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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Those Were The Days

Sure, they laughed at a certain visionary back in the 1970's when he was promoting innovative solutions to the new and, in retrospect, quaint aviation security threat of "sky jacking".

In light of the new straightjacket-like restrictions being forced upon airline passengers, maybe its time to reconsider his recommendations instead.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Inviting Them Over Here So They Can Fight Over There?

Alleged Somali recruiter arrested, linked to Minnesota:

A 43-year-old Somali man from Minneapolis was arrested this week in the Netherlands for allegedly financing the recruitment of up to 20 young Somali men from Minnesota to train and fight with terrorists in their homeland.

The arrest appears to be the most significant development yet in one of the most far-reaching counterterrorism investigations since 9/11.

Something tells me the whole American assimilation and melting pot thing ain't working like it used to.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Fly Away

More than two years ago, the Flying Imams case was dismissed by the local monopoly newspaper as unworthy of further investigation. The story included elements of vital issues such as terrorism, religious intolerance, transportation security, witness intimidation, government entities getting sued for big bucks. And the essential facts of the case were still in dispute by the parties involved (the imams, the airlines, and the police/airports commission). Yet, in the considered editorial judgment of the Star Tribune, the story was a total snoozer. From the editor then running the show:

I don't think the paper dropped this story, but I do think it had run its course. I would like to have seen a story delving into who these folks were, a good suggestion, but I don't think it's timely at this point. I think this is one of those stories that runs for a couple of days, then subsides.

Shortly thereafter, the Star Tribune editorial page looked forward to finally getting to the bottom of this case. Not through their own reporting, mind you. No, they were happy to complacently outsource the reporting to another entity, the US District Court.

The lawsuit that six Muslim clerics filed against US Airways on Monday is likely to prove as divisive as the incident which prompted it -- welcomed by those who see the episode as a case of religious discrimination, derided by those who believe US Airways responded prudently to suspicious passenger behavior. But the trial could prove useful to the larger public if it finally clears up what actually happened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 20 -- the facts are still much disputed -- and if the judge sets out some guidance on what's appropriate behavior when cultures clash.

As I said at the time:

Yes, thank goodness the court system will be there figure out this "divisive" situation for us. Lord knows we don't have any other institutions in town with the resources and expertise to investigate facts and report them.

This just in, bad news for the Star Tribune staff patiently waiting around for the past 30 months for the court to finally clear up what happened.

A settlement has been reached in the "Flying Imams" federal lawsuit that was filed by six Muslim men who claim they were falsely arrested on a US Airways jet in the Twin Cities three years ago because of their religious and ethnic backgrounds.

One of the imams, Marwan Sadeddin of Phoenix, told the Associated Press that the settlement does not include an apology but he considers it an acknowledgment that a mistake was made. He said he couldn't divulge the terms because both sides had agreed not to discuss them publicly.

I guess we'll never know the facts now. And that's the final straw! I'm cancelling my subscription to the US District Court.

As far as the Star Tribune goes, I guess you have to admire their efficiency. They agreed not to discuss the case publicly years before the plaintiffs and defendants did.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Second Order Change

More from Angelo Codevilla's book Advice to War Presidents: A Remedial Course in Statecraft on what the U.S. could do if we were serious about going after the money that funds terrorism:

It is true that our own regime's present proclivities and prejudices make cutting the Saudis off from money well nigh impossible. But it is just as true that actually doing the cutting would be easy. Instantly, U.S. banks (and such other banks as value their access to the U.S. banking system) can freeze the accounts of Saudi citizens. Saudi oil revenues can be placed in escrow accounts. Simultaneously, U.S. forces can seize control of the main Saudi fields and loading centers almost without opposition, pushing the Wahabi Saudis back to their original tribal areas in the Arabian Peninsula's center. This would please mightily the coastal Shia tribes whom the Saudis oppress and live nearest the oil. The various foreigners who actually run the oil industry would also get a better deal. On the Red Sea side of the peninsula, U.S. forces could help the tribes who lost to the Saudis in 1921, descendants of the Prophet Muhammed who chafe under Wahabism, to take their historic vengeance. To forestall the interior tribes' resistance, the United States can blockade to deprive them pf food and essential maintenance, while letting it be known that the material and financial blockade would be lifted somewhat once the Saudi regime had been replaced, the Wahabis eliminated, and the tribes posed no danger to the world. That would be war.

Indeed it would. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I thought that seizing the Saudi oil fields should have been our first military response. Nearly eight years later, it's a bit depressing to consider how little has changed vis a vis Saudi Arabia and its importance in supporting (directly or indirectly) Islamic terrorism.

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Monday, June 15, 2009
Curious, George

An interesting event on tap in Brooklyn Center on June 30th:

VIVA PALESTINA : A lifeline from the U.S. to Gaza

Not a lot of details on the contents of the evening's program or why Spanish revolutionary exhortations are being employed to name programs to delivery supplies on behalf of the Palestinians. But you probably have an idea what's in store when you see who the headliners are:

George Galloway and Osama Abu Irshaid

Yes, good ol' George, Member of Parliament representing Mecca, to this day an unapologetic supporter of the Soviet Union, and star of U.K. media. Last time we heard George's name in these parts he was being investigated for being on the receiving end of some rather dubious financial transactions as part of the Oil for Food scheme. While his supporters trumpet that he was exonerated, the jury is still out on the extent of Galloway's involvement in any illicit activity and we will likely never know the whole truth of the matter.

He's also been the victim of some strange "attacks" including the infamous stress ball incident:

On 22 April 2008, Galloway was campaigning in London from an open-top bus. While touring central London ahead of the next week's elections the MP was knocked unconscious by a rubber stress ball which was thrown at him from a first floor window of a nearby office building by an office worker. The ball, around the size of a tennis ball, hit Galloway on the side of the head which caused him to become dazed.[48]

Not really the kind of event likely to immortalized in protest song. And it probably didn't do much to build his revolutionary street cred.

Another aspect of Galloway's visit to Minnesota is that he's recently been banned in Canada:

On 20 March 2009, Galloway was advised by the Canada Border Services Agency he was deemed inadmissible to Canada on "security grounds" due to his involvement in the Viva Palestina aid convoy to the Gaza Strip following the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict.[131] The Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas, which is on Canada's list of terrorist organisations.

But hey, one country's terrorist organization is another appeaser's freedom fighters, right? That's a point I'm sure Galloway will revisit during his appearance here.

In case you're wondering who's behind bringing Galloway to the Twin Cities:

Endorsed by: AlMadinah Cultural Center, Muslim Student Association at the UoM (MSA), Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Committees for Palestinian Rights (CPR), Palestinian Institute, The International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, Twin Cities (IJAN TC)

Pretty much what you would call the usual suspects.


Friday, April 24, 2009
Logically Or Morally Unassailable.

David Harsanyi weighs in on this tortuous debate in the Denver Post:

If your contention is that the outcome of torture is immaterial--whether it's one life saved or a thousand lives--you've taken a principled stand. I've yet to hear a policymaker who opposes "torture" be honest and take accountability for the potential consequences of abandoning harsh interrogation techniques.

I put the word torture in quotation marks only to acknowledge that I--and many of you, I'm sure--do not know exactly how to define it. Most laws offer a thoroughly ambiguous definition, which can cover nearly any unpleasant interrogation.

Any parent can tell you that sleep deprivation is mental torture. Does it rise to the level of a crime? Waterboarding? OK, how about pushing someone against a wall? Scaring a grizzled terrorist with a caterpillar? Such techniques inflict "stress and duress," for sure, but do they "shock the conscience" (one definition offered for torture)?

When President Obama decided to release the "torture memos," the door was open for a mere debate. When he opened the door for prosecution of lawyers who opined on what constitutes torture--despite encouraging everyone not to spend "time and energy laying blame for the past"--we face something far more important.


Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tortured Logic

The recent re-emergence of the debate over coercion, harsh interrogation, or torture (whatever term you prefer) of terrorist detainees is a reminder of just how morally ambiguous this matter is. Despite attempts by both sides to present it as a clear-cut, black and white choice, it's far more complicated than that. Sometimes it's quite easy to draw a distinct line between good and evil. This is not one of those times.

It's one of those issues where I can easily understand why one can quite logically come down either for, against, or somewhere in the middle. Usually I regard those who place themselves in the mushy middle as vacillating, lazy, and even cowardly. However, in this instance I find the middle ground to be a reasonable and defensible position to take.

One thing that I don't think has been emphasized enough in the recent rehashing of the torture argument is that most of the policy decisions and actions that are currently being debated took place in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. It's easy to sit back now, more than seven-and-a-half years later, and say that there really wasn't of a threat and that the Bush administration overreacted and overreached the bounds of their authority. But if you can remember the atmosphere at the time, you know that these decisions were made when further attacks not only seemed imminent, but inevitable.

So when we're arguing about whether the Bush Administration interrogation techniques (reviewed and approved by Congress) were right, legal, moral, and effective, we should keep the memory of 9/11 fresh in our minds. We should weigh the waterboarding on one hand with the horrific images (and sounds) of people choosing to plunge to their death rather than be burned alive in the WTC buildings. When I consider it that way, I come down on the side of saying that whatever moral qualms I may have about it, waterboarding the high value detainees was justified at the time.

Did the information they provided help disrupt Al Qaeda networks and lead to the capture or death of other Al Qaeda operatives? Almost undoubtedly. Did it prevent another terrorist attack in the United States? Possibly. This is difficult to prove, but it is reasonable to say that it might have. And again going to back to 2002, knowing that enhanced interrogation techniques might prevent an attack would be enough for me to support their use.

Another thing about the current debate that I find perplexing is the absolute conviction in which some who oppose torture claim that it "never works" and that all you get is bad information. While there are a lot of different views and disagreement about how effective torture really is, to say that it never works is to ignore history.

You say torture never works? Tell that to the American airmen captured in North Vietnam. Granted they were subject to levels and intensity of torture that the US would never consider--and in fact probably faced worst than most Al Qaeda detainees have just in their training--but at some point during their interrogation sessions many did "break" and divulged some information they didn't want to. At first, they felt shame and dishonor at having violated the code of military conduct. Then, they realized that almost everyone has their limits and there is only so much pain that a person can endure before they break. So they resolved to not "stay broken," to hold out as long as they could, provide as little real information as possible, not be used for propaganda and make the North Vietnamese "rebreak" them each time.

Return With Honor--Transcript:

DENTON: I put out the word Roll back, bounce back. That was the first time that was initiated. It was very important to last us the rest of the time. You could be tortured to give something, but then you don't just lie back and continue to give them things as they just gradually exploit you. You stop and don't give them anything, you make them torture you again and again and give them as little as you can the next time. In other words, they never advance their indoctrination of you to the object they wanted was you become a slave without torture to do anything they want to help their cause.

Now you can argue about how effective the North Vietnamese approach really was. But if the interrogation objective is to get a captive to provide information that they otherwise would not, it's difficult to say that their torture didn't "work." This doesn't mean that torture always works or that it's the best way to get information or that it's right to use even the most moderate forms of it. However, the argument that it "never works" is not a serious one.

Mark Bowden's 2003 piece in The Atlantic called The Dark Art of Interrogation still remains one of the best references on the subject. Since the original publication of that article, I've heard Bowden interviewed about interrogation, coercion, and torture a number of times. As best I can tell, his position is that the United States should officially ban torture and sign on to international agreements against its use. But if individual interrogators believe they face a situation where severe coercion or torture (again, however you want to label it) is absolutely necessary to get information that will save lives, they should be willing to break the law to obtain it. Then, if they were charged for their actions they would have to defend themselves by explaining their motives and hope they would judged accordingly. Morally ambiguous enough for you?

In this particular debate, such a compromised solution might be the best that we can hope to come up with.

[ More from Debra Saunders and the WSJ editorial board. ]


Thursday, April 02, 2009
The Math Of Khan?

Sobering article at Macleans on the rise of "Talqaeda" in the Swat region of Pakistan includes this stark warning:

While Muhammad does not openly address the issue of global jihad, some of his supporters are less circumspect about their overarching mission. "I'll tell you how we can end this war," says Khan, the senior aide. "If we can get our men close to the U.S., in Venezuela, or Brazil, or Canada, and attack them from there, then they will stop attacking us." Among the TNSM, there are already men who operate clandestinely, shaving off their beards and donning Western clothes.

Sorry Khan, but your solution doesn't quite add up. You may recall that the reason we're in Afghanistan today is because of just such an attack on U.S soil seven-and-a-half years ago.


Thursday, January 22, 2009
Let the Charm Offensive Begin

From the Politico, an article on the implications of Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay before he knows what he's going to do with the prisoners:
The Bush administration complained that it could not release many of the prisoners because it was unwilling to send them to U.S. facilities, and no other country would take them. Obama's greater popularity abroad might make foreign countries more receptive to such requests.
Perhaps an early test of the vaunted ability of Obama's personality alone to breech chasms of substantive, heretofore intractable disagreement. I see it going something like this:

OBAMA: I've closed Guantanamo and I need you to take this guy thought to be involved in killing 3,000 innocent civilians due to his religious beliefs. Hope. Change. [GRIN]

LEADER OF FOREIGN COUNTRY: You know, we're convinced that bringing back an irrational, blood thirsty savage with popular appeal among the radicalized segment of our population would have negative consequences for our society. But . . . . I can't say no to you! Put him on the next flight, we'll make room!

Unlikely. But you have to be sympathetic to the President for thinking this approach might work based on its previous success with 52% of the American people.

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Friday, November 28, 2008
But We're Okay

Last week, I was a call with a work colleague from Nanjing, China. He's a young man who's been with our company for almost six months. Shortly after starting he spent six weeks in the US for training and has traveled to Singapore for meetings as well.

A while ago, we decided that it would be good for him to visit an engineering center that we have in Mumbai, possibly in December. During our conversation last week I asked if he had a chance to firm up his plans for that trip yet.

He explained that he was quite busy on a project right now and probably wouldn't be able to travel until January. I told him that was fine as long as he got meet with the team in India at some point in the near future.

He paused and I could tell that something was on his mind. Slowly, with some hesitation he explained that he was worried about the security situation in Mumbai and wasn't sure if it was safe to travel there.

I assured him it was and checked off a long list of mutual acquaintances--both Chinese and American--who had traveled to Mumbai without incident (at least of the terrorist variety--gastrointestinal, perhaps...). "Sure, there have been some attacks, but it's not like going to Pakistan," I explained hoping to ease his worries. To provide additional reassurance, I promised to contact an Indian gentleman whom we both work with on a regular basis to confirm that there no reason he should be afraid of traveling to India.

I didn't have a chance to make that contact yet and after this week's attacks it's probably pointless anyway. If this guy was concerned about security and safety in Mumbai before, his fears have now only been heightened and validated. Maybe we can just have them do a web conference instead.


Monday, November 17, 2008
Everyone's War Now?

Caught a decent chunk of Barack Obama's 60 Minutes interview and was for the most part impressed by what I heard. One thing that's clear with Obama is he goes into situations like this with a definite plan on the impression that he wants to leave and works hard to make sure that's how he comes across. It's a very calculated approach that takes a lot of discipline and control. Part of his appeal is that he manages to pull it off almost effortlessly.

One particular response that caught my attention was this:

Kroft: What have you been concentrating on this week?

Mr. Obama: Couple of things. Number one, I think it's important to get a national security team in place because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack. We wanna make sure that there is as seamless a transition on national security as possible. Obviously the economy. Talking to top economic advisors about how we're gonna create jobs, how we get the economy back on track and what do we do in terms of some long-term issues like energy and healthcare. And how do we sequence those things in a way that we can actually get things through Congress?

Firstly, I was gratified to hear him mention national security first and the economy second. Everyone knows about the economic challenges, too many have forgotten about the threats to our national security.

Secondly, I wonder how the hard left is taking this. In the past, if Republicans ever talked about the possibility of terrorist attacks, the hard core left would accuse them of "scare-mongering" and indulging in the "politics of fear." Many of these same people refused to even to recognize that a threat existed, using quotes to refer to the so-called "War on Terror." Now, that President-elect Obama is talking about it, will they finally have to face up to reality?

I certainly hope so. One of the silver linings that I saw in Obama's victory is that it will no longer be possible to label the Global War on Terror, and the theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan as the "Bush war" or the "Republican war" or the "neo-con war." In reality, the war has always been America's no matter which party controlled the White House. Now that a Democrat has responsibility for successfully prosecuting it and protecting the country from attack, I hope that more Americans realize that it is our struggle, our war and support the measures necessary to see it through to victory. Just because George W. Bush will soon be gone, it doesn't mean our enemies will.

UPDATE: One other item to note from the interview is the coy little dance that Obama likes to do when the media tries to make historical comparsions between the challenges he faces and those faced by Lincoln and Roosevelt. On the one hand (to his credit), he seeks to downplay the comparisons by citing the differences in the circumstances:

Kroft: People are comparing this to 1932.

Mr. Obama: Right.

Kroft:Is that a valid comparison, do you think?

Mr. Obama: Well, keep in mind that 1932, 1933 the unemployment rate was 25 percent, inching up to 30 percent. You had a third of the country that was ill housed, ill clothed, unemployed. We're not going through something comparable to that. But I would say that this is as bad as we've seen since then. And if we don't take some significant steps then it could get worse.

But on the other, he makes reference to them often to ensure that the potential comparisons are never far from peoples' minds:

Mr. Obama: Yeah. I've been spending a lot of time reading Lincoln. There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.

Kroft: Put a lot of his political enemies in his cabinet.

Mr. Obama: He did.

Kroft: Is that something you're considering?

Mr. Obama: Well, I tell you what, I find him a very wise man.

He's not so audacious as to suggest that he should be compared to Lincoln or FDR, but he's going to keep their names front and center if you happen to be looking for parallels.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Design Eye For The Terrorist Guy

Media Circus asks a couple of designers to analyze terrorist logos and finds them wanting. Who knew there was a Jihad in Sweden?


Friday, September 07, 2007
Road To Mecca Moment

Word on the street is that taxpayer advocate David Strom is planning to embrace a new faith. After reading Osama Bin Laden's latest ramblings, I think we have a pretty good idea which way he's headed:

He also speaks to recent issues grabbing headlines in the United States, referring to "the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes..."

"To conclude," bin Laden says, "I invite you to embrace Islam." He goes on to say: "There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent."

David won't be a big fan of the veils, headscarves, and burqas, but the bottom line is that two-point-five is pretty tough to beat. Besides, he's already got a better beard going than Osama. And it's real.

UPDATE: If you read the entire Bin Laden transcript (not an easy task for the eyes or the mind), you discover that not only is he a Kennedy assassination conspiracy believer, his economic views are downright Marxist. No wonder he expresses such admiration for Noam Chomsky.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Rest of the Story?

Lost in the news coverage devoted to the bridge collapse two weeks ago was another local story with far reaching implications. A Minneapolis man (by way of a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan) gets convicted in Federal court:

A federal jury on Friday convicted Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi of possessing fraudulent immigration documents, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Elzahabi, 44, was arrested three years ago as part of a terrorism investigation and has admitted ties to Al-Qaida. But he was prosecuted on immigration charges as prosecutors alleged he used fraud to stay in the United States.

Prosecutors alleged that Elzahabi's 1984 marriage to an exotic dancer in Houston was a business deal to obtain a green card, with Elzahabi paying her to be his wife so he could become a legal permanent resident.

Three perfunctory paragraphs cribbed from the AP is all the Star Tribune deemed necessary for this story. If you were to accept the facts reported here as comprehensive, maybe that's all it deserves. Just an immigration case, a byproduct of an unproductive investigation into terrorism. Probably a case of discrimination anyway. Of all the millions of undocumented workers in this country, why did they target this poor guy? Because he was an Arab! (Sorry, I had a brief flashback to my Star Tribune trained mindset).

On NARN a few months ago, we interviewed terrorism expert Steven Emerson. As a part of our discussion regarding his book Jihad Incorporated, A Guide To Militant Islam in the US, I asked him to comment on the various Minneapolis connections he identified. (This played out as me throwing Arabic names at him and asking him to remember their significance, an exercise Emerson referred to as Jihadi Jeopardy.) Elzahabi was one of the main suspects in this drama. Excerpt from Jihad Incorporated:

Mohammad Kamal Elzahabi is a Lebanese national who entered the United States in 1984 on a student visa. He paid a woman in Houston, Texas to marry him and help him obtain legal permanent resident alien status. Elzahabi divorced her in 1988, after he obtained a green card.

This incident is what he was ultimately convicted of and may lead to his deportation. The facts of his marriage was a point of dispute by Elzahabi's legal counsel. According to the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Defence lawyer Paul Engh gave an impassioned defence of his client, characterizing Mr. Elzahabi as a chivalrous Muslim who had paid a dowry for his bride. "His intentions were pure. Without a doubt, his intentions were pure," the lawyer said.

It's nice to see Elzahabi had his lawyer convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, it looks like the jury needed some actual evidence, which the prosecution brought, according to Fox News:

[Assistant U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk] said Elzahabi came to the United States in May 1984 on a student visa, with plans to learn English as a second language at the University of Houston. He was introduced to Kathy Ann Glant, a waitress and dancer at the Pink Pussy Cat club, and he promised to pay her $5,000 to marry him. In August, just months after he came to the U.S., Elzahabi and Glant were married. Folk said the couple never lived together, never exchanged rings or went on a honeymoon. Their contact was minimal, consisting mostly of phone calls Glant made to Elzahabi to collect money, or time spent filling out immigration paperwork. Folk said Glant went to Elzahabi's apartment once, when he thought immigration officials were coming to investigate. They had a sexual encounter on that day, Folk said, and Glant got paid for it.

Folk said that during interviews with the FBI in 2004, Elzahabi was recorded as saying the marriage was strictly business. "He couldn't even remember her name," Folk told the jury.

Chivalrous Muslim comes to America to learn English by attending college (?), meets a stripper, falls in love, marries her, then pays her for sex, but doesn't bother to learn her name. It's the classic American love story.

As romantic as this may be, the real story is what happened in the 20 years between his wedding day and his setting up shop in Minneapolis. His evolution into a jihadist began innocently enough:

[Court documents] say he decided to go to Afghanistan after attending a Islamic conference held in the Midwest in 1988.

No word on where that was held or what was said. But I must assume everything was wholesome enough. We just had one of those religious conferences last fall in Minneapolis, attended by none other than the distinguished Representative of the 5th district, and nobody made much of a fuss. I mean, beyond those 6 imams alleged to be re-enacting scenes from United 93 and now suing our local government for discrimination because people objected.

Maybe those Islamic conferences back in the 80s were slightly more action oriented, since it drove Elzahabi into a new career, according to Emerson:

In 1988, he fought in Afghanistan and met with key jihadi figures Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Raec Hijazi, and Bassam Kanj. He again traveled to Afghanistan in 1991 and remained there for approximately four years. During this time, he was a sniper in combat and served as an instructor in small arms and sniper skills for other jihadists attending the Khalden training camp in Afghanistan. Elzahabi admitted that while he was in Afghanistan, he personally knew al Qaeda training camp aficionado Abu Zubaydah and knew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Elzahabi returned to New York City in April 1994 where he ran an axle-repair business. He used this business to help ship to Pakistan portable field radios, which US troops later found in Afghanistan.

From 1997 to 1998 Elzahabi lived in Boston. He worked as a cabdriver and associated with Raed Hijazi, whom he aided in obtaining a Massachusetts driver's license in 1997. Hijazi was later convicted in Jordan for masterminding the failed millennium bombing plot that had targeted American and Israeli tourists in that country. While in Boston, he lived with Bassam Kenj, who helped Hijazi lease a taxi that officials believe was used to fund the Jordan plan.

Elzahabi also traveled to Lebanon, where he provided small arms training to a group of fighters that Bassam Kenj had formed to overthrow the government of Lebanon. Elzahabi stated that he served as a sniper, fighting under the command of Ibn al-Khattab in Chechnya from late 1999 to 2000.

Chechnya, where, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, Elzahabi engaged in some behavior the Russian authorities are still interested in:

Yesterday's immigration-fraud verdict in a U.S. federal court may smooth the way for the suspect's eventual deportation to Russia -- a country where, according to court records, he said he once fatally shot a bulldozer driver while fighting with Chechen rebels.

But, after all of this, I'm sure Elzahabi was happy to hear, you can go home again. And thanks to that marriage with the exotic dancer, that was the good old USA. According to the Star Tribune (via their online archivists, Power Line):

Elzahabi said he reentered the United States in mid-August 2001 and came to Minneapolis. He had been living in a house near the University of Minnesota that is also home to a mosque.

Once he got here, he started to pursue a new career. According to Emerson, in his section about egregious errors made by the US before 9/11 took place:

Before the 9/11 attacks, the FBI identified Mohammad Kamal Elzahabi as a suspected terrorist. Despite this, in early 2002, Elzahabi received a commercial driver's license to operate a school bus and transport hazardous materials. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Division of Driver Vehicle and Licensing, the FBI "ran his name through a database and cleared him."

He just didn't receive those licenses, he used them. If your kids were in the Minneapolis public school system in the early part of this decade, you just might have had gruff but lovable Mohammad transporting them to school. According to the trade magazine School Transportation News:

Elzahabi spent four months as a First Student school bus driver in late 2001, transporting students for the Minneapolis Public Schools. The company fired him in January of 2002 after he failed to report to work, said Jeff Pearson, region vice president with First Student, Inc.

After fighting in Chechnya from late 1999 through 2000, the FBI said, Elzahabi re-entered the United States and settled in the Minneapolis area. Pearson said Elzahabi applied with First Student on Sept. 11, 2001, the same day terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. At the time, Elzahabi held a valid Massachusetts driver's license and school bus CDL, including hazmat clearance. Pearson said, a check of Minnesota DPS records confirms, that Elzahabi received his Minnesota CDL certification prior to his hire date. As a result, Pearson said First Student does not have on file the name of the school where Elzahabi became certified.

First Student terminated Elzahabi in early January of 2002, after he failed to report back to work for "a number of days" following the winter break, Pearson said, adding that, up until then, First Student documented no problems in his employee file.

Now THAT'S a story. I dare say one that may be of interest to even readers outside of the circulation of School Transportation News.

The Star Tribune has been sleepy to comatose on these stories. They don't seem to meet their standards for what they feel the people of Minnesota need to know about their community. But its not too late. In the interest of helping out our hometown monopoly earn that Pulitzer they've been denied for nearly two decades, here are some questions that need answering:

1) Where was that Midwest Islamic conference in 1988 that radicalized Elzahabi? What was said and by whom? Any of those rabble rousers still working the recruitment circuit in the USA?

2) What were the connections that lead Elzahabi from jihad in Chechnya directly to Minneapolis? Why is a local mosque harboring a jihadist? What's going on at that mosque these days?

3) Why is a guy with a background in terrorism suddenly interested in getting licenses to drive school buses and transport hazardous materials in Minneapolis? How do parents of Minneapolis school children feel about their government's oversight of who they hire?

I can't guarantee a Pulitzer would result from this story. But let's just say occasionally devoting resources to a story of high interest to the readers, one that shows the local paper is actually on their side on issues such as this, wouldn't increase the rate of their circulation dropping any further.


Monday, December 11, 2006
Pop Up VDH

Victor Davis Hanson writes another brilliant essay on one of the biggest problems we face in prosecuting this war on terror, the attention span and fortitude of modern pundits and politicians.

As is VDH's style, he drops a few cultural allusions that may need some explanation to anyone not holding advanced degrees in Greek History and Political Zoological Science. Here is the key paragraph, link enhanced with original sources for your reading pleasure:

Listening recently to the pious homilies of Jimmy Carter on C-Span demands a bath in the waters of Lethe. How else to think away hundreds of days watching him like a deer in the headlights as a few students in Teheran paralyzed his administration, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, he sent Mohammed Ali on a mission to boycott the Olympics, Central America seemed lost to Cuba-like communism, over a million died in Cambodia, the economy suffered double-digit inflation and interest rates, high unemployment, and low growth?before, then and afterwards punctuated by petty, snide comments about kicking Ted Kennedy's ass, George Bush Sr. being effeminate, secret lusting in his heart, and vicious, swamp rabbits skimming toward the President in a pond attack mode.


Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Colors of The Season: Red and Green?

Disturbing front page story in today's Wall Street Journal on the budding alliance between the hard left and Islamic radicals. Their common cause? Anti-Americanism (sub req):

Religion, excoriated by Karl Marx as the "opiate of the masses," has become a great mobilizing force -- even for zealous atheists. The phenomenon extends beyond the Middle East to Europe, Latin America and Africa, too. Causes that a few years ago seemed moribund or at least passé -- socialism, Third World solidarity, strident anti-Americanism -- have been injected with the fervor, though rarely the actual faith, of Islamic radicalism.

"We are all here to fight American hegemony," Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy chief, told hundreds of secular activists from around the world who gathered last month in a Beirut conference center. They were there to celebrate his Islamic movement's "divine victory" over Israel this summer and cheer a broader battle against America's vision for the world. Mr. Qassem was dressed in flowing robes and a cleric's turban. Many in his audience wore T-shirts or badges featuring portraits of Che Guevara, clenched fists and other emblems of secular radical chic.

Strange bedfellows indeed. The enemy of my enemy is my friend movement seems to be spreading too:

Some of Hezbollah's biggest fans are in Europe. There, the hard left, demoralized by the collapse of communism, has found new energy, siding with Islamist militants in Lebanon, in Iraq and in a wider campaign against what they see as an American plot to impose unrestrained free-market capitalism.

"We are all Hezbollah now," read posters carried through London this summer during an antiwar protest march. Earlier, London Mayor Ken Livingston, once known as "Red Ken," invited a controversial Egyptian cleric to the British capital, arguing that his views have been distorted by the West.

In deeply Roman Catholic Latin America, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has become the exemplar of a new populism that sees common cause with Iran and Hezbollah. Mr. Chávez, re-elected in a landslide last Sunday, has met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad several times and this summer was given the Islamic Republic Medal, Iran's highest honor. Amid the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, portraits of Mr. Chávez now hang alongside pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah put them up after Mr. Chávez denounced President Bush as the devil in a September speech to the UN. "Gracias Chávez," they say.

Africa, too, is boarding the bandwagon. A summit of the 53-nation African Union this summer in Gambia featured two special guests: Mr. Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad. Back in Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad in November hosted Zimbabwe's authoritarian Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, an erstwhile devotee of Mao Zedong. Fulminating against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Mugabe said likeminded countries must "fight against these evil men and their evil systems."

Pot. Kettle. You know the rest.

With America's reputation badly blemished across much of the globe, widespread anger at Washington's foreign policy is fusing with local grievances in an unstable mix of discontent. The result is a motley assemblage rife with contradictions and competing agendas. The Islamist-led protest movement has none of the central organization once provided by the Comintern, the body set up by Vladimir Lenin to coordinate global communism. Nonetheless, it is giving voice and a sense of common cause to those opposed to America's plans.

Leading the way in embracing it are mostly fringe groups with names redolent of the 1960s: The Global Peace and Justice Coalition, The Socialist Workers Party, The League for the Fifth International. While such outfits are quirky, they "magnify trends in the mainstream," says Nick Cohen, a British writer who is publishing a book next year about the alliance between Islamists and leftists, "What's Left?" Karl Marx, he says, would be horrified.

"The sight of Godless communists in alliance with Islamo-fascists is one of the wonders of the modern world," Mr. Cohen says.

Wonder is not the first word that comes to my mind.

At the Beirut conference last month, a Mexican Marxist denounced America for "colonizing" New Mexico. A South Korean foe of free trade raged against American beef. A Turk fumed about American military bases. A Frenchman denounced American genetically engineered foods and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. There were even a few Americans. One thundered against big business, another against the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A big part of Hezbollah's appeal is simply that, unlike other tarnished icons of revolt, it can point to successes. It has defied Israel's military, by far the region's most powerful. It prodded Israel to end its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000 and unexpectedly bloodied Israeli troops in clashes this summer.

Hezbollah shows that "resistance," whether fuelled by religion or secular zeal, "can break governments and roll back the American project," says John Rees, a former editor of the journal International Socialism and a leader of Britain's anti-Iraq war movement. Hezbollah, he says, isn't a terrorist outfit but a social movement seeking better living conditions for its supporters. "It is better to think of it as an AFL-CIO with guns," he says.

Feel better now? Neither do I. The idea of the AFL-CIO as an armed militia isn't exactly comforting.

An American who traveled to Beirut in November to cheer Hezbollah, who identified himself as Bill Cecil, summed up the appeal of Islamism to non-Muslims: "Your enemy is our enemy; your victory is our victory," he told a conference. Mr. Cecil, an activist for a radical group in New York, later appeared as a guest on the breakfast show of Hezbollah's television station, al-Manar. America, he told a veiled female presenter, is "not a democracy ... but a dictatorship of giant corporations." America "needs a government that provides for the people like Hezbollah helps people here."

Just ask homosexuals and women how Hezbollah "provides" for them.

Sitting beneath a portrait of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara in his Beirut office, Khaled Hadadeh, the general secretary of the Lebanese communists, admits that Hezbollah and the Communist Party hated each other for years. "We started out in blood," says Mr. Hadadeh, a Sunni Muslim by birth but now a firm atheist. Che Guevara, he says, "is our symbol, like Jesus Christ or Mohammed."

What's the old line about a man who won't believe in God will believe in anything?

The larger question overriding the whole Islamic radical/hard left alliance is just who is playing the role of the useful idiot? I have a hunch it'll be the same people who willingly did so in the past.


Friday, September 29, 2006
You Want To Know What Torture Really Is?

Ask these guys. Ex-POWs defend tough interrogation of terrorism suspects:

The Geneva Convention meant nothing to Don Heiliger's captors.

To the men who used ropes and handcuffs to twist Heiliger's arms behind him until his shoulder blades touched and his arms went numb, the rules regarding humane treatment of prisoners of war were a joke.

Shot down over Vietnam on May 15, 1967, the Navy pilot who later became a Dane County supervisor was tortured and told he was a criminal who had no protection under the Geneva Convention.

The debate over the rules for the interrogation and trial of terrorist suspects is more than political rhetoric for Heiliger and other Wisconsin ex-prisoners of war, who spent days and weeks and years in captivity never knowing if they would survive their ordeal. Even as President Bush and key Republican senators such as John McCain reached an agreement last week over the issue, Heiliger's opinion was emphatic: The Geneva Conventions don't apply to terror suspects.

"To try terrorists doesn't bother me at all, because I don't think they're soldiers," said Heiliger, 69, of Stoughton.

Dan Doughty agrees. He, too, was shot down in Vietnam and spent almost seven years as a prisoner of war. He, too, was tortured and forced to write letters saying he was treated well.

In the war on terror, "there are no uniformed soldiers. They're not fighting for a country. They don't have a nation behind them," said Doughty, 73, who grew up in Ladysmith and now lives in Eau Claire. "I'd sure hate to see several thousand people die (in a terror attack) because we couldn't ask a question for fear we were mistreating' terror suspects.

When he was first captured, he told his captors his name, rank, serial number and date of birth--the only information military members are obligated to provide under the Geneva Conventions.

It didn't do any good and only infuriated Doughty's captors. It took two decades for the numbness in Doughty's hands and arms to go away.

Doughty saw the Abu Ghraib prison scandal photos and read about the convictions of American soldiers working as guards at the Baghdad prison. In Doughty's opinion, the Abu Ghraib prisoners were mistreated, not tortured. And the Bush administration's attempt to clarify some of the language in the Geneva Conventions probably won't matter in future wars, he said.

"I don't think anybody we'd have a future war with is going to be different than Vietnam," Doughty said. "Look at what happened to our soldiers that have been captured (in Iraq this year). They've been tortured and cut up and put in the street. That's what we're dealing with."

I wonder if liberals would be willing to bring their beloved "Chicken Hawk" standard to bear on this issue: only those who actually have been tortured are allowed to offer an opinion on what it actually is. Somehow I doubt it.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Ion Mihai looks at the role that the USSR played in fermenting Islamic terrorism in a piece at National Review Online:

Today's international terrorism was conceived at the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the KGB, in the aftermath of the1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East. I witnessed its birth in my other life, as a Communist general. Israel humiliated Egypt and Syria, whose bellicose governments were being run by Soviet razvedka (Russian for "foreign intelligence") advisers, whereupon the Kremlin decided to arm Israel's enemy neighbors, the Palestinians, and draw them into a terrorist war against Israel.

General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, who created Communist Romania's intelligence structure and then rose to head up all of Soviet Russia's foreign intelligence, often lectured me: "In today's world, when nuclear arms have made military force obsolete, terrorism should become our main weapon."

Between 1968 and 1978, when I broke with Communism, the security forces of Romania alone sent two cargo planes full of military goodies every week to Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon. Since the fall of Communism the East German Stasi archives have revealed that, in 1983 alone, its foreign intelligence service sent $1,877,600 worth of AK-47 ammunition to Lebanon. According to Vaclav Havel, Communist Czechoslovakia shipped 1,000 tons of the odorless explosive Semtex-H (which can't be detected by sniffer dogs) to Islamic terrorists--enough for 150 years.

It was more than just arms. It was also a hateful ideology.

In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.

According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.

Terrorism and violence against Israel and her master, American Zionism, would flow naturally from the Muslims' religious fervor, Andropov sermonized. We had only to keep repeating our themes--that the United States and Israel were "fascist, imperial-Zionist countries" bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels' occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.

The codename of this operation was "SIG" (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or "Zionist Governments"), and was within my Romanian service's "sphere of influence," for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.

The Soviet Union helped propagate the Islamist whirlwind that the world, including Russia, now must deal with. One Evil Empire spawning what its adherents hope to be another.


Friday, March 10, 2006
The Sky Is Falling!

Now that our brave protectors in Congress have acted to prevent some of our port terminals from falling under the control of nefarious foreigners, what will they do for an encore? Force all the foreign interests (including Chicoms) who already control US port terminals to give up their ownership? Not bloody likely.

Craig e-mails from Illinois to suggest that they look to the skies:

I've been following the DPW ports issue pretty closely and I decided to do a little research today in order to put this whole thing in context.

The most cogent argument put forth by those who oppose the DPW ports deal is that we should not turn over port management to companies who are based in, or owned by, foreign countries that have significant Islamist populations, because this would increase the likelihood that a native Islamist in the host country could infiltrate the company and carry out a terrorist attack on our home soil.

While I sympathize with this line of reasoning, I don't think the threat is significant because DPW will be largely relegated to managing American fork-lift operators, whereas US federal and local authorities will be managing security.

But, assuming the DPW opponents argument is valid, should we allow such questionable countries to operate 747's over our biggest cities?

UAE, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait currently fly jumbo-jets into JFK airport on a regular basis. In addition to JFK:

* UAE, home of two of the 9/11 hijackers, flies Emirates Airlinesinto George Bush Airport in Houston.

* Turkey, home to Abdullah Ocalan and a population that was found to be the the least friendly to Americans , hosts Turkish Airlines that flies into Los Angeles, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Miami.

* Jordan, home to head-hacker-extraordinaire Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is also the home of Royal Jordanian Airlines which flies into Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco.

* Kuwait, home of Terrorism Kuwaiti Style , and a Senior Kuwaiti Official who said Katrina is a soldier of Allah in the fight against American Imperialists, flies Kuwait Airways into Seattle, San Diego and Boston.

Thus, if the DPW opponents are correct, and we can't trust these people to manage American fork-lift operators on our port docks, then we certainly shouldn't allow them to fly 747's within striking distance of our precious cities. However, I think this whole DPW flap has absolutely nothing to do with security and everything to do with politics.

Nice work by Craig. While we're at it, let us not forget 1999 and Egypt Air Flight 990:

The relief first officer's calm repetition of the phrase "I rely on God," beginning about 74 seconds before the airplane's dive began and continuing until just after the captain returned to the cockpit (about 14 seconds into the dive), without any call for help or other audible reaction of surprise or alarm from the relief first officer after the sudden dive is not consistent with the reaction that would be expected from a pilot who is encountering an unexpected or uncommanded flight condition.

Sure now our ports are safe. But what about our skies? What about our skies?


Friday, February 17, 2006
Secret Admirer

Earlier this week, the City Pages identified Scott Johnson's tribute to Katherine Kersten on NRO as the "ickiest" valentine of the week.

Icky is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose (especially if you have pink eye). To me, the use of the word icky, is the definition of the word icky. But if forced to weigh in on this matter, I think far "ickier" than Scott Johnson's charming tribute was the mash note the City Pages sent to its cover boy Osama bin Laden, coincidentally, this very week.

Folks, hold on to your insulin glands as you read these precious observations on the essence of our enemy, from former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer:

[bin Laden is] very conscious of the tradition from which he comes and how that history works.

I think he is the hero and the leader in the Islamic world.

But he's kind of done as much as he can do to make sure there's no further bloodshed between us and the forces he represents.

... for a man of his stature in the world, he probably has as little ego as I've ever seen in a leader

So in his main goal, of incitement, he's been singularly successful.

But our invasion of Iraq broke the back of our counter-terrorism policy, because it validated in the Islamic mind so much of what bin Laden had said through the past decade.

... if you examine bin Laden's rhetoric, the correlation between words and deeds is pretty much - close to perfect.

Bin Laden has always been someone who welcomed ideas

He dominated the international media for three days at a time of his choosing.

The only thing I've tried to say to people is that this is a very serious man, and a very talented one.

He's very good looking and an excellent driver.

All right, I added that last one. But it seems to be consistent with the theme. Yes, I understand the need to not underestimate the abilities of your enemies, but the desperate ass kissing of someone who wishes to kill you is, well, icky.

Check out the cover illustration the City Pages uses too, which revels in the aura of someone who promises to bring death and carnage to the United States. Despicable. And probably destined to take the cherished position in the living rooms of City Pages staffers now occupied by their black light Che posters.

By the way, the whole interview with Scheuer is an endorsement of the view that the US is under imminent threat of a catastrophic terrorist event, larger than 9/11.

My own inclination is to say that the decks are pretty much cleared now. He would not have said what he said if he wasn't prepared to attack us.

Yes, the clock is ticking. Not just on the future of an American city, but on the City Pages dwindling credibility. A traditional media organ of their stature (3rd highest circulation in the Twin Cities, I believe) needs to be held accountable for its gleeful scare mongering. They say it's coming soon, so let's just wait and see. I give them, at the outside, one month in order to be correct.

I certainly hope they are not. At the very least, so I can someday soon use the post title, The City Pages Lied, No One Died. And I'm given some solace in the rate of accuracy of some of the other warnings appearing on the City Pages web site. Things like this:

Four more years of Bush and I doubt that I will be writing or you will be reading these warnings. We will have been silenced. I wish I were exaggerating, but this past year has taught me that, if anything, my warnings have been too tame.

We have seen a despot, and he is occupying the White House. We have seen tyranny, and it is the Bush Administration.

And this:

On November 2 we won't be voting for anything like the measure of change we deserve the chance to vote for. We will be casting our ballots in a referendum on whether we wish to pause and reconsider our march toward a homegrown American fascism.

And this:

In my heart, I still believe in revolution. In my heart, I still think I have the 'nads to put my life on the line for a cause. In my gut I think this is the only way we'll ever achieve our goals of economic and social justice. But in my head, I want to win the next election so we don't have to have a revolution.

The countdown to tyranny and revolution continues well beyond their deadlines. But if this stopped clock finds its nut and the worst case scenario of a massive attack does happen in the near future, it will be bad news. Worse yet, because, guess what, it will be all our fault to begin with. Here are Scheuer's words on bin Laden's motivation to hit us again, which no doubt would form the thesis of a post American city nuking City Pages cover story:

... our support for the Arab tyrannies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, our presence in the holy lands on the Arabian Peninsula, our invasion of Iraq, our support for countries like Russia that are deemed to repress Islamic people. He's focused on things that are visible to the Islamic world every day, and quite frankly there's a direct correlation between what he says and what all the Western polling firms are finding, that there is a huge majority in Islamic countries that hate our foreign policy.

Yet another reason to hope their dire warnings prove incorrect. In the event of a WMD terrorist incident and the world war to follow, we'll be forced to metaphorically share a foxhole with millions of those on the left with this mindset. And I'm not sure you can defeat an enemy after you've lovingly hung his picture on the wall.


Friday, August 13, 2004
The Gathering Paranoia

Regarding my post yesterday on Newt Gingrich's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, reader E.J. writes in with his thoughts, specifically on the potential for Chinese complicity in terrorism:

Great summation. I think, however, that a careful review of Chinese military doctrine on asymmetrical warfare would help clear up the anomalies obscuring our enemy's true identity. The "terrorists" are just the first line, intended to tie us down long enough for the Communists to catch up on the technology curve while we're out stomping down grass fires.

Further, it is not that our friends across the aisle, the Democrats, are not "up to it" as you say, but rather that they are "in on it." The enemy is the same as always; there is nothing new in the arena. It is just that now we are assaulted from within and without, and by some of our own people.

Or do you really believe the assistance Clinton gave China in missile technology, nuclear codes and so forth was just an "accident?" That he just "bobbled" Islamic extremism? That 9/11 "just happened?"

Gingrich's assertion that it might take til 2070 to eliminate the scourge afflicting us these days may prove conservative, assuming we survive the decade. The Chinese believe the battle can be won without firing a shot, and given the myopia and apathy of the electorate these days, they might be right.

My paranoia fully extends to accepting the possibility of terrorist connections (present or future) with the Russian and/or Chinese governments (or as George Patton might call them, "the god-d*mned Bolsheviks!"). But I am not willing to accept Democratic party complicity in a conspiracy. No, I don't believe 9/11 and the rise of Islamic extremism as a threat to US security "just happened". Instead, they were the result of wishful avoidance of difficult problems and the inability of individuals (and parties) to muster the will to preempt threats during a era of decadence. It's the same phenomena Craig Westover characterized yesterday as:

The fault was not that people couldn't imagine hijacked planes being used as weapons. Some did. The failure was the inability to imagine that such an event could actually occur. If one cannot accept the reality of a threat, it is impossible to avert it - as the rubble of the World Trade Towers testifies.

Over on Vox Popoli, in a piece entitled "Some Republicans ARE Nazis," Vox Day chimes in on this issue with some Gingrich criticism of his own:

Since Gingrich believes the war on method will last until 2070, this definition of "temporary" is apparently a Clintonesque one meaning "longer than you will likely live." In other words, once gone, they're gone forever. I would rather lose a city or three than sacrifice "all civil liberties" and live in a military dictatorship - I thought the whole point of being Americans was that we were willing to make sacrifices for freedom, not of it. Isn't sacrificing the nation's freedom in order to save the nation tantamount to burning the village in order to save it? What are we hoping to save? A nation of frightened serfs slavishly grateful to their feudal protectors? Bah - what are sheep if not for slaughter?

Read his entire post, there are some very provocative statements, to say the least. Provacative, bordering on OUTRAGEOUS. And do you know what I have to say to him in response?

Tune in to tomorrow to Northern Alliance Radio to find out. Vox will be on at 2 PM, Central time. Locally, you can hear it at AM 1280 the Patriot, and world wide via the Web stream (link available at the right hand side of this Web page). And if you don't trust the Northern Alliace crew to properly refute the man (or properly support him), please call in and let's hear what you've got. Intelligent, public affairs radio may never be the same again.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004
The Gathering Threat

Last night I watched a replay of the House Intelligence Committee's 9/11 Commission hearings on CSPAN. Testifying, were Ed Meese, some guy I've never heard of named Larry Thompson, and Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich was in great form, speaking knowledgeably and persuasively about the terrorism threat and the ability of the federal government to organize itself to effectively counter it. His enthusiastic endorsement of the Commission's findings, particularly for the creation of a National Intelligence Director post, eases some of my concerns that the Commissions recommendations were nothing more than bureaucratic paper shuffling.

However, most of his comments were aimed at trying to get the House members to understand the scope of the threat we face, and to inspire them to be more aggressive in taking preemptory action. The former history professor gave his sobering estimate that the war against terrorism would last until at least 2070. And he said it was to be a hard fought, bitter campaign throughout, with the potential for massive US losses. His opinion was that we're not doing enough at this time to identify and eliminate threats. In terms of resources needed to fight, he asked the Congressmen to look at the US government expenditures and societal reorganization during the first the years of the Civil War, the first years of American involvement in WWI, the first years of WWII, and the first few years of the Cold War. He gave actual time periods to study for each example (I forget what they were), and I assume he was referring to the higher costs associated with the uncertain beginning years of a major conflict, as opposed to those associated with the winding down of hostilities.

At one point the issue of circumscribed civil liberties came up and Gingrich's response was that it had to be a balancing act. He rhetorically posed the question, if there were reliable information that a terrorist nuclear strike on Washington DC was scheduled for inauguration day next January, would he favor the temporary retraction of all civil liberties in the country. Given the threat to the survival of the US government and the loss of over a million people, his answer was "unquestionably, yes". He then posed a counter scenario. In the course of steeling the country for the new threat, in the crafting of legislation and regulations, would he want protection of civil liberties for US citizens to be incorporated throughout? His answer again, "unquestionably, yes". He summed up by saying (I'm paraphrasing from memory), 'in protecting the very survival of civilization of North America, I do not want to lose the United States.' Which I interpreted as his desire to save the US Constitution during this dangerous, brutal, century long war.

Throwing more shock into the system, Gingrich reiterated that stateless terrorists aren't the only threat we face. He emphasized the need to keep an eye on the Russians and the Chinese. He made specific, repeated mention of recent Chinese research into electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry. This report from the Heritage Foundation, summarizes the situation. And I'll never accuse Heritage of burying the lede after reading this opening sentence:

A nuclear-generated electromagnetic pulse "is one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces."

If our enemies acquire such a weapon, that is an entirely plausible outcome. It would happen with a low level nuke being detonated in the atmosphere above the desired target, be it our military overseas or the Continental US. Given the bomb's altitude, no individuals would be immediately killed, but all electronics would be permanently fried, thus eliminating our conventional war fighting advantages. The Heritage description of how it might occur:

A Scud-type ballistic missile launched from a vessel in U.S. coastal waters and detonated at an altitude of 95 miles could degrade electronic systems across one-quarter of the United States. A more powerful missile launched from North Korea could probably deliver a warhead 300 miles above America--enough to degrade the electronic systems across the entire continental United States.

Obviously, stopping the proliferation of this weapon is as important as stopping all of our favorite WMDs. But that may be even harder than we think it is (and none of us thinks it's easy). We may not be dealing with merely stopping individuals with bad faith and malicious intentions. State sponsored proliferation would be almost impossible to stop and I got the sense that Newt was strongly hinting the Chinese are suspect in this regard. The Heritage report includes this corroborating (or perhaps the original source) paragraph:

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the rise of powerful non-state actors, and the evolving strategic relationships with countries like China and Russia have made the threat more difficult to assess. In reality, the U.S. simply cannot rely on the old tools of deterrence to compel threatening regimes not to attack the United States or its interests. As demonstrated on September 11, 2001, the Cold War deterrent of massive retaliation does not work.

That last statement puts John Kerry's recent comments in bold relief:

Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.

Concisely phrased, that is Kerry's position on the war on terror, massive retaliation as deterrent.

Say what you will of Gingrich's politics, he accurately describes the razor's edge our elected officials will have to face in the years to come. I was somewhat heartened to see that Gingrich held the rapt attention of members of both political parties during this hearing. Let's hope something got through to them. Unfortunately, my personal observations tell me our elected officials, especially the Democrats, are not up to the challenge.

Newt himself said, if there is another incident in this country, on a scale meeting or potentially far exceeding the horror associated with 9/11, the country will ramp up and reorganize itself for war. The key question is, can the government ramp up before that happens, and prevent that horrible incident from ever happening?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Who's That Girl?

Fresh off an award winning ballroom dancing performance, James Phillips, head of the Fraters Northern California Research Group, provides some background on the gal who found nothing funny in a Powerline post about Syrian musicians:

Maybe I am the only person who does not know who the humor impaired Erika Linden Green is, but just in case, is this her?

While we can't be absolutely one hundred percent certain James, I think it's safe to say that it is.

It turns out she has something in common with the NARN. They really will give anyone a radio show these days, won't they?

If the Big Trunk is interested in making amends, James has also provided us with her Amazon Wish List.

Meanwhile, Rick, in command of the Fraters Southern California Research Group, has been doing a bit of his own digging (presumably clad only in his underwear as the Fraters Dress Code requires):

Erika Linden Green ain't all bad for a nut. She belly dances and bugles across America.

Interesting combination to say the least. Let's see you try to match that Mitch. Of course, I don't literally mean "see" in this case.

My personal favorite finding is this link which explains:

When Erika is not designing, she can be found telling other people how to live their lives.

Other people like the guys at Powerline.


Monday, July 19, 2004
Lighten Up Lady

The boys at Powerline have apparently touched a nerve with some humorous comments about a real Syrian band who may or may not have been involved in the Annie Jacobson flight scare hubbub last week. Reading the account conjured up the following scene in my head:

Erika Linden Green : [threateningly] The American Arab Anti Discrimination League isn't all smiles und sunshine.

Big Trunk: [recoils in mock horror]
Oooh, the American Arab Anti Discrimination League is mad at me. I'm so scared! Oooh, the American Arab Anti Discrimination League!
[hiding behind Hindrocket] Uh oh, the American Arab Anti Discrimination League is going to get me!

Erika Linden Green : Stop it!

Big Trunk: Don't let the American Arab Anti Discrimination League come after me.
Oh no, the American Arab Anti Discrimination League is coming after me.

Erika Linden Green : Please stop the `pretending you are scared' game, please.

Big Trunk: [brief pause, then resumes]
No! They're so big and strong!

Erika Linden Green: Stop it, Mr. Johnson.

Big Trunk: Oh, protect me from the American Arab Anti Discrimination League ! The American Arab Anti Discrimination League ...

Erika Linden Green: Mr. Johnson, STOP IT!


Monday, June 28, 2004
More Of This Please

Muslim leaders denounce those who are violent:

Through news releases, public forums and petitions, Muslim groups in Minnesota and across the country have gone on record condemning the recent beheadings of Americans Nick Berg and Paul M. Johnson Jr. and South Korean Kim Sun-il.

'We wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent,' read a statement by the Twin Cities-based Islamic Resource Group on the day news broke of Johnson's murder.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have signed an online petition condemning terrorist acts since it was posted last month by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights group in Washington, D.C.

Too bad the story is buried on page three of the Metro section.


Thursday, June 24, 2004
A Red Rider For Osama?


A career CIA officer claims in a new book that America is losing the war on terror, in part because of the invasion of Iraq, which, he says, distracted the United States from the war against terrorism and further fueled al-Qaida's struggle against the United States. The author, who writes as "Anonymous", is a 22-year veteran of the CIA and still works for the intelligence agency, which allowed him to publish the book after reviewing it for classified information.

Not unexpectedly, the media is playing up this authors opinion that the war with Iraq is a distraction in the fight against Al-Qaida. And, although I still support the decision to invade Iraq, this argument is by far the strongest case against it.

What is not receiving as much attention is the CIA officer's contentions that we are not taking the threat from Al-Qaida seriously enough, that we refuse to acknowledge the true nature of the war, and that we have not pursued it aggressively or violently enough. From an interview (same link as above) with NBC's Andrea Mitchell:

Anonymous: ...I think we are, for various reasons, loath to talk about the role of religion in this war. And it's not to criticize one religion or another, but bin Laden is motivated and his followers and his associates are motivated by what they believe their religion requires them to do. And until we accept that fact and stop identifying them as gangsters or terrorists or criminals, we're very much behind the curve.

On what needs to be done militarily:

Mitchell: "You call for some very tough actions here. You talk about escalating our war against them, and you say in your book that killing in large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. This killing must be a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. You talk about civilian deaths. You talk about landmines. Is that really what we have come to in this war on terror?"

Anonymous: "I think we've come to the place where the military is about our only option. We have not really discussed the idea of why we're at war with what I think is an increasing number of Muslims. Which -- it's very hard in this country to debate policy regarding Israel or to debate actions or policies that might result in more expensive energy. I don't think it's something that we wanted to do, but I think it's where we've arrived. We've arrived at the point where the only option is military. And quite frankly, in Iraq and in Afghanistan we've applied that military force with a certain daintiness that has not served our interests well.

Fallujah anyone?

Advice to Bush:

Mitchell: "What would you like to tell the president?"

Anonymous: "I would like to tell the president, I think, and, and it's presumptuous of me, but I genuinely think that we have underestimated the scope of the enemy, the dedication of the enemy and the threat that it poses to the United States. I think someone should have gone to the president when the, when the discussion of going to Iraq was broached and have said, Mr. President, this is something that can only help Osama bin Laden. Whatever the danger posed by Saddam, whatever weapons he had, is almost irrelevant in that the boost it would give to al-Qaida was easily seen. And if that message wasn't delivered, then I think there was a mistake made. I also think that Mr. Lincoln's view that one war at a time is plenty is probably a good piece of guidance."

More stick less carrot:

Mitchell: "And what are you going to say to those who say that this is anti-American and that this is a really prejudiced approach? What do you say to those who say that your call for a war against Muslim people, is really only going to make the situation worse?"

Anonymous: "I wonder how much worse the situation can be, in the first instance. We continue to believe that somehow public diplomacy or words will affect the anger and hatred of Muslims. And I'm not advocating war as my choice. What I'm advocating is, in order to protect the United States, it is our only option. As long as we pursue the current policies we have, until we have a debate about those policies, there's not a lot we can do. We won't talk them out of their anger, we won't convince them we're an honest broker between the Israel and the Palestinians. We won't convince that we're not supporting tyrannies in the Arab world from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

"It's the only option. It's not a good option; it's the only option. And I'm not saying we attack people who aren't attacking us. But in areas where we realize our enemies are, perhaps we have to be more aggressive."

On weighing the costs of inaction:

Mitchell: "Even if it means civilian casualties?"

Anonymous: "That's the way war is. I've never really understood the idea that any American government, any American elected official is responsible for protecting civilians who are not Americans. My experience working against bin Laden was there was multiple occasions when we did not take advantage of an opportunity to solve the problem because we were afraid of killing a civilian, we were afraid of hitting a mosque with shrapnel, we were afraid of disrupting sales of arms overseas. Very seldom in my career have I ever heard anyone ask what happens if we don't do this.

My own opinion is we should err on the side of protecting Americans first. And if we make a mistake in that kind of action, I think the American people will accept that..."

Even though I've excerpted quite a bit of the interview, I still urge you to read the whole thing. You may not agree with all his assertions, but, unlike the silliness that is Fahrenheit 911, at least they are worth debating. Plus anyone who provides a reference like this deserves a chance to be heard:

Anonymous: "If you're familiar with that wonderful Christmas movie, 'A Christmas Story', at the end of the day, Ralphie getting his air rifle even though his mother was worried his eye would get shot out. It's a terrific gift."

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Friday, February 14, 2003
This war is bigger than the both of 'em

Lately a lot of the war talk has been focused on Osama and Saddam and whether or not they're actively working together or if they would work together at some point in the future. Personally I don't care whether Iraq is in league with Al Qaeda or not. I believe there is enough justification for action without even including Al Qaeda in the equation. Weapons of mass destruction, threat to the world's oil supply, brutal dictatorship, sponsor of terrorism (other than Al Qaeda), continual flaunting of Gulf War cease fire accords. More than enough for me.

Hell, I remember back in the summer of 1990 a friend and I were having a few drinks and discussing the Iraqi buildup on the border with Kuwait and we were already advocating preemptive military strikes. Call me an uberhawk if you will.

By focusing so much attention on the Iraq and Al Qaeda connection I think people are missing the bigger picture. This war on terrorism isn't just about Al Qaeda and it isn't just about Iraq and it isn't just about eliminating the threat that they both pose. After 9/11 Bush could have come out and said, "We have been attacked by Al Qaeda and will now wage war against them until they are wiped out."

But he didn't limit the war or the war's objectives to the destruction of Al Qaeda. He chose instead to embark on a wide ranging and long run course of action whose ultimate goal is a sweeping historical change of the world's political landscape. Terrorists and the countries that support them were served notice that they will no longer be able to carry on as they have for the last thirty years. The terrorists will be hunted down and eliminated and the countries they fund, support, and harbor will cease doing so or have their regimes toppled.

In some cases this will be the result of direct military action, in others through the use of economic and diplomatic levers, and finally in others through internal revolts. This program might seem impossibly grandiose and over reaching to some but I believe that this is what Bush has in mind. He got into trouble when he labeled it a "crusade" shortly after 9/11 but in many ways that is an apt description of it.

Afghanistan was the beginning. Iraq is another stage. All the while we're also going after Al Qaeda wherever and whenever we can. But after the situation in Iraq is resolved the war will not be over. Next on the agenda could be a push for regime change in Iran by supporting dissident groups there or it could be a move against Syria to get them to stop supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and other groups that regularly attack Israel. North Korea will likewise be dealt with either through diplomatic and economic efforts to contain them or if necessary with the use of military force.

Libya? Saudi Arabia? Possibilities as well. There won't be a "one size fits all" approach and each situation will be analyzed and handled differently. One hopes that once the ball gets rolling and a few more examples are made the process will move be hastened along and open conflict limited as much as possible.

The Bush Doctrine if you would call it that seeks a world where nations are free to develop economically and politically without fear of terrorism or rogue regimes brandishing weapons of mass destruction. It is a remarkably ambitious and some would say unrealistic goal but I believe that the rewards of peace and stability are worth the sacrifices and costs that must be paid to achieve them. I don't know if most Americans would agree with my sentiments or if they really understand the nature of the war that we're now involved but if you want to understand Bush's attitude towards Iraq you need to put it in the context of his larger perspective of the war on terror. It's much bigger than just Saddam and Osama.


Saturday, December 14, 2002
The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Victor Davis Hanson Saturday continues here on Fraters Libertas.

Over the past month or so, Front Page Magazine has hosted a series of virtual symposiums on various foreign policy issues of the day. The format is a discussion (which I presume is held electronically) between four noted observers on any given subject, moderated by a Front Page staffer, who is also typically an expert on the subject at hand.

The most recent symposium was published on Friday and regarded the topic "Appeasement Then and Now" and contributing to the discussion, among others, were Pat Buchanan, Michael Ledeen, and Victor Davis Hanson. I encourage you to read the whole thing, as it's fascinating, with well articulated opinions all around. I especially liked this exchange between Buchanan and Hanson. Mr. Buchanan's arguments regarding the correlation between burdeonsome overseas commitments (which he refers to as "empire") and terrorism always seemed plausible to me. But watch how Hanson crushes him with his superior knowledge of history and its application to current events:

Buchanan: ..... terrorism is the price of empire. The Irgun used terror to drive the Brits out of Palestine, the Algerians used it to drive the French out of Algeria, Hezbollah used terror to drive Israelis out of Lebanon. Chechens are using terror to drive out the Russians out of Chechnya. When imperialists go home where they belong, they find that the terrorism diminishes in almost every case, and in many it disappears.

Now that the United States has been isolated from Iran, by Iran's choice, for almost a quarter of a century, one finds that the people of Iran are less anti-American than the people of many of the Islamic nations we defend.

We see anti-American riots today in South Korea and yesterday in Okinawa. If we withdraw from both, as we wisely did from Subic Bay we will find that the anti-Americanism dissipates. Several years back, in A Republic Not an Empire, I predicted an act of cataclysmic terror would take place on American soil. If we do not deep six this drive for some new empire, down the road an American city may pay the price. What is there over there worth mass slaughter in my home town of Washington, D.C.?

Hanson: In reference to Mr. Buchanan, let me say this: supporting autocracies like present-day Saudi Arabia or Egypt is wrong but not necessarily must be synonymous with positive activism per se abroad. What we did in Afghanistan and Serbia made better not worse countries, as was true of Panama and Grenada. Kurdistan is a more humane place for the no-fly zones; take away our "imperial" jets and you would have thousands gassed in minutes.

The problem in Iran was initial support for a dictator without pressing him for reform-followed by sudden abandonment of him by Carter and coddling of religious murderers. Terror may seem the cost of so-called "empire" due to the vastly increased exposure of Americans abroad. But three points are salient to avoid simplistic generalizations. First, it is easy to tally the price of an American presence overseas when terrorists strike, but far harder to calibrate the value to the world when China chooses not to invade Taiwan or intimidate Japan due to the 7th fleet; the lives we save and the ruin we prevent are always unappreciated vis-à- vis the more visible hazards we incur.

Second, we do not exercise an empire like the British or Romans: we colonize no one; pay for bases rather than demand them; take no territory; and steal no one's national treasure. South Korea, Greece, or Japan can ask us to leave anytime they wish -- as did the Philippines -- and we will be departing promptly. Instead Filipinos seemed to have been saying "Leave and take all of us with you" -- if their immigration patterns are any indication.

Indeed, Mr. Buchanan is angry at our presence abroad precisely because its value to us is not explainable in terms of national advantage and results in none of the profits of his examples of traditional empires. Quite literally, we bear the costs -- unduly as I can attest as a smaller farmer who has seen my entire family wiped out by cheap imported food -- of a world gradually evolving toward democracy and market capitalism that sorely bothers tribal and traditional peoples.

The better question rather is a South America or Asia better or worse for our promotion of consensual government and opposition to thuggery abroad? We can retreat homeward, but without US influence abroad -- impossible without military power -- we will soon be dealing with a nuclear Brazil, a threatening North Korea, and a Middle East blackmailed by theocracies and dictators who will buy multi-staged rockets and nuclear material from Europe, China, and Russia. Isolationism did not prevent nor win the World Wars, nor stop Russian divisions from overrunning Europe, and it will not appease or thwart the present criminal regimes. They despise us--at home, abroad, whatever--for what we are, not what we do.

Third, with all due respect to Mr. Buchanan, there is not necessarily any direct connection between terror and empire: The Maryland sniper was a thug not a terrorist with a political agenda; the British, Dutch, Greeks, Italians, and French are being terrorized by Islamists despite staying home in Europe for a half century. Why do the Kenyans get killed when they have no profile; did their neutrality earn them a reprieve? Did Australians colonize Bali? Are Paraguay and Uruguay frequented by al Qaeda because of their imperial pasts? By such logic the Catholic Church should call in all its missionaries abroad to stop the daily threats to the Vatican from Islamists who have "legitimate" grievances due to priests in the Holy Land. If Mr. Buchanan were right, the Tibetans would be bombing their Chinese occupiers who really are brutal imperialists. Indeed, his array of false exegesis almost lends legitimacy to the fundamentalists, who are mostly pampered and educated; they are not national liberationists, but opportunistic criminals who envy and crave what they cannot create themselves and take out their sense of inferiority by talking grandly of the Crusades and Moorish Spain as bromides for their own failed tribalism, fundamentalism, and gender apartheid.


Monday, November 11, 2002
Stylin' But Not Profilin'

I have to admit that I was felt reassurred when I noticed the TSA officiers in their spanky new white uniforms manning the security checkpoints at the airport yesterday. When the plan to make the airport security screeners federal employees was proposed last year I wasn't too crazy about it. Overpaid union workers in a bloated bureacracy? Yeah, we need more of that. But these guys and gals seem to be somehwhat organizied, have a glint of intelligence in their eyes, and appear to actually give a damn. None of which could be said about their living dead red blazer wearing predessors.

My only qualm with the TSA was when I was singled out to be searched at the gate in Houston. Not that I had a problem with their choice. I'm a male between eighteen and forty five and I sport a beard. I should ALWAYS be one of the first passengers that take a closer look at. No, the problem was the officiers who patted me down and rifled through my bag were too damn nice. I suppose they've taken a lot of crap from irate passengers who resent being searched and so they go out of their to reassure you that "it will only take a second" and "you'll be on your way in no time." They also were smiling and joking almost the whole time as if we both knew that this was just an absurd little game that we were playing. When it comes to airport security I don't want nice. I want ruthless efficiency. I want the kind of hardass who stares intently at you just to see if you crack. A modicum of fear ain't a bad thing. A little more nasty. A little less nice.


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