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August 29, 2005

Katrina Blogging

Michelle Malkin has a roundup on Katrina blogging, and the overriding sentiment is "pray for New Orleans."

August 28, 2005

Glick on Myth-Busting

Caroline B. Glick:

The foundational myth of the Left is that Jewish extremism, not Palestinian terrorism, is the cause of Israel's present security woes and the source of the constant wars that have plagued us since the dawn of modern Zionism. What we saw this week was that these people – whom one British reporter standing outside the synagogue in the now-ruined city of Neveh Dekalim ever so eloquently referred to last Thursday as "the hardest of the hard-line settlers" – are anything but extreme...

...In this near-surreal mix, the deported Jews found the golden path. The exodus of the Jews of Netzarim from their synagogue, standing behind their menora; the embracing of the military and police forces who came to expel them by the residents of Katif and Atzmona, followed by quiet exoduses from their homes – these decisions, and a million smaller and greater ones, belied the propaganda that these Jews are an obstacle to peace. It exposed as a lie the insistent rantings of the Left and the international community that these peaceful patriots, in or out of their communities, manifest in any way, shape or form an obstacle to peace with a credible Arab partner who is willing to accept coexistence with the Jewish state, whatever its borders may be.

When we contrast the behavior of the expelled Jews to that of the Palestinians over the same period, we see, too, that for the Palestinians, terrorism is not a weapon of weakness or evidence of desperation, but rather a strategic choice. It is a weapon that defines them as a society as much as moderation and humility characterize the now homeless Jews of Gaza and northern Samaria.

Iranian Involvement In 9/11

Ed Morrissey at Captains Quarters continues to lead the way in the reporting on the Able Danger case, and the ongoing unraveling of the credibility of the 9/11 Commission. Quoting at length from the new book by Kenneth Timmerman, "Countdown to Crisis", Morrissey examines the evidence of Iranian involvement and support for the 9/11 attacks.

Timmerman writes that the CIA had communicated repeatedly to the Commission what he calls The Concept: Iran had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, and especially 9/11. Nothing would shake them from that belief, not evidence nor intelligence, both of which turned up in spades. It sounds quite familiar to the same meme about al-Qaeda and Iraq; despite the numerous connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda, the official line remained that AQ conducted the attacks entirely on their own, without Iraqi assistance. Any evidence or intel to the contrary got dismissed or completely ignored.

So it was with the fresh documents discovered by Zelikow's team at the time Phillpott told them about Able Danger. Their team leader on intel, an old CIA hand, spent his Sunday reviewing these explosive documents:

What the team leader found that Sunday morning was nothing less than a complete documented record of operational ties between Iran and al-Qaeda for the critical months just prior to September 11. "The documents showed Iran was facilitating the travel of al-Qaeda operatives, ordering Iranian border inspectors not to put telltale stamps on their passports, thus keeping their travel documents clean," the team leader told me. "The Iranians were fully aware that they were helping operatives who were part of an organization preparing attacks against the United States." ...

More on the topic from CQ here, and here.

It is increasingly clear that the 9/11 Commission was in possession of a great deal of information about foreign involvement in support of Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks, that it chose to ignore and withhold from its final report because it conflicted with their pre-established narratives. Evidence of contacts between intelligence operatives of both Iraq and Iran and the 9/11 hijackers was discounted by the commission, and now the American people deserve to know why.

The Arafat Model

Iraqi leaders seem to be practicing what Michael Rubin calls "The Arafat Model"...

While U.S. diplomats and Washington advisers continue to facilitate compromise among Iraq’s disparate sectarian, ethnic, and political groups, the reality emerging outside Baghdad is directly challenging Iraq’s aspirations to constitutionalism. The U.S. government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring outside experts to Baghdad for a period of a few days or a few weeks, but Iraqi powerbrokers dismiss their advice as naïve or irrelevant. Massoud Barzani in the Kurdish north and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and Moqtada al-Sadr in the Shiite south have rejected the experts’ academic proposals, and have chosen instead a model perfected by Yasir Arafat, the late PLO chairman.

Standing in front of the White House on September 13, 1993, Arafat, Bill Clinton, and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands. Western diplomats could hardly contain their optimism as Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Declaration of Principles, upon which they pledged to build Arab-Israeli peace.

But we now know that this optimism was misplaced. While Clinton fêted the Palestinian leader at the White House, cajoled him with aid, and turned a blind eye toward his corruption, Arafat broke promises habitually and, until the last years of his life, without consequence. He encouraged incitement, refused to prepare the Palestinians for compromise, and ruled by militia even as European and American agencies trained Palestinian police.

From an Arab perspective, Arafat’s strategy looks successful. He extracted blood from the Israelis and treasure from the Americans, all the while consolidating his position. His concessions were limited to pledges whose fulfillment was never required. The result is now clear. Even as drafting-committee members debated Iraq’s future, pan-Arab satellite stations broadcast Palestinian celebrations amid what anchors and commentators uniformly described as Israel’s defeat in Gaza.

August 27, 2005

Another Able Danger Witness

Fox News:

WASHINGTON — A third person has now come forward to verify claims made by a military intelligence unit that a year before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it had information showing that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta and other terrorists were identified as being in the United States.

J.D. Smith, a defense contractor who claims he worked on the technical side of the unit code-named "Able Danger", told reporters Friday that he helped gather open-source information, reported on government spending and helped generate charts associated with the unit's work. Able Danger was set up in the 1990s to track Al Qaeda activity worldwide.

"I am absolutely positive that he [Atta] was on our chart among other pictures and ties that we were doing mainly based upon [terror] cells in New York City," Smith said.

Added Rep. Curt Weldon...

"When this is over, the Sept. 11 commission is going to have egg all over their face"

As far as I'm concerned, they don't have a lot of credibility to lose. (via Ace)

Shooting The Messenger

From AIM..."Why Do They Hate Curt Weldon?"

Turn Out

It was May 2 when I hit rock bottom in my frustration with the baseball fans in this town. The Indians had started 9-15, and they hadn't looked good doing it, so the city wasn't responding to them by buying tickets. Yes, it was April, and it was cold.

What will be their excuse next week when the Tigers come to town with the Tribe in a pennant race and the temperature around 80? I'd be surprised if more than 25,000 people are there Monday night. The mid-90's are a distant memory. And people wonder why the Indians don't play all that well at home.

I was on my way to the Browns game tonight when Grady stole home in the first inning with 2 outs, and an 0-2 count on Hafner, so I still haven't seen the film of it, but it sure seemed to stoke the team. Hafner hit the ball out to the centerfield hotel a couple of pitches later, and they didn't look back. (Yes, I was listening to the Indians on the radio at the Browns game).

They arrive home Monday with the best August record in major league baseball, and a real chance to be playing in October. Let's hope some people in Cleveland remember what that can be like.

**More on the Browns game later, but the award for most creative new T-shirt tonight goes to......the "Kellen Knievel" model, with the tight end's face on Evel's red, white and blue jumpsuited body. It's OK to laugh at that, isn't it?

UPDATE 8/29: The announced attendance for tonight's comeback win was 22,713, although 5,000 of those were giveaways. Not good.

August 26, 2005

Must Reads....Really

Two good writers give voice to George Bush and his supporters. I am in awe of this post by Scott Ott. And Cliff May has written an open letter to Cindy Sheehan that made me want to stand up and applaud.

August 25, 2005

Ohio After Taft

Can any Ohio Republican survive the political fallout from the miserable performance of Bob Taft and retain the Governor's mansion for the party in 2006? NRO examines the problem and reports how Ken Blackwell is trying to run against Taft's record, just as the Democrats surely will. (via Cleveland Townhall)

"you guys are probably telling me the truth..."

Jeff Jacoby's column recounts the following revealing exchange between Today's Matt Lauer and U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Lauer is doing his best to pry some negative comments about troop morale out of the soldiers, who were having none of it:

Lauer: We've heard so much about the insurgent attacks, so much about the uncertainty as to when you folks are going to get to go home. How would you describe morale?

Chief Warrant Officer Randy Kergiss: My unit morale's pretty good. . . . People are ready to execute their missions, and they're pretty excited to be here.

Lauer: How much does that uncertainty of knowing how long you're going to be here impact morale?

Sergeant Jamie Wells: Morale's always high. Soldiers know they have a mission, they like taking on the new objectives and taking on the new challenges. . . . They're motivated, ready to go.

Lauer: Don't get me wrong, I think you guys are probably telling me the truth, but there might be a lot of people at home wondering how that could be possible with the conditions you're facing and with the insurgent attacks . . .

Captain Sherman Powell: Well, sir, I tell you -- if I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well.

Lauer: What don't you think is being correctly portrayed?

Powell: Sir, I know it's hard to get out and get on the ground and report the news. . . . But for of those who've actually had a chance to get out and go on patrols . . . we are very satisfied with the way things are going here. And we are confident that if we're allowed to finish the job we started we'll be very proud of it and our country will be proud of us for doing it. . . .

Lauer: How would you feel about US forces being withdrawn before -- you're shaking your head -- before the insurgency is defeated?

Powell: Well, sir, I would just tell you . . . as long as we continue to have confidence that we are supported and people have our back, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

Lauer: So you would rather stay here longer and defeat the insurgency then be pulled out earlier . . .?

Kergiss: Yes, sir.

Wells: Absolutely.

Lauer is clearly acting on the assumption that the primary concern of the U.S. soldier is with when he or she is coming home. Do you think he gets it now?

It's their job, Matt. They're proud of what the United States has accomplished, and is accomplishing in Iraq. And they're not done yet.

Uninsured In America

The New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell takes on the concept of "moral-hazard" as relates to health care insurance, calling it a "myth" that is "overblown" as a factor in consumption of health services. Moral-hazard is "the term economists use to describe the fact that insurance can change the behavior of the person being insured."

He argues that rich people don't consume more of such services just because they can afford them, and it is easily demonstrable that uninsured Americans are less healthy, in part I'm sure because they often do not seek treatments that they cannot afford. The moral-hazard argument may in fact be overblown, though I'm not convinced that it's an insignificant factor in the way the average American makes decisions about whether or not to seek treatment for one ailment or another.

But whether or not you favor a government-run national health care program, it's difficult to argue that our existing system doesn't need major reform in the way that health services are delivered to citizens. Here's an excerpt, but read it all...

One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations.
(via RCP)

Bucks Depth Chart

ESPN did a piece today on the Buckeyes practice session. Maybe the ice is thawing between the network and the Athletic Department at OSU. The article on their visit contains the latest depth chart, and that's why it's here.

By the way, the Buckeyes are loaded. The scary thing is how young they also are, on offense especially. It'll be tough to get through three games against highly ranked teams #2 Texas, #4 Michigan, and #10 Iowa, plus #16 Purdue without having a bad day. You have to play a tough Penn State team at Happy Valley at night, and The Game is at Ann Arbor this year. That's a damn tough schedule, but there are still real expectations in Columbus that this team could win all its games.

If the inexperienced kicking game comes through, and they get some pass rush from the DE's, the rest of the talent is there to make a run for it all. If I'm predicting though, I'll say 9-2, a BCS Bowl game, and a win in Ann Arbor. Whatever happens on the field, it's my considered take that the football talent currently assembled in Columbus is as good as or better than the 2002 team, but might be a year away offensively from kicking down the door for the NC.

August 24, 2005


A Philly "kid" writes to Terrell Owens:

...Before you came, the Eagles couldn’t even get to the Super Bowl. Then you came, and we were the best Eagles team I had ever seen. We got to the Super Bowl and almost won. You were awesome! I decided that with just a little more practice this year, we could win it all.

But then my dad told me that you might not be on the team anymore. I was really upset and cried. Then I watched the news and saw that you were crying too! This made me cry even more! You said you needed to feed your family. I asked my mom if maybe we could help feed your family so that you would stop crying and help us win the Super Bowl. My mom told me that the Eagles gave you over 9 million dollars last year and that you can afford to buy your own food. I told her that you were crying and maybe you had spent it all already. She told me you were going to get 3 million more dollars this year. I asked her how much a hot dog costs. That’s my favorite food! She told me they were 25 cents unless you buy them from the Eagles in which case they cost 5 dollars...

Read it all. (via JVL at Galley Slaves)

Trusting Terrorists?

The back and forth over the Able Danger disclosures has again drawn attention to the meeting in April, 2004 which Czech intelligence says took place between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence agent Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. The 9/11 Commission rejects that Czech eyewitness testimony, and instead relies largely on the testimony of two terrorists who were planners and ringleaders of the 9/11 attacks, who deny that the meeting took place. This old story gets another look from Ed Morrissey:

Czech intelligence privately told the United States that it had evidence that al-Ani met with Mohammed Atta on April 9, 2001. Later, the Czechs went public with the information--and to this day, the Czechs insistently stand behind this intelligence. Part of the reason for this insistence is not just a belief in their source, but also a corroborating entry in al-Ani's datebook, which the Czechs apparently discovered during a surreptitious search of the Iraqi embassy after Saddam's fall in April 2003. The datebook contained an entry for an April 2001 meeting with a "Hamburg student," the same description used by Atta himself when applying for his visa. (It is perhaps worth noting that Epstein is the only person to have reported on the existence of this daybook.)

However, the 9/11 Commission disregarded the Czech intelligence and declared that Atta had never gone to Prague in April 2001. How did the Commission reach this conclusion? Their report details the factors that went into this rejection on pages 228-9:

* Atta's cell phone was used in the U.S. on April 6, 9, 10, and 11

* No U.S. records of Atta traveling under his own name

* No pictures of anyone who looked like Atta in the Czech Republic on those dates

* Testimony from two al Qaeda sources . . . Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh

We have been told repeatedly that the 9/11 Commission Report debunks the Prague trip, but the report says only that it "cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that Atta was in Prague on April 9, 2001. He could have used an alias to travel and a passport under that alias, but this would be an exception to his practice of using his true name while traveling (as he did in January and would in July when he took his next overseas trip). The FBI and CIA have uncovered no evidence that Atta held any fraudulent passports."

The Commission's source for this? Ramzi Binalshibh.

Why did the Commission put so much emphasis on the testimony of two terrorists while dismissing the testimony of two senior American officers in determining the timeline for Mohammed Atta and the Hamburg cell?

Morrissey links to the Edward Jay Epstein account of the Prague meeting, and Jim Geraghty gives an updated summary of "what we know" at the moment about the Able Danger testimony.

The obvious implication of accepting the historical fact of Atta's Prague meeting would be that the mantra of the Iraq campaign opponents...

"Saddam's Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks"

...is blown to smithereens.

Several yet unanswered questions come to mind. For starters...

Was the 9/11 Commission so politicized that they ignored information, ranging from the Czech intelligence reports to the Able Danger disclosures, that conflicted with their preferred version of events, which functioned to shield Jamie Gorelick, the CIA establishment, and the Clinton administration from the severe criticism that would otherwise have been showered on them?

How do those same Iraq war opponents respond to the publication in March, 2001 (cited by Morrissey) by a Parisian Arabic newspaper, of a report on the arrest of two Iraqi spies in Germany:

Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.

The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.

Unbelievably the Commission didn't consider this information pertinent to their report. Now the folks with careers at risk in this matter seem to be less interested in truth-seeking than they are in questioning the credibility of the U.S. military intelligence officials who have come forward to testify on Able Danger's findings, and the disposition of those findings.

Because acknowledging a bonafide connection between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 bombings would be a heaping plate of crow for the opponents of Bush's Iraq policies to choke down, and a revelation that the 9/11 Commission ignored important testimony in part to protect key Clinton administration officials would be a huge story, and one that could wreak long-term damage on the Democratic Party. Avoiding that disclosure might have been worth risking getting caught stealing and destroying documents from the National Archives just before the 9/11 Commission testimony began.

I'm glad people like Morrissey, Geraghty, Malkin, and others are all over the case.

UPDATE 8/24: An editorial at Investors.com summarizes events and asks questions:

...we can't believe that amid all the hedging and nondenial denials there isn't a truth to be had. The claims are too important to let it go at this.

If the 9-11 commission dropped the ball, we should know about it. And if it was told of this but didn't include it in its monumental report, what are they hiding?

And if the Clinton administration dropped the ball — failing to move against al-Qaida operatives after repeated attacks on the U.S. in the 1990s — shouldn't we know that, too?

UPDATE 8/24: Ed Morrissey's follow-up post to the Daily Standard article

August 22, 2005

First Impressions - Browns 2005

If it's possible for an NFL exhibition game to have a "storybook ending" then I guess that's what happened Saturday afternoon in Detroit, when hometown hero Braylon Edwards made a great catch of the winning TD pass thrown by Browns rookie QB Charlie Frye in the last minute of the game. That was a look at the future of the franchise, but I'd have to say I was encouraged by the look of the present as well.

The one thing that has screamed at me from watching eight quarters of exhibition football by the Browns is that this team is getting better coaching than they have had for the last six years. Now I realize that this is akin to saying that someone is more team-oriented than Terrell Owens, or has more tackles than Gerard Warren, but it has already manifested itself in so many ways.

The bar is set pretty low in Cleveland these days. Success will be measured against Butch Davis, and the hapless expansion teams that preceded him and against a 4-12 team from last year, not against the 2005 Patriots or other playoff teams. It wasn't quite as bad last year as in 1999, when we would go to games hoping only that the sun would shine while we were getting pasted by four touchdowns. In some ways though, it was worse. We weren't an expansion team any more, but who could tell the difference? Some NFL experts see the Browns talent as the worst in the entire league, and in terms of the presence of identifiable "star-quality" players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, I'd have to agree (Andra Davis excepted).

But everything is new this year. Romeo Crennel has already vaulted over that low bar by having a personality. He shows a refreshing candor and humility to go along with the credibility that arrived with his five Super Bowl rings. Phil Savage soared over the bar set by previous talent evaluators by not utilizing a 2005 draft choice on a holder for extra points. And I'm not worried about the owner. He's a super guy, and he grew up wearing Browns pajamas for heaven's sake. Oh yeah, he's a billionaire. He just needed good football people to tuck him in at night, and I think they might finally be here.

G.M. Phil Savage has upgraded the talent to a level not seen since pre-expansion (I know, low bar). The offense is about 50% revamped, with three new offensive linemen, a new QB in Trent Dilfer, and Reuben Droughns at running back. Relative newcomer Antonio Bryant and rookie wideout Edwards will contribute to the new look. The 2005 defense will only vaguely resemble the team of last year, with Andra Davis, Daylon McCutcheon and Orpheus Roye the key returning starters, and a new 3-4 system in place.

The most striking difference to me so far about the 2006 version of the Browns (outside of the 2-0 record) is the offensive philosophy and play calling of coordinator Maurice Carthon. They're running the ball outside on pitch sweeps, they're running effective draw plays, they're throwing to the fullback and the tailbacks, they're throwing quick slant patterns to wide receivers, they're throwing the ball coming off their own goal line, they're showing a bit of creativity and unpredictability. I know, most NFL teams do most of these things, but they were rarer than Halley's Comet under Butch Davis.

The run defense has been pretty pitiful so far, at least when the first teams have been on the field, and I fear that even the vaunted genius of Romeo Crennel might not be enough to counteract the talent shortage on the defensive line overall. Cornerback worried me even before the injury to Gary Baxter and the onset of McCutcheon's migraine problem. But I really like what I've seen of Sean Jones at safety, and I like the long-term prospects of a secondary with Brodney Pool, Baxter, Jones, McCutcheon and Antonio Perkins, along with Michael Lehan, Leigh Bodden and Michael Jameson as backups. Add one more cover corner and you look pretty good for a few years.

The linebacking is fairly solid in the middle with Davis and Ben Taylor, who are both strong tacklers. The outside guys Chaun Thompson and Matt Stewart/Kenard Lang are still big question marks.

I like the fact that Savage's draft picks all look like players. Edwards (1st) and Frye (3rd) have already shown their stuff enough to generate some excitement about the future, though we've seen exactly one play from safety Pool(2nd). (If nothing else, he had guts to throw himself kamikaze-like into the Giants' wedge on the opening kickoff of his first NFL game, resultant concussion notwithstanding).

Less noticeable were the early hints that David McMillan(5th) has some excellent speed and pass rush skills, and Nick Speegle(6th) the rangy, athletic outside linebacker has already impressed Crennel enough to be listed on the second team. Another 5th-rounder, defensive tackle Andrew Hoffman recovered a fumble in the Lions game and Antonio Perkins (4th) had an interception and a punt return that got him mentioned in a positive way.

Some free agent acquisitions by Savage that look like they have a good opportunity to make the team include OSU Buckeye Simon Fraser at defensive end (currently running second team), linebacker Orlando Ruff who has looked very good in limited action, and everyone's pre-season darling, Kent State's Josh Cribbs, who has been nothing short of a sensation on kickoff returns through two games. Most surprisingly, he has excelled on coverage as well, making several tackles on the kickoff coverage team.

The signing of Fraser and Cribbs and the drafting of Frye gives me hope that the new regime may have a better appreciation of the fan appeal that can be generated by having local players on the roster than their predecessors did (note to Savage: think A.J. Hawk in 2006!).

I know it's a small thing (insert exhibitions-are-meaningless cliché of choice here) but the team has managed to win both its games, and it was obvious that Crennel wanted very much to win them, as evidenced by his leaving Frye in the Lions game till the winning TD was on the board. Saturday afternoon in Detroit, the team had a noticeable spring in its step, a bit of crispness, especially on offense, that we haven't seen in six long seasons of miserable football here. Whether that translates to five or six or seven or eight victories this season matters less than the level of effort and pride and professionalism that we see on the field this year in the guys with the orange hats. All indications I get from Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage and Randy Lerner, and now some early returns from the orange hats, have me daring to hope that they've turned it in the right direction.

August 21, 2005

More On Politicizing Grief

Even as I post this wonderful piece by Noemie Emery, I must admit to feeling all "Sheehaned" out. But this is a great read. Emery documents recent attempts by the political left in this country to use grief as a shield from rebuttal or criticism for their transparent political agenda, from the Wellstone funeral to the "Jersey Girls", and now to Cindy Sheehan, calling these manuevers "beneath all contempt".

"The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute," declares the New York Times's Maureen Dowd. What she means is the moral authority of those she finds useful. Does she accept the moral authority of Linda Ryan, who finds Sheehan disgraceful? Does she bow to the moral authority of the thousands of parents of the dead and the wounded who support the war and the president, and find her snideness disgusting? Can she begin to guess at what the phrase even means?

There are so many people who have buried children, and so many more who have had children wounded, and so many more who have children in danger, that their political views cannot be uniform. What happens when the opinions behind which they put all of their moral authority collide? When parents and other family members of the dead and wounded disagree about politics, who gets custody of the moral authority? Is the moral authority of Cindy Sheehan compromised by the dissent of her husband, who is also a parent in agony?...

...Here is a message for our friends in the grief-based community: Really, you must cut this out. We are tired of having our emotions worked on and worked over; tired of the matched sets of dueling relatives, tired of all of these claims on our sympathy, that at the same time defy common sense. The heart breaks for everyone who lost relatives and friends on September 11, as it does for the relatives of the war dead and wounded, as it does for the sons of Paul Wellstone. It does not break for MoveOn.org, Maureen Dowd, and Gail Sheehy, who have not been heartbroken, except by a string of election reverses, and are using the anguish of other people in an effort to turn them around. Especially, it does not break for George Soros, who, after squandering millions on the Kerry campaign, is now using poor Cindy Sheehan to get back in the action, and it does not break for political operative Joe Trippi, late of the Howard Dean meltdown, who is trying to do the same thing. She is now the vehicle for a collection of losers, who will use her, and then toss her over and out once she has served their purposes, or more likely failed to do so. Her family has broken up under the effects of this circus; she has now lost her husband, as well as her son. Please, send her back to her therapist, and what is now left of her broken-up family. And please--do not try this again.

August 20, 2005

Consequesnces Of Withdrawal


...Then there is the question of humanitarian or pacifist emotion. Some have perhaps been drawn to "Camp Casey" out of reverence for life. Their demand, however, is an immediate coalition withdrawal from Iraq. Have they seriously asked themselves how humane the consequences of that would be? The news of a pullout would put a wolfish grin on the faces of the "al-Qaida in Mesopotamia" brigade, as Mr. Zarqawi's force has named itself in order to resolve all doubt. Every effort would be made to detonate every available car-bomb and mine, so as to claim the withdrawal of coalition forces as a military victory for jihad...

...Paint your own mental picture of a country that was already almost beyond rescue in 2003, as it is handed back to an alliance of homicidal Baathists and Bin-Ladenists. Comfort yourself, if that's the way you think, with the idea that such people are only nasty because Bush made them so. Intone the Sheehan mantra—repeated this very week—that terrorism is no problem because after all Bush is the leading terrorist in the world. See if that cheers you up. Try it on your friends. Live with it, if you are ready to live with the consequences of what you desire.

August 19, 2005

It's Not About Food

Mark at eatingcleveland.com normally concerns himslf with food, but this week he's trying to help out the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a cause with which I'm happy to assist him. Stop by if you will, and do what you can.

August 18, 2005

Now That's A Story

Claudia Rosett reports on an angle that might make Big Media pay more attention to the Oil-For-Food scandal....an Enron connection.

August 17, 2005

Weldon Source Emerges

Rep. Curt Weldon's source has come forward to give interviews with CNN and the New York Times. He is Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. The above links are via Jim Geraghty, who has valuable posts on Able Danger and the emergence of Lt. Col. Shaffer. Just go to TKS and keep on scrolling. It's good to see the New York Times involved. Geraghty adds:

"If you didn't know better, you would almost think that the New York Times has decided to really scrutinize the Clinton administration's record on fighting terror.

I certainly don't mind any of this. But it seems... odd."

and then he sums up just how big the story could turn out to be

"The reason I’ve been writing about this – and so many readers have been reading about it, and clamoring for more information – is because it’s so darn big.

* It would completely change the way we view our intelligence agencies. They weren’t bumbling before 9/11 – at least, Able Danger wasn’t.
* It would be a useful lesson for fighting terror from now on: Listen to the data-mining guys.
* This would be a smoking gun, proving that the single most significant impediment to effective counterterrorism before 9/11 was “the wall.”
* It would prove that the wall was worse than we ever imagined, rendering military intelligence’s tracking al-Qaeda moot, because they were forbidden by law from passing their findings on to anyone who take action on it.
* It would utterly destroy the 9/11 Commission’s reputation. A report that ignored a revelation like this is worthless.
* Everyone who said Jamie Gorelick belong testifying before the Commission instead of on it would be platinum-level vindicated.
* The Clinton administration Justice Department’s rejection of Mary Jo White’s objections to the wall would look unforgiveable.
* Everyone would have intense questions about what role, if any, Hillary Clinton played in recommending Jamie Gorelick for her Justice Department job. This is the sort of thing that can ruin a party’s reputation and derail a 2008 campaign.

And don’t even get me started on how much worse this makes Sandy Berger look.

John Podhoretz says we're still looking to the answers for these questions:

Are 9/11 Commission staffers lying when they say Shaffer didn't mention Atta during his discussion with them in Afghanistan in 2003?

Did the Pentagon withhold critical Able Danger files from the 9/11 Commission in February 2004?

Ed Morrissey just needs to be read daily anyway, but here's his post on the Mary Jo White memos to the Justice Dept.

Phenom In Seattle

David Schoenfield of ESPN.com chronicles his first look at 19 year-old Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. With a 0.86 ERA and 21 strikeouts in his first three starts over 21 innings, it's no surprise that he's drawing comparisons to Dwight Gooden. I've been reading for over a year that this kid is the best prospect in all of baseball. Schoenfield is right that if he were playing in New York or Boston, the hype machine would already be in full gear, but it sounds like his name will be a household word soon enough.

GNFI Part 33

It has been some time since I posted Arthur Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq. Sorry about that. This post is extremely long, and I have yet to get even close to all the way through it. There's a lot of stuff going on besides terrorists killing innocent Iraqis and the American soldiers trying to help them. I guess that's the point, right?

August 16, 2005

Rebellion As Performance

John McWhorter has been researching the Watts riots of 1965, and in this WaPo article, he suggests that 60's blacks learned from 60's whites that there was much to be gained politically through rebellion for its own sake:

In general, black America had been "fed up" for centuries before 1965. A useful black history must identify a different factor that sparked the events in Watts and across the land. This factor was a new mood. Only in the 1960s did a significant number of blacks start treating rebellion for its own sake -- rebellion as performance, with no plan of action behind it -- as political activism.

This did not come from nowhere, to be sure -- and where it came from was whites. In the '60s, it became a hallmark of moral sophistication among whites to reject establishment mores, culminating in the counterculture movement. The movement was based initially on laudable intentions: Few today could condemn young, informed whites for rising up against political censorship, racism and later the Vietnam War, or a newly concerned white ruling class for turning its attention to poverty and its disproportionate impact on black people.

But political rebellion always leaves in its wake people who are moved more by the sheer theatrics of acting up than by the actual goals of the protest...

McWhorter concludes that it was as much the massive transfer of urban blacks to welfare rolls during the years after the 60's urban riots that created "the psychic deterioration that soon overtook poor black America" as it was the often cited onset of widespread drug abuse and losses of factory jobs...

Rarely has radical idealism had such a destructive effect on so many lives. Before the '60s, welfare payments had been intended for widows and women whose children's fathers were nowhere to be found. But in the wake of the new agitation, municipal governments relaxed the old requirements bit by bit.

The new politics of protest was a potent weapon. The riots loomed always as a threat (partly because the Black Panthers loomed menacingly at many of the rallies), and many politicians knuckled under. From 1966 to 1970, the number of people on welfare nationwide doubled from under 500,000 to almost a million. This was not part of Washington's Great Society agenda, which focused on job creation and training. It was a radical side effort, with grievous consequences.


Letter To The Left

How can so many people watch this as if they were spectators, handicapping and rating the successes and failures from some imagined position of neutrality? Do they suppose that a defeat in Iraq would be a defeat only for the Bush administration? The United States is awash in human rights groups, feminist organizations, ecological foundations, and committees for the rights of minorities. How come there is not a huge voluntary effort to help and to publicize the efforts to find the hundreds of thousands of "missing" Iraqis, to support Iraqi women's battle against fundamentalists, to assist in the recuperation of the marsh Arab wetlands, and to underwrite the struggle of the Kurds, the largest stateless people in the Middle East? Is Abu Ghraib really the only subject that interests our humanitarians?

August 14, 2005

Able Endangered

The 9/11 Commission has responded rather persuasively to the so called Able Danger revelations, and several conservative bloggers and pundits are admitting that they may have "been had" by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) when he claimed that Mohammed Atta had been identified by the secret Pentagon intelligence team, and that team members in turn had briefed 9/11 Commission staffers on the Atta identification.

John Podhoretz and Jim Geraghty are at least somewhat persuaded. And Michelle Malkin links to a growing group of skeptics.

The bottom line is that to this point Rep. Weldon has produced no hard evidence to support his claim that the Able Danger group identified Mohammed Atta at all, much less that they reported his identification to 9/11 Commission staffers. Unless or until Weldon's sources step forward from anonymity, skepticism about his claims seems the prudent course.

This doesn't change my view that there was a lot wrong with the 9/11 Commission, not least Jamie Gorelick's seat on the commission instead of on the witness stand. But if the right half of the blogosphere bought into Weldon's claims too eagerly, and have to eat crow as a result, then serve me up a healthy portion too.

Elevating The Discourse

A friend emailed me these winners from a Washington Post Style section contest, in which participants were asked to use both "Lewinsky" (The Intern) and "Kaczynski" (The Unabomber) in the same limerick. They may be old for all I know, but I'm seeing them for the first time, and the last two made me laugh. Thanks, Randy.

Third Place winner:

There once was a gal named Lewinsky
Who played on a flute like Stravinsky.
'Twas "Hail to the Chief"
On this flute made of beef
That stole the front page from Kaczynski.

Second place:

Said Clinton to young Ms. Lewinsky
"We don't want to leave clues like Kaczynski
Since you made such a mess,
Use the hem of your dress
And please wipe that stuff off of your chinsky."

And the winning entry:

Lewinsky and Clinton have shown
What Kaczynski must surely have known
That an intern is better
Than a bomb in a letter
When deciding how best to be blown.

Kelly on Able Danger

Jack Kelly says the 9/11 Commission Report needs to be moved to the fiction shelves, such are the credibility problems brought on by the Able Danger disclosures.

When the story broke, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat from Indiana, co-chairman of the 9/11 commission, at first denied the commission had ever been informed of what Able Danger had found, and took a swipe at Weldon's credibility:

"The Sept. 11th commission did not learn of any U.S. government knowledge prior to 9/11 of the surveillance of Mohamed Atta or his cell," Hamilton said. "Had we learned of it obviously it would have been a major focus of our investigation."

Hamilton changed his tune after The New York Times reported Thursday, and The Associated Press confirmed, that commission staff had been briefed on Able Danger in October 2003 and again in July 2004.

It was in October 2003 that Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger stole classified documents from the National Archives and destroyed some. Berger allegedly was studying documents in the archives to help prepare Clinton officials to testify before the 9/11 commission. Was he removing references to Able Danger? Someone should ask him before he is sentenced next month?

Yes, and while we're asking questions, why don't we ask "Clinton administration officials" how far up the chain of command they went to make the decision forbidding the FBI to see the Able Danger intelligence about Atta and his associates. We know now that counter-intelligence at the time was essentially being run from the White House. We know Jamie Gorelick authored the policy, but who made the call on Mohammed Atta?

August 13, 2005

Aussie Jihadi

Arthur Chrenkoff relates the strange story of Mathew Stewart.

Not In The News

More than 1800 grieving mothers are not camped out in Crawford, Texas.

August 12, 2005

The Business Of Exploiting Grief

Michelle Malkin has an outstanding post on the Cindy Sheehan phenomenon. I can only add a link to what President Bush had to say Thursday from Crawford, Texas to all of the families and friends of Iraq War victims.

Drop In The Bucket

Claudia Rosett says the Volcker Oil-For-Food investigators have barely scratched the surface of the billions of dollars in fraud with their report on Benon Sevan and Alexander Yakovlev and their paltry $1.1 million bribes. As always, read every word.

August 11, 2005

Able Danger

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) has disclosed that the 9/11 Commission had been informed of military intelligence reports identifying Mohammed Atta as part of an Al Qaeda cell in the U.S., but failed to include the information in its final report and made public statements since the report was issued that specifically denied any such knowledge.

"The impetus for this letter is my extreme disappointment in the recent, and false, claim of the 9/11 commission staff that the commission was never given access to any information on Able Danger," Weldon wrote to former Chairman Gov. Thomas Kean and Vice-Chairman Rep. Lee Hamilton. "The 9/11 commission staff received not one but two briefings on Able Danger from former team members, yet did not pursue the matter.

"The commission's refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the commission worked to expose," Weldon added.

Now, according to Fox News, Commission staffers are reviewing their archived documents regarding testimony that U.S. military intelligence had identified Atta and other Al Qaeda operatives a year before the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C.

At issue all along in the post 9/11 fact-finding, if not the 9/11 Commission itself, was the so-called "wall" that had been procedurally erected between foreign and domestic intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, which inhibited or prohibited the free inter-agency flow of intelligence information necessary to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

Conservatives were incredulous when Jamie Gorelick, one of the Clinton administration's chief architects of the policies establishing this wall, was appointed to the 9/11 Commission, and many suspected throughout its tenure that one of Gorelick's primary functions as a commission member was to deflect criticism of the disastrous effects of this specific Clinton adminstration policy.

The Fox News story quotes reaction from Commission members who claim that commission staffers may have received the information and failed to pass it along to Commission members:

(Rep. Lee) Hamilton confirmed that commission staff members learned of Able Danger during a meeting with military personnel in October 2003 in Afghanistan, but that the staff members do not recall learning of a connection between Able Danger and any of the four terrorists now mentioned. He also said no mention made of Atta.

It was "inconceivable" that staffers would have missed such a reference, Hamilton told FOX News.

According to the source who spoke with FOX News, none of the staffers believe they were ever told specifically about Atta having been identified by defense intelligence before the 2001 attacks.

But after the October 2003 trip, the commission staff members pursued Able Danger further and asked the Pentagon to produce documents related to the unit, which they were, FOX News has also learned.

Rep. Weldon adds some specifics:

According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi (search), Khalid al-Mihdar (search) and Nawaf al-Hazmi (search) as members of a cell Able Danger code-named "Brooklyn" because of some loose connections to New York City.

Weldon said that in September 2000, the unit recommended on three separate occasions that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI "so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists." However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation, arguing that Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.

"Lawyers within the administration — and we're talking about the Clinton administration, not the Bush administration — said 'you can't do it,'" and put post-its over Atta's face, Weldon said. "They said they were concerned about the political fallout that occurred after Waco ... and the Branch Davidians."

According to this New York Times report, the Commission did have specific information mentioning Mohammed Atta:

The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday...

...The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors' attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.

Power Line has more, as does John Podhoretz in The Corner. Podhoretz links to an AP story posted late Thursday evening that confirms many of the details.

UPDATE 8/12: Michael Ledeen chats with James Jesus Angleton via Ouija Board.

UPDATE 8/12: Captains Quarters is all over Able Danger. Also more from The Corner, here and here.

UPDATE 8/12: MM is on it. See also Strata-Sphere and Jim Geraghty. And Andrew McCarthy's April 2004 dismemberment of Gorelick's arguments is well worth reading as background.

(The full text of the above-referenced N.Y. Times article is included at the link below for your convenience)

The New York Times

August 11, 2005

9/11 Commission's Staff Rejected Report on Early Identification of Chief Hijacker


Correction Appended

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 - The Sept. 11 commission was warned by a uniformed military officer 10 days before issuing its final report that the account would be incomplete without reference to what he described as a secret military operation that by the summer of 2000 had identified as a potential threat the member of Al Qaeda who would lead the attacks more than a year later, commission officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said that the information had not been included in the report because aspects of the officer's account had sounded inconsistent with what the commission knew about that Qaeda member, Mohammed Atta, the plot's leader.

But aides to the Republican congressman who has sought to call attention to the military unit that conducted the secret operation said such a conclusion relied too much on specific dates involving Mr. Atta's travels and not nearly enough on the operation's broader determination that he was a threat.

The briefing by the military officer is the second known instance in which people on the commission's staff were told by members of the military team about the secret program, called Able Danger.

The meeting, on July 12, 2004, has not been previously disclosed. That it occurred, and that the officer identified Mr. Atta there, were acknowledged by officials of the commission after the congressman, Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, provided information about it.

Mr. Weldon has accused the commission of ignoring information that would have forced a rewriting of the history of the Sept. 11 attacks. He has asserted that the Able Danger unit, whose work relied on computer-driven data-mining techniques, sought to call their superiors' attention to Mr. Atta and three other future hijackers in the summer of 2000. Their work, he says, had identified the men as likely members of a Qaeda cell already in the United States.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of the commission, Mr. Weldon criticized the panel in scathing terms, saying that its "refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the commission worked to expose."

Al Felzenberg, who served as the commission's chief spokesman, said earlier this week that staff members who were briefed about Able Danger at a first meeting, in October 2003, did not remember hearing anything about Mr. Atta or an American terrorist cell. On Wednesday, however, Mr. Felzenberg said the uniformed officer who briefed two staff members in July 2004 had indeed mentioned Mr. Atta.

Both Mr. Weldon's office and commission officials said they knew the name, rank and service of the officer, but they declined to make that information public.

Mr. Weldon and a former defense intelligence official who was interviewed on Monday have said that the Able Danger team sought but failed in the summer of 2000 to persuade the military's Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to pass on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the information they had gathered about Mr. Atta and the three other men. The Pentagon and the Special Operations Command have declined to comment, saying they are still trying to learn more about what may have happened.

Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday that the military was working with the commission's unofficial follow-up group - the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, which was formed by the panel's members when it was disbanded - to try to clarify what had occurred.

Mr. Felzenberg said the commission's staff remained convinced that the information provided by the military officer in the July 2004 briefing was inaccurate in a significant way.

"He wasn't brushed off," Mr. Felzenberg said of the officer. "I'm not aware of anybody being brushed off. The information that he provided us did not mesh with other conclusions that we were drawing" from the commission's investigation.

Mr. Felzenberg said staff investigators had become wary of the officer because he argued that Able Danger had identified Mr. Atta, an Egyptian, as having been in the United States in late 1999 or early 2000. The investigators knew this was impossible, Mr. Felzenberg said, since travel records confirmed that he had not entered the United States until June 2000.

"There was no way that Atta could have been in the United States at that time, which is why the staff didn't give this tremendous weight when they were writing the report," Mr. Felzenberg said. "This information was not meshing with the other information that we had."

But Russell Caso, Mr. Weldon's chief of staff, said that "while the dates may not have meshed" with the commission's information, the central element of the officer's claim was that "Mohammed Atta was identified as being tied to Al Qaeda and a Brooklyn cell more than a year before the Sept. 11 attacks, and that should have warranted further investigation by the commission."

"Furthermore," Mr. Caso said, "if Mohammed Atta was identified by the Able Danger project, why didn't the Department of Defense provide that information to the F.B.I.?"

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

The Sept. 11 commission issued its final report on July 22, 2004. Mr. Felzenberg noted that the interview with the military officer had taken place in the final, hectic days before the commission sent the report to the printers, and said the meeting reflected a willingness by the commission to gather facts, even at the last possible minute.

"Lots of stuff was coming in over the transom," Mr. Felzenberg said. "Lots of stuff was flying around. At the end of the day, when you're writing the report, you have to take facts presented to you."


A headline in some copies yesterday about a military officer who told the staff of the 9/11 commission that a secret unit had identified the leader of the attacks as a potential threat a year beforehand misstated the staff's reaction. As the article said, the statement was reviewed and rejected because its description of the movements of the plot leader did not match travel records. It was not ignored.

Thome Done

Jim Thome's disappointing 2005 season is over. He'll have elbow surgery next week after having played only 59 games this year, hitting .207 with seven homers and 30 RBI. Indians fans like me who wanted to see Thome re-sign with the Indians three years ago have mixed feelings about the fact that his sub-par season, his ill health and his fat contract are the Phillies' problems these days.

The Indians made him a fair offer in 2002, and a majority of the fans I talked to wanted very much for him to stay. He left for the boatload of money the Phillies agreed to pay him, which was $25 million more than the Indians offered. I guess it was mostly about the money back then, despite protestations to the contrary by the Thomes. And now that his continued viability as a productive major leaguer is in doubt halfway through a six-year contract, it's mostly about the money now.

The Phillies are paying Thome $11.5 million for the above numbers this season, and at age 35 (as of 8/27), he is due $12.5 million in 2006, and $14 million in each of 2007 and 2008. Thome did put together two excellent seasons with the Phillies in 2003 and 2004, with 89 homers and 236 RBI combined, but the 40 million bucks he is owed by the Phillies just about equals the entire Indians payroll for 2005, and it appears that he might never again be the offensive threat he once was. For the Phillies sake, and because Thome is a good guy, I hope I'm wrong.

Three years ago, Thome was the man who was going to turn things around for the Phils. One of the reasons he said he was leaving Cleveland was that he felt the Phillies were closer to winning than the rebuilding Tribe. The Indians offered $60 million over five years. If I recall the Phillies package was $70 plus million over five years, and when they added the sixth year, something the Indians were unwilling to do for a 32 year old player, the deal was done. Since that day, the Phillies have won squat, and the Indians of today have a better record, with Thome's replacement Travis Hafner leading the team in batting average and home runs.

If he doesn't return to form after rehabbing the elbow and dealing with his bad back, Thome may start questioning his decision to leave an ideal situation for him in Cleveland. There were so many reasons for him to stay, not least the American League's DH rule, which might have added years to his career. Now the prospect of keeping him healthy enough to play over 100 games in a season is kind of dicey, and if he's batting .207, who even wants him in the lineup?

This isn't intended to suggest Thome's baseball obituary. I'm rooting for him to come back strong, although I'd love it if the Indians make the postseason before the Phillies do, so as to secure the last laugh. Tribe G.M. Mark Shapiro is seeing his concerns about Thome's physical durability born out even earlier than he thought he might when he drew the line at a five year deal.

If I'd had my way in 2002, the Indians would be the ones crying the blues today about trying to get their money's worth out of a fading star player. Instead, we're positioned for a late season run with a young, coming team, and it's the Phillies who are wondering what they're going to get over the next three years for their second 40 million dollars.

So why am I not happier about the situation?

August 10, 2005

Garcia - Ten Years Gone

On Tuesday Stephen Hayward noted the ten year anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, admitting in the process that The Grateful Dead has been for him a "not-so-well-known guilty pleasure". As for me, I have no such guilt about being a Dead Head, although I understand the hesitance of some people to "come out", owing perhaps to respectable jobs in large stuffy corporations, where co-workers or bosses might make uninformed assumptions about what being a Dead Head actually means.

And there are certainly different interpretations of that phenomenon. In one conversation several years ago, when the subject of the Grateful Dead came up, I unabashedly confessed "I'm a Dead Head". The response from my friend was "No you're not...you have a job!"

My son works for one of those large stuffy corporations, and he took the courageous step of coming out earlier this year:

Could it be that fans of this great band actually aren't all roaming, homeless hippies earning a living selling veggie burritos and bead necklaces in parking lots? I suppose it could just mean that some of them have moved on...or jumped onto the Phish tour, although even that has now come to a close. I guess I'll just hold out hope that a meaningful life can still be had, even with a frightening addiction to the song "Black Peter".

Of course I blame myself for my son's Dead addiction. Yes, we took him to see the band even before his voice changed, but it doesn't seem to have derailed his chances for professional success. His admission was occasioned by the start-up in March of a blog for people who remain too fearful or ashamed to take the leap. Closet Deadhead, (which is actually more of a podcast site than one featuring a twelve-step program of some sort, or assertiveness training) is worth checking out for diehard Dead Heads, be they outed or closeted.

And by the way, take a regular look at No Left Turns, the Ashland University-based blog where Mr. Hayward is a regular contributor. I liked the guy even before I knew his dirty little secret.

O Ye Of Little Faith

I admit it. I gave up and turned the game off after seeing Angel Berroa hit a home run to give K.C. a 7-2 lead going into the ninth inning. Now I've got to stay up and watch SportsCenter.

August 9, 2005

Going Down, Mr. Sevan?

Benon Sevan says he is being "sacrificed" for political expediency by Kofi Annan and the U.N. Secretariat, and while Sevan looks to be guilty of accepting illegal cash, he's also right on the mark about having been made Annan's fall guy. Claudia Rosett says the Volcker investigation has no interest in more than token criticism of Annan. The man who presided over the whole corrupt Oil-For-Food program and allowed the dictator it was set up to sanction to coopt it and profit from it, is arrogantly trying to avoid any responsibility for the mess he has made. So far, so good.

The Volcker Independent Inquiry, which was set up by, and is answerable only to Kofi Annan, is predictably running interference for him. According to Rosett, Volcker's committee...

...since last year has been choreographing the tone and timing of its reports in ways more attuned to managing the news than getting at the full truth. The result so far has been to spare U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan while fingering a handful of his subordinates, and to delay until just before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in September a “main report,” which Volcker has already telegraphed as likely to divert blame from the U.N. Secretariat (which ran the program) to the U.S. (which at least did more than any other U.N. member to try to clean it up).

Worst of all, Volcker has parked himself for more than a year atop U.N. records that might have helped outside investigators crack some of the Oil-for-Food schemes involving ties to terror, organized crime, arms rackets, and political bribery, all of which are salted among the more than $110 billion of Saddam Hussein’s deals administered by the U.N. under Oil-for-Food. It is welcome that Sevan is at last protesting in public the secrecy of these proceedings...

...the Volcker inquiry has applied a double standard. Sevan aside, the committee’s findings have imposed spit-shine discipline on a few obscure U.N. officials, while dismissing as merely “inadequate” Annan’s failure to inquire competently into conflicts of interest involving six-figure payments to his own son — and excusing Annan’s growing list of memory lapses along the way. Nor has the Volcker team displayed much interest in broadening its focus on the secretary-general from his paternal oversights to his abject failure to run an honest or even adequately audited multibillion-dollar-relief program in Saddam’s U.N.-sanctioned Iraq.

Please read the whole Rosett article. (How many times have I written those words in the last two years?)

Nile Gardiner is less restrained in his treatment of Kofi Annan in a very good piece in Capitalism Magazine. A sample:

While it was gratifying to see Mr. Annan make the arduous journey from Turtle Bay to Brussels in support of last week’s international conference on Iraqi reconstruction, it was hard to ignore his rank hypocrisy. The people of Iraq owe no debt of gratitude to Mr. Annan, who consistently ignored their suffering, opposed their liberation, and actively undermined Coalition efforts to establish security and rebuild the country. As Iraq’s interim defense minister Hazem Sha’alan remarked, “Where was Kofi Annan when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering the Iraqi people like sheep?”

Then Gardiner builds to his call for Annan's resignation:

Annan has made no effort to accept responsibility for his extraordinary lapses of judgment. He continues to claim that he is innocent of any wrongdoing over the Oil for Food scandal, even as the evidence mounts against him.

Annan has never apologized to the victims of the Rwanda genocide, whose slaughter was the consequence of the U.N.’s failure to intervene, or to the families of Muslims massacred at Srebrenica while under the protection of U.N. soldiers. Annan’s lack of humility in the face of great human tragedy has been one of his greatest shortcomings as a U.N. leader. Nor has Annan ever apologized to the people of Iraq, whose former president he described as “a man I can do business with.”

Annan’s Washington Post op-ed is both an exercise in political vanity as well as a refusal to come to terms with his organization’s failure to stand up to the Hussein regime and the insurgency that has followed it.

Kofi Annan should resign not only over the Oil for Food scandal, and the massive human rights abuses committed by U.N. peacekeepers under his watch across the continent of Africa, but also because of his shameless appeasement of dictators such as Saddam Hussein. He has become a symbol of the U.N.’s culture of arrogance, mismanagement and weakness. It’s time for a new figure at the helm, a secretary-general who will seek real reform of the U.N. bureaucracy and aggressively stand up for democracy, human rights, and freedom.

The Secretary General's resignation might be hastened by some testimony from Benon Sevan, at least that's what Rosett has suggested:

...Congress wields direct leverage over the U.N. by way of funding. If Sevan is serious about opening up U.N. records, his best bet is to pay a call to congressional investigators, and start by opening up himself — not just in his own defense, but about the inner workings of the entire Oil-for-Food program, including the complicity of his boss, Kofi Annan.

It will be tough for Sevan to clear himself of the bribery charges, since the aunt he claimed gave him the $160,000 now under investigation by Volcker died last year in a fall down an elevator shaft. I won't spin any crazy theories about poor Aunt Berdjouchi, but Sevan may now find himself a potentially inconvenient witness against some extremely rich and powerful men. He may want to stay on the ground floor for a while himself.

August 8, 2005

Interesting Times

I'm not going to go back and research my track record of posting congratulatory entries when the Indians are on a roll only to see them stumble, seemingly before my positive pixels have even been seen by the next hapless surfer who happens by here. It probably just seems like it happens every time.

So, let there be no crowing about second place and 4.5 games out in the Wild Card race. No predictions, not even any cautious hoping out loud from this superstitious soul. It is enough for me to say that it is interesting to be playing games that matter in August once again, and leave it at that.

Just can't leave it at that, can you?

What I can do , in order to avoid kicking in the "automatic slump starter" (ASS), is relate to you the assessment of my friend from the office...we'll call him "Bob", because that's his name, and then suggest that I think his arguments might possibly have some merit, just not as predictions per se that I would personally be a party to, you understand.

So sayeth Bob....The Wild Card race for the Indians, if we should hang around a while longer, is probably going to be against the Yankees and the Angels and maybe the Twins, because Oakland should win the West. The Angels are farther out in front, but they can be had. The Yankees starting pitching is weak or injured after Mussina, and the Twins starters haven't been much better. The Yankees are excited that they're about to get Jaret Wright back for heaven's sake. The Angels are fading, inexplicably.

The always verbose Bob continues: The team with the best starting pitching will win the Wild Card and the way that Lee, Westbrook, Millwood and Sabathia are going now, our competitors look weak by comparison. 20 of the Indians' remaining 50 games are against Kansas City and Tampa Bay. We absolutely have to go at least 15-5 against those two teams, and play .500 ball at a minimum in the other 30 games in order to finish with 90 wins. That probably won't get it done to win the Wild Card, but it will match even the most optimimistic predictions for them that I saw in April.

So even if Bob's scenario comes true, the Tribe may have to play over their heads to the tune of four or five more wins in order to qualify for October baseball. And it's pretty hard to sit here today and predict that will happen, even for someone who's as cockeyed an optimist as...you know, Bob.

Iraqi Constitution

Anything by Reuel Marc Gerecht on Iraq is worth a few minutes of your time. An excerpt:

Although it appears the Iraqis are going to meet the Aug. 15 deadline for writing a new constitution, we shouldn't worry if they just can't do it "on time." It will certainly be dispiriting to many Iraqis and Americans--particularly in the Pentagon, where the counterinsurgency troop requirements for Iraq and Afghanistan haven't dovetailed well with Donald Rumsfeld's plans for a smaller "transformed" military. All of Washington wants the Iraqis to be more expeditious than our own Founding Fathers, who took years of trial and error to hammer out the mother of all modern constitutions.

Yet the Iraqis are where we want them to be: divided on critical matters of politics and faith, but still determined to resolve their differences through a binding written compromise. Their discussions are hot and sometimes intractable because all the parties know these debates matter. Federalism and the political role of Islam--perhaps the two most troublesome subjects--are critical issues throughout the Middle East. No one in Washington should want these debates toned down or curtailed.

Undercover in Londonistan

Reprinted from Times Online at FPM is this jaw-dropping exposé of what the paper calls "The Academy of Hatred", a story facilitated by an undercover reporter from The Sunday Times who infiltrated a group of young London area Muslims that assembles reularly to receive spiritual instruction by one Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed and a cast of other speakers and role models. Please go read it all, but here's a sample:

During a two-month undercover investigation The Sunday Times has amassed hours of taped evidence and pages of transcripts which show how Bakri and his acolytes promote hatred of “non-believers” and “egg” their followers on to commit acts of violence, including suicide bombings.

The evidence details how his group, the Saviour Sect, preaches a racist creed of Muslim supremacy which, in the words of Bakri, aims at one day “flying the Islamic flag over Downing Street”.

In his two months with the sect, our reporter witnessed a gang of Bakri’s followers brutally beating up a Muslim who challenged their views. He listened as a succession of “religious leaders” ridiculed moderate Muslims and repeatedly justified war against the “kuffar” — non-Muslims.

He discovered that the core of the group consisted of about 40 young men guided by a handful of spiritual mentors. Many are of Bangladeshi origin, jobless and living in council flats in east London. They use aliases, taking the names of the prophet Muhammad’s companions.

At their meetings — which often included school-age teenagers — they were fed a constant diet of propaganda warning that the kuffar are out to destroy them.

Integration with British society is scorned, as is any form of democratic process. Followers are encouraged to exploit the benefits system. They avoid jobs which could bring them into contact with western women or might lead them to contribute to the economy of a nation they are taught to despise...

...ON July 3, Sheikh Omar Brooks of Al-Ghuraaba addressed the group at its Saturday night lecture.

The 30-year-old, who comes from a Caribbean background and used to work as an electrician, converted to Islam after coming under Bakri’s spell. He claimed that he had had “military training” in Pakistan. His speech that night at Oxford House, a Victorian hall in a side street off Bethnal Green, was intended to stir passions. He said that it was imperative for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar”.

Occasionally sipping a can of Fanta and gesticulating wildly, he declared: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim, of course I am a terrorist.”

It was not just our reporter’s group who were present. Schoolchildren in T-shirts bearing the words “mujaheddin” and “warriors of Allah” listened intently as Brooks said he did not wish to die “like an old woman” in bed.

“I want to be blown into pieces,” he declared, “with my hands in one place and my feet in another.”

Brooks — who caused an outcry last week when he told BBC2’s Newsnight that he would not condemn suicide bombers — called on a group of burqa-clad women in the audience to help the fight by making weapons.

He told the audience that it was a Muslim’s duty to stay apart from the rest of society: “Never mix with them. Never let your children play with their children.”

He added: “This hall is like our fortress against the kuffar and the so-called Muslims like the McB (the Muslim Council of Britain).”

Warming to his theme, he said: “They will build bridges and we will break them; they will build tall buildings and we will bring them down.” The audience rippled with laughter at the obvious reference to September 11, 2001.

The evidence amassed by The Sunday Times is now being reviewed by prosecutors, and Bakri is one of three "prominent Islamic clerics" that may end up being charged, according to today's report in The Australian:

Anti-terrorism prosecutors will meet senior officers at Scotland Yard within the next few days to discuss possible treason charges against Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Izzadeen and Abu Uzair, the Attorney-General's office confirmed.

It is believed prosecutors could also seek access to tapes made by an undercover Sunday newspaper reporter who claims to have recorded members of the radical Saviour Sect lauding the London suicide bombers of 7 July as "the fantastic four".

A spokeswoman for Lord Goldsmith's office said: "The Attorney General and the DPP have personally discussed and looked at remarks made by three named individuals in the press.

UPDATE 8/11: Great Britain has detained and is preparing to deport 10 foreigners, including several radical Muslim clerics, that they view as threats to security. The linked story reports that Sheikh Omar Bakri has fled Britain, and has now been arrested in Lebanon.

August 7, 2005

No Dissent Permitted

Like Christopher Hitchens before him, liberal writer Nick Cohen is "excommunicated" for daring to question the British Left's anti-war, anti-Blair orthodoxy by pointing out that it puts them in the company of murderers and terrorists. Excerpts...

I'm sure that any halfway competent political philosopher could rip the assumptions of modern middle-class left-wingery apart. Why is it right to support a free market in sexual relationships but oppose free-market economics, for instance? But his criticisms would have little impact. It's like a religion: the contradictions are obvious to outsiders but don't disturb the faithful. You believe when you're in its warm embrace. Alas, I'm out. Last week, after 44 years of regular church-going, the bell tolled, the book was closed and the candle was extinguished. I was excommunicated...

...The least attractive characteristic of the middle-class left - one shared with the Thatcherites - is its refusal to accept that its opponents are sincere. The legacy of Marx and Freud allows it to dismiss criticisms as masks which hide corruption, class interests, racism, sexism - any motive can be implied except fundamental differences of principle...

...when confronted with a movement of contemporary imperialism - Islamism wants an empire from the Philippines to Gibraltar - and which is tyrannical, homophobic, misogynist, racist and homicidal to boot, they feel it is valid because it is against Western culture. It expresses its feelings in a regrettably brutal manner perhaps, but that can't hide its authenticity.

(via RCP)

Iran Week In Review

The indispensable blog Regime Change Iran posts a roundup of the past week's events and media coverage. (Permalinks not working at present...scroll to "Week in Review")

Deferred Success For Ohio Dems

Mark Steyn is on top of his game today.

August 5, 2005

Spending Orgy

The Highway Bill that recently passed Congress was 1752 pages long. That's about all you really need to know about it, but read Jeff Jacoby anyway.

August 4, 2005

We're Not At War?

Michael Totten's response to those who say we're not really at war was to post this photo-essay. He's right that it says what words cannot.

August 2, 2005

Chirac and Sharon

Jacques Chirac and Ariel Sharon are alike both in terms of their personal corruption and in their "disdain for popular democracy", says Caroline B. Glick in her Townhall column. The good news is that they are both old and on the way out, and the next generation of political leadership, in Western Europe and in Israel, is "younger, more vibrant and visionary". Good read.

Winslow Deal

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports that the Browns are close to a deal that would extend the contract of Kellen Winslow Jr., allowing him to eventually earn much if not all of the money he lost by violating the terms of his contract and missing most of his first two seasons with injuries.

It's more evidence that grownups are finally in charge in the Cleveland Browns front office. They handled a very touchy situation with tact and class, and with a minimum of media hype. They didn't listen to bitter fans who wanted to cut Winslow loose for the sin of being young and irresponsible. If he can regain most of his agility and speed following the rehab process, then he remains an asset to a team that has few star quality players at the moment. I for one however am not terribly optimistic about that.

I saw a TV news report recently about Winslow visiting a Houston sports medicine clinic for a leading edge technique to reduce pain and swelling. They showed a shot of KW's knee, and even a couple of months after the surgery, the thing was still the approximate size and shape of a canteloupe. That can't be good. But he's young and sure to get the very best of care. Hope he hangs in with the tedium and frustration of the rehab and comes back strong.

Who's Listening Now?

If you haven't heard much about the funding scandal involving the liberal radio network Air America, don't feel badly. Conservative bloggers have been rolling in it like pigs in mud for several days now, (and why not?) but the rest of the world is still in the dark because the major media can't run from this story fast enough.

As I understand it, Evan Cohen, ex-Chairman of the Air America network, also happened to be the director of development (aka fund raising) for a non-profit organization called the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, which relied heavily on government contracts for its funding. As much as $800,000 was lent to, or otherwise diverted by Cohen from the charity's government funding to Air America.

Air America for their part has said, variously, that they agree they have to pay back all the money....that they're not sure they ever received much less spent the money...and now they're saying that since they're under new ownership, and the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club has folded, there is no responsibility to pay back the money, even though they agreed "months ago" to repay all the funds from this little "transaction", made by a guy (Cohen) who hasn't been associated with their fine network since sometime last year.

Got it?

Learn all you need to learn by checking out Brian Maloney, who is credited with breaking the story, and then reliable blogger mainstays like Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey who always synthesize and roundup stories like this one so thoroughly. (See also an MM update here)

It has not been a secret to anyone who has been following Air America since its founding that it has had funding, organizational, management, and ratings problems. Large infusions of cash from sympathetic rich liberals, preferably of the sort who aren't expecting to be repaid, are just what the network needed. What's even better for them is if the sympathetic rich liberals can use other people's money to do the job. Your money, it turns out.

Rich people can do whatever they wish with their own money, within the law, even invest it in (donate it to?) failing radio enterprises. The thing that gets my blood pressure up is that the funds appear to have been government contract money, that is, taxpayer money, diverted from its intended use, which happened to be youth work for poor kids and services for Alzheimers sufferers among other things, and used to promote a decidedly partisan political agenda in the media. So what if no one was listening! It's still crooked as hell. Surely there have to be some fraud indictments in there somewhere.

When the whistle blew on them, they simply folded the not-for-profit entity and claimed all the bad guys are gone from the network organization. Neat.

Lefty bloggers are naturally pooh-poohing the story, but one can only imagine the self-righteous media orgy we would be experiencing if an executive from a conservative talk radio network had been caught diverting taxpayer dollars from a charitable organization "for the kids" either for his own use, or to promote a radical right political agenda over the air.

Austin Bay had the line of the day:

If Air America were a conservative radio network its corrupt funding trail and cynical abuse of a poverty program would be front page news at the NY Times and full-time mega-scandal at CNN.

Of course, if it were a conservative radio network it might: (1) have an audience and (2) ad revenue.

UPDATE 8/3: Ed Morrissey of Captains Quarters, writing for The Weekly Standard:

The mission of the mainstream media to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to tell truth to power, and to hold the reverse Robin Hoods accountable for their malfeasance wouldn't depend on the politics of the criminals.

Would it?

UPDATE 8/7: Hugh Hewitt thinks the mainstream media freeze-out" may be about to thaw, but I'm not betting on it.

August 1, 2005

Iran On The Brink

Yes, I do hang out at websites other than NRO, despite recent evidence to the contrary. But I post that which I feel is worthwhile reading, and that imperative makes this article by Michael Ledeen a must. It is an absolutely chilling account of ongoing events in Iran that seem to be building toward a climactic confrontation between citizens and the government that has the potential to bring down the regime, or fill the streets with the blood of innocents...or both.

Searching Norwegian Grannies

Jonah Goldberg on profiling:

...consider New York’s new policy of having the cops search the bags of passengers on New York subways. No one is shocked that the New York Civil Liberties Union is aghast. They say it’s an infringement of people’s constitutional rights and will do nothing to prevent terrorism. Well, I suppose it is a very low-level infraction, on the order of the tyranny of airport searches. But somehow most people still think they live in a free country when they fly to Tampa.

It’s flatly batty, however, to argue that such searches will do nothing to prevent terrorism. Sure, it may not do enough, but it will surely do something. Presumably young Pakistani or Arab terrorist men will have a slightly more difficult time carrying backpacks full of bombs, nails, and broken glass into the subway, and blowing them(selves) up at the moment of maximum damage.

Which brings us to complaints over racial profiling. Man, this is getting old. Look, outside of Israel and Russia, the number of female suicide bombers is close to zero. Should 50 percent of the scrutiny fall on women? The number of non-Muslim suicide bombers is even closer to zero. So why should police search the handbag of a Norwegian granny holding hands with her granddaughter? To round out the diversity of the statistics?

Many say this will “do nothing to stop another Tim McVeigh.” This is so cheap. After all, the people arguing that profiling won’t catch the McVeighs of the world aren’t in favor of searches at all. It’s not like their preferred policy is more likely to catch white terrorists. It’s just that their preferred policy is less likely to catch non-white terrorists. The upshot of their position is that it’s somehow unfair that, in a generally more secure environment, white Christian terrorists would have a slight advantage over non-white Muslim ones. Yet nobody says the police are duty-bound to search only South Asians, Muslims, and men. If that shifty-eyed Norwegian granny’s hand-bag has wires coming out of it, I say, “Swarm!”

Goldberg may well have been reacting to this Washington Post column by Colbert King, which cites McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, and even the Wichita "BTK" serial killer in his search for white evildoers to make his argument that profiling is insulting, offensive and racist. King is certainly right that it would be problematic to enact a search or inspection policy that would focus efforts predominantly on dark-skinned, young males. I'm sure that there would be what King calls "push-back", but I doubt that it would be "unlike any seen in this country in many years."

Because just as insulting to all those innocent dark-skinned males who would be momentarily inconvenienced by an inspector or security guard is the suggestion that they wouldn't understand that they were singled out because in some way they physically resemble the people who have been blowing up innocent civilians, or the suggestion that they wouldn't handle the inconvenience with the same grace and resignation that have characterized the attitudes of most all Americans since 9/11.

It's as insulting as the suggestion that innocent Americans who happen to be of Middle Eastern origin aren't aware that 99% of Islamist terrorism is carried out by Muslims of Middle Eastern or North African origin. You'd think these innocent Americans would be interested in seeing our country's finite security resources and capabilities used intelligently and to their best effect, just like every other innocent American is. And if that means that they are more likely than the next guy to be asked to open their coat at a subway turnstile, somehow I think they'll get it.

I don't know if I'm asking or expecting too much of people who may be insulted at being singled out for search or inspection because of their race or ethnicity, or because of their accent or their mode of dress, and I certainly don't have an answer for them other than to point out that this is where Islamist terror has brought us as a society.

I will be searched at the entrance to Browns Stadium in a couple of weeks, and I will be delayed and inconvenienced as a result of the process. But I get it. And in fact it makes me feel better about being there. And I'm not suggesting that they abandon that practice and start inspecting only dark-skinned young males. But the opponents of focusing our security efforts on those people who are more likely be a threat to public safety based on known facts, logic and history can't deny that their presumed preference, a policy of random selection searches, is a waste of public resources at a time when we can least afford it.

I think King is right to reject on its face a policy that would use blackness as a component of any proposed Islamist terror "profile" in the United States. We've come way too far in race relations in this country to sit still for that. Britains of North African origin were involved in London's 7/7 attacks, but I don't think there is any connection between blacks and Islamist terror in the minds of the American public. Still I'm guessing that's one reason we're seeing King's concern now instead of two months or two years ago. And I'm not suggesting his concern is misplaced even if I think it might be exaggerated.

So do we simply accept the politically correct nonsense that we must search Jonah's Norwegian grannies at the airport in order to squash the possibility of offending anyone's sensibilities, and persist in the absurd fiction that every fifth person in line has an equal likelihood of being a suicide bomber, regardless of the costs of that policy? As long as we have politicians making policy, it looks like we do.

It's as silly and wasteful as spending as much Homeland Security money on states like Alaska and Wyoming as we do on more populated and strategically important areas just because they happen to have as many Senators as New York does, and because the appetite for pork is no less ravenous in states where the tumbleweed outnumber the people. So we waste millions of dollars on remote localities where, as Rich Lowry says, the people "don't have the foggiest idea what to do with the money."

Which of course is no sillier than trashing the expression "War on Terror" in favor of "Struggle Against Violent Extremism" as the official government line. We're at war, but we can't say we're at war because some people get upset with the word "war". We're fighting mostly disaffected young, male, Wahhabist Muslims, mostly from the Middle East, but we can't admit that either, so we pretend to suspect everyone, or no one.

We're kidding ourselves.