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3/16/2004

Moved 

Mar. 16 - Offically moved to a terrific site at Munuvania with the same blog name Being American in T.O..

See you all there.

Mar. 31 - What do you do when a troll starts up on at the old site 5 days after you've moved? (I know, you ignore it.)

Chechen link to France threat 

Mar. 16 - What to think of this? A group calling itself the "Servants of Allah the Mighty and the Wise" has sent a letter to the French government which threatened the French people which has a Chechen link: it was signed by "Commando Movsar Barayev," an apparent reference to the Chechen leader who took over a theatre in Moscow in October, 2002. Barayev was killed when Russian forces pumped anesthesia into the theatre and re-took the building.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the letter contained "menacing threats for the entire nation..."

The threat was revealed as French President Jacques Chirac pledged to step up the fight against terrorism to protect citizens and institutions.

"Europe must always fight terrorism with all its strength," Chirac told reporters.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, appearing with Chirac after bilateral talks in Paris, said he agreed with that assessment.

The leaders were meeting in the French capital nearly a week after bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 201 people.

Both leaders expressed solidarity with Spain in the wake of the terrorism, and vowed better cooperation among European nations to collect intelligence on various attacks.

Military force is not the only solution, Schroeder said. "One needs to look at the roots of it," including lack of development in the developing world.
Still looking, are we? And after you've looked, what do you propose to do?

New home 

Mar. 16 - Thanks to Pixy Misa, I am in the process of moving to the Munuviana site at Being American in T.O..

I'm posting in both places until I actually think I know what I'm doing. Come have a look!

Al Qaeda boss 'the Poet' killed 

Mar. 16 - So much for light blogging when events continue to pile on: Al Qaeda boss 'the Poet' killed
A senior al Qaeda leader -- described as the group's "chief of operations in the Arabian Peninsula" -- was killed in a shootout in Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials have told CNN.

A U.S. counterterrorism official called the death on Monday "very significant, and a major blow to al Qaeda."

The man was identified as Abu Hazim al-Sha'ir, also known as Kahlid Ali Hajj. He was also nicknamed "the poet," officials said.
The "Poet" was a suspect in the Riyadh bombings last May which killed 23.

Light blogging alert 

Mar. 16 - Blogging will be light today. I'm moving over to Munuvania and onto Moveable Type, and as I'm extremely Tech-challenged this is going to be a lot of fun.

I have removed all blunt instruments from the room and cautioned cats, husband and kids to Beware the Ides of March.

Majority of Iraqis See Life Better Without Saddam 

Mar. 16 - Majority of Iraqis See Life Better Without Saddam:
Just a quarter said they had confidence in U.S.-led occupation forces to deliver their needs. There were far higher levels of confidence in Iraqi religious leaders (70 percent), local police (68 percent) and the new Iraqi army (56 percent).
This growing confidence in their own capabilities is so uplifting and just what I hoped for most - they shouldn't depend upon anyone, including the US, but upon themselves.

Funny, no questions about how Iraqis feel about the UN.

Spain: More al Qaeda links found 

Mar. 16 - Spain: More al Qaeda links found but it's old news from Sunday.

If 90% of the Spanish were against Iraq, why did The Partido Popular win so many seats?

3/15/2004

Syria and Iran 

Mar. 15 - There's an uprising in Syria near the Turkish border. It started at a soccer game wherein it would seem team rivalry became political rivalry:
The violence began in Qamishli when the local Jihad soccer team, comprised of mostly Arab and Kurd players, was playing the Fituwya group from the city of Dar el-Zur, near the Syrian border with Iraq. Fituwya fans began calling out "long live Saddam Hussein." The Jihad team responded with "long live Barazani" shouts, referring to one of the Kurdish leaders in Iraq.

Clashes ensued between the two camps inside the stadium, which contained some 5,000 people at the time, and three children were trampled to death during the ruckus.

Following the stadium incident, violent demonstrations spread on Friday to other cities in Syria's Kurdish regions. During the protests, signs and slogans slamming Assad's regime as well as the ruling Ba'ath Party were displayed. A demand was also raised for an international investigation into human rights violations during the incident.
From AP (short lived link):
QAMISHLI,Syria (AP) -- Armed police stood guard Monday on main streets in this northeastern town, where most stores were closed and the atmosphere remained tense after the worst unrest in Syria in years.

At least 15 people were reported killed and more than 100 wounded in riots over the weekend that started with clashes between Kurdish and Arab soccer fans.

The violence, which gave rise to Kurdish protests in several European cities on Monday, poses a challenge to President Bashar Assad, whose government is already facing calls to improve human rights and threatened U.S. sanctions for alleged support for terrorism.

The riots also raised concerns that the long-ignored minority Kurds, emboldened by a bigger role for fellow Kurds in neighboring Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, might push for greater recognition.

Kurds number about 1.5 million of Syria's 18.5 million people. Most live in the underdeveloped northeast and many have been denied Syrian nationality, meaning they cannot vote, own property, go to state schools or get government jobs.

[...]

In Athens, nearly a thousand Kurds holding candles marched through central Athens to the U.S. and Syrian embassies, chanting slogans against Syrian President Bashar Assad. In Geneva, more than 20 Kurdish demonstrators occupied the Syrian mission to U.N. offices for nearly two hours Monday to protest the deaths of Kurds.
A suggestion that Iraqi Kurds may get involved as well as an audacious proposal for US air support is at FreeArabForum

Funny CNN isn't covering this. Could be they are too busy not covering the uprising in Fereydunkenar, Iran, which has resulted in the resignation of a hardliner from Parliament.

One Frenchman's view of al Qaeda 

Mar. 15 - Sometimes we forget that the French are our allies, despite their actions in the UN Security Council over Iraq which infuriated so many of us. This article (France: Bin Laden Nearly Caught in Afghanistan) is interesting for, among other things, an understanding of what Bin Laden and al Qaeda represent:
[France's chief of defense staff] Gen. Henri Bentegeat said about 200 French troops were operating with U.S. forces in southeastern Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda.

[...]

The general said it was essential that bin Laden be caught.

"He symbolizes September 11 and is certainly not completely innocent in what happened in Madrid," he said, making a link between the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and the Spanish train bombings last Thursday.

But he added that arresting bin Laden "would not change things directly. (Al Qaeda) is a hydra with many heads. If we catch one head, there will be others."

Bentegeat said the minute preparations needed for the Madrid bombings were "the clearest indication" that al Qaeda was probably behind them.

He said the threat of Islamic radicalism was spreading beyond the Middle East. "It's a phenomenon we're seeing step by step in Africa," he said, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Then there are countries that are adrift, that we are trying to help to not sink, such as Ivory Coast or the Central African Republic," he added.
The hard part is how to help those countries that are in danger to succumbing to Islamic radicalism and are adrift. The easy answer would be to support whatever governments stand up against the radicals, but that would be to employ Cold War tactics in a war that is hot.

(Hat tip to Nik for the link.)

Euro isolationism is triumphant 

Mar. 15 - This opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph (UK) (Euro isolationism is triumphant) confirms what Paul and Alina have said:
... It also appears that elements in the Spanish security forces were angered by what they considered to be their government's opportunism in initially blaming the more obviously unpopular target of Eta (rather than al-Qa'eda) and went over the heads of the Interior Ministry to speak to the opposition Socialists and to the press. They seem to have based their reasoning upon the need to alert Europe as a whole to the Islamist threat, but the effect appears to have been to hand victory for the Socialists who have taken a far less robust view of the war on terror.
UPDATE: 17:32: Robert punctures the "government lied to us" excuse pretty severely and is backed up by the redoubtable Allah.

The DT opinion piece also hits on a major problem in how poorly the war on terror has been explained:
Above all, the Americans and sympathetic European governments have not managed to convey the idea that there is no policy shift which they might undertake that would appreciably alter Islamist behaviour.
No argument there.

As rational people, it defies our understanding that someone wants to kill us because of who and what we are as opposed to who and what we've done. We should know better: the Holocaust demonstrated that the willingness to commit genocide exists in some recess of the human mind, as did the massacres in Rwanda, Congo, and the Balkans. Yet despite recent history, we are still trying to find reasons and thus be able to resolve problems rather than accept the unthinkable even when our enemy spells it out for us: they want us dead.

I've been trying to remember the salient points of bin Laden's first taped message after Sept. 11, and I have managed to remember that he accused the US of killing Iraqi babies and spoke to what he considered the sacrilege of US service personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia.

Check. Situations rectified. But it made no difference.

Why did al Qaeda strike at vacationers, primarily Australians, in Bali? To retaliate for Australian intervention in East Timor. The people there had voted for independence and were being killed because of it, and al Qaeda sought to punish those who stopped the punishers.

Why did al Qaeda strike at the Spanish? The latest tape (which has not yet been shown to actually be from al Qaeda) claimed it was in retaliation for Spanish support of the coaltion in Iraq. So the Spanish, by being part of a coalition that stopped the deaths of Iraqi babies and freed the Iraqi people from the single worst killer of Muslims, are to be condemned because they saved the lives of Muslims and Iraqi babies.

It strikes me now that, by staging an attack on the eve of the elections, the situation in East Timor may be more relevant to what happened in Spain than I had previously considered. One was a punishment after election results were in, and the other was a warning before an election occurred.

Having said that, I suspect that most previously uncommitted voters voted as they did for a large number of reasons, but that al Qaeda is likely to interpret the results one way and one way only. They have utilized a new weapon, and our belief in the strength of the electoral system is likely to become severely tested.

The president has often stated that we are hated because we love freedom, and however much that may be true, such an argument is far too broad and unspecific to advance without concrete examples to back it up.

I think that after two and a half years of al Qaeda actions, we have enough recent, concrete examples to support that position, and people who look at recent events and try to justify al Qaeda's actions continue to do so in defiance of al Qaeda's stated positions.

But al Qaeda does not chose to debate with us! Their actions and words are interpreted (and thus discounted) by far too many people and that is the biggest problem in trying to make people understand, as the Telegraph put it, that there is no policy shift which they might undertake that would appreciably alter Islamist behaviour.

Nobody wants to believe that there is nothing we can do to appease, alter or persuade them to end this war. There must be something we can say or do, intelligent and rational minds insist.

The reason there is no opening by which we can deal with them is simple: the conflict is deeply rooted in their hatred of our concept of free will. The hallmark of western civilization has been institutions of consensual government which are not supposed to infringe on personal rights except to protect those rights. The hallmark of militant Islamism, judging by the strict rule of the Taliban, is to infringe on everyone's personal rights in the pursuit of some higher good.

Free will is what allows men and women to seek to educate themselves and work where they chose. Free will is what allows people to celebrate the end of the football season in Bali. Free will is what allows Shiite Muslims to observe Ashura. Free will is what allows a man to grow a beard to whatever length he choses - or not at all - and a woman to be educated, dress as she choses, and go outside without being accompanies by a male. We even allow women and homosexuals to hold positions of authority over heterosexual men.

Free will also is what allows people to vote on who will form their government for the next interval. The Madrid attack struck at a basic tenet by which consensual government is chosen: that rational people cast their votes after due consideration of the issues and in the cold light of reason. If we frown on those who get voters drunk and then drive them to the polls, what should we think of those who kill hundreds and injure thousands?

The targets of Islamic terrorists are growing, yet some still hope to wait out the attackers. This goes beyond all reason, once we accept the simplicity of the reasons for Islamic terrorism. But we can't do that unless we listen to what they are saying and look at what they are doing instead of how those things are interpreted.

Free will allows us the independence of mind to make rational determinations, and we'd better start using our minds on the basis of evidence, not wishful thinking.

(Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Colby Cosh 

Mar. 15 - I don't know how long this will be available without a paid subscription to the online National Post but Colby really outdoes himself in his observations about the terrorist attack in Madrid (it was written before the final election tally in Spain) and it's implications for Canada and, I think, every nation including the USA in Spain was the victim, Canada the audience:
... I can't help noticing that, as "tense" as things sometimes get between us and the southern neighbour, compressed dynamite in a backpack never enters into it. Spain was the victim on Thursday, but the intended audience was Canada -- Canada and every other country that is wavering in its determination to support a Pax Americana. To do so carries moral risks, but to acquiesce in the taking of the free world as a hostage is immorality on a much larger scale.

In Spain, opponents of conservative Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar are calling him a "war criminal" and unashamedly endowing him with responsibility for the attacks, because he stood alongside George W. Bush and Tony Blair on the issue of the Second Gulf War. The disarmamentarians and crypto-communists will argue that they don't mean to take away the guilt from those who built the bombs, even as they do just that. It's a recipe for Spain to be rendered invertebrate once again -- as spineless and feeble as Canada. (My bolding)
I think that this tactic by terrorists will, sadly, be effective in Canada (see next post. Canadians have oh so generously given Americans an out by deciding that the president knowingly lied - President Bush, that is, not Clinton or Chirac or any of the other world leaders who too said Iraq had WMD.)

Read the whole thing, and if it has disappeared from cyberspace, check at Colby Cosh's website where he usually posts his columns about a week after they're published in the Post.

(Link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Best friends! Really! 

Mar. 15 - Take your pick:

The poll says Canadians call U.S. best pal - Yanks pick Brits, but that's only because Americans are ignorant about Canada.

Or are they?

This poll says Bush lied to justify Iraq war, Canada right to stay out Canadians believe the American president deliberately lied. Maybe Americans know Canada better than one might think.

(Links via Neale News.)

Sedna: the most distant known object in the solar system 

Mar. 15 - A new object circling our Sun, the most distant object in the solar system found yet, was confirmed by NASA. It has been provisionally named Sedna after the Inuit goddess of the sea. NASA is supposed to make the announcement this afternoon.

Sedna is mostly composed of ice and rock, and how scientists define "planet" will probably frame Sedna's designation. The existence of Sedna was anticipated by many scientists due to anomalies in Pluto's orbit.


More from Spain 

Mar. 15 - No surprise here: Spain PM-elect: Troops out of Iraq on June 30 (why did CNN state it would be "by" June 30?) unless there is a UN resolution but
Later Warsaw's Ambassador to NATO, Jerzy M. Nowak, told Reuters that Poland was willing to stay in command of the stabilisation force in central-south Iraq if Spain withdrew.

Spain had been due to take charge of the division on July 1.
After 83% of the vote counted, the Socialist Party looks as though they have won 164 seats (still less than a majority) and the Popular Party won 148 seats out of 350 seats.

Zapatero, leader of the Socialist Party, has pledged to continue to fight terrorism but also talks about taking steps to achieve peace. He's going to have to do some careful balancing, and if he appears to appease terrorists I think the Spanish people could turn on him.

It is so hard for people to grasp that they are still safer confronting and fighting terrorism even after an attack such as we saw last Thursday. All many can comprehend in moments of grief and horror is that they were attacked, and it is difficult to recognize that living under the threat of terrorism is also an ongoing attack.

They now live with a new danger: weighing every decision and public stand with What would al Qaeda think? in the backs of their minds. That is not the signature of a free people.

Paul provides some much needed perspective in a brief description of all the parties that ran in the elections and his analysis and pay special note to the shift in seats - most down - in fringe parties.

Terrorist kill 10 in Israel 

Mar. 15 - Two homicide bombers killed 10 and wounded 20 in the port city of Ashod yesterday. Al Aqsa and Hamas have claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks. [I was glad to note that CNN did not include the terrorists in the death toll.] Israel responded with missile fire from helicopters in Gaza City on buildings said to be "used by the Hamas terrorist organization for the development and manufacturing of weapons, including Qassam rockets and mortar shells."

Israeli PM Sharon called off a scheduled meeting with PA PM Queria (now spelt Qorei?] and I have to say he was correct to do so. The sentiment expressed by the Queria, that now more than ever they should meet to negotiate in an attempt to revive the Road Map, doesn't address the PA's responsibility to stop terrorist attacks and either the PA won't, in which case they are bargaining in bad faith or they can't, in which case they don't have the necessary authority and control over the "militants" so what is to be gained by bargaining with them except to confer undeserved legitimacy?

I should also note that the PA condemned the terrorist attack and called for a ceasefire - again.

3/14/2004

Spain 

Mar. 14 - The vote is in and the result is what most of us suspected it would be: a repudiation of the Popular Party, formerly led by Jose Maria Aznar, and victory for the socialists.

I had commented earlier that the fact that the vote was taking place at all was one victory against terrorism. I don't know what domestic issues dominated the elections, but on this side of the Atlantic we have only been focused on three issues: their participation in Iraq, their war on terror, and their foreign relations. That's not fair, but it is reality.

The main reason I feel the fact that the elections went forward constitute one form of victory over the terrorists is because I remember a different Spain, one ruled by Franco. A blood civil war in that country was seen by many as an opening salvo by fascism to extend its grip beyond Germany, and many men and women went to Spain to fight for the loyalists. They were defeated, and some years later another battle between fascism and the forces of democracy was replayed with all of Europe as the battleground.

The success I was looking at - with an admittedly glass half full perspective - was that the elections were not postponed or even cancelled, that the country was not placed under martial law, and that the governing party probably knew they were going to lose yet adhered to the Spanish constitution and the elections went as scheduled.

Those who remember Franco's Spain know what Franco would have done because we remember what he did.

A lot of things about this election weren't fair. It wasn't fair that a people who struggled against fascism and succeeded in restoring their Republic and constitutional monarchy were targeted for death by a group that doesn't believe in adhering to Constitutions.

It wasn't fair to thrust the Spanish people into the international spotlight and have their election be held under world scrutiny so soon after a terrorist attack that killed 200 men, women and children and left over 1500 wounded.

It wasn't fair that we hoped they could see beyond the attack and recognize that they were being manipulated by either al Qaeda, ETA or an as yet unknown group.

It wasn't fair that they had no chance to recover their equilibirium before casting their votes.

It wasn't fair. But, to repeat, it is reality.

The Prime Minister elect, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, does not have a majority government, The Socialist Party apparently having won 148 of the 350 seats in Parliament and 42.07% of the popular vote compared to the the Popular Party's 37.6% (although the CNN story does not mention how many seats they or other parties won.)

One thing I do know is that the new Prime Minister and the Socialist Party will find, as others before them have found, that being in Opposition and sniping from the sidelines is easy, but things look a lot different when you actually have control over and, more importantly, responsibility for the country.

No one can be sure of how future electorates in Western countries will react if (or, more likely, when) placed in a similar position. They will have one advantage over the Spanish, though, because of what happened in Spain - 20/20 hindsight.

And, tangentially, this event proves another axiom: that those who have been deprived of freedom value it the more fiercely. Despite the terrorist attacks in Iraq March 2, the interim constitution was signed.

Will future electorates mirror the Iraqis or the Spanish?

Interesting times.

UPDATES: Mar. 15 07:18: Paul analyzes the elections results and reports a conversation with Alina (yes, she is fine!) and her perspective on why people blame the Partido Popular.

07:46: Tim Blair has a round-up of bloggers' reactions and Andrew Sullivan made an exceptionally apt point.

Sunday work 

Mar. 14 - Work beckons . . .

Iowahawk had a post on Mar. 12 which noted News You Can Use which is targeted squarely on media coverage of Mar. 11 and a message to Our Brothers in Spain.

It's early yet, but I suspect Let It Bleed, Trudeaupia, Le Blog de Polyscopique and Canadian Comment will be taking a critical look at the Canadian media pundits. (This is in haste so I've probably overlooked some, but see True North blogroll for more CanCom.)

Paul has been posting translations of media accounts from Spain and could use our prayers to sustain him until he hears from Alina.

Robert is following the media accounts from the UK.

We're all watching the Spanish elections today, but need to remember that, whatever the outcome, the fact that they are taking place at all constitutes one victory against terrorism.

Mark Steyn's column with the Chicago Sun Times is up here and today he takes a look at the media handling of the arrest of Susan Lindauer.

I guess I take it for granted that people read Instapundit, Belmont Club, USS Clueless, ScrappleFace and Frank J..

Spain 

Mar. 14 - [Note: bumped to top]

01:23: Tape claims al Qaeda responsible for terror attack and Spanish National Police have arrested 5 people, 3 Moroccans and 2 Indians, in connection with Thursday's terrorist attack in Madrid. Another article on yesterday's events here contains this:
The bag that provided the police with vital clues is believed to have been taken from the devastated train during the rescue effort and piled up with abandoned luggage after the blasts.

Station attendants were alerted when a mobile phone alarm went off in the bag. It had been set for 7.39pm, rather than 7.39am as the bombers intended. The 10 bombs that did go off were all detonated by mobile phone timers.

It is believed the mobile in the bag has been linked to another telephone found in a stolen Renault van parked in Alcala, from where the doomed trains left for Madrid. The police were suspicious because the van contained detonators and a tape of Koranic verses.
In some ways, I wish the above details hadn't been released, but maybe it's heartening to remember that even with terrorists, mistakes lead to arrests. In the first WTC attack, one of the conspirators was apprehended when he tried to collect his deposit from the rental company from which he obtained a van.

UPDATE: 08:29: Paul has translated articles from La Vanguardia on the election and investigations into the Madrid attack here, here, here, and here. (They are consecutive posts, so you could link on the first and then click on subsequent posts.)

Better option: Paul has posts organized by categories, so you can read ongoing commentary at Spain which includes tributes to the killing of Spanish intelligence officals in Iraq.

UPDATE: 09:26: Article in today's Sun about the purported al Qaeda tape and documents found on an Arabic language website discovered by Norwegian defence department researchers which discusses attacking Spain right before the elections. One of the documents notes:
"We must make maximum use of the proximity to the elections in Spain in March next year. Spain can stand a maximum of two or three attacks before they will withdraw from Iraq," Norway's VG newspaper reported the documents as saying.

"The fact that they specifically mention the election in Spain makes us have to see this in the light of the action in Madrid, three days before the election," researcher Thomas Hegghammer said.

The documents do not refer to Thursday's attacks in Madrid but outline a strategy to put pressure on Spain, described as the weakest link in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, to stop co-operating with the United States.
Damian makes some very solid comments on the challenges this poses to the Spanish electorate and, in fact, the world.

Interesting op-ed in the today's Daily Telegraph (UK) Spanish Proudly Defiant in the face of terror:
The scenes on the streets of Madrid last night were profoundly impressive. It is a pity that Britain, unlike Italy and France, was not represented by its Prime Minister. The Castilians, like the British, are not given to self-indulgent expressions of emotion; perhaps even the murderers who planned Thursday's outrage will have been taken aback by the white-hot anger they have provoked.

[...]

For the Basque extremists also hate Mr Aznar, and for much the same reason as their Islamist counterparts: his unswerving opposition to terrorism, which - unlike that of certain European politicians - is not confined to the realm of rhetoric.

In its dealings with the Basques over the past eight years, Spain's conservative government has achieved something that has eluded Tony Blair in Northern Ireland: it has driven a wedge between the apologists for terror and their natural constituency.
(The DT supports the Conservative Party.) The main point of the editorial is one that more newspapers seem to be recognizing:
Mr Aznar announced yesterday that people from 11 nationalities - mercifully including no Britons - perished in the bombings. That fact, in itself, underlines the wisdom of his belief that, in terms of the threat it poses to the world, terrorism is indivisible.

Eta or al-Qa'eda, alone or together: the identity of the murderers matters less than our ferocious determination not to make the political changes that the murders are intended to effect. Mr Aznar possesses such determination in spades.
Mark Steyn makes a similar argument here and here but with Steynesque prose.

Tim Blair has a post indicating that some others in Europe, notably Norway and France, are finally seeing the light.

Iberian Notes has some observations about the arrests and elections here, here and here.

UPDATE: 0919: More updates from Iberlian Notes here and here. Quoting from the second post: The death toll in the Madrid bombings has reached 200, and the wounded count is at 1511. 266 people are still hospitalized, with 17 in critical condition, 41 in very serious condition, 138 in serious condition, 42 in good condition, and 28 in an undisclosed condition.

UPDATE: 10:00: I found the link I couldn't find at 1 am to the Le Monde editorial that may indicate a shift in the French government over at Gary's website. (Yes, I know I could have just remembered Andrew Sullivan first spotted and translated it. It was 1 am . . .)

Adscam 

Mar. 14 - Lorrie Goldstein offers 20 simple rules for keeping our votes. They are all excellent (probably because they are simply common sense rules) but this one is most relevant to the over-use of consultative fees:
5) If your main problems are that your nuclear plants are breaking down and your electrical transmission grid desperately needs repair, no amount of consulting advice - whether Liberal or Tory - is going to help you. You need to fix the problem, not get more advice on how to "spin" the problem.
Greg Weston notes that had the government paid attention to Allan Cutler, the whistleblower who alerted those in charge in 1994 that there were worrisome violations in the awarding of public contracts, Adscam and the whole fiasco might have been avoided.

A 'poster boy' for tragedy 

Mar. 14 - Everyone remembers Ali Ismail Abbas, the young Iraqi boy who was orphaned and left a multiple amputee by a bombing strike during the Iraq War. Many hearts and wallets opened to try to provide care and hope for this young man, but there are some questions as to whether committments were honoured and how much of the money raised to assist him - if any - has been used for that purpose.

A Canadian doctor, Iraqi-born Dr. Falah Hafuth, is one of those who remained committed to Ali. Nearly a year after the war, Dr. Hafuth has some serious questions and concerns about Ali and how the aid promised him has failed to materialize.

UN to conduct inquiry into its Iraq oil-for-food 'scandal' 

Mar. 14 - A formal announcement is expected next week stating that the UN will conduct inquiry into its Iraq oil-for-food program:
The United Nations has bowed to international pressure to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding its oil-for-food programme, under which Iraqi oil was sold on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The move follows claims that UN officials were caught up in a reward system set up by Saddam, which apparently granted proceeds from the sale of million of barrels of oil to friendly politicians, officials and businessmen around the world.

Iraq's new governing council has hired the accountants KPMG and the international law firm, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, to investigate claims that large sums of money - which should have been spent on food and medicine for ordinary Iraqis - were diverted through oil "vouchers" to line pockets abroad.

[...]

Mr Hankes-Drielsma [British businessman and former chairman of the management committee at Price Waterhouse accountants] launched the governing council inquiry after Mr Annan offered no response to the documents from the Oil Ministry. KPMG accountants and the Freshfields law firm have been instructed to investigate a list of irregularities including:
UN approval of oil contracts to "non-end users" - middlemen who sold their stake on for a profit.

A standard 10 per cent addition to the value of oil invoices, which generated up to £2.2 billion in illegal cash funds for Saddam.

A fee of two per cent, levied on all oil-for-food transactions to allow the UN to inspect all food and medical imports - which does not appear to have been effectively spent since food was rotten and medicines out of date.

The role of Middle Eastern banks, their auditing and their possible suspected connection to Saddam's secret service.
Mr Hankes-Drielsma last night described to The Telegraph three documents on which he said the name of the UN official appeared, and said: "Our report will clarify the details."

One is headed, "Quantity of Oil Allocated and Given to Mr Benon Sevan," and records 1.8 million barrels allocated to Mr Sevan.
Assistant Secretary General Benon Sevan's name appeared on a list purporting to be people who had received oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein.

I wish I could think of something suitably gratifying to say but, after agitating and pushing for so long, I'm flat. Go figure.

3/13/2004

Uprising in Northern Iran 

Mar. 13 - Both Damian Penny and Roger Simon are covering the story of an uprising in North Iran.

Nothing on this in the mainstream media yet.

Today's reading 

Mar. 13 - I'm off to work, so refer you to the blogroll and, in particular, check out these folks

Bob at Let It Bleed,

The good folks over at Canadian Comment (and note the new url)

Murdoc

Roger Simon

Jaeger at Trudeaupia

Spin Killer,

Laurent at Le Blog de Polyscopique

Anthony at The Meatriarchy and Bill at Eject! Eject! Eject! are working on major projects and may be finished today.

Steven at USS Clueless has an insightful post about the Iraqi intermin constitution and how it compares to the constitutions of the US and EU.

Weather alert: sunny and bitterly cold in Toronto.

Spain Defiant 

Mar. 13 - Front page of the dead-tree Toronto Sun reads SPAIN DEFIANT - Millions pour into streets to protest terrorist attacks that killed 199.

I know it's a tabloid and tends to be sensationalist, but when it comes to the important issues, the Sun gets it right. And their permalinks last longer than 2 weeks.

The story, Millions rally in Spain, includes the estimate that over 11 million people demonstrated across Spain yesterday.

More Sun coverage about Spain: trains still running, the upcoming election, the the recent reference to Spain in a Bin Laden (?) tape, the Greek request for assistance from NATO to provide security for the Olympics and comparing the numbers of casualties between Sept. 11 and Mar. 11.

Paul lays to rest some misunderstandings about ETA which I wish CNN, the BBC, and the lot of them would freaking read and take to heart.

Iberian Notes posts about the reaction of the Spanish press to the bombings (just keep scrolling and read all the posts) and reports that La Vanguardia is planning to run obituaries for all the victims:
Part of the tragedy here is that the people killed were all solid citizens, among the best and the brightest, family people, people on the train before 8 AM to get to work or school. These were people with prospects, responsible and dedicated people, people who made a difference in the lives of those around them.
Back Seat Drivers also has continuous commentary and makes some pertinent observations on those who used the event to score political shots.

Coverage of the demonstrations yesterday and a summation of who did it in Bombs were Spanish-made explosives and here's something I nearly overlooked when first reading it late last night:
Authorities said they found and safely detonated three more bombs, apparently set on timers to explode later, when rescuers and security forces were on the scene.
Robert continues his excellent coverage of the British press and the necessity to place our lives in the hands of strangers when we use mass transportation systems.

Vennet and Adscam 

Mar. 13 - More patronage appointees are culled: Michel Vennet, head of the Business Development Bank of Canada was finally, and I do mean finally, fired.

Technically the controversy over Vennet, Beaudoin and the bank are not part of Adscam so belong to an earlier scandal called Shawinigate but I'm not in the mood to distinguish between rats today. The same arrogance and corruption ties these scandals together and I'm going with what they have in common.

Anyone who's been reading Andrew Coyne might be excused for wondering what took them so long when lesser figures were summarily fired for lesser offenses and because I'm suspicious I wonder if they just gave him time to, er, tidy and clean out his files and computer records. As is noted here, they are suddenly reviewing the Governor-General's expenses or are they trying to change the subject?

Politics of diversion? In Canada? Oh, my!

The latest Adscam revelation: even the small amount of money allotted to the Department of Defense was subject to theft:
So far, only one federal employee, civilian director Paul Champagne, has been fired after auditors discovered national defence had paid $160 million for military computer hardware and support services it never received.

The principal company involved, Hewlitt Packard, has said that Steve Bailey, a sales representative who worked with Champagne, is no longer with them.

[...]

Tory Cheryl Gallant noted the Financial Administration Act limits the signing authority for public servants to $250,000. "How could one person have signing authority for $160 million?" she asked.
Andrew Coyne has more here and here.

3/12/2004

Another Silent Noon in Madrid 

Mar. 12 - Solidarity with our friends in Spain:

UPDATE: 20:00: Don Sensing has some screen shots of today's demonstrations in Madrid. CNN reported earlier than between 7-10 million people turned out in cities across Spain.

UPDATE 18:13: Is the media still failing to understand still that all terrorists are terrorists? That answers itself if you've watched or read the news at all today.

Tim Blair has posted A Sad Postcard From Spain which need to be read, absorbed, and re-read.

Robert echoes their sentiments with a simple suggestion:
Simply go after both ETA and Islamist terrorists.

And, as was said in a different context, "Let God sort them out."

Problem solved.
UPDATE: 15:29: Estimates place those who turned out in Madrid at 2,000,000. There were also affirmations of strength in other Spanish cities including Valencia, Barcelona, and Bilbao, which is the largest city in the Basque region.

And there is this:
Among those attending the rallies in Madrid were Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, European Union President Romano Prodi and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
It. Takes. Time to build a coalition, and there will be challenges other than Iraq as the effort to end terrorism continues.

It was long ago, Sept. 21, 2001, when President Bush spoke these words before the Joint Houses of Congress:
This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded -- with sympathy and with support. Nations from Latin America, to Asia, to Africa, to Europe, to the Islamic world. Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all.

The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if this terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror, unanswered, can not only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments. And you know what -- we're not going to allow it.
I was reminded of these words when I read Gerard Vanderluen's words here:
Terrorists will succeed. Terrorists have succeeded. Terrorists and Terror will continue to thrive and to live ...until... until there is a stark moment of decision that comes to all the people of the Earth that wish to live lives free from terror.

At that moment, we will cease hearing from the current crop of bland pap peddlers such as John Kerry and his ilk about the need to “understand.”

At that moment, we will no longer credit the pundits and columnists who whine and report on the “oppression” and “despair” from which all this springs.

At that moment, we will begin to see very real and immediate demonstrations, on the home soil of every government on Earth that supports these insects, that there will be a heavy at-home price to pay for indulging or promoting the sick mindset of terrorism.

At that moment, there will be an abrupt end to this dilly-dallying discussion of “Who did what to whom when and why and with what,” as if the whole problem were just a night-out at a Clue Party.

At that moment, the war against terrorism will move out its retail phase and go wholesale.
We will win this fight if we remember that right now, our survival renders the intermittent hic-cups in the economy irrelevant. We will win if we remember to keep the aims of this war at the forefront. There have been many distractions (and maybe French-bashing is one of them) but each atrocity serves to remind us that disunity is the friend of our enemy.

What American did not find themselves thrown back to Sept. 11 yesterday as if in a time-loop?

The media tried so hard to keep us on track - the Kerry blooper into a live mike, Tdod Bertzuzi (google avoidance alert), the saga of Matrha Stewatr, employment figures - and they failed. 'Fess up: I'm not the only person who sent furious emails to CNN and demanded they cover the demonstrations today in Spain. This morning and into the afternoon they've been covering the real story, the one over there, and it doesn't make up for their lapse when Bali was bombed but it's a start.

We are at war. The people of the world who live by constitutions and laws and consensual government are at war against those who would impose their rule on us either by fear or conquest and we will not surrender.

13:40: The scenes on TV of the Madrid demonstrations of solidarity with the victims of yesterday's attacks are at once beautiful and sombre. I found myself repeating my pattern of 2-l/1 years ago: turning on CNN every hour (or less) just in case.

As this guest op-ed by Javier Marias (Another Silent Noon in Madrid) demonstrates, though, the Spanish have always made a unified response in the aftermath of terrorist attacks:
The terrorist attacks almost always happen in the early morning. Whether it turns out that yesterday's train-station bombings were the work of the usual suspects — the Basque terrorist group ETA — or of Al Qaeda or another group altogether, the murderers stuck to the usual timetable.

Spain has developed a customary response to these morning attacks. At noon, the local officials in every Spanish city stand outside the doors of their buildings, in heat, cold or rain, for a minute or two of silence. They're joined by anyone who wants to join them, whoever happens to be nearby. It makes a strong impression, this silence of mourning and condemnation, a collective hush maintained by people who interrupt their tasks or their errands to stand wordlessly in the middle of the street. Any curse or outcry against the murderers is usually quieted, because at those moments true condemnation consists of saying nothing. And no matter how many times the tradition has been repeated over the course of far too many years, it loses none of its force.

Unlike the terrorists, I get up late. From my balcony I can see the Ayuntamiento, or city hall, which stands at the heart of the capital. If I'm absorbed in writing, a sudden silence lets me know an attack has happened. Who could it have been? I wonder. Who was it this time? Some poor town councilman who was also a carpenter or the owner of a candy store? A journalist? A soldier? A policeman? A judge? A mother and her children who just happened to be going by when the bomb went off? Perhaps this time it was some firefighters who were helping the first round of victims when a second, delayed bomb mowed them down during their rescue work.

Yesterday, from inside my house, I noticed that strange silence. I went to the balcony and saw the mayor and the entire city council, those from the mayor's party and the opposition, standing in front of the Ayuntamiento in silence. There were many more ordinary people than usual, just standing there. The flags were at half-staff.

"It's happened again," I thought, and wondered who it could have been this time. But yesterday that question had no answer, because for the moment there were only anonymous corpses, more than 190 of them as I write these lines. There were at least 10 bombs altogether, at three Madrid train stations, just when the commuter trains were full of people on their way to work, students on their way to class, sleepy people who had just gotten out of bed.

It is the bloodiest terrorist attack in Spain's history, and it took place only a couple of days before the general elections, the elections we never fail to vote in — at least those of us who lived under Gen. Francisco Franco and yearned to be able to vote at least once in our lives — however little we like the political parties currently on offer.

Eventually we will find out which group was behind this atrocity. But even if the ETA isn't responsible for yesterday's bombings, the attack serves as a reminder that Spain has switched from one dictatorship to another. Indeed, it's quite evident that the ETA misses the Franco era. Back then, it could at least appear to be a "resistance" group. These days, set as it is in a democracy, it cannot.
Moving affirmation that the Spanish hold their democratic ideals dearly.

America Mourns With Spain 

Mar. 12 - Pictures and story at Instapundit of today's expression of mourning and solidarity with Spain at their embassy in D.C.

Adscam 

Mar. 12 - Martin aides tied to scandal:
Aides to Prime Minister Paul Martin have been linked to an advertising firm involved in the sponsorship scandal, according to newly-released documents. Martin's former chief of staff at the finance department, Terrie O'Leary, and a former legislative assistant, Karl Littler, were both identified in documents in which Groupe Everest was awarded a lucrative contract in 1996.

Littler is now Martin's Ontario organizer and O'Leary remains a trusted adviser.
According to this, the commissions were being funnelled to friendly ad agencies in 1994.

The drip, drip, drip as each revelation comes out . . . what will be the ultimate impact on Canadians?

UPDATE: 15:08: The owner of the Auberge Grand-Mere, Yvon Duhaime, which was at the heart of the Shawinigan scandal some years ago, has been charged with arson.

Susan Lindauer 

Mar. 12 - Susan Lindauer, the Former U.S. Aide Accused of Working With Iraq, has quite a history. She also has quite an ego:
"I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else," she said.
More than anybody? Uh, no.

The NY Times confirms that she is the same woman who asserted that Syria was behind the Lockerbie bombing.

And and there is this:
Ms. Lindauer is the fourth person charged in connection with what officials described as a widening investigation into improper intelligence gathering in the former Iraqi mission in New York City under the Hussein government.

Khalid Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, a Jordanian who lived in the Chicago region and who published Arabic periodicals, has been convicted of conspiring to pass information to Iraqi intelligence officials in New York City before the war, and he is due to be sentenced this month.

In addition, two sons of a former Iraqi diplomat in New York City have been charged with secretly aiding Iraqi intelligence officials. Ms. Lindauer was charged as part of the same indictment as the two brothers, Wisam Noman al-Anbuge and Raed al-Anbuge.

Thomas Nooter, a lawyer for Raed al-Anbuge, said the brothers appeared to have had contact with some of the same Iraqi intelligence agents Ms. Lindauer is accused of contacting. But he said he is aware of no other connections between the two cases, and he suggested that prosecutors had joined the cases only to delay the brothers' trial.
Wrong, Mr. Nooter. Authorities probably delayed the arrest due to Ms. Lindauer's connection to Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun and her campaign in the Democrat presidential candidacy race.

I was tempted to regard her as a nut until I read the Washington Times article which contains a rather chilling paragraph:
According to court papers filed in the case, Miss Lindauer met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Manhattan, N.Y., on Oct. 14 and Oct. 19, 1999, and "accepted a task" from the Iraqi agent.

Under an alias, Miss Lindauer supplied the Iraqis with the location, employment and family status of Iraqi expatriates in the United States, including the son of an Iraqi diplomat, the documents state.
I hope none of those she reported on or their families came to harm under from the former regime.

The day after the attack in Madrid 

Mar. 12 - The email address for the Canadian Spanish Embassy is embespca@mail.mae.es (thanks to Damian.)

The addresses for the Consulate General of Spain in Toronto are 200 Front Street West and 55 Bloor St. West. and their email address is cgspain.toronto@mail.mae.es (thanks Bob.)

Glenn Reynolds has posted on how and where to send flowers and condolences to the Spanish Embassy in DC and here is a list of Spanish consulates in the US from a transplanted Canadian living in the SF Bay Area.

The death toll is now at 198. I marvel that I am now two people: one who can type that sentence with detachment and another who took several minutes to get past that sentence. We've been through this before - Sept. 11, Oct. 12, March 2 - and it hasn't gotten any the easier.

No. We won't learn to shrug and be worldly, sophisticated or nuanced about arocities. We will be horrified, grieved and furious each and every time. The Spanish people were stunned yesterday; today they will mourn and defy the terrorists; Sunday they will vote. Because that is what we do. We stare down the terrorists by re-affirming who and what we are. We stand up and shout "NO!"

James Lileks in today's Bleat hit on the substance:
When I heard the Spanish PM’s address to his nation, I was struck by a repeated mention of “The Constitution.” Spain has one. So does Iraq. Spain was a fascist nation. So was Iraq.

The appeal to a document is more than a nod to flowery words on expensive paper; it’s an appeal to a shared idea, a concept of justice that resides in natural law, a notion of civil society that derives its legitimacy from the assent of the governed, not the dictates of generals.
Read the whole thing, and follow the link to PM Aznar's speech yesterday. An excerpt:
We're on the Constitution's side. It's the pact of almost all Spaniards that guarantees the liberties and rights of all. It's also the great accord over our political regime, and it's the expression of our united and plural Spain. We won't change our regime neither because they kill nor for them to stop killing.

That's why I tell all Spaniards that we shouldn't aspire to anything else less than the complete defeat of terrorism, its complete and total defeat, its unconditional surrender.
He called upon the Spanish to demonstrate against terrorism under the slogan "With the victims, with the Constitution, for the defeat of terrorism."

The elections will happen on Sunday. The city elections happened after a brief delay in New York. The constitution in Iraq was signed after a brief delay. Rule by Constitution will remain the benchmark of civilization, and those who would disrupt that will fail.

Those who don't see the connection between the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism don't understand the moral underpinnings of rule by constitutions as opposed to rule by caprice.

Those who don't understand why countries which were under fascists heels - Italy and Spain - were forthright in their support of the war in Iraq cannot hope to understand the rightness of the ongoing struggle against fascism.

Both CNN and CBC Newsworld are again treating the terrorist attacks in Madrid as their top story early this morning (as opposed to the fluff they served up last night.)

Christianne Amanpour reported having similar feelings as she had Sept. 11 upon seeing the outpouring of sorrow - the spontaneous shrines that have sprung up with candles, flowers and verses. She's still behind the curve: had she read any blogs yesterday she and CNN might have caught up sooner.

As many others have posted: Now we are all Spanish. It's not the first time that we have felt this solidarity with Spain as we remember the terrorist attacks their forces suffered in Iraq. We have also felt solidarity with Australia, Poland, Italy, the UK, Bulgaria, and the other countries that have stood with us there and around the world.

How odd that, whereas the transnationalists talk about it, we feel it. We feel this solidarity that allows us to cry when we see the images of train cars twisted and bent out of recognizable shape or the frantic digging in a mass grave in Iraq or the horror on faces in Israel after a bomb destroys a pizza parlour. And we feel it all the more strongly because we understand the nationalism within ourselves, not in the chauvinist sense but in the unifying sense that pride, love and affection for one's country and fellow citizens may be accompanied with a wry smile but becomes fierce when attacked.

Enough of my thoughts.

The timeline demonstrates that the 10 bombs went off within a 13 minute period.

Expat Yank has the latest news reports and analysis from the UK and a sleepless Paul is translating news reports from Spain into English.

This BBC report finally addresses the scenario that I think has been playing in the back of most of our minds:
The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, says the nightmare scenario for Spain would be a collaboration between Islamic and Basque groups.

He says recent events in Iraq have shown how different groups can work together in a common cause.
IRA collaboration with Palestinian and Columbian terrorist groups preceeds Iraq and that fact had probably led intelligence services to examine the possbility long before yesterday's events.

Bin Laden previously made the 15th century expulsion of the Moors from Spain his cause and called upon his followers to seek to reclaim the country. The blasts in Morrocco last year were by a Spanish restaurant. Do we need to help the memories of the media? It's probably useless anyway.

The Spanish government has asked the Israeli's to assist in the investigation, which increased my respect for them even more. There was a nice sub-textual message in that request.

We are all in this together.

3/11/2004

Terrorist attack in Madrid 

Mar. 11 - I'll keep adding links as I locate them and updating in reverse order so the latest will be on top. I'll also change the time on the post to keep it on top.

UPDATE: 20:29: The Dissident Frogman has captured my thoughts and, I suspect, that of many others in his post Terror? No:
It's a determined combination of burning rage and cold fury.

My first thoughts for Spain, at the end of this bloody day, are strictly identical to those I had for the USA in the evening of 9/11.

At least 190 dead now.
Bury and mourn them.

At least 1240 wounded now.
Dress their wounds.

And then, hunt the enemy down, whoever and wherever they are. Hunt them down relentlessly. Never give up. Not now, not in ten years, never. Hunt them and terminate them. All of them.

You can't give up, and you have at least 1430 good reasons for that now.
(Bold and italics in original.)
UPDATE: 19:47: I'm too tired to do precision math, but Burnside says it' been 911 days since 911 and that seems about right. This update from CNN is somewhat inconclusive as to who is to blame for this morning's horror in Madrid.

UPDATE: 17:00: The death toll is over 192. Paul is finally online, and consider it required reading. Send you best thoughts and wishes to him as he tries to track down a good friend in Madrid, and Nick has extremely relevant memories and thoughts.

Robert of Expat Yank is tracking the news as it appears in the British media and has heard more details from the communication to the London newspaper than I've seen thus far.

This is so grievious, and so full of anger and horror. If those bastards think they are going to scare people into submission they picked the wrong human race.

UPDATE: 16:37: According to this from Australia, London's Arabic-language daily Al Quds Al-Arabi has received a letter purporting to be from al Qaeda in which they take responsibility for the Madrid bombing.
The group, calling itself The Brigade of Abu Hafs Al-Masri, said it was acting in the name of al-Qaeda in a letter to London's Arabic-language daily Al Quds Al-Arabi.

It said one of its "death squads" had penetrated "one of the pillars of the crusade alliance, Spain".
UPDATE: 15:07: The possibility of an al Qaeda link isn't so remote. My eldest just reminded me that Zawahiri mentioned Spain in the latest tape, and there's been a discovery of detonators and a tape in Arabic. Fox link here.

UPDATE 10:39: The death toll has gone over 180. I found Inside Europe: Ibernian Notes and Back Seat Drivers through Instapundit. They seem to be updating and tracking the developments in a very timely fashion. It must be hard, and I doubt I'm the only one having flashbacks to events 2-1/2 years ago.

Iberian Notes makes the point that those news media which identify the ETA as a "separatist group" are inaccurate as there are many people who agitate for separation but do not support terrorism. Seems another instance wherein trying appear balanced and even-handed means spreading misinformation.

09:50: Some early links here and here. CNN TV is doing a fairly credible job of reporting this terrorist attack as is the CBC (they even broadcasted a statement by PM Aznar.)

ETA is denying responsibility for the attack and says it was done by "Arab resistance," and I can't help thinking of recent reports that France was inspecting every inch of their railroad tracks due to threats from an unknown group.

Spain is a coalition partner in Iraq and has had numerous arrests and prosecution of of al Qaeda suspects there.

Today's March 11.

I can't justify the feeling I have but I think there is something here that requires more open-minded investigation.

UN Oil for Food Program - update 

Mar. 11 - This is going to be a tour because there's a fair amount out today about the Oil for Food Program.

Start here for the opening scene.

Now a September, 2002, a Wall Street Journal piece on the Oil for Food Program Kofi Annandersen by Claudia Rossett and her April, 2003, NY Times piece Oil, Food and a Whole Lot of Questions.

Now it's finally March 11, 2004, and there's Kojo and Kofi by Claudia Rosett in the National Review and and article by Therese Raphael in the Wall Street Journal The Oil-for-Food Scandal.

Kofi Annan's son? WTF?

Canada: Adscam meets the man who signed off on the vouchers for the Oil for Food Program. Well, no, but here we are in the midst of a huge scandal about unaccountability by bureaucrats and the Toronto Star highlights segments of Kofi Annan's speech to Parliament here with all the adulation worthy of the Second Coming. And there's this opening remark:
It is often said that "all politics is local." Yet in our globalized age, local events are connected, in a myriad of ways, with situations far afield.
I'm probably interpreting that in a far different way than the Star intended.

Finally, because he has been unrelenting and deserves the final word, Kojo, Kofi & Kerry by Roger L. Simon.

I can't comment rationally on this right now. Events in Madrid are bring back some horrible memories and my heart is breaking at how Spaniards are going through scenes only too similar to those we remember - haunting hospitals and make-shift morgues looking for loved ones, and trying to comprehend the horror.

American charged with spying for Iraq 

Mar. 11 - One Susan Lindauer has been arrested and charged with spying for Iraq (American charged with spying for Iraq.) She is 41 and was arrested in her home town of Takoma Park, Md. Few details about her have been made available.

When in doubt, google: according to this July 2000 Middle East Intelligence bulletin on the Lockerbie investigation:
Last month, MEIB reported that Dr. Richard Fuisz, a major CIA operative in Syria during the 1980s, met with a congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer in 1994 and told her that that the perpetrators of the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland were based in Syria [see "The Lockerbie Bombing Trial: Is Libya Being Framed?" Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, June 2000]. One month after their meeting, the Clinton administration, which holds Libya responsible for the bombing, placed a gag order on Dr. Fuisz to prevent him from publicly discussing the issue.
The December, 1998, deposition made by Susan Lindauer is in the post (although there is no way to verify this.) The deposition advances the theory that Syria, not Libya, was responsible for the bombing of Flight 103 with the intention of striking at US drug agents for disrupting the flow of heroin from Lebanon.

This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald also on the issue of who was responsible for Lockerbie.

According to this next piece from the Daily Egyptian, a Susan Lindauer is a spokeswoman for Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (Ill.). The article would have appeared in April, 1996.

Obviously, I don't know if the woman who was arrested for spying is the same as either or both articles, but both articles do refer to a Congressional staffer by the name of Susan Lindauer.

There will probably be a lot of speculation and theorizing about this should the woman arrested prove to be the same congressional aide noted in the 3 google links. That isn't intentional sarcasm, but is undeniably an understatement.

UPDATE: 13:08 CNN has expanded the story from the measly 3 paragraphs that first appeared and are using the same link. Maybe there will be more information included by the day's end.

UPDATE: 15:05 CNN just identified the arrest woman as having been a congressional aide for two legislators (they didn't mention names) and had worked for two news publications. Googling rules.

UPDATE: 1519: Commenter Sammie found another place when Susan Lindauer's name appears:
Signers of the Peace Pledge. Her name appears under Maryland.

UPDATE: 22:11 Instapundit has more links on Susan Lindauer here and here. The other Congressmen she worked for were Ron Wyden and Peter DeFazio

Syria 

Mar. 11 - Pursuant to the passage of the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, President Bush is required to decide on which two additional sanctions listed in the act will be chosen.

According to this story from CNN, U.S. to hit Syria with sanctions, economic rather than diplomatic sanctions will be imposed and that it's unlikely that components for aviation or communications equipment related to telephones or the internet will be banned.

This reports on a human rights demonstration organized by the Committees for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria in which at least 30 people were arrested for conducting a sit-in before the Parliament Building in Damascus.

It was held on the 41st anniversary of the day the Ba'athists seized power. They declared Syria to be in a state of emergency and the laws they passed to deal with that emergency still are in place.
About 20 minutes into the protest, the main organiser, Aktham Naisse, was detained along with several others.

A Paris-based spokesman for the protest's organisers told Arabic television station al-Jazeera that the campaign for reform was a purely domestic issue for Syria.

"We categorically refuse any foreign pressure, particularly the US pressure [for action against Syria] which we condemn," Ghayyath Naisse said.

"At the same time, we do not believe that the call for reform, which was initiated three years ago, should be disregarded."

3/10/2004

Boy Scouts scammed in Adscam 

Mar. 10 - They even stole from the Boy Scouts? The Scouts in Quebec, L'Association des Scouts du Canada, asked for $250,000 to assist in funding a Boy Scout Milllennium Jamboree and received it, but the Public Works website states the amount contributed was $600,000.
The case joins 720 other files that will come under scrutiny as special counsel André Gauthier seeks to recover sponsorship funds misspent between 1997 and 2001.
Misspent funds. Gotta love the spin!

Groupaction Strategic Communications handled the transaction.

Margolis and Kerry, Sittin' in a Tree... 

Mar. 10 - Bob lets rip with an excellent fisking of Eric Margolis who's adoration of Sen. Kerry is almost frightening in Margolis and Kerry, Sittin' in a Tree.... Heh.

Protest Warrior in BC 

Mar. 10 - Caught this at Canadian Comment (note new url) and followed it over to Le Blog de Polyscopique (it's an alphabetical thing). Read both posts and cheer.

Mounties called in by Copps 

Mar. 10 - Allegations of wrong-doing are coming so fast and furious that it's hard to know when to laugh and when to pause and consider that, much as one (okay, I) may dislike Sheila Copps, there may well be something very wrong going on here. I won't summarize because it's worth reading the accusations she's made that caused the Mounties to be called in by Copps and reading this gave me some more bothersome thoughts about right and wrong.

Both Sheila Copps and Carolyn Parrish are standing Members of Parliament, and they have had to fight to retain the nominations of their ridings (the Canadian equivalent to districts) due to re-districting (so to speak) for the as yet uncalled national election.

See the Parish-Mahoney and Copps-Valeri skirmish round-ups for a summation of some of the dirty deeds (and there are probably enough childish accusations on both sides to make you do the laugh-cry thing) and then look at this account which suggests that PM Paul Martin's desire to tighten his grip on Parliament by controlling who can run might be a credible theory even though he's also the one who gave a name to and promised to address the democratic deficit.

Is he the party leader or the party ruler?

Granted, each of the two MPs has stuck her foot in her mouth on more than one occasion and each might be considered embarassing to her party if not the nation. In short, not too many people would be that sorry to see them depart the national political stage. But.

I'm remembering that purges often start with the least defensible members so that people (who should know better) are generally so relieved to see the irritants go that they don't worry overly on the hows of the matter. Then the purge of less irritable but independent-minded types begins. So when do you decide that it's better to hang together than hang separately?

This isn't only about the Liberal Party, because it would seem irregularities in voters lists cross party lines.

It would be easier if I just declared that they all deserve to be turfed because they suffer from Condit Syndrome, the name I just made up for someone who exhibited supreme stupidity as in continuing to fool around with an intern even after the Clinton unpleasantness, or, in this case, someone who hasn't figured out that the press smells blood and is avidly chasing any and every story that might lead to a scandal.

I was going to link yet another Coyne post but this is getting silly, so just link to Andrew Coyne and read it daily (he seems to like running a blog as his posts are becoming more frequent during the day and he even apologized when he went several hours without posting. Hey, I do believe he's got the blog bug!)

UPDATE: Ugh, read this analysis of Putin courtesey of Bob (I'm hardly suggesting that Martin is quite that bad but some of the signs are worrying.)

UPDATE: I was checking the British press for information of the train bombings in Madrid and ran across another perspective of Putin here. One quote:
Yuri Levada, a veteran political analyst, described him as a "president of hope, not achievement".

A United Nations University for Peace 

Mar. 10 -
OTTAWA -- A United Nations University for Peace campus is set to be built on the city's waterfront. Liberal MP Dennis Mills was given the thumbs up from Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday to move ahead with his plans to bring the campus to Toronto.

After a historic speech to a special joint parliamentary session, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was introduced to Mills by the PM as the man who would make the university a reality for Toronto.

"It is unbelievable," Mills said. "It is the most amazing thing: United Nations Peace University comes to Toronto's waterfront."
Will the students' cars be liable to be towed? Can they be arrested for shoplifting? Will there be rapid-fire weapons cached in the basement?

Annan visits Canada 

Mar. 10 - Two articles about Annan's visit: Annan tells us: 'Aim higher' (that's "us" Canada, not "us" US - he wouldn't dare say that to "us" US because he knows we're crazy) and Agonized voices of Iraq scrupulously ignored: UN rarely acts - instead, it talks.

Mark did a lot of yelling about the Oil for Palaces Food Program (like, thoughout dinner and the news) but I figure you already know about the program and the illegal pipelines to UNSC member Syria.

Maher Arar and Monia Mazigh 

Mar. 10 - I don't quite understand why anyone would be "startled" about this: New twist in Arar case when Ottawa Police Chief Vince Bevan revealed that they cooperated with the RCMP in investigating Arar.

This, however, was startling: Monia Mazigh, Arar's wife, will run as an NDP candidate to represent the Ottawa South riding in the as yet uncalled election.

Hamas seeks a deal to share power 

Mar. 10 - Aw, terrorists groups are trying to establish their turfs without more violence: Hamas seeks a deal although Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin didn't come right out and say that Hamas wants to stake out their claim too.

First the expert analysts and now even the press figured out that without Israeli targets troops to keep order a civil war is brewing.

Conspiracy Friendly Zone 

Mar. 10 - Didn't take long for the accusation that we killed poor little Abu Abbas (although I had a bet riding that it would be made sooner.) Choice quote:
"It's poetic justice," said Ra'anan Gissin, a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "He started as a terrorist in Iraq, he was brought to justice in an Iraqi prison under U.S. control, and he'll be buried in Iraq."
Actually, the place he'll be buried hasn't been made public as of yet, but the sentiment is quote-worthy. We'll probably turn his body over to the PA because it's the right thing to do so there's only a small window for indulging in fantasies.

I'm having very unworthy thoughts of a commander (under protest) ordering those dispatched to turn the body over to the PA not to fly over the Mediterranean.

Link lifted enthusiastically from Paul.

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