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11401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 24, 2007, 01:49:51 AM
One on One with Steven Emerson: 'Jihad is jihad'

Ruthie Blum , THE JERUSALEM POST   Sep. 20, 2007

Investigative Project on Terrorism executive director Steven Emerson claims that radical Islam is alive and well in America - thanks to the tacit cooperation of government agencies which embrace the very groups they should be investigating.

Steven Emerson's delicate delivery belies the pungency - and punch - of his words. Whether this is the result of having heard it all and said it all in every possible forum is not clear. In fact, delving beneath the surface of radical Islamic activity, only to discover additional layers with each dig, could just as easily have the opposite effect on one's demeanor. Particularly when the information being uncovered is pooh-poohed in some fashion. Or when its disseminator is dismissed as alarmist at best, and anti-Muslim at worst.

But Emerson - an investigative journalist turned NGO director - doesn't appear to be perturbed on a personal level. It's the public response to what he claims is a pernicious network of terrorist cells within the United States, fronted as humanitarian organizations, that gets to him.

"The US government, the media and the intelligentsia are witting and unwitting enablers of radical Islam," says Emerson, a best-selling author, whose books include American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us (2002) and Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US (2006), and creator of the prize-winning documentary film Jihad in America (1994).

Here earlier this month to speak at the seventh annual conference of the International Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, Emerson, who founded and heads the Washington DC-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, gave The Jerusalem Post an overview of the situation he believes will only really be solved when Islam undergoes a genuine reformation.

In an hour-long interview at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv on the eve of the conference, Emerson, 50, punctuated this sentiment by pointing to the Dolphinarium across the street - the site of the 2001 suicide bombing that left 21 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

"What we're looking at," he says, poker-face intact, "is the marker of where 'lesser jihad' was carried out against young Israelis at a discotheque."

What is the purpose of conferences on counterterrorism? Do they have any effect?
Conferences are ubiquitous - mainly good for networking and making contacts. In the intelligence community, the best way of developing information and getting new ideas is to meet people who do different things in the same area. And conferences also bring in revenue for the organizers.

What about meeting people with different views on terrorism and how to combat it? These conferences, both in Israel and abroad, seem to have such a wide range of ideological slants as to render them useless.
Oh yes. Take the Aspen Institute's annual terrorism symposia, for instance. There participants believe that Prozac and therapy should be dispensed to terrorists. It's so "Kumbaya" that one would gag if forced to attend. It all comes down to the Harvard University view of terrorism, according to which terrorists carry out aggression because they are "humiliated." It's the pseudo-psycho view that offers justification for the committing of violent acts, and ends up blaming the victim rather than the terrorist. This is ridiculous, of course. I feel humiliated when I get a ticket; but that doesn't mean I get to shoot a cop. The whole field became a gravy train in Washington for many people after 9/11, thanks to the hundreds of millions of dollars dispensed by the US government to think tanks and academic centers.

These centers are overwhelmingly anti-American and anti-Israeli, and thus full of pro-Islamist ideologues or just plain charlatans. My organization does not take a dime of government money, so we are free to call the shots as we see them.

How do you see General Wesley Clark, the keynote speaker at the ICT conference this year, for example?
Clark is not someone for whom I have much respect, since he's been championing the notion that we should be talking to Iran and Syria, effectively rewarding them for their terrorist activities. He has also spoken about being nicer to terrorists. In fact, in 2004, when he was running for president, he sent a tape of an address to a radical Muslim convention, greeting participants as though they were members of the Rotary Club. Now, this was a combined group of the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America, both of which have long been affiliated with radical Islamic groups, and whose previous conventions have been full of invectives for the US and Israel, replete with calls for jihad. Had Clark cared to do any due diligence, he would have discovered the extremist ideologies of these groups. But either he didn't bother to investigate, or he simply bought into the propaganda that these two groups were "moderate."

Even after I pointed out these groups' ulterior radical agenda in a debate I had with him on cable television about the appropriateness of his speaking before them, he continued to perpetrate the charade that all he was doing was engaging in "outreach" to innocent Muslim groups.

The new book and documentary film I'm working on - The Grand Deception - is about how the US government, the media and the intelligentsia are witting and unwitting enablers of radical Islam, by accepting front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood or for Hamas as credible and legitimate. This is particularly egregious at the highest levels of the government - such as the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and the FBI - who meet and greet groups they should be investigating, not embracing. This sends a terrible signal to genuine Muslim moderates and the Muslim rank-and-file, reinforcing their sense that it is the radical groups who are respected by the government.

There is a criminal trial presently under way in Texas of a suspected Hamas charity. The revelations that have emerged in the trial - probably the most striking findings since those that came out in the 1949 Alger Hiss trials - are that the Muslim Brotherhood had secretly set up shop in the US under the cover of "charitable" organizations, with the specific purpose of waging jihad from within and subverting the United States until it became a Muslim country. Yet, neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post published these findings.

This sounds reminiscent of the Cold War era, with witting and unwitting "fellow travelers" in the West furthering the communist agenda.

Then, too, there was a refusal to recognize that there were communists and communist fronts in the US, put up by the Soviets. This is the same type of structure, but much more extensive and less likely to fall down on its own.

Why is it less likely to "fall down on its own?"
Because it's ideologically and religiously based.

Communism was ideologically based, and for some it was even a kind of religion.
Yes, but it ultimately fell down because of its internal economic contradictions. Radical Islamic ideology transcends economics. That's why Hamas beat the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank-Gaza elections, and why Fatah got its ass kicked in the war in Gaza. Because, whereas the PA doesn't stand for anything other than corruption, Hamas adheres to a genuine ideology of destroying the West and the Jews. It's not going to be swayed by having villas on the sea.

You're saying that money is not its driving force, yet much of your research involves following the money trail. Isn't it relevant, then?
Money is relevant, but dollar-for-dollar, Islamist terrorist attacks are cheaper than any other type of terrorism.

Because it's not done for profit. Take the 9/11 attacks. At a cost of $500,000, they caused $500 billion worth of damage. That's a great rate of return. Even though the US Treasury has done a good job of seizing terrorist assets, al-Qaida is on the resurgence, and Saudi Arabia, despite the ritual slap on the wrist, continues to pump tens of millions a year into radical Islamic groups.

Speaking of which, how could those attacks have taken everybody by surprise?
There are several reasons, other than the obvious failure on the part of intelligence and law-enforcement services to connect the dots. The perpetrators of the attacks were regular visitors of known mosques; they were well taken care of; they were given logistical support, such as drivers' licenses. The FBI leadership's self-serving explanation was that these guys were working alone and therefore couldn't have been stopped. That's bullshit, and FBI agents have admitted to me that it is. The dirty secret of 9/11 is that there was logistical support from members of the Muslim community in the United States.

What could possibly be the motive of the FBI to ignore subversive activity in the first place, and fail to investigate it afterward?
I want to make a distinction between the FBI field agents and FBI headquarters. The headquarters are where the "suits" hang out, away from reality on the one hand, and subject to political winds on the other. The field agents, in contrast, know exactly what they're dealing with. But they are given instructions to go and "make nice" with the Muslim community in their districts.

Well, it's proper for the FBI to have good community relations with all ethnic groups. But the question is: Whom are you going to anoint as the representative of a given group, in this case the Muslim community? The FBI has allowed itself to be manipulated into anointing the Muslim Brotherhood as representatives of the Muslim community.

Why is the FBI not reaching out to the moderates?
The sad reality is that the vast majority of institutional organizations in the hierarchical Muslim spectrum represent the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahhabis or the Salafists. It's a microcosm of the Muslim world. And we deceive ourselves into believing that the American Muslim community is somehow insulated from the "paranoia propaganda" that exists in the Muslim world as a whole - that which claims the Christians and the Jews are out to subjugate Islam.

11402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: September 23, 2007, 12:27:41 PM
September 23, 2007, 0:00 a.m.

Tough Days for Freedom
The heart of the matter.

By Mark Steyn

Our theme for today comes from George W Bush: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.”

When the president uses the phrase, he’s invariably applying it to various benighted parts of the Muslim world. There would seem to be quite a bit of evidence to suggest that freedom is not the principal desire of every human heart in, say, Gaza or Waziristan. But why start there? If you look in, say, Brussels or London or New Orleans, do you come away with the overwhelming impression that “freedom is the desire of every human heart”? A year ago, I wrote that “the story of the western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government ‘security,' large numbers of people vote to dump freedom — the freedom to make your own decisions about health care, education, property rights, seat belts and a ton of other stuff.”

This week freedom took another hit. Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled her new health-care plan. Unlike her old health-care plan, which took longer to read than most cancers do to kill you, this one’s instant and painless — just a spoonful of government sugar to help the medicine go down. From now on, everyone in America will have to have health insurance.


And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.

Er, hang on, where’s that in the constitution? It’s perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year-old American with no health insurance either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?

That’s a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state. “So what?” say the caring crowd. “We’ve got to do something about those 40 million uninsured! Whoops, I mean 45 million uninsured. Maybe 50 by now.” This figure is always spoken of as if it’s a club you can join but never leave: The very first Uninsured-American was ol’ Bud who came back from the Spanish-American War and found he was uninsured and so was first on the list, and then Mabel put her back out doing the Black Bottom at a tea dance in 1926 and she became the second, and so on and so forth, until things really began to snowball under the Bush junta. And, by the time you read this, the number of uninsured may be up to 75 million.

Nobody really knows how many “uninsured” there are: Two different Census Bureau surveys conducted in the same year identify the number of uninsured as (a) 45 million or (b) 19 million. The (a) figure is the one you hear about, the (b) figure apparently entered the Witness Protection Program. Of those 45 million “uninsured Americans”, the Census Bureau itself says over nine million aren’t Americans at all, but foreign nationals. They have various health-care back-ups: If you’re an uninsured Canadian in Detroit and you get an expensive chronic disease, you can go over the border to Windsor, Ontario, and re-embrace the delights of socialized health care; if you’re an uninsured Uzbek, it might be more complicated. Of the remaining 36 million, a 2005 Actuarial Research analysis for the Department of Health and Human Services says that another nine million did, in fact, have health coverage through Medicare.

Where are we now? 27 million? So who are they? Bud and Mabel and a vast mountain of emaciated husks of twisted limbs and shriveled skin covered in boils and pustules? No, it’s a rotating population: People who had health insurance but changed jobs, people who are between jobs, young guys who feel they’re fit and healthy and at this stage of their lives would rather put a monthly health tab towards buying a home or starting a business or blowing it on booze ‘n’ chicks.

That last category is the one to watch: Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 account for 18 million of the army of the “uninsured.” Look, there’s a 22-year old and he doesn’t have health insurance! Oh, the horror and the shame! What an indictment of America!

Well, he doesn’t have life insurance, either, or homeowner’s insurance. He lives a life blessedly free of the tedious bet-hedging paperwork of middle-age. He’s 22 and he thinks he’s immortal — and any day now Hillary will propose garnisheeing his wages for her new affordable mandatory life-insurance plan.

So, out of 45 million uninsured Americans, nine million aren’t American, nine million are insured, 18 million are young and healthy. And the rest of these poor helpless waifs trapped in Uninsured Hell waiting for Hillary to rescue them are, in fact, wealthier than the general population. According to the Census Bureau’s August 2006 report on “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage,” 37 percent of those without health insurance — that’s 17 million people — come from households earning more than $50,000. Nineteen percent — 8.7 million people — of those downtrodden paupers crushed by the brutal inequities of capitalism come from households earning more than $75,000.

In other words, if they fall off the roof, they can write a check. Indeed, the so-called “explosion” of the uninsured has been driven almost entirely by wealthy households opting out of health insurance. In the decade after 1995 — i.e., since the last round of coercive health reform — the proportion of the uninsured earning less than 25,000 has fallen by 20% and the proportion earning more than 75 grand has increased by 155%. The story of the last decade is that the poor are getting sucked into the maw of “coverage” and the rich are fleeing it. And, given that the cost of health “insurance” bears increasingly little relationship to either the cost of treatment or the actuarial reality of you ever getting any particular illness, it’s entirely rational to say: “You know what? I’ll worry about that when it happens. In the meantime, I want to start a business and send my kid to school.” Freedom is the desire of my human heart even if my arteries get all clogged and hardened.

I was glad, at the end of Hillary Health Week, to see that my radio pal Laura Ingraham’s excellent new book Power To The People has shot into the New York Times Bestseller List at Number One. It takes a fraudulent leftist catchphrase (the only thing you can guarantee about a “people’s republic” is that the people are the least of it) and returns it to those who mean it - to those who believe in a nation of free citizens exercising individual liberty to make responsible choices.

Do you remember the so-called “government surplus” of a few years ago? Bill Clinton gave a speech in which he said, yes, sure, he could return the money to taxpayers but that we “might not spend it the right way”. The American political class has decided that they know better than you the “right way” to make health-care decisions. Oh, don’t worry, you’re still fully competent to make decisions on what car you drive and what movie you want to rent at Blockbusters. For the moment. But when it comes to the grown-up stuff best to leave that to Nurse Hillary.
11403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 23, 2007, 11:24:04 AM

From The Sunday Times
September 23, 2007

Snatched: Israeli commandos ‘nuclear’ raid
Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, Sarah Baxter, Washington, and Michael Sheridan

ISRAELI commandos from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit – almost certainly dressed in Syrian uniforms – made their way stealthily towards a secret military compound near Dayr az-Zawr in northern Syria. They were looking for proof that Syria and North Korea were collaborating on a nuclear programme.

Israel had been surveying the site for months, according to Washington and Israeli sources. President George W Bush was told during the summer that Israeli intelligence suggested North Korean personnel and nuclear-related material were at the Syrian site.

Israel was determined not to take any chances with its neighbour. Following the example set by its raid on an Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak 1981, it drew up plans to bomb the Syrian compound.

Related Links
Blast at secret missile site killed dozens
But Washington was not satisfied. It demanded clear evidence of nuclear-related activities before giving the operation its blessing. The task of the commandos was to provide it.

Today the site near Dayr az-Zawr lies in ruins after it was pounded by Israeli F15Is on September 6. Before the Israelis issued the order to strike, the commandos had secretly seized samples of nuclear material and taken them back into Israel for examination by scientists, the sources say. A laboratory confirmed that the unspecified material was North Korean in origin. America approved an attack.

News of the secret ground raid is the latest piece of the jigsaw to emerge about the mysterious Israeli airstrike. Israel has imposed a news blackout, but has not disguised its satisfaction with the mission. The incident also reveals the extent of the cooperation between America and Israel over nuclear-related security issues in the Middle East. The attack on what Israeli defence sources now call the “North Korean project” appears to be part of a wider, secret war against the nonconventional weapons ambitions of Syria and North Korea which, along with Iran, appears to have been forging a new “axis of evil”.

The operation was personally directed by Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, who is said to have been largely preoccupied with it since taking up his post on June 18.

It was the ideal mission for Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier and legendary former commander of the Sayeret Matkal, which shares the motto “Who Dares Wins” with Britain’s SAS and specialises in intelligence-gathering deep behind enemy lines.

President Bush refused to comment on the air attack last week, but warned North Korea that “the exportation of information and/or materials” could jeopard-ise plans to give North Korea food aid, fuel and diplomatic recognition in exchange for ending its nuclear programmes.

Diplomats in North Korea and China said they believed a number of North Koreans were killed in the raid, noting that ballistic missile technicians and military scientists had been working for some time with the Syrians.

A senior Syrian official, Sayeed Elias Daoud, director of the Syrian Arab Ba’ath party, flew to North Korea via Beijing last Thursday, reinforcing the belief among foreign diplomats that the two nations are coordinating their response to the Israeli strike.

The growing assumption that North Korea suffered direct casualties in the raid appears to be based largely on the regime’s unusually strident propaganda on an issue far from home. But there were also indications of conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials and intelligence reports reaching Asian governments that supported the same conclusion, diplomats said.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported last week that dozens of Iranian engineers and Syrians were killed in July attempting to load a chemical warhead containing mustard gas onto a Scud missile. The Scuds and warheads are of North Korean design and possibly manufacture, and there are recent reports that North Koreans were helping the Syrians to attach airburst chemical weapons to warheads.

Yesterday, while Israelis were observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the military was on high alert after Syria promised to retaliate for the September 6 raid. An Israeli intelligence expert said: “Syria has retaliated in the past for much smaller humiliations, but they will choose the place, the time and the target.”

Critics of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, believe he has shown poor judgment since succeeding his father Hafez, Syria’s long-time dictator, in 2000. According to David Schenker, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he has provoked the enmity of almost all Syria’s neighbours and turned his country into a “client” of Iran.

Barak’s return to government after making a fortune in private business was critical to the Israeli operation. Military experts believe it could not have taken place under Amir Peretz, the defence minister who was forced from the post after last year’s ill-fated war in Lebanon. “Barak gave Olmert the confidence needed for such a dangerous operation,” said one insider.

The unusual silence about the airstrikes amazed Israelis, who are used to talkative politicians. But it did not surprise the defence community. “Most Israeli special operations remain unknown,” said a defence source.

When Menachem Begin, then Israeli prime minister, broke the news of the 1981 Osirak raid, he was accused of trying to help his Likud party’s prospects in forthcoming elections.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads Likud today, faced similar criticism last week when he ignored the news blackout, revealed that he had backed the decision to strike and said he had congratulated Olmert. “I was a partner from the start,” he claimed.

But details of the raid are still tantalisingly incomplete. Some analysts in America are perplexed by photographs of a fuel tank said to have been dropped from an Israeli jet on its return journey over Turkey. It appears to be relatively undamaged. Could it have been planted to sow confusion about the route taken by the Israeli F-15I pilots?

More importantly, questions remain about the precise nature of the material seized and about Syria’s intentions. Was Syria hiding North Korean nuclear equipment while Pyongyang prepared for six-party talks aimed at securing an end to its nuclear weapons programme in return for security guarantees and aid? Did Syria want to arm its own Scuds with a nuclear device?

Or could the material have been destined for Iran as John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, has suggested? And just how deep is Syrian and North Korean nuclear cooperation anyway?

China abruptly postponed a session of the nuclear disarmament talks last week because it feared America might confront the North Koreans over their weapons deals with Syria, according to sources close to the Chinese foreign ministry. Negotiations have been rescheduled for this Thursday in Beijing after assurances were given that all sides wished them to be “constructive”.

Christopher Hill, the US State Department negotiator, is said to have persuaded the White House that the talks offered a realistic chance to accomplish a peace treaty formally ending the 1950-1953 Korean war, in which more than 50,000 Americans died. A peace deal of that magnitude would be a coup for Bush – but only if the North Koreans genuinely abandon their nuclear programmes.

The outlines of a long-term arms relationship between the North Koreans and the Syrians are now being reexamined by intelligence experts in several capitals. Diplomats in Pyongyang have said they believe reports that about a dozen Syrian technicians were killed in a massive explosion and railway crash in North Korea on April 22, 2004.

Teams of military personnel wearing protective suits were seen removing debris from the section of the train in which the Syrians were travelling, according to a report quoting military sources that appeared in a Japanese newspaper. Their bodies were flown home by a Syrian military cargo plane that was spotted shortly after the explosion at Pyongyang airport.

In December last year, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah quoted European intelligence sources in Brussels as saying that Syria was engaged in an advanced nuclear programme in its northeastern province.

Most diplomats and experts dismiss the idea that Syria could master the technical and industrial knowhow to make its own nuclear devices. The vital question is whether North Korea could have transferred some of its estimated 55 kilos of weapons-grade plutonium to Syria. Six to eight kilos are enough for one rudimentary bomb.

“If it is proved that Kim Jong-il sold fissile material to Syria in breach of every red line the Americans have drawn for him, what does that mean?” asked one official. The results of tests on whatever the Israelis may have seized from the Syrian site could therefore be of enormous significance.

The Israeli army has so far declined to comment on the attack. However, several days afterwards, at a gathering marking the Jewish new year, the commander-in-chief of the Israeli military shook hands with and congratulated his generals. The scene was broadcast on Israeli television. After the fiasco in Lebanon last year, it was regarded as a sign that “we’re back in business, guys”.
11404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 22, 2007, 07:33:30 PM

More on the Syrian-NorK alliance.

N Korea trains Syrian missile engineers: report

Posted Fri Sep 21, 2007 10:32pm AEST

A report says North Korea has trained Syrian missile engineers and the Arab nation has bartered farm products and computers for missiles from the Stalinist state.

The two countries have recently strengthened missile cooperation, with Syrian engineers staying in Pyongyang to acquire technology, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

The barter system began in 1995 due to Syria's worsening financial woes.

Syria has shipped cotton, food and computers to North Korea in return for buying short-range missiles, the report said.

The United States has accused North Korea of being a leading global proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, but the cash-strapped country has refused to stop missile exports, a major source of hard currency earnings.

North Korea has sold about 100 missiles to Syria, Iran and other countries each year, Yonhap said.

In July last year the North test-fired seven missiles, including the Taepodong-2, which in theory could reach the US west coast. This year it tested a series of short-range missiles.

11405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 22, 2007, 07:11:39 PM
**File this under "G M not surprised".  cool **

From The Sunday Times
September 23, 2007
Israelis seized nuclear material in Syrian raid
Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north.

Evidence that North Korean personnel were at the site is said to have been shared with President George W Bush over the summer. A senior American source said the administration sought proof of nuclear-related activities before giving the attack its blessing.

Diplomats in North Korea and China believe a number of North Koreans were killed in the strike, based on reports reaching Asian governments about conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials.

Syrian officials flew to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last week, reinforcing the view that the two nations were coordinating their response.
11406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 22, 2007, 04:07:00 PM
**The high cost of cheap labor.**

After deportation, shooter was caught, freed again
Judi Villa, Michael Kiefer, Carol Sowers and Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 20, 2007 12:00 AM

Erik Jovani Martinez should have been in prison and not jaywalking the day he gunned down Phoenix police Officer Nick Erfle.

But despite a lengthy criminal history and a deportation, Martinez remained free, even after he was arrested again in the Valley just two months after he had been forced to leave the country in 2006.

Scottsdale police say they didn't know Martinez, 22, was an illegal immigrant or that he had been deported when they arrested him in May 2006 for grabbing his girlfriend's arm twice during a quarrel.

Martinez was deported in March 2006 after a felony conviction for theft.

Had Scottsdale police known, Martinez should have been jailed and should have faced federal charges for returning to the country illegally. A conviction would have earned him up to 20 years in prison.

Instead, he posted $300 bail and was released.

On Wednesday, one day after Martinez gunned down Erfle on a central Phoenix street, the officer's death reignited the ongoing immigration debate.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called on Washington officials to "secure the border and secure it now" before another officer pays the ultimate price.

"This individual that took our officer's life is a perfect example, a poster child, of our failed Washington policy for securing our borders," Gordon said.

But others say Martinez shouldn't necessarily be a flashpoint in the acrimonious debate over where immigration policy and law enforcement should intersect.

Martinez was brought to the United States as an infant and lived his whole life here. Clearly, he also was a career criminal, racking up a dozen arrests before he turned 18 and continuing to have brushes with the law afterward.

Even law-enforcement officials said they were hesitant to say Erfle's murder could be blamed on immigration issues.

"It's a big, complex issue," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been in the national forefront when it comes to pursuing undocumented immigrants.

Still, Arpaio admitted, "You can't catch 'em all. We have a lot of violence out there, whether you're legal or illegal."

A troubled youth

Martinez has an extensive juvenile record that includes assaults and auto thefts. He was a documented gang member who admitted in court papers that he drank and smoked marijuana and crack cocaine. His first arrest, in July 1999, came after his parents reported him as incorrigible.

Martinez spent most of his teens on probation. Arrests for truancy led to more serious things: underage drinking, several threats and assault and stealing a vehicle. Martinez was serving time in juvenile detention for auto theft when he turned 18 and had to be released, according to court records.

Just months later, he was in trouble again, arrested for auto theft. He served time in a Maricopa County jail, then violated his probation and eventually wound up in prison in January 2006. Two months later, Martinez was deported. Typically, illegal immigrants convicted of a felony must serve all or part of their sentence before being deported.

Sneaking back

Martinez apparently sneaked back across the border almost immediately. Scottsdale police arrested him on May 15, 2006, after an officer saw him quarreling with his girlfriend. Scottsdale police spokeswoman Shawn Sanders couldn't say whether officers had contacted immigration officials after the arrest. She would say only that information about Martinez's deportation was "not available to us at that time."

A spokesman with Immigration and Customs Enforcement said he didn't believe Scottsdale police had contacted the agency, but he couldn't say that unequivocally.

A judge ordered Martinez into a domestic-violence counseling program, but he "didn't comply" and an arrest warrant was issued, Sanders said.

By the time Erfle was killed, Phoenix police were trying to find Martinez for hitting his girlfriend and threatening her with a shotgun in June 2006. Phoenix police obtained a warrant for his arrest in January and were trying to locate him.

The link between undocumented immigrants and crime is difficult to quantify. On Wednesday, about 18 percent of the 10,108 inmates in Maricopa County jails had immigration holds, sheriff's Capt. Paul Chagolla said. An estimated 10 percent of Arizona's population is Mexican nationals.

It's difficult to say whether that's a reflection of illegal immigrants committing a disproportionate amount of crimes or if it reflects Arpaio's crackdown on those who enter the United States illegally. The percentage of the jail population with immigration holds has doubled since Arpaio began his crackdown.

Still, crime certainly has morphed into a hot-button issue in the immigration debate.

Phoenix police were reluctant to address the issue before Erfle is laid to rest, but officials acknowledged that they could not draw a link between immigration policy and the officer's murder. "It's random," Lt. Benny Piña said. "I don't think there's a correlation there."

Before Erfle, the last Phoenix police officer killed by an undocumented immigrant was Marc Atkinson, who was ambushed and shot to death in 1999. Since then, five Phoenix police officers, including Erfle, have been shot to death in the line of duty.

"I think the officers are committed to doing their job regardless of whether the person's in the country illegally or not," Police Chief Jack Harris said.

Police Sgt. Andy Hill recalled that when Phoenix police Officer George Cortez Jr. was shot to death in July while answering a call about a bad check, the questions revolved around whether officers should travel alone or in pairs. Cortez did not have a partner.

"It's the job," Hill said. "It's you putting human beings in circumstances, and that human being is subject to all the dangers that are out there.

"We arrest people like that every single day who don't say they're going to kill a police officer."
11407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 22, 2007, 03:29:47 PM

Good read on immigration policy and the global jihad.
11408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bin Laden winning the hearts and minds of the western left on: September 22, 2007, 03:08:29 PM
DailyKos Endorses Osama   
By Andrew Walden | Friday, September 21, 2007

ABC News called it “rambling.” Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney dismissed it as “deluded.” But Osama bin Laden’s September 8 videotaped message was neither. It was instead a carefully constructed attempt to appeal to Western opponents of the “war on terror,” both on the Left and the isolationist Right.

On the Left, bin Laden’s message is already finding a receptive audience. On September 9, a “diarist” on Daily Kos using the handle FMArouet insisted that the terrorist chieftain should be taken seriously. According to FMArouet, “bin Laden is not a raving religious fanatic.” On the contrary, bin Laden actually had much in common with Daily Kos readers. “He is fundamentally a political revolutionary with a strong sense of suffered injustice,” the blogger explained, adding that these were feelings “shared by much of his audience.” Nor did FMArouet have any sympathy for the idea that bin Laden was a terrorist. Rather, the al-Qaeda leader saw the “conflict from a more global perspective.”

Michael Dickinson, an artist based in Turkey, also applauded bin Laden’s performance. Writing on the far-Left website, Dickinson declared himself impressed with bin Laden’s message. “After examining the transcribed text of Osama's address, I found much of what he said made sense to me.” Dickinson added that if others would only give bin Laden a chance, his “speech might make sense to you too.”

Dickinson was not optimistic on this count. He explained that it was “unlikely that many, if any, American TV channels or popular newspapers will present their listeners and readers with the most urgent part of Bin Laden's message. God forbid! It might make sense to them. It might make even them think.” Dickinson’s suspicions of censorship were particularly ironic, since he himself has been the victim of free-speech abuse -- not by the America media, but by Turkish authorities, who sentenced him to a stint in prison for the crime of drawing a cartoon of Turkey’s Islamist prime minister as a dog. Evidently, Dickinson has learned little from the experience.

To understand the antiwar Left’s enthusiastic response to bin Laden, it is useful to go back to the videotape. Although bin Laden has included statements designed to influence Western leftists in other videos, the September 8 statement goes much further. In it, bin Laden refers to “major corporations” ten times, to “capital” five times, and to social classes twice. Echoing Marx, he calls for the West to be “liberated” from the “shackles and attrition of the capitalist system.” In a line lifted almost directly from Noam Chomsky, bin Laden further states that “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.” For good measure, bin Laden even stops to flatter Chomsky by name, calling him “among the most capable of those from your own side….” As if all this weren’t enough to endear him to the average leftist, bin Laden even complains about global warming.

For years, the radical Left has been relegated to the political fringe. Now the most notorious man in the world is taking them seriously.

On the surface, bin Laden’s embrace of the anti-globalization movement would seem to have little to do with Islamic theology. But on closer inspection, bin Laden seems to be applying the Islamic doctrine of al-Taqiyah, which allows Muslims to do or say anything—even to pretend to be Marxists—so long as it advances the power of Islam. Bin Laden appears to have calculated that sounding like leftwing protestors is a small price to pay for recruiting them to al-Qaeda’s side.

To be sure, bin Laden’s useful idiots are not found on the Left alone. In his remarks, the al-Qaeda head also singled out for praise the ex-CIA analyst Michael Scheuer. A darling of the isolationist Right -- Scheuer is a frequent contributor to Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative -- Scheuer is the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, a polemical assault on the “war on terror,” and Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America, a primer on bin Laden’s life and ideology. Once the head of the CIA’s al-Qaeda desk, Scheuer now makes a living by peddling the theory that Islamist attacks are a logical response to US policy in the Middle East—in particular, to U.S. support for Israel. Small wonder that bin Laden finds much to admire in his work.

But why would bin Laden reach out to the kinds of people who would have no place in his dreamed-of global caliphate? An answer can be found in bin Laden’s pre-2002 letter to Taliban dictator Mullah Omar. “It is obvious that the media war in this century is one of the strongest methods [to accomplish al-Qaeda‘s goals],” bin Laden writes. “In fact, its ratio may reach 90 percent of the total preparation for the battles.” Bin Laden’s calculated appeals should thus be seen as his attempt to win the “media war” by shaping public opinion, starting with the most sympathetic audience: the antiwar and anti-globalization Left.

This is not the first time that some on the Left have taken bin Laden’s bait. In August of 2006, published an English translation of a Turkish newspaper’s interview with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Editor Alexander Cockburn explained at the time: “Of interest to us was the very radical timbre of Nasrallah’s language and his remarks about the struggle against imperialism.” As it turned out, the interview was ultimately acknowledged to be a fake by its original publisher, the Turkish Labor Party newspaper Evrensel. Nevertheless, the episode revealed that there were those on the Left willing to suspend all disbelief in the interest of solidarity with Islamic terrorists like Nasrallah. Now, just over a year later, Counterpunch, joined by at least one writer at Daily Kos, has found a friend in Osama bin Laden.

It’s doubtful that Laden’s message will hold any appeal for those outside of the margins of the Left and Right. But the warm reception that his remarks have already received from these quarters suggests that, at minimum, the “Unholy Alliance” is alive, well, and ready to make common cause at the highest levels with the man directly responsible for killing 3,000 innocent civilians.
11409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 22, 2007, 02:14:08 PM
From | Original article available at:

Terror & Denial [by Hadayat at LAX]
by Daniel Pipes
New York Post
July 9, 2002

On the 4th of July, an Egyptian immigrant to the United States who believes in wild conspiracy theories about Jews, is known for his great "hate for Israel," and has possible ties to al Qaeda, armed himself to the teeth and assaulted the Israeli airline counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two.

It is obvious why Hesham Mohamed Ali Hadayet targeted Jews in a highly visible place on so prominent a date: to engage in terrorism against Israel.

But one important institution - the U.S. government - claims not to know Hadayet's goals. An FBI spokesman has said that "there's nothing to indicate terrorism." Another FBI official said of Hadayet: "It appears he went there with the intention of killing people. Why he did that we are still trying to determine." Possible causes named include a work dispute and a hate crime.

Sure, law enforcement should not jump to conclusions, but this head-in-the-clouds approach is ridiculous. It also fits a well-established pattern. Consider three cases of terrorism in the New York City area:

Rashid Baz, a Lebanese cab driver with a known hatred for all things Israeli and Jewish, armed himself to the teeth in March 1994 and drove around the city looking for a Jewish target. He found his victims - a van full of Hassidic boys - on the Brooklyn Bridge and fired a hail of bullets against them, killing one boy.
And how did the FBI classify this crime? As "road rage." Only because the murdered boy's mother relentlessly fought this false description did the bureau finally in 2000 re-classify the murder as "the crimes of a terrorist."

Ali Hasan Abu Kamal, a Palestinian gunman hailing from militant Islamic circles in Florida, took a gun to the top of the Empire State building in February 1997 and shot seven people there, killing one.
His suicide note accused the United States of using Israel as its "instrument" against the Palestinians, but city officials ignored this evidence and instead dismissed Abu Kamal as either "one deranged individual working on his own" (Police Commissioner Howard Safir) or a "man who had many, many enemies in his mind" (Mayor Rudolph Giuliani).

Gamil al-Batouti, an EgyptAir copilot, yelled "I put my faith in God's hands" as he crashed a plane leaving Kennedy airport in October 1999, killing 217. Under Egyptian pressure, the National Transportation Safety Board report shied away from once mentioning Batouti's possible terrorist motives.
And despite all the "world-has-changed" rhetoric following the horrors of last September, Western officialdom continues to pretend terrorism away.
Damir Igric, a Croat immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, used a boxcutter to slash the neck of a Greyhound bus driver in Tennessee last October, causing the bus to roll over, killing six passengers and himself. Although this bus-hijacking scenario echoed similar attacks by Palestinians on Israeli buses, the FBI immediately classified it "an isolated incident" and not an act of terrorism. The media attributed the violence to post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Hassan Jandoubi, an Islamist with possible connections to al Qaeda, had started working at the AZF fertilizer factory in suburban Toulouse, France, just days before a massive explosion took place there last Sept. 21. This, the worst catastrophe ever in a French chemical plant, killed Jandoubi and 29 others, injured 2,000, destroyed 600 dwellings, and damaged 10,000 buildings.
The autopsy revealed that Jandoubi was wearing two pairs of trousers and four pairs of underpants, which the coroner compared to what is worn by "Islamic militants going into battle or on suicide missions." Also, the chemical plant was processing ammonium nitrate, a stable chemical that requires a substantial infusion of energy to explode.

Ignoring these signs, the French authorities declared there was "no shred of evidence" of the explosion being a terrorist act and ruled it an accident. They even prosecuted two publications merely for calling Jandoubi a "radical Islamist," making them pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines to Jandoubi's heirs, a mosque and a Muslim organization for their "defamation" of Jandoubi.

Work dispute, hate crime, road rage, derangement, post-traumatic stress, industrial accident ... these expressions of denial obstruct effective counterterrorism. The time has come for governments to catch up with the rest of us and call terrorism by its rightful name.

April 12, 2003 update: Good news: the FBI did "catch up with the rest of us" and did call terrorism by its rightful name. It took over nine months after the murders but it finally did:

July 4 Shooting at LAX Ruled Terrorism

By Paul Chavez

Los Angeles (AP) - An Egyptian immigrant who opened fire inside Los Angeles International Airport committed an act of terrorism, but he did it alone and was not tied to any terrorist organizations, federal officials have determined.

Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, 41, killed two people at the ticket counter of El Al, Israel's national airline, and wounded several others in the July Fourth attack before he was fatally shot by an airline security guard.

The Department of Justice had withheld characterizing the shooting while federal agents launched a worldwide probe. They determined it was terrorism related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, said Matthew McLaughlin, an FBI spokesman in Los Angeles.

"The investigation developed information that he openly supported the killings of civilians in order to advance the Palestinian cause," McLaughlin said.

The FBI findings, made several months ago, were recently approved by the Justice Department. McLaughlin said Friday that his office was told not to issue a news release but was given permission to confirm the finding if asked.

The investigation found that Hadayet had become increasingly militant in recent years. Just weeks before the shooting, he bought the weapons used in the attack, closed his bank accounts and sent his family overseas. At the time, Hadayet, who lived in Irvine, was $10,000 in debt, and his limousine businesses was struggling, authorities said.

Mar. 14, 2006 update: I today found a name for Hadayet's rampage - Sudden Jihad Syndrome. See the explanation at "Sudden Jihad Syndrome (in North Carolina)."


From | Original article available at:
11410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: September 22, 2007, 02:11:08 PM
**Ah, what suicidal act won't we do in the name of "diversity"?**

U.S. admits nearly 10,000 from "terrorism" states
Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13pm EDT
By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 10,000 people from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism have entered the United States under an immigration diversity program with relatively few restrictions, a report released on Friday said.

The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the State Department's inspector general warned in 2003 that the Diversity Visa Program posed a significant risk to national security and recommended it be closed to people from countries on the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors.

But four years later, the program remains open to people from those nations and little is known about what becomes of them once they enter the United States, the GAO said.

From 2000 to 2006, the program allowed 3,703 people from Sudan, 3,164 from Iran, 2,763 from Cuba and 162 from Syria to enter the United States and apply for permanent legal resident status, the report said. That totals 9,792 new immigrants.

"We found no documented evidence of ... immigrants from state sponsors of terrorism committing any terrorist acts," said the GAO, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress.

"However ... the Department of Homeland Security, terrorism experts and federal law enforcement officials familiar with immigration fraud believe that some individuals including terrorists and criminals could use fraudulent means to enter or remain in the United States."

The report quoted a U.S. security officer in Turkey as saying it would be possible for Iranian intelligence officers to pose as applicants and not be detected if their identities were not already known to U.S. intelligence.

The GAO said the State Department expressed disappointment with the report's findings and rejected recommendations that the department compile more comprehensive data on fraud activity and formulate a new strategy for combating


The Department of Homeland Security did not comment on the report, the GAO said.

The Diversity Visa Program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 and provides up to 55,000 immigrant visas each year to people from countries with relatively low rates of immigration to the United States. People from 179 countries are eligible to participate this year.

The program has enabled more than half a million immigrants -- mainly from Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia -- to gain permanent legal status in the United States.

But unlike most U.S. visa programs, the diversity program does not require applicants to have family members or employers in the United States to petition on their behalf.

Applicants from countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism normally are granted non-immigrant visas under limited circumstances. But the GAO report said no parallel restrictions exist for diversity visas.
11411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 22, 2007, 01:37:06 PM

 undecided This is where we stand, 6 years after 9/11.
11412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 22, 2007, 01:35:26 PM
In many ways, Egypt is the cultural center of gravity for the arab world. The majority of tv, movies and radio produced in arabic is created in Egypt. This is why despite the various dialects of arabic, Egyptian Arabic is understood everywhere. If the MB took power in Egypt, I fear a possible wave of MB based revolution through the region, creating the restored caliphate Osama has been calling for. I really don't want to see the pyramids and other monuments go the way of the Buddhas of Bamyan.
11413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: September 22, 2007, 12:50:54 PM
The unfortunate truth is that a fair election in Egypt may well result in the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power. It's the old "One man, one vote, one time" scenario.
11414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters on: September 22, 2007, 12:09:24 PM
I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the NorKs or the AQ Khan network hadn't seeded several countries with pre-fab nuke kits, including Syria and Iran.
11415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 21, 2007, 12:08:13 AM

Direct Evidence

One of the most important characteristics of evidence is its reliability . The two types of evidence used in court proceedings are direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. While one or the other can be valuable solely in the conviction of a criminal, the presence of both can solidify a case.
Circumstantial evidence is evidence that doesn't establish guilt in a straightforward sense, but it gives a rise to an inference of guilt. For example, a receipt for purchasing a gun is direct evidence that a certain person owned the gun but indirect that he used it in committing a crime. Circumstantial evidence is not only sufficient, but may also be more certain, satisfying and persuasive than direct evidence.
As its name suggests, direct evidence relates immediately to the allegation being tested. If the direct evidence is true, the allegation is established. Direct evidence, on the other hand, is evidence of a fact based on a witness's personal knowledge or observation of that fact. An example of direct evidence would be the surveillance video of a person robbing a convenience store, or a witness who saw a person stealing a car. A person's guilt of a charged crime may be proven by direct evidence alone, if that evidence satisfies a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt regarding that crime.
The law draws no distinction between circumstantial evidence and direct evidence in terms of weight or importance. Direct evidence or circumstantial evidence may be enough to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt, depending on the facts of the case as the jury finds them.
Direct evidence can have varying degrees of clout depending on the actual witness delivering the testimony. Direct evidence from a legitimate, trust-worthy source will have a stronger bearing on the jury than that of a shady character, even under oath. Bending the truth a little here and there can skew direct evidence and is common with defense testimony.
Whether direct evidence or circumstantial evidence is the basis for testimony, the jury must be able to determine what facts were proven, if any at all. Any facts, upon which an inference of guilt can be drawn, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. After the facts have been determined, the jury can decide what inferences can be drawn from those facts. Direct evidence alleviates the majority of inferential thinking because it is based on the sole observation of the fact, and not on the basis that "this is probably what happened because of this."
11416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 20, 2007, 11:45:55 PM

You know that circumstantial evidence is admissible in standard criminal trials, right? As an example, the Lacy Peterson murder case was based primarily on circumstantial evidence.
11417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Economic crisis? on: September 20, 2007, 08:04:28 PM
So, did whomever bought the put options know something? I guess we'll see by the close of the market tomorrow.
11418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Economic crisis? on: September 20, 2007, 08:02:42 PM
Dispelling the 'Bin Laden' Options Trades
By Steven Smith and Aaron L. Task
Staff Reporters
8/30/2007 3:23 PM EDT

Updated from 7:07 a.m.

As if the mortgage-market meltdown wasn't enough to spook investors, some market players expressed concerns about unusual options bets that some observers have dubbed "Bin Laden Trades."
The blogosphere and options trading desks have been rife with speculation about these trades, which are unusually large bets that the market will make a huge move in the next month. Some entity, or entities, has taken a large position on extremely deep in the money S&P 500 options, both puts and calls, that won't pay off unless the market undergoes an extremely large price move between now and the options' expiration on Sept. 21.
However, Dan Perper, a Partner at Peak 6, one of the largest option market makers and proprietary trading firms, has confirmed that the trades are part of a "box-spread trade."
"This was done as a package in which the box spread was used [as a] means of alternative financing at more attractive interest rates" explained Perper.
Simply put, two parties agree to trade the box at a price that essentially splits the difference between current rates.
For example, the rough numbers would be that given the September 700/1700 box must settle at a value of 1,000 -- it is currently trading around 997 -- that translates into a 5% interest rate.
For the seller it is a way to borrow money at a slight discount to the prevailing rate, and for the buyer, it is a way to lend money at a low rate of return, but it's better than nothing at a time when others are scared and have painted themselves into a box (ha ha) because they have run out available funds.
Currently there are about 63,000 700/1700 boxes open. Perper expects that once the September options expire, you will see similar boxes established in the December series. As to why the September 700 put has over 116,000 contracts open, Perper thinks a good portion of that was created from the prior rollover when April options expired.
The positions in question had option industry experts perplexed to come up with a rational explanation, which are far from the best or most efficient way to profit from what would be outlier events.
Those concerned about the worst-case scenario recalled that large put contracts were placed on airline stocks, notably American, a unit of AMR and United Airlines, in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The first area of focus was that open interest September 700 S&P puts had such an unusually high number for such a low-probability trade. A put is a defensive bet that gives the holder the right to sell a security at a specified price, in this case more than 50% below the S&P 500's current level of 1463 as of Wednesday's close.
For comparison's sake, according to the Option Clearing Corp., the open interest in the July 700 strike some three weeks prior to expiration on July 20 was 790 calls and 7,300 puts, and the August 700 strike showed 1,250 calls and 14,800 puts prior to Aug. 17 expiration.
And the volume completely outstrips anything seen last September, when the S&P was around 1300, some 20% below current levels. In September 2006, the 700 strike had 600 calls and 7,500 puts, and no strike below 1000 had open interest surpassing 42,000 contracts, and that was the 900 puts.
The bulk of the September SPX trades in question have been put on since June 1. Similar bets have also been placed on the DJ Eurostoxx 50 index, which won't pay off unless the index tumbles nearly 25% to 2800, or below, by expiration on the third Friday of September.
The trades were noted in various online forums, where the worst case scenario is often the first conclusion: "Only an act of terrorism akin to 9-11 -- within the next four weeks -- could make these options valuable," writes one poster in the TickerForum chat room.
Others, such as the "Just Wondrin What Happened" blog, speculated that "China, reeling over losing $10 billion in bad loans to the sub-prime mortgage collapse presently taking place, is going to dump U.S. currency and tank all of Capitalism with a Communist financial revolution."
Furthermore, the TickerForum posters focused on the 65,000 contracts open on SPX 700 calls, ostensibly bullish bets that give the holder the right to buy the index at that level.
Given the fact that these calls are some 700 points in-the-money, and therefore have a delta of 1.0 -- meaning the options price moves dollar-for-dollar with the underlying index -- "the only advantage to owning them is it would be a more efficient and slightly less capital-intensive way to gain one-to-one exposure" to the S&P 500, Randy Frederick, director of derivatives at Charles Schwab, writes in an email exchange.
Frederick noted the Spyder Trust (SPY) and other index and exchange-traded products provide a much more liquid, efficient and higher-leveraged way to establish a bearish position quickly.
Plus, it's a lot easier to "hide" a big trade in the Spyders than the SPX options, which are only traded on the Chicago Board of Option Exchange and will be seen and facilitated by a tight-knit group of market makers.
Because there are about half the number of open contracts on S&P 700 calls vs. puts, it was also posited that these trades are part of a large strangle.
There is also open interest of 61,741 on the September 1700 puts. "Since this is only 11 contracts different from the 700 calls, it is possible that these two positions are making up a very large strangle, which could be either a breakout or neutral strategy depending upon whether or not it is a short strangle or a long strangle," writes Frederick. "If this is a short position, it may be anticipating the market will drop if the Fed does not cut rates as many expect" at its Sept. 18 policy meeting.
But such a strangle trade, with each leg being so deep in the money, would require a nearly 50% price move, up or down, to turn a profit.
Frederick said the position leaves him more confused than scared, although he wouldn't dismiss the frightening conclusion bloggers have come to. "It is also interesting that the anniversary of 9/11 occurs between now and the expiration of these options," he writes. "Perhaps there is speculation that another attack is in the works."
Brian Overby, director of education at TradeKing, a discount broker that caters to sophisticated option traders, suggested that this could be a box trade before Perper came forth.
Overby noted that the September 1700 strike has open interest of 73,745 calls and 61,741 put options. "This could be someone trying to create a box spread, which is a position composed of a long call and short put at one strike, and a short call and long put at a different strike. The position is largely immune to changes in the price of the underlying stock, and in most cases, is a simple interest rate trade."
So the upshot is there is an explanation for this very unusual configuration of open interest in the S&P 500 Index's September options, but it also shows jitters remain in this market.
Steven Smith writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He was a seatholding member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) from May 1989 to August 1995. During that six-year period, he traded multiple markets for his own personal account and acted as an executing broker for third-party accounts. He appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
11419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Economic crisis over US dollar? on: September 20, 2007, 07:49:27 PM

Fears of dollar collapse as Saudis take fright

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Last Updated: 8:39am BST 20/09/2007

Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

China threatens 'nuclear option' of dollar sales

Ben Bernanke has placed the dollar in a dangerous situation, say analysts

"This is a very dangerous situation for the dollar," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas.

"Saudi Arabia has $800bn (£400bn) in their future generation fund, and the entire region has $3,500bn under management. They face an inflationary threat and do not want to import an interest rate policy set for the recessionary conditions in the United States," he said.

The Saudi central bank said today that it would take "appropriate measures" to halt huge capital inflows into the country, but analysts say this policy is unsustainable and will inevitably lead to the collapse of the dollar peg.

As a close ally of the US, Riyadh has so far tried to stick to the peg, but the link is now destabilising its own economy.

The Fed's dramatic half point cut to 4.75pc yesterday has already caused a plunge in the world dollar index to a fifteen year low, touching with weakest level ever against the mighty euro at just under $1.40.

There is now a growing danger that global investors will start to shun the US bond markets. The latest US government data on foreign holdings released this week show a collapse in purchases of US bonds from $97bn to just $19bn in July, with outright net sales of US Treasuries.

The danger is that this could now accelerate as the yield gap between the United States and the rest of the world narrows rapidly, leaving America starved of foreign capital flows needed to cover its current account deficit - expected to reach $850bn this year, or 6.5pc of GDP.

Mr Redeker said foreign investors have been gradually pulling out of the long-term US debt markets, leaving the dollar dependent on short-term funding. Foreigners have funded 25pc to 30pc of America's credit and short-term paper markets over the last two years.

"They were willing to provide the money when rates were paying nicely, but why bear the risk in these dramatically changed circumstances? We think that a fall in dollar to $1.50 against the euro is not out of the question at all by the first quarter of 2008," he said.

"This is nothing like the situation in 1998 when the crisis was in Asia, but the US was booming. This time the US itself is the problem," he said.

Mr Redeker said the biggest danger for the dollar is that falling US rates will at some point trigger a reversal yen "carry trade", causing massive flows from the US back to Japan.

Jim Rogers, the commodity king and former partner of George Soros, said the Federal Reserve was playing with fire by cutting rates so aggressively at a time when the dollar was already under pressure.

The risk is that flight from US bonds could push up the long-term yields that form the base price of credit for most mortgages, the driving the property market into even deeper crisis.

"If Ben Bernanke starts running those printing presses even faster than he's already doing, we are going to have a serious recession. The dollar's going to collapse, the bond market's going to collapse. There's going to be a lot of problems," he said.

The Federal Reserve, however, clearly calculates the risk of a sudden downturn is now so great that the it outweighs dangers of a dollar slide.

Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan said this week that house prices may fall by "double digits" as the subprime crisis bites harder, prompting households to cut back sharply on spending.

For Saudi Arabia, the dollar peg has clearly become a liability. Inflation has risen to 4pc and the M3 broad money supply is surging at 22pc.

The pressures are even worse in other parts of the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates now faces inflation of 9.3pc, a 20-year high. In Qatar it has reached 13pc.

Kuwait became the first of the oil sheikhdoms to break its dollar peg in May, a move that has begun to rein in rampant money supply growth.
11420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 20, 2007, 07:25:40 PM
S.C. mom scoops al-Qaida with its videos
By SAGAR MEGHANI, Associated Press Writer
16 minutes ago

Once her son is off to school, Laura Mansfield settles in at her dining room table with her laptop and begins trolling Arabic-language message boards and chat rooms popular with jihadists.

Fluent in Arabic, the self-employed terror analyst often hacks into the sites, translates the material, puts it together and sends her analysis via a subscription service to intelligence agencies, law enforcement and academics.

Occasionally she comes across a gem, such as when she found a recent Osama bin Laden video — before al-Qaida had announced it.

"I realized, oh my gosh, I'm sitting here, I'm a fat 50-year-old mom and I've managed to scoop al-Qaida," said Mansfield, who uses that name as a pseudonym because she receives death threats.

She sometimes spends 100 hours a week online, and she often finds items after word has begun spreading on the Arabic forums of an imminent release.

"It's really important to understand what the jihadists think and how they're planning on doing things," she said. "They're very vocal. They tell us what they're going to do and then they go out and do it."

Mansfield tips off her intelligence sources when she does find something new, part of an informal working relationship with the government.

"When I send them something, it's welcome," she said. "They thank me."

There have been times when an impending video release has kept her from a planned shopping trip with her daughter.

"It gets really challenging when you're trying to do that and cook spaghetti at the same time," she said.
11421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 20, 2007, 05:53:25 PM
"I tell Pervez and his army: your betrayal of your nation and people has been exposed, and the people are no longer fooled by your showing off militarily by launching some missiles after every disaster and massacre you commit against the populace, as has occurred repeatedly in the border regions, or after the biggest massacre in Lal Masjid most recently. How is the nation benefited by these weapons and tests of yours? The same goes for the nuclear bomb itself. When the American foreign minister Powell came to you, you cowered, bowed and submitted to him like a lowly slave, and you permitted the American Crusader forces to use the air, soil and water of Pakistan, the country of Islam, to kill the people of Islam in Afghanistan, then in Waziristan. So woe to you and away with you."

"Against the peoples attacking lions"

"And against the enemy rabbits and ostriches?"

"And your going to Makkah and performing the Tawaaf (circling) of the Ka'aba won't benefit you when combined with Kufr and combating of Islam and its people. Were it to benefit anyone in combination with Kufr, it would have benefited Abu Lahab, the uncle of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him."

"Then someone might say that armed rebellion against Pervez will lead to the spilling of blood. But I say: were the order to fight the apostate ruler was from the people, like 'Amr and Zayd, then it would be permissible for minds and opinions to intervene and discuss what they should do or not do. However, as you know, the order to fight the apostate ruler is an order in the Shari'ah of Allah, and it is not permissible for the Muslim to make his opinion a rival to the order of Allah and order of His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Allah, the Most High, says, "And it is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, to exercise their own choice in the matter concerning them. And whoso disobeys Allah and His Messenger goes manifestly astray." (33:36) "

"So when the capability is there, it is obligatory to rebel against the apostate ruler, as is the case now. And the one who believes that the strength required to rebel has not yet been completed must complete it and take up arms against Pervez and his army without procrastination. Pervez and most of the Muslims' rulers jumped to power and usurped it and ruled us by other than what Allah sent down by force of arms, and the situation will not return to normal through elections, demonstrations and shouting. So beware of the polytheistic elections and futile actions, for iron is only dented by iron, and it is through fighting in Allah's path and exhorting of the believers that the might of the Kuffar is restrained. Allah, the Most High, said, "So fight in Allah's Cause - you are held responsible only for yourself - and rouse the believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the might of the unbelievers. And Allah is strongest in might and strongest in punishment." (4:84)"

"Fighting in Allah's path is an act of worship, and it is based on sacrifice of selves. Muslim blood is spilled and poured out to protect the religion, which only reached us after his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cuspid tooth was broken, his head cut open and his noble face bloodied, and after the blood of the best of people, like Hamza, Mus'ab, Zaid and Ja'afar (with whom Allah was pleased), was poured out. This is the path, so follow it."

"The people have forgotten the path of victory"

"They think it comes easily"

"Or without blood running"

"Where is the Jihad of the Messenger of Allah? (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)"

"So to sum up: It is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out Jihad and fighting to remove Pervez, his government, his army and those who help him. And it is obligatory on them to pledge allegiance to an Amir of the Believers who observes the rule of Shari'ah rather than Pervez's polytheistic positive-law constitution. And the Muslims will not be successful in liberating themselves from slavery to Pervez and his polytheistic laws until they are successful in liberating themselves from many of the leaders and 'Ulama falsely affiliated with Islam who are in fact the first line of defense for Pervez and his government and army. You have seen with your own eyes the stances they took previously, when, rather than moving to break the siege placed on the Muslims of Afghanistan, they moved to break the siege placed on the bases and airports which Pervez gave to America and from which the planes were taking off to pound us in Tora Bora, Kabul, Kandahar, Paktia, Nangarhar and other places. And for your information, Pervez only dared to invade Lal Masjid and Jami'ah Hafsa after he was satisfied that most of the 'Ulama and leaders of the Jama'ats (groups) had renounced the Jihad which Allah the Most High legislated to enforce the truth and whose banner was tied by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and replaced it with polytheistic democratic solutions and with peaceful demonstrations and bogus threats to absorb the anger of the masses. Pervez had tested them before, when he broke the back of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, after which they came to him voluntarily and of their own accord to participate in the polytheistic parliament, as if nothing had happened."

"So O people of Islam in Pakistan: the truth is greater than everyone, and if truth is not greater than everyone and if we don't apply the Hudood (punishments) to both the nobleman and weak, that is the road to ruin, as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) informed, "Those before you were ruined because when the nobleman among them stole, they would let him go, but when the weak one among them stole, they would execute on him the Hadd (punishment). And by He in whose Hand is my soul, were Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, to steal, I would cut off her hand." (Agreed upon)"

"O youth of Islam in Pakistan: the Pen is writing what is for you and what is against you, and it won't benefit you to make excuses by saying that many of your 'Ulama and leaders have allied themselves to the infidel rulers and that the rest have failed to speak the truth and declare it out of fear of the ruling Taghuts, except those on whom Allah has had mercy, and these are either in prison or on the run. This huge disaster - i.e. the marching of the 'Ulama of vice in line with the apostate ruler and their currying favor with him and attacking of the sincere Mujahid 'Ulama - isn't peculiar to Pakistan, but rather, is a disaster covering the entire Islamic Ummah. And there is no power nor might except with Allah."

"So O people of Islam in Pakistan: every one of you will come alone to Allah, the Most High, and be held to account for his own actions, so discharge your duty. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has said, "The smart one is he who subdues his self and works for what comes after death, and the feeble one is he who lets his self chase after its desires and [then] hopes from Allah." And be aware that if the Jihad becomes an individual obligation, as is the case today, there are only two ways with no third: either Jihad, which is the way of the Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and those who believed with him, or sitting, which is the way of the disobedient ones and Munafiqeen. So make your choice. Allah, the Most High, says, "They prefer to be with the womenfolk who remain behind at home, so their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. But the Messenger and those who believe with him strive [in the cause of Allah] with their wealth and their persons, and it is they who shall have good things, and it is they who shall prosper." (9:87-88)"

"And we in al-Qaida Organization call on Allah to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi and those with him against Musharraf and those who help him, and for all the pure and innocent blood, foremost of which is the blood of the champions of Islam in Waziristan - both North and South - among them the two noble leaders, Nek Muhammad and Abdullah Mahsud. May Allah have mercy on them all. The tribes of Waziristan have made a great stand in the face of international Kufr - America, its allies and its agents - and the major states have been unable to make the stands they have made. They have been made resolute in this stance by their Iman (faith) in Allah, the Most High, and their Tawakkul (reliance) on Him, and they have withstood huge sacrifices of souls and wealth. We ask Allah to compensate them well. And the Muslims shall not forget these magnificent stances, and the blood of the 'Ulama of Islam and leaders of the Muslims and their offspring will not be spilled in vain or neglected as long as there remains in us a pulsing vein or a blinking eye. We ask Allah to help us to fulfill that."

"O Allah, our Lord, accept those of our brothers and sisters who have been killed among the martyrs and heal the wounded; O Allah, make their graves spacious for them, and take care of their families and raise their grades in 'Illiyeen (Heaven); O Allah, Pervez, his ministers, his 'Ulama and his soldiers have been hostile to your friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Lal Masjid: O Allah, break their backs, split them up and destroy their unity; O Allah, afflict them with the loss of their dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our dear ones; O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O Allah, destroy them, for they cannot escape You; O Allah, count them, kill them, and leave not even one of them; O Allah, our Lord, give us in this world goodness and in the last goodness, and protect us from the torment of the Fire; O Allah, send prayers and peace on our Prophet Muhammad and on all his family and Companions."

By Jeffrey Imm on September 20, 2007 3:30 PM
11422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 20, 2007, 05:52:35 PM

Counterterrorism Blog

Bin Laden "Come to Jihad" Pakistan Message Transcript

By Jeffrey Imm

From Laura Mansfield - complete transcript of Osama Bin Laden September 20, 2007 message "Come to Jihad"

Image from Laura Mansfield

Complete message video link - from Laura Mansfield
CTB Analysis posting - September 20, 2007

"Come to Jihad: A Speech to the People of Pakistan
Shaykh Usama bin Ladin
(May Allah protect him)
September 2007/Ramadan 1428"

"All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His aid and forgiveness, and we seek refuge in Allah from the evil in ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides cannot be led astray, and he who is led astray cannot be guided. I bear witness that there is no God other than Allah alone, without partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger."

"As for what comes after:"

"To my Muslim brothers in Pakistan:"

"Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.

"Allah, the Most High, says, 'O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be harsh against them. Their abode is Hell, and an evil destination it is.' (9:73) And the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, says, 'There is no one who abandons a Muslim in a place where his honor is violated and his sanctity is infringed upon except that Allah, the Most High, abandons him in a place in which he would like His aid. And there is no one who aids a Muslim in a place where his honor is violated and his sanctity is infringed upon except that Allah aids him in a place in which he would like His aid.' (Narrated by Ahmad)"

"Pervez's invasion of Lal Masjid in the City of Islam, Islamabad, is a sad event, like the crime of the Hindus in their invasion and destruction of the Babari Masjid. And this event has crucial and critical connotations, most important of which are:"

"First, this event demonstrated Musharraf's insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims, and this is one of the ten nullifiers of Islam, as the people of knowledge have determined, and makes armed rebellion against him and removing him obligatory. Allah, the Most High, says, 'O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.' (5:51) And His statement 'And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them' means that he is of them in Kufr (unbelief), as the people of Tafseer (explanation) have said. This ruling was the one given and confirmed by Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, may Allah have mercy on him, in his famous Fatwa following the raids on New York, and among the things which he said: 'If any ruler of an Islamic state provides aid to an infidel state in its aggression against the Islamic states, it is the legal obligation of the Muslims to remove him from power and consider him to be legally a traitor to Islam and Muslims.' People of Islam in Pakistan: Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, may Allah have mercy on him, discharged a great duty which was upon him, and declared the word of truth and didn't care about the anger of the creation. He endangered himself and his wealth and made clear the ruling of Allah regarding Pervez: that he is a traitor to Islam and Muslims and must be removed. This Fatwa enraged Pervez and enraged his masters in America, and it is my opinion that the murder of the Mufti - may Allah have mercy on him - was at their hands. And Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai died without having replaced the word of truth with falsehood, in contrast to what many of the 'Ulama of vice do. And the obligation on us remains, and we have been extremely late in carrying it out, six years having passed, so we should make up for lost time. May Allah forgive me as well as you."

"Second, the government's showing of Maulana Abd al-Aziz Ghazi in women's clothing in the media is clear evidence of the extent of the great hostility, hatred and contempt held by Pervez and his government towards Islam and its sincere 'Ulama, and that is greater Kufr which takes one out of Islam. Allah, the Most High, says, "And if you question them, they will most surely say, 'We were only talking idly and jesting.' Say, 'Was it Allah and His Signs and His Messenger which you were mocking?' Make no excuses. You have certainly disbelieved after believing. If We forgive a party from among you, a party We shall punish, for they are criminals." (9:65-66) And read, if you wish, the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer - may Allah have mercy on him - regarding this Ayat."

"Third, in such events, the people are tested and the friends of the Most Merciful are separated from the friends of Satan. The 'Ulama who are from the friends of the Most Merciful declare the truth, and if they are unable or are weak, they observe silence and don't help falsehood with their words or actions. As for the friends of Satan, they are led by Pakistani military intelligence to speak falsehood and help its people. Some of them deem it obligatory to unite with Pervez and his army, while others deem as Haraam martyrdom-seeking fedayee operations against the soldiers of the Taghut (idol-king), while still others assail the Mujahideen, slandering and defaming them. And this is the way of the Munafiqeen (Hypocrites). Allah, the Most High, says, "They are stingy [in helping] you. And when danger comes, you see them looking towards you, their eyes rolling like one fainting as death approaches. But when the fear has passed away, they assail you with sharp tongues, being stingy with good deeds. Those have never believed, so Allah has rendered their works null and void. And that is easy for Allah." (33:19)"

"So everyone who refrained from helping the Imam Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi is from the sitters, whereas those who attacked him to help Pervez, claiming that Islam isn't established through fighting and calling fighting in the path of Allah "terrorism" - in the context of invective - and saying that the way is through peaceful demonstrations and democratic methods are from those who have gone astray and followed the path of the Munafiqeen."

"Nearly two decades ago, the soil of Pakistan saw and was watered by the blood of a great Imam of the Imams of Islam - i.e. the Mujahid champion Imam Abdullah Azzam, may Allah have mercy on him - and today, we have seen another great Imam, not at the level of Pakistan alone, but at the level of the entire Islamic Ummah: i.e. the Imam Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi, may Allah have mercy on him. He, his brothers, his students and the female students of Jami'ah Hafsa demanded the application of the Shari'ah of Islam, as the reason for our creation is that we worship Allah the Most High through His religion, al-Islam, and they were killed because of this great objective. Allah, the Most High, says, "And I have not created jinn and men but that they may worship Me." (51:56) They sacrificed the great thing they owned: they sacrificed themselves for their religion. I ask Allah to accept them among the martyrs. They were killed treacherously and treasonously at the hands of the apostate infidel Pervez and his aides. The purpose of the army - or so they say - is to protect the Muslims against the Kuffaar, but now we see the armies becoming tools and weapons in the hands of the Kuffaar against the Muslims. Pervez threw away the cause of Kashmir and restrained those fighting to liberate it, in accordance with the wishes of the Hindus and Nazarenes. Then he opened his bases and airports to America for invading the Muslims in Afghanistan, and as you've seen before, the army attacked the people of Swat who also demanded the rule of Shari'ah, and attacked the people of Waziristan, in addition to betraying and extraditing hundreds of Arab Mujahideen from the grandsons of the Sahabah (Companions), with whom Allah was pleased, to the head of Kufr, America. So Pervez, his ministers, his soldiers and those who help him are all accomplices in the spilling the blood of those of the Muslims who have been killed. He who helps him knowingly and willingly is an infidel like him, and as for he who helps him knowingly and under compulsion, his compulsion isn't legally valid, as the soul of the one forced to kill isn't better than the soul of the one killed, and the Messenger of Allah - peace and blessings of Allah be upon him - said, "Were all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth to participate in the spilling of a believer's blood, Allah - the Great and Glorious - would throw them into the Fire." So I tell the soldiers who perform the Salaat (prayer) in the military organs: you must resign from your jobs and enter anew into Islam and disassociate yourself from Pervez and his Shirk (polytheism)."

"Some of the Munafiqeen among the 'Ulama of vice and others may say that Islam orders us to stay together and the people to unite with the army and government to stand in the face of the enemies and avoid Fitnah (strife). I say: the one who says this is creating lies about Allah. The government and army have become enemies of the Ummah, after becoming a weapon in the hands of the Kuffaar against the Muslims. And they refuse to rule by the religion of Islam in all of life's affairs, like politics, economy, social life and other matters. Allah has ordered these and their like to be fought, not to be united with and hung onto, as those hypocrites claim. Allah, the Most High, says, "And fight them until there is no Fitnah [polytheism], and religion is wholly for Allah." (8:39) So if some of the religion is for Allah and some of it is for other than Allah, fighting is obligatory to make the religion entirely for Allah, the Most High."

"By the grace of Allah, the Most High, we performed Jihad with the Afghan Mujahideen against the Russians, and the Afghan army was a weapon in their hands against us. They would pray and fast, but despite that, the senior 'Ulama of the Islamic world, including the 'Ulama of Pakistan, ruled that they are to be fought. And after the exit of the Russians, the 'Ulama of Pakistan also supported Taliban against the Northern Alliance, although they also pray and fast. So is there any difference between Pervez and his soldiers and Ahmad Shah Massoud, Rabbani and Sayyaf and their soldiers? There is no difference at all. All of them have pledged to the Crusaders to fight true Islam and its people, and those who say it is forbidden to fight Pervez and his soldiers and exclude him from the general ruling have an illness in their hearts: they prefer this life to the next. Allah, the Most High, says, "Are your unbelievers better than those or have you an immunity [from punishment] in the sacred books?" (54:43)"

11423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 20, 2007, 05:32:01 PM

Sep 20, 10:26
The Sudden Rush of Al Qaeda Communications

Perhaps one of the most successful achievements of the old guard al Qaeda, besides staying alive, is the vast expansion of its propaganda outreach arm.

Not only are the videos and tapes coming fast and furious, but in multiple languages aiming at a wide variety of audiences.

This indicates a level of sophistication and and stability that is both deeply alarming and indicative of how secure the group feels. The videos, with different scenes, subtitles, translations and rapid turnaround time (indicated by the references to recent events) shows that the old guard al Qaeda is dedicating significant resources to the propaganda/outreach wing and has a desire to retain a place of preeminence within the jihadi world.

It is interesting that both Bin Laden and Zawahiri have become ubiquitous after years of long silences. This indicates to me that not only do they have the wherewithal to run the operation, but that they feel it is imperative to get their message out repeatedly.

For non-state groups, cut off from the normal media channels, such outreach is vitally important to survival. I draw an imperfect parallel to the success of Radio Venceremos, run by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s.

The radio broadcast daily, and often with live combat reports as the fighting was happening. The constant voice of rebels was not just an irritant to the government, but a source of ideological sustenance to the cadres scattered around the country, as well as a vital recruitment tool.

Despite the dedication of significant resources and intelligence assets to getting rid of the radio, the U.S.-backed military could never take it down. It remained a thorn in the side of the Salvadoran army for 12 years, and a vital part of the FMLN’s ability to survive.

Al Qaeda does not broadcast daily, but the production unit has demonstrated a recent ability to greatly increase its operational tempo. This shows that they are likely in a stable location, with good equipment and not on the run or under significant pressure.

Why the sudden surge in communications with the network? That, to me, is the most important question. The content is important and should be analyzed, especially the call to war against Musharraf in Pakistan and the call to retake Spain for Islam. But much of the statements are simply restatements of old positions and rhetoric.

Perhaps, as the “Base” takes on a life of its own, the old leadership sees a need to reassert its relevancy. Or perhaps the old guard no longer holds a great deal of appeal to the young men wanting to fight the “hot” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are drawn to different jihadi organizations, rather than the old men living in caves or apartments.

Or perhaps the productions are largely intended as morale boosters for the cadre in the absence of significant successful attacks in the United States and Europe.

What does seem clear to me is that this propaganda machine, run at some risk and expense, is vitally important to the leadership. It is also vital for those in a virtual world, looking for some point of connection, to have access to this material, as well as being useful to those seeking to recruit.

I am not sure what it means, but it is another sign of how much work there is to do in shutting down the message as well as the messenger.
11424  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 20, 2007, 05:21:36 PM

More on Hillary Rotten Clinton's mystery money man.
11425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 20, 2007, 05:05:13 PM

So, should our "friend" Mushy buy green bananas?
11426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 20, 2007, 04:55:55 PM
The rules governing the admissibility of coerced testimony and hearsay have a direct bearing on the case of Jose Padilla, who is now being tried in a civilian court. In June 2004 the Justice Department released a declassified document enumerating Padilla’s various terrorist plans and his al-Qaeda connections. The information therein came not only from Padilla’s own admissions, but also from a number of additional al-Qaeda detainees who independently confirmed (sometimes through coerced testimony) the details that Padilla gave, particularly about the plots to detonate a “dirty bomb” and to blow up apartment buildings. But none of this evidence will be admissible in Padilla’s current trial. Consequently, he is being formally charged with offenses of far less gravity than those detailed in the aforementioned Justice Department document. As The New York Times explains:

[C]onstrained by strict federal rules of evidence that would prohibit or limit the use of information obtained during [coercive] interrogations, the government will make a far more circumscribed case against Mr. Padilla in court, effectively demoting him from Al-Qaeda’s dirty bomber to foot soldier in a somewhat nebulous conspiracy. … Senior government officials have said publicly that Mr. Padilla provided self-incriminating information during interrogations, admitting, they said, to undergoing basic terrorist training, to accepting an assignment to blow up apartment buildings in the United States, and to attending a farewell dinner with Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected master planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, before he flew to Chicago in 2002. But any confessions by Mr. Padilla while he was detained without charges and denied access to counsel — whether or not he was mistreated, as his lawyers claim — would not be admissible in court. And it is unlikely that information obtained during the harsh questioning of Al-Qaeda detainees would be admissible, either....

Trials of terrorists in civilian courts are beset by further practical limitations as well. Consider, for example, a hypothetical instance where U.S. military personnel capture a foreign terrorist overseas and transport him to the United States, against his will, for trial. Explains attorney Mitchell Lathrop: “Immediately apparent are the issues of the legitimacy of the exercise of criminal jurisdiction over him by the United States, i.e., his arrest in the first instance, and his involuntary transportation to the United States. Then come the issues of the selection of the proper jurisdiction for the trial, the application of the laws of his own country, the selection of a jury, and even personal and subject matter jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Any qualified defense lawyer would certainly challenge jurisdiction and a series of complicated appeals would inevitably result. In the final analysis, a plea bargain could well result just to avoid the interminable delays.” Dealing with terrorists under such a set of rules is analogous to participating in a shootout where only the enemy’s weapon is loaded. Moreover, it signals to the watching world that Americans have become consumed by guilt vis a vis the allegedly irredeemable flaws of their own culture and, as a consequence, do not possess the requisite courage for dealing aggressively with those who would seek to destroy their country.

Another exceedingly significant weakness inherent in civilian trials for terrorists is the fact that in such proceedings, there exists a high likelihood that classified intelligence sources will be compromised. If the government wishes to present certain incriminating evidence in a civilian trial, which is open to the public, it must disclose its sources as well as the techniques it used for obtaining the information from them. This obviously would place those sources in grave danger and would quickly lead to the non-cooperation or disappearance of many of them — to say nothing of the future potential informants who would undoubtedly choose to avoid placing themselves in similar peril. Moreover, the effectiveness of any publicly disclosed information-gathering techniques would thereafter be permanently compromised. As John Dean writes, “Many cases have never been prosecuted against criminals because to do so would force disclosure of a valued intelligence source — be it an informant, an enemy code that had been broken, or an illegal electronic intelligence source.” By contrast, military tribunals permit incriminating evidence to be presented to the judge and jury, while being kept secret from the public as well as from the defendant and his attorney.

Critics commonly suggest that, given the foregoing ground rules, military tribunals are little more than kangaroo courts where defendants have no chance of receiving a fair hearing. This may well have been true in Stalin’s Russia, but by no means has it been the case where Western democracies are concerned. Consider the post-World War II Nuremberg trials of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany, architects of the Holocaust. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg acquitted three of the twenty-two major defendants; sentenced four others to twenty years in prison or less; and sentenced three to life in prison. In other words, nearly half of those accused were spared the death penalty. Similarly, United States military tribunals, which were composed solely of American judges, tried 177 other Nazi officials and members of the SS, convicting 142 and executing only 12. It can be reasonably argued that military jurors are less likely than their civilian counterparts to render decisions rooted in “inflamed passions” rather than in solid evidence. Finally, we must acknowledge that those who serve as jurors in the civilian trials of accused terrorists may, if they render “guilty” verdicts, be extremely vulnerable to violent retribution from affiliated terrorist and militia groups — another argument against civilian trials for terrorists.

For those who are concerned about legal precedent, it must be understood that the use of military tribunals for the adjudication of war crimes is in no way a departure from past practices. As noted earlier, military commissions were used commonly during the Civil War. Prior to that, General George Washington employed such tribunals during the American Revolution in the late 18th century. In the era following the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, military tribunals were first convened by Major General Winfield Scott during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, to adjudicate the alleged war crimes of American troops and Mexican guerrilla fighters alike. World War II also saw the use of military courts, the most famous case involving eight marines of the Third Reich (one of whom was an American citizen named Herbert Haupt) who rode a Nazi U-boat to the east coast of the United States, where, laden with explosives, they disembarked and set off toward various locations with the intent of bombing railroads, hydroelectric plants, factories, department stores, and defense facilities across the country. The saboteurs were wearing no military uniforms or identifying emblems when they were captured, meaning that they were, in the eyes of the law (as defined by the Supreme Court in Ex parte Quirin, quoted earlier in this article), “unlawful combatants.” Refusing to grant the perpetrators civilian jury trials, President Franklin D. Roosevelt quickly created a secret military commission to hear their cases. All eight were convicted and sentenced to death, though two turncoats later had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Notwithstanding (or perhaps because of) the indisputable fact that trials by military commissions would permit the United States to prosecute terrorism cases much more quickly and effectively than would civilian trials, the political Left overwhelmingly condemns such tribunals, calling instead for greater civil liberties safeguards for suspected terrorists. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley calls the use of military tribunals “one of the most extraordinary assaults on civil liberties” in American history. Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, complains, remarkably, that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 “does not provide the terror suspects with enough of the civil rights granted to Americans facing trials in U.S. courts.” And Senator Chris Dodd, D-CT, a presidential candidate for 2008, has introduced legislation that would give habeas corpus protections to military detainees; prohibit the introduction of evidence that was gained through coercive methods; authorize military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable; and narrow the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Such is the mindset of the Left — ever prepared to defend the supposed rights and liberties of every last terrorist, as if the Constitution of the United States were nothing more than a suicide pact for the American people.


* Spencer J. Crona and Neal A. Richardson, “Justice For War Criminals of Invisible Armies: A New Legal and Military Approach to Terrorism” (Summer/Fall 1996)
* John Dean, “The Critics Are Wrong” (November 23, 2001)
* John Dean, “Appropriate Justice for Terrorists” (September 28, 2001)
* John Dean, “Military Tribunals: A Long And Mostly Honorable History” (December 7, 2001)
* Michael C. Dorf, “What Is an ‘Unlawful Combatant,’ and Why it Matters” (January 23, 2002)
* Henry Mark Holzer, “Who’s Who Among American Terrorists” (October 17, 2002)
* Henry Mark Holzer, “The Fifth Column’s Legal Team” (June 18, 2002)
* Mitchell L. Lathrop, “A Realistic Look at Terrorism Trials” (November 2001)
* Michelle Malkin, “No More Jury Trials for Terrorists” (October 24, 2001)
* Deborah Sontag, “In Padilla Wiretaps, Murky View of ‘Jihad’ Case” (January 4, 2007)
* Jonathan Weisman, “Battle Looms in Congress over Military Tribunals” (July 13, 2006)
* “U.S. Supreme Court: Holtzman v. Schlesinger, 414 U.S. 1304” (1973)
11427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 20, 2007, 04:54:32 PM
Why Civilian Trials for Terrorists are a Bad Idea   
By John Perazzo | February 6, 2007

On November 13, 2001 — two months after 9/11 — President Bush signed an Executive Order authorizing the U.S. government to try accused terrorists in military tribunals (a.k.a. military commissions) rather than in civilian courts. The president’s decision was swiftly and widely condemned by the political Left, which accused him of trampling on the civil rights and liberties of defendants who, the critics said, should be entitled to all the rights and protections afforded by the American criminal court system — where the standards that govern the admissibility of evidence are considerably stricter than the counterpart standards in military tribunals. The indicted al-Qaeda operative and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla — who was initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb and to blow up multiple high-rise apartment buildings in an American city — became a cause celebre for the anti-tribunal chorus.

Then in June 2006 the Supreme Court ruled, with a five-Justice majority, that President Bush’s military tribunals were not authorized by federal law. This did not mean that tribunal rules were flawed or unconstitutional in any way, but only that those rules needed to be formally voted into law — or formally rejected — by Congress. In response to this decision, five months later Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, formally authorizing the adjudication of war crimes and terrorism cases in military courts. The House of Representatives vote was 253 to 168 (Republicans voted 219 to 7 in favor, Democrats 160 to 34 against); the overall Senate margin was 65 to 34 in favor.

According to the Defense Department, military tribunals, where military officers serve as the judges and jurors, are designed to deal with offenses committed in the context of warfare — including pillaging; terrorism; wilfully killing or attacking civilians; taking hostages; employing poison or analogous weapons; using civilians as human shields; torture; mutilation or maiming; improperly using a flag of surrender; desecrating or abusing a dead body; rape; hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft; aiding the enemy; spying; providing false testimony or perjury; soliciting others to commit offenses that are triable by military jurisprudence; and intending or conspiring to commit, or to aid in the commission of, such crimes.

The issue of whether it is appropriate to try someone accused of the aforementioned transgressions in a military court depends upon how one answers a single overriding question: Is terrorism a matter of war, or is it a legal issue where redress should be pursued via the criminal-justice system — like robbery, vandalism, or murder? To answer this question, it is useful to have an operational definition for the term “terrorism.” The FBI places terrorism in a category clearly distinct from the crimes traditionally handled by civilian courts, defining it as the “unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

By sending American troops into Afghanistan to overthrow that nation’s al-Qaeda-sponsoring Taliban regime, President Bush signaled clearly that he considered the atrocities of 9/11 to be acts of war that merited a military response; that is, he did not view the hijackings as mere violations of criminal codes by a band of 19 outlaws, but as acts of terrorism. It would not be enough, he decided, to merely track down whoever may have personally conspired with the hijackers and try them in federal court. Fifteen years earlier, President Reagan had responded similarly to the deadly bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by American soldiers. Once U.S. intelligence authorities had gathered convincing evidence that Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi’s Libyan government had sponsored the attack, Reagan deemed it an act of war and, rather than standing pat until redress could be achieved in a court of law, he ordered carrier-based warplanes to strike targets in Tripoli.

The Left largely rejects the notion that the current War on Terror is a legitimate, or even an actual, war — characterizing it instead as a contrived pretext for American imperialism (and oil-grabbing) abroad, and for the erosion of civil liberties domestically. Attorneys Spencer J. Crona and Neal A. Richardson suggest that many Americans have accepted this perspective because metaphorical references to “war” abound in contemporary vernacular — references to such endeavors as the “war on poverty,” the “war on drugs,” the “war on AIDS,” and the “war on hunger.” As a result, say Crona and Richardson, people may be inclined to view the war on terror as yet another social-justice or law-enforcement undertaking that, while it might warrant some financing, certainly does not merit military action.

In addition, a significant proportion of Americans fail utterly to understand the nature of the enemy that has declared war on them. As the late Ayatollah Khomeini (a Shi’ite) of Iran announced in the wake of the 1979 hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, “We are at war with infidels…I ask all Islamic nations…to join the holy war.” Today Osama bin Laden (a Sunni) preaches a similar doctrine of death. In 1996 he issued his Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places, and two years later he set forth a Declaration of Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. Whatever hatreds the Shi’ites and Sunnis feel toward one another, they are united by their shared commitment to wage war on America. Yet leftists choose to pretend that a state of war did not exist until President Bush deployed U.S. troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. Khomeini himself viewed such self-deceivers with the greatest contempt when he sneered: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies.”

But opponents of military tribunals argue that even if radical Islamists have in fact declared war on America, the U.S. Congress, which has sole authority to make formal declarations of war, has not done so in this case — and that the use of such tribunals is therefore logically unjustifiable. There is in fact considerable precedent, however, for trying accused war criminals in military courts even in the absence of a Congressional declaration of war: President Abraham Lincoln used military commissions extensively to sentence Confederate terrorists for such crimes as seizure, arson, and the destruction of transportation, communication or other systems of infrastructure during the American Civil War.

In all of American history, Congress has made formal declarations of war only five times: the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. But as Henry Mark Holzer points out, presidents acting in their capacity as commanders-in-chief have sent troops into battle at least 130 times in the absence of such declarations. Sometimes those military conflicts, while not formally declared wars, were explicitly authorized by Congress. Among these were the Vietnam War (authorized by a vote of 88-2 in the Senate, and 418-0 in the House); the 1991 Persian Gulf War (52-47 in the Senate, 250-183 in the House); the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan (98-0 in the Senate, 420-1 in the House); and the 2003 invasion of Iraq (77-23 in the Senate, 296-133 in the House).

In other cases the U.S. has engaged in combat against a particular form of enemy aggression, even though our country was not officially at war with the nation from which the aggressors hailed. A good example of this was the 1801 Talbot v. Seeman Supreme Court case, which involved French privateers who were preying on American commercial shipping. In its decision, the Court affirmed Congress’s right to declare a “partial war” against the transgressors. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote at the time: “The whole powers of war being, by the Constitution of the United States, vested in Congress…Congress may authorize general hostilities, in which case the general laws of war apply to our situation; or partial war, in which case the laws of war, so far as they actually apply to our situation, must be noticed.” The parallel with the current war on terror, where intelligence and military forces seek to combat saboteurs and killers from a number of nations that are not formally at war with America, is obvious.

If we accept the premise that terrorism cases can rightfully be categorized under the heading of war, a secondary consideration in determining if military tribunals are the proper venue for their adjudication involves the question of whether a given defendant is a “lawful combatant” or an “unlawful combatant.” The former is entitled to prisoner-of-war status and its accompanying Geneva Convention protections; the latter is entitled to none of that. Article IV of the Geneva Convention defines lawful combatants as those whose military organization meets four very specific criteria: “(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign [a uniform or emblem] recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; [and] (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.” Al-Qaeda fails even to come close to satisfying these conditions. In the 1942 Ex parte Quirin case, the U.S. Supreme Court spelled out the implications of such failure:

[T]he law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals.

“Our government, the Court added, “by thus defining lawful belligerents entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, has recognized that there is a class of unlawful belligerents not entitled to that privilege, including those who, though combatants, do not wear ‘fixed and distinctive emblems.’”

If a terror suspect does not even qualify for designation as a lawful combatant, giving him access to the civil rights protections of the American jury system can properly be defined as an act of madness.

In recent years a Geneva Protocol relaxed the foregoing criteria in recognition of guerrilla fighters as legitimate combatants in what are nominally “wars of national liberation,” even though they neither wear uniforms nor bear arms openly at all times. But even under this lower standard, the designation of “lawful combatant” requires one to eschew indiscriminate attacks against civilians and to bear arms openly during military deployment and engagement — requirements that al-Qaeda operatives do not fulfill. As Crona and Richardson write, “A casually attired driver of a van carrying a concealed bomb does not fit anyone's definition of a lawful combatant.”

Apart from the question of whether military tribunals are a good idea philosophically, trying terrorists and war criminals in civilian rather than military courts poses a number of serious problems from a practical standpoint. For one thing, the rules defining admissible and inadmissible evidence in each venue differ dramatically. In civilian trials, neither coerced testimony, nor confessions made in the absence of a Miranda warning, nor hearsay evidence can presented to the court; in military tribunals the opposite is true, provided that the court determines such evidence to have “probative value to a reasonable person.” Crona and Richardson explain the profound significance of this:

A relaxation of the hearsay rule might become critical in a prosecution for terrorism where it may be impossible to produce live witnesses to an event which occurred years earlier in a foreign country. For example, the indictment in the Pan Am Flight 103 case details the alleged purchase of clothing, by Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Bassett, for placement in the suitcase with the bomb. The clothing was used to disguise the contents of the suitcase containing the bomb, which was placed inside a radio-cassette player. Under the rules of evidence applicable in U.S. District Court, the prosecution would have to produce in person the Maltese shopkeeper to identify Abdel Bassett as the man who allegedly purchased the clothing back in 1988, as opposed to producing the investigator who tracked down the shopkeeper and showed him a photograph of Abdel Bassett. Even if we assume that the shopkeeper could be located six years or more after the fact, we recognize that it is nearly impossible to secure involuntary testimony from a witness who is a citizen of a foreign country, especially one that historically has been less than sympathetic to the United States. The reach of a federal court subpoena simply does not extend to Malta.

11428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 20, 2007, 04:28:42 PM

Video, photos taken at fire stations spark concerns
By GREG WELTER - Staff Writer
Chico Enterprise-Record
Article Launched:

During the last week of July, fire officials in the Bay Area city of Campbell reported that two men had been seen videotaping routine activities at a fire station.
The men were reportedly in their 20s or early 30s, and one was using a sophisticated news media-style camera.

When firefighters attempted to talk with the men, they reportedly jumped into a waiting car and sped off.

The incident prompted the Sacramento Regional Terrorism Threat Assessment Center to send out a request for Northern California fire stations to watch for similar incidents, and report them immediately.

The day the request went out, Sept. 6, a second, similar incident was reported at a fire station in Yuba City.

According to officials, a fire captain encountered two men parked outside the city's main fire station. One of the men got out and allegedly began taking pictures of the fire station's administration building. When the captain approached the men, to tell them they were in a no-parking zone, the photographer jumped in the vehicle and the men left.

The man who took the photos was described as being between 30 and 40 years of age.

On Sept. 12, Fresno Fire Department officials spotted two men in a vehicle allegedly observing activities at a fire training center. When questioned, the driver reportedly said they were just checking things out, then left immediately.

Two days later, on Sept. 14, personnel from the Sacramento Metro Fire Department noticed two men taking photos of a fire station. A third man sat in the back of a car, and appeared to be drawing or taking notes.

When fire officials walked toward them, the two taking pictures jumped in the vehicle and sped away.

The men allegedly took pictures in front of the station, and in the rear. They ranged in age from late teens to about 60, officials recalled.

Tim Johnstone, a commander with the threat assessment center in Sacramento, said all of the incidents are being investigated, but there is no indication they might be related.

"We aren't considering this a specific threat at this time; we're just asking our public safety partners to be on the watch for suspicious activity," he said.

He said the threat assessment center was formed to act as a collection point for homeland security intelligence, and disseminate it appropriately.

Jay Alan, deputy director of communication for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is concerned about security agencies sharing information, and has made it a top priority.

Local officials said no suspicious incidents involving videotaping or photos have been reported at fire stations.

Fire department personnel are being asked to take note of vehicle descriptions, descriptions of suspicious subjects, and complete license plate numbers. Citizens who witness suspicious activity, near fire stations or elsewhere, should do the same, and report it to their local law enforcement agency.

Citizens should not attempt to contact suspicious individuals.

Staff writer Greg Welter can be reached at 896-7768 or
11429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 20, 2007, 04:02:57 PM

September 20, 2007
A Bomb Threat Closes Schools in Bergen County

Schools in at least a dozen districts in northern New Jersey will be closed today as a precaution after an anonymous bomb threat was received by the mayor of Emerson, in Bergen County, police officials said yesterday. The closings affect nearly 12,000 students.

A letter warned that five schools would be “blown out” at 11:30 a.m., school officials said. It mentioned Emerson’s three schools as well as two others in unidentified nearby towns.

According to a statement from the Emerson Police Department, the borough clerk’s office received the letter around 10:30 a.m. yesterday. The Emerson schools were immediately evacuated, and the Emerson police notified neighboring departments about the threat, the statement said.

The Bergen County police bomb squad searched every school building in Emerson, the statement said. No bombs were found.

School districts in Oradell, River Edge, Closter, Demarest, Haworth, Harrington Park, Northvale, Norwood and Old Tappan will be closed today. Two regional districts — Northern Valley, with schools in Demarest and Old Tappan, and River Dell, with schools in Oradell and River Edge — will also be closed. The schools, all in mostly affluent Bergen County, have a combined student population of about 11,700.

“My first reaction was shock, the concern for my two daughters, then anger,” Emerson’s mayor, Louis J. Lamatina, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “And it’s an anger that’s growing.”

Mr. Lamatina, a part-time mayor, usually collects his mail on Saturdays. But the clerk called him immediately after opening the letter, which had been written on a computer, he said.

“Could it be a prank from a child? From what I’ve heard, that’s obviously a credible theory,” he said, noting that the letter looked a bit patched together. It was postmarked in Teterboro, where the regional post office is located.

“These poor kids’ minds are forming, and they have to live with a threat like this,” he said. “Everything is plastered over the news in front of them, and the fact that someone wants to blow them up is just inhuman. If it’s a prank, there’s no potential justification or explanation of how someone could sink that low.”

He said the schools were evacuated so quickly that some teachers did not have time to grab their purses, which were locked inside.

In Oradell, schools were closed at the end of the day yesterday and will be closed today. All were being searched, the Oradell police said.

“Our department deemed it prudent to treat the threat as credible, to ensure the safety of the students and school personnel,” said Detective Sgt. Mike Oslacky of the Oradell police. Back-to-school nights at the middle and high school were also canceled.

The warning had ripple effects beyond the boundaries of Emerson, which has 7,300 residents and 1,200 students in its schools. In Glen Rock, about eight miles away, the schools will remain open, but, according to the district’s Web site, “All high school students will be required to remain inside the building for lunch, and no outside food deliveries will be allowed.”
11430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: September 20, 2007, 03:02:30 PM
It used to be that the crazy right was the core of anti-semitism in the US, today it's the allegedly mainstream left of the Daily Kos/Huffington Post/Jimmy "The Dhimmi" Carter.
11431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 20, 2007, 02:58:40 PM
Quite a few, actually. The conflict over slavery almost scuttled the formation of the US. It was left unresolved in the interest of dealing with the primary issue of gaining independance from Britain.
11432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 20, 2007, 12:54:56 PM
Who here thinks the founding fathers would have wanted jihadists to enjoy constitutional protections? "Lawfare" will be the death of us.
11433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 20, 2007, 01:48:32 AM

Paris Lights: Wanted - Heroes, Dead or Alive
September 18, 2007 12:06 AM

Infantryman Harold Baumgarten

PJM’s Paris editor Nidra Poller spent a moving day on the Normandy beaches with a man who lived through the bloody WWII invasion, and contemplates the parallels with the battles being waged today. “War is hell but nations that do not have the courage to fight back when warred against are damned.”
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By Nidra Poller
Dr. Harold Baumgarten is a delightful hero. Supple and springy at 82, as clear-minded about the past as about the present, proud and modest, open-minded and open-hearted, he stands straight and tall physically and spiritually. I had the privilege of spending September 10 at Omaha Beach in the company of Dr. Baumgarten, his wife and son, and a group of over 40 well-informed history buffs on a tour of the Normandy beaches.

The trip began with a two-hour train ride from Gare St. Lazare to Bayeux on a beautiful Indian summer afternoon and then, by cab, to Hôtel Mercure at Port-en-Bessin through the emerald green Normandy countryside, the very image of peace. Cows grazing, apples ripening, timeless cottages basking in the sun; it looks like Technicolor. Little narrow roads, gently dipping and rising, made for the chug of that French tin Lizzie, the “Deux chevaux.” Signs of D-Day at every turn in the road. Monuments, memorials, museums…and cemeteries. Stinging tears in my eyes as I walked out of the provincial train station into the parking lot.
I arrived at the sweet little hotel, checked in, opened wide the picture window looking out on the terrace and pool, and went outside to get acquainted with members the group gathered around a table, while others were taking a swim. I met one of the organizers, Darren Moran, when I spoke to an American Committee for Foreign Relations chapter in Naples, Florida. Now he introduces me to Dr. Baumgarten, his wife Rita and their son Hal.

All that evening, and through the night and the following day, at the dinner table, in the lounge, on the beach, in the tour bus, on the bluffs, standing before the monuments, walking through the museum, walking through the cemetery at Coleville-sur-Mer I stretched my thoughts to the utmost to grasp the reality of that day, that landing, that war and, at one and the same time, this day, this war, this “landing” that has not yet occurred.

Our conversation isn’t an interview, it is communion. At times our stories - and our origins - interlock.
Dr. Baumgarten’s paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Austria. They had 15 children. He was studying at NYU on a scholarship. He had already tried to enlist when he was 16. His father had served in WWI.
Spielberg drew on Baumgarten’s experience for the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. The 19 year-old infantryman painted a huge Magen David (Jewish star) on the back of his jacket, and wrote “Bronx, NY.” He wanted the Germans to know who was coming to get them. Spielberg changed the Bronx to Brooklyn. That’s forgiven, because his reconstruction of the landing was so close to the bloody truth.
A bright young student before the war, a fine surgeon after the war, and yet he wanted to fight. That’s how it was in those days. Our uncles, brothers, fathers went to war. Their portraits, in uniform, looked out from living room windows.
Wounded five times that day, June 6, 1944. The scars on his face are barely visible now, lost in the embroidery that long life applies to flesh and muscles. Looking deep into his eyes, past the decades, to find that smooth young face—nineteen years-old, a man in those days, a kid today – torn apart by shrapnel, “my teeth and jaws resting on my tongue, blood streaming…” Behind them the turbulent waters of the channel, a bitch of a day on Dog Section of Omaha Beach, 20-foot high waves. Ahead, a 3-football-field stretch of wet sand at low tide. Above, on the bluffs, the Nazis in well-heeled bunkers shooting down at the soldiers as they tumbled out of the landing craft. The British seamen scuttled back across the channel and left the foot soldiers to their fate.
“There’s two categories on this beach: the ones who are dead and the ones who are going to die,” the saying goes. I’m not sure if I got the words exactly right. Was it the captain who said it? The essence is there: dead or about to die. And they pushed forward inch by inch in the blood-red sea, up the beach littered with fresh death and, later, up the bluffs to kill the Germans with healthy wrath.
Words and images flash as we sit in a well-lighted room filled with bright, warm, American energy circulating up and down the long tables. Every single face invites my curiosity but I have to concentrate on the central issue; how did he do it? How does a man fight under those conditions? War is hell but nations that do not have the courage to fight back when warred against are damned.
One of the organizers leaves his seat- across the table from us for a minute. A callow waiter bearing a tray full of glasses filled with wine makes a faux pas. Red wine spills over the recently vacated chair. My Frenchified manners bristle at that uncouth wine service. Ca ne se fait pas. You bring the bottle or pitcher to the table and fill the wine glass before the guest’s eyes.
Our D-day hero returned to Omaha Beach for the first time in 1988, for the dedication of a monument to his unit, the 29th regiment of the 116th infantry division. That day, visiting the graves of his buddies in the Coleville sur Mer cemetery, he realized he had to speak for them, because they had been silenced. “God spared me,” says Dr. Baumgarten, with utter modesty, “so I could bear witness.” He shows me a snapshot of himself with George H., Barbara, and George W. Bush. He has been received with honor, decorated with honors, and he bears himself honorably. The Magen David painted on his jacket has never faded. The hero and his wife Rita retired to sleep early, and I spend long hours with their son Hal, who has lived with his father’s war stories since early childhood.
This is the first time he has seen the beaches. Another sort of heroism is required for the son of such a warrior. How to live by his light and not in his shadow, by his side and not in his footsteps? And how to prepare for that fateful day when the survivor will lose the last battle, the one that no one wins.
Breakfast. The bread and cheese are delicious. The coffee is thick, strong, tepid and tasteless. I get acquainted with some members of the group, and just as I am ready to leave I fall again into conversation with Hal and Darren. My search for truth trumps my sense of time. Suddenly it’s a mad dash to finish packing, check out, and jump into the giant tour bus. Six minutes late! The Colonel reminds this “embedded reporter” that this tour is running on military time.
It is a cliché, but how can you avoid it? The site of unbearable suffering has healed. It’s all prettied up. Thickly wooded bluffs rise with deceiving gentleness over a lovely beach basking in the sun. Dr. Baumgarten wearing his medals and that cap… what it is called? I ask a member of the tour, and he says “garrison cap.” That’s not what we called it when my father was in the Marines. Was it “overseas cap”?
We thought we would cry. Hal and I talked about it ‘round about midnight. Something stronger than tears wells up as a man stands straight and tall and tells us what he lived through that day. Something that doesn’t flow like tears but expands, in the heart and mind, and fills you with awe. Awe and a throbbing disembodied pain and, for me, childhood memories - we followed battles day by day, hour by hour, uncle by brother, and we did not know if our forces would prevail. It was called ‘the duration.’
“Icy sea water swept into the LCAs, we took off our helmets and bailed, some were seasick, everybody was scared, many were praying. I kept reciting the shema [Hear O Israel…] . The landing had been carefully planned by our generals in England. But things didn’t go exactly as planned. Passenger pigeons were shot down, air drops fell short, backup came too late… The young men carried a hundred pounds of equipment. The LCAs stayed out of the firing zone. Some of the boys were shot down as they walked down the plank, some sank and drowned as they stepped into deep water.. The Germans had crisscrossed the tidal strip with traps, obstacles, mines. The ship next to me exploded, splashing us with shrapnel and body parts.”
The veteran stands alone, his voice is steady and his words bring the bullets flying, bring to life the young men dying, fill the water and beach with horror. A bullet tears through his helmet, a bullet zings through his rifle, an 88 mm shell fragment shatters his jaw, the tide is coming in, the wounded are screaming, medics landed too far up shore can’t reach them. Officers are killed, and the Germans, supremely secure in their pillboxes, rain down hellfire with utmost cruelty. Baumgarten’s fifth wound was inflicted as he lay on a stretcher, waiting to be evacuated. The Germans fired at the medics, fired at the wounded.
But…it was the beginning of the end for them! Up on the bluffs and from there into the towns and all the way to their starting point in the Third Reich they would be smashed and defeated. I whip out my notebook and jot down a detail that is so incredible I’m afraid I’ll forget it: by midnight on the 6th of June 1944 the German position on the bluffs was totally silenced. They were either dead, POWed, or on the run.
“And we were outnumbered 16 to 1.” We watch our hero kill one. He points… his hand still steady but thinned with age. Up there, to my right, I saw the sun glinting off his helmet, I was a sharpshooter, got him with one shot.
We grunt, tears flowing down our bloody cheeks, as he grabs a buddy by the arm, slings him over his back, and crawls up the beach with him. We shiver as we listen to the gurgles of a young man’s life going down the tubes. And the silence.”
Four thousand men died in that landing! A figure that the anti-war hucksters would never use as a weight and measure for four years of combat against jihadis in Iraq. Anti-war is the upper face of a tarnished medal; the hidden face is pro-cowardice. How was that nearly unanimous courage mustered by our nation in WWII? Patriotism, national identity, heroism; the courage was individual and collective. And single-minded. Once you are in a war, you win. There is no other choice.
We visited the monument to the 29th regiment. A few of us gathered around Dr. Baumgarten’s wife Rita who told us how the young man who monitored her botany exam, saw her peering into a microscope and giving the wrong answer. And fell in love with her. She’s pert, with sparkling eyes, her red jacket is decorated with a sparkling I Love the USA brooch.
After lunch we visit the D-Day memorial museum. Life-size plaster mockups of the landing, scenes of life under the Occupation, an Allied communications post, a German military camp, jeeps and trucks and weapons and mess kits; cigarette packages, photos, and other memorabilia; the concentration camp uniform of a résistant. Traps and obstacles and mines on tripods planted in the tidal zone to kill the soldiers as they landed.
Compared to our day, the military equipment, the weapons, the uniforms look so primitive, just a step above spears and slingshots. My cell phone rings. It’s someone from the French international TV channel France 24 inviting me to take part in this evening’s debate on General Petraeus’s report and the situation in Iraq. Wouldn’t I just love to trudge into that studio direct from the sands of Omaha Beach! But I can’t make it back to Paris in time.
We scramble over the bluffs, peek into underground Nazi bunkers, look down from there onto the beach, imagine their glee at the panoramic shooting gallery. Behind them, a conquered France, the collaborationist Vichy government, a cowed population. La Résistance, yes, but that was a tiny minority. And there were the militia, another minority, actively on the side of the Nazis. The Germans had time to dig in and fortify their coastal defenses.
Ah! But we fooled them. They didn’t expect that invasion, that massive operation, at that point on the coast. And no American or British journalist, jumping with joy, scooped the story. There were warning posters everywhere during the war. “A slip of the lip can sink a ship.” We bought Liberty Bonds, collected tin cans, practiced air raids, did without when the ration stamps were used up. And we didn’t know who would prevail. We followed the war, on all fronts, battle by battle, with baited breath.
The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Coleville sur mer is our last stop. First the museum, then the cemetery. There’s a photo of the young Harold Baumgarten in uniform. Strong resemblance to his son. He’d told us, earlier in the day, that when his lip was torn apart and his jaw smashed, he thought he’d never be whole again. He didn’t know about plastic surgery back then.
There is so much information here in the exhibits, the films, the recorded testimony of other veterans. And so much information on the tour I am accompanying. These people have a wealth of knowledge about the military, the landing, the battles, the formations, the weaponry, the progression of our troops. Our veteran is a treasure house of vivid details remembered as if they were happening in front of our eyes.
There’s no way I could catch up with them, no way I could note and retell all that I heard that day. So I concentrate my heart and mind on the essential: how can a human being bear such fear, face such danger, function with such searing pain, and never give up? Why can’t we recycle their sacrifice into fresh courage appropriate for our day? How can we recreate - in addition to the plaster mockups - the combined sense of uncertainty and determination that would guide us to victory today? General Eisenhower, on the eve of D-Day, said it was a crusade. And no one slapped him down.
We parted company. I wished Harold and Rita Baumgarten shana tova and promised to go to the synagogue for them, too. The tour would be on the road on the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and then they’d be flying back to the States.
As I waited for a taxi on the dark side of the Gare St. Lazare watching creepy figures pass in the dimly lit street, I was ashamed for France. What have you done with your liberation? Why are you collaborating again?
And that was the evening of September 10th and the next day was 9/11 plus six years. A low priority in the French media. They preferred to highlight a court decision in favor of Moulinex employees who hadn’t received their fair share when the firm went bankrupt years ago. What’s a war to preserve us from jihad compared to a juicy labor dispute? Occasionally a news report mentioned that “the Americans commemorate 9/11.” Got it, mon vieux? It’s their 9/11…and their flop of a war in Iraq…we told them so.
The regional channel France 3 is the most anti-American, anti-Sarkozy unit in the state-owned TV network. Here’s how they covered 9/11 on prime time news. Item: the Americans commemorate 9/11. Brief shot of tearful people at a solemn ceremony. Longer item: it’s all very well to commemorate the victims of the WTC etc. but the city of New York doesn’t want to hear about rescue workers ill from breathing that lethal mixture of pulverized debris! Longest Item: it’s tough to be a Muslim in the U.S. after 9/11. Discrimination, insults, attacks. Bridges TV in Buffalo NY is doing something about it. And here are the studios and here is the personnel, see the newscaster in hijab, and how about the news director, an ex-CNN, and how wonderful are their programs and how humane their bridges. Pan to Miss Hijab who says, “We are very careful about our vocabulary. For example, we don’t use the word ‘terrorist’ because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Yeah, sure.
I don’t use the word “terrorist” either. I say “jihadi.” But the worst is yet to come. France 3 just happens to be showing a documentary about the “crimes of the liberators” at 11:30 PM…on September 11th.
Who are those criminal liberators? Three guesses. First, they occupied England. Then they stomped through France. Finally, they roughed up Germany. The GIs bien entendu! The documentary is made in collaboration with Professor J. Robert Lilly, who decided in the spring of 2003 (= “war in Iraq”) to investigate the heinous crimes committed by American military men naively lauded as heroes. Lilly, a reputable criminologist whose research is appreciated in Europe and “unfairly” rejected in the U.S., dug up the dirt in the archives. The monotonous low-budget film is mounted like a do it yourself kit: Zoom on GIs dancing with the local girls, fielding kisses in newly liberated villages, horsing around in pastures; freeze; pan to Lilly’s hands turning the pages of a confidential court martial report; and then bonk with a horror story of brutal rape often ending in murder. It begins in the Normandy villages I just visited and ends at the Coleville sur Mer cemetery. But the heroes are monsters, the liberation is an occupation, rapes and murders are slathered up and down the screen as if they were an everyday occurrence. Lilly, postulating that most rapes weren’t reported, multiplies by a huge X the number of documented cases.
But it’s nothing compared to what they did in Germany, they report. Propaganda taught them to hate the Germans. Terrible brutality, mass rape, but no one was punished: the US authorities considered German women as booty.
Gory scenes — in grainy black & white—of rapists hanging from the gallows as the troops look on were revealed, in the closing credits, to be reconstitutions.
The D-Day landing is misrepresented by archive shots of mop-up operations taken at least ten days later. And the film, apparently produced by France 3 (the production company is named France 33), accuses the Americans of racism for hanging so many black GIs while simultaneously claiming that black GIs were particularly active in rape.
This travesty of a documentary ends at the military cemetery at Coleville sur Mer. As the camera pans from face to face of a group of midshipmen & women visiting the cemetery— the picture of clean-cut upstanding goodness—the voice off intones: “the more patriotic the images the darker the secrets they conceal…the terrible reality of war”… bla bla bla…
I look up from the beach and see the sun glinting off the helmet of a France 33 operative, shooting down on us from the bluff…

Nidra Poller participated in a one-week tour, organized by the American History Forum, was led by multi-decorated D-Day survivor Dr. Harold Baumgarten, author of D-Day Survivor; Col. Robert J. Dalessandro (Director of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, US Army War College, Carlisle, PA); Col. Curtis P. Cheeseman (Chief Information Office, Carlisle Barracks, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Pa(.; Dean Armstrong (Northwest Airlines pilot and expert on the Utah Beach landings); Darren Moran (long-time student of the Normandy Campaign); and Belgian author Michel De Trez
11434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 19, 2007, 10:34:32 PM

That Old Piece of Cloth

by Frank Miller


Frank Miller is a comic book artist whose titles include Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Sin City (which he co-directed for the movies). Miller recently announced that he's working on a new graphic novel in which Batman pits himself against terrorists.

“Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation.”
Morning Edition, September 11, 2006 · I was just a boy in the 1960s. My adolescence wasn't infused with the civil rights struggle or the sexual revolution or the Vietnam War, but with their aftermath.

My high school teachers were ex-hippies and Vietnam vets. People who protested the war and people who served as soldiers. I was taught more about John Lennon than I was about Thomas Jefferson.

Both of my parents were World War II veterans. FDR-era patriots. And I was exactly the age to rebel against them.

It all fit together rather neatly. I could never stomach the flower-child twaddle of the '60s crowd and I was ready to believe that our flag was just an old piece of cloth and that patriotism was just some quaint relic, best left behind us.

It was all about the ideas. I schooled myself in the writings of Madison and Franklin and Adams and Jefferson. I came to love those noble, indestructible ideas. They were ideas, to my young mind, of rebellion and independence, not of idolatry.

But not that piece of old cloth. To me, that stood for unthinking patriotism. It meant about as much to me as that insipid peace sign that was everywhere I looked: just another symbol of a generation's sentimentality, of its narcissistic worship of its own past glories.

Then came that sunny September morning when airplanes crashed into towers a very few miles from my home and thousands of my neighbors were ruthlessly incinerated -- reduced to ash. Now, I draw and write comic books. One thing my job involves is making up bad guys. Imagining human villainy in all its forms. Now the real thing had shown up. The real thing murdered my neighbors. In my city. In my country. Breathing in that awful, chalky crap that filled up the lungs of every New Yorker, then coughing it right out, not knowing what I was coughing up.

For the first time in my life, I know how it feels to face an existential menace. They want us to die. All of a sudden I realize what my parents were talking about all those years.

Patriotism, I now believe, isn't some sentimental, old conceit. It's self-preservation. I believe patriotism is central to a nation's survival. Ben Franklin said it: If we don't all hang together, we all hang separately. Just like you have to fight to protect your friends and family, and you count on them to watch your own back.

So you've got to do what you can to help your country survive. That's if you think your country is worth a damn. Warts and all.

So I've gotten rather fond of that old piece of cloth. Now, when I look at it, I see something precious. I see something perishable.
11435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 10:07:03 PM
I had the opportunity to do some contracting work in Iraq in 2003/2004. It's a good thing that I didn't as the company I was looking at turned out to be scammers that did lots of stupid things and went out of business after burning lots of people. I believe the US DOJ is investigating them these days.

Depending on how things go, I am considering taking a police trainer position in Iraq/Afghanistan in 2009. Depending on if we are even in Iraq in 2009 and if the major attacks CONUS happen, as I anticipate.
11436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 10:00:54 PM
I had a conversation with a friend in the days after 9/11, we both agreed how we now understood how the internment of American citizens happened in WWII. Funny enough, J. Edgar Hoover was a strong opponent of the internment, but FDR overruled him.

The Clinton administration started the policy of "rendition".

I quote that right wing group, the ACLU:

Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where -- in the CIA's view -- federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as "extraordinary rendition."

The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear -- never to see them again -- you send them to Egypt."

Administration officials, backed by Department of Justice legal memoranda, have consistently advanced the position that foreign nationals held at such facilities, outside U.S. sovereign territory, are unprotected by federal or international laws. Thus, the rendition program has allowed agents of the United States to detain foreign nationals without any legal process and, primarily through counterparts in foreign intelligence agencies, to employ brutal interrogation methods that would be impermissible under federal or international law, as a means of obtaining information from suspects.

The Department of Justice's arguments notwithstanding, the extraordinary rendition program is illegal. It is clearly prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States in 1992, and by congressionally enacted policy giving effect to CAT. As Congress made clear, it is the policy of the United States not to:

expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.
Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, ("FARRA"), Pub. L. No. 105-277, § 2242, 112 Stat. 2681 (Oct. 21, 1998), reprinted in 8 U.S.C. § 1231, Historical and Statutory Notes (1999) (emphasis added).

Congress has recently reaffirmed this policy, providing in an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for the Iraq War and Tsunami Relief, 2005 (P.L. 109-13) that it will not authorize the funding of any program that "subject any person in the custody or under the physical control of the United States to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment that is prohibited by the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." P.L. 109-13, § 1031 (2005). The President, too, has confirmed that it is the policy and practice of the United States neither to use torture nor to hand over detainees to countries that use torture. See
11437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 09:23:07 PM

CIA Shut Down in Iraq
September 19, 2007 11:58 AM

A perfect storm set to roil Blackwater?
According to exclusive information obtained by Pajamas Media’s Washington editor Richard Miniter, the movement of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad has been all but shut down. Are we witnessing Iran’s counter-strike to the surge?
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By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor
Movements of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad—along with most State department diplomats and teams building police stations and schools—have been frozen for the second day in a row, according to a State department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Essentially, the CIA, State department and government contractors are stuck inside the International Zone, also known as “the Green Zone,” in Central Baghdad. Even travel inside that walled enclave is somewhat restricted.

Pajamas Media is the first to report that the CIA station is all but motionless—as meetings with informants and Iraqi government officials have been hastily cancelled.

What caused the shut down? Following a firefight between Iraqi insurgents and a Blackwater USA protection detail on Sunday (12:08 PM Baghdad time), Iraqi officials suspended the operating license of the North Carolina-based government contractor. While the Iraqi government is yet to hold a formal hearing on the matter, Blackwater and all it protects remain frozen.

“By jamming up Blackwater, they shut down the movements of the embassy and the [CIA] station,” a State department source told Pajamas Media. He is not cleared to talk to the press.

Blackwater provides Personnel Security Details—or PSDs—for most CIA, State department, and U.S. Agency of International Development officers. In addition, Blackwater’s special-forces veterans guard many of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams—or PRTs—that build schools, clinics, police and fire stations and other structures that house essential Iraqi government services. Work on these vital “hearts and minds” projects has all but stopped across Iraq.

The State department has long insisted on using Blackwater and other private security firms so that its convoys and legations would not be controlled by the Defense department.

There are now more private contractors working in Iraq than U.S. soldiers serving there. Many are not U.S. citizens. Triple Canopy, another private firm, usually hires Peruvians to man the checkpoints inside the International Zone and Ugandans to guard distant airbases. The Peruvians, known as “incas” among Americans there, usually do not speak English or Arabic—a persistent source of complaint by Iraqi politicians who speak one or both languages.

At least eight Iraqis are reported dead after the Sunday shoot out and some press reports refer to the local casualties as “civilians.”

“Initial press accounts were inaccurate,” said Blackwater USA spokeswoman Anne Tyrell. “The ‘civilians’ reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire. Blackwater regrets any loss of life but this convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job to defend human life.”

“Blackwater professionals heroically defended American lives in a war zone on Sunday and Blackwater will cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”

It’s well known in Iraq that dead insurgents become “civilians” as soon as their comrades carry away their AK-47s and spare magazines. Captured al Qaeda manuals detail how militants should use deaths as a propaganda tool.

TIME magazine received a partial copy of the official incident report.
According to the incident report, the skirmish occurred at 12:08 p.m. on Sunday when, “the motorcade was engaged with small arms fire from several locations” as it moved through a neighborhood of west Baghdad. “The team returned fire to several identified targets” before leaving the area. One vehicle engine was hit and disabled by bullets and had to be towed away. A separate convoy arriving to help was “blocked/surrounded by several Iraqi police and Iraqi national guard vehicles and armed personnel,” the report says. Then an American helicopter hovered over the traffic circle, as the U.S. convoy departed without casualties. Some reports have said the helicopter also opened fire on Iraqis, but a Blackwater official told TIME that no shots were fired from the air.

By apparently lifting Blackwater’s license, the democratically elected Iraq government may stall the forward progress created by the Gen. Petraeus’ surge and change in counterinsurgency tactics.

Indeed, some contend that the actions of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, which supervises police and some intelligence functions, may be influenced by insurgents or even by Iran.

The staffing and internal rules of the Interior ministry were set up by Biyat Jabr, an affable and charming Shia Muslim who once worked for Saddam Hussein. (He was never a member of the Ba’ath party and thus survived de-Ba’athification with ease.)

Jabr is widely believed to be in the pay of Iranian intelligence services, although U.S. officials caution that there is no firm evidence of this charge. Jabr left the ministry in August 2006 and is now Finance Minister, but before he exited he salted the ranks with people loyal to Iran and hostile to the U.S. “Innocents dying [in the Sunday gun battle with Blackwater] is just a pretext,” the same State department source said.

Enemies of the U.S. inside the Interior ministry have been looking to shut down Blackwater for some time.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has adopted the same hard line against the American company. “This company should be punished. We are not going to allow it to kill Iraqis in cold blood. We have frozen all its activities and a joint panel has been formed to investigate the incident,” the prime minister told wire-service reporters.

“For their own interests, the Americans should hire a new company to protect their people so they can move freely.”

Both the State department and the Congress have signaled that investigations in to Blackwater will begin soon.

The State department hopes to shift blame onto Blackwater’s low-level “trigger pullers,” says the State department source, while Rep. Henry Waxman’s committee is expected to target senior executives at Blackwater and top Bush Administration officials. A perfect storm is set to roil Blackwater.

If Blackwater and other private contractors are shut out of Iraq, Democrats in Congress and Iranian intelligence operatives may have stumbled on a way to end the Iraq War—less than a week after Gen. Petraeus testified that the U.S. is turning the corner.
11438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 08:44:44 PM
Bush has done less than he should have, not more. Militarizing the borders should have started 9/12/2001. Aviation security still essentially sucks, despite the billions of dollars spent, due to political correctness.

Liberal icon FDR had Americans of Japanese ancestry rounded up into camps for the duration of the war. Give me something done by this president that even begins to approach that.
11439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 08:37:42 PM
Blackwater and other companies (Blackwater is the biggest, but far from the only) still fall under US legal jurisdiction. You can be prosecuted for acts far outside America's borders in federal court. Most American contractors would not consider themselves "mercenaries", as they aren't selling their skills to the highest bidder but would only work for the US State department or other USG entities in Iraq/Afghanistan.
11440  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 05:47:06 PM
Nothing President Bush has done begins to compare with what Lincoln or FDR did to preserve the US at times of war.
11441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 04:39:45 PM
I'm sure (I'm too lazy to look it up right now) that the Blackwater and other companies that are working for the state department are covered under diplomatic immunity. As an example, that would be why SFPD couldn't ticket a vehicle illegally parked that belonged to the PRC's consulate.
11442  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 19, 2007, 02:40:58 PM

Creeping sharia.
11443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 12:53:42 PM

The Blackwater affair: Licenses? Who needs licenses?
posted at 10:41 pm on September 18, 2007 by Bryan   

If you spend any amount of time at all in Iraq — and I mean that literally, any time at all — you’ll soon observe corruption. Iraq is a country that spent 35 years in survival mode, under the boot heel of a man who admired both Hitler and Stalin and who sought to combine the brutality of both on his way to becoming the next Nebuchadnezzar. The society was traumatized, and its people evidently learned to live by a police state version of the Wimpy rule: I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for what I’m swiping from you today, and mostly because by Tuesday the Mukhabarrat may have swiped me, myself and I, never to be seen again. I’ll be tortured and probably killed, but at least I won’t be out the couple of dinars I would have paid you.

I give you that as a preamble to the latest story about the Blackwater affair because it’s important to understanding how things work in Iraq. You’ve probably heard by now, that the North Carolina-based Blackwater security company is in hot water with Iraq’s Interior Ministry over an incident in which “innocent Iraqis” were killed. I added the scare quotes because the term “innocent” means different things to different people, and it’s not at all clear yet that whoever was killed in that incident was innocent in any way that we would commonly use the term. It’s not clear yet that they weren’t innocent either, or that at least some of them weren’t. It’s all under investigation, but the Interior Ministry has pulled a Murtha and gone ahead and convicted Blackwater anyway. The consequences of said conviction include revoking Blackwater’s license. It’s at this point that someone needs to cue up the laugh track while someone else pops up on camera and says “Licenses? We don’t need no steenkin’ licenses!”

Private security contractors in Iraq say most expatriate companies in the country operate without licenses because corrupt government officials who issue them demand bribes of up to $1 million.

“A couple of companies tried to get licenses, but no one has licenses because the bribes they were asking were too big, up to $1 million,” said a member of the elite Blackwater USA security company which has been ordered by Iraqi authorities to halt its operations.

Yes, we’re talking about the same Ministry that’s accusing Blackwater of crimes. It’s a Ministry run by bribes, that answers in part to the very paragon of virtue himself, the so-called “Mullah Atari,” Moqtada al-Sadr.

Exploiting that anger, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded the government ban all 48,000 foreign security contractors, whom Iraqis have long viewed as mercenaries, the Associated Press reported.

If nothing else, that’s another reason that we should have taken Mookie out a long time ago.

So if just about every private contractor in Iraq operates without licenses, what’s really going on with Blackwater?

Well, internal politics seem to have a lot to do with it: We could be looking at a shakedown to make up for the bribes that Blackwater presumably didn’t pay. We could be looking at an attempt to weaken the US position in Iraq overall, since Blackwater and similar security companies have about 48,000 personnel on the scene engaged in various security duties. (Do ya think Mookie wouldn’t like to see 48,000 guns that ultimately answer to the US taken out of the game?) And like everything else in Iraq, putting a fixed number on it reduces its actual complexity by several orders of magnitude. A drive through the base complex around the Baghdad airport, for instance, will take you through private security guards from enough different continents and countries that you’d swear you were cruising through a muddy UN session: Nigerians man this gate, Brazilians man that post over there, and Peruvians are running that street from there to there, but beyond them, it’s the South Africans or someone else who will ask to see your papers, please.

I’ll hazard a guess that all the companies hiring and supporting all those nationalities probably aren’t licensed to the nth degree. They’re probably sufficiently paid up on their bribes, though.

Back to the incident that started the current row:

The incident, which left eight Iraqi civilians dead by most accounts, occurred Sunday when Blackwater was escorting a convoy through one of Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhoods.

According to the North Carolina-based company, the convoy was attacked by armed insurgents using small-arms fire. The U.S. contractors returned fire to get their clients out of the area safely.

“By doctrine, you return fire — that’s how you stay alive,” said the Blackwater contractor, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “They killed who they needed to kill to get out of there. The teams that try to be all nicey-nicey, guess what? Their guys get kidnapped,” he said.

Several expatriate security contractors who did not open fire have been taken hostage while protecting their clients in western Iraq near Ramadi and in Baghdad.

Along with the bewildering corruption, that’s another reality in Iraq: At times, it’s a kill or be killed kind of place. The fate of those Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah in 2004 surely informs decisions made in real time today. Undoubtedly most would take condemnation from the Interior Ministry over having their corpses rhetorically spat upon by the likes of Kos after thugs have killed and mutilated them.

I’m loath to predict how the Blackwater affair will turn out, but it is hard to imagine the military or State Dept (especially the State Dept) getting much done without Blackwater’s guys and guns around doing the jobs they’ve been doing for four years now. It probably will blow over. But the corruption is probably there to stay.

Today, the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements Monday that it had revoked Blackwater’s license and would order its 1,000 personnel to leave the country, Associated Press said. It is not clear whether Blackwater was operating under an active license.

The special operations contractor, who has been in Iraq for four years, said he had seen the Ministry of Interior (MOI) demand bribes of security companies in three different contracts.

“You would apply for a license and it would stall, then someone from the MOI would show up and say that the license application was sitting in a box and that for a certain fee it could be pushed through,” said the contractor, also asking that his name not be used.

The size of the bribe depended on the size of the company, he said, starting in the area of $100,000 and up.

That all sounds hopelessly corrupt, but honestly, quite a bit of Europe doesn’t operate much more clean than that. Of course, Europeans don’t have Sadrist death squads lurking in the background to enforce and collect on the bribes.
11444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 19, 2007, 12:42:53 PM
Alan Keyes  rolleyes
11445  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 19, 2007, 12:41:04 PM
It's more of a press release touting the book, but Aaron  Klein is a sharp guy. I used to listen to him on the John Batchelor show. He did great reporting on the middle east based out of Israel.
11446  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 19, 2007, 01:20:36 AM
Terrorists disclose: We LOVE liberals!
Jihadists respond to Rosie, Clinton, Penn, Pelosi, Fonda, Boxer, Murtha
Posted: September 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

Klein, left, with the senior West Bank leadership of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, including Ala Senakreh, second from left, the terror group's West Bank chief. The Brigades took responsibility together with the Islamic Jihad terror group for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years. The Brigades, the most active West Bank terror group, also carried out hundreds of shootings and rocket attacks.
Many analysts and commentators have speculated what America's enemies might think about liberal politicians, celebrities and activists who protest the war in Iraq, call terrorists "freedom fighters," express solidarity with terror-supporting countries or even question who was behind the 9/11 attacks.

In a shocking new book, author and WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein actually petitions Muslim terrorists to respond to the statements and actions of American public figures such as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. John Murtha, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and entertainment personalities Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn and Jane Fonda. The jihadists overwhelmingly applauded the liberal leaders.

In "Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!," Klein in one chapter assembles a panel of senior terrorist leaders and asks them to sound off about high-profile liberals. He also asks about conservative personalities from Ronald Reagan through Rush Limbaugh.

The terrorists were familiar with some of the names, while for others the jihadists were provided with a series of statements and speeches to which to respond.

Klein, for example, had a speech made earlier this year by Penn translated into Arabic. In the speech, Penn, who in 2005 paid a solidarity visit to Tehran, called Iran a "great country," slammed President Bush and Vice President Cheney as "villainous and criminally obscene people" and suggested Iran had the right to obtain a nuclear weapon since the U.S. has a nuclear arsenal.

In "Schmoozing" Klein also read to the terrorists statements from O'Donnell in which she argued terrorists are people, too.

"Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers," said O’Donnell.

The former daytime talk host also has raised questions about whether al-Qaida was responsible for 9/11; implied the Iranian seizure of 15 British sailors in March was a hoax to provide Bush with an excuse to attack Tehran; and doubted whether confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed really planned the attacks.

Klein discussed with the terrorists demands for a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq by politicians such as Boxer and Murtha.

He asked jihadists what they thought of Pelosi's visit last April against the recommendations of the White House to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Klein with Eiman Abu Eita, chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Beit Sahour

During a photo opportunity, a smiling Pelosi stated, "We came in friendship, hope and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace."

Syria openly hosts Palestinian terrorist leaders, signed a military alliance with Iran and is accused of arming and funding the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group and aiding the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Klein also read to the terrorists speeches and statements by Sheehan, who has called terrorists "freedom fighters" and has accused Bush of waging war in Iraq for Israeli interests.

Why schmooze with the professed enemies of Western civilization?

States Klein: "In the midst of America's war on terror, in the midst of our grand showdown with Islamofascism, with our boys and girls deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world to defend liberty, it is crucial for all of us to understand the adversary we are up against and how some of our policies and personalities are emboldening the terrorists to think they are winning."

Klein explains he believes America is in trouble. While the U.S. has made enormous advances in the war on terror the past few years, it is encouraging terrorists to attack, and people don't even know it, he professes.

Klein with Muhammad Abu Tir, the No. 2 Hamas leader in the West Bank, suspected of attempting to poison Israel's water supply

"If the American approach to identifying, understanding, and dealing with terrorism is not re-examined in the very near future, if we don't immediately begin to understand how the terrorists think and respond to our policies, we face a devastating reality, with global jihad beating down our doorstep before we even realize what happened," states Klein.

Among the highlights of "Schmoozing with Terrorists:"

Madonna and Britney Spears stoned to death? What life in the U.S. would be like if the terrorists win.
Jihadists list their U.S. election favorites, mouth off about politicians and even threaten to kill one 2008 presidential candidate.
Klein and friends confront well-armed senior terrorists about whether suicide bombers really get 72 virgins after their deadly operation.
A shocking expose on how YOUR tax dollars fund terrorism!
Bibles used as toilet paper, synagogues as rocket launching zones? Meet the leaders of the most notorious holy site desecrations in history.
The under-reported story of Christian persecution in the Middle East as told by the antagonists and victims.
Terrorists offer tips on how to win the war on terror!
Klein has been interviewing terrorists since age 19, when he spent a weekend with a group connected to al-Qaida. He reports daily from Israel, going where many of his media colleagues dare not tread.

Klein is known for his regular appearances and segments on top American radio programs, where he has many times interviewed terrorists live on air. He served as a co-host of the national "John Batchelor Show," currently on hiatus.

The oldest of 10 children, Klein attended Jewish schools from kindergarten through college at Yeshiva University in New York, where he served as editor-in-chief of the undergraduate student newspaper.

To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.
11447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 19, 2007, 01:05:44 AM

I guess we've found Saddam's WMDs.
11448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 10:11:56 PM
I'm cheating a bit by reading posts on a forum where lots of contractors post. They don't seem to give it much weight.
11449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 09:16:47 PM
Contractors probably won't be going anywhere and much of the story is media hype.
11450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 08:33:57 PM

I has posted on this story earlier. As far as the Blackwater story goes, it's a non-story in the big picture.
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