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1/31/2004

Sending messages of condolence 

Jan. 31 - I've seen referrals to my site for people who wish to send messages of condolence to Cpl. Murphy's family. Although I don't have an actual link for them, here's the link for the Defence Communitty for the Canadian Forces and you can send messages to the soldiers in Afghanistan (Operation Athena) or the message board and express your sympathies and support there.

Never - never forget those who serve.

Dutch integration policies 

Jan. 31 - The publication of the Dutch report which concluded their race policy 'a 30-year failure' dates back to Jan. 20, but although I knew it was an important report, I also found it incredibly depressing so held onto the link until I could find some meaning in it.

I haven't found a bit of meaning, to tell the truth.

The events related in Peaktalk's post on the recent Dutch experience with a Columbine-like incident and it's startling aftermath in Deliberate and Distasteful Disrespect adds a layer if not meaning. Furthermore, his conclusion is definitely intriguing:
In a week where one of the main political parties acknowledged that integration policies had failed miserably, the murder of a teacher and the distasteful disrespect shown thereafter, illustrates that simple integration models don’t work and that a complete pan-European effort is required to stem the tide of economic misery and senseless violence.
I can't help feeling he's right. Looking at the tabled EU Report on anti-Semitism and various problems with assimilation of Muslim immigrants one sees in different news online publications (and let's not overlook Chechyny) a pan-European approach may well be the best approach.

Loathing Microsoft 

Jan. 31 - Bruce is issuing a call to arms (or at least pitchforks and torches) to fight the biggest eeevil of our times with a battlecry everyone can agree on: Loathing Microsoft.

Good old DOS. Why have you abandoned us?

2004 Election 

Jan. 31 - David Brooks op-ed in the NY Times which is so sad it's funny or the other way around (depending on one's affiliation) Electing the Electable:
... And lo and behold, Dean started saying some weird things.

These weird things didn't really bother Democratic primary voters, but primary voters imagined they might bother general election swing voters. And since electability is all about Iowa and New Hampshire liberals trying to imagine what Palm Beach County, Fla., independents will want in a presidential candidate nine months from now, this created ripples of concern that Dean might not be so electable after all. The media picked up on the doubts, which created a downward unelectability spiral.

[...]

And, what do you know, Kerry won the Iowa caucuses, and from that moment on the election turned into a postmodernist literary critic's idea of heaven. It became an election about itself, with voters voting on the basis of who could win votes later on.

It's the tautology, stupid.
Wackiness ensues when the party of ideas becomes consumed with only one idea: Beat Bush. Even though this isn't a TV Guide description of this week's episode of Democrat Party Primaries, it well could be.

Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail column by Rex Murphy examines another facet of the single-mindedness of Bush-haters in Bush-haters, you're running out of esteem.

America Enjoys Rich History of Election Hijinks 

Jan. 31 - And the #1 reason I didn't get the fuss over the "kitten-eating reptile from another planet" crack published during the recent provincial election campaign is:
... then there were the linguistic dirty tricks of the 1950 U.S. Senate race in Florida. George Smathers criticized his opponent, Claude Pepper, because Pepper’s sister, according to Smathers, was a “thespian.” Not only that, Smathers said, Pepper’s brother was “a practicing Homo sapiens.” Further, Smathers charged that Pepper himself had gone to college and openly “matriculated.”

Smathers won the election.
More shocking election hijinks stories related by Eric Burns here.

Mohammed Abdullah Warsame  

Jan. 31 - Minneapolis court date set for Somali-Canadian charged with terror conspiracy. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame will appear in court on Monday, Feb. 2, in Minneapolis. He was indited by a grand jury with conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda from March, 2000 until December 8 (presumably 2003). Warsame admitted attending an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during FBI interrogation Dec. 8, 2003.

Maher Arar 

Jan. 31 - Good article that answers some questions as to how the public inquiry into the Maher Arar case would proceed as there are other tangential inquiries as well as a lawsuit pending.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci insisted in a recent speech that the US proceeded alone in its decision to deport Arar to Syria, but other questions have arisen, including an allegation that Canadian officials declined to take custody of Arar because they lacked evidence with which they could charge him for terrorist-related activities and, the big question, exactly what (or who) tipped US authorities that he was suspected for terrorist-related activities.

Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's home and office were raided by the RCMP in an effort to ascertain who provided her with documents regarding to what Arar disclosed to Syrian officials, and an inquiry has been called to investigate that action by the RCMP as well as a review of the Security of Information Act.

Arar has sued US Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other officials for his deportation to Syria on the grounds that they knew he would be tortured. He has also filed suits against the governments of Jordan and Syria, and is considered filing suit against the Canadian government.

Arar holds dual citizen status with Syria and Canada. If what I have heard is correct, Syria does not allow its citizens to renounce their citizenship, so Arar doesn't have a choice in that matter.

However, early on this case (going back over a year) it was said by media reports that Arar holds a Syrian passport as well as a Canadian one, which I'm guessing would raise a red flag for national security officials.

Arar was arrested and deported to Syria via Jordan in 2002 back when Syria was viewed as an ally in the war on terror.

1/30/2004

The Heart of Change 

Jan. 30 - Alpha Patriot has written an excellent essay, The Heart of Change, in which he in which he argues for Compassionate Conservatism and counsels patience for the slow nature of the change:
... the point is that change comes in baby steps. One does not change the direction of a large ship quickly -- it is incapable of making right turns. And so it goes for changing policy in America.

The Toronto Star and Its Malcontents 

Jan. 30 - Let It Bleed goes where others fear to tread: The Star and Its Malcontents. Who says Canadians can't fisk with the best of them?

Iran Watch 

Jan. 30 - The Council of Guardians has reversed their ban of about 1/3 of the candidates for next month's elections, but it doubtful that they will budge further on the remaining 2/3 although appeals has been filed. Although there has also been an appeal to postpone the elections, that postponement would also have to be approved by the Council.

I'm getting an increasingly bad feeling about the upcoming elections. President Khatami and the reformists are unwilling to break with the Ayatollah Khameini, and although I can understand it, I fear it is going to kill them especially given the tactics of the Hezbollah enforcers that we saw during last summer's student demonstrations.

Oil for Food Program 

Jan. 30 - Stephen Green posts and has begun googling the Roll Call of Saddam's alleged pay roll from the list on the ABC news website (Saddam's Gifts.)

(To answer an earlier question, ABC states the list is composed of people who bought oil at a discounted price and then resold it to legitimate brokers or oil companies.)

What's important to me, not surprisingly, are the background of the 2 Americans on the list, so seeing the one googlable (ha!) name, Samir Vincent, was someone who has worked to get the sanctions lifted wasn't a surprise, but seeing his connection to Empower America was the last thing I would have expected.

This is the list provided by ABC:
Russia
The Companies of the Russian Communist Party: 137 million
The Companies of the Liberal Democratic Party: 79.8 million
The Russian Committee for Solidarity with Iraq: 6.5 million and 12.5 million (2 separate contracts)
Head of the Russian Presidential Cabinet: 90 million
The Russian Orthodox Church: 5 million


France
Charles Pasqua, former minister of interior: 12 million
Trafigura (Patrick Maugein), businessman: 25 million
Ibex: 47.2 million
Bernard Merimee, former French ambassador to the United Nations: 3 million
Michel Grimard, founder of the French-Iraqi Export Club: 17.1 million

Syria
Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister: 6 million

Turkey
Zeynel Abidin Erdem: more than 27 million
Lotfy Doghan: more than 11 million

Indonesia
Megawati Sukarnoputri: 11 million

Spain
Ali Ballout, Lebanese journalist: 8.8 million

Yugoslavia
The Socialist Party: 22 million
Kostunica's Party: 6 million

Canada
Arthur Millholland, president and CEO of Oilexco: 9.5 million

Italy
Father Benjamin, a French Catholic priest who arranged a meeting between the pope and Tariq Aziz: 4.5 million
Roberto Frimigoni: 24.5 million

United States
Samir Vincent: 7 million
Shakir Alkhalaji: 10.5 million

United Kingdom
George Galloway, member of Parliament: 19 million
Mujaheddin Khalq: 36.5 million

South Africa
Tokyo Saxwale: 4 million

Jordan
Shaker bin Zaid: 6.5 million
The Jordanian Ministry of Energy: 5 million
Fawaz Zureikat: 6 million
Toujan Al Faisal, former member of Parliament: 3 million

Lebanon
The son of President Lahoud: 5.5 million

Egypt
Khaled Abdel Nasser: 16.5 million
Emad Al Galda, businessman and Parliament member: 14 million

Palestinian Territories
The Palestinian Liberation Organization: 4 million
Abu Al Abbas: 11.5 million

Qatar
Hamad bin Ali Al Thany: 14 million

Libya
Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem: 1 million

Chad
Foreign minister of Chad: 3 million

Brazil
The October 8th Movement: 4.5 million

Myanmar (Burma)
The minister of the Forests of Myanmar: 5 million

Ukraine
The Social Democratic Party: 8.5 million
The Communist Party: 6 million
The Socialist Party: 2 million
The FTD oil company: 2 million
Does anyone else find this list depressing? There's always a part of me that wants to be wrong about how cynically corrupt some of these yahoos are.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: JunkYard Dog analyzes the ABC report and comes up with confirmation and more informtion about how the pay-offs worked.

UPDATE: M'kay, the Washington Times might be overstating here (charge of corruption against Chirac) but whatever will they say about this: Ex-French PM Alain Juppe guilty of corruption and more indepth from the NY Times here. Mitterand, d'Estaing . . . I guess it's that law that forbids charges being levied while the official is in office that proves how enlightened the Europeans are compared to us rubes.

U.S. has quietly expelled dozens of Saudi diplomats 

Jan. 30 - One of the biggest undercurrents in the war on terror has been the uncertain role of the Saudis. There's been implicit criticism of the administration occasionally fed and/or muted by rumours, like this one: U.S. has quietly expelled dozens of Saudi diplomats:
The United States has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi diplomats suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology, diplomatic sources said. The State Dept. has refused to either confirm or deny the action..

The State Department revoked the diplomatic credentials of the Saudi diplomats in Washington over the last month in an effort to crack down on Saudi efforts to promote Al Qaida interests in the United States.

The diplomatic sources said about 70 diplomats and embassy staffers were expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave the United States by mid-February. Many of those expelled were said to have worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.
Read the whole thing.

One thing I found interesting is a theory at the bottom of the article:
[On Thursday, a statement purportedly issued by Bin Laden said Al Qaida's strategy was to launch a major attack on the United States. The statement, which appeared on the Voice of Jihad website, said Al Qaida wants to provoke the United States to retaliate against Saudi Arabia.] (Original brackets.)
So are we being manipulated to attack the Saudis, or does the statement serve merely to provide Saudi plausible deniability?

(Via InstaNews. Heh.)

1/29/2004

Kerry's Vietnam stance irks veterans 

Jan. 29 - John Kerry's Vietnam stance irks veterans.

The Mother of All Parliaments 

Jan. 29 - Andrew Coyne has an interesting post up about some of the differences between the British and Canadian Parliaments in The Mother of All Parliaments. Good reading, although I never thought anyone would find something that hockey players and MPs have in common. (Also mentions Winston Churchill, master political theatrician.)

Annan Slams Bush for Reliance on U.N. Inspectors 

Jan. 29 - Annan Slams Bush for Reliance on U.N. Inspectors:
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today slammed the Bush administration for its reliance upon a decade of intelligence gathered in Iraq by United Nations weapons inspectors.

Mr. Annan's critique came after David Kay, the outgoing chief of the Iraq Survey Group, told a Senate panel that U.S. intelligence agencies had become dependent upon the U.N. weapons inspectors and didn't develop their own sources. This resulted in faulty analysis of Saddam Hussein's remaining WMD stockpiles.
RTWT.

Frank J. vs. Margaret Cho 

Jan. 29 - The Meatriarchy is running a WWF Smackdown between Frank J., who's tagline is Unfair, Unbalanced and Unmedicated, and Margaret Cho, who is said to be a comedienne, in Not ready to let go just yet........ Compare and decide.

Oh, the arena for the match? Michael Moore.

Headscarf ban in France 

Jan. 29 - A post from EuroPundits on the ban of headscarves in France which is well-worth reading. (Note: if you get a blank screen, refresh a few times. Servers seem to be cranky today.)

Steyn Speaks 

Jan. 29 - The internet: where you can read tomorrow's news today or even the day-after-tomorrow's news today. Dateline Jan. 31 - Mark Steyn on How "None of the Above" won. Heh. Too bad that really isn't a ballot choice!

(Via Tim Blair, the man from tomorrow.)

Maureen Dowd is a poodle. 

Jan. 29 - It is still true:

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

US Terror arrest shocks Australian officials 

Jan. 29 - From the Daily Telegraph (Australia): Terror arrest shocks officials:
AN ACCUSED terror financier arrested in the US last week had only just returned from a trip to Australia where he is believed to have a child.

In an embarrassing security blunder, the arrest took Australia's intelligence agencies - who were unaware the suspect was in Australia - by surprise.

Omar Abdi Mohamed, 41, is under investigation after allegedly receiving $454,866 from a group accused by US authorities of direct links to al-Qaeda.
Ausralian officials were shocked because

1)they weren't aware he was a terror suspect and had travelled 4 times to Australia under visa as well as once to Africa and twice to Saudi Arabia, and

2) he has a wife and/or girlfriend and child in Australia and a wife and 6 children in San Diego.

U.S. frees 3 Afghan teen detainees 

Jan. 29 - U.S. frees 3 Afghan teen detainees.
The Pentagon did not provide the identities or locations of where the teens are returning, citing concerns that al Qaeda or Taliban sympathizers might threaten them.

The statement said nongovernment organizations will help the youths re-integrate into civilian society.
What does one say?

BBC director-general resigns 

Jan. 29 - BBC's director-general, Greg Dyke, apologizes (actually, in reading the aritcle, the aplogy seems to be followed by challenges to the findings of the Hutton Inuiry) and, according to the scrolling news on the DT's webiste, he has also resigned from the BBC. (The BBC confirms the resignation here.)

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Jan. 29 - The terrorist attack yesterday in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of a British soldier caused the Canadian military to scale back a planned procession to the airport which was to have honoured Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, who was killed the previous day in a terrorist attack, for his final journey home (Farewell to 'a brother'.)

The heightened security concerns have caused the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to order that foot patrols cease and alll Iltis jeeps to be parked until further notice.

Soldiers and local authorities in Kabul have tightened security and increased police foot patrols as the investigation into the attacks continues.

The US is planning a spring offensive to track down remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a senior DoD official.

Never forget those who serve.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph story on the bombing death of the British soldier is here.
The soldier was the fourth British serviceman and the 24th member of the Nato-led Isaf to be killed in Afghanistan. Spokesmen for the deposed Taliban claimed responsibility, but gave different names and nationalities for the bomber.

One described him as "Saad", an Algerian-born British national in his twenties. Another said he was 28-year-old Sayed Mohammad Ahmad, a Palestinian with an Algerian passport. Abdul Latif Hakimi, a Taliban spokesman, told a news agency: "It's just the beginning. More such attacks will take place. Hundreds of our men are ready to carry out such attacks."
The soldier's name has not been released yet.

It's all about the seals 

Jan. 29 - Blame Paris: the real reason Americans are boycotting Canada is finally revealed: well-known activist Paris Hilton to protest Canada's seal hunting.

Human rights industry 

Jan. 29 - Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble has declared that Human rights groups are complicit in murder:
"One of the great curses of this world is the human rights industry," he told the Associated Press news agency at an international conference of terrorism victims in Madrid.

"They justify terrorist acts and end up being complicit in the murder of innocent victims."

His words drew an angry reaction from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two of the world's biggest human rights groups, with about 200,000 members in Britain and more than a million worldwide.
I have to admit that his remarks seems a bit harsh, although I agree with the substance of what he is saying. One can, and should, make an effort to comprehend the motivations of people who commit horrendous acts, but there is so slender a line between understanding and justifying as to be indistinct.

The failure of Amnesty International in particular to distinguish between victim and killer has reduced their credbility, which is alarming given their otherwise good record of exposing human rights abuses.

The conference adopted the following declaration:
It said: "We call on NGOs and other civil organisations that stand for the defence of human rights to make a commitment to defend victims of terrorism and to identify terrorist acts for what they are, regardless of their cause or pretext and without striking balances or blurring the distinction between victims and executioners."
Maybe the civil organizations that stand for the defence of human rights consider those points when they frame their reactions to the terrorist bus bombing attack that killed 10 and wounded 45 people in Jerusalem.

UPDATE: The bomber has been identified as a Palestinian police officer from Bethlehem. His left a will with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

1/28/2004

Andrew Coyne 

Jan. 28 - Technorati seems to be working again, and I was pleased to learn that Andrew Coyne is running a webpage here.

Read it and see what you think.

UPDATE: In truth, I wasn't sure if he was still a columnist with the National Post given the recent shuffles over there but the incredibly intelligent commenters here assure me that he is. /gratuitous flattery

Precision Guided Humour 

Jan. 28 - The latest assignment from The Alliance of Free Bloggers is to determine What jobs should we allow France to do in Iraq?

To be honest, I am not feeling very charitable right now. Of course, the French haven't given me any reason to feel charitably but I usually at least try to make an effort. Fact is I'm too tired, my fingers are cramped and my toes haven't thawed out.

So I'm sticking with "Don't let them in Iraq at all." They can, if they wish to do something useful, come here and help with snow removal. It warmed up just enough to make the snow heavy - very heavy - and there are still some residential areas of the city where it's pretty rough going.

Okay, I'll try to be more charitable.

Toronto got a lot less snow than other areas in the East, so let's send them to harder hit areas and Toronto will cope. Yeah, that's it. And now I don't appear so self-interested.

Oil for Food Program 

Jan. 28 - According to a story in today's Globe and Mail, a Canadian businessman was named as one of those who received free oil for backing Saddam. Arthur Millholland, president of Calgary-based Oilexco Inc., is said to have received one million barrels of oil.

The allegations of bribery were published in an Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada, which cited documents obtained from the former State Oil Organisation, or Somo, which the Daily Telegraph (UK) describes as the commercial arm of Saddam's oil ministry.

The Daily Telegraph article focuses on the international nature of the scandal
Saddam Hussein bribed his way around the world, buying the support of presidents, ministers, legislators, political parties and even Christian churches, according to documents published in Iraq.

The list of those who allegedly benefited from Saddam's largesse spans 46 countries.

According to the newspaper al-Mada, one of the new publications that have emerged since the removal of the dictator, Saddam offered each of his friends lucrative contracts to trade in millions of barrels of Iraqi crude under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

The 270 individuals and organisations alleged to be in his pay included the sons of a serving Arab president, Arab ministers, a prominent Indonesian leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, the party led by the Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even the Russian Orthodox Church.
There's more, so read the whole thing.

Will this latest allegation force the UN to open the books of the Oil for Food program?

Roger L. Simon has been in the forefront of those urging the books be opened. He posts on this latest development, Naming Names, and also links to Merde in France which in turn links to the Le Monde article about the French connection, so those with working French might want to check it out.

Tim Blair links to the complete list and the translation of the complete list. No Australians have been named but some Austrians (which might explain why initial reports were conflicting) but George Galloway's name appears several times.

One cautionary reminder: we've been down this road of documents recovered in Baghdad provide evidence of corruption and perfidy only to see it fizzle when the documents turned out to be forgeries, so handsprings and whoops of joy are postponed until confirmation.

But, as Capt. Sheridan said, You can't kill the truth. (And yes, I know what his follow-up was, but work with me here, okay?)

UPDATE: Enter Stage Right has more, including a good memory back to an earlier rumour about Swiss bank accounts. Maybe the deal wasn't for actual oil after all, but for the proceeds of undocumented oil sales.

Kay: WMD search shows intelligence weakness 

Jan. 28 - I watched David Kay's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee and kept wondering if the US will ever be able to get away from the overwhelming politicization of each and every issue. Kay said WMD search showed intelligence weakness and pointed out that those failures began during the Carter Administration (echoing the president's Whitehall speech in that blame can be placed equally on both parties and over decades, not years.)

Kay pointed out (and I agree) that an inquiry might be useful, but a witchhunt wouldn't. I'm weary of the witchhunt mentality of the past 10 years which overshadowed the bombing of the WTC early in the last decade as well as the escalating terrorist attacks on US interests which, by our inability or unwillingness to respond, culminated on Sept. 11.

I've don't fault the Clinton administration so much for not responding to the attacks so much as I fault the leaders of both parties for being incapable of understanding which issues are fair partisan game and which aren't. There has got to be continued recognition that, when a national crisis occurs, responsibile leadership dictates that we drop the partisan games. It's hurting us that some still haven't reached that understanding.

The problem is that criticisms based on partisanship are too easily dismissed (which was similar to the findings of the Hutton Inquiry - see post below) and that problem, more than anything else, threatens our ability to properly assess and respond to events.

David Kay has pointed out that the strategies employed during the war indicate how strongly we believed in the existence and willingness of Saddam to use WMD on our troops and many of the criticisms being raised now about securing sites and offices fail to take that into account. That's something so glaringly obvious that I have to conclude that even those who criticize those failures know it to be so.

(UPDATE: CNN's wrap-up of Kay's testimony is here and Fox's coverage is here.)

(UPDATE: The transcript of David Kay's opening statement to the committee is here. Note it doesn't include the questions and answers, unfortunately.)

During Sen. Kennedy's questions I found myself reflecting on the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as the Bay of Pigs mess and wondered if he had thought about those events lately. (I'm not saying there are grounds for analogy. I'm just saying.)

There has to be points at which partisan interests, which are by definition narrow and selfish, are set aside for the common good. I'm baffled that we evidently haven't reached that point yet, although I suspect the American people are considerably farther ahead in that respect than some political leaders.

The president has thus far stood above the chatter and clatter, but he hasn't begun to campaign as of yet (at least to the same degree as the Dems, which in all fairness, is due to the primaries) so the Republicans are still holding the higher moral ground but it will be a delicate balancing act once the Democrats select a candidate and the presidential campaign begins in earnest.

I was sorry to see that Sen. Lieberman couldn't break the 10% barrier in the New Hampshire primary. Do the Dems have any special awards for principled consistency? I believe the senator is preserving the future of the Democrats which is also true for Bill Clinton also but not true for Gore.

Maybe I should make a full disclosure: I voted for Nader in 2000. When Gore decided to endorse Dean, it confirmed for me the main reason I didn't vote for him: he's an unprincipled opportunist. (I didn't even consider voting for Bush because I had never voted Republican. In 2000, some things were sacrosanct, but it's not 2000 any more and I'm not in Kansas any more - or Georgia or California.)

I think what irritates me the most is the heightened rhetoric. For example, does Sen. Kerry truly believe that the Bush administration is a regime? Of course he doesn't. Do those who say that the US has become a police state actually believe that? Of course they don't. (They are as aware as I that they aren't in jail.)

I also didn't believe that Dean's speech after the Iowa caucus was as dreadful as CNN in particular insisted (although that may be because I lived in Georgia, have seen other politicians behave similarly, and recognized his speech for what it was - a boisterous effort to raise the spirits of his supporters and redirect their temporary disappointment to the future. Were I such to have been in that crowd, it would have raised my spirits!)

Anyway, I think the sound bite approach to leadership is just plain irresponsible.

Americans are facing unanticipated challenges these days which go to the heart of who we are, where we are headed and what we aspire to be. We need to find solutions that are based less in partisanship and more to determining "the common weal." I get that, most Americans get that, and anyone who would be our leader needs to get that.

It's stopped snowing for now. The snow plow did its usual damage, so I'm going to finish clearing up out there.

Hutton Inquiry Report 

Jan. 28 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK) Blair 'cleared' by Hutton which links directly to the website for the Hutton Inquiry where the report is posted. The report is said to be a .pdf file ( didn't check) but the Summary of Conclusions appears in standard text.

The Summary itself is fairly straightforward and well-worth reading. Section 2.i. notes that
Therefore the allegations reported by Mr Gilligan that the Government probably knew that the 45 minutes claim was wrong or questionable and that it was not inserted in the first draft of the dossier because it only came from one source and the intelligence agencies did not really believe it was necessarily true, were unfounded.
The Report also criticizes the BBC management for not recognizing that Gilligans's own notes did not support his accusations about the dossier and, although it recognizes that the BBC Board of Governors properly recognized that they had the obligation to protect the independence of the BBC, it notes that they failed to distinguish between defending that independence and addressing the specific government complaints about the May 29 broadcast that alleged the government had deliberately inserted doubtful information and therefore should have made their own investigations.

On the question of whether the government or government officials behaved dishonourably by allowing Dr. Kelly's name to be know, the inquiry acknowledges (Section 4.A) that keeping Dr. Kelly's name secret was not "a practical possibility" given the media scrutiny,, so confirmation after a reporter put his name forward was the only reasonable response. It does criticize the government's failure to inform Dr. Kelly that they would confirm his identity as the source (4.B.) and for not setting up a procedure by which Dr. Kelly would have been informed immediately once his name was released to the press but also noting that there were individual attempts by MoD officials to be supportive and helpful.

As noted by Expat Yank (if blogspotted, Ctrl+F "What is needed is an investigation"), the response from the Conservative Party has been to call for an inquiry. That's right, an inquiry into the inquiry.

UPDATE: BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigns in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry's finding that the BBC had "defective" editorial controls.

Does anyone else remember the Washington Post retraction of their erroneous stories about Jessica Lynch capture or how the NY Times handled the Jayson Blair firing? It's sad to see the BBC fail to remember their primary responsibility to the public like this.

Afghan blast kills UK soldier 

Jan. 28 - Two bombs were detonated nearly simultaneously in Kabul yesterday. The first exploded during a memorial service for Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy (the Canadian soldier who was killed yesterday by a homicide bomber) killing a British soldier and injuring 4 others.

According to the Sun (UK) the MoD confirmed that the explosion involved a British vehicle and occured during the memorial service, but if I'm judging correctly the location of the attack was not at the memorial service.

In the second attack, five "non-Afghans" were injured by a homicidal bomber in a taxi. The explosion happened near the German peacekeeping base to the east of Kabul. The victims have not been identified.

The Taliban has taken responsibility for today's bombings as well as yesterdays, and the Sun notes that the attacks occured in the same week as Afghan President Karzai signed the constitution into law.

Never forget those who serve.

1/27/2004

New Hampshire Primary 

Jan. 27 - From Boston Globe coumnist Brian McGrory Dear voters, You're fired:
... So you can vote any way you want and make us look like idiots?

I don't mean to pile on, but didn't you realize that we dismissed Kerry's candidacy with a steady stream of bitterly snide and snarky jokes many months ago. Did you fail to see that the firing of his campaign manager in November was the biggest story of the decade and that his appearance on Leno showed that he couldn't possibly win?

Likewise, did you miss the whole Dean coronation we held? Didn't you know that with all that Internet money and all those kids in orange, he couldn't possibly lose? Did you ignore how often the news magazines had him on their cover?

How do you think all this makes us feel in the news business? ...
Go read and enjoy.

(Link via On the Third Hand

Deadly danger 

Jan. 27 - Things are not sweet and lightness here: today's Toronto Sun lists 8 gun-related incidents including the two homicides that occured from Friday to Monday in Toronto the Good: Deadly danger.

City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is calling on Mayor David Miller to declare Gun violence an emergency and have it foremost on the three-day council meeting which began today. He's calling on the mayor to hire 600 more police officers.

The fact that the courts do not seem to see gun-related violence as deserving of more stringent sentences is still the bigger part of the problem, though, and is probably the main reason witnesses are reluctant to step forward.

Lorrie Goldstein points out that This is a way a city dies, First with a bang, then a whimper.

Look, folks. I'm an American. I've seen too many American cities writhe in death convulsions because those purporting to be our leaders were too easily intimidated by accusations of racism and too happy to distract attention to "root causes of gang violence" rather than take action. Do the families of the dead care much about our solicitude for "root causes" while making funeral arrangements?

Does a baby have to be killed in cross fire before people wake up?

I think Canadians could handle learning from our mistakes. IMO.

Flags of the unilateral power 

Jan. 27 - Murdoc has a striking post Flags of the unilateral power. (I highly recommend standing during this display -- as a sign of respect.)

Bomber kills Canadian soldier in Kabul 

Jan. 27 - Bomber kills Canadian in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bombing in Kabul has killed one Canadian soldier and wounded three others, a spokesman for the NATO-led security force said.

One Afghan civilian also died, and eight other people were treated for injuries at local hospitals, police and doctors told The Associated Press.

The suicide bomber reportedly threw himself on a vehicle that was part of a small International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol convoy operating in the Afghan capital.
The attack happened about 2 km from Camp Julien.

The Globe and Mail is calling it a suicide attack, as is the the CBC.

Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, of Conception Harbour, Nfld., was killed while on patrol in Kabul in an Iltis. Lieut. Jason Matthew Feyko, 30 of Peterborough, Ont., Cpl. Jeremy Gerald MacDonald, 30, of Burnt Islands, Nfld. and Cpl. Richard Michael Newman, 23, of Heartland, N.B., were injured. The injuries are said not to be life-threatening.

Never forget those who serve.

UPDATE: I just finished watching the press conference on CBC Newsworld, and just in case anyone besides the reporters missed this point, the bomber jumped on top of the Iltis. I doubt the vehicle they were in made a difference. I'm not even going to comment on some of the other probing questions.

And to any Canadians who are irritated that CNN television is ignoring the death of the Canadian soldier, I agree! but heck, no one has ever claimed that CNN would prioritize actual news events over a day full of celebrity lawbreakers or idle speculation (ref. the story of the bombing in Bali which was pretty much ignored so they could interview armchair experts and listen to their (inaccurate) profiles of the Washington sniper. Aargh.)

UPDATE: Canadian Comment doesn't mince words:
Last night Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy of Newfoundland was killed while on patrol in Kabul. A murderer jumped on their vehicle strapped with explosives killing Jamie and injuring Lieutenant Jason Matthew Feyko, Corporal Richard Michael Newman, and Corporal Jeremy Gerald MacDonald.
I'm thinking that messages of condolences should be left on Canadian sites like Canadian Comment.

UPDATE: This speculates that the homicide attack was payback for the recent nightime raid on suspected terrorists and drug lords. (See here for the link describing the raid.)

Texas coast eyed by terrorists 

Jan. 26 - The Friday shooting of a security guard in Freeport, Texas, by the man he questioned as to why he was lingering in the vicinity of a multi-story ammonia tank at a BASF ammonia terminal is being investigated by FBI, state and local law enforcment personnel and, according to sources, considered possibly connected to a terrorist reconnaisance operation. This is according to an item from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin (subscription only) and carried by WorldNetDaily: Texas coast eyed by terrorists.

A major feature of this article is the retelling of the 1947 Texas City (located only a few miles from Freeport) disaster at which a French ship filled with ammonium nitrate exploded at the dock setting off a chain reaction of explosions which killed the towns entire fire department and destroyed their 4 firetrucks. Volunteers fought the fires and assisted in rescue work. Over 500 people were killed.

(Via Jack's Newswatch

1/26/2004

Terror Watch 

Jan. 26 - Al-Qaida program to make chemical, biological weapons halted by Afghan war according to Malaysian officials from information gathered from captured terrorist suspects in Southeast Asia:
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - An al-Qaida program to develop chemical and biological weapons was in the early "conceptual stages" when it was cut short by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. and Malaysian security officials told the Associated Press.

The information on the state of Osama bin Laden's weapons plan came from interrogations of terrorist suspects captured in Southeast Asia and from clues gathered in the Afghan battlefield, the authorities said.

The project was being developed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Officials believe the program was being run by Yazid Sufaat, a former Malaysian army captain and U.S.-trained biochemist, under the direction of Riduan Isamuddin, or Hambali, an Indonesian accused of heading al-Qaida's operations in Southeast Asia.

Both men are suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group.
They are also both in custody. Hambali is a major operative in Jemaah Islamiyah and was implicated in the Bali bombing.

Read the article; it has a lot of information about Yazid, including his involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Abdulkareem Khadr may be returned to Canada 

Jan. 26 - Pakistan to release wounded Abdulkareem Khadr for return to Canada
OTTAWA (CP) - Pakistani authorities are prepared to release a 14-year-old Canadian boy wounded in combat alongside al-Qaida fighters, a source said Monday, but it could take officials in Ottawa and Islamabad two weeks to work out the logistics.

Abdulkareem Khadr was hit in the spine by a bullet Oct. 2 and is paralysed from the waist down. He is being held at a hospital near Islamabad. "The young man has expressed a wish to come back here," said a Foreign Affairs official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

[...]

The official said Canada will issue a passport to the young Khadr, who has family in Toronto. But there remain at least 20 questions that must answered before he can be repatriated, not the least of which is: who's going to pay for his transport?

It is likely Khadr is a stretcher case who will need medical escort and possibly a private plane or air ambulance, the official said, estimating transport alone at more than $30,000.

"Is it going to be automatic medical coverage by OHIP?" he said. "It's going to be an expensive operation.

"That kind of money - I don't know where it's going to come from. The family will have to be canvassed."
My assumption is that once he is in Canada, his medical costs will be covered by the health care system. The issue of who is going to pay for the costs incurred in transporting him to Canada is somewhat sensitive because the father had been given money by the Canadian government for purported charity work which turned out to be used to fund terrorism. He was a money man for al Qaeda and they called him "Al Kanadi" (the Canadian.) (Use Ctrl+F " Ahmed Said Khadr" in October archives for more information.)

To recap: Ahmed Said Khadr, the father, was killed last October in a firefight with Pakistan security forces.
Omar, 17, a brother, is being held at Guantanamo for killing a US media in Afghanistan.
Abdurahman, 20, was captured in Afghanistan, held at Guantanamo, released and eventually returned to Toronto last December.
Abdullah, 22, is believed to have operated an al Qaeda training camp and his whereabouts are unknown.

Security of Information Act 

Jan. 26 - The politicians in this country are a wonder: MPs call for Arar inquiry:
OTTAWA -- MPs of all stripes called for a sweeping review of post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism legislation yesterday, and a public inquiry into Maher Arar's deportation to Syria. Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish said MPs of all federal parties will work together when Parliament resumes next week to take on the RCMP for raiding Ottawa journalist Juliet O'Neill.

Parrish blames Canada's anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks for giving the Mounties the powers to conduct the surprise raid on O'Neill.

Parrish said those laws were hastily drafted and deserve a "slow second look."

"I think the review is inevitable," Parrish told CTV's Question Period. "It's time for it to be reviewed and dumped."
Firstly, yes, that Carolyn Parrish.

Secondly, too bad they didn't take that slow, second look before voting for it, but for heaven's sake, why pretend to review it if you really plan to dump it? Stop.Wasting.Our.Time. Will the Canadian electorate readily accept the "we're too incompetent to know what we're doing" excuse? (Probably.)

Thirdly, there was the equivalent of an Official Secrets Act in Canada before the Security of Information Act. Every country has such legislation. We don't exactly know the nature of the documents she is said to possess, but there is a process by which materials can be reviewed and, unless they are deemed to it compromise investigations or national security, be released for publication. Therefore, the possibility remains that she possessed documents that contained sensitive material beyond what she released about Arar.

It's too bad that the media feel victimized, but maybe they should have focused on the provisions of the Security Act instead of indulging in whining about legislation in another freaking country.

Fourthly, that other freaking country I'm referring to has had more leaks from intelligence and military sources to the media than I would even begin to try to count, and as of yet no reporter has been served with a search warrant at work or home. Canadian pundits haven't pulled any punches in declaring the USA is a totalitarian, fascist regime. Will this shut them up?

Two words: Robert Novack. He published the name of a CIA employee and/ or operative and hey! he still has his rolodex.

Second to the lastly, the inquiry into the detention and deportation of Arar should be interesting because he has sued the US, Jordanian and Syrian governments. IANAL, but wouldn't testimony in one tend to prejudice testimony in the other? Which gets priority when there's an inquiry and pending lawsuits?

Lastly, it may be a mistake to try to post during commercials for the Dennis Miller show on CNBC. It seems to heighten my proclivity for snarkiness.

The Dennis Miller Show has some things to work on (he even said that in closing) but I'm going to give it a chance. His feature guest tonight was Arnold Schwarzennegger, and the discussion group was Naomi Wolf, token liberal, David Horowitz (no intro necessary) and David Frum (ditto.) By the way, they discussed "David Kay said there were no WMD in Iraq" and didn't bring up any "they were transported to Syria" speculations, so that last may be a case of too much dot connecting.

What Americans are unlike and like 

Jan. 26 - Steven den Beste has an essay, Americans are unalike, in which he answers the question "What are Americans like?" primarily with this:
There is not a single substantive question you can ask about Americans or ask of Americans that you would find a single answer to. On any political question you'll find disagreement, and there is no single substantive characteristic we share as a people.
I would only add that there are a few minor, unsubstantive characteristics: contariness, and a refusal to bow down to anyone.

Discount Blogger's take, though, in What Americans are like was right on the money:
So, to answer Den Beste's reader's question, Americans are people who live their lives. They don't feel superior. Yet they certainly do not feel inferior to you.
Read both "whole things."

WMD in Syria 

Jan. 26 - I got a really late start today, but want to begin by pointing to some more observations from Roger L. Simon in his post Roshamon on possible Syrian involvement with Saddam's WMD. He also links to more analyses of David Kay's interviews at JunkYardBlog and Dust in the Light.

There needs to be some major snow shoveling here. Mark's brother lives in Sault Ste. Marie so I would normally be downright embarassed to complain about the average snowfall in Toronto, but I think today might just qualify as the exception, but there's no point complaining until it actually stops snowing.

I screwed up my courage earlier to go into the Blogger template and update the blogroll. Two blogs have not only changed urls but names as well, so Moving Target is now Autonomous Source and Too Much to Dream is now Twisted Spinster. I also updated the link for Random Thoughts and added Just Between Us Girls and Let It Bleed, two fine Canadian bloggers.

The Canadian Election Blog has a lot of contributors from the Canadian political spectrum and will prove particularly relevant as everyone assumes an election will be called at some point this year (by the way, I'm going with the name I first saw on Jay Currie's blog for now, although the title "E-Group Election Blog" is on the web bar.)

au currant is an American blogger in London who I discovered through Peaktalk.

Two additions who serve: Neptunus Lex in in the Navy, and Rantings of a homicidalManiak is an army medic stationed in Germany. One of them is actually seeing the world: guess which one!

I thought that The Owner's Manual and Iraq 2.0 were already on the blogroll, but they were evidently among the links lost in cyberspace when blogger went down completely during one of my recent forays into the Blogger Template (and you wonder why I'm reluctant to venture in there.)

Usual request: if I screwed up something, let me know so I can fix it. To err is human, to fix mistakes is divine.

Syria Accountability Act 

A key indication of how seriously the legislature is viewing the relations we have with Syria resides in the Syria Accountability Act (HR-1828) (some news background here from Oct. 8 and here from Nov. 6.) It was first recommended for approval by the House International Relations Committee last October.

To repeat: this bill arose in the House International Relations Committee, i.e., from our legislative branch, rather than the executive. In fact, the executive branch asked that it be held up in committee in order to continue to try and find a resolution though diplomatic means.

From an Oct. 8 US Dept. of State release:
The House bill has 281 co-sponsors while the Senate version has 76 co-sponsors. The level of co-sponsorship is generally indicative of a piece of legislation's support in Congress and chances of final passage.
The bill provides the president with a list of measures from which he can select two for implementation, so it allows the executive some flexibility so that diplomatic efforts can continue, but is a clear signal to Syria that Congress, and thus the direct electorate, have grown weary of Syria's games and are re-asserting that Syria is a terrorist state and should be subject for sanctions until the issues listed in the bill are resolved.

1/25/2004

WMD in Syria 

Jan. 25 - Instapundit points to this in the Telegraph (UK) which deserves its own heading: Kay said Saddam's WMD hidden in Syria - not a large stockpile, he said, but "a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme."

Syria's response was designed to deflect rather than answer:
A Syrian official last night said: "These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false."
I guess that conclusion really depends on which of the two countries one thinks is more trustworthy.

I was initally miffed that Israel only hit one terrorist camp last October, and backed off when I considered that (speculation alert!) often one mission is given a lot of coverage to divert attention from another, unnoticed mission, and even though Debka isn't the most reliable source in the world, some of their seemingly wilder dot-connectings have proven true.

The war blogs certainly haven't fallen all over themselves with rapture on any inroads with Syria as we have with Libya, and that is significant.

UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club looks at a possible deployment of special ops forces in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon. RTWT.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon's post The Road (Map) to Damascus makes some excellent points. Read the comments as well.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the Washington Times story about the Janes Intelligence Digest report from Jan 22.

UK News Quick Hits 

Jan. 25 - Hutton will clear Blair over Kelly death which is to say Blair will not be personally criticized, but Alistair Campbell and Andrew Gilligan are among those who will be. So a BBC reporter can misrepresent Dr. Kelly's statements (who should never have been speaking to the BBC to begin with) and thus violate every ethical standard of journalism to put forward his own point of view and Blair was put on the defensive? And Campbell did wrong . . . how? By standing up for the truth. No chastisement can be harsh enough for that crime.

And journalists complain that people don't watch the news or read the papers. Maybe because they don't trust big media? Hmm?

Mugabe flown to South Africa because he collapsed. Money quote:
"We were ordered not to give any details of the president's illness in case it brought people out on to the streets," a senior member of the 'Green Bombers', the notorious youth brigade created by Mr Mugabe, told The Telegraph.
Paul claims he's trying to resolve issues with his video card (or something like that) but I say he's been sacrificing chickens again. Good work! Today Mugabe, tomorrow . . . oh, kind of a big field there. I vote for Arafat, but I'll let Paul decide.

Dick Cheney is taking a hard line on Iran's Council of Guardians.
"Democracies do not breed the anger and the radicalism that drag down whole societies or export violence," he said. "Terrorists do not find fertile recruiting grounds in societies where young people have the right to guide their own destinies and to choose their own leaders."
Ineptitude in the EU?:
The report, by the parliament's budgetary control committee, notes that "no Commissioner has so far accepted political responsibility" for the fiasco at Eurostat, from which at least £3.5 million disappeared in slush funds and fictitious contracts, although some have admitted mistakes. Much of the fraud took place before the current commission took office in late 1999, but MEPs are furious that dubious contracts ran on, unchecked, until at least 2002.
Ever wonder where the UN learned its bookkeeping methodology? And these poor commissioners might receive a vote of censure! Oh, the humanity!

Peter Worthington 

Jan. 25 - Civil War and military intelligence buffs alert! Peter Worthington looks at the role of Pinkerton and his continually poor assessments of Confederate strength during the Civil War in light of their ommission from John Keegan's book Intelligence in War in the column The 'myth' of military intelligence. (Worthington is a vet, so he already knows that military intelligence is an oxymoron.) (But no mention of the use of hot-air balloons? Oh well, can't have everything.)

T.O. relatives grieve for Khadr 

Jan. 25 - Anytime you lose someone is cause for grief, even if he was a terrorist and money-man for al Qaeda (T.O. relatives grieve for Khadr) and I'm trying to retain some sympathy but his family makes it hard:
"This just continues the ongoing suffering we have endured."
Ahem, it might help to consider that removing him and his activities from the planet might prevent others from true and actual suffering.

Canadians in Afghanistan 

Jan. 25 - The Globe and Mail has its take on the story of 100 soldiers arriving home from Afghanistan after completing their six-month tour of duty, and the Toronto Sun has its take. The Globe and Mail might considered to be more "respectable" than the Sun, but the content convinces me that appearances are deceiving. Read it for yourselves and decide.

Welcome Home! and Thank You seem better sentiments than delving into their psychological profiles, but I'm just an Air Force brat. What do I know?

Opportunity 

Jan. 25 - (Crossing fingers) Live on CNN from JPL in Pasadena, ping, radar, bouncing, re-acquired signal, still rolling, stopped moving, unwrapping.

I think we can call the landing a success!

(I doubt I can make it to 1 am PST for Surveyor to transmit to earth. Damn.)

UPDATE: The photos on the NASA page and Rover page are pretty impressive and worth waiting to load.

1/24/2004

An international supermarket for nuclear parts 

Jan. 24 - Two major items in the Washington Post today. First, an astonishing account that the Probe of Libya Finds Nuclear Black Market complete with 'ready to assemble "kits" for centrifuges and customer support service. Read the whole thing.

Second, Pakistan investigators have concluded that at least two of their nuclear scientists directly assisted Iran in devloping nuclear technology, although without government approval. President Musharref said the scientists provided their expertise for "personal gain."

Another look at Iran 

Jan. 24 - The Meatriarchy has linked back to an older post of his with some well thought-out points which concluded that Iraq might be the Wrong Domino and that Iran might have had better potential as a Mid-East country that could become run by consensual government. He's re-raised the question here (and be sure to follow the link to read Clifford Le May's article.)

I've read all three articles more than a few times today and tried to understand my reactions, and I'm suddenly wondering if perhaps I suffer from Tehran Embassy Syndrome, something akin to Somalia Syndrome and one which probably has similar roots.

I supported the removal of the Shah of Iran (he was regarded a butcher by his people,) but was shocked when the US Embassy in Tehran was seized and those within held as hostages. I've supported the movement to bring democratic reforms to Iran, but am leery of the US becoming directly involved or even supportive. I was genuinely glad that the US sent aid after the Bam earthquake, but feel myself stiffen whenever the question of re-opening diplomatic relations with Iran is raised. (I'm talking about how I feel here, not what I think.)

Sometimes memories sit in a quagmire of feelings. For example, I've never had the heart to attack former President Jimmy Carter and I think it's because I vividly remember his face and demeanor when he appeared on TV to inform the American people of the disasterous attempt to rescue the hostages. He hurt, and we all hurt with him. We had abandoned our dead, something we never do. A low point of history indeed.

In many ways, the embassy takeover spelled the end of my political innocence, and it taught me that good intentions and high-sounding, lofty ideals weren't adequate when it came to dealing with people who hate us. After all, they struck at us and called us Satan when someone as benign as Jimmy Carter was president. I knew I needed to do some re-evaluation.

Again, my evaluation of Carter is based on the personal, not the political. I lived in Georgia when Carter was governor, and he always struck me as being a good, well-meaning man. It was harsh learning that sometimes someone being good was inadequte and in fact was a detriment for a President. Ethics were important, but so was strength. I never quite got on the Reagan bandwagon (I voted Independent for years) but couldn't deny the reality that the hostages were let go as Reagan was inaugurated.

That experience may form part of the reason why a great many of us 60's radicals are solidly in support of the strong stance taken by President Bush, and why we grasped the reasons to make an intervention in the Mid-East long before the arguments were even laid out by the current Administration.

So maybe I harbor a bit of a grudge against Iran - although not Iranians - not because of what they did but because of what we didn't do, and I'm not sure I'm alone in this.

So the points laid out in The Meatriarchy's posts have dogged me a great part of today and made me do a lot of thinking (he does that a lot; if you don't read him regularly, you should!) Read it and see what you think.

Spirit upgraded to serious 

Jan. 24 - Spirit Recovers on Red Planet:
Scientists said they managed to reset Spirit's computer and put the rover into what's called “cripple” mode to bypass software problems.
It may be 3 weeks before Spirit can take another trip on the Martian landscape.

Opportunity should land at 12:05 a.m. tomorrow.

Clinton to support Stronach? 

Jan. 24 - A big caution should accompany reading the following from the New York Post Online Edition: Gossip but it is giggle-worthy:
January 22, 2004 -- BILL Clinton's liberal politics go right out the window when it comes to women. Now that auto parts heiress Belinda Stronach has announced she's running to lead Canada's Conservative Party, our northern spies tell us the 37-year-old Magna CEO can count on her old friend Bubba's help. "Clinton is expected to give Belinda council for her bid to become Conservative leader and, if she wins that job, taking on the governing Liberals in the national election," says the source. Clinton's office had no comment. (Original emphasis)
Now, I would actually like to see this happen strictly for scientific reasons as I wonder if the Clinton curse applies up in Canada.

(Link via The Owner's Manual.)

Khadr patriarch confirmed dead 

Jan. 24 - The rumoured death last year of Egyptian-born Canadian citizen Ahmed Said Khadr has been confirmed by DNA testing.

1/23/2004

Maureen Dowd is a poodle 

Jan. 23 - This one needs some explaining, but I'd rather let an Australian, Tim Blair, start it off since they were slandered.

Blackfive compared the participants in the Korean War with the Iraq War and came up with a real yardstick, from which was born this:

The rantings of a homicidalManiak: Google bomb: Maureen Dowd is a poodle.

Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Maureen Dowd is a poodle.
Actually, my sense of justice would be better served if MoDo had to face some of the Bali bombing survivors, but this will do.

UPDATE: Iraq Now has some pretty scathing comments on the column and wonders if she's stacking the deck. But gee! that would be as dishonest as, say, using ellipses to distort the meaning of a quote!

Update 

Jan. 23 - Rantburg reports on the capture of a deputy, Husam al-Yemeni, of al Qaeda leader Abu Zarqawi and the suspicion that there is an al Qaeda cell in Fallujah.

Fox reports that another possible al Qaeda member, Hasan Ghul, was also detained in Iraq.

UPDATE: The Washington Times has more background on Ghul including his connection to Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

Things are really getting sticky: the Iranian government has announced it plans to try 12 members of al Qaeda (although they won't release their names) but an allegation has been made by a witness that Iran was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks during proceedings in the German trial of Abdelghani Mzoudi who is being tried for as an accomplice in the attacks.

NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has no problem with climbing out on a branch and sawing it off, but I've been rubbing my hands with anticipation since she trashed the Australians, and they are responding. Heh.

A Canadian citizen who lives in Minneapolis, Mohammed Abdullah Warsame has been indited for providing material support to al Qaeda.

German salute to U.S. warriors 

Jan. 23 - This is the second link I've seen on some outstanding acts of solidarity by German soldiers and civilians at Ramstein Air Base (German salute to U.S. warriors) which, combined with the at sea dress uniform rendition of full honours accorded by FGS Lutjens to the USS Winston Churchill on 9/14/01 (come on, surely you remember receiving that photo and email! I received at least 4 of them) is why we need to remember that politicians talk - too much - but they don't always represent the total will of their people.

UPDATE: Homical Maniac has a story of her own about the respect displayed by German soldiers. Sheesh, I didn't know HS was a medic in Germany. My respect, ma'am.

(Via Rantburg in comments section of lgf.)

Defending Rhys-Davies 

Jan. 23 - I guess it was predictable that there would be a backlash against John Rhys-Davies for remarks he made asserting the worth of Western Civilization and declaring it and its accomplishments worth defending. I'm not going to quote the accusations, but they are in Front Page Magazine as well as Robert Spencer's defence of Rhys-Davies which concludes:
As Rhys-Davies himself put it: “I do not want to see a society where, should I ever have any, my granddaughters have their fingernails pulled out because they are wearing nail varnish. . . . Do not brand me a racist because I am most certainly not. But I will stand by this: Western Christianised Europe has values and experience that is worth defending.”

Can Malik guarantee that none of those young Muslims in Holland want to see the Sharia imposed there? Is he willing to renounce the Sharia and work to educate Muslims about how it must be reformed in light of principles of human rights that are recognized universally outside the Islamic world?

If not, then Gimli has nothing whatsoever for which to apologize.
(Link via little green footballs.)

Mob leaves Iranian reformist leader injured 

Jan. 23 - Mob leaves Iranian reformist leader injured:
A 200-strong gang of political radicals attacked a meeting of Iranian reformists yesterday in the first outbreak of serious violence since moderates were barred from forthcoming elections.

Members of the radical Islamic Hezbollah movement burst into a hall in Hamedan, western Iran. They disrupted a meeting called to discuss the disqualification of 3,605 predominantly reformist candidates from next month's general elections.

The violence erupted after a speaker accused the Guardian Council, the unelected clerical body that vetoed the candidates, of disregarding an order by the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the disqualifications to be reviewed.

"Some 200 people attacked the podium, broke the microphone and beat people," said one witness.
During the student demonstrations last summer, Hezbollah members were heavily involved in attacking demonstrators, including some in their dormitories.

It is noted at the end of the article that President Khatami does not intend to resign even though five of the vice-presidents and six cabinet ministers have done so.

Maher Arar 

Jan. 23 - Allegations that the US offered to return Arar to Canada are being made:
OTTAWA - The U.S. offered to deport Maher Arar to Canada, but sent him to Syria instead after the RCMP said it did not have enough evidence to detain or charge him if he was sent home.

Intelligence sources say the RCMP and U.S. officials were in regular contact after the 33-year- old software engineer was arrested in the fall of 2002 at New York's JFK airport en route from Tunisia to Montreal.

Sources said the U.S. offered to send him home if the RCMP would charge him, but the Americans were told Canada did not have enough evidence against Mr. Arar, who was a target of an RCMP security investigation.
Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan denied the accusation - sort of:
''We have absolutely no knowledge that there was any information provided to Canadian officials that Mr. Arar was going to be deported,'' she said.
M'kay, I'm somewhat jaundiced on the subject of former Health Minister Anne McLellan because she dropped the ball so badly during the SARS crises in Toronto, and her strident defense that "it is a learning process" startled people like me, who thought that, what with the anthrax scare of 2 years ago and continuing rumours about bio-weapons, Canada might have a plan to contain infectious diseases.

PM Martin has said he would wait until the investigation of CSIS and RCMP involvement in the Arar affair is completed before launching his own investigation.

I'll say it again: it was wrong to send him to Syria. Had he been sent to Guantanamo there would have been an outcry, but at least the US would not have been guilty of knowingly sending him to a country known to torture prisoners.

Interesting sidenote: this article was written by Robert Fife, who wrote a rather extensive article on Arar's alleged terrorist connection to a plot to bomb the US Embassy in Ottawa last July.

The press in Canada 

Jan. 23 - Elizabeth Nickson
observes:
What if we had a real press? One that was actually competitive, and free-thinking, not skewed by the need to suck up to bureaucrats and MPs? And be honest now, hundreds of millions of dollars can trigger extreme amounts of sucking up. If the press were free here, it would mean actual stories would be told, that you wouldn't have to force yourself to buy a Canadian magazine out of patriotism, you'd actually want to because, strange new concept, it was interesting.

It was a great shame for journalists all across the country, for instance, that the Bloc Quebecois, not our so-called media, had to break the story about the revolting 40% increase in federal government spending over the past five years. There was a 90% increase in the Justice Department budget, 129% in legal services alone. What on God's green earth would they be doing with that money?

Why don't we know more about the connection between the Desmarais family, TotalFinaElf, the Bank Paribas, Jacques Chirac, and the UN's Oil for Food program? Given the relationship between the Desmarais family and Chretien, did that have anything to do with our refusal to join the war in Iraq? If this were the States, that story would be front and centre for months. Why do we not know more about the $250,000 the Canadian government gave to Human Concern International, an Ottawa-based organization headed by Ahmed Khadr who is reputed to have links with Osama bin Laden. Khadr used the money to open refugee camps in Pakistan that CSIS now says were used to aid Islamic fighters waging holy war in Afghanistan.

Let me tell you why we don't have a free press. If we did, things would change for our plushy elites pretty fast. As economist Roger Cass observed in his December newsletter, the C-Wave, the free and vibrant discussion of ideas in the States has meant that the Democratic party is shrinking. From over 50% of registered voters identifying as Democrats in the late 70s, they now stand at 34%. Conversely, the number of registered Republicans has risen, from 20% in the late '70s to 33% today. Even-steven. A free and vital exchange of ideas. A close observation of government operations, actual reporting on what works and what doesn't.
(Link via Relapsed Catholic.)

Captain Kangaroo dies at age 76 

Jan. 23 - Bob Keeshan, 'Captain Kangaroo', dies at age 76- . Sheesh, another part of my childhood has just passed from this mortal coil.

Victor Davis Hanson 

Jan. 23 - It's Friday, which means Victor Davis Hanson has a new article up at the National Review and looks at the current themes of doom-and-gloom Democrats in the candidacy race and a quick world tour on the real changes that have occurred since Sept. 11.

Canada forgives Iraqi debt 

Jan. 23 - When I first read that Canada was to be allowed to submit bids in the second round of the reconstruction contracts in Iraq, my immediate reaction was to wonder what was used as a bargaining chip.

One answer: Canada forgives Iraqi debt of $750 million, or at least "the majority of it."

Rwanda, the U.N., and (eek!) World Government 

Jan. 23 - Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire continued to testify yesterday in the trial of those held responsible for the genocidal massacre of Tutsis in Rwanda and said that World leaders allowed genocide to happen citing the limited UN mandate, small number of troops, failure of Belgium to share intelligence, and indifference by world leaders, specifically mentioning France, Belguim and the U.S.

The Belgian withdrawal from Rwanda following the deaths of 10 of their soldiers caused Somalia Syndrome to come to mind (ref. the Weekly Standard piece Showstoppers) and the inability of the UN to be effective wherever there is a conflict. Sure, it'll go in as soon as all danger has passed, but that's hardly comforting to the dead. Do I even need to mention the Congo and East Timor?

[What I still don't understand (and I haven't read Dallaire's book) is what the Canadian govenment did to support him and his troops, because when the UN didn't respond, my next phone call would have been to my government to ask for some pressure to be applied. But that's just me.]

So this item in today's paper about Kofi Annan's acceptance of an invitation to address the Canadian Parliament is both troubling and laughable:
Martin, who met Annan privately at the World Economic Forum in this Swiss Alps resort on Friday, said the invitation to Annan was the first he has made to a world leader because he wanted to underline the importance of the United Nations at a crossroads in its history.

"If the United Nations doesn't work, we are severely hobbled," he told a news conference.
Pardon? If the UN doesn't work? There are two criminal trials going on right now about massacres that happened because the UN doesn't work. Mass graves continue to be uncovered in Iraq because the UN failed to act. The situation in East Timor is fragile because the UN is too timid to engage in food distribution because, well, they're timid.
Martin said in a world where superpowers like China and India are emerging to rival the economic might of the United States, the United Nations will be critical over the next decade in trying to determine how the world is governed.
Now the UN is going to have a role in how the world is governed? Why? By what authority? So a bureaucratic organization in which the majority of countries are not run democratically and are outright kleptocracies will be telling democratic countries what to do?
By inviting Annan to speak to MPs and senators, Martin wants to express the role that Canada can play in achieving change at the United Nations.

"Canada has a very important role to play in the world, it is a proactive role and it is a role that carries a wide number of areas," he said, citing the AIDS crisis in Africa and establishing the rule of law in failed states as examples of areas where Canada has made a difference.
Do the experiences of Maj. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie in Bosnia and Ltd. Gen. Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda count for nothing? Both men were in charge of peacekeeping missions which in essence failed because the UN refused to be proactive and Canada didn't back up its soldiers. The sick part is that the bobble-heads that will be happy because the right words were invoked even though everyone knows they are empty (the words, I mean, not the bobble-heads. No, make that both. What good is a rant without hyperbole?)

Let me get this straight. The Canadian military has been so decimated by cuts that it cannot provide a force even to clear snow in Toronto, but Canada thinks it has an important role in shaping how the world is to be run. Because that's what the world really needs, you know, more impotent nations sitting on the sidelines and criticizing those who do act.

You can't talk the talk with credibility unless you can walk the walk with action, and that means taking risks and standing up for something. Canada chose to sit out Iraq because it wasn't sanctioned by the UN. Fair enough. But an important sub-text in the controversy of the US going into Iraq without UN approval was that the US is expected to be the peacemaker of the world when member nations of the UN are too feckless and cowardly to act - and too freaking cheap to support their own armies.

Well thanks but no thanks. Put your money where your mouths are - literally.

Consider: PM Martin is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Iranian President Mohammed Katami happens to be.

Please tell me the investigation into the death of Zahra Kazemi has been discussed. Canada has an important role to play in that particular situation as well, PM Martin, and the prior investigation helped expose the growing split between the Council of Guardians and the elected government. Can we say "Golden opportunity? Proactive role to play in the world?" Sigh.

OT UPDATE: Jay Nordlinger has some interesting comments about both Clinton and Khatami at the World Economic Conference.

UPDATE: And the online headline of the Globe and Mail is Canada's Future Tied to UN, PM Says.
DAVOS, Switzerland - The prosperity of Canadians is tied to the rejuvenation of international organizations, especially the United Nations, as the world faces a critical decade that will redefine global relations, Prime Minister Paul Martin said today.
And, become I'm a bitca:
In his speech to a room that was less than half full, Martin said business leaders must get on board with UN efforts to improve both the economies and the social conditions of the world's poorest countries.

Spirit Lives! 

Jan. 23 - Rover stops barking:
Initially, the scientists blamed weather woes on Earth. They now believe the rover is experiencing hardware or software glitches.
Riiight. And they expect us to believe that?

ScrappleFace has another explanation.

This just in: the rover managed to get a limited message out. Go Spirit!

1/22/2004

The Security of Information Act 

Jan. 22 - The Security of Information Act passed in 2001 has finally come under scrutiny in Canada after a raid was conducted by the RCMP on the home and office of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill [Toronto Sun link here, and link (of indeterminate life span) to the Ottawa Citizen here.]

From the Citizen:
The story that triggered yesterday's searches was published on the Citizen's front page on Nov. 8. Ms. O'Neill wrote that Mr. Arar had come to the attention of the RCMP while they investigated an alleged al-Qaeda logistical support group based in Ottawa.

Most of the members of the cell are now in prison abroad, but the very existence of the group was one of the reasons the Canadian government was so vehemently opposed to a public inquiry into the Arar affair, she wrote.

One of the leaked documents she referred to in the article describes "minute details" of Mr. Arar's seven months of terrorist training at a camp in Afghanistan, allegedly revealed by Mr. Arar to Syrian intelligence agents during the first few weeks of his detention.

[...]

Ms. O'Neill cited a "security source" as saying a public inquiry might also put the spotlight on reports that the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa -- and Parliament Hill -- had been identified as potential al-Qaeda targets in the capital.

The search warrants, signed by Justice of the Peace Richard Sculthorpe, specified that the criminal leak took place between Dec. 13, 2002, and Nov. 9, 2003, the day after Ms. O'Neill's original story on the Arar case appeared in the Citizen.

An appendix quoted Section 4 of the Security of Information Act listing the offences in question: wrongful communication of information, receiving secret information, and retaining or allowing possession of a secret document.

It stated that Ms. O'Neill "did receive a secret document or information, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to believe, at the time she received it, that the document or information was communicated to her in contravention of this act."

Furthermore, it said, Ms. O'Neill "did obtain secret document or information and neglected to restore it to the person or authority by whom or for whom or whose use it was issued, or to a police constable."
The provisions of the Security of Information Act is just as if not more stringent than the Patriot Act and has a sunset clause of 5 years rather than 3.

Robert Fulford of the National Post writes
Deep inside Ottawa's security services, one helpful but anonymous public servant has lately been trying to reveal precisely what lies behind the bizarre case of Maher Arar, a story that has been baffling the country for months. Most of us should be grateful to that person for telling Juliet O'Neill of the Ottawa Citizen why Arar was suspected of terrorist connections in the first place.
He goes on to point out that the security officials in Ottawa are not among those who are grateful. Referring to a similar but unrelated case on the legality of protecting a source, he says
The National Post was before Justice Benotto to oppose a warrant granted earlier that would have compelled the Post to hand over documents relating to stories Andrew McIntosh wrote about Prime Minister Jean Chretien's possible financial connection to the Grand-Mere Golf Club in St. Maurice.

[...]

To comply with the warrant, he and his editors would have had to violate that promise. Such a violation might sometimes be necessary, Justice Benotto acknowledged, but in this case the Crown presented no evidence of compelling need. On balance, the rights of the journalist took precedence.

"To compel a journalist to break a promise of confidentiality would do serious harm to the constitutional entrenched right of the media to gather and disseminate information," she wrote -- an opinion seldom heard in a Canadian court, and for that reason likely to be quoted for many years to come...
It looks as though the protection of whistleblowers has been upheld in the courts here, but the O'Neill case will involve a determination if secrecy was for security reasons or, as some believe, to protect improper actions by the RCMP in tipping US officials to Marer's suspected terrorist ties.

In a related story, Maher Arar has sued the U.S. government for the deportation and Jordanian and Syrian governments for torture he says he was subjected to in those countries. (Because nothing is ever easy, Arar happened to be released right after the US vetoed a UNSC resolution condemning Israel for bombing terrorist camps in Syria.) The US still maintains that Arar is a terrorist.

Toronto lacks American tourists 

Jan. 22 - I was skeptical that the reason 3.6 million Americans cancelled or reduced trips to Toronto was entirely due to concerns about SARS, but I was astonished that the comments in the Sound Off! section were equally dismissive.

Terrorism concerns were the official explanation in 2002, and SARS was the official explanation for 2003. I'd rather stay in a holding pattern on this one because I don't have any data or information that contradicts the official one, but I'm sticking with skeptical. For now.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition 

Jan. 22 - Good post at You Big Mouth, You! about a former Green Beret who is now a chaplain with the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment. (Words to the Ballad of the Green Berets also courtesey of Chuck.)

Precision Guided Humour 

Jan. 22 - The latest precision guided humour assignment was to list some War on Terror Side Benefits. This was a toughie, not because I couldn't see any side benefits but it was hard to see them in a humourous light.

Truth is, all I could think of was Frank J. and Allah, both of whom could be considered humourous side benefits (as well as reminders as to why liquids must be kept far, far away from keyboards and mousepads.)

Then a wise man showed me the light.

The airline pilots altered their Welcome Aboard speeches. We began to take another look at some of our allies, and at their current transgressions and past lapses. We made independent yet simultaneous decisions to mock and boycott.

France even annoyed Colin Powell.

New heights of humour erupted last May when France complained it was the target of untruths and thoughtfully provided us with a list of some of the accusations. Journalists who felt insulted that they were not on the list rushed to file new stories about the perfidious French. (The Wa-Po story even put "American intelligence source" in death quotes throughout the article. Heh.)

The sneers from Old Europe caused many of us to dig out our cowboy boots and strap on our six-guns. We remembered The Cowboy Code, authored by Gene Autry, and became downright dangerous.

We flew our flag. Lots of them. But what looks like jingoism or overweening pride to others is actually a sense of how much we are beholden to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We instinctively understood that the best way to deal with madmen was to convince them we are crazier than them. And it worked.

None of this would have been possible without the dedication of the troops, both those who are serving now, and those who served unnoticed but faithfully over the years.

We have found our cheerleaders, but they are sober and thoughtful. They inspire, challenge and encourage us to be better.

Our President is not the greatest orator in our history, but we choose substance over glitz. We remembered that Lincoln was, by all contemporary accounts, a poor orator with a voice that grated on the hearers, yet he led our nation through its darkest period and delivered the definitive understanding of what obligation our dead pass onto us, the living, in The Gettysburg Address.

And President Bush echoed that recognition of obligation, committment and sense of purpose in the State of the Union Address:
Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting -- and false. The killing has continued in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Mombasa, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and Baghdad. The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated. (Emphasis added for those who think he ignored Israel and the Palestinians.)
So I guess for me, it's all about the things that make me laugh and the things that make me smile - with gratitude and affection - and the things that give me hope.

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