Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Election Day Postponed 

Not yet, but "contingency" plans are in the works:

Events in Spain, where a terrorist attack shortly before the March election possibly influenced its outcome, show the need for a process to deal with terrorists threatening or interrupting the Nov. 2 presidential election in America, he said.

"Look at the possibilities. If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications," said Soaries, a Republican and former secretary of state of New Jersey.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A GOP Civil War? 

One can only hope. Here's the Angel of Death's take.

Before Congress left town Friday for its Fourth of July recess, Rep. Bill Thomas of California pulled off one of his patented legislative assassinations. Washington's most cunning parliamentarian, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Thomas eradicated the Freedom of Speech in Churches Act without openly opposing it. In the process, he fired an early shot in a destructive civil war looming for Republicans.

The bill would stop the Internal Revenue Service from using existing statutes to muzzle clergymen who talk politics in their churches. That stoppage is pressed by Christian conservatives, who say they have been discriminated against by federal enforcers. While the free speech initiative is supported by Republican leaders, Thomas made short work of it. He transformed the proposal into a hybrid that neither friend nor foe could support.

Thomas has brought into the open internecine warfare posing grave dangers for the Republican Party. A 13-term congressman who is the party boss of Bakersfield, Calif., he represents old-line Republicans who resent Christian conservatives entering their party in 1980 (and giving the GOP parity with Democrats). Efforts to expel these intruders will reach fever pitch next year if George W. Bush is defeated for re-election.

I really do feel that if Bush loses this election, the GOP may have to do some major soul searching (pardon the pun), to figure out if they really want to continue to be a Christian Conservative dominated party. They probably will say they are not a CC dominated party, and point to their main speakers the Convention-The Govenator, Rudy and John McCain, but anyone who knows politics, knows that isn't the case. The moderates have been marginalized, only to be used as a prop. The time for them to rise up and take their party back is coming soon.

Update: (via Andrew Sullivan) THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN WAR: The current tussle in the Congress over the budget is just a precursor to what I think will be outright Republican civil war after this election. If Bush wins, it will cripple his ability to get anything done. If he loses, the recriminations will get vicious. The fiscal conservatives will be fighting the "deficits-don't-matter" crowd. The realists will be out to topple the neocons. The Santorum-Ashcroft axis will continue to wage war on any Republicans not interested in legislating either the Old Testament or the dictates of the Vatican. (The FMA battle now looks more and more like an attempt by Santorum to identify Republican social moderates so he can use primary hardliners to challenge them in the future.) The battle lines are deep and sharp - and the future of American conservatism is at stake. Bush has proven himself unable to unite a party that includes Tom DeLay as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Bill Frist. Whether the coming civil war is about who lost the election, or who will exploit the victory, it's going to be nasty and enduring. No single party can be both for individual liberty and for theologically-based social policy; both for fiscal balance and drunken-sailor spending; both for interventionism abroad and against moralism in foreign policy. The incoherence is just too deep, the tensions too strained. And with the war on terror itself a point of contention among conservatives, geo-politics will not be able to keep the coalition in one piece.


Get Your War On 

Iraqi sovereignty style


Monday, June 28, 2004

Bremer has left the Building 

Juan Cole speculates on the reasoning behind the early transfer of sovereignty and Bremer's quick exit:

It is hard to interpret this move as anything but a precipitous flight. It is just speculation on my part, but I suspect that the Americans must have developed intelligence that there might be a major strike on the Coalition Provisional Headquarters on Wednesday if a formal ceremony were held to mark a transfer of sovereignty. Since the US military is so weak in Iraq and appears to have poor intelligence on the guerrilla insurgency, the Bush administration could not take the chance that a major bombing or other attack would mar the ceremony.

The surprise move will throw off all the major news organizations, which were planning intensive coverage of the ceremonies originally planned for Wednesday.

Cole's theory makes sense to me, but a major attack in the Green Zone would be hard, considering how fortified/protected the area is. There have been random mortar attacks in the Zone, and car bombs just outside the area, but a major attack that would do major damage, would have to be elaborate and planned to cause much psychological damage to the new Iraqi Government. (i.e. Vietcong attack on the U.S. Embassy, during the Tet Offensive)


Bush and North Korea 

Fred Kaplan of Slate reviews Bush's North Korean negotiations. After all the Bushies bluster about not renewing Clinton's North Korea deal, Bush practically copies it:

The proposal that Bush let Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly put on the table Tuesday night—a proposal that reportedly originated with South Korea—amounts to the following: North Korea has three months to commit to dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Once it makes this declaration, the United States will provisionally pledge not to invade its territory or topple its regime. At the same time, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia will start sending North Korea an enormous amount of fuel oil each month. A timetable marking subsequent steps, including the dropping of economic sanctions, will culminate with North Korea actually dismantling its nuclear facilities and shipping its plutonium abroad to be destroyed.

The only thing new about this proposal is that it calls for North Korea to receive energy assistance in the form of heavy fuel. Clinton's 1994 accord, formally titled the Agreed Framework, called for the assistance to come in the form of two light-water nuclear reactors, with heavy fuel provided only as an interim measure. Otherwise, the two deals are essentially the same.


New Terror Threats 

Isn't this kind of general threat exactly what Michael Moore was talking about in Fahrenheit 911?

Along with this now familiar general warning, the FBI has introduced the specter of a new terrorism threat: booby-trapped beer coolers. A lightly classified bulletin sent to 18,000 state and local agencies last week advised local authorities to look out for plastic-foam containers, inner tubes and other waterborne flotsam commonly seen around marinas that could be rigged to blow up on contact. Also, the bulletin warned, terrorists might attach bombs to buoys.

Al Qaeda is quite creative.


Friday, June 25, 2004


This is the third airstrike of an alleged safehouse in a week now. This time, 20-25 killed . Hopefully, only the right ones. It sounds like some Iraqis in Fallujah may finally be pissed off that these foreigners have killed so many innocents, and are passing on some good intelligence.


Senate Races 

A Senate race roundup, brought to you by Tapped. One bright spot is North Carolina, where former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, leads Rep. Richard Burr 47-39 percent.


Thursday, June 24, 2004


An outcome of our abandonment of Fallujah:

But witnesses from Fallujah say much of the city is under the control of mujahideen loyal to Zarqawi who have turned it into a haven for Islamic radicals, some of them reportedly from abroad.


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

No Immunity 

International anger over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on Wednesday forced the US to abandon a controversial bid at the United Nations to renew immunity for its forces from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

The ICC was established in 2002 to try international genocide and war-crimes cases.

James Cunnningham, deputy US ambassador, said on Wednesday that the US had failed to win the nine Security Council votes it needed and was withdrawing the proposed resolution.

Debka reports the motion for a third year’s extension of exemption lacked nine-member Security Council majority, mainly because of Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.

When the United States decided to not act like the beacon of freedom and force against oppression and instead, Ok'd torture, the International community decided to stand up against us. That's a strike against the Bush Administration. Not only can our troops now fear reprisals from militants in revenge of Abu Ghraib, they now can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.


Draft Bruce 

Dear Bruce,

We the undersigned need you.

Our country's leadership is in desperate need of change.

On September 1, the Republicans will hold their convention in New York City and will nominate George Bush for President. Many people will see this event as it will be broadcast on all the major television networks. However, an opportunity exists at that time to make it clear to Americans that they can choose an alternative to George Bush.

I have put Giants Stadium on hold on September 1 in the hope that you will lead the music industry in coming together and perform in a concert for change. Once it is known that you are involved, many other artists will want to perform with you. Together your collective voices and music will send a clear message to all Americans that our country needs their vote to create change. The event is called VoteAid: "Concert for Change" and we think that it has the potential to become the largest concert in history. We would like the money that this concert generates to go to support voter registration and participation throughout the country, but more importantly your decision to play at exactly the same time George Bush is being nominated will focus all Americans on the importance in this election for their future as well as the future of the world.

I have asked the undersigned to join me in signing this letter.

We need you.

Sign the petition.


Monday, June 21, 2004

"The Black Jesse Helms" 

From National Journal:

OPEN SEATS - NORTH CAROLINA 05: Aprobación Malo?

Campaign Tip Sheet

Primary/Filing Dates, Latest Polls, Latest Ads...

WSJS radio station "has suspended broadcast of the ads of all candidates
for the 5th District Congressional District" due to confusion over
candidate Vernon Robinson's (R) latest ad. The station is unsure whether
Robinson "legally can air an English language ad that gives a required
disclaimer about how it was paid for in Spanish." In the ad, "an
announcer says that illegal immigrants 'sponge off the American taxpayer'
and 'commit heinous crimes against us'" then says that "the prevalence of
Spanish in the United States can make Americans feel like they are in The
Twilight Zone." "The ad ends in Spanish with the words, 'Yo, Gringo!
This episode of The Twilight Zone was paid for by Robinson for Congress.'"
Robinson says the "point" of the ad is that "it's hard for most of the
citizens to understand the disclaimer because it's in Spanish. Robinson:
"That's ... why we want English to be the official language." He claims
stated who paid for the ad in Spanish is legitimate because neither the
FEC nor FCC offer any "guidance about whether the required disclaimer has
to be in English." However, WSJS is not so sure and "is waiting for
advice from Infinity Broadcasting Corp, which owns the station, before" it
runs the ad. "The corporation ... is researching whether the disclaimer
can run in Spanish and is consulting with the FCC and FEC." "In the
meantime," WSJS "is suspending other 5th Congressional District ads," so
as not to give "the other candidates an advantage" if "it turns out that
the Spanish disclaimer is permitted." The stations "hopes to have an
answer by today"


Reagan on Bush 

I wonder if Nancy agrees?

Reagan was asked about the ambiguous comments he made at his father's funeral, criticizing politicians who wear their faith on their sleeves.

"What I find interesting about it is that everybody assumes that I must be talking about George W. Bush, which I find fascinating and somewhat telling. If the shoe fits . . .," Reagan said.


Crisis in Saudi Arabia 

Check out Slate's preview on the Saudi Civil War. It's only gonna get worse, if we expect it to ever get better.

The Saudi royal family is downplaying the insurgency as much as possible, which is understandable: If the jihadists were to overthrow them, the consequences would make the Iraq war look like a minor regional skirmish: Western Europe and Asia depend on Saudi oil as much as the United States does.

One way to understand how dire the current situation looks for the Saudis is by comparing it to Egypt's Islamist wars in the 1990s in which over 1,200 people were killed. Like the Saudis, the Egyptian groups first went after officials and policemen, who are generally regarded as "hard" targets. As the Egyptian government beefed up security and made life miserable for the militants, the groups went after softer targets, like the Coptic Christian minority and tourists. In Saudi Arabia, however, it seems that some authorities have softened targets that should be hard. For instance, a Riyadh compound that houses foreign workers, including a large contingent of military advisers, was made vulnerable last May when about fifty security guards were dispatched to the desert for impromptu training exercises. One survivor, an American military adviser, is certain that the security of the compound was intentionally compromised to facilitate the operation, which killed 36.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was up in NJ/Phila. this weekend, which is the Metro area where the late Paul Johnson was from. The local and national media were interviewing people all over the area to find out what they think of the atrocity. As expected, the feelings ranged from complete anger ("I'd like to go over there with a machine gun and kill them all.") to not understanding why we're there anyway ("This is what happens when we try to police the world"). I was surprised though by how many callers to the local radio stations took their anger out at Bush. Granted NJ is a Blue State, but I'd expected the Saudis to take the most blame.


Home Field Advantage 

I finally had the opportunity to see the new Baseball stadium in Philadelphia on Saturday. It's even better than I imagined. Grass on the field, a cozy feel, the smell of Geno's Steaks permeating the air. Heaven on Earth. Baltimore's Camden Yards may still be the best of the "new" breed of Ballparks, but Citizens (Bank) Park, ain't too far behind.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

With Friends Like These 

How can we expect to win the "War on Terror", when the Saudi's are still pushing ridiculous ideas like this:

Last month, an attack on contractors at the Saudi oil facility in Yanbu killed six Westerners, two of them Americans. Senior Saudi officials told the world al-Qaida terrorists were to blame and al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

But tape obtained by NBC News reveals that, inside Saudi Arabia, on Saudi television, Crown Prince Abdullah told a strikingly different story about who was to blame.

NBC News translated Abdullah's remarks from Arabic: "Zionism is behind it. It has become clear now. It has become clear to us. I don't say, I mean... It is not 100 percent, but 95 percent that the Zionist hands are behind what happened."


Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Control Room 

I haven't seen the documentary yet, but it's supposed to be pretty good. However, one thing stood out in
Roger Ebert's review.

I have not seen Al Jazeera and am in no position to comment on its accuracy. I have seen this film, however, which contains enlightening moments. Remember the TV scene when joyous Iraqis toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein after the capture of Baghdad? TV pictures on the monitors at CentCom clearly see something American audiences were not shown: The square was not filled with cheering citizens, but was completely empty, except for the small band of young men who toppled the statue.

Al Jazeera producers watch the footage with their U.S. counterparts and observe that those who are interviewed "do not have Baghdad accents." They wonder why one "happened to have the old Iraqi flag in his pocket." The implication: This was a staged event, initiated by the U.S. occupation and bought into by the U.S. media.

That is a charge I have heard before, but only by commentaries on conspiracy-type websites, not by anyone credible. It's both incredibly well done propaganda by the Pentagon -to show "joyous Iraqis" tearing down the statue of their oppressive former dictator, and another example of the Iraqis not greeting us as "Liberators" as Paul Wolfowitz and Co. expected. It can be said that at that early point, Iraqis were afraid to come out and be seen aiding the Americans, in fear of reprisals, but we can't prove that. All we have to go on is what the camera shows, and that's they way the Pentagon likes it.


Philly Daily News Endorses Kerry 

Hopefully the first of many.

Why make this endorsement now, when the election is months away?

Because this race promises to be close and Pennsylvania is one of 18 swing states that can go to either candidate. For Kerry supporters to prevail they must do more than just vote, they must bring a ringer into this contest: the more than a million people in the region who did not vote in the last presidential election. We believe these non-voters - who will have to be mobilized over the next few months - are the key to victory



Oh my gosh!!! Al Qaeda is planning more attacks in the U.S!?!?

A suspected terrorist in U.S. custody has been cooperating with authorities and has suggested al Qaeda was planning more attacks in the United States, ABC News has learned

Duh. That must have been tough investigative work, to come up with that juicy tidbit. I assume an Ashcroft press conference, to announce the possible future attacks, will be called soon


Monday, June 14, 2004

"A Temporary Coup" 

Go read Salon's interview with Author Thomas Powers now. You have to sit through a few seconds long commercial, but just do it.

Powers, the author of "Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al Qaeda," charges that the Bush administration is responsible for what is perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of U.S. intelligence. From failing to anticipate 9/11 to pressuring the CIA to produce bogus justifications for war, from abusing Iraqi prisoners to misrepresenting the nature of Iraqi insurgents, the Bush White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies they corrupted, coerced or ignored have made extraordinarily grave errors which could threaten our national security for years. By manipulating intelligence and punishing dissent while pursuing an extreme foreign-policy agenda, Bush leaders have set spy against U.S. spy and deeply damaged America's intelligence capabilities.


Torture Memo 

Cliff Notes on the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel memo, courtesy of Michael Froomkin. Beats having a Law degree!

This is not a draft, but it’s not an action document either. It’s legal advice to the Counselor for the President. The action document was Gonzales’s memo to Bush.

This OLC document is a legalistic, logic-chopping brief for the torturer. Its entire thrust is justifying maximal pain.

Nowhere do the authors say “but this would be wrong”.

Lots of the (lousy) criminal law legal reasoning in this memo is picked up in the Draft Walker Working Group memo

This memo also has a full dose of the royalist vision of the Presidency that informs the Draft Walker memo. In the views of the author(s), there’s basically nothing Congress can do to constrain the President’s exercise of the war power. The Geneva Conventions are, by inevitable implications, not binding on the President, nor is any other international agreement if it impedes the war effort. I’m sure our allies will be just thrilled to hear that. And, although the memo nowhere treats this issue, presumably, also, the same applies in reverse, and our adversaries should feel unconstrained by any treaties against poison gas, torture, land mines, or anything else? Or is ignoring treaties a unique prerogative of the USA?



Patrick Belton over at Oxblog has been blogging from Afghanistan (yes, the technology Capitol of the World), check out his report on the return of the poppy "trade". I have a colleague who was recently in Afghanistan, as a member of Special Forces, and he said poppy fields are all over the country, as well as marijuana plants. Everyone wants to get in on the action. We cannot let Afghanistan become another Narcostate like Columbia, there's too much at stake. However, like Columbia with their coca plants, Afgan farmers know that poppy plants can get them the most money. Until there's an alternative, I don't imagine farmers will stop planting the poppy seeds.


Indictment no longer DeLayed? 

Check out this damning story on Tom DeLay and his "charity" work, from the Houston Press. It's well worth the read and may be what finally brings DeLay down.

The occasion was a big one. After a few years of talking, planning and $6 million of fund-raising, the couple was breaking ground for the Oaks at Rio Bend, a residential campus for foster kids and their families. The DeLays had come up with the idea. The DeLay Foundation, their nonprofit arm, had raised most of the seed money, and the George Foundation had donated a 30-acre site in Richmond.

Since then, the property has officially been "under construction," as the Sugar Land congressman himself boasted in an editorial in the Houston Chronicle on April 21.

And so it's jarring to drive out to see the place, eight months after the ground was ceremonially broken and construction supposedly started. You know you've arrived only because of the big sign facing Pultar Road: It announces the future home of the Oaks at Rio Bend, then offers a rendering of the Promised Land. Little villas with dormer windows sit under a vivid blue sky; people walk into a chapel; flowers bloom.

Beyond the sign is nothing.

Long praised for his philanthropic pursuits, DeLay suddenly has been hit by an avalanche of opposition. Critics have charged that the House majority leader has used his nonprofit work for political gain. His newest charity, they argue, is no more than a clever attempt to avoid campaign finance reform.


Saturday, June 12, 2004

Missed Opportunity 

Slate has an interesting piece on the rise of Bin Laden during the Soviet-Afghan War, and how we may have missed an opportunity to stop him.


Friday, June 11, 2004

Amount of Terror Attacks Understated 

What have they told us that's the truth?

WASHINGTON June 11, 2004 — The State Department acknowledged Thursday it was wrong in reporting terrorism declined worldwide last year, a finding used to boost one of President Bush's chief foreign policy claims success in countering terror.

Instead, both the number of incidents and the toll in victims increased sharply, the department said. Statements by senior administration officials claiming success were based "on the facts as we had them at the time. The facts that we had were wrong," department spokesman Richard Boucher said.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

Ocean's 10 

In this much anticipated prequel to Ocean's 11, the Gang is Back for one more heist, this time in the Middle East. The question still remains: Are you in or out?


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Send in the Twins! 

Looks like the Bush twins may make campaign speeches for their Father. Not too long ago Bush wanted to keep his kids out of the limelight. Now that the polls are getting ugly, he's more than happy to put his kids out there, to show he has a softer side.


Death by Ham Sandwich? 

In Bush's America, even the Chef could be a "terraist".

"Todd Rogers will be responsible for some 5,000 meals during the three-day summit, but he won't be allowed to create any last minute surprises, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday. That's because federal agents have been in his kitchen for weeks, memorizing his every move and recipe to guard against any unexpected ingredients...

However, this summit's security isn't up to one of President George Bush's visits to Thailand, where health ministry officials reportedly injected Bush's food into laboratory mice before serving it to him."

Ok, maybe i'm being harsh on Pretzel-boy. Assassination through poisoning, is probably one of the oldest forms of killing, and I always figured the chef/cooks would be subjected to serious scrutiny, but I never really thought that every meal would be tested on animals, like they way the bad guys do in Bond movies...


Kerry's Future Saudi Problem? 

The Asia Times analyzes Kerry's Saudi bashing and the trouble it could get him in.

"There is only one problem with Kerry's strategy: he may actually win the election. And on his first day in office reality is going to take a hefty bite out of his rhetoric as he grapples with the strategic necessity of the longstanding US-Saudi alliance and the complexity of the situation inside the kingdom, which is presently reeling from attacks on foreigners and its security services. These realizations could force some embarrassing backtracking."

I'm all for bashing the hypocritical Saudis and exposing their ties to most of the Washington establishment (for more on that read Bob Baer's great
Sleeping with the Devil), but i'm not sure what the alternative is there. If we got rid of the royal family, is there anyone moderate that could step in? Probably not right now. There's a good chance we'd be stuck with a theocracy more brutal than Iran's. For now, we may have to work on trying to change the existing regime, because our alternative may be sending in the Marines...


Coup D'Etat 

Your conspiracy theory du jour:

The Real Reason Tenet and Pavitt Resigned from the
CIA on June 3rd and 4th

Bush, Cheney Indictments in Plame Case Looming.

One can dream...


Election Fraud 2004 

Uh oh, it's happening again.

"Kast has told a handful of associates that he was uncomfortable with growing pressure to trim felons from voter rolls in time for the fall election, friends say.
I've known him for 20 years, and I believe he has acted because under the circumstances it's the only thing he could do," said Leon County Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, past president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections."


American Taliban? 

Yikes! (Via Andrew Sullivan)

SECESSION: Speaking of theocrats, some of the nuttier parts of the religious right are now advocating actual secession from the Godless United States. Catholic cleric James McCloskey once rhapsodized about this idea as well. But he was dreaming of bigger things than "Christian Exodus" They've decided to encourage Christians to go to ... South Carolina. What would the new paradise look like? The message board has some pointers:
"Well on one hand I kinda favor a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. But should homosexuals speak up, they should be deported, sanctioned, or held in jail," said one person, discussing whether their new 'country' should endorse or permit lifestyles they believe go against biblical teachings.
Other visitors had ideas on what laws might be applicable in their new South Carolina home. "No alcohol sold on Sundays at all. All entries into the town would be policed with random checks for alcohol abuse, breathalyzers mandatory. No places of business open on Sundays. All schools, public, private or otherwise would teach creation, have the Ten commandments placed and say prayer before classes start. No landlords allowed to rent to couples just living together ... Abortion would not be legal in any circumstance."
Not everyone wanted the new "Christian" republic to be quite so rigid. But you get the idea. Any takers? Mr Rove?

Also check out the Texas GOP platform. Not much difference.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Another Loss 

And people wonder why Philly fans are so tough?



Uh oh. Another hotspot in the not-to-distant future?

"As negotiations at the United Nations on a new resolution for Iraq apparently near a close, developments with respect to the Kurds and north Iraq, where there has been relative calm until now, are looking more and more ominous. Recently, the People's Congress of Kurdistan (the former Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK), announced an abrupt end to its five-year ceasefire with Turkish forces, warning that it would soon resort to violent means to achieve its ends...
Hence, the regional political, diplomatic and even military mobilization of Kurdish forces, in an attempt to secure its own interests as the June 30 date for the handover of sovereignty to Iraq nears, appears to be under way. In verification of that fact, on June 7, Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan threatened to pull out of the interim government unless the new United Nations Security Council resolution guarantees Kurdish autonomy and a veto over the direction of the interim government as promised in the draft interim constitution, which was very reluctantly signed by the Shi'ite representatives, but which is something the Shi'ite majority refuses to accept under any circumstances.



Republican strategists acknowledged Monday that they hope the nation's week of mourning for Reagan, who died Saturday, will turn into a boost for Bush's reelection campaign.

Let's see if Republicans turn Reagan's week of mourning into a rally, similar to Senator Wellstone's memorial. I was afraid Reagan would have passed away closer to the election. If that were the case, they surely would have milked his death for what it's worth. As David Gergen says in the article, hopefully voters compare GWB to Reagan and realize how little they have in common. We shall see.

"If this had happened in mid-October, it might have been different," said William Schneider, CNN senior political analyst and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "It would have rallied conservatives…. But it's five months too early. A week in politics is a lifetime; five months is an eternity."


Dumb and Dumbest 

If this guy can infiltrate Al Qaeda, why can't the CIA?

"When he arrived at the camp, Roche was invited to join a group of men for lunch, and was surprised when he recognized Bin Laden. I sat down for a meal and I just started eating," Roche said in a 2002 newspaper interview that was introduced in court. "I looked across and I said, 'Whoa, that's like the bloke on the telly.' … I nodded, he nodded."


Monday, June 07, 2004

Attack in Arabia 

The Observer has some grisly details of last weeks attack in Saudi Arabia. straight from the horse's mouth.

And Geostrategy-Direct (subscription only) tells of how the Saudi security "force" let them get away:

"ABU DHABI - Saudi commandos allowed Al Qaida insurgents to flee a foreign compound to halt the execution of Western hostages.
Saudi security sources confirmed that a National Guard special operations forces unit agreed to an offer by Al Qaida gunmen to end the execution of Western hostages in the Oasis compound in exchange for a safe exit. The sources said three of the four Al Qaida operatives managed to drive in a car for nearby Dammam.

The sources said about 40 Saudi commandos landed on the roof of the compound early on May 30 and engaged in a shootout with Al Qaida insurgents.

Within the first hour, two of the commandos were killed and eight were injured.

At that point, the sources said, the insurgents gathered Westerners into a room and threatened to blow up the building unless they were allowed to flee. The Saudi commando force, which had earlier blocked the entry of a carload of explosives, kept advancing.

The gunmen then began executing the hostages while repeating their offer. The sources said the commander of the Saudi force radioed his superior, who agreed to the offer to avoid the death of all the hostages. At least 16 hostages, most of them Westerners, were killed during the 24-hour ordeal.

"Our main priority was the hostages," a security source said.

On May 31, Saudi security forces surrounded a mosque in Khobar where the Al Qaida abductors were said to have been holed up. Witnesses said the insurgents were again allowed to escape. An Islamic preacher was arrested on suspicion of having harbored the insurgents.

Western diplomatic sources said the deal reached between Al Qaida and the commandos could explain the success of the insurgents to escape previous Saudi raids. The sources said Al Qaida insurgents have been repeatedly allowed to escape in most of the gun battles with security forces over the last two months.

Now, however, witnesses are providing new information that casts doubts on the reports by the Saudi Interior Ministry that only four Al Qaida insurgents were involved in the attack. Witnesses said that at least three of the gunmen escaped the Oasis compound more than two hours before the Saudi security forces raid on May 30.

In the aftermath of the hostage drama, the European Union has quietly decided to review its presence in Saudi Arabia.

European Union diplomats have decided to hold a series of meetings to discuss security measures needed to protect EU nationals in the kingdom. The meetings were decided on amid Al Qaida's campaign against Westerners and security forces in Saudi Arabia.

The first meeting by EU consuls and security personnel began on June 1 in Riyad. Diplomatic sources said the discussions would focus on measures to protect embassies and consulates as well as recommendations for EU nationals in the kingdom.

The second meeting will take place on June 6. This meeting will be headed by EU ambassadors, who intend to discuss security in a session at the Irish embassy in Riyad.

The security measures being discussed also include protecting EU diplomats who live in the so-called Diplomatic Quarter in Riyad, where most Western countries maintain diplomatic missions. The diplomatic sources said security has been increased significantly over the last few months amid repeated warnings of an Al Qaida strike.

Saudi authorities have responded to EU requests for increased security in the Diplomatic Quarter. The National Guard has employed additional officers and deployed checkpoints, concrete barriers and several armored personnel carriers to cover each entrance to the area.

The sources said each of the EU embassies has warned its nationals to increase their vigilance and review their need to remain in Saudi Arabia.



Being too young to really remember much of Ronald Reagan's Presidency, I'm left to hear about it from other people. Obviously after someone notable dies, you tend to hear the good things about their life. That being said, get ready for a major whitewash of Reagan's major faults-Iran-Contra, support of Hussein, etc.

Hitchens isn't afraid to kick a guy who's down or dead.

"The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing. Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray. He had no friends, only cronies. His children didn't like him all that much. He met his second wife—the one that you remember—because she needed to get off a Hollywood blacklist and he was the man to see. Year in and year out in Washington, I could not believe that such a man had even been a poor governor of California in a bad year, let alone that such a smart country would put up with such an obvious phony and loon."

Also from Slate, Timothy Noah on how Reagan taught the GOP to be irresponsible:
"But the only hot war waged during the Reagan administration was to remove a comic-opera Marxist government from the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada. The United States retreated from Lebanon after a suicide bomber killed more than 200 American soldiers. It is seldom observed that Saddam's gassing of the Kurds, which George W. Bush rightly denounced prior to the Iraq war, occurred on Reagan's watch. In 1984, when the Reagan administration got its first inkling that Iraq was engaged in chemical warfare, it chose not to make a fuss. The most ambitious foreign intervention during the Reagan administration--the funnelling of aid to the Nicaraguan contras--was done illegally, and, after it was discovered, embroiled Reagan's second term in a scandal from which it never recovered."


Back in Action 

Ladies and Gentleman, FPN is back in action, after a long week in Vegas. Since everyone except me,came home with money, feel free to send donations. Now back to the regularly scheduled blogging.


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