Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Iranian Roulette

The Daily Telegraph says: Remember the Falklands, Mr Blair; simultaneously condemning the Iran aggression (and European media lack of aggressiveness on the issue), but calling for calm and diplomacy.

There must be a widespread sense of distraction in Britain at the moment, or conflict fatigue, otherwise it's hard to understand why this newspaper was the only quality one yesterday to lead on the plight of 15 British sailors kidnapped in the Shatt al-Arab waterway south of Basra.

Even if you think, as I do, that Britain has no real business being in Iraq in the first place, it is maddening that a neighbouring power should simply choose to abduct servicemen and women as if they were not human beings but ciphers in a vast political game.

On a similar note, The Belmont Club reflects on "prisoners."

Individuals who blow up elementary schools, kidnap children, attack churches and mosques, kill invalids in wheelchairs, plan attacks on skyscrapers in New York, behead journalists, detonate car bombs with children to camouflage their crime, or board jetliners with explosive shoes -- all while wearing mufti or even women's clothing -- these are all considered "freedom fighters" of the most principled kind. They and they alone enjoy the protections of the Geneva Convention. As to Americans like Tucker and Menchaca or Israeli Gilad Shalit -- or these fifteen British sailors for that matter, it is a case of "what Geneva Convention?" We don't need no steenkin' Geneva Convention to try these guys as spies. That's the way the Human Rights racket works. Don't go looking for any Geneva Convention in Somalia, Darfur, Basilan or Iran. Try Guantanamo Bay.

Meanwhile, Iran's ostensible allies China and Russia called on Iran to comply with new United Nations security council sanctions. With American and British forces well within striking distance of Iranian shores, the mullahtocracy is playing a dangerous game. It is unclear how long Tony Blair's government will tolerate this injustice. The British surely feel they will have the backing of the United States in this matter. Of course, the safe return of the sailors is paramount, any action should ensure their release. However, every country has a threshold when it comes to national security, political embarrassment and diplomacy. In this sense, Iran is playing roulette.

Perhaps the beginning of the end for YouTube

The Economist asks this week: Down the YouTube?

IT HAS been a terrible month for Google, the biggest search engine and the internet’s reigning superpower, and for its subsidiary, YouTube, the pioneer and precocious leader of online video. Users may love them, but the old-media companies, feeling increasingly exploited, loathe them, sue them, and gang up on them. And that matters, because neither Google nor YouTube, as quintessential “new-media” companies, own any of the content that they organise so well.

With the announcement on Thursday March 22nd of a new online-video venture between NBC Universal, the huge media unit of General Electric, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, almost every big media company is now, with varying degrees of hostility, aligned against Google and YouTube.

Viacom is suing them for $1 billion, alleging massive copyright theft; it is also teaming up with an innovative new online-television company, Joost, to make its videos available legally. Walt Disney is allied with Apple and its iTunes store, which is increasingly a squeaky-clean (in terms of copyright law) video retailer besides being a music store.

YouTube has no reason to believe it can remain on top amidst such an assault. Then again, YouTube has every reason to believe it can out-maneuver these upstarts. One word: Google. The innovative and super-technically proficient Google behemoth did not stumble into the Internet juggernaut it has become.

Yet, it will be far more interesting to watch how video and other visual media are disseminated in the years to come. Google/YouTube has already shown worrisome signs of self-censorship, whether it involves acquiescence to China, or cutting down on free speech (as I've written about here), or even turning a blind eye on radical Islamic hate speech (out of political correctness), as I've noted here.

Dark Matter

New York Times Across the Universe Blog, Searching for the Dark Side:


We have long known that there is more to our universe than we can see. The great eccentric of American astronomy, Fritz Zwicky, realised in 1930 that the galaxies within galaxy clusters were moving more rapidly than they should be. The only explanation was to assume that there was more matter present than scientists had thought, so that the increased gravitational attraction could prevent the galaxies from escaping. A similar problem exists on the scale of individual galaxies; if only the visible disk of a galaxy such as the Milky Way existed, the galaxy would fly apart in just a few million years. The solution is the same; if the Milky Way is embedded in a halo of dark matter, then all is well.

What is this dark matter? We know very little about it; whatever it is, it interacts via its gravitational attraction with normal matter, but not with light. For a while the best candidates were objects such as black holes, or free-floating planets in the Milky Way halo, but searches for the effect that such objects would be expected to have on background stars showed that very few exist. Instead, most cosmologists now believe that dark matter is composed of slow-moving exotic particles that have yet to be identified.

The current battleground is known, appropriately enough, as the Bullet Cluster of galaxies. The picture above needs a little explanation; the pink is emission from hot gas within the cluster, seen in X-rays. The blue region represents the underlying mass distribution, as determined by studying the distortion in the shape of the background galaxies as light passes through the Bullet Cluster in the foreground.

The Bullet Cluster is actually two clusters of galaxies in collision. As they hit, the gas contained within each interacts and heats up, leading to the X-ray emission we observe, and the gas slowing down. The dark matter, however, interacts only via gravity – a much weaker force – and so overshoots the center. This cluster is important because it allows us to actually see the difference in behavior between ordinary and dark matter.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The audacity of hoping for defeat in Iraq

"I don't think there are any good options left in Iraq,'' said Sen. Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat running for president. "There are bad options and worse options.''

Hope does not apply to Iraq, if you listen to some. Hope is contingent on a series of cherry-picked domestic policies that will appear to a very specific constituency.

However, hope can be found. CBS/AP reported that Civilian Deaths In Iraq Drop Overnight.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in Baghdad's sectarian violence fell drastically overnight, an Iraqi military official said Friday, crediting the joint U.S.-Iraqi security operation that began in force just days ago.

More hope from The Philadelphia Inquirer, One Last Thing 'Surge' cuts killings in Baghdad:

The Baghdad Security Plan went into effect Feb. 14, as Gen. David Petraeus assumed command over coalition forces in Iraq. The idea was to push five additional U.S. brigades and nine Iraqi battalions into neighborhoods in and around Baghdad, establishing secure points and radiating security outward.

Some results were seen almost immediately. In the first two weeks of the plan, bomb attacks decreased 20 percent and insurgents were being rolled up by the dozen. The number of bodies of apparently murdered people in Baghdad dropped from 1,222 in December to 954 in January and 494 in February. The Iraqi government stepped up its training of troops to the point at which it was minting 7,500 new soldiers every five weeks, most of whom were being used to spell Iraq army units already in Baghdad.

That's not all:

The impact is striking: According to Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta al-Mussawi, in the first month of the Baghdad Security Plan, while the number of car-bomb incidents was at an all-time high, murders were down 75 percent, the number of terrorists killed was up 80 percent, and the number of terrorists arrested was up 1,000 percent. (U.S. military deaths were down 20 percent.)
Bush made a change, namely, removing Rumsfeld:

But the Baghdad Security Plan does provide clarity on one point: former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was a principal objectors to the large-scale use of troops from the beginning of the Iraq conflict. He insisted on a small invasion force and was adamant that troop levels during the reconstruction phase be kept to a "small footprint" ideal, even as the security situation deteriorated and threatened to doom the mission. Rumsfeld was opposed to any surge in troop levels.

Meanwhile, as columnist Andrew Cockburn recently revealed, back at the Pentagon this petty tyrant was busy sending around "snowflakes" - informal personal notes - dictating a host of micromanagerial issues, including the proper size of the lemon wedge to accompany his iced tea.

Wait, there's more hope... Iraq's Sunni sheiks join Americans to fight insurgency

RAMADI, Iraq – Not long ago it would have been unthinkable: a Sunni sheik allying himself publicly with American forces in a xenophobic city at the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Today, there is no mistaking whose side Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi is on. Outside his walled home, a U.S. tank is on permanent guard beside a clutch of towering date palms and a protective dirt berm.

Thomas P.M. Barnett, the preeminent military strategist and renowned Pentagon expert, adds to this positive thinking in a post on his blog titled, History will say on postwar Iraq...

Cool blog post on traveling to Kurdistan today versus year ago. Our most
successful nation-building effort since German and Japan--a huge success, in fact.
Oh the audacity!

Armed with such positive news, throw in a little hope, mix it around, add a little will to win, and we arrive at Bill Kristol & Fred Kagan's Wrong on Timetables:

Democrats in Congress have made three superficially plausible claims: (1) Benchmarks and timetables will "incentivize" the Maliki government to take necessary steps it would prefer to avoid. (2) We can gradually withdraw over the next year so as to step out of sectarian conflict in Iraq while still remaining to fight al Qaeda. (3) Defeat in Iraq is inevitable, so our primary goal really has to be to get out of there. But the situation in Iraq is moving rapidly away from the assumptions underlying these propositions, and their falseness is easier to show with each passing day.


(1) The Iraqi government will not act responsibly unless the imminent departure of American forces compels it to do so. In fact, since January 11, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has permitted U.S. forces to sweep the major Shiite strongholds in Baghdad, including Sadr City, which he had ordered American troops away from during operations in 2006. He has allowed U.S. forces to capture and kill senior leaders of Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army--terrifying Sadr into fleeing to Iran. He fired the deputy health minister--one of Sadr's close allies--and turned a deaf ear to Sadr's complaints. He oversaw a clearing-out of the Interior Ministry, a Sadrist stronghold that was corrupting the Iraqi police. He has worked with coalition leaders to deploy all of the Iraqi Army units required by the Baghdad Security Plan. In perhaps the most dramatic move of all, Maliki visited Sunni sheikhs in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and formerly the base of al Qaeda fighters and other Sunni Arab insurgents against his government.

(2) American forces would be able to fight al Qaeda at least as well, if not better, if they were not also engaged in a sectarian civil war in Iraq. The idea of separating the fight against al Qaeda from the sectarian fighting in Iraq is a delusion.

(3) Isn't it too late? Even if we now have the right strategy and the right general, can we prevail? If there were no hope left, if the Iraqis were determined to wage full-scale civil war, if the Maliki government were weak or dominated by violent extremists, if Iran really controlled the Shiites in Iraq--if these things were true, then the new strategy would have borne no fruit at all.

Hope is not victory, of course. The surge has just begun, our enemies are adapting, and fighting is likely to intensify as U.S. and Iraqi forces begin the main clear-and-hold phase. The Maliki government could falter. But it need not, if we do not.

The most drastic sign of hope does not come from Iraq, but from the pages of the Washington Post. When the Washington Post calls out the Democrats, a watershed moment has arrived: Retreat and Butter

The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades.

Congress can and should play a major role in determining how and when the war ends. Political benchmarks for the Iraqi government are important, provided they are not unrealistic or inflexible. Even dates for troop withdrawals might be helpful, if they are cast as goals rather than requirements -- and if the timing derives from the needs of Iraq, not the U.S. election cycle. The Senate's version of the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan contains nonbinding benchmarks and a withdrawal date that is a goal; that approach is more likely to win broad support and avoid a White House veto.

Kevin McCullough also asks: Why do Democrats crave defeat?

In their own echo-chamber vanity Murtha, Pelosi and company believe themselves to be smarter than the commanders of the operations in the war on terror. And they believe that we will sit mesmerized, like sheep, while they single-handedly attempt to give the terrorists a date for victory - August 31, 2008.


However, let's be Prudent, as the Economist cautions in Counting the Cost:

FEW will celebrate the fourth anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq on Tuesday March 20th. It was supposed to serve as an example of how to build democracy in the Middle East, but turned into a model for how to wreck a country. It was meant to give warning to rogue regimes and instead strengthened radical states such as Syria and Iran. It was intended to confront Islamist extremism at its source, but intensified the appeal of global jihad. It was planned as a demonstration of America’s global power, but ended up sapping its military might in a debilitating insurgency.

Even the final demise of Saddam Hussein, one of the vilest dictators in the world, went wrong. He maintained a striking self-composure in the face of sectarian jeering when he went to the gallows in December. The justifications for the war have collapsed. The pre-invasion rationale was to rid Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, but none were found. The post-invasion objective was the promotion of democracy, but this has fed sectarian tensions in Iraq and led to the rise of Islamists elsewhere, such as Hamas in the Palestinian territories. All that is left is President George Bush’s argument that however grim the situation may appear now, it would be grimmer still if America withdrew and abandoned the country to jihadists.

However, victory cannot be achieved by reflecting on our mistakes and wallowing in self-pity. Similarly, it will not, I guarantee you, be achieved through the appropriation of our bombastic media-centric emotions by the likes of "celebrity" activists, such as Cindy Sheehan, a woman who has not found time to place a headstone on the grave of her fallen son.

Cindy Sheehan is full of audacity, but like Barack Obama, seems to be suffering from a dearth of hope.

60 Minutes: The Network Part 2

Reporter: "He also targeted criminals, drug dealers, who were told their activities would be cleansed for a percentage of their profits."

Repentant Muslim: "What I've come to realize is that killing for the sake of killing, and killing in the name of Islam for the sake of killing is completely and utterly prohibited and is a big disease, a big problem and a cancer in the Muslim world, and it's a very dangerous cancer, and it needs to be dealt with.

"Muslims can pluck up the courage to ask questions, regardless of the consequences."

Reporter: "The position of moderate Muslims is that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Do you buy that?"

Repentant Muslim: "By completely being in denial is like an alcoholic. Unless an alcoholic acknowledges he has a problem with alcohol, he is never goiong to be able to go forward. And as long as we as Muslims do not acknowledge that there is a violent streak in Islam, unless we acknowledge that, then we are always going to lose the battle to the militants by being in complete denial about it."

60 Minutes: The Network Part 1

This is a segment from 60 Minutes on a so-called Jihadi recruiter from the UK.

"The network" has... "turned Britain into the western world's richest breeding ground for terrorists."

"Radical Imams in Britain... Imams who supported attacks on westerners all over the world, and who believe they had a tacit agreement with British authorities. They could preach hatred, they could recruit followers, they could raise funds, they could even call for Jihad, as long as they didn't call for attacks on British soil."

The deal was shattered on July, 2005. That's when the four suicide bombers blew themselves up on the London subway. Three of the terrorists were born in Britain."

All the Presidents to be

Mona Charen argues Why Fred Thompson Should Run

His voting record is solidly conservative. He is articulate, self-made (his father was a car salesman), highly intelligent, and exudes calm authority. His star power offers him an opening with independent voters that other candidates can only dream of, while his solid conservative credentials will excite the Republican base.

It would be difficult for opponents to discredit Thompson on the grounds that he lacks experience - former New York City mayor Giuliani and freshman Senator Obama, are a case in point. There are better questions to ask, such as - what to do about Iraq?

The Chicago Tribune quotes Obama's point of view:

I don't think there are any good options left in Iraq.

There are bad options and worse options.

Many have lauded Obama's inspirational style and rhetoric. Those are not the kind of inspirational words I expect from my President. I do not fancy stylistically defeatist platitudes. How can one run on a platform of "we're screwed, guys"? Obama's bestseller is titled The Audacity of Hope. Does he not reserve even a modicum of hope that success in Iraq is achievable?

I'm holding out. As commonplace as the the prevailing attitude seems, the consensus is correct in my view - the current field is uninspiring. However, there may be surprises in store. The Washington Post writes today about a long-standing rumor that Bloomberg is eyeing '08, observers say.

The thought is appealing for its shock value, and allure to disaffected voters. Perhaps Bloomberg, running as an independent, can skillfully craft an amalgamation of each party's greatest features; Strong defense/small government Republican ideals, and Strong Health Care/Social and environmental Democratic concerns.

The persistent religious overtones and social policy intransigence among Republicans is disappointing. The seeming inaction among Republicans to adequately express the nation's need to strengthen its energy security (despite perceived global warming fears) is woeful.

The consistent projection of weakness and nonsensical multilateralism among Democrats is similarly obnoxious. Furthermore, the tendency toward overzealous private sector regulation is disturbing.

I would welcome a serious, legitimate third party candidate.

Iran's seemingly desultory aggression

The seizure of 15 British sailors by the Iranian mullahtocracy has western governments and media outlets guessing. The timing of this act has been duly noted; only a day before a United Nations security council vote on sanctions. An article on the Wall Street Journal opinion page unequivocally labeled Iran's aggression an act of war. In a piece titled Tehran's Hostages, the Journal cites multiple instances in which Iran has resorted to hostage-taking, most notably that of the American embassy in 1979. These seemingly emotional, reactionary and random acts smack of immaturity, caprice and insecurity. Ultimately, they amount to a series of attempts by an inferior regime to project what limited power it has, and perhaps stir up the jingoistic sentiments among its citizenry. The Journal writes:

In an earlier day, what Iran has done would have been universally regarded as an act of war. It was a premeditated act, carried out only hours before Britain voted to stiffen sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program in a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution. Iran captured a smaller detachment of British forces in the same waters in 2004, claiming they had strayed across the Iranian border.

Earlier this month, the Sunday Times of London reported that the Revolutionary Guards newspaper Subhi Sadek suggested seizing "a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks." One possible motive: The apparent defection by Revolutionary Guards commander Ali Reza Asgari, who disappeared in Istanbul last month and is said to know a great deal about Iran's nuclear program. The Iranians may now be using their hostages as payback for General Asgari's defection--or as ransom for his return.

As stated previously, Iran has a long, shameful history of taking hostages. The Journal goes on to speculate:

...they may figure that Prime Minister Tony Blair is willing to pay a steep price to secure release of the sailors before he leaves office later this year.

Or perhaps the Iranians want to bargain with Mr. Blair's successor, presumably Chancellor Gordon Brown, whom they might suspect would take a softer line at the U.N. They may also be trying to create a rift between the U.S. and U.K. by offering to trade the British troops for Iranians the U.S. has recently detained inside Iraq.

...the Iranian leadership may be seeking to draw Britain (and the U.S.) into limited military skirmishes that they think could shore up domestic support against widening popular discontent.
or an appeal to war opponents:

...sufficiently bloodying Coalition forces in Iraq to hasten their withdrawal. The mullahs might even hope any fighting would embolden Democrats to do Tehran's bidding by passing legislation that forbids the Administration from attacking Iran without prior Congressional permission. Such a plank was contained in the supplemental war spending bill that passed the House last week until cooler heads removed it.

The behavior of western nations will largely govern the outcome:

As with the 1979 hostage crisis, how Britain and the rest of the civilized world respond in the early days of the crisis will determine how long it lasts. Britain has already demanded the safe and immediate return of its personnel; they will have to make clear that its foreign policy will not be held hostage to the mullahs.

In the end, the Journal notes, Iran may have gotten ahead of itself:

Most important, the world should keep in mind that Iran has undertaken this latest military aggression while it is still a conventional military power. That means that Britain and the U.S. can still respond today with the confidence that they maintain military superiority. That confidence will vanish the minute Iran achieves its goal of becoming a nuclear power. Who knows what the revolutionaries in Tehran will then be capable of.

The Iranian regime has enough problems of its own - a protracted war with a western superpower would not be in the interests of the Iranian people. This latest provocation, which comes amidst continued agitation and interference by Iran inside Iraq, leads me to believe the mullahs in charge have convinced themselves Iran is fulfilling its destiny as the Persian potentate of the region. This misguided belief may cost them dearly.

300: I have to laugh

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken time away from his busy schedule of crushing the infidels in order to provide some freelance film criticism about the recent box office hit 300. In a televised speech, Ahmadinejad accused the West of "trying to tamper with history by making a film and by making Iran's image look savage." He never mentioned the name of the film but it was clearly 300 which was also attacked last week by the Iranian Cultural Minister as "part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological warfare aimed against Iranian culture." Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

For a sound, reasonable approach to this film (of which there are few), see here:

Indeed, at the real battle, there weren't rhinoceroses or elephants in the Persian army. Their king, Xerxes, was bearded and sat on a throne high above the battle; he wasn't, as in the movie, bald and sexually ambiguous, and he didn't prance around the killing field. And neither the traitor Ephialtes nor the Spartan overseers, the Ephors, were grotesquely deformed. When the Greeks were surrounded on the battle's last day, there were 700 Thespians and another 400 Thebans who fought alongside the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas. But these non-Spartans are scarcely prominent in the movie.

Still, the main story line mostly conveys the message of Thermopylae.

A small contingent of Greeks at Thermopylae (which translates to "The Hot Gates") really did block the enormous Persian army for three days before being betrayed. The defenders claimed their fight was for the survival of a free people against subjugation by the Persian Empire.

and as a reminder, the movie is based on a comic book...

The warriors of "300" look like comic-book heroes because they are based on Frank Miller's drawings that emphasized bare torsos, futuristic swords and staged fight scenes. In other words, director Zack Snyder tells the story not in a realistic fashion - like the mostly failed attempts to recapture the ancient world in recent films such as "Troy" or "Alexander" - but in the surreal manner of a comic book or video game.

One would think with a faltering economy, sky-rocketing inflation, non-payments to Russia on its nuclear plant, fresh U.N. sanctions, high-level military defections, and now a crisis due to the capricious seizure of 15 British sailors - Iran has enough to worry about. I suppose insecurity knows no bounds.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blair: Iran has only days to release British Sailors

Daily Telegraph: Tony Blair warned Iran last night that it has only a few days to find a diplomatic solution to the escalating crisis over the 15 missing British sailors and Marines.

read more | digg story

Suicidal Delusions

One has to wonder about the levels of depravity associated with such thinking. What are the factors which have the most effect? Poverty? Age? Ignorance? Religion? What is the primary motivating factor behind this culture of morbid, twisted hate.

You just can't make up stuff like this...

Following are excerpts from an interview with the father of Palestinian suicide bomber Tareq Hamid, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on March 6, 2007:

Tareq's father: He didn't hesitate for a moment. Some of the brothers, who were doing the surveillance and filming, told me they had said to him: "Tareq, come back, the bus is gone. Get back, and we will do it another time." He said to them: "I swear by Allah that I see the black-eyed virgins of Paradise on the hood of my car, so how can I possibly go back?" Of course, Tareq didn't return, and, Allah be praised, he crashed into the jeep, which led, according to what the Zionist enemy admitted, to the killing of six of them.

Peyton Manning on SNL - United Way Spoof

The Super Bowl Champ kills on SNL.

Persian Capriciousness

By now, the news that Iran has seized 15 Royal Navy sailors is well known. This latest act of aggression by Iran is only the most flagrant and well-publicized. It is less well known that Iran has been training Shi'a death squads, which operate extensively throughout Iraq. Recently, it has also been revealed that Iran has begun to directly finance breakaway elements of Sadr's Mahdi Army. It is also less well known that the U.S. and Britain are holding some 300 Iranian nationals who have been caught spying, collecting intelligence, and training militants within Iraq.

First, it is quite hypocritical for Iran to seize British soldiers for allegedly crossing into Iranian waters. Iranian soldiers have been guilty of the same offense on numerous occasions, even opening fire on American and Iraqi troops within Iraqi territory.

Second, Iran's ignominious seizure of British sailors, and decision to try them for espionage is only a tactic to gain a "bargaining chip" and recover its own captured citizens, including many high-level generals.

Yet, Iran may have bitten off more than it can chew. The U.S. is highly unlikely to hand over Iranians that have been legitimately captured by coalition forces in Iraq. The dubious nature of the Brits' capture should shame the Iranian regime.

Iran should also be seriously concerned.

For one, an American military commander has said that Americans will not allow themselves to be taken without a fight if it comes to that. Overt Iranian aggression toward American servicemen would not be wise, considering two U.S. aircraft carriers are floating nearby. Indeed, the French have their own nuclear carrier in the Arabian sea, well within striking distance. Although Iran may not be concerned about French aggression, the recent coordinated American and French war games should give them pause.

Curiously, as Iran spends a great deal of resources in Iraq, its economy is in poor shape; inflation is out of control, oil must be imported and taxed, and payments to Russia for the nuclear plant it is building have been suspended. Russia's bills have gone unpaid, leaving Iran deserted at the U.N. Fresh sanctions passed this weekend will cause the regime only further suffering. Iran lacks fiscal discipline, raising questions about the wisdom of its recent bellicosity.

Similarly, it's impossible to know British or American intentions. Britain may have deliberately put the sailors in a compromising position to provoke Iran. British and American forces may be trying to gauge Iran's responsiveness and readiness... and increase its state of paranoia. This may be the response that was hoped for. If Iran proceeds to prosecute the British sailors, Britain may feel the need to recover its citizens.

Iran's shameful act is not surprising. The regime was born amidst the seizure of the American embassy. Iran captured British troops in 2004 who were eventually released. Unfortunately for Iran, the geopolitical stakes have been raised due to new realities. The Iranian regime's obstinacy over its nuclear program should be an embarrassment by now.

Surely Ahmadinejad is losing sleep. The time for the Iranian opposition to step up political pressure is now.

Ahmadinejad and the mullahs have pulled the wool over their own eyes. They are attempting to place themselves on equal footing with two superpowers - The United States of America and Great Britain. To say this is a fatal miscalculation is an understatement.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Peaceful anti-war movement?

This video is now posted on LGF.

The peaceful anti-war protesters are chanting "Bye-bye, G.I., in Iraq you're gonna die!" and "Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the soldiers on the top!"

Peaceful, huh?

This makes me sick. These petulant children have forgotten a fundamental axiom:

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. ~ George Orwell

Daily Kos Immature Alert!

Bush hissy fit thread
by kos

Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 11:01:30 AM PDT

He's whining again.

He rejects all notions of accountability.

Update: Veto, veto, veto, veto.

Update II: MSNBC's idiot reporter, "Bush has the upper hand since he has the veto."

Uh -- Congress allocates the money. If Congress doesn't pass a bill, Bush doesn't have money for his war.

Who has the upper hand?

Germany: It's OK to beat your wife...

...if you are Muslim.

FRANKFURT, March 22 — A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.

In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.

Is it any wonder Europeans have rejected an EU constitution?

As Peter Wehner has said, Islamic Jihadists will not go gently into the good night. Western civilization would do well to avoid the unnecessary capitulation of fundamental human rights its nations have fought, bled an died for. The battle of ideas has already developed into a complex web of psychological diplomatic and religious asymmetrical warfare. It would be a shame to hand small victories such to an enemy whose cultural values starkly differ from our own (Husband rips wife's eyes out after she refuses sex).

A new call for Gonzales to resign

Charles Krauthammer, in Townhall:

How could he allow his aides to go to Capitol Hill unprepared and misinformed and therefore give inaccurate and misleading testimony? How could Gonzales permit his deputy to say that the prosecutors were fired for performance reasons when all he had to say was that U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and the president wanted them replaced?

And why did Gonzales have to claim that the firings were done with no coordination with the White House? That's absurd. Why shouldn't there be White House involvement? That is nothing to be defensive about. Does anyone imagine that Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S. attorneys in March 1993, giving them all of 10 days to clear out, without White House involvement?

Raw Story also noted the New York Times' harsh criticism of President Bush's call for compromise on the U.S. attorney firings investigation.

"In nasty and bumbling comments made at the White House yesterday, President Bush declared that 'people just need to hear the truth' about the firing of eight United States attorneys," the Times editorial states. "That’s right. Unfortunately, the deal Mr. Bush offered Congress to make White House officials available for 'interviews' did not come close to meeting that standard."

Tensions seem to be at an all-time high in Washington, among Democrats, Republicans and the press. This tension is exceedingly dangerous when we have a war to win.

300: The Monkey on Iran's Back

Iran cannot seem to get that monkey off its back. Iranian news agencies continue their media defense of Persian civilization, as if a nation must routinely come to the defense of its ancient, poly-theistic, tribal, Before Christian Era ancestors.

Iran's Press TV proclaims "300" unable to tarnish Persian civilization. Congratulations, it shouldn't. Were fervent cries of anger and concern echoed from Egyptian critics when Egyptian slave-masters whipped pyramid worker after pyramid worker in any countless number of Hollywood films of the 60's and 70's?

Did the English cry foul when Braveheart depicted the utter brutality and subjugation Scotland endured?

No. However, Iran's U.N. Mission Outraged at '300', the Washington Post reports.

Iran's U.N. Mission expressed outrage Thursday at the "deliberate distortions" of ancient Persia in the blockbuster movie "300" and said it was part of Western efforts to demonize Iran.

The movie is based on a comic-book fantasy version of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. in which a force of 300 Spartans held off a massive Persian army at a mountain pass in Greece for three days. It has been No. 1 in the U.S. for the past two weeks and raked in more than $100 million after just one week in theaters.

Comic-book fantasy. Get over yourselves. Ancient battle film sparks outrage as Iran calls it 'effort to demonise nation'? Before Iran talks about 'the west' demonizing Iranians, the ubiquitous graffiti that can be found all over Iranian cities demonizing the "Great Satan," should remind Iran of its hypocrisy. This propaganda is state-sponsored and supported, much like in North Korea, where the state commissions such work. Such trash is nowhere to be found on American streets. This latest outcry by Iran only does three things: Inflames emotions, calls more attention to the movie, and reveals the regime's insecurity.

Iraq: Reality and Rhetoric

On the fourth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, President Bush asked for patience. The House responded petulantly. It narrowly passed an Iraqi timetable, widely expanding the number of civilian generals on the order of 535, President Bush responded with dismay:

'The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding. Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq. They set rigid restrictions that will require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions for pet projects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror. This bill has too much pork, too many conditions and an artificial timetable for withdrawal.

Amid the real challenges in Iraq, we're beginning to see some signs of progress. Yet, to score political points, the Democratic majority in the House has shown it is willing to undermine the gains our troops are making on the ground.'

However, one cannot simply blame the Democrats, especially if they simply listen to mainstream media reports of the war. Take this report from NPR yesterday: Baghdad Murder Rate Rises Anew, with Bombings

The first glaring error is the headline, which the story itself does next to nothing to justify.

Robert Siegel begins the story with:

It’s been just over five weeks since the new Baghdad security plan has begun. US military officials are cautiously optimistic about it, saying the numbers show that it is working. Even so, there was a suicide bombing today in the heavily fortified heart of the city today, and it injured a top government official.

The report goes on to describe a number of attacks that sent people to the hospital yesterday, with no mention of actual fatalities. Therefore, "Even so, there was a suicide bombing" is proof that the surge is not working. To what standard is progress held to? Dozens of daily deaths have been commonplace in Iraq, but a day without multiple casualties is not cause for even mild optimism?

Inexplicably, the reporter on the ground in Iraq, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro goes on to say:
Despite the positive indicators of reduced violence reported, reality often gets in the way of rhetoric here.
Yet, no positive indicators are mentioned, neither is the "rhetoric" she refers to. The lack of horrible suicide bombings and multiple fatalities, was dismissed early on, because "Even so, there was a suicide bombing."

Moments later, this snippet is casually dropped in:
Yesterday, coalition forces killed a terrorist who was trying to blow up a roadside bomb.
We should not be optimistic, though, because "Even so, there was a suicide bombing." The coup de gras comes at the end, however, when the reporter coaxes a minute of sorrowful dialogue from a morgue worker about the number of deaths, only the finish nonchalantly by saying:
For Baghdad, the morgue worker says the body count is far less than before the surge began.
With reports on Iraq such as these, is it any wonder our Congress is largely misinformed?

Meanwhile, there are other headlines that more accurately drive home the point with reality rather than rhetoric.

Tim Walberg, a Republican legislator from Michigan, stated this week that most of war-torn Iraq is about as dangerous as some neighborhoods in Detroit or Chicago.

The first term Congressman who grew up in Chicago made the comment to support the Bush administration's claim that progress is being made in a war the President says can be won.

"Well, in fact, in many places Iraq is as safe and cared for as Detroit or Harvey, Ill., or some other places that have trouble with armed violence that takes place on occasion," Walberg told the press.

Surely the end of the war is not in sight, yet neither is the lull in violence an anomaly. Can the drop in violence and troop surge simply be a coincidence? Perhaps Americans, politicians, and the media in general are simply too pampered. We are spoiled, accustomed to getting our way immediately without having to wait. Unfortunately, war is not so convenient.
Because the president's political opponents choose rhetoric over reality, we cannot see the forest for the trees.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Terrorist Psychological Warfare

LGF reports on a post found at a Jihadi website which instructs the aspiring Jihadi on how to influence the views of "weak-minded" Americans.

Here’s an eye-opener.

We all know they’re doing it, but this post on a jihadi web site explicitly instructs the Islamic warriors on how to manipulate “weak-minded Americans” and foster anti-war sentiment, by using popular web forums (I’m looking at you, Daily Kos) and video sharing sites like YouTube and LiveLeak to spread propaganda and disinformation.

Suggestions include: Make Americans feel frustrated with the government, make up stories about soldiers, claim to be an American, and raid website forums.

Reading about our enemies' insidious psychological tactics makes me angry, but it is to be expected. Yet, it is far more upsetting to read stories such as Did the detainees’ lawyers lie?, which detail how American lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees (terrorists caught in the act, who have killed Americans), have shamelessly represented these individuals, alleged their victimhood, and organized massive "PR" campaigns to help sanitize the average Americans' perception of these prisoners - whose rights have allegedly been trampled upon. It would seem the ACLU has such an enormous glut of free time, spare energy can be devoted to foreign terrorists.

I have already written about a Wall Street Journal opinion piece entitled Gitmo's Gorilla Lawyers in a post here, which further exposes the disdainful sophistry and greed that has been investigated and uncovered (largely by citizen journalists, blogs and 9/11 families, not "real" journalists).

Popular Mechanics: Future Weapons

In February 2006, we reported on the complex, decades-long campaign to find a new general-issue rifle to replace the aging M-16 — and the two related weaponprograms that showed promise. More than a year later, where are these guns?

This grenade launcher, which fires 25mm “air-bursting” shells that detonate in midair over targets’ heads, is still being developed. But a larger, 30mm version of the XM-25’s microchip-embedded round will be shipped to the U.S. Navy by May, and is slated to be used in the new U.S. Marines Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

Gunmaker FNH expected its SCAR system, an assault rifle that̢۪s more accurate than the M-16 and less prone to jamming, to be delivered to special operations units by late spring of 2006. It was an ambitious timetable, but at press time the SCAR had yet to be fielded, and FNH declined to comment.

In a post a few weeks ago here, I linked to an article in the Army Times about the 416, a new weapon that is viewed by many (including the Delta Force) as far superior to the M16 or M4. The 416 is already field tested and widely in use by American Special Forces, yet the Army has shown no interest in fully converting its arsenal of M16 and M4's.

The Politico errors on Edwards, then apologizes

Ah, anonymous sources...

Earlier this morning, The Politico published a story that John Edwards would "suspend" his campaign due to a recurrence in his wife's cancer. The Politico's article cited an anonymous source. I thought at the time that Edwards was making a bold and surprising move, and I was impressed.

As it turns out, Edwards will do just the opposite, as CBS reports. Despite his wife's illness, Edwards will continue his campaign.

Since I had read the original AP report that cited the Politico, I was not surprised to read "Getting It Wrong" a few hours later by Ben Smith, the author of the original Politico article. As it happens, the original false story was dugg by a number of people on digg.com.

Smith quickly fessed up to:

1) his use of an anonymous source, and

2) his failure to verify the leak through a second source.

It was good of him to apologize, but shoddy journalism nonetheless. Ben Smith's correction:

Getting it Wrong

A single, confident source close to John Edwards told me this morning that Edwards was "suspending his campaign," and I posted it to the blog at 11:06 this morning.

My source, and I, were wrong.

The source, whose anonymity I agreed to respect, spoke of the kind of grim prognosis Elizabeth Edwards herself just described hearing before a second round of tests came back. I trusted the source, somebody I've known for several years, and who has always been reliable.

And with less than an hour before Edwards was to announce, I unwisely wrote the item without getting a second source.

When the campaign pushed back harder than I'd expected, I added that information to the original item, but that doesn't undo the damage.

My apologies to our readers for passing on bad information.

"Young Iranians dream of better life in the West"

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The West may be leading efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear program, but for some young Iranians those same Western countries represent hope of a brighter future rather than a threat.Hmmm... Iran should spend more money on improving its citizens lives instead of acquiring nuclear technology.

read more | digg story

UN Chief ducks for cover in Iraq amid Rocket Attack

Daily Telegraph: Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has been sent ducking for cover by a rocket attack close to the Baghdad office of the Iraqi prime minister.

read more | digg story

Tony Snow says president must let his senior advisers testify under oath

According to AmericaBlog: Ten years ago, White House spokesman Tony Snow wrote an article demanding that then-President Bill Clinton let his top aides testify under oath in a criminal investigation.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


BAGHDAD, March 20 — Insurgents detonated a bomb in a car with two children in it after using the children as decoys to get through a military checkpoint in Baghdad, an American general said Tuesday.

And these are the filthy murderers so many liberal and anti-war sophists insist on handing defeat to? Would surrender not vindicate their tactics?

Islamic jihadists will not go gently into the good night

Not all that long ago, leading Democrats thought arbitrary and rigid timetables were a very bad idea. Speaking at the National Press Club in 2005, now-Majority Leader Harry Reid said this:

"As far as setting a timeline, as we learned in the Balkans, that's not a wise decision, because it only empowers those who don't want us there, and it doesn't work well to do that."

Six months later, the now-Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, put it this way:

"A deadline for pulling out ... will only encourage our enemies to wait us out." He added it would be "a Lebanon in 1985 [sic]. And God knows where it goes from there."

And three months later, the junior Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, said this: "I don't believe it's smart to set a date for withdrawal. I don't think you should ever telegraph your intentions to the enemy so they can await you."

These quotes were cited by Peter Wehner in an article in RealClearPolitics entitled Iraq, Democrats, and the Return of McGovernism. What are the same Democrats saying now?

Wehner continues:

Many Democrats believe an American defeat in Iraq is etched in granite. They would not be the first to lose heart and will in war. Yet it is one thing to give up on a cause; it is quite another to advocate legislation (17 different proposals in all, according to Senator Mitch McConnell) that would guarantee failure even before a new strategy is given time to work. This is especially the case when the preliminary trajectory of events is encouraging.

There will continue to be ebbs and flows in this war, as in all wars. But virtually everyone agrees that a loss in Iraq would be catastrophic for American national interests. We are facing among the most sadistic enemies we have ever encountered. There is much we do not understand about them and their worldview -- but one thing is clear: they probe for weakness; they interpret retreat as a supreme sign of weakness; and when they find weakness, they strike.

If we retreat from Iraq, Islamic jihadists will not go gently into the good night.

We are now engaged in a pivotal war, which is itself part of an epic struggle. General David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq who was confirmed by the Senate without a single vote in opposition, is one of America's great military minds and one of America's great military commanders. Why oh why, then, are so many Democrats spending so much of their time and creative energy in an effort to undermine General Petraeus's new strategy instead of supporting it? Even granting the partisan politics of this city, the effort by Democrats is a remarkably revealing thing to witness. "Come Home, America" and McGovernism are back with a vengeance -- and like Round One, in 1972, it will leave a lasting imprint on the minds of Americans, for years to come.

Surrender or capitulation shouldn't even be considered.

Cheney Hatred on the Huffington Post

I saw this on LGF:

"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy..."If anyone deserves a blood clot, paired with excess pain and discomfort it would have to be this snarly jackal-of-a-man who has already got the blood of our sons and daughters on his hands.There is retribution !!!

By: Scandlus on March 20, 2007 at 03:55pm Flag: [abusive]

By: PHALUSMAXIMUS on March 20, 2007 at 03:57pm Flag: [abusive]


Hope the fat useless bastard dies - that will be regarded as an INTRNATIONAL day of celebration

By: DonR on March 20, 2007 at 04:07pm Flag: [abusive]
The bottom line: He is still our Vice President, for God's sake.

LGF: Muslim Students Kill Their Teacher

Little Green Footballs:

In Nigeria, pupils taking an Islamic Religious Knowledge exam were so offended by something their teacher did with a Koran that they ambushed her outside the school and beat her to death.

I wonder if the students will be reprimanded?

Washington, DC: A Gathering of Eagles

Not exactly a gaggle of veterans in black leather jackets, like the New York Times and Washington Post have reported.

Protester vs. Vietnam Vets 3-17-07

Who lost their cool? Not the Vets.

Does anti-war not mean anti-violence, flipping the bird, and yelling and carrying on?

John Edwards Feeling Pretty

Oh man.

I know this isn't fair, and that every candidate does it; primping, combing, tousling and checking... but man.

This really can't be good for the campaign.

Reuters: War on Terror bad for minorities

I suppose Reuters couldn't have thought of a better headline?

The "-report," is almost an after-thought in a headline that seems to pronounce stated fact.

Shoddy, just shoddy.

Television's Portrayal of the War

New York Times readers speak... and surprisingly, it's not all a load of soporific liberal drivel. Hey, I love reading the New York Times, but read some of the comments sometime... I've written about it here.

In a blog post on the Times titled Beyond the News, Reminders of the War, the Times opens up a forum for readers to leave comments on how they feel television has portrayed the war in Iraq. What results is a fairly consistent diatribe against the media's almost morbid portrayal of the fighting, its obsession with the body count, and its (in many cases) poor, generally green-zone reporting.

Four years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, most Americans still have no direct sense of the war beyond the television set, Alessandra Stanley writes in today’s Arts section. And news programs are not the only place where viewers are exposed to the conflict; it has surfaced as a subplot or subliminal theme on reality shows and sitcoms.

What do you think of television’s portrayal of the war?

March 20th,20073:25 am
I find that the N.Y. Times and other main stream media are somewhat biased in their reporting. Even through the Administration’s policies and strategy has been a complete failure, surely we have done SOME good and helped improve the lives of a significant number of Iraqi’s. Very few stories on that side of the ledger.

March 20th,20075:17 am
Television’s portrayal of the Iraq war has been disturbing to say the least. In past wars, America, despite its imperfections, has always been portrayed as a strong and noble force for good. It now seems as if a culture of anti-Americanism has permeated the media; it now seems as if searching for something wrong with America, while giving our enemies the benefit of the doubt, is the “trendy” thing to do–the “sophisticated” thing to do. I believe it is a sad point in our great country when I, after watching the mainstream coverage of Iraq, have to fight back feelings of guilt for supporting America with the same kind of red-blooded, American patriotism that has always made us great. The American people feel this. Will they be moved to demand that the elite media be reigned in, or will the media succeed, bringing a new era of.. “enlightened” thought to America?
— Posted by Brett

March 20th,20075:19 am
War coverage is limited to a nucleus of reporters hunkered down in the bars of the American Zone — information is obtained from unreliable Iraqi stringers. But that is a lot easier than getting off one’s duff and going out to the countryside to get the real facts. Same goes for the New York Times.
— Posted by Richard Nye

March 20th,20075:22 am
I don’t see that many programs which portray the war. Because I avoid tv porn. And that’s how the war is portrayed in most tv programs I stumble onto. Salaciously. Corruptly. Glorying in the justification of torture. I saw it years ago in English television and thought of it as a sign of the corruption of the English political system. And now we see it in the United States.
— Posted by Jackie Aldridge

March 20th,20075:29 am
Television portrayal of the war in Iraq has unfortuately often helped the suicide-bombers/ mass murderers’ image of themselves. TV reporters keep calling these psychopathic idiots “insurgents”. The mass murderers, who though claiming to hate the West, love to hear from the West on how they are doing, and are pleased to hear themselves referred to as insurgents; it gives them some kind of justification for their rediculace and evil slaughter. Furthermore, TV reporting really does love to dwell on the slaughter. Its as if they didnt see the psychological effect their reporting was having...

March 20th,20077:07 am
I find it interesting that NO ONE listens to the troops because it doesn’t validate all the political fighting and make great news coverage. I remember when Shoshanna Johnson (the REAL war hero) said she agreed with the war, that didn’t make great news. In my opinion the soldiers who actually go to the country has more weight than talking heads who love the camera. When soldiers stood up on Oprah (O’Reilly guest) and said they support the President Oprah immediately shut them down and went back to the whining women who hate the President. Makes better TV!!!! I was angry when the ABC and CBS journalists got injured they were treated like dignitaries. What about our soldiers who die daily for this country? I prefer to hear about the soldiers and their comments because they have EARNED the right to voice their opinions on their Commander and Chief!!!
— Posted by B-more

March 20th,20077:18 am
Most TV coverage of the war has emphasized negative developments and has largely ignored the very real achievements of the U.S. and coalition forces. This is perhaps in part the result of modern journalism’s tendency to exaggerate disaster; it may also be in part the result of the anti-war bias of many of the TV news outlets. There is almost no reporting of heroic efforts. One had to search far and wide, for instance, for articles on the soldier who was recently awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In years past this would have been celebrated everywhere.
— Posted by Richard Sypher

March 20th,20077:40 am
The ratings are way down: so I guess the war should be cancelled.
— Posted by Frank Baker

March 20th,20078:20 am
The mistake we make is believing we can stay informed by watching any particular news program. Watch Link TV, watch the BBC, watch any other program and then watch some more. Read, study, listen, make inquiries, act on your own. If you aren’t surprised by what you find then you are not working hard enough. Work at it and then sit back and relax and watch Bill Moyers.
— Posted by Roscoe

March 20th,20078:42 am
Where is the coverage of the successful implementation of a democratic and functioning regioal govenment in the Kurdis area of Iraq where the US presence is welcomed and appreciated?
— Posted by R J Ross

Although some are way off:
March 20th,20076:54 am
The TV/media coverage has been to subservient to the current administration’s view when expressing the reality of the conflict.
— Posted by James Moran

March 20th,20077:27 am
The media has gone to geat lengths to support the Bush’s administration’s propaganda that this is a war against terror. The truth is that this war is movivated by arrogance of power and greed. Will anyone be held responsible for the hundreds of thousands innocent victims, and the more than two million iraqies displaced from their homes? I wonder.
— Posted by Daniel Abreu

In truth, television coverage cannot be blamed exclusively. If one does not continuously inquire and follow the stories among multiple news outlets (which is very time-consuming), it is exceedingly difficult to be fully informed, and allows stories to fall by the way-side, or worse. The interested person can only do his or her best though watching television news, reading newspapers, magazines, and of course, blogs. There is no singular outlet in which one can entirely trust to speak the whole truth, or cover all the issues or break all the stories. Daily reading, learning, listening and watching, combined with thought and introspection is perhaps the only road to real edification when it comes to news reporting. But more than likely, it will drive you mad.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Before you rush to the aid of enemy combatants being held in Guantanamo Bay, read this:

How an unscrupulous legal and PR campaign changed the way the world looks at Guantanamo.

BY DEBRA BURLINGAME Thursday, March 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

He was the first American to die in what some have called "the real war." Johnny "Mike" Spann, the 32-year-old CIA paramilitary commando, was interrogating prisoners in an open courtyard at the Qala-I-Jangi fortress in Afghanistan when the uprising of 538 hard-core Taliban and al Qaeda fighters began. Spann emptied his rifle, then his sidearm, then fought hand-to-hand as he was swarmed by raging prisoners screaming "Allahu akbar!"

The bloody siege by Northern Alliance and U.S. forces went on for several days, only ending when 86 of the remaining jihadi fighters were smoked out of a basement where they had retreated and where they murdered a Red Cross worker who had gone in to check on their condition. Spann, a former Marine, is credited with saving the lives of countless Alliance fighters and Afghan civilians by standing and firing as they ran for cover. His beaten and booby-trapped body was recovered with two bullet wounds in his head, the angle of trajectory suggesting he had been shot execution style.

One of the committed jihadis who came out of that basement, wounded and unrepentant, was "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, now serving a 20-year sentence in a federal prison. Another who was shot during the uprising and pulled out of the basement along with Lindh was Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi. Today, the 29-year-old is living somewhere in Kuwait, a free man.

The true story of Mr. Mutairi's journey, from the uprising in Qala-I-Jangi to Guantanamo Bay's military detention camp to the privileged life of an affluent Kuwaiti citizen, is one that his team of high-priced lawyers and the government of Kuwait doesn't want you to know. His case reveals a disturbing counterpoint to the false narrative advanced by Gitmo lawyers and human-rights groups--which holds that the Guantanamo Bay detainees are innocent victims of circumstance, swept up in the angry, anti-Muslim fervor that followed the attacks of September 11, then abused and brutally tortured at the hands of the U.S. military.

Mr. Mutairi was among 12 Kuwaitis picked up in Afghanistan and detained at Guantanamo Bay in 2002. Their families retained Tom Wilner and the prestigious law firm of Shearman & Sterling early that same year. Arguably, it is Mr. Wilner's aggressive representation, along with the determined efforts of the Kuwait government, that has had the greatest influence in the outcome of all the enemy combatant cases, in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. The lawsuit filed on their behalf, renamed Rasul v. Bush when three cases were joined, is credited with opening the door for the blizzard of litigation that followed.

According to Michael Ratner, the radical lawyer and head of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the center received 300 pieces of hate mail when the organization filed the very first Guantanamo detainee case in February of 2002. The shocking images of 9/11 were still fresh; it would be three more months until most human remains and rubble would be cleared from ground zero. There was no interest in Guantanamo from the lawyers at premium law firms.

But by 2004, when the first of three detainee cases was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, the national climate had changed. The country was politically divided, the presidential election was in full swing, and John Kerry was talking about treating terrorism like a criminal nuisance. The Guantanamo cases gave lawyers a chance to take a swipe at the president's policies, give heroic speeches about protecting the rights of indigents, and be a part of the kind of landmark legal cases that come along once in a lifetime. The Guantanamo Bay Bar increased from a lonely band of activist lawyers operating out of a run down office in Greenwich Village to an association of 500 lawyers. Said Mr. Ratner about the blue chip firms that initially shunned these cases, "You had to beat the lawyers off with a stick."

Mr. Wilner and his colleagues at Shearman & Sterling were the exception, although he has been exceedingly coy about the true nature of his firm's role. Unlike the many lawyers who later joined in the litigation on a pro bono basis, Shearman & Sterling was handsomely paid. Mr. Wilner has repeatedly stated that the detainees' families insisted on paying Shearman & Sterling for its services and that the fees it earned have been donated to an unspecified 9/11-related charity. According to one news report, the families had spent $2 million in legal fees by mid-2004. In truth, Kuwaiti officials confirmed that the government was footing the bills.

How did Shearman & Sterling get tapped for this historic assignment? Speaking at Seton Hall Law School in fall of 2006, Mr. Wilner recounted that he visited the facility at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, months before he met the Kuwaiti 12's families. What was Mr. Wilner doing at Gitmo more than two years before Rasul established the legal basis for lawyers getting access to detainees inside the camp? One of his Gitmo legal colleagues has said that Mr. Wilner was brought into the case by an oil industry client.

It turns out that Shearman & Sterling, a 1,000-lawyer firm with offices in 19 cities all over the world, has substantial business dealings on six continents. Indeed, Shearman's client care for Middle Eastern matters has established a new industry standard: The firm's Abu Dhabi office states that it has pioneered the concept of "Shariah-compliant" financing. In Kuwait, the firm has represented the government on a wide variety of matters involving billions of dollars worth of assets. So the party underwriting the litigation on behalf of the Kuwaiti 12--from which all of the detainees have benefited--is one of Shearman & Sterling's most lucrative OPEC accounts.

Shearman & Sterling did far more than just write legal briefs and shuttle down to Gitmo to conduct interviews about alleged torture for the BBC. In addition to its legal services, the firm registered as an agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) as well as the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) to press the Kuwaiti detainees' cause on Capitol Hill. Shearman reported $749,980 in lobbying fees under FARA for one six-month period in 2005 and another $200,000 under the LDA over a one-year period between 2005 and 2006. Those are the precise time periods when Congress was engaged in intense debates over the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act, legislation which Shearman & Sterling and its Kuwaiti paymasters hoped would pave the way for shutting down Guantanamo permanently and setting their clients free.

Mr. Wilner, a media-savvy lawyer who immediately realized that the detainee cases posed a tremendous PR challenge in the wake of September 11, hired high-stakes media guru Richard Levick to change public perception about the Kuwaiti 12. Mr. Levick, a former attorney whose Washington, D.C.-based "crisis PR" firm has carved out a niche in litigation-related issues, has represented clients as varied as Rosie O'Donnell, Napster, and the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Levick's firm is also registered under FARA as an agent of a foreign principal for the "Kuwaiti Detainees Committee," reporting $774,000 in fees in a one year period. After the U.S. Supreme Court heard the first consolidated case, the PR campaign went into high gear, Mr. Levick wrote, to "turn the Guantanamo tide."

In numerous published articles and interviews, Mr. Levick has laid out the essence of the entire Kuwaiti PR campaign. The strategy sought to accomplish two things: put a sympathetic "human face" on the detainees and convince the public that it had a stake in their plight. In other words, the militant Islamists who traveled to Afghanistan to become a part of al Qaeda's jihad on America had to be reinvented as innocent charity workers swept up in the war after 9/11. The committed Islamist who admitted firing an AK-47 in a Taliban training camp became a "teacher on vacation" who went to Afghanistan in 2001 "to help refugees." The member of an Islamist street gang who opened three al-Wafa offices with Suliman Abu Ghaith (Osama Bin Laden's chief spokesman) to raise al Qaeda funds became a charity worker whose eight children were left destitute in his absence. All 12 Kuwaitis became the innocent victims of "bounty hunters."

A Montreal-based marketing firm was hired to create the families' full-service Web site which fed propaganda--unsourced, unrebutted and uninvestigated by the media--aimed at the media all over the world. Creating what Mr. Levick calls a "war of pictures," the site is replete with images meant to appeal to Americans: smiling Kuwaiti families wearing T-shirts and baseball caps, cute children passing out yellow ribbons.

After the Rasul decision, the PR momentum picked up speed and the Supreme Court became, in Mr. Levick's words, their "main weapon," a "cudgel" that forced more attention in what he calls the traditional "liberal" press. Dozens of op-eds by Mr. Wilner and the family group leader (described as a U.S.-trained former Kuwaiti Air Force pilot who cherishes the memory of drinking Coca Cola) were aimed at the public and Congress.

Mr. Levick maintains that a year and a half after they began the campaign, their PR outreach produced literally thousands of news placements and that, eventually, a majority of the top 100 newspapers were editorializing on the detainees' behalf. Convinced that judges can be influenced by aggressive PR campaigns, Mr. Levick points to rulings in the detainee cases which openly cite news stories that resulted from his team's media outreach.

The Kuwaiti 12 case is a primer on the anatomy of a guerilla PR offensive, packaged and sold to the public as a fight for the "rule of law" and "America's core principles." Begin with flimsy information, generate stories that are spun from uncorroborated double or triple hearsay uttered by interested parties that are hard to confirm from halfway around the world. Feed the phonied-up stories to friendly media who write credulous reports and emotional human interest features, post them on a Web site where they will then be read and used as sources by other lazy (or busy) media from all over the world. In short, create one giant echo chamber.

Mr. Mutairi's profile is the most brazen example of Mr. Levick's confidence that th emedia can be easily manipulated. The Web site describes him as a member of an apolitical and peaceful sect of missionaries, and that he went to Afghanistan in October of 2000 to "minister in the small mosques and schools" in the country's poorer regions.

It is one thing to take these cases in order to achieve the proper balance between due process concerns and unprecedented national security issues. It is another to hire PR and marketing consultants to create image makeovers for suspected al Qaeda financiers, foot soldiers, weapons trainers and bomb makers, all of which is financed by millions of dollars from a foreign country enmeshed in the anti-American, anti-Israel elements of Middle East politics.

Although a few mistakes were made when some of the Guantanamo detainees were taken into custody in the fog of war, others were indisputably captured with AK-47s still smoking in their hands. Any one of those who have been properly classified in Combat Status Review Tribunals as an unlawful enemy combatant could be the next Mohamed Atta or Hani Hanjour, who, if captured in the summer of 2001, would have been described by these lawyers as a quiet engineering student from Hamburg and a nice Saudi kid who dreams of learning to fly.

How we deal with alien enemy combatants goes to the essence of the debate between those who see terrorism as a series of criminal acts that should be litigated in the justice system, one attack at a time, and those who see it as a global war where the "criminal paradigm" is no more effective against militant Islamists whose chief tactic is mass murder than indictments would have been in stopping Hitler's march across Europe. Michael Ratner and the lawyers in the Gitmo bar have expressly stated that the habeas corpus lawsuits are a tactic to prevent the U.S. military from doing its job. He has bragged that "The litigation is brutal [for the United States] . . . You can't run an interrogation . . . with attorneys." No, you can't. Lawyers can literally get us killed.

We may never know how many of the hundreds of repatriated detainees are back in action, fighting the U.S. or our allies thanks to the efforts of the Guantanamo Bay Bar. Approximately 20 former detainees have been confirmed as having returned to the battlefield, 12 of them killed by U.S. forces. Of the eight detainees who were rendered back to Kuwait for review of their cases, all were acquitted in criminal proceedings, including Mr. Mutairi, who has given press interviews admitting that he was shot in the November 2001 uprising at Qala-I-Jangi.

Only one Kuwaiti, Adel al-Zamel, has been sent to prison for crimes committed before his work with al-Wafa in Afghanistan. A member of an Islamist gang that stalked, videotaped and savagely beat "adulterers," he was sentenced to a year in prison in 2000 for attacking a coed sitting in her car. These are some of the men Tom Wilner was talking about when he went on national television and said with a straight face, "My guys . . . loved the United States."

The guy who really loved the United States stood and fought to protect us from radical Islamists, rather than enable them. In his job application for the CIA, Mike Spann wrote, "I am an action person that feels personally responsible for making any changes in this world that are in my power because if I don't no one else will." We owe our unqualified support and steadfastness to the warriors who take personal responsibility when no one else will.

Allowing lawyers to subvert the truth and transform the Constitution into a lethal weapon in the hands of our enemies--while casting themselves as patriots--makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by true patriots like Mike Spann. If Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, chairman and ranking members, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee succeed in their plan to turn enemy combatant cases over to the federal courts, we will sorely rue the day that we eliminated "lawyer-free zones."

Ms. Burlingame, a former attorney and a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Gitmo... this makes it clear how little homework the majority of the mainstream media has done on this issue. It takes an outsider, a non-journalist, to expose this subversion of the law.

Iran and North Korea's Lobbyists

While a number of war critics at home have openly sided with our Islamic fascist enemies, (even secretly hoping for the U.S. to lose, as Dinesh D'Souza has pointed out), a number of our enemies have already gained a foothold on our shores.

The Politico reported that 'Axis' Nations Find Access to Representation last week.

Iraq, North Korea and Iran -- the bad-boy troika so named by President Bush in his 2002 State of the Union speech -- have all enlisted their own hired guns in Washington, even as they try to avoid damage from real guns overseas.

North Korea is represented by the Institute for Business Development in Euro Asia Limited, which is based in London. It's a bit unclear from disclosure reports exactly what it is doing for a nation that has defied White House calls for abandonment of its nuclear weapons program. For $100,000 a year, the firm is facilitating "the creation of international joint ventures and other business partnerships." Nobody from the institute returned calls to discuss the work in more detail.

And as for Iran...

Iran has hired Mark Edmond Clark of New York for $48,000 between June 2006 to May 2007. The paperwork says he is to "coordinate with Mr. Gholamhossein Mohammadnia, or other staff at the Iranian mission to the U.N. when requested, on topics to examine on U.S.-Iran relations ... (c)ontact and attend the meetings of foreign policy, business, and professional associations as requested by mission staff ... and attempt to create opportunities for mission staff to meet with individuals ... and to attend meetings of foreign policy, business and professional associations when possible." Clark told The Politico he is not a lobbyist for Iran; he provides his client with research.

None of this should be a surprise, I suppose every repressive regime with aspirations of regional hegemony needs a lobbyist.

Russia gives it's buddy Iran...

... an Ultimatum on Enrichment, according to the New York Times.

PARIS, Mar. 18 — Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials said.

The Jerusalem Post confirms that pulling experts from Iranian nuclear site.

It appears that Ahmadinejad may not have as much spring in his step when he comes to the United Nations to argue his case against further sanctions. Will we still need sanctions against an Iranian regime without the necessary tools to complete their reactor? Most likely, since they will only turn to the black market.

Radical Islam's Spread to the West

Today, in response to the rapid and unapologetic spread of radical Islam in Britain, English schools get right to ban Muslim veils.

LONDON (Reuters) - Students in England could be banned from wearing full-face Muslim veils for security or educational reasons under government guidelines to be published on Tuesday, officials said.
And in Brussels, a writer named Fjordman has declared a Native Revolt, outlining specific crimes committed by immigrants whom many European governments have simply lost control of, namely Muslim immigrants.

Will the EU listen? While "unelected EU bureaucrats," as Fjordman puts it, ponder immigration, the Taliban, of the self-proclaimed "religion of peace," chop drivers' noses, ears in Afghanistan. These are the gangsters who many would capitulate to.

Here in the U.S., at least, as the New York Times reported: Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S. (CAIR - Council On Islamic Relations).

Cair is, (according to the New York Times, which puts it mildly to say the least) "an organization partly financed by donors closely identified with wealthy Persian Gulf governments has emerged as the most vocal advocate for American Muslims — and an object of wide suspicion."

And, as the Times noted, some of our politicians are issuing them awards

Last fall, Senator Barbara Boxer of California issued a routine Certificate of Appreciation to the organization representative in Sacramento, but she quickly revoked it when critics assailed her on the Web under headlines like “Senators for Terror.”

Our legislators, with few exceptions, are truly uneducated when it comes to awareness on these issues. At the very least, if a Senator would choose to commend an advocacy group, regardless its mission, wouldn't one think to ask questions about said group? Whether foolish incompetence or disgraceful pandering, we can't afford to make these mistakes. For a more accurate assessment of CAIR's actions, you can start here.