Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want."
on: September 11, 2007, 01:45:24 PM
What If The September 11 Attack Was Thwarted?
By Tom Elia
(A version of this parody was originally published in the Vallejo (CA) Times-Herald on September 11, 2002)
19 Arrested In 'Terrorist Plot'
New York, September 12 (AP) -- In what it called "an unprecedented operation in the history of the US intelligence community," the FBI today announced that yesterday it had arrested 19 men from the Middle East in New York and Boston in connection with what was called "a terrorist plot to blow up the World Trade Center, the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon."
A spokesman for the FBI said that the men, 15 Saudi Arabians and 4 Egyptians, were carrying "box-cutters, flight-manuals, copies of the Koran, and death shrouds" at the time of their arrests and had booked flights bound from New York and Boston to the West Coast intending to hijack the flights and use them to "crash into various federal buildings."
The FBI said that the group comprised part of the al Qaeda terrorist network run by the Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Islamic fundamentalist and Saudi dissident.
In an interview broadcast on CNN, a spokesman for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington said, "these men were arrested because they are of Middle Eastern descent. It’s an outrage."
When reached for comment, a spokesman for the Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee called the arrests "an outrageous example of racial profiling."
Ari Fleisher, President Bush’s press secretary, said the White House would make no comment about the arrests until more was known.
Protests Over The 'Arab 19'
New York, September 17 (AP) - In response to the arrests of 19 men of Middle Eastern descent suspected of terrorism on September 11, protests popped up across the nation.
The New York police department estimated that protesters outside of the United Nations numbered in the "low thousands."
"This is yet another example of the injustice of racial profiling in the United States," said Tiffany Suit, a protester and law student from New York University. "And I’m tired of it."
In Washington, DC, hundreds of protesters gathered across from the White House, in Lafayette Park. Some carried signs that read, "Bush is a Fascist," "Free The 'Arab 19,'" and "The United States of Racism."
Speaking at the rally, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) said, "as a woman of color, I am all too familiar with the horrific reality of racial profiling in America. This Administration wants you to believe that just because these men are of Middle Eastern heritage, they are suspects in some diabolical plot. Box cutters? Get serious. What could anyone do with box-cutters - take down a plane? The Republicans are paranoid. Bush has got to go."
In Boston, a crowd estimated around three thousand showed up to listen to a short speech by MIT linguistics professor, Noam Chomsky.
"The US government wants you to believe that because these men were taking classes at flight training schools that they are somehow dangerous and in need of incarceration. They had flight manuals with them? Of course they did. They were student pilots! The United States is a terrorist regime bent on world hegemony."
In Berkeley, California police, donned in riot gear, were pelted with crumpled pages of the US Constitution by students chanting, "shame, shame, shame."
Some in the crowd said they thought that President Bush was to blame.
Student leader Nathan Cabbage, an anti-globalization activist and environmental studies major at the University of California at Berkeley, said, "Bush is the problem. This is what happens to a country that kills innocent animals for food - they become paranoid nuts. Bush stole the election and now he wants to throw all of us in jail because we are different from him and his rich oil buddies. I stand in solidarity with my Arab brothers. So they had copies of the Koran with them. So what? Bush claims to be religious. Should we throw him in jail because he reads the Bible? America is a racist country."
McAuliffe Calls for Investigation
Chicago, September 21 (AP) -- In a speech at a fundraiser, Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called for an investigation into the arrests of the "Arab 19." "It is time to put an end to racial profiling in America… the airlines should apologize to Arab-Americans," he said.
United, American Apologize: To Start Scholarships
Chicago, September 24 (AP) - United Airlines apologized to all Arab-Americans today and offered to fund a scholarship for the training of pilots of Middle Eastern descent. "We want to correct the false impression that we are anti-Arab. We are not," said a spokesman for United Airlines.
In Dallas, American Airlines announced that it would match the United offer "because we care," said a company spokesman.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want."
on: September 09, 2007, 11:57:03 AM
Sunday, September 9, 2007
No terrorism, just war?
Oh, it's a long, long while from September to September. This year, the anniversary falls, for the first time, on a Tuesday morning, and perhaps some or other cable network will re-present the events in real time – the first vague breaking news in an otherwise routine morning show, the follow-up item on the second plane, and the realization that something bigger was under way. If you make it vivid enough, the JFK/Princess Di factor will kick in: you'll remember "where you were" when you "heard the news." But it's harder to recreate the peculiar mood at the end of the day, when the citizens of the superpower went to bed not knowing what they'd wake up to the following morning.
Six years on, most Americans are now pretty certain what they'll wake up to in the morning: There'll be a thwarted terrorist plot somewhere or other – last week, it was Germany. Occasionally, one will succeed somewhere or other, on the far horizon – in Bali, Istanbul, Madrid, London. But not many folks expect to switch on the TV this Tuesday morning, as they did that Tuesday morning, and see smoke billowing from Atlanta or Phoenix or Seattle. During the IRA's 30-year campaign, the British grew accustomed (perhaps too easily accustomed) to waking up to the news either of some prominent person's assassination or that a couple of grandmas and some schoolkids had been blown apart in a shopping center. It was a terrorist war in which terrorism was almost routine. But, in the six years since President Bush declared that America was in a "war on terror," there has been in America no terrorism.
In theory, the administration ought to derive a political benefit from this: The president has "kept America safe." But, in practice, the placidity of the domestic front diminishes the chosen rationale of the conflict: if a "war on terror" has no terror, who says there's a war at all? That's the argument of the left – that it's all a racket cooked up by the Bushitlerburton fascists to impose on America a permanent national-security state in which, for dark sinister reasons of his own, Dick Cheney is free to monitor your out-of-state phone calls all day long.
Judging from the blithe expressions of commuters doing the shoeless shuffle through the security line at LAX and O'Hare, most Americans seem relatively content with a permanent national-security state. It's a curious paradox: airports on permanent Orange Alert, and a citizenry on permanent … well, I'm not sure there's a Homeland Security color code for "Gaily Insouciant," but, if there is, it's probably a bland limpid pastel of some kind. Of course, if tomorrow there's a big smoking hole where the Empire State Building used to be, we'll be back to: "The president should have known! This proves the failure of his policies over the last six years! We need another all-star commission filled with retired grandees!"
And that would be the relatively sane reaction. Have you seen that bumper sticker "9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB"? If you haven't, go to a college town and cruise Main Street for a couple of minutes. It seems odd that a fascist regime that thinks nothing of killing thousands of people in a big landmark building in the center of the city hasn't quietly offed some of these dissident professors – or at least the guy with the sticker-printing contract. Fearlessly, Robert Fisk of Britain's Independent, the alleged dean of Middle East correspondents, has now crossed over to the truther side and written a piece headlined, "Even I Question The 'Truth' About 9/11." According to a poll in May, 35 percent of Democrats believe that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance. Did Rumsfeld also know? Almost certainly. That's why he went to his office as normal that today, because he knew in advance that the plane would slice through the Pentagon but come to a halt on the far side of the photocopier. That's how well-planned it was, unlike Iraq.
Apparently, 39 percent of Democrats still believe Bush didn'tknow in advance – or, at any rate, so they said in May. But I'm confident half of them will have joined Rosie O'Donnell on the melted steely knoll before the Iowa caucuses. If Iraq is another Vietnam, 9/11 is another Kennedy assassination. Were Bali, Madrid and London also inside jobs by the Bush Gang? It's no wonder federal spending's out of control.
And what of those for whom the events of six years ago were more than just conspiracy fodder? Last week the New York Times carried a story about the current state of the 9/11 lawsuits. Relatives of 42 of the dead are suing various parties for compensation, on the grounds that what happened that Tuesday morning should have been anticipated. The law firm Motley Rice, diversifying from its traditional lucrative class-action hunting grounds of tobacco, asbestos and lead paint, is promising to put on the witness stand everybody who "allowed the events of 9/11 to happen." And they mean everybody – American Airlines, United, Boeing, the airport authorities, the security firms – everybody, that is, except the guys who did it.
According to the Times, many of the bereaved are angry and determined that their loved one's death should have meaning. Yet the meaning they're after surely strikes our enemies not just as extremely odd but as one more reason why they'll win. You launch an act of war, and the victims respond with a lawsuit against their own countrymen.
But that's the American way: Almost every news story boils down to somebody standing in front of a microphone and announcing that he's retained counsel. Last week, it was Larry Craig. Next week, it'll be the survivors of Ahmadinejad's nuclear test in Westchester County. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out, a legalistic culture invariably misses the forest for the trees. Sen. Craig should know that what matters is not whether an artful lawyer can get him off on a technicality but whether the public thinks he trawls for anonymous sex in public bathrooms. Likewise, those 9/11 families should know that, if you want your child's death that morning to have meaning, what matters is not whether you hound Boeing into admitting liability but whether you insist that the movement that murdered your daughter is hunted down and the sustaining ideological virus that led thousands of others to dance up and down in the streets cheering her death is expunged from the earth.
In his pugnacious new book, Norman Podhoretz calls for redesignating this conflict as World War IV. Certainly, it would have been easier politically to frame the Iraq campaign as being a front in a fourth world war than as a necessary measure in an anti-terrorist campaign. Yet who knows? Perhaps we would still have mired ourselves in legalists and conspiracies and the dismal curdled relativism of the Flight 93 memorial's "crescent of embrace." In the end, as Podhoretz says, if the war is to be fought at all, it will "have to be fought by the kind of people Americans now are." On this sixth anniversary, as 9/11 retreats into history, many Americans see no war at all.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: September 08, 2007, 10:11:46 PM
Not a bad wiki article on triads.
Before our board's "trufers" get too excited about the reference to the Chinese Freemasons and try to find a link to the illuminati and the Bilderbergers, the Chinese Freemasons have no connection to freemasonry, except for the name.
A KILLING IN CHINATOWN
Allen Leung, a power in the community and named to a city task force by 2 S.F. mayors, was slain 2 months ago -- and no one is talking to police
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Vanessa Hua, Chronicle Staff Writers
Saturday, April 8, 2006
Allen Leung's life was one of seeming contradictions.
He was known as the "dragon head" -- a leader in the closed, sometimes illicit world of Chinese brotherhoods known as tongs -- but he also played a very public role in San Francisco as a commissioner of the Taiwanese government and a member of a local economic task force.
He once shot and killed an intruder in his home, but he was considered a peacemaker and resolver of disputes within San Francisco's Chinese community.
He had great power and influence among the city's Chinese Americans but at times feared for his life because of an extortion plot.
In February, the 56-year-old native of China was shot to death in his import-export business on Jackson Street. A gunman wearing a mask demanded cash. Leung agreed but was shot anyway as his wife looked on.
Investigators are struggling to unravel Leung's intricate web of relationships, a life that spanned boundaries of East and West, legal and illicit, public and private. They say they have come up against a wall of silence, even from Leung's closest associates.
"There are people out there," homicide Inspector Dennis Maffei said, "who know a lot more than they're saying."
Allen Ngai Leung, like many immigrants before him, joined tongs to help him make his way in Chinatown.
The youngest of five children, born in southern China, Leung was raised by his sisters after the Communists jailed his mother and forced his father to flee to Hong Kong. Leung went to Hong Kong as a teen and came to the Bay Area in 1971 when he was 20.
Leung honed his English and attended San Francisco State University, where he studied business and philosophy and met his future wife, Jenny. After graduating, he earned a real estate license and became a bilingual counselor at John O'Connell High School.
He helped establish the White Crane martial arts studio with his two brothers, and in 1979 he founded Wonkow International Enterprises Inc., a travel agency on Jackson Street that later became an import-export company.
During these years, he joined the Hop Sing tong and the Chinese Freemasons, two influential brotherhoods in Chinatown.
The tongs grew out of secret societies founded by revolutionaries in 17th century imperial China. In America, they started during California's Gold Rush, helping immigrants endure the hardships of discrimination, and eventually spread to other parts of the country.
Some began offering "protection" to defend interests in gambling, drugs and prostitution. Today, federal authorities still label several tongs, including Hop Sing, as "criminally influenced," meaning some members might engage in illegal activity.
"With any organization, you have a certain percentage of people who may go sideways on you and become organized into criminal activity," said Nelson Lowe, a senior FBI agent and expert in Asian organized crime.
"Although they are associated with a tong, they are not representative of what a tong stands for."
By the 1970s, most San Francisco tongs had become social clubs for aging immigrants. But Hop Sing was torn by violence as younger members struggled for power with older leaders.
One of the upstarts was shot to death on a Chinatown street in August 1973. Four years later, three teenage gunmen opened fire inside the Golden Dragon restaurant, which is in a Hop Sing-owned building. Five patrons were killed and 11 wounded; the apparent target, a Hop Sing enforcer, was unharmed.
Leung's business was just a couple of blocks from Hop Sing headquarters on Waverly Place.
Leung built his business by trading in shark fin, a Chinese delicacy. On his company Web site, he credited himself with successfully urging the U.S. government to back shark fishing. Eventually, limits were imposed to prevent overfishing.
He opened a Hong Kong office in 1985 and expanded into real estate. He bought homes for himself in the Marina district, Las Vegas and Florida.
At the recommendation of Pius Lee, one of Chinatown's best-known figures, Mayor Willie Brown appointed Leung to the board of the Chinatown Economic Development Group in 1999. Mayor Gavin Newsom would reappoint him.
Taipei made him a volunteer commissioner for the government, the highest honorary position for overseas pro-Taiwan leaders. Even though he never lived in Taiwan, his anti-communist sentiments and those of Hop Sing were well known.
"It's the combination together that made him popular," Lee said, naming organizations Leung was involved in. "People knew about him. He liked to negotiate. For any problem, he said: 'Let's sit down with a cup of coffee.' "
Olivia Leung, one of Leung's three children, said in an interview that her father relished being his own boss because it freed him to be involved in the community.
She said her father encouraged his children to network. "Not only to help people," she said, "but to get to know people in the community and to benefit you."
As Leung's businesses grew, he took a larger role in Hop Sing. In 1990, he became the English secretary, able to conduct tong business and translate Chinese documents into English.
After a period of relative quiet, however, the tong was again in turmoil.
According to federal authorities, Chinese organized crime had taken over Hop Sing and other tongs. Two of the reputed leaders were Peter Chong and Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow.
Chong came to the United States in 1982 ostensibly to promote Chinese opera. Chow, who claimed to have joined Hop Sing soon after arriving in 1976 at age 16, would later boast that he controlled all Asian gangs in San Francisco.
"If you are asking me which gang did I join, I did not join any gang," Chow told a federal prosecutor in 2002. "I owned the gang. ... All those people who were walking the streets of the Bay Area, all of them were controlled by me."
In 1992, authorities indicted Chong, Chow and 25 others for racketeering, saying Hop Sing was involved in everything from underage prostitution to the international heroin trade.
Chong left for Hong Kong before he could be arrested. Caught in Macao, he was released by Chinese officials skeptical of the U.S. case.
Chow was convicted of gun charges and sent to prison for 25 years to life.
According to the prosecutor in that case, Leung had a minimal role in tong business at the time the two men were in control. With Chow in prison and Chong out of the country, he became a leader. In 1994 he began the first of four stints as Hop Sing president.
He was a "perfect leader" and negotiator who treated even those with whom he disagreed with respect, said the current tong president, Bill Wong.
"Some people don't like him, but he treats them nicely," Wong said in an interview after Leung's death. "He sometimes has a different opinion, but he always tries to compromise. You never hear about him trying to do something in his own interests. He always thinks about the association and the Chinese community."
Leung was an elder in the tong when, in 2003, Raymond Chow was released from prison. His sentence had been cut in half in 2001 when he agreed to testify against Peter Chong. The government used his testimony to secure Chong's extradition and his conviction for racketeering.
Chow got what many in law enforcement said later was an extraordinary deal: Instead of deporting him, the government supported his application for a resident visa.
The San Francisco police soon concluded that Chow was associating with members of Asian gangs, including those in Hop Sing, in violation of his deal.
"The deal shouldn't have been cut with him," said Oakland police Lt. Harry Hu, who took part in the federal investigation. "He's out, and there's practically no leash on him -- they did a disservice to the community."
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney William Schaefer, who helped arrange Chow's deal, said it was made in part because Chow's testimony cemented Chong as the leader of the group.
"He and Mr. Chong were clearly very, very close," Schaefer said.
Not long after Chow got out of prison, one of his associates approached a longtime friend of Leung and said several young members of Hop Sing wanted money "to do business."
The friend was Jack Lee, now 86, a Hop Sing elder who had fended off a challenge to his leadership during the bloody days of the 1970s. He also co-owned the Golden Dragon.
According to the police, Lee solicited other elders from Hop Sing chapters in Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver and Portland, Ore., to contribute a total of $120,000 for what was described as money to start a youth group.
"The elders were skeptical about how the money was to be used," Inspector Jameson Pon, a member of the department's gang task force, said in a subsequent affidavit for search warrants.
As he solicited support for the youth group, Lee was having financial problems involving his restaurant, which paid rent to the tong.
His business partner was having trouble making the payroll, and Lee was embroiled in a court battle over $450,000 he said his restaurant partner owed him.
Nothing had been decided on the youth group request when, on Feb. 25, 2005, someone splattered the headquarters of several Chinatown tongs with red paint. Hop Sing was not hit.
On March 11, Hop Sing unanimously voted down the money proposal. The next day, someone fired rounds into the door of Hop Sing.
Leung became a key source for investigators probing the paint attacks and the shooting. He told FBI Special Agent William Wu about the decision to turn down the request for money. He also told him Chow had shown up at Hop Sing's headquarters in late 2004, demanding $100,000.
Chow -- still on supervised release -- told Wu a very different story. He said Hop Sing board members had approached him and "wanted him to loan-shark the money," according to Inspector Pon's affidavit.
On the same day as the shooting, the police learned from the FBI that immigration authorities had picked up Chow "as a result of the escalating events leading up to the shooting at the Hop Sing tong," Pon said.
Within days, a letter postmarked from San Francisco arrived at Hop Sing, addressed to Leung, Lee and the tong president at the time, Johnny Chiu.
"Someone open fire at your front door, but you're just chicken s -- , no response to it, just keeping your mouth quiet," the letter read. "Having this kind of a leader makes all the tongs lose face. I have a poem to dedicate to you. It says you should be embarrassed for a thousand years and your reputation stink for ten thousand years."
On March 31, Leung approached Pon's partner in the gang task force as the investigator ate lunch in Chinatown. He worried that Chow's emissaries "will try to get him and the board members," Pon said. A week later, Leung told the FBI the same thing.
Federal agents wanted Leung to wear a hidden listening device to further the investigation, but Leung refused. Without direct evidence, police and FBI officials said later, the case died.
Leung's family said he had resumed his normal life. "He wasn't afraid," said Olivia Leung, 23.
"He said we have to take precautions. But I wouldn't say he was paranoid. There is no point in living in fear."
Leung had already proved that he was no one to be trifled with.
One night in April 1997, he opened fire on a burglar who had broken into the family home in the Marina. The man was hit in the chest and died at the scene; the police ruled the shooting justified.
At 4 p.m. on Feb. 27, a man came out of a driving rainstorm into the office on Jackson Street where Leung and his wife were working. He demanded cash and opened fire. The police say it clearly was an execution slaying.
Investigators have not ruled out Chow, who is free as he challenges efforts to deport him, or any of his emissaries as suspects. But it's become clear that others didn't like Leung. Even some of his friends have been reluctant to open up.
Jack Lee was seen eating with Leung at a cafe about an hour before Leung was shot, and the police wanted to talk to him about what he knew.
Before Lee would talk, however, he hired a criminal defense lawyer. Homicide Inspector Dennis Maffei wouldn't say whether Lee has been interviewed.
Lee's lawyer, Garrick Lew, would not comment.
Investigators are looking at Leung's other connections, particularly a brotherhood called the Chee Kung Tong, or Chinese Freemasons.
The tong, one of the oldest in the country, was once powerful, helping to raise money to support Chinese Nationalist Sun Yat-Sen's overthrow of imperial rule. Its headquarters in Chinatown still has a black metal safe that was used to store the money.
Over the years, the tong had evolved into a social organization. "It is no longer a viable group anymore because of its dying and dwindling membership,'' said Marlon Hom, professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.
Leung assumed a leadership role after two elders of the tong died. He inherited a squabble with members in East Coast chapters.
The dispute began in 2002 when a member of the New York tong, Pang Woon Ng, proclaimed himself a leader in the Chinese Freemasons. Leaders in San Francisco objected and accused Ng of usurping authority. In a civil suit, Ng charged the San Francisco leaders with defamation.
Leung tried to settle the dispute while at the same time paying to fight the lawsuit.
The ill will lingered. The New York tong now is blocking a plan to divide up $1.1 million the Freemason chapters received from the mainland Chinese government as compensation for a temple the government demolished in Shanghai.
Major figures from both Hop Sing and the Chinese Freemasons joined hundreds of mourners at Leung's funeral on March 18 in Chinatown. Fu-Mei Chang, a Taiwan cabinet minister, presented a posthumous medal honoring Leung's government service.
Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow was there, stocky with a shaved head, dressed in a white suit, a distinctive figure in a mass of black mourning attire. He was one of the few people called by name to bow before Leung's casket, a sign of honor.
Chow also filed up with the Chinese Freemasons. Before the group bowed, he bellowed exhortations in Chinese about heroes and heroism, a traditional Freemason salute. Then, the group bowed in unison.
He was there to pay respects to "Big Brother," he told Chinese reporters. He said he was saddened by Leung's death but declined to comment on the killing.
The police say they're making progress in what they concede is a complex case.
On March 24, investigators searched the offices of both Hop Sing and the Chinese Freemasons in Chinatown. Investigators expect to go to New York in coming weeks. This week they released a composite sketch of the gunman and said the Hop Sing tong is offering a $250,000 reward for help.
"We are looking at every possibility," Inspector Maffei said.
E-mail the writers at email@example.com
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 08, 2007, 08:23:50 PM
September 8, 2007
Deadline For Terrorism: September 15th
The terrorists arrested in Germany had a deadline for their attack on Ramstein Air Base and the Frankfurt airport, given to them by their al-Qaeda masters: September 15th. Why that date, rather than the more obvious 9/11 anniversary? AQ has more current politics in mind:
Three suspected Islamist militants who were planning to attack U.S. installations in Germany had orders to act by Sept. 15 and knew police were hot on their trail before their arrest, a magazine said on Saturday.
The plan was foiled on Tuesday when police arrested two German converts to Islam and a Turk in the biggest German police operation in 30 years.
According to surveillance details published in Der Spiegel magazine, the men had been given a two-week deadline for their planned strikes in a late August call from northern Pakistan that was monitored by German police.
Congress set a deadline on September 15th as well -- the due date for a progress report on the Iraq War from President Bush. (Power Line incorrectly notes this as the date of General Petraeus' testimony, which will happen on the 11th.) AQ wanted to replicate the Tet offensive, only not in Iraq but in Europe. A devastating attack before Bush delivered his report would tend to discredit the forward strategy pursued by the administration since the 9/11 attacks.
Why attack Europe? Osama wants the US out of the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan. If he could convince the American critics of the administration that the forward strategy had failed, Osama thinks he could gain enough leverage over Bush to force a withdrawal of troops in Iraq, if not Afghanistan. He wants to hit behind our lines to push us into a retreat from the real fronts against AQ in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His video message was timed to deliver that purpose. His announcement would have immediately preceded the attacks in Germany and Denmark, emphasizing AQ's ability to strike anywhere in the world. And it probably would have had the effect Osama intended, had it worked; there is little doubt that war critics would have redoubled their effort to discredit the forward strategy and force Bush to pull out of Iraq.
Ask yourselves this: why does Osama want to push us out of the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan? It's not because we're losing in either theater. If we were losing, he'd be happy to beat American military forces for as long as we stuck around. He wants us out because he's losing -- and he tried to hit Germany and Denmark because he can't beat the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Or perhaps people think it's a coincidence that Osama finally reappeared after the surge pushed AQI all the way to the Syrian border?
Finally, let's just take a moment to acknowledge how this cell got discovered in the first place:
The arrests were the culmination of an investigation that began a year ago, when U.S. officials alerted German authorities to e-mails intercepted from Pakistan.
Chalk one up for the NSA. Nice work, folks.
Posted by Ed Morrissey on September 8, 2007 11:41 A
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 07, 2007, 09:08:39 PM
bonus weekend gregalogue! BIN LADEN'S TAPE!
So you've seen the latest message from our favorite goat-toucher Usama bin Laden. In it, he criticizes Americans for reelecting, instead of punishing, Bush, as well as harping on Democrats for not securing a retreat from Iraq. He also mentions global warming and praises Noam Chomsky, the patron saint of the left.
It was at this point, I thought I was listening to Keith Olbermann. That's when it dawned on me. Bin Laden isn't just a terrorist. He's worse. A liberal!
So, when one political party shares a war-time agenda with the guy who's trying to end your civilization, isn't it time to stop renewing Bill Maher's contract? I mean, if Usama wrote these sentiments on a job application, he could land a spot on the View.
You know, I didn't realize bin laden was following US politics that closely. He must watch the Daily Show. But the whole thing seems like Usama's latest video dating offer to America's left. "Lonely, bored goat-herder, into Jihad, mass murder, and figs, seeks fellow 'Progressive' for long term relationship. I enjoy long walks in the desert. And goats. Lets end western civilization together! (AND YES, THIS IS MY REAL BEARD!)
But there's a hint of desperation to all this. UBL is no longer calling for America's destruction. Now, he's begging us to leave the middle east. Which means, he's running out of hummus. It's clear he would love to call things "even" and check into the Yemen Hilton for a nice bath.
Just remember: only a man who's losing it quotes Chomsky. Usama's on the ropes. Let's keep him there. Until he's at the end of one.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 07, 2007, 08:18:05 PM
"The infallible methodology is the methodology of Allah, the Most High, who created the heavens and earth and created the Creation and is the Most Kind and All-Informed and the Knower of the souls of His slaves and the methodology that best suits them."
"You believe with absolute certainty that you believe in Allah, and you are full of conviction of this belief, so much so that you have written this belief of yours on your dollar."
"But the truth is that you are mistake in this belief of yours. The impartial judge knows that belief in Allah requires straightness in the following of His methodology, and accordingly, total obedience must be to the orders and prohibitions of Allah Alone in all aspects of life."
"So how about you when you associate others with Him in your beliefs and separate state from religion, then claim that you are believers?!"
"What you have done is clear loss and manifest polytheism, And I will give you a parable of polytheism, as parables summarize and clarify speech."
"I tell you: its parable is the parable of a man who owns a shop and hires a worker and tells him, "Sell and give me the money," but he makes sales and give the money to someone other than the owner. So who of you would approve of that?"
"You believe that Allah is your Lord and your Creator and the Creator of this earth and that it is His property, then you work on His earth and property without His orders and without obeying Him, and you legislate in contradiction to His Law and methodology."
"This work of yours is the greatest form of polytheism and is rebellion against obedience to Allah with which the believer becomes an unbeliever, even if he obeys Allah in some of His other orders. Allah, the Most High, sent down His orders in His Sacred Books like the Torah and Evangel and sent with them the Messengers (Allah's prayers and peace be upon them) as bearers of good news to the people."
"And everyone who believes in them and complies with them is a believer from the people of the Garden. Then when the men of knowledge altered the words of Allah, the Most High, and sold them for a paltry price, as the rabbis did with the Torah and the monks with the Evangel, Allah sent down His final Book, the magnificent Quran, and safeguarded it from being added to or subtracted from by the hands of men, and in it is a complete methodology for the lives of all people."
"And our holding firm to this magnificent Book is the secret of our strength and winning of the war against you despite the fewness of our numbers and materiel. And if you would like to get to know some of the reasons for your losing of your war against us, then read the book of Michael Scheuer in this regard."
"Don't be turned away from Islam by the terrible situation of the Muslims today, for our rulers in general abandoned Islam many decades ago, but our forefathers were the leaders and pioneers of the world for many centuries, when they held firmly to Islam."
"And before concluding, I tell you: there has been an increase in the thinkers who study events and happenings, and on the basis of their study, they have declared the approach of the collapse of the American Empire."
"Among them is the European thinker who anticipated the fall of the Soviet Union, which indeed fell. And it would benefit you to read what he wrote about what comes after the empire in regard to the United States of America. I also want to bring your attention that among the greatest reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union was their being afflicted with their leader Brezhnev, who was overtaken by pride and arrogance and refused to look at the facts on the ground. From the first year of the Afghanistan invasion, reports indicated that the Russians were losing the war, but he refused to acknowledge this, lest it go down in his personal history as a defeat, even though refusal to acknowledge defeat not only doesn't do anything to change the facts for thinking people, but also exacerbates the problem and increases the losses. And how similar is your position today to their position approximately two decades ago. The mistakes of Brezhnev are being repeated by Bush, who - when asked about the date of his withdrawing of forces from Iraq - said in effect that the withdrawal will not be during his reign, but rather, during the reign of the one who succeeds him. And the significance of these words is not hidden."
"And here I say: it would benefit you to listen to the poignant messages of your soldiers in Iraq, who are paying - with their blood, nerves and scattered limbs - the price for these sorts of irresponsible statements. Among them is the eloquent message of Joshua which he sent by way of the media, in which he wipes the tears from his eyes and describes American politicians in harsh terms and invites them to join him there for a few days. Perhaps his message will find in you an attentive ear so you can rescue him and more than 150,000 of your sons there who are tasting the two bitterest things: "
"If they leave their barracks, the mines devour them, and if they refuse to leave, rulings are passed against them. Thus, the only options left in front of them are to commit suicide or cry, both of which are from the severest of afflictions. So is there anything more men can do after crying and killing themselves to make you respond to them? They are doing that out of the severity of the humiliation, fear and terror which they are suffering. It is severer than what the slaves used to suffer at your hands centuries ago, and it is as if some of them have gone from one slavery to another slavery more severe and harmful, even if it be in the fancy dress of the Defense Department's financial enticements."
"So do you feel the greatness of their sufferings?"
"To conclude, I invite you to embrace Islam, for the greatest mistake one can make in this world and one which is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one's life - ie., to die outside of Islam. And Islam means gain for you in this first life and the next, final life. The true religion is a mercy for people in their lives, filling their hearts with serenity and calm."
T"here is a message for you in the Mujahideen: the entire world is in pursuit of them, yet their hearts, by the grace of Allah, are satisfied and tranquil. The true religion also puts peoples' lives in order with its laws; protects their needs and interests; refines their morals; protects them from evils; and guarantees for them entrance into Paradise in the hereafter through their obedience to Allah and sincere worship of Him Alone."
"And it will also achieve your desire to stop the war as a consequence, because as soon as the warmongering owners of the major corporations realize that you have lost confidence in your democratic system and begun to search for an alternative, and that this alternative is Islam, they will run after you to please you and achieve what you want to steer you away from Islam. So your true compliance with Islam will deprive them of the opportunity to defraud the peoples and take their money under numerous pretexts, like arms deals and so on. "
"There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling only 2.5%. So beware of the deception of those with the capital. And with your earnest reading about Islam from its pristine sources, you will arrive at an important truth, which is that the religion of all of the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them) is one, and that its essence is submission to the orders of Allah Alone in all aspects of life, even if their Shari'ahs [Laws] differ."
"And did you know that the name of the Prophet of Allah Jesus and his mother (peace and blessings of Allah be on them both) are mentioned in the Noble Quran dozens of times, and that in the Quran there is a chapter whose name is "Maryam," i.e. Mary, daughter of 'Imran and mother of Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both)? It tells the story of her becoming pregnant with the Prophet of Allah Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both), and in its confirmation of her chastity and purity, in contrast to the fabrications of the Jews against her. Whoever wishes to find that out for himself must listen to the verse of this magnificent chapter: one of the just kings of the Christians - the Negus - listened to some of its verses and his eyes welled up with tears and he said something which should be reflected on for a long time by those sincere in their search for the truth."
"He said, "verily, this and what Jesus brought come from one lantern": i.e., that the magnificent Quran and the Evangel are both from Allah, the Most High; and every just and intelligent one of you who reflects on the Quran will definitely arrive at this truth. It also must be noted that Allah has preserved the Quran from the alterations of men. And reading in order to become acquainted with Islam only requires a little effort, and those of you who are guided will profit greatly. And peace be upon he who follows the Guidance."
By Jeffrey Imm on September 7, 2007 6:30 PM
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 07, 2007, 08:16:45 PM
SITE Institute: Transcript of Bin Laden Video
By Jeffrey Imm
The following is the transcript of the latest Osama Bin Laden Video as provided by the SITE Institute:
SITE Institute: Transcript of Osama Bin Laden video (PDF file 7 pages long)
SITE Institute: One minute video clip of new Osama Bin Laden video
"All praise is due to Allah, who built the heavens and earth in justice, and created man as a favor and grace from Him. And from His ways is that the days rotate between the people, and from His Law is retaliation in kind: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and the killer is killed. And all praise is due to Allah, who awakened His slaves' desire for the Garden, and all of them will enter it except those who refuse. And whoever obeys Him alone in all of his affairs will enter the Garden, and whoever disobeys Him will have refused."
"As for what comes after: Peace be upon he who follows the Guidance. People of America: I shall be speaking to you on important topics which concern you, so lend me your ears. I begin by discussing the war which is between us and some of its repercussions for us and you."
"To preface, I say: despite America being the greatest economic power and possessing the most powerful and up-to-date military arsenal as well; and despite it spending on this war and is army more than the entire world spends on its armies; and despite it being the being the major state influencing the policies of the world, as if it has a monopoly on the unjust right of veto; despite all of this, 19 young men were able - by the grace of Allah, the Most High- to change the direction of its compass. And in fact, the subject of the Mujahideen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader, and the effects and signs of that are not hidden."
"Since the 11th, many of America's policies have come under the influence of the Mujahideen, and that is by the grace of Allah, the Most High. And as a result, the people discovered the truth about it, its reputation worsened, its prestige was broken globally and it was bled dry economically, even if our interests overlap with the interests of the major corporations and also with those of the neoconservatives, despite the differing intentions."
"And for your information media, during the first years of the war, lost its credibility and manifested itself as a tool of the colonialist empires, and its condition has often been worse than the condition of the media of the dictatorial regimes which march in the caravan of the single leader."
"Then Bush talks about his working with al-Maliki and his government to spread freedom in Iraq but he in fact is working with the leaders of one sect against another sect, in the belief that this will quickly decide the war in his favor."
"And thus, what is called the civil war came into being and matters worsened at his hands before getting out of his control and him becoming like the one who plows and sows the sea: he harvests nothing but failure."
"So these are some of the results of the freedom about whose spreading he is talking to you. And then the backtracking of Bush on his insistence on not giving the United Nations expanded jurisdiction in Iraq is an implicit admission of his loss and defeat there. "
"And among the most important items contained in Bush’s speeches since the events of the 11th is that the Americans have no option but to continue the war. This tone is in fact an echoing of the words of neoconservatives like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Richard Pearle, the latter having said previously that the Americans have no choice in front of them other than to continue the war or face a holocaust."
"I say, refuting this unjust statement, that the morality and culture of the holocaust is your culture, not our culture. In fact, burning living beings is forbidden in our religion, even if they be small like the ant, so what of man?! The holocaust of the Jews was carried out by your brethren in the middle of Europe, but had it been closer to our countries, most of the Jews would have been saved by taking refuge with us. And my proof for that is in what your brothers, the Spanish, did when they set up the horrible courts of the Inquisition to try Muslims and Jews, when the Jews only found safe shelter by taking refuge in our countries. And that is why the Jewish community in Morocco today is one of the largest communities in the world. They are alive with us and we have not incinerated them, but we are a people who don't sleep under oppression and reject humiliation and disgrace, and we take revenge on the people of tyranny and aggression, and the blood of the Muslims will not be spilled with impunity, and the morrow is nigh for he who awaits."
"Also, your Christian brothers have been living among us for 14 centuries: in Egypt alone, there are millions of Christians whom we have not incinerated and shall not incinerate. But the fact is, there is a continuing and biased campaign being waged against us for a long time now by your politicians and many of your writers by way of your media, especially Hollywood, for the purpose of misrepresenting Islam and its adherents to drive you away from the true religion. The genocide of peoples and their holocausts took place at your hands: only a few specimens of Red Indians were spared, and just a few days ago, the Japanese observed the 62nd anniversary of the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by your nuclear weapons."
"And among the things which catch the eye of the one who considers the repercussions of your unjust war against Iraq is the failure of your democratic system, despite it raising of the slogans of justice, liberty, equality and humanitarianism. It has not only failed to achieve these things, it has actually destroyed these and other concepts with its weapons - especially in Iraq and Afghanistan- in a brazen fashion, to replace them with fear, destruction, killing, hunger, illness, displacement and more than a million orphans in Baghdad alone, not to mention hundreds of thousands of widows. Americans statistics speak of the killing of more than 650,000 of the people of Iraq as a result of the war and its repercussions."
"People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of the tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there, which has led to the vast majority of you being afflicted with disappointment."
"And here is the gist of the matter, so one should pause, think and reflect: why have the Democrats failed to stop this war, despite them being the majority?"
"I will come back to reply to this question after raising another question, which is:"
"Why are the leaders of the White House keen to start wars and wage them around the world, and make use of every possible opportunity through which they can reach this purpose, occasionally even creating justifications based on deception and blatant lies, as you saw Iraq?"
"In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation."
"And so Kennedy was killed, and al-Qaida wasn’t present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade. But after it became clear to you that it was an unjust and unnecessary war, you made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, Rumsfeld. And even more incredible than that is that Bush picked him as secretary of defense in his first term after picking Cheney as his vice president, Powell as secretary of state and Armitage as Powell's deputy, despite their horrific and blood history of murdering humans. So that was clear signal that his administration - the administration of the generals- didn't have as its main concern the serving of humanity, but rather, was interested in bringing about new massacres. Yet in spite of that, you permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you - with your full knowledge and consent- to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Then you claim to be innocent! This innocence of yours is like my innocence of the blood of your sons on the 11th - were I to claim such a thing. But it is impossible for me to humor any of you in the arrogance and indifference you show for the lives of humans outside America, or for me to humor your leaders in their lying, as the entire world knows they have the lion's share of that. These morals aren't our morals. What I want to emphasize here is that not taking past war criminals to account led to them repeating that crime of killing humanity without right and waging this unjust war in Mesopotamia, and as a result, here are the oppressed ones today continuing to take their right from you."
"This war was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them. "
"So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war. Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment - and there isn't any- in the Democrats' failure to stop the war. And you're the ones who have the saying which goes, "Money talks." And I tell you: after the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war."
"However, there are two solutions for stopping it. The first is from our side, and it is to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out, and I ask Allah to grant them resolve and victory. And the second solution is from your side. It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of the democratic system and how it plays with the interests of the peoples and their blood by sacrificing soldiers and populations to achieve the interests of the major corporations."
"And with that, it has become clear to all that they are the real tyrannical terrorists. In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa. This greatest of plagues and most dangerous of threats to the lives of humans is taking place in an accelerating fashion as the world is being dominated by the democratic system, which confirms its massive failure to protect humans and their interests from the greed and avarice of the major corporations and their representatives."
"And despite this brazen attack on the people, the leaders of the West - especially Bush, Blair, Sarkozy and Brown- still talk about freedom and human rights with a flagrant disregard for the intellects of human beings. So is there a form of terrorism stronger, clearer and more dangerous than this? This is why I tell you: as you liberated yourselves before from the slavery of monks, kings, and feudalism, you should liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system."
"If you were to ponder it well, you would find that in the end, it is a system harsher and fiercer than your systems in the Middle Ages. The capitalist system seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy."
"And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system."
"So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: September 05, 2007, 06:53:19 PM
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Where in the World is Norman Hsu?
Have you seen this man?
Norman Hsu, the Chinese-American businessman who served as Hillary Clinton's latest, shady campaign "bundler" failed to show up for a bail hearing in California today (surprise, surprise), and according to the AP, a judge has issued a new warrant for his arrest.
Hsu's fugitive status--he never served jail time after pleading no contest to grand theft conviction in the early 1990s--came to light after the Wall Street Journal highlighted correlations between his contributions to Mrs. Clinton and those of the Paw clan, a middle-class Chinese family in the San Francisco area. Despite modest means, the family gave the maximum amount of money (more than $200,000) to the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign since 2005.
A Los Angeles Times article subsequently identified Hsu as a fugitive, stemming from his efforts to bilk investors in a $1 million latex glove resale operation. Mr. Hsu was facing up to three years in prison when he failed to show up for sentencing more than a decade ago.
But despite his criminal past, Hsu emerged as a major Democratic fund-raiser in recent years, bundling his contributions with those of other donors, including the Paws. Both Hsu and the Paws have denied any wrong-doing, and the Clinton campaign "gave" their money to charity when confronted with the fund-raiser's criminal past (more on that contribution in a moment).
By skipping today's hearing, Hsu forfeits $2 million in bail that he posted last week. Mr. Hsu's lawyer says he "doesn't know" where his client is. We can't offer a precise location, but a good place to begin the search is China. After all, it's the refuge of choice for Clinton contributors caught in criminal or questionable activities. Following the Clinton donor scandal in 1996, scores of Chinese "contributors" fled the country to avoid indictment, or testimony before Congressional committees.
Put another way: we'd be greatly surprised if Mr. Hsu wasn't in China. He's a native of Hong Kong, and reportedly fled there after his fraud conviction in 1992, before resurfacing in New York as a major campaign fund-raiser for the Democratic Party.
Obviously, someone who's willing to forfeit $2 million in bail is worried about more than a three-year stretch in a minimum-security prison. As Ed Morrissey noted last Friday, the questions about Hsu and his campaign "bundling" extend well beyond the recent contributions to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Eliot Spitzer, and other Democratic luminaries. When The New York Times tried to track down Hsu's various apparel businesses, they found private residences where "employees" said they had never heard of Mr. Hsu, or that he moved years ago. As Morrissey observes, Hsu's enterprises appear to be shams, but the money he threw around was very, very real. Where did it come from?
At this point, an equally salient question is why wasn't Hsu required to surrender his passport when he surrendered to authorities last week? According to the Times, Mr. Hsu was supposed to turn it in today, but when his attorney sent an assistant to retrieve the passport, it couldn't be found. Asked by reporters of Hsu had fled the country, his attorney James Brosnahan, said "I would imagine he has the capability."
While the authorities search for Mr. Hsu (good luck with that arrest warrant), the size of the scandal continues to grow. New York blogger Flip Pidot, doing the job of the MSM, has been tabulating the expanse of Hsu's largesse, and it's considerable. Using federal, state and local databases, he's uncovered a total of $1.6 million in donations from Mr. Hsu to Democratic politicians.
And not surprisingly, the amount of money "returned," by the Democrats or "given to charity" is only a fraction of what they've received. For example, the Clinton campaign touted its return of a $23,000 check that Hillary received directly from Mr. Hsu, but they're "keeping" another $152,000 from his associates.
Labels: Norman Hsu; Hillary Clinton fund-raising; China connection
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 05, 2007, 06:49:36 PM
No one that I can think of...
GM, why do you think that it's been so hard to rally support for defense against Islamic militants? Are we as a country that blind to danger? Or is it just not politically correct to identify danger anymore?
A good question with a complex answer. Let me collect my thoughts. New thread Crafty, or do I post it here?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: September 05, 2007, 01:56:28 PM
Because the American and British people understood what was at stake and because they believed there was a larger strategy for victory, they were prepared to endure defeats, frustrations and casualties to get to victory.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest failures of this administration has been its inability to make its own citizens understand what is at stake.
Very true. The MSM and it's democratic party masters haven't helped either. Outside of Joe Liberman, what dem has taken a stand against the global jihad?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: September 02, 2007, 02:10:22 PM
The Tampa Bombers: Jihadists or "Beach Boys?"
By Walid Phares
Six years after 9/11, the mainstream reading of the war on Terror still circles around the essence of the conflict. Two young men indicted for charges of possession of explosives aren't yet perceived as part of an Urban Jihadist campaign inside the United States, despite the fact that a number of cells and of individuals have been arrested over the past years, all linked to Jihadism. Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24 and Youssef Samir Megahed (in Egyptian accent it reads “Mujahid”) 21, are affiliated with South Florida University in Tampa. As one reviews all news reporting (until this day), no link was made yet to an ideology which is the master chain between the perpetrators and their action. The AP story begins with "two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on charges of carrying explosive materials across states lines and one was accused of teaching the other how to use them for violent reasons." The News Agency doesn't explain what these violent reasons are. Was it about drugs, social crisis, Palestine, Americans Politics, Egyptian politics, Abortion, or other matters? The mainstream media says "Terrorism," and so advances the Government, so far.
Ahmed Mohamed is an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based University. He and Megahed are facing "terrorism" charges for "teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives." The question is: using them against whom, in which war, by whose instructions, under which doctrine? If none of this information is available how to define the terror factor beyond criminal charges?
According to AP, Mohamed was charged with "distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, which is a terrorism-related statute, a Justice Department official said. The crime carries a maximum of 20 years in prison." Fine, but the American public needs to know more about the motives. The story doesn't begin with a Police unit stopping them on a highway and charging them of transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits. This is not a criminal story happening on an ordinary day. The media reports said in South Carolina, where Mohamed and Megahed have been held in the Berkeley County jail, "U.S. Attorney Reginald I. Lloyd praised state and federal authorities for cooperating in the four-week investigation that initially did not look like a terrorism case." So what caused the mutation from crime to Terrorism? The AP writes that "since the Aug. 4 arrest, authorities sought to determine whether Mohamed and Megahed were fledgling terrorists or merely college students headed to the beach with devices made from fireworks they bought at Wal-Mart in their car, as they claimed. The local sheriff in South Carolina said the explosives were “other than fireworks.” A non expert reader would conclude that it is the “type” of explosives that made the case into Terrorism, not the actions, intentions and the combat doctrine of the perpetrators. Had the explosives been licensed, the two men would be free now. Had the material been large fireworks, they would have also been free. So, short of capturing them moving with illegal explosives, they wouldn't have been persons of interest. But is there any other way in our legal system to arrest Terrorists than catching them with explosives? Other than presenting an evidence that they “want” to cause harm, actually there isn't. That's why we weren't able to capture Mohammed Atta and Ziad Jarrah on 9/11 before they dive with the captured airliners. Mohammed and Ziad didn't have illegal explosives in their hands before they board, and not even after they boarded. Because they chose not to use explosives, and yet they were Jihadi Terrorists who have intended to massacre thousands of Americans. So, in fact, as I made the case several times to Government and NGO entities, including legislative committees, our legal system doesn't enable the Government to stop the Terrorists before they are caught armed or with sufficient evidence that they were about to detonate the material. The next question is: can we change the system? The answer is fast and natural: no we can't and we shouldn't on the essence. All persons are presumed innocents until proven guilty.
But what we can and should do is to learn from each case: If we are lucky enough to catch them before they act, at least we have to learn from the operation all what is needed to abort other potential ones. What we must know are the motives, the big picture and the positioning of the perpetrators in the larger war. Are they part of a cell and of a movement? What are their doctrinal beliefs, their ideology, their objectives, the literature and material that indoctrinated them and transformed them into Jihadi Terrorists? Short of this information, we wouldn't (the public, the Government and the experts) be able to assess the “Terror act” and place it in the widest context. If this action is the result of two persons who were planning on having fun blasting explosives, but didn't obtain a license is one thing, with no value related to the ongoing War on Terror; but if Mohamed and Megahed were part of a larger picture, even of a homegrown experiment, this would have tremendous consequences on Homeland Security. So which is the case?
According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) Mohamed had "rented a room in a house in Temple Terrace, a suburb of Tampa, which was used as the office for the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think-tank founded by former USF Professor Sami Al-Arian. In 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Evidence presented at his trial showed Al-Arian served on the PIJ governing board.” The next question then is: Are Mohamed and Megahed linked to the activities of Al Arian? Were the activities of the latter linked to them? Is there a wider activity linking both parties in the US? Mohamed and Megahed are Egyptians hence it is less likely that they would be part of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But they can be Jihadist regardless of not being part of PIJ. So, if a link exists between these two parties, this could also mean that PIJ and the vast Jihadist movement operating in America are connected. We’re advancing these theories because the Salafi Jihadi movement is transnational and is operating against the US and other liberal democracies. These are the conclusions of many counter terrorism authorities such as the Task Force on Future Terrorism of the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department, and recently too the US Air Force report on Terrorism. This and other arrests should be analyzed under the new parameters emerging from various centers in Government and across the specialized NGOs.
Another intriguing development was –according to the Investigative Project- that the Jury in Tampa heard from the representative of a local advocacy Islamist group: CAIR. The question is why would a particular American association testify in a Terrorism case? Logically it would be called upon if it has an expertise on Terrorism, if the two indicted persons were members of the organization, or if the latter was opposing the indictment on the basis of defending the ideology behind the act. In this case, what are the reasons invoked? CAIR isn’t a qualified counter Terrorism association, which leaves the two remaining arguments: membership or advocacy. Answers on both issues are warranted to solve the enigma. But the IPT report said “M. Ahmed Bedier, spokesman for the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), testified under subpoena. Bedier has acted as a family spokesman for the Megahed family.” The next question is to know if M Bedier acted personally or as a representative of his organization. This fact is important as it would open another series of questions as to the relationship between “advocacy groups” and the Jihadist ideology. For the CAIR representative told the Tampa Tribune “that the men were being scrutinized due to their ethnicity.” But as far as it was reported they are Egyptian citizens who have been caught with illegal explosives. There are many Egyptian-Americans, Arab-Americans, and Middle Eastern Americans who are working within Law Enforcement. Actually, when documents are translated by Government in Terrorism cases, it is often that Arab-American translators are the ones tasked with the translation. So how then are the two Egyptians scrutinized “due” to their ethnicity while among those who are protecting the Homeland Security –and often on these cases- are people who belong to the same ethnicity: Law Enforcement, analysts, translators, etc?
"Obviously their heritage and background is playing a major role in blowing this out of proportion," Bedier said. "If these were some good old boys, I doubt this [story] would be played around the world." Actually, it is the other way around. While the Government is not –unfortunately- providing the public with the ideological material leading to the actions, the “advocacy groups” who sympathize with these Jihadists ideologies are attempting to transform any arrest into an “ethnic” case. For one would ask these “groups” why don’t they move with the same vigor if Copts, Sudanese, Assyrians, Kurds, Arab Christians, anti-Jihadist Muslims? If the Islamist advocacy groups are coming to the defense of individuals just for belonging to an ethnic group, the argument is flawed, as CAIR is not representative of an ethnic group, but of a (self described) ideological agenda. But on the other hand, if CAIR comes to the defense of the indicted persons because of their affiliation with a religious group, the argument needs to be made based on statements made by the two Egyptians. That is the link between their alleged religious beliefs and the fact that they had explosives: In fact there was none, for we haven’t read or heard from them or others that they were on a “religious mission.” Hence, CAIR must present another reason for their involvement, assuming that Mr Bedier acts on behalf of the organization in this case.
Which brings the analysis back to the initial question: Did Mohamed and Megahed act as Jihadists or not? US law doesn’t need such an answer. It has them under the charge of possession of explosives. But since CAIR and other advocacy groups are claiming that there something “else” involved, it should be beneficial to the American public –and certainly to the national security planners- to learn more about the ideological context of this case. For failing to address this dimension in the War on Terror would end up being compared with the following –virtual- dramatic interpretation: 1943: Two German young men born in Berlin were arrested in South Carolina for the possession of explosives and willing to use them against the US. While the two men were charged with this crime, regardless of WWII, an advocacy group accused the US Government of being “Germanophobe.” Better, among the Law enforcement that proceeded with the arrest were many German-Americans.
Dr Walid Phares is the Director of Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracies.
By Walid Phares on September 1, 2007 11:18 PM
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: August 30, 2007, 10:08:26 PM
TSA Worried About 'Things That Look Normal'
August 30, 2007 - 6:05am
J.J. Green, WTOP Radio
WASHINGTON -- The seventh floor of Transportation Security Administration headquarters is quiet when we walk in, but behind the calm, a storm is brewing.
It's a massive, ominous problem spanning 3.7 million square miles, 9,500 miles of coastline and 2,500 miles of land border with Canada --a government warning that a terror attack may be about to happen somewhere in the U.S. before summer's end.
This warning has put TSA Administrator Kip Hawley in a difficult position.
"Staying ahead of the threat and if you look at an environment where the threat picture says there are people interested in doing an attack, but you don't have the specifics on the who, what, where, when and how; what do you do about it?" Hawley says. "How do you put in places security measures that respond to threats that are out there, but you don't know exactly how it's going to come?"
For Hawley, this time period can't be business as usual. He says looking for things out of the ordinary isn't good enough.
"We have to pay attention to things that look normal --and that's the hard part."
As a result, TSA's Visible Intermodal Protection and Response teams - or VIPER - and Behavior Detection teams have been put on alert. They patrol Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Los Angeles rail lines; ferries in Washington state; bus stations in Houston; and mass transit systems in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore and more.
The VIPER teams usually are made up of two air marshals, one TSA bomb-sniffing-canine team, one or two transportation security inspectors and a local law enforcement officer. It's one of the best tools Hawley's got to go looking for a needle in a haystack.
"TSA isn't reinventing the wheel. [The Department of Transportation] has been working transportation safety issues for a long time. Many of those measures form a very solid security foundation. Our job is to link with the safety activities and add value on top of that where there are particular security-specific needs," Hawley told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. "Intelligence sharing, vulnerability analysis, technology sharing, and our VIPER teams are examples of that value-add."
Among the areas of most concern for the Homeland Security community are high density passenger transit systems in urban areas with underwater or underground tunnels; and highly toxic chemicals in rail cars that are standing unattended in high risk urban areas.
How serious is the threat?
U.S. intelligence officials believe a resurgent Al-Qaeda may have people in the U.S. engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The lack of precise tactical detail is perhaps the reason why Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he had a "gut feeling" recently, but did not adjust the threat level. On top of that, one of the nation's top counter terrorism officials puts this all into context.
Ret. Vice Admiral John Scott Redd, the Head of the National Counter Terrorism Center, told Newsweek magazine, another attack on America is "inevitable".
"We have very strong indicators that al-Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to [try to] attack, and we are pretty sure about that. We know some of the precursors ... they would like to come West, and they would like to come as far West as they can," he says.
It's not just his words that bring this home. The fact that he said anything at all is telling, because he's the E.F. Hutton of the intelligence community.
He never talks just to hear himself.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: August 30, 2007, 03:43:55 PM
Special Dispatch Series - No. 1702
August 31, 2007 No.1702
On Islamist Websites: How to Join Al-Qaeda, Form a Jihad Cell, and Select a Western Target – '[Is] Assassinating the American Ambassador... Difficult For Someone Who Has Already Crushed America in His Home?'
On August 26, Islamist websites posted an item titled "How to Join Al-Qaeda." It is not clear when the item was written; it was produced by the website Al-Thabitoun 'Ala Al-'Ahd, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Egypt and is currently inactive.
The item calls on every Muslim to regard jihad as a personal duty and to take initiative to establish a jihad cell without waiting for recognition from Al-Qaeda. It goes on to elaborate on how to form and run the cell, how to raise funds, and how to select a target, "for example, assassinating the American ambassador," which, it states, "takes no more than a gun and a bullet."
The following are excerpts from the item:
"You feel that you want to carry a weapon, fight, and kill the occupiers, and that it is our duty to call for jihad as much as to call for prayer... All that is required is a firm personal decision to fulfill this obligation, and participation in jihad and the resistance...
"Do you really have to meet Osama bin Laden in person in order to become a jihad fighter? Do you have to be recognized by Al-Qaeda as one of its members to become a jihad fighter? If Al-Qaeda commanders should be killed, would the jihad be eliminated? What would you do if Al-Qaeda did not exist today? How is Osama bin Laden different from you? - [yet] he managed to establish the world jihad organization. Who provided training to Osama bin Laden and Abdallah 'Azzam when they went to Afghanistan to become the first Arab jihad fighters?
"The answers to these questions are the following: I don't have to meet Osama bin Laden to become a jihad fighter. Moreover, there is no need to meet even one jihad fighter to become one. Neither do I need recognition from Al-Qaeda...
"As the first step, imagine that Al-Qaeda does not exist and that you are interested [in waging] jihad - what would you do in this case?... If you know any young people - whether one, two, or more - in your area, mosque, or university who are as dedicated and enthusiastic about jihad as you are, come to an understanding with them, and together form a cell whose objective is to help Islam and only Islam...
"At first, your cell should have no more than five members, all absolutely trustworthy... The cell must have a commander and a shura council... The commander must clearly realize that he is Osama bin Laden to the cell members...
"Each cell should have a source of funding... When you have several members, you will [surely] find the funds for your cell... Then you should buy weapons, make plans, brainstorm, plot your plans, monitor your enemy's important objectives, and study its moves. Set a goal; for example, assassinating the American ambassador - is it so difficult? Is it [indeed] difficult for someone who has already crushed America in her home?
"What is the difference between you and the hero of the New York attack, Muhammad Atta, who planned an action which even today shakes the world every time it is mentioned? Assassinating the ambassador takes no more than a gun and a bullet. One could disguise oneself as a peddler in order to tail [the target], which shouldn't cost a lot of money...
"The cells must maintain contact among themselves, but by no means in a direct or conventional way. The contact must be spiritual: What will unite you is the love of Islam and the motto "There is no God but Allah." Even if the contact between [your] cell and the rest is indirect, it will be close... You must meet once a month... You must not meet in the same place twice... Personal meetings with a small number of people [must take place] once a week...
"From the moment the cell is established, its members must be divided - into secret members, members who do not [act] openly and are not wanted by the authorities, and members who are wanted (who have been arrested in the past or on whom the intelligence apparatuses have a file)... The secret members must perform intelligence tasks, collect information, raise funds, recruit [new members], and assist in [actual operations]. Those who act in the open must perform the primary military operations, such as assassinations, firing at enemy facilities, etc.
"You must be aware that you have brothers everywhere, and that they are expecting the actions of you and your friends even if they don't know you in person or by name...
"Every jihad cell is a microcosm of the world jihad organization."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: August 29, 2007, 11:14:34 PM
Hubbell Explains Riady Money In Latest Tapes
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 5) -- In newly released tapes of his prison conversations, Clinton confidant Webster Hubbell describes something he has been silent on until now: how he came to work for the Riady family of Indonesia.
Hubbell, talking with his attorney, describes how he got $100,000 from the Lippo group, a multinational firm controlled by the Riadys, who were major supporters of President Bill Clinton.
A L S O :
Hear Hubbell's prison telephone calls
Hubbell suggested that John Huang, then a Lippo employee, helped set up and attend early meetings that led to the big-money retainer.
At the time, Hubbell said, Huang still worked for Lippo and had not started his job at the Commerce Department. Later, Huang went on to become a Democratic Party fund-raiser and now stands at the center of Justice Department and congressional investigations into allegations of illegal overseas contributions to the Democrats.
Hubbell also disclosed that James Riady, son of the Lippo patriarch, wanted him to go to Indonesia.
"And as James was encouraging me to come to Indonesia until John was working for Lippo. He was the contact person in trying to set that up and arrange it," Hubbell explained.
For months, prosecutors have been looking at consulting fees that Hubbell received, including the Riady money, wondering whether it served as "hush money" to buy Hubbell's silence on Whitewater-related matters.
Hubbell has declined to publicly talk about his clients and what work he did for them. But when he was indicted last week for tax fraud in connection with payments, a spokesman for Independent Counsel Ken Starr said Hubbell "performed little or no work for some of these payments."
In the latest tapes, Hubbell insists that no one bought his silence.
At one point, he tells his sister, "You know me, I have a hard time saying anything bad about the devil."
Hubbell, in another conversation, tells his wife, Suzy, "We know that's not true," as they discussed allegations that he was bought off with no-work legal fees.
The money came from "people who befriended me. I provided services to them," Hubbell says on the tapes.
In general, the latest batch of tapes paint a more favorable picture of Hubbell and the Clintons than the excerpts that Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) released last week. Democrats furiously attacked Burton then for what they called partisan alterations and omissions, while Burton claimed he was only trying to protect Hubbell's privacy.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: August 29, 2007, 09:25:44 PM
The Plot Thickens
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an illuminating article which suggested that the Clinton/China fund-raising machine was back, and operating in high gear. Analyzing campaign contribution lists and other public records, Journal reporter Brody Mullins discovered that some of Mrs. Clinton's biggest contributors lived in a modest bungalow in Daly City, California, the home of a Chinese-American clan. Collectively, six members of the Paw family have given $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, and $45,000 to Hillary Clinton during the same period.
These donations are more remarkable since the Paws appear to be a middle-class family. The father makes $49,000 a year as a letter carrier; his wife is a homemaker. Their four adult children have jobs ranging from mutual fund executive, to school attendance officer. Yet, the Paws can not only meet their monthly bills in a high-cost-of-living area (San Francisco), they also donate sizable sums to the Democratic Party.
But, as Mr. Mullins reports, the Paws donations are attracting scrutiny for other reasons, too. The family apparently never made a political contribution until 2005, they rapidly moved to the upper echelons of Democratic donors. Additionally, contributions for the Paws seem to track with those of Norman Hsu, a Chinese-American businessman who is a major Clinton fund-raiser. Interesting, Mr. Hsu (who controls a half-dozen clothing manufacturing companies) once listed the Paws' modest home as his address.
While the Federal Election Commission considers a potential probe of the Paws' donations, the Los Angeles Times has discovered that Norman Hsu has a slightly checkered past. Turns out that the Democratic fund-raiser is also a wanted fugitive; he skipped out on a three-year prison sentence almost fifteen years ago, after entering a "no contest" plea on grand theft charges:
Hsu's legal troubles date back almost 20 years.Beginning in 1989, court records show, he began raising what added up to more than $1 million from investors, purportedly to buy latex gloves; investors were told Hsu had a contract to resell the gloves to a major American business.
In 1991, Hsu was charged with grand theft. Prosecutors said there were no latex gloves and no contract to sell them.Hsu pleaded no contest to one grand theft charge and agreed to accept up to three years in prison.
He disappeared after failing to show up for a sentencing hearing. Bench warrants were issued for his arrest but he was never found. Ronald Smetana, the prosecutor who handled the case for the state attorney general, described Hsu as a fugitive. "Do you know where he is?" Smetana asked.
Turns out that Hsu has been hiding in plain sight, hosting high-profile fund-raisers for Democratic candidates and raising thousands in campaign donations since 2004. According to the LA Times, Hsu and his associates have, over the years, raised money for some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party, including, Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. Like Clinton, Obama and Biden are also seeking their party's presidential nomination.
With Hsu's criminal past now exposed, we're waiting to see if California authorities will finally arrest him and send him to prison. We're also wondering if any of the Democratic pols who took Hsu's money will return the contributions, given what we know about their donor's former crimes. And most importantly, we're watching the FEC, to see if they mount a serious investigation into the Hsu case. As a former FEC official told the WSJ, "there are red flags all over this one."
Likewise, we'd also like to know about any ties between Mr. Hsu, his associates, and the Chinese fund-raising machine that was instrumental in Bill Clinton's presidential victories of 1992 and 1996. That operation raised millions of dollars from individuals and organizations with ties to the Beijing government. It was later revealed that PRC intelligence agents actually met with Mr. Clinton in the White House, part of a massive influence-peddling campaign mounted by the Beijing government and its military.
While no links have been established between Mr. Hsu and the John Huang/Charley Trie operation of the mid-1990s, an inquiry into possible contacts and relationships is clearly in order. The last Democratic fund-raising scandal resulted in the compromise of sensitive missile technology (primarily through the Hughes-Loral deal), and John Huang's participation in secret CIA briefings, thanks to his post as a senior Commerce Department official. Huang later pleaded guilty to charges of making illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1999. Deposed in a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, Huang "took the 5th" more than 2,000 times when asked if he had ties to Chinese intelligence. Readers will recall that Mr. Huang was a long-time employee of Indonesia's powerful Lippo Group, an organization with proven ties to Beijing's intelligence establishment.
Where does the trail of Norman Hsu and the Paw family lead? The American people have a right to know.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: August 29, 2007, 12:43:23 PM
From the Los Angeles Times
Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive in plain sight
California authorities have sought businessman Norman Hsu for 15 years. Since 2004, he has carved out a place of honor raising cash for such candidates as Hillary Rodham Clinton.
By Chuck Neubauer and Robin Fields
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
August 29, 2007
WASHINGTON — For the last 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to a businessman named Norman Hsu, who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison and then seemed to vanish.
"He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview. "Do you know where he is?"
Hsu, it seems, has been hiding in plain sight, at least for the last three years.
Since 2004, one Norman Hsu has been carving out a prominent place of honor among Democratic fundraisers. He has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions into party coffers, much of it earmarked for presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
In addition to making his own contributions, Hsu has honed the practice of assembling packets of checks from contributors who bear little resemblance to the usual Democratic deep pockets: A self-described apparel executive with a variety of business interests, Hsu has focused on delivering hefty contributions from citizens who live modest lives and are neophytes in the world of campaign giving.
On Tuesday, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr. -- a Washington lawyer who represents the Democratic fundraiser -- confirmed that Hsu was the same man who was involved in the California case. Barcella said his client did not remember pleading to a criminal charge and facing the prospect of jail time. Hsu remembers the episode as part of a settlement with creditors when he also went through bankruptcy, Barcella said.
The bulk of the campaign dollars raised by major parties comes from the same sources: business groups, labor unions and other well-heeled interests with a long-term need to win friends in the political arena.
But the appetite for cash has grown so great that politicians are constantly pressured to find new sources of contributions. Hsu's case illustrates the sometimes-bizarre results of that tendency to push the envelope, often in ways the candidates know nothing about.
As a Democratic rainmaker, Hsu -- who graduated from UC Berkeley and the Wharton School of Business -- is credited with donating nearly $500,000 to national and local party candidates and their political committees in the last three years. He earned a place in the Clinton campaign's "HillRaiser" group by pledging to raise more than $100,000 for her presidential bid.
Records show that Hsu helped raise an additional $500,000 from other sources for Clinton and other Democrats.
"Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Sen. Clinton," Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for the campaign, said Tuesday.
"During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question or to return them."
Wolfson did not immediately respond Tuesday night to questions about Hsu's legal problems.
Though he is a fugitive, Hsu has hardly kept a low profile. The website camerarts.com, which sells photographs taken at political events, features shots of Hsu at several fundraisers he hosted at Manhattan's elegant St. Regis hotel -- including a June 2005 luncheon for Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento).
Hsu lives in New York City. Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful. Barcella said Hsu chose to respond through his lawyer.
Records show that Hsu has emerged as one of the Democrats' most successful "bundlers," rounding up groups of contributors and packaging their checks together before delivering the funds to campaign officials. Individuals can give a total of $4,600 to a single candidate during an election cycle, $2,300 for the primaries and $2,300 for the general election.
One example of the kind of first-time donors Hsu has worked with is the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by William Paw, a mail carrier, and his wife, Alice, who is listed as a homemaker.
The Paws -- seven adults, most of whom live together in a small house near San Francisco International Airport -- apparently had never donated to national candidates until 2004. Over a three-year period, they gave $213,000, including $55,000 to Clinton and $14,000 to candidates for state-level offices in New York.
The family includes a son, Winkle Paw, who Barcella said was in business with Hsu. Another son works for a Bay Area school board, while one daughter works for a hospital and another for a computer company.
"They have the financial wherewithal to make their own donations," Barcella said. "It didn't come from Norman."
He said that Hsu had known the Paws for a decade.
"Norman never reimbursed anyone for their contribution," Barcella said. It is a violation of federal law for one person to reimburse donors for campaign contributions.
Hsu's bundling of contributions from the Paws and others was first reported Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.
Records show Hsu also solicited funds from three members of a New York family that helps run a plastics packaging plant in Pennsylvania. They have given more than $200,000 in the last three years.
Danny Lee, a manager at the packaging firm, has given $95,000 to federal Democratic campaigns -- $19,500 of which went to Clinton. Yu Fen Huang, who shares a New York house with Lee, has given $52,200 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton. Soe Lee has contributed $54,000 to Democrats, $8,800 to Clinton.
The Paws, the Lees and Huang did not return telephone calls seeking comment on their donations.
Over the years, Hsu and his associates have given to Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Barack Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware. Obama and Biden, like Clinton, are seeking the presidential nomination.
Hsu's legal troubles date back almost 20 years.
Beginning in 1989, court records show, he began raising what added up to more than $1 million from investors, purportedly to buy latex gloves; investors were told Hsu had a contract to resell the gloves to a major American business.
In 1991, Hsu was charged with grand theft. Prosecutors said there were no latex gloves and no contract to sell them.
Hsu pleaded no contest to one grand theft charge and agreed to accept up to three years in prison. He disappeared, Smetana said, after failing to show up for a sentencing hearing. Bench warrants were issued for his arrest but he was never found, Smetana firstname.lastname@example.org@latimes.com
Times staff writer Dan Morain in Sacramento and researcher Janet Lundblad in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: August 28, 2007, 08:40:04 PM
Saudi Arabia may join nuclear club
DOHA, Qatar, April 9 (UPI) -- Kuwaiti researcher Abdullah al-Nufaisi told a seminar in Doha, Qatar, that Saudi Arabia is preparing a nuclear program, the Middle East Newsline reported.
He said Saudi scientists were urging the government to launch a nuclear project, but had not yet received approval from the ruling family.
Riyadh denies any intention to establish a nuclear energy program, but Gulf sources told the Middle East Newsline Saudi officials have been discussing a nuclear research and development program -- and that the program would be aided by Pakistan and other Riyadh allies.
"Saudi Arabia will not watch as its neighbors develop nuclear weapons," a Gulf source said. "It's a matter of time until a Saudi nuclear program begins."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues
on: August 28, 2007, 07:03:20 PM
Article published Aug 27, 2007
August 27, 2007
By Mark Cromer - Dr. Gene Rogers had a pretty good idea of what was coming when he saw his supervisor and a county security officer arrive at his office door. His supervisor was holding paperwork; the security guard was holding an empty box.
Dr. Gene Rogers knew what they had come to do, and why they were doing it. As the medical director for Sacramento County's Indigent Services program for the better part of the past decade, Dr. Rogers has waged a long fight against the central California county's practice of providing non-emergency medical care to illegal immigrants — a policy he says violates federal law and results in the poorest American citizens being denied the care they deserve.
That fight cost Dr. Rogers his job. In a two-sentence memo to Dr. Rogers, the county's Health and Human Services director, Lynn Frank, informed him that he was fired, but thanked him for his services. No reason for his termination was offered, but then he didn't really expect one. "Sacramento County knowingly violated state and federal laws, misappropriated taxpayer revenues and diverted funds designated for indigent citizens to pay for services delivered to illegal aliens," Dr. Rogers said. "And they did so even as they cut the budget."
Fired earlier this month, Dr. Rogers is the latest casualty on a frontline in the struggle over illegal immigration that's often overshadowed: the battle that has simmered throughout government agencies. Many government employees remain silent in the face of what's happening — fearful for their jobs and perhaps doubtful that they would make a difference. But Dr. Rogers, a Vietnam veteran, felt compelled to become a conscientious objector to the status quo.
The local cost of the medical treatment provided to illegal immigrants is small when contrasted to the billions of dollars the state and federal governments spend every year on the "undocumented," but the numbers have grown dramatically. According to county health officials, the hundreds of illegal immigrants who were being treated through the indigent program in the mid-1990s have now grown to thousands of people, with the annual cost to taxpayers swelling into the millions of dollars.
Ironically, when Dr. Rogers, 67, took the position of medical director for the indigent services program back in 1999, he arrived in the Central Valley with hardly a clue (let alone an opinion) about illegal immigration and its impact on social services. He had one goal: to provide the best care possible for those who need it most.
As the years went by, however, that egalitarian perspective began to be tinged with cynicism as he watched poor citizens get squeezed out of the system even as illegal immigrants gleefully manipulated it, all while bureaucrats facilitated the rampant violations of the very laws they were entrusted to enforce.
"I've seen cases and case histories of patients who essentially have come up from Mexico for the express purpose of being treated here, and then leaving to return home," Dr. Rogers said. "I've watched illegal immigrants brazenly demand free, non-emergency health care that was meant for our poorest citizens. I've heard them and their families complain. They feel entitled to it." Dr. Rogers filed a lawsuit in 2003 after county officials "stonewalled" him when he questioned why they were cutting budgets while still providing non-emergency medical treatment to people who have no legal right to be in the country.
The lawsuit is currently under appeal in federal court, but its impact was felt in the state capital, causing a nervous Latino Legislative Caucus in California last year to push through a bill by state Sen. Deborah Ortiz that explicitly allows counties to "opt" to provide non-emergency medical care to illegal immigrants. Sacramento County also responded, Dr. Rogers said, by seeking to alienate him from his prior relationships with county medical staff and by methodically preparing to fire him — with a little humiliation thrown in along the way. On one occasion, Dr. Rogers said, he was forced to sit through a staff meeting in which his supervisors asked case-management nurses one by one if they had any issues or problems with him. None said they did, but it was a humiliating experience.
"I am concerned that you continue to focus on patients' immigration status," Program Manager Nancy Gilberti said in a negative work review, "which is outside your and [the] program's purview." Mrs. Gilberti's remarks reflect a prevailing culture that has emerged in government: a culture that will not tolerate anyone who dares to draw a distinction between American citizens and illegal immigrants. It is a culture that now pervades police departments, public schools and universities, social services and health care.
But when someone like Dr. Rogers speaks up to question the impact on citizens of such allocation of funds for health services like those in Sacramento, the response is clear: Sit down and shut up — or else.
But considering that a young Dr. Rogers started his medical career trying to save the lives of horrifically wounded American soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam, Sacramento County's apparatchiks picked the wrong target this time. For Gene Rogers himself, his crusade is deeply rooted in those grim battlefields he found himself on more than 30 years ago. He watched young men fight and die, men who sacrificed all for the very distinction that citizenship brings to Americans.
It's a distinction that Sacramento County and so many others may choose to ignore, but for Dr. Rogers, that loyalty is a sacred trust he is determined to keep.
Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race
on: August 28, 2007, 06:55:07 PM
Follow the Money (Clinton Campaign Edition)
The Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins has a fascinating report in today's paper that suggests the Clinton campaign machine is--0nce again--raking in some serious cash from rather unusual sources.
Mr. Mullins investigative piece focuses on a "tiny, lime-green bungalow" in Daly City, California, which is home for the Paws, a Chinese-American family. According to campaign donation records, six members of the Paw family have donated $45,000 to Mrs. Clinton since 1995, and given a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates during the same period. That places the Paws among the Top 5 donors to the Clinton campaign, topping even the Maloof family of Las Vegas, which owns the Palms Casino and the Sacramento Kings basketball team, among other holdings.
More impressively, the Paws have apparently become major political donors without the wealth of the Maloof family, or the hedge fund and real estate tycoons who make up the rest of Mrs. Cllinton's Top 5. Public records reviewed by the Journal show that the Paws own a small gift shop. Additionally, William Paw, the family patriarch, works as a letter carrier, earning about $49,000 a year. His wife, Alice, is a homemaker. The couple's three grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company, to school attendance "liaison" and mutual fund executive.
And, if you don't find that sort of financial acumen intriguing, here's another angle that raises more suspicions:
The Paws' political donations closely track donations made by Norman Hsu, a wealthy New York businessman in the apparel industry who once listed the Paw home as his address, according to public records. Mr. Hsu is one of the top fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign. He has hosted or co-hosted some of her most prominent money-raising events.
People who answered the phone and the door at the Paws' residence declined requests for comment last week. In an email last night, one of the Paws' sons, Winkle, said he had sometimes been asked by Mr. Hsu to make contributions, and sometimes he himself had asked family members to donate. But he added: "I have been fortunate in my investments and all of my contributions have been my money."
That's fine and dandy, but it doesn't explain why Mr. Hsu (a multi-millionaire who lives in New York) once listed the Paw home as his address, according to other public records reviewed by the WSJ. However, the paper's reporting did raise the ire of Mr. Hsu, his attorney, and a spokesman for the Clinton campaign:
Mr. Hsu, in an email last night wrote: "I have NEVER asked a single favor from any politician or any charity group. If I am NOT asking favors, why do I have to cheat...I've asked friends and colleagues of mine to give money out of their own pockets and sometimes they have agreed."
Lawrence Barcella, a Washington attorney representing Mr. Hsu, said in a separate email: "You are barking up the wrong tree. There is no factual support for this story and if Mr. Hsu's name was Smith or Jones, I don't believe it would be a story." He didn't elaborate.
A Clinton campaign spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said in an email: "Norman Hsu is a longtime and generous supporter of the Democratic party and its candidates, including Senator Clinton. During Mr. Hsu's many years of active participation in the political process, there has been no question about his integrity or his commitment to playing by the rules, and we have absolutely no reason to call his contributions into question."
A former official with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) told the Journal that the unusual two-year pattern of donations "justifies a probe of possible violations of campaign-finance law, which forbid one person from reimbursing another to make contributions."
Officially, there are no records that Mr. Hsu reimbursed the Paws for their donations to the Democratic Party, and no indication that Mrs. Clinton ever met members of the family. As the Journal observes, in some cases the candidates are unaware of payments made on their behalf.
But there are compelling reasons for the FEC to take a look at these donations. Beyond the questions of how a middle-class family can make such large contributions--and why they follow the pattern of Mr. Hsu, there's the issue why the Paws suddenly became political activists. According to the Journal, the family never made a campaign contribution until the 2004 presidential election, when they began givign to John Kerry, and their donations correlated to those of Mr. Hsu.
Finally, the Journal doesn't raise another issue that bears scrutiny: is there any connection between this fund-raising activity and the infamous "PRC connection" highlighted in Year of the Rat, by Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II. Their book details the sordid relationship between the Clinton-Gore campaign and Chinese intelligence operatives, and others with ties to the People's Liberation Army. It was that relationship that brokered thousands of dollars in campaign contributions; meanwhile, senior administration officials--including President Clinton--played host to at least one PLA intelligence officer, along with Chinese arms merchants and others eager to gain political influence (and access to U.S. technology).
At this point, the only thing that the Paws have in common with those former Clinton donors is their ethnic Chinese background. But their sudden rise to prominence as donors to Mrs. Clinton--and other Democrats--certainly merits an FEC inquiry. It would also be helpful to know if the Paws (and Mr. Hsu) ever crossed paths with John Huang, Johnny Chung and other Chinese-Americans who raised money for the Clintons a decade ago. This has nothing to do with race; it has everything to do with how campaign money is raised, and whether any laws were broken.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: August 28, 2007, 01:37:48 AM
Christiane vs. Christians and Jews
By Phyllis Chesler
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/27/2007
Dhabah Almontaser, the nearly anointed principal of Brooklyn's madrassa and CNN's fully annointed Christiane Amanpour both agree that in Arabic, "Intifada" means a "shaking off." Amanpour gave an example of how to use the word by saying that "Palestinian (terrorists) were (merely) shaking off the Israeli Occupation;" Almontaser, when challenged about the infamous tee-shirts, said that "Intifada-NYC" referred to young Muslim girls "shaking off oppression."
In November of 2005, Fox's O'Reilly showed live footage of the French Intifada as it raged in Paris. According to WorldNetDaily, Saudi billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, (aka Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin AbdulAziz AlSaud), who owns 5-6% of the Fox News Channel, personally called Rupert Murdoch and asked him to change the offensive (but accurate) caption: "Muslim Riots" to the less offensive (and less accurate) "Civil Riots." Within thirty minutes, the Prince had his way.
To paraphrase New York Post columnist Cindy Adams: Only in America kids, only in America.
Our fine Saudi prince also owns shares in Times-Warner/AOL/CNN, which he first acquired in 2002. According to Forbes, the London Guardian, and other media outlets, in 2002 the Prince "claimed to own 1.4 billion in AOL stock...in 2003 he bought another 450 million of AOL stock." God knows what he owns now. (Yes, he's the very Prince whom Presidential hopeful Rudy Guiliani humiliated when he refused to accept his ten million dollar donation for humanitarian aid immediately following 9/11).
Has bin Talal's ownership influenced Amanpour's highly touted, highly slanted, and highly tedious three part series "God's Warriors?" I have no inside information here but I doubt that any overt bribes were involved.
Amanpour dresses in safari-like bush jackets but they are never grungy, and are in fact glamorous in color and fit. She is no Oriana Fallaci, no Susan Sontag, but is probably the best CNN has to offer in terms of Talking Heads who presumably think. To those unfamiliar with Amanpour's background, she lived in London (still does), attended schools in America, and her husband, James Rubin, is Jewish. He once worked for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright--another Jew who did not know she was one.
After watching Amanpour's segment on the Jews, I was disheartened and outraged. How long will people have to suffer Big Lies on our screens and be forced to react defensively, only after the fact? How much Saudi money might really be involved in CNN's series? In addition to bin Talal, we do know that the Saudis have been buying up shares in the Western media, (UPI for example), influencing curriculum on campuses, and in some instances, buying certain journalists outright. (There is a scandal about this still under wraps in Europe right now. Stay tuned for an update).
Amanpour, whose father is a Muslim Iranian, her mother British, and who spent the first eleven years of her life in Teheran, set out to portray Jews as religiously driven terrorists, illegal land-grabbers, and fat-cat American lobbyists with dual loyalties. She interviewed former President Carter and John Mearsheimer (but not anyone of stature who can easily rebut what they say). Both men believe that Israel is an apartheid state and that the Zionist lobby controls American foreign policy. (See CAMERA'S excellent point by point refutation of Amanpour).
Amanpour makes sure to track down Israelis who have advised the government that "settling an occupied land" violates the Geneva convention and international law (such as Theodore Meron); the Jewish Israeli lawyers who defend Palestinians and who often successfully, challenge the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. She has female settlers on camera who allegedly say that they believe Palestinians should be killed or expelled. She shows the security wall at its ugliest without context and she focuses on individual Palestinians who are indeed being seriously harmed by its creation. (No, she does not show the Jews being blown up, week after week, in a non-stop series of 9/11s that might explain the desperate need for such a tragic but strategic structure).
In my no doubt alarmist and paranoid view, she is trying to position American and world Jewish support for Israel as essentially equivalent to American and world Muslim support for Hamas and for other Muslim terorrist organizations who also engage in humanitarian aid and social service projects. Just as the leaders of the Holy Land foundation are being tried as supporters of terrorist organizations in America today, Amanpour's portrayal of Jewish support for an allegedly "illegal," "racist," or "apartheid" Jewish "settler state" with a "handful of Jewish terrorists" may now lead to simiilar attempts to shut down American-based fundraising for Israel and to dampen Congressional support for military foreign aid to Israel.
Perhaps Amanpour does not envision this at all but merely wishes to show that there is terrorism on both sides of the divide. But this is not true. While there is indeed a "handful" of "Jewish terrorists" or ideologue of Jewish reprisals, (Meir Kahane, Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir, and the Jewish Underground are named), such figures are just that--a handful, and their attempts at indiscriminate violence have either been prevented or immediately and seriously punished by the Israeli government.
Further, Amanpour fails to draw the right conclusions from what she does show on camera. In every instance, Israeli government officials, including former Shin Bet and IDF spokesmen are the ones who prevent Jewish terrorists from striking, who arrest and imprison them when they commit violence, who sentence them to between 7-15 years in jail or to life sentences. There are no posters all over Israel glorifying their violent deeds as there are on the West Bank for their shahids and shahidas and in the no-longer occupied Gaza strip. Israeli textbooks and television videos do not sing their praises in Israel as is the case among the Palestinians.
It gets worse. She views the Muslim claim to Al Aqsa and the Temple Mount, not as equal to but as superior to the ancient Jewish claim. She fails to draw a single conclusion from the fact that Muslims did not--and still do not--allow non-Muslims access to their holy Jewish or Christian religious sites although Jews guarantee that access to all religions.
So, there I was, licking my wounds when I turned on the TV to see Amanpour's second segment.
Amanpour has never met an Iranian or for that matter a Muslim whom she does not like; yes, even the terrorists and one fundamentalist imam in "the holy city of Quom" receives only a flirtatious wag of her finger when he rather cheerfully admits that women are not allowed to do certain things and are condemned to other things--but that's for their own good, to protect them. She is warm with him, much less warm with his so-called Israeli counterparts.
She opens her segment on Muslim Warriors with a charming, well-spoken, highly westernized young man, Ed Husain, who was deceived, or who rebelled and became associated with a terrorist group in his native London. Once he realized that they are killing innocent people, even children, he backed away. He has written a book about leaving Islamism.
Ed Husain does not represent most Muslims who at best, remain silent and who do not condemn Islamist imperialism, religious fundamentalism, or America- and Jew-hatred. There are a handful of Muslims who criticize Islam openly. Many are tortured, killed, forced into exile, impoverished, live in hiding, publish under psedonyms. Her interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali was very, very brief --no more than a minute altogether. On the contrary, she kept returning to former nun Karen Armstrong whose views on Jews, Israel, and Zionism are anti-Semitic with a vengeance. Armstrong also defended veiling and compared it her own habit as a nun. (Stay tuned for more to come about this).
As to women? Amanpour does not tell us any stories of honor killings or women who avoided being honor-murdered but instead focuses on a happy, modestly veiled Muslim-American woman who describes how her choice to "cover" is denigrated and held suspect in America.
Each and every portrait of a Muslin or of a Muslin terrorist's family presents soulful, thoughtful people, perhaps a bit "different" than you and I but still human, likeable, charming--maybe even made of better stuff than you and I in the west who crave material posessions, display female bodies, allow men and women to intermingle in sexually charged ways, drink alcohol, and refuse to live in a God-centered world.
Amanpour is worse than all the others (writers mainly) who have been blasting Judaism and Christianity but mainly in order to be able to also blast, but in a lesser way, Islam. The thesis is that we are all guilty, all to blame, that each religion is clannish, "different," its texts support violence, its extreme followers are but a handful, nothing for the world to worry about.
These are all false assumptions and outright lies.
THE CHRISTIAN CALIPHATE
In her three part series, Amanpour is far more combative and confrontational with both Jewish and Christian religious leaders than she is with Muslim leaders. She is warmer, softer, more "at home," with even the most extreme of Islamist leaders, perhaps even more respectful, than she is with their allegedly Jewish or Christian counterparts.
Amanpour completely fails to make the distinction between Islamists who teach hatred of infidels and women and who blow infidel and Muslim civilians up (as well as honor-murder their own women); Israelis who are under perpetual terrorist seige and who are trying to defend themselves against Islamist attacks; and conservative Christians who are trying to moblize votes, change laws, or win hearts and minds with words, not bombs (although she certainly has lots of footage of the bloody bombings at abortion clinics--bombings I personally abhor and mourn--as do many Christians).
Amanpour wants us to like Muslims--even the most extremist among them. They are human, prick them will they not bleed? But she does not want us to like Christians or Jews, especially those who are Zionists.
Amanpour does not seem to show the same respect towards conservative Christians who wish to dress modestly, remain chaste until marriage, and avoid a secular culture of rampant pornography and rape as she shows their far more extremist counterparts in the Islamist world or than she shows, at great length, one well-spoken Muslim-American woman who decides to "cover."
In one instance, Amanpour accuses Ron Luce, a Christian leader of teenagers, as being like the Taliban. He actually answers Amanpour in a rather charming, disarming way. She will not be moved. Amanpour herself takes no stand on what Luce says about an American secular and popular culture which allows virgin teenager America to be raped on the sidewalk as we pass by without stopping or caring.
Perhaps Amanpour can't forgive these "radical" Christians their support for Israel, their "Zionism." She presents Pastor John Hagee (together with the late Jerry Fallwell) as Doctor Strangeloves. Hagee, by the way, sees Iran as a threat to America and Israel. As he speaks of his Christian love of Zion, Amanpour cuts to a presumed Israeli air attack againt innocent civilians, replete with weeping, civilian Arab women.
Amanpour again returns to former President Jimmy Carter--this time to have him tell us that he had to break with evangelical Baptists over their sexist position on women in the church. Carter who believes that Israel is an "apartheid" state and whose library has been hugely funded by the Saudis is the new feminist in town.
Amanpour has a definite political agenda--no less so than the Christian conservatives whom she attacks for daring to conduct "stealth politics, under the radar" when they engage in Christian voter drives. Amanpour wants to put a Democrat in the White House. She wants someone there who will move against the so-called Israel Lobby and who will finally stop funding Israel. She wants our next Commander in Chief to engage in nicey-nice diplomacy with Iran. She wants Americans to stop fearing that every Muslim might be a terrorist and to start accepting a parallel Islamic/Islamist universe right here on our own soil.
Yes, our ethnically super-trendy, British-accented war correspondent really wants exactly this. And she wants us to see that such right-wing Christians are no different than Islamists, including Bin Laden, who want a world Caliphate. (We are all the same, all cultures are equal, remove the mote from your own eye before you judge anyone else, etc.)
To accomplish her goal, Amanpour presents Christian conservatives as truly scary, as mounting a Crusader-like Army against liberal secular America--but not necessarily a violent war against terrorist Islamism. Amanpour exploits America's hottest domestic issues (abortion and gay marriage) in order to accomplish her own foreign policy aims.
By the end of her third and final segment we are meant to fear and loathe the Christian conservative right far more than we are meant to fear or loathe Amanpour's Amadinejad whom --incredibly--she never accuses of funding Hezbollah's terrorist work abroad. What she mainly shows us in Iran are Shi'a Muslims at prayer, engaged in theatrical-religious rituals. We do not see them funding and masterminding Hezbollah as it takes down civilian (and Christian) Lebanon, lays seige to Israel, blows up the Jewish Community Center in Argentina. She shows us the child-martyrs (one estimate has 850,000 dying in the Iran-Iraq war) as themselves true believers as opposed to victims of sadistic adult handlers.
Her third segment is one long running advertisement for a Democratic candidate for the next Presidency. She is electioneering as hard as she accuses the Christians of doing.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) and The New Anti-Semitism (2003). She has just published The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan), as well as an updated and revised edition of Women and Madness. She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1974). She is currently on the Board of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and lives in New York City. Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: August 28, 2007, 12:45:24 AM
HOW MARINES PULLED FALLUJAH OUT OF HELL
By RALPH PETERS
August 27, 2007 -- FALLUJAH, Iraq - Fallujah and the Marines have some history. In 2004, one savage battle ended when the Marines were pulled out for political reasons. Later that year, they had to finish the job.
And they did. They took down the terrorists' stronghold in a week of fury.
With a fundamentalist tradition, Fallujah seemed to fit al Qaeda perfectly. Robbed of their Saddam-era privileges and out for revenge, even secular locals had aligned with the terrorists. Despite the Marine victory, violence simmered on.
The extremists and insurgents believed they could wear America down. But between 2004 and 2007, two things happened: We wore them down - and al Qaeda wore them out.
With foreign fanatics butchering the innocent and enforcing prison-yard "Islamic laws" that far exceeded the Koran's demands, it belatedly dawned on the insurgents that, while we intended to leave eventually - on our own terms - al Qaeda meant to stay.
A wave of suicide bombings earlier this year, culminating in a massive attack on a funeral procession, made the population snap. The people of Fallujah may never love us, but they hate al Qaeda with the rage of a betrayed lover.
Since May, the change has been stunning. When the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines were last in Fallujah, in 2006, they took casualties from snipers and roadside bombs. The city was violent, bankrupt and partly in ruins.
Now the battalion's back. And welcome. Marines banter with the locals where, six months ago, it was risky to ride in an armored vehicle.
Paradoxically, the violence of the past set the only possible conditions for the sudden reconciliation. The Iraqis had to grasp that we meant business. Now the 1st Platoon of the battalion's Fox Company lives and works in the Hadari Precinct with the Iraqi police.
The new police are recruited from vetted locals, and the policy has paid huge dividends. The locals know who doesn't fit, and they've got an immediate interest in their neighborhood's safety. Most encouragingly, the reformed police are popular.
Fallujah still isn't a place to buy retirement property, but it was encouraging to sit down with 1st Platoon's commander, 2nd Lt. Nick DeLonga, and his Iraqi counterpart, 1st Lt. Mohammed.
DeLonga joined the Marines immediately after 9/11, because "I didn't want to just sit and vote while others were dying." Now he's the sheriff of a sprawling neighborhood in a war-torn city.
FIRST Lt. Mohammed's fa ther is a sheik, giving him a brand of authority - and insight - an outsider could never attain. DeLonga has the firepower (if ever needed) and the resources, while Mohammed has the pull. It works.
We went for a stroll in the streets. The Marines still wear full combat gear: Despite security measures, a sniper might still sneak into the city. But there was no threat from the locals in the market. The worst mood the Marines encountered was aloofness. More often, they were welcomed with a polite greeting.
People are relieved that their streets are safe again. And the kids are out in regiments, surrounding the Marines in hope of candy or just a bit of attention.
For the Iraqi police lieutenant, our patrol was a triumphal procession. DeLonga let Mohammed have center stage as citizens came out to complain about lagging utilities or, in one striking case, to protest that, as former residents of Baghdad, they had come to Fallujah to be safe, but were being charged exorbitant rents. A ward pol as well as a cop, Mohammed told his aides to write it all down.
Mohammed is effective, but he might jar anyone with unrealistic expectations. In our one-on-one meeting, he quoted Saddam: "You must be sharp as a sword with civilians - and as soft as perfume." But he's no hard-core Ba'athist: You have to remember that Saddam shaped every Iraqi's life for more than three decades.
Anyway, men such as Lt. Mohammed have figured out that nostalgia solves nothing. And thanks to al Qaeda's blood orgy, the old Middle Eastern dictum applies: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In a sense, al Qaeda set us up for success.
BUT there's more to it. Much more. The Marines and the Iraqi police find they get along surprisingly well. The Americans realize that the Iraqis know the buttons to press to get things done, while the Iraqis learn from the Marines' professionalism.
I laughed to see Iraqi cops marveling at a Marine's, uh, interesting tattoos, while the Marines are still surprised that the environment has gone "nonkinetic" so fast.
And we're truly winning over some Iraqis. "Crash," is a Basra-born interpreter (a "terp") who, more than anything else in the world, wants to become a U.S. Marine. He lives and works with the Marines, studies their rituals, works out with them - and carries himself like a Marine. Crash also carries a weapon for self-defense - a right he earned after pulling wounded Marines to safety in combat.
"His" Marines are doing all they can to help him enlist.
Fallujah? Some districts have ugly stretches of ruins, while others are largely intact. The population has returned. And there's a construction boom. Meanwhile, the Marines have repaired generators, turned trash lots into parks and created hundreds of jobs. Suddenly, the city's movers and shakers want to work with the Marines.
Oh, and the mullah of the city's strictest mosque just sat down for the first time with Lt. DeLonga. They got along fine.
Had I been asked three years ago if we'd ever be welcome in Fallujah, I would've called it wrong. Not that the Iraqis want us to stay forever, but they'd rather cooperate than fight at this point. Given Fallujah's past, that's no small thing.
And the locals are out in front of us in the fight against al Qaeda. Which is a big thing.
I was in the city during one of the last phases of Operation Alljah, which has been bringing the rule of law back to the city's precincts, one by one. In the hours of darkness, Marine engineers swept in and blocked the roads in and out of one of the last un-purged districts with Jersey barriers. The police moved in to bust suspected terrorists and kick out hoodlums who don't have local roots.
In a "swarm," identification cards are provided to all, beginning with the local movers and shakers. Volunteers are vetted to join the police or armed neighborhood-watch groups. And revitalization programs go into gear.
Capt. Mason Harlow, the Fox Company commander, was wounded by shrapnel two years ago. In Fallujah. Now he's back, overseeing the Hadari District and two others. His Marines haven't been attacked for months. And his former enemies are doing his work for him.
Capt. Harlow didn't think he'd live to see the day.
Ralph Peters is reporting from Iraq. His new book is "Wars of Blood and Faith."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: August 27, 2007, 09:01:20 PM
Who said anything about cutting and running? I served with 10th mountain over seas in AssCrackistan after 9/11 and I saw the reason's on why we fight and what we are fighting about.
A couple of my good friends had to stand out in the open to guard Some Pipelines..We thought they were gas lines and then found out they were Oil..Hmm Go figure.
****Does this mean that we fought in Afghanistan for oil?****
Simple..There is nothing simple about sending your troops into a warzone on bad preperation and bad intell...Making up reasons to invade a country are not the ways to go about things and then coming back with the "Oh man..Our bad but since we are there" is not a vaild excuse.
Offering 20k to new recruits is they leave in a month to their new home in Iraq is also not a good way to treat our desperate youth..
****The average U.S. serviceman/woman is better educated than the average U.S. citizen. The "poor waifs" arguement doesn't hold water. The US military today is better trained, better educated and better equipped than any military in human history.****
Why we fight? A 5 year old boy was put on fire? While that is tragic and painfull..I don't feel that it is worth the lives of Anymore Americans. We have those problems going on here on our soil...MS 13 gangs running riot and other countless Gangs running riot and killing Americans BUT we should fight over seas to help a 5 year old boy? No..I just don't see it that way..Now this is just a Random example of problems on American soil..
****I've spent most all of my adult life in law enforcement. I'm quite aware of the issues with gangs, crime and social decay. That's irrelevant to the global war for survival we find ourselves in. Some sort of neo-isolationism isn't the answer to domestic issues.****
I never said cut and run but I think the way we handled things and still going about things is wrong and over...
Now to Vietnam...58,000 Americans Died there...I foget the wounded and The not counted number of VN vets who killed themselves though Drugs or Booze down the line..And for what , Another countries problem on how they were treating another countrymen and we still had Segregation, Whites Hated Black, Blacks Hated whites, Browns hated both...The cops were running riot and the KKK was still hanging people from trees..But yet 58,000 PLUS americans needed to give their life to another country when those lives could have been put to better use here..On our soil..
****Are you suggesting some sort of martial law as a remedy for the 60's urban unrest?****
All those Lives Wiped out..Potential doctors, Scientist, Teachers, Husbands, Kids...All these lives that could have been used to make our Country better and not the Countries of a other nation...
****My dad served in 'Nam from '65 to '68, became a teacher afterwards. Despite the media hype, most veterans of all wars return to citizen life without becoming violent drunks.****
We are worried about Aids in Africa..What about Aids here..
****As HIV is usually spread by consensual sex or infected needles in the US, what policy do you suggest that hasn't already been implimented?****
We are worried about Starving ppl in god knows where, where we have straving ppl here..
****When was the last time an American starved to death? Outside of an abused child or neglected elder, i'm not aware of it happening in my lifetime. In fact the poorest Americans are far more likely to suffer health problems related to obesity rather than anything akin to starvation. Again, short of creating a national "diet police" i'm not sure what you'd suggest we do.****
We are worried about aid to Countries that are flooding when we couldnt even get water to our own ppl in New-O when it flooded..
****Funny enough, Wal-Mart and other scary corporations the left loves to demonize did a better job responding to Katrina than did the democrat mayor and the democrat governor, who have yet to take any responsibility for their inept and corrupt municipal and state governments.****
.And we allow Movie Stars and Rich Americans to Adopt Chinese babies and other Types of Babies and Kids when we have millions of Homeless, Orphan American Kids that could use homes....
****Please cite the source of you statistics for "Millions of homeless, orphan American kids".****
I belive some where in your post GM you talk about being Native American( I could be Wrong).
****I'm an enrolled member of a federally recognized Indian tribe.****
.I happen to also be Part Native American...America is worried about how Africans live in Slums and our sick...Have your ever been to the some of the reservations?
****I grew up right next to one, got my healthcare growing up at an Indian Health Service clinic. My first fulltime job in law enforcement was as a Tribal Police Officer.****
They look below 3rd world nations..Some look great and some look like crap. The Reservation by Ft. lewis is a GIANT ghetto...And one of Reservations where my Grandmother took me in New Mexico is something out of Black Hawk down but it's important that we care about how other countries are run but getting aid and medical care to other peoples while Native Americans get cheap booze and smokes..Ya, I see the fair trade.
****Uncle Sam has dumped billions, if not trillions into tribal entities in recent times. Much like the "war on poverty" gov't aid did more harm than help. Again, the solution isn't more gov't aid to address the social problems on the various reservations.****
I think I went over board and ranted..Sorry..Something heat me up..
****You have the right to rant, just as I have the right to reply.****
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: August 27, 2007, 12:24:24 PM
Article published Aug 27, 2007
U.S. sponsors Islamic convention
August 27, 2007
By Audrey Hudson - The Justice Department is co-sponsoring a convention held by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) — an unindicted co-conspirator in an ongoing federal terrorist funding case — a move that is raising concerns among the Justice's rank and file.
Justice lawyers have objected to the affiliation with ISNA, fearing it will undermine the case against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Dallas.
"There is outrage among lawyers that the Department of Justice is funding a group named as a co-conspirator in a terrorist financing case," said a Justice lawyer who spoke to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.
According to an e-mail from Susana Lorenzo-Giguere, acting deputy chief of the Voting Rights Division, the sponsorship will involve sending government lawyers to man a booth for the Labor Day weekend event in Illinois.
"This is an important outreach opportunity, and a chance to reach a community that is at once very much discriminated against, and very wary of the national government and its willingness to protect them," Mrs. Lorenzo-Giguere said in an e-mail obtained by The Washington Times.
"It would be a great step forward to break through those barriers. And Chicago is lovely this time of year," Mrs. Lorenzo-Giguere said.
ISNA is one of more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators in a case against the Holy Land Foundation, whose top officers are accused of raising money for Hamas.
Justice spokesman Erik Ablin said the agency participates in the annual convention to educate Muslims about their civil rights.
"The Civil Rights Division will have a table at the ISNA convention over Labor Day weekend to hand out literature and answer questions about the division's work. The ISNA convention attracts more than 30,000 American Muslims every year, and the division has had tables at the convention in previous years," Mr. Ablin said.
The Justice Department declined to say how much the sponsorship will cost.
"This is just staggering, it's outrageous," the lawyer said. "Lawyers from the Civil Rights Division traveling to Chicago on the federal dime. This will cost thousands of dollars."
A second lawyer responded to Mrs. Lorenzo-Giguere's e-mail questioning the participation and said it "seems like an odd time for one part of DOJ to lend credence and visible support to ISNA at the same time DOJ prosecutors will be called on to defend their decision to name ISNA as a conspirator."
"Presumably the prosecutors have determined that they might need that testimony admitted; I hope we don't undermine their position," the second lawyer said. "Needless to say, [the Holy Land Foundation trial] is a very significant case."
Mohamed Elsanousi, director of communications and community outreach for ISNA, says the annual convention is open to anyone who provides services or information of value to convention participants.
"For many years, we have welcomed representatives from U.S. government agencies who wish to share information about their services and have the opportunity to reach out to the Muslim American community," Mr. Elsanousi said.
The convention features book signings, musical entertainment and seminars on family, community service and political activism.
But the first lawyer also pointed to a morning session on "the threat and reality of U.S.-sponsored torture" as contrary to the department's mission. The Justice Department was responsible for signing off on the legality and constitutionality of interrogation techniques.
"The extensive news coverage by the U.S. and international media sources makes it all too clear that the grim abuses in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the sending of detainees to secret prisons around the world that are known to torture during interrogations, are not isolated incidents, but rather constitute policy of the U.S. government," the schedule of events said.
"This session will describe the nature of U.S.-sponsored torture, the effects of torture on its victims, the efforts of the U.S. religious community, and what you can do to help end U.S.-sponsored torture," the schedule said.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: August 27, 2007, 12:57:35 AM
It's not so simple, Maxx,
Cutting and running gives both al qaeda and Iran a huge win, it also dooms those brave Iraqis that stood along side us and their families to horrific deaths. What lesson do you want to teach the world? Put enough bloody images on CNN and the left will undercut the American will to win. Just like in Vietnam, we'll abandon our allies to the tender mercies of our enemies. Is this good foreign policy? Is this the right thing to do?
If we throw our allies into the bloody jaws of the global jihad, do you really think it'll curl up and go to sleep? Forget we exist?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct
on: August 26, 2007, 07:27:43 PM
A Growing Number Of Activists Are Hesitant To Decry Female Genital Mutilation
Saturday, August 25, 2007
CREDIT: Simon Maina, Agence France-Presse
Two Kenyan girls sit near a knife used for female genital mutilation in Nyamira, west of Nairobi. "There are good reasons within the society for the operation to continue, but these are cultural reasons. They are not scientific ones," says Janice Boddy, a University of Toronto professor.
CREDIT: Michael Kooren, Reuters
Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali has publicly criticized the act of female genital mutilation. The practice can cause lifelong urinary tract infections, sterility and death.
Academia's fixation on cultural sensitivity is changing the debate around female genital mutilation, with a growing number of professors and women's rights activists becoming hesitant to condemn the practice.
Where feminists rallied against the operation from the pages of Ms. magazine in the 1970s, today's critics are infinitely more cautious, with most suggesting that the Western world butt out until Muslim African communities are ready to reconsider what they are doing to their daughters.
The shift in attitudes about the practice-- which in the worst of cases involves the carving out of a woman's clitoris and inner labia and can cause lifelong urinary tract infections, sterility and even death -- comes at a time when high-profile victims of the operation such as writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali and model Waris Dirie, both Somalis, have launched very public campaigns against the practice.
The issue is so explosive, it has two names -- female genital mutilation, or FGM, to those most vociferously opposed to the practice; and female genital cutting, or FGC, to those in the less-condemning camp.
The latter includes the chair of anthropology at the University of Toronto, who has written a new book on the subject. Although not prepared to defend what she calls FGC, Janice Boddy defends women who undergo the operation and want the practice to continue in future generations.
"There are good reasons within the society for the operation to continue, but these are cultural reasons. They are not scientific ones," says Prof. Boddy, author of Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan.
Working through British and Sudanese archives, she looks at the history of FGC in that country, particularly European colonial interactions with the practice, from British nurses attempting to re-educate Sudanese midwives in the 1920s, to the country's outlawing of the practice in 1946 amid Western pressure.
"It isn't a happy situation by any means. I wouldn't want it to continue. But I think that up until this point, the West has not been particularly helpful in the way that it's gone about trying to assist in the eradication," Prof. Boddy says.
Prevalent in, though not exclusive to, Muslim societies, particularly in Sudan, Somalia, northern Kenya and parts of Ethiopia and Indonesia, female genital mutilation takes on its most severe form in infibulation, or pharaonic circumcision.
This can involve the removal of both the clitoris and inner labia with crude instruments such as razors. The entire vagina is then sewn up with thread, or fastened with thorns.
In this way, a woman's virginity -- considered especially important by Muslim men--can be proven before her father is paid the bride price.
The Sudanese, Prof. Boddy argues, are a fiercely guarded culture, one that sees the practice as a defence of their people against intruders, and, astonishingly, as protection against injury.
"The cultural context in which this practice takes place supports the idea of enclosing the body against harm," she writes in her book. The social body is closed against intrusion from the outside by marriages between relatives. People marry cousins ... The kinship system is quite closed. That image of the defensive society, the defensive social body, is carried over into this idea of defending the physical body.
"The idea of closing the womb, which is the most precious organ of the female body, is very highly supported by other kinds of practices."
Although not outlined in the Koran, FGM is so ingrained in cultural norms that it will not be easily eradicated, she says.
Rather, the West must support local counsellors (she names the international women's rights organization Rainbo as one) working on the ground with women to change their notions of marriageability.
The professor also says she would like to see "more science" in the arguments against FGM -- she takes issue with how often it causes shock and death. To a degree, she also aligns feminists who are ardently opposed to the operation with British imperialists.
Today, Prof. Boddy says, the battle cry is human rights. Back then, it was colonial notions of civilizing the other. It's a stance that pits her against many critics, including the World Health Organization, which called for the absolute abolition of the practice in the 1970s.
The human rights group Amnesty International considers FGM a form of violence against women, and the end result of discriminatory attitudes and beliefs. But even their representatives are careful when speaking of the operation.
"The motivation is not one of malice or desire to hurt but really to make sure that the daughter is taken care of," says Cheryl Hotchkiss, women's rights campaigner with Amnesty International Canada.
"But what needs to be examined from a human rights perspective is why is it that in order for a woman to live a good life does she have to undergo such an extreme experience?
"It's entirely conceivable that a woman may willingly subject herself to it, but our question is, did she willingly subject herself to it because there were so few options to it? That's a core issue."
Prof. Boddy's book has received criticism for leaving Sudanese men out of her discussion. In focusing on the way women perform, perpetuate and desire the practice (since it ensures marriageability), critics say she fails to address the ostracism and potential violence women may face unless they submit.
But these are Western discourses, Prof. Boddy says, arguing that in Sudan, it is women who have power in the domestic sphere.
"You can abhor the sin, but you can love the sinner," she concludes. "I don't want them to receive the blame from the West for doing what they think is in the best interests of their daughters because otherwise they won't be marriageable."
Ms. Hotchkiss says the key lies in changing those notions of desirability, likely through a combination of state law, grassroots efforts and intervention by the medical community.
"[These societies] see women's bodies used as the holders of tradition ? That's still because the society sees women's bodies as not their own. They see them as a tool.
"What Amnesty's desperately trying to get across, along with women's human rights activists the world over, is that women's bodies are their own and they need the right to say what is and what isn't going to happen to them."email@example.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Our Troops in Action
on: August 26, 2007, 07:08:18 PM
My cousin Frankie
How a childhood hero killed in Vietnam was a lifelong inspiration
BY MARIO DE LUCIA
It was the summer of 1965. The ferry was making its run from the dock in Patchogue across the bay to Davis Park. Kids were splashing around at Corey Beach, the Sandspit and Canaan Lake. And Billy Joe Royal was singing "Down in the Boondocks." Patchogue High School graduates were out and about, enjoying the sun, the waves and the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Four Seasons.
Frank Clark Fisher was one of those kids from Patchogue High School, where he had been a goalie on the varsity soccer team. He lived with his dad and mom on Wilmarth Street. He worked as a lifeguard with Brookhaven Town, and this summer was the last summer before he shipped off to Parris Island and the Marines.
I grew up just up the hill from Frank. He was my cousin, and although I was blessed with two brothers and two sisters, Frank, who was 11 years older, was that big brother I didn't have. I looked for him each day as I played in my front yard or in the woods near my home. And when I'd see him walking with his buddies, I'd run over to him and he'd put his arm around me and let me walk with him. I loved Frankie; everyone did. I'd help him take care of his pigeons, and we'd take his dog,Tar, for walks in the woods. Frank always found the time for me. He'd tell me about his pending adventure in the Marine Corps, and I listened in awe as he told me how hard it would be. We come from a long line of soldiers, Marines and sailors in our family, and Frankie was about to join the ranks.
Frank shipped out in October 1965 and was a member of Platoon 1010 on Parris Island in South Carolina. I wrote to him several times during those couple of months, and Frank wrote back. He graduated from boot camp that December, went on to infantry school and came out as a rifleman. He was soon off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he served for six months with the security forces.
It was the summer of 1966 when Frank sailed from California, across the Pacific to Southeast Asia. I remember watching the news each night on our black and white television set. "American servicemen killed in action in Vietnam" was the subject of many of these broadcasts. I watched as my mother and father talked about their concern for our boys serving over there. We had several from our neighborhood who were there and, of course, Frank. But Frankie was surely not going to be one of those casualties spoken about on the news. He had to come home. I was taking care of his pigeons while he was away. I was keeping my aunt Topsey company and hanging around in Frankie's room while her only child was fighting in the war.
During that year, I kept in touch with my cousin via letters, drawings I would send and pictures we'd send back and forth to one another. I spent a lot of time down the road at my aunt's house. She was one of those fun aunts who always had something special to give or was always making something special to eat.
It was a hot afternoon in August 1967, during the "Summer of Love." The Young Rascals were "Groovin'," Strawberry Alarm Clock sang of "Incense and Peppermints," while the Box Tops ranted about "The Letter." I entered the house, and another of my aunts was there. My mother was crying, and the smell of skunk cabbage on my muddy PF Flyers soon became less of a concern as I put my arm around my mother's neck and asked her what was wrong.
I recall her looking up at me as she sat in the kitchen chair. "Your cousin Frankie was killed in Vietnam." I just went numb. I didn't know how else to react.
I recall jumping the fence in the side yard and running into the woods across the street ... that same woods where I used to play while I was waiting for Frankie to walk by with his buddies and shout out to me to walk with them, me feeling like a big shot. And I cried and cried and cried.
Why? Why did my cousin have to die? But even then, I knew what being a Marine meant. I'd known that he could die, that he might die. I went on to serve in the U.S. Army and did so in honor of my cousin.
I also went on to become a New York City police officer and detective. I once asked my aunt what goals Frankie had set for himself, and she said to me, "He wanted to be much like you are today ... married, with children, and he wanted to be a policeman." I was happy to have accomplished those same goals and in doing so, sort of fulfill Frankie's goals as well.
I have five children and all of them know their cousin Frankie. They know him through my eyes and from the stories I tell and the pictures I show and the letters I read. My oldest son became a Marine after graduating from high school. He did so in honor of his cousin, Cpl. Frank C. Fisher. And when he went to infantry school after graduating from boot camp on Parris Island, I thought of my cousin. When my son served with the security forces at Guantanamo Bay, I thought of my cousin. And when my son shipped off to Iraq, I thought of my cousin ... and I prayed that he would look after my son, the same way he looked after me, when I was a kid: ever protective, ever vigilant, always faithful!
In the final letters Frankie and his mother exchanged, he asked for a Brownie camera and some film and told of his plans to try to save $1,000 by the time he came home. She wrote back about the family cat having kittens. "You've been gone such a long time," she wrote. "It seems like a lifetime. Write me if you get the chance. It's a little easier when there's a letter from you."
Frankie never got to use his Brownie to take the pictures he so much wanted to reflect on in future years. He never saw Rebel's kittens. Instead, he came home in a flag-draped casket amid the fragrance of cut flowers, a Marine Corps honor guard and many spilled tears from those of us who loved him so.
To his mom, the time between letters seemed like a lifetime. If she only knew how ironic those words would become.
Since the time after Frankie's funeral, we never really spoke of the circumstances of his death. We knew what the telegram read but not much more than that. My aunt never really found closure in the loss of her son. For years, I would visit her, down the road from my home. The red and white banner with the gold star adorned her window. Frankie's high school graduation picture and Marine Corps picture hung proudly in her living room. His room remained the way he'd left it: comic books on his dresser, his varsity jacket on the back of the chair, all of his clothes folded neatly in his dresser or hanging in his closet.
I recall how one day she called and asked if I could come over. I walked past the pictures of Frank and glanced into his room, as I often did. I always picture him jumping out from behind his door and tackling me on the living room couch, giving me a "noogie" on the top of my head. This day, my aunt had a cardboard box for me, and as I looked at it, I saw Frankie's black lifeguard bathing suit and yellow lifeguard T-shirt. There were some things from high school there as well and some mementos from the Marine Corps.
My uncle and aunt have since passed away. The gold star banner hung in her house until she died, and I remember saying to myself, "That can finally come down now, as mother and son are reunited."
With the inception of home computers and the Web, I began to hunt around for some information about Frankie. I placed my e-mail address on various Marine Corps Web sites and Vietnam blogs, asking for anyone with information to contact me.
Friends of Frank
I became active with the alumni association of my high school in Patchogue, and over the years have been introduced to many of Frank's former classmates, teachers and friends. Many of them remember him fondly and all have a story about him that they long to tell. I think of those stories every time I visit that school and see the gray plaque and the eternal flame in the lobby with Frankie's name and the dozen or so names of other graduates of Patchogue High School who lost their lives in Vietnam.
After the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, I finally retired from the New York City Police Department. My wife and I relocated our family to the mountains of east Tennessee several years ago. While unpacking, I took a break to check my e-mail. There was one unread message from an unknown person. After opening it, I stared at the stark message, which stated simply: "I was there when he was killed. E-mail me back for more info." It was signed "Sgt. Doyle Clark."
I sent an immediate reply to Clark with my telephone number attached. Then I sat by and waited for the phone to ring. My 10-year-old daughter answered the phone quickly, as most kids do. "Dad, it's Sgt. Clark," she said. The voice on the other end seemed frail, uncertain and somewhat uneasy.
"Hello, sir. This is Sgt. Clark. I've waited almost 38 years to talk about Frank ... "
With the respectful tone that one gets with time served in the military, and a distinct Oklahoma accent, Clark went on to tell me about the day my cousin Frankie was killed.
Frank and the other men from his unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, were assigned to a base camp on Go Noi Island, south of Da Nang, otherwise known as "the Island." Go Noi wasn't really an island -- it was a peninsula that, during the rainy season, would flood and give the appearance of an island. In addition to the Marine base, there was an ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) base camp there.
That morning, Aug. 27, there was a chaplain's service at the base. Some of the men attended before going on the patrol. Frankie was the squad leader on this particular patrol. There were a dozen or so men with him. Clark was a machine gunner who was along because of the shortage of machine gunners assigned to the unit. He was cross-training some of the riflemen with the machine gun.
As Frank led the patrol into the jungle and through several rice paddies, they came upon a wrecked house. They noticed several carambola trees in front of the house loaded with star fruit. Since it was just about noon, the patrol took a break, and the Marines sat and ate the fruit. The two Marines talked about their common interest in Japan as they sat in front of that house. After the men on the patrol ate several star fruit each, they resumed their duty. Frank led the patrol farther into the jungle toward the ARVN camp on what was called a "search and destroy" mission in the 1st Marines Operations Journal for that day.
At one point the path split, with one part leading around the camp and the other leading more directly toward it. Frank took the most direct path. As the unit approached the perimeter of its allies' base, Frank unknowingly wandered into an ARVN minefield. He tripped a mine commonly called a "Bouncing Betty," which is designed to pop up to crotch level and blow the legs out from under the enemy. Clark recalled being the fourth one in line in the patrol. He remembered seeing the explosion from the mine and the Marines going down as they were hit with the flying shrapnel. The only way he was able to describe why the three men in front of him and several behind him were hit, while he was left without a scratch, was that "God must have been with" him.
Clark explained that he pulled back one or two of the wounded men and ordered the other men to stay put because of the minefield and the possibility of other unexploded mines. He could see Frank ahead and for almost 38 years, he said, he has been haunted by his cries: "Mama! Mama!"
With his left hand gone, and severe head wounds, Frank continued to call out to his mother. With the minefield still very much a threat, the Marines on the patrol were helpless and could do nothing more than call for assistance. Frank's cries lasted for five or 10 minutes before he died. Another soldier had also been killed, a kid from Baltimore, a lance corporal named Bill Mignini, and several of the Marines were wounded.
When the reactionary force arrived, it was led by a young 2nd lieutenant, just married, named Cliff Robertson, a California native just shy of his 23rd birthday. Clark recalled how Robertson's young bride would send care packages to the men of the squad. Despite warnings, Robertson and his men went into the minefield to assess the situation and evacuate the wounded.
There was a pause in Clark's telling of the account. Choked up and trying to hold back tears, he apologized and asked me to forgive him, explaining again that he hadn't spoken of this incident in almost 38 years.
After he composed himself, he said the lieutenant's advance into the minefield detonated several other mines. Robertson was killed along with two Marines from his force -- Cpl. Ray Fort, from Carlisle, Ariz., and Cpl. John Jensen, from Espanola, Wash.
Clark recalled that it was at this time that the hospital corpsman along on the original patrol, a young sailor named Doc Drake, began running to the wounded Marines, pulling them away from the minefield and rendering first aid. This caused several more mines to detonate, wounding Drake. Thinking out loud, Clark wondered if Doc Drake had ever received the medal he recommended for him.
Clark paused. After several seconds, I asked, "Is everything OK?" I was prepared to give the Marine as much time as he needed to tell his account.
"You know what was so ironic that day?" he asked. "While all of these mines were going off, and all of these Marines were being killed and wounded, I remember laying in the berm of a rice paddy and looking up at a nearby hill, watching as several ARVN soldiers rolled around pointing and laughing while our men tripped the mines. They were pointing and laughing! And they are who we were in Vietnam to help! It took everything I had to not kill those guys where they stood.
"I tried to think of ways to get in touch with Frank's family for years," Clark explained, almost apologetically. "I just couldn't get it out of my head how he kept calling out for his mama."
I was horrified at the way my cousin was killed. And to know that he survived long enough to experience the immense pain he must have felt was even more disturbing. But despite all of that, knowing that his mother was the last thing he thought of, and that his last words were the cries "Mama," was somewhat bittersweet because Frank and his mother were exceptionally close. My aunt loved her only child with an adoration and pride that was envied among anyone who knew them. And Frankie would do anything for his mother.
Clark ended our telephone conversation by thanking me for allowing him to get these memories out into the open. He seemed relieved, and I was thankful for the closure he was able to give to me. I promised to keep in touch with this man who last spoke with my cousin as they both sat under a tree and sucked on star fruit. I'll forever love and admire my big cousin, Frankie Fisher ... well, just because he was my big cousin and also because he was my best friend.
It's because of this man, Doyle Clark from Oklahoma, that I also will never forget the other men who lost their lives that day. Lance Cpl. William D. Mignini of Baltimore, 2nd Lt. Clifton B. Robertson of Los Angeles, Cpl. Raymond Fort of Arizona and Cpl. John A. Jensen of Washington State.
I'd like to thank Doc Drake, wherever he may be, the hospital corpsman who tried valiantly to save the lives of the wounded Marines that day. May he somehow know the gratitude that those like Clark and I feel toward him.
Today, 40 years after my cousin was killed in that far-off land, I sit back and reflect on his life. The Buckinghams, Tommy James and the Shondells and the Rolling Stones on my iPod take me back to that hot summer day, and I can hear the faint sounds of helicopter rotors as they seem to get closer and louder. There's the sporadic explosion of mortar fire in the distance and the sound of boots hitting the dirt. I hear the rack of a machine gun bolt and the crack and pop of small-arms fire.
No, I'm not imagining these things. I'm actually listening to them as I, myself, grab for my M-4 rifle and flak vest. You see, I'm currently serving as a civilian advisor in western Iraq with a team of Marines from the 3rd Marine Division from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. And just like I did while serving in Bosnia in the 1990s, I carry my cousin's photograph with me, as a reminder of who I am, and why I'm here.
Godspeed to all the brave men of Bravo 1/1 who fought in the name of liberty and freedom on that hot August day in 1967. And Godspeed to all of the American fighting men and women who serve our great country today! Semper Fi!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan
on: August 26, 2007, 01:06:08 PM
Scores of Pak soldiers desert forces
26 Aug 2007, 0255 hrs IST,AGENCIES
ISLAMABAD: Scores of Pakistani soldiers have deserted the security forces deployed in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, mainly because they were not sure whether fighting against their 'own people' was morally right, media reports said on Saturday.
"I did not desert the force because I feared death, but I was not sure whether the fighting in tribal district Waziristan was Islamic or not," a soldier from paramilitary Frontier Corps told the Daily Times.
The man, who recently refused to serve in tribal areas, claimed the same question was haunting many other soldiers and the confusion was stopping them from "putting up a tough fight" against the Taliban and Al-Qaida elements in the area. Pro-Taliban militiamen pulled out of peace treaties with the government after troops stormed the Lal Masjid in the capital on July 10, and launched a series of raids on security forces.
He confirmed the desertions but insisted these should be ignored as "insignificant incidentsâ€?. "Small-scale desertion takes place in any force and in any country for one reason or another," Arshad told the newspaper.
However, six soldiers from only one suburb of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, have deserted the Frontier Corps. The force is the first line of defence of around 90,000 troops deployed along the countryâ€™s western border against militants launching attacks at international forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is setting in process a plan to withdraw its army from the restive tribal areas and replace them with paramilitary forces, a news report has said.
President Pervez Musharraf told a group of parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that army would be withdrawn from tribal areas after January 2008, the same newspaper reported.
"Paramilitary forces including Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Khasadars will take over the charge of tribal areas from the military, which would be withdrawn after January 2008,"sources quoted the Musharraf as saying.