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November 29, 2005

Natch - U.S. Blamed For Hostage Taking

The self-styled peace activists who claim to be looking out for the interests of the "Iraqi people", are now in the custody of the murderous insurgents who have been butchering those same Iraqi people by the thousands in recent months. Well, guess what. Their organization has issued a press release blaming the United States for their plight.

Hopefully, the terrorists will realize the propaganda value to be gained by releasing these walking billboards for anti-Americanism, and spare them the hacking off of their heads that would normally befall anyone in their possession who belongs to an organization beginning with the word "Christian."

Otherwise their only hope would be rescue by the U.S. or British troops whose "war crimes" they traveled to Iraq to document. Their sponsors, by the way, want no such action to be attempted, if it involves violence. I wish for their safe return, in spite of their misguided service to the cause of the enemies of freedom in Iraq.

Jawa Report has the story and the full text of the press release from the CPT.

Are Blogs Iran's Best Chance?

From The Telegraph:

The brutal Iranian regime is arresting, beating and intimidating them, but the sheer numbers of bloggers may ultimately be too great for them to control:

An Iranian blogger known as Saena, wrote recently: "Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat."

Bad Press

I love it! Pictures of the crowd at Cindy Sheehan's book signing. (via Hugh Hewitt)

November 28, 2005

Where's The Nuance When You Need It?

You can't escape the issue of torture no matter where you turn, so I've turned to three wise men who have written eloquently on the topic in recent days. There are principled reasons to oppose the McCain torture legislation, and ironically, McCain articulates them. I've excerpted each of these three gentlemen's essays, but they're best of course when devoured whole:

Thomas Sowell:

Some people seem to see nothing between zero and infinity. Things are either categorically all right or they are categorically off-limits. This kind of reasoning -- if it can be called reasoning -- is reflected in the stampede to ban torture by Congressional legislation.

As far as a general policy is concerned, there is no torture to ban. Isolated individuals here and there may abuse their authority and violate existing laws and policies by their treatment of prisoners but the point is that these are in fact violations.

When some individuals violate laws against murder, no one thinks that requires Congressional legislation to add to the existing laws against murder. What it calls for is enforcement of existing laws.

Charles Krauthammer:

We have recently learned that since 9/11 the United States has maintained a series of "black sites" around the world, secret detention centers where presumably high-level terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have been imprisoned. The world is scandalized. Black sites? Secret detention? Jimmy Carter calls this "a profound and radical change in the . . . moral values of our country." The Council of Europe demands an investigation, calling the claims "extremely worrying." Its human rights commissioner declares "such practices" to constitute "a serious human rights violation, and further proof of the crisis of values" that has engulfed the war on terror. The gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has been considerable.

I myself have not gnashed a single tooth. My garments remain entirely unrent. Indeed, I feel reassured. It would be a gross dereliction of duty for any government not to keep Khalid Sheikh Mohammed isolated, disoriented, alone, despairing, cold and sleepless, in some godforsaken hidden location in order to find out what he knew about plans for future mass murder. What are we supposed to do? Give him a nice cell in a warm Manhattan prison, complete with Miranda rights, a mellifluent lawyer, and his own website? Are not those the kinds of courtesies we extended to the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, then congratulated ourselves on how we "brought to justice" those responsible for an attack that barely failed to kill tens of thousands of Americans, only to discover a decade later that we had accomplished nothing--indeed, that some of the disclosures at the trial had helped Osama bin Laden avoid U.S. surveillance?...

...McCain supposedly is being hailed for defending all that is good and right and just in America by standing foursquare against any inhuman treatment. Or is he?

According to Newsweek, in the ticking time bomb case McCain says that the president should disobey the very law that McCain seeks to pass--under the justification that "you do what you have to do. But you take responsibility for it." But if torturing the ticking time bomb suspect is "what you have to do," then why has McCain been going around arguing that such things must never be done?

Andrew C. McCarthy:

There is, of course, no greater value for government than the security of the governed. Government is not there to teach us morality lessons. Government is there, first and foremost, to protect us. In the struggle against Islamic terrorism, that means getting the intelligence if there is reason to believe a plot is afoot to kill massively.

Senator McCain well knows this. That's why the most telling part of his essay is his wholly dissatisfying answer to the so-called ticking-time-bomb scenario. Yes, he admits, "if we capture a terrorist who we have sound reasons to believe possesses specific knowledge of an imminent terrorist attack ... an interrogator might well try extreme measures to extract information that could save lives."

But why, Senator? You just got done telling us such information would be inherently unreliable — aside from its method of extraction somehow causing our own soldiers to be tortured by the same countries that foreswore such abuse when they solemnly signed the Geneva Conventions. Why is it that we "might well" try some rough stuff?

Naturally, we might well do it because it might well work, with the result that we might well be spared thousands of slaughtered innocents.

So what's McCain's answer to the ticking-bomb dilemma? It is: Let's make such "extreme measures" illegal, but in the full expectation that the law would be broken with impunity. As he puts it: "Should [an interrogator engage in coercion,] and thereby save an American city or prevent another 9/11, authorities and the public would surely take this into account when judging his actions and recognize the extremely dire situation which he confronted." They would opt, in other words, not to prosecute.

McCarthy and Krauthammer both show how McCain refutes himself by allowing for possible exceptions to his "no exceptions" legislation, which functions to reduce his whole effort to the appearance of moral preening and political posturing. Well, he is running for President after all.

UPDATE 11/29: Ramesh Ponuru responds to Krauthammer and McCarthy in The Corner. McCarthy expands on his original piece in response to Ponuru.

November 27, 2005

A Speech Waiting To Happen

James Q. Wilson suggests the text for a speech by George Bush.

Look Who's In The Arab Street

It's five days old, but it is Mark Steyn....speculating here on what it means for Zarqawi's status that he used a close associate for the Jordan hotel bombing:

Well, by definition it's hard to get suicide bombers with experience. But Mr Shamari's presence suggests at the very least that the "insurgency" is having a hard time meeting its recruitment targets....

...Sending a surviving member of your rapidly dwindling inner circle to blow up a Palestinian wedding is not a sign of strength.

True, he did manage to kill a couple of dozen Muslims. But what's the strategic value of that? Presumably, it's an old-fashioned mob heavy's way of keeping the locals in line. And that worked out well, didn't it? Hundreds of thousands of Zarqawi's fellow Jordanians fill the streets to demand his death.

Did they show that on the BBC? Or are demonstrations only news when they're anti-Bush and anti-Blair? And look at it this way: if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

And based on activity in Lebanon and Gaza this weekend, Steve Schippert says it's not going to be a slow news week from Israel.

UPDATE 11/28: Michael Totten reports from the Israeli-Lebanon border. (via Instapundit)

Pause that Refreshes

I've been avoiding the blog, and my computer in general, for the holiday weekend. Kids home for a few days, family over for T-Day, and a deadly combination of a new plasma tube and lots of HD football to watch. And the football was remarkable today, the Browns notwithstanding.

The Giants-Seahawks game just concluded was riveting, and it wasn't just the novelty of Fox's stunning HD picture. New York and Eli Manning were valiant in overtime defeat, in what had to be the best NFL game I've seen all year.

But the guy who may have written the next Rudy script today was Ryan Fitzpatrick, a rookie quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Fitzpatrick, who had never taken a snap in an NFL game, a kid from Harvard no less, led the Rams from 21 points down at halftime, to a 33-27 overtime victory over Houston. He'll probably be talking all about it on Letterman or the Today show this week, and the 19 of 30, 310 yards, and 3 TD's he put up in his professional debut are amazing numbers by themselves, made more impressive by also winning the game.

It's an item that would be a hot human interest story even without the Harvard angle, but that should put it over the top media frenzy-wise. He may be spared some of the attention he would get if he played on the east coast, but Ryan Fitzpatick's days of NFL obscurity are over. It was Clint Longleyesque. Hope his career works out better than that one did.

November 23, 2005

Looks Like OSU-Notre Dame

A reliable poster at Bucknuts.com, who is known to be well connected to the Buckeyes coaching staff, says that the Buckeyes will almost certainly meet the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl. There has been lots of talk about Oregon getting the bid to meet ND in Tempe, but the OSU staff apparently expects to be going to Arizona for the third time in five years. The OSU-ND matchup will prove too attractive for the Fiesta people to pass up, because it makes college football fans salivate, and boosters spend money.

November 22, 2005


Michael Yon has some great shots of Iraqi kids in his photo essay "Show and Tell."

A National Disgrace

From the blog of David Horowitz:

Your country is at war. It is fighting to defend a democracy in the heartland of Islamic terror. You are a former president and you are speaking in Dubai within 200 miles of the battlefront where young American men and women are dying in battles for freedom.

But instead of words of praise for their heroism and gratitude for their sacrifice, you tell them the war they are fighting is a mistake. It is a mistake for them to be risking their lives in the service of their country. It is a mistake for them to be fighting for Iraqis' freedom. It is a mistake for them to be defending innocent people against terrorists who behead the innocent, who declare democracy to be evil and who have sworn to kill every Iraqi citizen who has had the audacity to vote.

You insinuate that their commander-in-chief is a liar who tricked them into this war and that their cause is unjust. With these words, you have plunged a knife into the backs of the brave men and women who are defending your country. You have betrayed them and the Iraqi people. You have betrayed the cause of freedom and with it your country's soul. Your name is Bill Clinton and you are a national disgrace.

Boots On The Ground

One theme that consistently comes through the rhetoric of the anti-Bush crowd is that they don't seem aware of, or even particularly interested in what is going on militarily in Iraq. Small wonder that, since a passing familiarity with the military strategies and operations would force them to acknowledge that troop morale is excellent, progress is being made daily, Al Qaeda insurgents are taking heavy losses, the Iraqi people are increasingly disgusted with insurgent tactics, and Iraqi forces are taking on an increasing share of the burden of protecting the people and their fledgling democracy, all of which plays hell with the "quagmire" narrative. Today at NRO, W. Thomas Smith Jr. has a good piece on Operation Steel Curtain, the campaign in western Iraq in the Syrian border region, that's somewhat encouraging. The porous border remains a problem, but the remaining difficulties we face sure don't equate to reasons to get out:

Of course many — who, again, don't understand the complexities of ground combat — rail against President Bush for not conceding "defeat" and withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. But how could we responsibly withdraw from a fight — that terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations fear we will win — when we have the enemy on the ropes? Why should we shut down operations in Al Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq when we continue to glean solid intelligence from captured foreign fighters in that country about terrorist activities, worldwide? Why should we abandon a new nation and its people who we've made promises to, and they've responded in kind with their own enormous sacrifices and courageous votes? And why should we abandon a growing and remarkably developed military force that we've stood up from scratch in less than three years?

And despite what the cut-and-run crowd would have us believe, American troops on the ground are not deceptively recruited pawns in some unfortunate military adventure. U.S. soldiers and Marines in Al Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq know exactly what they are doing, and why. They also see the fruits of their labors, which, to their consternation, are rarely reported.

Bill Roggio is now blogging from Iraq, and can be read these days at ThreatsWatch. Here's his report on "Missing Zarqawi", and another Zarqawi report from James Robbins.

November 21, 2005


Ralph Peters -" How To Lose A War"

November 20, 2005

Malkin Says Enough

Be sure to read Michelle Malkin's powerful post "Just a Yellow Woman Doing a White Man's Job". She finally loses her patience with the bigots and haters who have now dragged her husband into their smears of her. And the resulting description of their marriage reveals a partnership that seems to work on all kinds of levels. As Michelle often says, "ain't liberal tolerance grand?"

November 19, 2005

Bucks Rally To Win

The Ohio State Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes of play to beat That School Up North, 25-21. The OSU defense held the Wolverines to 32 yards rushing for the game, and the Bucks overcame a slew of special teams mistakes to pull out a last-minute victory.

QB Troy Smith was the star of The Game for the second year in a row, throwing for 300 yards and a TD, and rushing for another score. He led the team from their own 12-yard line with 4:18 to go in the game, and directed a 12 -play drive for the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds to play. Smith is a hero forever in Columbus. That's what two consecutive wins over the Wolverines will do for a guy. The coach commented...

Tressel was asked if a legend was born with Smith’s latest conquering of the Maize and Blue.

“There will be a lot of youngsters watching and out there in the yard on Thanksgiving making that same move that he made and getting open in the pile of leaves,” the coach said. “That’s the best part of football at this time of year.”

Tressel is now 4-1 against the Corn and Blue, so his postgame comments don't have to make a lot of sense. Looks like the Bucks could draw either Miami or Notre Dame in a Bowl game. I'd prefer to play the Irish, if only to show what a joke it is that they are ranked above the Buckeyes at the moment.

November 18, 2005

A Necessary Stunt

Democrats were calling yesterday's House vote on a resolution to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq a "political stunt". And they're absolutely right.

Not that Democrats are opposed to political stunts as a matter of practice, mind you. They just prefer to be the stunters as opposed to the stuntees.

Forcing Democrats to go on the record with regard to Rep. Murtha's call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was a necessary countermeasure to the forces that aim to undermine our country's Iraq policy, at a time when our enemies must know that we are resolved to winning, not leaving.

It was a corrective to the overblown media celebration of Murtha's statement, and shows that, his fine military service notwithstanding, Murtha represents a view that is shared by very few in Congress, and I suspect by very few Americans outside of those who actually wish for our defeat (but don't question their patriotism.)

Hugh Hewitt said on yesterday's show that this move salvaged a bad week for Republicans. His comments on the vote are here.


Our troops deserved to get that message. Our media needed to get that message. Al Qaeda needed to get that message. As political stunts go, this was a winner.

And as a humorous aside, Sen. Harry "Stunt" Reid had this to say after the House vote yesterday...

"It's a weak, spineless display of politics at a time of war"

...with a straight face, by all accounts.

What Car?

The U.N. is stonewalling questions about Kojo Annan's Mercedes-Benz, which we posted on previously. Now Claudia Rosett is back with more "Mercedes Monologues".

November 17, 2005

Actual War Going On

While Democratic Congressmen try to undermine our Iraq policy for political advantage, the U.S. military is still fighting to try to secure large areas of western Iraq in advance of next month's national elections. (Get it, Rep. Murtha?) Bill Roggio's The Fourth Rail is still the place to go to read about what our soldiers are actually doing in Ramadi and in Ubaydi and in Karabilah in the service of liberty and self-government. Keep scrolling. And as always, check out Winds of War too.

Here are some photos from our troops in Iraq. (via The Corner)

Clinton Iraq 1998

Did Bush Lie? Just Google It

Here's the video of the President from The Political Teen

(both via Michelle Malkin)

Call For Able Danger Hearings

Former FBI head Louis Freeh is calling for congressional hearings on the Able Danger disclosures. If Mohammed Atta was identified as an al Qaeda operative in the United States prior to 9/11, and the 9/11 Commission was aware of this, and failed to investigate it or include it in their report, the American people deserve to know why, and soon. We cannot allow the Pentagon and the DIA to continue to squelch or delay a public hearing on this evidence. Congress is our last resort to make this happen. Why does that leave me with an empty feeling in my gut?

November 16, 2005

How's That "Information Society" Project Goin'?

The United Nations " World Summit on the Information Society" begins in Tunisia today, and an international tug-of-war over Internet governance is expected. From the looks of things, the host country is off to an inauspicious start if they wish to advance the notion that control of this vital tool of economic growth and free expression should be shared by the unfree countries of the world:

The host of the summit, expected to attract 12,000 to 15,000 delegates and up to 50 world leaders, has hardly reassured those concerned that the spectre of censorship is being ignored.

Already, rights watchdogs say, both Tunisian and foreign reporters covering the summit have been harrassed and beaten. Fears of a crackdown have led some civil society groups who plan to hold their own summit on the fringe of the gathering to conceal their plans.

At the weekend, a reporter with the French daily Libération, Christophe Boltanski, who had been investigating the recent beatings of human rights activists in Tunisia, was stabbed and kicked outside his hotel in Tunis. He was not seriously injured. (an unserious stabbing, I guess? - DW)

The Tunisia Monitoring Group has highlighted the cases of seven men now on a hunger strike in the country and estimates that about 500 more have been jailed for expressing opinions.

Robert Menard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, has been banned from attending the summit. He said: "Banning the head of an organisation that defends free expression from attending a summit about the information society is absurd and unacceptable."

In another report, A Belgian TV crew reporting on issues of free expression was harrassed by Tunisian authorities, to include being threatened with physical harm, and having cameras and equipment confiscated.

Fed by press accounts of the police thuggery, delegations have begun cancelling or withdrawing from seminars and other summit events. From a report by Human Rights Watch:

The international and local reaction continued today, as diplomats fumed, some civil society organizations cancelled their events at the U.N. conference, and Human Rights Watch held two press conferences, one for journalists with WSIS badges, the other for Tunisian and international journalists and advocates who did not attend WSIS. Overnight the international press publicized the crude efforts of the Tunisian government to thwart Tunisian and international civil society organizations' plans to hold an alternate meeting to discuss Internet issues in Tunisia alongside the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The international and local reaction continued today, as diplomats fumed, some civil society organizations cancelled their events at the U.N. conference, and Human Rights Watch held two press conferences, one for journalists with WSIS badges, the other for Tunisian and international journalists and advocates who did not attend WSIS.

The Swiss delegation has condemned the intimidation by Tunisian authorities, and in a twist that Orwell himself couldn't have concocted, now journalists can't connect to the Internet to do their jobs:

...even journalists who have not been assaulted have grounds to complain.

Many people have found the internet filtered in their hotels and ports to external servers were blocked, preventing the sending of emails.

The website of the CSIS website has been blocked in Tunisia since Monday – it is only accessible from the WSIS media centre.

The websites of Reporters without Borders and other WSIS-related sites such as www.wsisblogs.org have also been inaccessible.

These are the people who want us to turn over to them control of the Internet. Thank God the position of the United States continues to be a polite but firm "NFW."

I'm betting they'll get all this ugliness behind them soon, so everybody can get down to the serious gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over U.S. unilateralism and greed for the next three days. But if they'd prefer to allow the whole conference to disintegrate into demonstrations, police actions and general chaos, that would be cool too.

UPDATE 11/16: Great piece by Claudia Rosett in the WSJ on the U.N. "turf-grab" in Tunis. The problem, she says, is the "dictatorial divide", not the digital one.

For anyone who cares about the vast freedoms and opportunities afforded by the Internet--for pajama-clad bloggers, for journalists, for businessmen and especially for people in the poorest countries--it is time for a call to arms. Sen. Norm Coleman, whose investigations into U.N. corruption have provided him with more insight than most into the cracks and chasms of that aging institution, has already warned in The Wall Street Journal against the possibility of Tunis becoming a "digital Munich." Whether America retains control over the root directory or some other setup ultimately evolves, the clear bottom line right now is that allowing the U.N. to involve itself in these questions is the wrong answer. A U.N. unable even to audit its own accounts or police its own peacekeepers has no business making even a twitch toward control of the Internet.

UPDATE 11/16: Sanity prevails? (via Instapundit)

November 15, 2005

The Game

It's Ohio State - Michigan Week.

Game Data from Bucknuts.com

A scouting report on the Wolverines coming off the Indiana game.

The Game - A History by Steve Helwagen of Bucknuts.com

So often, the Big Ten Championship is on the line in The Game. A history.

A series of articles on the series greatest matchup: Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler:

Part I

An official who worked The Game in 1973 has a piece in the P.D.

A personal memory from The Game (some links expired)

Kojo's Mercedes

It has been fairly well established that of the $60 billion in Iraqi oil revenues processed throught the U.N. Oil-For-Food program from 1996-2003, somewhere between $3 and $10 billion of it was stolen, skimmed, kicked back, or otherwise diverted from its intended purpose of feeding Iraqi people. So to make an issue of an illegitimate $14,000 discount on a Mercedes for the son of the Secretary General as an example of U.N. corruption borders on nit-picking.

But just as "a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic", we can grasp, and be outraged by the relatively petty graft of $14,000 perhaps better than we can get our minds around the magnitude of a multi-billion dollar fraud. Claudia Rosett, as ever, is on the story:

The Mercedes story tracks back to 1998, the second year of Kofi Annan's tenure as secretary-general; but was not disclosed until this September, when it turned up as a sideshow of Annan-family financial affairs in Paul Volcker's main report on Oil-for-Food. As recounted by Volcker, the saga of the Mercedes began with Kojo Annan's trip to a car show in Geneva, Switzerland, in early 1998, where "he saw a Mercedes Benz vehicle that he wished to buy for his personal use" and in order to get a U.N. discount — although he did not work for the U.N. — "he set out to buy the car in his father's name." This led later to a note dated November 13, 1998, unearthed from a U.N. computer by the Volcker committee, in which Kofi Annan's personal secretary, Wagaye Assebe, relayed a message from Kojo to Kofi Annan, requesting a signature from the U.N. executive office "re: the car he is trying to purchase under your name." Kofi Annan has told the Volcker committee he does not recall seeing this note, and would not have allowed anyone at the U.N. to sign such a request in his name.

But somehow or other, according to Volcker, the Mercedes purchase did take place in Kofi Annan's name, with Kojo Annan paying $39,056 for the car after a 14.3-percent U.N. discount. And sometime around November 13, 1998, Kojo contacted Abdoulie Janneh, who was then serving as resident representative of the U.N. Development Program in Kofi Annan's native Ghana. Janneh, a Gambian who joined the U.N. in 1979, is described in the Volcker report as an Annan "family acquaintance." Kojo Annan asked Janneh's help in arranging to ship the Mercedes into Ghana under duty-free privileges granted exclusively to the secretary-general. Volcker reports that "Kojo Annan falsely represented to Mr. Janneh that the car was intended for the personal use of the Secretary-General."

The U.N. wants to chalk it up to a "youthful indiscretion" by Kojo...

But given that it was not Kojo Annan directly, but a U.N. official who allegedly filed the false claim with the Ghanaian government, misrepresenting the Mercedes as a car for the U.N. Secretary-General, the issues are broader than that.

For starters, there's the mystery of what became of the Mercedes. If the customs exemption was falsely claimed by the U.N., then presumably the U.N. owes Ghana more than $14,000 on the car. And if the car documentation was in Kofi Annan's name, has any Annan, whether Kofi or Kojo, sold the car, or for that matter, refunded the money? Has the U.N. compensated Ghana? If so, from what budget? And if not, then why not? While $14,000 may be counted by the U.N. secretary-general as petty cash, it is still real money, and for millions in Africa it would be wealth beyond dreaming.

And to bring the back-scratching full circle, Abdoulie Janneh, the Annan "family acquaintance" middleman whose testimony supposedly cleared Secretary General Annan of complicity in the fraud, has just received a fat U.N. promotion. Nice work, if you can get it.

This particular U.N. fraud wasn't even directly related to Oil-For-Food, a program that at least we know is now defunct. That this kind of corruption is seemingly systemic makes it even more worth examining. To characterize Annan's U.N. administration as "inattentive", as Rosett does in closing, is bending over backwards to be charitable. But surely he has by now forfeited the benefit of the doubt.

...one sorry result of Kofi Annan's apparent inattention to everything from massive corruption under Oil-for-Food, to crooked dealings in the procurement department, to the alleged misuse of U.N. privileges by his own son, is that there is by now no reason to trust the U.N. without verifying.

November 14, 2005

Mass Exodus

The Guardian:

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Some 1,100 Iraqi lawyers have withdrawn from Saddam Hussein's defense team, citing insufficient protection following the slayings of two peers representing co-defendants of the ousted Iraqi leader.

A few questions spring immediately to mind:

If 1100 have withdrawn, how many are left?

How bad does business have to be for an Iraqi attorney to have to take the Saddam gig? (yes, I know the rule of law in Iraq is still a budding enterprise, with a few kinks still to be worked out of it)

Why would the defense team want any more delays? They will be judged to have done an adequate job if they just show up. Wouldn't they want to get it over with?

Justice being served, and Saddam having a competent defense team at trial, are not really related issues, it seems to me.

November 13, 2005

Sooner Not Later

Mark Steyn:

Some of us believe this is an early skirmish in the Eurabian civil war. If the insurgents emerge emboldened, what next? In five years' time, there will be even more of them, and even less resolve on the part of the French state. That, in turn, is likely to accelerate the demographic decline. Europe could face a continent-wide version of the "white flight" phenomenon seen in crime-ridden American cities during the 1970s, as Danes and Dutch scram to America, Australia or anywhere else that will have them.

As to where Britain falls in this grim scenario, I noticed a few months ago that Telegraph readers had started closing their gloomier missives to me with the words, "Fortunately I won't live to see it" - a sign-off now so routine in my mailbag I assumed it was the British version of "Have a nice day". But that's a false consolation. As France this past fortnight reminds us, the changes in Europe are happening far faster than most people thought. That's the problem: unless you're planning on croaking imminently, you will live to see it.

November 12, 2005

WFB on French Turmoil

Buckley says the French rioters "inherit...the tradition of French revolution as the answer to life's shortcomings". But this time how will they be satisfied?

If the planted axiom of the protesters is that only revolution can bring progress, then the staunching of revolutionary activity is a step in the wrong direction, capitulationist, defeatist.

What, on the other hand, the revolutionists lack is a program concrete enough to give them any sense of satisfactions achievable. In 1959, the objective was pretty plain: the secession of Algeria as a department of France. A hundred and seventy years before, the objective was the overthrow of the monarchy and of a ruling aristocratic class. What would satisfy the existing revolutionaries as a corporate ideal? The elimination of the automobile? If so, it being obvious that that is never going to happen, then the contrapositive needs to be considered: the revolution will be endless. That is formal logic.

Jump Art

It has been 10 years now since Art Modell yanked the Browns out of Cleveland, and SI.com has a feature story for the occasion. It seems like longer ago than that since that final game against Cincinnati, when most fans seemed more concerned with how to remove the seating from the stadium than what was going on on the field. And the game's outcome was meaningless, of course. Our guts had been torn out and stomped on weeks before. We showed up to say goodbye to our team, and to curse Art Modell.

We sat in Section 3 back at Cleveland Stadium, a few sections down from where Modell's loge hung from the upper deck. And for a couple of years toward the end, every week the fans above him would lower a homemade sign down into his field of vision, with the sentiments of so many fans simply stated on it: "Jump, Art".

The article captures the sense of abandonment felt by not only the fans, but by Belichick, his coaching staff, and all the many Browns employees, who were left behind to finish the 1995 season in a fog of uncertainty, after Modell flew the coop in midseason. Good read, if you like picking scabs off of slowly healing wounds.

(Link via native Clevelander Hugh Hewitt)

November 11, 2005

Bush Veterans Day Speech

An excerpt from the President's Veterans Day speech today:

...as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. (Applause.) General David Petraeus says, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate — who had access to the same intelligence — voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough.

It's about time the President personally addressed the onslaught of distortion from the opposition party. It is easy to predict now that in the days ahead, his political opponents will claim that he is attempting to squash dissent or criticism, or that he has characterized criticism of his policies as unpatriotic or illegitimate, when in fact he has said the opposite. You'll see it here when it happens.

UPDATE 11/13: That didn't take long. The headline of the piece is "Bush Tries to Gag Critics in Veterans Day Speech". Actually, the article is an attempt to refute the contention by Bush that the Left is trying to "rewrite history", and not that he is attempting to "gag" anyone. So why the dishonest headline?


Blogger Bill Crawford picks up a little bit of the slack from Arthur Chrenkoff with a summary of good news from Iraq.

November 8, 2005

Ohio Issues Going South

Here are the election results on the State Issues in Ohio. Looks like 2,3,4, and 5, the so-called "Election Reform" package, are all losing by large margins. (via The Corner)

French Fingerprints on Plame-Wilson

It's barely arguable that Joe Wilson's sympathies and his political agenda regarding Iraq, and those of the Chirac government were compatible. That is, to undermine the Iraq policy of the Bush administration. And in light of this piece at The American Thinker, a scenario that has them working arm-in-arm to that end is a highly plausible one. Wilson comes off as more dupe than schemer, however. You'll want to read it all, but here are some excerpts:

In 2002 French intelligence forged the notorious document claiming that Saddam tried to obtain Niger uranium. The Italian middle man, Rocco Martino, later confessed to French involvement in open court. Rocco Martino might sound like a small-time mafia hood from the Sopranos. Actually, he works at times for Italian military intelligence. The truth about the French connection came out when Martino confessed in court that the French had given him the forged document to peddle to various intelligence agencies....

The French naturally deny any responsibility, but the forged document was dropped on the public at exactly the time that Dominique de Villepin, then Foreign Minister, was in New York trying to make Colin Powell believe that France was prepared to help overthrow Saddam. The French forgery was a stink bomb, designed to be exposed in public as soon as Colin Powell publicly accepted it.

At the very same time the Niger forgery showed up, France’s Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, was sand bagging Secretary Powell at the UN by pretending to support American efforts against Saddam – even as he got ready to pull out the rug in a surprise press conference. ..

...De Villepin’s ambush triggered a giant anti-American firestorm in Europe and around the world. Germans, French, Brits and Swedes were foaming at the mouth for months and months. France was therefore extremely successful in discrediting American policy against Saddam.

But that was not enough, because Saddam was quickly knocked over by the US-led coalition forces. Somehow the media fires had to be kept alive. The “Bush lied us into war” slogan had to be kept going in the minds of the public.

Enter our hero, Joseph C. Wilson, from stage left. The French forgery about Niger led straight to Wilson’s bogus trip to Africa. Wilson supposedly went there to find out the truth for the CIA. But every government involved already knew the truth about the bogus document, because it showed incorrect names of Niger officials. A single telephone call to Niger would have established that fact...

...Joseph Wilson had intimate French connections for many years before his mint tea-sipping journey to Niger. In fact, he met his first wife at the French Embassy in Washington. His second wife, Jacqueline, to whom he was still married when he took up with Valerie Plame, was a former French diplomat. There is even a report that she was a “cultural attaché” in Francophone Africa, a post often used as cover for intelligence operatives, though this remains quite a murky point, as tradecraft suggests it should.

Today Wilson claims to be a business agent for “African mining companies.” But Niger’s mines are owned by a French consortium, which operates cheek-by-jowl with the Quai d’Orsay. Niger itself is a semi-colony of France. No uranium sales go on there without the full knowledge and consent of the French government. Valerie Plame was quoted in a CIA memo as saying that “my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts)...” Lots of French contacts, indeed.

Victoria Toensing's op-ed at OpinionJournal.com and Scott Johnson's piece at the Daily Standard are both natural complements to the Thinker article.

Simmons on Epstein

Bill Simmons has the inside baseball on the way Red Sox G.M. Theo Epstein parted company with the team. He says it took a lot of guts for Epstein to walk away from his "dream job", even after winning a ring. And Simmons is all over the major Boston media and the Red Sox ownership...oops, same people.

As for the Red Sox, they have shamed themselves beyond belief, with the Shaughnessy column being the final straw. The same guys who brought Boston a World Series also formed an Orwellian media conglomerate in which they control all the information in the city's most important newspaper, as well as the TV and radio stations that carry the games. Just about every Red Sox-related scoop is directed to one of those three outlets, with Boston Herald writers repeatedly complaining about the unfairness of it all. In particular, the Epstein coverage was appallingly one-sided from the Globe's side -- culminating in Shaughnessy's incredible column, to the point that Red Sox fans have to question the credibility of anything they read in what used to be a sports section that meant something. It was telling that, on the same day that Theo announced his resignation, Monday's Globe contained a story reporting that he had signed for three years.

(via Eric at Off Wing Opinion)

November 7, 2005

AWOL, Or On The Other Side

FPM is loaded with great content today, so I'm linking multiple items from David's place.

First, Steven Plaut is suggesting a "Land For Peace Plan, Paris Style", which doesn't exactly spare French sensibilities in this their hour of trouble, but instead brings the chickens home to roost.

Then, the complete Joe Wilson story from discoverthenetworks.org. Yes, we're all in a hurry for his 15 minutes to be over, but it's important to challenge the media's crafted image of him.

And then David Horowitz and Ben Johnson collaborate on "The Wrong Argument, at the Wrong Place, at the Wrong Time" The authors have a persuasive, well-linked response to the disingenuous rhetoric being used by Sen. Reid and other elements of his party and the Bush-hating left. It's an excellent compliment to my attempt on a similar topic. Excerpts from Horowitz and Johnson: (ellipses mine)

...why is the nation focusing now on a bogus argument about the rationale for the war in Iraq? There is not a shred of evidence Bush in any way manipulated or falsified intelligence, yet leftists demand investigations in order to breathe new life into conspiracy theories whose only effect can be to encourage our enemies and sap our nation's will to fight....

...The Democrats know nothing will be found. In fact, previous studies – including Phase One of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Silberman-Robb report – have cleared the president of pressuring agents to produce intelligence bolstering the case for war. Four solid reports have absolved Tony Blair of manipulating UK intelligence ex post facto, the same charge the Democrats now want to hang on President Bush. The leftists’ thirst for inquests and tribunals is a last ditch desperation effort to validate their fevered fantasies while besmirching in a partisan manner the integrity of the president of the United States through the Big Lie technique: keep repeating the allegation, and eventually, it will stick...

...The human rights conditions in Iraq are one way to measure the Iraq War. The brutal repression of the Iraqi people has come to an end. Torture squads have been disbanded, and rape rooms have been shuttered. Ethnic exploitation has been curtailed, as Iraq’s diverse ethnicities agreed to forge a common identity under a common government – led by a Kurd.

The orgy of freedom the world witnessed last January is another. Elated Muslims danced with glee through the streets of a nation that has seldom experienced genuine elections from its roots in ancient Babylon. Although Zarqawi declared war on the election and democracy as such, although he warned that every Muslim who voted was by that act an "infidel" and would be hunted down and killed, 58 percent of all Iraqis risked their lives to vote.They voted for democracy and against terror. They voted for the war policy of George Bush.

The recent vote for an Iraqi constitution -- the most democratic in the history of the Islamic world, included nearly 70% of the population. It embraced Sunnis as well as Shi'ites and Kurds. A new nation is being forged out of the ruins of the Saddam oppression. A war is being fought between terrorist Islam and an America-supported anti-terrorist Islam. And the Bush opposition in this country is either AWOL on this contest or supporting the other side.

ML and JJA

Michael Ledeen is once again channelling James Jesus Angleton , this time about the forged Italian French Niger documents.


I've been checking out a new site called inopinion.com since John Miller linked to it in The Corner last week. The founder, David Mastio is a consultant to newspapers and encourages them to experiment with new concepts on their Opinion and Letters pages, but I'm hooked on the jokes section he calls "Too Tough For TV". It's got new stuff every day, ripped from the headlines, and I've been getting some grins out of it. Some of my favorites from the past few days:

- Iran's decision to restart nuclear fuel work could lead to an international crisis. But it's good news for any unemployed Israeli jet fighter pilots.

- Judith Miller’s editor at the New York Times says he now doubts her version of events in the Valerie Plame affair. He says he wishes he had worked a little harder to get the facts—but, after all, it is the New York Times.

- Two new mouse experiments may show how to obtain human embryonic stem cells without ethical hurdles…unless the religious right has a thing about mouse babies, too.

- Another Bush nominee is in trouble. This time, Democratic senators are questioning whether President Bush's nominee to lead the State Department refugee program is qualified for the job. Said Bush, “Well, she did a heck of a job grooming my dog!”

- Actor and left-wing activist Danny Glover is defending a new Latin American TV network, saying it won’t demonize the U.S. That job will continue to be held by CBS.

- Tonya Harding reports that she fought in her home with a man she described as her boyfriend. Police say this narrows down the list of suspects to half the trailer park.

- Democrats yesterday forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session to demand answers about the intelligence that led to the Iraq war. No word yet on exactly why they needed a stripper in order to do that.


November 5, 2005

You Say You Want An Investigation?

Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid made a dramatic gesture the other day to make clear his point that the Democrats think more investigation is in order, to "get to the bottom of what happened and why", with regard to the possible manipulation of pre-war intelligence by the Bush administration. Isn't this a bit like suggesting that, after a 162-game season and three rounds of playoffs with a World Series, we hold a round-robin tournament to decide who the best team in baseball really was in 2005?

While the Reid maneuver to change the subject back to the "Bush lied" theme after a brief hiatus turned out to be an effective one politically, at least in the short term, I trust he'll forgive those of us who have been paying attention if we're having a little deja vu moment here.

The WSJ editorial Thursday gave a small sample of the findings from the myriad (pick one) bi-partisan, Congressional, independent, or blue-ribbon panel investigations on pre-war intelligence and WMD's that have already been undertaken:

In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan 500-page report that found numerous failures of intelligence gathering and analysis. As for the Bush Administration's role, "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," (our emphasis).

The Butler Report, published by the British in July 2004, similarly found no evidence of "deliberate distortion," although it too found much to criticize in the quality of prewar intelligence.

The March 2005 Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. . . .analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."

Finally, last Friday, there was Mr. Fitzgerald: "This indictment's not about the propriety of the war, and people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are--have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel."

However much the Democrats may be disappointed that the independent prosecutor spoiled "Fitzmas" by failing to find any criminality in the outing of Valerie Plame, their relentlessness and dishonesty in shaping the current conventional wisdom on many of the intelligence and Iraq/WMD issues have been wildly successful, if Bush's poll numbers and the never-ending Joe Wilson victory tour are any indication.

I guess it is generally agreed on the right that the White House performance in getting their message out to the American public has been somewhere between miserable and horribly botched. And I'm not about to remedy that situation here on an obscure blog, but I can assemble some of the information, or links to it, that people have forgotten, ignored or perhaps never before seen or taken the time to read, in hopes that someone else finds it informative.

I'll succeed here if I'm able to point up the silliness of the whole notion that Bush "manipulated the intelligence" about Saddam's weapons. Because that idea rests on the premise that those weapons either didn't exist at all, or that they didn't constitute a threat with Saddam in power, and there is a wealth of evidence to show that premise as false. The "Bush lied" theory also drags into the conspiracy so many other U.S. leaders and foreign intelligence services that predate the Bush administration, that it reveals its adherents as either transparently partisan or sadly uninformed .

I won't spend a lot of time on Joe Wilson's mendacity because people like Stephen Hayes, Larry Elder, Stephen Spruiell and Thomas Joscelyn among others, have demonstrated it eloquently. I'll just observe that the central point of the whole Plame/Wilson affair has somehow not found its way into the consciousness of the American public. That the White House, however clumsily, was attempting to show that Joe Wilson had been misrepresenting his mission, his qualifications, the identity of his patrons, and his nature of his findings on the Niger trip, as part of a partisan attempt to undermine the Bush Iraq policy, which he and his wife and many of her CIA associates opposed.

And while the media is in some part to blame for ignoring the now documented proof of Wilson's lies, the administration has been derelict at communicating these points to the public. At the time they should have made these points forcefully, and stuck by their statements about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger, because it was and is true.

On The Record

For several years now we have seen examples of past statements by prominent Democrats, party officials, Clinton administration officials, and others on the subject of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. In light of their ongoing frothing about being misled and lied to by George W. Bush, I'll risk overkill on this subject by providing some samples, both as reminders, and because it's just so damned much fun. (culled from a variety of sources, to include columns by Rich Lowry, Larry Elder, and the WSJ op-ed linked above)

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists," the president of the United States warned. "If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." - Bill Clinton

"The United Nations has determined that Saddam should not possess chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, and what we have is the obligation to carry out the U.N. declaration." - Clinton Secretary of Defense William Cohen

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." - Sen. Tom Daschle

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. . . ." - Hillary Rodham Clinton, October 10, 2002

"For the United States and Britain, an Iraq equipped with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons under the leadership of Saddam Hussein is a threat that almost goes without description. France, on the other hand, has long established economic and political relationships within the Arab world, and has had a different approach." - Sen. John Kerry

"There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies. I agree with President Bush -- he has said that Saddam Hussein is evil. And he is. (Hussein) is a vicious dictator and a documented deceiver. He has invaded his neighbors, used chemical arms and failed to account for all the chemical and biological weapons he had before the Gulf War. He has murdered dissidents and refused to comply with his obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions. And he has tried to build a nuclear bomb. Anyone who believes in the importance of limiting the spread of weapons of mass killing, the value of democracy, and the centrality of human rights must agree that Saddam Hussein is a menace. The world would be a better place if he were in a different place other than the seat of power in Baghdad or any other country. So I want to be clear. Saddam Hussein must disarm. This is not a debate; it is a given." - Former Gov. Howard Dean September, 2002.

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." - Al Gore September, 2002

There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat. . . . Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. . . . He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we. . . I want to underscore that I think the United States should not categorize this action as pre-emptive. . . . This is a problem that's longstanding. It's been a decade in the making. It needs to be dealt with and the clock is ticking on this. . . . There's no question that. - Gen. Wesley Clark

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction." - Sen. Jay Rockefeller

"When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say you got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions." - Bill Clinton

In September, 2003, NR Editor Rich Lowry took a tongue-in-cheek stab at specifying "What Democrats Believe", and some of those items came to mind as I reviewed the above somber statements on the threat from Saddam Hussein:

That the United Nations is the world's last, best hope, and every jot of its writ should always be respected, unless it inconveniences Saddam Hussein.

That nation-building is always a humanitarian and just cause, unless it is undertaken in Iraq.

That anyone who said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction prior to the war was lying, unless his or her name is Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen, John Kerry or Joe Lieberman, or the person ever served in the Clinton cabinet or as a Democratic senator.

And so it remains today.

But if you think those guys sounded like hawks back in the day, it was nothing compared to the editorial positions of the New York Times and the Washington Post circa 1998-2000. In a piece that got far too little notice in the blogs last week, Robert Kagan dug into the archives of the papers of record to find a recurring theme of what can fairly be described as alarmism about the threat from Saddam. Some excerpts (emphasis mine)

The Judith Miller-Valerie Plame-Scooter Libby imbroglio is being reduced to a simple narrative about the origins of the Iraq war. Miller, the story goes, was an anti-Saddam Hussein, weapons-of-mass-destruction-hunting zealot and was either an eager participant or an unwitting dupe in a campaign by Bush administration officials and Iraqi exiles to justify the invasion. The New York Times now characterizes the affair as "just one skirmish in the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq."...

...Many critics outside the Times suggest that Miller's eagerness to publish the Bush administration's line was the primary reason Americans went to war. The Times itself is edging closer to this version of events.

There is a big problem with this simple narrative. It is that the Times, along with The Post and other news organizations, ran many alarming stories about Iraq's weapons programs before the election of George W. Bush. A quick search through the Times archives before 2001 produces such headlines as "Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say"(November 1998), "U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan"(August 1998), "Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort" (February 2000), "Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration" (February 2000), "Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program" (July 2000)....

...From 1998 through 2000, the Times editorial page warned that "without further outside intervention, Iraq should be able to rebuild weapons and missile plants within a year" and that "future military attacks may be required to diminish the arsenal again." Otherwise, Iraq could "restore its ability to deliver biological and chemical weapons against potential targets in the Middle East." "The world," it said, "cannot leave Mr. Hussein free to manufacture horrific germs and nerve gases and use them to terrorize neighboring countries."

Times editorials insisted the danger from Iraq was imminent. When the Clinton administration attempted to negotiate, they warned against letting "diplomacy drift into dangerous delay. Even a few more weeks free of inspections might allow Mr. Hussein to revive construction of a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon." They also argued that it was "hard to negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his commitments and who sees nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as his country's salvation." "As Washington contemplates an extended war against terrorism," a Times editorial insisted, "it cannot give in to a man who specializes in the unthinkable."

Another Times editorial warned that containment of Hussein was eroding. "The Security Council is wobbly, with Russia and France eager to ease inspections and sanctions." Any approach "that depends on Security Council unity is destined to be weak." "Mr. [Kofi] Annan's resolve seems in doubt." When Hans Blix was appointed to head the U.N. inspectors, the editors criticized him for "a decade-long failure to detect Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program before the gulf war" and for a "tendency to credit official assurances from rulers like Mr. Hussein." His selection was "a disturbing sign that the international community lacks the determination to rebuild an effective arms inspection system." The "further the world gets from the gulf war, the more it seems willing to let Mr. Hussein revive his deadly weapons projects." Even "[m]any Americans question the need to maintain pressure on Baghdad and would oppose the use of force. But the threat is too great to give ground to Mr. Hussein. The cost to the world and to the United States of dealing with a belligerent Iraq armed with biological weapons would be far greater than the cost of preventing Baghdad from rearming."

The New York Times. Unbelievable. I read this stuff and had to pick my chin up off my chest. Everything changed for the editors when the Republican got into the White House. Kagan closes:

As we wage what the Times now calls "the continuing battle over the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq," we will have to grapple with the stubborn fact that the underlying rationale for the war was already in place when this administration arrived.

What WMD?

Talk about your conventional wisdom. It now suffices in many quarters to make the sweeping statement that "there were no WMD in Iraq." We were wrong. Or, if you prefer, Bush lied. But people who now claim that there were no WMD, or even that the claims of WMD were "exaggerated" either weren't paying attention in the 90's, or have been swamped by media and Democrat repetition of the "no WMD" mantra, or both. Because it's difficult to read the available information on the scope and nature of the weapons programs of Saddam Hussein, and not be utterly convinced of the deadly threat he posed to his neighbors, and to the U.S.

Two years ago, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan compiled a useful summary of the circumstances of Iraq's weapons programs, the state of international inspections regimes, and the defiance by Saddam of all attempts to get him to comply with U.N. resolutions in the months leading up to the decision to remove him from power by force. It was called "Why We Went to War" and it's worth reading in full as a corrective to the current CW. For starters, the authors go back to the list of chemical and biological weapons that Saddam admitted to possessing as late as 1998:

Here's a little history that seems to have been completely forgotten in the frenzy of the past few months. Shortly after the first Gulf War in 1991, U.N. inspectors discovered the existence of a surprisingly advanced Iraqi nuclear weapons program. In addition, by Iraq's own admission and U.N. inspection efforts, Saddam's regime possessed thousands of chemical weapons and tons of chemical weapon agents. Were it not for the 1995 defection of senior Iraqi officials, the U.N. would never have made the further discovery that Iraq had manufactured and equipped weapons with the deadly chemical nerve agent VX and had an extensive biological warfare program.

Here is what was known by 1998 based on Iraq's own admissions:

* That in the years immediately prior to the first Gulf War, Iraq produced at least 3.9 tons of VX, a deadly nerve gas, and acquired 805 tons of precursor ingredients for the production of more VX.

* That Iraq had produced or imported some 4,000 tons of ingredients to produce other types of poison gas.

* That Iraq had produced 8,500 liters of anthrax.

* That Iraq had produced 500 bombs fitted with parachutes for the purpose of delivering poison gas or germ payloads.

* That Iraq had produced 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas.

* That Iraq had produced or imported 107,500 casings for chemical weapons.

* That Iraq had produced at least 157 aerial bombs filled with germ agents.

* That Iraq had produced 25 missile warheads containing germ agents (anthrax, aflatoxin, and botulinum).

Again, this list of weapons of mass destruction is not what the Iraqi government was suspected of producing. (That would be a longer list, including an Iraqi nuclear program that the German intelligence service had concluded in 2001 might produce a bomb within three years.) It was what the Iraqis admitted producing. And it is this list of weapons--not any CIA analysis under either the Clinton or Bush administrations--that has been at the heart of the Iraq crisis.

The essay includes extensive excerpts from a major speech by President Clinton in January of 1998, which essentially made the case for regime change. Clip and Save.

So what happened to all of Saddam's WMD? Ion Mihai Pacepa has a theory. And he's in a position to be quite credible on such matters. Pacepa, former deputy chief of Romanian foreign intelligence, is the highest- ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Soviet Bloc, coming to the U.S. in 1978. In a Washington Times article in August of 2003, Pacepa noted that former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov ran Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, and was in Iraq with two other Russian generals for the three months just before the start of the coalition invasion, overseeing the liquidation of those chemical and biological weapons programs. Pacepa was familiar with the Russian program for getting rid of WMD's:

The Soviet Union and all its bloc states always had a standard operating procedure for deep sixing weapons of mass destruction â€" in Romanian it was codenamed "Sarindar, meaning "emergency exit."I implemented it in Libya. It was for ridding Third World despots of all trace of their chemical weapons if the Western imperialists ever got near them. We wanted to make sure they would never be traced back to us, and we also wanted to frustrate the West by not giving them anything they could make propaganda with. ..

...Iraq, in my view, had its own "Sarindar" plan in effect direct from Moscow. It certainly had one in the past. Nicolae Ceausescu told me so, and he heard it from Leonid Brezhnev. KGB chairman Yury Andropov, and later, Gen. Yevgeny Primakov, told me so too. In the late 1970s, Gen. Primakov ran Saddam's weapons programs. After that, as you may recall, he was promoted to head of the Soviet foreign intelligence service in 1990, to Russia's minister of foreign affairs in 1996, and in 1998, to prime minister. What you may not know is that Primakov hates Israel and has always championed Arab radicalism. He was a personal friend of Saddam's and has repeatedly visited Baghdad after 1991, quietly helping Saddam play his game of hide-and-seek.

The Soviet bloc not only sold Saddam its WMDs, but it showed them how to make them "disappear." Russia is still at it. Primakov was in Baghdad from December until a couple of days before the war, along with a team of Russian military experts led by two of Russia's topnotch "retired" generals,Vladislav Achalov, a former deputy defense minister, and Igor Maltsev, a former air defense chief of staff. They were all there receiving honorary medals from the Iraqi defense minister. They clearly were not there to give Saddam military advice for the upcomingwar - Saddam's Katyusha launchers were of World War II vintage, and his T-72 tanks, BMP-1 fighting vehicles and MiG fighter planes were all obviously useless against America. "I did not fly to Baghdad to drink coffee," was what Gen. Achalov told the media afterward. They were there orchestrating Iraq's "Sarindar" plan.

The Democrats so wanted the "Downing Street Memo" to be the smoking gun that would prove that Bush and Blair "cooked up" the intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq, and were planning military action prior to Congressional and U.N. authorizations. But that was to prove difficult to do, since Bill Clinton had made regime change official U.S. policy toward Iraq some years before, as James Robbins writes in his dismantling of this idea:

Contingency planning for military operations against Iraq had begun as early as November 2001. This is no secret; the full timeline along with a wealth of details can be found in General Tommy Franks’s memoir American Solider. The plan that became known as OPLAN 1003V began to be put together in earnest in January 2002. The existence of war planning does not in itself prove that the use of force was inevitable. The purpose was to provide the president with the full range of credible alternatives for pursuing U.S. policy vis-à-vis Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Regime change had been U.S. policy since October 31, 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. It was not a state secret. On February 12, 2002, Colin Powell stated that "With respect to Iraq, it has long been, for several years now, a policy of the United States government that regime change would be in the best interests of the region, the best interests of the Iraqi people. And we are looking at a variety of options that would bring that about." The policy had bipartisan support; in June 2002 Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, "There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq. The question is how do we do it and when do we do it." It was also an international objective. On April 6, 2002, during a summit in Crawford, Texas, Prime Minister Blair said that regime change in Iraq was the policy of Great Britain, and that failure to act against Saddam was “not an option.” Blair pledged to support military action against Iraq, should that become necessary.

What We Found

I remember the triumphant headlines the day after the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) released the Interim Report of their findings from the post-invasion WMD investigation in Iraq. In fact several newspapers that had led with a definitive "No WMD's In Iraq" headline were forced by public criticism to run corrections or clarifications in subsequent days, when it became obvious that the report wasn't nearly that categorical. The ISG, initially led by David Kay, found a whole lot more than "nothing", as these details reveal:

* A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.

* A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents, that Iraqi officials working to prepare for UN inspections were explicitly ordered not to declare to the UN.

* Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in a scientist's home, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons.

* New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.

* Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).

* A line of UAVs not fully declared at an undeclared production facility and an admission that they had tested one of their declared UAVs out to a range of 500 km, 350 km beyond the permissible limit.

* Continuing covert capability to manufacture fuel propellant useful only for prohibited SCUD variant missiles, a capability that was maintained at least until the end of 2001 and that cooperating Iraqi scientists have said they were told to conceal from the UN.

* Plans and advanced design work for new long-range missiles with ranges up to at least 1000 km - well beyond the 150 km range limit imposed by the UN. Missiles of a 1000 km range would have allowed Iraq to threaten targets through out the Middle East, including Ankara, Cairo, and Abu Dhabi.

* Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles --probably the No Dong -- 300 km range anti-ship cruise missiles, and other prohibited military equipment.

In addition to the discovery of extensive concealment efforts, we have been faced with a systematic sanitization of documentary and computer evidence in a wide range of offices, laboratories, and companies suspected of WMD work. The pattern of these efforts to erase evidence - hard drives destroyed, specific files burned, equipment cleaned of all traces of use - are ones of deliberate, rather than random, acts. For example,

* On 10 July 2003 an ISG team exploited the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) Headquarters in Baghdad. The basement of the main building contained an archive of documents situated on well-organized rows of metal shelving. The basement suffered no fire damage despite the total destruction of the upper floors from coalition air strikes. Upon arrival the exploitation team encountered small piles of ash where individual documents or binders of documents were intentionally destroyed. Computer hard drives had been deliberately destroyed. Computers would have had financial value to a random looter; their destruction, rather than removal for resale or reuse, indicates a targeted effort to prevent Coalition forces from gaining access to their contents.

* All IIS laboratories visited by IIS exploitation teams have been clearly sanitized, including removal of much equipment, shredding and burning of documents, and even the removal of nameplates from office doors.

* Although much of the deliberate destruction and sanitization of documents and records probably occurred during the height of OIF combat operations, indications of significant continuing destruction efforts have been found after the end of major combat operations, including entry in May 2003 of the locked gated vaults of the Ba'ath party intelligence building in Baghdad and highly selective destruction of computer hard drives and data storage equipment along with the burning of a small number of specific binders that appear to have contained financial and intelligence records, and in July 2003 a site exploitation team at the Abu Ghurayb Prison found one pile of the smoldering ashes from documents that was still warm to the touch.

...plus much more detail on biological and chemical weapons capabilities, dual use facilities, evidence of deception, sanitization of facilities and equipment, destruction of documentation, etc. If you haven't read this interim report from October, 2003, here's your chance.

When David Kay went up to the Hill to present his Interim Report to Congress, several of his exchanges with prominent Democratic Senators were recorded for posterity. Sen. Kennedy didn't actually have a question for David Kay. It was more of a political statement. Shocking.

Kennedy (to Kay): "Many of us feel that the evidence so far leads only to one conclusion: that what has happened was more than a failure of intelligence, it was the result of manipulation of the intelligence to justify a decision to go to war."

Kay: "[You suggest] analysts were pressured to reach conclusions that would fit the political agenda of one or another administration. I deeply think that is a wrong explanation. ... I did not come across a single one that felt it had been, in the military term, 'inappropriate command influence' that led them to take that position."


(Sen. Hillary) Clinton:"I think that rightly does raise questions that we should be examining about whether or not the U.N. inspection process pursuant to 1441 might not also have worked without the loss of life that we have confronted both among our own young men and women, as well as Iraqis."

Kay: "Well, Senator Clinton...we have had a number of Iraqis who have come forward and said, 'We did not tell the UN about what we were hiding, nor would we have told the UN because we would run the risk of our [losing our own lives]' -- I think we have learned things that no UN inspector would have ever learned given the terror regime of Saddam.... Iraq was in clear violation of the terms of Resolution 1441. ... Iraq was in clear and material violation of 1441. ... So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal. I hope we find even more evidence of that."

Jeff Jacoby noted this exchange Kay had with Tom Brokaw:

Brokaw: A lot of the president's political critics are going to say, "This is clear evidence that he lied to the American people."

Kay: Well, Tom, if we do that, I think we're really hurting ourselves. Clearly the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong. . . . I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence, it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around.

Brokaw: The president described Iraq as "a gathering danger." Was that an accurate description?

Kay: I think that's a very accurate description.

David Kay interview with Tony Snow

Telegraph interview with David Kay, in which he says Saddam moved material to Syria

A year later, in October, 2004, the Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq's WMD, commonly known as the Duelfer Report, was released to the public. Similar celebration by the opponents of Iraq's liberation took place at the time, because the report confirmed that no functioning weapons manufacturing programs had been found, nor were any large stockpiles of WMD located in Iraq by the Duelfer group.

But what the Duelfer Report also confirmed was that Saddam had a program and a plan in place to get right back into the WMD business, as soon as he could get the sanctions lifted and the inspectors out.

A few of the key findings of the The Duelfer Report are highlighted below:

Strategic Intent

- Saddam wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.

- Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability, which was essentially destroyed in 1991, after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability, in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks, but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities.

Chemical Weapons:

- Saddam never abandoned his intentions to resume a CW effort when sanctions were lifted and conditions were judged favorable.

- While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991.

- Iraq constructed a number of new plants starting in the mid-1990s that enhanced its chemical infrastructure, although its overall industry had not fully recovered from the effects of sanctions, and had not regained pre-1991 technical sophistication or production capabilities prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

- ISG uncovered information that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) maintained throughout 1991 to 2003 a set of undeclared covert laboratories to research and test various chemicals and poisons, primarily for intelligence operations. The existence, function, and purpose of the laboratories were never declared to the UN.

Biological Weapons

- In 1991, Saddam Husayn regarded BW as an integral element of his arsenal of WMD weapons, and would have used it if the need arose.

- ISG judges that Iraq's actions between 1991 and 1996 demonstrate that the state intended to preserve its BW capability and return to a steady, methodical progress toward a mature BW program when and if the opportunity arose.

- In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes.

- Iraq would have faced great difficulty in re-establishing an effective BW agent production capability. Nevertheless, after 1996 Iraq still had a significant dual-use capability, some declared,readily useful for BW if the Regime chose to use it to pursue a BW program. Moreover, Iraq still possessed its most important BW asset, the scientific know-how of its BW cadre.

Other outside analysis of the Duelfer Report is available below:

Helle Dale - Heritage Foundation
RNC Summary
Michael Barone - U.S. News.com

And Richard Spertzel asks a question that has occurred to me as well; "Have War Critics Even Read The Duelfer Report?" Spertzel was the head of the biological-weapons section of UNSCOM, and a member of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) Excerpts:

While no facilities were found producing chemical or biological agents on a large scale, many clandestine laboratories operating under the Iraqi Intelligence Services were found to be engaged in small-scale production of chemical nerve agents, sulfur mustard, nitrogen mustard, ricin, aflatoxin, and other unspecified biological agents. These laboratories were also evaluating whether various poisons would change the texture, smell or appearance of foodstuffs. These aspects of the ISG report have been ignored by the pundits and press. Did these constitute an imminent threat? Perhaps it depends how you define "threat."

The chemical section reports that the M16 Directorate "had a plan to produce and weaponize nitrogen mustard in rifle grenades and a plan to bottle sarin and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayers and medicine bottles which they would ship to the United States and Europe." Are we to believe this plan existed because they liked us? Or did they wish to do us harm? The major threat posed by Iraq, in my opinion, was the support it gave to terrorists in general, and its own terrorist activity.

The ISG was also told that "ricin was being developed into stable liquid to deliver as an aerosol" in various munitions. Such development was not just for assassination. If Iraq was successful in developing an aerosolizable ricin, it made a significant step forward. The development had to be for terrorist delivery. Even on a small scale this must be considered as a WMD.

One popular theory, which Duelfer also buys into to some degree, is that Saddam was himself misled by his own people, who exaggerated the extent of his weapons programs and capabilities. Another is that he knew, but lied about his weapons in order to keep Iran, his real enemy, in the dark. Christopher Carson says that both of these theories leave a lot of things unexplained. Here are some excerpts from his article" What Duelfer Missed":

...a great deal of information in Duelfer's own Report contradicts his tidy model of a disarmed-but-coyly-pretending dictator. Take the little matter of the secret biological laboratories hidden throughout Baghdad and under the control of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). UNSCOM had spent years roaming Iraq and never so much as heard a whiff about them. Hans Blix and his successor agency, UNMOVIC, found Iraq in non-compliance in 2002 without stumbling over a single white lab coat. These labs were unknown to any intelligence agency in the world until after the Iraq War, when ISG uncovered their existence. They were all in egregious violation of the UN resolutions on disclosure and disarmament...

These labs deserve more than a mention because the real danger from Saddam's Iraq was never really a large-scale use of chemical or biological weapons on a battlefield. American troops could defend against this kind of attack. It was the danger that Saddam would arm terrorists with these weapons, and use them against select American civilian targets.

And why wouldn't Saddam? His men trained foreign al-Qaeda and other terrorists at Salman Pak in aircraft hijacking, helped to bankroll al-Qaeda and its affiliates, kept Zarqawi, Abu Nidal, and Abu Abbas as house pets, tried to kill former President Bush, tried to blow up Radio Free Europe, and apparently sent an active colonel in the Fedayeen Saddam to baby-sit the 9-11 hijackers in the 2000 Malaysia planning summit, for starters...

......The trail of WMD isn't cold. It leads to Syria and the Bekka Valley of formerly Syrian-occupied Lebanon, according to a Syrian defector to US intelligence. Gen. Tommy Franks himself leans this way, telling the media that "Two days before the war, on March 17 [2003], we saw through multiple intelligence channels - both human intelligence and technical intelligence, large caravans of people and things, including some of the top 55 [most wanted] Iraqis, going to Syria." What was so important to move to Syria immediately before the War with the top regime officials? Duelfer's next stop should have been Damascus. With Syrian President Bashar Assad now admitting that he has stockpiles of WMD, perhaps it should be ours.

The Intelligence Investigations

The U.S. and the U.K. have completed exhaustive and expensive investigations into the intelligence product in the pre-invasion period, and the conduct of the governments receiving it. There was much to criticize of course, and I have read only the "overview" or "key findings" summaries of these massive reports, so I cannot claim any deep familiarity with the detail in them. And I find the recommendation that we add another layer of bureaucracy on top of the entire intelligence community as a way to improve its communications and effectiveness to be borderline insane.

But what these investigations have done is to look very closely at claims of just the kind of manipulation of intelligence that Reid and his fellow Democrats are alleging, and they have determined them to be unfounded. After the Silberman-Robb investigation was completed, former Senator Charles Robb commented on the subject of politically manipulated intelligence:

We looked very closely at that question. We--every member of the commission was sensitive to the number of questions that had been raised with respect to what we'll call politicization or however you want to describe it, and we examined every single instance that had been referred to in print or otherwise to see if there was any occasion where a member of the administration or anyone else had asked an analyst or anybody else associated with the intelligence community to change a position that they were taking, or whether they felt there was any undue influence. And we found absolutely no instance, and we ran to ground everything that we had on the table. . . . We got a fair amount of information that didn't provide us anything more in this area.

Here are the final reports of the investigations on intelligence matters relating to Iraq:

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSIC) Report (First Half)

Silberman-Robb Report (summary and analysis)

Butler Report (UK)

Stephen Hayes said of the SSIC Report:

The Senate report includes a 48-page section on Wilson that demonstrates, in painstaking detail, that virtually everything Joseph Wilson said publicly about his trip, from its origins to his conclusions, was false.

This is not a minor detail. The Senate report, which served as the source for much of the chronology in this article, is the definitive study of the events leading up to the compromising of Valerie Plame. The committee staff, both Democrats and Republicans, read all of the intelligence. They saw all of the documents. They interviewed all of the characters. And every member of the committee from both parties signed the report.

It is certainly the case that the media narrative is much more sensational than the Senate report. A story about malfeasance is perhaps more interesting than a story about incompetence. A story about deliberate White House deception is perhaps more interesting than a story about bureaucratic miscommunication. A story about retaliation is perhaps more interesting than a story about clarification.

But sometimes the boring stories have an additional virtue. They're true.

Allan Ryskind has an article at HumanEventsOnline, parts of which will serve as a conclusion to this post. He summarizes the current spin from the Democrats as follows:

The White House, as the Democrats would now have it, had virtually no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, but the President, Dick Cheney and their gang were so intent on removing Saddam from power they invented facts. And when critics such as Joe Wilson spoke truth to power, the "Scooters" in the administration slimed their reputations.

The episode involving Libby and Wilson, summed up Reid, is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the President.

This is unpatriotic mud-slinging, with a touch of Black Helicopter looniness tossed in. To believe that the White House concocted a fable about WMD in Iraq, you would have to believe in a massive conspiracy involving not only the Bush people, but both Bill Clinton's and George Bush's CIA director, George Tenet; Bush's first term secretary of state, Colin Powell; Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright; Clinton's key NSC Persian Gulf adviser, Kenneth Pollack; and numerous WMD experts at the United Nations.

Of Clinton's Middle East and Iraq expert Pollack's analysis, Ryskind says...

After analyzing all the WMD evidence at his command, and Saddam Hussein's career as an aggressor, a mass murderer and a political thug who could not be trusted to keep his word, Pollack concluded: "Unfortunately, the only prudent and realistic course of action left to the United States is to mount a full-scale invasion of Iraq to smash the Iraqi armed forces."

When the WMD weren't found, Pollack wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly for its first issue in 2004.

He was critical of the Bush Administration's handling of the war, but he made several informative observations in his critique. Among them:

- The U.S. intelligence community's belief that Saddam was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction pre-dated Bush's inauguration and therefore cannot be attributed to political pressure.

- In October of 2002, the National Intelligence Council, the highest analytical body in the U.S. intelligence community, issued a classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD representing the consensus of the intelligence community. Although after the war some complained that the NIE had been a rush job and that the NIE should have been more careful in its choice of language, in fact, the report accurately reflected what intelligence analysts had been telling Clinton Administration officials like me for years in verbal briefings.”

Enough already, Senator Reid. Let's get on with helping the Iraqis build a stable democracy and addressing serious domestic problems. The last thing we need to do is spend more time and money on rehashing pre-war intelligence failures. Get your party behind a positive, forward-looking agenda for the country. This old rap is lame and tired.

UPDATE 11/6: Fresh stuff from Stephen Hayes on important omissions by the NYT, and Sen. Carl Levin on a mission.

Victoria Toensing's WSJ editorial is spot on.

November 2, 2005

more from Cicero

A more complete version of the translation of the Cicero magazine article I excerpted the other day is now available here at Winds of Change. It's called "How Dangerous Is Iran?", and there's not a speck of encouraging news in it. Here's a sample:

...on this October day Mohammad Ali Abtahi got up from his armchair in his "center for religious dialogue" and gave the visitor a last warning to carry with him: "We have here in our country powerful rightist extremist power groups. In the next presidential election, they can win back the last bastion of the reformers. The next half year will not only be the most dangerous period for Iran in a long time. That is even more true for Europe and the United States."

Months later, to the bafflement of all Western experts and observers, Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadinezhad was elected in Iran's presidential election with a clear majority as the new president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The candidate for the reformers finished far behind. At 0300, an email reached me: "I did everything; I fought desperately. It was all for nothing. We all failed. Our country will be lost." The sender was Mohammad Ali Abtahi.

There is reason for his despair, because with the election of Ahmadinezhad the radical Islamist hardliners have now recaptured all the control centers of power in Iran. "Ahmadinezhad," Abtahi writes, "is a visionary. He dreams of a second, revolution in Iran, the Islamist one. He is the representative of the rightist extremists that I warned you about. I was always against Ahmadinezhad," he writes further. "We have always fought against him and against those who back him. Now, however, we have experienced a crushing defeat. What lies ahead for us and for you is the long night of darkness that I spoke about at the time." Behind Abtahi's words is the fear that now, since all power centers are united in the hands of radical Islamist power groups around supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, "these people will play the nuclear card just the same as the card of global terror."

In fact, the new president made clear right after his triumphant election victory, "We did not carry out the Islamist revolution in order to introduce democracy." He hammered his objectives home to the rejoicing followers. "Our revolution seeks to achieve worldwide power," he said, continuing, "I am a pure fundamentalist." He repeats these principles the length and breadth of the country, castigates "Western decadence," promises "the strictest interpretation of the religious laws of Shari'a." Internationally recognized conventions on women's rights are for him "a fatal offense against the values of Islam." This is not so much a devout Muslim speaking as rather one who knows that he is in possession of the one, the pure truth. The masses follow him.

Within the close circle of his loyal followers, Iran's new state president Mahmud Ahmadinezhad revealed his great vision. It stems from the days of the 1979 Islamist Revolution. Now it harbors within it a new explosive force. "The new Islamic revolution" according to Ahmadinezhad, will cut out the roots of injustice throughout the entire world. The era of the Godless regime, tyranny, and injustice has come to its end," he prophesies. "The wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world."

November 1, 2005


Michelle Malkin has a new book out, and she has posted some of the illustratrions on her blog for us.

UPDATE: 11/1: Upon further review, I learn that the photos at Michelle's blog are among the ones that didn't make it into the book. A handsome group they are nonetheless.

Microsoft Word Bites the Democrats in the Ass Again!

When you're going to use as your No.1 talking point a 17-year old story with the potential to be interpreted as an ethnic smear, it's a good idea to know something about document security, so that your slimy ass is covered. The DNC needs a quick seminar on MS Word, as Ed Morrissey explains. I guess it would be Microsoft Word Lesson #2, because they've already learned Lesson #1: Never attempt to forge documents using Microsoft Word which are supposed to have originated before Microsoft Word existed. Excerpts from Ed:

This document started circulating, unsigned, yesterday on Capitol Hill and among the press. As has been noted elsewhere, the mouthbreathers who produced it forgot the first rule of e-mailing sensitive Microsoft Word documents -- don't do it at all. The metadata clearly indicates that the author of this goes by the name "prendergastc", most likely Chris Prendergast, who works on the DNC. By displaying the document properties in Word, one finds out that the company holding the license for the copy of Word that created the document is -- the DNC. The last person to edit the document was AdlerD, which Redstate thinks would be Devorah Adler, also of the DNC, and who makes considerably more than Chris Prendergast does. That moves the problem from an out-of-control flunky to one of deliberate smear attempts by the Democratic Party itself.

There's a bit more here, too. The document comes from a template that was created on July 7th, which coincides with the nomination of John Roberts. The document/template title? "how they made their $$, personal holdings, the whole deal". Talk about operating from a playbook! If one needs to see a reason why originalism is not just desirable but at this stage absolutely necessary, it would be difficult to come up with a better example.

There's a lot of discussion in comments sections about whether or not it's a stretch to interpret the DNC talking point as having anything to do with Alito's Italian-American background. The defenders say that it merely criticizes Alito's record as a prosecutor, the message being nothing more than that he was an incompetent one. Sure.

That's why one isolated case from Alito's entire prosecutorial career is singled out for notice, and the fact that it involved mobsters getting off scott free is merely coincidental. Let the reader infer what he may. That's why this dusty old item is No.1 on the DNC list of talking points against Sam Alito. They're not suggesting anything untoward took place in the case, perish the thought! By the way, have you heard Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian? Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just mention it in passing.

Lessons in Non-Confrontationalism

Mark Steyn, with suggestions for Prince Charles.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, on this week's whirlwind tour of the Great Satan, the Prince of Wales "will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam…because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11". His Royal Highness apparently finds the Bush approach to Islam "too confrontational".

If the Prince wants to take a few examples of the non-confrontational approach with him to the White House, here's a couple pulled at random from the last week's news: the president of Iran called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Kofi Annan expressed his "dismay".

Excellent. Struck the perfect non-confrontational tone. Were the Iranian nuclear programme a little more advanced and they'd actually wiped Israel off the map, the secretary-general might have felt obliged to be more confrontational and express his "deep concern".

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, three Christian girls walking home from school were beheaded.

"It is unclear what was behind the attack," reported the BBC, scrupulously non-confrontationally.

In the Australian state of Victoria, reports the Herald Sun, "police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits". Tough luck for us infidel wife-beaters, but admirably non-confrontational Islam-wise.

Read it all, of course. How bizarre it is that Prince Charles, a man who doesn't have to govern, lead, or protect anyone, presumes to have something to say to George Bush that might enlighten him on the nuances of radical Islam. It's just a hunch, but I'm betting that in his neighborhood in London, he doesn't have to ride the subway much.

Will Call

Let the Debate Begin - George Will

Misplaced Outrage

Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry has come in for criticism based on his observation that his team isn't as fast as some of his opponents, and that this may be the case because he doesn't have as many black kids on his team. Michael Wilbon responds in a Washington Post column that this entirely reasonable observation doesn't justify the outrage that has been directed at DeBerry by the PC police:

He has received a reprimand from the academy, in fact, for saying it seemed to him that African American players run very, very well. DeBerry was quick to add, almost seamlessly, that he would be open to having players of any race who are faster than his kids, but that black kids appeared to be faster.

Then all hell broke loose, and by Wednesday the coach was fighting back tears and saying, "I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone."

DeBerry has nothing whatsoever to apologize for...

...our fear of any discussion involving race should not eliminate common-sense observations. Since Jason Sehorn retired from the NFL a season or so ago, how many white starting cornerbacks are there in the NFL? The answer, as far as I can find, is zero. And even if I missed one or two, fact is that a position based largely on speed is 99 percent black in the NFL. That's not the same as making a presumption about the intelligence or character of cornerbacks, black or white. It's fact, jack. DeBerry didn't offer any cultural or empirical evidence about cornerbacks; he just said he would like faster ones, and as the NFL demonstrates, the fastest ones are black. That isn't even debatable.

I've heard some black dissent, but mostly I hear objection being raised by white administrators and media colleagues, a sort of misplaced white liberal guilt, if you ask me...

...DeBerry didn't insult any race or ethnic group. He offended some folks who confuse politically incorrect public speaking with bigotry.

Wilbon also rejects as misplaced Hank Aaron's criticism of the Houston Astros for not having any black American starters on their World Series team, by pointing out how American blacks have simply gravitated, by choice, to basketball and football in recent years. In other words, it's a problem of supply rather than one of demand.

Wilbon stops short of making a similar supply-versus-demand argument regarding the lack of black football players at Air Force, but it would be just as valid. The pool of black student-athletes qualified to enter our elite colleges and universities is limited, and the competition among those top schools to identify, recruit and enroll them is fierce. DeBerry's statements indicate a sincere interest in welcoming more blacks into his football program. But unfortunately, demand for such students continues to outstrip supply.

(via Galley Slaves)