Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Brief Review on Iraq

It is amazing to realize how soon the facts of our own experience become lost in the haze of history, from which they are not easily admitted back into our memories.

Christopher Hitchens writes for Slate magazine, from which this article is taken.

So, Mr. Hitchens, Weren't You Wrong About Iraq?
Hard questions, four years later.

By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, March 19, 2007, at 1:53 PM ET

Four years after the first coalition soldiers crossed the Iraqi border, one can attract pitying looks (at best) if one does not take the view that the whole engagement could have been and should have been avoided. Those who were opposed to the operation from the beginning now claim vindication, and many of those who supported it say that if they had known then what they know now, they would have spoken or voted differently.

What exactly does it mean to take the latter position? At what point, in other words, ought the putative supporter to have stepped off the train? The question isn't as easy to answer as some people would have you believe. Suppose we run through the actual timeline:

Was the president right or wrong to go to the United Nations in September 2002 and to say that body could no longer tolerate Saddam Hussein's open flouting of its every significant resolution, from weaponry to human rights to terrorism?

A majority of the member states thought he was right and had to admit that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake. It was scandalous that such a regime could for more than a decade have violated the spirit and the letter of the resolutions that had allowed a cease-fire after the liberation of Kuwait. The Security Council, including Syria, voted by nine votes to zero that Iraq must come into full compliance or face serious consequences.

Was it then correct to send military forces to the Gulf, in case Saddam continued his long policy of defiance, concealment, and expulsion or obstruction of U.N. inspectors?

If you understand the history of the inspection process at all, you must concede that Saddam would never have agreed to readmit the inspectors if coalition forces had not made their appearance on his borders and in the waters of the Gulf. It was never a choice between inspection and intervention: It was only the believable threat of an intervention that enabled even limited inspections to resume.

Should it not have been known by Western intelligence that Iraq had no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction?

The entire record of UNSCOM until that date had shown a determination on the part of the Iraqi dictatorship to build dummy facilities to deceive inspectors, to refuse to allow scientists to be interviewed without coercion, to conceal chemical and biological deposits, and to search the black market for materiel that would breach the sanctions. The defection of Saddam Hussein's sons-in-law, the Kamel brothers, had shown that this policy was even more systematic than had even been suspected. Moreover, Iraq did not account for—has in fact never accounted for—a number of the items that it admitted under pressure to possessing after the Kamel defection. We still do not know what happened to this weaponry. This is partly why all Western intelligence agencies, including French and German ones quite uninfluenced by Ahmad Chalabi, believed that Iraq had actual or latent programs for the production of WMD. Would it have been preferable to accept Saddam Hussein's word for it and to allow him the chance to re-equip once more once the sanctions had further decayed?

Could Iraq have been believably "inspected" while the Baath Party remained in power?

No. The word inspector is misleading here. The small number of U.N. personnel were not supposed to comb the countryside. They were supposed to monitor the handover of the items on Iraq's list, to check them, and then to supervise their destruction. (If Iraq disposed of the items in any other way—by burying or destroying or neutralizing them, as now seems possible—that would have been an additional grave breach of the resolutions.) To call for serious and unimpeachable inspections was to call, in effect, for a change of regime in Iraq. Thus, we can now say that Iraq is in compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty. Moreover, the subsequent hasty compliance of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's Libya and the examination of his WMD stockpile (which proved to be much larger and more sophisticated than had been thought) allowed us to trace the origin of much materiel to Pakistan and thus belatedly to shut down the A.Q. Khan secret black market.

Wasn't Colin Powell's performance at the United Nations a bit of a disgrace?

Yes, it was, as was the supporting role played by George Tenet and the CIA (which has been reliably wrong on Iraq since 1963). Some good legal experts—Ruth Wedgwood most notably—have argued that the previous resolutions were self-enforcing and that there was no need for a second resolution or for Powell's dog-and-pony show. Some say that the whole thing was done in order to save Tony Blair's political skin. A few points of interest did emerge from Powell's presentation: The Iraqi authorities were caught on air trying to mislead U.N inspectors (nothing new there), and the presence in Iraq of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a very dangerous al-Qaida refugee from newly liberated Afghanistan, was established. The full significance of this was only to become evident later on.

Was the terror connection not exaggerated?

Not by much. The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it did point out, at different times, that Saddam had acted as a host and patron to every other terrorist gang in the region, most recently including the most militant Islamist ones. And this has never been contested by anybody. The action was undertaken not to punish the last attack—that had been done in Afghanistan—but to forestall the next one.

Was a civil war not predictable?

Only to the extent that there was pre-existing unease and mistrust between the different population groups in Iraq. Since it was the policy of Saddam Hussein to govern by divide-and-rule and precisely to exacerbate these differences, it is unlikely that civil peace would have been the result of prolonging his regime. Indeed, so ghastly was his system in this respect that one-fifth of Iraq's inhabitants—the Kurds—had already left Iraq and were living under Western protection.

So, you seriously mean to say that we would not be living in a better or safer world if the coalition forces had turned around and sailed or flown home in the spring of 2003?

That's exactly what I mean to say.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America.

A Sign of Spring for St. Patrick’s Day in Washington, D.C.

It is part of the legend of St. Patrick that, along with bringing the Gospel to Ireland, (which is not a legend), the saint drove all the snakes from the island.

As you can see in the Michelle Malkin/Hot Air video of the pro-troop counterdemonstration in Washington on Saturday, something equally beneficial has begun: Americans began driving out the gibbering demons of the Vietnam-style antiwar movement.

The only era of protest I’ve ever witnessed was that brought to a boil in the 1960s, so I can’t know for sure how demonstrators of ages past behaved. Angrily, I’m sure, or they wouldn't have been driven to march, to picket, to seek their redress.

But there is anger, and then there is untethered wrath and outrage. I'm sure the Bonus Marchers were angry who wanted justice in the form of a payment of promised veterans benefits from their country, and the Suffragettes were angry who wanted the justice of the right to vote from their country, and the civil rights marchers before 1965 who wanted the justice of equality before the law from their country.

But the Vietnam demonstrators brought a whole other order of anger to their cause, as they wanted the justice of the death of their country—and the triumph of their country’s enemies. I never heard that the Bonus Marchers, mad as they were at the Hoover administration, carried signs with pictures of the Kaiser on them, chanting that the Yanks were the real Huns, and the Stars and Stripes the real emblem of imperialism and slavery.

It was encouraging to see the Move America Forward and Gathering of Eagles folks behaving in an exemplary way—in contrast to the tiresome outrage and profane antics on the left. The power of the Vietnam-era protests were that they really were staged in defiance of a majority of Americans who remained silent. The escalating audacity of the protesters’ behavior and anarchic principles grew out of the assurance that theirs were the only voices allowed to be raised—and if anyone dared question them, they would be trampled to death by a sympathetic media.

Mixing that kind of privilege with moral indolence has to breed steadily more outrageous behavior—why just march against sending more GIs to Southeast Asia , when we can sing songs praising Mao and Ho Chi Minh? Why just burn draft cards when we can fuck in the streets?

Although it is irritating that those who turned out in significant numbers on Saturday to support the troops were by general consent ignored by the press—the important thing is that the antiwar side is at last being denied the monopoly of public protest they have enjoyed as a birthright now for more than 30 years. They are still free to protest, but their freedom is no longer free.

If not exactly the equivalent of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Eire, at least St. Patrick's Day in Washington was a taking back of territory too long ceded to the empire of the left.

Monday, March 19, 2007


The following is an article taken from NRO Online.

Copperheads, Then and Now
The Democratic legacy of undermining war efforts.

By Mackubin Thomas Owens
While recovering from surgery recently, I had the good fortune to read a fine new book about political dissent in the North during the Civil War. The book,
Copperheads: The Rise an Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North, by journalist-turned-academic-historian Jennifer Weber, shines the spotlight on the “Peace Democrats,” who did everything they could to obstruct the Union war effort during the Rebellion. In so doing, she corrects a number of claims that have become part of the conventional wisdom. The historical record aside, what struck me the most were the similarities between the rhetoric and actions of the Copperheads a century and a half ago and Democratic opponents of the Iraq war today.

In contradistinction to the claims of many earlier historians, Weber argues persuasively that the Northern anti-war movement was far from a peripheral phenomenon. Disaffection with the war in the North was widespread and the influence of the Peace Democrats on the Democratic party was substantial. During the election of 1864, the Copperheads wrote the platform of the Democratic party, and one of their own, Rep. George H. Pendleton of Ohio, was the party’s candidate for vice president. Until Farragut’s victory at Mobile Bay, Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, and Sheridan’s success in driving the Confederates from the Shenandoah Valley in the late summer and fall of 1864, hostility toward the war was so profound in the North that Lincoln believed he would lose the election.

Weber demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the actions of the Copperheads materially damaged the ability of the Lincoln administration to prosecute the war. Weber persuasively refutes the view of earlier historians such as the late Frank Klement, who argued that what Lincoln called the Copperhead “fire in the rear” was mostly “a fairy tale,” a “figment of Republican imagination,” made up of “lies, conjecture and political malignancy.” The fact is that Peace Democrats actively interfered with recruiting and encouraged desertion. Indeed, they generated so much opposition to conscription that the Army was forced to divert resources from the battlefield to the hotbeds of Copperhead activity in order to maintain order. Many Copperheads actively supported the Confederate cause, materially as well as rhetorically.

In the long run, the Democratic party was badly hurt by the Copperheads. Their actions radically politicized Union soldiers, turning into stalwart Republicans many who had strongly supported the Democratic party’s opposition to emancipation as a goal of the war. As the Democrats were reminded for many years after the war, the Copperheads had made a powerful enemy of the Union veterans.

The fact is that many Union soldiers came to despise the Copperheads more than they disdained the Rebels. In the words of an assistant surgeon of an Iowa regiment, “it is a common saying here that if we are whipped, it will be by Northern votes, not by Southern bullets. The army regard the result of the late [fall 1862] elections as at least prolonging the war.”

Weber quotes the response of a group of Indiana soldiers to letters from Copperhead “friends” back home:

Your letter shows you to be a cowardly traitor. No traitor can be my friend; if you cannot renounce your allegiance to the Copperhead scoundrels and own your allegiance to the Government which has always protected you, you are my enemy, and I wish you were in the ranks of my open, avowed, and manly enemies, that I might put a ball through your black heart, and send your soul to the Arch Rebel himself.

It is certain that the Union soldiers tired of hearing from the Copperheads that the Rebels could not be defeated. They surely tired of being described by the Copperheads as instruments of a tyrannical administration trampling the legitimate rights of the Southern states. The soldiers seemed to understand fairly quickly that the Copperheads preferred Lincoln’s failure to the country’s success. They also recognized that the Copperheads offered no viable alternative to Lincoln’s policy except to stop the war. Does any of this sound familiar?

Today, Democratic opponents of the Iraq war echo the rhetoric of the Copperheads. As Lincoln was a bloodthirsty tyrant, trampling the rights of Southerners and Northerners alike, President Bush is the world’s worst terrorist, comparable to Hitler.

These words of the La Crosse Democrat responding to Lincoln’s re-nomination could just as easily have been written about Bush: “May God Almighty forbid that we are to have two terms of the rottenest, most stinking, ruin working smallpox ever conceived by fiends or mortals…” The recent lament of left-wing bloggers that Vice President Dick Cheney was not killed in a suicide bombing attempt in Pakistan echoes the incendiary language of Copperhead editorialist Brick Pomeroy who hoped that if Lincoln were re-elected, “some bold hand will pierce his heart with dagger point for the public good.”

Antiwar Democrats make a big deal of “supporting the troops.” But such expressions ring hollow in light of Democratic efforts to hamstring the ability of the United States to achieve its objectives in Iraq. And all too often, the mask of the antiwar politician or activist slips, revealing what opponents of the war really think about the American soldier.

For instance, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Charles Rangel have suggested that soldiers fighting in Iraq are there because they are not smart enough to do anything else. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois has suggested a similarity between the conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq and that of Nazi soldiers in World War II. His Illinois colleagues, Sen. Barack Obama, claimed that the lives of soldiers lost in Iraq were “wasted.” And recently William Arkin, a military analyst writing online for the Washington Post, said of American soldiers that they are “mercenaries” who had little business taking critics of the war to task.

The Copperheads often abandoned all decency in their pursuit of American defeat in the Civil War. One Connecticut Copperhead told his neighbors that he hoped that all the men who went to fight for the Union cause would “leave their Bones to Bleach on the soil” of the South. The heirs of the Copperheads in today’s Democratic party are animated by the same perverted spirit with regard to the war in Iraq. Nothing captures the essence of today’s depraved Copperhead perspective better than the following e-mail, which unfortunately is only one example of the sort of communication I have received all too often in response to articles of mine over the past few months.

Dear Mr. Owens

You write, "It is hard to conduct military operations when a chorus of eunuchs is describing every action we take as a violation of everything that America stands for, a quagmire in which we are doomed to failure, and a waste of American lives."

But Mr. Owens, I believe that those three beliefs are true. On what grounds can I be barred from speaking them in public? Because speaking them will undermine American goals in Iraq? Bless you, sir, that's what I want to do in the first place. I am confident that U.S. forces will be driven from Iraq, and for that reason I am rather enjoying the war.

But doesn't hoping that American forces are driven from Iraq necessarily mean hoping that Americans soldiers will be killed there? Yes it does. Your soldiers are just a bunch of poor, dumb suckers that have been swindled out of their right to choose between good and evil. Quite a few of them are or will be swindled out of their eyes, legs, arms and lives. I didn't swindle them. President Bush did. If you're going to blame me for cheering their misery, what must you do to President Bush, whose policies are the cause of that misery?

Union soldiers voted overwhelmingly for Lincoln in 1864, abandoning the once-beloved George McClellan because of the perception that he had become a tool of the Copperheads. After Vietnam, veterans left the Democratic party in droves. I was one of them. The Democratic party seems poised to repeat its experience in both the Civil War and Vietnam.

The Democrats seem to believe that they are tapping into growing anti-Iraq War sentiment in the military. They might cite evidence of military antipathy towards the war reflected in, for example, the recent CBS Sixty Minutes segment entitled “Dissension in the Ranks.” But the Democrats are whistling past the graveyard. The Sixty Minutes segment was predicated on an unscientific Army Times poll, orchestrated by activists who now oppose the war. The fact remains that most active duty and National Guard personnel still support American objectives in Iraq. They may be frustrated by the perceived incompetence of higher-ups and disturbed by a lack of progress in the war, but it has always been thus among soldiers. The word “snafu” began as a World War II vintage acronym: “situation normal, all f****d up.”

Union soldiers could support the goals of the war and criticize the incompetence of their leaders in the same breath. But today’s soldiers, like their Union counterparts a century and a half ago, are tired of hearing that everything is the fault of their own government from people who invoke Gitmo and Abu Ghraib but rarely censure the enemy, and who certainly offer no constructive alternative to the current course of action.

The late nineteenth century Democratic party paid a high price for the influence of the Copperheads during the Civil War, permitting Republicans to “wave the bloody shirt” of rebellion and to vilify the party with the charge of disunion and treason. If its leaders are not careful, today’s Democratic party may well pay the same sort of price for the actions of its antiwar base, which is doing its best to continue the Copperhead legacy.

— Mackubin Thomas Owens is an associate dean of academics and a professor of national-security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He is writing a history of U.S. civil-military relations.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

6 Imams Sue Fellow Passengers for Not Going Quietly

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Real Target of the 6 Imams’ Discrimination Suit/

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

The “flying imams’ ” federal lawsuit, filed this week in Minneapolis, has made headlines around the country. The imams are demanding unspecified damages from US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, both with deep pockets. But their suit includes other defendants, as yet unnamed. These people, unaffiliated with the airline industry or government, are among the imams’ most vulnerable targets.

Recall the November 2006 incident that gave rise to the suit. The imams engaged in a variety of suspicious behaviors while boarding a US Airways flight, according to the airport police report. Some prayed loudly in the gate area, spoke angrily about the United States and Saddam, switched seats and sat in the 9/11 hijackers’ configuration, and unnecessarily requested seatbelt extenders that could be used as weapons, according to witness reports and US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader.

After extensive consultations, the pilot asked authorities to remove the imams for questioning, which they did, releasing them later that day.

“The pilot did what he had to do,” passenger Rita Snelson of Maplewood told the Star Tribune. “I told the airline afterward, ‘Thank you for watching over us.’ ”

The imams’ lawsuit, however, asserts that US Airways and the MAC acted solely out of religious and ethnic discrimination. It includes 17 separate counts.

It also rehearses a catalogue of harms allegedly suffered by the imams, including fear, depression, mental pain and financial injury. They have not only endured exhaustion, humiliation and ridicule, but also have lost sleep and developed anxiety about flying.

Their lawsuit appears to be the latest component in a national campaign to intimidate airlines and government agencies from acting prudently to ensure passenger safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is advising the imams, is also calling for congressional hearings and promoting federal legislation to “end racial profiling” in air travel. If the legislation passes, airport personnel who disproportionately question passengers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin could be subject to sanctions.

But the most alarming aspect of the imams’ suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes “John Doe” defendants whose identity the imams’ attorneys are still investigating. It reads: “Defendants ‘John Does’ were passengers … who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged ’suspicious’ behavior of Plaintiffs’ performing their prayer at the airport terminal.”
Paragraph 22 adds: “Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants’] liability … at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same.”

In plain English, the imams plan to sue the “John Does,” too.

Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as “an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch” as they prayed. “The gentleman (’John Doe’) in the couple … picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray,” then “moved to a corner” and “kept talking into his cellular phone.”

In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.

The imams’ attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, “John Does” like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams’ suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our “first responders” against terrorism. But the imams’ suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.

Ironically, on the day the imams filed their suit, a troubling internal memo came to light at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The memo revealed that our airport is at particular risk of terrorist attack because of its proximity to the Mall of America, its employment of relatively few security officers and other factors. The memo advised heightened vigilance to counter “this very real and deliberate threat.”

The imams may not be the only ones losing sleep and growing more afraid of flying.

So far, the airline is sticking to its guns. I haven't seen the complaint, and I don't know on what basis the imams presume to be claiming anything against the individual passengers. I am optimistic it will never survive dismissal.

Nor do I think passengers suspecting theyr flying with terrorists will choose death in a flying missile out of fear of lawsuits or being called bigots. If anything, passenger behavior since 9/11 has been a refreshing--if tragically necessary--exception to the trend of people avoiding doing the right thing because of fear of lawsuits.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame Is Hot, But Victoria Toensing Way Cooler

My two most vivid memories of the Watergate hearings 30-some years ago are Senator Sam Ervin's colorful good-ol'-boy bullshit, and staring at John Dean's wife, Maureen (Mo), (described as his "brittlely attractive wife" by Time), sitting frozen just behind him through all his endless days of testimony against his boss.

The utilitarian C-SPAN cameras fell in love with Valerie Plame Wilson yesterday morning, in all her blonde, haughty, alpha-female victimhood. Rep. Henry Waxman's kangaroo hearing was focused on repeating endlessly how she had "risked her life" and otherwise thrown herself for years between America and America's enemies until that bad old man Dick Cheney (or was it Karl Rove?) wrecked her career by "outing" her as a secret agent out of revenge for her husband's brave anti-war article in the New York Times.

Professional habit keeps me from seeing Ms. Plame, (or "Ms. Plane," as Rep. Diane Watson kept calling her), as anything other than a carefully prepared plaintiff, as she and her husband are jointly suing the Bush administration for ruining her career; absolutely every thing she says on the record will be focused on supporting that lawsuit.

Moreover, the hearing's purpose had nothing to do with discovering violations of law, because, in spite of how the matter has been reported, there were none. Rather, the point was to provide Ms. Plame an early, taxpayer-funded opportunity to get her version of things on the record in support of her upcoming civil trial.

To this end, Waxman was careful to limit Ms. Plame's actual appearance to guard her against saying too much or making any damaging admissions under careful questioning from skeptics, such as Republican committee members Tom Davis and Lynn Westmoreland.

Ms. Plame and her lawyers know that any baseless accusations she makes on the record can come back to bite her under cross-examination during her civil lawsuit. So the Democratic Congressmen helpfully did all accusing for her, suggesting in their faux questions to the witness all kinds of nefarious misdeeds at the White House, to which Ms. Plame had only to bat her big wide eyes in response and smile: "well, I can't say for certain, but it certainly seems that it may have happened that way!" Or not, as the lack of credible evidence more persuasively suggests.

Consider this exchange with Rep. Kucinich:

REP. KUCINICH: And you have never, in your experience as an agent, seen this kind of a coordinated effort by one's own government, in this case our government, to disclose the identity of an agent.

MS. PLAME WILSON: No, Congressman, I'm not aware of any.

REP. KUCINICH: What -- to what extent does the agency go to, to protect the identities of its agents?

MS. PLAME WILSON: It's significant effort. And again, taxpayers' money, particularly in this day and age of Google and Internet, the efforts have to be even more vigilant and evermore creative, because it is extremely easy to find out a lot of information about someone if you really want to.

So, we are -- the CIA constantly needs to be one step ahead to protect their operations officers.

REP. KUCINICH: So, when there's an extraordinary effort made to disclose the identity of an agent, it is a -- it's destructive of the agency and it's destructive of the taxpayers' investment in the Central Intelligence Agency, is that not correct?

MS. PLAME WILSON: Absolutely.

REP. KUCINICH: And, one of the things that keeps running through my mind is why. Why did this happen to you? Was it an unintentional mistake? Or is it part of a larger pattern? In recent weeks, we've learned that U.S. attorneys in all parts of the country were fired, despite exemplary service. And several of these attorneys testified to Congress that they were being pressured to pursue cases against Democratic officials. Others believe that they were fired because they were pursuing cases against Republican officials.

Have you followed this issue?

MS. PLAME WILSON: Yes I have, Congressman.

REP. KUCINICH: And when I think about what happened to these attorneys, I can't help but think of your case, because these could be isolated instances, but they seem to be part of a larger pattern. Do you know what happened, for example, to the former Treasury Secretary, Mr. O'Neill, when he wrote his book, "The Price of Loyalty?"

MS. PLAME WILSON: Yes, I'm aware of that.

REP. KUCINICH: And after Secretary O'Neill that the Bush administration was planning to overthrow Saddam Hussein in a much earlier timeframe than anyone knew, Secretary O'Neill was falsely accused of leaking classified information. Did you know that Secretary O'Neill was investigated by the Treasury Department for a groundless accusation?

MS. PLAME WILSON: I believe I've read that, yes, sir.

REP. KUCINICH: Now, in another instance, General Shinseki warned that the United States would need several hundred thousand troops in Iraq. Ms. Wilson, do you remember what happened to General Shinseki?

MS. PLAME WILSON: Yes, I do, Congressman.

REP. KUCINICH: Well, he was dismissed.

MS. PLAME WILSON: He was asked --

REP. KUCINICH: I'm also reminded of the case of Richard Foster, the government's chief Medicare actuary. He was actually told he'd be fired if he told Congress the truth about how much the administration's proposed drug benefit would cost. Were you aware of that, Ms. Wilson?


Kucinich knows exactly what he's doing here. He has it well in mind that in today's debased intellectual milieu, which relies on psychological associations rather than causal linkages, a leftist debater gets to shout out "Q.E.D.!" at a much earlier stage of proof than his logic-bound opponents.

Ms. Plame and her Democratic supporters mainly took turns restating their subjective convictions that she was a covert agent after all, that she did not recommend her husband to be sent to Niger, and that practically nobody in D.C. knew she was a spy until Robert Novak mentioned it in the newspaper. Rep. Diane Watson, California Democrat, (who also provided a rambling account of her own training in covert operations), indignantly accused "Robert Novak, of all people!," of leaking the classified name of Ms. Plame, apparently confused that Novak is not the designated Public Enemy Number 1, but Karl Rove. The scolding was good enough for the peanut gallery, who muttered approvingly, since Novak is close enough in their minds to supporting the administration to deserve hanging as well.

And yet somehow the name of Richard Armitage was never once breathed throughout Ms. Plame's entire appearance.

Two Republican members, Tom Davis and Lynn Westmoreland, showed up who were not there to measure Ms. Plame's graceful neck for the Medal of Honor. For the likes of these, though Ms. Plame left her cloak behind at the CIA, she let loose plenty of eye daggers at Davis and Westmoreland when they presumed to cross-examine her on her facts as if this were a real hearing. Westmoreland, for example, handily got Ms. Plame to admit that no CIA superior ever told her she was covert, either before or after the Novak column, and, just as important, got her to admit, reluctantly, that she was a Democrat. In 1999 Ms. Plame had used her own CIA cover employer, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, to contribute $1,000 to the Gore campaign--not exactly chump change even for an upper-middle class civil servant styling herself as an apolitical heroine on the frontlines of national security. And the crescendo of Ms. Plame's written statement before the committee included this:

"Politics and ideology must be stripped completely from our intelligence services or the consequences will be even more severe than they have been, and our country placed in even greater danger."

The point being, not that Ms. Plame's private political activism is unethical, but that there is a strong whiff of hypocrisy in her expectation that her husband can use his CIA connections--i.e., his wife--to enhance his grandstanding, partisan opposition to the Iraq war, and then retreat behind his wife's classified skirts where the White House dare not rebut him at the risk of national security.

The real heroine for me was Victoria Toensing, who was chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee under Barry Goldwater, and drafted the Intelligence Identity Protection Act, the law that no one ever has, or ever will be charged with breaking in regard to Valerie Plame--sort of the 800-pound gorilla who's not in the room and whose whereabouts are still unknown. Ms. Toensing is the first person I've seen since Election Day actually talking back at the nonstop Democratic scolding.

Though Ms. Toensing is not the beauty that Ms. Plame is, she was every bit as sure of herself, and completely unintimidated by the committee. Ms. Toensing was quite clear that Ms. Plame was not a covert agent under the IIPA, seriously calling into question why everyone's time was being wasted this way. Both Reps Waxman and Watson decided it best to handle her by asking her questions, and then refusing to yield their time to let her answer them. They were mainly concerned with getting her to stop saying that Ms. Plame's covert status has nowhere been established on competent evidence--that is, except on hearsay, unsworn comments, and subjective opinions:

WAXMAN: I am stunned, Ms. Toensing, that you would come here with absolute conclusions that she was not a covert agent; the White House did not leak it; no one seemed to know in advance that she was a CIA agent. Do you know those facts for your own firsthand knowledge?

TOENSING: Well, let's just take those one by one. As I said, I was there. I was the chief drafter for chairman --

WAXMAN: I'm not asking for your credentials. I'm asking how you reached those conclusions. Do you --

TOENSING: That's part of my credentials is because I know what the intent of the act was.

WAXMAN: I'm not asking what the intent of the act was.

TOENSING: Well that’s the question.

WAXMAN: Do you know that she was not a covert agent?

TOENSING: She is not a covert agent under the act.

WAXMAN: Okay, so --

TOENSING: You can call anybody anything you want to in the halls of the CIA.

WAXMAN: General Hayden! General Hayden, head of the CIA, told me personally that she was. If I said that she was a covert agent, it wouldn't be an incorrect statement?

TOENSING: Does he want to swear that she was a covert agent under the act?

WAXMAN: I'm trying to say as carefully as I can. He reviewed my statement, and my statement was that she was a covert agent.

TOENSING: Well, he didn't say it was under the act.

WAXMAN: Okay, so you're trying to define it exactly under the act.

TOENSING: That's important.

WAXMAN: No, no, no, no, no, no. I'm not giving you -- I'm not yielding my time to you.

In other words, Waxman meant to say we're not here to define what the law says, just trying to find out if the law has been broken! By way of a last word, he told Ms. Toensing he would keep the record open so he could later correct her assertions with unknown evidence he pretended to have.

As for Waxman's charge that Ms. Toensing showed up with absolute conclusions, the Democratic side of the entire kangaroo hearing was based on the utterly false pretense that the Scooter Libby trial had concluded absolutely that Ms. Plame was covert and that the White House had blown her cover: two things that were not establsihed in that trial at all. In fact, they absolutely were not established. Even Patrick Fitzgerald decided to call it quits and go home.

Ms. Plame had to admit under questioning by Tom Davis that the Novak article did not result in her suffering any demotion nor other adverse employment action, and that her upward career path was not impaired by what happened, except that she could no longer consider herself covert. She left the CIA voluntarily. Her claims for damages are vastly exaggerated, if not outright false, and her current book deal with Simon & Schuster for $2.5 million has already mitigated any conceivable claims for lost earnings as a CIA agent. That she harbored a wish to go back overseas to do more spying when her kids got a little older, and is now foreclosed from doing so, may be a personal disappointment for her, but it is not a crime warranting the overthrow of the executive branch, nor is it a crime at all.

Ms. Plame testified that when her husband, Joe Wilson, threw the newspaper on the bed with Novak's article in it, she felt "like I had been hit in the gut. I -- it was over in an instant, and I immediately thought of my family's safety, the agents, the networks that I had worked with -- and everything goes through your mind in an instant."

I wonder if when she stopped cursing Karl Rove or Dick Cheney or whomever else she hoped to blame for her troubles, she turned on her husband and said, "Joe, why did you have to write that article for the Times, you blowhard? Don't you know I believe in keeping politics stripped from intelligence activities? And you know what, dear--this article stinks of politics!"

For all I can ever know about it, Ms. Plame may have performed genuinely heroic work as a CIA officer in her time, though because she and her supporters keep using the word "classified," I don't feel obliged to assume as much. Regardless, if she, and the CIA, were as jealous of her covert status as she claims White House personnel should have been, she should have refused to allow her husband to get anywhere near the intelligence work she was involved in, knowing, as she must have known, that he was vain, partisan, and looking for attention.

This isn't blaming the victim. She isn't a victim. She saw an opportunity to use her position with the CIA to boost her husband's publicity profile and maybe help him take a swipe at the hated Bush administration. She could have said no to Joe Wilson, no to her managers who wanted to send him, no to Vanity Fair. Classified status isn't a gift handed out to deserving citizens to use as they wish, such as, in this case, to protect a gadfly husband from swift rebuttal after he tweaks the VP's nose.

There--I Said It

"Which is harder: to be executed, or to suffer that prolonged agony which consists of being trampled to death by geese ?"
--Soren Kierkegaard

Is anyone else out there as exhausted as I am by the continual slandering of the Bush administration by the media-Democratic axis?

Nor is it helpful that Republicans are jumping ship, as if they could make a separate peace with the bullies they helped hand the country over to.

The only thing that gets me more upset than to see Chuck Schumer high-horsing for the TV cameras is to hear some disappointed Republican complaining how the President’s lack of doctrinal purity or “competence” means they can turn their backs on him now.

I haven’t forgotten what you guys did for the cause last November when you stood back and let the Democrats take over because you wanted to send a “message.”

Here’s a message for you: when Schumer, Reid, and Pelosi carp about how “the American people” want us to surrender in Iraq, to hunt down Dick Cheney like a dog, to impeach the President, they're co-opting you too, because they know you’re the reason I get to see them on the news every night dragging the Republic down the toilet. It’s called paying the fiddler.

But don’t blame me. I’m sticking with the guy I helped put in office--twice. He ain’t perfect, but he’s got a hell of a lot more integrity--and loyalty--than Chuck Hagel, et al.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Latest Scandal Exposed: Link Discovered Between Vice President of the United States and President of the United States!

This exchange between reporter John Roberts and Jim VandeHei of The Politico was lifted from a transcript of Roberts’s hit piece on Dick Cheney, which aired the other night on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now. The transcript was posted at NewsBusters. (“CNN's John Roberts Defends His 'Very Narrowly Sliced' Cheney Attack Piece to Ingraham”).

ROBERTS: No question, Cheney is the most powerful vice president in recent memory, perhaps ever, intimately involved in policy development, national security. He has repeatedly frustrated Democratic attempts to peel back the veil of secrecy that surrounds his office. Will the Libby verdict force him to change his ways? Not likely, says VandeHei.

VANDEHEI: Dick Cheney is Dick Cheney. He's certainly not going to change. And I -- I don't think that his critics will ever force him into changing. I mean, he has a modus operandi that's well established. He does things behind the scenes. He works with the president very closely. He's the president's right-hand man. There's no way that, suddenly, he's going to become a lovable, huggable figure on the public stage.

My God, it just gets worse and worse. How will the Republic survive exposure of the VP actually being “intimately involved in policy development, national security,” rather than just fulfilling the role intended by the Founders of “a lovable, huggable figure on the public stage.”

Undoubtedly the House will soon be conducting hearings to get to the bottom of how the Vice President of the United States, for years now as far as we know, has been getting away with working with the President closely, even rising to the level of being the President’s “right-hand man.”

May God help us and our Constitution.

There Is No Solution to a Lying Press

When does press bias cross the line into outright lying?

In the Nation & World news section of today’s Detroit News, a top of the page headline purporting to quote General David Petraeus speaking about Iraq makes him scream ‘There is no … solution.’ This headline was written in abject service of the Democrat-liberal media axis’s message that there is absolutely, positively no combination of ideas, resources, time or effort that could possibly lead to a success in Iraq.

But, as the highly-paid Detroit News copy editor simply had to know, (perhaps overpaid, as evidenced by his headline just below, “Bush tries new tact with foes” --ouchie!), the ellipses not only shortened and simplified Gen. Petraeus’s quotation, but put something into the General’s mouth that he never said. (In fact, the online edition of the article skips the ellipses, and simply invents the Petraeus quote, ‘There is no solution.’)

Can you appreciate how someone poorly informed about the situation in Iraq, (a huge number of Americans), and trusting that headline to tell the gist of the story, comes away believing that the President’s new commander in Iraq no sooner got his boots on the ground before he threw up his hands in despair and pronounced the utter futility of the mission?

But the headline is lying. That is not what General Petraeus said.

Alexander Zavis’s Los Angeles Times story below this deceitful headline reported the following:

“The new U.S. commander in Iraq acknowledged Thursday that U.S.-led forces could not protect all Iraqis from ‘thugs with no soul’ bent on reigniting sectarian warfare.

"’Any student of history recognizes that there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq,’" Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said at his first news conference since assuming command last month.

“Political negotiations were vital and would require reaching out to ‘some of those who have felt the new Iraq did not have a place for them,’ Petraeus said. ‘Military action is necessary to help improve security but it is not sufficient.’”

Rather than echoing the Democratic party’s counsel’s of despair, Petraeus was merely re-iterating what has always been the coalition strategy in Iraq: to use military force to ensure stability, while at the same time fostering political democracy and freedom so the Iraqis can rebuild their own nation.

Zavis said as much when he wrote, “Petraeus' point was one U.S. officials have been making for several years as they pressed for Iraqis to assume control of their country after the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein.”

It was never the mission in Iraq to reduce the level of conflict and sectarian strife to nothing, as if that were even possible. Yet resorting to ridiculous benchmarks is one more way the Left can redefine an uphill, but clearly progressing, slog to final victory as an utter failure and a total loss.

The stepped up suicide attacks by insurgents in response to the increased military crackdown in Baghdad was predicted by the President weeks ago when he announced the new plan, and is completely unsurprising. The insurgents are well aware that the only hope they have of fighting back against US forces is to destroy the political will of America, and they have been consistent in their use of this weapon. As Victor David Hanson wrote last week, “[t]he terrorists learned from our own domestic calculus that each month of televised IEDs was worth one or two U.S. senators suddenly dropping their support for the war.” (“Anatomy of Iraq: How did we get to this baffling scenario?”).

Likewise, suicide attacks aimed at Shias have been powerfully effective at convincing misinformed Americans, (especially with the twisted versions of events we're being spoon-fed by the media), that sectarian violence is a problem without a solution--so we may as well just turn our backs and tackle something easier, like stopping the polar ice caps from melting.

Petraeus’s point that political, not military, solutions are the only road to success in Iraq merely restates what has always been our strategy there from the beginning. But the Left’s re-telling of the story of the Iraq war is so focused on proving it was a mistake from the beginning and the greatest foreign policy failure of all time, they stubbornly exclude the historical facts of three successful elections in Iraq--the glaring evidence that political solutions were always meant to take over where the military strategy had reached its limit.

And Petraeus’s comments come amid signs that sectarian violence has dropped dramatically pursuant to the increased troop presence, and many families have felt secure enough to begin returning to the homes from which the violence had driven them.

Consider this eyewitness account of things on March 2nd from the outstanding Iraqi blog, Iraq the Model:

While many Iraqi families are returning to the homes they once were forced to leave, there are also Baghdadis who are reopening their stores, ending the months they spent out of business because of violence and intimidation. Some streets that were virtually deserted a few months ago are slowly showing signs of returning to life.

The reopening stores even include some liquor shops! There are two stores on one street that I used to shop that closed early last year when their owners received death threats from the insurgents and the militias. Yesterday I walked through that street and, to my amazement, I found both stores open and back in business.

Of course the reopening of two liquor stores is no big deal by itself when we are talking about a city where thousands of businesses are still shuttered. I regard this as a further positive sign of a change in Baghdad’s daily life. It means that those shopkeepers are leaving their fear behind, and openly ignoring the threats of militias and insurgents who once ruled the streets and intimidated the people with threats and violence.

The results of Operation “Imposing Law” are not magical. We didn’t expect them to be magical. The commanders didn’t claim they’d be when the Operation began. Still these latest developments are certainly promising. And let’s not forget that what has been achieved so far was achieved while many thousands of the new troops assigned to Baghdad are yet to arrive.

There are times when the perfidious manipulation by the press makes me want to give up. And it only makes it worse when the Democrat-media axis offer mutual protection of one another’s phony poses as the Protectors of Truth, even while they manufacture lie after lie about the war in Iraq, and the people who are still trying to win it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Former Sailor Spy Was Roommate with Rockford Mall Terrorist

It turns out that the former Navy sailor accused of disclosing secret military information for purposes of supporting terrorism, Hassan Abujihaad, 31, (“Former sailor arrested on terror charges”), was once a roommate with Derrick Shareef. Shareef was arrested in December for planning to blow up Christmas shoppers in a Rockford, IL mall. (“Mall a terror target: Feds”).

I commented on Shareef recently only to illustrate the malevolent influence of the Nation of Islam, of which Shareef was an adherent. (“Detroit Clergy Look Forward to Ecumaniacal Embrace of Nation of Islam”). Among Shareef’s stated crimes were his determined plan to murder Jews and other Kaffirs. He also flagrantly failed to substitute the expression “the n-word” for the prohibited expression, “nigger,” but his NOI membership buys him some immunity on that one.

This is one of the things I find interesting. According to the DOJ’s own press release announcing Shareef’s arrest, the government’s “charges allege that Shareef was acting alone.”

One of the two sources stating that Shareef was acting alone was U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who happens to be US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

We all know him from his other crime-fighting mission as the special prosecutor who just managed to convince Scooter Libby’s jury to convict him as a symbol of disapproval for a never-proven conspiracy within the Bush administration to mention the employment status of a Washington socialite and well-known CIA bureaucrat.

I don’t recall Fitzgerald ever being quoted in any press releases suggesting that Libby “was acting alone.” In fact, the whole shameful Valerie Plame fiasco was forever being described as one thread in a conspiracy of Bush administration officials leading to the highest levels. Liberals promised one another there would be mass frog-marchings and impeachments. Instead, Fitzgerald achieved this penny-ante verdict, and as good as admitted his investigation had reached a dead end and he was going back to Chicago.

And now back to the former sailor and spy, Abujihaad. According to the Associated Press story, (“Former sailor arrested on terror charges”),

"The investigation that began in Connecticut followed a suspected terrorist network across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.

"Abujihaad, who also is known as Paul R. Hall, is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running Web sites to raise money for terrorism."

While on active duty as an enlisted man aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Benfold, Abujihaad used his classified access to sensitive material to email Ahmad with the intent of enabling jihadist attacks on US ships.

"The documents retrieved from Ahmad show drawings of Navy battle groups and discuss upcoming missions. They also say the battle group could be attacked using small weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades."

But the AP story continues:

"Ahmad was arrested in 2004 but the case against Abujihaad apparently received a boost in December following the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, of Genoa, Ill., near Chicago, who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall.

"According to the affidavit, Shareef and Abujihaad lived together in 2004 when Ahmad was arrested. After reading news reports of the case, Abujihaad became upset and said, 'I think this is about me,' Shareef told investigators."

Does anyone but me think this is extremely weird?

I never believe that anyone espousing violent jihad is ever acting alone, in spite of law enforcement authorities constanly spinning their statements that way. But in Shareef's case it was easy to believe that he was not part of a well-organized terror cell. His plan was poorly thought out, and he was trading stereo speakers for hand grenades with someone who turned out to be an FBI informant.

But surprise! Shareef was indeed connected to a network that was international in scope, financed, and sophisticated enough to plan deadly attacks on US warships using stolen US military information.

I’m not pretending I can tie all this up. I just find the ironies too painful in light of what just happened to Scooter Libby.

When Shareef was arrested in December Fitzgerald couldn’t get the words “acted alone” out fast enough. Then it turns out that Shareef’s singing boosts the case against Abujihaad and Ahmad, pretty substantial evidence that while Shareef may have acted alone in planning his mall attack, he was not a lone actor when it came to his jihadist connections.

How did Shareef ever get hooked up with Abujihaad in the first place? What are the odds that these two just happened to find each other? If they can find each other so easily, why does law enforcement so rarely find them?

The feds did manage to catch Shareef, and now they’ve caught up with Abujihaad. But I have to wonder how many more connections like these are there between American Muslims and international jihadist conspirators that go undetected year in and year out?

Libby’s trial was the last chapter of a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money to punish a crime that wasn’t committed, a conspiracy that never existed, a disclosure that harmed no one, and to protect classified information that wasn’t classified. But Abujihaad’s spying really was a disclosure of classified information, putting real Americans at risk. How odd that Fitzgerald played some role in both.

But watch just how fast this sailor story sinks, which is all I'm trying to say.

Friday, March 02, 2007

But Al Gore Won an Oscar

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Real American Idol

Why the New York Times buried Maj. Bruce Crandall's Medal of Honor on page 15.


Thursday, March 1, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Amid the mad jumble that makes the news in our time, the White House on Monday held a ceremony for a Medal of Honor recipient. His name is Bruce Crandall. Mr. Crandall is 74 now, and earned his medal as a major, flying a Huey helicopter in 1965 in the Vietnam War.

The Medal of Honor is conferred only for bravery in combat. It is a military medal, and it is still generally regarded as the highest public tribute this nation can bestow. It is also very rare.

Still, the Medal of Honor does not occupy the place in the nation's cultural life that it once did. This has much to do with the ambivalent place of the military in our angry politics.

In the House debate just ended on a "non-binding" resolution to thwart the sending of more troops to Iraq, its most noted element was the Democratic formulation to "support the troops" but oppose the war. We will hear more of this when the members of the Senate debate their own symbolic resolution.

In last November's congressional election, the Democrats picked several military veterans as candidates to mitigate the notion, a burden since Vietnam, that an endemic hostility toward things military runs through the party's veins. Those Democratic veterans won.

Notwithstanding the bitter divide over Iraq, the presence of these veterans in Congress should be a good thing, if one thinks that the oft-publicized "divide" between the professional military and American civilians is not in this country's interest. It surely cannot be in the country's interest if over time more Americans come to regard the life of U.S. soldiers at war and in combat as an abstraction--as say, mainly Oscar nominees or as newspaper photographs of scenes of utter loss at arms.

Two men have received the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq: Army Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, who died defending some 100 fellow soldiers, allowing their withdrawal; and Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, who died after he dove atop a live grenade to protect his squad. (Cpl. Dunham's act was the subject of a 2004 Wall Street Journal story by reporter Michael M. Phillips and later a book, "The Gift of Valor.")

Bruce Crandall's Medal of Honor, at an emotional remove of 42 years, offers a chance to ponder just where the military stands now in the nation's life. The particulars of Lt. Col. Crandall's act of heroism, and what others said of it at the awarding of the medal on Monday, offers we civilians a chance to understand not merely the risks of combat but what animates those who embrace those risks.

Mr. Crandall, then a major, commanded a company with the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, carrying soldiers to a landing zone, called X-ray, in the la Drang Valley. An assault from the North Vietnamese army erupted, as described at the White House ceremony Monday. Three soldiers on Maj. Crandall's helicopter were killed. He kept it on the ground while four wounded were taken aboard. Back at base, he asked for a volunteer to return with him to X-ray. Capt. Ed Freeman came forward. Through smoke and bullets, they flew in and out 14 times, spent 14 hours in the air and used three helicopters. They evacuated 70 wounded. The battalion survived.

A Medal of Honor requires eyewitness accounts, and an officer there attested, "Maj. Crandall's actions were without question the most valorous I've observed of any helicopter pilot in Vietnam."

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, spoke at the ceremony of what he called "the warrior ethos." Look at his words and consider whether they still stand today, or whether as a matter of the nation's broader ethos of commonly accepted beliefs, they are under challenge. Gen. Schoomaker said: "The words of the warrior ethos that we have today--I will always place the mission first; I will never accept defeat; I will never quit; and I will never leave a fallen comrade--were made real that day in the la Drang Valley."

At issue today is the question: Is that ethos worth it, worth the inevitable sacrifice? And not only in Iraq but in whatever may lie beyond Iraq?

The secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, went on in this vein: "The courage and fortitude of America's soldiers in combat exemplified by these individuals is, without question, the highest level of human behavior. It demonstrates the basic goodness of mankind as well as the inherent kindness and patriotism of American soldiers."

An American soldier in combat demonstrates "the basic goodness of mankind"? And the highest level of human behavior? This was not thought to be true at the moment Maj. Crandall was flying those choppers in Vietnam. Nor is it now.

To embrace the thoughts of Gen. Schoomaker and of Secretary Harvey is to risk being accused of defending notions of American triumphalism and an overly strong martial spirit thought inappropriate to the realities of a multilateral world. This is a debate worth having. But we are not having it. We are hiding from it.

In a less doubtful culture, Maj. Crandall's magnificent medal would have been on every front page, if only a photograph. It was on no one's front page Tuesday. The New York Times, the culture's lodestar, had a photograph on its front page of President Bush addressing governors about an insurance plan. Maj. Crandall's Medal of Honor was on page 15, in a round-up, three lines from the bottom. Other big-city dailies also ran it in their news summaries; some--the Washington Post, USA Today--ran full accounts inside.

Most schoolchildren once knew the names of the nation's heroes in war--Ethan Allen, John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, the Swamp Fox Francis Marion, Ulysses S. Grant, Clara Barton, Billy Mitchell, Alvin York, Leigh Ann Hester. Lee Ann who? She's the first woman to win a Silver Star for direct combat with the enemy. Did it in a trench in Iraq. Her story should be in schools, but it won't be.

All nations celebrate personal icons, and ours now tend to be doers of good. That's fine. But if we suppress the martial feats of a Bruce Crandall, we distance ourselves further from our military. And in time, we will change. At some risk.

Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Thursdays in the Journal and on OpinionJournal.com.

Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

First Rule in Real Estate or War: 'location, location, location'

As comes as no surprise to us at DU, Lebanon’s Hezbollah has lost no time replenishing its stocks of weapons since the September cease-fire with Israel, and hardening its military capacity for its coveted next war with its neighbor to the south. The cease-fire has been no hindrance to re-armament, since Hezbollah refused to be a party to the cease-fire that forced Israel’s withdrawal last September. Israel’s withdrawal came far short of its war goal of destroying the Party of God, insuring that sooner or later, there will be another war.

What is a surprise is that the expanded UNIFIL, and the Lebanese armed forces sent into southern Lebanon actually have precluded Hezbollah from operating in the south. This was unexpected to me, but I make no pretense of being an expert on Lebanon. Still, "When asked what action he would take in the event of renewed fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, former UNIFIL chief Alain Pellegrini said he would “beg” the parties to stop. Thus, if Hezbollah reignites the conflict with Israel, it is clear that neither UNIFIL nor the Lebanese Armed Forces will stand in its way." (“Hezbollah’s Continuing Work”).

Our interest in Hezbollah is that so many of our fellow townsmen in Dearborn consider the head of the Party of God, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, to be "Our Leader." Hezbollah's deputy chief is also warning that it may attack Israel in the event of US military action against Iran, Hezbollah's puppetmaster.

Almost immediately after the cease-fire ending the war between Israel and Hezbollah we saw how Hezbollah rushed into the destroyed villages and supplanted legitimate service organizations such as the Red Cross to become the sole source handing out other people’s money to buy up the heart and minds of dispossessed Lebanese. (“Hezbollah amassing real estate north of Lebanon’s Litani river").

They’ve kept at this strategy, as recently noted in a report from National Review Online, (“Hezbollah’s Continuing Work”). I find especially interesting Hezbollah’s land-acquisition program:

Huge gains have been made during the course of the reconstruction efforts as well. Amid the rubble of Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hezbollah has seized a golden opportunity to purchase real estate through questionable transactions in which it has coerced residents to sell their property and negotiate exclusively with the its representatives. These large tracts of land, which are already under construction, will be developed into parks, mosques, and community centers owned and operated by Hezbollah’s social-welfare machine. Throughout this process of rebuilding and expanding its unofficial capital neither the government nor the local community was able to exert any influence.

Hezbollah has been able to snatch up so much land in part thanks to a particular benefactor, a Shiite businessman named Ali Tajiddine, who traded diamonds in West Africa before branching out into property development and construction, “snapping up vast tracts of land in the district from impoverished Christian and Druze property holders.” ("Hezbollah amassing real estate north of Lebanon’s Litani river").

Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon’s Druze, and an outspoken opponent of Hezbollah, says that Tajiddine is distributing funds provided by Iran. He also says the object is “to create a Shiite belt spanning the northern bank of the Litani, allowing Hezbollah freedom to operate while severing Christian and Druze districts from each other.” Jumblatt aslo says “the state of Hezbollah is already in existence in south Lebanon." (“Jumblatt: The state of Hezbollah is already in south Lebanon”).

Hezbollah spokesmen deny this, of course. But at least one Arabic newspaper, Al Hadath,

“has revealed a secret map of the Canton that Hezbollah intends to declare as a Shiite enclave which stretches from Northern Litani river to the north of the Bekaa region reaching as far as Akkar in the north.

“The Map according to Al Hadath was obtained from British Parliamentarian sources , but the newspaper did not name the sources.

“According to the British sources, Hezbollah plans to officially declare the canton as soon as the Lebanese decide to disarm Hezbollah based on UN resolution 1559.

“The size and shape of the canton was agreed upon by Iran with recommendations from Syria. “This perhaps explains why Hezbollah is amassing real estate north of the Litani river and why Walid Jumblatt is questioning this move.

“Several reports circulated in Iran and Lebanon during the summer which revealed the desire of Iran’s supreme leader to declare an Islamic republic in Lebanon . Some reports even suggested that the Iranian leader already ordered Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to declare the establishment of the Islamic state soonest [sic] possible regardless of its size.”

DU is unable to confirm rumors about a commercial running on Dearborn’s cable-access channels, advertising the amenities of a community to be known as Katyusha Crossing. We're sure each home will come with plenty of storage, for hiding Hezbollah munitions, and with game rooms in every communal bunker, for the next time Hezbollah tries to test itself against Israel.