:: The Fred Willard Fan Site ::
:: Friday, May 31, 2002 ::
McKinney trailing in primary polls. Long assumed to be a shoo-in, Cynthia McKinney is now trailing Denise Majette in polls of Democratic voters.
McKinney could not be reached for comment on the poll.
Professor William Boone, a political scientist at Clark Atlanta University, said, "Congresswoman McKinney may have some problems on her hands."
When asked about McKinney’s job performance, 38 percent of those surveyed rated it as positive and 60 percent rated it as negative.
The margin is only four points, with 22% still undecided, and the primary is still nearly three months away. But this should convince a lot of people (i.e., campaign contributors, and the media) that McKinney is by no means invincible.
Stay tuned. I know I will.
(Link via Pejman Pundit)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:02 PM [+] ::
I'm not a WorldNetDaily fan, but... this story on the "injured" victims of Palestinian suicide bombings is definitely worth a read. Many bloggers have picked up how deceptively superficial that term is, and this one has X-rays and CAT scans to illustrate the point.
Link via Taranto.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:26 PM [+] ::
Sports should remain independent of politics. Usually.
:: Thursday, May 30, 2002 ::
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:37 PM [+] ::
How worshipable are you? Probably more than I am.
Link via Jason Kenney.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:52 PM [+] ::
More on the "Excessively High Standard of Probable Cause." On the argument that statutory constraints - not bureaucratic ineptitude - were behind the failure to obtain search warrants against Moussaoui, Tony Adragna delivers the definitive routing, particularly against the obsession Kaus and one of his supporters have with FISA's "stringent" requirements for probable cause:
Actually, the standard under FISA is lower than "a belief that he's involved in some sort of crime." All you need do for "probable cause" to obtain a FISA electronic surveillance warrant is show that: (A) the target of the electronic surveillance is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power; and (B) each of the facilities or places at which the electronic surveillance is directed is being used, or is about to be used, by a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.
It's right there at TITLE 50 , CHAPTER 36 , SUBCHAPTER I , Sec. 1804.. That standard was met vis a vis Zacarias Moussaoui - Sec. 1801. defines "foreign power" to include "a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor;" and we knew from the French that Moussaoui was connected to al Qaeda.
The same standard applies at SUBCHAPTER II , Sec. 1823. for making application for a FISC order to conduct "physical searches".
Kaus objects to the "agent of a foreign power" requirement entirely, arguing that the standard should apply to any foreigner. But to argue that this requirement was the reason the FBI headquarters counsel refused to pursue a warrant under FISA defies reality, as the Rowley memo shows conclusively:
For example, at one point, the Supervisory Special Agent at FBIHQ posited that the French information could be worthless because it only identified Zacarias Moussaoui by name and he, the SSA, didn't know how many people by that name existed in France. A Minneapolis agent attempted to surmount that problem by quickly phoning the FBI's legal Attache (Legat) in Paris, France, so that a check could be made of the French telephone directories. Although the Legat in France did not have access to all of the French telephone directories, he was able to quickly ascertain that there was only one listed in the Paris directory. It is not known if this sufficiently answered the question, for the SSA continued to find new reasons to stall.
I'm not sure what Kaus' obsession with the "foreign agent" requirement is. His preferred standard - that an individual is a) not a citizen, and b)is suspected of criminal activity, would have been met by the same information on Moussaoui provided by the French. I don't see where the beef is, and Kaus' arguments seem like a disingenuous attempt to blame civil libertarians for something that was clearly the fault of inept bureaucrats.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:52 PM [+] ::
Another classic from Lileks. I'm referring not to his latest bleat, which is also pretty good, but to his Newhouse column. He discusses the possibility that the leaks concerning war plans against Iraq may be a ruse. Or not:
:: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 ::
3. This isn't a ruse, and there are no alternative plans. The War on Terror has stopped because it might offend the various tyrannies in the area whose support is vital for a war against Iraq ... wait a minute, there's something missing here. We'll get back to you when we figure that part out.
The truth will be obvious in a year or so. We will know if the administration went from its sure-footed approach to sticking cold clay feet in its mouth. We'll know if the State Department's institutional caution turned the War on Terror into the Measured Sanctions Against Unorthodox Means of Protesting a Grievance.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:37 PM [+] ::
Now, this is funny!
Former Libertarian presidential candidate Irwin Schiff, who maintains the federal income tax is optional, is being sued by a New Hampshire man who says he lost his business after following Schiff's tax advice.
Steven Swan, a former real estate agent in Auburn, N.H., is suing Schiff for $1 million in compensation for the loss of earnings from his real estate business since 1997, $1 million for physical and emotional distress for the loss of his business and earning ability and $5 million in punitive damages.
Why the hell not? They gave that Hooters girl a new car, in lieu of her "Toy Yoda" gag gift.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:05 PM [+] ::
Again with the Wen Ho Lee nonsense. Kaus revisits the Blame the Civil Libertarians argument this morning, responding to fellow Navy vet Tony Adragna, whose criticism of the argument was far more thorough than my own.
Kaus focuses on Sen. Patrick Leahy's "tortured and disingenuous defense of Justice Department bureaucrats' refusal to agree that the evidence against Lee amounted to 'probable cause,'" which history has completely exonerated. That the FBI would have hounded someone like Lee - based on very specious evidence, as Leahy notes in his "tortured" defense - while remaining oblivious to someone like, say, Robert Hanssen, is the very reason we have a probable cause standard to begin with.
It is also why behavioral profiling is preferable to targeting someone solely on the basis of ethnicity or national origin. This is not to say that these factored should be ignored, but it should be noted that Lee was targeted ostensibly because he a) had access to the W-88 information that China was able to get its hands on, and b) he had "contacts" with China. Another 250 DOE employees had that same access on any given year (over a span of about 20 years), and those contacts were with Taiwanese officials.
Living modestly, Lee never showed any of the behavioral patterns consistent with espionage (or, apart from his ethnicity, any of the demographic patterns), while Hanssen - a white guy - literally screamed "I'm a friggin' mole, you idiots!" Why Kaus would think that the Wen Ho Lee case is applicable to the Moussaoui case is beyond me.
But back to the main point, here's passage from Leahy's statement you may find interesting:
Finally, some reforms are needed. The review of the Lee matter so far suggests that internal procedures within the FBI, and between the FBI and the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, to ensure that follow-up investigation is done to develop probable cause do not always work. I share the concern expressed by some of my colleagues that it took the FBI an inordinately long time to relay the Justice Department's request for further investigation and to then follow up.[emphasis mine]
Kaus goes on to split hairs over whether it was the FISA statute itself, or FBI bureaucrats' squeamishness that led to such a restrictive probable cause standard in the Moussaoui case ("talk about tortured"). Adragna correctly points out that Rowley certainly believed that her requests met the appropriate requirements:
The fact is that key FBIHQ personnel [...] continued to, almost inexplicably,5 throw up roadblocks and undermine Minneapolis' by-now desperate efforts to obtain a FISA search warrant, long after the French intelligence service provided its information and probable cause became clear.
Kaus doesn't really address the specifics on Rowley's memo, which was far more prominent in Adragna's argument than the Leahy statement. Obsessing on that "smoking gun," - more like smoked red herring - he evades the stronger arguments made by Adragna
But whether the problem was statutory or bureaucratic, I still prefer to take issue with the root problem that causes FBI lawyers - and senators from Vermont - to be so wary of procedural protections. The excesses they cite as justification were real, and the blame for this "climate of political correctness" resides with the reckless cowboys who caused this overreaction to begin with.
Kaus goes on to laud Ann Coulter's incredibly obtuse linkage of the ethnic profiling issue to the FBI's lapses. As the Rowley memo states, the FBI had a multitude of evidence that met the probable cause standard, making the issue a moot point. In Arizona and Minnesota, agents were able to uncover individuals engaged in suspicious behavior without rounding up Arabs en masse. No special airline screening process is likely to have prevented the attacks (remember, they were carrying box cutters), but detective work such as this certainly could have.
Finally, this debate over civil liberties reminds me of a similar one, held in the wake of the OKC bombing. But back then, the roles were reversed, with a Democratic president pushing for sweeping anti-terrorism legislation - which would have broadened the FBI's surveillance abilities considerably. But conservatives (and true civil libertarians) argued that it this was an overreaction, which gave too much power to federal law enforcement officials - who were called, if memory serves me correctly, "jack-booted thugs."
Now that the focus has returned to foreign-based terrorists, we have yet another realignment. No wonder FBI lawyers are so gun-shy.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:42 PM [+] ::
I do believe you have been slammed. The Weekly Standard published this response by UNRWA flunky Paul McCann to the magazine's serial Fisking of that agency, along with a reclama to the rebuttal by David Tell:
:: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 ::
Should The Weekly Standard remain a going concern for another hundred years, it is almost inconceivable that we will ever again have occasion to publish anything nearly so dishonest as the letter above.
I'm speechless. And it actually gets better from there.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:16 AM [+] ::
Eric Alterman Spouts Anti-Arab Bigotry. The Fred Malek of liberal punditry criticizes American Jews who move their families to West Bank settlements, claiming that they are responsible for the violence against them.
Even on the rare occasion that I agree with the premise of his argument (that there should be a halt on settlements in the West Bank - and should have been years ago), this clown manages to make me want to dry shave that pitiful excuse of a beard he's trying to grow.
"Hello lady, it’s a war zone!"
Well, so is Tel Aviv. And Netanya.
Alterman makes the same inane arguments for moral equivalence, arguing that settlers bear responsibility for the violent acts of Palestinians by "furthering the legitimate anger of the Palestinians over the daily humiliations they must endure under Israeli occupation."
Alterman either believes that shooting a small child at point blank range is a legitimate response to "humiliation," or he has joined the throngs of those who claim to support Palestinian self-determination, while ascribing to them the attributes of lower animals.
Marcy Spiegel Oster should go back to Cleveland — or Tel Aviv — I don’t care. But if, God forbid, something should happen to her children in the occupied territories, she will have only herself to blame.
Again, the perpetrator of this hypothetical murder, a Palestinian, cannnot be held accountable for his actions. As someone who has suffered oppression, we can only expect him to act like a deranged brute, and the fault would lie "only" - not just partially, but only! - with the Westernized Jewish lady.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:55 PM [+] ::
"Massive Journalism Failure," or "No new angles here." Mickey Kaus offers four angles on the MIF, none of which are really new, and the last being just plain boneheaded.
:: Monday, May 27, 2002 ::
The MIF story has now reached that journalistic critical mass, at which point new information - or new "angles" - cease to appear, and yet the coverage goes on ad nauseum. If we've learned anything from the mind-numbing coverage of stories like the Levy and Lewinsky scandals, it's that the public needs a USRDA-like rating system to measure the actual news content of this coverage. Essentially, this would be a ratio between the coverage of a story and the actual amount of new information - or even an original spin - the coverage provides.
Unlike most liberals, I agree that both of these cases were quite newsworthy. But what was irritating was that they both reached a point quite early in which no new information or insight was being disseminated, and yet the 24-hour coverage persisted for months. It would be quite a shame if an important story like MIF underwent the same amount of regurgitation, dulling the public's senses to issues of utmost importance.
Kaus' first two angles draw from Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker piece which rehashes months-old information in a predictable manner (given Hersh's embarrassing track record of late, that's probably a good thing). Beyond that, it's a great piece, for anyone who has completely ignored the last two weeks of coverage.
Hersh reminds us of actor James Woods' recollection of flying with four of the 9/11 hijackers on a trial run, and correctly questions the methodology of his being able to identify them. Few of these revelations about details of the 9/11 attacks can be blithely relegated to the Hindsight Is 20/20 category, but this tidbit is certainly one of them.
Hersh's second point is no more earthshaking, even with Kaus' helping his analysis:
Hersh also says that in the "late nineteen-nineties, the C.I.A.
obtained reliable information indicating that an Al Qaeda network based
in northern Germany had penetrated airport security in Amsterdam
and was planning to attack American passenger planes by planting bombs
in the cargo." The C.I.A. and German police went on a warpath. But the
air-traveling public was apparently not told of the seriousness of the
threat. Shouldn't it have been? Isn't this a bit of a scandal? Hersh lets it go.
Kaus' third angle alleges that FBI agent Colleen Rowley's memo understates the possibility of foiling the 9/11 attacks, had the FBI agreed to her request to search Zacarias Mousaoui's personal effects.
Rowley seems to assume that if the feds had captured one or two of the hijackers, the others would have proceeded with their 9/11 operation (but with fewer people). Isn't it just as likely that they would have panicked, and either called off the operation or done something riskier or stupid? It's not inconceivable that a simple call to Atta's roomie might have produced some panicky behavior.
Kaus is on to more than he realizes here. Even if such a search did not lead the other cells to abort their operations (or do something stupid), it still could have revealed specific information on the methodology of the attacks, such as the date, specific targets, making the attacks far more difficult to pull off. If they were only able to reveal the hijackers' weapons of choice - box cutters - the windfall would have been enormous.
Most of the missed opportunities and unheeded warnings surrounding 9/11 are only valuable in a theoretical discussion of how the agencies can better synthesize and distill information. But Rowley's suspicions -- by themselves -- could have had an impact on events before they occurred.
Okay, so this is a new angle, I'll grant him that. But Kaus's final point is insultingly facile:
Instead of trying to silence Democratic critics as per se unpatriotic, why don't the Bushies forcefully point out how misguided leftish ideology -- supported over the years mainly by Democrats and the media --contributed greatly to the 9/11 failure. Exhibit A: The FBI appears to have been actually deterred by the prospect that it would have been accused of ethnic profiling if it had searched all U.S. flight schools for Arab terrorists. In particular, it seems to have been stung by Wen Ho Lee's highly-publicized charges that he was singled out for prosecution because of his ethnicity. Exhibit B: Dukakis-like civil-libertarian concern with the privacy rights of non-citizens produced a statute with what now seems an excessively high standard of "probable cause" the FBI had to meet before it could obtain the Moussaoui search warrant. Why do I suspect that some of the alien-defending, privacy-protecting statements of .. oh, let's say Senator Leahy on this subject might prove embarrassing if publicized today? Again, the FBI can be faulted in large part for actually (and unexpectedly) internalizing the ACLU's values. ...
Settle down, Beavis. Those who criticized the FBI's disgraceful tactics in the Wen Ho Lee witch hunt happened to be right. Viewed in that context (rather than today's), their lurch to the opposite direction is certainly understandable. And if they overreacted, the blame lies with cowboys like Louis Freeh, and on his right-wing amen corner, who were desperate for something they could use to bolster their nuclear secrets-for-campaign-contributions allegations.
The entire decade of the 90's was a series of civil rights embarrassments for the bureau (Ruby Ridge, Waco, Richard Jewel, to name others), so to blame its excessive caution on civil libertarians is questionable.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:05 PM [+] ::
The Pearl video. Yes, I've seen it. Almost a week ago, in fact, though I've been ambivalent about whether I should post something on it, or just keep it to myself.
Like Damian Penny, I won't link to it, but suffice to say you have to wade through some pretty demented garbage to find it.
Unlike Damian, however, my motives for wanting to see the video for my own eyes were not so much to see just how evil our enemies in this war really are. The mere fact that they did this was enough for me.
What I wanted to see was just how such inhuman acts could be "packaged" for use in a "propaganda video," to see what the likes of John Rendon and Charlotte Beers are really up against. I have to say that what I saw confirmed my worst fears.
Think about what kind of mindset it one has to have to not be completely repulsed by such imagery, much less be persuaded by it. What hope to we have in reaching anyone on the Arab street, except for the Westernized, secular elites, whose hearts and minds we'd already won over by helping to acculturate them within our educational institutions?
This is not to say that all Muslims outside of those elites agree with the sentiments expressed in this propaganda reel. But the mere fact that its producers can offer it to the viewing public - a public which would have to be wealthy enough to have a computer and internet access, to be precise - and not be met with overwhelming rejection should worry all of us.
Perhaps in time - as in a generation or so - the targeted demographic will come to realize that jihad will never bring anything but more misery and humiliation for the Muslim masses. Convincing them that it is morally wrong, and more importantly, that you can be against these individuals without being against Islam, seems hopeless.
I try to remind myself that we can break through these imprisoned minds if we stop coddling the dictators who are either sympathetic toward the jihadists or too timid to take them on, and support true democrats (like Benazir Bhutto, for example - ever wonder what Pakistan would look like today if we had given her government more than just lip service?) regardless of how "viable" they may appear in the near term.
But in the near term, I don't see how we can convince them that we are right, if our enemies haven't already convinced them of that by their own actions.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:43 PM [+] ::
Camp David Revisionism from the Wanker. The original purveyor of the Jenin Lie published this response to Ehud Barak's recent laying of blame for the breakdown of the Oslo peace process at the feet of Arafat. The authors begin by making a not-so-subtle claim that the Palestinians made all the concessions that we had any right to expect from them by merely showing up:
It is also true that Barak broke a number of Israeli taboos and moved considerably from prior positions while the Palestinians believed they had made their historic concessions at Oslo, when they agreed to cede 78% of mandatory Palestine to Israel; they did not intend the negotiations to further whittle down what they already regarded as a compromise position.
I'm not sure which mandate the authors are talking about, but the 78% can only refer to pre-1967 Israeli territory. The message here is that recognition of Israel at all was the only concession Arafat should be expected to make. They go on to make an even more ridiculous claim...
Barak claims that "Israel is too strong at the moment to defeat, so [the Palestinians] formally recognise it. But their game plan is to establish a Palestinian state while always leaving an opening for further 'legitimate' demands down the road." Here Barak contradicts himself. For if that were the case, the logical course of action for Arafat would have been to accept Clinton's proposals at Camp David, and even more so on December 23. He would then have had over 90% of the land and much of East Jerusalem, while awaiting, as Barak would have it, the opportunity to violate the agreement and stake a claim for more.
This argument is violently ignorant. To put it in simple terms, if Arafat had accepted and agreement, he would have accepted an agreement. That would have made any subsequent acts of terrorism intolerable to even his most ardent sympathizers (except, perhaps, the Wanker's editorial staff). More importantly, it would have proven Barak's aspersions about his true nature and intent beyond any shadow of a doubt.
By balking, he remained the leader of a people without a country, immune to any criticism of his actions, no matter how destructive. His repeated refusals to accept international aid, to dismantle the squalid refugee camps that have bred so much of the terror, is further proof of those true intentions.
Finally, the authors just couldn't resist repeating the tired notion that Israel provoked the second intifada:
[Barak] rejects entirely the notion that Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on September 28 2000, played any part in setting off the subsequent clashes. When we consider the context in which the visit was taking place - the intense focus on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif at Camp David and the general climate among Palestinians - its impact was predictable.
"Predictable," only if one rejects the notion that Palestinians are rational human beings, capable of responding to a mere gesture - an admittedly provocative, jingoistic gesture, but still a gesture - with something a little more muted than murdering Israeli children at night clubs and pizza parlors.
But at least the authors got to the real issue here. No one, to my knowledge, is arguing that Arafat was somehow morally obligated to take the deal that was offered at Camp David. The argument put forth has been that said offer was a good faith overture that would have given Arafat 97% of what he claimed to want. And yet the Palestinians not only walked away, but turned their backs on the process entirely, as if the offer had been a slap in the face.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:35 PM [+] ::
Jihadi online poll fraud watch. The Khurasaan site's poll has, uh, lost some votes along the way.
:: Sunday, May 26, 2002 ::
In answer to the question of who will win the "final battle" between Good vs. Evil, the results now stand as follows:
The "Mujahadin wade through knee deep US crusader blood" answer has a whopping 92.6% of the vote, while the "Amrika takes over and builds Maccy Ds across afghan liberating the bedouins from eating porridge" only garnered 6.3% (1.0% voted for a stalemate).
That's with 4906 total votes cast.
But by 1:46 pm EST, the voting had quickly moved toward parity, with 57.7% for the knee-deep-crusader-blood option, and 41.6% for the "Maccy Ds for bedouins" option. And the vote total then stood at (wait for it)... 7859.
The Talibanonline poll (pretty much the same question, localized to Afghanistan) has not (yet) experienced such massive fraud, but there are only 1384 total votes cast so far. I guess there's less interest in voting on whether something that has already happened will happen, but those who believe that the "Taliban will defeat Army of disbelievers by the Grace of Mighty Allah" still maintain 58% of those votes.
I'm still holding out for an Instapundit-induced landslide, as he had just posted the polls very late on a Sunday night.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:46 PM [+] ::
Hot Damn! Another online poll we can expropriate! Instapundit links to another jihadist website and notes their peculiar access policy:
Access to this site is restricted to members of an exclusive club (with membership currently numbering 1.3 billion). By viewing or accessing any material on Khurasaan.com, except the disclaimer, you agree that there is no deity worthy of worship except ALLAH, and Muhammed is His slave and final messenger.
They also have the obligatory disclaimer, promising that their calls for death to the infidels are only rhetorical...
this site does not condone terrorism on innocent people in any form, be it by an individual or a government (e.g., American cold blooded nuking of innocents in Hiroshima). All material found on Khurasaan.com is for information purposes only.
And as the professor notes, they have a poll. Oh yes.
As they say in boot camp, "get there."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:00 PM [+] ::
Conspiracy freak du jour.
:: Friday, May 24, 2002 ::
A rabidly anti-Semitic Latin separatist website has offered this postage stamp as proof of government complicity in the 9/11 attacks.
It's good to know that there will never be a shortage of mental defectives in the world to compensate for my colossal lack of creativity.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 6:41 PM [+] ::
Wen Ho Lee redux. DOJ has announced it will investigate the latest round of internal FBI squabbling over the handling of Moussaoui before 9/11.
:: Thursday, May 23, 2002 ::
But agent Dave Rapp and his colleagues in Minnesota faced resistance from headquarters staff that Rowley considered unnecessary and counterproductive, according to officials who have seen the letter.
FBI attorneys in Washington determined there was not enough evidence to ask a judge for warrants to search Moussaoui's computer under routine criminal procedures or a special law aimed at terrorists. Officials have said there was
no evidence of a crime and no solid connections between Moussaoui and any designated terrorist group.
This sounds vaguely familiar to me, and given the FBI's shameful handling of some other cases from the late 1990's, I can see how they would have erred on the side of caution.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:39 PM [+] ::
What did she know ever? Anne Coulter weighs in with the worst arguments to date on the Massive Intelligence Failure. And I say this despite agreeing with most of what she says on the issue:
:: Wednesday, May 22, 2002 ::
Suppose Bush had known 19 Muslim immigrants planned to hijack four planes on Sept. 11. What could he have done? Throw Arabs out of the country? Put them in preventive detention? Order airport security to take an extra little peek at swarthy men boarding planes?
Yeah. Especially swarthy men armed with box cutters.
Liberals won't let us do that now!
In a girly-girl, eye-poking attack, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., has demanded an investigation into "what the White House knew about the events leading up to 9-11, when they knew it and, most importantly, what was done about it." The more urgent question is: What do the Democrats know now?
To summarize, the Democrats relinquished the right to question the competence of our law enforcement and intelligence by standing against racial profiling.
Those who made have contributed to the alarmist conjecture about the failure to act on two-year-old academic treatises on the mindset of the Islamic terrorists deserve to be savagely criticized, regardless of their position on internment camps for brown people. It should come as no surprise, however, that Coulter and others who wave the word "partisan" around like a bloody shirt don't criticize the likes of Bill Safire or Richard Shelby - who, it should be noted, has already asked why no one has been fired before we complete an investigation.
But I guess Coulter doesn't recognize the audacious irony of using the racial profiling argument when we're now talking about an FBI field agent who "named names" - as in individuals. Gosh, Annie, if we had FBI agents who were able to discover aviation students who were more than just swarthy - hell, they had al-Qaeda connections - the whole issue of profiling would seem to be a rather moot point.
For the record, I think that it's perfectly acceptable to use race as part of a confluence of factors in profiling potential terrorists - or even carjackers for that matter. But unlike Anne, I don't want to live in a country that has to resort to sweeping measures that victimize innocent people (some of whom probably love America more than Coulter does) along with potential terrorists, because we have people who would issue student visas to men six months after they crashed airplanes into some of our landmarks guarding our borders.
Anne, in her mad dash to corrupt yet another valid position by claiming it as her own, is completely oblivious to the news that has surrounded the Massive Intelligence Failure flap. What we're talking about is whether we have a sufficient mechanism for processing raw data into actionable (there's Safire's favorite term of opprobrium again!) intelligence.
Coulter should ask herself this: if that goal is deemed so out of reach that it's considered heresy to even ask for it, then what good is blanket profiling going to do, within the confines of this same unwieldy infrastructure?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:46 PM [+] ::
Not that you care... I still have not seen Star Wars: Episode II, and I'm really in no hurry.
Oh, I'll see it eventually, but I'll probably go see Undercover Brother first.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:50 PM [+] ::
This is what hope looks like.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:12 PM [+] ::
Finally having an impact on policy decisions. Instapundit just linked to this Ha'aretz story, in which Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) calls for an investigation into the UNRWA's complicity/negligence in the terrorist training/recruiting/equipping that has gone on unabated in the Palestinian refugee camps it administers:
The California congressman expressed his concern "that UNRWA officials have not only failed to prevent their camps from becoming centers of terrorist activity, but have also failed to report these developments to you."
Lantos concluded that "it is difficult to escape the painful conclusion that UNRWA, directly or indirectly, is complicit in terrorism."
Finally, they're starting to listen to me. But I had no idea Lantos was such an avid reader of my rants at the Warblogger Watch Yahoo! Group (message 572, to be precise).
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:01 PM [+] ::
He can't be serious, can he? Thomas Friedman is excessively irrational this morning. Like a lot of people - most of whom were screaming about inattentiveness to terror warnings just yesterday, he thinks we've now gone overboard with public warnings of vague threats.
What are we supposed to do with this information? Never go into another apartment building, because reports suggest an Al Qaeda cell may rent an apartment just to blow up the whole structure? Don't go outside? Don't go near national monuments? Pat the belly of every pregnant woman to check if she's a suicide bomber?
Who wants to live that way? Let's make a deal: We won't criticize the administration for not anticipating 9/11 if it won't terrorize the country by now predicting every possible nightmare scenario, but no specific ones, post-9/11.
Well, I can think of approximately 3,000 people who might "want to live that way," though I'm sure they wouldn't be too selfish to appreciate Friedman's angst. Come to think of it, there are millions of people in places like Israel, Colombia, Kashmir, and East Timor who don't really have a choice but to Live That Way.
And hand-wringing notwithstanding, I don't see the damage these warnings do to the public. We've had to live with intermittent "vague warnings" and the press' recriminations against the Bush administration for making them for nearly nine months now. And if these alarmist predictions deter a single al-Qaeda operative, who may have planned something, but got cold feet because in the environment of heightened awareness, then it would have been well worth it.
As for Friedman's proposed deal, only a fool would take such a lose-lose invitation. A false sense of security, in exchange for… more of the ignorance that led to the false sense of security.
I have plans for this weekend, too. And I'm capable of following through with them without the feds shielding me from all the ugliness of the world.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:52 AM [+] ::
My (3rd) Alma Mater. I heard bits of this year's commencement address at American University on the way to work this morning (I'm working on a 2nd Master's there).
:: Tuesday, May 21, 2002 ::
The address was given by that socio-political luminary Goldie Hawn. She was babbling about being able to "cultivate" your "joy organ."
UPDATE: James Taranto upbraids another commencement address absurdity: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice has been deemed unworthy by some to give this year's graduation address at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School!
Students there are protesting the choice, and their actions have the blessing of someone who undoubtedly had a hand in their brainwashing. Pacifist (if, by "pacifism," you mean leftist intolerance) Colman McCarthy, who teaches the school's Peace Studies course, says that his students "deserve better than someone who advocates, as Rice does, sending U.S. pilots to kill human beings in Afghanistan."
As with most stories in Wa Post, the real news is buried in the passing reference that those bloodthirsty little heathens in Chevy Chase have finally been offered coursework to rehabilitate their warmongering tendencies. I wonder how many music teachers could have been hired with what they 're paying McCarthy?
I wonder why McCarthy hasn't offered his services in places such as "the Umma," where he might actually do some good. Or maybe he could give private tutoring to the Nativity 13, rather than lecture his fellow Americans on the virtues of nonviolence.
And to prey upon children too inexperienced to know how intellectually dishonest he is. What's next? Noam Chomsky making guest appearances on "Teletubbies?"
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:14 AM [+] ::
Uh... thank you? Slate just posted a debunking of the myth about Zacarias Moussaoui's desire to not learn how to take off or land in his flight lessons.
To quote Adam Sandler from The Wedding Singer, "again, this is information that would have been more use to me yesterday!" Or, to be precise, several months ago.
My personal stake in this is that yet another "fact" often cited by Cynthia McKinney fans has gone up in flames. But the real news here is that Time, USA Today, and Maureen Dowd could have reported this as recently as this week, when the truth was "out there" for months.
The ultimate irony, of course, is that this lie has been a staple of reportage designed to point out how utterly incompetent our intelligence and law enforcement communities are for failing to recognize information that was right under their noses.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:05 PM [+] ::
Most diluted lede of the week. This Reuters story on the EU's long-awaited final decision on the fate of the Nativity 13 opens with the understatement of the century:
The European Union was poised Tuesday to admit a group of Palestinian militants after more than a week of messy wrangling over their fate, which critics say has left the EU looking ineffectual and divided.
Uh, yeah, something like that.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:47 PM [+] ::
Intelligence failures are the worst of our troubles. The fact that the INS approved the visa applications of two of the 9/11 hijackers six months later is bad enough. This defies explanation:
Yesterday's report also reveals that the flight school official responsible for certifying the two men's paperwork told Justice Department investigators that she had just been assigned to the job, received no training from the INS and was unsure how to fill out the forms.
So she turned to one of the future hijackers, who "directed her on the proper procedures for filling out the forms," the report found.
With people of this level of competence guarding our borders, no improvements in intelligence gathering or analysis will make any difference.
We are doomed.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:37 AM [+] ::
Intelligence forecasts by the Library of Congress Bill Saletan amplifies just what is meant by the term "actionable intelligence," by mocking the notion that an intelligence report entitled The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism would fall into this category:
:: Monday, May 20, 2002 ::
From that discussion and clues in other government reports, the FBI, the CIA, and the White House could have pieced together and averted the deadly plot that has since unfolded.
The plot to which I'm referring, of course, is last week's suicide bombing of a U.S. Navy destroyer docked in Baltimore, which claimed the lives of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and more than 100 sailors. This despicable deed, perpetrated by Tamil guerrillas using a small submarine packed with explosives, was telegraphed years in advance. It should have been obvious to anyone who read the 1999 NIC report and other intelligence-related documents freely available on the Internet.
I hope William Safire reads this.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:10 AM [+] ::
Final note on the Massive Intelligence Failure (for today, at least). Howard Kurtz linked to the discussion on Charles Johnson's blog. Ed Nough's posts were indeed the best of the discussion. But my personal favorite was this one, courtesy of Paul Berge:
Wilbur and Orville Wright should have seen this coming, the bastards.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:58 PM [+] ::
Is Geyer quoting Arab News? James Taranto slams Georgie Anne Geyer in today's Best of the Web, the centerpiece being her use of the infamous Sharon quote, "I control America":
We couldn't find any evidence anywhere that Sharon ever said "I control America." A Google search, however, turned up a similar quote attributed to Sharon, which seems to have originated in an Oct. 3, 2001, "report," datelined "Occupied Jerusalem," from an outfit called the Islamic Association for Palestine...
Taranto goes on to note that the quote has been recycled in far-left and far-right websites (this blogger has seen it on Indymedia, which could qualify as both), and that the quote was debunked by the pro-Israeli media watchdog CAMERA.
This is one instance in which the journalist should be forced to reveal her source - did she get the quote from jihadist Arab media, or an internet "news" site like Indymedia?
And which would be worse?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:28 PM [+] ::
More notes on The Massive Intelligence Failure. Bill Kristol recommends a bipartisan independent commission, co-chaired by George Schultz and Sam Nunn. I would substitute John Sununu for Schultz myself, simply because of the latter's history of being conveniently "out of the loop" on such important matters.
:: Friday, May 17, 2002 ::
Bill Safire focuses his latest column to the 1999 "Williams Memo," obviously because it's the unheeded warning sign that can be hung around Bill Clinton's neck. He criticizes the Clinton administration for deeming the memo - which only spoke of possible methods of terrorist attack - to be not "actionable." Well, it wasn't, at least until some who's, when's, and where's were added to this blank template.
That would have been the July 5 memo from Maureen Dowd's "secret 9/11 hero," which gave the first concrete details of the plot. If there's going to be any Monday morning quarterbacking, this little tidbit should feature more prominently than anything else, as it appears to be the only "actionable" piece of info available before 9/11. The rest of this massive intelligence failure is a collection of vague "heads up!" and "boo!" dispatches.
Instapundit argues for the superiority of the private sector, noting that the passengers of Flight 93 were able to thwart the terrorist attack involving their own plane in 103 minutes - not a fair comparison, when one considers that the operation was already underway, and they had the hindsight of the three other attacks to work from.
Still, the response of the Flight 93 passengers is impressive when compared to that of NORAD/FAA, unless the conspiracy nuts are right about 93 being shot down by a fighter jet.
The biggest loser in all of this? Justin Raimondo. Now, no one will take his Israeli art student conspiracy theory seriously, and he's working furiously to try to make it fit on this new Procrustean bed.
UPDATE: Condemning Bush for the intelligence failure itself may be a bit premature, but Peter Beinart makes an excellent case for condemning him for how the administration has tried to stymie an investigation - whether it's aim was to lay blame or simply prevent a future SNAFU:
And, in late September, the
House Intelligence Committee called for just that--a blue-ribbon commission
to investigate the "preparedness and performance" of the CIA and its related
agencies. That investigation, the committee hoped, would produce "a cultural
revolution within the intelligence community as well as significant structural
But the Bush administration didn't support that either. And, just days later,
congressional Republican leaders emasculated the committee's proposal,
stripping the proposed commission of its right to issue subpoenas and grant
immunity, and shifting its mandate from what went wrong. The commission,
said Porter Goss, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, would "focus on the future" and "get away from the blame
game." In November, with the administration's support, congressional
leaders put off all investigations until 2002.
I'll continue to reserve judgement on the Massive Intelligence Failure at least until I see how much "noise" was in the background when these damning warnings went unheeded. But the administration certainly has to answer for its lack of accountability and candor, and there is simply no justification for its stonewalling.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:40 AM [+] ::
Sex tips from Don Rumsfeld. This is even better than the SNL sketch.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:28 AM [+] ::
Israeli Arab killed in ambush. Just posted on Ha'aretz:
Preliminary reports indicate that the attack was a Palestinian ambush.
The woman was critically injured in the back when shots were fired at her vehicle, which had yellow Israeli license plates, near the village of Shuweikeh, north of Tul Karm. The woman had visited the village along with her mother and sister in order to fix her car.
A Palestinian taxi took her to an IDF checkpoint at Baka al-Sharkiyeh, where a doctor declared her dead.
Maybe the UN will consider this worthy of condemnation, and the OIC might even declare it immoral.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:12 AM [+] ::
What, you actually believed that? As it turns out, Yasser Arafat has not agreed to hold elections. Robert Fisk's approval is all this man of the people needs:
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (news - web sites) said Friday that there would be no general elections until after the end of Israel's military occupation.
A senior Arafat aide, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, had said Thursday that the Palestinian leader agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections within six months. There was no immediate explanation for the differing statements.
There never is, is there?
(Link via Damian Penny)
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:43 AM [+] ::
Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Jim Pinkerton is worth a read today, comparing the unheeded warnings hysteria to the similar (or, if you're Cynthia McKinney, identical) charges often made against FDR. Borrowing from Roberta Wohlstetter, he argues that advance warnings can't be viewed in a vacuum.
:: Thursday, May 16, 2002 ::
But the definitive work on 12/7 argues that, yes, indeed, some Americans knew that Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor. But we also "knew" that the Japanese were going to bomb the Panama Canal, the Philippines and other points around the Pacific. In "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision," Roberta Wohlstetter used the word "static" to describe the dull roar of complementary and contradictory information, such that nobody could reasonably have known what the Japanese had in mind.
My question is, how many of those who are poo-pooing the criticism of the Bush administration believe Robert Stinnett's nonsense?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:24 AM [+] ::
”Advance warning” hysterics. Regarding the latest news on what they knew, and when they knew it, The professor is convinced that this is proof of egregious incompetence, while Charles Johnson worries that the LaRouche Left is going to have a field day. Me, I’m not sweating this. In fact, I find it kind of humorous – sure puts a different paint job on the 9/11 photo op brouhaha, now doesn’t it?
:: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 ::
The attempts to blame the “massive intelligence failure” on Bill Clinton was what I found troubling from the start. The cabal of Right-wing I-told-you-soists would have you believe that they stood for vigilance while the Democrats fiddled, apparently thinking that we’ve all forgotten their, 1) objections to, and declawing of, Clinton’s anti-terrorism bill in the aftermath of the OKC bombing, and the “Wag the Dog” allegations after he struck against al-Qaeda targets simultaneously on two continents.
Even toe-sucker Dick Morris would have us believe that he tried in vain to get Clinton to make the threat of terrorism the centerpiece of his reelection campaign. This piece is certainly worth another read today.
Remember, the central charge against Clinton was that he gutted human intelligence gathering capabilities, slashing budgets and hamstringing the agencies with Pollyanna human rights regulations. Now, it is clear that the gathering part of the intelligence equation wasn’t the real problem.
On the conspiracy issue, I’m not worried too much. The aluminum foil helmet brigades never waited for evidence to draw their conclusions, and this latest development shouldn’t be viewed as a vindication by thinking people. The Pearl Harbor-style theory of “foreknowledge” requires a flat rejection of the never assume malice where there is room for stupidityaxiom, even after yesterday’s bombshell. Moreover, these theories are premised more on the lie that our air defenses were “stood down” on 9/11, disregarding long-established FAA/NORAD procedures, than they are on how much intelligence was available before the attacks.
As with the identical theory on Pearl Harbor and FDR, the premise is false. Just as a successfully-repelled attack on the Pacific Fleet headquarters would have given Roosevelt ample justification for the war he wanted all along, a successful intercept of all four of the hijacked planes would still have resulted in hundreds of fatalities. Would that have been reason enough for me to wipe these vermin off the face of the earth forever? You betcha!
The McKinney fans were also agog about the mythic meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent, arguing that it proved that we had to have known the intimate details of the plot months before. They are the ones with egg on their faces.
And I am still not convinced that there was enough information available to have prevented the attacks. How does not tell you when and where, and those two factors matter far more than whether we should have expected that method of attack. I don’t buy the notion that because the idea of flying planes into the WTC was indeed conceivable means that we should have been ready for it that day. And I also have a problem with assuming our intelligence analysts should be basing their strategies on Tom Clancy novels or X-Files spin-offs – the fact that such an attack was featured in popular fiction would make me lesslikely to expect it to actually happen.
But the argument that they should be better at thinking outside the box is a valid one. However, like the Groupthink phenomenon, that problem is bigger than Ashcroft, Tenet, Freeh, and even Clinton. While we all criticize these sluggish bureaucracies for failing to see the forest for the trees, we may want to try to come up with solutions.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:05 AM [+] ::
If the bra doesn't fit, you must acquit. Read the caption of this photo. Interesting defense.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:45 PM [+] ::
Sports memorabilia for the disturbed. Autographed jerseys? No thanks. I'm going for the excised bone spurs of my MLB idols:
First came Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez's game-used gum, then A's ace Tim Hudson's goatee clippings and now ... Mariners reliever Jeff Nelson's bone chips?
The fragments from the Seattle Mariners pitcher's elbow went up on eBay on Tuesday, after Seattle sports radio talk show host Dave Mahler convinced Nelson to put them up for auction.
Gonzalez' gum sold for $10,000. It's only a matter of time now before John Kruk's cancerous testicle goes on sale.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:20 PM [+] ::
Sports memorabilia for the disturbed. Autographed jerseys? No thanks. I'm going for the excised bone spurs of my MLB idols:
First came Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez's game-used gum, then A's ace Tim Hudson's goatee clippings and now ... Mariners reliever Jeff Nelson's bone chips?
The fragments from the Seattle Mariners pitcher's elbow went up on eBay on Tuesday, after Seattle sports radio talk show host Dave Mahler convinced Nelson to put them up for auction.
Gonzalez' gum sold for $10,000. It's now only a matter of time before John Kruk's cancerous testicle goes on sale.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:19 PM [+] ::
Ha, and double ha!. Andrew Sullivan cites Jonathan Chait and Charles Krauthammer as proof that the Israeli offensive was the right thing to do. Actually, I think this makes the case even better.
:: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 ::
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:18 PM [+] ::
This should be good. From Roll Call Dailybreaking news:
Convicted Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio) is vowing to mount a full defense
before the House ethics committee amid a report that the panel has moved quickly to list the counts of House rules violations it is expected to bring to the floor.
Hmm. C-SPAN or WWF? I'm torn!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:43 PM [+] ::
Another bogus Israeli terrorist story. As the professor notes, yesterday's Fox News report of Israeli nationals carrying explosives near a U.S. Naval Air Station has turned out to be nothing:
Fox reported that a follow-up test had revealed traces of explosives on the steering wheel and gearshift.
However, a law enforcement source told the Post-Intelligencer that the dog and the first round of tests may have picked up nothing more than residue left by a cigarette lighter.
Prediction: here's how the story will play at Antiwar.com:
Senior FBI officials pressured field agents to drop their investigation of a potentially massive Israeli terror network. Initial investigations turned up explosive residue in the truck driven by two Israelis mere blocks from the heart of U.S. Navy electronic warfare.
But inexplicably, the investigation was called off, despite the fact that the two subjects could only provide expired visas and international driver's licences as identification.
This is the M.O. for the conspiracy loons. Occam's razor? Nonsense! And while the rest of us are keen to the notion that initial reports are often wrong and bear correction, to the Raimondo's and Oliver Stone's of the world, they are the only reports that can be trusted.
Yesterday's Fox News story was the Freudian slip of actuality, and everything said afterward is disinformation designed to bury the truth. Stand by for the Luddite Left (or are they Right? I can never remember) to try to breathe new life into this one.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 7:19 PM [+] ::
Not another book on media bias! Matt Drudge got a sneak preview of Ann Coulter’s new book on liberal lies and distortions, entitled “Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right.”
I’m all for exposing media bias in whatever form it takes, but isn’t a word like “slander’ a bit extreme? I mean, you’d think that they were throwing around scurrilous accusations about Right-wing pundits demanding that we kill the leaders of Islamic countries and “convert them to Christianity.” The market is flooded withthese kinds of books, and to add any value, we might prefer to hear about it from someone with more… oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah - credibility.
Here are some tidbits, but be forewarned, this is from Drudge’s reading:
Page after page, Coulter throws stink bombs with attitude back at the elite press -- stink bombs of their own making; meanwhile thanking the entire staff of the NEW YORK TIMES, without whom "this book would not have been possible."
["In the entire NEW YORK TIMES archives on LEXISNEXIS, there are 109 items using the phrase "far right wing," but only 18 items that use "far left wing," she begins.]
There are some very compelling grievances against America’s major daily newspapers – including NYT- but this is not one of them.
First, Coulter should be happy that there are more references to the far right than the far left – it supports the notion that Marxists and anarchists aren’t getting their drivel into print. I can hear Noam Chomsky now using this same factoid to support his own theory on media bias.
In any event, this kind of bean-counting is meaningless. As Lileks shows in one of the best pieces on slanted reporting I’ve ever read, bias must be measured qualitatively, rather than simply by how much space is devoted to one side. How about an examination of how facts relevant to a particular story are never mentioned? Or how certain allegations are printed without proper verification?
“Jeningrad” provides a great example of the real flaws of modern journalism, and it should also, dare I say, be a source of pride for American journalism. Our newspapers, by and large, did not rush to judgement as the more overtly ideological press of the UK did. And our reporters were among the first to debunk the massacre myth, while the British originators of the same reluctantly came around about a week later (except for the Independent, which to my knowledge has yet to correct itself).
So, when pundits try to paint the American press with a broad brush, rather than aiming their ire at specific gaffes, I try to remind myself to consider the source.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:51 PM [+] ::
Who takes Malkovich threats seriously? Daddy Warblogs apparently does, and didn’t take kindly to my making light of the death threats against Robert Fisk, responding on the Warblogger Watch email group:
:: Monday, May 13, 2002 ::
What is wrong with you? Do you think threatening to shoot the people you disagree with is acceptable? You think this is just Malkovich being satirical? It's pathetic and contemptible - the kind of simpleton response from people who just kneejerk their way to an opinion instead of having defensible reasons. I didn't think much of Fisk's account of his beating either but my reasons had to do with believing in personal moral responsibility for your actions, and not having some journalist blame what you do on whatever is his or her favourite shibboleth.
I responded with by asking whether we should also have taken seriously Peter Briffa’s joking about blowing himself up during a screening of Amistad, just to take Tom Paulin with him.
There are, of course, better examples. My second favorite comedian, George Carlin (he was the first until David Cross came around) recently did a bit called “people who should just be killed,” in which he described rather creative ways to get rid of annoying people who use idiotic popular phrases and name their kids “Kyle” or “Tucker” (locking them in a port-a-potty and setting it on fire was one). I guess we should lock him up.
I’m not suggesting that many of the threats Fisk mentioned yesterday shouldn’t be taken seriously. But I would be willing to wager that even Fred Rogers got his share of deranged hate mail, and the notion that there’s any causative link between these death threats and the legitimate criticism leveled at Fisk is as cowardly as it is ridiculous. Fisk's latest column was no more than a cop out to evade addressing those of us who continually point out how full of shit he is.
But let me go on record as saying that it would indeed be wrong to murder Robert Fisk. So those of you who were seriously entertaining the idea, please don’t. And to John Malkovich, if you’re reading this weblog, let me just say good God, man, get a fucking life! You’re John Malkovich, for Pete’s sake! Oh yeah, and please don’t shoot Robert Fisk. He’s a putz, but he’s our putz.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:41 PM [+] ::
John Malkovich rules! He, along with countless others, has recently hurt Robert Fisk's feelings with some rather harsh words.
Does this kind of filth have an effect on others? I fear it does. Only days after Malkovich announced that he wanted to shoot me, a website claimed that the actor's words were "a brazen attempt at queue-jumping". The site contained an animation of my own face being violently punched by a fist and a caption which said: "I understand why they're beating the shit out of me."
Of course, these kinds of threats have to be taken literally and seriously. They couldn't possibly be satirical, because none dare mock the Robert Fisk. BTW, would it kill this asshole to post the links to these websites?
Fisk even equates Mark Steyn's memorable response to his beating at the hands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan with the genuine death threats he receives. Far easier to lump cogent criticism in with the epithets than to actually try responding to them.
Curiously, The Bruise doesn't make any excuses for his verbal detractors - they're all guilty of spreading hate. I'll make a note of that.
Criticizing the one true Fisk: inexcusable.
Kicking his ass until he looks like Sly Stallone at the end of Rocky I: perfectly understandable behavior.
UPDATE: As MAX POWER notes, another of the hatemongers Fisk exposes is slain WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl's father. Just when I think The Bruise couldn't possibly be more nauseating...
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:21 PM [+] ::
Instapundit visited by Israeli spies! The professor fesses up to being visited by the Israeli “art student spies” of conspiracy theory fame, and actually bought some of their work. He also links to this Ha’aretz story that lays out all the facts of the case, without making the huge quantum leaps in logic that the aluminum foil hat crowd has.
:: Sunday, May 12, 2002 ::
This does not surprise me in the slightest. Not because I think Glenn Reynolds is a logical target for Zionist espionage operations, but because it proves what I have said about this canard all along: it’s a whole lotta nothing.
Much has been made of the 60-page DEA report that documented numerous “contacts” the Israeli nationals made with various government installations – overt, downright awkward contacts, that is. This information is certainly enough to raise suspicions – which it did, despite claims that our counterintelligence services don’t seem to care. And if the information in this draft document were all there is to the story, it would admittedly leave little room for coincidence.
But the stories written on this “spy case” have approached it from the angle of a blind man inspecting an elephant, discounting the possibility that the art students also approached countless other individuals and “installations” which had absolutely nothing to do with national security or law enforcement. Like Glenn Reynolds’ house, for example.
Similarly, the same stories made much ado about the fact that some of these students conducted their “operations” very close to where some of the 9/11 hijackers were staying. This is accurate, but incomplete. The Israeli students were also operating in countless other cities across the country were the hijackers weren’t staying. But inexplicably, the conspiracy buffs like Justin Raimondo and Creative Loafing (I’m still waiting for High Times to blow the lid off this scandal myself), and a few others who are simply sloppy reporters, see this as proof that not only were the Israelis shadowing the terrorists, but that they had actually obtained information from them and did not share it with the feds.
The DEA could help finally put this story to rest by releasing the rest of its investigation documents, to put the leaked draft in a proper context. If and when they do, we’ll probably be privy to many other benign visits like the one to the professor’s house. And the 60-page “smoking gun” will look more like a drop of water in an Olympic-sized pool.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 12:30 PM [+] ::
Yet another dig at Chomsky. One hardly needs to belabor the point that critics of Israel resort to some shameless sophistry in their assertions of "moral equivalence." But no one has made a more unabashed case for equating dead Jewish kids in pizza parlors with masked Palestinian gunmen killed before they get a chance to enter a jewish settlement than Noam Chomsky.
I am certainly not the first to engage his latest schmutzin the Guardian, but this one merits a late hit.
When the current intifada broke out, Israel used US helicopters to attack civilian targets, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, hardly in self-defence. Clinton responded by arranging what the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz called "the largest purchase of military helicopters by the Israeli Air Force in a decade", along with spare parts for Apache attack helicopters. A few weeks later, Israel began to use US helicopters for assassinations. These extended last August to the first assassination of a political leader: Abu Ali Mustafa. That passed in silence, but the reaction was quite different when Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi was killed in retaliation. Bush is now praised for arranging the release of Arafat from his dungeon in return for US-UK supervision of the accused assassins of Ze'evi. It is inconceivable that there should be any effort to punish those responsible for the Mustafa assassination.
I think I'm going to vomit now.
Such a blithe reference to a man like Mustafa as a "political leader" is every bit as outrageous as calling Josef Mengele a "geneticist."
But don't take my word for it. The PFLP's "political platform" is well-documented - which is probably why Chomsky makes absolutely no mention of the name of the organization Mustafa led. Nazimedia, which has prostituted itself as sort of a PR Newswire for any Islamo-fascist group (they actually served as a surrogate for Azzam publications when they had to go underground late last year), all in the name of anti-globalization (then, ironically, they feign indignation when the White hate groups also try to use their newswire as a platform).
PFLP's rhetoric is replete with sadistic jubilations at "Zionazi filths" being gunned down or blown to bits, as Nazimedia readers are well aware. PFLP flacks have also expressed pride in the grotesque murder of "collaborators" (be forewarned, this link is not for those with weak stomachs, especially "Majur's" intifada "snuff film" accompanied by a warning that this is not "a game where Jews get some part of Palestine").
Something to keep in mind when reading Chomsky. When he uses terms like "civilian targets," he includes the organizers of "martyrdom operations" and men who execute blindfolded collaborators in ditches.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:40 PM [+] ::
Tens of thousands of CIA saboteurs take to the streets of Caracas. That's how the Independent headline reads, isn't it? Here's how Reuters wrote the story:
Venezuela Remembers April 11 Coup Victims
By Patrick Markey
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of opponents of President Hugo Chavez marched through the streets of Caracas on Saturday in memory of the victims of last month's failed coup that briefly ousted the fiery Venezuelan leader from power.
Amid a boisterous sea of flags and banners, protesters, many wearing black armbands, demanded a new president and justice for those who died when gunmen opened fire during the April 11 anti-government rally that sparked the coup.
"Just like we did on April 11, we are still struggling today for a better Venezuela," said Jorge Mitsicosta, an engineer taking part in Saturday's demonstration.
Hmm. Doesn't look like the situation in Venezuela is conforming to the Cold War-era Leftist formula - which, I admit, was quite accurate at one time. But maybe, just maybe, there were some huge domestic sources of dissent that has led to Chavez' troubles.
I couldn't resist taking a gander at how this massive demonstration was playing on the aluminum helmet websites, and lo and behold, they did not disappoint. At Nazimedia, AFP's version was met with this reaction:
Ol lefty: These people are completely shameless
Chavez 4 Life: disperse those dumbasses [under the headline "hey an actual good time to use tear gas"]
anti-cointel: A closer look reviels just who is protesting. While Venezuela is a prodeminately brown, black nation, as is exemplified in the Chavez government, the vast majority of the protesters are White, upper middle class neo-bourgeoisie .. protesting the FACT that they've lost their grip on the nation's mandate. The 'protesters', provocateurs with American backing, are the benefactors of the business and media conglomorates.
As many have stated, these people are guilty of inciting crimes against the nation's vast majority, who are poor. Numbers show Chavez's policies have increased the number of schools in the rural districts, hospitals, doctors etc within the urban poor. Chavean policies are beautiful, and are working. These obstructionists should be tried for crimes against the nation. All "100,000" of them.
Chavez should take a chapter from Fidel .. Seize the media!
Keep in mind, these were the same folks who organized the February anti-WEF protests, and the April 20 Hatefest here in DC, and screamed bloody murder when their bikes were confiscated.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:01 PM [+] ::
Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me.
:: Saturday, May 11, 2002 ::
:: COINTELPRO Tool 5:51 AM [+] ::
Sure beats the technicolor barcode! Laurence Simon submitted this entry to the Guardian's contest to pick the new European Union flag.
What it lacks in subtlety, it more than compensates in panache.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 11:16 PM [+] ::
Fecal fixation. Also from Counterpunch, former CIA analyst Kathleen Kristison challenges the sanctimony of Israeli government, in "Israel, a Light unto Nations?".
But I can't get something I recently saw off my mind. Every so often in the midst of a deluge of information something leaps out at you as unique--utterly electrifying, utterly horrifying, almost mind-altering in a way. One's senses become dulled after months, years, of reading about and seeing images on television of innocents dead from Palestinian terrorist attacks, of other innocents dead from Israeli tank or sniper fire, of cities and refugee camps devastated, in recent weeks of the entire civilian infrastructure of Palestinian society destroyed. But one searing article leapt out the other day that has stuck in my craw, and I cannot let go of it.
This certainly sounds serious. What could it be? Another "massacre?" My god, have the stories of Palestinian children being ground into pastries proven true?
In an article in the May 6 issue of...Ha'aretzentitled "Someone Even Managed to Defecate into the Photopier," Amira Hass -- an honest, courageous woman [arent't they all?] who has spent years living among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza -- described the scenes of destruction at the Palestinian Ministry of Culture left behind after Israeli military forces lifted their seige of the towns of Ramallah and its suburb al-Birah, where the ministry is located.
Entering the building after its month-long occupation by an Israeli military unit, ministry officials, foreign cultural attaches, and reporters found a scene of grotesque vandalism. Equipment from the local radio and television station had been hurled from windows in the multi-story building, electronic equipment was destroyed or had been stolen, furniture was broken and piled up on heaps of papers, books, computer disks, and broken glass. Children's paintings had been destroyed.
And then there was this, as described by Hass: "There are two toilets on every floor, but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building, in several rooms of which they had lived for a month. They did their business on the floors, in emptied flowerpots, even in drawers they had pulled out of desks. They defecated into plastic bags, and these were scattered in several places. Some of them had burst. Someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier. The soldiers urinated into empty mineral water bottles. These were scattered by the dozen in all the rooms of the building, in cardboard boxes, under desks, next to the furniture the soldiers had smashed, among the children's books that had been thrown down. Some of the bottles had opened and the yellow liquid had spilled and left its stain."
This is not a tale we are ever likely to see in the American press, so the vast majority of Americans who think with Menachim Begin that nobody can preach to Israel about ethics, that Israel's army is the only moral army in the world and always employs the doctrine of "purity of arms," will go on thinking that way.
This is the single, seminal event by which we should judge an entire nation? The mere fact that these soldiers were in the building for an entire month should be evidence enough that this latest atrocity was committed reluctantly, and the Ha'aretz story also points out that the toilets were overflowing - AAUGH! Why the fuck am I even addressing the specifics of this nonsense?
What can you say about a person who could obsess about this improper toilet training, given the backdrop of senseless murder against which it occured? What kind of pompous, bigoted pseudo-intellectual would be more emotionally scarred by smeared shit, than by a five-year-old girl shot at point-blank range? Or maybe the CNN footage of dozens of cell phones amid the rubble of the billiards hall at Rishon Letzion, still ringing incessantly hours after their owners were killed in the latest terrorist attack?
And how bereft of shame do you have to be to publish a story like this, given the recent accounts of the scene left at the Church of the Nativity? Quite the classy publication you got there, Alex. Good to see someone is finally tackling the issues that really matter.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:04 PM [+] ::
More Israel/Palestine McCarthyism from the Left. George Sunderland - the pseudonym of an anonymous Congressional staffer - does Eric Alterman's list one better, by writing in Counterpunch that supporters of Israel are "quislings" and compares them to France's Vichy government.
:: Friday, May 10, 2002 ::
For expressions of sheer grovelling subservience to a foreign power, the pronouncements of Laval and Petain pale in comparison to the rhetorical devotion with which certain Congressman have bathed the Israel of Ariel Sharon.
Apparently, the fact that Israel might just be a tinge more worthy of such accolades than Hitler's Germany is utterly meaningless to this fool. And it would be nice if once in a great while, someone could write soemthing critical of the Israeli government without mentioning the USS Liberty incident, which is some 35 years old now. "Sunderland" even points that Liberty suffered far more casualties than the USS Cole, as if that cheap observation had any bearing on whether the attack was intentional. He also makes the absurd claim that Liberty survivors were "bullied into silence," except to the History Channel and at least a half-dozen authors.
"Sunderland" also alleges that Israel bears responsibility for the 1983 terrorist attack on U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut - again, no evidence whatsoever, merely innuendo based on other unsubstantiated allegations about Israeli duplicity. And no anti-Semitic, -er, I mean "anti-Israel" diatribe would be complete without mention of the recent "art student" spy case, a conspiracy of silence which would require the participation of several federal agencies, as well as the monolithic "mainstream media" in its entirety. Again, the fact that professional journalists followed up on the story and concluded that there was simply nothing to it than the ranting of a single disgruntled DEA agent, is to be ignored.
This modern-day Lindbergh also takes potshots at Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ), for employing "rumored Mossad asset" Yosef Bodansky, and at John McCain, for having the gall to post a picture of himself posing in front of American andIsraeli flags on his website.
But the centerpiece of his addled analysis is his zenophobic attack on AIPAC, in which he wonders aloud why the political action committee is exempt from the Foreign Agents' Registration Act. You see, we have to discount the notion that there might be American citizens, who have no connections to the Israeli government, providing AIPAC with its daunting political power. The argument used to be that it was the disproportionate wealth of those money-grubbing American Jews which accounted for their stranglehold on American politics.
But Counterpunch is a magazine for the "sophisticated" Left, and such conspicuous racism won't do for the Trader Joe's audience. So you have to morph it into a LaRouche-ite conspiracy involving money-laundering by "foreign powers." Perusing the rest of Alex Cockburn's journal, I find it very difficult to distinguish it from the rhetoric of the Black Helicopter crowd.
I guess I need to go register myself to be in compliance with FARA. Anyone know which office you go to for that?
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:02 PM [+] ::
Piling on Chomsky The professor links to two critiques of Avram Noam Chomsky's bestselling book, 9/11: yesterday's Walter Shapiro column and this posting by the self-proclaimed anti-Chomsky, Pejman Yousefzadeh.
Both of these are first-class drubbings, and well-deserved at that. But neither addresses what in my mind is the most glaring fallacy used by Chomsky in his "blowback" theory regarding September 11: most of the belligerent imperialism Chomsky cites as proof that the U.S. is the "leading terrorist state" are, in addition to being incredibly dated, from Latin America and Southeast Asia. Why haven't our acts of "genocide" against these people produced a single suicide bomber or airplane hijacker?
Come to think of it, our acts of imperialism in the Middle East have been pretty austere. The secular regimes which the jihadists loathe so much were not, contrary to popular myth, installed via CIA-supported coups. The leading offender, Egypt, evolved from the left-leaning Nasser regime, which was certainly not a U.S. puppet. The only real example would be the ouster of Dr. Mohammed Mussadiq. But certainly al-Qaeda was not born out of his brand of nationalism, and Iran has been free from our yoke for over 20 years now.
And even were we to accept his view of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, this violence pales in comparison to the bloodletting committed by the Assad and Hussein regimes, neither of which have produced much of a "blowback."
Or even condemnation by the UN, for that matter.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 4:14 PM [+] ::
The new factcheckers. Factchecking went out of style a long time ago - probably around the same time reporters abandoned the three-source confirmation rule before running with a story, no matter how ridiculous it sounded on its face. But not to worry, journalists. The bloggers have your back - whether you like it or not!
The latest media bullshit detection comes from Damian Penny, who busts Salon for blindly accepting the lies of pro-terrorist activists (and accessories to war crimes):
"An American activist who snuck past Israeli troops to deliver food says there's plenty of illness, very little food and absolutely no militants hiding inside." [emphasis added]
I'm shocked! You mean these terrorist sympathizers peace activists were lying to us? I'll never have faith in anyone again!
I guess Salon would have us believe that the Nativity monks made all those homemade bombs. Probably more profitable than wine.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:32 PM [+] ::
It's bad enough that lately I have to consciously remind myself of the reasons why I am still liberal. Seeing an unapologetic Leftist like Christopher Hitchens outflanking one of my political heroes (Michael Kinsley) on the right isn't helping. I justify my own jingoism with the realization that the Conservative and Liberal labels (much less Left and Right) have been inappropriately attributed to pacifism and war.
:: Thursday, May 09, 2002 ::
Kinsley's latest takes us to task for pursuing a deontological stance on terrorism:
This does not mean, as some would have it, that suicide bombing is justified as a legitimate response of an oppressed people. There may be circumstances where that is true, but the circumstance of the Palestinians (who, among other considerations, have effectively won their fight for statehood in principle and are arguing about the details) is not even close. Nevertheless, an illegitimate tactic used in a legitimate cause, as part of a conflict with legitimate and illegitimate tactics and aspirations on both sides, is different from an illegitimate tactic used for purposes that are utterly crazed and malevolent.
Here's Hitchens' take on the same issue:
None of this recognition of our own responsibility can be wasted on rationalizations of the suicide bombers and the Palestinian organizations that sponsor them. The self-murder of preprogrammed individuals who have the massacre of civilians as their aim is not just disgusting in itself. It expresses very clearly the absolutism of the ideology that exalts it; a depraved religious mentality combined with a rigidly exclusive ethnonationalism. If it took only "despair" there would or could be millions of Palestinians doing it, and doing it furthermore (since the "risk" is hardly greater) at least against "military targets." But the immolation of an old people's Passover dinner, in the territories that are supposedly recognized as Israeli, requires more than a blank lack of discrimination. It requires planning.
Simply put, we need not marry these horrendous acts to the legitimate -- and yes, they are legitimate -- self-determination claims of the Palestinian people. As to whether the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires the flexible response that Kinsley deems necessary...
"Condemnations" of such deeds are worthless, and more than worthless, in fact contemptible, when they have to be exacted. Edward Said to his credit long ago expressed a secular wish for a Palestinian Mandela, instead of the Papa Doc figure who now leads a hideously misgoverned people. Well, Nelson Mandela was in jail when the practice of "necklacing" the supposed collaborators infected the townships of South Africa. But Desmond Tutu, short and vulnerable as he was, waded into a mob and forced a halt to a public burning. No doubt that crowd had felt despair and frustration also. But there was no question which side the leadership was on.
A simple thought experiment shows that if there were any sign of a two-state solution, suicide murders would increase and not decrease. In case you have forgotten, these obscene tactics were first employed when the Rabin-Peres government was in power and when there was much more negotiating "space" than there is now. Netanyahu quite probably owes his election to those events, and something tells me that his rival and successor, General Sharon, does not tear his hair with grief when he learns of the random slaughter of Jews.[emphasis mine]
To be clear, Hitchens is no fan of the rejectionist Israeli right, nor its apologists in the U.S. government. I still happen to share this view, but I am capable of separating Sharon's intransigence on issues such as settlements with the actions he took in the West Bank and is now prosecuting in Gaza - both of which are justified.
I was once solidly in the pro-Palestinian camp myself, and no, it wasn't September 11 that lurched me to the other side. Rather, it was the beginning of the so-called al-Aqsa intifada. For nearly a decade, we pressured successive Israeli governments to make concessions to the PLO in the name of peace. And though the process included its fair share of zigs and zags, the fact that the Israelis have conceded a great deal more than their counterparts have in indisputable. They offered Arafat 95 percent of what he claimed to be asking for, and to date, they have received only a renunciation of terrorism and the rejectionist language of the PLO charter - neither of which, as is now evident to all who care to look, have ever been backed up with actions.
After talks broke down, Sharon made his now-infamous visit to al-Aqsa - an act that was intended to offend and is certainly worthy of condemnation. But I had to scoff at the suggestion that the visit caused the recent violence. These arguments are as racist as they are ridiculous. The suggestion is that Palestinians have no choice but to react to Sharon's chest-thumping with acts of murder. And how many dead children in pizza parlors it would have taken to compensate for this affront is anyone's guess. But sadly, even rational people like Kinsley seem to be arriving at the conclusion that expecting the Israelis' partners at the negotiating table to abide by some level of civility is an impossible imposition.
As for the root issue, I have never been for deontological, absolutist political stances for their own sake. I'll opt for whatever stops terrorism, even if it is less than morally consistent. But no one - not even Mike - has given me any reason to believe that an inflexible posture (no deals, no negotiations, until you prove you can abide by a cease fire for more than two days) isn't precisely what this situation requires.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 8:56 AM [+] ::
More on Thomas White. Most of the editorial gang-banging of the Secretary of the Army this week has focused - rightly - on the Crusader lobbying issue. But Al Kamen, as usual, is onto the real story:
Yet there was bad news last week: The Naples City Council in Florida denied White's request for a waiver so he could put a modest wall in front of the $4 million, 15,145-square-foot beachfront cabana he's building down there.
The city code, according to the Naples Daily News, allows walls to be a maximum three feet tall, with gates and gateposts at most six feet tall. White wanted a simple 6-foot-9-inch wall, a gate two inches higher and gateposts a mere 10 feet tall.
Council opponents noted most houses in Old Naples don't have gates and the waiver request bespoke a fortress mentality. Others said the wall would ensure privacy. The good news is the council split 3 to 3 on the waiver, with one member absent, so there's still a chance the wall will be allowed to go up.
Kamen, being far wiser than us mere mortals, can see how this may have affected White's thinking on the future of land-based artillery.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 3:46 PM [+] ::
'Spiteful luxury.' There was no such thing as hypocrisy before today. It simply did not exist until the LA Times editorial staff singlehandedly invented it with this morning's lead editorial:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broke off his visit to Washington by essentially saying "forget it" to diplomacy after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 Israelis near Tel Aviv. No matter how reprehensible such bombings are--and they are terrorism--the Bush administration cannot allow itself Sharon's spiteful luxury. Only a sustained effort by other nations will force Israelis and Palestinians to the conference table.
Yeah, Ariel. There are other parties in this conflict who have a much larger stake than you do. And don't give us any crap about the very people you were elected to serve being routinely murdered. Our prestige as a world leader is on the line here. So try not to be so damn parochial for once.
"Spiteful luxury." Indeed.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 2:22 PM [+] ::
A discussion of 'black propaganda,' by someone who ought to know it when he sees it. Surprisingly, Robert Fisk is not convinced by Israeli evidence of Arafat's coordination of terrorist acts:
These reports – and many others – show just how far Yasser Arafat had lost control of the militant organisations flourishing among the Palestinians on the West Bank. But Israel's reaction was to go public with accounts of their contents that were deliberately misleading and, in at least one case, untrue. They claimed that the report on Ilayan detailed his role in a failed suicide attack – when in fact it recorded his suspected collaboration with Israel – while presenting the second document as proof that Mr Arafat's own intelligence men were involved in the al-Aqsa suicide squads. All references to the drug dealer and the inducement to collaborators to seek forgiveness were excised.
The Arabic texts suggest that Israel is fighting against men who have long ago passed outside Mr Arafat's control, who are better funded than his Palestinian Authority and whose anti-Israeli attacks can only occasionally be foiled by Mr Arafat's still-loyal intelligence officers.
But remember, Yasir Arafat is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:29 AM [+] ::
Can't belive I missed this the first time. I frnaly don't have a position on the Army's Crusader debate, and have never felt that hardware systems should have any ideology or party affiliation. I do like this quote from yesterday's post, however:
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld dismissed the argument that soldiers would die in combat without the Crusader and said whoever produced the "talking points" was suffering from "an overactive thyroid."
I also think that this is an instructive case in the importance of strong, decisive civilian leadership of the military. Simply put, if DoD had made their position on the program from the start, rather than letting the Army brass continue to guess whether it would survive, we probably wouldn't have had the messy spectacle of military leaders contravening the "suits."
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:18 AM [+] ::