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9551  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 23, 2009, 08:36:01 AM
The FBI operates from a law enforcement paradigm. We are not going to mirandize and indict al qaeda into submission. It didn't work under Clinton and it won't work now.

Moral posturing is great when the threat is theoretical. What if waterboarding might make the difference in keeping your kids from dying in the next Beslan? What is an acceptable level of loss of innocent life in your own city, neighborhood?
9552  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Torture doesn't work...... on: April 22, 2009, 02:52:55 PM
Except when it does!

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/us/politics/22blair.html?pagewanted=print

April 22, 2009
Banned Techniques Yielded ‘High Value Information,’ Memo Says

By PETER BAKER
WASHINGTON – President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.
9553  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 21, 2009, 06:26:18 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/21/cia-we-stand-behind-our-actions-and-the-results/

CIA: We stand behind our actions — and the results
POSTED AT 2:45 PM ON APRIL 21, 2009 BY ED MORRISSEY   


With Barack Obama releasing the OLC memos and branding them as all but criminal and leaving the door open to prosecutions connected to the interrogation of Al-Qaeda terrorists, one might expect the CIA to retreat from its earlier defense of its actions.  So far, though, the agency remains tenacious in insisting that waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Abu Zubaydah saved American lives.  CNS News reports that the CIA stands by its 2005 memo describing how those interrogations stopped another 9/11-scale attack:

The Central Intelligence Agency told CNSNews.com today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) — including the use of waterboarding — caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

Before he was waterboarded, when KSM was asked about planned attacks on the United States, he ominously told his CIA interrogators, “Soon, you will know.”

According to the previously classified May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that was released by President Barack Obama last week, the thwarted attack — which KSM called the “Second Wave”– planned “ ‘to use East Asian operatives to crash a hijacked airliner into’ a building in Los Angeles.”

KSM initially resisted all other interrogation procedures, right up to the waterboard.  He insisted that Americans did not have the necessary resolve to get information out of him, and that we would only know about the next plot when it killed hundreds, if not thousands again.  Only after the waterboard did KSM cough up the information on the “second wave” attacks, and the CIA and other national-security agencies stopped it.

Does this answer whether waterboarding is torture?  Not really.  Does it negate the canard that “torture never works”?  Yes.  Torture works in getting people to talk, and sometimes they tell the truth.  The CIA got what it wanted — the information it needed to save lives — but it doesn’t prove or disprove whether a mock-execution procedure like waterboarding is torture or not.

It does, however, pose a difficult question for Americans, especially since the CIA even under Leon Panetta seems determined to get an answer to it.  What price do we want to pay for a pristine conscience in combating terrorism?  Do you mind if it costs thousands of American lives in plots we can’t discover because a terrorist suspect captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or somewhere else has lawyered up?  Are there times when we can appropriately use a non-lethal technique without letting the target know that it’s non-lethal, in order to save American lives?

Both sides need to quit pretending on this issue.  Mock executions fit the definition of torture, and they also saved a lot of American lives.  If we can admit to reality, then we can have an honest debate about how far we should go to protect ourselves, and what price might be too high for our public image internationally.
9554  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 20, 2009, 01:11:52 AM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/04/call-aclu.html

SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2009

Call the ACLU...
....I'm a past victim of U.S. government torture.

Of course, I never made that connection until the other day, when the Obama Administration released memos on that subject from the Bush White House. Reviewing various media accounts of the documents--including this one from the Washington Times--I discovered that I was subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques." Of course, no one used that term at the time; we called it "survival school."

Back in the day, your humble correspondent was a military aircrew member. Part of my training included a 17-day course at the U.S. Air Force Survival School, located at Fairchild AFB, Washington. The school provides detailed instruction in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) techniques, essential information for anyone who might find themselves on the lam in bad-guy territory, or even worse, in enemy hands.

We learned resistance measures in a realistic training environment; a mock POW camp, complete with guards, barbed wire and interrogators. I haven't been back to Fairchild in more than a decade, but during my time as a student (the early 1990s), we endured two stays in the camp--and exposure to those interrogation techniques, the same ones used on captured terrorists.

Being placed in a confinement box? Yep, been there, done that. In fact, virtually everyone in my group at Fairchild enjoyed that experience. According to the Times, senior Al Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah, spent a little time in the box, with an added treat: insects. Apparently, interrogators discovered that Mr. Zubaydah had a fear of bugs, so they placed a few in the box to make him talk. But, as the memos cautioned, the insects placed inside the confinement box could not be "harmful."

The other techniques approved by the Bush Administration would also be familiar to anyone who's been through a DoD SERE course: conditioning techniques (such as sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation); "corrective" measures (including facial and abdominal slaps; facial holds and attention grabs, and "coercive" steps that were considered the most effective.

Approved techniques in that latter category ranged from water-boarding; cramped confinement, dousing with cold water and stress position. I never saw anyone water-boarded during my SERE class, but the other tactics were common-place.

During one stay in the mock POW camp, I spent more than twelve hours in a pitch-black isolation box, unable to fully stand or lay down. After 10 hours or so, I began to experience hallucinations. So did my classmates. Again, we didn't consider it torture. It was training--training that one day, might have saved our lives.

Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos has been rightly criticized. Former CIA Director General Mike Hayden believes the disclosures jeopardize national security, providing new details on how far the U.S. is willing to go during terrorist interrogations.

Making matters worse, the administration has suspended use of these "harsh" techniques, which have been described as torture by various politicians and human rights groups. But the memos actually reveal that such measures were used carefully, in a controlled environment. Guidelines contained in the documents mandate the presence of medical personnel and psychologists when the interrogation tactics were employed (emphasis ours).

The Bush memos affirm what we've said all along; the kerfuffle over alleged "torture" at Gitmo (and other interrogation sites) is more about politics that legitimate human rights issues. Most of the techniques used on captured terrorists are identical to those found in military training. Even the most coercive measure--the dreaded water boarding--was used on only a handful of high-value prisoners, and for only the briefest periods of time. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the Al Qaida ops chief, broke down after only 30 seconds of water boarding.

And, did we mention that information derived through these measures saved countless American lives? Will President Obama reconsider his ban when interrogators can't obtain the right information and a terror plan succeeds? Mr. Obama--and his supporters in the media--have been rather quiet on that one.

The commander-in-chief has vowed not to prosecute intelligence officers who used the "torture" methods on suspected terrorists. But that won't stop the ACLU. A spokesman suggested that his organization may consider lawsuits against current and former interrogators. I'm still waiting to hear if they will take my case.

Oh that's right. I signed that waiver at survival school, releasing the government from any liability. Makes me wonder if Mr. Obama will prepare an executive order, absolving himself of any responsibility, just in case that "ban on torture" backfires.
9555  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 4/15 Tea Tax Protests on: April 20, 2009, 12:49:39 AM
April 18, 2009, 7:00 a.m.

Live Tea or Die!
Are Americans subjects or citizens?

By Mark Steyn

Our lesson today comes from the old British novelty song:
I like a Nice Cup Of Tea in the morning
Just to start the day, you see
And at half-past-eleven
My idea of heaven
Is a Nice Cup Of Tea . . .

In other cultures, tea is a soothing beverage, a respite from the cares of the world. A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit-Down is a British bestseller offering advice on tea, biscuits (that’s “cookies” in American), and comfy chairs by the husband-and-wife team of “Nicey” and “Wifey,” whose soubriquets suggest that these are not the folks to turn to for societal insurrection.

George Orwell — the George Orwell of Animal Farm and 1984 — wrote a famous essay called “A Nice Cup Of Tea,” all about the best way to warm the pot, and the defects of shallow cups. Is it some sort of political allegory for impending civil war set in a household torn between those who put the milk in before the tea and those who do so after? No, Orwell liked a good cuppa (as they say in England) and was eager to pass on his advice for extracting maximum satisfaction from the experience.

But in America, tea is not a soothing beverage to be served with McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits. It’s a raging stimulant. It’s rabies in an Earl Grey bag. At America’s tea parties, there’s no McVitie’s, just McVeighs — as in Timothy of that ilk, as in angry white men twitching to go nuts. To Paul Krugman of the New York Times, the tea party is a movement of “crazy people” manipulated by sinister “rightwing billionaires.” To the briefly famous Susan Roesgen of CNN, the parties are not safe for “family viewing.” Which is presumably why the Boston Globe forbore to cover them last week. The original Boston Tea Party was so-called because it took place at Boston Harbor, which I gather is a harbor somewhere in the general vicinity of the Greater Boston area. So there would appear to be what I believe the journalism professors call a “local angle” to Wednesday’s re-enactment. Might be useful for a publication losing a million bucks a week and threatened with closure by a parent company that in one of the worst media acquisitions of all time paid over a billion dollars for a property that barely a decade later is all but worthless.

But I digress. Asked about the tea parties, President Obama responded that he was not aware of them. As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them drink Lapsang Souchong.” His Imperial Majesty at Barackingham Palace having declined to acknowledge the tea parties, his courtiers at the Globe and elsewhere fell into line. Talk-show host Michael Graham spoke to one attendee at the 2009 Boston Tea Party who remarked of the press embargo: “If Obama had been the King of England, the Globe wouldn’t have covered the American revolution.”

The American media, having run their own business into the ground, are certainly qualified to run everybody else’s into the same abyss. Which is why they’ve decided that hundreds of thousands of citizens protesting taxes and out-of-control spending and government vaporization of Americans’ wealth and their children’s future is no story. Nothing to see here. As Nancy Pelosi says, it’s AstroTurf — fake grassroots, not the real thing.

Besides, what are these whiners so uptight about? CNN’s Susan Roesgen interviewed a guy in the crowd and asked why he was here: “Because,” said the Tea Partier, “I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln’s primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty, and had the right . . . ”

But Susan Roesgen had heard enough: “What does this have to do with your taxes . . . ? Do you realize that you’re eligible for a $400 credit?”

Had the Tea Party animal been as angry as these Angry White Men are supposed to be, he’d have said, “Oh, push off, you condescending tick. Taxes are a liberty issue. I don’t want a $400 ‘credit’ for agreeing to live my life in government-approved ways.” Had he been of a more literary bent, he might have adapted Sir Thomas More’s line from A Man for All Seasons: “Why, Susan, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . but for a $400 tax credit?”


But Susan Roesgen wasn’t done with her “You may already have won!” commercial: “Did you know,” she sneered, “that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion dollars out of this stimulus? That’s $50 billion dollars for this state, sir.”

Really? Who knew it was that easy? $50 billion dollars! Did those Navy SEALs find it just off the Somali coast in the wreckage of a pirate skiff in a half-submerged treasure chest, all in convertible pieces of eight or Zanzibari doubloons?

Or is it perhaps the case that that $50 billion dollars has to be raised from the same limited pool of 300 million Americans and their as-yet-unborn descendants? And, if so, is giving it to “the state of Lincoln” — latterly, the state of Blagojevich — likely to be of much benefit to the citizens?

Amid his scattershot pronouncements on everything from global nuclear disarmament to high-speed rail, President Obama said something almost interesting the other day. Decrying a “monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand,” the Tax-Collector-in-Chief pledged: “I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests.”

That shouldn’t be hard. A tax code that put my interests over any special interests would read: “How much did you earn last year? [Insert number here] thousand dollars? Hey, feel free to keep it. You know your interests better than we do!”

Okay, to be less absolutist about it, my interests include finding a road at the end of my drive every morning, and modern equipment for the (volunteer) fire department, and a functioning military to deter the many predators out there, and maybe one or two other things. But 95 percent of the rest is not just “special interests” but social engineering — a $400 tax credit for falling into line with Barack Obama and Susan Roesgen. That’s why these are Tea Parties — because the heart of the matter is the same question posed two-and-a-third centuries ago: Are Americans subjects or citizens? If the latter, then a benign sovereign should not be determining “your interests” and then announcing that he’s giving you a “tax credit” as your pocket money.

Doing the job the Boston Globe won’t do, Glenn Reynolds, the Internet’s Instapundit, has been posting many photographs of tea parties. For a movement of mean, angry old white men, there seem to be a lot of hot-looking young chicks among them. Perhaps they’re just kinky gerontophiliacs. Or perhaps they understand that their generation will be the principal victim of this grotesque government profligacy. Like the original tea party, it is in the end about freedom. Live Tea or die!


— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzdmMmI2MzY4MjhmZmRlZDkzMTU2ZGI4ODNkNjFjMzg=
9556  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 18, 2009, 08:30:54 AM
My statement analysis of the unsourced post is that it is valid, written by a current or fomer military man familiar with US naval special warfare.

Very credible, IMHO.
9557  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Libertarian Issues on: April 17, 2009, 05:37:41 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/17/dhs-ignored-civil-liberties-lawyers-warnings-on-report/

DHS ignored civil-liberties lawyers’ warnings on report; Update: Senators demand data, explanation
POSTED AT 10:56 AM ON APRIL 17, 2009 BY ED MORRISSEY   


The DHS pushed its report out on right-wingers in one hell of a hurry, according to the AP.  Internal reviews of the document showed concerns over potential civil-liberties violations before its publication, but DHS ignored them in order to quickly make the document public.  What was the rush?

Civil liberties officials at the Homeland Security Department flagged language in a controversial report on right-wing extremists, but the agency issued the report anyway. …

Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the report was issued before officials resolved problems raised by the agency’s civil rights division about analysts’ definition of right-wing extremism.

In a footnote in the report, right-wing extremism was defined as hate-motivated groups and movements, such as hatred of certain religions, racial or ethnic groups. It went on to say, “It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

This answers the rather absurd meme that has popped up on liberal blogs, that the Bush administration is responsible for this report.  First, while the Bush administration might have wanted an assessment of right-wing extremist threats, it didn’t necessarily want one that painted returning veterans and conservative thought on abortion, illegal immigration, and federalism as extremist threats, nor did it want a threat assessment that couldn’t find a threat and had no data on actual, specific groups.  Secondly, and most obviously, this report was dated April 7, 2009, almost 3 months after Bush left office.

Just when does the new administration take responsibility for reports they release?  2013?  For people who thought Bush was such a dunce, they seem to give him remarkable powers to control government months after he’s retired to Crawford.

Now we see that this wasn’t just left lying around from the Bush administration.  In fact, it was such a rush job that Janet Napolitano couldn’t wait to resolve the obvious civil-liberty concerns raised by her own lawyers before shoving it out the door.  Napolitano would later have to backtrack on the exact same language flagged by the attorneys by claiming that she didn’t specifically approve the report issued by her office and that she would have changed the language in hindsight.  She had the opportunity to fix it before its release, but the completely threadbare report was deemed such a high priority that it went out anyway.

Now, what could have triggered that?  Anyone know of events occurring just after April 7, 2009, that such an assessment could have painted as radical, extremist, and threats to national security?  Hmmm.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI has tracked a few veterans for extremist activity, but because they joined extremist groups, not because they’re veterans:

Michael Ward, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview Thursday that the portion of the operation focusing on the military related only to veterans who draw the attention of Defense Department officials for joining white-supremacist or other extremist groups.

“We’re not doing an investigation into the military, we’re not looking at former military members,” he said. “It would have to be something they were concerned about, or someone they’re concerned is involved” with extremist groups.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work — and that’s the way it did work in the Bush administration, whose assessment of left-wing extremists focused on groups with histories of violent actions and on actual data showing threats.

Update:  Via Michelle, Senators Coburn, Brownback, DeMint, Burr, Murkowski, Inhofe, and Vitter sent the following letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano yesterday concerning the DHS report:

April 16, 2009

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary
The Department of Homeland Security
310 7th street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20528-0150

VIA FASCMILLE

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We write today concerning the release of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division.

While we agree that we must fight extremists who are both foreign and domestic we are troubled by some of the statements your department included as fact in the report titled above, without listing any statistical data to back up such claims.

First, your report states that “Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists…” without listing any data to support such a vile claim against our nation’s veterans.

Second, the report states that the millions of Americans who believe in the Second Amendment are a potential threat to our national security. Why? Do you have statistics to prove that law-abiding Americans who purchase a legal product are being recruited by so-called hate groups?

Thirdly, the report states that those that believe in issues such as pro-life legislation, limited government, and legal versus illegal immigration are potential terrorist threats. We can assure you that these beliefs are held by citizens of all races, party affiliation, male and female, and should not be listed as a factor in determining potential terror threats. A better word usage would be to describe them as practicing their First Amendment rights.

Also, you list those that bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India as being potential rightwing extremists. We would suggest that the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing industry to foreign countries are not potential terror threats, but rather honest Americans worried about feeding their families and earning a paycheck.

In closing, we support the mission of DHS in protecting our country from terror attacks and are proud of the many DHS employees who make this possible in conjunction with our state and local law enforcement. We ask that DHS not use this report as a basis to unfairly target millions of Americans because of their beliefs and the rights afforded to them in the Constitution. We also ask that you provide us with the data that support the unfair claims listed in the report titled above and to present us with the matrix system used in collecting and analyzing this data?

Finally, we look forward to your prompt reply and we offer our assistance to DHS in our shared effort to fight terrorism both home and abroad by using data that is accurate and independent of political persuasion.
9558  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 16, 2009, 08:00:52 PM
Very profound. Unrestricted warfare, financial mode.
9559  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Communicating with the Muslim World on: April 16, 2009, 09:36:40 AM
**Yes, here in America. At Harvard.**

Chaplain’s E-mail Sparks Controversy

Published On 4/14/2009 1:45:38 AM

By MELODY Y. HU

Crimson Staff Writer


CLARIFICATION APPENDED

Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser ’96 has recently come under fire for controversial statements in which he allegedly endorsed death as a punishment for Islamic apostates.

In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”

The e-mail was forwarded over Muslim student e-mail lists and later picked up by the blogosphere, sparking debate and, in many cases, criticism of Abdul-Basser from those who have interpreted his statement as supporting the execution of those who leave the Islamic religion.

“I believe he doesn’t belong as the official chaplain,” said one Islamic student, who asked that he not be named to avoid conflicts with Muslim religious authorities. “If the Christian ministers said that people who converted from Christianity should be killed, don’t you think the University should do something?” [SEE CLARIFICATION BELOW]

According to the student, many of Abdul-Basser’s other views are “not in line with liberal values, such as notions of human rights. He privileges the medieval discourse of the Islamic jurists, and is not willing to exercise independent thought and judgment beyond a certain limit,” the student said.

Samad Khurram ’09-’10 said Abdul-Basser’s remarks conflicted with the Harvard United Ministry’s support of freedom of religion.

“I support free speech, freedom of belief and association, so this came as a big shock to me,” Khurram said.

“[His remarks] are the first step towards inciting intolerance and inciting people towards violence,” said a Muslim Harvard student, who requested that he not be named for fear of harming his relationship with the Islamic community.

Aqil Sajjad, a Harvard graduate student, also said that Abdul-Basser’s statements were “totally wrong, definitely out of line for somebody in that position. I wouldn’t go and seek religious advice from one who is saying this.”

A Muslim student at MIT, who also asked to remain anonymous to preserve his relationship with the Islamic community, said the chaplain’s remarks wrongly suggested that only Westerners and Westernized Muslims who did not fully understand Islam would find the killing of apostates objectionable.

“If what he said was what I thought, then it is very shocking and not something that I would expect or want coming out of a chaplain at any major American university,” he said.

Abdul-Basser wrote in a later e-mailed statement that he “never expressed the position that individuals who leave Islam or convert from Islam to another religion must be killed. I do not hold this opinion personally.” He explained that he was not advocating for the positions mentioned in his e-mail, but rather “addressing them in the context of the evolution of an Islamic legal doctrine.”

“[Abdul-Basser] was speaking as a chaplain to a student in a private e-mail exchange. One of these e-mails was misinterpreted, misconstrued, and posted on the blogosphere,” said Harvard Islamic Society spokesperson Nafees A. Syed ’10, who praised Abdul-Basser for promoting diversity within HIS and the campus at large.

“His immeasurable contributions should not be overlooked in this matter,” she said.

—Staff writer Melody Y. Hu can be reached at melodyhu@fas.harvard.edu.

CLARIFICATION: The April 14 article "Chaplain's E-mail Sparks Controversy" included a quotation from a named Harvard student, who was later granted anonymity when he revealed that his words could bring him into serious conflict with Muslim religious authorities.



http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=527653
9560  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 14, 2009, 07:01:35 PM
Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama's Double-Homicide
APRIL 14, 2009 | ISSUE 45•16


The press hasn't figured out how best to display the gruesome crime-scene photos from the president's bloody rampage.


WASHINGTON—More than a week after President Barack Obama's cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime.

"I know there's a story in there somewhere," said Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, referring to Obama's home invasion and execution-style slaying of Jeff and Sue Finowicz on Apr. 8. "Right now though, it's probably best to just sit back and wait for more information to come in. After all, the only thing we know for sure is that our president senselessly murdered two unsuspecting Americans without emotion or hesitation."

Added Meacham, "It's not so cut and dried."

ENLARGE IMAGE

Associated Press reporters investigate any possible gym training regimens the president might have used to get into peak physical condition for the murders.

Since the killings took place, reporters across the country have struggled to come up with an appropriate take on the ruthless crime, with some wondering whether it warrants front-page coverage, and others questioning its relevance in a fast-changing media landscape.

"What exactly is the news hook here?" asked Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News. "Is this an upbeat human-interest story about a 'day in the life' of a bloodthirsty president who likes to kill people? Or is it more of an examination of how Obama's unusual upbringing in Hawaii helped to shape the way he would one day viciously butcher two helpless citizens in their own home?"

"Or maybe the story is just that murder is cool now," Kaplan continued. "I don't know. There are a million different angles on this one."

So far, the president's double-homicide has not been covered by any major news outlets. The only two mentions of the heinous tragedy have been a 100-word blurb on the Associated Press wire and an obituary on page E7 of this week's edition of the Lake County Examiner.

While Obama has expressed no remorse for the grisly murders—point-blank shootings with an unregistered .38-caliber revolver—many journalists said it would be irresponsible for the press to sensationalize the story.

"There's been some debate around the office about whether we should report on this at all," Washington Post senior reporter Bill Tracy said while on assignment at a local dog show. "It's enough of a tragedy without the press jumping in and pointing fingers or, worse, exploiting the violence. Plus, we need to be sensitive to the victims' families at this time. Their loved ones were brutally, brutally murdered, after all."

Nevertheless, a small contingent of independent journalists has begun to express its disapproval and growing shock over the president's actions.

"I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but we are in the midst of an economic crisis here," political pundit Marcus Reid said. "Why was our president ritualistically dismembering the corpses of his prey when he should have been working on a new tax proposal for small businesses? I, for one, am outraged."

The New York Times newsroom is reportedly still undecided on whether or not to print a recent letter received from Obama, in which the president threatens to kill another helpless citizen every Tuesday and "fill [his] heavenly palace with slaves for the afterlife" unless the police "stop the darkness from screaming."

"President Obama's letter presents us with a classic journalistic quandary," executive editor Bill Keller said. "If we print it, then we're giving him control over the kinds of stories we choose to run. It would be an acknowledgment that we somehow give the nation's commander in chief special treatment."

Added Keller, "And that's just not how the press in this country works."
9561  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hezbollah's Mushroom Cloud on: April 13, 2009, 05:30:07 PM
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/04/hezbollahs-mush.php

April 13, 2009
Hezbollah's Mushroom Cloud

Christopher Hitchens recently went to a rally in the suburbs south of Beirut and found Hezbollah ratcheting up its belligerence. “A huge poster of a nuclear mushroom cloud surmounts the scene,” he wrote in the May issue of Vanity Fair, “with the inscription OH ZIONISTS, IF YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF WAR THEN SO BE IT!” Last week James Kirchick reported seeing the same thing at the same rally in City Journal. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time Hezbollah has threatened nuclear war.

Hezbollah isn’t broadcasting this to the world. If Hitchens and Kirchick hadn’t written about it, few would know the mushroom-cloud banner even exists. It’s not so much a threat as it is a revelation of Hezbollah’s dark psyche. But perhaps Hezbollah’s not shouting “nuclear war” for all to hear means its threats are more dangerous than public taunts from the Iranian government. Empty threats and hyperbole are rife in the Middle East. Death threats are rarely carried out anywhere. Most assassins don’t announce their intentions. They kill their victims without warning. Whatever Hezbollah’s mushroom-cloud banner means, we know this much: intimations of nuclear war with Israel are now coming from Lebanon as well as Iran. The worst case scenario — a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv — might be slightly more likely than some of us thought.

Every foreign policy-maker and analyst must be wondering whether Israel will bomb Iranian nuclear facilities this year or next. Most don’t know the answer. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself might not know the answer. It’s risky. Hezbollah didn’t open a second front against Israel during the Gaza war a few months ago, but it’s unlikely they’ll sit still in South Lebanon if their patron and armorer in Tehran is attacked. Iran’s Al Quds Force may retaliate against the United States in Iraq. A military strike against Iran could easily trigger a regional conflagration.

There’s a theory floating around the Middle East that I’ve heard from Israelis and Arabs alike, and some find it slightly reassuring: Iran doesn’t want to use nuclear weapons against Israel. Rather, Iran wants nuclear weapons so it can transform itself into a true regional superpower. Arab regimes fear this, which is why Saudi Arabia and Egypt have threatened to develop or purchase their own nuclear arsenals to counter the “Persian bomb.” No Arab state got into an arms race with Israel to counter the “Zionist bomb,” but they’re obviously worried about what might happen to them if Tehran weaponizes uranium. The Iranians don’t want to be neutralized by an arms race, so they’re threatening the Israelis and hoping the Arabs will relax or acquiesce. I don’t know if the theory is true, but Hezbollah’s recent mushroom-cloud banner doesn’t quite fit. Hezbollah didn’t put that on stage to calm nerves in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They used it to thrill a crowd of furious Shia Arabs in Lebanon.

An Iranian bomb would be a problem for Israelis, Arabs, and the rest of us even if Tehran has no intention of using it. The last thing an energy-dependent planet needs is extremist regimes with vast oil reserves threatening to obliterate each other as India and Pakistan sometimes do. And the second-to-last thing Israel needs is a nuclear umbrella protecting Hamas and Hezbollah. President Barack Obama said a nuclear Iran would be a “game changer” last year. He’s right.

The worst case scenario — the incineration of Tel Aviv and a nuclear retaliation against Tehran — isn’t likely. I don’t expect it will ever actually happen. I’m sure enough — at least 90 percent sure — that I feel safe making the prediction in public. I’m a writer, though, not a policy maker. And I don’t live in Israel. I’m safe and can afford to be wrong. I won’t be killed, nor will I be blamed for getting anyone else killed. The Israeli government won’t make the same risk calculations I make. If I’m wrong, they’re dead, and so is their country.

I can’t tell whether or not Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike. But let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that it’s 90 percent likely Iran’s threats of annihilation are just bluster. And let me ask this: How would you feel if your doctor diagnosed you with an illness and said there’s a ten percent chance it will kill you? Would you find 90 percent odds of survival acceptable? Would you sleep peacefully and do nothing and hope for the best? I travel to dangerous places. It’s part of my job. But those odds, for me, are prohibitive. Those odds are almost as bad as the odds in Russian Roulette, and you couldn’t pay me enough to play that game even once.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 13, 2009 11:29 AM
9562  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 13, 2009, 05:09:45 PM
Given how the left uses private contractors as the whipping boy for it's hatred of all things military/masculine, I'd not want to step into that role.
9563  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 13, 2009, 09:49:28 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/13/obama-vindicates-bush-again/

Obama vindicates Bush, again
posted at 10:16 am on April 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When will Barack Obama apologize to George Bush?  He spent the entire campaign impugning Bush’ handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, claiming that they required access to federal courts and that military detentions were not necessary.  On Friday, Obama took another big step towards Bush by deciding to fight a federal court that essentially endorsed Obama’s views on the campaign trail:

The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight.
In a court filing, the Justice Department also asked District Judge John D. Bates not to proceed with the habeas-corpus cases of three detainees at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Judge Bates ruled last week that the three — each of whom says he was seized outside of Afghanistan — could challenge their detention in court.
Jim Geraghty’s axiom applies: All of Obama’s statements come with an expiration date — all of them.  That actually is good news for the Right, since we disagree with most of Obama’s statements.  This case is a a good example.
Terrorists and insurgents captured by military and intelligence personnel engaged overseas do not get habeas corpus.  Not even the Nuremberg defendants got habeas corpus in American courts, the example Obama liked to use (and got wrong) on the campaign trail.  Their military tribunals were the final word, as they should be with detainees at Bagram or at Gitmo.
I’m glad to see Obama coming to his senses on this point.  This is change I can believe in, but Obama should apologize to Bush in every brief his DoJ files along these lines.


9564  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 13, 2009, 08:46:17 AM
http://www.examiner.com/x-6448-Norfolk-Military-Affairs-Examiner~y2009m4d12-Giving-credit-where-its-due

Giving credit where it's due
April 12, 8:25 PM · Add a Comment

John F. Kennedy once observed famously that, "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."

The lasting truth of that axiom was evident again today in the waters off Somalia--and in the halls of Washington. 

As word of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips began to spread Sunday afternoon, members of the Obama Administration were quick to claim credit.  According to the Associated Press, officials said the President "twice authorized the use of force" to free Phillips, the captain of the merchant vessel Maersk Alabama, who was taken captive by Somali pirates on Wednesday.

While it is true that Mr. Obama gave the go-ahead for employing military force, the actual rescue began when the on-scene commander determined that Phillips faced imminent danger, and authorzed Navy SEAL snipers to open fire.  Three of the pirates, guarding Phillips in a 28-foot lifeboat, were killed by the sharpshooters firing from the stern of the USS Bainbridge, the guided missile destroyer that was the first U.S. Navy vessel to reach the area.   

Admiral William Gortney, Commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, told a Pentagon news conference that the order to eliminate the pirates came around 7:30 pm, east Africa time, when the SEALs saw the heads and shoulders of the three pirates clearly in the lifeboat--one of them pointing his AK-47 at Captain Phillips. Instantly, the snipers informed the on-scene commander, stationed on the Bainbridge, who gave orders to fire. 

The fourth pirate, who was aboard the destroyer and participating in negotiations aimed at freeing Captain Phillips, was taken into custody.  With the pirates on the lifeboat dead, other SEALS removed Phillips from the craft and took him to the Bainbridge.  He was later transferred to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship which was also involved in the operation.

At the time of the rescue, the lifeboat was under tow by the destroyer, which was moving it to calmer waters.  Talks between the pirate and Navy officers on the Bainbridge became heated, and the on-scene commander determined hostile intent, based on the tone of the negotiations, and the weapons pointed at Captain Phillips.   

At the time the commander gave the order to fire, the lifeboat was about 80 feet behind the destroyer, well within range for the SEAL sniper team.  However, the shot was complicated by the small craft's pitching and bobbing in the wake of the Bainbridge, and the design of the lifeboat. 

John Konrad, the veteran merchant captain who blogs at gcaptain.com reports that the Maersk Alabama was equipped with enclosed lifeboats.  As their name suggests, the craft have only a limited number of openings that would have allowed the SEALs to observe activity inside and target the pirates.  Under those conditions, the shots that eliminated the three pirates were remarkable, indeed. 

But the split-second decision to rescue Captain Phillips--and the superb marksmanship of the snipers--were soon overshadowed by a predictable round of credit-grabbing in Washington.  Administration sources pointed out that President Obama previously authorized the military to act on Friday and Saturday, when commanders on the scene also believed that Phillips' life was in jeopardy. 

But White House officials who spoke with the AP (on the condition of anonymity) declined to discuss the mechanics of the deliberation process.   

Truth be told, there really isn't much to discuss.  While another senior official, who spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, bragged about Mr. Obama authorizing the use of special forces assets to assist in the operation, such directives are standard for this type of contingency.  And luckily for all concerned, U.S. special forces personnel have operated for years from the former French colony of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.  The presence of the Boxer, with its large complement of helicopters, facilitated movement of the SEALs to the Bainbridge.     

To be fair, President Obama made the right call, giving his commanders the authority to act swiftly--and decisively--to end the hostage standoff, when the opportunity presented itself.  But the successful rescue of Captain Phillips was hardly a triumph of executive decision-making from the White House situation room.  Instead, the real credit should go to the field-grade officer who accurately assessed the situation and gave the order to fire--and to the SEALs who took out their targets with customary efficiency.                                 
9565  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 13, 2009, 08:28:02 AM
Navy commander: Trio of shots ended sea standoff
April 13, 2009 6:57 AM EDT

WASHINGTON - Adm. William Gortney said Monday that it took only three shots for Navy snipers to kill the trio of pirates holding captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat drifting in the high sea.

Interviewed from Bahrain, Gortney said the takedown happened shortly after the hostage-takers were observed by sailors aboard the USS Bainbridge "with their heads and shoulders exposed."

Asked how the snipers could have killed each pirate with a single shot in the darkness, Gortney described them as "extremely, extremely well-trained." He told NBC's "Today" show the shooting by the snipers was ordered by the captain of the Bainbridge after the pirates "exposed themselves" to attack.

Military officials were widely praising the snipers for three flawless shots, which they described as remarkable, coming at night and from the stern of a ship on rolling waters.

Defense officials also indicated, speaking anonymously, that the Navy snipers got the go-ahead to fire after one of the pirates was seen holding an AK-47 so close to Phillips that the weapon appeared to be touching him. Two other pirates popped their heads up, giving snipers all three of their targets, one official said.

The military officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

They said that a fourth pirate who survived was believed to be between 16 and 20 years old, and had in effect surrendered before the sniper rescue.

One official said he jumped into a small craft that had been taking food to the lifeboat, and asked to be taken to the Bainbridge. He also needed medical help because he had been stabbed in the hand on the Maersk Alabama in the initial standoff with crew members when the pirates attempted unsuccessfully to take over the cargo vessel, officials said.

Shane Murphy, a crew member of the Maersk Alabama, told a news conference: "We are lucky to be out of it with every one of us alive. We never had to fight to take our ship back. We never gave up."

The Navy released images of the scene from an unmanned drone, Scan Eagle. It showed that the snipers had positioned themselves on the fantail of the Bainbridge. The snipers fired simultaneously. One of the pirates was in the pilot house.

The SEALS arrived on the scene by parachuting from their aircraft into the sea, and they were picked up by the Bainbridge, a senior U.S. official said.

He said negotiations with the pirates had been "going up and down. Discussions would be going well, and then they would get discouraged and real angry." This official, asking not to be publicly identified because he, too, was not authorized to discuss this on the record, said the pirates were "becoming increasingly agitated in the rough waters; they weren't getting what they wanted."

Just as it was getting dark, pirates fired a tracer bullet "toward the Bainbridge," further heightening the sense that the incident was ratcheting up, the official said.

He said that at the time snipers took their shot, Phillips' hands were bound.
9566  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / West warned on nuclear terrorist threat from Pakistan on: April 13, 2009, 06:26:45 AM
http://www.watoday.com.au/world/west-warned-on-nuclear-terrorist-threat-from-pakistan-20090413-a4ac.html?page=-1

West warned on nuclear terrorist threat from Pakistan
Paul McGeough
April 11, 2009

The next few months will be crucial in defusing a global terrorist threat that would be even deadlier than the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leading Washington counter-terrorism expert warns.

David Kilcullen — a former Australian army lieutenant colonel who helped devise the US troop surge that revitalised the American campaign in Iraq — fears Pakistan is at risk of falling under al-Qaeda control.

If that were to happen, the terrorist group could end up controlling what Dr Kilcullen calls "Talibanistan". "Pakistan is what keeps me awake at night," said Dr Kilcullen, who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

"Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control."

Compounding that threat, the Pakistani security establishment ignored direction from the elected Government in Islamabad as waves of extremist violence spread across the whole country — not just in the tribal wilds of the Afghan border region.

"We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," Dr Kilcullen told The Age during an interview at his Washington office. Late last month, when US President Barack Obama unveiled his new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, he warned that al-Qaeda would fill the vacuum if Afghanistan collapsed, and that the terror group was already rooted in Pakistan, plotting more attacks on the US.

As the US implements its new strategy in Central Asia, Dr Kilcullen warned that time was running out for international efforts to pull both countries back from the brink.

Special US Envoy Richard Holbrooke has been charged with trying to broker a regional agreement by reaching out to Iran, Russia and China. Dr Kilcullen spoke highly of Mr Holbrooke's talent as a diplomat: "This is exactly what he's good at and it could work.

"But will it? It requires regional architecture to give the Pakistani security establishment a sense of security, which might make them stop supporting the Taliban," he said.

"The best-case scenario is that the US can deal with Afghanistan, with President Obama giving leadership while the extra American troops succeed on the ground, at the same time as Mr Holbrooke seeks a regional security deal."

The worst case was that Washington would fail to stabilise Afghanistan, Pakistan would collapse and al-Qaeda would end up running what he called "Talibanistan".

"This is not acceptable; you can't have al-Qaeda in control of Pakistan's missiles," he said.

"It's too early to tell which way it will go. We'll start to know about July. That's the peak fighting season and the extra troops will have hit the ground, and it will be a month out from the Afghan presidential election."

Dr Kilcullen also cautioned Western governments against focusing too heavily on Afghanistan at the expense of the intensifying crisis in Pakistan, because "the Kabul tail was wagging the dog". Contrasting the challenges in the two countries, Dr Kilcullen described Afghanistan as a campaign to defend a reconstruction program.

"It's not really about al-Qaeda," he argued. "Afghanistan doesn't worry me. Pakistan does."

However, he was hesitant about the level of resources and likely impact of Washington's new drive to emulate the effectiveness of an Iraq-style "surge" by sending an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.

"In Iraq, five brigades went into the centre of Baghdad in five months," he said.

"In Afghanistan, it will be two combat brigades (across the country) in 12 months. That will have much less of a punch effect than we had in Iraq.

"We can muddle through in Afghanistan. It is problematic and difficult, but we know what to do. What we don't know is if we have the time or if we can afford the cost of what needs to be done."

Dr Kilcullen said that a fault line had developed in the West's grasp of the situation on either side of the Durand Line, the long-disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"In Afghanistan, it's easy to understand, difficult to execute. But in Pakistan, it is very difficult to understand and it's extremely difficult for us to generate any leverage, because Pakistan does not want our help.

"In a sense there is no Pakistan; no single set of opinion. Pakistan has a military and intelligence establishment that refuses to follow the directions of its civilian leadership.

"They have a tradition of using regional extremist groups as unconventional counterweights against India's regional influence.

"The (Pakistani) military also has an almost pathological phobia by which it sees al-Qaeda as 'this little problem', as distinct from what they see as the main game opposing India.

"In terms of a substantial threat, Pakistan is the main problem we face today.

"We don't have a responsible actor to work through in Islamabad. My judgement, to use diplomatic speak, is that Pakistan has yet to demonstrate genuine commitment."
9567  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 12, 2009, 11:00:39 AM
Tax activists have been mailing tea bags to the white house. I think tampons or sanitary napkins would be of more use to the empty-suit. It took Carter years to get his hostage crisis.
9568  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Reprimitivized Future on: April 11, 2009, 09:16:45 PM
April 11, 2009, 2:30 p.m.

Our Reprimitivized Future
When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all.

By Mark Steyn

The Reuters headline put it this way: “Pirates Pose Annoying Distraction For Obama.”

So many distractions, aren’t there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an “annoying distraction” from Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a “distraction” — from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle’s wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration’s plans for federally subsidized daycare, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s dinner plans.

If the incompetent management driving the New York Times from junk status to oblivion wished to decelerate their terminal decline, they might usefully amend their motto to “All the News That’s Fit to Distract.” Tom Blumer of Newsbusters notes that in the last 30 days there have been some 2,500 stories featuring Obama and “distractions,” as opposed to about 800 “distractions” for Bush in his entire second term. The sub-headline of the Reuters story suggests the unprecedented pace at which the mountain of distractions is piling up: “First North Korea, Iran — now Somali pirates.”

Er, okay. So the North Korean test is a “distraction,” the Iranian nuclear program is a “distraction,” and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a “distraction.” Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled “Distractions.” Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities — Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague — but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen’s gardens ominously marked “Here be distractions . . . ”

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction, but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book America Alone, I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as “Indian Territory.” It’s a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands will one day be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today’s badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day. Half a century back, Somaliland was a couple of sleepy colonies, British and Italian, poor but functioning. Then it became a state, and then a failed state, and now the husk of a nation is a convenient squat from which to make mischief. According to Chatham House in London, Somali pirates made about $30 million in ransom and booty last year. Thirty mil goes a long way in Somalia, making piracy a very attractive proposition.

It’s also a low-risk one. Once upon a time we killed and captured pirates. Today, it’s all more complicated. The attorney general, Eric Holder, has declined to say whether the kidnappers of the American captain will be “brought to justice” by the U.S. “I’m not sure exactly what would happen next,” declares the chief law-enforcement official of the world’s superpower. But some things we can say for certain. Obviously, if the United States Navy hanged some eyepatched peglegged blackguard from the yardarm or made him walk the plank, pious senators would rise to denounce an America that no longer lived up to its highest ideals, and the network talking-heads would argue that Plankgate was recruiting more and more young men to the pirates’ cause, and judges would rule that pirates were entitled to the protections of the U.S. constitution and that their peglegs had to be replaced by high-tech prosthetic limbs at taxpayer expense.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, which over the centuries did more than anyone to rid the civilized world of the menace of piracy, now declines even to risk capturing their Somali successors, having been advised by Her Majesty’s Government that, under the European Human Rights Act, any pirate taken into custody would be entitled to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom and live on welfare for the rest of his life. I doubt Pirates of the Caribbean would have cleaned up at the box office if the big finale had shown Geoffrey Rush and his crew of scurvy sea dogs settling down in council flats in Manchester and going down to the pub for a couple of jiggers of rum washed down to cries of “Aaaaargh, shiver me benefits check, lad.” From “Avast, me hearties!” to a vast welfare scam is not progress.



In a world of legalisms, resistance is futile. The Royal Navy sailors kidnapped by Iran two years ago and humiliated by the mullahs on TV were operating under rules of engagement that call for “de-escalation” in the event of a confrontation. Which is to say, their rules of engagement are rules of non-engagement. Likewise, merchant vessels equipped with cannon in the 18th century now sail unarmed. They contract with expensive private security firms, but those security teams do not carry guns: When the MV Biscaglia was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year, the Indian and Bangladeshi crew were taken hostage but the three unarmed guards from “Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions” in London “escaped by jumping into the water.” Some solution. When you make a lucrative activity low-risk, you get more of it.

As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” Very true. Somalia, Iran, and North Korea are all less “civilized” than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea’s impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund non-state actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere non-state actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.

When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever-bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don’t be surprised if “the civilized world” shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a “distraction” but a portent of the future.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZWQwNTE2OWM2YjEwMWQzNTM4OTMzZGVhOWM0NDUxOGQ=
9569  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Community Organizers seize another boat, crew on: April 11, 2009, 11:10:39 AM
**Hey, Bush isn't president anymore. What's Obama going to do, talk smack on Leno? Open season on America and the west.**

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LB80287.htm

Pirates seize U.S.-owned, Italy-flagged tugboat
11 Apr 2009 14:39:44 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds quote, NATO)
By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Pirates seized a U.S.-owned and Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew on Saturday in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway, a regional maritime group said.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the crew were believed to be unharmed on the tugboat, which he added was operated from the United Arab Emirates.
He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details on their cargo.
"This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent," Mwangura told Reuters by phone.
NATO alliance officials on board the Portuguese warship NRB Corte-Real, which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden, said a distress call came from the MV Buccaneer tugboat but communications were lost six minutes later.
They said 10 of the tugboat's crew were Italian citizens.
Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in March after a lull at the start of 2009.
International interest has focused this week on the plight of an American hostage, Richard Phillips, held by four pirates on a lifeboat flanked by U.S. naval warships in a high seas standoff since Wednesday. (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi and Alison Bevege on the NRB Corte-Real)
9570  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting question on: April 11, 2009, 10:33:45 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/11/choosy-choicers-choose-back-alley-abortions-in-china/

Choosy choicers choose back-alley abortions in China
POSTED AT 11:15 AM ON APRIL 11, 2009 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Legal Insurrection notes an interesting contradiction at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  In response to the demographic distortion that China’s one-child policy has produced, the CPR has called for an end to forced abortions and government imposition of reproductive policy.  So far, so good; we can broadly agree on those goals.  However, CPR also opposes gender-selective abortion, which is astoundingly hypocritical (emphases mine):

Our shadow letter underlined many areas of concern, including: harmful effects of the one-child policy such as forced abortion, coerced sterilization, and increased trafficking and abduction of women; limited access to infertility treatment; maternal mortality; sex-selective abortions; and deficiencies in sex education. The Committee, through its Concluding Observations, expressed concern over rights violations ensuing from these practices. It advised the Chinese government to investigate and prosecute instances of forced sterilization and abortion and to strengthen and enforce existing laws outlawing sex-selective abortion and female infanticide.

First, why not just protest infanticide in general?  Is it only a problem when female infants are killed through direct action or purposeful neglect?  I understand that the problem in China is focused on female infants, but if infanticide’s the problem, then we shouldn’t have to get gender-specific about the objection. Their objection looks specifically outcome-based rather than principled.

It seems CPR has a problem with choice that disproportionately disfavors females.  They don’t object to abortion, unless the woman chooses to abort in order to avoid giving birth to a female. But how is that choice any less legitimate than any other reason to procure an abortion?  For some, the gender relates to economic status and potential, criteria which in other contexts pro-abortion groups hail as rational considerations.

And doesn’t this negate the knee-jerk argument against outlawing abortions in general?  If women want to abort because they carry female babies, then won’t they get back-alley abortions if CPR succeeds in keeping gender-specific abortions illegal?  Shall we round up and arrest the mothers?  The doctors?  And if we can justify doing that for gender-specific abortions, why not do it for all abortions and stop the wholesale slaughter of human life altogether?

If one argues for a pro-choice position, then one would support all reasons for the choice.  If CPR and its allies support abortion based on outcomes rather than the supposed ideal of choice, then it’s fair to argue what outcomes they’re really supporting.
9571  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 10:15:52 AM
April 09, 2009
The End of Fair Elections?

By Tom Hoffman
Anyone who believes Hugo Chavez's presidency is the result of a free and fair election should stop reading and go protest against global warming.  For the rest of us, it may come as a surprise to some; we may have witnessed the last free and fair election in this country. How long ago that election was does not matter now; there will not be another one.

Remember when "B1 Bob" Dornan lost his House seat to a woman named Sanchez? The election was stolen by Hermandad Nacional Mexicana a group that made a concerted effort to register illegal aliens. Since then, the art of rigging the vote has been refined and perfected by the likes of ACORN and other community activist organizations.

The modus operandi is clear. First, there must be a team of lawyers to challenge any efforts to determine voter eligibility. What we end up with here in California is "motor voter" registration.  This means DMV workers urge anyone getting a driver's license to go ahead and register to vote. Lawyers and Democratic state legislators have made it illegal to require documentation regarding immigration status; it's the honor system. If an illegal feels uncomfortable lying to a bureaucrat at the DMV, he or she can apply by mail and receive an absentee ballot. This way they need not even have to show up at the polling place; just mail it in.

It's just too easy to cheat. Of course, at the polling place there is no need to prove who you claim to be; honor system again. Sign in and vote with no questions asked.  The lawyers and legislators paved the way for the "undocumented worker" to vote like a native born citizen by doing away with need to document anything, let alone citizenship.  All that is necessary is a mailing address; and, no kidding, the same culprits are busy doing away with that so the "homeless" can now register.

Registering as many fraudulent votes as possible and making it as difficult as possible to disqualify voters is only front end of the strategy. Once an election has been made close enough to allow for disputes and recounts, whole new machinery has been put in place. Here is where the big money comes into play. The secretaries of state, whose duty it is to oversee the election process, must be beholden to the community activists. Large campaign donations to the secretary of state candidates assure the community organizers a voice in all "recounts". Their squads of well-trained lawyers will likely get sympathetic rulings in their efforts to disqualify eligible voters and qualify the ineligible.

Is it any wonder that, as the rules get watered down again and again, the number of "get out the vote" organizations has multiplied?  There has always been some fraud in our electoral system: but until recently, the scale has not been sufficient to succeed in stealing a national election.  We've passed that line. Once passed, the line can never be redrawn.

ACORN is but one instance of a well financed nationwide effort to institute voter fraud. It is the financing of the likes of George Soros and the organizing skills of the likes of Bill Ayers that assures us of rigged elections from now on. Take the recent U.S. Senate election in Minnesota. The community activists registered thousands of new voters. Given that ACORN has already admitted to voter fraud (by mistake of course), it is certain a fair number of these were fraudulent. It is also certain that nearly all were Democrat votes. The Republican still managed to win by a few hundred votes on the initial count. The margin was too close to rule out a recount; mission accomplished for ACORN and their ilk. In come the lawyers to disqualify Republicans. With the full sympathy of the secretary of state, the radicals manage to turn the tide in favor of the Democrat; game, set, match.

With a proven game plan and large numbers of "community activist" organizations spread out across the country, all that is necessary to rig state and national elections from now on is a large and reliable source of funding. That has already been assured in the "Stimulus" bill. George Soros will now be helped by the U.S. Taxpayer; helped big time. Community activist organizations will find themselves flush with taxpayer cash. They are the grass roots agencies in charge of "neighborhood stabilization." I suppose we could get Jimmy Carter to certify the fairness of the 2010 elections.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/04/the_end_of_fair_elections.html at April 11, 2009 - 11:13:29 AM EDT
9572  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 09:41:27 AM
Ok, it appears not to be law, but California's policy interpreting federal law. I'm looking for where CA DMV has issued a policy forbidding DMV clerks from asking about citizenship prior to registering voters.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Legalissues/lm28.cfm

This problem has been exacerbated by many states' interpretation of a HAVA provision that requires a citizenship question on the federal mail-in voter registration form. The provision, in 42 U.S.C. § 15483, requires the following question: "Are you a citizen of the United States of America?" If an applicant fails to answer this question, HAVA provides that the local election official must notify the applicant of the failure and "provide the appli cant with an opportunity to complete the form in a timely manner to allow for the completion of the registration form" prior to the election.[64]  Under the threat of lawsuits by organizations like the Ameri can Civil Liberties Union, states such as Ohio, Iowa, and South Dakota will register an individual even if he fails to answer the citizenship question. The Justice Department so far has failed to sue these states to force compliance with HAVA.[65]

HAVA also imposes an identification require ment for first-time voters who register by mail.[66]  Many states, including California, have interpreted this provision to apply only to registration forms received through the U.S. mail, so the requirement is easily avoided by turning in the registration form directly to election officials. Additionally, docu ments named in the law as acceptable forms of identification for voter registration, such as utility bills and bank statements, are easily obtained by non-citizens. HAVA also requires applicants to pro vide a driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number but allows an indi vidual to register even if he has neither number.[67]
9573  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 11, 2009, 09:19:13 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123940383654409651.html#

The Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality
Distinctions between lawful and unlawful combatants go back to Roman times.

By MACKUBIN THOMAS OWENS

When Somali pirates hijacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama this week and took 20 Americans hostage, President Barack Obama refused to comment. It seems that our new president is desperate to do everything he can to distance himself from his predecessor, which is why his team has launched a campaign to rebrand the War on Terror. The results are mystifying. "Overseas contingency operations" is the new name for the war, while "man-caused disasters" is a euphemism for terrorist attacks.


AFP/Getty Images
In this new rhetorical regime, the administration criticizes President George W. Bush for his "illegal" policies with respect to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and claims that the treatment of the detainees themselves constitutes "torture."

But while they've certainly made cosmetic changes, many claim the Obama administration has left the substance of Bush's approach intact.

Attorney General Eric Holder added to this perception when, after visiting Guantanamo, he acknowledged that the facility is very well run and that implementing Mr. Obama's promise to close it down will be difficult. While renouncing the term "enemy combatant," the Obama administration acknowledges the reality that no matter what we call those detained at Guantanamo, the detainees are still not entitled to prisoner-of-war status because they have violated the laws of war by killing civilians and fighting out of uniform. Instead of calling the detainees enemy combatants, the administration has opted to refer to them as "individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations," or "members of enemy forces," or "persons who [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

Though these changes might seem superficial, unfortunately, they represent a substantive shift. They signal a return to the policy mindset that existed before 9/11, and the consequence will be material harm to U.S. security.

First, in holding that the president's power to indefinitely detain without legal charges is derived from Congress's authorization for the Use of Military Force Act (passed in the aftermath of 9/11), the Justice Department has undercut the president's own war power under the Constitution. This is an inherent executive power that has been recognized since at least the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

As Lincoln wrote to James Conkling in August 1863, "I think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war." In addition to the commander-in-chief clause of Article II, Lincoln found his war power in his presidential oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Second, the various new substitutes for "unlawful enemy combatant" abolish an important distinction in traditional international law. As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).

Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Though they don't often employ the term, many legal experts agree that al Qaeda fighters are latrunculi -- hardly distinguishable by their actions from pirates and the like. Robert Kogod Goldman, an American University law professor has commented: "I think under any standard, the captured al Qaeda fighters simply do not meet the minimum standards set out to be considered prisoners of war." And according to Marc Cogen, a professor of international law at Ghent University in Belgium, "no 'terrorist organization' thus far has been deemed a combatant under the laws of armed conflict." Thus al Qaeda members "can be punished for all hostile acts, including the killing of soldiers, because they have no right to participate directly in hostilities." But the Obama administration is about to extend legal rights -- intended to protect civilians -- to the very latrunculi who want to blow them up by considering the possibility of trying them in U.S. courts. Indeed, Attorney General Holder did not rule out trying the Somali pirates.

Some in Congress want to go further than the Obama team. Rather than focusing their attention on the terrorists, these politicians wish to criminalize the behavior of Bush administration officials for actions they took to protect Americans, and that fell well short of those taken by Lincoln in suppressing the Rebellion of 1861. Thus Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), aided and abetted by my own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), have begun hearings on Mr. Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

The mantra of Bush critics has been that the previous administration "tortured" detainees. But this is nonsense. At issue is the CIA's waterboarding of three high-ranking latrunculi who had been instrumental in planning and executing attacks that killed thousands of Americans. These individuals had been trained to resist conventional interrogation methods and were thought to have information about impending attacks.

What makes the Leahy-Whitehouse show trials most appalling -- and hypocritical -- is that Congress was briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods in September 2002. At the time, according to the Washington Post, members of Congress from both parties -- including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- wanted to ensure that the interrogations were tough enough to get the necessary intelligence from the captured terrorists. As the Post reported, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing," and according to a U.S. official present during the briefings, "the attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'" But of course, according to a source looking back on that period, "the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic."

And therein lies the problem. Too many of our leaders have forgotten that we are at war with latrunculi who wish to destroy us. Anyone who doubts this need only read the recent statement by the five detainees at Guantanamo charged with planning the 9/11 attacks in which they describe the charge that they murdered Americans very clearly -- as a "badge of honor."

Mr. Owens is a professor at the Naval War College and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
9574  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 09:08:33 AM
And, like California, the federal law will forbid the gov't employees for asking if the person they are registering to vote is a citizen.
9575  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 11, 2009, 09:05:57 AM
Ohhhhh nooooooo. Poor jihadis.  rolleyes
9576  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: April 10, 2009, 11:01:38 PM
http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=324083981359948#

America The Patsy?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, April 08, 2009 4:20 PM PT

National Security: Russia tells the U.S. not to worry about a nuclear Iran and not to punish nuclear North Korea. Fidel Castro wants to help the president, Russia's "new comrade." Are we being set up?

Some of the most obvious threats to life and liberty in the historical record were, at the time they were happening, vehemently denied by those in positions of decision-making.
Isolationists and pacifists believed that Hitler's imperialism could be appeased by territorial gains. During the early Cold War, American Soviet spy Alger Hiss' integrity was vouched for by U.S. officials reaching a level as high as future Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.
Those, such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy, suggesting that Hiss was only one of a massive group of Communist spies within the U.S. government were targeted (in McCarthy's case literally targeted for elimination by the CIA, as noted in Pulitzer-winning journalist Tim Weiner's book "Legacy of Ashes"), marginalized, even ruined.
M. Stanton Evans' 2007 book "Blacklisted by History" convincingly and meticulously exonerated McCarthy on most counts, but in other such episodes scholarly review has been unnecessary. Three decades of the ugly reality of Islamist revolution in Iran, for instance, have indelibly discredited the belief in 1979 by Andrew Young, the Carter administration's United Nations ambassador, that the Ayatollah Khomeini was "some kind of a saint."
Today, it takes willful blindness not to recognize Iran as the greatest threat to life and freedom in the world. Tehran is apparently now on the verge of announcing that it has mastered the final, most technically challenging stage of nuclear fuel production: the industrial-scale enrichment of uranium, which allows nuclear fuel to be generated in large quantities.
The Islamofascist regime in Iran has denied inspectors from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency access to its Arak heavy water reactor, which could be geared to produce plutonium from spent uranium fuel rods.
Yet we heard soothing words this week from Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak.
"I don't see any threat to the United States coming from Iran anytime soon," he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace — ironically, the organization Hiss was president of when Whittaker Chambers testified in 1948 that he and Hiss committed espionage together.
In a similar vein, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "any threat of sanction" against North Korea in response to its Sunday launch of a multistage rocket over Japan, a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, "would be counterproductive."
More talk for a regime possessing as many as eight nuclear warheads after it sends up a missile reaching twice as far as anything it has launched previously?
Clearly, Russia wants to lull us into complacency regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among hostile regimes. Do Moscow and other adversaries of the free world sense an uncommon opportunity in the year 2009?
With an unprecedented financial crisis battering the West's economic system, and a man of the left in the White House, is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's description of Barack Obama as "my new comrade" more than a clever sound bite?
Ailing Cuban dictator Castro, having granted an audience to members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday, seemed to share Medvedev's sentiment, asking, "How can we help President Obama?"
When longtime foes of the world's lone superpower behave in such fashion, it isn't because they've been converted to the cause of world peace; it is because they see a chance to change the dangerous global power game in their favor — and at our expense.
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, always unguarded in expressing himself, claimed this week on a visit to Beijing that "the power of the U.S. empire has collapsed."
"Every day, the new poles of world power are becoming stronger: Beijing, Tokyo, Tehran," he said. "It's moving toward the East and toward the South."
Toward danger and away from security would be a more accurate description.
9577  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:54 PM
I've been corrected. It's wrong to call them pirates. They are just community organizers from ACORN-Somalia.


Sorry.
9578  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 10, 2009, 10:28:38 PM
I guarantee that the current pirate hostage scenario will hold the seeds of future wars within it, if Obama acts the way I expect him to.
9579  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Pantywaist on: April 10, 2009, 12:06:10 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/10/president-pantywaist/

President Pantywaist
POSTED AT 12:55 PM ON APRIL 10, 2009 BY ED MORRISSEY   


Charles Krauthammer and Gerald Warner take up where Jackson Diehl left off in analyzing Barack Obama’s Grand Tour this month.  Both men sound warning alarms over Obama’s tendency to surrender large swaths of the American agenda in return for getting nothing at all.  And while Krauthammer wonders whether Obama has a sense of his own American identity, Warner wonders whether Obama has any sense at all.

First, Krauthammer:

Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.

And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.

He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing.

From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea.

And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, pop. 64 million, will take one prisoner. One! (Sadly, he’ll have to leave his swim buddy behind.) The Austrians said they would take none. As Interior Minister Maria Fekter explained with impeccable Germanic logic, if they’re not dangerous, why not just keep them in America?

When Austria is mocking you, you’re having a bad week. Yet who can blame Frau Fekter, considering the disdain Obama showed his own country while on foreign soil, acting the philosopher-king who hovers above the fray mediating between his renegade homeland and an otherwise warm and welcoming world?

I thought that would win the Scorn Award for the week, but that’s just a warm-up for Warner.  The British columnist for the Telegraph has a new name for Obama — well, two, actually:

So The One retired triumphant, having secured a massive contribution of 5,000 extra troops - all of them non-combatant, of course - which must really have put the wind up the Taliban, at the prospect of 5,000 more infidel cooks and bottle-washers swarming into the less hazardous regions of Afghanistan.

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l’il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air. …

President Pantywaist is hopping mad and he has a strategy to cut Kim down to size: he is going to slice $1.4bn off America’s missile defence programme, presumably on the calculation that Kim would feel it unsporting to hit a sitting duck, so that will spoil his fun.

Watch out, France and Co, there is a new surrender monkey on the block and, over the next four years, he will spectacularly sell out the interests of the West with every kind of liberal-delusionist initiative on nuclear disarmament and sitting down to negotiate with any power freak who wants to buy time to get a good ICBM fix on San Francisco, or wherever. If you thought the world was a tad unsafe with Dubya around, just wait until President Pantywaist gets into his stride.

The White House says it will take more than a few days for Obama’s impact to be felt, but I think they’re underestimating their President.  Obama’s impact was plain to see.  He drew great crowds for his American Humility Tour, and it played well — as bowing and scraping always does to those whom one bows and scrapes.  Europe might like the whiff of surrender coming from Obama, but they made it plain that it would result in no movement on the American agenda.  Actually, that’s not entirely true; as Diehl points out, Obama mostly neglected to even mention the American agenda.

John Kennedy had the insight to realize that he blew his performance with Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.  Newt Gingrich allowed for the possibility that Obama might come to the same realization after this disaster of a foreign tour.  Will President Pantywaist recover, a la Kennedy, or wallow in the self-delusional spin his White House provided this week, a la Jimmy Carter?  Let’s hope it’s the former, because the world is far too dangerous a place for America to have a President Pantywaist.
9580  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 10, 2009, 11:54:19 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/10/captain-tried-to-escape-from-pirates/

Obama's latest international test.
9581  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:26 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/10/video-cnn-mildly-scolds-obama-for-bow-media-for-ignoring-it/

Gee, if I didn't know better, I'd think Obama was an inexperienced buffoon.  rolleyes
9582  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What's worse than having Obama as president? on: April 10, 2009, 10:20:05 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/10/rove-biden-should-develop-a-habit-of-truth-telling/

Imagine this sociopath in the job.
9583  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: April 09, 2009, 11:09:03 PM

To me this article ties into others posted about the hollowing out and de-legitimizing of the state.

**I agree. This is just a glimpse of what's to come.**
9584  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 08, 2009, 06:28:13 PM
Who needs a military? Obama is gonna make sure everyone wuuuuuvs us!
9585  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Obama boot-licking tour on: April 08, 2009, 03:25:53 PM
http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/04082009/postopinion/opedcolumnists/os_amateur_hour_163368.htm

O'S AMATEUR HOUR
By RALPH PETERS

April 8, 2009 --
THE real climax of President Obama's Spring Apologies Tour wasn't his photo op with our troops in Baghdad or even his "American Guilt" concerts in Western Europe.

While fans in the press cheered wildly at every venue, the real performance came in Turkey. And it was a turkey.

Obama means well. Just as Jimmy Carter, his policy godfather, meant well. But the road to embassy takeovers and strategic humiliation is paved with good intentions -- coupled with distressing naivete.

On every stage, Obama draped Lady Liberty in sackcloth and ashes, drawing plentiful applause but no serious economic or security cooperation in return. Then, in Turkey, he surrendered our national pride, undercut our interests and interfered in matters that aren't his business.

On the latter point: Suppose the European Union president went to Cuba and insisted that the world's sunniest concentration camp should be welcomed into NAFTA? That's the equivalent of what our president did in Ankara on Monday when he declared that he supports Turkey's bid for EU membership.

The Europeans don't want Turkey in their club. Because Turkey isn't a European state, nor is its culture European. And it isn't our business to press Europe to embrace a huge, truculent Muslim country suffering a creeping Islamist coup.

The Europeans were appalled by Turkey's neo-Taliban tantrum on-stage at last week's NATO summit. The Turks fought to derail the appointment of a great Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as the new NATO secretary general. Why? Because he didn't stone to death the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed.

Which brings us to the even bigger problem: Obama has no idea what's going on in Turkey. By going to Ankara on his knees, he gave his seal of approval to a pungently anti-American Islamist government bent on overturning Mustapha Kemal's legacy of the separation of mosque and state.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, means headscarves, Korans, censorship and stacked elections. The country's alarmed middle class opposes the effort to turn the country into an Islamic state. Obama's gushing praise for the AKP's bosses left them aghast.

Obama's embrace of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now orchestrating show trials of his opponents) was one step short of going to Tehran and smooching President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

What was Obama thinking? He wasn't. He relied on advice from State Department appeasement artists who understand neither Turkey, Islam nor the crises raging between the Bosporus and the Indus. State's answer is always "More love, more humility, more aid."

Well, I, for one, don't think our country has anything to apologize for, either to Turkey or to Europe.

Insisting that America's always guilty, Obama omitted any mention of Turkey's wartime betrayals of our troops, its continuing oppression of its Kurd minority or the AKP's determination to turn a state with a secular constitution into a Wahhabi playground.

When it came to the Armenian genocide, Obama bravely ducked: He never dared use the g-word.

And Obama's disdainful remarks about President Bush were just shabby.

After those overpriced tour T-shirts have shrunk in the wash (trust me -- they will), what will we have gained from Obama's superstar act?

He told the Europeans that the global economic crisis is all our fault. No mention of European greed, overleveraged governments, destructive Euro-loans or Chinese currency manipulation. We did it. Whip us, please.

In return, the Europeans gave him . . . nothing.

Even though Obama was right when he said that Europe faces a greater terror threat than we do, the entire continent only ponied up 2,500 short-term non-combat troops for Afghanistan. The Europeans know we'll do the heavy lifting.

He gave the Russians yet another blank check, too. (Meanwhile, in Moscow, Putin's thugs beat an aging pro-democracy dissident to a pulp.) In return, the Russians promised to . . . well, actually, they didn't promise anything.

Then Obama went to Turkey, undercut secular political parties, infuriated the Europeans -- and disclaimed our country's Judeo-Christian heritage. (Did Turkey's leaders respond by denying Islam's importance to them? Naw.)

In Turkey, Obama got . . . nothing we didn't already have.

Then he went to Iraq and told its prime minister that Iraq would get nothing.

I believe that our president wants to do the right thing. But he doesn't have a clue how. For now, he's enraptured by the applause. But he hasn't tried to charge his fans for their tickets. And they've already made up their minds they won't have to pay.

Ralph Peters is Fox News' strategic analyst and the author of "Looking for Trouble."
9586  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Biden takes a hard line! on: April 08, 2009, 02:43:57 PM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/08/biden-to-israel-leave-the-mullahs-alone/

So, does AIPAC get it's money back?
9587  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 08, 2009, 02:28:53 PM
Hero Pittsburgh Police Officer Speaks
Posted: April 8th, 2009 12:45 PM GMT-05:00
Story by thepittsburghchannel.com
PITTSBURGH --
The city of Pittsburgh is mourning for three police officers, killed by a gunman in Stanton Heights.
On Wednesday, one of the police officers who tried to save one of the fallen spoke for the first time.
"He started firing again with much more firepower than I even could begin to put out," said Officer Timothy McManaway, who spoke on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday morning.
Officers Paul Sciullo II and Stephen Mayhle were shot responding to a domestic call on Fairfield Street. The officers were responding to a call about a domestic dispute on Saturday. When they entered the home of Richard Poplawski, Poplawski opened fire, police said, killing both men.
Officer Eric Kelly was on his way home when he stopped to help. He too was shot. McManaway said he saw the shooting and tried to help.
"He just raised his arm when I was up there. I noticed he was alive, so I figured there was a chance," McManaway said.
Timeline according to police statements: Shortly after 7 a.m. - Two officers respond to Stanton Heights domestic call. Sciullo enters house; is shot and killed. Mayhle backs him up; is shot and killed. On way home, Kelly decides to help; is shot and killed. McManaway shot in hand trying to help Kelly. Jones tries to secure back of house, jumps fence, breaks leg. SWAT arrives, comes under fire. Poplawski continues firing out of bedroom window. Negotiators convince Poplawski to surrender. Poplawski taken into custody; charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault.
Running into the line of fire, McManaway was shot in the hand. But he pulled his fellow officer behind a car to try to save his life. McManaway said Kelly asked him to deliver a message to his family.
"He wanted me to give a message to his wife and kids. I told him I wasn't going to deliver the message, he has to do it himself," McManaway said. But Kelly was too badly wounded.
"The injuries went way beyond anything I could have done to get him to stick around," McManaway said.
Another officer, Brian Jones, was also injured while trying to secure the scene.
The memorials for the fallen officers continue in Pittsburgh.
A viewing at the City-County Building will be held for law enforcement only from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, continuously until 10 a.m. Thursday, the public is welcome to pay their respects at the City-County Building.
Poplawski, 22, is charged with three counts of criminal homicide.
9588  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 08, 2009, 12:51:55 PM
http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3421

Sobering graphs.
9589  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 08, 2009, 11:06:10 AM
Who thinks that this should be done with food? It's only "fair".....
9590  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 07, 2009, 06:51:32 PM
"Both sides are committing abuse". Really? Did an MP accidentally brush against a qu'ran? No aromatherapy and pilates classes? The halal meals didn't offer free range chicken?
9591  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 06, 2009, 10:51:25 AM
http://www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2009/02/gitmo_may_be_one_of_the_toughe.asp

Gitmo May Be One of the Toughest Prisons on the Planet--for the Guards

The Washington Post story (linked below) declares that Guantanamo is "one of the toughest prisons on the planet."
Last May, in an attempt to put to rest some of this nonsense about Gitmo, Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, then commander of Joint Task for Guantanamo, explained the difference between "the Guantanamo that exists in ... pop culture and the media and most people's minds" and the "Guantanamo that exists here, the one that I see every day".
Our Camp 5 and Camp 6, which is where 75 percent of our population -- detainee population lives, those two buildings are actually models of a facility in Indiana -- a prison in Indiana and a prison in Michigan that were brought down here and built, so that the very same conditions that U.S. Bureau of Prisons prisoners live in are what our detainees live in, in terms of their place of incarceration.
Every detainee, no matter what their compliancy status is -- in other words, how well they behave and everything else -- they all get at least two hours of outdoor recreation with other people every day, every single day. They also get a shower every single day, which is actually more than the Bureau of Prisons offers their high-security folks. For those other 25 percent that are in highly compliant status -- in other words, they behave very well and follow the camp rules -- they are in a place called Camp 4, which is a very open-air, communal sort of facility, where they live in groups of six in a bunk room, if you will. And they have access to recreation about 22 hours a day, including group recreation and group prayer and all that sort of thing.
So to say that our conditions are especially arduous or different than ... what a normal prisoner might find in the Bureau of Prisons systems ... I think is probably twisting the truth quite a bit.
So life in Gitmo doesn't seem too hard for detainees, especially considering that most of them are accused of fighting with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Life for the guards, however, is not so easy. See this detainee activity report from last April. Just a few statistics on what the Gitmo guards endured in 2007:
135 physical assaults
132 assaults with bodily fluids
1,734 incidents of failure to comply with orders
That means there was about one assault against the guards for every detainee held in Gitmo. Contrast that with New York state prisons. Erik Kriss, a spokesman for New York's Department of Correctional Services, tells me that in 2008 the rate of inmate assaults against staff throughout the state was 9 for every 1,000 inmates. So the assault rate is 100 times higher at Gitmo than the New York prisons.
Posted by John McCormack on February 23, 2009 04:30 P
9592  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 06, 2009, 10:08:15 AM
Ever been spit on? I had an inmate spit a mouthful of bloody saliva into my face/eyes and had to spend a year going through HIV and Hep testing.


9593  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: April 06, 2009, 02:36:09 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/03/video-the-mexican-gun-canard/

Obama and anti-gun lies.
9594  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama: Loser on: April 05, 2009, 10:23:13 PM
http://formerspook.blogspot.com/2009/04/and-winner-is.html

SUNDAY, APRIL 05, 2009

And the Winner Is....
Maybe it's the influence of sports in our lives.

Or that human desire to measure everything in terms of who came out on top, and who got left behind.

Whatever the reason, there's no doubt that life, love and international relations are often defined in terms of winners and losers. And, with that in mind, we're pleased to announce the world leader who emerged triumphant at this weekend's EU summit in the Czech Republic.

May we have the envelope, please? (drumroll)

Taking top honors without so much as showing up, the top prize for grabbing global attention--and embarrassing the U.S. in the process--goes to Kim Jong-il of North Korea.

Think about it. With today's launch of a Tapeodong-2 long-range missile, Mr. Kim achieved a slew of political goals in less that 15 minutes--the time required for his rocket to fly from North Korea, to splashdown in the Pacific.

First, the DPRK dictator once again thumbed his nose at international convention. Virtually everyone from President Obama to Kim's Asian neighbors warned him against the missile test, but the TD-2 went off as scheduled. Did we mention that many of these same leaders still favor diplomacy as the preferred method of engaging Pyongyang?

In fact, the new U.S. envoy to the Six Party talks--aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program--has suggested that Washington may be prepared to "overlook" the missile test, if Mr. Kim will return to the bargaining table. Fire off a long-range missile and get Washington to beg for a resumption of negotiations? That's a win-win by any one's standards.

But it gets even better. Not only did Kim Jong-il put his regime back in the global spotlight (and score an impressive propaganda victory to boot), but there's virtually no chance he'll be punished for his actions. While Mr. Obama is talking about additional sanctions, North Korea's friends on the U.N. Security Council--China and Russia--have veto power over any measures, and both are urging "restraint" in any new resolution against Pyongyang.

That means the likely "punishment" for the DPRK is another meaningless diplomatic warning. They haven't deterred North Korea in the past, and this time is no different.

While the diplomats haggle over language, Pyongyang will press on with its missile and nuclear weapons efforts. An Iranian delegation was present for today's launch, and the ICBM technology being developed in North Korea will quickly find its way to the Middle East.

By some accounts, at least one stage of the TD-2 is built in Iran, another testament to Mr. Kim's worldwide proliferation program. From Damascus to Caracas, there is no shortage of willing customers for North Korean weapons technology, including petro-states who will underwrite his development efforts.

Not bad for a guy who was supposedly on his death bed just a few months ago. You know, the same, two-bit dictator who has been written off time and time again. As we've noted before, various experts in the State Department and the intelligence community have been predicting the demise of North Korea for decades. Clearly, the DPRK's economic and political models are unsustainable. But it's naive to believe that Pyongyang will disappear anytime soon, or make significant concessions on its most important issues.

Obviously, if Kim Jong-il was the big winner this weekend, then there had to be a loser of equal proportions. Our vote goes to President Obama, who has been ignoring or downplaying the North Korean issue for more than a month. Refusing to use missile defenses to shoot down the TD-2, Mr. Obama then expressed surprise and outrage over the test. His response? Get the U.N. to pass another, empty resolution.

We would imagine that Mr. Kim is genuinely looking forward to the next four years. His country is bankrupt and millions of his citizens are starving, but suddenly, North Korea's global prospects seem particularly bright.
9595  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nasty! on: April 05, 2009, 09:28:52 AM




April 04, 2009, 7:00 a.m.

Feel Like Getting Nasty?
The G20 wants international regulation that will export their mistakes to the entire planet.

By Mark Steyn

During the Obama administration’s foray to London this last week, officials provided a special telephone number to journalists interested in discussing foreign-policy issues in an “on-the-record briefing call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.”

Unfortunately, as part of the curious run of bad luck currently afflicting our new Secretary of State, upon dialing the number the gentlemen of the press were greeted by a honey-voiced seductress, presumably not Secretary Clinton, offering them “phone sex” and seeking their credit-card number if they “feel like getting nasty.”

No, it’s not a White House April Fool’s gag. This was April 2nd.

Alas, what with the collapse of the newspaper industry and major metro dailies filing for bankruptcy every 20 minutes, sticking phone sex on your expense tab isn’t as easy as it once was. So many of these big-shot correspondents were forced to hang up, call the White House Press Office, get given the correct number, and listen to Hillary droning on about the NATO summit for half an hour. The deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, insisted that the White House handing out sex-line numbers was no big deal and only Fox News would make a fuss about “a corrected phone number.”

I’m not sure why the White House needed to correct it. It’s the perfect radio ad for the administration. Call 1-900-OBAMA and Timothy Geithner will demand your credit-card number and ask whether you feel like getting nasty, because he certainly does. He’ll be wearing a steel-tipped basque, and the squeals in the background will be an AIG executive or the former CEO of General Motors hanging upside down in the Treasury Department basement while he feels the firm lash of government “regulation” from Barney Frank and Mistress Pelosi.

Well, we all hate “the rich,” don’t we? Last week, David Paterson, the governor of New York, said that if he’d known his latest tax increase would persuade Rush Limbaugh to sell his Manhattan apartment and leave the city, he’d have raised taxes earlier. Ha-ha. Very funny. In New York City, as Mayor Bloomberg has pointed out, the wealthiest 1 percent contribute 50 percent of municipal revenue. How tiny a number of people does Governor Paterson have to drive out before it causes significant shortfalls in the public coffers?

On the other hand, the rich can only be driven out if they’ve got somewhere to be driven to. At the ludicrous G20 summit in London last week, the official communiqué crowed over a “clampdown” on tax havens — those British colonies in the Caribbean and a few other offshore pinpricks in the map. “The era of banking secrecy is over,” the G20 proclaimed.

Does anyone seriously think a Swiss bank account or a post office box in the Turks and Caicos are responsible for the global meltdown?

No, but the world’s governments have decided to focus on irrelevant scapegoats. In the current crisis, Japan, Germany, and Italy (plus Russia) are in net population decline that’s only going to accelerate in the years ahead. So, unlike the U.S., they can’t run up the national debt and stick it to their kids and grandkids, because they don’t have any kids and grandkids to stick it to. If New York is running out of rich people, Germany is running out of people, period. The Chinese and other buyers of Western debt know that. If you’re an investor and you’re not tracking GDP versus median age in the world’s major economies, you’re going to lose a lot of money.

If government has a role in this crisis, it ought to be to reverse the combination of unaffordable social programs and deathbed demographics that make a restoration of real GDP growth all but impossible in many European nations. But that would involve telling the citizenry unpleasant truths, and Continental politicians who wish to remain electorally viable aren’t willing to do that. President Sarkozy, the Times of London reported, “said that the summit provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience.” What he means by “a conscience” is a global regulatory regime that ensures there’s nowhere to move to. If you’re France, which has a sluggish, uncompetitive, protectionist, high-unemployment business environment whose best and brightest abandon the country in ever-greater droves, it obviously makes sense to force the entire planet to submit to the same growth-killing measures that have done wonders for your own economy. But it’s not good news for the rest of the world. The building blocks for a global regulatory regime and even a global central bank with an embryo global currency (the IMF and the enhanced role of “Special Drawing Rights”) are an ominous development.


Let it be said that in recent years in America, the United Kingdom, and certain other countries the “financial sector” grew too big. In The Atlantic, Simon Johnson points out that, between 1973 and 1985, it was responsible for about 16 percent of U.S. corporate profits. By this decade, it was up to 41 percent. That’s higher than healthy, but it wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near that high if government didn’t annex so much of your wealth — through everything from income tax to small-business regulation — that it’s become increasingly difficult to improve your lot by working hard, making stuff, and selling it. Instead, in order to fund a more comfortable retirement and much else, large numbers of people became “investors” — albeit not as the term is traditionally understood: Instead, you work for some company and they put some money on your behalf in some sort of account that somebody on the 12th floor pools together with all the others and gives to somebody else in New York to disperse among various corporations hither and yon. You’ve no idea what you’re “investing” in, but it keeps going up, so why do you care? That’s not like a 19th-century chappie saying he’s starting a rubber plantation in Malaya and, with the faster shipping routes out of Singapore, it may be worth your while owning 25 percent of it. Or a guy in 1929 barking “Buy this!” and “Sell that!” at his broker every morning. Instead, an exaggerated return on mediocre assets became accepted as a permanent feature of life.

It’s not, and it can never be. Especially given the long-term structural defects in many Western nations. A serious G20 summit would have seen France commit to the liberalization of its economy; Germany to serious natalist incentives; Britain to a reduction of the near-Soviet size of state spending in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and the United States to allowing its citizens to keep more of their hard-earned money and thus reduce both the dependency on ludicrous asset inflation as the only route to socio-economic improvement, and the risk of a Euro-style decline in birthrate caused by the unaffordability of kids.

Instead, the great powers are erecting a global regulatory regime to export their worst mistakes to the entire planet.

As they say on the State Department phone-sex line, it’s going to get nasty.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online - http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTNlZjcxOGZmMjA0YjU2OTE5ZjJmN2FkNmYyYzI3MjQ=
9596  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: April 03, 2009, 09:29:19 PM
And why would Karzai support such legislation?
9597  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: BO's National Civilian Voluntary (sic) Service on: April 03, 2009, 09:18:02 PM
The funny part is that young Obama voters will be the ones drafted. Justice!
9598  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More arrogant bumbling from the Empty-suit on: April 02, 2009, 08:56:09 AM
http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/01/confirmed-queens-ipod-includes-obamas-speeches/

Imagine if Bush had done this....
9599  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 08:05:49 PM
Islam's doctrines of deception
by Raymond Ibrahim
Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst
October 2008
http://www.meforum.org/2095/islams-doctrines-of-deception

To better understand Islam, one must appreciate the thoroughly legalistic nature of the religion. According to sharia (Islamic law) every conceivable human act is categorised as being either forbidden, discouraged, permissible, recommended, or obligatory.

"Common sense" or "universal opinion" has little to do with Islam's notions of right and wrong. Only what Allah (through the Quran) and his prophet Muhammad (through the Hadith) have to say about any given issue matters; and how Islam's greatest theologians and jurists – collectively known as the ulema, literally, "they who know" – have articulated it.

According to sharia, in certain situations, deception – also known as 'taqiyya', based on Quranic terminology, – is not only permitted but sometimes obligatory. For instance, contrary to early Christian history, Muslims who must choose between either recanting Islam or being put to death are not only permitted to lie by pretending to have apostatised, but many jurists have decreed that, according to Quran 4:29, Muslims are obligated to lie in such instances.

Origins of taqiyya

As a doctrine, taqiyya was first codified by Shia Muslims, primarily as a result of their historical experience. Long insisting that the caliphate rightly belonged to the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali (and subsequently his descendents), the Shia were a vocal and powerful branch of Islam that emerged following Muhammad's death. After the internal Islamic Fitna wars from the years 656 AD to 661 AD, however, the Shia became a minority branch, persecuted by mainstream Muslims or Sunnis – so-called because they follow the example or 'sunna' of Muhammad and his companions. Taqiyya became pivotal to Shia survival.

Interspersed among the much more numerous Sunnis, who currently make up approximately 90 per cent of the Islamic world, the Shia often performed taqiyya by pretending to be Sunnis externally, while maintaining Shia beliefs internally, as permitted by Quranic verse 16:106. Even today, especially in those Muslim states where there is little religious freedom, the Shia still practice taqiyya. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, Shias are deemed by many of the Sunni majority to be heretics, traitors and infidels and like other non-Sunni Muslims they are often persecuted.

Several of Saudi Arabia's highest clerics have even issued fatwas sanctioning the killing of Shias. As a result, figures on the Arabian kingdom's Shia population vary wildly from as low as 1 per cent to nearly 20 per cent. Many Shias living there obviously choose to conceal their religious identity. As a result of some 1,400 years of Shia taqiyya, the Sunnis often accuse the Shias of being habitual liars, insisting that taqiyya is ingrained in Shia culture.

Conversely, the Sunnis have historically had little reason to dissemble or conceal any aspect of their faith, which would have been deemed dishonorable, especially when dealing with their historic competitors and enemies, the Christians. From the start, Islam burst out of Arabia subjugating much of the known world, and, throughout the Middle Ages, threatened to engulf all of Christendom. In a world where might made right, the Sunnis had nothing to apologise for, much less to hide from the 'infidel'.

Paradoxically, however, today many Sunnis are finding themselves in the Shias' place: living as minorities in Western countries surrounded and governed by their traditional foes. The primary difference is that, extremist Sunnis and Shia tend to reject each other outright, as evidenced by the ongoing Sunni-Shia struggle in Iraq, whereas, in the West, where freedom of religion is guaranteed, Sunnis need only dissemble over a few aspects of their faith.

Articulation of taqiyya

According to the authoritative Arabic text, Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam: "Taqiyya [deception] is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it. We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream...Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era."

The primary Quranic verse sanctioning deception with respect to non-Muslims states: "Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah – unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions." (Quran 3:28; see also 2:173; 2:185; 4:29; 22:78; 40:28.)

Al-Tabari's (838-923 AD) Tafsir, or Quranic exegeses, is essentially a standard reference in the entire Muslim world. Regarding 3:28, he wrote: "If you [Muslims] are under their [infidels'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them, with your tongue, while harbouring inner animosity for them... Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believers – except when infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them act friendly towards them."

Regarding 3:28, the Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373) wrote: "Whoever at any time or place fears their [infidels'] evil, may protect himself through outward show."

As proof of this, he quotes Muhammad's companions. Abu Darda said: "Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them." Al-Hassan said: "Doing taqiyya is acceptable till the day of judgment [in perpetuity]."

Other prominent ulema, such as al- Qurtubi , al-Razi, and al-Arabi have extended taqiyya to cover deeds. Muslims can behave like infidels – from bowing down and worshipping idols and crosses to even exposing fellow Muslims' "weak spots" to the infidel enemy – anything short of actually killing a fellow Muslim.

War is deceit

None of this should be surprising considering that Muhammad himself, whose example as the "most perfect human" is to be tenaciously followed, took an expedient view on the issue of deception. For instance, Muhammad permitted deceit in three situations: to reconcile two or more quarreling parties; husband to wife and vice-versa; and in war (See Sahih Muslim B32N6303, deemed an "authentic" hadith).

During the Battle of the Trench (627 AD), which pitted Muhammad and his followers against several non-Muslim tribes collectively known as "the Confederates", a Confederate called Naim bin Masud went to the Muslim camp and converted to Islam. When Muhammad discovered the Confederates were unaware of Masud's conversion, he counseled him to return and try somehow to get his tribesmen to abandon the siege. "For war is deceit," Muhammad assured him.

Masud returned to the Confederates without their knowledge that he had switched sides and began giving his former kin and allies bad advice. He also went to great lengths to instigate quarrels between the various tribes until, thoroughly distrusting each other, they disbanded and lifted the siege. According to this account, deceit saved Islam during its embryonic stage (see Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam; also, Ibn Ishaq's Sira, the earliest biography of Muhammad).

More demonstrative of the legitimacy of deception with respect to non-Muslims is the following account. A poet, Kab bin al-Ashruf, had offended Muhammad by making derogatory verse about Muslim women. Muhammad exclaimed in front of his followers: "Who will kill this man who has hurt Allah and his prophet?"

A young Muslim named Muhammad bin Maslama volunteered, but with the caveat that, in order to get close enough to Kab to assassinate him, he be allowed to lie to the poet. Muhammad agreed.

Maslama traveled to Kab and began denigrating Islam and Muhammad, carrying on this way till his disaffection became convincing enough for Kab to take him into his confidences. Soon thereafter, Maslama appeared with another Muslim and, while Kab's guard was down, they assaulted and killed him. They ran to Muhammad with Kab's head, to which the latter cried: "Allahu akbar" or "God is great" (see the hadith accounts of Sahih Bukhari and Ibn Sad).

The entire sequence of Quranic revelations are a testimony to taqiyya and, since Allah is believed to be the revealer of these verses, he ultimately is seen as the perpetrator of deceit. This is not surprising since Allah himself is often described in the Quran as the "best deceiver" or "schemer." (see 3:54, 8:30, 10:21). This phenomenon revolves around the fact that the Quran contains both peaceful and tolerant verses, as well as violent and intolerant ones.

The ulema were uncertain which verses to codify into sharia's worldview. For instance, should they use the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims until they either convert or at least submit to Islam (9:5, 9:29)? To solve this quandary, they developed the doctrine of abrogation – naskh, supported by Quran 2:105. This essentially states that verses "revealed" later in Muhammad's career take precedence over those revealed earlier whenever there is a discrepancy.

Why the contradiction in the first place? The standard answer has been that, because Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by the infidels in the early years of Islam, a message of peace and co-existence was in order. However, after Muhammad migrated to Medina and grew in military strength and numbers, the militant or intolerant verses were revealed, urging Muslims to go on the offensive.

According to this standard view, circumstance dictates which verses are to be implemented. When Muslims are weak, they should preach and behave according to the Meccan verses; when strong, they should go on the offensive, according to the Medinan verses. Many Islamic books extensively deal with the doctrine of abrogation, or Al-Nasikh Wa Al-Mansukh.

War is eternal

The fact that Islam legitimises deceit during war cannot be all that surprising; strategist Sun Tzu (c. 722-221 BC), Italian political philosopher Machiavelli (1469-1527) and English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) all justified deceit in war.

However, according to all four recognised schools of Sunni jurisprudence, war against the infidel goes on in perpetuity, until "all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah" (Quran 8:39). According to the definitive Encyclopaedia of Islam (Brill Online edition): "The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorised. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict."

The concept of obligatory jihad is best expressed by Islam's dichotomised worldview that pits Dar al Islam (House of Islam) against Dar al Harb (House of War or non-Muslims) until the former subsumes the latter. Muslim historian and philosopher, Ibn Khaldun (1332- 1406), articulated this division by saying: "In the Muslim community, holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defence. But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations."

This concept is highlighted by the fact that, based on the ten-year treaty of Hudaibiya , ratified between Muhammad and his Quraish opponents in Mecca (628), ten years is theoretically the maximum amount of time Muslims can be at peace with infidels (as indicated earlier by the Encyclopaedia of Islam). Based on Muhammad's example of breaking the treaty after two years, by citing a Quraish infraction, the sole function of the "peace-treaty" (hudna) is to buy weakened Muslims time to regroup for a renewed offensive. Muhammad is quoted in the Hadith saying: "If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath (see Sahih Bukhari V7B67N427)."

This might be what former PLO leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat meant when, after negotiating a peace treaty criticised by his opponents as conceding too much to Israel, he said in a mosque: "I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraish in Mecca."

On several occasions Hamas has made it clear that its ultimate aspiration is to see Israel destroyed. Under what context would it want to initiate a "temporary" peace with the Jewish state? When Osama bin Laden offered the US a truce, stressing that "we [Muslims] are a people that Allah has forbidden from double-crossing and lying," what was his ultimate intention?

Based on the above, these are instances of Muslim extremists feigning openness to the idea of peace simply in order to bide time.

If Islam must be in a constant state of war with the non-Muslim world – which need not be physical, as radicals among the ulema have classified several non-literal forms of jihad, such as "jihad-of-the-pen" (propaganda), and "money-jihad" (economic) – and if Muslims are permitted to lie and feign loyalty to the infidel to further their war efforts, offers of peace, tolerance or dialogue from extremist Muslim corners are called into question.

Religious obligation?

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001, a group of prominent Muslims wrote a letter to Americans saying that Islam is a tolerant religion that seeks to coexist with others.

Bin Laden castigated them, saying: "As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarised by the Most High's Word: 'We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us – till you believe in Allah alone' [Quran 60:4]. So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility – that is battle – ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [a dhimmi – a non-Muslim subject living as a "second-class" citizen in an Islamic state in accordance to Quran 9:29], or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable [a circumstance under which taqiyya applies]. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity and hatred, directed from the Muslim to the infidel, is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them."

This hostile world view is traceable to Islam's schools of jurisprudence. When addressing Western audiences, however, Bin Laden's tone significantly changes. He lists any number of grievances as reasons for fighting the West – from Israeli policies towards Palestinians to the Western exploitation of women and US failure to sign the Kyoto protocol – never alluding to fighting the US simply because it is an infidel entity that must be subjugated. He often initiates his messages to the West by saying: "Reciprocal treatment is part of justice."

This is a clear instance of taqiyya, as Bin Laden is not only waging a physical jihad, but one of propaganda. Convincing the West that the current conflict is entirely its fault garners him and his cause more sympathy. Conversely, he also knows that if his Western audiences were to realise that, all real or imagined political grievances aside, according to the Islamic worldview delineated earlier, which bin Laden does accept, nothing short of their submission to Islam can ever bring peace, his propaganda campaign would be compromised. As a result there is constant lying, "for war is deceit".

If Bin Laden's words and actions represent an individual case of taqiyya, they raise questions about Saudi Arabia's recent initiatives for "dialogue". Saudi Arabia closely follows sharia. For instance, the Saudi government will not allow the construction of churches or synagogues on its land; Bibles are banned and burned. Christians engaged in any kind of missionary activity are arrested, tortured, and sometimes killed. Muslim converts to Christianity can be put to death in the kingdom.

Despite such limitations on religious freedom, the Saudis have been pushing for more dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. At the most recent inter-faith conference in Madrid in July 2008, King Abdullah asserted: "Islam is a religion of moderation and tolerance, a message that calls for constructive dialogue among followers of all religions."

Days later, it was revealed that Saudi children's textbooks still call Christians and Jews "infidels", "hated enemies" and "pigs and swine". A multiple-choice test in a book for fourth-graders asks: "Who is a 'true' Muslim?" The correct answer is not the man who prays and fasts, but rather: "A man who worships God alone, loves the believers and hates the infidels". These infidels are the same people the Saudis want dialogue with. This raises the question of whether, when Saudis call for dialogue, they are merely following Muhammad's companion Abu Darda's advice: "Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them"?

There is also a philosophical – more particularly, epistemological – problem with taqiyya. Anyone who truly believes that no less an authority than God justifies and, through his prophet's example, sometimes even encourages deception, will not experience any ethical qualms or dilemmas about lying. This is especially true if the human mind is indeed a tabula rasa shaped by environment and education. Deception becomes second nature.

Consider the case of former Al-Qaeda operative, Ali Mohammad. Despite being entrenched in the highest echelons of the terrorism network, Mohammed's confidence at dissembling enabled him to become a CIA agent and FBI informant for years. People who knew him regarded him "with fear and awe for his incredible self-confidence, his inability to be intimidated, absolute ruthless determination to destroy the enemies of Islam, and his zealous belief in the tenets of militant Islamic fundamentalism", according to Steven Emerson. Indeed, this sentiment sums it all up: for a zealous belief in Islam's tenets, which, as has been described above, legitimises deception, will certainly go a long way in creating incredible self-confidence when deceiving one's enemies.

Exposing a doctrine

All of the above is an exposition on doctrine and its various manifestations, not an assertion on the actual practices of the average Muslim. The deciding question is how literally any given Muslim follows sharia and its worldview.

So-called "moderate" Muslims – or, more specifically, secularised Muslims – do not closely adhere to sharia, and therefore have little to dissemble about. On the other hand, "radical" Muslims who closely observe sharia law, which splits the world into two perpetually warring halves, will always have a "divinely sanctioned" right to deceive, until "all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah" (Quran 8:39).
9600  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 08:00:52 PM
So, as usual, the American Criminal Liberties Union will only use it's resources to undercut America while assisting the global jihad.
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