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9/30/2003

Paul's back 

Sept. 30 - Paul of All AgitProp, all the Time... is back from Vermont.

Go over and ask him about the Syrup Conspiracy he might deny any knowledge of.

There's another appearance by Murray, the underrated member of the Acopalypse quartet.

I'll be gone awhile, I have to see to the things I happily ignored these last couple of days. And we're out of coffee! That's asking for big trouble in this house.

WaPo interview with former PA security chief 

Sept. 30 - An interview with former PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan in the Washington Post states the obvious: Palestinians Worse Off After 3-Year Uprising.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which spurred President Bush to declare an international war on terrorism, were a turning point for the Palestinians, Dahlan told the AP. "We did not understand 9/11 in a correct and fundamental way that would have allowed us to help the national interest of our people, to bring back the international legitimacy of our [Palestinian] Authority," he said.
Nonsense. They understood it correctly and fundamentally. It was an act of war.

What they didn't understand correctly was the strength of the American people, and how we would respond.

I suspect they still don't.

(Via Neale News.)

The Dixie Chicks Official Artist Club 

Sept. 30 - This is probably the only time I will ever link to The Dixie Chicks Official Artist Club but there were rumours about an open letter from Natalie that has been confirmed by their official website.

The letter tries to be funny, but fails so spectacularly that it ends up being funny. Or stupid. That's the nicest way I can put it.

(Via Neale News.)

Guantanamo translator arrested 

Sept. 30 - Ahmed Melhalba, a physician working as a Civilian Guantanamo translator, was arrested today on charges of espionage for having classified materials in his possession. He is being held by officials of a civilian law agency.

Melhalba was arrested after arriving at Logan from Egypt.

The Fox account says he was pulled aside at Logan by agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency who found the documents, some of which were on his computer. The FBI was called and they interviewed Melhalba.

The FBI has applied for a warrant to search his computer, the significance of which will probably escape those who scream the USA has become a militarist Nazi-like police state.

Recent Blackouts: Coincidence? 

Sept. 30 - It was inevitable that conspiracy theories would arise given the unusual number of blackouts since August in the US, Canada, the UK, Denmark and Italy. I can't deny that I noticed that the countries affected (except Canada) were members of the Coalition of the Willing, and I'm sure terrorism crossed everyone's mind followed quickly by more mundane, earth-bound explanations.

Al Qaeda had issued a statement in which they claimed responsibility for the Northeastern blackout last July, but as it didn't spread panic and, in fact, strengthened some ties to our neighbours, they must have been disappointed. Civilians even got to direct traffic.

The wonderful Sun (UK) compiles the whispers in Dark forces are at work. Excerpts:
One of the most popular is that the Western nations have secretly organised the blackouts as dummy runs against terror attacks.

One US web user said on a chat site: “There’s a good chance this was orchestrated to test public response and as a reminder to be prepared.”

Others believe a top secret US military experiment is to blame, suggesting it had affected the Earth’s magnetic field which caused the cuts.
Behold the unlimited power of the US military. It can control the Earth's magnetic field.
Others attributed the blackouts to aliens taking over the world.

One conspirator said: “The aliens transmit large amounts of electricity into power relay stations and blow out their circuit breakers. It’s all part of their invasion plan and every industrial country will be affected.”

Perhaps the most bizarre explanation came from a conspirator simply known as Acoloss, who said: “Maybe electricity is a form of life and it’s become aware.”
Nobody is blaming Klaatu. How times have changed.

Bill and Tony's excruciating adventure 

Sept. 30 - An interesting feature on a book that has been released, Hug Them Close by Peter Riddell, chief political commentator with the Times, in an article in the Australian press humorously titled Bill and Tony's excruciating adventure.

I remember a leak during the trial of a man said to be from the IRA (who had gone to Columbia to train guerrillas) which stated that the UK government had decided not to inform then-Pres. Clinton of the investigation because they didn't trust his discretion.

Zahra Kazemi 

Sept. 30 - The Canadian ambassador to Iran, Phillip MacKinnon, will return to Iran with instructions to keep an eye on Iran's ongoing nuclear program, the investigation into the beating death of Zahra Kazemi and push for a public trial of the person accused of causing her death, and to press for a return of her body to Canada.

So now he's an expert on the development of nuclear programs. That's a lame attempt to sell his return due to an urgent reason.

Just last week the Canadian government was threatening to suspend foreign aid.

Doesn't it really mean that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is still hoping this issue just "goes away?" "Soft power" indeed. Canada is trying for a Guinness World Record spot as the Most Indifferent when her citizens are arrested and tortured.

Kazemi's death last July gained international attention in great part due to the efforts of her son, Montrealer Stephan Hachemi. There are two petitions at the Project Free Iran website addressed to world leaders which calls them to join in calls demanding that the current regime step down and that the UN oversee a referendum in Iran and free elections.

There is also a lot of news updates and analysis about Iran on that page. Good one to bookmark.

Among other things is the claim that over 120,000 political prisoners and freedom loving Iranians have been executed in Iran over the past 2 decades. Inasmuch as the number of those who were tortured and executed in Iraq under the former regime turned out to be much higher than we suspected, this isn't a claim that can be easily dismissed however much we might wish it weren't true.

9/29/2003

World Tour 1903 

Sept. 29 - From Dustbury, Ken Burns is doing another documentary for PBS:
:In the Age of Teddy Roosevelt, though, a sense of adventure was still something in good supply, and in 1903, a Vermont physician, Dr Horatio Nelson Jackson, having bet $50 (a tidy sum in those days) that he could cross the country in a car in 90 days or less, put his motor where his mouth was, and set off from San Francisco with the hope of getting to New York in one piece.

Return of the Kings trailer 

Sept. 29 At The Lord of the Rings official website. Available in Quicktime for download or insta-view.

Ith pointed the way.

For the Troops 

Sept. 29 - Drew Carey was a Marine! Alpha Patriot has some information about a USO show which featured Drew Carey and Brian Dennehey For the Troops in Iraq.

U.S. Arrests Muslim Activist in Terror Financing Probe 

Sept. 29 - A naturalized US citizen, Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, was arrested when he arrived at Dulles Int'l Airport after an unauthorized trip to Libya and is being investigated in a Terror Financing Probe. The article lists a number of irregularities, but this is notable:
Al-Amoudi also is co-founder of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council, which helps the U.S. military select Muslim chaplains for the armed forces, a system that has recently drawn criticism from Congress following the arrests of a Muslim chaplain on suspicion of spying.
The article makes clear that al-Amoudi has been under suspicion for some time.

The other news from Iraq 

Sept. 29 - Sorry. I took a capsule for my cold, and lay down for a minute. That was several hours ago.

Some more news items that tell a different story than at being fed by those mainsteam journalists reclining by a pool in Baghdad, including this column in the NY Post, here which reminds us that the failure to have a scripted plan is because this is unprecedented and having a scripted plan would lead to failure as it would allow for no improvisation when inevitably required, here which looks at how internet fact checking is successfully challenging the media depiction, and this which considers that Tom Brokaw's coverage may be better because he chronicled WWII (and has "historical perspective"!)

(All links via InstaAlly.)

War on Terror 

Sept. 29 - The Lebanese trial in absentia of Australian Bilal Khazal (whose name has also come up in connection with the trial of Abu Dahdah in Spain) was told that the Australian 'sent cash' to the terror suspect who has been charged with attacks at KFCs and McDonald's outlets in Beirut but a link between the cash and the attacks has not been made.

New Al-Qaeda tape, Old message 

Sept. 29 - Another nifty new tape has surfaced and been aired by the footsoldiers of al Qaeda (no, not CNN.) The voice is believed to be that of al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and his message is that the US targets Islam and complains about a Jewish Crusade but doesn't warn about any imminent attacks on the West.
The tape, aired in excerpts on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, appeared to be recent, as the speaker referred to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India earlier this month and the September 6 resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

"The crusade camp that is led by America and its allies from the infidels and hypocrites is targeting Islam and Muslims, even if it claims that it is fighting terrorism. ... This campaign is seeking to abolish Islam as a doctrine and a law," the voice said.

He said that what the West called terrorism was the Muslim's jihad.

The voice identified as al-Zawahri urged Muslims to "resist this Jewish crusade".
He also claims that the portion of the Sept. 11 hearing report that was blacked out contained a recommendation calling on the Saudi government to be barred from printing and distributing the Koran, and attacks Pakistan Pres. Musharref.

Bin Laden was neither seen or heard.

Terrorism Watch 

Sept. 29 - Al Qaeda coordinator and suspected planner of the Bali blasts last year, Hambali, links JI to al-Qaeda cash. According to Media Indonesia, the US handed over Thai and US police interrogation records to the Indonesia govenment.

Hambali reportedly said that money sent by al Qaeda to assist the families of those arrested after the Bali bombings was used to fund the Marriott Hotel bombings in Jakarta last August.

Women and Sharia Law 

Sept. 29 - CNEWS World - Suspected Taliban rebels burn down girls school in northern Afghanistan. "Nuff said.

Meanwhile, Peter Worthington points out that the quality of mercy under Sharia is quite strained indeed.

Italy Blackout 

Sept. 29 - "It couldn't happen here," sayeth Carlos Andrea Bollino, head of Italy's GRTN electrical network, shortly after the Great Blackout of 2003 which cut power to the American North East and Ontario.

Doesn't this guy know better than to tempt the fates? A countrywide blackout affected 50 million Italians in the dark. The power stayed down for as long as 18 hours in some place.

9/28/2003

Terrorist Whackin' Music 

Sept. 28 - My latest assignment from the Alliance is to come up with music for whacking terrorists.

That's easy: the 1812 Overture. I like efficiency, and nothing says efficiency like cannons taking out the enemy and his shelter and his weapons and his transport and . . . well, you get the general idea.

It celebrates victory.
It celebrates (another French) defeat.
It has church bells.
I saw it peformed live with Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops on the 4th of July (Stop that arithmetic)

My kids think something rave would be better. Hmm

Okay, you want something way more cool? Then I'd go for any live AC/DC recording of Thunderstruck.

As it's full of a cannony staccatoes, I can still visusalize taking out the (thunder) enemy, and his (thunder) shelter, and his (thunder) weapons and his . . . .

Blog Lite 

Sept. 28 - I'm coming down with a cold, and think the fever has affected my cognitive skills (although it could be the brandy in my coffee) but I'm going to highslight a point of major signficance while I'm still conscious:

There has already been a violation. of the truce in the Blogger War, so we must regretfully resume hostilities. Needless to say, it's all Glenn Reynolds's fault.

9/27/2003

Chief Wiggles 

Sept. 27 - Chief Wiggles reports on the attack on the Rasheed Hotel and the USO show with Drew Carey in Iraq.

TOYS. Toothbrushes, pens, pencils, stuffed animals. Flip flops. Maple Leaf tee-shirts. Show Iraqi kids the depth of the Canadian heart.

Man binds bear bites with duct tape 

Sept. 27 - Man binds bear bites with duct tape Like that's news? Not in Canada, but then, we have Red Green, eh?

(Via Ceasefire Violator.)

A Report From the Front 

Sept. 27 - An opinion piece in the NY Post by First Lt. Eric Knapp, currently stationed with the 1st Marine Division In Najaf: A Success Story.
September 26, 2003 -- MY friends and family back in the states are frustrated because every time Najaf - the city in southern Iraq where my unit has been stationed - is in the news, the reports are of conflict between the U.S. forces and armed militias. To hear the media tell it, America has done nothing to improve the infrastructure or security, and the Iraqi public is volatile and seeking revenge.

This is not the Najaf I know. Here's the story lived by those who have worked hand-in-hand with the locals since the end of combat operations: the U.S. Marines.
Read it. It seems the public demand for better information is getting some results. Good on, well, us!

The blogger community is being mobilized in an effort to get Front Line Voices up and running (still in the planning stages, but bookmark the site.)

Note that I'm not talking about cheerleaders, I'm talking about information about the successes, the failures, and the could-have-done-betters. I'm also talking about letting our troops know that folks back home are actually interested beyond the "yeah, sure, I support the troops" kind of dismissal.

Morale. Matters.

20 Questions 

Sept. 27 - Let's play hard ball with the media and demand answers to 20 Questions the Media Will Not Ask Concerning Iraq:
1. Where is all the money from the UN’s Oil for Food Program?

2. How many people have now lived at least six months longer than they would have under Saddam?

3. How many civilians were really killed in the major combat portion of the war?

4. How many civilians have been killed since the end of major combat?

5. How unreliable is the Iraqi electric distribution system in comparison to, say, the Washington, D.C., area system?
I share the sentiment expressed in the closing comment:
NOTE: Some answers might validate my opinions on Iraq; some might blow them to pieces. Either way, I need to know, and so do Americans in general. Why won’t the media ask these questions?
Read the rest. Good questions all for our intrepid investigative reporters currently reclining by the Palestine Hotel swmming pool and those assigned to the UN.

(Link via Treacherous Truce Breaker.)

Asking for a (mini) fisking 

Sept. 27 - Another humourous column from the Toronto Star by Tim Harper, who thinks that Martin may visit Washington before Chretien steps down as Prime Minister.

Jeez, on what basis would Martin visit? He won't be a head of state. Maybe he'll visit the Lincoln Memorial and Smithsonian, and check out the night life.
Insiders in Ottawa, however, say Martin will have difficulty changing the substantive relationship between the two governments because of the hard-line Bush administration view on everything from social issues to trade policy to the obvious difference between the two countries on multilateralism and the Iraqi war.
The USA does not want to become a social democracy. Live with it.
"As long as they are in the White House, how much room is Paul going to have to make a real difference?" one Ottawa source said.
A difference in what? Canada gets along perfectly well with Zimbabwe, France, and Cuba, but can't get along with the USA?

Maybe Canada should proceed with caution, as they do with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. Just a thought. Oh, wait, we'd have to arrest and torture someone, although we'd get their attention faster if we questioned a photographer to death.

Another thought: maybe it would be wise to boost the Canadian army as there's a hostile nation to the south, you know, like, if you're really worried. That would be the normal response when you distrust a neighbouring country's intentions.
"There is a disconnect between the so-called elites in Canada and Canadians," he [well-known Trudeauist Lloyd Axworthy] said.

"Without serious debate, Paul could be setting himself up for serious problems in the next election campaign.

"He cannot ignore the fact a lot of Canadians are saying they don't like Bush and they don't like his policies. What do you do when you have an administration there that is right-wing and anti-internationalist? How do you conduct a constructive relationship with that?"
See comments about Zimbabwe, France and Cuba.

They could try minding their own freaking business, I guess. I find it lucidrous that Axworthy thinks Americans should elect someone on the basis that he meets with the approval of the Canadian Elite.

Maybe Axworthy is calling for is a discussion on the relationship between the USA and Canada. The natural place would be the House of Commons, but "a lot of Canadians" usually means a Royal Commission. Dump NAFTA!

Or maybe it's just the usual, empty rhetoric from a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

I say Bring. It. On. Instead of hiding behind insults and rhetoric, let Canada decide once and for all if they are actual allies, the stuff of which French friendship is made of, or simply declare neutrality.

Or maybe Axworthy means that Canadians and the Canadian Elite should discuss things. Good plan: I'm sure a lot of Canadians would like to know the names of the Axworthy-defined Elite.

But the best (and perhaps most illuminating) is this:
Ottawa fears it would have to deal with Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy defence secretary, or Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, if Powell departs.
Is that honesty or bad editing? I'm sticking with the words; Ottawa is afraid of both Wolfowitz and Rice. Cool.

Just another valiant attempt by the Toronto Star and Liberal Party to seek solutions in healing some canyon-sized rifts between the USA and Canada.

[I love it when my friends back home send me links to these kinds of articles. There is an unwritten disapproval in such communications which makes me feel as though I was supposed to do something about it. Like . . . what?

So I responded for those Who Shall Remain Nameless, but I wish they'd appreciate that whereas there will soon be an election in the USA to determine future policies, there won't be one here.]

Bush-Putin talks 

Sept. 27 - Some meetings are more interesting than others, and the current meeting between Pres. Bush and Pres. Putin at Camp David this weekend is definitely in the more interesting category.

Although a member of the Axis of Weasels, the Russian president did not hurl the kind of invective toward the United States as did France and Germany, but there were some disturbing actions, such as a Russian embassy convoy that belatedly high-tailed it for the Syrian border, and of course Russian was a happy participant in the Oil-for-Palaces/Weapons program, and rumours that Russian military personnel were advising Saddam on the defense of Baghdad.

There is the nuclear reactor in Iran, of course, and the ongoing talks with North Korea (Russia is one of the 6 nations in the talks.)

One topic of discussion will be financial aid to Iraq. I think that, since Russia (among others) stole from the Iraqi people by violating the provisions of the Food-for-Oil program, they make substantial restitution to Iraq.

But then I'm not a diplomat, so I get to say things that aren't tactful.

Canada to take command in Kabul 

Sept. 27 - The Canadian contingent in Kabul will take command of the NATO peacekeeping force in Kabul for 2004.
A Canadian, Maj.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, is deputy commander and Canadian Brig.-Gen. Peter Devlin is the operational head of ISAF's peace-support force, the Kabul Multi-National Brigade.

The Canadian battle group is based in southwest Kabul, patrolling a sector that includes about 800,000 people and extends beyond the city into mountains and rural areas.

The NATO-led force operates separately from the 11,500-member U.S.-led coalition that fights Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents in the south and east.


Al Qaeda suspects held in Iraq 

Sept. 27 - During testimony before Congress, civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer stated there are 19 Al Qaeda Suspects among the 248 non-Iraqi fighters being detained by US forces. This was established not only through interrogations but by documents seized when the fighters were apprehended.

Some of the al Qaeda members have been linked to Ansar al-Islam whose base was wiped out early in the war.

The fighters come from a number of countries, with Syria contributing the largest number (132) followed by Iran and Yemen. Most of them entered Iraq through "ratlines" from that country.

Ratlines. Good phrase. Pithy, pointed and has connotations, like Pied Piper of Hamelin and fits nicely into the flypaper theory (unavoidable mixed metaphor; it works better than The Brave Little Tailor, okay?)

United Nations Security Council member Syria denied assisting or aiding the foreign fighters and claims it is not interfering with US efforts in Iraq.

I call this a good start 

Sept. 27 - Pres. Bush's recent address to the UN called for nations to crack down on rings that prey upon children and a Crackdown on child predators nets 1,000 arrests:
A three-month federal crackdown on child pornographers and predators has netted more than 1,000 arrests, according to the Bureau Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigative arm of the new Department of Homeland Security.

ICE officials launched "Operation Predator" in July, saying government reorganization had brought together resources helpful in identifying and tracking down child predators.

While the operation was wide-ranging in scope, the biggest group of those arrested resulted from comparing ICE databases of people with immigration violations with people on various Megan's Lists -- lists of convicted sexual predators.

The tactic allows ICE to identify child sex offenders who are illegally in the country, and deport them on the belief that they continue to be a threat to U.S. children. Officials in the countries they are returned to are notified about their criminal histories, ICE officials said.

At the same time, ICE officials say they are cracking down on U.S. citizens who go on child-sex tours overseas. This week, ICE officials arrested a man in Seattle who allegedly was returning from a sex tour in Cambodia where he was said to have molested two boys. The man is the first in the nation to be charged under the child sex tourism provisions of the Protect Act, enacted in April.
Do you suppose they'll accuse us of "going it alone?"

Quagmire in Virginia 

Sept. 26 - Angry Virginians Blow Up Power Substation:
The note said the Virginians would continue to hit major power grid sites until electricity is restored and "the infidel power company forces have retreated from our streets."
Actually, they might have a fight on their hands if Meryl hears of it, because she's blogging away now that her power is back on. You might stop by, she's making up for lost time and has a nice story about hawks (I like it because it reminds me of a similar story in an Andre Norton Witch World book.)

And about the French, (never forget/forgive the French,) UN Hails Chirac's Moral Vision. My favourite proposal:
-- A stronger U.N. Security Council which could set bounds to the use of force. Each member nation would be surrounded by a 1000-yard Gun Free Zone, with substantial fines for anyone found possessing a firearm within it. The Council would also triple the average length of the text of resolutions which almost threaten use of force.
Actually, that's going too far. Those resolutions are already Too. Danged. Long.

9/26/2003

Batman in No. VA 

Sept. 26 - I'm waiting for the youngest to come home, and found a new adventure story at Anger Management, Discount Super-Hero.
Anyway, all this is just to set up my story. I should tell you up front that I can't afford a cool Batman suit like the one Michael Keaton wore, so I'm stuck with the Adam West tights. Nevertheless, last night I was driving through Old Town, Alexandria in search for crime to fight when I saw him -- standing outside a pub near the waterfront, all decked out in his Evil Genius garb, it was...the Joker.
Read the whole thing.

There are such incredibly witty people out there. (Via Bad Money, and do scroll around, he's got some links to other funny stuff, and a pretty great sense of humour himself.)

Musharraf Speaks to Canada 

Sept. 26 - Musharraf Calls for Tolerance between Muslims and Christians in a speech in Canada.

Musharraf has always struck me as a leader who cares passionately about his country, his people and their future. He has problems even within the army, but I've been inclined to trust him.

His decision to become a US ally must have been a long, soul-searching process.

New Blog Showcase 

Sept. 26 - I am voting for Animal Cruelty - Update for the new blog showcase.

He talks about an issue close to my heart: personal responsibility, and behaving responsibly with those dependent on you -- animals and, by extension, children.

Tracking down spies 

Sept. 26 - I don't like to monger rumours (unless they happen to conform to my own suspicions, of course,) but I'm inclined to believe the report that the Probe Into Gitmo Spy Suspect Began in Nov. 2002.

Despite the calls to unabashedly rely more on racial profiling, I think there are better reasons not to: one of them is Richard Reid, and the other includes them, many of whom betrayed their country for the money. Ethnic profiling would let them operate more freely.

Nevertheless, it a sad day when the military has to probe their hiring of clerics. At present, clerics are endorsed by American Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America.

The Islamic Society of North America has already been under scrutiny for potential terrorist links, and I'm too pissed off to quote the cries of "we're being victimized and demhumanized and . . ." you know, the usual, but they are in the linked articles.

I'd welcome a change, guys. How about saying something like "This is a matter of concern to us all. Even the suggestion that Muslim clerics are involved in spying has to be seriously examined. It hurts our efforts in the war on terror, and we hope the government gets to the bottom of it."

Bruce Willis entertains the troops 

Sept. 26 - Bruce Willis is not only entertaining the troops in Iraq, he is offering $1m bounty for Saddam (and asking only to be given 4 seconds with him.)
During an interview Willis said: "Peculiar thing back home is that the liberal media was trying to portray it as a bad war.

"But being over here just a couple of days, seeing how well our troops and the allied troops are being received here, (I) think the Iraqi people are happy we're here," the Hollywood star said.

"Children are being taken care of, starting being inoculated, starting being looked after. Wherever these guys go they get thumbs up. They no longer have to contend with the terrorist leader," Willis said
Willis will be going to Tikrit and then to Kuwait. (BBC link via Neale News.)

Toronto 21 down to 15 

Sept. 26 - Three more detainees in the case of a group of Toronto-based men who were arrested on charges they belonged to an al Qaeda sleeper cell and for falsely claiming to attend a long-defunct school have been freed from jail on bond. Ottawa dropped the claim that the three were a threat to national security.

Canadian troops in Afghanistan 

Sept. 26 - It's no surprise that the Toronto Sun supports Canadian troops in Afghanistan, nor is it a surprise that the troops are, among other projects, building schools:
In Qal'ay-eh-Moslem, just south of the Canadian military base, there is an old Soviet army headquarters that Canadian troops will soon transform into a school.

[...]

"It's sort of ironic to see how a military building surrounded by graveyards will be a centre for enlightenment," [Canadian Sgt. Mariangeles] Najlis, 32, said yesterday, after visiting the site with her Afghan contractors. "It's like a metamorphosis. It's actually quite symbolic."
Yes. And I'm also sticking with the theory that some Afghan kids have learned to play hockey.

Maher Arar 

Sept. 26 - Maher Arar is to be tried in a Syrian military-style court and there are no assurances that there will be Canadian representation at the proceedings.

This case has raised a lot of questions, such as how Arar came to be on a list of suspected terrorists (was the RCMP involved?) but to me the biggest question is "Why did the Syrians want him so badly?" If it was because he is suspected of ties to al Qaeda, why didn't the FBI send him to Guantanamo? Sure, there would have been protests by the Canadian government and human rights groups (like that's new) but at least we wouldn't have turned him over to a country known for torture and which has been named as a terrorist state.

The only conclusion that makes sense is that there was some kind of trade-off, but I don't see a clear connection yet (maybe because Syria has raised so many red flags of late.)

Bush to see the Queen 

Sept. 26 - The President and First Lady will be guests at Buckingham Palace during a visit to the UK in November.

Even though I can't explain the bond between the British Monarchy and Americans, the mutual affection is undeniable. Go figure.

God save the Queen!

Child sexual exploitation 

Sept. 26 - Child porn and child sexual abuse is everyone's problem:

The cops

The courts

Us

Be a pack

Can't hide

That's entertainment?

Carlos Delgado 

Sept. 26 - THE top story: Toronto Blue Jay Carlos Delgado, who became the 15th man in baseball history to hit 4 consecutive home runs in a game. He is only the 5th player in the AL to do so.

The Jays won 10-8.

9/25/2003

When myths are just myths 

Sept. 25 - Go here for a link to the myth that the CIA funded al Qaeda. Real dollars and cents facts for a change. One quote only from the item, which is in response to why this myth (like the one that claims the US armed Saddam) persists:
It gives solace to those who want to think the worst of us.

This truly is evil 

Sept. 25 - I'm finding it difficult to find words to explain how horrifying, or maybe revulsive, the information here actually is, but it is something that needs to be known. Just go. And thanks, Paul, for bringing this to light.

The Iraq -- Al Qaeda Connections 

Sept. 25 - From Tech Central Station, The Iraq -- Al Qaeda Connections. It takes the bits and pieces you may have heard before and puts them together in a compelling fashion.

(Link via Israpundit.)

A Plan for Iraq 

Sept. 25 - Defense Secy. Donald Rumsfeld outlines the plan for Iraq with broad strokes in Beyond 'Nation-Building'. He looks at the economic and social situations in East Timor and Kosovo, and then states what I think is an affirmation of our historical confidence and belief in human beings (despite a derailment during the Cold War):
Our objective is not to create dependency but to encourage Iraqi independence, by giving Iraqis increasing responsibility, over time, for the security and governance of their country. Because long-term stability comes not from the presence of foreign forces but from the development of functioning local institutions. The sooner Iraqis can take responsibility for their own affairs the sooner U.S. forces can come home.

[...]

But to help Iraqis succeed, we must proceed with some humility. American forces can do many remarkable things, but they cannot provide permanent stability or create an Iraqi democracy. That will be up to the Iraqi people.
And, to my mind, this precisely why liberals oppose the strategy: it confirms that the Iraqi people will be able to achieve these things by their own efforts and participation. They may need a little help, but are not to be patronized.

The US is not a nation builder, the people who live Iraq and similar countries are their own nation builders.

UPDATE: Defend America has another link for Secy. Rumsfeld's op-ed piece which I'm including in case the WaPo one dies.

(WaPo link from On the Third Hand.)

Baking and Floobling 

Sept. 25 - Here's word of a bake sale with a twist. And also a link to flooble the emails from the poor, disenfranchised civil servants of Zimbabwe, Liberia and Nigeria.

Best of IMAO 

Sept. 25 - I hadn't actually read IMAO straight through ever since the Random IMAO Quote Generator was installed.

I just keep clicking refresh over and over for more quotes, giggling, and so on (I know it's childish, so what?).

Wait a minute, gotta refresh. There.

Anyway, John Hawkins of Right Wing News has kindly put together Best Quotes from IMAO. Enjoy.

Day by Day 

Sept. 25 - I'm pretty sure this could never really happen, right?

Valhalla! 

Sept. 25 - Thanks, Susie, for this.

Too, too funny.

Problems in Ivory Coast  

Sept. 25 - New problems in the Ivory Coast. Following unilateral military intervention, the French had imposed a coalition government last April (Ivory Coast is a former French colony) on both the rebels and the ruling elite, but the rebels have withdrawn from that government, and the President, Laurent Gbagbo is responding by ridiculing rebels.

Good ole BBC. They say the French brokered an agreement, without mentioning that it was French troops that did the brokering and that when the coaliton government was imposed, the rebels warned it was unlikely that Gbagbo would honour the agreement.

Clinton 'outraged' at Chinese 

Sept. 25 - Stop the presses! Sen. Hillary Clinton has just discovered that the Chinese practice censorship!

Hamas tells the truth 

Sept. 25 - I don't think this is exactly a surprise, although it's always good when a group like Hamas openly states it position instead of hiding behind definitions like activists or militant (oh wait, that's the media's characterization): No truce with 'enemy': Hamas:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Hamas will not disarm or accept a truce with Israel, the leader of the militant group said yesterday in his first public appearance since Israeli forces tried to kill him with an air strike. Sheik Ahmed Yassin's announcement undercuts efforts by incoming Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel without confronting the militants.

Yassin, who spoke at a mosque near his Gaza City home, also lashed out at the U.S., saying President George W. Bush "declared war on Islam" and America will be defeated by Muslims.
As the EU is one of the backers of the Road Map, I suppose they will take this as non-compliance and ensure that Hamas funds are frozen.

What is unclear is if they just declared war on the US. We should respond . . .

Chretien - Man of action? 

Sept. 25 - Peter Worthingon writes about Canadian PM Chretien's speech at the UN yesterday (with less sarcasm than I think Chretien deserves):
If interpretations are correct, that was an astonishing speech Jean Chretien made at his final appearance at the UN as prime minister. And about time.

Pity he wasn't so forceful in the past when he might have had more effect.

Noting that the UN had failed miserably to act when human rights abuses were rampant in Rwanda and the Balkans, Chretien asked rhetorically if the UN today was any more ready to act than it was then. His answer: "No."

"The most fundamental duty of state is to protect its people," he said in his address. When states fail to do this and commit horrendous abuses and unspeakable atrocities, the UN has a duty to act against these regimes.
Sorry, but actions speak louder than words, and Chretien's past actions and recent words indicate that the UN (and Canada) should intervene only when France approves.

Further, as Chretien has seen to it that the strength Canada's military has been severely reduced, it is extremely presumptuous that he should tell other countries (e.g., the USA or UK) where they should send their military.

As indicated by this warning from Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Ray Henault: "If we don't transform we become irrelevant" and unless a great deal of money is infused into the military, only way he can pay for the essential overhaul is to take it from other military programs. Henault likened the Canadian military to a "bludgeon" when it needs to be a "scalpel."

I've belonged to organizations that had members who believed there should be a Work Committee and a Think Committee. Chretien and Chirac clearly believe they should be on the Think Committee.

War on Terror 

Sept. 25 - One of the four men wanted for questioning by the FBI last September, Sultan Jubran Sultan al-Qahtani, who was better known as Zubayr al-Rimi, has been killed in Saudi Arabia by security forces there. He had also been a possible suspect in the Riyadh bombing last May.

Al-Rimi had been among those named by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was captured last March and believed to be a rising star in al Qaeda ranks.

The gunfight ended yesterday when the security forces stormed the building. At least one Saudi security forces member was killed, and two of the gunmen were captured.

Al Arabiya quoted a security official who said that among the captured was one of the 4 men named by the FBI.

News 

Sept. 25 - A busy night.

Aquila al-Hashimi, one of 3 women on Iraq's Governing Council, has died five days after she was shot. She had served under the Ba'athists in various positions in their Foreign Ministry which included running the Oil-For-Food program in that Ministry, and it was believed that she was to be named as Iraq Ambassador to the UN by the Governing Council.

A bomb at a Baghdad hotel which was the headquarters of NBC, killing the night manager and wounding a soundman, Canadian David Moodie. The blast was evidently caused by a small bomb placed outside the hotel next to the hut that housed the generator, and although there were no signs indicating NBC was headquartered there, it is probable that they were the target.

Another member of the military is being questions about security violations at Guantanamo. This report from Fox again mentions that a member of the Navy is being questioned, but I don't know if that is the same person referred to in the article.

This article does bring up more questions about Syria [some of us don't have questions, we have definite suspicions about UNSC member Syria, but that's an ongoing story] because among the charges filed against airman Al-Halabi include attempts to pass information to Syria.

UPDATE: This confirms that the 3rd serviceman being questioned is from the Navy. This WT article has some very interesting things about the Syrians including their possible interest in acquiring missiles and WMD as well as possible problems with pro-Syria CIA analysts.

Nigerian Amina Lawal has been freed. The Shariah Court of Appeals ruled that the conviction was invalid because she was already pregnant when Islamic Shariah law was implemented in province. The Lawal case has been the focus of international attention and appeals since her conviction.

9/24/2003

Media Bias 

Sept. 24 - You probably saw the headline Sailors complain about booze limits and didn't think there was hard news in there, maybe?

But the article is about much more, and given the problems the Foreign Affairs Office is having, makes some points that should be considered.

First: the limit on drinking. They are restricted to two drinks when they go ashore in Dubai. How often do you restrict yourself to two drinks? (unless you're driving, of course.) Also, they mingle with British and American soldiers who have no such restrictions.
"This was the single most talked about morale issue during our deployment," says a report from Capt. Paul Maddison, commander of HMCS Iroquois, which returned from a six-month mission in the Gulf on July 29.

Maddison's report recommends relaxing the two-drink limit to allow sailors to drink more as long as it's done responsibly - a proposal National Defence officials have rejected.
Ah, you might think, but there are customs that forbid drinking in those countries.

First mistake: lumping all countries in the Persian Gulf as one.
Iroquois' 265 crewmembers often headed to the Seafarers Mission bar in Jebel Ali, a free-trade zone near Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

"The country itself, while Muslim, has a relatively relaxed attitude towards alcohol," says Maddison's report, obtained under the Access to Information Act.

"It is very common to see the locals in the bars enjoying several glasses of beer."
How about the briefings that the military gives to personnel before deploying them abroad?
The report also says Iroquois' sailors chafed at National Defence rules - also designed to respect Muslim traditions - against certain kinds of casual clothing.

A briefing before the ship sailed from Halifax, for instance, forbade that shorts be worn in the hot climate because "these were considered major insults" in Islam countries.

But Maddison said Dubai and Jebel Ali were accepting of casual dress, contrary to the cultural briefing.

"As a result of this inaccurate brief, our sailors did not bring suitable clothing for the climate," says the report. The briefing was "a waste of valuable time."

Maj. Tony White, a spokesman for National Defence, said the dress code is not being relaxed because the military wants to be extra cautious in the Persian Gulf region.
Cautious. Right.

I kept quiet once William Sampson was released because it became a Canadian internal matter and I walk a fine line up here, but it's not a secret that the Foreign Affairs Office has bungled nearly everything they've done in the Mid-East including the Sampson and Kazemi cases, and it wasn't due to any lack of caution. Much as I despise terrorists, I also deplore Canada's inaction in seeing to Maher Arar's well-being in the Syrian prison.

The disturbing part is that I think this report implies that the Foreign Office and/or the Defense Ministry have a one-size-fits-all approach to Muslim countries, and that is alarming and certainly no way to treat other countries with respect.

Press Conference 

Sept. 24 - Glenn Reynods and Frank J. held a pretend press conference to announce a suspension in hostilties in The Blog War. It's a very funny read, and completely untrue except the part that announces the cessation of hostilities.

The following is true: anyone who reads Instapundit won't be surprised that Glenn R. does support the project to support the troops by making their words, good and bad, available in a central location to offset the unbalanced reporting by Big Media.

Let's be honest: it's worse up here. Although there is a sizeable detachment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, they have to come under fire to get any acknowlegement from the media. Yet they are still living in conditions that, well, only the army can live in, and they are doing a difficult job far from home.

I'll bet they are repairing schools and hospitals, and maybe even teaching some kids how to play hockey. Don't you think they deserve our attention?

If you know anyone over there, or have some contacts who can help get their words out, please go to Front Line Voices Meeting Place and sign up.

French voices of sanity 

Sept. 24 - Donald Sensing over at One Hand Clapping is not only intelligent but sensible as well. He has an excellent post that reminds us to remember that while every country has its pseudo-intellectuals, they also have intellectuals who actually stop, think and reflect, including the French.

Who knows, maybe those French and other Europeans who feel their ideas are shadowed by those who control the presses will start their own anti-media bias campaigns.

The potential power of the internet is explored in another post which links to Emergent Democracy, which, although a long read, takes a scholarly look at how the internet improves the ability of each individual to participate in debates and put forth views politically as well as socially.
As the issues facing government become larger and more complex, new tools are enabling citizens to self-organize more easily. It is possible that such tools will enable democracies to scale and become more adaptable.

A democracy is ideally governed by the majority and protects the rights of the minority. For a democracy to perform this properly it must support a competition of ideas, which requires critical debate, freedom of speech and the ability to criticize power without fear of retribution. In a true representative democracy the power must be distributed into multiple points of authority to enable checks and balances.

Toys for Kids 

Sept. 24 - I'm posting the link to Chief Wiggles because there's a lot of updates on the drive to collect toys as well as other necessities for kids in Iraq.

Some don'ts:
No guns of any kind
No violent action hereos
No violent toys
No barbie dolls or dolls skantily dressed
No toys that shoot something, no projectiles
No water guns
Lets just keep it simple, simple toys, just the basics, these kids have
nothing.

Use your judgement, and if you have any doubts, check with a local Muslim group.

All boxes and toys will be completely inspected before being handed out to the children. Iraq is a dangerous place still and we don't want to be responsible for any problems.

Thanks A Lot, Judge 

Sept. 24 - Rita takes a good look and has some excellent advice about the recent court decision which struck down the "DoNotCall" list aimed at unwanted telemarketing calls due to come into effect shortly. There's also a link to a .pdf copy of the decision.

Seems there's a question of jurisdiction as to whether the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) or FTC (Federal Trade Commission) should be in charge of administering the list.

I pay for my phone, so I think that I alone should be in charge of how it should be used, but maybe that's just me.

Telemarketers not only cross state lines but national borders (in and out of Canada) but do I get to have access to a "DoNotCall" list? Nooo.

I'm trying not to think that there have been some incomprehensible court rulings lately. Honest.

From Ralph Peters 

Sept. 24 - Ralph Peters has a lovely way of putting things, as in this analysis of the President's speech to the UN yesterday (emphasis added):
PRESIDENT Bush's speech at the United Nations yesterday morning is under attack by the Democratic Party's presidential aspirants. Thank God.

The worst thing Bush could have done would have been to soften America's combative stance, to fail to underscore our resolve, or to pander to those, from Paris to Palestine, who hate our freedom, our values and our success.

The Democrats will whine for weeks about the president's failure to get down on his knees and kiss the derrieres of morally bankrupt leaders such as Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and Yasser Arafat, wringing their soft, little hands over our lack of respect for our enemies.
His charactertization of the role the French are playing:
There is no clearer example in the world of the struggle between the inhumanity of the past and America's vision of a free, ennobling future than the rift between Washington and Paris. As we attempt to bring desperately needed solutions to the dilemmas of the 21st century, France clings not merely to the 20th century, but to the 19th century model of European great-power politics.

France believes that a handful of "statesmen" should decide the fate of the world behind closed doors, just as it was done in Europe between the Congress of Vienna and the fateful Comedy of Versailles. And France should have veto power over any deal it doesn't like, of course.
If that doesn't define both the UN and the EU, I don't know what does. Those organizations are run by nameless bureaucrats who are not chosen by consensual vote and who's policies are not confirmed by free citizens excercising the franchise.

France had every right to disagree with us, but working actively to undercut our efforts to eliminate a bloodstained dictator and liberate the people of Iraq crossed the red line. France should be made to suffer, strategically and financially. The French stabbed us in the back. In response, we should skin them alive.

If today's America is the new Rome, France is a garbage-dump Carthage. And Carthage needs to be broken. We should fight to replace France on the U.N. Security Council with India and Brazil, far more deserving states.
Would you like some salt with that?

Let's Get Started 

Sept. 24 - I posted earlier about a call to the blogosphere to tell the other side of the story in Iraq and Afghanistan, this being from the troops themselves. It has already gathered momentum, so the next task is obvious:

Let's Get Started

I'm not sure that this issue is something that can be argued, cajoled or taught. My eyes were certainly opened when Vietnam vets began to speak openly about their experiences, and those accounts were in sharp contrast to what the press had been telling us.

Maybe you have to actually have served, or maybe someone you love has to actually be serving and in harm's way to understand how very, very crucial and ALL FIRING IMPORTANT morale is to the troops.

Or maybe you have to be humble enough to care.

Follow the link, read the posts (and comments) and think about what we owe those who serve to defend and protect us (who are often heedless if not downright ungrateful.) If you smugly believe you are much too sophisticated to be caught up in what you are sure is just an exercise in propaganda then you will also have to live with yourself when the troops come home, or, God forbid, when their coffins are brought down the ramp.

More on Clark 

Sept. 24 - Day by Day has uncovered the main qualification for Gen. Clark's aspiration to the presidency.

Birds of a Feather - not! 

Sept. 24 - AlphaPatriot links to an article about General Shelton's views on Wesley Clark, among other things. Although I followed the link for the Clark comments, I found the article itself is a good read and touches on faith, soldering, and the men who lead them.

I think the big chink of Clark's armour is that the military doesn't support him (but then, Gen. McClelland thought he was loved by the men in uniform too but they overwhelmingly voted for President Lincoln.)

Our good allies, the Spanish 

Sept. 24 - Paul has a news item and photo of Spanish troops who've recently relieved US Marines and taken responsibility for the Iraq town of Najaf.

Thanks, Paul, for reminding us that this has been a multi-lateral initiative from the start.

F---ing Umpires 

Sept. 24 - The last two days have been hum-dingers here in Jays Land, because you can forget about all that nonsense about passive, polite Canadians: folks up here react just as furiously to terrible umpires as anywhere. Tossing "Doc" Halladay the previous night already had people talking angrily; when the game becomes all about bad umping on two consecutive nights, you better believe Bad blood boils over.
In Delgado's opinion, and he wasn't alone, Major League Baseball's decision to issue a warning to both teams before a pitch had even been thrown in the series came back and bit the league in the butt.

"By trying to control something that hasn't happened, games are getting out of hand and that's their fault," Delgado said.
Damned straight. There's a lesson in there . . .

Another stupid lawsuit 

Sept. 24 - Hockey mother sues after getting hit with a hockey puck:
The woman claims the glass at the Starbuck Sports Centre in the rural municipality of MacDonald is unusually low and does not include warnings about the dangers of flying pucks.
Hello, you were at a freaking hockey game. You're (presumably) a Canadian. What don't you understand about the game?
She also charges that she suffers humiliation because doctors inserted a titanium plate and screws in her face, which set off security alarms at shopping centres.
I'm a mean and nasty person because that just cracks me up. Imagine explaining to the security folks that you were injured because you didn't know hockey pucks tend to fly up into the crowd. They just might mistake you for . . . an American, and make jokes behind your back about you needing that obscene glowy blue puck Fox-TV tried to promote a few years back.

She'll probably win mega-bucks in our Happy Litiguous Society. There might even be a Royal Commission.

Good. grief.

(Via Neale News.)

Another cliche shot down 

Sept. 24 - Candy is dandy, but liquor is . . . not helpful.

(Via Neale News.)

Time for Bloggers to Fight a Front in the Real War 

Sept. 24 - A lot of us have been very concerned about the tendency of reporters based in Iraq (Baghdad, actually) and Afghanistan to focus their reports on the criminal acts but ignore what is going on in the rest of those countries.

We rarely read about the successes of the troops who are working with the Iraqis and Afghans to reopen businesses, schools, hospitals, playgrounds and universities as well as the astonishing number of newly created newspapers that would have been impossible only 7 months ago in Big Media.

This is unfair: unfair to us, the people; to the familes of the troops who quite naturally worry about their loved ones; and most of all to the troops who deserve to have their efforts and actions be known and treated with more respect.

It's Time for Bloggers to Fight a Front in the Real War and support the troops in the true sense by getting the word out that their efforts to assist these war torn countries go beyond ducking bullets:
Here's what I propose. I bet most of know some troops who have been are in Iraq and the almost forgotten Afghanistan. Let's record their stories of how things really are and have a blog devoted to just posting that with no commentary. The main page would be choice excerpts (and yes, bias would play into that, but, so what, we're biased) with links to the entire troops' statements. We put up both the good and the bad, with nothing to hide, but we get the real story out there. Separately, we continue to highlight the atrocities that were in Iraq and Afghanistan in contrast to how things are now.
This is something I think many Canadians would also welcome as there are Canadian troops in Afghanistan and the Navy patrols the Gulf.

There can be no worse crime than to heedlessly ignore those men and women who are serving their countries "over there." Follow the link, let Frank outline his plan, and sign up.

They stand on guard for thee (or are those just words?)

9/23/2003

Sour Grapes? 

This post about the Dixie Chicks would be funny if it wasn't so . . funny. What is it about these anti-war types that go straight to whine mode whenver people don't automatically agree with them? Could it be Sour Grapes?.

Iraq to bar key Arabic news channels 

Sept. 23 - This item from UPI gives more explanation as to why al Jazeera and el Arabiya have (or maybe haven't) been suspended in Iraq:
INC officials said the council had voted to suspend the two organizations until it could develop regulations for the conduct of media and sanctions for the organizations that fail to meet them. The INC official indicated the bureaus of the two companies would be closed, their credentials and access to the CPA and coalition forces would be revoked, and that they would be prohibited from broadcasting from the country.

However, the official did not absolutely confirm these sanctions, but rather described them as "possibilities under discussion." Iraq has little, if any, border security, and it seems unlikely the CPA or council would have a definite list of employees from either company to actually remove them from Iraq.

"We hope this step sends a clear message to the media that they need to practice moral journalism and not to send messages condoning or supporting terrorism," the INC official said.

[....]

The move follows a week in which Chalabi and other supporters of the U.S. occupation of Iraq criticized the Arabic-language news organizations with the allegations of condoning or inciting violence.

Chalabi virtually blamed the networks for a recent assassination attempt on Akila al-Hashimi, one of three women on the Governing Council. She was shot Saturday near her home by yet unknown gunmen and was critically wounded.

Reporters visiting al-Jazeera's Baghdad bureau Tuesday did not see any indication the company was being forced out in the immediate future.

Subhy Haddad - the former head of the Iraqi News Agency as well as a long time contributor to Reuters and the BBC - said he had mixed feelings about the decision to stifle the two networks.

"I do not like Chalabi or the American occupation," he said. "But on this move they might be right. Al Jazeera has been irresponsible in its coverage. And it is dangerous in a place like Iraq."

Many prominent pro-U.S. Iraqi officials - particularly Shiite clerics - have also criticized the media in general for negative coverage of the occupation. Religious leaders in Baghdad -- both Sunni and Shiite -- have condemned the use by some Arab news organizations of the phrase "martyrs" to describe Baathists killed in fights with coalition forces, arguing the secular nature of Saddam's regime, not to mention attacks on non-military targets, put them far outside the definition of someone who dies in pursuit of a religious cause.

The move to essentially censor news organizations for their content typifies allegations by critics of the occupation that the council and the U.S. occupation forces stifle negative coverage including, in limited cases, the arrest of anti-coalition journalists.

Over the first three months of the U.S. occupation, several newspapers - more than 160 have been started since the fall of Saddam - have been closed and their staffs temporarily detained by U.S. troops. At present, American forces have one Iraqi journalist in custody. A photographer for al-Saah, a newspaper published by a prominent Sunni cleric and strong opponent of the U.S. presence in Iraq, was arrested after taking pictures of an American patrol in early August and is being held without charges.

Abdullah Alami, the head of the Iraqi Journalists Union, told UPI in an interview conducted before Tuesday's announcement that about eight Iraqi journalists were detained for anti-coalition writing immediately after the war ended, but that most were released almost immediately.

Alami and about a dozen editors of Baghdad newspaper contacted by UPI, agreed, however, the CPA has been unwilling to shut down critics of the occupation who conducted themselves in a professional manner and did not directly call for violence.
And this is another view from a musician traveling in the Mid-East and what he reports about the Arab street is a far cry than what he describes as that being reinforced by a bunch of journalists sitting around the Al-Rashid and Palestine Hotel bars, while they wait for their drivers to pick them up in air-conditioned SUVs for a day trip out to Fallujah or Ramadi..

(Both links via Instapundit.)

Air Force airman charged with espionage 

Sept. 23 - Air Force airman charged with espionage:
A U.S. Air Force enlisted man has been charged with espionage after being taken into custody as part of an investigation at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officials said.

The senior airman was detained a month ago because he allegedly had classified information about suspected al Qaeda detainees and facilities at the Guantanamo Bay base on his laptop computer, officials said.

He was taken into custody about two weeks before Army Islamic chaplain Capt. James Yee was detained for similar reasons, but officials said there currently was no proof that the two cases are linked.
Except for the information on detainees and the facilities at Guantanamo.

UPDATE: The detainee has been identified as Senior Airman Ahmad al Halabi, and been charged with 11 counts of failing to obey a lawful general order or regulation, three counts of aiding the enemy, four counts of espionage, nine counts of making a false statement and five counts that include violations of the Federal Espionage Act and a single count of bank fraud.

He had served 9 months as a translator at Guantanamo Bay.


More on Wes Clark 

Sept. 23 - I think Frank J. just made the most complete pronouncement on Ret. Gen. Clark yet:
Wesley Clark reportedly said he would have been a Republican if Karl Rove had only returned his phone call. That's pretty whiny sounding, which makes him a Democrat. Rove should call Clark now and say, "Here's your callback, bitch," and then hang up.
Ka-boom!

Bad press about the press ... 

Sept. 23 - More questions are being raised about the inadequacy of the press reporting from Iraq, this time from Congressmen, who assert that the Press slants Iraq news:
Journalists are giving a slanted and unduly negative account of events in Iraq, a bipartisan congressional group that has just returned from a three-day House Armed Services Committee visit to assess stabilization efforts and the condition of U.S. troops said.

Lawmakers charged that reporters rarely stray from Baghdad and have a "police-blotter" mindset that results in terror attacks, deaths and injuries displacing accounts of progress in other areas.
But there is air-conditioning in Baghdad! and swimming pools, and they can mingle with other reporters instead of working the streets and getting the real scoop.
Comparisons with Vietnam were farfetched, members said.

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the committee's ranking member, said, "The media stresses the wounds, the injuries, and the deaths, as they should, but for instance in Northern Iraq, Gen. [Dave] Petraeus has 3,100 projects -- from soccer fields to schools to refineries -- all good stuff and that isn't being reported."

[...]

Another member of the delegation, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), agreed that the stabilization effort is making headway. "In fairness, the war is neither going as well as the administration says it's going or as badly as the media says it is going," Taylor said.

Republicans were left out of the press conference, but they stressed that they shared their Democratic counterparts' assessments about the bravery of the troops and the innovative programs, especially in the northern part of the country.

[...]

[Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)] .., once a print reporter, strongly criticized the balance of his former profession's story selection. "Sure, show the bloody side, but get away from this police-blotter mindset. There's much more going on, " he said.

"Just on Friday, I heard a CBS radio report on the three deaths and then they had this analysis that just bordered on the hysterical," Wilson said.

Adding, "CBS got it exactly wrong, the media portrayed it as an act of sophistication and a regrouping of Saddam's forces, when in fact, it's an indication of disorganization and desperation."

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), noting that the reconstruction effort includes over 6,000 projects, said, "The positive nature of that is just not being reported back here.

"We came away with the realization that a lot of the debate back here is really irrelevant."
(Via Darth Puppy Blender.)

And here is an opinion piece by Jim Miller (D-GA) in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: "Sir, this is worth doing." No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with "the rest of the story," the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.
Again I ask, "Why are they doing this?"

Toys for Iraqi Children 

Sept.. 23 - There is a drive underway to collect and send Toys to Iraqi Children, courtesy of the US Army. They are also collecting candy, toothbrushes, crayons, and other sundries for the kids.

I think it only fair that Chief Wiggles explain the how-tos himself, and also go to Dean's World for some historical background about Chief Wiggle Wings who became famous during the Berlin Airlifts (which was the only source of food and supplies for West Berlin during the Soviet blockade) because he always delivered special treats for children.

No matter which side of the debate on the Iraqi war people were on, there was always deep concern from all quarters for the safety and well-being of the innocents, and most particularly for the children.

Both the UN and US are seeing to it that Iraqi hospitals are being stocked and children are receiving immunization against disease, but what about those things that make a kid's eyes light up and that returns magic to their lives?

Give. Words are nice, crayons and candy are better.

That's My Commander-In-Chief 

Sep. 23 - I'm trying not to gush, but I was one proud American as I watched President Bush address the United Nations this morning. It seemed to me that he was not asking for help, but rather extending an invitation to other countries to join in the great enterprise of bring freedom to Iraq, ensuring stability, and allowing a people long repressed by a vicious tyrant breathe free. I am admittedly partial, but my heart stirred as the President, in ending his address, called upon the UN to act with "moral clarity" in dealing with the sexual abuse of children, slavery, AIDS and hunger throughout the world, because, truly, there is 'No neutral ground'.

Here is the transcript.

He didn't back down on the hope that establishing a free Iraq would inspire other countries in the Mid-East, including the Palestinians, to do the same. Significantly, he didn't back down on the contention that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction:
Iraq as a dictatorship had great power to destabilize the Middle East; Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East. The advance of democratic institutions in Iraq is setting an example that others, including the Palestinian people, would be wise to follow. The Palestinian cause is betrayed by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds and destroying the good work of others. The Palestinian people deserve their own state, and they will gain that state by embracing new leaders committed to reform, to fighting terror, and to building peace. All parties in the Middle East must meet their responsibilities and carry out the commitments they made at Aqaba. Israel must work to create the conditions that will allow a peaceful Palestinian state to emerge. And Arab nations must cut off funding and other support for terrorist organizations. America will work with every nation in the region that acts boldly for the sake of peace.

A second challenge we must confront together is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Outlaw regimes that possess nuclear, chemical and biological weapons -- and the means to deliver them -- would be able to use blackmail and create chaos in entire regions. These weapons could be used by terrorists to bring sudden disaster and suffering on a scale we can scarcely imagine. The deadly combination of outlaw regimes and terror networks and weapons of mass murder is a peril that cannot be ignored or wished away. If such a danger is allowed to fully materialize, all words, all protests, will come too late. Nations of the world must have the wisdom and the will to stop grave threats before they arrive.
On the proliferation of lethal materials:
Because proliferators will use any route or channel that is open to them, we need the broadest possible cooperation to stop them. Today, I ask the U.N. Security Council to adopt a new anti-proliferation resolution. This resolution should call on all members of the U.N. to criminalize the proliferation of weapons -- weapons of mass destruction, to enact strict export controls consistent with international standards, and to secure any and all sensitive materials within their own borders. The United States stands ready to help any nation draft these new laws, and to assist in their enforcement.
Heh. He didn't ask for help, he challenged them! Of course, given that Syria is a member of the UNSC . . .

I'm leaving Kofi Annan alone because Paul has done a nice job already. Welcome back, Paul!

French won't veto on Iraq 

Sept. 23 - Actually I wanted to title this "The French Surrender (Again) but that would have been mean-spirited (but accurate). The Daily Telegraph (UK), shows no such constraint: Chirac ducks second UN battle with Bush over Iraq resolution:
Jacques Chirac caved in to American power yesterday when he promised not to veto a US-sponsored United Nations resolution on rebuilding Iraq, even if he disagreed with its contents.

The French president, who was instrumental in preventing America and Britain from securing UN authorisation for war, said the US should quickly cede power in Iraq.

But he made clear that he was not ready for another bruising fight with President George W Bush.

"We don't have the intention to oppose," he told The New York Times in an interview published yesterday. "If we oppose it, that would mean voting no, that is to say, using the veto. I am not in that mindset at all."

M Chirac's comments came ahead of his meeting with Mr Bush at the UN in New York today, where the two leaders will deliver speeches. His move was almost inevitable after his erstwhile anti-war allies - Russia and Germany - signalled a desire for an accommodation with the US.
A little respect, please? At least one of Chirac's erstwhile allies stood firm, that being Canadian PM Chretien.

Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya banned in Iraq 

Sept. 23 - The Governing Council in Iraq has banned Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from covering official activities for two weeks:
It said the ban was a warning to the stations and other broadcasters for inciting anti-United States violence.

"Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya will temporarily be excluded from any coverage of Governing Council activities or official press conferences, and correspondents of the two channels will not be allowed to enter ministries or government offices for two weeks," the statement said.

The statement made no mention of coverage of US military activities or the workings of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

A military spokesman, Major William Thurmond, said, "That decision has not been made."

US officials have accused the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera and the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya of giving too much prominence to anti-US attacks, and of providing a forum for backers of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

The decision to bar them from official functions for two weeks fell short of a vow by Entefadh Qanbar, a spokesman for the body's current president, Ahmad Chalabi, to shut down their Baghdad offices temporarily.

It came after a meeting of council officials and an aide to US civilian administrator Paul Bremer on the legalities of action against the broadcasters.

Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballut said: "We regret this decision, but we will continue our work as usual until we are officially notified."

Al-Arabiya officials had yet to react.

Both channels, which are competitors for the Arab world audience, strenuously deny charges of bias.
Among the documents uncovered by the Daily Telegraph (UK) after the fall of Baghdad were some which alleged a prominent anti-war British MP received bribes from Saddam's regime and this in turn led to other revelations about Saddam's extensive Bribery Netork:
As the Galloway affair makes clear, these practices continued throughout the 1990s, despite the increased scrutiny of Iraq's financial dealings by the United Nations. Before the recent conflict, says Tareq al-Mezrem from the Kuwaiti Information Office, the Iraqi regime gave journalists luxury "villas in Jordan, Tunisia, and even Lebanon."

Some of the transactions were straightforward cash payments, often in U.S. dollars, handed out from Iraqi embassies in Arab capitals--luxury cars delivered to top editors, Toyotas for less influential journalists. "This was not secret," says Salama Nimat, a Jordanian journalist who was jailed briefly in 1995 in that nation for highlighting the corruption. "Most of it was done out in the open."
There were further blows to al Jazeera's credibility when its general director was fired last May after allegations that he worked with Saddam's intelligence services:
... Mohammed Jassem Al-Ali visited Iraq before the US-led war, meeting Saddam during an hour-long interview.

Both Al-Jazeera and Ali were afterward accused by the Western media of collaborating with the former regime in Baghdad.

Ali had held the top job at the Doha-based station since it launched the Arabic-language channel in 1996.

Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the American-backed Iraqi National Congress, has accused several Al-Jazeera journalists of working for Iraqi agencies based on documents found in state archives in Baghdad.
No, I'm not looking for anti-media reports today. They just keeping popping up.

Sorry, More French Stuff 

Sept. 23 - A nice bit of quotes from a column in the NY Post by Amir Taheri with additional snarkiness here.

One can never heap too much snarkiness on the French.

Fifth Column II 

Sept. 23 - Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., warns again of the possibility of a Fifth Column:
The column [written by Gaffney 6 months ago after the fragging incident in Kuwait] went on to note that, "As of June 2002, nine of the armed forces' 14 Muslim chaplains received their religious training from [a] Saudi-supported entity, the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (GSISS) in Leesburg, Va. In March of that year, the multiagency Operation Greenquest raided the offices of GSISS, along with 23 other Muslim organizations. Agents also raided the homes of Iqbal Unus, the dean of students at GSISS, and Taha Al-Alwani, the school's president.

According to search warrants issued at the time, these groups were raided for "potential money laundering and tax evasion activities and their ties to terrorist groups such as ... al Qaeda as well as individual terrorists ... (including) Osama bin Laden.

These troubling facts have, regrettably, just been called to mind once again. This week, the Army arrested one of its Muslim chaplains, Capt. James Yee, charging him with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order. According to The Washington Times, it "may also charge him later with the more serious charge of treason, which under the Uniform Code of Military Justice could be punished by a maximum sentence of life" in prison.
I might also add that this posted Sunday connected some dots among which cited a Washington Post article that stated Lee had converted to Islam about the time he served in Saudi Arabia.

I blogrolled On the Third Hand for good reason. Listen to Kathy. Kathy is always right.

Muzzle her! 

Sept. 23 - I'm waiting for the President' address to the UN, and guess who CNN's correspondent is?

The Un-Muzzled Bitch, Christiane Amanspour. What do I have to do to get FOX-TV up here? I don't even care if it's legal . . .

And the UN will do ... what? 

Sept. 23 - This is hardly a surprise: Iran to curtail support to U.N. nuclear agency:
TEHRAN — Iran will scale back cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in response to the agency's Oct. 31 deadline for Tehran to prove that its atomic programs are peaceful, Iran's representative to the agency said yesterday.

Ali Akbar Salehi said on state television that Iran had been allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) more oversight than required under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) "to show our good will and transparency. On the strict orders of President Mohammed Khatami, we allowed IAEA inspectors to take environmental samples and visit non-nuclear sites.

"This has been beyond our obligations, but from now on we will act according to the current regulations," Mr. Salehi said.
So North Korea and Iran are asserting their right to acquire nuclear weapons. Gee, whatever will the UN do?

They could always cite international law, I suppose, pass resolutions, talk a lot, you know, the usual.

Then the delegates will go to lunch, double-park and leave without paying. You know, business as usual.

Chretien and Chirac - that lovable duo 

Sept. 23 - Canadian PM Chretien has joined French President Chirac in calling for a swift turnover of power in Iraq:
Prime Minister Jean Chretien is again siding with French President Jacques Chirac against President George W. Bush, this time on the urgent need to return power to the Iraqi people. "The transfer of power to the local authorities has to be done as quickly as possible," Chretien said at the UN yesterday.

"I'm not in a position to give a deadline on that, I think there's a lot of discussion about what can be done to be effective."
Given the political situation looming as Chretien is about to be replaced as leader of the Liberal Party but determined to remain as PM until February (something unprecedented in Canadian history and despite the growing surge of those urging him to resign shortly after the party convention in November) this would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that he is a double-faced, hypocritical monster who hasn't yet met a dictator he wants to defend.

According to this, Chirac has been deserted by both Putin and Shroeder, and I am again reminded of the phrase "the cheese stands alone" (Colby Cosh was referring to Chretien, but it works for Chirac too):
President Jacques Chirac was in international isolation yesterday as he flew to New York for another diplomatic clash over Iraq with President George W Bush.

M Chirac has not backed down from his demand that America should hand power to an Iraqi government within months.

The failure of this weekend's Berlin summit between M Chirac, Tony Blair and Chancellor Gerhard Schroder to resolve the dispute on the future of the country could re-open the wounds at the United Nations as leaders and ministers gather for the annual General Assembly.

France, Russia and Germany frustrated an attempt by America and Britain to secure UN authorisation for war before the invasion of Iraq. But this time M Chirac appears more isolated as America seeks international approval for a new resolution on reconstruction and the creation of a new government for Iraq.

[...]

The French president, who will meet Mr Bush tomorrow, will try to appeal over the president's head to the American public by laying a wreath at the site of the World Trade Centre, which was destroyed on September 11.

He will meet Jewish leaders to try to assuage their fears of rising anti-Semitism in France.

But unless he relents on Iraq, such gestures will do little to soothe the fury of many in America. Even critics of Mr Bush resent M Chirac's apparent delight in undermining American policy.

Thomas Friedman, a leading columnist for the New York Times, caused a sensation among UN diplomats by writing a column on Thursday declaring: "It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally.

"It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy."

In his view, France wants America to fail in Iraq.

"France wants America to sink in a quagmire there in the crazy hope that a weakened United States will pave the way for France to assume its 'rightful' place as America's equal, if not superior, in shaping world affairs."

[...]

But they say America is now unlikely to present a formal text for negotiation until later in the week, after Mr Bush and M Chirac deliver their speeches and gauge their support.

Washington hopes that France will yield if it finds that it is isolated in the Security Council.
I don't agree with that last assessment. I think that isolating France has been the strategy all along, first voiced when Condaleeza Rice said "Punish France, forgive Russia, ignore Germany."

It's not as thought I'm keeping track or anything, but Chretien publicly criticized Pres. Bush right before the G8 meeting in France, and now he's publicly criticizing Bush right before the president appears before the UN.

Maybe Chretien's much sought-after legacy is to outdo Trudeau in damaging Canadian relations with both the US and the UK. Somehow I don't think congratulations are in order.

Iran Watch 

Sept. 23 - An Intelligence Ministry agent has been charged in the death of Zahra Kazemi in Iran last July.
In a statement from the Tehran prosecutor's office Monday, veteran judge Javad Esmaeili charged the agent with the "semi-premeditated murder" of Zahra Kazemi.

The agent was one of two Intelligence Ministry officials charged in connection with Kaezmi's death last month. The prosecutor's office had rejected those charges Sept. 1.

At the time, Tehran's deputy prosecutor general, Jafar Reshadati said the original probe into the crime was incomplete and needed to be opened for reinvestigation.

The second agent linked to the case was acquitted, the prosecutor's office said in its statement Monday.

According to the statement, Esmaeili concluded that there was no government conspiracy behind the crime.

"The crime is attributed to one of the (Intelligence Ministry) interrogators and the reasons have been presented in the lawsuit against the accused."

Kazemi died in an Iranian hospital in early July, after reportedly suffering head injuries while in custody. The Montreal-based photojournalist had been arrested for photographing student-led protests outside a Tehran-area prison.

Initially, the hardline Tehran prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was quoted as saying Kazemi had died of a stroke. But a presidential-appointed committee discredited his account, finding instead that she had died on July 10 -- from head injuries sustained while in custody.

Iran's investigation of the case has since exposed deep internal divisions within Iran -- between reformists, who loosely control the Intelligence Ministry, and hardliners who control Iran's police force, judiciary and security agencies.
I don't think I'm out of line if I ridicule CTV for contending that Kazemi's death exposed the internal divisions in Iran. The internal struggle in Iran between moderates and hardliners has been considered newsworthy for a couple of years now, and Iranian President Katami has publicly expressed frustration many times when even mild reforms have been approved by the Parliament but vetoed by the mullahs.

CTV, of course, is hardly the only Western news media that consistently underestimates the yearning for freedom in Iran (and other countries, I might add.) Most of us had already clued into the fact that Iranians were not totally supportive of the mullahs when they staged an imprompteau rally in sympathy with the Sept. 11 attacks, and Australiian Tim Blair's post Compare and Contrast hits the nail pretty squarely on the head when he quotes Canadian Duncan Beatty(now living in California) who recently traveled to Iran:
Many of the people in the cabs in Tehran had the similar thoughts. "Tell George Bush to come and get rid of the mullahs for us." I was shocked by the openness of that statement. With one fellow I tried to discuss it with him in more detail to see if he really meant it or was just talking. I told him that if George Bush came and got rid of the Mullahs, it would not be to help the people of Iran; he would be coming for the oil. The fellow replied, "He can have the oil, its not doing us any good anyway and at least then we would be free."
The sweet air of liberty. Why does the media fear it so?

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