

IT'S THE CONTEXT THAT MATTERS

Jacob Levy isn't paying enough attention. He writes:

I'm a more than a little disturbed by the widespread blogging to the effect that the Spanish election results represent a great victory of al-Qaeda, that they show that European countries can successfully be blackmailed by terrorism, etc. It's particularly grating to see such commentary from Americans who, collectively, had had much less experience with terrorism on their home soil than had Spaniards.

If the Socialists were not appeasers before M-11-- if a victory on their part wouldn't have been a victory for terrorism-- then the intervening act of terrorism doesn't change that. Part of what it is to maintain a free society in wartime is to retain the ability to switch back and forth between the credible patriotic governing parties. "Don't switch horses in midstream," Lincoln's re-election campaign slogan, can't have more than prudential weight.. While I might think that Britons were wrong on the merits to throw Winston Churchill out of office while World War II was still being fought, their doing so didn't constitute any kind of victory for the Axis. The U.S. Presidency changed party hands five times during the Cold War, with none of those representing a victory for the Soviets.

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The U.S. has withdrawn almost all of its troops from Saudi Arabia. It was able to do this because it won the Iraq war; and getting the troops out was the right thing to do. Leaving troops there to prop up the House of Saud, leaving them there to live under Saudi restrictions, and leaving them there as a constant irritant that provided new al-Qaeda recruits were all counterproductive in the war on terrorism. That means it was our judgment that our interests would be better-served by leaving, once Sadam Hussein was out of power. I think that judgment was right; indeed, the opportunity to leave Saudi Arabia was a very important ancilliary benefit to getting Saddam Hussein out of power. But al-Qaeda wanted us out, too; indeed, after the Soviets left Afghanistan but before Osama bin Laden started talking about restoring the Caliphate, his primary interest seems ot have been in getting the infidel troops off Arabian soil.

Was it 'appeasement' for us to leave? No. It wasn't appeasement even though al-Qaeda wanting us out was relevant to the calculation of our interests. Neither is it appeasement for Spain to decide to withdraw peacekeeping troops from Iraq simply because al-Qaeda wanted all western troops out of Iraq as well. It's a legitimate choice for Spain to make about where to concentrate its efforts. And if it was a legitimate non-appeasing choice before last Thursday, it remains one after.

None of this is to deny that there are policies that would count as appeasement, and political parties in the west whose victories in the wake of a terrorist attack would seem like victories for the attackers. But that would be so primarily because the parties are so far outside the reasonable range of responses to the war on terrorism that their victories would have weakened the western alliance even in the absence of such a terrorist attack. The (relatively moderate) Spanish Socialists just aren't such a party, and withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Iraq just isn't such an out-of-bounds policy. A party that proposed to withdraw from Andalusia and hand it over to bin Laden for the restoration of the Caliphate would be something else entirely; that's nothing at all like what's going on in the real world.

All fine and nice, but Levy's missing the point. To paraphrase Thomas Barnett, he's not seeing the Spanish election in the context of everything else. That "everything else" includes incoming Spanish PM Zapatero saying things like:

"The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster."

25 million people are free; combat/terrorism deaths are down; Iraq will live under its nascent constitution within the year; Saddam Hussein is gone, never to plague the world again. But to Zapatero the whole thing was one big mistake from beginning to end. Don't take my word for it; listen to him:

"You can't bomb a people" over a perceived threat, Zapatero said in comments coming five days before the first anniversary of the March 20 launch of the war.

"You can't organise a war on the basis of lies," he said, alluding to Bush's and Blair's insistence the war was justified by their belief -- so far unfounded -- that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which posed an imminent threat.

Want some more? No problem:

"The military intervention was a political error for the international order, for the search for cooperation, for the defense of the United States," Zapatero said, adding that Spain would maintain "cordial" relations with Washington.

"It divided more than it united, there were no reasons for it, time has shown that the arguments for it lacked credibility and the occupation has been managed badly."

What does this signal about Spain's place in the war? Nothing good. Zapatero lost no time in blasting away at President Bush and British PM Tony Blair, blaming them for basing the Iraq war on "lies." He has vowed to fight terrorism, but on Europe's terms, which means military action is off the table. And he says the only way Spanish troops will remain in Iraq is if the US and UK immediately hand the occupation over to the UN. Of course, like Spain, the UN bugged out of the war once it became the least bit troublesome, so that idea is a non-starter. Besides, even with the UN's imprimatur the occupation would still amount to an American-led venture. Who else can occupy a country the size of California?

Spain's pull-out from Iraq isn't military significant; it only had 1,300 troops there to begin with, and none of them were around for the early heavy fighting. But politically it's very significant, and our "Old Europe" allies/foes aren't taking it lying down. France and Germany, along with the EU/EC, have called for a continental meeting to address terrorism. The US is not invited, because what's on the table is a "European" solution to terrorism. You can bet that the Franco-German alliance along with newly minted partner Spain will use the meeting to drive more wedges between Europe and the US/UK alliance. They will take military action against terrorists off the table, absent some gigantic and undeniable event that forces them to do otherwise. The meeting will tacitly endorse the notion that openly working with the US militarily will draw terrorist strikes, so it's best not to work too openly with us. There will probably be a round of Israel-bashing, since Israel is stepping up its fight against its backyard terrorists.

That's the "everything else" from which we should look at the Spanish elections, and in that context, the Socialist win is a major setback for our side. Spain's Socialists will not hew a tough line on terrorism. They will cooperate in the police efforts and in the intelligence gathering dimension, but they will not put Spanish troops on the line any longer. They will be openly wary of US-led actions. Europe's "swing states," Italy, Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, etc, will probably follow Spain's lead and distance themselves from us. A well-timed strike in the UK could produce a similar result there too. In short, our alliance is deeply cracked and could break with another major strike or even the credible threat of one.

So it's the context that matters. There are essentially two Western schools of thought on dealing with terrorism. The American view is essentially that we must take the fight to the terrorists where they live, smoke them out of their holes, crush their bases of operation, rob them of their state sponsors and turn the cultural tide that spawns their recruits. Iraq is the seminal event in this view, because it took out a terror kingpin and stands a solid chance of beginning a transformation of the Middle East. The other view is essentially that terrorism is a problem but so is the American response to it, and in fact the "cure" may be worse than the disease. This view, held principally by France and Germany, says that Europe should cooperate with us where it must but resist us where it can lest we become too powerful or make the terrorists too angry. In this view, Iraq is a tragic mistake and Europe should pull out of it until and unless the UN is allowed to take over. Spain, once on the American side, is now on the French side. That's a major problem.

MORE: And it's a major problem for another reason. The Spanish election sends at least one unmistakable message: Terrorism works. If you're a terrorist and you don't like some government's policy, the quickest way to change it is to attack the citizens living under it. The terrorists will try large scale attacks in allied countries in the coming months and years, and where they succeed they will stand a decent change of fracturing our alliances. March 11, 2004--911 days after 9-11--will probably mark a turning point in terrorist thinking about their own ability to wage war against us by turning our allies against us.

MORE: Courtesy InstaPundit, ouch. Entirely appropriate, though.

MORE: On the other hand, the war in Iraq continues to have the desired effect on neighboring states historically hostile to us and brutal to their people. Too bad the Euro left (and US left for that matter) can't see the war for all the violence. In a battlefield sense we're still winning and the trajectory of our actions is consistently toward the positive. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya...perhaps Syria next?

It may be the case that Europe is simply irrelevant, and will sit out the war knowing that we'll win it anyway while they won't have to suffer attacks. It wouldn't say much for our "alliance," but says quite a bit about the way the world currently works. At least it would keep us from having to pretend that the French are useful when the fighting starts.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:44 PM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

WHAT DID KERRY KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?

Hoo-boy:

What did Sen. John Kerry know and when did he know it about a plot to assassinate pro-Vietnam War U.S. senators hatched at a November 1971 Kansas City meeting of the group Vietnam Veterans Against America?

According to presidential biographer Douglas Brinkley, that's the question Sen. Kerry needs to answer. If it turns out that the likely Democratic presidential nominee knew of the treasonous plan, Brinkley says he had an obligation to go to the authorities.

"The question is: did Kerry quit [VVAW] before Kansas City or did he quit after Kansas City," Brinkley told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg. "If he quit after Kansas City, that means he clearly knew about this assassination plot against the senators and never went to the authorities."

Kerry says he submitted his official letter of resignation to the VVAW just days before the critical Kansas City confab. But two Vietnam veterans who attended the session told the New York Sun on Friday that they remember Kerry being there.

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Once put to a vote, the death plot went down to defeat, with Kerry voting in the majority, according to the two witnesses who say he was there.

However, Kerry officials in Florida have recently invited the assassination plan's author, Scott Camil, to join the senator's campaign, the Sun report claimed.

Douglas Brinkley isn't exactly a National Review pro-Bush conservative, folks. He's a liberal who spent several years fawning over JFK Jr (the real one) until his untimely death. He literally wrote the book on Kerry, and the book he wrote was more hagiography than biography.

And now he's asking what Kerry knew about a VVAW plot to assassinate US Senators. It's a good question, and must be answered.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:27 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

EU CHIEF TO THE US: WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

Well, here we go.

After the Socialist win in Spain, leftist appeasement politics is on the rise in Europe, and terrorist media Aljazeera is positively giddy about it. European Comission President Romani Prodi has posted a big "War Is Not The Answer" sign on Europe's front yard:

"It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists," Prodi was quoted as saying in the daily La Stampa.

"We must remember that it has been a year since the war in Iraq started. Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago."

He added all of Europe "felt under attack" after last Thursday's bomb blasts in Spain that killed 200 people and injured almost 1500.

"We must remember that it has been a year since the war in Iraq started. Terrorism is infinitely more powerful than a year ago."

No, it isn't, or shouldn't be. A year ago terrorists had a big base in the middle of the Middle East from which to operate, and an ally in charge of it. Today they're still scattered, though obviously not beaten. But arguing that the terrorists are "infinitely more powerful" is just not factual in a battlefield sense. Terrorism is only powerful if we allow it to be powerful. So in that sense perhaps Prodi is right--as long as people like him are in the political ascendancy, terrorism is more powerful. As long as voters take out their anger on their own politicians instead of the terrorists, terrorism is more powerful. But that isn't Bush's fault or the result of the Iraq war--it's because too many people just throw up a "War Is Not The Answer" sign and stop thinking.

Prodi also raised the possibility of the European Union creating a position for an EU commissioner in charge of ending terrorism.

Throw a bureaucrat at terrorism. That'll show 'em.

"This event forces European countries to come up with a joint action plan. In Madrid, there are explicit demands from the population for Europe to ensure people's security and protection."

How is the EC/EU going to do that? The devil will be in the details. And just try it without American's global military reach. Oh that's right--war is not the answer.

Prodi said the issue was likely to be raised at a scheduled EU summit in Brussels next week.

He said he felt "encouraged" by changes taking place in the US which appeared more willing to cooperate with the rest of the world.

"All the Democrats and some Republicans believe that the United States must cooperate with other countries and should act alone only in exceptional circumstances."

We had Spain as an ally. Look where it got us. Maybe this multilateralism isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"It is not Europe which is getting closer to the United States but rather America which is moving toward us."

Heaven help us if he's right.

UPDATE: It's not hard to read where this is going:

France has proposed an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers to coordinate Europe's response to terrorism, while Germany has suggested a meeting of EU security officials to draft a "common assessment" of terrorism risks.

France and Germany, along with their new Spanish ally and the EU/EC, will likely form a counterweight to the US on the question of terrorism. This will force the nations of Europe and the world to choose sides, with us playing the bad cop and the Franco-German group playing the nice guy. Weak coalition partners will be sorely tempted to go with France, believing that it will spare them from terrorist attacks. And if they're smart, the terrorists will threaten weak allies while only attacking strong ones and the Arab states they want to topple. This will feed the feeling that siding with the US guarantees attacks on your soil, and the alliance will erode.

The West is split, and cooperation in a military sense is the first casualty. Spain's troops will come home from Iraq; others from other coalition partners are likely to follow soon.

Bottom line: The terrorists are winning.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

EUROPE'S DARK DAY

I can't help but think that somewhere in some cave or hovel, whoever is leading the terrorist army is smiling tonight. Europe seems thoroughly cowed by the spectre of terrorism on one end, and on the other it almost seems like we're seeing the return of the old USSR.

To the latter, we're not actually seeing a resurgent USSR, but we are seeing an old KGB hand gathering more and more power to his side, appointing a cabinet more personally loyal to him, and possibly using terrorism to reinstitute a form of dictatorship. Russian President Vladimir Putin took 69% of the vote and was re-elected for a second term. At the end of election day, a historic building near the Kremlin burned. So far--so far--Russian authorities aren't claiming any Chechen or terrorist connection. Time will tell if that stands, or it a terrorist angle is found which could serve as a pretext for Putin to demand even more personal power. Either way, no one should forget that Putin has played a double game in the war against the terrorists, mouthing support for us while opposing our efforts in Iraq at every turn. His win today is at best a wash for us on the war--at least a more nationalist, anti-American figure didn't seize Russia. Yet.

And then there's the Socialist victory in Spain. On March 11, Spain suffered the worst terrorist attack on European soil in history, just a few days before an election. All signs point to Islamic terrorists connected to or working for al Qaeda. The right of center Aznar government, a staunch US ally in the Iraq war, bungled the early aftermath of the attack and blamed it on Basque separatists. Meanwhile, the Socialists capitalized on the attack, blaming it not on terrorists but on the Aznar government for fighting terrorists at our side. They accused the Aznar government of lying about the attacks, etc etc, the usual leftist line about terrorism and attacks suffered. And the Socialists won the election.

This is a terrible outcome for those of us who want to see the scourge of terrorism obliterated. The Socialist victory signals to the terrorists that they can all but dictate the results of elections in allied countries with attacks calibrated to kill wantonly and drive wedges between the people in the country attacked. The terrorists can rest assured that whichever local politicians have taken a hard line against terrorism will pay the price of defeat at the polls, and governments with a mind for appeasement will take over. Expect governments across Europe to watch the Spanish results and adjust their thinking to the new reality. European states allied to us can expect election eve terrorist attacks, and governments that have supported us will know that their political opposition can be expected to make maximum political use of those attacks to win elections and turn their countries away from us and the war on terror. The result will be all too predictable--more terrorism. And more terrorism. And more terrorism. Across Europe and probably here in America--more terrorism. Get used to it for the foreseeable future. Spain's Socialists are already vowing to remove their 1,300 troops from Iraq, turning tail and running at the first sign of trouble. Should Japan suffer a similar terrorist attack, we can probably expect it to remove its troops from Iraq as well as its financial support for our efforts there. The same probably goes for South Korea too. It's a pity Spain didn't learn from fellow coalition partner Australia, which was galvanized by the Bali attack into becoming one of America's strongest anti-terror partners.

So what happens in Europe now? It's a whole new ballgame. The terrorists are likely to take the Spanish elections as vindication of their own opinions about the West--that we're decadent paper tigers. They're likely to see Spain as the beginning of a reversal that will win them back Andalusia and set right all the things they believe we did to them over the span of the past half millennium. They're likely to gain a few recruits and get a little more cash in their coffers. They've basically won the Iowa primary and are on a roll now. They intend to take our European allies away from us, and they've scored a major victory toward that end.

Back here in the US, Senator John Kerry still refuses to name the foreign leaders that he says want him to win the presidency. There is probably no connection between the European turn and Kerry's international support. Or maybe there is. Sometimes Kerry is for the war, but sometimes he's dead set against it. When he isn't saying bad things about terrorists, he says that the Bush administration is the most crooked, lying group of people he has ever seen. When he isn't denouncing everything the Bush administration has done to fight terrorism, he's talking about a zillion other subjects and never making defense or war policy anything like the centerpiece of his campaign to become Commander in Chief in the midst of a war. But we do know that some unnamed foreign leaders would rather see President Kerry than a second term with President Bush. Any guesses who those leaders might be? Since Kerry isn't talking, it's fair to guess. Look at left of center governments or governments that have opposed us on major anti-terror initiatives, and you'll probably find Kerry's international friends. You may also find them holed up in Gaza or clinging to power in Tehran and Pyongyang or hiding out in the Afghan borderlands. If Kerry isn't man enough to identify them, he's leaving himself open to the charge that our enemies want him elected.

We're at war. We're losing allies as terrorists attack them and capture them. Above all else, we need clarity from our presidential candidates on one issue: What will he do about the terrorists? We know what George W. Bush will do. He will fight them, defeat them, capture them or kill them. We do not know what John F. Kerry will do, but today's Spanish elections and his hints at international support for his campaign have me fearing the worst. He's a man of the left, the most left-liberal member of the US Senate. He keeps saying that if you liked eight years of Bill Clinton, you'll love a few years of Kerry. That's a signal about what he'll do with the war as well as on the domestic side--he'll try and re-live the 90s, which means no more war against the terrorists. He and his party have used the same tricks and canards as the Spanish Socialists, pointing the finger at the government in power instead of at the terrorists. A Kerry administration may not cut and run from Iraq immediately (thought it very well might), but a Kerry administration would return US terrorism policy to its pre-9/11 paradigm of law enforcement instead of taking the fight to the enemy. He has as much as said so on several occassions.

That would be a disaster.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:46 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack