April 17, 2004


All roads lead to Damascus it seems. Now Syria is reported to be getting rid of their excess WMD:

Syria's Defense Ministry has been smuggling components for missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Sudan in an apparent effort to conceal them from Western inspection, according to Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news service.

Western intelligence sources said the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has been flying shipments of Scud C and Scud D extended-range missiles and WMD components to warehouses in Khartoum since at least January 2004.

...A U.S. official who deals with Middle East issues said Syria was suspected of transporting missile and WMD components to Sudan. But the U.S. intelligence community has not confirmed the reports, he said.

I seriously doubt Assad had a genuine Gaddafi epiphany. At least part of "getting rid of it" means giving mass quantities to al Qaeda. Looks like Syria is either holding up it's end of the deal with Saddam, or just learning how to beat the United States with a political poison pill. If Syria is invaded, the American press will swallow it and and go into a deep sleep.

Jordan's King Abdullah revealed on Saturday that vehicles reportedly containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al Qaeda bomb plot came from Syria, the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"It was a major, major operation. It would have decapitated the government," King Abdullah told the San Francisco Chronicle. Jordanian officials estimated that the death count could have been as high as 20,000 - seven times greater than the Sept. 11 attacks.

Abdullah said that trucks containing 17.5 tons of explosives [The MOAB contains nine tons of high explosives] had come from Syria, though he took pains not to implicate Syrian President Bashir Assad in the al Qaeda plot, saying, "I'm completely confident that Bashir did not know about it."

. . .

Another operation planned by the network was to use "deadly gas against the US embassy and the prime minister's office in Amman," he added.

A car belonging to the al Qaeda plotters, containing a chemical bomb and poisonous gas, was intercepted just 75 miles from the Syrian border.

It's probably just a matter of time before Saddam's remnant forces meet up with the returning WMD for a big attack in Baghdad.

UPDATE: U.S. Marines engaged in 'silent war' near Syrian border.

Posted by Chris Regan at 04:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


The US committed itself to a sea-change in Israel-Palestinian policy this week for a simple reason: Arafat is still a terrorist:

RAMALLAH [MENL] -- The United States has determined that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat approved an attack on a U.S. embassy convoy in which three Americans were killed in 2003.

U.S. diplomatic sources said a U.S. investigation into the bombing of
the embassy convoy in the Gaza Strip in October 2003 pointed to a
clear role by Arafat. The sources said Arafat granted approval to a
plan to strike U.S. interests in PA areas.

Yassir Arafat crossed a Rubicon with that attack. Attacking the US for any reason is unacceptable, and Arafat has proven himself an intransigent terrorist and a miscalculating strategist by attacking us while we're at war with terrorism as a global phenomenon. I would not be surprised at all if the Israelis eliminate him in the near term, with our approval.

UPDATE: Or they'll first eliminate Hamas leader Rantisi and tell Arafat he's next in line.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 16, 2004


I thought I had heard it all after John Kerry modified an innocent story for 4 and 5 year olds and wished that all Republicans could be magically eliminated. I was wrong. He had another inappropriate political perversion for the adults who might make his wish come true.

Reading Abiyoyo may never be the same now that Kerry has politicized the children's story, but who cares about that right? Well now listening to the Star Spangled Banner will never be quite the same after John Kerry has decided that the "bombs bursting in air" are actually the "political bombs" of a Bush administration attack. He continued with the demagoguery and said we must take back the flag that's "still there" and "reclaim the democracy" from someone I imagine he must seriously believe is King George Bush=Hitler.

In screwing with our (formerly non-partisan) national anthem and appropriating it's revolutionary imagery, he has brazenly returned to his leftist language encouraging "regime change", but now it's slyly blended with the American Revolution to make it go down easy. Howard Dean-lite is right. Kerry's speech is now focus-grouped for maximum psychologically manipulative effect. It's meant to be a subconscious emotional trigger where we identify him as an heroic founding father-figure overthrowing the oppressive tyrants. This is not coincidentally the same image used by some anti-war leftists to glorify the actions of terrorists as misunderstood heroes fighting for justice.

Still, I would much rather have a clueless anti-war crowd of Canadians boo the Star-Spangled Banner at a hockey game than have an potential American President and his advertising gurus pervert the meaning of the anthem to get elected. Kerry should know better and be more respectful.

At least Bush is genuine and up front with his flag-waving patriotism and post 9/11 war record. Take it or leave it. He's overtly appealing to our need for his strong leadership during times of danger and not trying to manipulate us subconsciously. On the other hand, Kerry, Dean and the radical left want regime change and social revolution in America at any cost, but they know that's not what most voters want. So they're masking it with patriotic imagery and by distorting the very definition of patriotism (while calling it "defending patriotism") in order to trick people into voting for Kerry. Don't fall for it.

OK, on to the sanitizing issue. Matt Drudge linked this story in which Kerry did the anthem-twisting and attacked anyone he could think of who works with Bush, but who didn't serve in the military like Kerry (the Great) did. But when I read the article, I noticed that Kerry's "political bombs" bursting in air comment was removed by Reuters -- and that was the only part of the article that was changed. It was same in all the the widely available 7:35 Reuters releases.

"They don't think twice about trying to pretend to America that I somehow don't care about the defense of our nation," Kerry said, paraphrasing wording in the Star Spangled Banner.

He recalled his service under the U.S. flag and seeing flag-draped coffins of friends returning from Vietnam.

"When I look up, that flag is still there and it belongs to all Americans," he said, pointing to a flag near the stage.

Earlier in the day, the original stories at 2:18 and 3:52 had his "political bombs" comment. But very few links are using those versions:

"They don't think twice about trying to pretend to America that I somehow don't care about the defense of our nation," Kerry said, paraphrasing wording in the Star Spangled Banner including reference to "political bombs" bursting in the air.

"When I look up, that flag is still there and it belongs to all Americans," he said, pointing to a flag near the stage.

Then later at 8:35 someone decided to restore Kerry's anthem comment again, but I could only find one copy of that version so far.

"They don't think twice about trying to pretend to America that I somehow don't care about the defense of our nation," Kerry said.

He paraphrased wording in the Star-Spangled Banner with a reference to "political bombs" bursting in the air, and recalled his service under the U.S. flag and seeing flag-draped coffins of friends returning from Vietnam.

"When I look up, that flag is still there and it belongs to all Americans," he said, pointing to a flag near the stage.

Others are carrying that comment too, but hardly anyone in the nation is printing Kerry's "reclaim our democracy" comments. As for Reuters, maybe there's a big editorial battle going on in the newsroom and we'll see a new version tomorrow.

UPDATE: Yahoo picked up the 8:35 version, but that version is still extremely rare. Yahoo/Reuters has still not unsanitized the 7:35 version the whole world is reading. You can see here that when the "political bombs" statement was removed they actually modified the existing link. The posted text no longer matches the quoted source. But when the phrase is reinserted by Reuters editors an entire new link gets created. I guess they can say they fixed it now, though very few are reading the corrected version.

MORE: I wasn't joking about the political neuromarketing stuff. Kerry has probably studied NLP and is working his neuro-linguistic political programming mojo on us. OK, I'm kidding about that one.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004


Guess who said:

"This war makes millions of dollars for big corporations, either weapons manufacturers or those working in the reconstruction [of Iraq], such as Halliburton and its sister companies..."

And guess who said:

“We’ve seen an Administration rush this nation into war with no plan to win the peace and protect our soldiers’ lives – but with a full agenda for enriching Halliburton and other big corporations that have high-placed Republican lobbyists."

And guess which site is currently linking to a fawning interview with Mullah Omar, a story smearing US troops as "Nazis," and is siding with Hamas against President Bush's new Israel policy.

Answer to the first question: see for yourself.

Answer to the second question: see for yourself.

Answer to the third question: see for yourself.

Apparently it's now acceptable for a major US political party to ape our enemy's talking points or to offer talking points for our enemy to ape and openly side with them against America, and "moderates" within that party won't take responsibility to do anything about it.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:45 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


CBS: The Check Book System
Bryan Preston & Chris Regan

The Columbia Broadcasting System should change its name to the Check Book
System. CBS is part of a gigantic media machine bent on dominating the American airwaves and pushing its leftwing agenda.

As we documented in a previous article for National Review Online, Viacom holdings CBS and Simon & Schuster used their respective news organizations and publishing empire to push a very controversial and deeply flawed anti-Bush book at the precise time its author, Richard Clarke, was testifying before the 9-11 Commission, ensuring heavy buzz and big sales. And Clarke’s role as both mouthpiece and pawn is hardly unique. Since Viacom acquired Simon & Schuster in 1994 and bought CBS in 1999, a kind of “synergy” has formed in which Simon & Schuster publishes books that CBS news and entertainment programs promote via author interviews and appearances.

For instance, former First Lady Hillary Clinton’s autobiography Living History was a Simon & Schuster property. Released June 9, 2003, Simon & Schuster paid the junior senator from New York a whopping and highly unusual $8 million advance for her story from inside her husband’s White House. Upon its release she showed up on the CBS Early Show and CBS Late Show with David Letterman. 60 Minutes didn’t interview her only because hubby Bill had a job on the program at the time, a connection that was apparently too much even for Viacom to stomach. That deal itself was 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt’s brainchild, who seemed to throw in Dole to be the Washington Generals to Clinton’s Harlem Globetrotters—it was obvious whose show it was supposed to be. Clinton’s take-home pay for the 60 Minutes gig was a reported $1,000,000 for the ten-week run, or about $1,100 per word he uttered on the show. Take it from me; freelance writing does not pay as well.

How much does Hewitt like the Clintons? According to former Clinton advisor George Stephanolopous’ All Too Human, Hewitt played a key role in the couple’s famous candidacy-saving 60 Minutes interview in 1992:

"Twice during the interview, Don Hewitt called a break and emerged from the control room. He told the Clintons how he’d made John Kennedy president by producing the debates in 1960 and said he could do the same for them. Like a director coaxing his leading couple, he crouched down in front of the couch and whispered, ‘Just say yes or no. Yes or no, and we’ll move on to other things."

60 Minutes allowed the Clintons multiple ‘takes’ to answer questions if they asked for it. How many other interview subjects have 60 Minutes given such kid-glove treatment?

Earlier this year, Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty made a splash for alleging (incorrectly, it turns out) that the Bush administration was planning war with Iraq long before 9-11. Loyalty featured fired Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s negative take from inside the Bush administration, and was also a Simon & Schuster book. Leslie Stahl interviewed O’Neill on 60 Minutes the day Loyalty appeared. Stahl also interviewed Clarke for his star turn, and both the O’Neill and Clarke segments failed to mention the corporate connection between CBS and the books. And in both cases, the interviews should have turned up massive contradictions that were later exposed in other media, but didn’t. Both Clarke and O’Neill passed through the feared 60 Minutes gauntlet unscathed. Do 60 Minutes producers not have access to Lexis-Nexis? They should have been able to turn up Clarke's glaring contradictions and provided them to viewers.

On Sunday, April 18, Bob Woodward will have a new book about the war and the Bush administration for sale. Plan of Attack is a Simon & Schuster property and Woodward is scheduled to appear on 60 Minutes the day of its release (60 Minutes will acknowledge the corporate connection this time around). Like Clarke and O’Neill, Woodward’s interview will get two segments on the broadcast, and Leslie Stahl is the designated interviewer turned press agent. Double-segmenting is a rarity on 60 Minutes, and you can count the number of pro-Bush or anti-Clinton book authors who have gotten such treatment on zero fingers. Gary Aldrich? 60 Minutes never heard of him. David Frum? Forget about it. Has Mansour Ijaz, the man through whom Sudan offered Osama bin Laden to the Clinton administration, ever been on 60 Minutes? No he hasn’t, even though his story has been corroborated a number of times by other sources including Clinton himself.

It isn’t just the headliner books that show Viacom’s leftward tilt. Simon & Schuster also published House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties, a conspiracy tome more worthy of the illuminati at MoveOn.org than Viacom. Simon & Schuster published Former President and current war critic Jimmy Carter’s latest book. To be sure, the publisher has released a few token conservative books but the preponderance of its political offerings has been friendlier to Democrats than Republicans. Perhaps most ironic, left wing columnist Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News is also a Simon & Schuster book. A pre-emptive book, no doubt. Meanwhile, CBS Evening News’ Dan Rather has become even more biased than usual during the Iraq war. On March 31, 2004, when four US civilians were killed and mutilated by terrorists in Fallujah, Iraq, Rather blamed Bush economic policies:

"Given such risks, it may be hard to see why any civilian would agree to work in Iraq. But as CBS's Bob McNamara reports, among other reasons, the long job slump has left many Americans desperate enough to risk everything for a decent paycheck."

What’s going on here? Rather’s biases have been obvious for years, but CBS denies that it pays for interviews even as its corporate sibling does just that through book deals while CBS’ 60 Minutes schedules author interviews to coincide with the release of those books. But Viacom’s leftist tendencies run deeper than that. Viacom siblings CBS and MTV produced this year’s awful Super Bowl halftime show, which was so raunchy it would have been controversial even if Janet Jackson’s wardrobe hadn’t infamously “malfunctioned.” The crude (and recently fined) Howard Stern and Infinity Broadcasting’s radio empire are Viacom products. And Viacom has been very, very good to the Democratic Party.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets web site, in this election cycle Viacom is the sixth-largest political contributor among communications and electronics corporations. So far Viacom has donated $597,350, 69% of which has gone to the Democrats. In 2002, Viacom gave a whopping 89% of its political contributions to the Democrats, adding $1.8 million to Democrat coffers. In 2000, Viacom donated 68%, or just over $740,000, to the Dems. In 1998, it gave 58% to the Dems, in 1996, 66%, and in 1994 it gave a lopsided 91% to the Democrats.

It’s important to note that the Viacom tallies reflect both the corporation’s donations as well as those of its employees, meaning the leftward bias isn’t just an executive decision. Viacom’s employees—including anyone working at CBS, MTV, Simon & Schuster, Paramount and Infinity—are blue-state material. But the cash donations aren’t Viacom’s most important or influential contributions to American politics. The most important contributions occur when the giant has its corporate children open up their check books and airwaves to the Richard Clarkes and Paul O’Neills of the world, and when the corporate giant pushes a decidedly amoral and left wing agenda on the public. The check book system of journalism is alive and well at CBS, and it is feeding the increasingly rabid anti-war and anti-Bush left.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Smugglers in Iraq have been very busy:

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- Large amounts of nuclear-related equipment, some of it contaminated, and a small number of missile engines have been smuggled out of Iraq for recycling in European scrap yards, according to the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and other U.N. diplomats.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned the U.N. Security Council in a letter that U.N. satellite photos have detected "the extensive removal of equipment and, in some instances, removal of entire buildings" from sites that had been subject to U.N. monitoring before the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

ElBaradei said an IAEA investigation "indicates that large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transferred out of Iraq, from sites monitored by the IAEA." He said that he has informed the United States about the discovery and is awaiting "clarification."

That word--"clarification"--makes it sound like ElBaradei suspects the US is involved, but it's far more likely that smugglers are running this game for their own profit and to help some government connected to the old regime cover up its past role in nuclearizing Iraq.

If I were on this case I'd start with France, since it was Chirac's bright idea to assist Iraq's nuclear program from the late 70s onward.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 10:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004


"People ought to stay out of our business."

Those eight soon to be infamous words from 9/11 commission emperor chairman Thomas Kean will now sadly go down in historic records alongside the more infamous attacks of 9/11. Kean was responding to the exposure and public discussion of a serious conflict of interest in his midst that threatens to add insult to the injury of that horrible day.

At the same time, we had superstar 9/11 commissioner Bob Kerrey responding to another critic of the partisan proceedings with, "He can go to hell for all I'm concerned."

With all due respect, Thomas Kean, Bob Kerrey, Richard Ben-Veniste and "Miss 9/11" Jamie Gorelick might instead get out and stay out of America's serious business, get off of our TV screens and leave the national stage by way of whatever hell-hole Bob Kerrey crawled out of. They could all be easily replaced as they resign one by one. I'm really getting sick of Kean and his entire troupe of "Dancing Itos" making fools of us and our sense of impartial justice on TV every day and night anyhow. They have no respect for the integrity of this 9/11 hearing or even our democratic process it seems. So I've lost all respect for them and any conclusion they try to pawn off on us as objective. We should seriously consider calling off the entire farce until after the election.

You might wonder, "What are these 9/11 goons doing in our face every night on TV anyhow?" Well as it turns out, Thomas Kean has actually admitted he has a white noise political/media strategy. "We would rather have the commission talking about us rather than talking heads, " he said. So they're actually saturating the nightly airwaves with the specific intent of drowning out any critics or information that might expose them as a pox on our nation. How creepy and undemocratic is that?

The strategy is actually working too. For instance, last night on his testimony wrap-up show, Chris Matthews did not even bring up the blockbuster Gorelick memo that rocked the commission due to his need to play Softball with the 9/11 commissioners he has as repeat guests. Their authority on his show depends on a compromised Matthews not exposing them or their Leninist-style hearings as a fraud. MSNBC's big star complies just as any Pravda reporter worth his salt would. The media scam worked, the real news was buried, the commissioners got a pass and America got screwed.

Amazingly, instead of reporting the real big news, Matthews actually invented his own big story of the day -- that Clinton supposedly ordered Osama bin Laden killed -- from the detritus left by Janet Reno's rambling train of incoherence. He conveniently filtered this non-fact from what was not said during the testimony. Then he trotted out his politically perfect 9/11 Stepford Widows to parrot the DNC party line -- Clinton good, Bush bad, commissioners holy, Richard C. Clark god. Rest assured, Chris Matthews isn't the only one involved in the bizarre media charade, he's just the poster child.

How did America fall so far, so fast, on such an important subject? I'm not sure, but we better do something quick. The commissioners don't want to discuss the Gorelick elephant in our living rooms and reduce the authority that powers their democracy-blocking TV appearances, so they insult us and our elected representatives instead. Concerned Americans have no choice but to make it their business and jump right back in the faces of these arrogant commissioners. It looks like that is slowly happening now. Most of our fellow countrymen do not yet realize that our self-styled 9/11 emperor has no clothes. They shall soon find out.

To use another obvious metaphor, it seems our towering 9/11 commission has absorbed two well-placed strikes (Richard Clarke and now Jamie Gorelick) that have pierced right through the outer shell to the very heart of the commission's integrity. There's obvious damage, though there still appears to be hope to most people. But I fear the unseen framework that supports all high commissions such as these is under severe stress and may soon collapse. If it does, it will bring down more than just the top few layers under fire right now. Everything will come crumbling down, leaving a feeling of emptiness and pain where a once proud commission used to stand. We'll be back to ground zero.

I'll end with my own quote for Thomas Kean from another famous hearing in America's history: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Mr Kean, your allotted time is up.

UPDATE: This 9/11 fiasco is now being blamed on Rush Limbaugh by one of the commissioners, Tim Roemer. That is stunning, nearly psychotic delusion. It occurs to me that Commissioner Kean has now descended into his bunker and will force Bush or Congress to shut them down if they want an impartial investigation. They're essentially launching a political version of the Samson Option. Ever since the Viacom-marketed testimony of Richard Clarke, they seemingly decided that the best defense against charges of political bias and conflicts is ratcheting up the threat of mutually assured destruction. They'll refuse to go down in disgrace without first causing maximum damage by bringing down the Bush Presidency along with America's intelligence secrets. And to top it off, they'll blame their petulant destructive behavior on the Americans who chose to expose them on talk radio and weblogs.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Maybe it's now time not just for Jamie Gorelick to resign, but for the 9/11 Commissioner Chairman, Thomas Kean, to resign his chairmanship. He has presided over a bizarre, highly-politicized and now thoroughly discredited show trial. Today he refused to even bother to restore its credibility as a serious question of conflict of interest arose. Instead he has preened and opined non-stop for TV cameras and allowed other commissioners to do the same night in and night out. Should those entrusted to find out how and why 9-11 happened really be going on cable TV shows every night to give us a running and very selective color commentary of their incomplete findings to date? And should the commission tolerate the fact that one of its members is doubly conflicted in her interests?

Gorelick's lawfirm represents Saudi Prince Mohammed al Faisal, a potential defendant in the litigation being brought by the 9/11 families. A finding by the Commission that 9/11 was preventable could take some of the heat off of Gorelick's Saudi clients.

Commission Chairman Tom Kean, however, dismissed suggestions that Gorelick was unfit to serve on Wednesday, complaining that Sensenbrenner and other Commission critics should "stay out of our business."

Gorelick apparently enjoys a special relationship with Kean. She boasted last week that she was the only other commissioner besides Kean and co-chair Lee Hamilton who had access to every one of the presidential daily briefings.

Gorelick's public conduct in recent days has only exacerbated perceptions of impropriety.

Last Thursday, when asked whether the Commission's finding would impact on the presidential election, Gorelick told MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, "[The report] will raise some very fundamental issues."

Minutes later, Gorelick beamed as Matthews referred to her as a "former deputy attorney general [who] may well be attorney general again."

The American people deserve better than this. The 3,000 who died on 9-11 and their families, and the military personnel who have died since then in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting al Qaeda deserve better than this. We deserve more than a farcical show trial more interested in boosting Chris Matthews' ratings than in getting at the truth about 9-11. And we deserve it an atmosphere congruent to the subject, not pressurized in the midst of an election year while we're at war.

But the show trial goes on. Jamie Gorelick remains in her seat of judgment to interrogate those who in a sane world should be interrogating her. This should not be. And Chris Matthews refuses to take any kind of hard line on any question relating to the commission's credibility because he depends on commission members to provide entertainment on his nightly gabfest. He is also sunk in a conflict of interest between the truth and his television show. This should not be.

As I said a week or so back, forming this commission in the midst of war and in an election year is probably the most self-destructive act this nation has ever committed. Worse than the Church Commission that gutted our intel agencies, worse than the 1977 'Halloween massacre' in which 800 CIA agents were fired worldwide, this commission is a farce without a shred of credibility left, and has become hopelessly compromised. Its members have spent nearly as much time preening on TV as they have dribbling out classified material that our enemies will find useful in the future.

It was a terrible idea to hold this commission in the midst of war and in an election year to begin with, but it could at least have handled its duties with due solmennity. It should have kept all testimony behind closed doors until its report was complete, releasing that report when it could do America the most good. It should have forbade its members from offering nightly roundups on cable talking head shows, since its members are acting in some sense as both judges and jurors on the whole question of 9-11 and culpability. But instead of handling the worst terrorist strike on American soil in history with decorum and a sense of the gravity of the situation, we get commission members preening on Hardball every night and at the same time telling the American people to stay out of its business when serious questions of conflict of interest arise. This should not be.

I'm sorry Mr. Kean, but with all due respect it is very much our business. Autocracy has no place in a democracy. The safety of our nation is our business. We the people are the government, and what you do on our behalf is our business. The way you handle or, in this case mishandle, basic questions of credibility is very much our business. Our families, our lives and our civlization literally depend on your judgment, and thus far you and your fellow kangaroo court jesters have given close watchers no reason to trust you. In fact, you seem intent to erode our trust at every turn. This should not be.

America does not need another Warren Commission to botch its historic chance to reassure the nation that its government is capable of seriousness and resolve in the face of wrenching questions that have the potential to crack our country's very foundations. America does not need to delve in the kind of Leninist show trials that the 9-11 Commission has become, show trials meant to show a little leg and please the media rather than discover some useful and actionable truth.

What we are getting as a nation from the 9-11 Commission is a terrible disservice. We are getting ex-politicians loving their second chance at the limelight, and we are getting former officials neck-deep in the problems that led directly to 9-11 sitting in judgement on officials who have done everything in their power to prevent another 9-11. On the question of basic fairness, Gorelick's continued presence on the commission fails. And on the question of basic competence, Chairman Kean must be regarded as a failure of the first order. His historic mission is compromised.

How so?

It goes deeper than whether Gorelick should step down due to her very real and serious conflicts of interest, and deeper than Kean's autocratic response to questions about her continued presence. The commission has ignored relevant evidence, such as the video tape of former President Clinton's confession that he turned down a Sudanese deal to hand over bin Laden--evidence that commissioners such as Senator Bob Kerrey claim no knowledge of even when they have in fact had that evidence in hand for months. The commission has played to the cameras for certain testimony that was potentially damaging to the Bush administration, such as that of former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, while it has kept testimony that might embarass the Clinton administration, such as that of Clinton himself or Mansour Ijaz and Laurie Mylroie, out of the public eye. It has accused the Bush administration of intimidating witnesses even as its own historian tried to blackmail the White House into allowing Dr. Rice to testify. It has shown little interest in the years leading up to the beginning of the Bush administration while showing a laser-like interest in the eight months that led up to 9-11. It has declassified briefings that have shown our enemies how little we really know about their activities in our own country and has put our CIA Director on the record saying that we will not be ready to face down terrorism on our own soil for five more years. Meanwhile, it has ignored clear and present evidence that one of its members is compromised and should be excused from further duty, while its chairman tells us it's none of our business. Mr. Kean has presided over all this.

The 9-11 Commission is a joke whose punch line might well be eroded war morale, a return to old failed anti-terrorism policies, and ultimately another even more serious terrorist strike on American soil. To restore its lost credibility, Ms. Gorelick should step down or be asked to do so immediately. Mr. Kean should step down as well since he has allowed this charade to go on as long as it has under his watch. The entire commission should probaby be disbanded and reconstituted in a year or two with new membership pledged to dig for the truth instead of making constant headlines.

If the 9-11 Commission continues on its present course, it will do far more harm than good to our national security and to our will to win the war we must win.

(Chris Regan contributed to this report)

MORE: Mansour Ijaz details the Sudanese offer to hand bin Laden over to the US in 1996, which comes with a bombshell--yet another 9-11 Commission member is compromised.

Khartoum, April 19, 1997. After eight months of negotiations and countless dinners of Nile perch and soggy French fries, I persuaded Sudan's president, Omar Hasan el Bashir, to make an unconditional offer to share Sudan's intelligence data with the FBI and CIA. The offer, made at my request directly to the 9/11 Commission's vice chairman, former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D., Ind.), sat in limbo for months. Hamilton personally discussed the offer with Berger and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, with little effect.

Lee Hamilton, who today sits on the 9-11 Commission, also knew of the Sudanese offer yet has shown no public interest in exploring it.

MORE: And now the kangaroo court has dragged our CIA spymaster into the public glare for the first time in American history. What next--a seminar to teach terrorists how to build their own suitcase nuke?

Posted by B. Preston at 10:25 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Dissected over at Balloon Juice. As a Photoshop pro, I chime in in the comments: "Saved" is more likely to be the real photo.

(Yes, I know my Muqteddy photo comp stunk. My screen's contrast was set too high.)

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


Way back in August 2002, I asked "Who owns Scott Ritter, and what did they pay for him?"

The answer seems to be: Saddam Hussein, and $400,000. Fox News just reported that the man who bankrolled his film, Iraqi-born Shakir al-Khafaji, has confessed to taking kickbacks from Saddam as part of the Oil-For-Food scam.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Gas Prices.jpg

Posted by B. Preston at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


John Hawkins lays out the case against Saddam.

Well, after September 11th, it became apparent that simply going after Al-Qaeda was not going to be enough to prevent future attacks. First off, if you simply target Al-Qaeda, what happens if the core of group simply changes its name or groups with other anti-American terrorists? Furthermore, how can you effectively target terrorists protected by the power of a rogue state? The answer is, "you can't". In addition, the training, resources, & protection provided by those rogue states is the very thing that enables a group like Al-Qaeda to become capable of pulling off the sort of attack we saw on 9/11. So in order to prevent future 9/11s, you have to go after not just Al-Qaeda, but all terrorist groups with global reach and the rogue states that support them.

George Bush made that clear in his Sept 20, 2001 speech to the nation when he said,

"Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated....

And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

Without question, Iraq was a nation that provided "safe haven" for terrorists with "global reach". Among them were terrormaster Abu Nidal, Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the conspirators in the 1993 WTC bombing, "Khala Khadr al-Salahat, the man who reputedly made the bomb for the Libyans that brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over...Scotland,"Abu Abbas, mastermind of the October 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer," & "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, formerly the director of an al Qaeda training base in Afghanistan" who is now believed to be leading Al-Qaeda's forces in Iraq. Quite frankly, any war on terrorism that didn't tackle that nest of vipers would have been a war in name only.

Moreover, as devastating as 9/11 was, a terrorist attack featuring weapons of mass destruction could be infinitely worse. Much has been made of the fact that we have not found the stockpiles of WMD that we expected in Iraq. But, there are three points worth making about that.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 13, 2004


It may be that the terrorists infesting Iraq are trying to turn George W. Bush into Jimmy Carter.

From Feb 1-10 of this year, Iran hosted a terrorist world conference in Tehran. Called "Ten Days of Dawn," the jamboree had one purpose, which was to hammer out a new strategy for confronting the "Great Satan," meaning the US. February 1st was the 25th anniversary of the return from exile of Ayatollah Khomeini, the mad mullah who founded the Islamic Republic in Iran.

Following that terrorist jamboree, the Madrid bombings occurred, and those bombings succeeded in robbing the "Great Satan" of one of its allies, Spain. Since that time, terrorists have begun to threaten, or renew threats, against major European powers.

And now in Iraq we're confronting a Khomeini mini-me in Muqtada al-Sadr. He's openly supportive of Hezbollah, which has long been Iran's terrorist A-Team in its ongoing war with Israel. Al-Sadr has traveled to Iran several times in the past few months, and is rumored to be on Iran's payroll right now, and in turn Iran is rumored to be spending as much as $70 million a month on ongoing anti-American operations in Iraq.

It's no secret that a democratic Iraq is the Iranian mullacracy's worst nightmare. In fact, that's one of the reasons we're trying to install a democratic Iraq--to break regimes such as Iran's.

The younger generation in Iran is restless and has been for quite a while. A democracy on their doorstep may prove to be too much of a temptation to resist, so it's not hard to see young Iranians either crossing over to live in Iraq for a better and freer life or demanding that kind of life for themselves in Iran. Either way, the mullahs lose. So it's in their interests to try and create as much trouble for us as possible.

And that's where all this hostage-taking comes in. When the Islamic revolution hit and took over Iran in 1979, it took over the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year. That event dominated last year of President Carter's term in office, and he took a daily beating around the world and here at home for his inability to do anything about the crisis. The ABC news show Nightline first went on the air as a daily update about the crisis, staying on after the fact because it had actually had enough time to build up an audience with staying power. Carter tried once and failed to rescue the hostages. Iran and the hostage crisis came to define his presidency, and he lost narrowly to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

In Iraq, we have a mullah beholden to Tehran causing trouble for us. We have a group or several groups of terrorists taking hostages, but this time they have added a twist. They either realize it won't make a difference, or have been unable to do it, but they don't seem interested in taking Americans per se. Instead they're taking hostages from countries allied to us that they hope or believe they can intimidate into pulling a Spain and splitting off from us. That could be the reason Japanese hostages were taken--to scare Tokyo into pulling its troops out of Iraq.

I admit I'm speculating here, but it seems to me that a strategy meeting held on the 25th anniversary of Khomeini's return to Iran would dredge up old memories of how he seized power. It's undoubtedly a mark of honor to these terrorists that Khomeini was able to capture so many American hostages and thumb his nose at the US, and that his crimes helped get Jimmy Carter run from office. I don't think it's a stretch at all to surmise that today's terrorists would look to their old mentor for hints about opposing America in Iraq now, and would seize on Khomeini's most successful gambit--hostage taking for fun and profit.

So I think they're trying to turn George W. Bush into Jimmy Carter. It won't work for several reasons, not least of which is that Bush probably couldn't be more different from Carter than he already is, but I do think that's the mullah's strategy.

(link thanks to Chris)

Posted by B. Preston at 10:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Bad tie, good words. President Bush should give more big speeches and whack the press in public more often than he does. He's no silver-tongued smoothy at these things but he comes across as sincere and absolutely sure that the course he has set is the right one. It probably helps that I agree with him in a macro sense, but when he seems sure of himself I become more sure of him, and that's a good thing. I think even people who generally disagree with him should at least come away feeling like they haven't been conned or lied to, and that their president actually believes what he says and actually says what he means.

I think that if anyone lost in tonight's confab it was the press, which just couldn't ask enough touchy feely nonsensical questions about apologies and mistakes and all that. They looked petty and small.

I liked the way Bush put responsibility for 9-11 squarely where it belongs, which is on the head of Osama bin Laden. We've been hearing for too long now how if this would have been done or that information been acted on or taken to the highest levels, 9-11 would never have happened and that somehow by extension some US government official is to blame. That's a steaming pile. Bin Laden perpetrated that crime. It's his fault. He's the one that we all should stay mad at, and he's the one we'll ultimately have to take down. All of this responsibility projection is just one more way the left (mostly) tends to look at the enemy within instead of the real enemy without.

I also liked the way that Bush stood firm on staying the course in Iraq and on handing power over on June 30. I've gone back and forth mentally over whether we should hand off sovereignty sooner or later, and I've finally come down on the side of sooner. The sooner we get an Iraqi face on the bureaucracy and the police and security forces and so forth the better. The sooner we can get an legitimate Iraqi government in place the better. The sooner we can get the heck out, having left behind a much better and safer place than before, the better.

So as I said, good words. President Bush should have some big public speech or press conference once every six weeks or so until the election. It's free airtime, he'll always have something to say, and the press is always capable of looking stupid and thereby making him look that much better.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


For the past four months, the JYB has occupied a coveted space on the USS Clueless blogroll. I had no idea that Steven Den Beste even read this blog, so I was shocked when I suddenly saw a major new referrer in my logs, which turned out to be his widely read blog.

You don't troll or spam or send him scads of mail to get on his blogroll. You have to get his attention in some other way, and to this day I have no idea how we got his. And I describe a spot on his roll as coveted because that's just what it is--his blogroll is short and well-placed and his traffic is high, which translates into significant click-throughs and increased traffic for anyone on it.

Another feature that makes such a spot so coveted is that they aren't permanent. He rotates the links every four months, replacing the old with the new. It's all an effort on his part to get smaller blogs more notice, and I can testify that it works: The JYB's stats have improved significantly while it has been on SDB's blogroll.

Well, the JYB's four months on the Clueless blogroll are up and a new class is now getting its turn, so I just wanted to thank Steven for giving the JYB a turn on the roll. He is one of the least selfish bloggers in the 'sphere, and one of those least interested in the flavor of the month--Wonkette-esque superficial crap, who's blogwarring against whom, etc--and one of the best informed and most consistent and interesting writers we have.

So thank you, Steven.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


I agree with Landmark Legal on this one:

Ms. Gorelick is hopelessly conflicted in her role as a Commission member, given the numerous issues about which she has knowledge resulting from her service as Deputy Attorney General of the United States from 1994 to 1997.

As Deputy Attorney General, Ms. Gorelick oversaw the management, budget and policy objectives of the United States Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). The Department of Justice's and FBI's pre-9/11 activities and functions are a key focus of the Commission, for which Ms. Gorelick should be providing testimony as a material witness. Ms. Gorelick's recusal in questioning former FBI Director Louis Freeh is no substitute for her testimony. Moreover, as a Commission member, Ms. Gorelick will have input into the Commission's findings, including those related to areas involving her past role. If Ms. Gorelick does not immediately step aside, many in the public will undoubtedly conclude that the Commission's work has been compromised.

Jamie Gorelick as Deputy Attorney General was in a position of oversight in relation to the FBI. She should be testifying to the Commission, not sitting in judgement on it. As Ethan Wallison writes:

Consider one theme that has emerged from the hearings to date: the hapless condition of the FBI's antiterror efforts before the 9/11 attacks. If the attacks in New York and Oklahoma City amounted to failures for the FBI, what steps did Gorelick and other top officials at Justice, of which the agency is a part, take to defend against the next instance? Why did it take 9/11 to shift the FBI's emphasis from enforcement to prevention? Did the poor relationship between Reno and FBI director Louis Freeh contribute to failures to restructure the FBI? Were any steps taken after the 1993 attacks to remove barriers that thwarted useful coordination between the FBI and the CIA?

Moreover, Gorelick played a central role in constructing the intel firewall that prevented the CIA and FBI from sharing information, including presumably information that could have led to thwarting 9-11. The Patriot Act helped clear away that wall, but it wouldn't have had to do so if Gorelick had not put it there in the first place:

Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general — the number two official in the Department of Justice — for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government's self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.

If anyone should be answering questions about culpability for 9-11, it should be Jamie Gorelick. Her firewall was a leading cause of the FBI's and CIA's mutual inability to communicate and share information. She should step down from the Commission and be compelled to testify in public under oath before it.

Otherwise the 9-11 Commission is compromised, and its judgment will be suspect, because at least one member has a gigantic and glaring conflict of interest--to protect her own central role on a central question while at the same time interrogating others about their roles.

MORE: Here is the 1995 memo, written by Gorelick, that Atty Gen Ashcroft declassified today. In it, Gorelick interprets federal law as mandating a very strict firewall between law enforcement and counterintel. It's a smoking gun of sorts, in that it spells out very clearly who set up the data wall that led in part to 9-11, in keeping intel and law enforcement separate spheres that should never meet. That the Commission did not know about it until today is damning, because at least one Commission member did in fact know about it, but chose not to disclose it or include it, creating at best an impression of conflict of interest. She is currently questioning Ashcroft right now, which is a farce. She should be testifying.

UPDATE: Rep. James Sensenbrenner is calling for Gorelick to resign from the 9-11 Commission. Though Sensenbrenner is a Republican, this isn't a partisan call--Gorelick was one of the principals involved in crafting policy during the Clinton years, and it turns out that one of her policies is directly related to 9-11. Therefore she should not sit in judgment on the Commission. Her presence continues an unnecessary and unacceptable conflict of interest, and undermines the Commission's already strained credibility.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Seems the native leftists are getting restless:

A University of California at Berkeley lecturer speaking at an anti-war rally Saturday called for a Palestinian-style intifada, or uprising, against the United States in response to American actions in the Middle East. . .

"Well, we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don't have an intifada in this country?

...we're sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. And we know every – They're gonna say some Palestinian being too radical – well, you haven't seen radicalism yet!"

Now a Kerry campaign affiliate's ad calls the Iraqi insurgents "patriates" (sic) and appears to be calling for someone to kill Donald Rumsfeld:

"We should put this S.O.B. up against a wall and say 'This is one of our bad days,' and pull the trigger," the ad reads.

The call-to-arms fundraising ad, placed by the St. Petersburg Democratic Club in the current issue of the GABBER, a local St. Petersburg paper, asks readers to make an urgent donation to the John Kerry campaign.

...McCall said her club is in direct contact with John Kerry campaign.

"We're all working together."

The publisher of the GABBER says running the ad with the passage "pull the trigger" was a mistake that "slipped through" during the editing of this week's edition.

Sort of like an innocent wardrobe malfunction I guess.

No word on if Kerry was involved with this latest wartime idea to assassinate a government official. He will probably claim that, as with the Vietnam era plot to kill U.S. Senators, he tried to distance himself from the group before they voted on the ad.

(Thanks to LGF, where the revolution will be blogged.)

MORE:It looks like paranoia about Bush planning to "steal the election again" has led Kerry's radical troops to actually respond to his call for "regime change."

"What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," said Kerry, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

If the polls start going bad for Kerry, should we get ready for bullets and bombs? The leftist/marxist/anarchist militant crowd could turn more seriously violent on a dime. Their leaders recently met in Feb with Islamic terrorists in Tehran to map out global revolutionary strategy.

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." The Khomeinist leadership has taken note of the success of the Islamist-Leftist alliances in organizing rallies against the liberation of Iraq last year.

One of the results of the terrorfest coordination appears to have been the election eve attack in Madrid that propelled socialists into power. Let's not pretend "it can't happen here" because it can.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:35 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


...in her 9-11 Commission testimony that Condi Rice was right--and Richard Clarke was therefore wrong--about how the Millennium bomb plot was foiled.

And she supports nearly all of the provisions of the Patriot Act. She also admitted that she didn't brief incoming Attorney General John Ashcroft about the al Qaeda sleeper cells operating inside the US during the transition from Clinton to Bush.

Take that, lefties.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


The JunkYardBlog is officially bored. Down to the bone, yawning like a Great Dane, falling asleep bored.

Earlier this month a minor league hothead trying to make a name for himself touched off a round of violence in Iraq. The man has no standing, is not popular and is not much of a military strategist. He's in bed with Hezbollah, he's a tool of the mullahs in Iran and he looks like he has fleas. I bet he stinks, too. I'm sure his policy on women's rights is as enlightened as any seventh-century desert sheikh.

You'd think that the typical American reaction to such a figure would be, basically, "So when do we drop a bomb on him?" And you'd be right for the most part, because the typical American probably did react that way. But not the Democrats and their lackies in the press. No siree, when Muqtada al-Sadr reared his ugly head, instead of cheering on the US Marines to play whack-a-mullah, their presidential nominee pronounced Sadr a "legitimate voice" and the more conservative senator from Massachussetts ("more conservative" being a very relative term in this case) actually fed the bastage lines about how Iraq was becoming George W. Bush's Vietnam. They figuratively poked and prodded the bodies of the four civilians killed in Fallujah every bit as much as the terrorists did. Andy Rooney even declared that our soldiers aren't brave and are not heroes. And the comparisons to Vietnam just won't stop, even though Iraq bears about as much resemblance to Vietnam as I do to Halle Barry. The Russians see the difference. Why can't our fellow Americans?

To the Democrats and the press, every damn war is Vietnam. Have they not had an original thought since 1973? Can they not see past their moment of greatest triumph--when in John Kerry's words they helped "turn" America from being an undefeated superpower to a power that lost a proxy war to a bunch of pajama-wearing guerrillas in the misty mountains of Southeast Asia--to see that Vietnam was the anomalous war and not the standard by which all future wars should be measured? Really, can't these people, to use their pet Clinton-era phrase, just move on?

Evidently not. They're about 30 years behind the rest of us. So I pronounce them boring.

So now the economy is back to record growth again. It will probably have created a million new jobs by the time we get to November, and that just in the past year. An economy that was in recession when Bush took over and which took a gigantic hit on 9-11 is back. The earnings season is upon us now, and forecasters are expecting such strong numbers--in the range of 20% growth for corporations--that the Fed is actually considering raising interest rates to stave off the threat of inflation. If you want to look for a single sign that the economy is growing, just look at that action: If the Fed does raise interest rates, the next person to utter the phrase "Bush recession" should be ostracized from polite society. But they won't.

Instead, the Democrats have re-invented the "misery index." That old Nixon and Carter-era meme measured just how much the economy of the time sucked by looking at inflation, interest rates, unemployment and tax rates in an attempt to quantify the political ramifications of economic hardship. In our present circumstances, Bush cut taxes, interest rates remain low, there is no inflation to speak of and unemployment is about at Clinton levels and headed down, so the original measurements just won't do. They all make Bush look good, and I mean historically good, Reagan-era good.

So Kerry and his intrepid band of issue-less supporters have re-invented misery. They have to because by the old standard, today's misery is far lower than under their Golden Age of Bill Clinton's manificent reign and about one-third of Jimmy Carter's all-time high. That fact sort of steals their thunder on the whole Bush-policies-are-wrecking-the-country meme.

I'm not making this up: The Dems are going to use median family income, college tuition, health-care costs, gas prices, bankruptcy rates, homeownership rate and private-sector job growth to redefine misery down. Even by those standards, though, Bush policies will probably fare better than Clinton's over the long haul. But of course the long haul doesn't matter to the Democrats--just get them to November, because electoral politics are all they ever think about. Home ownership is up, job growth as we have sleepily noted is up, gas prices are nowhere near historic highs when inflation is factored in, and so forth and so on. The increase in bankruptcy is largely the legacy of irresponsibility, which undoubtedly reached its philosophical zenith in the Clinton see-no-war-on-terrorism era. But their new misery index is farcical. It makes Clinton look better than Reagan, which no other number set in history could manage. It's a little like getting half way into a poker game and unilaterally changing the rules so that a 2 is an Ace and a 3 is a King. It's so nonsensical that even the New York Times is laughing at it.

So the Democrats are essentially partying like it's 1979. They're suffering a malaise of their own making, which is what happens when you tie your political fortunes to the defeat of America on the battlefield and the death of the American economy. America wins, its capitalist economy rebounds, and you're left empty-handed. America cheers, or at least breathes a sign of relief, and you're determined to find some new angle to sap war morale and talk down the economy, or at least talk down to the American people to convince them that the war is going badly and the economy is still in the tank when neither is true at all.

Whatever. I find it all terribly predictable and awfully boring. Those of us who believe in the cause of America are essentially fighting a two-front war. On the battlefield we're fighting a noxious mix of Baathist dead-enders, al Qaeda and its sympathizers, and tools of the regional despots. All of that was so predictable that I predicted much of it in June 2002. Actually, I expected things to be much worse by now than they are.

But our second front, I have to confess, was more of a surprise but the surprise faded fast. We're having to wage an ideological contest against liberal mullahs like Ted Kennedy and his little madrassah minions like Michael Moore and the Air America airheads. It's an ideological war against people stuck in a time warp, people who should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery much less the levers of power in government. And above all, in addition to how utterly wrong and dishonest these people have turned out to be, they're completely and hopelessly boring. Booooring. They're foul, they're liars, they're cheering on our enemies and they're on the wrong side of history, but probably their most fatal flaw is their sheer lack of originality. Other than the mullahs we're waging war against, they're the most predictable and boring people on the face of the earth. You can boil them down to one phrase: "Bush bad!"

That's not enough to get you elected, and not enough to win a war. And it's booooring.

(thanks to Chris and InstaPundit)

Posted by B. Preston at 08:38 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

April 12, 2004


President Bush's Tuesday press conference has bumped Simon the Terrible.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Richard Clarke testified that bureaucratic "shaking the trees" led directly to foiling the LAX Millennium bomb plot. Condoleezza Rice testified that an alert agent, not any bureaucratic directive, actually foiled the plot. What do the facts say?

As former White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke tells it in his book "Against All Enemies," an international alert to be on the lookout for terrorists played a role in Ressam's capture at a Port Angeles ferry terminal in December 1999, his car loaded with bomb-making material.

But national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, in her testimony before the Sept. 11 commission last week, discounted Clarke's version and credited a savvy U.S. customs agent, Diana Dean.

Dean stopped Ressam because "she sniffed something about Ressam. They saw that something was wrong" — not because of some security alert, Rice testified.

The debate over Ressam's capture encapsulates the controversy between Clarke and the Bush administration over which president — Clinton or Bush — took the threat of al-Qaida more seriously, and whether either administration did enough before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Disputing Clarke's claim, Rice testified customs agents "weren't actually on alert."

At least one of the agents who helped apprehend Ressam sides with Rice's version of events.


According to a former customs agent who was involved, Clarke's version, laid out in one chapter of his book, wrongly implies they were on "heightened alert" and somehow looking for terrorists.

"No," was the terse reply of Michael Chapman, one of the customs agents who arrested Ressam, when asked if he was aware of a security alert.

"We were on no more alert than we're always on. That is a matter of public record," said Chapman, now a Clallam County commissioner.

A review of the trial testimony of Chapman, Dean and two other U.S. customs agents involved in the arrest turned up no reference to a security alert.

Rather, it supports Chapman's assessment that agents thought Ressam was smuggling drugs when they opened the trunk of his rental car and found bags of white powder buried in the spare-tire well. Only after finding several plastic black boxes, containing watches wired to circuit boards, did anyone suspect a bomb.

Dean has said repeatedly she singled Ressam out for a closer look because he was nervous, fumbling and sweating. Ressam has since told agents he was sick, and federal sources have confirmed Ressam had apparently gotten malaria while at terrorist-training camps in Afghanistan.

Clarke's version of that night contains other errors. Some of them are minor. But one implies national-security officials knew more about Ressam's plans than they could have at the time:

• Clarke wrote that Ressam bolted and left his car on the ferry. In fact, Ressam drove off the ferry and ran when he was stopped for inspection.

• Clarke reported Dean ran after Ressam. Actually, two other agents gave chase.

• More significantly, Clarke wrote that agents had found "explosives and a map of the Los Angeles International Airport" in the car, implying the threat to the airport was known almost immediately.

There was no map in the car. A map of Greater Los Angeles was found days later in Ressam's apartment in Montreal. Nobody had a clue for nearly 11 months that Los Angeles was a target.

This round goes to Condi! But the big question is: How will Josh Marshall spin it?

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 01:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Very interesting...

NEW YORK -- Blindsided by a controversy over its corporate ties to the publisher of Richard Clarke's book, "60 Minutes" has promised that it will not happen again.

So, when it reports next Sunday on Bob Woodward's book, "Plan of Attack," "60 Minutes" will say that publisher Simon & Schuster and CBS are both owned by Viacom.

When that wasn't said during the March 21 report on Simon & Schuster subsidiary Free Press' Clarke book _ a week later, correspondent Lesley Stahl called it an oversight _ it provided fuel for Clarke's critics.

"If you're looking to deflect attention from the content of what was in the Clarke piece, this was a good way to do it," said "60 Minutes" Executive Editor Josh Howard, "and we walked right into the trap."

Consider it a foreshadowing, however, of questions that TV news organizations are likely to face more often in this world of media consolidation.

CBS' response couldn't have anything to do with this, could it?

Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke quit the Bush White House before the Iraq war and set to work on an anti-Bush tell-all book. He finished it in October 2003, submitted it to the White House for security review, and set out to find a publisher. He told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that he originally hoped for a Christmas 2003 release, a completely unrealistic timeline given the number of Beltway eyes that had to review the book and the length of time it generally takes to get a book from consideration to publication. Enter the Viacom conglomerate. 60 Minutes apparently started chatting with Clarke in or before February 2004, wooing him to sit down for an interview. At that point, Clarke says he had no publisher. It just so happened that CBS had a rich sister and an interested parent, both of whom had involved themselves in earlier newsmaker deals.

So 60 Minutes got its interview, which aired March 21, 2004, under Leslie Stahl's byline. Clarke got his book deal with CBS sister Simon & Schuster. But at no point in the edited puff piece did Stahl ever disclose the corporate relationship or the fact that, via parent Viacom, CBS had a financial stake in the success of Clarke's book, Against All Enemies.

A week went by before CBS's conflicted interest landed in the press. On the March 28 program, Stahl tried to wave away the omission as an "oversight." She explained that when she and her producers approached Clarke "months ago" he did not yet have a book deal, so the CBS crew had no way of knowing that the conflict of interest would arise. That answer is constructed to deceive: Stahl never mentioned when the interview itself was conducted or the fact that it's possible to edit video packages right up until airtime. The "months ago" formulation is meant to fool viewers into believing that, once initiated, the process of interview-to-air precludes any opportunity to change, add, or delete relevant material — which is bogus. Put another way, is 60 Minutes, long known for having some of the best television editorial talent in the business, really not nimble enough to add new material to news packages after the initial point of contact?

Stahl's not-quite apology didn't quite say that the vaguely timed courtship included both the interview and a book-deal offer, but she didn't quite deny it either.

Whether our article had anything to do with CBS backtracking or not, there's more where that piece came from. Stay tuned.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack