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Showing posts from November, 2006

The willful ignorance of Nancy Pelosi

Power Line:

The other day, Nancy Pelosi was asked about President Bush's statement that al Qaeda is responsible for the surge of violence in Iraq. Pelosi responded that "the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again." But of course the 9/11 Commission said nothing about al Qaeda's involvement in post-invasion Iraq. Its findings pertained only to the situation under Saddam Hussein.

Had a Republican leader been this confused, the MSM would have pounced. But since it was Pelosi, the MSM did not. To the contrary, NBC's David Gregory, who takes obnoxious exception to Bush administration comments at the drop of a hat, passed along Pelosi's claim as if it were true, and went on to suggest that Bush's rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it harder for Democrats to work with the White House. It seems implausible that even the Dems would decline to work with the White House on the grounds that it men…

Bush, Maliki reject Dem ideas for departure

NY Times:

President Bush said Thursday that American troops would stay in Iraq unless its government asks them to leave, using a joint news conference with the Iraqi prime minister to push back against a reported decision by an independent bipartisan panel to call for a gradual withdrawal.

“I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq,” Mr. Bush said during a joint news conference in Amman with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, referring to the final report by the Iraq Study Group that is expected next week. “We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done so long as the government wants us there.”

...

Mr. Bush also said he and Mr. Maliki would oppose any plan to partition the country, which is increasingly divided by sectarian violence. The two appeared together after an hourlong breakfast meeting with aides at the Four Seasons Hotel here that was followed by a 45-minute one-on-one session.

“The pri…

Who is poisoning all these Russians?

Telegraph:

Doctors treating Yegor Gaidar, the former Russian prime minister who is seriously ill, believe he was poisoned, an aide has said.

“Doctors don’t see a natural reason for the poisoning and they have not been able to detect any natural substance known to them” in Mr Gaidar’s body, spokesman Valery Natarov said. “So obviously we’re talking about poisoning (and) it was not natural poisoning.”

Mr Gaidar, prime minister in the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin, fell ill on a business trip to Ireland last week. He was unconscious for three hours and vomited blood and bled from his nose.

His condition stabilised and he was returned to Moscow, where he was hospitalised again.

Meanwhile two Russians who met former KGB colonel Alexander Litvinenko on the day he may have been poisoned have confirmed that they flew on at least one of the British Airways flights that police believe could have been subjected to low level radiocative contamination.

...
There seems to be a curious lack of curiosity coming…

Concern about al Qaeda cyber attack on broker data bases

Reuters:

The U.S. government warned on Thursday of a possible al Qaeda call to attack U.S. financial online services but said there was no evidence to suggest the effort could cause harm.

A person familiar with the warning said al Qaeda may be aiming to penetrate and destroy the databases of U.S. online stock trading and banking Web sites.

Reaction in the financial community was muted, with markets showing little or no reaction.

...

The warning said the threat called for attacks to begin Friday and run through the month of December in retaliation for the United States keeping terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

...

Denial of service is when attackers try to prevent legitimate users from accessing a Web site. They can do it by flooding network connections or filling up storage space so the Web site becomes paralyzed.

The warning said the threat came from a group calling itself "ANHIAR al-Dollar." A person familiar with the warning said the effort was related …

The fall of the $ since the election of Democrats

This is one of several stories about the fall of the dollar in relation to the Euro and other currencies. While they come up with several rationales for the slide of the dollar none of the stories mention the coincidence of big spending Democrats taking control of Congress. You would think they would notice.

Talking to Iran

Frank Gaffney:

It seems as though everyone but President Bush himself is now calling for U.S. talks with Iran and Syria. That's expected to be one of the recommendations in the long-awaited Iraq Study Group report to be released next month.

Incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates supports engaging Iran. And just yesterday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell added his voice to the choir.

When the President says "no dice," it might appear to be classic, unwarranted Bush stubbornness. But the truth is, the new talk-to-Iran conventional wisdom is irresponsible.

Why? Because Iran is, hands down, the main impediment to freedom and stability in Iraq. Together with its client state, Syria, Iran is directly implicated in murderous attacks on American forces in Iraq. Iran is arming and training Shiite militias. And it's using violence, intelligence and money to dominate oil-rich southern Iraq.

If we have any hope of turning the tide in Iraq, our strategy must negate those threa…

Honey bees detect explosives

Reuters/Ynet:

Scientists at a US weapons laboratory say they have trained bees to sniff out explosives in a project they say could have far-reaching applications for US homeland security and the Iraq war.


Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico said they trained honeybees to stick out their proboscis -- the tube they use to feed on nectar -- when they smell explosives in anything from cars and roadside bombs to belts similar to those used by suicide bombers.


Researchers in the program, dubbed the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project, published their findings today.


By exposing the insects to the odor of explosives followed by a sugar water reward, researchers said they trained bees to recognize substances ranging from dynamite and C-4 plastic explosives to the Howitzer propellant grains used in improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

"When bees detect the presence of explosives, they simply stick their proboscis out," research scientist Tim Haarmann told Reuters i…

Who is desperate here?

James Taranto discusses the dispute over the AP source for a story in Iraq:

...

... what got our attention was the tone of the two letters. Here's an excerpt from Lt. Dean's: Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was.The Associated Press denounces unfounded attacks on its story about six Sunni worshipers burned to death outside their mosque on Friday, November 24. The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question. So the military makes a "respectful request," to which the AP responds by "denouncing unfounded attacks" and calling criticism of its repor…

Proof of Iran supplying new weapons in Iraq

ABC News:

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official.

Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.

Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr's …

AP still in denial on its source for story of burning men

Flopping Aces got a response from the AP after the Minister of Interior press briefing. The AP is still ignoring a key piece of information.

...For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name– maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not re…

ACLU nativity scene

University of Texas conservatives have a display for the ACLU.

Iraq confirms AP source is not a police officer

Michelle Malkin has the details. Here is a brief excerpt:

...

For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name-- maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official. We would like this note to be helpful to you and any…

Time for AP to produce their source

Don Surber says the ball is in the AP's court and they have to produce their source to save credibility. I agree and I think they should do it at a Ministry of the Interior press briefing, and oh, yeah, have him bring his ID with him.

One of the strange things about the AP response to Centcom is how they skip over the part where we are told that the guy is not an employee of the Iraqi police and go to another argument about whether he is an authorized spokesman. Their usual style is not to identify sources who are not authorized to make statements to the media. They do not explain why they make an exception in this case.

Attacking roadside bombers from out of the blue

Stars & Stripes:

When it comes to getting the drop on insurgents in northern Iraq, there’s no better place to swoop in on fleeing gunmen or roadside bomb planters than from hundreds of feet overhead.

At least that’s the concept behind Task Force Diamondhead’s “Lightning Strike” method of hunting the enemy in an area of operation that’s about as large as Pennsylvania.

The tactic, which the 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade pioneered in Afghanistan to great success, involves a unique mix of air assault and surveillance aircraft, Army infantrymen and Navy bomb disposal technicians.

Their main purpose is to interdict roadside bomb planters and track and capture suspicious vehicles or gunmen.

Commanders and ground troops have long complained that efforts to capture insurgents on the ground are often stymied by the noise and visibility of their vehicles. Helicopter pilots have also complained that they have observed suspicious activities from the air, but have been unable to summon…

The dialog warriors

Max Boot:

FOR CERTAIN members of the foreign policy cognoscenti, there is no problem so intractable that it cannot be resolved through dialogue — preferably multilateral, except in those situations (North Korea, for example) in which bilateral talks are for some reason preferred. Thus, with Iraq sinking deeper into the blood-drenched waters of civil strife, we hear growing calls for an international conference to come to the rescue. The model is said to be the 1989 Taif Accord that ended Lebanon's civil war — reached, conveniently enough, when über troubleshooter James A. Baker III was secretary of State. This ignores two major differences between Lebanon then and Iraq today.

First, by 1989, all sides in Lebanon had been exhausted by 14 years of fighting that had claimed at least 150,000 lives. In Iraq, by contrast, the killing is still in its early stages, and there is no sign that Shiite or Sunni bloodlust will abate anytime soon.

Second, for all the exhaustion of the combatants, t…

Dear "Noble Americans"

Investor's Business Daily:

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tries to woo "Noble Americans," a smuggled video shows how truth and justice actually fare in his country.

The Iranian president is back to writing letters, this time a five-page missive directly to the American people. A longer letter to President Bush in May fell flat. Maybe Ahmadinejad figures that if he steals enough lines from the Democratic Party and the New York Times' editorial page, ordinary Americans will see him as a regular liberal guy.

So he says things like: "If the U.S. government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America." That's the sort of thing he might say to a softball question from Mike Wallace.

But he can't quite pull off the mainstream act. Get him going on Israel, and he's an anti-Semitic conspiracy nut. Presumab…

This is who the left thinks should still be in power in Iraq

AFP:

Iraqi troops have gunned down mothers cradling infants and slaughtered scores of Kurdish children before bulldozing them into mass graves, a forensic expert told
Saddam Hussein's genocide trial.

In harrowing testimony, American expert Michael Trimble explained how three mass graves discovered since the March 2003 US invasion of
Iraq were filled mainly with the bullet-riddled corpses of very young children.

Of 301 corpses in the graves, 183 were Kurdish children killed during Saddam's Anfal campaign in 1988, said Trimble, who is the head of the mass graves investigation unit at the Iraqi High Tribunal

"The captives were often bound and blindfolded. The captives were led into the grave and then executed with pistols or automatic assault rifle fire. The graves were then covered by those directing the execution," Trimble said.

"In all these graves, 90 percent of the children are less than 13 years of age," he said, adding that one was a child of six to 12 months,…

Blood and Oil

Victor Davis Hanson:

With the gruesome killing of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Vladimir Putin's Russia stands accused of poisoning yet another critic.

Meanwhile, Syria continues to mastermind the murders of Lebanese democrats. Israeli-free Gaza is as violent as ever. Hezbollah is busy replenishing its stock of Iranian missiles. The theocracy in Iran keeps promising an end to Israel. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is slowly strangling democracy in Latin America in a manner that an impoverished Fidel Castro never could.

And then, of course, there's Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's easy to think that all of this violent instability across the globe is unconnected. But, in fact, in one way or another, oil and its huge profits are at the bottom of a lot of it.

Islamic jihadists, fed from petrodollar wealth of the Middle East, have the cash to arm and plan operations from Baghdad and Kabul to Madrid and London. Thanks to oil, unhinged leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and C…

The Dem's churlish caucus

Emmett Tyrrell:

When Ronald Reagan's former secretary of the Navy, James Webb, eked out victory against the Republican Sen. George Allen in Virginia, what did the Democrats gain? To be sure they gained control of the Senate. That has been widely noted. Less widely noted is the fact that they gained something infinitely more subtle, but delightfully more amusing as will become apparent in the months ahead. In Webb they gained yet another very unpleasant person as a conspicuous member of the party hierarchy. He will not be easily obscured. Webb now takes his place with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dr. Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jean-Francois Kerry and so many other Democratic notables as a rebarbative blowhard with whom you would not want to share a gondola. Nor would a civilized American want to have any of these churlish cads to dinner or even as neighbors down the block. Just the other day one of Sen. Clinton's neighbors turned up with a gunshot wound. I would not be surprised if it wer…

Its name calling not analysis

Ralph Peters:

YOU can call her a blond, but she's still a redhead. The endless spitting match over whether Iraq is in a state of civil war is a media-driven grudge fight that ignores the complex reality. It's name-calling, not analysis.

A lot of this is just "get Bush" stuff from journalists whose biased reporting helped shape the dismal reality in Iraq and who now crow that they were right all along - the media as a self-licking ice-cream cone.

The good news - and, unfortunately, the bad news - is that Iraq is not in a state of civil war in the textbook sense. If it were, our military and political mission would be easier.

In a civil war, you have clearly defined sides struggling for political power, with organized military formations and parallel governments. You know who to kill and who is empowered to negotiate with you. You can pick a side and stick to it.

Unleashed, our military could smash any enemy in an open civil war. Even our diplomats would have trouble preven…

Civility too hard for Webb

George Will:

That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy." Webb told The Post:

"I'm not particularly interested in having a picture of me and George W. Bush on my wall. No offense to the insti…

Another silly idea from Dems on Iraq

NY Times:

Leading Senate Democrats called Wednesday for President Bush to appoint a special envoy to work with Iraqi leaders to bring increasing violence in Iraq under control.

...

The lawmakers said in the letter that the special American envoy could follow up on issues raised between Mr. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq during their planned meeting on Thursday in Jordan.

...
Isn't that the ambassador job? My guess is that Gen. Casey and his staff also work on those issues. This looks more like Democrats posturing to make it look like they are relevant to what is happening. If this is all they have in the way of ideas then it is a good thing they are not.

Bush rejects draw down advice of commission

NY Times:

President Bush early today proclaimed Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq," and said the two had agreed to speed the turnover of security responsibility from American to Iraqi forces. But Mr. Bush dismissed an anticipated call by an independent bipartisan panel for a gradual withdrawal of troops.

"I know there's a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there's going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq," the president said during a packed joint news conference with Mr. Maliki, referring to the panel's reports that are expected next week. "We're going to stay in Iraq to get the job done as long as the government wants us there."

Mr. Bush also said he and Mr. Maliki would oppose any plan to break up the country, which is riven by sectarian violence between and among Shiites and Sunni Arabs, and Kurds. The two appeared together after a breakfast meeting that had lasted two and a half ho…

Rule of law takes a holiday in Mexican resort area

Washington Post:

Andr?s Sauzo collects newspapers, astoundingly grisly newspapers.

There's the one with the close-up shot of a severed human head. There's the one with the wide-angle of a man hacked to death with a machete.

But the worst in his bulky archive of drug-war gore rolled off the presses the day after someone found pieces of what used to be Sauzo's 24-year-old namesake. A hit man had decapitated Sauzo's son, then chopped off his arms and legs. The killer was so unconcerned about being brought to justice that he scrawled his own name and nickname -- "El Barby" -- on a note left with the mutilated corpse.

Still, Sauzo's mother, Cristina Gomez, didn't bother to go to the police. "Why waste my time?" she said in an interview. "This is the way it is in a town without laws."

Gomez's reaction and the audacity of Sauzo's murder -- one of 11 decapitations in the state of Guerrero this year and one of 2,000 killings in a nationw…

Dems break promise on 9-11 report implementation

Washington Post:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the packag…

Iraqi Ministry of Interior says AP source not a cop

Little Green Footballs:

...

Sir:

I have just learned from Mr. Costlow, mentioned below, that Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the official Ministry of Interior spokesmen, will begin his regularly scheduled press conference at noon tomorrow with a statement that Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee.

Yesterday, coincidently, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior issued a press release warning of spreading propaganda aimed at broadcasters. The text of this statement follows:

A Statement from the Ministry of Interior

...
This is another Centcom email excerpt. The AP has a real problem or the Iraqi Ministry of Interior does. Perhaps bot are being victimized by someone pretending to be a policeman, but it is up to the AP to go to the Ministry of Interior and get a confirmation on their source. As I said before, the latest attempt by the AP is like a writer of bad checks offering to replace a returned check by writing another.

Strategy for defeat

Bob Weir:

The Democrats have an interesting method of turning events into self-fulfilling prophesies. They say they're for the troops, but against the war (after they were for it). Then, they proceed to endanger the lives of the troops by condemning the war, thereby giving aid and comfort to the enemy, emboldening further action and convincing them to hold out for eventual retreat. The tactic they use has been to criticize "the way the war is being handled" as they start a propaganda campaign to convince the American public that the war was a mistake.

While they continuously bash the Commander in Chief at home, the enemy on the battlefield becomes more emboldened, with the ultimate result being that more US soldiers and many more civilians are killed, and the war begins to seem like an exercise in futility. As more troops become casualties and the enemy appears to be gaining ground, the Democrats blame the President for a "failed policy." The fact is, the policy …

Genocide on the cheap in Zimbabwe

The Belmont Club:

When we read stories, like this one in the Catholic News Service, comparing deaths from chaos in a Third World country to Iraq, what should we make of it? More people are dying from starvation and disease in Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe than are killed in the war in Iraq or the conflict in Darfur, said Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He claimed about 3,500 people are dying each week in his country from a "unique convergence of malnutrition, poverty and AIDS."

...

... I think it is fair to observe that both cases represent problems to which a satisfactory solution has not yet been found. Zimbabwe represents the kind of death by benign neglect which descended on Rwanda, Darfur and the Congo. A kind of silent catastrophe that was largely left to the AID agencies, the UN and the NGOs to solve. Iraq represents something different; the challenge of asymmetrical warfare to West. Bishop Ncube thinks the "international community" has a…

Instant replay in the combat zone

Strategy Page:

...

No one is sure who started carrying vidcams into combat, or just on patrols, and then reviewing the video later, looking for things that might have been missed. Most likely it was either some Special Forces guy, or a former SOCOM type working private security in Iraq. The concept predated Iraq, in the form of the "lipstick cam" (a video cam the size of a lipstick) that was worn by skiers, mountain bikers and the like, to record their thrilling heroics for later viewing. One intrepid journalist convinced at least one soldier to wear a lipstick cam during the 2003 advance on Baghdad.



The U.S. Department of Defense wants to take the concept further. This has arrived in the form of ASSIST (Advanced Soldier Sensor Information System and Technology). This project is testing a wide variety of sensors that soldiers in action, especially patrols, can just wear. The images and sound collected from the vidcams would not just be recorded, but, with a powerful enough wi-f…

Looking at the evidence of AP deception in Iraq

Austin Bay reviews the evidence that the AP used a bogus source for a story that could not be confirmed by the US military or the Iraqis.

...

The U.S.-based Website FloppingAces (floppingaces.net) has published an email from MNCI to the AP that states "no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi police spokesperson." The email also addresses the story of the Sunnis being burned alive: "... neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. ... We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI (Ministry of the Interior) employee." The letter is attributed to U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Dean. I contacted CENTCOM's Baghdad press office and received an email confirming that Hussein is not a policeman nor does he work for Iraq's MOI. FloppingAces noted that the AP has quoted &qu…

Price of help from Iran is too high

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann:

CAN Iran help us bail out of Iraq? Maybe - but we'd better take a hard look at the price.

The idea has reportedly been floated via a draft report to the Iraq Study Group (headed by former Secretary of State James Baker), which calls for a "dialogue" with Iran as well as Syria. Along the same lines, British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently said Iran could be a "partner" with the West if it did not develop a bomb.

Presumably, we'd ask Iran to help stabilize the situation in Iraq, curb the Shiite militias and encourage the Iraqi government to make sufficient concessions to the Sunnis to end or at least reduce the violence.

Would it work? It could. Iran certainly has sought to arm and enflame the Shiites in Iraq. Maybe the mullahs can rein in their proxies, and let us withdraw in dignity - not holding onto the skids of the helicopter as it lifts off our embassy this time.

But why would they play ball with Washington at the same time …

Iraqis not seizing the opportunity

Tom Ricks and Robin Wright:

From troops on the ground to members of Congress, Americans increasingly blame the continuing violence and destruction in Iraq on the people most affected by it: the Iraqis.

Even Democrats who have criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the occupation say the people and government of Iraq are not doing enough to rebuild their society. The White House is putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have debated how much to blame Iraqis for not performing civic duties.

This marks a shift in tone from earlier debate about the responsibility of the United States to restore order after the 2003 invasion, and it seemed to gain currency in October, when sectarian violence surged. Some see the talk of blame as the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement.

...

"We should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it belongs -- on the Iraqis," began Sen. Carl M.…

Taking away Nork leader's toys

AP/NY Times:

...

... the list of proposed luxury sanctions, obtained by The Associated Press, aims to make Kim's swanky life harder: No more cognac, Rolex watches, cigarettes, artwork, expensive cars, Harley Davidson motorcycles or even personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis.

The new ban would extend even to music and sports equipment. The 5-foot-3 Kim is an enthusiastic basketball fan; then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright presented him with a ball signed by Michael Jordan during a rare diplomatic trip in 2000.

Experts said the effort -- being coordinated under the United Nations -- would be the first ever to curtail a specific category of goods not associated with military buildups or weapons designs, especially one so tailored to annoy a foreign leader. U.S. officials acknowledge that enforcing the ban on black-market trading would be difficult.

The population in North Korea, one of the world's most isolated economies, is impoverished and routinely suffers widescale food sh…

Pelosi still undecided on intelligence post

Washington Times:

Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi yesterday informed Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, the Florida Democrat who was removed as a federal judge over bribery charges, that he would be passed over for the chairmanship of one of the most sensitive and powerful committees on Capitol Hill.

...

Mrs. Pelosi, who represents San Francisco's congressional district, did not say whom else she is considering for the intelligence chairmanship. Rep. Jane Harman of California, the most senior Democrat on the panel, is not expected to be chosen because of personal and philosophical differences with Mrs. Pelosi.

...
If she picks someone that reflects her values, it will not be a good thing for this country. Pelosi is among the anti war pukes who think they can achieve peace by not fighting for it.

CAIR doesn't care about passenger and crew concerns

Washington Times:

Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious "profiling."
Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats.
"The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight," said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. "If [crew and passengers] are afraid of…

Iraqis still don't get it

John Burns, NY Times:

...

They say they see few policy options that can turn the situation around, other than for Iraqi leaders to come to a realization that time is running out....

Many of the proposals appear to be based on an assumption that the White House memo itself calls into question: that Prime Minister Maliki can be persuaded to break with 30 years of commitment to Shiite religious identity and set a new course, or abandon the ruling Shiite religious alliance to lead a radically different kind of government, a moderate coalition of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians.

The memo’s assessment of Mr. Maliki tracks closely with what his American and Iraqi critics in Baghdad say: that six months after taking office, he has still not shown that he is willing or capable of rising above Shiite sectarianism.

These critics say, in effect, that the 56-year-old Iraqi leader has failed, so far, to meet the test set by Mr. Bush when the two men met for the first time in Baghdad in June. At th…

1 convicted another chraged in Houston with aiding Taliban

Houston Chronicle:

One of two Houston men accused of training to fight with the Taliban pleaded guilty this afternoon in federal court.

Kobie Diallo Williams, 33, a U.S. citizen who was a student at the University of Houston Downtown, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist a terrorist group. His help included withdrawing cash from an ATM to send to the Middle East.

Another man, Adnan Babar Mirza, 29, a Pakistani national who was in the country on an expired student visa, faces similar conspiracy charges as well as three federal weapons violations. Mirza appeared today before a U.S. magistrate judge.

Mirza became illegal when his visa expired. Someone holding a student visa or in the country illegally is not allowed to have firearms.

In court, Williams admitted that he viewed coalition forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as invaders. He had expressed a desire to travel to the Middle East to help the Taliban. Williams also admitted to handing over money that was supposed to help Taliban …

Bush disappoints media says US will stay in Iraq

Washington Post:

President Bush, rejecting what he called "pessimistic" assessments of his Middle East policy, pledged Tuesday to make necessary changes in Iraq but vowed never to pull out U.S. troops before completing the mission there.

Before flying to Latvia, Bush said in Estonia Tuesday morning that he would press Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a plan to contain the country's escalating sectarian violence, although he refused to characterize the situation in Iraq as a civil war.

Previewing the message he will carry with him Wednesday to Amman, Jordan, where he is scheduled to meet Maliki, Bush said he would ask the Iraqi leader, "What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?"

In a speech at Latvia University during a visit to the Baltic nation to confer with leaders of other NATO member states, Bush also said he would discuss with Maliki "our ongoing efforts to transfer more responsibility to the …

The Taliban's brutal fight for ignorance

Independent:

The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.

Mr Halim was one of four teachers killed in rapid succession by the Islamists at Ghazni, a strategic point on the routes from Kabul to the south and east which has become the scene of fierce clashes between the Taliban and US and Afghan forces.

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Fatima Mushtaq, the director of education at Ghazni, has had repeated death threats, the notorious "night letters". Her gender, as well as her refusal to send girls home from school, has made her a particular source of hatred for Islamist zealots.

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Ms Mushtaq is familiar with the ways of the …

Another AP story questioned by Centcom

Flopping Aces:

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Another big update from Centcom. Recall my Update I where I link to this article by the AP: (big h/t to Reihl World View for finding the article)
Separately, police and witnesses said U.S. soldiers shot and killed 11 civilians and wounded five on Sunday night in the Baghdad suburb of Husseiniya. The U.S. military said it had no record of any American military operation in the area.“We were sitting inside our house when the Americans showed up and started firing at homes. They killed many people and burned some houses,” said one of the witnesses, a man with bandages on his head who was being treated at Imam Ali Hospital in the Shiite slum of Sadr City. The police and witnesses spoke with Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity to protect their own security.On Monday, about 250 people attended a memorial service outside the hospital’s morgue for the 11 victims, saying it was being conducted in the slum because the dead had been followers of the radica…