Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / September Auto Sales Go Clunk
on: September 21, 2009, 01:31:43 PM
Friday, September 18, 2009
September Auto Sales Go Clunk [Henry Payne]
When Congress gave away $3 billion for buyers to trade in their “clunkers” and buy new cars in August, lawmakers thrilled as buyers swamped showrooms to take advantage of the big discounts. “Cash for clunkers has captured the public’s attention . . . (it) has the possibility to truly jumpstart our economy,” said Rep. Candice Miller (R., Mich.). Other, more sober analysts, warned that the clunkers program was only stealing from future sales.
September sales are in, and sobriety can take a bow.
Edmunds.com reports that “September’s light-vehicle sales rate will fall to 8.8 million units . . . the lowest rate in nearly 28 years, tying the worst demand on record. After the cash-for-clunkers program boosted August sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007, demand has plunged. In at least the last 33 years, the U.S. seasonally adjusted annual rate has only dropped as low as 8.8 million units once — in December 1981 — with records stretching back to January 1976.”
“Many people regard February as the darkest month of the recession, but even then (sales were) higher, at 9.1 million units,” adds Edmunds.com statistician Zhenwei Zhou.
But sobriety comes hard for Washington. Now NHTSA says that, despite burdening manufacturers with $60 billion in new costs, its new 35.5 mpg fuel mandate will stimulate the economy by boosting auto sales by 65,480 vehicles through 2016 because Washington “expects stronger consumer demand for fuel-efficient models.” Sure.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Foreign Policy
on: September 20, 2009, 08:38:23 AM
Shattered Confidence In Europe
By Ronald D. Asmus
Saturday, September 19, 2009
President Obama's decision to shelve the Bush administration's missile defense plans has created a crisis of confidence in Washington's relations with Central and Eastern Europe. The defense architecture the administration proposes may make more strategic sense in addressing the immediate Iranian threat. Nevertheless, it runs the risk of shattering the morale and standing of transatlantic leaders in the region who now feel politically undermined and exposed. The roots of this crisis lie less in missile defense than in policy failures over the past decade. Understanding and rectifying those errors is key to getting back on track with our allies.
Our first mistake was being overly optimistic about what would happen when these countries joined NATO and the European Union. We basically checked the box "mission accomplished." We assumed that Russia would finally accept that Central and Eastern Europe were gone from its sphere of influence and stop trying to interfere in their regional politics. But geopolitical competition didn't stop. Moscow simply tried to pressure and interfere in new ways, using energy and other weapons. It seeks to marginalize these countries in NATO and the European Union by going above their heads. It still wants to create a zone of special Russian interest, influence and lesser security.
The second mistake was poor handling of our commitment to defend Central and Eastern Europe counties under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Given the low-threat environment, we decided NATO did not need to station troops in those countries' territory and pledged instead to create a reinforcement capability that could be used in times of crisis. I sat at the table in the mid-1990s as Washington promised Polish leaders that NATO would have a corps-size reinforcement capability to provide for their security.
But that NATO corps-size reinforcement capability never materialized. There are not even official defense plans for these countries. The power of Article 5 was always the fact that these commitments were backed up by planning, exercises and boots on the ground. Yet a lack of leadership and divisions within NATO prevented the alliance from fulfilling such pledges.
The alliance has also decayed in its role as the key crisis manager in Europe. Central and Eastern Europeans have watched as one ally after another has prevented NATO from acting over the past decade. NATO was AWOL during the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. When Georgian leaders quietly approached the alliance several months before hostilities, NATO demurred. When war broke out, the secretary general interrupted his vacation for one day to hold a meeting and issue a statement. NATO's supreme allied commander did not even do that much. The NATO Military Committee met only after the war was over. Hardly an inspiring performance.
Given this record, we should not be surprised that Central and Eastern Europeans doubt what NATO would do to help them in a pinch. While they are loath to say it publicly, their leaders have told me that they are no longer certain NATO is capable of coming to their rescue if there were a crisis involving Russia. They no longer believe that the political solidarity exists or that NATO's creaky machinery would take the needed steps.
Had we handled these issues differently, our debate about missile defense would be quite different. The Poles and Czechs bought into the Bush administration's plans for missile defense not because of Iranian missiles but because they were losing confidence in NATO. Atlanticist leaders were seeking additional security through an American military presence on their soil. That is why missile defense assumed a political significance in the region that transcended the merits of the actual program. And that is why abandoning the program has created a crisis of confidence.
We must take real steps toward solving this problem by providing strategic reassurance to Central and Eastern Europe through the front door of NATO and not the back door of missile defense. President Obama has already decided to push for defense plans for these countries. But a top-secret NATO defense plan in some safe in Brussels will not mollify Central and Eastern European anxieties. Their primary worry is not the prospect of an imminent Russian military attack but political intimidation or blackmail or a regional crisis that spins out of control. It is above all their lack of belief in our solidarity in the alliance.
That is why we need a broader package of political, economic and military measures that will reinforce that solidarity and provide reassurance. We also need to fix NATO so that it can again function as a crisis manager, as it did in the Balkans in the 1990s. Nothing prevents us from taking these steps. They do not contradict any of our commitments to Russia. They require only political imagination, will and a modest investment of resources. If we get that right, then the Obama administration's decision on missile defense can be a catalyst that helps us get this relationship back on track. If we don't, the crisis of confidence in the region will only deepen.
The writer, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, is executive director of the Brussels-based Transatlantic Center at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The views expressed here are his own.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors
on: September 19, 2009, 10:30:10 PM
Brezinski Calls for Obama to Shoot Down Israeli Jets; "A Liberty in Reverse"
In a little noticed interview with the Daily Beast (presumably little noticed because serious people don't read the Daily Beast), Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Barack Obama do more than just refuse to support an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites -- the American president must give the order to shoot down Israeli aircraft as they cross Iraqi airspace:
DB: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?
Brzezinski: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?
DB: What if they fly over anyway?
Brzezinski: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.
Contrary to Brezinski's half-hearted disclaimer that no one wishes for such an outcome, there are plenty on the left who would delight in a pitched battle between the United States and Israel. Democrats in Congress routinely support resolutions affirming Israel's right to take whatever steps it deems necessary to assure its own national defense. And Obama has at least paid lip service to the concept. But hostility to Israel among the rank and file is very real on the left -- and among "realists."
So conjure the image -- the Obama administration sending U.S. aircraft up to protect Iran's airspace and it's nuclear installations from an attack by a democracy that is one of America's closest allies. Unfortunately, this may not be so hard to imagine in Israel, where the number of people who believe Obama is pro-Israel is at just 4 percent -- and falling. And given Obama's (literally) submissive posture to the Saudis, his indulgence of the Iranians, and his simultaneously hard-line approach to Israel, it seems even some of Obama's supporters can savor the possibility of a "reverse Liberty."
Posted by Michael Goldfarb on September 19, 2009 03:38 PM
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 19, 2009, 03:48:46 PM
Terror Suspect's Computer Said to Show Sports Stadiums, Fashion Sites
Officials Report Denver Man Sent Texts Suggesting Attack Coming; 'Wedding Cake' Is Ready
By RICHARD ESPOSITO, BRIAN ROSS and CLAYTON SANDELL
Sept. 19, 2009—
A computer belonging to alleged al Qaeda suspect Najibullah Zazi showed he had researched baseball and football stadiums and sites used in the recent Fashion Week event in New York City, law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com.
Zazi, 24, had been scheduled to spend a fourth day today being questioned by the FBI but his lawyer, Arthur Folsom, canceled the session.
"He has taken the day to consult with his client," said Wendy Aiello, a spokeswoman for the lawyer.
Zazi is not in custody, she said.
While officials say they do not know the targets of the alleged plot, the contents of Zazi's computer are considered a valuable insight into what he might have been planning.
After first denying any ties to al Qaeda, Zazi has now admitted certain ties developed during trips to Pakistan, law enforcement officials told ABCNews.com.
The officials said text messages sent by Zazi suggest the plot was nearing the attack phase. One message said the "wedding cake is ready," which authorities say may have been code to indicate the attack was ready. Al Qaeda operatives have frequently used references to weddings to disguise planned terror attacks.
Zazi's lawyer, Arthur Folsom, said his client was cooperating fully with the FBI during his long interrogation sessions. Folsom told ABCNews.com "no deal has been offered," but authorities say Zazi is preparing a "proffer" of information he would be prepared to testify about as part of a plea negotiation.
Zazi's computer was copied, or "mirrored," by FBI agents last weekend without Zazi's knowledge. His lawyer said the agents probably made the copy after towing away Zazi's car on an purported parking violation. The computer was in the car, and Zazi told his lawyer he discovered it had been tampered with when he retrieved the car at a police lot.
Authorities who have been briefed on elements of the alleged plot said it was a "varsity level" plan similar in scope to the 2005 attacks on London's subways and busses.
A recipe for homemade explosives found on Zazi's computer would have produced a bomb of the same size and type used in London, authorities said.
The suicide bombers in London used backpacks and plastic containers to carry the explosive mixtures.
Raids in New York led to the discovery of 14 new backpacks.
FBI agents in New York, Denver and other U.S. locations are "working around the clock" on the investigation, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The New York Daily News reported Saturday that seven New York men with ties to Zazi had unsuccessfully attempted to rent a large rental truck on Sept. 10, the day before Zazi arrived from Denver.
This story has been updated with information from Najibullah Zazi's lawyer.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why do the dems love to betray our allies?
on: September 18, 2009, 08:59:03 AM
Poles, Czechs: US missile defense shift a betrayal
By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer Vanessa Gera, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 45 mins ago
WARSAW, Poland – Poles and Czechs voiced deep concern Friday at President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a Bush-era missile defense shield planned for their countries.
"Betrayal! The U.S. sold us to Russia and stabbed us in the back," the Polish tabloid Fakt declared on its front page.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he was concerned that Obama's new strategy leaves Poland in a dangerous "gray zone" between Western Europe and the old Soviet sphere.
Recent events in the region have rattled nerves throughout central and eastern Europe, a region controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, including the war last summer between Russia and Georgia and ongoing efforts by Russia to regain influence in Ukraine. A Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine last winter left many Europeans without heat.
The Bush administration's plan would have been "a major step in preventing various disturbing trends in our region of the world," Kaczynski said in a guest editorial in the daily Fakt and also carried on his presidential Web site.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he still sees a chance for Poles and Czechs to participate in the redesigned missile defense system. But that did not appear to calm nerves in Warsaw or Prague.
Kaczynski expressed hopes that the U.S. will now offer Poland other forms of "strategic partnership."
In Prague, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said he made two concrete proposal to U.S. officials on Thursday in hopes of keeping the U.S.-Czech alliance strong: for the U.S. to establish a branch of West Point for NATO members in Central Europe and to "send a Czech scientist on the U.S. space shuttle to the international space station."
An editorial in Hospodarske Novine, a respected pro-business Czech newspaper, said: "an ally we rely on has betrayed us, and exchanged us for its own, better relations with Russia, of which we are rightly afraid."
The move has raised fears in the two nations they are being marginalized by Washington even as a resurgent Russia leaves them longing for added American protection.
The Bush administration always said that the planned system — with a radar near Prague and interceptors in northern Poland — was meant as defense against Iran. But Poles and Czechs saw it as protection against Russia, and Moscow too considered a military installation in its backyard to be a threat.
"No Radar. Russia won," the largest Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes, declared in a front-page headline.
Obama said the old plan was scrapped in part because the U.S. has concluded that Iran is less focused on developing the kind of long-range missiles for which the system was originally developed, making the building of an expensive new shield unnecessary.
The replacement system is to link smaller radar systems with a network of sensors and missiles that could be deployed at sea or on land. Some of the weaponry and sensors are ready now, and the rest would be developed over the next 10 years.
The Pentagon contemplates a system of perhaps 40 missiles by 2015, at two or three sites across Europe.
Associated Press writer Karel Janicek contributed reporting from Prague.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama to allies: Drop Dead
on: September 17, 2009, 02:35:38 PM
East Europe grumbles about downgrade in US ties
By KAREL JANICEK and WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writers Karel Janicek And William J. Kole, Associated Press Writers
58 mins ago
PRAGUE – Scuttling a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland helps smooth relations between the U.S. and Russia. But at what price?
Some of America's staunchest allies are the East Europeans — and on Thursday, they expressed dismay at what many see as a slight after decades of their support for the U.S.
Among them were some famous names, including Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and Polish ex-president. "I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe," he said ruefully, adding: "The way we are being approached needs to change."
For most of the past decade, cozy relations with Washington were practically a given across the "new Europe." George W. Bush famously courted the region after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and leaned on it for troops to fight alongside U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Barack Obama took office undecided about Bush's plan to base 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and sophisticated radar in the Czech Republic — a system designed to shoot down long-range missiles that might be fired from Iran or elsewhere in the Middle East. Building had not started in either country.
The Czech installation was planned for the Brdy military installation 55 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Prague. The Polish site was slated for a former military air base near the town of Redzikowo, about 115 miles from Russia's westernmost edge.
Obama has been reaching out to Russia, which had expressed outrage at the notion of missiles being pointed in its direction from a region that was firmly in the Soviet orbit just 20 years ago.
On Thursday, Obama announced he was shifting the plan from Eastern Europe to other locations. He and other administration officials said they have concluded that Iran's medium- and short-range missiles pose a greater threat and require more flexible technology.
Obama's decision got a positive reception in Russia, hailed by President Dmitry Medvedev as a "responsible move."
"Now we can talk about restoration of the strategic partnership between Russia and the United States," said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.
Alexei Arbatov, head of the Russian Academy of Science's Center for International Security, said the U.S. reckons "Russia will be inclined together with the United States to take a harder line on sanctions against Iran."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she viewed the shift as "a hopeful signal for overcoming difficulties with Russia when it comes to a uniform strategy to combat the threat of Iran together."
Officially, Czech leaders said they understood the rationale for abandoning the shield, and they expressed confidence that the country would remain secure.
But some expressed dismay at the reversal.
Former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government signed treaties with the Bush administration to build the radar system — and took a lot of heat from Czechs who feared it would make their country a terrorist target — went on Czech radio to vent his frustrations.
"The Americans are not interested in this territory as they were before," he said. "It's bad news for the Czech Republic."
Obama's decision also drew flak in Washington. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called it "shortsighted and harmful to our long-term security interests."
"We must not turn our backs on two loyal allies in the war on terror," he said.
Obama, however, said the United States will continue to work cooperatively with what he called "our close friends and allies." And Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed hope that his country could have a role in the redesigned U.S. system.
"There is a chance for strengthening Europe's security with special attention given to Poland," Tusk told reporters, adding: "I would not describe what is going on today as a defeat for Poland."
Opponents of the shield, such as Jan Tamas — an activist who had organized numerous protests — hailed Obama's decision.
"It is a big victory for the Czech Republic. We are happy that we will be able to continue to live in our beautiful country without the presence of foreign soldiers," he said.
And Mariusz Chmiel, a top official in the northern Poland region where the missiles would have been based, proclaimed himself "the happiest man in Poland" now that the plan has been shelved.
Even so, scrapping missile defense comes as a huge setback to many Polish and Czech leaders, who viewed it as a way to strengthen military ties with the U.S. in a form of defense against a resurgent Russia.
Fears of Moscow run especially deep in Poland, highlighted by a key anniversary Thursday. Exactly 70 years ago — on Sept. 17, 1939 — Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union at the start of World War II.
Aleksander Szczyglo, head of Poland's National Security Office, characterized the change as a "defeat primarily of American long-distance thinking about the situation in this part of Europe."
"It's quite unfair," said Petr Boubin, 36, who owns a cafe in the Czech capital. "I think Obama is making too many concessions to Russia."
Kole reported from Vienna. AP Writers Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera in Warsaw and Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this story.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nuclear War, WMD issues
on: September 17, 2009, 02:26:16 PM
**It's ok, Obama has yet to begun to appease....**
AP NewsBreak: Nuke agency says Iran can make bomb
Sep 17 01:23 PM US/Eastern
VIENNA (AP) - Experts at the world's top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press.
The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency's leaders share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities.
It appears to be the so-called "secret annex" on Iran's nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA's chief.
The document says Iran has "sufficient information" to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to "overcome problems" on developing a delivery system.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 16, 2009, 06:31:06 PM
NYC terror plot: FBI fears Madrid-style attack on subways, planning more raids
posted at 7:23 pm on September 16, 2009 by Allahpundit
I was thinking today that this story is an object lesson in how utterly useless the color-coded terror warning system is. Major plot, Al Qaeda cell, hundreds of FBI agents scrambling, no arrests made or bomb materials yet found, and more raids on the way. If this isn’t a code red, nothing is.
Note well: So convinced were the feds that these guys are dangerous that they had their hostage team in the city, ready for action in case the raids turned ugly.
The FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team arrived in New York in anticipation of the offensive to thwart a Denver-based terror cell with ties to Al Qaeda, police sources told the Daily News.
Another source said an earlier raid uncovered nine backpacks and cell phones, raising memories of the March 2004 bombings in Madrid…
Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado man who triggered a rash of Queens raids Monday, was identified through e-mail, wire taps and a confidential informant as part of the plot, the source said…
Zazi was stopped at the George Washington Bridge on his way into the city, sources told The News. Authorities later seized his rental car from a Queens street, sources said.
In the car, sources said the feds found documents and papers about bomb-making and bombs.
The Daily News claims the cell is comprised of five men but I don’t know how that squares with the detail about nine backpacks. In fact, if you believe ABC News, it was actually 14 backpacks that were found. Remember: It only took four to kill 52 people in the London bombings of 2005. Exit question: Do they really not have enough to arrest Zazi? E-mails and wiretaps and an informant and bomb-making instructions and a cross-country drive to NYC: Seems like there’s a conspiracy and an overt act in there somewhere. Maybe they let him go in hopes that he’ll do something stupid like contacting other members of the cell, against whom the evidence might momentarily be weak. If you want to see him wearing a sh*t-eating grin and denying everything, follow the ABC link and watch the embedded video.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 16, 2009, 04:16:02 PM
FBI unit set for more anti-terror raids in Queens; Fears of Madrid-style subway bombings - sources
By James Gordon Meek In Washington and Rocco Parascandola, Alison Gendar and Larry Mcshane In New York
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Updated Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 3:28 PM
Fearful of a Madrid-style subway train bombing, authorities are poised to make more raids to seize bomb-making materials at locations in Queens, sources said Wednesday.
The FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team arrived in New York in anticipation of the offensive to thwart a Denver-based terror cell with ties to Al Qaeda, police sources told the Daily News.
Another source said an earlier raid uncovered nine backpacks and cell phones, raising memories of the March 2004 bombings in Madrid.
A series of terrorist bombs detonated aboard commuter trains killed 191 people. The source said authorities feared a potential attack on the city subway, with its 5.2 million daily riders.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, speaking at a Senate hearing Wednesday, said the plot posed "no imminent danger."
"New Yorkers are well benefited from the work of the NYPD and (Commissioner) Ray Kelly," said Mueller, offering no other details on the HRT deployment.
Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado man who triggered a rash of Queens raids Monday, was identified through e-mail, wire taps and a confidential informant as part of the plot, the source said.
Zazi, 25, told The News he had nothing to do with any terrorist activity.
"No. Of course, I'm not a terrorist," the 25-year-old Afghan national said Tuesday.
A source said Zazi, tipped while visiting Manhattan last weekend that he was under surveillance, fled back to suburban Denver.
Even as Zazi, of Aurora, Colo., professed his innocence, counterterrorism agents eyed him as part of the first suspected Al Qaeda cell they've uncovered in the U.S. since 9/11.
A bearded and barefoot Zazi, standing in the doorway of his apartment, said he's a hard-working airport shuttle driver who is married and lives with his elderly parents in the Denver suburb.
"I didn't know anything about who was following me," Zazi said of reports he is under surveillance by the FBI.
He confirmed driving to New York last week to visit friends, but denied involvement in any Al Qaeda bomb plot or terror cell.
Zazi was stopped at the George Washington Bridge on his way into the city, sources told The News. Authorities later seized his rental car from a Queens street, sources said.
In the car, sources said the feds found documents and papers about bomb-making and bombs. The massive federal response was "an indication of just how serious a threat they see this as," said Frances
Townsend, a former counterterrorism adviser to ex-President George W. Bush.
Zazi remained under constant surveillance Tuesday, the sources said.
Zazi said he and his newly hired lawyer plan to hold a press conference Wednesday.
FBI officials would not comment on The News' report that Zazi is indeed the target of their ongoing probe.
Scores of FBI agents inundated Denver Tuesday as they closed the noose on what sources say is a five-man cabal with ties to World Trade Center mastermind Osama Bin Laden's terrorist group.
One of the suspects, purportedly Zazi, recently had returned home from a trip abroad to Pakistan, where the U.S. believes a significant number of Al Qaeda's leaders live, sources said.
Multiple sources told The News the FBI believes it had uncovered an Al Qaeda cell for the first time since 9/11, prompting the unprecedented response.
"The FBI is seriously spooked about these guys," a former senior counterterrorism official told The News. "This is not some ... FBI informant-driven case. This is the real thing."
Zazi, seen last week praying and chatting with other worshipers at the Masjid Hazart Abubakr Islamic Center in Queens, was one of the quintet under intense scrutiny, sources said.
Known around the mosque as "Naji," he ran a coffee and doughnut cart in Manhattan before moving to Colorado earlier this year.
"I left New York because it's hard to live there; the rent is too expensive," said Zazi, who was born in eastern Afghanistan and moved here as a child.
His Queens home was in the same Flushing neighborhood where FBI agents swarmed into three apartments Monday, bashing down doors and carrying search warrants seeking bomb-making materials.
"I didn't know what he was up to," said mosque President Abdulrahman Jalili, 58, after he was contacted by the FBI about Zazi. "Islam is against terrorism. It is a religion of peace."
Red flags about an impending attack went up last week when Zazi visited with several people in a single day, combined with worrisome information collected from wiretaps, sources said.
The Queens apartment raids were triggered by the Denver investigation, Zazi's New York visit and the timing of the upcoming UN General Assembly.
New York authorities also detained several men - later released - in a hunt for bomb-making components, explosive powders and fuses.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said unspecified material was seized from the apartments and shipped for analysis.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 16, 2009, 10:03:49 AM
Man in Queens Raids Denies Any Terrorist Link
KAREN ZRAICK and DAVID JOHNSTON
Published: September 15, 2009
A Colorado man whose visit to New York apparently set off government raids on several Queens apartments on Monday has denied having ties to al Qaeda or any other terrorist group.
Terrorism Task Force Raids Queens Apartments (September 15, 2009) “I have nothing to do with this,” said the man, Najibullah Zazi, 25, who was reached by telephone in Colorado on Monday and Tuesday. “This looks like it’s going toward me, which is more shocking every hour.”
Law enforcement authorities have not divulged the man’s identity, but they confirmed that he was suspected of having al Qaeda ties and was already under surveillance for that reason.
The man whom officials were watching left New York last weekend, according to officials who have knowledge of the raids but were not authorized to discuss them. No arrests were made and no explosives or weapons were found.
Representative Peter T. King of Long Island said agents of the city’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “acted very appropriately” in carrying out the raids.
“It was based on the totality of the evidence, and from what I understand of the evidence, it was important that they acted when they did,” Mr. King said. “I am positive they did the right thing.”
Federal authorities regarded the man to be a legitimate terrorist suspect who had become the focus of intense investigation and elaborate covert surveillance before his trip to New York, according to government officials briefed on the case.
The man’s arrival last Thursday appeared to be the event that prompted authorities to stop his car near the George Washington Bridge and then carry out the searches that began late Sunday night — based on federal search warrants drafted during a frantic weekend in which prosecutors in New York and Washington hastily assembled the necessary legal documents. Officials said they decided to disrupt any plot that might have been imminent, but the raid came before investigators understood the suspect’s intentions, according to several federal officials. Because there were no arrests, officials have been left to assert that they acted out of an abundance of caution.
But several said the raids were carried out well before investigators had a prosecutable case, and before they had figured out the nature of the plot, its intended target or its likely means of execution — if there was a plot at all.
Several federal officials said they were persuaded that the case was an important one and had been moving in a significant direction, but was prematurely brought to a close at the urging of police officials in New York.
Mr. Zazi said on Tuesday that he was contacting a lawyer, but he invited the F.B.I. to question him.
“I was hoping they’d come question me, give me a chance to question them, ask, ‘Why are you following me?’ ” said Mr. Zazi. “If they want to investigate, they can.”
He said he left Aurora, Colo., in a rented car and headed to New York to try to resolve an issue with a coffee cart that he said his family is licensed to operate in Lower Manhattan. A spokeswoman for the New York City health department could not confirm if the man or his father operated a mobile food cart.
Mr. Zazi said he was stopped at the George Washington Bridge by the authorities, who briefly detained him and searched his car. A city official confirmed that officers stopped a man at the bridge and searched his car, and that “everything was clean.” The official could not say what prompted the stop.
Mr. Zazi said he thought the police might be profiling him or suspected him because he has a beard and had rented the car. The next day, he said he thought his car had been stolen, but the police told him it had been towed. The following day, he said, he noticed he was being followed and called the police twice to complain.
Finally, he said, he cut short his stay in New York, deciding to fly back to Colorado on Saturday.
“It was too much for me,” Mr. Zazi said. “I said, ‘I can’t stay here, even for a minute.’ ”
A relative of Mr. Zazi’s who lives in Aurora, Colo., Abdul Jaji, said he has “never seen anything wrong” with Mr. Zazi, and that he works 16-hour days as an airport shuttle driver. He added that Mr. Zazi traveled last year to Peshawar, Pakistan, where his wife lives, and stayed there four months.
It was not known who ordered the searches, but it was evident that that decision worsened the sometimes-quarrelsome relations between the New York Police Department and the F.B.I.
Evidence uncovered as part of the investigation and raids prompted the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security to issue a bulletin to law enforcement agencies around the country, warning them to be vigilant about homemade explosives, officials said.
The bulletin said the two agencies had no specific information on the timing, location, or target of any planned attack. But it noted that chemicals used to form hydrogen-peroxide-based explosives can be found at places like hardware stores and pharmacies, and that recipes for such explosives are easily obtainable.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Tuesday that while “there was enough substance” in the intelligence gathered to result in search warrants for the raids, the city was not under an imminent threat.
At one raid site, a fifth-floor apartment on 41st Avenue, a tenant, Naiz Khan, spoke of Mr. Zazi, who stayed overnight there on Thursday. He said that he had barely spoken with Mr. Zazi on his recent visit but that they had been closer when they were students at Flushing High School. He said he was committed to helping the F.B.I.
“Anything they need, I will help them out,” Mr. Khan said on Tuesday, standing amid a messy jumble of belongings. “It’s my responsibility.”
Al Baker and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting from New York and Dan Frosch from Aurora, Colo.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 15, 2009, 08:20:31 PM
Report: NYC terror plot was/is on scale of 9/11
posted at 7:05 pm on September 15, 2009 by Allahpundit
Not sure what that means — were the Madrid bombings, for instance, “on the scale of 9/11″? — but an awful lot of people in the know are scrambling. Combine this with that ominous Journal piece from last night and it sure sounds like someone’s worried about WMD, probably of the chemical variety given the FBI warnings to cops about foul odors and large window fans.
Hundreds of FBI agents are on the ground in Colorado, conducting round-the-clock surveillance on five suspects - including a man who recently visited Queens, sources told The News…
“The FBI is seriously spooked about these guys planning another 9/11,” a former senior counterterrorism official told the News. “This is not some … FBI informant-driven case. This is the real thing.”…
The 24-7 counterterror operation included Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants used to intercept calls and e-mails, as well as overseas-linked wiretaps to eavesdrop on Arabic and Pashto-speaking targets.
Sources said the investigation’s targets are Afghans - an unusual development. Al Qaeda prefers Arabs and Pakistanis as there [sic] overseas operatives.
The Post IDs the Colorado suspect as an Afghan known as “Najibullah” and claims that he trained with Al Qaeda. Could be that AQ wants to put an Afghan stamp on the next attack to frame it as some sort of reprisal for the U.S. occupation, but that’s just me guessing. As for how he got away, it seems we jumped too soon:
The FBI, meanwhile, is furious with the NYPD for bungled intelligence gathering that tipped off Najibullah that he was under surveillance, sources said.
Federal agents working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force asked their NYPD counterparts to discreetly gather intel on Najibullah.
Rather than slyly contact their list of sources and informants the NYPD canvassed the suspect’s old Flushing neighborhood and flashed around his picture.
Eventually the imam of the Masjid Hazrat Abu Bakr Islamic Center learned of the investigation and contacted the man’s family to let them know that he was subject of a law enforcement inquiry.
Great work, imam. You’re a true patriot. No arrests so far, no bomb materials recovered. Where do they go from here?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 15, 2009, 02:11:22 PM
Queens terror raids part of FBI probe into Denver-based cell plotting attack on 9/11 scale
BY James Gordon Meek In Washington AND Rocco Parascandola AND Larry Mcshane In New York
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Updated Tuesday, September 15th 2009, 12:47 PM
The massive FBI probe that triggered raids in Queens is focused on a Denver-based terror cell plotting another attack on the scale of 9/11, the Daily News learned Tuesday.
Hundreds of FBI agents are on the ground in Colorado, conducting round-the-clock surveillance on five suspects - including a man who recently visited Queens, sources told The News.
New York authorities searched three Flushing apartments and detained several men - later released - after getting a warrant to look for bomb-making components, explosive powders and fuses.
"The FBI is seriously spooked about these guys planning another 9/11," a former senior counterterrorism official told the News. "This is not some ... FBI informant-driven case. This is the real thing."
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters it's an ongoing investigation with plenty of "substance."
The 24-7 counterterror operation included Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants used to intercept calls and e-mails, as well as overseas-linked wiretaps to eavesdrop on Arabic and Pashto-speaking targets.
Sources said the investigation's targets are Afghans - an unusual development. Al Qaeda prefers Arabs and Pakistanis as there overseas operatives.
FBI officials are furious at Kelly over Monday's raids because the NYPD seemed intent on scaring off the cell - which is believed to be plotting a New York attack.
The FBI hoped to wait and determine what the Colorado cell was planning.
Two other sources confirmed the FBI-NYPD rift. An investigator involved in the case said Kelly prefers to "act too soon rather than act too late."
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said it is "an utter fabrication that the FBI is furious with Kelly or that Kelly fought to shut down the action early."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/09/15/2009-09-15_queens_terror_raids_part_of_fbi_probe_into_denverbased_cell_plotting_attack_on_9.html?print=1&page=all#ixzz0RChXmFKt
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / This should work out well....
on: September 15, 2009, 10:04:35 AM
Is Obama the next Herbert Hoover?
posted at 10:55 am on September 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
The last President to initiate a trade war during a recession wound up creating the biggest economic catastrophe in American history. Yet the current President appears to have ignored the lesson of Herbert Hoover and the Smoot-Hawley Act in slapping tariffs on China and its tire exports while the economy struggles to come back to life after a deep recession. The Wall Street Journal wonders where Barack Obama is leading the US, or whether Obama wants to lead at all:
The smell of trade war is suddenly in the air. Mr. Obama slapped a 35% tariff on Chinese tires Friday night, and China responded on the weekend by threatening to retaliate against U.S. chickens and auto parts. That followed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s demand on Thursday that Europe impose a carbon tariff on imports from countries that don’t follow its cap-and-trade diktats. “We need to impose a carbon tax at [Europe's] border. I will lead that battle,” he said.
Mr. Sarkozy was following U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who has endorsed a carbon tax on imports, and the U.S. House of Representatives, which passed a carbon tariff as part of its cap-and-tax bill. This in turn followed the “Buy American” provisions of the stimulus, which has incensed much of Canada; Congress’s bill to ban Mexican trucks from U.S. roads in direct violation of Nafta, prompting Mexico to retaliate against U.S. farm and kitchen goods; and the must-make-cars-in-America provisions of the auto bailouts. Meanwhile, U.S. trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea languish in Congress.
Through all of this Mr. Obama has either said nothing or objected so feebly that Congress has assumed he doesn’t mean it. Despite his pro-forma demurrals, Mr. Obama’s actions and nonactions are telling the world that the U.S. is abandoning the global leadership on trade that Presidents of both parties have worked to maintain since the 1930s. His advisers whisper that their man is merely playing a little tactical domestic politics, but he is playing with fire, as the last 80 years of trade history should tell him.
Not only does this ignore the history of trade wars and recessions, which the Journal outlines, but it also ignores Obama’s own big-spending policies. Obama wants to spend trillions of dollars in deficits over the next ten years, especially on his overhaul of the health-care and energy industries in the US. That will take a lot of happy bondholders buying US debt, and for the last several years, that means China. What happens when China stops buying — or worse yet, starts selling what Treasuries they already hold?
If an American administration wanted to confront China on trade, it should have prepared itself by eliminating the need to sell debt. That administration would have pared down spending dramatically, lowered corporate taxes to allow for better competition in the global marketplace for American companies, and encouraged domestic investment by lowering capital-gains taxes. The Obama administration has done the exact opposite instead, leaving the US completely unprepared for a trade war against China, especially over tires, which impacts a mere 7,000 jobs in the US.
Bill Clinton, for all his faults, understood the power and the necessity of open trade. George Bush learned that lesson after a fumble on steel tariffs in 2001. No other president since Hoover has made the mistake of thinking that a trade war would help bolster the economy here in the US or abroad. Picking a fight with the US’s largest debtholder as we prepare to issue more debt in the next few years than we have over the course of the past 230 seems like a foolish, ignorant strategy — the worst of both worlds, with the worst possible outcomes.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues
on: September 15, 2009, 08:25:03 AM
- September 14, 2009
ACORN Story Grows But Mainstream Media Refuse to Cover It
This story has everything you could ever want – corruption, sleazy actions at tax-funded organizations, firings, government ties, sex, hookers. It is a network news director’s dream. Imagine the ratings. But almost no one is covering it.
Bruce Springsteen once wrote: “From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come).” I doubt he expected that story of love gone wrong would become ideal political commentary for the group known as ACORN.
The small scandal showing an embarrassing video of Baltimore ACORN staffers looking like they were giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel, is now national news. -- This story has everything you could ever want – corruption, sleazy actions at tax-funded organizations, firings, government ties, sex, hookers. It is a network news director’s dream. Imagine the ratings!
Only almost no one is covering it.
This is the news media in the era of Van Jones and President Obama. The major outlets cover what they want and create the themes they want. When they find something inconvenient, they let it pass. They didn’t like the Van Jones story, so they ignored it. The network news media liked the financial entity known as Fannie Mae, so they ignored that scandalous organization for years. ACORN is getting the same treatment.
But it isn’t working any more. The ACORN fiasco has now impacted three offices – Baltimore, Washington and New York – with laugh-out-loud videos reminiscent of the hookers and pimps from the 1970s “Starsky and Hutch” show. Huggy Bear returns! Four employees have been fired, with more likely to come. And the controversy was so laughably bad that the Census Bureau cut off all ties to the group known formally as the "Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." -- They called it the “tipping point” to shed themselves of ACORN. More nuts for someone else, I guess.
And yet. And yet it’s still been ignored by the network news. Nothing on ABC, CBS or NBC. The only thing any one of the three broadcast networks has done appeared in a blog post by ABC’s Jake Tapper. It's hardly worth noting except to show that the networks know about what’s going on. They just don’t care to report it. Only FOX News has bothered to report on the controversy.
The video scandal is only part of the fiasco that is this Saul Alinsky-esque community group. Just last week CNN reported that other ACORN employees were arrested in Florida. “Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for 11 Florida voter registration workers who are suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents,” said CNN.
That’s typical. The Web site "Rotten ACORN" is devoted to election fraud complaints against the organization. The site’s map shows 14 different states where complaints have been filed. The last time any one of the broadcast networks talked about that was before the 2008 presidential election. That was NBC on Nov. 1. Nothing since.
Yes, the newspapers have taken a passing glance at the video story. The Post wrote about the firings in D.C. The New York Times ran a story by the Associated Press. Nothing more. I am underwhelmed. At least the Times covered it this time. With Jones, the Times waited until he had resigned to report he was under fire.
What’s worse with ACORN is that we’re paying for all this. At least in part. The Washington Examiner writes that they “found that ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal money since 1994.”
For its own part, ACORN naturally blamed someone else. In this case, FOX News, calling itself “their Willy Horton for 2009.” The ACORN state reads like a paranoid’s interpretation of the videos. Here’s Bertha Lewis, Chief Organizer, for the group:
“The relentless attacks on ACORN's members, its staff and the policies and positions we promote are unprecedented. An international entertainment conglomerate, disguising itself as a ‘news’ agency (FOX), has expended millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, in their attempt to destroy the largest community organization of Black, Latino, poor and working families in the country. It is not coincidence that the most recent attacks have been launched just when health care reform is gaining traction. It is clear they've had these tapes for months.”
Yeah, all that about under-aged prostitution, corruption and government connections isn’t news. People are just out to get ACORN. No wonder their name symbolizes a kind of nut. Too bad the rest of the media don’t want us to know that.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The FOX Forum and he can be seen on FOXNews.com’s “Strategy Room.”
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 9/11/09
on: September 14, 2009, 01:24:54 AM
September 11, 2009, 4:00 a.m.
Our National 9/11 Schizophrenia
The great debate over 9/11 and the American response — is it coming to an end?
By Victor Davis Hanson
Ninety-six months ago, 19 Islamic terrorists — led by Mohamed Atta, organized by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and ordered by Osama bin Laden — hijacked four American airliners. They destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and murdered 2,974 people. The al-Qaeda–planned attack was the most lethal on the American homeland in our history.
In response, the United States quickly attacked and removed the Taliban government that had offered sanctuary to the killers. About 15 months later, in March 2003, America successfully invaded Iraq, deposed the dictator Saddam Hussein, and fostered a constitutional government in his place.
At home, a new Department of Homeland Security oversaw fresh counterterrorism measures. The government stepped up wiretaps and email intercepts of suspected terrorists. It established military tribunals, continued renditions of jihadists abroad, and inaugurated Predator-drone assassinations of terrorists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Bush administration ordered the creation of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
All of these post-9/11 measures were debated in the congressional election campaigns of 2002, and during the presidential campaign of 2004. Incumbents responsible for such a muscular response to al-Qaeda were mostly reelected — given that, despite the steep human costs, the Taliban regime and Saddam Hussein were gone, democracies were in their places, and the United States had not suffered another attack when most experts had affirmed that such an event was inevitable.
In addition, almost immediately after the removal from power and later capture of Saddam Hussein, Pakistan put its nuclear proliferator, A. Q. Khan, under house arrest. Libya voluntarily surrendered its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and its facilities for manufacturing more. A peaceful “cedar revolution” in Lebanon led to the removal of long-standing Syrian occupation troops.
None of this was easy. Almost 5,000 Americans died in the two wars; over $1 trillion was spent. At home the country was torn apart in domestic acrimony. The last eight years have seen a resistance culture spring up, let by such as Ward Churchill, Michael Moore, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and Joe Wilson — coupled with congressional fury in which senators have characterized our own troops as analogous to Pol Pot, Nazis, Communists, terrorists, and Saddam Hussein’s Baathists.
Today one-third of Democrats believe that President Bush was involved in the planning of September 11. Best-selling books have alleged that 9/11 was a planned government operation. Novels were published and movies screened envisioning the assassination of George W. Bush. Politicians as diverse as Robert Byrd, Al Gore, and John Glenn all compared the president or his policies to Nazis or Brownshirts. All that was in response to the losses in Iraq, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, in addition to the partisan advantage sought by discrediting the Bush presidency.
Now, on the eighth anniversary of the assault, the world has changed almost beyond belief — even if many circumstances that led to the attack on America have not. The Taliban regime and Saddam are still gone. Democracies still function in their place. America remains safe from attack. Yet rarely do we credit anyone for such facts.
Indeed, we are now in a post-9/11 sort of limbo. On the one hand, popular culture, the Democratic Party, the Democratic-led Congress, and Barack Obama have at various times denied the utility or morality of Guantanamo, elements of the Patriot Act, rendition, military tribunals, Predator attacks, or the conduct and very necessity of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The new post-9/11 narrative is not so much that a radical fringe of fundamentalist Muslims had established nefarious relationships of mutual interest and benefit with Middle Eastern dictatorships in order to terrorize Western targets, but that an insensitivity and chauvinism on the part of the United States had driven proud Muslims through desperation and angst into Islam’s radical fringes.
This narrative proved to be a winner in 2006 and 2008 for both congressional Democrats and Barack Obama. In varying ways, during the luxury of quiet from terrorism at home, they promised a respite from Bush’s costly optional wars, his unnecessary and largely unconstitutional “war on terror,” and the general notion of an us/them dichotomy between the West and radical Islam. Candidate Obama at one time called for all American combat brigades out of Iraq by March 2008, repeal of much of the anti-terrorism protocols, and a rapid closing of Guantanamo.
But reality was far different from rhetoric. America, after all, was still safe in a manner that no one envisioned after the 9/11 attacks — and perhaps for a reason as well. So if Barack Obama and his supporters once damned tribunals, wiretaps and email surveillance, renditions, and Predator assassinations, now in power they strangely began to approve of, or at least tolerate, most of them.
The detention facility at Guantanamo is deemed abhorrent, but its continued presence suggests that even its critics acknowledge a certain utility. Iraq was written off as “lost” by opponents, but over 130,000 Americans still shepherd its fragile democracy. The “good” and older war in Afghanistan is now more violent and more controversial than the relatively quiet “bad” conflict in Iraq. Apparently, eight years of the Bush policies in reaction to 9/11 are as silently ratified as they are publicly condemned — an Orwellian moment in which “Bush did it” has become a public slur, while a privately appreciated fact.
What lies ahead? The present schizophrenia, I think, is untenable. The public is happy that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mass murderer of September 11, was waterboarded and thereafter expounded on his terrorist network; the Obama administration, in contrast, believes that all those who extracted that information in the bleak months following 9/11 should themselves be investigated and, if need be, tried and punished.
For the last two years, polls in the Middle East have shown a radical drop in support for both bin Laden and the tactic of suicide bombing. We in response have apologized to the Muslim world and magnified its glories at the precise moment when, of its own accord, it has turned on its radicals, who have brought death, destruction — and defeat — to all in their midst.
Few Americans now support our continued presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. And yet even fewer ever thought that the Taliban and Saddam would be quickly dispatched, and two constitutional governments would still be surviving in their absence.
In short, we are reaching a critical moment of clarity. We continue practices that we say are either futile or wrong, and we demonize their architects in speech even as we ratify them through action. At some date, the Democrats and Obama may well close Guantanamo, try our own CIA interrogators, cease tribunals and renditions, ground the Predators, pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, reach out to Iran and Syria, and distance the United States from Israel.
At that point, when liberal deeds at last match liberal rhetoric, the great 9/11 debate of the last eight years — are we still in lethal danger from radical elements of Islam or not? — will finally be decided by either our continued safety or another September 11.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Emergency Tips and Emergency Medicine
on: September 13, 2009, 04:06:02 PM
Course outline: http://www.thebackup.com/pdfs/classes/TLS.pdfhttp://www.thebackup.com/Tactical-Lifesaver-P52.aspx
The primary goal of the Tactical Lifesaver course is to improve the survivability of accidental and non-accidental life-threatening injuries encountered by law enforcement and corrections officers, with a secondary goal of decreasing liability for the officer's department. The course is not designed to turn officers into medics, but rather teach the time-critical skills that may permit survival long enough for victims to obtain definitive medical care.
I recently completed the above "digital based" class. For me, it was worth the 50.00 and time invested. If you are an EMT, Paragod or TEMS, this would probably be a waste of time and money.
If you aren't someone with advanced medical training, then this is something I'd recommend to go along with your basic First Aid/CPR training, no matter if you are a LEO or armed citizen.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security and American Freedom
on: September 12, 2009, 09:43:13 PM
Special report: How Obama cronyism threatens rail security
By Michelle Malkin • September 11, 2009 07:29 AM
How Obama cronyism threatens rail security
by Michelle Malkin
New Delhi. Mumbai. Chechnya. Madrid. London. The question isn’t whether America will suffer a jihadi attack on our passenger rail lines, but when. So, why has President Obama neutered the nation’s most highly-trained post-9/11 counterterrorism rail security team?
All signs point to business-as-usual cronyism and pandering to power-grabbing union bosses.
Amtrak’s Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations (OSSSO) grew out of a counterterrorism and intelligence unit developed by the Bush administration in the wake of global jihadi attacks on mass transit systems. The office was staffed with Special Forces veterans, law enforcement officers, railroad specialists, other military personnel, and experts who collectively possessed hundreds of years of experience fighting on the front lines against terrorism. Each member underwent at least 800 hours of rail security-related training, including advanced marksmanship, close quarters, and protective security exercises.
OSSSO’s mobile prevention teams acted as “force multipliers” working with local, state, and federal authorities across the country to detect, deter, and defend against criminal and terrorist attacks on mass transit. They conducted hundreds of show-of-force, uniformed, and rail marshal rides.
OSSSO also provided security services for President Bush, the Pope, the 2008 Democrat and Republican conventions, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign events, and then-Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Amtrak whistle stop tours. The counterterrorism unit’s push to conduct random passenger and baggage screening earned predictable criticism from civil liberties absolutists, but also garnered bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill. Even Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas hailed the rail security team’s work last year:
“Let me congratulate them for being aware” of the threat to rail passengers, the chairman of a House Homeland Security subcommittee on transportation security, told USA Today in July 2008. “(But) this has to be the new standard for Amtrak.”
How will Congress react to the news that this high standard has been obliterated?
According to multiple government sources who declined to be identified for fear of retribution, OSSSO’s East Coast and West Coast teams have not worked in a counterterrorism capacity since the summer. Their long-arms were put under lock and key after the abrupt departures of Amtrak vice president for security strategy and special operations Bill Rooney and Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold.
Weiderhold played an instrumental role in creating OSSSO’s predecessor at Amtrak, the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU). He tapped Rooney to oversee the office. But Rooney was quietly given the “thank you for your service” heave-ho in May and Weiderhold was unexpectedly “retired” a few weeks later — just as the government-subsidized rail service faced mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes.
As I reported in June, Weiderhold had blown the whistle on intrusion of Amtrak’s Law Department into his financial audits and probes. A damning, 94-page report from an outside legal firm concluded that the “independence and effectiveness” of the Amtrak inspector general’s office were “being substantially impaired” by the Law Department – which happens to be headed by Eleanor Acheson, a close pal of Vice President Biden.
Biden, in turn, is tight with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the powerful union that represents the Amtrak Police Department. According to OSSSO sources, the APD brass have been aggrieved over the non-unionized counterterrorism unit’s existence from its inception. A West Coast OSSSO team member told me that union leaders blocked police credentialing efforts by his office for more than a year. An East Coast OSSSO team member told me that the FOP recently filed a grievance against one of its counterterrorism officers for assisting a train conductor who asked for help in ejecting a ticketless passenger.
Unlike the highly-specialized officers at OSSSO, APD officers possess minimal counterterrorism training. Past studies show alarmingly low pass rates among APD patrolmen who have attended undergone basic special operations classes, according to government sources. The Amtrak FOP continues to squabble over turf with the rival Teamsters Union; its leaders can’t even agree on minimal physical fitness standards for its members that have yet to be implemented. Nevertheless, OSSSO is now under the command and control of the APD — and federal stimulus funding specifically earmarked for the counterterrorism unit has now been absorbed by the police department.
Amtrak did not respond to my questions about OSSSO by my column deadline Thursday afternoon.
Al Qaeda operatives have repeatedly plotted to wreak havoc on our mass transit systems. And they will try, try again. American jihadi Bryant Neal Vinas recently gave the feds details about a plot blow up a Long Island Rail Road commuter train in New York’s Penn Station. As America marks the September 11 anniversary and the “Never forget” mantra echoes, an OSSSO team member told me: “There is no room for internal protectionism, vested interests of unions, or asset-manipulating bureaucracies where the safety of our national passenger railroad is concerned.”
Does anyone else in Washington agree?
The RAND Corporation conducted an internal review of the Amtrak Police Department’s deficiencies in counterterrorism training, and made the following observations:
Although APD officers receive police training, they do not receive special counterterrorism training either as part of their initial training or in training activities after they join the APD. The lack of counterterrorism training might explain why every APD officer interviewed indicated that he or she saw no fundamental difference between police and counter-terror work.
(By counterterrorism training, we refer to knowledge and skills to conduct counter-surveillance, special training to respond to chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear threats and familiarization with attack methods that might involve the use of these types of weapons, profiling techniques to identify suspicious behaviors, knowledge about protocols for security information sharing, and awareness of how to work with Federal Government agencies and other entities involved in counterterrorism.)
…Moreover, there are no metrics in the Amtrak Security Threat Level Response Plan against which to monitor compliance or to gauge the effectiveness of prescribed countermeasures. There are no performance metrics for the divisional security coordinators program either. RAND’s review of Amtrak security documents and interview responses also did not find any explicit criteria guiding the selection of additional or alternative countermeasures or shifts in response levels within the system. It was, thus, not clear what would guide the Chief of Amtrak Police’s decisions on these matters. In this connection, it is also not clear how management would know with high confidence that the response posture chosen by APD translates into reduced vulnerability for Amtrak….
Recruitment and retention issues severely impede capacity building for security preparedness
Counter-terrorism training for APD officers is inadequate
Deployment options for APD officers are impaired by jurisdictional and work rules issues
Close corporate oversight of APD is lacking
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 9/11/09
on: September 11, 2009, 05:21:43 PM
with PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie
American cops: Force multipliers in counterterrorism
Editor's Note: I don't typically write in "first person" on this Web site. This is, in fact, the first time I’ve ever done so. One of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to talk to heroes every day. From cadets to Chiefs of Police, from the rookies to the recently retired, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with hundreds of outstanding police officers. But I don’t often get to speak with one of our country’s heroes who has hunted (and bagged) international terrorists. Fred Burton has been there and done that, and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with him. What follows are a few of the highlights of that conversation. I will refer back to this interview at times in the future — my intent here is merely to relate some of the wisdom he shared with me during our talk, the sum of which is this: American cops are on front lines against potential terrorist attacks on our soil.
— Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Senior Editor
Some PoliceOne Members already know a little bit about Fred Burton through his regular columns on current counterterrorism activities both here and abroad. For those of you who don’t know his work, a little bit of historical context will go a long way.
Fred Burton began his law enforcement career in a way many police officers can relate to — a young man with the desire to help people in his community became a cop in Montgomery County, Maryland, which borders our nation’s Capitol. In the first chapter of his book, GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, he writes, “I was a Maryland cop. I protected my community. I loved law enforcement, but I wanted something more.”
He applied for federal service, and the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State offered him a job. Before he began training for the DSS in November 1985 — around the time terrorists hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise liner — he had never even heard of the organization. By the time he retired from DSS, Fred had helped create (and then lead) the agency’s Counterterrorism Division. “Very few people have ever heard of us,” Fred writes. “My training for that work was as a street cop back when terrorism was in its infancy.”
He orchestrated the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He investigated cases including the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane, al Qaeda’s New York City bombing plots before 9/11, and the Libyan-backed terrorist attacks against diplomats in Sanaa and Khartoum. He has served his country in ways that may remain secret forever.
Today, Fred Burton is widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on terrorists and terrorist organizations. As Vice President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security at STRATFOR, a global private intelligence company, Fred Burton leads a team of experts (with input from human intelligence sources around the world) that analyzes and forecast the most significant events and trends related to terrorism and counterterrorism.
To this day, he carries with him at all times a list of about a dozen names — handwritten into a small journal — of known actors, unidentified suspects, rogue intelligence operatives, and terrorists’ aliases or code names. When a bad guy is caught or killed, the name is scratched off the list. The number of names varies, he says, “depending on the speed of justice in the world.”
The NYPD Beat Cop Concept
Most police officers have a pretty good handle on where the “high-value targets” are in their patrol area. Many even think beyond the typical list of power plants, transportation facilities, malls, hospitals, sports complexes, rail yards, radio towers, and public buildings. But it goes way beyond even that. Burton says that agencies and officers should be aware of where the offices are whose CEOs or managers are particularly high-profile, or unexpectedly low-profile. He says that targets could be among the most innocuous-looking structures and areas.
“It’s still surprising to me the kind of blank stares I get at times — officers may know that they patrol an area that has a nuclear reactor, or that there’s a large dam. But they may not know, for example, that large oil, chemical, or gas lines run through their areas or that your suspicious person call in the vicinity of a location may be connected to those kinds of places.”
Further, Burton advises that police officers get to know the locations of the synagogues in their area of responsibility, as well as the mosques. “Have you made any effort to reach out to the Imam of the mosque or the Rabbi of that synagogue and establish some dialogue? What I sense — what I know and I’m sure you know too — is that cops are responding to their radio calls and they don’t have a lot of opportunity to get out and just develop some very granular contacts in the community. But these could turn out to be valuable information conduits.”
If you have a good avenue of communication within your various communities, he explains, they’re more apt to bring more information to your attention. “Say, for example, if they have someone — whether it’s in the jihadi community or in the right-wing Jewish extremist community — that they want to talk to you about...” Burton offers, and then allows that sentence hang in the air, unanswered.
Individuals working day-to-day in ethnically-owned private small business — from the deli to the hot dog cart to the self-storage businesses — are always good conduits of information if you really know your area of responsibility. When he visits police agencies around the country, he asks for a show of hands among the gathered group: ‘who here knows those business owners, or even where the synagogues, Jewish day care centers, or mosques are located?’
“You’ll get a hit or miss response,” he laments. “In an audience of 100 you might get 25 hands. Whether folks don’t want to respond, or what, I don’t know. But I get a sense there’s still not a lot of understanding of your different communities... where you can play a significant role in the war on terror.”
Information about all of these types of people and places has meaning — specifically it can mean the difference between an attack that’s carried out and one that’s prevented.
It’s the old beat cop principle that New York City is so famous for — knowing everything that is happening on your beat. “You really do need informational resources in the community as well as good observation skills to know what changes are taking place.”
Who’s Watching the Watchers?
Most pre-operational surveillance — such as sitting on a park bench, taking a picture, or shooting scenic video — is innocent-looking in nature and generally does not break the law. The real problem with this isn’t the legality of the activity, it’s that in too many cases, virtually no one is taking note that it’s happening. Burton says that often, no one has the mindset to wonder, ‘Why is this person taking a picture of this building?’
Worse, omong those who do make the observation, few will take the time to write it up in an intelligence report and make sure that it gets to the local Joint Terrorism Task Force for further investigation. “There may be three or four of those things that happen across a region,” Burton says, “but no one would know to make an analysis because no one bothered to send the sighting up the line.”
According to Burton, there’s a prevailing expectation among too many cops that someone else is doing that, but in fact, nobody is. “I think street cops think, ‘Well, the FBI must be doing that.’ And that’s just not the case. You know, the FBI — especially today’s FBI — they have an operating manual that’s about the size of an old Bell telephone book. They’re under a lot of bureaucratic requirements and scrutiny as to when they can talk to people and when they can’t. It takes a lot of supervisory approvals and so forth. So, your average street cop or your average detective has much more probability of running into a real terrorist than your average federal agent does. They also have the ability to just do more intelligence collection through interfacing with their area of responsibility.”
Burton contends that the thwarting of a terrorist attack is more probable at the street level than at the federal level. “I spent a lot of time with these folks across the country and I talked to a lot of different people and do a lot of speaking engagements with counter-terrorism agents. Even in the post-9/11 environment with DHS and your joint terrorism task forces with intelligence division agents and detectives — everybody kind of senses that somebody else is doing this stuff. In reality, they’re not.”
Jails: The Jihadist Jack-in-the-Box
Where would a jihadist go to cultivate new recruits? Where would he find recent converts to Islam who could easily be radicalized? Where are there large numbers of young men who feel disenfranchised and prone to violence? You’ve probably already guessed the top two places (hint: they’re not colleges and mosques). Cartels and gangs on the streets, and their related populace who live behind bars.
“You have a couple of environments that are very conducive for the recruitment for jihadist criminal activity. Obviously, one is the prison systems — more at the local and state level than the federal system because the federal system usually has folks that are put away for a good number of years due to federal sentencing guidelines. So, in essence, at the local and state levels where you see more of the recruitment of gang members as well as you get the converts to Islam, you get the captive audience that has to join the group for self-preservation phenomena.”
Burton says that there are some outstanding programs underway in some state and local corrections agencies that are beginning to develop actionable intelligence on these prisoners to garner how they’re doing recruitment. Despite these excellent efforts, there remain some “huge intelligence gaps” due to the difficulty of getting that kind of data and making sense of it. But strides are being made by extending some of the intelligence gathering activities devoted toward drug cartels and their criminal cadre who occupy our prisons.
“The other phenomena — and we see it especially when it comes to the Border — is that relationship between your various cartels and your criminal enterprises, your street gangs. Whether it’s MS-13, Barrio Aztecas, or a lot of smaller ones, you know there has to be an interface between the cartels that are pushing the dope north and the flow of weapons, stolen vehicles, and cash going south. You have that hand and glove interface there.”
Case in Point: A Successful Model
At the center of the successful take-down of a grassroots jihadist cell in May are some of the very things Burton discussed with PoliceOne:
1. among these homegrown terrorists, only one was reared as a Muslim — the other three converted to Islam in prison
2. relatively ordinary local synagogues were among the terrorists’ intended targets (the other target was a U.S. military transport aircraft)
3. one well-placed informant in a mosque was the conduit of information to law enforcement
4. the would-be terrorists used cameras bought at Wal-Mart to photograph their targets, doing their pre-operational surveillance in the open
5. vigilant observation of the suspects — and information being quickly passed to federal agents — led to the successful prevention of an attack
Of course, we’re talking about the Newburgh plot. In STRATFOR’s excellent analysis of the failed plot, Burton and his team write that “with an informant in place, the task force in charge of tracking the Newburgh plotters most likely constructed an elaborate surveillance system that kept the four men under constant watch during the investigation and sting operation, using technical surveillance of their residences and potential targets.”
Having the ability to closely observe the group’s communications and movements, STRATFOR estimated, law enforcement officials were able to gain control over the group’s activities to such a degree that they felt confident in letting the plotters plant a 37-pound inert explosive device in the trunk of a car outside of Riverdale Temple and two similarly harmless bombs outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, a synagogue a few blocks away.
There’s one other element to the Newburgh plot that Burton discussed with PoliceOne, and it’s as esoteric as it is concrete. The suspects told their arresting officers that they “wanted to commit jihad” because they were “disturbed about what happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Going Home... Eyeing the Horizon
Burton was recently invited to do a presentation on terrorism for his old PD, Montgomery County Police. “I guess it was about 250 police officers, and they had invited the U.S. Park Police and ICE and ATF... it was good going back and having an opportunity to talk to my old department.”
Among the things Burton said to the group is something he tries to talk about wherever he goes — that police officers are so focused on the day-to-day of patrol that they sometimes fail to recognize how the events which take place abroad can impact security here in the States.
“Whether that is a Mumbai attack or the current saber-rattling between Israel and Iran, they don’t put it in a domestic perspective. Meaning, ‘how does this international event resonate here? What are the possible ramifications to us here on my beat and in my city?’ I talk to a lot of police officers and what I see is that once you start talking about this issue, they clearly get it then and recognize that it’s important.”
Burton says that once the international trigger incident occurs, it is way too late to go back and start laying the foundations to those relationships and making those intelligence inroads. The “quiet times” on patrol are the best times for doing security surveys at those facilities, or establishing liaison with the owner of those properties. He asks, “Have you done a walk-through when you’ve got some down time to know these sites in case you’re called for an active shooter that takes place at this location?”
Just one example from which you can choose — among the topics he covers at STRATFOR — Burton points to the tensions between Iran and Israel right now. “Whether or not Israel is going to conduct a preemptive strike on Iran is a topic that we discuss here every day. That event, in the event that it occurs, will significantly resonate here in the United States. One: does your average police officer recognize that? And two: you’ll be in a much better position if you already know within your area of responsibility those Jewish-owned, multi-national Jewish schools, synagogues, as potential target sites and you’ve made an effort to establish contact with all of them. Because that brings you to the new phenomena of your lone-wolf jihadi and how in all probability — again, back to your street officer — your street officer is going to be the most probable interface between the victim and the perpetrator.”
Counterterrorism Force Multipliers
Burton states with conviction that police officers in the United States are at the front line of the preemption of a terrorist attack on our soil. He adds that strictly from a data-collection perspective — and all police officers are data-collectors — cops are “our best eyes and ears for detecting pre-operational surveillance by anybody. If you could marshal those assets nationally, from sea to shining sea, you could have a much better picture of events from a real-time surveillance perspective than we currently do.”
The good news, he says, is that America’s cops are a counterterrorism force multiplier, especially when you’re entering into times of heightened concern.
The bad news is chillingly simple: “Based on my investigations and the kind of work I’ve done in the past, once that suicide bomber starts rolling toward target they’re going to be about 95 to 97 percent successful in carrying out their mission and killing somebody.”
A veteran of more than ten years in online and print journalism, Doug Wyllie was writing about digital music before Napster, streaming video before YouTube, and wireless technology since the original Palm Pilot debuted. As senior editor of PoliceOne, Doug is responsible for the editorial direction of the PoliceOne website. In addition to his editorial and managerial responsibilities, Doug writes on a broad range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 9/11/09
on: September 11, 2009, 05:08:05 PM
Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com
Eight Years After 9/11: Are We Getting Complacent?
Posted By Ryan Mauro On September 11, 2009 @ 12:00 am In . Feature 01, . Positioning, Homeland Security, Middle East, US News, World News | 48 Comments
We can all remember the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Almost all of us can remember the second anniversary. The third, a lot less; the fourth, even less. Eventually, something happened: we forgot about 9/11.
I began working at Hollywood Video, a movie rental store, in 2004 and saw this process happen. On September 11 of each year, I’d walk in and almost no one would mention the significance of the date, and the number of those that did steadily declined to zero by 2008, my final year there. Customers frequently asked the date, as they always did, not even realizing that it was September 11, but they always managed to remember the release date of the movie they were waiting for. And, I must add, this was in New Jersey, only a short train ride from New York City.
This complacency can be seen in public opinion polls, the media, and even the government’s reaction to incidents that would have sparked fear nationwide and saturated media coverage in the years immediately following 9/11.
Take some of the incidents where radical Islam showed its head this year alone, such as in the case of Rifqa Bary , a 17-year-old girl who converted to Christianity from Islam. When her father found out, she claims, he threatened to kill her, causing her to flee to Florida. Her attorney says she had been abused at home. We now know her father’s mosque, the Noor Islamic Cultural Center of Colombus, had Salah Sultan , a radical preacher of anti-Semitism known for preaching about the future destruction of the U.S. and with ties  to the Muslim Brotherhood, as a “resident scholar.” Bary’s attorney, John Stemberger, pointed  to many other ties the mosque has with terrorism in his 35-page court filing .
Although the case has received a fair level of media attention (but far from the amount it deserves), very few reports have mentioned the extremist ties that give credibility to Bary’s fears. Instead, MSNBC ran an AP article  titled “Parents Say Local Runaway Was Brainwashed.”
The Orlando Sentinel ran a piece  on August 30 that opened with “Mohamed Bary is a doting Muslim father, intent on giving his daughter the best education he can. But he says he made a terrible mistake last October: He bought her a laptop computer.” A little further down it has a subheading of “Friends back family,” which says that “people who know the Barys say Rifqa’s allegations are crazy. … Mohamed Bary, 47, is a kind, gentle man who loves his daughter.” Not a mention is made of Stemberger’s court filing or the ties of the family’s mosque.
On July 14, I wrote an article  for Pajamas Media about the arrests of three individuals for trying to sneak weapons on board two separate U.S. Airways flights to Phoenix, taking off from Philadelphia and Tampa about 35 minutes from each other. The FBI’s initial reaction was to dismiss any connection among the arrests and the media dropped the story. I am not aware of a single news article mentioning all three arrests and the similarities of their circumstances, and I can only find a small handful of articles covering any of the individual arrests. Just like those walking into the video store I worked at, the impact of 9/11 on the media has dissipated.
The 30-second news culture of today is causing the media and the public to fail to see the size of the problem. The case of a convert to radical Islam shooting  at soldiers in Arkansas is forgotten before the next story of the arrest  of seven in North Carolina for training to join overseas terrorists hits the news.
When each is given short attention and treated as the isolated actions of the few wackos that inevitably exist in a large population, the big picture is missed and they are looked at as little speed bumps on America’s road — and not the potential traffic-stopping train crash they can become.
The fact that there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 is an advantage to the terrorists of the future. As long as they aren’t too blatant about their objectives and they throw out nice words about condemning “terrorism,” they are free to organize without much media scrutiny. They will be armed with the unreasonably high standard of proof that is demanded before labeling someone as a radical.
The resolve of the American people to fight overseas is quickly weakening. Americans seem content to believe that our post-9/11 efforts have sufficiently weakened the enemy and therefore that their rhetoric shouldn’t be taken as seriously. Those that try to raise awareness about the threat are dismissed or even attacked, as the Christian Action Network learned  after releasing its Homegrown Jihad documentary earlier this year about radical Islamic compounds in the U.S. that have been used for paramilitary training.
The government’s current attitude towards gathering threats seems to reflect a decreasing concern about terrorism and the growth of extremist networks at home. Just by being a little craftier than al-Qaeda, groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and governments like that of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and Assad are able to appear moderate and flexible. The FBI decided to end its relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations  following its designation as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation trial, only to continue ties  with the Islamic Society of North America , another “unindicted co-conspirator” in the same trial.
The media and American people certainly do remember the events of 9/11 in terms of history, but the impact and lessons of 9/11 have been forgotten. On that day, we realized that enemies seeking the most horrid of goals come in different shapes and sizes, and use different strategies and tactics. By dismissing each case of terrorism and extremism as “isolated,” rather than yet another example of the reach of radical Islam in all its forms, enormous portions of the media, the government, and the American people have forgotten what 9/11 taught us. One day we will be taught again.
Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/eight-years-after-911-are-we-getting-complacent-about-terror/
URLs in this post:
 Rifqa Bary: http://frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35988
 Salah Sultan: http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/198541.php
 ties: http://www.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=25879
 pointed: http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10715.article
 filing: http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/noormemo.pdf
 article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32421714/%20
 piece: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-bary-family-in-columbus-083009,0,4902721.story?page=1
 article: http://pajamasmedia.com
 shooting: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/01/arkansas.recruiter.shooting/index.html
 arrest: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-terrorism-arrests28-2009jul28,0,3376969.story
 learned: http://pajamasmedia.com
 Council on American-Islamic Relations: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6176
 only to continue ties: http://www.investigativeproject.org/1074/fbi-replaces-brotherhood-tainted-liaison-with
 Islamic Society of North America: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6178
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 9/11/09
on: September 11, 2009, 03:16:57 PM
Updated: Fri., Sep. 11, 2009, 10:39 AM
Betraying our dead
By RALPH PETERS
Last Updated: 10:39 AM, September 11, 2009
Posted: 1:13 AM, September 11, 2009
Eight years ago today, our homeland was attacked by fanatical Muslims inspired by Saudi Arabian bigotry. Three thousand American citizens and residents died.
We resolved that we, the People, would never forget. Then we forgot.
We've learned nothing.
Instead of cracking down on Islamist extremism, we've excused it.
Instead of killing terrorists, we free them.
Instead of relentlessly hunting Islamist madmen, we seek to appease them.
Instead of acknowledging that radical Islam is the problem, we elected a president who blames America, whose idea of freedom is the right for women to suffer in silence behind a veil -- and who counts among his mentors and friends those who damn our country or believe that our own government staged the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Instead of insisting that freedom will not be infringed by terrorist threats, we censor works that might offend mass murderers. Radical Muslims around the world can indulge in viral lies about us, but we dare not even publish cartoons mocking them.
Instead of protecting law-abiding Americans, we reject profiling to avoid offending terrorists. So we confiscate granny's shampoo at the airport because the half-empty container could hold 3.5 ounces of liquid.
Instead of insisting that Islamist hatred and religious apartheid have no place in our country, we permit the Saudis to continue funding mosques and madrassahs where hating Jews and Christians is preached as essential to Islam.
Instead of confronting Saudi hate-mongers, our president bows down to the Saudi king.
Instead of recognizing the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi cult as the core of the problem, our president blames Israel.
Instead of asking why Middle Eastern civilization has failed so abjectly, our president suggests that we're the failures.
Instead of taking every effective measure to cull information from terrorists, the current administration threatens CIA agents with prosecution for keeping us safe.
Instead of proudly and promptly rebuilding on the site of the Twin Towers, we've committed ourselves to the hopeless, useless task of rebuilding Afghanistan. (Perhaps we should have built a mosque at Ground Zero -- the Saudis would've funded it.)
Instead of taking a firm stand against Islamist fanaticism, we've made a cult of negotiations -- as our enemies pursue nuclear weapons; sponsor terrorism; torture, imprison, rape and murder their own citizens -- and laugh at us.
Instead of insisting that Islam must become a religion of responsibility, our leaders in both parties continue to bleat that "Islam's a religion of peace," ignoring the curious absence of Baptist suicide bombers.
Instead of requiring new immigrants to integrate into our society and conform to its public values, we encourage and subsidize anti-American, woman-hating, freedom-denying bigotry in the name of toleration.
Instead of pursuing our enemies to the ends of the earth, we help them sue us.
We've dishonored our dead and whitewashed our enemies. A distinctly unholy alliance between fanatical Islamists abroad and a politically correct "elite" in the US has reduced 9/11 to the status of a non-event, a day for politicians to preen about how little they've done.
We've forgotten the shock and the patriotic fury Americans felt on that bright September morning eight years ago. We've forgotten our identification with fellow citizens leaping from doomed skyscrapers. We've forgotten the courage of airline passengers who would not surrender to terror.
We've forgotten the men and women who burned to death or suffocated in the Pentagon. We've forgotten our promises, our vows, our commitments.
We've forgotten what we owe our dead and what we owe our children. We've even forgotten who attacked us.
We have betrayed the memory of our dead. In doing so, we betrayed ourselves and our country. Our troops continue to fight -- when they're allowed to do so -- but our politicians have surrendered.
Are we willing to let the terrorists win?
Ralph Peters' new thriller, "The War After Armageddon," goes on sale next Tuesday.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 9/11/09
on: September 11, 2009, 09:27:06 AM
I mark the day, as I have since 9/11/01.
I mourn after going off duty.
My wife is training in a police academy, preparing to go into harm's way to defend and protect her adopted country.
I know that if I live to 100, this day will always carry the same weight with me.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela
on: September 09, 2009, 10:15:23 PM
SEPTEMBER 8, 2009, 7:27 P.M. ET.
The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela
The prospect of Iranian missiles in South America should not be dismissed.
By ROBERT M. MORGENTHAU
The diplomatic ties between Iran and Venezuela go back almost 50 years and until recently amounted to little more than the routine exchange of diplomats. With the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the relationship dramatically changed.
Today Mr. Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez have created a cozy financial, political and military partnership rooted in a shared anti-American animus. Now is the time to develop policies in this country to ensure this partnership produces no poisonous fruit.
Signs of the evolving partnership began to emerge in 2006, when Venezuela joined Cuba and Syria as the only nations to vote against a U.N. Atomic Energy Agency resolution to report Iran to the Security Council over its failures to abide U.N. sanctions to curtail its nuclear program. A year later, during a visit by Mr. Chávez to Tehran, the two nations declared an "axis of unity" against the U.S. and Ecuador. And in June of this year, while protesters lined the streets of Tehran following the substantial allegations of fraud in the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chávez publicly offered him support. As the regime cracked down on political dissent, jailing, torturing and killing protesters, Venezuela stood with the Iranian hard-liners.
View Full Image
Associated Press Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meet in Tehran, Sept. 5.
Meanwhile, Iranian investments in Venezuela have been rising. The two countries have signed various Memoranda of Understanding on technology development, cooperation on banking and finance, and oil and gas exploration and refining. In April 2008, the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging full military support and cooperation. United Press International reported in August that Iranian military advisers have been embedded with Venezuelan troops.
According to a report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in December of last year, Venezuela has an estimated 50,000 tons of unmined uranium. There is speculation in the Carnegie report that Venezuela could be mining uranium for Iran.
The Iranians have also opened International Development Bank in Caracas under the Spanish name Banco Internacional de Desarrollo C.A., an independent subsidiary of Export Development Bank of Iran. Last October the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed economic sanctions against both of these Iranian banks for providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and its Armed Forces Logistics—the two Iranian military entities tasked with advancing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
My office has been told that that over the past three years a number of Iranian-owned and controlled factories have sprung up in remote and undeveloped parts of Venezuela—ideal locations for the illicit production of weapons. Evidence of the type of activity conducted inside the factories is limited. But we should be concerned, especially in light of an incident in December 2008. Turkish authorities detained an Iranian vessel bound for Venezuela after discovering lab equipment capable of producing explosives packed inside 22 containers marked "tractor parts." The containers also allegedly contained barrels labeled with "danger" signs. I think it is safe to assume that this was a lucky catch—and that most often shipments of this kind reach their destination in Venezuela.
A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported a high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and law enforcement that has allowed that country to become a major transshipment route for trafficking cocaine out of Colombia. Intelligence gathered by my office strongly supports the conclusion that Hezbollah supporters in South America are engaged in the trafficking of narcotics. The GAO study also confirms allegations of Venezuelan support for FARC, the Colombian terrorist insurgency group that finances its operations through narcotics trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.
In a raid on a FARC training camp this July, Colombian military operatives recovered Swedish-made anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in the 1980s. Sweden believes this demonstrates a violation of the end-user agreement by Venezuela, as the Swedish manufacturer was never authorized to sell arms to Colombia. Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami, a Venezuelan of Syrian origin, lamely called the allegations a "media show," and "part of a campaign against our people, our government and our institutions."
In the past several years Iranian entities have employed a pervasive system of deceitful and fraudulent practices to move money all over the world without detection. The regime has done this, I believe, to pay for materials necessary to develop nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, and road-side bombs. Venezuela has an established financial system that Iran, with the help of Mr. Chávez's government, can exploit to avoid economic sanctions.
Consider, for example, the United Kingdom bank Lloyds TSB. From 2001 to 2004, on behalf of Iranian banks and their customers, the bank admitted in a statement of facts to my office that it intentionally altered wire transfer information to hide the identity of its clients. This allowed the illegal transfer of more than $300 million of Iranian cash despite economic sanctions prohibiting Iranian access to the U.S. financial system. In January, Lloyds entered into deferred prosecution agreements with my office and the Justice Department to resolve the investigation.
In April, we also announced the indictment of a company called Limmt, and its manager, Li Fang Wei. The U.S. government had banned Limmt from engaging in transactions with or through the U.S. financial system because of its role in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to Iran. But our investigation revealed that Li Fang Wei and Limmt used aliases and shell companies to deceive banks into processing payments related to the shipment of banned missile, nuclear and so-called dual use materials to subsidiary organizations of the Iranian Defense Industries Organization. (Limmt, through the international press, has denied the allegations in the indictment.) The tactics used in these cases should send a strong signal to law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and military commands throughout the world about the style and level of deception the Iranians' employ. Based on information developed by my office, we believe that the Iranians, with the help of Venezuela, are now engaged in similar sanctions-busting schemes.
Why is Hugo Chávez willing to open up his country to a foreign nation with little shared history or culture? I believe it is because his regime is bent on becoming a regional power, and is fanatical in its approach to dealing with the U.S. The diplomatic overture of President Barack Obama in shaking Mr. Chávez's hand in April at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago is no reason to assume the threat has diminished. In fact, with the groundwork laid years ago, we are entering a period where the fruits of the Iran-Venezuela bond will begin to ripen.
That means two of the world's most dangerous regimes, the self-described "axis of unity," will be acting together in our backyard on the development of nuclear and missile technology. And it seems that terrorist groups have found the perfect operating ground for training and planning, and financing their activities through narco-trafficking.
The Iranian nuclear and long-range missile threats, and creeping Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere, cannot be overlooked. My office and other law-enforcement agencies can help ensure that money laundering, terror financing, and sanctions violations are not ignored, and that criminals and the banks that aid Iran will be discovered and prosecuted. But U.S. law enforcement alone is not enough to counter the threat.
The public needs to be aware of Iran's growing presence in Latin America. Moreover, the U.S. and the international community must strongly consider ways to monitor and sanction Venezuela's banking system. Failure to act will leave open a window susceptible to money laundering by the Iranian government, the narcotics organizations with ties to corrupt elements in the Venezuelan government, and the terrorist organizations that Iran supports openly.
Mr. Morgenthau is the Manhattan district attorney. This op-ed is adapted from a speech yesterday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Friedman: You know what’s kind of cool? Dictatorship!
on: September 09, 2009, 09:23:11 PM
Friedman: You know what’s kind of cool? Dictatorship!
posted at 3:36 pm on September 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
One normally expects to see paeans to one-party rule and dictatorships in fringe publications sponsored by International ANSWER or World Can’t Wait. Usually, the New York Times offers those sentiments in more subtle terms than it does in today’s Thomas Friedman column. Friedman extols the Chinese form of government while deriding the fact that political opposition keeps Obama from imposing the policies Friedman likes:
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.
Oh, those enlightened Chinese government officials! When they’re not executing people to harvest their organs, and when they’re not forcing women to have abortions to satisfy their one-child policy, and when they’re not tossing people in prison for political dissent, they have a great energy policy … even though they reject Kyoto and any attempt to hamstring themselves on economically-suicidal cap-and-trade policies.
Actually, considering Friedman’s column, perhaps rounding up the opposition is a net plus for the Chinese in his eyes.
Even putting aside Friedman’s longing for fascism (as long as it supports his policies), Friedman’s entire premise is suspect. We haven’t enacted government-run health care precisely because we’re not a “one-party democracy.” Constituents have made their opposition plain to it across the nation, and Democrats understand that Republicans will replace many of their colleagues if they support ObamaCare. Obama’s approval numbers have dropped precipitously as well, because people dissent from the orthodoxy of the Democratic elites. That’s what has Friedman pining for Beijing.
Saying “no” to very bad ideas is a perfectly legitimate response, especially when the policies impose government control over private industry to the extent Barack Obama and his radical Congress desire. The opposition has no responsibility to engage on horrible ideas, although contra Friedman, the Republicans have already offered an alternative to ObamaCare, which Henry Waxman refuses to consider. Saying “no” to rapid expansion of government power is the rational response to radical policies.
What’s next for the New York Times? A tribute to Benito Mussolini and running the trains on time as a fair exchange for personal and political liberty? (via The Corner, which has been savaging Friedman all day)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics
on: September 08, 2009, 08:29:14 AM
Swiss topple U.S. as most competitive economy: WEF
By Sven Egenter
Tue Sep 8, 3:10 am ET
GENEVA (Reuters) – Switzerland knocked the United States off the position as the world's most competitive economy as the crash of the U.S. banking system left it more exposed to some long-standing weaknesses, a report said on Tuesday.
The World Economic Forum's global competitiveness report 2009/2010 showed economies with a large focus on financial services such as the U.S., Britain or Iceland were the losers of the crisis.
The U.S. as the world's largest economy lost last year's strong lead, slipping to number two for the first time since the introduction of the index in its current form in 2004.
"We have been expecting for some time that it may lose its top-position. There are a number of imbalances that have been building up," said Jennifer Blanke, Head of the WEF's Global Competitiveness Network.
"There are problems on the financial market that we were not aware of before. These countries (like the U.S. and Britain) are getting penalized now," she said.
Trust in Swiss banks also declined. But in the assessment of banks' soundness, the Alpine country still ranked 44th. U.S. banks fell to 108 -- right behind Tanzania -- and British banks to 126 in the ranking, now topped by Canada's banks.
The WEF bases its assessment on a range of factors, key for any country to prosper. The index includes economic data such as growth but also health data or the number of internet users.
The study also factors in a survey among business leaders, assessing for example the government's efficiency or the flexibility of the labor market.
The WEF applauded Switzerland for its capacity to innovate, sophisticated business culture, effective public services, excellent infrastructure and well-functioning goods markets.
The Swiss economy dipped into recession last year, too and had to bail out its largest bank UBS. But its economy is holding up better than many peers and most banks are relatively unscathed by the crisis, which drove U.S. banks into bankruptcy.
The WEF said the U.S. economy was still extremely productive but a number of escalating weaknesses were taking its toll.
Concerns were growing about the government's ability to maintain distance to the private sector and doubts rose about the quality of firms' auditing and reporting standards, it said.
Leading emerging markets Brazil, India and China improved their competitiveness despite the crisis, the report showed.
But Russia saw one of the steepest declines among the 133 countries assessed, falling back 12 places to 63, as worries about government efficiency and judicial independence rose, the WEF said.
After years of rapid improvement, which took it to place 29, China now had to tackle shortcomings in areas such as financial markets, technological readiness and education as it could no longer rely on cheap labor alone to generate growth.
India, ranked 49th, was in turn well positioned in complex fields such as innovation but had still to catch up on basics such as health or infrastructure, the WEF said.
Brazil leapt by 8 ranks to 56th, as measures to improve fiscal sustainability and to liberalize and open the economy showed effects, the report said.
Among the top-ten, Singapore moved up to third from fifth, swapping positions with Denmark, which fell behind fellow-Nordic country Sweden. Finland as 6th and Germany as 7th stayed put while Japan and Canada overtook the Netherlands.
The WEF study named African countries Zimbabwe and Burundi as the world's least competitive economies.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the WEF noted the complete absence of property rights, corruption, basic government inefficiency as well as macroeconomic instability as fundamental flaws.
For the full report click on: www.weforum.org/gcr
(Reporting by Sven Egenter; Editing by Andy Bruce)
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Hall of Shame
on: September 08, 2009, 01:10:08 AM
No.10 turns on Obama and Clinton for criticising decision to release Lockerbie bomber
By Simon Walters
Last updated at 3:14 AM on 06th September 2009
Comments (167) Add to My Stories .
Whitehall said US President Obama and Hillary Clinton's reaction to Abdelbaset Al Megrahi's release was 'disingenuous'
Downing Street has hit back at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for attacking the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber.
President Obama and the US Secretary of State fuelled a fierce American backlash against Britain, claiming Abdelbaset Al Megrahi should have been forced to serve out his jail sentence in Scotland – but a senior Whitehall aide said their reaction was ‘disingenuous’.
British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.
The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.
‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.
‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.
'They knew about our prisoner transfer agreement with Libya and they knew that the Scots were considering Megrahi’s case.’
Mr Obama said Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds was a ‘mistake’ while Mrs Clinton phoned the Scottish administration to complain in person.
More...Prince Andrew 'had Lockerbie talks with Gaddafi son'
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband are said to have been ‘disappointed’ by the force of Washington’s response.
American politicians claimed the Anglo-US ‘special relationship’ had been damaged ‘for years to come’ because the UK had gone back on a joint pledge that Megrahi would stay behind bars in Scotland.
Former US Justice Department official David Rivkin said it was ‘duplicitous behaviour’.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: September 07, 2009, 10:12:19 PM
How to Defeat the Left
By: David Horowitz
NewsReal | Friday, September 04, 2009
I’ve been following the Newsreal debate between Phyllis Chesler and Jamie Glazov on the one hand and Naomi Wolf, who thinks America, the most “liberated” country on the face of the earth by any — any — progressive standard (treatment of minorities, of women, of the poor, freedom of the individual), is a proto-fascist state and needs a revolution, while the Islamo-fascist enemy, the greatest oppressor of women and minorities ever, needs a wrist slap. Wolf’s moral blindness is just a one minor instance of the general moral vacuity of progressives which for a hundred years has put them on the side of the totalitarian enemies of freedom and inspired their assault against the West.
This led Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and former chief of Israel’s Defense Forces, to describe the left as a “virus.” Actually, as Aaron Shuster pointed out in an email which I am about to cite, one could also say the left is in the grips of a virus — a virus that attacks its brain cells and makes it incapable of ingesting real world facts and consequently of arriving at reasonable judgments.
Radical feminism is one form of the virus. It is an ideology grown out of Marxism whose enemy is the freedom of the individual from collective control, and the freedom of society from the totalitarian state. That is why radical feminists are incapable of seeing the anti-feminist monster in Islam: because Islam is now the center of the revolt against the feminists’ real enemy, which is us.
The progressive virus is a religious virus. Political radicalism is an expression of the inability of human beings to live without meaning; it is the replacement of the hope for a divine redemption in a redemption by political activists, which inevitably leads to a totalitarian state.
The consequences of infection by the virus are described in my email from Shuster, who quotes writer Mladen Andrijasevic:
“The virus totally blocks the person from the ability to access, let alone comprehend, any facts and evidence that contradict his or her beliefs. Mountains of data have zero effect on already established views, simply because the person flatly rejects considering reading anything that would go against their ‘truth’. The person is terrified to look beyond his established viewpoint. They behave like the Church at the times of Galileo. They refuse to look through the telescope. For instance, during the past eight years, on numerous occasions, I have recommended to my left-wing friends several books on Islam by Ibn Warraq, Ibn Ishaq, Robert Spencer and others. Many borrowed the books, but they were never read. The power of the virus was stronger. The results of my eight-year effort were meager. Two people have read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”
The strength of the virus derives from the meaning it supplies to meaningless lives, and the consequent good feelings — intoxicated feelings of virtue and self-righteousness — experienced by the devoted. Here Shuster quotes Melanie Phillips:
“A vital part of leftist thinking is the assumption that to be on the left is the only sensible/decent/principled position to hold and therefore cannot ever be wrong; and that is because to differ from the left is to be of ‘the right’, and the right is irredeemably evil. (The idea that to be opposed to the left is not necessarily to be on ‘the right’ or indeed to take any position other than to oppose ideology and its brutal effects is something that the left simply cannot get its head round). And so the true nightmare is that if ‘the right’ turns out to be actually right on anything and the left to be wrong, by accepting this fact the left-winger will by his own definition turn into an evil right-winger. His entire moral and political identity will crumble and he will grow horns and a tail. So to prevent any possibility of this catastrophe occurring, the opponent has to be eliminated.”
This why the only argument that leftists have in their public encounters with others is not an argument at all but an indictment: racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe. In the religion of leftists — in the fevered universe of the virus — the world is an endless plain of battle in which forces of Good (leftists) are ranged against the forces of Evil (the rest of us). At stake is the redemption of the world — or as the environmental totalitarians like to put it, the survival of the planet. No wonder they are deaf to any fact or argument that would bring them back to earth.
The only way to defeat the left — and I have failed in twenty years of arguing this to persuade conservatives — is to turn the table around and attack their moral self-image. Leftists are in fact the enemies and oppressors of women, children, gays, minorities and the poor, and conservatives should never confront them without reminding them of this fact. If Naomi Wolf and her radical friends had their way, America would be disarmed and radical Islam would be triumphant and women would be back in the Middle Ages, and the rest of us along with them.
David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Veiled Threats
on: September 07, 2009, 09:24:30 PM
I do actually think that Islam is worse than Judaism because of how aggressive it is. Muslims don't just want to wear the veil themselves they want wear all woman to wear it as well, Christianity though to a much much lesser degree also shares the fault with Islam of my way being the only right way, Also historically Christianity converted with the sword. Religion and Exteminism can go together easily but I don't believe all Muslims are extremists.
**Not every muslim is a jihadist, but every jihadist is a muslim. When christians converted by the sword, it was in violation with of core christian concepts, when muslims convert by the sword, it is in keeping with core islamic concepts.**
Obviously honor kipping and rape are bad but can't you prosecute harshly honor killings and rapes and still let woman veil their hair
Isn't it possible to believe religious freedom is okay but religious coercion is not.
Are you saying the veil is like marijuana a gateway drug?
All good vacations must come to an end and it is likely I won't have time to post anything i write myself until this weekend.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gender issues thread
on: September 07, 2009, 01:38:41 AM
- Chesler Chronicles - http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler
The Burqa: Ultimate Feminist Choice?
Posted By Phyllis Chesler On August 31, 2009 @ 8:10 am In Uncategorized | 214 Comments
Naomi Wolf Discovers That Shrouds Are Sexy
Women in chadors are really feminist ninja warriors. Rather than allow themselves to be gawked at by male strangers, they choose to defeat the “male gaze” by hiding from it in plain view.
But don’t you worry: Beneath that chador, abaya, burqa, or veil, there is a sexy courtesan wearing “Victoria Secret, elegant fashion, and skin care lotion,” just waiting for her husband to come home for a night of wild and sensuous marital lovemaking.
Obviously, these are not my ideas. I am quoting from a piece by Naomi Wolf  that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago. Yes, Wolf is the bubbly, feminist author who once advised Vice President Al “The Climate” Gore on what colors he should wear while campaigning and who is or was friendly with Gore’s daughter. Full disclosure: I have casually known Wolf and her parents for more than a quarter-century.
Wolf recently traveled to Morocco, Jordan, and Eygpt, where she found the women “as interested in allure, seduction, and pleasure as women anywhere in the world.” Whew! What a relief. She writes:
“Many Muslim women I spoke with did not feel at all subjugated by the chador or the headscarf. On the contrary, they felt liberated from what they experienced as the intrusive, commodifying, basely sexualizing Western gaze. … Many women said something like this: …’how tiring it can be to be on display all the time. When I wear my headscarf or chador, people relate to me as an individual, not an object; I feel respected.’ This may not be expressed in a traditional Western feminist set of images, but it is a recognizably Western feminist set of feelings.”
Really? If so, I’m the Queen of England.
Now that Wolf is no longer the doe-eyed ingenue of yesteryear, she sees the advantage of not being on view at all times. A Westerner, “playing” Muslim-dress up, Wolf claims that hiding in plain view gave her “a novel sense of calm and serenity. I felt, yes, in certain ways, free.” In addition, Wolf believes that the marital sex is hotter when women “cover” and reveal their faces and bodies only to their husbands.
Marabel Morgan lives! In the mid-1970s, Morgan advised wives to greet their husbands at the door wearing sexy clothing and/or transparent saran wrap with only themselves underneath. Her book, Total Woman, sold more than ten million copies. According to Morgan, a Christian, “It’s only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him.”
Well, what can I say? Here’s a few things.
Most Muslim girls and women are not given a choice about wearing the chador, burqa, abaya, niqab, jilbab, or hijab (headscarf), and those who resist are beaten, threatened with death, arrested, caned or lashed, jailed, or honor murdered by their own families. Is Wolfe thoroughly unfamiliar with the news coming out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan on these very subjects? Has she forgotten the tragic, fiery deaths of those schoolgirls in Saudi Arabia who, in trying to flee their burning schoolhouse, were improperly veiled and who were beaten back by the all-powerful Saudi Morality Police?
Most Muslim girls and women are impoverished and wear rags, not expensive Western clothing beneath their coverings. Only the pampered, super-controlled, often isolated, and uber-materialistic daughters of wealth, mainly in the Gulf states, but also among the ruling classes in the Islamic world, match Wolf’s portrait of well kept courtesan-wives.
Being veiled and obedient does not save a Muslim girl or woman from being incested, battered, stalked, gang-raped, or maritally raped nor does it stop her husband from taking multiple wives and girlfriends or from frequenting brothels. A fully “covered” girl-child, anywhere between the ages of 10-15, may still be forced into an arranged marriage, perhaps with her first cousin, perhaps with a man old enough to be her grandfather, and she is not allowed to leave him, not even if he beats her black and blue every single day.
Wolf claims that she donned a “shalwar kameez and a headscarf” for a trip to the bazaar. I suggest that Wolf understand that the shalwar kameez and headscarf that she playfully wore in Morocco are not the problem.
I wonder how Wolf would feel if she’d donned a burqa, chador (full body bags) or niqab (face mask) for that same trip; how well she would do in an isolation chamber that effectively blocked her five senses and made it difficult, if not impossible, for her to communicate with others?
And, by the way, the eerie effect, ultimately, of shrouded women is that they become invisible. They cease to exist. They are literally ghosts.
Wolf presents the West as anti-woman because it treats women as sex objects. Am I happy about pornography and prostitution in the West? Hell no and, unlike Wolf, I’ve fought against them–but to portray these vices as a “Western” evil, and one that the Islamic world opposes, is sheer madness.
It is well known that the Arabs and Muslims kept and still keep sex slaves–they are very involved in the global trafficking in girls and women and frequent prostitutes on every continent. You will find pornography magazines in every princely tent–those for boys as well as for girls. I am told that the Saudis fly in fresh planeloads of Parisian prostitutes every week. Perhaps they veil them before they conduct their all-night and all-day orgies. Or, perhaps they view them as natural, “infidel” prey.
Let me suggest that Wolf read a book that is coming out in September, written by a Christian-American woman, Mary Laurel Ross, whose American Air Force husband trained the Saudi Air Force. It is called Veiled Honor and is a timely, comprehensive, “nuanced” (Wolf calls for “nuance” in our understanding of “female freedom”) account of her approximately fifteen year sojourn in Saudi Arabia. I would also suggest that Wolf read the works of Ayaan Hirsi Ali  (Infidel) and Nonie Darwish  (Cruel and Usual Punishment) for starters.
Then again, I suspect that Wolf is not necessarily looking for any “nuanced” truths about “female freedom” but is, rather, fishing for Saudi gold and positioning herself within the Democratic Party. After all, what she has written in this brief article supports President Obama’s position vis a vis the Muslim world.
Article printed from Chesler Chronicles: http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/phyllischesler/2009/08/31/the-burqa-the-ultimate-feminist-choice/
URLs in this post:
 Naomi Wolf: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/behind-the-veil-lives-a-thriving-muslim-sexuality/2008/08/29/1219516734637.html
 Ayaan Hirsi Ali: http://www.amazon.com/Infidel-Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali/dp/0743289692/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251730420&sr=8-1
 Nonie Darwish: http://www.amazon.com/Cruel-Usual-Punishment-Terrifying-Implications/dp/1595551611/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251730466&sr=1-1
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding
on: August 29, 2009, 07:05:59 PM
How a Detainee Became An Asset
Sept. 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding
By Peter Finn, Joby Warrick and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 29, 2009
After enduring the CIA's harshest interrogation methods and spending more than a year in the agency's secret prisons, Khalid Sheik Mohammed stood before U.S. intelligence officers in a makeshift lecture hall, leading what they called "terrorist tutorials."
In 2005 and 2006, the bearded, pudgy man who calls himself the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks discussed a wide variety of subjects, including Greek philosophy and al-Qaeda dogma. In one instance, he scolded a listener for poor note-taking and his inability to recall details of an earlier lecture.
Speaking in English, Mohammed "seemed to relish the opportunity, sometimes for hours on end, to discuss the inner workings of al-Qaeda and the group's plans, ideology and operatives," said one of two sources who described the sessions, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much information about detainee confinement remains classified. "He'd even use a chalkboard at times."
These scenes provide previously unpublicized details about the transformation of the man known to U.S. officials as KSM from an avowed and truculent enemy of the United States into what the CIA called its "preeminent source" on al-Qaeda. This reversal occurred after Mohammed was subjected to simulated drowning and prolonged sleep deprivation, among other harsh interrogation techniques.
"KSM, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate or incomplete," according to newly unclassified portions of a 2004 report by the CIA's then-inspector general released Monday by the Justice Department.
The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result. But for defenders of waterboarding, the evidence is clear: Mohammed cooperated, and to an extraordinary extent, only when his spirit was broken in the month after his capture March 1, 2003, as the inspector general's report and other documents released this week indicate.
Over a few weeks, he was subjected to an escalating series of coercive methods, culminating in 7 1/2 days of sleep deprivation, while diapered and shackled, and 183 instances of waterboarding. After the month-long torment, he was never waterboarded again.
"What do you think changed KSM's mind?" one former senior intelligence official said this week after being asked about the effect of waterboarding. "Of course it began with that."
Mohammed, in statements to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said some of the information he provided was untrue.
"During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time," he said.
Critics say waterboarding and other harsh methods are unacceptable regardless of their results, and those with detailed knowledge of the CIA's program say the existing assessments offer no scientific basis to draw conclusions about effectiveness.
"Democratic societies don't use torture under any circumstances. It is illegal and immoral," said Tom Parker, policy director for counterterrorism and human rights at Amnesty International. "This is a fool's argument in any event. There is no way to prove or disprove the counterfactual."
John L. Helgerson, the former CIA inspector general who investigated the agency's detention and interrogation program, said his work did not put him in "a position to reach definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of particular interrogation methods."
"Certain of the techniques seemed to have little effect, whereas waterboarding and sleep deprivation were the two most powerful techniques and elicited a lot of information," he said in an interview. "But we didn't have the time or resources to do a careful, systematic analysis of the use of particular techniques with particular individuals and independently confirm the quality of the information that came out."
After his capture, Mohammed first told his captors what he calculated they already knew.
"KSM almost immediately following his capture in March 2003 elaborated on his plan to crash commercial airlines into Heathrow airport," according to a document released by the CIA on Monday that summarizes the intelligence provided by Mohammed. The agency thinks he assumed that Ramzi Binalshibh, a Sept. 11 conspirator captured in September 2002, had already divulged the plan.
One former U.S. official with detailed knowledge of how the interrogations were carried out said Mohammed, like several other detainees, seemed to have decided that it was okay to stop resisting after he had endured a certain amount of pressure.
"Once the harsher techniques were used on [detainees], they could be viewed as having done their duty to Islam or their cause, and their religious principles would ask no more of them," said the former official, who requested anonymity because the events are still classified. "After that point, they became compliant. Obviously, there was also an interest in being able to later say, 'I was tortured into cooperating.' "
Mohammed provided the CIA with an autobiographical statement, describing a rebellious childhood, his decision to join the Muslim Brotherhood as a teenager, and his time in the United States as a student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, from where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
"KSM's limited and negative experience in the United States -- which included a brief jail stay because of unpaid bills -- almost certainly helped propel him on his path to becoming a terrorist," according to the intelligence summary. "He stated that his contact with Americans, while minimal, confirmed his view that the United States was a debauched and racist country."
Mohammed provided $1,000 to Ramzi Yousef, a nephew, to help him carry out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. In 1994, he worked in the Philippines with Yousef, now serving a life sentence at the federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, on a failed plot to down 12 U.S. commercial aircraft over the Pacific.
Mohammed told interrogators it was in the Philippines that he first considered using planes as missiles to strike the United States. He took the idea to Osama bin Laden, who "at first demurred but changed his mind in late 1999," according to the summary.
Mohammed described plans to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, East Asia and the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, including using a network of Pakistanis "to target gas stations, railroad tracks, and the Brooklyn bridge in New York." Cross-referencing material from different detainees, and leveraging information from one to extract more detail from another, the CIA and FBI went on to round up operatives both in the United States and abroad.
"Detainees in mid-2003 helped us build a list of 70 individuals -- many of who we had never heard of before -- that al-Qaeda deemed suitable for Western operations," according to the CIA summary.
Mohammed told interrogators that after the Sept. 11 attacks, his "overriding priority" was to strike the United States, but that he "realized that a follow-on attack would be difficult because of security measures." Most of the plots, as a result, were "opportunistic and limited," according to the summary.
One former agency official recalled that Mohammed was once asked to write a summary of his knowledge about al-Qaeda's efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist group had explored buying either an intact nuclear weapon or key components such as enriched uranium, although there is no evidence of significant progress on that front.
"He wrote us an essay" on al-Qaeda's nuclear ambitions, the official said. "Not all of it was accurate, but it was quite extensive."
Mohammed was an unparalleled source in deciphering al-Qaeda's strategic doctrine, key operatives and likely targets, the summary said, including describing in "considerable detail the traits and profiles" that al-Qaeda sought in Western operatives and how the terrorist organization might conduct surveillance in the United States.
Mohammed was moved to the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2006, and his loquaciousness is now largely confined to occasional appearances before a military commission. Back in his 86-square-foot cell at the secret Camp 7 at Guantanamo, he spends most of his waking hours in prayer, according to a source familiar with his confinement who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
But Mohammed has not abandoned his intellectual pursuits. He requested a Bible for study in his cell, according to the source, in order to better understand his enemy.
Staff writer Walter Pincus contributed to this report.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Adrenaline
on: August 29, 2009, 11:08:21 AM
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that alters the perception of time, usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. It is sometimes incorrectly referred to by martial arts instructors and self defense experts as the Tachy Psyche effect. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making events appear to slow down, or contracts, objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur. It is believed that tachypsychia is induced by a combination of high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, usually during periods of great physical stress and/or in violent confrontation.
1 Physical Responses
1.1 Adrenaline Response
1.2 Psychological Response
 Physical Responses
Also called the "fight or flight" response of the body to an event our mind considers life threatening, tachypsychia is believed to include numerous physical changes.
 Adrenaline Response
Upon being stimulated by fear or anger, the Adrenal medulla may automatically produce the hormone epinephrine (aka adrenaline) directly into the blood stream. This can have various effects on various bodily systems, including:
Increased heart rate and blood pressure. It is average for a person's pulse to raise to between 200 and 300 beats per minute (bpm). Increased heart rate (above 250 bpm) can cause fainting, and the body may constrict itself into a fetal position in preparation for a coma.
Dilation of the bronchial passages, permitting higher absorption of oxygen.
Dilated pupils to allow more light to enter, and visual exclusion--tunnel vision--occurs, allowing greater focus but resulting in the loss of peripheral vision.
Release of glucose into the bloodstream, generating extra energy by raising the blood sugar level.
It is common for an individual to experience auditory exclusion or enhancement. It is also common for individuals to experience an increased pain tolerance, loss of color vision, short term memory loss, decreased fine motor skills, decreased communication skills, decreased coordination.
 Psychological Response
The most common experience during tachypsychia is the feeling that time has either increased or slowed down, brought on by the increased brain activity cause by epinephrine, or the severe decrease in brain activity caused by the "catecholamine washout" occurring after the event.
It is common for an individual experiencing tachypsychia to have serious misinterpretations of their surrounding during the events, through a combination of their altered perception of time, as well as transient partial color blindness and tunnel vision. After the irregularly high levels of adrenaline consumed during sympathetic nervous system activation, an individual may display signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is common for the person to display extreme emotional lability and fatigue, regardless of their actual physical exertion.
It is possible to manage the "adrenaline dump" still occurring after the event, and it is common for soldiers and martial artists to use tachypsychia in order to increase their performance during stressful situations.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters
on: August 28, 2009, 10:33:20 PM
August 28, 2009, 4:00 a.m.
Eric Holder’s Hidden Agenda
The investigation isn’t about torture, but about transnationalism.
By Andrew C. McCarthy
‘This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law. And to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it.”
It was springtime in Berlin and Eric Holder, a well-known “rule of law” devotee, was speaking to the German press. He’d been asked if his Justice Department would cooperate with efforts by foreign or international tribunals to prosecute U.S. government officials who carried out the Bush administration’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies. The attorney general assured listeners that he was certainly open to being helpful. “Obviously,” he said, “we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it.”
As the Associated Press reported at the time, Holder was “pressed on whether that meant the United States would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials.” He skirted the question in a way Americans ought to find alarming. The attorney general indicated that he was speaking only about “evidentiary requests.” Translation: The Obama administration will not make arrests and hand current or former American government officials over for foreign trials, but if the Europeans or U.N. functionaries (at the nudging of, say, the Organization of the Islamic Conference) want Justice’s help gathering evidence in order to build triable cases — count us in.
Hue and cry followed Holder’s decision this week to have a prosecutor investigate CIA interrogators and contractors. The probe is a nakedly political, banana republic-style criminalizing of policy differences and political rivalry. The abuse allegations said to have stunned the attorney general into acting are outlined in a stale CIA inspector general’s report. Though only released this week — a disclosure timed to divert attention from reports that showed the CIA’s efforts yielded life-saving intelligence — the IG report is actually five years old. Its allegations not only have been long known to the leaders of both parties in Congress, they were thoroughly investigated by professional prosecutors — not political appointees. Those prosecutors decided not to file charges, except in one case that ended in an acquittal. As I outline here, the abuse in question falls woefully short of torture crimes under federal law.
Americans are scratching their heads: Why would Holder retrace this well-worn ground when intimidating our intelligence-gatherers so obviously damages national security? The political fallout, too, is palpable. Leon Panetta, the outraged CIA director, is reportedly pondering resignation. President Obama, laying low in the tall grass on his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, is having staffers try to put distance between himself and his attorney general. It is unlikely that many will be fooled: Both Obama and Holder promised their antiwar base just this sort of “reckoning” during the 2008 campaign. But the question remains, Why is Holder (or, rather, why are Holder and the White House) instigating this controversy?
I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration’s fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.
Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department’s legal adviser. Koh is the country’s leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration’s deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh’s agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law.
As a result, there have always been serious concerns that the ICC could investigate and try to indict American political, military, and intelligence officials for actions taken in defense of our country. Here it’s crucial to bear in mind that the United States (or at least the pre-Obama United States) has not seen eye-to-eye with Europe on significant national-security matters. European nations, for example, have accepted the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, while the United States has rejected it. Protocol I extends protections to terrorists and imposes an exacting legal regime on combat operations, relying on such concepts as “proportional” use of force and rigorous distinction between military and civilian targets. That is, Protocol I potentially converts traditional combat operations into war crimes. Similarly, though the U.S. accepted the torture provisions of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), our nation rejected the UNCAT’s placing of “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” on a par with torture. By contrast, Europe generally accepts the UNCAT in toto.
#pageAs long as we haven’t ratified a couple of bad human-rights treaties, why should we care that Europe considers them binding? Because of the monstrosity known as “customary international law,” of which Koh is a major proponent. This theory holds that once new legal principles gain broad acceptance among nations and international organizations, they somehow transmogrify into binding law, even for nations that haven’t agreed to them. That is, the judgment of the “international community” (meaning, the judgment of left-wing academics and human-rights activists who hold sway at the U.N. and the European Union) supersedes the standards our citizens have adopted democratically. It is standard fare among transnational progressives to claim that Protocol I is now binding on the United States and that what they define as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is “tantamount to torture.”
And the transnational Left has still another treat in store: its notion of “universal jurisdiction.” This theory holds that individual nations have the power to prosecute actions that occur in other countries, even when they have no impact on the prosecuting nation. The idea is that some offenses — such as torture and war crimes — so offend the purported consensus of humanity (i.e., so offend left-wing sensibilities) that they may be prosecuted by any country that cares to take the initiative. In fact, many countries (the United States included) open their justice systems to civil suits against government officials — again, even if the country where the suit is filed has nothing to do with the alleged offenses.
So we come back to Holder in Berlin. Two months before the attorney general’s visit, the U.N.’s “special rapporteur on torture” told German television that the Obama administration had “a clear obligation” under the UNCAT to file torture charges against former president George W. Bush and former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The rapporteur was relying on documents produced because of American investigations — including a nakedly partisan report by the Democrat-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee.
Meanwhile, as I detailed here in March, Spain’s universal-justice crusader Baltasar Garzón is pursuing his own torture case against Bush administration lawyers who weighed in on interrogation policy. Garzón is the Spanish investigating magistrate who, with the help of a terrorist turned human-rights lawyer, had Chilean strongman Augusto Pinochet arrested in England for crimes against humanity. The same terrorist-lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, is helping Garzón on the Bush case. The Brits, by the way, eventually decided not to send Pinochet to Spain, but not before the law lords ruled that they could, a decision enthusiastically hailed at the time by U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. That would be the same Mary Robinson of Durban infamy — the one President Obama just honored with the Medal of Freedom.
And then there is the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Marxist organization that for years has coordinated legal representation for terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay. The CCR has been attempting to convince Germany, France, Spain, and other countries to file war-crime indictments against former Bush administration officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld. In representing America’s enemies, CCR has collaborated with many private lawyers, who also volunteered their services — several of whom are now working in the Obama Justice Department. Indeed, Holder’s former firm boasts that it still represents 16 Gitmo detainees (the number was previously higher). And, for help shaping detainee policy, Holder recently hired Jennifer Daskal for DOJ’s National Security Division — a lawyer from Human Rights Watch with no prior prosecutorial experience, whose main qualification seems to be the startling advocacy she has done for enemy combatants.
Put it all together and it’s really not that hard to figure out what is going on here.
Transnationalists from outside and, now, inside our government have been ardent supporters of prosecutions against American officials who designed and carried out the Bush counterterrorism policies that kept this country safe after 9/11. The U.N.’s top torture monitor is demanding legal action, almost certainly as a prelude to calling for action by an international tribunal — such as the ICC — if the Justice Department fails to indict. Meantime, law-enforcement authorities in Spain and elsewhere are weighing charges against the same U.S. officials, spurred on by the CCR and human-rights groups that now have friends in high American places. In foreign and international courts, the terrorist-friendly legal standards preferred by Europe and the U.N. would make convictions easier to obtain and civil suits easier to win.
Obama and Holder were principal advocates for a “reckoning” against Bush officials during the 2008 campaign. They realize, though, that their administration would be mortally wounded if Justice were actually to file formal charges — this week’s announcement of an investigation against the CIA provoked howls, but that’s nothing compared to the public reaction indictments would cause. Nevertheless, Obama and Holder are under intense pressure from the hard Left, to which they made reckless promises, and from the international community they embrace.
The way out of this dilemma is clear. Though it won’t file indictments against the CIA agents and Bush officials it is probing, the Justice Department will continue conducting investigations and releasing reports containing new disclosures of information. The churn of new disclosures will be used by lawyers for the detainees to continue pressing the U.N. and the Europeans to file charges. The European nations and/or international tribunals will make formal requests to the Obama administration to have the Justice Department assist them in securing evidence. Holder will piously announce that the “rule of law” requires him to cooperate with these “lawful requests” from “appropriately created courts.” Finally, the international and/or foreign courts will file criminal charges against American officials.
Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won’t be executed in the United States — even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is “making the world smaller” for Rumsfeld — creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.
The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration’s allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.
I’m betting that’s the plan.
— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books, 2008).
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZGMyYTQ1ZTM5YTQ5NjJjNzJmNGUxZDIyOTFjYzIyM2Y=
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics
on: August 28, 2009, 10:55:27 AM
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Krugman calls on Bush to reign in the red
TONY JONES: Well, the US is not just labouring under a record trade deficit, there are warnings tonight that its budget deficit could precipitate a Latin American style financial crisis.
Influential economist Paul Krugman says the US will face a severe downturn before the end of the decade unless the $500 billion fiscal debt is rectified.
In his latest book, The Great Unravelling, the Princeton University economist is calling on President Bush to abandon his program of trillion dollar tax cuts, otherwise, he claims, there may not be enough funds to pay for the waves of baby boomers who will soon retire.
I spoke to Paul Krugman a short time ago.
TONY JONES: Paul Krugman, history proved your predictions right over the Asian financial crisis.
You're now warning essentially that the engine of the world economy, the United States itself, is heading for a South American style financial crisis.
What's the evidence for that?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN, PRINCETON ECONOMIST: Well, basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course - it's the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world - but it's a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there.
It's comparable to the worst we've ever seen in this country.
It's biggest than Argentina in 2001.
Which is not cyclical, there's only a little bit that's because the economy is depressed.
Mostly it's because, fundamentally, the Government isn't taking in enough money to pay for the programs and we have no strategy of dealing with it.
So, if you take a look, the only thing that sustains the US right now is the fact that people say, "Well America's a mature, advanced country and mature, advanced countries always, you know, get their financial house in order," but there's not a hint that that's on the political horizon, so I think we're looking for a collapse of confidence some time in the not-too-distant future.
TONY JONES: When you say the not-too-distant future, what does that mean?
We know there may be a crisis in paying, for example, in social security...
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: What I envision is that at some point, we have about 10 years now until the baby boomers hit the United States.
The US even more than other advanced countries has a welfare state that's primarily a welfare state for retirees.
We have the huge bulge in the population that starts to collect benefits and earn the next decade.
If there isn't a clear path towards fiscal sanity well before that, then I think the financial markets are going to say, "Well, gee, where is this going?"
I think, where in that 10 years the crunch comes, I don't know.
I think there's a real possibility that next year or one or two years from now, when they see that actually the same irresponsible tax cuts as the solution to everything continue, we might have a crisis that soon but more likely towards the end of the decade.
TONY JONES: Let me ask you this - just in the short-term, given today's policy settings and the ones that are going to prevail, we assume, through the election period, what's likely to happen to interest rates?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Right now, long-term interest rates, short-term interest rates, I think, are going to stay where there are, which is not far above zero, right through the election and probably beyond because that's directly under the control of the Federal Reserve.
The economy is weak for the time being.
Job creation is essentially non-existent.
Long-term interest rates which should reflect all these things are actually quite low right now and it's an interesting thing when you try to talk to people in the bond market, why, you ask, doesn't the deficit worry you?
Don't you wonder that there's going to be a financing crunch?
And they say: "Well, we believe that next year Bush or whoever is in the White House is going to get responsible."
And you ask them: "What evidence do you have for that?"
And they say: "Well, I don't know but it's always happened before."
So right now again, the bond market is reflecting the credit built up in previous responsible governments.
TONY JONES: Actually the bond market's quite interesting because for the present moment there seems to be a huge influence on the US economy from the Asian central banks.
Is that risky?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well sure.
Although, I'm not sure that it's particularly riskier than a lot of other things. But yeah, we have this, I didn't say this, but we've got twin deficits.
We've got a huge budget deficit and an equally large current account deficit.
And if you ask, "How are we financing the current account deficit?", well that's a story.
A few years ago it was foreigners investing in the United States.
It was Daimler buying Chrysler, it was people investing in the strength of the US economy.
These days it's Asian central banks buying up US Government debt because they're trying to keep their currencies weak against the dollar and this can't go on forever.
TONY JONES: Your detractors - and there are quite a few of them on the Republican side of the equation - they're accusing you of scare mongering?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: The first thing to say is to look at what some of those same people were saying in the middle of the Clinton years when the deficit was substantially smaller as a proportion of GDP and they were carrying on about what a bad thing it was.
The other thing is the comparison.
The only time post war that the United States has had anything like these deficits is the middle Reagan years and that was with unemployment close to 10 per cent.
A lot of that was a cyclical thing which would go away when the economy recovered.
Also the baby boomers were 20 years younger than they are today.
If you look at the actual fiscal situation, it's much, much worse than it was even at its worst during the Reagan years. One way to say this is we have social security which is a retirement program which viewed on its own is running a surplus.
If you take that out of the budget then we're running at a deficit of more than 6 per cent of GDP and that is unprecedented.
TONY JONES: One of your fiercest critics, Donald Luskin, seems to fear you because of your very credibility and your plausibility.
As he puts it, you're the most "dangerous liberal commentator in the United States".
He says he once admired you but now he actually runs a website called the Krugman Truth Squad?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Yeah.
Well, look this is good.
Something I used - let them hate as long as they fear.
I think the point is, let me quote Harry Truman: "I give them the truth and they think it's hell."
I don't think I've been saying anything that isn't quite straight forward.
It's just arithmetic but it's been stuff that a lot of, very few journalists have been willing or able to say.
TONY JONES: It's a bit more than arithmetic though, isn't it?
Would you agree with the proposition that you're slowly transforming yourself, in a way, from a pure economist into also something of a political activist?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, yeah, I mean, it's not what I intended. But I came in writing as a journalist, writing occasional columns in the 90s, mostly about economical fears with a political tinge.
I came to the New York Times intending to do pretty much the same thing.
But then it became clear very early on that the President of the United States was irresponsible and dishonest on matters economic and it turned out that what I learned there was true of other kind of policies as well.
So, I was forced, if you like, just by the arithmetic of understanding how the budget works into a much broader critique of this really kind of scary thing that's happening to my country.
TONY JONES: Let's look a little bit at that broader critique that you outline in The Great Unravelling, your new book.
You claim that President Bush is part of the radical right and that America has become a revolutionary power.
How did you come to those conclusions?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: If you look at the policies and in a variety of areas, they're not within the range of normal partisan divides.
That is, Republicans always want lower taxes and Democrats a bigger state.
There are always disagreements about how strong environmental policies should be, but we're really way outside that now.
We're talking about repeated tax cuts in the face of enormous deficits and in the face of war.
Never done that before.
We're talking about a shift towards unilateralist foreign policy.
We've just gone to war without significant allies other than the UK to destroy weapons that didn't exist.
This is something that's kind of unique.
We're seeing a radical breakdown of the separation of church and state in a lot of policy issues.
This is something that's really outside normal politics and then if you just look at the political history, where do these people come from - you discover that there is a network of think tanks, organisations, funding sources, radical activists - which really, it's more than just an ordinary swing of the political pendulum.
If you like, the vast right-wing conspiracy isn't a theory, it's quite clearly visible to anyone who takes a little care to do his home work.
TONY JONES: One of those think tanks, of course, is the Heritage Foundation which was set up in a way to boost a series of ideological positions on the economy, on the social front and is now, you say, virtually running, to some degree, a lot of economic policy and one of the things they say, for example, is that social security and Medicare are violations of basic principals?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: That's right.
Heritage is central.
Heritage is in the middle of everything.
Almost every - if you like, the WAPs, the policy types such as they are, as opposed to the politicos - but the WAPs in this administration are almost all connected with Heritage or American Enterprise Institute but one or both of those.
And Heritage very clearly in its letters to fund raisers reminds them that our goal is to get rid of these programs, that we need to get rid of the legacy of the new deal on the great society and that means social security and Medicare.
TONY JONES: Now here's another quote from your book: "A revolutionary power does not accept the legitimacy of the state."
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: There's a very hardline view.
There was actually a kind of revealing moment recently - Bush gave an interview, was more or less dragooned into an interview on Meet The Press and the interviewer said: "Well, what if you lose the election?"
And he said: "I'm not going to lose the election."
And the interviewer said: "But what if you do lose?"
He said: "I'm not going lose the election."
The possibility that they just would not regard it as a legitimate thing if someone else were to take power.
Quite a few people as part of the Republican movement have said that God chose Bush to be President.
I don't know whether they would accept the idea that mere mortal men should choose for him not to be President for another four years.
TONY JONES: You also link the personal fortunes of George Bush and Dick Cheney to what you called the epidemic of corporate malfeasance.
Are you suggesting that, in a way, their business ethics somehow leaked out into the rest of the corporate world or that they're just representative of it?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Oh no, they're representative of it.
Let's be clear.
Most of the explosion of corporate malfeasance really took place during the 90s.
It took place with Clinton in the White House, which is not to say that he caused it.
In fact, you could say a lot of it happened despite some mild efforts on the part of Clinton to stop it.
But the point is that you ask when Bush says, "I want to reform corporations," is he credible?
Well, you have to look back and say, "Gee his own personal fortune arose, in large part, through deals that look an awful like Enron."
TONY JONES: Nor do you spare Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Fed Reserve.
I always thought under the Clinton years or during the Clinton years he was the steady hand on the tiller.
You seem to refer to him these days as a partisan hack?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, here's a special case.
I mean, the governor of the central bank has a terribly important job, enormous responsibility and power.
He's not an elected official.
This is an agreement that we've all reached - that this is a good thing to do because monetary policy is too easily politicised.
Best to have it in a technocrat.
In his role as a technocrat Greenspan has done a good job, not as stellar a job as his admirers will tell you but he's done a very good job.
There's an obligation that goes with this which is to stand above and outside the political fray.
Greenspan did that during the 90s.
But no sooner was Bush in office than Greenspan threw his weight behind tax cuts.
He actually went to Congress and argued that we need tax cuts because otherwise we're going to run excessively large budget surpluses and pay down our debt too quickly.
Which he shouldn't have done in the first place.
This was violating the role.
Then, of course, when it turned out to be completely wrong.
Instead we've plunged from surpluses into huge deficits, he has now said, "Well, I don't think we should rescind the tax cut, instead we need to talk about cutting social security benefits."
That's injecting himself into politics in a very partisan fashion.
TONY JONES: You essentially claiming the Fed is no longer independent?
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well Mr Greenspan is acting as a partisan figure.
He is acting as somebody who is doing whatever he can to support the agenda of this right-wing movement that is now running a large part of the Government.
I think that the star at the Fed is as good as ever.
My belief is that if you were to promote one of the other governors to chairman of the Fed we would be back to business as we've had it before.
I don't think everybody has been corrupted but I do think that Mr Greenspan has gone very far - basically has abused in his position, in a way, that's no longer recoverable.
TONY JONES: We will have to leave it there.
Paul Krugman, we thank you very much for taking the time to come and join us tonight.
PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN: Well, thank you.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mary Jo Kopechne unavailable for comment
on: August 27, 2009, 04:55:56 PM
Where's Mary Jo Kopechne's Eulogy?
by Henry Rollins
August 27, 2009, 10:57 AM
Not Far Under The Surface. Let’s say I am driving myself and a passenger in my car at night. I accidentally drive off a bridge into the water below. I am able to get out of the submerged vehicle but for some reason, I am unable to free the passenger. I gather two friends, a relative and my lawyer and return to the scene. We are unable to rescue the person trapped in the car. Several hours later, myself nor the two others I took to the site have called the authorities. In fact, it’s two fishermen who find the car the next morning as even then, no one has been called to the scene. The car is removed from the water and it is determined that its occupant is dead. This tragic incident is made international news by my circumstances. I am very well known, a United States senator. My family is incredibly powerful. There are allegations that I had been drinking heavily hours up to the time I got into the vehicle with the passenger. I deny this for the rest of my life. That at no point did I make an attempt to call for rescue would probably be considered by many people to be outrageous and horrible, perhaps a crime that would carry a prison sentence. Can you imagine what the parents of the deceased would be going through when they found out that their 28-year-old daughter died alone in total darkness? I serve no time. Not inconvenienced by the burdensome obstacle of incarceration, I seek to maintain my elected position. I am successful and remain a senator for the next four decades. Would any deed I performed in that time, besides going to prison for the negligent homicide I committed all those years ago, be enough to wipe the slate clean? After my passing, would you fail to mention the incident and the death of this innocent person in reviewing the events of my long and lauded life? You wouldn't forget about her, would you? That would be negligent.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Intel Matters
on: August 27, 2009, 04:41:27 PM
- Pajamas Media - http://pajamasmedia.com
Morale at CIA Plummets as Panetta Makes a Bad Situation Worse
Posted By Nate Hale On August 25, 2009 @ 10:28 am In . Column1 07, Crime, History, Homeland Security, Media, Politics, US News | 113 Comments
When Leon Panetta took over the CIA earlier this year, he was described (in some circles) as the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.
Seven months later, that assessment is proving eerily prescient. As the agency prepares for a politically-charged investigation of its interrogation practices, Mr. Panetta’s leadership is noticeably lacking. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the director’s recent actions have made a bad situation worse.
We refer to the manufactured “scandal” surrounding the agency’s plans to enlist contractors in the hunt for high-value terror targets. That proposal — which involved the controversial security firm Blackwater — was discussed on several occasions, but never reached the operational stage. Three previous CIA directors declined to brief the proposal to Congress, largely because there was nothing to it.
But that didn’t stop Mr. Panetta from rushing to Capitol Hill when he learned of the project, offering an emergency briefing to members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Congressional Democrats immediately pounced on Panetta’s admission, saying it supported claims (by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) that the spy agency had repeatedly lied to lawmakers.
Sources now suggest that Mr. Panetta regrets his actions. Columnist Joseph Finder, who writes for the Daily Beast , reported last week that the CIA director spoke with his predecessors after he reported the program’s existence to members of Congress. George Tenet, Porter Goss, and Michael Hayden were all aware of the program, but they elected not to inform Congress because it never evolved past the “PowerPoint” stage.
My own contacts within the intelligence community paint a similar picture. There were a few meetings (along with that slide presentation), but the CIA made no effort to make the program operational. Indeed, the planned involvement of contractor personnel made agency personnel nervous, one reason the project never moved past the discussion stage.
In other words, Leon Panetta created an unnecessary scandal at the very moment his agency is facing increased scrutiny. According to the Washington Post , Attorney General Eric Holder will appoint a special prosecutor to examine allegations that CIA officers and contractors violated anti-torture laws during interrogations of terror suspects.
Mr. Holder’s reported decision is anything but a surprise. Literally from the day they took office, members of the Obama administration have been weighing a probe into CIA practices under President George W. Bush. The recent leaks about the agency’s potential partnership with Blackwater — and claims of interrogation abuse — were little more than groundwork for Eric Holder’s pending announcement.
To counter the gathering tempest, the CIA needs its own advocate, someone who can factually counter allegations of widespread misconduct. The fact is, Mr. Holder’s special counsel will investigate only a dozen cases of reported abuse out of literally thousands of interrogations conducted by CIA specialists and contract personnel. Has anyone at Langley asked if such an inquiry represents a legitimate use of government resources? Or is it simply a taxpayer-funded witch hunt, aimed at placating the ultra-liberal wing of President Obama’s party?
True, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency can’t exactly say that sort of thing in public, but you’d think that Mr. Panetta — the ultimate Washington insider — knows how the game is played. Leaks can be countered with more leaks, providing the agency’s own version of events. Better yet, the DCI could call the bluff of his opponents at the ACLU and the White House by demanding the release of documents which affirm the effectiveness of CIA interrogations — and the limited use of so-called “torture techniques.” (Note: the CIA Inspector General’s report was released after this was written and can be found here .)
Instead, Leon Panetta became obsessed with a non-scandal, losing valuable opportunities to defend his agency and its personnel. One retired CIA official I spoke with referred to him as “another Colby,” — a reference to William Colby, the DCI who cooperated with the Church and Pike Committees that probed agency abuses in the 1970s. To this day, many CIA employees feel that Colby went too far in his cooperation, opening the door for increased congressional oversight that gutted the agency’s covert operations directorate.
The bitter “Colby” reference is a sure sign that morale at Langley is plummeting. And with good reason. The looming special counsel inquiry will make a skittish organization even more risk averse. Talented personnel will continue to leave the agency, believing (correctly) that the CIA will leave them twisting in the wind when the going gets tough.
It’s a trend that is sadly familiar. Following previous scandals in the 70s and 80s, thousands of skilled analysts and operations specialists left Langley for greener pastures, leaving behind the hacks and politicians who presided over such intelligence debacles as 9-11.
Strong leadership could go a long way in taking on the agency’s critics and preventing another mass exodus from the agency. But sadly, Mr. Panetta is not that type of leader. Without any meaningful intelligence experience (except as a consumer) the former Democratic congressman and White House chief of staff was asked to lead the CIA during a time of difficult transition under the new director of national intelligence construct.
To his credit, Panetta has fought some battles for his agency. ABC News  reports the DCI erupted into a tirade during a White House meeting that apparently laid out plans for Holder’s investigation. Sources tell ABC that Panetta also threatened to resign, although a CIA spokesman denies those claims.
Meanwhile, the White House is said to be screening possible replacements, suggesting that Panetta’s departure is all but inevitable. Under normal circumstances, the removal of an ineffectual CIA director would be welcome news. But these are extraordinary times; American troops are fighting two wars and the threat from global terrorists remains critical. At a time when the agency needs an exceptional hand on the tiller, Mr. Panetta has only one thing going for him: his potential replacement are likely to be even worse, setting the stage for more bloodletting — and diminished capabilities — at Langley.
Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com
URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/morale-at-cia-plummets-as-panetta-makes-a-bad-situation-worse/
URLs in this post:
 the Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-18/spy-agency-fiasco/
 Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/24/AR2009082401743.html
 here: http://washingtonindependent.com/56175/the-2004-cia-inspector-generals-report-on-torture
 ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=8398902