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Showing posts from February, 2006

Ports and terrorism

How many of the 300 ports in the US have been attacked by terrorism?

Zero!

In ports around the world how many terrorist attacks have taken place?

One.

The attack on the USS Cole as it was docking in Yemen in 2000. Since that time port security around the world as well as US warships having new rules of engagement have resulted in no successful attacks. Actually I am not aware of any unsuccessful attacks since then. Al Qaeda has not shown either the desire or the capacity to attack ports.

In the US the Coast Guard is in charge of port security. What does it do?

...

We begin with a regulation we put in place over two years ago, the 24-hour rule, where we have the ability to get all the manifest information submitted electronically from the carrier 24 hours in advance of waiting in a foreign port. We then score that for risk at a national targeting center where we have intelligence information and an expert rule based system to score the container shipments for risk before they're even…

Stopping corruption at the border in Iraq

AP:

In November, the customs office at this port of entry between Jordan and Iraq collected a little over $20,000 in tariffs and government fees. Two months later, it tallied 30 times that amount, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

The difference? The port director was jailed on charges of corruption and collaboration with insurgents, and he was replaced by a tough outsider who is winning praise from U.S. commanders.A burly, intense former army officer, Gen. Ridha Alewey Manoush has fired many of the old workers and predicts revenues will rise more as he roots out those who give in to temptations to pocket customs fees or take bribes from smugglers trying to avoid tariffs on goods entering Iraq. "I swore ... I will not accept any bribes or gifts from anybody. That's why I control the port. If I took anything, then I couldn't tell my workers" to refuse bribes, said the new boss, who says he was sidelined from the Iraqi army in the 1990s for opposing Saddam Hussein's rule…

Constitution permits surveilance of enemy communications

Victoria Toensing:

In the aftermath of the New York Times's illegal disclosure of surveillance by the National Security Agency, the Senate now debates whether to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that formulates a procedure for the president to obtain warrants to wiretap foreign individuals and entities within the United States. The senators claim they are considering such legislation not to bury the NSA program, but to save it. It's time for a legal primer on the Constitution and national security law. In Article II, the Constitution establishes the president as commander in chief. As such he has inherent authority to conduct warrantless surveillance for the purpose of acquiring foreign intelligence information. He does not have the authority to close banks, seize steel mills, or raise our taxes; he does have it to get battlefield information about an enemy who has killed thousands of us on our soil and threatens to do so again.No court opinion de…

Backlash against Hamas has begun in one town

Christian Science Monitor:

The warehouse of Qalqilya Mirrors and Glass sits on a bumpy, chalk-colored dirt road.

When the militant group Hamas beat the ruling Fatah party for control of this Palestinian town of 42,000 in last May's municipal elections, the new councilors promised to pave uneven streets like the one outside Mustafa Juadei's glass business. And while Mr. Juadei awaits the road improvement, he says that potential clients go elsewhere. Hamas's win in cities like Qalqilya was a harbinger of their surprise Jan. 25 victory in the parliamentary election. But, after experiencing six months of local Hamas rule, Qalqilya was the only district in which Hamas lost to Fatah last month. Now, as Hamas cobbles together the first Palestinian cabinet led by an Islamist party and struggles to secure much-needed aid money, some locals say a Hamas backlash could spread in the Palestinian territories."We haven't felt any real change in the city,'' said Mahmoud Haf…

The left blames the victim when it comes to Muslim extremism

Dennis Prager:

There's a certain consistent pattern regarding the worldwide Left's assessment of culpability for Muslim terror. It is the fault of the murdered. The most recent example is the blaming of Denmark, or at least the Danish newspaper, for publishing cartoons of Muhammad. From Kofi Annan to The New York Times -- and the other American newspapers that declared respect for religious symbols a new journalistic virtue -- liberal and leftist opinion always condemns violent Muslim demonstrations, but always with a "but." The "but" is that in the final analysis, it was the Danish and other European papers' faults for insulting the Muslim prophet. This is only the latest example of finding the victims of Islamic violence responsible for that violence. For a decade or more, it has been a given on the Left that Israel is to blame for terror committed against Israelis by Palestinian Muslims (Palestinian Christians don't engage in suicide terror). Wha…

Palestinians rally for mass murder Saddam

Sunday Times:

Around 300 Palestinians have demonstrated in the southern Gaza Strip in support of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein as his trial for crimes against humanity resumed in Baghdad.

Organised by the former ruling Fatah party the protesters, joined by dozens of masked gunmen, marched through the streets of the town of Rafah before dispersing without incident.

They called on the 22-nation Arab League to "support president Saddam Hussein" and carried a placard glorifying the "heroic Arab leader who did not kow-tow to America".

Replicas of the Israeli and US flags were also burnt.

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They are rallying for Saddam as evidence is introduced at his trial that he ordered the execution of 148 villagers without trial.

...The toppled dictator and his former aides are standing trial on charges of killing 148 Shiites in reprisal over a failed attempt on his life in the village of Dujail in 1982. The head of the General Prosecutor's office Jaafar al-Musawi read out T…

Al Qaeda in Saudia Arabia gets another crippling blow

Reuters:

Four of five militants killed by Saudi security forces on Monday were on a most wanted list of al Qaeda-linked suspects, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.It said in a statement that two of the men also took part in an al Qaeda attack on the world's biggest oil processing plant at Abqaiq in eastern Saudi Arabia last week.The Saudi media said one of the militants was a leader of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia....The five militants were killed in a dawn shootout on Monday after security forces besieged a villa in an eastern Riyadh area where several Western residential compounds are located.The raid took place days after al Qaeda suicide bombers tried to storm the Abqaiq oil facility in the first direct strike on a Saudi energy target since the militant group launched attacks aimed at toppling the U.S.-allied monarchy in 2003. The kingdom is the world's biggest oil exporter.Tuesday's statement means that almost all of the suspects on a list of 36 issued last year have …

UAE's recognition of Taliban helped US defeat them Gen. Franks says

The Strata-Sphere:

Tony Snow had General Tommy Franks the other day (which I missed) but he replayed some of the discussion with new facts about The UAE efforts as our ally. This caused me to go do some research on Tommy Franks comments. The first two are what I heard (sorry, no transcripts yet).(1) Tony Snow Show: The UAE provided the information and maps for our invasion of Afghanistan, specifically the Camp Rhino location. This allowed us to establish a safe location to take down the Taliban, and probably helped save the lives of our military forces. More here:Gen. Tommy Franks notes that the UAE’s much-criticized “recognition” of the Taliban actually enabled the country to do first-rate spying. The UAE provided maps and information for the opening invasion of Afghanistan.(2) Tony Snow Show: The UAE was one of the first to provide us fly-over rights to deal with Afghanistan and the Taliban, they also provided support for our airborne intelligence gathering resources.(3) Hannity and …

Old growth trees linked to global warming

Astute Blogger:

BBC: Europe's "Little Ice Age" may have been triggered by the 14th Century Black Death plague, according to a new study. Pollen and leaf data support the idea that millions of trees sprang up on abandoned farmland, soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This would have had the effect of cooling the climate, a team from Utrecht University, Netherlands, says. The Little Ice Age was a period of some 300 years when Europe experienced a dip in average temperatures.OKAY... by extension... if more treees mean lower temperatures, then less trees mean warmer temperatures. OR OLDER TREES (which absord much less CO2 than young growing trees.

This seems to bear out an earlier study, by scientists out of CAL-IRVINE, which suggested that the Amazon Rainforest is actually causing global warming because the trees in the Amazon are the oldest they've ever been - meaning the Amazon is NOT absorbing as much CO2 as it did a hundred years ago when most of the tress …

Paks freeze 16 Taliban related bank accounts

Pak Tribune:

PESHAWAR: Government of Pakistan has frozen 16 bank accounts operating in Pakistani banks on the charges of their involvement in financing Taliban movement and other terrorists. Sourced told Online that special investigation group of Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) froze 16 bank accounts opened in various commercial banks, which were being used to finance Taliban movement and terrorists. These accounts were operated on fake national identity cards in the banks including Standard Chartered Bank Peshawar, Muslim Commercial bank Chowk Yadgar, Union Bank Islamabad, Askari Bank Peshawar Cantt, Bank of Punjab Chowk Yadgar and United Bank Chowk Yadgar. SIG has expanded the scope of inquiry and initiated investigation against higher officials of the these banks. Sources said that about 600 million rupees were drawn from the bank branch at Chowk Yadgar Peshawar in 2003 through cheques and the money so drawn was provided to Taliban as financial assistance. The evidence are als…

US and Kurdish diplomacy save Iraq again

Washington Post:

In the days that followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine, Iraq seemed within a hair's breadth of civil war. But an aggressive U.S. and Kurdish diplomatic campaign appears for now to have coaxed the country back from open conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, according to Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats speaking in interviews on Monday."Localized difficulties also persist, but I think, at the strategic level, this crisis -- a mosque attack leading to civil war -- is over," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said in a telephone interview. "It was a serious crisis. I believe that Iraq came to the brink and came back."Khalilzad and others sounded upbeat on Monday, as authorities lifted a three-day ban on vehicle traffic and life in Baghdad returned to a state of uneasy normalcy after five days of bloodletting. The ambassador, another Western diplomat and Iraqi politicians described the behind-the-scenes political negot…

Advocacy science

Powerline:

Science and politics, that is. In recent years, the politicization of science by the left has become a serious problem. Michael Fumento cites three examples, all involving top science journals and important public issues. The first is global warming, probably the subject of more "scientific" misinformation than any other topic:Last September, after Hurricane Katrina, activists in lab coats saw a grand opportunity to tie the exceptionally violent hurricane season to global warming. A study in Science declared, "A large increase was seen in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching categories 4 and 5." But the researchers simply cut off their data at 1970, though public statistics go back to 1850. Using the full data set would have reversed the conclusion. Why did the editors and peer-reviewers at both JAMA and Science not insist on use of the full data set? Because slicing off inconvenient data is a time-honored tool of advocacy science.Global tem…

Behind the curtain in the war on Walmart

Brendan Miniter:

With the war on Wal-Mart now heating up in nearly three dozen state legislatures, I put a call in to someone who was in on the ground floor in pushing to force the retailer to spend more on health care for its employees. What Maryland's Delegate James Hubbard, a Democrat from Prince George's County, had to say was revealing of both why he backed his state's "Wal-Mart bill" and what this fight is really about: expanding Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded health-care entitlements. Let's first understand that the drive to enact anti-Wal-Mart legislation has very little to do with the retail giant except in two respects: dipping into its very deep pockets, and using the controversy surrounding the company to mask the larger agenda of expanding already-bankrupt entitlement programs. Of course, in this war legislators have a ready made ally in the AFL-CIO, which has its own reasons for going after the nonunionized company. With that, let's turn …

Dubai port deal exposes Democrat hypocracy

David Limbaugh:

In their opportunistic opposition to the Dubai Ports World takeover of commercial container operations at six major U.S. ports, Democrats aren't just reversing themselves on so-called "racial profiling" but on their phony condemnation of President Bush for allegedly shattering our alliances in the War on Terror. Since 9/11, Democrats have railed against any hint of profiling, even for national security reasons. Liberal political correctness is the intangible, misguided moralistic force that has demanded that airport baggage checkers scrutinize blue-haired Caucasian ladies as readily as, if not more so than, young Middle Eastern male adults. Yet, there's no other conceivable explanation for their objection to the alleged transfer of "foreign control" over these ports than that the transferee company is Arab. The Democrats' opposition, as distinguished from the differently motivated opposition from some on the right, has also demonstrated t…

Strings attached

Thomas Sowell:

Suppose someone left you an inheritance of a million dollars -- with the proviso that every cent of it had to be spent on tickets for you to go watch professional wrestling matches. If you happened to be a professional wrestling fan, you would be in hog heaven. But what if you were not? How much would that million dollars be worth to you? Certainly a lot less than a million dollars. What if there was a clause in the will which said that you could forfeit the million dollars and instead receive a cash amount of $100,000 to spend as you pleased? Many of us would take the hundred grand without strings, even if that was only ten cents on the dollar compared to the million for watching wrestling. In short, money with strings is worth less than money without strings -- sometimes a lot less.
Many of us who receive money from Social Security or other government programs are learning the hard way the difference between money with strings and money without strings. For example, So…

Meathead economics hurting California

Opinion Journal:

It takes hard work to drive anyone away from California's sunshine and scenic vistas, but politicians in Sacramento have been up to the task.The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.What's gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states. But the worst growth killer may well be California's tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is the highest in the West, and it…

Media likely to be hoisted on own petard

Stuart Taylor:

The news media's ability to use leaks to keep the White House honest is threatened as never before by the unanticipated consequences of the investigation into the White House's own leaks of classified information to discredit a critic.

Some government officials are itching to exploit that investigation as a precedent for using the threat of long jail terms and massive fines to force reporters to finger their confidential sources. The precedent was set, ironically, by the special counsel investigating leaks by White House officials, including (we now know) Karl Rove and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Few leakers and no reporters in American history have been prosecuted for disclosing classified information. But that may change. Under the Justice Department's interpretation of a 1917 espionage law, both those who leak government secrets and those who publish them are felons. It may be no defense to argue that the leaks did little damage to national security, or that…

More on big al Qaeda bust in Iraq

NY Post:

Iraqi forces captured a top aide to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during a raid, a security official said yesterday Abu al-Farouq and five other al Qaeda operatives were seized after authorities got a tip from residents near al-Bakr. "Abu al-Farouq, a Syrian, was in charge of planning and financing militant groups operating in Ramadi," an insurgent stronghold, the security officer said. Disclosure of his capture came as police commandos said they killed five suspected Sunni insurgents and captured 25 in an evening battle southeast of Baghdad. Altogether, 35 insurgents have been killed and 487 arrested in nationwide raids since the upsurge in violence that began Wednesday, the defense ministry said.
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Disappointing the pessimist

Jack Kelly:

The Associated Press reported Monday that Sunni Arabs in Iraq are prepared to end their boycott of talks to form a national unity government, thus disappointing yet again those journalists who've been telling us for two years civil war is imminent. It seemed last Wednesday as if the pessimists might finally be right after terrorists destroyed the Golden Mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam. Shia militias attacked more than a dozen Sunni mosques in retaliation. An unprecedented three day curfew was imposed in Baghdad in order to curb sectarian violence in which more than 100 people were killed. The outbreak of violence convinced conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. that the U.S. mission in Iraq has failed. "Our …

Democracy still the best bet in Baghdad

Ralph Peters:

I FLEW over the streets of this city on Sunday. The calm made a striking contrast to the media hysteria. No mosques burned. No demonstrations seethed. The closest thing I saw to violence was a children's soccer game played in a suburb. Baghdad isn't Candyland, of course. We skimmed the city at 300 feet — combat altitude — with the Blackhawk's guns up. But it sure wasn't civil war. For now, at least, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his blood-cult terrorists haven't succeeded in pitting Sunni against Shia. Our effort to help Iraqis build a rule-of-law democracy may yet fail. But it remains a better bet that Iraq will become the most equitably governed major Arab state and that a democracy, however imperfect, will stand where a monstrous regime fell. Last week, the terrorists scored a temporary win by bombing the Golden Mosque in Samarra. Retaliatory attacks pocked Iraq's urban landscapes, providing striking TV images. Starved for headlines, the global …

Few profiles in courage on port issue

John Podhoretz:

WILL there ever come a time when the company seeking American clearance to assume management of several major U.S. ports actually achieves its aim? After last week's political firestorm surrounding the company, which is called Dubai Ports World and is owned by the government of that Persian Gulf emirate, its directors clearly took the advice of the Bush administration and decided to institute a cooling-off period. It requested an additional 45-day review of the deal, clearly hoping that by late April, the whole business will be forgotten. Over the past couple of days, reasonable pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have explained patiently that this is all a misunderstanding. Port security will not be damaged by the fact that a company owned by an Arab nation will be managing the flow of shipping goods in and out of New York and other cities. In fact, they have said convincingly, this is precisely the sort of deal we should be making with friendly Arab …

Going nuts over a country's middle name

Richard Cohen:

There are times when George Bush sorely disappoints. Just when you might expect him to issue a malapropian explanation, pander to his base or simply not have a clue about what he is talking about, he does something so right, so honest and, yes, so commendable, that -- as Arthur Miller put it in "Death of a Salesman" -- "attention must be paid." Pay attention to how he has refused to indulge anti-Arab sentiment over the Dubai ports deal.Would that anyone could say the same about many of the deal's critics. Whatever their concerns may be, whatever their fears, they would not have had them, expressed them or seen them in print had the middle name of the United Arab Emirates been something else. After all, no one goes nuts over Germany, the country where some of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists lived and attended school.To overlook the xenophobic element in this controversy is to overlook the obvious. It is what propelled the squabble and what sustains …

Palestinian Authority two weeks away from financial failure

Washington Post:

A special Middle East envoy, James D. Wolfensohn, has warned international donors that the Palestinian Authority could collapse within two weeks unless fresh funding can be found to pay salaries, clear overdue energy bills and sustain government services financed largely by foreign aid.In a letter Saturday to senior diplomats from the group of peace interlocutors known as the quartet -- Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations -- Wolfensohn said Israel's decision to withhold revenue from the sales tax and customs fees it collects for the Palestinian Authority had pushed the caretaker government to the brink of insolvency.Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah movement currently runs the government. But that will change in a few weeks when Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the E.U., forms the next cabinet. Hamas scored an unexpected victory in parliamentary elections Jan. 25.Wolfensohn, a fo…

There is a lesson for Sunnis in the new casualty figures

Washington Post:

Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr."After he came back from the evening prayer, the Mahdi Army broke into his house and asked him, 'Are you Khalid the Sunni infidel?' " one man at the morgue said, relating…

Texas border sheriffs ask congress for help

Washington Times:

A coalition of Texas border sheriffs will testify at Capitol Hill hearings this week that illegal immigration and drug smuggling have sent law-enforcement costs soaring and exposed their deputies and communities to escalating violence.
Overwhelmed by a flood of illegal aliens, drug smugglers and rapidly increasing violence, the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition -- which includes all the sheriffs from Texas' 16 border counties -- want the federal government to help them pay for manpower increases, rising fuel bills, vehicles and equipment.
"If anything happens along the border areas, we're the first ones to respond, and it's the local taxpayers who are footing the bills for the federal government's inability to control the area," said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez.
Sheriff Gonzalez, who heads the coalition, has argued that the federal government's failure to control illegal immigration and drug smuggling and to curt…

The FBI's 26 most wanted terrorist

Washington Times:

The FBI has updated and revised its list of "Most Wanted Terrorists" to include 26 persons indicted by federal grand juries throughout the United States, many of whom also have State Department rewards posted for them ranging from $5 million to $25 million.
"We will continue to bring all necessary resources to bear to protect Americans from terrorist attacks," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. "The combined strength of law enforcement at home and abroad, with a vigilant and engaged public, will ensure success."
The list, established a month after the September 11 attacks, is headed by Osama bin Laden, founder of al Qaeda. Added to it were:
• Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, 45, born in the Gaza Strip in the Occupied Territories and now a resident of Damascus, Syria, who is the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a designated foreign-terrorist organization. A member of the PIJ's Shura Council, he served as executor …

Ricin case closed on UT roll of quarters

Houston Chronicle:

A mysterious powder that set off a ricin scare at the University of Texas campus likely will remain a mystery, FBI officials said late Monday. The coarse powder, which a UT student from Pearland found in a roll of quarters Thursday while doing laundry, prompted an FBI investigation after state lab results came back positive for the deadly toxin. But testing at a federal lab in Maryland showed the powder did not contain ricin.The FBI announced Monday that it had closed its investigation without determining what the powder was."It's not what it was. It's what it's not that's important," said FBI Special Agent Rene Salinas.Meanwhile, UT officials acknowledged some kinks in communication, both within the university and with law enforcement agencies, that may have complicated the situation and increased anxiety.Bob Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security, said in a news conference that university staff had some old cell p…

Gates and armored levees part of New Orleans flood control package

NY Times:

The Bush administration has asked Congress to pay for two huge gates in the New Orleans area to close off the navigational canals that devastated the city's Lower Ninth Ward, along with "armored" levees that would not be destroyed when water washed over the top, according to the most recent details of its spending plan.

The $1.46 billion flood-control proposal is part of the administration's $19.8 billion emergency financing request that was announced this month. A description of how the money would be spent was discussed in detail on Friday by Donald E. Powell, the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding, on a visit to New Orleans.The proposed repairs could be completed in about four years, said James Ward Jr., deputy director of the the United States Army Corps of Engineers task force responding to Hurricane Katrina.
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Court to hear arguments on campaign finance and redistricting

NY Times:

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Hearing arguments in a campaign finance case from Vermont on Tuesday and a Congressional redistricting case from Texas on Wednesday, the justices will venture onto a shifting landscape where the controlling legal precedents are either unclear or unstable and the prospect for fundamental change looms on the horizon.On many of the questions, the new Roberts court will almost certainly be as closely divided as was the Rehnquist court. Two years ago, for example, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who was succeeded last month by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., cast the decisive fifth vote to uphold major provisions of a new federal campaign finance law. The justices were unable during that same term to agree on a majority opinion in a case from Pennsylvania on whether the Constitution prohibits a partisan gerrymander.While decisions in the new cases are not likely until June, the arguments this week could offer a hint of the court's direction and appetite for forging a new cons…

NY Times makes preemptive strike on It leak of classified NSA program

Reuters:

The New York Times sued the U.S. Defense Department on Monday demanding that it hand over documents about the National Security Agency's domestic spying program.The Times wants a list of documents including all internal memos and e-mails about the program of monitoring phone calls without court approval. It also seeks the names of the people or groups identified by it.The Times in December broke the story that the NSA had begun intercepting domestic communications believed linked to al Qaeda following the September 11 attacks. That provoked renewed criticism of the way U.S. President George W. Bush is handling his declared war on terrorism.Bush called the disclosure of the program to the Times a "shameful act" and the U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into who leaked it.The Times had requested the documents in December under the Freedom of Information Act but sued upon being unsatisfied with the Pentagon's response that the request was &qu…

Tiawan scraps Unification Council

NY Times:

Defying warnings from Beijing and Washington, President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan announced late this afternoon that he was scrapping the island's council and guidelines for any political unification with mainland China. President Chen declared in a televised address that the National Unification Council "will cease to function," and that Taiwan's national unification guidelines "will cease to apply." Aides said he would sign the necessary executive order on Tuesday. The council has been moribund since President Chen took office in 2000, but has considerable symbolic importance. Mr. Chen promised in his first inaugural address that as long as the mainland had no intention of using military force against Taiwan, he would not undertake any of five moves toward independence, and specifically declared that "there is no question of abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification and the National Unification Council." Mr. Chen hedged …

On miscalculations and war

Image
TigerHawk:I had occasion this evening to page through Philip Bobbitt's magisterial history of law, strategy, war and the state system, The Shield of Achilles. Early in the book he considers miscalculation and calculation as causes of war:
Many persons in the West believe that war occurs only because of miscalculation; sometimes this opinion is combined with the view that only aggressors make war. Persons holding these two views would have a hard time justifying the wisdom of the Alliance resistance to Communism the last fifty years because it was usually the U.S. and her allies and not the Soviets who resolutely and studiedly escalated matters to crises threatening war. Besides the obvious cases involving Berlin in 1952, or Cuba in 1962, we might add the decisions to make the move to war in South Korea and in South Viet Nam, the nature and motivations of which decisions are underscored by the persistent refusals of the Americans and their allies to bomb China or invade North Viet …

Zarqawi associate captured in Ramadi

Reuters:

Iraqi Interior Ministry forces have captured a senior aide to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi state television said on Monday.

Iraqiya named the man as Abu Farouq and said he was captured with five others in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital.It said Abu Farouq al-Suri, previously unknown to the media, was captured by the Wolf Brigade, one of several counter-insurgency units operating within the Shi'ite-run Interior Ministry but accused by Sunnis of targeting civilians in their community.The word Suri is Arabic for Syrian, indicating that the captured man may have come from Iraq's western neighbor.U.S. military spokespeople were unaware of the capture....

Bad news, Saddam is eating again

Captain's Quarters:

The AP notes that Saddam Hussein has ended his hunger strike, and in fact only participated in it for eleven days. The reason he started eating again? He discovered that starvation is bad for his health. No, I'm not kidding:Toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ended on health grounds a hunger strike he began earlier this month to protest against the conduct of his trial, his chief lawyer said on Monday. "The president maintained his hunger strike for 11 days but was forced to end it for health reasons," Khalil Dulaimi, who met Saddam for seven hours in Baghdad on Sunday, told Reuters.Saddam, on trial since last October for crimes against humanity, threw already chaotic proceedings into more turmoil on February 14 by saying he and seven co-accused had been staging a hunger strike for the past three days. What exactly did Saddam think would happen when he stopped eating -- that he would get healthier?...
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A prediction came true pretty quickly. …

Al Qaeda's Arab chauvism

Strategy Page:

Al Qaeda is having increasing problems with ethnic frictions. There was always a problem with the Arabs, who founded, and largely run, al Qaeda, being disdainful of non-Arab recruits, and non-Arab members. The Arabs tend to have an attitude problem. Not only do they feel that Arabs are superior, in general, to everyone else, but they also project a "more-Islamic-than-thou" vibe that really irritates non-Arabs. This has always been a problem, even though the senior al Qaeda Arabs tried to make every recruit feel welcome. The current problem comes from the fact that all of the original al Qaeda senior leadership is either dead, arrested or in hiding. Dealing with new recruits is left to middle management. These fellows are nearly all Arabs, and often recent replacements for more experienced operators who are dead or arrested. The people dealing with new recruits often have to do it under stressful conditions, and this does not make the experience very welcoming…

Borderline national security policy

David Limbaugh:

President Bush is in trouble with much of his base for approving the sale of a British shipping firm that runs commercial container operations at six major U.S. ports to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company. I believe the main reason he is under fire from the right is that he has a nagging credibility problem concerning his inscrutable immigration policy. To be sure, Bush is under fire from the left as well, but their opposition has little to do with national security concerns and everything to do with partisan politics. Most conservatives, I think, see Bush as enormously committed to America's national security and the Global War on Terror (GWOT). But many find themselves scratching their heads over his perceived "open borders" policy. Why, they wonder, is he so genuinely clear-sighted about the evil of terrorists and the global threat they pose to the point of fashioning his legacy-making foreign policy doctrine around an unprecedented preemption strateg…

Prosecuter does not think it material whether or not Plame was covered by act

Byron York:

CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued at a hearing Friday that, as far as the perjury charges against former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby are concerned, it does not matter whether or not Valerie Wilson was a covert CIA agent when she was mentioned in the famous Robert Novak column of July 14, 2003. "We're trying a perjury case," Fitzgerald told Judge Reggie Walton. Even if Plame had never worked for the CIA at all, Fitzgerald continued — even if she had been simply mistaken for a CIA agent — the charges against Libby would still stand. In addition, Fitzgerald said, he does not intend to offer "any proof of actual damage" caused by the disclosure of Wilson's identity.

Fitzgerald's comments mark the evolution of the CIA leak case from a matter in which Fitzgerald investigated allegations that members of the Bush administration outed covert agent Wilson as part of a plot to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson — an alleged act about …

Bin Laden changes his strategy

James Robbins:

One frequently hears that terrorists are long-term strategists. They plan in terms of decades, if not centuries. Time is irrelevant to them. No matter what we do, they will have the upper hand, because they have an enduring cause, and the patience to stick with the game plan. It is the same thing we used to hear about the Soviets before their empire collapsed around them. Unless that was all according to plan too.

I have never given the bad guys any special credit for being long-term thinkers. They may talk about executing strategies over decades, but only because they must. Terrorists are weak by definition. If al Qaeda had land armies, air and naval fleets — not to mention nuclear weapons — they would use them. If they could get the job done quickly, they would. However, since they can't, they counsel patience to their followers, mount attacks when the opportunity arises, and allow us to make a virtue out of their necessity. But the recent attempted suicide bombing…

Logistics in a 360 degree war zone

Ralph Peters:

IMMENSE — there's no better word for it. The scale of our military's effort to support our troops in Iraq is a great American success story. And it's ignored. Not only by critics, but even by those who keep faith with our struggle. Media attention centers on front-line troops. And they deserve every bit of credit they get. But the tip of the spear has a long shaft behind it. The infantryman leading a patrol couldn't do it without tens of thousands of other troops working far from the cameras and headlines. And the work is hard. Living conditions are tough. And in the kind of wars we fight today, the front line is everywhere, anyway. Here in Kuwait, the support effort's led by the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). The acronym may sound bureaucratic, but it represents flesh and blood — the best our country has to offer. CFLCC moves the troops to and from Iraq, runs the supply convoys, unloads the ships (then loads them again), repairs v…

China works with Bolivia to replace shoulder fired missiles

Washington Times:

China's communist leaders are advising the new leftist government in Bolivia to avoid upsetting the United States, but at the same time have offered to replace shoulder-fired missiles that a CIA-led operation removed from the South American country last year, U.S. intelligence officials said.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, during a recent visit to China, was told he should avoid actions that could lead to U.S. intervention and perhaps the ouster of his government, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.
The Chinese fear the United States will orchestrate a coup against Mr. Morales using sympathetic officers within the Bolivian military.
A Bush administration official said China told Mr. Morales, "You have to be nice to the United States," and the advice is part of Beijing's long-term strategy to undermine U.S. influence in the region and other parts of the world.
Before Mr. Morales' election in December, the CIA led an ope…

"Martyr" mother represents what is wrong with Palestinians

NY Post:

The Mother of Martyrs is tired. Arriving home after a hard day, she props her chic leather handbag against the wall and sits wearily on a plastic chair in the courtyard, sipping from a glass of orangeade. In her traditional long gown and veil, there is a gentle simplicity about Mariam Farhat. The illusion is reinforced by her low voice, her serene and untroubled face. But what emerges from this angelic mouth is a chilling litany of poisonous and murderous propaganda. Farhat, 56, a policeman's widow, breeds terrorists and is proud of it. Three of her sons — at her urging — have died for Palestine. But what brings me to this dangerous fanatic's door is her new and terrifying role as a member of government. Two days ago, Farhat took her seat by video link as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, representing the suicide bombers and terrorists of the Islamic militants, Hamas. She could not travel to parliament in Ramallah because there are warrants out for …