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Showing posts from April, 2005
Diminishing terror threat in US

Washington Post:

Reports of credible terrorist threats against the United States are at their lowest level since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to U.S. intelligence officials and federal and state law enforcement authorities.The intelligence community's daily threat assessment, developed after the terrorist attacks to keep policymakers informed, currently lists, on average, 25 to 50 percent fewer threats against domestic targets than it typically did over the past two years, said one senior counterterrorism official.
A broad cross section of counterterrorism officials believes al Qaeda and like-minded groups, in part frustrated by increased U.S. security measures, are focusing instead on Americans deployed in Iraq, where the groups operate with relative impunity, and on Europe.Anyone at the Post who think al Qaeda and the terrorist operate with impunity in Iraq simply is not paying attention. The terrorist actually avoid attacks on US target…
Headline of the day from Reuters:

Missing Georgia Bride-To-Be Found with Cold Feet
Zarqawi aide declares war on buildings, wants to attack White House and Vatican

Times of Oman:

The deputy to Al Qaeda’s frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, has asked for orders to attack the White House and the Vatican, according to an audiotape posted on the Internet yesterday.

“To our emir (leader) Abu Musab Al Zarqawi ... we say: We are ready for your orders. We are determined to fight the infidels,” said Sheikh Abdulrahman Al Iraqi in the tape, whose authenticity could not be verified.

“If you point at the White House or the Vatican, we would make every effort so that you reach your target,” he added, in the online statement broadcast a day after a call by Zarqawi to his followers to intensify their fight against the Americans in Iraq.
Targeting symbols is not a way to win a war. You win a war by destroying the enemy's ability to fight. The guy is probably just mouthing off anyway. Al Qaeda has had zero success attacking a defended target. Their only success in Iraq, a war …
Scott Shane at the NY Times gives a prtty fair story on John Bolten

This is probably not the picture the Dems wanted in their preconfirmation attempt to demonize John Bolten. Maybe it is just me, but I like him better after reading the story.
Qatar accused of funding al Qaeda

Sunday Times of London:

THE government of Qatar is paying millions of pounds a year to Al-Qaeda in return for an undertaking to spare it from further terrorist attacks, official sources in the wealthy Gulf state claimed last week. The money, paid to spiritual leaders sympathetic to Al-Qaeda, is believed to be helping to fund its activities in Iraq. In a recent message broadcast via the internet, Osama Bin Laden told followers that operations in Iraq were costing Al-Qaeda more than £500,000 a month. The sources said a deal between Qatar and Al-Qaeda was first made before the 2003 invasion of Iraq amid fears that the oil state, a close ally of Washington, could become a terrorist target. The US Central Command for the invasion was based in Qatar. A senior government source said that the agreement was renewed in March after an Egyptian suicide bomber — thought to be associated with Al-Qaeda — struck a theatre in Doha, Qatar’s capital, killing a British tea…
Reports says US not at fault in shooting of Italian commies car

The NY Times pretty much confirms the earlier CBS report on the shooting, although theTimes says the vehicle was going 50 miles per hour instead of 60, but still well above the 30 mph claimed by the commie. The Times goes to say:

The incident helped focus attention on the risks that Iraqis face at American checkpoints, where human rights groups say many Iraqis have been accidentally wounded or killed.While the statement is probably true it fails to put the cause of the danger in perspective. The actual cause is that the insurgents, in violation of the Geneva Convention, act as unlawful combatants by camoflaging themselves as civilians and by using civilian vehicles to attack US troops. It is the war crimes of the insurgents that has put the Iraqi civilians at risk. For that reason, it is important that any one approaching a check point do so in a non aggressive manner and make clear to US forces manning the post that th…
Voting with the minature horse

Maret Fuchs, NY Times:

If they only had an attraction, the sisters at the Monastery of St. Clare concluded, they could solve their two longstanding problems. For one, they had to stay cloistered while still somehow spreading the word. Secondly, although the contemplative life is the center of their existence, it does not cover the bills.

"We don't get paid to pray," said Sister Angela Chandler, 48, soft-spoken but kinetic. The solution to both problems came two decades ago in the form of horses the size of large dogs. Today, the nuns have become so successful in their horse-breeding enterprise that their home is known as the Monastery of Miniature Horses.
Read the whole story. The monastery is where my precinct votes now. Originally we voted in a building near a county maintenace shed where the road grader is kept, but someone ran off the road and totalled the building a few years ago, so since then all elections have been in some building on…
Vietnam and the myth of "the Mandate from Heaven"

Pham Thi Hoia:

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The Vietnam War was a complete victory for the communists. The war was the mother's milk, the school and the testing ground of Vietnamese communism. It provided historical justification for the leadership of the Communist Party, endowing it with the "Mandate of Heaven." To this day, the legitimacy earned 30 years ago is constantly reiterated, reaffirmed, validated and deified. War-era heroes continue to monopolize peacetime authority; war-era military leadership has been reborn as totalitarian control. The party knows that although many things can change, the myth of its "Mandate of Heaven" must remain intact because every other element of its ideology has been betrayed or revealed as bankrupt.

Thirty years after the war, all of our foundational cultural values have lost their validity, and the noblest ideas of communist ideology have become a joke. No space has emerged for basic Wester…
Thailand charges Islamic teachers with treason

BBC:

Thai authorities have charged eight Muslims with treason, saying they were key figures in a campaign of violence in the country's south.More than 600 people have been killed in clashes in Thailand's largely Muslim south since January last year. The men, who officials say belong to an outlawed separatist group, face death by lethal injection if found guilty. All eight defendants, who work as teachers in Islamic schools, deny the charges against them.
The teachers stand accused of training young men to kill civilians, attack troops and set fire to schools and government buildings.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has described the men as significant ringleaders in the insurgency. "They have ambushed officials, killed monks, teachers and students, set fire to schools and other government buildings, and stolen weapons," the prosecution said in a statement, according to Reuters.
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The government has been criticised fo…
Satelite shows Italian commie journalist lied about speed of approach

AFP:

A US satellite reportedly recorded a checkpoint shooting in Iraq last month, enabling investigators to reconstruct how fast a car carrying a top Italian intelligence official and a freed hostage was traveling when US troops opened fire.

The report, which aired Thursday on CBS News, said US investigators concluded from the recording that the car was traveling at a speed of more than 60 miles (96 km) per hour. Giuliana Sgrena has said the car was traveling at a normal speed of about 30 miles an hour when the soldiers opened fired, wounding her and killing Nicola Calipari, the Italian agent who had just secured her release from a month's captivity. US soldiers said at the time of the March 4 incident that the car approached at a high rate of speed and that they fired only after it failed to respond to hand signals, flashing bright lights and warning shots.
For some reason, CBS failed to post this significant pie…
Can someone take your daughter across state lines for an operation without telling you?

Kathleen Parker:

Imagine someone you may not know or like taking your daughter without your knowledge to another state to have her appendix removed. Or to have a hysterectomy. Or even to have her wisdom teeth removed.You'd be outraged, right? How dare anyone determine that your child should have surgery without your counsel, permission or knowledge? In my tribe, a jury would forgive nearly any response short of ultimate justice.Yet, in some states, parents are supposed to sit quietly, shucking their peas while their daughters cross state lines to get an abortion - without even a vote on which noble soul provides transportation, much less an invitation to provide the emotional support most human beings, especially children, require after ending an "unwanted pregnancy."A bill passed Wednesday in the U.S. House (270-157) seeks to change the likelihood of that happening by making it a feder…
Do something radical and make senators vote on judges

William Kristol:

SUDDENLY DEMOCRATS ARE WRAPPING THEMSELVES in the Constitution. Emphasizing his commitment to maintaining the filibuster as a way to stop President Bush's judicial nominees, Senate Democratic whip Richard Durbin said last week, "We believe it's a constitutional issue. . . . It's a matter of having faith in the Constitution." The trouble is, the filibuster is nowhere mentioned, or even implied, in the text of the Constitution.Suddenly, too, European liberals are discovering the virtues of the Founding Fathers. On the same day that Durbin was confessing his faith in the Constitution, the editors of the Financial Times were urging Bill Frist to "cease and desist" his efforts to break the filibuster, imploring him to "reread the wisdom of the Federalist Papers." The trouble is, the filibuster is nowhere mentioned, or even implied, in the Federalist Papers.What's really going …
Thomas Lipscomb gives real history of Vietnam War

He punctures the liberal myths. It is worth the read.
Calling the Dem's bluff on Social Security

John Tierney:

Democrats have good reason to be aghast at President Bush's new proposal for Social Security. Someone has finally called their bluff. They tried yesterday to portray him as just another cruel, rich Republican for suggesting any cuts in future benefits, but that's not what the prime-time audience saw on Thursday night. By proposing to shore up the system while protecting low-income workers, Mr. Bush raised a supremely awkward question for Democrats: which party really cares about the poor? For decades Democrats have pointed to Social Security as a triumph of communal generosity, proof that Americans (or at least non-Republican Americans) will work together to make sure that no widow is reduced to eating cat food. The program has been wonderful for liberals' self-esteem. What it has actually done for the poor is another matter. It's true, as Democrats love to point out, that the poverty rate among the elderly…
Lawfare and the decision to go to war

Times of London:

When selective extracts of the advice that Lord Goldsmith provided to Tony Blair on the legal status of any war in Iraq were first leaked, a number of observers argued that the Attorney-General’s cautious and balanced thoughts were proof positive that the Prime Minister had “lied”. Lawyers are supposed to weigh the arguments for and against, a fact that was lost on those fighting an entirely different war. The release of the full memorandum that he sent to the Prime Minister on March 7, 2003, suggests that much of what has been said about his alleged position on the war has been exaggerated or distorted. His text helps to settle at least some of these matters. The first of these is that the Attorney-General was hardly dealing with “typical” legal material. The debate as to the relationship between armed conflict and the concept of international law is complicated and fluid. It is not in any sense comparable with, for instance, domes…
Yahoo News has gone from one of the weakest interfaces, to one of the best among the news aggregators. Check it out.

If you move your mouse over an item, you automatically get the first paragraph. You can click on the tabs and immediately see the headlines change in each subgroup. Yahoo has definitely leaped over Google News, My Way, and Topix.
The enemy within

Villainous Company:

The fog of war: I have always found this a particularly apt term for the confusion and chaos that result when men contend on the field of battle. As the daughter of a Navy captain and wife to a Marine, war has been a constant refrain in my life, a song playing in the background: mostly quietly, at times receding to a barely-heard whisper; then suddenly, without warning growing to a menacing roar before subsiding to a gentle murmur again. I grew up with Vietnam. If anyone asked me a few years ago, I'd have told them it had little effect on me. I was just a child, you see. I'd have been wrong.During the election when John Kerry simply would not shut up about Vietnam I was surprised to feel a growing anger. Where did it come from, this cold rage, this bitter sorrow that overtook me when I least expected it? Why did I care? I was so small then. I didn't really understand it until Laura Armstrong, another service junior, contacted me and I did…
US selling Israel 100 bunker busters

USA Today:

In a move that could increase pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear arms program, the Pentagon says it will sell to Israel 100 “bunker busting” bombs designed to destroy deep underground weapons facilities.The $30 billion deal, which must be approved by Congress, comes just weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned President Bush during a meeting at his Texas ranch that Iran was approaching a “point of no return” in its efforts to build a nuclear bomb. The move coincides with diplomatic talks between Tehran and negotiators from Britain, France and Germany, who want Iran to agree to halt its effort to develop nuclear weapons. The talks have made little progress so far. Thursday, Iran threatened to restart its uranium enrichment program if talks with the Europeans fail. “If there is no agreement and negotiations collapse, there is no choice but to restart the program,” Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said. Iran insists i…
Pace talks to cadets set to graduate in a few weeks

DefenseLINK:

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Pace said the cadets who go into combat will know fear. "There were times in my Marine Corps career in Vietnam that I wished that I could've crawled up in my helmet and waited for my mom to call me home from the schoolyard," he said. "If you feel fear, it is natural." But the cadets must remember they "are in the world's best Army" and will have the best training, equipment and troops in the world. "When you look to your left and your right and you see your soldiers looking back at you for leadership, you will instinctively know exactly what you need to do right then," he said. Pace said the soldiers want to follow their leaders. "They want you to be good," he said. "They will cling to leaders who care about them." Pace said the worst thing a new lieutenant in combat can do "is get yourself killed." He said getting killed "is the eas…
The Pesky Pescadores

Strategy Page:

Discussion of China’s plans to invade Taiwan often ignore the smaller, Taiwan controlled islands, that the Chinese invasion forces will either bypass, or hit first, on their way to Taiwan. The smaller islands, Quemoy and Matsu, are within artillery range of the mainland. But a group of larger islands, the Pescadores, are within artillery range of Taiwan itself. The Pescadores have an area of only 127 square kilometers, and a population of 90,000. There is also a military garrison on the island, including an armored brigade, plus anti-aircraft missiles and mobile anti-ship missile units. The Pescadores are doubly important, as they are opposite the most important landing beaches on Taiwan. Any invasion force must seize a port as soon as possible, in order to bring in more troops and supplies. You don’t have much chance of conquering the island until you’ve done that. The two best landing are areas, for seizing nearby ports, are in the northwest and so…
The "We're smart, you're dumb principal"

David Gelernter:

Who could possibly be against cutting voter fraud on election day? You'd have to be some sort of fruitcake. But when Georgia's Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue recently signed a bill to reduce voter fraud, under which voters must show a photo ID before casting their ballots, many of Georgia's black legislators stormed out in protest. They even threatened to sue. The new process is simple, easy and fairly effective, but Democrats alleged that it would reduce voting by minorities, the elderly and the poor. So black legislators had to oppose it.

For legislators to announce that getting a photo ID is too tricky for their constituents is downright amazing. Wouldn't you expect those constituents to say, "Drop dead! Stop treating us like morons!"?

After all, any 15-year-old half-wit can get a photo ID — and the governor is promising to hand them out gratis to voters whodon't already have one. …
From Mao to Yao

Washington Post:

From Mao to Yao, China has come a long way, and not everybody here is happy about it. As a national controversy swelled over what it means to be a worker in the China of 2005, the Communist government announced Thursday that Yao Ming, the 7-foot-6-inch center for the Houston Rockets from Shanghai, has been honored with the title of "vanguard worker" -- even though he is a millionaire living in Texas who makes his living playing basketball.
The tribute was part of a May Day exercise in which the party labor union and government bestow medals every five years on a number of people they consider to be selfless, exemplary Chinese workers. Since the revolutionary days of Mao Zedong, the title has been given to the likes of blue-collar laborers on high-output production lines or country schoolteachers bringing literacy and correct socialist ideology to remote villages.The big difference between Mao and Yao, besides height, is that Mao killed million…
Frist smokes out Dems, It is not about debate, it is about obstruction

Washington Times:

Majority Leader Bill Frist publicly offered a compromise to Democrats yesterday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a "nuclear" showdown in the Senate over judicial nominees.
However, the Senate's top Democrat immediately expressed doubt about the proposal, calling it "a big wet kiss to the far right."
Mr. Frist's proposal would end the current blockade of nominees by Democrats but also prevent future nominations from being stymied in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republicans once blocked some of President Clinton's nominees.

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Mr. Frist's proposal, which Republicans are calling the "fairness rule," would allow for up to 100 hours of floor debate on any nominee and require that the Judiciary Committee act on every nominee submitted by a president within a given period of time. It would do nothing to curtail filibusters against legislatio…
The press conference

This was Bush at his best. He was confidant and persuasive to those with an open mind. His ideas on Social Security seem to be coming to gether and they certainly make more sense than anything proposed by Democrats in Congress. If Bush started doing one of these every other week the Democrats would be in so much trouble that they would not have enough senators to sustain a filibuster after 2006.
DIA says Norks can mount nukes on missiles

NY Times:

The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said today that American intelligence agencies believe North Korea has mastered the technology for mounting a nuclear warhead on its missiles, an assessment that, if correct, means the country could build weapons to threaten Japan and perhaps the western United States. The conclusion was part of a total reassessment of North Korea's capabilities that the D.I.A.'s chief, Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, said was still under way. While Admiral Jacoby said North Korea was judged to have the capability to put a nuclear weapon atop its missiles, he stopped well short of saying they have already done so, or even that they had assembled warheads small enough for the purpose. Nor did he give any evidence to back up his view during the public session of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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Admiral Jacoby also confirmed the assessment that North Korea has the ability to deploy a two-stage inter…
Un put Zimbabwe on human rights panel, really!

VOA:

The U.N. Economic and Social Council Wednesday elected 15 countries to the Human Rights Commission. Among the four chosen by the African group was Zimbabwe, whose leader Robert Mugabe is under U.S. and European sanctions.The selection drew immediate objections from several countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia. Deputy U.S. representative on the Council William Brencick said the United States was perplexed and dismayed by the choice."My delegation believes that this candidature is entirely inappropriate. We remain deeply concerned that the Government of Zimbabwe maintains repressive controls on political assembly and the media, harasses civil society groups, and continues to encourage a climate where the opposition fears for its safety," he said. So a country whose policies produce genocide by famine is to be a judge of human rights. And, some people are surprise by the lack of respect for the UN?
Saddam asked for timeline on rearming

Rowan Scarborough:

Saddam Hussein asked his weapons specialists about a timeline to restart production of deadly chemical weapons and the potential to have a fleet of bomb-laden boats to attack American ships in the Persian Gulf, a CIA report says.
The report from Charles Duelfer, the CIA's chief weapons inspector for Iraq, shows Saddam consistently looked for ways to violate United Nations' weapons prohibitions before the March 2003 invasion that knocked him from power.

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Anecdotes about the dictator's weapons ambitions came principally from three senior defense ministry officials who are incarcerated in Iraq. The most talkative, the report indicates, was Abduallah al Mullah Huwaysh, a key defense industry official from 1997 until the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.
"Huwaysh recalled that Saddam approached him immediately following a ministers' meeting to ask how long it would take to restart production of chemical…
Michelle Malkin has a list of quotes from Dems who used to believe in giving judicial nominees a vote
The global warming debate

Kathleen Parker:

When it comes to global warming, Americans have a right to be confused. Is it a problem or isn't it?You don't have to look far to find passionate voices on both sides of the issue, while the amount of information and disinformation is staggering. Google "global warming," and you'll find about 13 million links. Monumental financial and political stakes further cloud the critical question: Are we, or are we not, heating up the Earth?While the Earth has always undergone cycles of heating and cooling, some 2,000 scientists and more than 100 countries agree that the current warming trend is caused by human activity. Quick tutorial: Global warming refers to the process by which the Earth's atmosphere is warming owing to the accumulation of "greenhouse gases" (GHG), such as carbon dioxide, that are released from burning fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal) and other resources. The biggest culprits are said to be cars and c…
Canada as another failed state

Austin Bay:

A political specter haunts North America -- the specter of the world's next failed state. We can still call it Canada, at least for a couple years. And who knows, like news of Mark Twain's demise, my cheeky pessimism may be greatly exaggerated. Our northern neighbor's polyglot populace of beer drinkers, peaceniks, Mounties and socialists may yet dump their crooked politicians and craft a new, more robust deal with Quebecois separatists. If you don't know about Canada's crooked politicians, you're not alone. Democracy and free speech are breaking out in Beirut, but they're both taking a beating in Ontario. The Canadian government has a press clamp on an investigation into the ruling Liberal Party's "Adscam&qu…
Bolton is more effective than nice and this should not be a problem

Max Boot:

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Now, John Bolton's nomination to be United Nations ambassador is in serious jeopardy, according to the senators who oppose him, because he's not nice enough.

But do we really want to add nastiness to the list of disqualifications? If we did, America's most effective diplomatists would have been kicked out of office. Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Baker III and Richard Holbrooke, among others, were all tough customers. Those are exactly the qualities you need in dealing with the hard cases who rule much of the world. No milquetoast need apply for the post of U.N. ambassador, or any other demanding diplomatic job.

Bolton has been an effective diplomat and bureaucratic operator precisely because he has not tried to win any popularity contests. He has fought for his beliefs, and usually prevailed. In 1991, for instance, he helped push for repeal of the U.N.'s infamous &q…
The Dem's religious phobia

Mort Kondrake:

After the 2004 election, many prominent Democrats agreed that they had to learn to talk the language of religion and show respect for religious voters if they were to broaden the party's appeal. But the minute Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) signed on to participate in a religious-right rally against the Senate filibuster, prominent Democrats such as Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) flew into a rage.Kerry declared before Frist had said a word that he would "appeal to religious division" and "invoke faith to rewrite Senate rules to put substandard, extremist judges on our bench." Reid said - also ahead of time - that Frist was a "radical" for agreeing to partici…
The European/Canadian disease

Robert Goldberg:

Someone once asked Nobel laureate physicist Riccardo Giacconi, who conceived the Hubble telescope, why so many great European scientists moved to America. "A scientist is like a painter," Mr. Giacconi said. "Michelangelo became a great artist, because he had been given a wall to paint. My wall was given to me by the United States."
Today, we stand at the dawn of an age of personalized medicine, when screening for genetic variations will allow us to provide the right drug, to the right person, at the right time, for the right outcome, as a matter of course. Yet even as we are on the verge of this triumph, what Mr. Giacconi called our great wall of innovation is being painstakingly disassembled, brick by brick, and shipped to Asia and India, where policy-makers are more appreciative of the alchemy of entrepreneurship that sustains scientific progress.
Last week, Congress held hearings on the Pharmaceutical Market Acc…
The strategic ice cream shop bombing

Sunday evening I discussed the insurgent strategy of bombing an ice cream shop in Baghdad. George Will gives his take on this event today:

On Sunday night Iraqi insurgents bombed the Al Riadhy ice cream parlor in Baghdad, bringing to mind a movie that was much on the minds of some U.S. military leaders on the eve of the war with Iraq. The 1965 Italian movie "The Battle of Algiers" depicted France's military struggle in the second half of the 1950s to subdue the Algerian uprising against French governance of that country. One particularly horrifying scene showed the placing and then the explosion of three terrorist bombs in crowded businesses, one of them a shop where, in a riveting cinematic moment, a small child was enjoying an ice cream cone.The differences between the Algerian insurgency and today's Iraqi insurgency are, of course, profound. In the former, North Africans were rising in the name of self-determination against rule…
Mainstream media misreports Duelfer report

Washington Times Editorial:

The mainstream media is playing another misbegotten round of "gotcha" with President Bush on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This week, the CIA issued a follow-up to its October 2004 Iraqi Survey Group report, saying its investigations into possible WMD transfers from Iraq to Syria before the war were inconclusive and warranted further investigation. Predictably, the media did not convey that message. Instead, it cherry-picked the findings.
"Report Finds No Evidence Syria Hid Arms," The Washington Post's headline blared. Actually, the report, by the CIA's chief weapons inspector, Charles A. Duelfer, made no such claim. Here's what the CIA said: It is "unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war"; it was "unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place"; and it found "no senior policy…
"If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you've ever got!"

Margaret Spellings, Education Secretary
LAX bomber gave significant help to US after capture

LA Times:

The would-be millennium bomber who crossed the border from Canada with a trunkload of explosive materials to blow up Los Angeles International Airport has instead blown holes in his former terrorist network, court documents and interviews show.

Since his conviction in 2001, Algerian expatriate Ahmed Ressam, 37, has provided information on more than 100 suspected terrorists, helped shut down clandestine Al Qaeda cells and exposed valuable organizational secrets of the global terrorist network.

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Ressam's cooperation, his defense lawyers contend, has saved countless lives, including those of FBI agents who otherwise wouldn't have known that a sneaker they had seized from would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid contained a virtually undetectable but powerful explosive device.

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Defense lawyers offered more details than prosecutors in their campaign to win a reduced sentence for Ressam. In one memorandum, they suggest that bef…
German toads acting like Islamic terrorist

AP:

More than 1,000 toads have puffed up and exploded in a Hamburg pond in recent weeks, and scientists still have no explanation for what's causing the combustion, an official said Wednesday.Both the pond's water and body parts of the toads have been tested, but scientists have been unable to find a bacteria or virus that would cause the toads to swell up and pop, said Janne Kloepper, of the Hamburg-based Institute for Hygiene and the Environment."It's absolutely strange," she said. "We have a really unique story here in Hamburg. This phenomenon really doesn't seem to have appeared anywhere before."The toads at a pond in the upscale neighborhood of Altona have been blowing up since the beginning of the month, filling up like balloons until their stomachs suddenly burst.The jihadis may also want to test the water in that pond.
Syrian intelligence agents going covert in Lebanon

Washington Post:

Syria has not withdrawn a significant part of its intelligence presence in Lebanon, undermining its claim yesterday to have ended its 29-year intervention in its western neighbor, U.S., European and U.N. officials said.The international community yesterday welcomed the pullout of the last of 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon. But the continuing presence of covert Syrian intelligence operatives would violate the promise President Bashar Assad made to the United Nations last month to withdraw all Syrian personnel. It would also contradict a letter the Syrian government wrote to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday saying that the withdrawal was complete.
U.N. member states and the Lebanese opposition have told the United Nations that Syrian military intelligence has taken up new positions "in the south of Beirut and elsewhere, and has been using headquarters of parties affiliated with the government of Syria as…
Dishonest Times

Instapundit:

NOW THIS IS JUST OUT-AND-OUT DISHONESTY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES:The only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq is to protect the democratic transformation that President Bush seized upon as a rationale for the invasion after his claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be fictitious. If that transformation is now allowed to run off the rails, the new rationale could prove to be as hollow as the original one.I've already provided a link-rich refutation of this revisionist history, and this claim that democratic transformation was some sort of new rationalization is, not to put too fine a point on it, an out-and-out lie, readily fact-checkable and in fact already fact-checked, that the Times should be ashamed of.What's more, the Times editorial board should be very careful to confuse "wrong" with "fictitious," given its miserable performance on the war.The Times and the liberals are just too invested in th…
Bolten selects the pattern before breaking the china

Thomas M. Boyd:

MUCH CRITICISM has been leveled at the president's decision to nominate John Bolton as our next ambassador to the United Nations. While equally outspoken intellects like Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick were accepted as appropriate for their time, Bolton's bluntness and penchant for courting controversy in a diplomatic quiet zone like the UN, his critics say, make him ''uniquely ill-suited" to the UN's current demographics.

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While it is certainly true that Bolton sometimes breaks china, it is also true that he carefully selects the pattern first. One example stands out. In May 1991, while serving as assistant secretary of state for international organizations (which included the UN), Bolton was privately briefed by analysts on whether the United States had enough votes to reverse the UN's Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. He believed to his core that this re…
Zarqawi taking over bin Laden's position

NY Post:

Information seized from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's laptop computer revealed the Jordanian master terrorist has been expanding his jihad network outside Iraq and is emerging as al Qaeda's preeminent global military commander, The Post has learned. U.S. intelligence officials who were briefed on data gleaned from a computer taken after a Feb. 20 U.S. Special Forces ambush in Iraq — in which Zarqawi narrowly escaped — said they have discovered shocking new details about the growing threat to U.S. and Western interests posed by the brutish Zarqawi — who is rapidly eclipsing Osama bin Laden in importance. "He's becoming the new bin Laden. He's the man out there carrying out attacks on Americans every day while bin Laden, who is heavily pressured and having difficulty communicating on a regular basis, is in the shadows and becoming more of a symbolic figure," said former CIA counterterrorism director Vincent Cannis…
Cannot rule out WMD moved to Syria

Rowan Scarborough:

The CIA's chief weapons inspector said he cannot rule out the possibility that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were secretly shipped to Syria before the March 2003 invasion, citing "sufficiently credible" evidence that WMDs may have been moved there.
Inspector Charles Duelfer, who heads the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), made the findings in an addendum to his final report filed last year. He said the search for WMD in Iraq -- the main reason President Bush went to war to oust Saddam Hussein -- has been exhausted without finding such weapons. Iraq had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the early 1990s.
But on the question of Syria, Mr. Duelfer did not close the books. "ISG was unable to complete its investigation and is unable to rule out the possibility that WMD was evacuated to Syria before the war," Mr. Duelfer said in a report posted on the CIA's Web site Monday night.
He cited s…
Dems try to torture US with Abu Ghrab again

Opinion Journal:

We'd have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts-martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses. Instead, the latest Army report reaching this conclusion has induced further cries of whitewash.This wailing says more about the accusers than about any facts that have emerged in the year since the scandal broke. The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven't panned out, they refuse to admit it.
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The salient and remarkable truth here is that Ameri…
A "deal" that is easy to frefuse on judges

MSNBC:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ruled out Tuesday a deal with Democrats on confirming some of President Bush’s judicial nominees whom they’d blocked last year, in return for other nominees’ being withdrawn.

Democratic sources had floated the idea Monday of a potential trade-off. “My goal is to have fair up-or-down votes on judicial nominees,” he told reporters at a morning briefing. When reporters asked about a compromise, Frist said, “if the question is ‘are you going to shift from that principle (of up-or-down votes on nominees), the answer is no.”Frist said he would not ask President Bush to withdraw any of his nominees to the federal bench. He added, “At the end of the day, one will be left standing — the Constitution, which allows up-or-down votes — or the filibuster.”
Even if Frist loses on the vote to prevent filibusters he can still make the Democrats filibuster until they give in.
The WaPa push poll on judicial nomination voting

James Taranto:

The Post's Phony Poll
"Filibuster Rule Change Opposed" is the headline of the lead story in today's Washington Post. The paper reports on a poll of 1,007 "randomly selected adults." The results are here (PDF), and the relevant questions are No. 34 and No. 36, which appear on page 13 (both, for some reason, after No. 35):34. The Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush, while Senate Democrats have blocked 10 others. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right to block these nominations? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?Result: Right 48% (22% strongly, 26% somewhat), wrong 36% (17% strongly, 19% somewhat). Here's the other question:36. Would you support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees?Results: Support 26%, oppose 66%. Read these questions ca…