Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Bragging in Tehran.
By Michael Ledeen
The Iranian regime has two fundamental instruments of power, whether at home or abroad: terror and deception. Both are dramatically on display. This past Sunday, 30 people were executed for a variety of alleged “crimes,” and a number of whom lost their lives because they dared to criticize the regime. This wave of executions in the world’s second-most active killer of its own citizens (China tops the list) coincides with the anniversary of the resumption of public hangings last August, which was viewed as “sending a message” to would-be critics and anyone in the West who might be tempted to support Iranian dissidents. This weekend’s victims were convicted of drug trafficking and disruptions of public order, and so far as I can tell the mass executions mark a new grisly watershed in the mullahs’ ongoing terror war against their own people.
This dramatic carnage surely bespeaks a profound insecurity in Tehran. It documents the fear that dominates the rulers’ nightmares, the fear of their own people, who are the greatest threat to the survival of the mullahcracy.
Many of the pundits, in public print and in the oxymoronically mislabeled “Intelligence Community,” would have us believe that the regime is stable, and that the Iranian people have given up their hopes for freedom. But the mullahs’ decision to carry out mass executions gives the lie to that analysis, as does the recent attack on a Revolutionary Guards convoy in the country’s capital city. The RG are the pretorian guard of the regime, and if they cannot protect an armed column (apparently carrying arms to Hezbollah for the next campaign against Israel), they cannot protect anything. No wonder the Supreme Leader and his viziers are worried.
This assault against the symbol of the mullahs’ power is only the latest such event, and news of it arrived slowly in the West. But there have been several other attacks, including a bomb in a prominent mosque, and other RG units in areas of ethnic repression such as Baluchistan and the Arab zones near the Iraqi border.
The RG are also doing badly on foreign battlefields. In Iraq, its agents and officers are now routinely killed and arrested — often without putting up a fight — by Coalition and Iraqi security forces. This report from the U.S. Armed Forces Press Service is typical:
. . . coalition forces captured two suspected Special Groups leaders in Baghdad today. These key leaders were taken in the Rusafa district of Baghdad.
Coalition and Iraqi forces continued operations over the weekend discovering a number of arms caches, capturing al-Qaida terrorists, discovering roadside bombs and attacking terror and criminal networks.
In Rusafa, coalition forces used intelligence information to locate and capture an Iranian-trained senior leader of Special Groups criminals. The agent of Iran is responsible for attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces as well as kidnappings and smuggling of weapons from Iran to Iraq. He was captured without incident.
Coalition forces also captured another Special Groups criminal in a separate Rusafa district operation. He is a senior leader responsible for supplying weapons, money and logistical support to subordinate Special Groups commanders. He also provides fighters as reinforcements to areas in need — making his role crucial for sustained operations by Special Groups in the area. He, also, was captured without incident.
The Special Groups took another hit when Iraqi special operations forces detained two other criminals in Baghdad, July 24 and 25. . . . One of those detained was associated with improvised rocket-assisted mortar attacks. The other man is reportedly responsible for weapons trafficking from Iran into Diyala.
The mullahs know that the domestic and foreign fronts are linked, for Iran’s humiliating defeat in Iraq is greatly encouraging to the dissidents at home. Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the others are doing everything in their power to deceive Iranians (perhaps including themselves) into believing that they are winning in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the Coalition is teetering, and that all opposition to the regime is hopeless.
To that end, the mullahs routinely resort to the most shameless forms of deceit. The most hilarious — bringing back memories of al-Qaeda’s claim to have captured an American soldier, only to have the “hostage” turn out to be a G.I. Joe toy — was the recent photo of a “new warplane,” which on examination, was another plastic toy.
This was of a piece with the Photoshopped “evidence” of “new Iranian missiles,” which was doubly deceptive: it was an old missile, not (as claimed) a new one, and there was only one of “them,” not (as claimed) four launched simultaneously.
Alongside these hoaxes, designed to convince their people and the West that Iran is a mighty military power, Iranian leaders brag about their economic power as well. It’s another hoax; every Iranian knows that the country is a basket case. I doubt many simple souls were impressed (except to laugh bitterly at the outrageousness of the assertion) by Ahmadinejad’s promise that Iran would soon be the world’s leading economic power. They know better; they are paying a terrible price in misery for the incompetence of their kleptocrats. They know that the regime spends a fortune on the nuclear program, another fortune to support terror abroad, and pockets yet another fortune. So there’s nothing left for “the economy.”
All these bits of deception are aimed at maintaining and expanding the power of the regime, despite its many manifest failures, despite the contempt in which it is held by the majority of Iranians, and despite its quasi-pariah status in the international community. So far, it has worked. No government in the West has seen fit to support the Iranian dissidents. Some European labor unions have given at least verbal support to the Iranian workers’ organizations, but not the AFL-CIO, a pathetic shadow of the brave organization that supported freedom in the Soviet Empire. And the American government, Seymour Hersh and other fabulists notwithstanding, has done nothing of consequence to challenge the regime, and so far as anybody knows, has no intention of doing any such thing.
We act in such a feckless way as to permit the mullahs to say to their people, “you see, the Americans are afraid of us. They will do nothing. You have no hope.” And the hell of it is that the Islamic Republic is hollow, as its own behavior and its own results on the battlefield prove abundantly.
Lots of Iranian people know that the mullahs are losing Iraq, and more of them would know if we had a more accurate and honest press, and an administration capable of explaining the world, and its reaction to it. Still, the Iranians know a lot. Iranians are among the most avid surfers of the internet; they are second in the world (to the Chinese) in the use of “anti-filtering” software (manufactured by the Chinese). So when Iranian deceptions are exposed by American journalists or bloggers, many Iranian people find out about it. And more would find out if Western governments saw fit to provide them with the tools of the modern world: laptops, servers, cell and satellite phones, phone cards, and the like.
Our miserable policy, which is to chant “we don’t want regime change, we want a change in behavior,” is doomed, as the whole world has known from the get-go. Paradoxically, this non-aggressive policy is destined to make military conflict inevitable, whoever is the next president. This policy is a preemptive acquiescence to a nuclear Iran, with all the incalculable consequences attendant to it, and is guaranteed to bring us face to face with the Sarkozy option of “Bomb Iran, or Iran With the Bomb.”
And yet, the Iranian regime is hollow. So far as we know, they are without atomic bombs and a reliable delivery system. We have defeated them in Iraq and will repeat it in Afghanistan. Their economy is a shambles, their people hate them, they present us with Potemkin weapons systems. It is a political explosion ready to happen, it only needs the support of the West. Mainly, us, although I think we would get the support of the French and Italians at a minimum, and perhaps the Danes as well.
But we seem bound and determined to wait until the mullahs don’t need deception any more. I wrote a book about this sort of policy many years ago. It was called Freedom Betrayed; How American Won the Cold War, led a Global Democratic Revolution, and Walked Away. Still seems right.
— Michael Ledeen is author, most recently, of The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots' Quest for Destruction.
I know McCain’s a war hero.
So is George W. Bush.
Sometimes you just have to stop and remind yourself, hell, this is only a blog.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
From the Congressional Quarterly:
Experts Debate Efficacy of FBI Outreach to CAIR
By Rob Margetta, CQ Staff
The FBI’s outreach efforts to the Council on American-Islamic Relations have been counterproductive, according to an expert at a Senate hearing on countering violent Islamism who called the group an extension of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.
Although other witnesses told the Senate Homeland Security panel that communication with CAIR is beneficial, Zeyno Baran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, said its relationship with the FBI leaves agents ill-prepared to work with the American Muslim community.
“For months now, FBI agents have been trained by CAIR to be sensitive to Muslims,” she said. “This is completely self-defeating.”
Baran said she believes CAIR was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood to influence U.S. officials, and works not as a faith group but as one with a political agenda of Islamism, a philosophy that treats Islam as a political ideology.
Furthermore, she said, the group was among those named as unindicted co-conspirators in a recent federal case that charged the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development with providing millions of dollars and logistical support to the militant group Hamas.
Baran questioned how CAIR is defining proper respect for Muslims when it advises the FBI.
“The agents are going to be misinformed and they will be overly sensitive and they will not ask certain questions,” she said. Later in the hearing, she said CAIR “does not reflect the Muslim community as a faith community, but as a political group.”
Senate Homeland ranking Republican Susan Collins of Maine said Baran’s comments conflicted with the committee’s understanding of the FBI’s outreach activities.
“In previous hearings, witnesses have generally pointed to the FBI effort as the model of outreach to the Muslim community,” she said.
When Collins asked who the FBI could work with, Baran suggested women’s groups and those “not organized based on an Islamist political issue.” But, she said, such groups have only recently emerged in Europe after “home-grown” terrorism attacks there. “We don’t have that in America at this point,” she said.
Support for Baran’s position came from Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, whom the committee considered as a potential witness, although he ultimately did not appear.
In a written statement he had prepared, Emerson called the federal government’s relationship with CAIR “an almost comical situation,” considering the Department of Justice’s dealings with it in the Holy Land Foundation case.
Other radicalization experts who testified at the hearing took issue with Baran’s characterization of CAIR.
Peter P. Mandaville, associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University, said he is not familiar with the specifics of the FBI program, but the picture Baran painted of CAIR did not sound right.
“I don’t share the view that CAIR as an organization is best understood primarily as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “I do believe there are individuals associated with that movement who hold those views, but I think it wrong to characterize the organization in its entirety” in relation to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Fathali M. Moghaddam, professor of psychology at Georgetown University agreed, with Mandaville and added that “The FBI agents that I know . . . I don’t think they would have a problem cross-examining Muslims in any way.”
In a phone interview, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper defended his organization’s record.
“CAIR is one of the most respected mainstream organizations in the Muslim American community,” he said. “We build bridges between the Muslim community and the law enforcement community, public officials, elected officials.”
Hooper called Baran’s comments part of a “politically motivated smear campaign” designed to hurt relations with the Muslim community and that “I have a feeling that [Baran] wouldn’t want the FBI talking to any Muslim group.”
At a second panel in the hearing, Collins asked the person in charge of providing the situational awareness the FBI uses to do outreach, National Counterrorism Center Director Michael E. Leiter, for his opinion on the relationship with CAIR.
“I think that both outreach by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security . . . is critical,” he responded. “Understanding that there are certain groups that might have individuals with whom the U.S. government might not want to associate does not and cannot stop this government from doing the outreach that it has to do.”
Leiter pointed out that cutting back on outreach could lead to disenfranchisement of Muslims, something other witnesses had testified could actually stimulate radicalization. Federal agencies have to adapt a “full-spectrum” outreach strategy that engages with groups that disagree with U.S. policy, he said.
However, he said, the hard line is “if a group espouses violence, it’s quite clear that the U.S. government should not be associated with it.”
Rob Margetta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In fact, the better and truer histories of the Iraq War are already being written. I'm pretty sure this time that unlike Vietnam, it won't take 30 years before America starts getting ahold of the true story.
July 15, 2008
Memory and the Left
By J.R. Dunn
It's difficult to avoid exasperation over the left's absolute refusal to acknowledge the new realities of the Iraq war. The surge, the Anbar awakening, the collapse of the militias (particularly that belonging to everybody's favorite would-be caliph, Moqtada al-Sadr) -- it's as if none of it ever happened, as if one the most impressive turnabouts in modern military annals never took place.
The left, including its Democratic political wing and placeholders in the media, continue on with the same defeatist drone that we've heard since 2003, concentrating on lone (and mercifully rare) suicide bombers, emphasizing Coalition casualties, and highlighting the new government's difficulties. (Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Mr. B.H. Obama, a Democratic senator currently running for president. Reports last week hinted that Obama was about to climb down from his intention to abandon Iraq sixteen months after taking office. But he held tight, assuring reporters he had in no way abandoned his plan for peace in our time.)
There's no point in waiting for the nickel to drop at last. The American left has not missed the unfolding victory in Iraq, nor are they ignoring it. They have forgotten it. They have taken it in, analyzed it, weighed the results, and then flushed it from memory as completely and brutally as a Ministry of Truth goon from 1984.
The process of selective amnesia is an important and often overlooked aspect of the left-wing mentality. It's a direct inheritance from the communists, for whom the capacity to self-edit was often a matter of life and death. In Stalin's Soviet Union, honored heroes of the Revolution could suddenly turn into traitors to the Worker's Paradise and just as suddenly into nonentities on a day-to-day, if not an hour-to-hour basis. Among survivors, the capacity to manipulate memory was honed to a fine instinct. Mentioning the name of a nonperson could get you put on a list, if not shoved aboard the next cattle train headed for the Arctic. Soon, people would be forgetting about you.
This process was also extended to history. At the time of the Bolshevik coup, Stalin was dawdling well to the east of St. Petersberg. He played no serious role in the events that put the Soviets in power. But after he consolidated his position in the early 30s, it turned out he had been everywhere -- advising Lenin, giving speeches to the masses, leading armed revolutionaries. People who remembered differently were soon trying to remember what life was like in regions where the temperature occasionally rose above zero.
The practice -- and the choking terror that provoked it -- soon spread to the international parties, including the CPUSA. Disasters and crimes occurring in the USSR were subject to the same treatment. When Walter Duranty, a paid Soviet propagandist, announced through the New York Times that the Ukrainian Famine hadn't happened, the event was duly put away, even though photographs and eyewitness accounts had been circulating around the country for months. Fifty years later, Robert Conquest's outstanding study of the atrocity, Harvest of Sorrow, was greeted as a revelation.
The same occurred with the purges, the show trials, the mass relocations. Numerous defectors, among them Walter Krivitsky, Igor Gouzenko, and Victor Kravchenko, laid out the facts repeatedly beginning in the late 1930s. All were run through the left's forgetfulness machine.
Possibly the greatest act of selective mass amnesia -- certainly the fastest -- occurred in the summer of 1941. For two years following the August 1939 gangster pact between Hitler and Stalin, international communist parties protested the war against Nazism. The American left worked itself into a frenzy in support of Hitler and his occupation of Europe. A particular target was U.S. materiel aid to Great Britain, at the time standing alone against the Nazi monolith. The campaign's centerpiece was to have been "Peace Week", scheduled for the last week of June 1941. Unfortunately, Hitler chose June 22nd to send three army groups armed with over 4,000 Panzers against the Soviet Union.
Peace Week was called off. Instead, the communists immediately began demonstrating and marching against Hitler and in favor of our brave British allies. (I wonder if Nicholson Baker featured this incident in his "history" of WW II? ...I didn't think so.)
American communism collapsed in the 1950s, confronted by events with too much impact to be ignored (Khrushchev's epoch-making 20th party conference speech and the Hungarian Revolution in particular). But the art of forgetfulness survived, to be picked by New Left and then handed on to "liberalism" when the left took over that moribund ideology in the early 1970s.
Selective memory was applied with force to the Vietnam war. My Lai retains the power to shock to this day, and to many, stands as a representation for the entire conflict. But the contemporaneous Hue massacre, in which as many as 10,000 businessmen, intellectuals, and officials were slaughtered by Viet Cong cadres, is not even a footnote. Those thousands of dead have simply been forgotten.
Similarly, the last two years of the war in which the new strategy of Gen. Creighton Abrams broke the back of the PAVN forces operating in the south and sent the survivors fleeing over the border into Cambodia and Laos, was also fed into the hopper. Instead, the impression that the U.S. was "defeated" survives among the public at large. Works demonstrating the contrary, such as Lewis Sorley's A Better War, have scarcely made a dent.
And now it's Iraq's turn. For one example, we can look to Haditha. A Marine unit was ambushed, responding as trained against their attackers, who were hiding behind helpless civilians, among them women and children, as many as two dozen of whom were killed. Insurgent war at its most ugly, tragic and unavoidable. The blame, to any rational observer, clearly lay with the Al Queda thugs who insisted on using innocents as a shield.
But rationality is sometimes too much to ask. Haditha was trumpeted as an American war crime, the moment that encapsulated the entire war as an atrocity. The media played it as the My Lai of Iraq, while political opportunists, chief among them John Murtha (whose domain begins only a half mile from where I sit), attacked the Marines as "cold-blooded killers". The "Haditha massacre" was given front-page play for weeks, the name effectively becoming shorthand for American efforts in Iraq.
But today, after the prosecution has fallen apart, after seven of the eight men accused have been held blameless and no real case remains against the eighth, the name of Haditha is difficult to find in mass media. Even after ranking USMC officers were found to have interfered in the case (imagine if this had occurred in any other legal proceeding!), and after several of the cleared Marines announced a lawsuit against Murtha, a sitting congressman, Haditha remains, at best, a back-page story. It has been fed into the grinder, and has become one of those things we're not supposed to think about any more.
The same is true of Iraqi yellowcake, which Joe Wilson, ambassador extraordinaire, and his valiant spy bride demonstrated to the world did not, and could not exist. Yet last weekend 550 tons of the stuff -- a pile large enough that even a diplomat couldn't miss it -- was transferred from Iraq to the U.S. with less coverage than this year's soybean harvest. Saddam Hussein's bomb program, one of the greatest threats to world peace of our time, ended without so much as an echo.
The same weekend saw final victory in Iraq draw nearer with the almost complete pacification of the city of Mosul. Mosul was the last urban redoubt of Al-Queda in Iraq. Their ejection from the city has deprived them of a base of operations and turned them into a force of scattered guerilla bands. Stamping out these final remnants may be a drawn-out process, but the Jihadis are no longer a threat to Iraq as a nation. What a change from 2006! Yet what have we heard about it?
The average leftist is not even aware of any of this. If asked about Iraq, he will drone through the standard run of slogans, none of which made much sense in the first place and now come across as sheer raving. But it doesn't matter. It worked with the famine, it worked with the purges, it worked with Nam, and it will work -- so they think -- with Iraq.
How do you debate with such people? You don't. You can't. St. Augustine once said that there's no use wasting your time arguing with someone who won't grant a subject's basic premises. How much more so with people who won't grant a common reality?
Conservatives tend to be exemplars of civility, given to upholding standards of discourse, always giving their opponents the benefit of the doubt. This is a point of pride, and should not simply be thrown away. But after a certain definite point, you simply become an enabler. To cooperate with such behavior is to concur with it. Instead of acquiescing in this form of deceit (or, as is occasionally still seen, acting shocked that it even occurs) we need to find alternatives.
Fortunately, things have changed since the left's heyday. Haditha is not a forgotten name. That twelve-story pile of yellowcake is proving difficult to ignore. At one point, the left controlled virtually the entire national media sphere. This is no longer the case. If the new media is about anything, it is about discovering, highlighting, and promulgating the things that we're not supposed to know, the stories we're not supposed to think about, the events that are supposed to be forgotten. The Holodomor, the Great Purge, the Hue massacre -- all were buried because they could be. They cannot be buried anymore.
Walter Krivitsky was murdered in 1941 as he was about to reveal to Congress the full extent of Soviet espionage in the United States. Silenced forever, so the Kremlin thought. A cursory web search today comes up with 1,350 entries dealing directly with Krivitsky. You can no longer hide events, personalities, or crimes. Archives, morgues, and secret files simply will not hold them.
This in itself marks a change in human affairs more profound than we can easily grasp at the moment. The impossibility of burying information deprives the left of one of its most hallowed weapons. (Attitudes forever lagging behind technology, they are not yet aware of the fact. Obama, in particular, with his habit of saying one thing on Monday and contradicting himself on Wednesday, as if the fix is in down at the newsroom and he can say anything he damn well pleases.)
Of course, the right has been using the new technology, both the Net and talk radio, to confront the left with facts they'd rather not acknowledge for some time now. But certainly more can be done -- more in the way of strategy, more in the way of coordination. We need greater efforts to discover what sets of facts the left particularly wants to hide -- and why. There are reasons why the left needs certain events to be forgotten. Discover those reasons, and it will shake them more than any other single effort. The left has been playing games with reality almost since its inception - let them see how it feels to live with the record like everybody else.
Orwell revealed that control of the past means control of the future. The left has controlled the past for generations. (Not that it's helped them much.) They don't any longer. That the facts can no longer be buried is a victory in and of itself. We will march on from there.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.
Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.
They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.
Alsager School, near Stoke, has received furious complaints from parents after two Year 7 boys were punished for refusing to kneel to Allah during a religious studies class.
One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far.
"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.
"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful."
("Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah ").
As for the two 12-year-old Islamophobes, what do you want to bet they got started down the wrong path when, as three-year-olds in nursery school, they weren't condemned as racists for holding their noses over the Baba Ghannouj?
Toddlers who dislike spicy food 'racist'
By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Last updated: 10:15 AM BST 07/07/2008
Toddlers who turn their noses up at spicy food from overseas could be branded racists by a Government-sponsored agency.
The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.
This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.
The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.
It alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can "recognise different people in their lives".
The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."
It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: "blackie", "Pakis", "those people" or "they smell".
The guide goes on to warn that children might also "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'".
Staff are told: "No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action."
Warning that failing to pick children up on their racist attitudes could instil prejudice, the NCB adds that if children "reveal negative attitudes, the lack of censure may indicate to the child that there is nothing unacceptable about such attitudes".
Nurseries are encouraged to report as many incidents as possible to their local council. The guide added: "Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution. In fact, the opposite is the case."
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Not that it was front page news today, either. That was dedicated to huge story of a pattern of sexual harassment lawsuits at the Jeep Assembly Plant in Toledo. Then of course there's a timely story about the price of gas.
But then there it was, down at the bottom of page 4A:
Terrorism defeated in Iraq, leader says
ASSOCIATED PRESS • July 6, 2008
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's prime minister said Saturday that the government has defeated terrorism in the country, a sign of growing confidence after recent crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shi'ite militias.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched the crackdowns to extend the authority of the government over areas in Baghdad and elsewhere that largely have been under the control of armed groups since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it," al-Maliki said. "But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them."
He was speaking at ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the 2003 assassination of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, a leading opponent of Saddam Hussein who was killed in a truck bombing in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf after returning from exile in Iran.
Such attacks plagued Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion, but violence in the country has now fallen to its lowest level in four years. The change has been driven by the 2007 buildup of U.S. forces, the Sunni tribal revolt against Al Qaeda in Iraq and al-Maliki's crackdowns, among other factors.
So Happy Birthday, President Bush.
--Arianna Huffington, "Yellowcake-gate" July 16, 2003.
* * * * * *
The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.
The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment - was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
--“AP Exclusive: US removes uranium from Iraq” July 06, 2008
You remember yellowcake. It’s the stuff George W. Bush was convicted in the press of lying about in his 2003 State of the Union address. That's when he uttered the “16 words” that earned him a moral status several levels below Pontius Pilate: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It doesn't matter any more but it turned out the 16 words were true.
Then yellowcake played a key role in the career uptick of Joe Wilson and his bombshell wife, deep cover clandestine CIA Agent Valerie Plame, (codename, “Ms. Clairol”).
Wilson wrote an article accusing Bush, Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice of deliberately ignoring his well-documented report that Saddam never tried to buy yellowcake from Niger. It won't help Scooter Libbey now but it turned out that everything Wilson said was false.
Wilson also accused Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby of blowing his wife’s cover. (That is, her CIA cover, not her Vanity Fair cover. Mrs. Wilson's babushka blew that).
That accusation by Wilson turned out to be a lie, too. As even the Washington Post was forced to admit, “it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials.” (“End of an Affair”).
Now, today, it’s being reported by the AP, apparently for the first time, that Saddam had a stockpile of 1.2 million pounds of yellowcake. The “huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium,” the AP report matter-of-factly states, was “the last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.”
The nuclear program, that is, that he didn't have, because he never had any stockpiles of WMDs, and never had any yellowcake, nor even tried to buy any yellowcake, because Saddam was a good scout after 1991, and Bush just lied about the whole thing to get us into a war.
Now watch while the Left, hypersensitive enough to ban smoking in bars, trans-fats from restaurants, and carbon dioxide from Earth, suddenly starts defending yellowcake uranium as basically harmless.
Randall Hoven at American Thinker has some thoughts on all this:
Saddam Had Nuke Program
By Randall Hoven
The media have been telling us for years that Saddam had no WMD, so "Bush's War": was based on a "lie." And those who believed Saddam did have WMD or WMD programs were delusional or worse.
But today, on July 6, 2008, the Associated Press reports that
*Saddam Hussein had a nuclear program
*At the Tuwaitha nuclear complex just south of Baghdad
*Which included 550 metric tons (over 1.2 million pounds) of "yellowcake", or concentrated uranium
*And multiple devices that could be used in a nuclear weapon.
The AP does not say alleged nuclear program. It does not add "according to military experts." It simply says "Saddam Hussein's nuclear program."
That's pretty big news, isn't it?
For about five years now, those of us who thought Saddam Hussein probably had at least WMD programs, if not WMD themselves, have been called not only wrong, but illogical and insane.
One example was an article by Sharon Begley in the Wall Street Journal titled People Believe a 'Fact' That Fits Their Views Even if It's Clearly False . (Her article series is called, without irony, the "Science Journal".) Ms. Begley reported that "six months after the invasion, one-third of Americans believed WMDs had been found, even though every such tentative claim was discomfirmed [sic]." She cited psychologists to explain this strange behavior. They used terms like "world views" and "mental models."
Jim Lobe at CommonDreams.org (Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community) reported that "Three out of four self-described supporters of President George W. Bush still believe that pre-war Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or active programs to produce them." He went on to quote the director of the polling company as saying
"To support the president and to accept that he took the U.S. to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about pre-war Iraq."
These findings on people's beliefs were based on a survey that asked people if they believed Saddam had WMD or WMD programs . Apparently, Sharon Begley, Jim Lobe and a whole lot of other people not only believed Saddam had no WMD programs, but that anyone who did believe such a thing was clearly illogical or insane. In fact, the only interesting question to them was what is wrong with our minds.
Read the rest here.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
CAIRO — Muslim extremist women are challenging al-Qaida's refusal to include — or at least acknowledge — women in its ranks, in an emotional debate that gives rare insight into the gender conflicts lurking beneath one of the strictest strains of Islam. (“Al-Qaida's stance on women sparks extremist debate”).
What I’m wondering is whether or not the women are extremists because they want to blow themselves up as Al-Qaida terrorists, or if they’re extremists because they’re feminists who see gender equality as achievable through self-detonation along with all those lucky men.
Here’s the context of the story:
In response to a female questioner, al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman's role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al-Qaida fighters.
His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists. The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al-Qaida.
A'eeda Dahsheh is a Palestinian mother of four in Lebanon who said she supports al-Zawahri and has chosen to raise children at home as her form of jihad. However, she said, she also supports any woman who chooses instead to take part in terror attacks.
Another woman signed a more than 2,000-word essay of protest online as Rabeebat al-Silah, Arabic for "Companion of Weapons."
"How many times have I wished I were a man ... When Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri said there are no women in al-Qaida, he saddened and hurt me," wrote "Companion of Weapons," who said she listened to the speech 10 times. "I felt that my heart was about to explode in my chest...I am powerless."
But wouldn’t it be more accurate that she was saddened and hurt because she felt that her heart wasn’t about to explode in her chest?
Word in the woman’s studies street is that this is the next international feminist cause celebre. Ms. Magazine is picking this up for their summer issue under the headline, “My Suicide Belt, My Soul.” And Self Magazine is raving up those last-stop bus rides under the title, “One-Second Makeovers!”
And Broadway is considering a PC revision of Annie Get Your Gun, featuring a new rendition of "Any Jew You Can Kill, I Can Kill Better."
The gathering is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of an organization “formed when refugees fled to the United States from the close-knit town of Ramallah after the wars of 1948 and 1967 between Israel and Arab states.”
Now all these years later, as Krupa writes:
These Christian Palestinians say they are among the dispossessed, yearning for a nation to call theirs. Leaders of Christian denominations around the world say they fear these Palestinians may disappear from the Holy Land forever.
And what better way to lend legitimacy to the cause of these dispossessed Palestinians than by having a high religious official--a Christian archbishop no less--stumping for the anti-Israeli cause? As Nirak Wairkoo gleefully reports, “The top Christian leader for Palestinians is in metro Detroit this week, offering words of hope for Palestinians and criticizing Israeli occupation.” ("Palestinian Christian leader calls for American support").
The tenor of both articles is that Archbishop Hanna’s primary concern is peace in Palestine through "dialogue," and preserving a Christian presence in Palestine. Quotes Krupa:
"I believe in dialogue among the three religions and I am against the extremists," Theodosios said. "Everyone must be free to practice their own religion, and they cannot use religion to advance their causes."
Like an increasing number of residents of the territories, Theodosios said the only justice for the people of the region is a one-state solution in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live side-by-side, seized Palestinian land is returned to Palestinians, and all groups vote for a parliament.
In other words, the only solution is no Israel.
Then Archbishop Hanna had a nice meeting with Imam Hassan Qazwini, Imad Hamad, Osama Siblan, and Dawud Walid at Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
According to Warikoo,
At the end of a talk, the archbishop presented Imam Qazwini with a relief of the city of Jerusalem and said to him:
“I hope that one day you will visit us in Jerusalem after it’s liberated from the occupation and the Arab Palestinian flag is there.”
In other words, he’s hoping for a day when there is no more Israel.
But say, didn't Hanna just tell the crowd at the Hyatt he believed "in dialogue among the three religions"? and that "Everyone must be free to practice their own religion, and they cannot use religion to advance their causes"?
Well, Archbishop Hanna isn’t an absolutist about that, as we will note below.
Though none of this was mentioned in either article whitewashing Archbishop Hanna, besides being a champion of "dialogue" and "justice," he's cut quite a controversial figure back home.
When he was Father Hanna, he was so extreme in his anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist outbursts he actually was fired as spokesman for Patriarch Irineos I, who himself was completely rah-rah for the PLO-brand of justice. The Patriarch was stopped twice trying to get into Arafat’s Ramallah compound illegally, the first time lying to guards about a weapon he was trying to smuggle in.
It also became known that Patriarch Irineos had written two letters “to Arafat and the PA's diplomatic representative to Greece in 2001 and 2002, before being confirmed as patriarch. Irineos pledged his continued support for Arafat's aims, suggested cooperation concerning the Greek Orthodox Church's extensive land holdings in Israel, and accused Jews of murdering Jesus Christ.” (“The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and Terror”).
In one of the letters to Arafat, Irineos wrote this:
"You are finally aware of the sentiments of disgust and disrespect that all the Holy Sepulcher Fathers are feeling for the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus Christ, actual crucifiers of your people, Sionists (sic) Jewish conquerors of the Holy Land of Palestine. (emphasis added)."
Then FrontPage Magazine (“Peace" Through Anti-Semitism”) reported this about Hanna in 2005:
Hanna, an Arab born in Haifa, was serving as the patriarchate's spokesman when he subtly advocated suicide bombing as part of the Palestinian intifada in June 2002 during an address in Abu Dhabi to a think tank run by the Arab League.
"Some freedom fighters adopt martyrdom or suicide bombings, while others opt for other measures," the Gulf News quoted Hanna as saying. "Don't expect us to keep distance and watch. We are in the struggle whether it is martyrdom or any other means. The Muslims and the Christians are one and cannot be separated from the struggle for the liberation of Palestine."
Irineos, who had yet to be confirmed and did not need adverse publicity, fired Hanna that July. One month later, Israeli police arrested and questioned Hanna on suspicion of inciting violence, having relations with terrorist groups and illegally visiting Syria and Lebanon, which remain in a state of war with Israel. Hanna left the country to meet with Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Hassan Narallah, so police placed Hanna under house arrest and confiscated his passports.
Nevertheless, Hanna has since used even more vituperative rhetoric without any apparent public protest from Irineos. At a reception in Haifa on January 11, 2003, Hanna expressed emphatic support for suicide bombers:
"The fidaiyin are the heroes of this nation. We are proud of them and resolutely refuse any attempt to defame their deeds. They are not committing suicide, as some claim, and they are not terrorists, as others claim -- they are resisting the occupation. We unreservedly support the martyrdom operations."
Six days later, in a rally at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Hanna was even more enthusiastic:
"Martyrdom operations are an excellent and good way to resist the Zionist invasion of the Palestinian land. In front of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we bless the souls of the heroic shahids (martyrs) and the families of the shahids.
"The names of the fidaiyi shahids will be inscribed in the history of our Palestinian and Arab people in holy white letters. The voices of those who defame these acts of heroism and honor are nothing more than anomalous voices that do not represent Arab and Palestinian public opinion."
But Hanna saved his most extreme rhetoric for his sermon of January 19, 2003 -- the Orthodox Epiphany:
"Palestine is from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river. We emphatically refuse any concession on (even) a grain of the land of our precious homeland. Just as Ramallah, Gaza, Nablus, and Jenin are Palestinian cities, so are Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, Ramle, Lod, Beersheba, Safed, and others Palestinian cities.
"We do not believe in so-called 'peace with Israel' because peace cannot be made with Satan. Israel is the greatest Satan. No concession and no truce must be made. The Palestinians' rights will be restored only by resistance. What was taken by force will be restored only by force.
"The Zionist Jews are foreigners in this land. They have no right to live or settle in it. They should go somewhere else in the world to establish their state and their false entity. Jerusalem is an Arab city and the Jews must not settle in it, be masters over it, or carry out any type of religious ritual or ceremony in it. They must leave their homes. They have no right to live on land, cities or villages that are not theirs."
This is the cleric whom CAIR's Dawud Walid praised, and Imad Hamad called “a man of principle.”