Saturday, September 30, 2006

Today's War Hero: Vernon P. Ligon, Jr.

Long-time readers here know I like to shine the spotlight on military heroes who do not seek attention and whom we tend to forget. Lt Col. Vernon P. Ligon, whose photo is at left, has the distinction of being a prisoner of war four times in three separate wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Col. Ligon's bio is here. It includes a life summary in his own words. Excerpt:
My military career began in March 1942 when I joined the Army Air Corps and graduated from flying school in May 1943. I was then assigned as a fighter pilot in the 362nd Fighter Group, a P-47 organization. In November 1943, I went overseas to England and flew some 35 missions when I met my fate of being shot down over Brussels by ground fire. I was captured and interned as a prisoner of war and held in several German prison camps. [Ed.: including the notorious Stalagluft III.] During the latter stages of the war, I escaped for a short period of time and returned into captivity at Mosseburg in Southern Germany, near Munich. On the 8th of May 1945 I was released and returned to the States.

[Ed.: Col. Ligon does not mention that "while flying missions in the Korean War, [he] was incarcerated for a short time in a North Korean POW camp."]

Moving on, I was reassigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC), training RF-4C's at Shaw AFB, departing for overseas in August 1967 for Udorn, Thailand, where I was Commander of the 11 th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. After 26 missions I was shot down while flying over Hanoi on a reconnaissance mission. Again a prisoner of war I spent the next five and a half years in the Vietnamese prison system along with many other Americans. My experiences while interned are typical of those of my fellow Americans. Unfortunately, they did separate us by rank of Lieutenant Colonel and above and we were not as close to some of the group as those of lower rank. l was released in March 1973. On 17 March 1973, we returned to the United States to Maxwell AFB where I met my family for the first time in many years. After processing in Maxwell for about ten days, I went on convalescent leave to my home in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

There is one thing that will always stand out very vividly in my memory and that is the reception that approximately 3,000 wonderful, loyal friends and Americans gave us returnees at Hickam AFB. It's just one of those things that disturbs your emotions and you haven't any way of expressing them. It also reaffirmed the feelings of the returnees that the greater part of the American public is patriotic and do care about their families, country and servicemen.
If you're wondering why a man who was flying combat misisions in WWII was still flying dangerous missions two wars and 20 years later, an e-mail from reader Tim Gowder tells a little more about Col. Ligon:
Shot down in WW 2, Korea and Vietnam, served as Commander of the Hanoi Hilton until [Jeremiah] Denton arrived (longer time in grade by a few days) and returned a hero but so so badly injured.

Let's tell about him. Three wars shot down...and why? He refused to lead pilots if he could not fly. Held as a Colonel and denied a star. What a hero! I knew him and wish others did, too.
What a life of service. Tim's right: Let's remember Col. Ligon and talk about him often.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mitt Romney. Politics. Religion. And All That.

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

That's from Article VI of the United States Constitution. There's been a lot of activity lately at Article 6 Blog, where I write with my evangelical blogging partner John Schroeder of Blogotional (easily one of the more inspired blog names in the blogosphere - pun intended!). A few highlights:

  • John has a philosophical post at Blogotional that I recommend to anyone who's interested in the interplay between religion and politics generally. If you're interested in the Mitt Romney - evangelical - Mormon collision, it's an absolute must-read. Excerpt:
I'm sure you remember Jimmy Carter. I have never been more sure of the right standing before the Throne of Grace for any other president, or candidate for president, than for Jimmy Carter, and yet he was one of the most consistently poor decision makers the office has ever seen. Mohler quotes Martin Luther in the segments as saying something like "I'd rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian."
  • We explored in depth (and quite vigorously, too) a recent radio program by Albert Mohler, an influential evangelical, in which Mohler considered two questions: (1) Will evangelicals vote for Mitt Romney, and (2) should they vote for Romney? The discussion of question (2) was by far the more provocative. Mohler wonders if he has a duty of Christian discipleship not to vote for a Mormon. Provocative stuff. I'll leave the rest for you to read at Article 6.
  • We also got into an Economist article, "Mitt Romney's problem," subtitled "Religious prejudice may yet undo the Republicans' latest favourite." Read that here. An excerpt from our commentary on the article:
Many who are either sympathetic to the view that voting for a Mormon presents at least a moral dilemma for evangelicals (Al Mohler comes to mind), or who actually take the position that an evangelical could never vote for a Mormon (I believe this is a minority within the evangelical community) probably resist the notion that such views are outright religious prejudice. I think it's undeniable, however.

The rejoinder from the anti-Mormon evangelical camp may be that Mormonism is so wrong, so far out of the mainstream, that it is an evangelical's duty to vote against a Mormon for fear of "mainstreaming" a dangerous sect by electing one of its adherents to the highest office in the land. Al Mohler hasopenly suggested this. In that regard, I found Dr. John Mark Reynolds' analysis compelling . . . .

Anyway, if those subjects interest you, there's no better place to be on the blogosphere than Article 6 Blog.

From The People Who Brought You the Oslo Accords: Introducing (Ta Ta!) the Clinton Global Initiative!

Al-Jazeerah reports:

The Brussels-based international conflict resolution NGO 'International Crisis Group' issued the following press release, entitled 'Towards a Comprehensive Settlement', on Friday, announcing its global initiative to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"New York, 22 September 2006: The International Crisis Group today launched a new global advocacy initiative designed to generate new political momentum for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Major funding support for the initiative — to cost around $400,000 in its first year — was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.

Dry Bones presents its take on this development in the cartoon below:

On Preserving The Purity of Our English Language

Thanks to one of our readers for the following, which she attributes to Jackie Mason:
"There may be those among you who support including Spanish in our national language. I for one am 110% against this! We must preserve the exclusivity and, above all, the purity of the English language.

"To all the shlemiels, shlemazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, putzes, shlubs, shmoes, shmucks, nogoodniks, and momzers that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one, believe that English and only English deserves kinguistic prominence in our American culture.

"To tell the truth, it takes me so farklempt, I'm fit to plotz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me broyges, specially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish. What chutzpah! These shmegeges can tout their shlock about the cultural and linguistic diversity of our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. It's all so much dreck, as far as I'm concerned. I exhort you all to be menshen about this and stand up to their fardrayte arguments and meshugganah, farshtunkene assertions. It wouldn't be kosher to do anything else.

"Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've got bubkes! The whole myseh is a pain in my tuchas!"
I will leave any further comment regarding the above to the Kosher Hedgehog, who is far more qualified than I in such matters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NIE Skewers the Democrats' Cut and Run Policy on Iraq

The Mainstream Media would have you believe that the National Intellligence Estimate declassified and released on Tuesday calls into question the Bush Administration's policy to stay the course in Iraq. In fact, if one takes the time to actually read the NIE, published in full here, it is apparent that it actually shoots down the call by many Democrats for immediate withdrawal.

The most often quoted line from the NIE, frequently put into headlines by newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, reads, "'The Iraq Jihad Is Shaping a New Generation of Terrorist Leaders." However, that quote is only half of a sentence from the report, truncated and quoted out of context to conceal the portion that does not support the Democratic critics of President Bush. Here is the complete sentence and the bullet point that immediately follows it:

"We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

"• The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

The complete excerpt really lays it on the line. If the jihadists are perceived to have succeeded in Iraq and to have defeated the United States and its allies in the war against Islamic extremism, it will encourage the jihadists to open new fronts and attack U.S. and Western interests elsewhere. Conversely, if the jihadists are defeated in Iraq, and are perceived to have lost, it will sap the momentum of the worldwide jihadist movement.

Simply put, if the NIE is correct, will the Democratic Party's policy of cut and run strengthen or weaken the forces of Islamic extremism? The answer is self-evident.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two Must-Read Columns By Caroline Glick

Caroline Glick is having a prolific week. In her first column, "the Pope's Message for Jewry," she analyses the furor over Pope Benedict's comments on Islam, and addresses the lessons that Jews should draw from the incident during this traditionally introspective period between Rosh HaShonah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

In her second column, "Bush Administration's Insistence on Confusing Friends and Foes," she argues that the U.S. policy of treating Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan as great allies in the war against terrorism, and turning a blind eye to their contribution to global jihadism, sends a mixed message about the enemy. Here, I am less convinced that she is correct. True, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan sometimes seem to be playing a double game. However inconsistent that sometimes may make U.S. policy appear, there are both strategic and tactical reasons for the U.S. to put up with that situation, and preserve its relationships with both countries. Regarding Egypt, however repugnant the authoritarian nature of the Mubarak regime may be, it has been a bulwark against the ascendency of the Muslim brotherhood and other extremist Islamic groups.

Do Hedgehog readers agree with my take, or with that of Caroline Glick?

Send Keith Olbermann Some Flower Seeds!

In the course of his incredibly unprofessional attack on fellow television jounalist Chris Wallace in yesterday's tirade, Keith Olbermann remarked:

"Mr. Clinton was brave. Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I, in one moment, surrendered all my credibility as a journalist, and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail."

A caller on the Hugh Hewitt Show this afternoon suggested that the most appropriate response to Olbermann is to send him mail order seeds, to give him a start on his new career. It is a fabulous idea, and Radio Blogger is now promoting the project on his website. He suggests Thompson & Morgan as an easy and convenient online seed vendor, but any one will do. Thompson & Morgan is currently conducting a sale in which they add two free seed packets to every order, so with the purchase of just one seed packet, I was able to send Keith three!

Use your imagination on the flower selection. Given that Olbermann has become a wildman, I thought wild flowers were appropriate. I chose Foxglove, since Olbermann viciously attacked Fox News and its journalists. Wild pansy, pictured above, would also be an excellent selection.

Palestinians Resume Rocket Attacks from Gaza, Hezbollah Continues to Rearm

There are ominous reports today on both of Israel's beleagured borders. In the south, the Palestinians have resumed its rocket attacks. A salvo of Kassam rockets launched today at the southern Israeli town of Sderot wounded one woman. Hamas is threatening to fire Kassam rockets deeper into Israel than ever before. "First they will hit Ashkelon," said Abu Ubaideh, spokesman for the Iz A-din Al-Kassam wing of Hamas, "and then we will act to ensure that they go further than that."

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Peretz reported to the Knesset that in the north, the recently fought war in Lebanon has strengthened the Hizbullah terrorist organization. Furthermore, Peretz reported that weapons and money continue to pour into Lebanon from Iran, earmarked for the Hizbullah.

Islamist Threat Silences Mozart In Germany

The Associated Press, in a story published in the Jerusalem Post Online, reports that the Deutsche Oper, one of Germany's leading opera companies, based in Berlin, has cancelled a performance of Mozart's Idomeneo, planned for November 2006, citing concerns that the production's reference to world religions, including Islam, raised an "incalculable security risk."

According to another report, carried by the BBC, the "Idomeneo" production, directed by Hans Neuenfels, shows King Idomeneo staggering on stage carrying the decapitated heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad. German press agency DPA said Berlin police have so far recorded no direct threat to the opera house.

Nonetheless, Deutsche Oper director Kirsten Harms said security officials had now warned of possible problems if the production went ahead, and that it was in the best interests of performers and opera-goers to cancel it.

A statement by Deutsche Oper read, ""We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures."

Reactions to the cancellation were mixed. Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said the director had made the wrong decision to scrap the production. "Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived out on the offensive," he told the Associated Press. "Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them."

Germany's interior minister called the cancellation "unacceptable"

However, Germany's Islamic Council leader, Ali Kizilkaya, supported the cancellation, saying the Muhammad depiction could offend. "Nevertheless, of course I think it is horrible that one has to be afraid," he told Berlin's Radio Multikulti. "That is not the right way to open dialogue."

Not the right way, indeed. Following so closely the furor over the recent quotation by Pope Benedict of a medieval text criticizing Mohammed, this incident demonstrates the extent to which fear of Islamic fanaticism is already stifling free expression in Europe.

It is worth noting that although the scene depicts the severed heads of Poseidon (Neptune), Jesus and Buddha, as well as Mohammed, the Deutsche Oper was not concerned about a violent response from pagans, Christians or Buddhists.

On the other hand, although I am not familiar with the opera, based on a plot summary, it appears to me that the offending scene was added to this particular production when it premiered in Berlin in 2003, and is not part of the original opera. Indeed, the opera's story takes place just after the end of the Trojan War, hundreds of years before the life of Jesus and nearly a thousand years before the life of Mohammed. Part of the plot deals with the threat to Crete posed by a wrathful Neptune, who has been denied the promised sacrifice of the King's son. No doubt the message of the scene in question is that modern secular society should "slay" all gods and prophets of superstitious religion. To that extent, the production is indeed offensive to all religious people, not only Moslems, and carried an anti-clerical message that Mozart and his librettist, Gianbattista Varesco, are unlikely to have intended. (The theme of the original story is that true love conquers all.)

Indeed, it occurs to me that Deutsche Oper could have easily removed the one offending scene and still presented Idomeneo. So to a certain extent the secularlists have been hoisted on their own petard. Nonetheless, capitulation to the violent Moslem street is hardly a happy precedent.

Keith Olbermann Was Pretty Good When He Was Doing Sports

But as a political commentator, he's simply . . . astonishing in his moonbat fervor. I wonder if he realizes no one watches MSNBC, and expecially him?

Here's the link to Big Keith's latest. It's a little hard to watch this 10-minute rant (unless you're a Daliy Kos devotee, in which case you'll be swooning 30 seconds in), but it's worth it. There's no better way to appreciate the depth of feeling, self-delusion, and moral certitude of the Angry Left.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Low-Blow Politics In South Carolina: A McCainiac Plays The Religion Card

Who is the woman at left? Her name is Cyndi Mosteller and she is Chairman of the Charleston County, South Carolina Republican Party.

Why am I talking about her here? Because it looks like the religiously-based electoral hijinks have begun in South Carolina, and Ms. Mosteller is apparently the point person in that effort. She's also a high-profile McCain adviser. The entire sordid event is exposed at Article 6 Blog, where I am a co-author. Dean Barnett correctly perceives that I smell a rat.

What do you think?

Harold Hutchison at Called As Seen has a suggested Romney response.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two Hard-Shell Bush Critics Thoughtfully Analyzed

Jennifer Senior has written a review of the following two new new books by Angry Left authors:

Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration
By Lewis H. Lapham


Chronicles of a Radical Regime.
By Sidney Blumenthal

Here's a taste:
Now, just in time for the midterm elections, the collected columns of two passionate Bush critics, Lewis H. Lapham and Sidney Blumenthal, are landing in bookstores. Both, to varying degrees, suffer from a distorting case of Bush-phobia. . . .

The left has often complained that what it needs isn’t polite speech, but voices as pungent as those on the right. Maybe so. But even the angriest people on the right tend to be funny. Books like this one are a depressing reminder of how important it is for writers to have a slight sense of humor about themselves, if they want to be taken at all seriously.
The whole thing is really worth a read.

(HT: InstaPundit.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Bill Clinton Follies

Wlliam J. Clinton on his efforts to kill or capture Osama bin Laden:
At least I tried. That's the difference between me and some, including all the right wingers. They ridicule me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed . . . .
One struggles with where to begin in response to such claptrap. Then one simply smiles, shrugs at the man's truly pathetic, shameless nature, and moves on.

Here's the video on YouTube. It's fun to watch. Notice Clinton's vehemence. He's been stung by the criticism of his precious legacy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

AP Trumpets Meaningless "Milestone" As Service Losses in Iraq and Afghanistan Exceed 9/11 Deaths

Mainstream Media never misses an opportunity to lower our national morale and weaken support for the war against the jihadists. This article from AP notes, "Now the death toll is 9/11 times two. U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now match those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history."

And the significance of that statistic is--what? As Associated Press writer Calvin Woodward concedes in his article:
"Historians note that this grim accounting is not how the success or failure of warfare is measured, and that the reasons for conflict are broader than what served as the spark.

The body count from World War II was far higher for Allied troops than for the crushed Axis. Americans lost more men in each of a succession of Pacific battles than the 2,390 people who died at Pearl Harbor in the attack that made the U.S. declare war on Japan. The U.S. lost 405,399 in the theaters of World War II."
Having admitted in his own article that his preoccupation with body counts is meaningless, Woodward nonetheless presses on:
"Despite a death toll that pales next to that of the great wars, one casualty milestone after another has been observed and reflected upon this time, especially in Iraq.

There was the benchmark of seeing more U.S. troops die in the occupation than in the swift and successful invasion. And the benchmarks of 1,000 dead, 2,000, 2,500.

Now this."
What would the Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle have thought about Mr. Woodward's story? In the summer of 1943, when he returned to the United States for some R&R after 15 months covering the fighting in World War II, he explained that fatigue had begun to affect his journalism. He wrote:
"I was fed up, and bogged down. Of course you say other people are too, and they keep going on. But if your job is to write about the war, you're very apt to begin writing unconscious distortions and unwarranted pessimisms when you get too tired.

"I had come to despise and be revolted by war clear out of any logical proportion. I couldn't find the Four Freedoms among the dead men. Personal weariness became a forest that shut off my view of events about me. I was no longer seeing the little things that you at home want to know about the soldiers.

"When we fought through Sicily, it was to many of us like seeing the same movie for the fourth time. Battles differ from one another only in their physical environment - the emotions of fear and exhaustion and exaltation and hatred are about the same in all of them. Through repetition, I had worn clear down to the nub my ability to weight and describe. You can't do a painting when your oils have turned to water.

"There is, in the months and years ahead, still a lot of war to be written about. So I decided, all of a sudden one day in Sicily, that you who read and I who write would both benefit in the long run if I came home to refreshen my sagging brain and drooping frame. To put it bluntly, I just got too tired in the head. So here I am."
Of course, Pyle returned to the war, eventually meeting his death on April 18, 1945, on Ie Shima, at the hands of a Japanese machine gunner. Journalists were different then. In our day the press specializes in "writing unconscious distortions and unwarranted pessimism." It is considered a journalistic virtue, not a sign of combat fatigue.

Israel Continues its Withdrawal from Lebanon While Hizbollah Refuses to Disarm

On the one side, Israel pulled its forces out of two more areas in South Lebanon today, and French Major General Alain Pelligrini, the head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that Israel should have completed its withdrawal from Lebanon by the end of the month. On the other side, Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, speaking at a huge "victory" valley today, rejected international calls to disarm his Lebanese guerrillas and said that Hezbollah still had more than 20,000 rockets after a month of war with Israel. According to Reuters, Nasrallah warned the reinforced United Nations peacekeepers who are deploying in southern Lebanon as Israeli forces withdraw not to seek confrontation with Hizbollah. "Your [the UN Peacekeepers] mission is not to spy on Hizbollah or to disarm the resistance," he told a crowd packed into the Shi'ite Muslim suburbs. "There is no army in the world that can (force us) to drop our weapons from our hands, from our grip," he declared.

Actually, the Israel Defense Forces can and will cause Hizbollah's weapons to drop from their cold dead hands, if Israel's leaders and the world community allows the IDF to do the job. Israel is complying with Security Council Resolution No. 1701, the basis for the current ceasefire, while Hizbollah flaunts its intention not to comply before the world. Will the UN now act? Probably not. As the above photo of Nasrallah being chummy with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan illustrates, in the eyes of the world body, Israel can do no right and its enemies no wrong.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Warren Buffett Visits His Israeli Acquisition

Back on July 5th, when Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet's holding company, announced that it had acquired 80% of Iscar, an Israeli prescision cutting tool manufacturer, for a whopping four billion dollars--its very first acquisition of a company headquartered outside the United States--there were no doubt those in the investment community who clucked their tongues and questioned whether Mr. Buffet was exercising due caution in light of the volatile security situation in Israel. When hostilities broke out on the Israeli-Lebanese border just seven days later, those same skeptics probably considered that events had borne out the validity of their suspicions. After all, Iscar is located only 8 miles from the Israel-Lebanon border, and 4000 Hezbollah rockets rained down on Northern Israel during the month-long fighting. Moreover, the prospects for renewed warfare are very real.

As reported here by USA Today, Mr. Buffet was fazed neither by the war nor by his potential critics. Following his first visit to see the company--Berkshire Hathaway had purchased it sight unseen--Mr. Buffet told reporters:

"I knew where it was when we bought it. What you have here is a remarkable group of people doing remarkable things in their field, achieving terrific results all over the world from here, based right here, eight miles from the Lebanese border."

Buffett said that while another frontier flare-up is possible, the region is fundamentally no riskier than any other. "Over the long term, the United States and Israel, have exactly the same risk," he said. "We live in a dangerous world."

Ha-Aretz reports that the well-known Buffett wit was on display when the master investor spoke at a dinner in his honor at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. He remarked, "We paid $4 billion for a company we never saw. Now I am happy to report that there really is a factory there."

Mr. Buffett also reflected on why the Iscar acquisition fit in with the Berkshire Hathaway investment philosophy, stating, "Our business trick is not to try to be a genius but to find geniuses to partner with and then try not to interfere with them in business. A lot of Americans went looking for oil in the Middle East, but they didn't stop here. We were looking for brains, and came straight to Israel."

The caption in USA Today for the photograph above states: "Warren Buffett, wearing a traditional Druze cap given to him by an unidentified Druze man, visits the Iscar Metalworking headquarters. Behind him is Iscar founder Stef Wertheimer." However, having seen both Druze and Bukharian hats first hand, I would say that the hat is Bukharian. Bukharian Jews from the Central Asian regions of the old Soviet Union, have immigrated to Israel, beginning back in the 1970s.

Chirac Undercuts the US Position On Iran's Nukes

What a surprise! France has stabbed us in the back again! Amir Taheri explains in this Jerusalem Post column how completely Jacques Chirac has undercut the U.S. effort to maintain united Security Council pressure on Iran to discontinue its development of nuclear weapons. Ironically, France's perfidy may have the unintended consequence of making a diplomatic resolution of the crisis less likely. Indeed, Taheri discusses how similar meddling by France and Russia dissuaded Saddam Hussein from making the concessions necessary to avoid the U.S./British invasion of Iraq.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ahmadinejad's U.N. Speech

Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, we have this translation of the closing to the Iranian president's speech yesterday:
I emphatically declare that today's world more than ever before longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity, and above all longs for the perfect, righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet. Oh Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirst for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers among those who strive for his return and his cause.
This is an appeal for the quick arrival of the Hidden or Twelfth Imam. Not a single American newspaper reported this. Hugh asks an important question: "If George Bush had so ended his address, what would the reaction of the American press be?"

Read Hugh's entire post.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Anchoress on Pope Benedict and Islam

The Anchoress is one of the most compelling, readable writers in the blogosphere. Her latest:
Any intelligent human being understands that one does not - in the 21st century - publicly touch on the subject of Islamic jihad and religious compulsion, no matter how delicately or distinctively, unless one wants to deal with a reaction that is both primitive and intimidating, by a group demonstrably closed to dialogue.

And yet Benedict, clearly an intelligent man, has done so. He has, in essence, dared to say to Islam, “Is this really what you want to be doing, in this century? The rest of the world’s religions have put away the swords . . . how about we talk?”

Up to now, no one has come out and said that to Islam. The Pope is the first.
Yes. Bravo, Benedict. (HT: Instapundit)

Richard Armitage And His Eternal Reward

Jed Babbin has some thoughts on just where Armitage will end up. Hint: It's balmy there.

Article 6 Blog Interview: David Barton of Wallbuilders

David Barton of Wallbuilders is a widely-recognized historian in the role of religion in the founding and history of the United States of America. My blogging partner at Article 6 Blog, John Schroeder, thought Barton was a natural for an interview there, and I agreed. With John taking the lead, we recently interviewed Barton and present the transcript of that interview there. If you're interested in the subject matter, it's simply a great read.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Patrick Fitzgerald: How Will He Be Remembered?

In the long and troubled history of special prosecutors, many who have served in that role have gone on to fame and fortune, others simply to infamy. Archibald Cox, for example, was fired by President Nixon but has been a liberal icon forever after. Leon Jaworsky completed Cox's investigation and jailed a bunch of Nixon aides. He has been lionized. Lawrence Walsh ended up with a less shiny halo. He indicted several Reagan administration officials (including the former Secretary of Defense, Cap Weinberger) five days before the 1992 election and may have sealed George H.W. Bush's electoral doom. Even foes of the first George Bush seemed a little embarrassed by that one.

Then there's Kenneth Starr, whose work led to Bill Clinton's impeachment. Starr's conservative fans consider him a hero of the Republic; liberals consider him an evil man who conducted a puritanical inquisition.

And what of Patrick Fitzgerald (photo above left), the investigator of the Valerie Plame - Joe Wilson matter? Right now we mostly have questions about Mr. Fitzgerald's performance, and not many of the answers to those questions can possibly be good. I suspect history will regard Fitzgerald as either incompetent or outrageously overzealous, or maybe a little of both.

Victoria Toensing, former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, has written a devastating piece in Opinion Journal that I think is typical of the reviews Mr. Fitzgerald will receive. It's necessary to read the entire piece to understand fully how questionable this special prosecutor's performance was, but here's an excerpt:
[Richard] Armitage, who came forward after Mr. Libby was indicted, was told in February 2006, after two grand jury appearances, he would not be indicted. Mr. Rove, however, after five grand jury appearances, was not informed until July 2006 he would not be charged. Mr. Fitzgerald made the Rove decision appear strained, a close call. Yet of the two men's conduct, Mr. Armitage's deserved more scrutiny. And Mr. Fitzgerald knew it. Each had testified before the grand jury about a conversation with Mr. Novak. Each had forgotten about a conversation with an additional reporter: Mr. Armitage with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Rove with Time's Matt Cooper. However, Mr. Rove came forward pre-indictment, immediately, when reminded of the second conversation. When Mr. Woodward attempted to ask Mr. Armitage about the matter, on two separate occasions pre-indictment, Mr. Armitage refused to discuss it and abruptly cut him off. To be charitable, assume he did not independently recall his conversation with Mr. Woodward. Would not two phone calls requesting to talk about the matter refresh his recollection? Now we also know Messrs. Armitage and Novak have vastly different recollections of their conversation. Isn't that what Mr. Libby was indicted for?
(Emphasis added.) Remember how everyone waited with baited breath, wondering if Karl Rove would be indicted? We now now that a Rove indictment was never really in the cards. Fitzgerald tried hard to catch Rove in a lie about a crime that was never committed-- the very alleged crime that was the basis for Fitzgerald's appointment, that he was supposed to be investigating, and that he knew almost from the outset did not occur. But Rove did not lie. Scooter Libby is now alleged to have lied-- but not about Valerie Plame. Apart from Joe Wilson, it looks like the only real liar in this story is Richard Armitage, who is going to walk away unscathed, after delivering a sheepish and unconvincing apology. As Toensing notes:
Put aside hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds squandered on the investigation, New York Times reporter Judith Miller's 85 days in jail, the angst and legal fees of scores of witnesses, the White House held siege to a criminal investigation while fighting the war on terror, Karl Rove's reputation maligned, and "Scooter" Libby's resignation and indictment. By his silence, Mr. Armitage is responsible for one of the most factually distorted investigations in history.
What a disgusting episode. Fitzgerald and Armitage should be regarded with disdain for the rest of their careers.

Friday, September 15, 2006

9/11, bin Laden, and al Qaeda: Facts Are Stubborn Things

Victor Davis Hanson, as always, puts forward some hard truths and hard questions.
While American politicians tore into each other, Al Jazeera calmly released a video of Osama bin Laden from before 9/11. Given the timing of the tape's
release, you could call it bin Laden's alternative commemoration of the mass murder of 3,000 Americans. . . . There is a lot to relearn from the footage that we have apparently forgotten in these last five years.
Read about the video. I don't think you'll get this information from CNN.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Final Chapters of Plamegate?

Robert Novak writes today about the true role of Richard Armitage (photo at left) in the Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame-Scooter Libby-Karl Rove-Patrick Fitzgerald fiasco. Novak's piece is remarkable in the manner in which he refuses to allow Armitage, his source regarding Plame's CIA position, to dissemble. He openly and directly contradicts Armitage's version of the "deep background" discussion he and Armitage had that resulted in Valerie Plame Wilson's "outing." Novak's final paragraph is a stinging indictment of his source:
Armitage's silence . . . caused intense pain for his colleagues in government and enabled partisan Democrats in Congress to falsely accuse Rove of being my primary source. When Armitage now says he was mute because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's request, that does not explain his silent three months between his claimed first realization that he was the source and Fitzgerald's appointment on Dec. 30. Armitage's tardy self-disclosure is tainted because it is deceptive.
Armitage's reputation has been damaged irreparably in this matter, I think. Meanwhile, as Ralph notes in an earlier post, there are some very troubling lingering questions about this sordid affair. More here.

Mitt Romney: Is His Faith Really A Problem for Voters?

If you're interested in Mitt Romney's probable candidacy for president, you'll probably want to visit Article 6 Blog. Today's post explores the possibility of a manufactured issue: Are questions about Romney's electability due to his Mormon faith based on voters' real concerns, or on the conjecture of pundits? There are some links to interesting information you won't find anywhere else.

(Disclosure: I am one of the authors of Article 6 Blog.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jihadist Useful Idiots Update: They Love Khatami's Lies at Harvard

Muhammad Khatami, the former President of the Islamic Republic (Iran), may walk hand-in-hand with the present President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in their quest to conquer the West, but you wouldn't know that from his speeches at Harvard and other venues. Iranian American journalist Amir Taheri reveals the truth in his September 13 column in the New York Post, entitled "Lies They Love At Harvard." (HT: One of our readers. See also our earlier Hedgehog post on Khatami's invitation to speak at Harvard.)

However, most of the American media, following the lead of the Harvard Dons, continue to perform their useful idiots function. For example, both AP and ABC News carried this story by Michael Weissenstein entitled, "Khatami offers moderate vision of Iran." Mr. Weissenstein naively takes at face value the spin that "Khatami offered a moderate take on relations between East and West that focused on nonviolence, discussion and mutual understanding in sharp contrast to his hard-line successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." Taheri points out (as did World Citizen, an Iranian American commentator on our earlier Hedgehog post) that Khatami achieves this effect partially by having his Persian-English translator soften or distort his words when they are translated into English. In fact, in Persian, Khatami emphasized his agreement with Ahmadinejad, not his differences. Mostly, though, Khatami just lies and dissembles. And the American media and academic elites fawn over him like no one since Yassir Arafat, may his name be erased.

Politics In A Presidential Address? Who Would Have Thought?

Just for a change of pace, Tuesday morning I listened to NPR's Morning Edition during my workout. White House correspondent Don Gonyea had the story about President Bush's address to the nation on the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It seemed that Gonyea was not 10 seconds into the story before he mentioned what he apparently thought was a key fact: Bush had injected politics into the story by mentioned the war in Iraq and urging Americans to stay the course there. During the day, Bush's aides had been telling the news media that Bush's address would be non-political.

Oh, well, I thought; par for the course in the MSM.

But Fred Barnes has some more helpful information, the type that you'll never see in the L.A. Times or New York Times. Barnes reports that in "a 95-minute session in the Oval Office with seven journalists," the president commented on his address and the media's coverage of it in a way that showed revealing insight:
The president said he "can pretty well anticipate" what people will say about him and his actions. The response to his 9/11 speech "was a classic," he said. It was that he'd brought up the subject of Iraq, thus injecting politics into the address. "Well, imagine what would have been said if I didn't talk about Iraq." Bush said it would have been called a "failed policy, therefore we can't talk about it." But because he did talk about it, the complaint is "it's politics," he said. "It's just the nature of the deal."
Read Barnes' entire piece. It provides some real information about how President Bush thinks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It Will Be Hard to Live With Hugh Hewitt This Fall

Faithful listeners to the radio program of Hugh Hewitt, the Blogfather of The Hedgehog Blog, know that he is a fanatical fan of Ohio State University college football. This was true even in the days of Woody Hayes, when OSU had yet to discover the forward pass. I myself, a Stanford alumnus, happily attended the 1971 Rose Bowl, when Jim Plunkett, using what Hayes described as a "mad dog pass," took apart the Buckeyes. Now that OSU is employing a modern (i.e., post 1950) offense, they are a good deal more competitive, and this week are ranked No. 1 in the college football polls. Hugh's second college football love is Notre Dame, and lo and behold, the Fighting Irish are ranked No. 3. All this will make Hugh insufferable this week.

Adding to the volatility of this situation is that Hugh's nemesis, USC, is ranked No. 2, between OSU and Notre Dame. While Hugh duly plays "I don't give a Damn About the Whole State of Michigan" during the week of the OSU-Michigan game, he actually has a soft spot for Michigan, because he went to law school there. As his listeners are all too painfully aware, he spares his real contempt for the Trojans of USC, which he is unwilling to acknowledge as an institution of higher learning, although he broadcasts from Los Angeles and his Southern California audience is undoubtedly loaded with Trojan alumni. So this could be an historic week in Southern California talk radio, featuring a fanatical Hewitt taunting and alienating his own fan base.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my daughter graduated from USC's Keck School of Medicine, and I can certainly vouch for the academic excellence of the USC health care campus. The real rub, though, is that today is my 30th anniversary, and my wife Laura holds a Master's degree in Romance Languages from that same OSU so beloved by Mr. Hewitt. Throw in my Arizona State University law school alma mater, and between my wife, my daughter and myself, one has a great deal of potential for college fan rivalry.

In any event, at least until OSU or Notre Dame play Stanford, USC or Arizona State, go Buckeyes! Go Irish! And Happy 3oth Anniversary Mrs. Kostant!

Lowell adds: My dear blog partner Ralph suggests in a comment below that my alma mater, the University of Utah, does not have an intercollegiate athletics program. This is very, well, amusing, because the Kosher Hedgehog knows darn well that I am a fanatic supporter of the Utah Utes, who, I must add, have a winning record against Stanford in football; have been nationally ranked more recently, and higher, than Stanford in football (we were 2004 Fiesta Bowl champions with a #4 national ranking); and have progressed deeper into the NCAA basketball tournament (to the 1998 national final game) than Stanford has in modern times. Kosher is a smart guy, but he should know better than to pick a fight with a Ute.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Dry Bones & Chris Hitchens Ask: Have We Learned the Correct Lessons From 9/11?

Dry Bones and Chris Hitchens focus like a laser on the same point on this fifth anniversary of 9/11: The Jihadists have launched a war against Western Civilization. The 9/11 attack was just one assault in that war. Even the victims of 9/11 were an international group (including, as Hitchens points out, hundreds of his fellow British citizens). Both before and after 9/11, the Islamists launched scores of attacks across the world against their real and perceived enemies, including other Muslims. The targets of radical Islamism must form an alliance to defeat it.

A September 11 Video Montage

Assembled and explained by James Lileks. Well worth the 15 minutes it takes to watch.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Why Does the West Appease Radical Islam? Why Has Anti-Semitism Migrated to the Left?

In a column in the Jerusalem Post, intriguingly titled "A General Theory of Just About Everything," Jonathan Rosenblum tackles those questions. I will not try to summarize his thesis here; read the column. However, I just have to quote these priceless lines:
Contemplating the jihadists' logic - the logic of those who crave death - is terrifying and causes many to deny the obvious: the West is in a religious war. After Canadian police uncovered a plot to blow up the Parliament buildings and behead the prime minister, the police spokesman described the plotters as coming from a broad cross-section of society - albeit all named Muhammad or Ahmed. And the deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard called those plotting to blow up 10 airliners nothing but common criminals, at most "hiding behind certain faiths."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hugh Hewitt Dropped In Favor of Michael Savage?

I'm a 25-year resident of Los Angeles but still visit my home town Salt Lake City often. When there, I have enjoyed tuning in The Hugh Hewitt Show while driving to appointments and even after work hours (the time zone difference allows that). I'm an unabashed fan.

Just recently, Salt Lake's KLO Radio dropped Hugh's show and replaced it with Michael Savage, someone I refuse to listen to because I think his show is simply "angry man schtick." The following e-mail from a Salt Lake listener to KLO pretty much sums up how disappointing KLO's decision is:
I'm writing to express my extreme disappointment in your decision to replace Hugh Hewitt with Michael Savage during the 4 to 7 PM slot. Your "World Class Radio" aspiration just dropped a few notches.

While I usually agree with Savage's opinions and positions, I find his outraged foaming at the mouth offensive and irritating. He hurts his cause with his whining and screaming. The man needs treatment. . . . I fear that one day he'll blow a blood vessel during one of his more emotional screeds.

Hugh Hewitt, on the other hand, is in the top tier of the radio voices on the air today, matched only by the likes of Bill Bennett and the now otherwise-occupied Tony Snow. Hewitt every day proves his high intelligence, his understanding of the issues, and his gift of expression with his calm, reasoned persuasion and the discussion with his stellar guests.He is obviously highly respected by the movers and shakers in the conservative movement. (I can't imagine Vice President Cheney or Secretary of State Rice ever appearing on Savage's program.)

Of course, one might say that Savage appeals to those more interested in discussion driven by emotion rather than intellect. Hmm.... Do the former spend more money on your sponsors' products than the latter?

I guess that during the 4-7 time slot I'll be reading Hewitt's web site instead of listening to the radio. Hopefully I can find a source where his program is streamed on the net.
The listener can take heart. I often listen to Hugh's show online, here or here. Meanwhile, I hope KLO and the Salt Lake radio market come to their senses.

Love and 9/11

If you missed Peggy Noonan's Opinion Journal piece Friday, this weekend is a great time to read it, as the 5th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches:
I think . . . about the sounds that came from within the buildings and within the planes--the phone calls and messages left on answering machines, all the last things said to whoever was home and picked up the phone. They awe me, those messages.
Read it. Maybe it will take your mind off the honor being heaped on former Iranian President Khatami on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Released Prisoners Return to Kill Israelis

In the past, Israel has engaged in several one-sided "prisoner exchanges," in which thousands of Arab prisoners have been released in return for the freedom of a handful of Israeli hostages or prisoners of war. Still thousands more prisoners were released as so-called "confidence-building" measures during the years following the Oslo Accords.

A study released this week by Almagor Terror Victims Association, an Israeli terror victims advocacy group, demonstrates the damage that such one-sided exchanges may do to Israeli security. The study showed that of 6912 prisoners released between 1993-1999, 854 of them, 14%, were arrested subsequently for murder or attempted murder. At least 14 of the major terrorist attacks in recent years were carried out by terrorists released from prison in the context of such “good will gestures” and Israeli prisoner deals.

Moreover, the Israeli government gave assurances to the public that all of the prisoners released in these deals had no "blood on their hands," i.e., had not actually killed any victims. One can imagine what the statistics would be if the released prisoners included convicted murderers such as Samir Kuntar. (See previous post.)

More details on the report, including examples of the carnage wrought by just 9 of the released prisoners, appear in this Israeli National News/Arutz 7 article.

Hezbollah Demands Release of Terrorist Murderer In Exhange for Captured Soldiers

JTA reports:
"Hezbollah said it will not release two captured Israeli soldiers until Israel releases a Lebanese man jailed for the 1979 murder of an Israeli family.
Mahmoud Kamati, a senior official of the Lebanese terrorist group, told an Israeli Arabic language newspaper that Samir Kuntar’s release was a condition for the release of two soldiers captured on July 12 in a cross-border raid, Ha’aretz reported on Friday. The raid and a series of rocket attacks launched the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon this summer."

The picture at the left is a Hezbollah poster of Kuntar, found at a Hezbollah website dedicated to his release. A little reminder of who Kuntar is and what he did is instructive about the motives of Hezbollah, as if we needed the reminder. Here is an account from Bradley Burston in the online edition of the Israeli Newspaper Haaretz, in a column that actually argues for Kuntar's release as part of a prisoner exchange:

In 1979, Kuntar led a group of gunmen on an attack in Nahariya, during which broke into an apartment and took hostage Danny Haran, 28, and his four-year-old daughter, Einat.

"I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades," Danny's wife, Smadar, wrote three years ago in an account in the Washington Post, describing in part how she hid from the terrorists with her other daughter, Yael, just two.

"I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

"As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

"By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her."

The contrast between Kuntar and the Israeli hostage prisoners, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, could not be more stark. Goldwasser and Regev are soldiers who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in an unprovoked military raid across an internationally recognized border, accompanied by indiscriminate shelling of Israeli towns. The sole purpose of that raid was to take hostages to use in a prisoner exchange to release people such as Kuntar. Kuntar is a cold-blooded murderer who shot a man to death in front of his 4-year old daughter, so that would be her last living sight, and then bludgeoned her to death.

I hope that I feel as much compassion for the Goldwasser and Regev families as anyone else; but to release such a man will simply invite more such kidnappings and hostake taking.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Example of How The Tide May Be Turning To The GOP

I don't think I am engaging in wishful thinking. Recent developments in the war on Islamofascism, combined with the Democrats' squishy ineptitude on the same issue, are probably pushing security-minded voters toward the GOP. This video of an appearance by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on the O'Reilly Factor is an interesting example of the way Republicans are willing to talk and act on the issue that no national Democrat would dare attempt (except for Joe Lieberman, and we know what his party did to him). In the piece, Romney comments on his decision to order all Massachusetts government agencies not to support in any way former Iranian President Khatami's visit to Harvard.

Watch the video and you'll see what I mean. Here's an excerpt from Romney's interview:
On September 10th and September 11th, on the 5th anniversary of an extraordinary tragedy in America, you don't welcome a person to Harvard, with open arms, who has preached the destruction of Israel, who has developed nuclear technology contrary to what he had said, who has jailed dissident students in his country, who has praised Hezbollah. This is a person whose words are worth nothing.
Can you see Hillary Clinton saying anything like that? John Kerry? Nancy Pelosi?

(HT: The Political Pit Bull)

Iran Defies UN Security Council--So What?

As always, Yaakov Kirschen at DRY BONES saw it coming. Iran has ignored the U.N. Security Council's Aug. 31 deadline to halt the enrichment of uranium and is pressing ahead on a nuclear program enabling it to develop nuclear weapons. In sheer defiance of the international community, and just days before the deadline, Iran announced the opening of a new nuclear facility and actually increased its enrichment activities. Will the reaction of the UN be anything more than a shrug of Kofi Anan's shoulders?

Democrats Try to Block Broadcast of "The Path to 9/11"

One of the Democrats' favorite talking points is that the Bush Administration and the GOP Majority in Congress has turned the war on terrorism into a war on civil liberties. According to the Democrats, the Patriot Act and the actions of the administration have eroded the Bill of Rights.

The true nature of the Democratic Party's commitment to free expression is revealed here, an official Democratic Party web site. This site collects signatures on a petition to Walt Disney Corporation President Robert Iger, demanding that ABC not broadcast "The Path to 9/11", because it "is a conservative attempt to rewrite the history of September 11 to blame Democrats, just in time for the election."

Apparently, two months will not be enough time, in the eyes of the Democratic Party, to repair the damage it will suffer from this program. Mind you, by all reports, the program is critical of both the Clinton Administration and the George W. Bush Administration, but it is a deep affront to the Democrats for anything other than attacks on Republicans to appear on network TV. "What is the world coming to?" they ask.

To counter the Democratic petition, Little Green Footballs recommends that people contact ABC directly with messages of support, at ABC.

Interrogations of Enemy Combatants: What's Really Happening?

These excerpts from President Bush's statement yesterday speak for themselves, and really should be read by all Americans. He is discussing the interrogation of enemy combatants who have been captured, detained, and interrogated by American forces:
We knew that [a man known as Abu Zubaydah] had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful. I cannot describe the specific methods used -- I think you understand why -- if I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe, and lawful, and necessary.

Zubaydah was questioned using these procedures, and soon he began to provide information on key al Qaeda operatives, including information that helped us find and capture more of those responsible for the attacks on September the 11th. For example, Zubaydah identified one of KSM's accomplices in the 9/11 attacks -- a terrorist named Ramzi bin al Shibh. The information Zubaydah provided helped lead to the capture of bin al Shibh. And together these two terrorists provided information that helped in the planning and execution of the operation that captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Once in our custody, KSM was questioned by the CIA using these procedures, and he soon provided information that helped us stop another planned attack on the United States. During questioning, KSM told us about another al Qaeda operative he knew was in CIA custody -- a terrorist named Majid Khan. KSM revealed that Khan had been told to deliver $50,000 to individuals working for a suspected terrorist leader named Hambali, the leader of al Qaeda's Southeast Asian affiliate known as "J-I". CIA officers confronted Khan with this information. Khan confirmed that the money had been delivered to an operative named Zubair, and provided both a physical description and contact number for this operative.

Based on that information, Zubair was captured in June of 2003, and he soon provided information that helped lead to the capture of Hambali. After Hambali's arrest, KSM was questioned again. He identified Hambali's brother as the leader of a "J-I" cell, and Hambali's conduit for communications with al Qaeda. Hambali's brother was soon captured in Pakistan, and, in turn, led us to a cell of 17 Southeast Asian "J-I" operatives. When confronted with the news that his terror cell had been broken up, Hambali admitted that the operatives were being groomed at KSM's request for attacks inside the United States -- probably [sic] using airplanes.

During questioning, KSM also provided many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans. For example, he described the design of planned attacks on buildings inside the United States, and how operatives were directed to carry them out. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure that the explosives went off at a point that was high enough to prevent the people trapped above from escaping out the windows.

KSM also provided vital information on al Qaeda's efforts to obtain biological weapons. During questioning, KSM admitted that he had met three individuals involved in al Qaeda's efforts to produce anthrax, a deadly biological agent -- and he identified one of the individuals as a terrorist named Yazid. KSM apparently believed we already had this information, because Yazid had been captured and taken into foreign custody before KSM's arrest. In fact, we did not know about Yazid's role in al Qaeda's anthrax program. Information from Yazid then helped lead to the capture of his two principal assistants in the anthrax program. Without the information provided by KSM and Yazid, we might not have uncovered this al Qaeda biological weapons program, or stopped this al Qaeda cell from developing anthrax for attacks against the United States.

These are some of the plots that have been stopped because of the information of this vital program. Terrorists held in CIA custody have also provided information that helped stop a planned strike on U.S. Marines at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti -- they were going to use an explosive laden water tanker. They helped stop a planned attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi using car bombs and motorcycle bombs, and they helped stop a plot to hijack passenger planes and fly them into Heathrow or the Canary Wharf in London.
It is sobering to know that all this is deadly serious activity is going on, and all this information is being acquired, behind the scenes, while most of us go on living our lives and squabbling about politics.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

ACADEMIC FREEDOM IN IRAN AND AT HARVARD: Ahmadinejad Calls for Ouster of Liberal and Secular Professors; Khatami Speaks on Tolerance

Iranian President Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for the ouster of liberal and secular professors from his nation's universities. [HT: Yoni the Blogger.]

Meanwhile, here in the United States, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced today that the State of Massachusetts will not provide any police protection for former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami when Khatami speaks at the Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show this afternoon, Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Romney affirmed that Harvard has the right to invite anyone it chooses to speak, but stated in that interview and in his public announcement, "State taxpayers should not be providing special treatment to an individual who supports violent jihad and the destruction of Israel.'' Governor Romney also noted that Khatami was hypocritically scheduled to speak on the topic "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."

Harvard of course reacted by patting itself on the back for its liberal-minded commitment to academic freedom and open dialogue. In a statement, the university responded, "Governor Romney has been a friend of the school, and has spoken here in the past. We can understand and often share his disagreement with the positions of Khatami; the school nonetheless believes that active and open dialogue are a critical part of effective education and policy.''

Please tell that to former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers. After Summers merely posed the possibility that one of several reasons for the disproportionate percentages of men over women on university engineering and science faculties might be sex-based variations in intelligence, the Harvard Faculty Senate passed motions of no-confidence and censure against him. He resigned under pressure as President of Harvard on June 30, 2006. Apparently, Harvard's commitment to active and open dialogue did not apply to President Summers.

It quite likely that Mohammad Khatami's commitment to increasing the number of women on university faculties is substantially weaker than that of Professor Summers. Nonetheless, as an avowed enemy of the Great Satan (the United States) and the Little Satan (Israel), Khatami is welcome to speak his mind at Harvard, especially at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. This is, after all, the school whose academic dean, Stephen Walt, is the co-author of "The Israel Lobby," an essay blaming the pro-Israel activities of the American Jewish community for distorting American foreign policy and damaging America's interests. That essay earned Professor Walt and his co-author an appearance on August 28 at a forum at the National Press Club, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There they demonstrated their academic objectivity by donning buttons that read, "Fight the Israel Lobby."

In this academic atmosphere, Professor Khatami should feel right at home. An August 31, 2006 editorial in the New York Sun made this point-by-point comparison of the views of Professor Khatami and Professor Walt:
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN in January 1998, "The impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the United States are in fact made in Tel Aviv, and not in Washington." Mr. Walt wrote, "The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggression of a racist, terrorist regime does not serve the United States interest, nor does it even serve those of the Jewish people." Mr. Walt wrote, "This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing."
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "Israeli intransigence and the course of the current peace process and its failure to honor its own undertakings has enraged even the United States' allies in the region." Mr. Walt wrote of "the obvious need to rebuild America's image in the Arab and Islamic world."
• Mr. Khatemi has spoken of "the criminal Zionist regime." Mr. Walt said: "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people."
• In April 2001, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Khatemi as saying, "As a parasite, Zionism is founded on the fallacious concepts of superiority and the transgression of human rights." Mr. Walt wrote, "Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship."

The New York Sun editorial also questioned former President Khatami's commitment to academic freedom: "What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about 'tolerance' at a university?" Apparently, former President Khatami and his successor President Ahmadinejad are in complete agreement regarding how to deal with active and open dialogue on the Iranian university campus.

Khatami is the darling of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for promulgating a theory of "Dialogue Among Civilizations" in response to Professor Samuel P. Huntington's theory that the current conflict pitting Islam against the secular western world represents a "Clash of Civilizations." In January 2006, Khatami officially inaugurated the office of the "International Center of Dialogue Among Civilizations", an non-governmental organization with offices in Iran and Europe that he will head. It is no doubt in this capacity as an advocate of international understanding that he has received the invitation to speak at Harvard. Harvard therefore once again assumes, in the war against Islamic Facism, the role that so many American academic elites played during the Cold War, when they promoted peaceful co-existence with Communism, the role so aptly described by Lenin: "Useful idiots."

Quote of The Day: Juan Williams

"For anyone who wants to get out of poverty, the prescription is clear.

"Finish high school, at least. Wait until your 20’s before marrying, and wait until you’re married before having children. Once you’re in the work force, stay in: take any job, because building on the experience will prepare you for a better job. Any American who follows that prescription will be at almost no risk of falling into extreme poverty. Statistics show it."
--Juan Williams of National Public Radio, writing in the New York Times. (HT: Opinion Journal's Political Diary - a subscription service.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Zakaria or Hanson? You Choose.

Fareed Zakaria argues that Iran is no Nazi Germany, that "Washington has a long habit of painting its enemies 10 feet tall—and crazy," and that we all need to "take a deep breath:"
Iran is run by a nasty regime that destabilizes an important part of the world, frustrates American and Western interests, and causes problems for allies like Israel. But let's get some perspective. The United States is far more powerful than Iran. And, on the issue of Tehran's nuclear program, Washington is supported by most of the world's other major powers. As long as the alliance is patient, united and smart—and keeps the focus on Tehran's actions not Washington's bellicosity—the odds favor America. Ahmadinejad presides over a country where more than 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line; his authority is contested, and Iran's neighbors are increasingly worried and have begun acting to counter its influence. If we could contain the Soviet Union, we can contain Iran. Look at your calendar: it's 2006, not 1938.
Victor Davis Hanson argues that here are "three rejoinders to this notion that the Islamic fascists are hardly serious enemies, and cannot be compared to the old-time fascists who once started a war that led to 50 million deaths:"
First, Islamic fascism is already the creed of the government of an oil-rich and soon to be nuclear Iran. Secular authoritarians like Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf could easily fall, and the nation’s nuclear arsenal with him, into the hands of the madrassa Islamists. It is not inconceivable to envision several nuclear bombs among one or more theocratic governments in the years to come.

Second, in an age of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism, and culpable deniability, authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes can, without being traced, subsidize and sanction killers, who in turn, with the right weapons, can kill and maim tens of thousands.

Third, in an interconnected and often fragile world, the mere attempt to blow up trains, jets, and iconic buildings results anyway in millions of dollars in damage to the West: ever more expensive airline security, cancelled flights, and money-losing delays and interruptions in a general climate of fear.
He concludes:
Given Iraq, Afghanistan, and the acrimony at home — so similar to the debate right before Pearl Harbor over the earlier discounted fascist threat to the United States — we apparently are waiting for the enemy to strike again, before renewing the offensive.
I guess I find Professor Hanson more persuasive than Mr. Zakaria. How about you?

Update: Dean Barnett has more:

Zakaria is a smart guy, and, I guess the closest our society has come this century to producing a liberal deep thinker. But his thesis here is beyond obtuse. The sheer scope of its ignorance and wishful thinking is astonishing.

One must wonder where Zakaria has been the past five years. Has the concept of asymmetrical warfare completely passed him by? Has he forgotten how 19 determined murderers with box cutters nearly brought America to her knees?


Forced Conversions to Islam Have Real Consequences

Hat tip to LGF for pointing the way to the latest from Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times. Here is a blurb to whet your appetite:

Did you see that video of the two Fox journalists announcing they'd converted to Islam? The larger problem, it seems to me, is that much of the rest of the Western media have also converted to Islam, and there seems to be no way to get them to convert back to journalism.

Consider, for example, the bizarre behavior of Reuters, the once globally respected news agency now reduced to putting out laughably inept terrorist propaganda. A few days ago, it made a big hoo-ha about the Israelis intentionally firing a missile at its press vehicle and wounding its cameraman Fadel Shana. Shana was posed in an artful sprawl in a blood-spattered shirt. But it had ridden up and underneath his undershirt was spotlessly white, like a summer-stock Julius Caesar revealing the boxers under his toga. What's stunning is not that almost all Western media organizations reporting from the Middle East are reliant on local staff overwhelmingly sympathetic to one side in the conflict -- that's been known for some time -- but the amateurish level of fakery that head office is willing to go along with.

Incidentally, anyone who dismisses the gunpoint conversion to Islam of the two Fox journalists as inconsequential is overlooking a salient fact. While under normative Islamic law, Christians and Jews are not to be compelled to convert, once they do convert, the penalty for backsliding is--death. The Fox journalists will have to be wary for the rest of their lives about attending a church, celebrating Christmas or Easter, or any other act that might lead Islamic radicals to conclude that the journalists are apostate Muslims, and lead to a Salmie Rushdie-style fatwa of death.

[For a characteristically unserious and stupid example of the "conversion, so what" genre, see "Praise Allah and pass the hair gel," a September 1 column by comic Bill Maher in the print Los Angeles Times. (Interestingly enough, the Los Angeles paper of record chose not to make this column available online. The link is to a .pdf copy of the article.) As always, the breadth and depth of Mr. Maher's ignorance is truly mind-boggling, exceeded only by his value-free cynicism. He writes, "If conversion to Islam is all that it takes to get the terrorists off our backs, then all I have to say is , if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." His justification is that the act of conversion to Islam would be meaningless. Yes, I know that it is a humor column. We will see if the Islamists get the joke.]

Is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald Guilty of Obstruction of Justice?

The article published September 2, 2006 in the New York Times is entitled "New Questions About Inquiry in C.I.A. Leak," but it reveals some startling new facts concerning the investigation conducted by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. One might normally question the accuracy of any New York Times story on Plamegate, but this Times' story is an admission against interest from a hostile witness--hostile, that is, to the Bush Administration--and therefore has substantial credibility.

Among the revelations in the Times article:

1. Richard Armitage first disclosed Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation to Bob Woodward on June 13, 2003, making Woodward the first reporter to learn of Ms. Plame's CIA connection. That disclosure occurred weeks before the New York Times published the opinion piece by Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, that supposedly triggered Ms. Plame's outing by a vengeful White House. Woodward and other journalists were at that time pursuing a story about Administration efforts to verify an Iraqi deal to obtain uranium from Niger

2. On July 8, 2003, two days after the publication of Mr. Wilson's column in the New York Times, at the conclusion of a general foreign policy discussion with Robert Novak, Mr. Armitage said in reply to a question that Ms. Wilson might have had a role in arranging her husband’s trip to Niger. The Times article states that "those aware of his actions" say that Mr. Armitage did not know of Ms. Plame's undercover status and may not have even used her name (apparently referring to her as Mr. Wilson's wife).

3. On July 14, Mr. Novak published his column, revealing Ms. Plame's role in arranging for her husband to make the Niger investigation trip, and her CIA status.

4. On October 1, 2003, in response to rampant speculation that the leaker of Ms. Plame's CIA affiliation was Karl Rove or someone working for him, Robert Novak revealed in a column that the source of the leak was "no partisan gunslinger." According to Mr. Armitage, he first realized that he was the source of the leak when he read Mr. Novak's October 1 column. Before the month was out, Mr. Armitage had revealed to the Justice Department that he was the source of the leak regarding Ms. Plame.

4. In December 2003, Mr. Fitzgerald was named as special prosecutor, with the charge of investigating whether whether the leaking of Ms. Wilson’s identity as a C.I.A. officer was part of an administration effort to violate the law prohibiting the willful disclosure of undercover employees. On his first day on the job, Mr. Fitzgerald was informed that Mr. Armitage was the souce of the leak to Robert Novak! He presumably also was made privy to Mr. Armitage's confession to the Justice Department, and therefore also knew that Mr. Armitage had not acted at the behest of the Bush Administration in general, or Karl Rove or Scooter Libby in particular.

The conclusion seems inescapable that Mr. Fitzgerald knew the anwser to the primary question that he was charged with investigating from the time he began his inquiry. Nonetheless, he maneuvered Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby into legal jeopardy. In the words of the New York Times article:

Mr. Fitzgerald’s decision to prolong the inquiry once he took over as special prosecutor in December 2003 had significant political and legal consequences. The inquiry seriously embarrassed and distracted the Bush White House for nearly two years and resulted in five felony charges against Mr. Libby, even as Mr. Fitzgerald decided not to charge Mr. Armitage or anyone else with crimes related to the leak itself.

Moreover, Mr. Fitzgerald’s effort to find out who besides Mr. Armitage had spoken to reporters provoked a fierce battle over whether reporters could withhold the identities of their sources from prosecutors and resulted in one reporter, Judith Miller, then of The New York Times, spending 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify to a grand jury.

According to the American Bar Association Standards of Criminal Justice, Standard 3-1.2 The Function of the Prosecutor, "The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict." What duty was Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald pursuing when he ruined the lives and careers of a dedicated public servant (Mr. Libby) and a Pulitzer Prize winning report (Ms. Miller)? It is ironic that Mr. Fitzgerald indicted Mr. Libby for, among other charges, obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice and perversion of justice are precisely the charges for which I would indict Mr. Fitzgerald, ethically, if not legally.

Lowell adds: One wonders if Mr. Fizgerald, the hunter, will now become the hunted-- at least to some extent. In any event, he owes the nation an explanation.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

"The longest and most overdue" correction "in the history of journalism"

Fred Barnes has written a blistering piece, "The Plamegate Hall of Shame." I hope against hope that the outrage he expresses will be picked up in MSM outlets, but I am not optimistic. As Barnes notes:
[I]nstead of Cheney or Rove or Libby, the perennial targets of media wrath, the Plamegate Hall of Shame consists of favorites of the Washington elite and the mainstream press. The reaction, therefore, has been zero outrage and minimal coverage. The appropriate step for the press would be to investigate and then report in detail how it got the story so wrong, just as the New York Times and other media did when they reported incorrectly that WMD were in Saddam's arsenal in Iraq. Don't hold your breath for this.
More importantly, Patrick Fizgerald's inquiry should stop immediately and forever:
[Scooter]Libby's foggy memory was no worse than that of [Richard]Armitage, who forgot for two years to tell Fitzgerald he'd talked to the Post's Woodward but isn't being prosecuted. Last but not least, a few apologies are called for, notably by Powell and Armitage, but also by the press. A correction--perhaps the longest and most overdue in the history of journalism--is in order.
I am not holding my breath while I wait for that either.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Krauthammer: Hezbollah Lost Big

Charles Krauthammer, who is much smarter than me and almost everybody that I know, is the latest pundit to opine, in his column in today's Washington Post, that Israel won and Hezbollah lost, both militarily and politically, in the recent Lebanon conflict. At this point, my friend Yossi's chances for winning his lunch bet with me, regarding the disarming of Hezbollah, are looking better. [See "Truce or Consequences," The Hedghog Blog, August 13, 2006.] As I have said from the beginning, this is a bet that I would be delighted to lose. On the other hand, I do not need to retract my criticisms of Ehud Olmert and my calls for his resignation, since even Mr. Krauthammer calls his wartime leadership "inept and indecisive." I can live with that.

PLAMEGATE: The Washington Post Recants

In an editorial deliciously entitled "End of an Affair," the Washington Post today puts the blame for Plamegate squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of Valerie Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. (However, the now-revealed source of the leak to Robert Novak, Richard Armitage, must be asked why he maintained silence while Vice Presidential Chielf of Staff I Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted and then New York Times Reporter Judith Miller languished in jail for 85 days.) Some excerpts:
It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
(HT: Instapundit)

Will the New York Times now apologize to Mr. Libby, its former reporter Ms. Miller, or its reading public? Probably not--being the New York Times means never having to say you're sorry. And has anyone looked to see how this story is being spun on the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos?

Lowell adds: Faithful Hedgehog readers know that we have been following this travesty from its beginning. Here's a portal to all those posts. For the Washington Post, of all papers, to come out this strongly is the absolute final nail in Joe Wilson's "credibility coffin." No one should ever again believe Mr. Wilson about any matter of national security or diplomacy.