April 30, 2004

Ping for victory

Apr. 30 - Here's a challenge that anyone can meet: just trackback to Pudgy Pundit's HERE IS THE CHALLENGE!!! and Traves will donate to Spirit of America's drive to provide Freedom TV to Iraq for every ping.

Why have civilians enlisted in this cause? Read this.

Posted by Debbye at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

Bringing TV to Iraq

Apr. 17 - How much do we believe in a free and unfetterd press? How much do we believe in giving people the facts and letting them make up their own minds?

Do you believe that Iraqis deserve an responsible and sober alternative to Al Jazeera? Spirit of America does, and has launched a fund-raising effort which the blogosphere has eagerly taken up.

Donate here on behalf of Fighting Fusileers for Freedom!

Let freedom ring!

Apr. 30 - 10:03: Dang, this post sat in draft mode. Stupid me - I didn't realize it wasn't on the page until I tried to find it. Better late than never, I suppose.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 AM | Comments (5)

Terror watch in Australia

Apr. 30 - The Australian government has issued a travel warning for southern Thailand (Australians warned off Thailand.) This warning comes not only as a result of recent terrorist actions there but also because of 1.3 tons of ammonium nitrate as well as dynamite and detonators stolen in late March which authorities fear could be used in an attack.

Although not related, the arrest of Abu Bakar Bashir for masterminding the 2002 attack in Bali will probably heighten tensions in the area. Bashir is said to be a leading figure in Jemaah Islamiyah which is associated with al Qaeda:

Bashir's fate is a sensitive political issue in Indonesia, where authorities have sought to balance the need to remain aggressive in the US-led war on terror while not appearing to cave in to pressure from the United States and Australia.

Officials have taken their case to the media, arguing in interviews Thursday that they have testimony from scores of witnesses from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore who can prove Bashir is the Jemaah Islamiyah leader.

[A top anti-terror official at the security ministry Ansyaad] Mbai also said authorities have recently uncovered reams of new documents implicating Bashir, including a letter signed by Islamic extremists in the Philippines that allegedly identifies him as the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah.

Posted by Debbye at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2004

Terror attacks lowest since 1969

Apr. 29 - The "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003" report shows that terrorist attacks are at their lowest level since 1969 (US Dept of State - Washington File Featured Item,)

The total number of international terrorist attacks in 2003 -- 190 incidents that killed 307 people -- was the lowest since 1969, according to the latest Department of State report on worldwide terrorism.

The annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003," shows the number of attacks last year was down slightly from the 199 attacks reported in 2002. At the same time, the 2003 figure is a 45 percent decline from the 346 attacks in 2001.

Yes, I realize that it doesn't seem that way. But honestly, how much attention did we pay to terrorist attacks before Sept. 11?
"A total of 307 persons were killed in the attacks of 2003, far fewer than the 725 killed during 2002," the report said. "A total of 1,593 persons were wounded in the attacks that occurred in 2003, down from 2,013 persons wounded the year before."

By geographic region, there were four terrorist attacks in Africa, 70 in Asia, two in Eurasia, 53 in Latin America, 37 in the Middle East, and 24 in Western Europe, according to the report. And the report indicated that the dominant type of terrorist event was bombing, with 137 occurrences in 2003.

"In 2003, the highest number of attacks (70) and the highest casualty count (159 persons dead and 951 wounded) occurred in Asia," the report said.

Attacks on soldiers in Iraq do not count because acts against combatants are not defined as terrorist attacks by the U.S.

Read the whole thing.

CNN has an article on the report here.

June 15 - 08:20: The report is erroneous. This is the State Dept. statement on the errors, and this is my post on the subject.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

Thwarted WMD attack on Jordan: why isn't it news?

Apr. 29 - The Beacon has a post up on a Wall Street Journal editorial that asks why the thwarted attack on Jordan which could have killed up to 80.000 people isn't big news in Al Qaeda's Poison Gas.

It strikes me that if anyone still wonders why the country wasn't prepared for Sept. 11, they could get no better answer than the media response to events in Jordan.

Posted by Debbye at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Gotcha!

Apr. 29 - Murdoc is joining a long list of people (including me) who are unsure where satire leaves off and reality begins over at ScrappleFace.

Case in point: I thought Scappleface was joking.

Morale is important in time of war, and I'm glad we're keeping the military canine unit so well equipped that insurgents are dying from envy.

Posted by Debbye at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)

Missing records and bad arithmetic

Apr. 29 - From Niles Lathem of the NY Post, U.N. Oil papers vanish:

April 29, 2004 -- WASHINGTON - The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.

The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.

The world body claims it transferred all information it had - including 3,059 contracts worth about $6.2 billion for delivery of food and other civilian goods to the post-Saddam governing body, the Coalition Provisional Authority.

But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found.

Jefferson Morely in The Washington Post has a link-filled news article about the U.N. Oil for Food Program (although most of his links are to news items that bloggers have already covered in Australia, Britain, the U.S. and even Millholland's interview with the Globe and Mail) but also items from Vietnam and the Netherlands.

Morely takes the "Bush needs the U.N. so doesn't welcome a scandal" line but my observations of the President have been that he adheres to a time honoured American custom: Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves.

(Links from Roger L. Simon post UNSCAM should not be idelogical.)

20:34: And from Instapundit, an article from the Washington Times GAO denied access to oil-for-food audits. The internal audits of the oil for food program were only shown to Benon Sevan and that the GAO request to examine those audits was refused on the basis that they were "internal documents."

I don't know how far this will go, but the U.S. has one advantage:

Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, said he was considering legislation that would tie the U.S. contribution to the U.N.'s budget — 22 percent of the international body's total funding — to cooperation in the oil-for-food probe.

Several Republican lawmakers said the world body's management of the program called into question its competence to help in the political reconstruction of post-Saddam Iraq.
To say the least.

Posted by Debbye at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

Steven Den Beste tells the truth

Apr. 29 - He's back and he's not taking prisoners in USS Clueless - The truth is....

SDB brings up the Saeb Erakat's Washington Post op-ed "Why did Bush take my job" and I want to link to Mark Steyn's answer: because you weren't up to it.

Posted by Debbye at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Italians march for hostages

Apr. 29 - I've been trying to come up with an honest take about the response in Italy to the Green Brigade demand that there be anti-war demonstrations or the hostages held in Iraq will die.

It's very hard. There are situations for which I'd like to think I would stand strong, but if my kid's life was on the line, can I honestly say I know what I'd do? And since I'm not now nor have ever been in that situation, how can I honestly pass judgement on those who are?

I'm just going to link the articles from CNN, Yahoo and the BBC.

Posted by Debbye at 04:50 PM | Comments (2)

New filthy lie assignment

Apr. 29 - The Alliance: New Filthy Lie Assignment: The Glenn Look.

What ever is Glenn looking at?

Judging by his look of chagrin, I'd say he's looking at us - that's right, us, the Alliance of Free Blogs which, in a brilliantly coordinated stealth attack swept past him to Rule The Blogs!

Or he could be looking at one of his students who just said something incredibly dumb and he's trying to figure out how to say "That was incredibly dumb" without coming right out and, you know, saying it.

I figure I'll give Harvey a real shock and get this in ultra-early because somebody's got to even for When the Ents decide to march to war, stand up and shout, "RUN FOREST, RUN!"

Posted by Debbye at 04:32 PM | Comments (2)

Out of the mouths of babes ...

Apr. 29 - A post at Ith's that is just so very true ... It's The Little Things.

Posted by Debbye at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

Don Cherry, Canadian

Apr. 29 - People living in Canada have doubtless heard of CBC's contest to select the Greatest Canadian, and in whole-hearted agreement with Jay Currie and The Meatriarchy, I am spreading the word:

Go nominate Don Cherry! The nomination form is here, (note it is only open to Canadians living in Canada or abroad.)

16:16: From commenter Nik, it's possible Don Cherry's contract won't be picked up by CBC next season (and the article further notes that there may not be NHL play in 2005 unless they can settle the contract dispute.)

22:00: Paul's aboard!

Posted by Debbye at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)

Gun Control in Australia

Apr. 29 - Nice commentary on the results of gun control Abuse & Misuse with a ricochet on statistics and the lying liars who misuse them.

Posted by Debbye at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

EU Constitution

Apr. 29 - The Daily Telegraph doesn't approve of the EU Constitution ('Euro-justice' is death knell for State and follows this story online with Spendthrift Germany is failing us, say states of 'New Europe':

Three days before their countries join the union, the finance ministers of Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia criticised Germany's decision to continue flouting the EU's stability pact, which is designed to protect the integrity of the euro.
As Orwell noted, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Posted by Debbye at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

UN orders stop to WMD trade

Apr. 29 - This is all very nice, UN moves to prevent spread of WMD black market, but how does that square with this report wherein Kofi said the U.N. didn't have a mandate to stop oil smuggling out of Iraq despite the sanctions and despite the fact that the biggest importer of oil that bypassed the sanctions was UNSC member Syria?

Kofi's got some explaining to do.

Posted by Debbye at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

Australian possibly killed in Iraq (Updated)

Apr. 29 - There is a possibility that an Australian civilian has been shot and killed in Basra (Australian killed in Iraq) although other reports state the victim was a South African.

What can one say about Australia? Staunch friend and good ally hardly covers it. Their military is top-notch, and PM John Howard has shown firm resolve against Zimbabwe's Mugabe and has been solid in his leadership of anti-terrorism in the South Pacific and Asia.

It irritates me that our media pays scant attention to any part of the world that isn't France, but then I don't pay much attention to the media.

Whether the victim is Australian or South African is less important, though, than the sober fact that civilians who are trying to rebuild Iraq are targeted by a cowardly enemy that hides behind anonymity while agitating against coalition forces because the infrastructure isn't being built as rapidly as everyone wants it to be.

I could warn the murderers that it isn't a good idea to piss off Australians, but I doubt they'd listen. They never do.

Apr. 30 - 00:13: The victim was from South Africa.

Posted by Debbye at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)

Thailand

Apr. 29 - Interesting update to this story about co-ordinated attacks on Thai police stations and checkpoints in an apparent effort to steal weapons: Thailand split over deadly attacks. The controversy is over who is to blame for the attacks: criminals, or Islamic separatists. There are also suggestions of non-Thai organization of the attacks and the possibility that the police were tipped off ahead of time and thus prepared.

As I noted yesterday, separatists have organized raids to steal firearms and explosives in Thailand before.

Posted by Debbye at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

Tweaking Glass Ceilings

Apr. 29 - It all started innocuously with this, but got sort of weird with this.

If I'm stuck on a desert island with bloggers, I'd be more concerned about their abilities to hunt, trap, build a fire, find shelter, and get us off the damned island than just about anything except the Whine Factor, because the biggest irritant would be someone who whined incessantly (they'd probably have an unfortunate accident.)

But if posting my a picture will boost my traffic, I'll do it.

Rita Hayworth.jpg

Okay, I've done it. Those hits better roll in or I'm going to have some words with John.

He's promised that this is the final chapter.

The sad part is, John may have a point. I've been astonished at how many search engine hits I've received for "Darcy Tucker's two black eyes" and "Bobby Clarke's a maggot" - two throwaway lines I mentioned during hockey playoffs.

More gratifying have been the search hits for the "U.N. Oil for food program" and "Khadr," though.

On make-up: wear it, don't sleep in it.

On houseplants: they die. Rapidly.

Pre-emptive strikes: I smoke, drink Scotch, and firmly believe God is a baseball fan.

There. Covered the photo angle, the sports angle, the political angle, and the personal habits angle.

What about spelling, punctuation and syntax, hmm? Or does that fall under housework?

Maybe if my kids were still young I'd blog more about the obnoxious attitudes I'd run into from other women when they learned I was a stay-at-home mother. Maybe my mission would be to encourage the many women who are challenging the social engineering that is going on and support their efforts to buck the pressure we get from schools and "professionals" who would have us castrate our sons.

I suspect if my kids were younger I wouldn't have time to post and be a news junkie, though.

I am not a special interest group, other women don't speak for me, and I am not a number. I cannot be filed, stamped, etc. I hate bureaucracy and regulation.

Does my faith and belief in individuality make me a conservative? It appears that way, although I think it makes me more a classic liberal. Words like "collective" and "identity politics" are an affront to my belief that each of us are unique human beings.

20:13: John's post did have good results: I met Sarah and Cassandra and am glad for it.

We absolutely exhausted the topics of make-up and plants in Sarah's comments so don't be looking for a renewal of those discussions.

Posted by Debbye at 10:52 AM | Comments (4)

Sharia in Ontario

Apr. 29 - The Washington Post has taken note of Canada: Canadians Allow Islamic Courts To Decide Disputes. Excerpts:

A 1991 Ontario arbitration law permits such arbitration according to religious principles, just as rabbis in Jewish communities and priests in Christian communities help to resolve civil disputes, said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario attorney general.

"People can agree to resolve disputes any way acceptable," Crawley said in an interview. "If they decide to resolve disputes using principles of sharia and using an imam as an arbitrator, that is perfectly acceptable under the arbitration act."

As the article notes, this is only for civil disputes and sharia tribunals cannot rule for third parties, including children. The key quote is from Concordia anthroplogy professor, Homa Hoodfar, who notes:

"I just feel this is completely 'black box' and nobody knows what is in it, and yet the government is giving the go-ahead for it. They didn't consult the Muslim community. They didn't put out a discussion. Nobody knows what it is."
We can say that about a lot of decisions up here: they just land with no warning or public discussion.

What hasn't been assessed by those who approved the tribunals are the consequences if a Muslim woman elects to let a Canadian civil court arbitrate civil issue such as divorce. Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said:

"If I am a woman of faith, and the community of people who see themselves as leaders say that if I do not follow the sharia court here, the Islamic Institute, then I will be tantamount to blasphemy and apostasy," Hogben said in a debate shown on Canadian television. "And you know that in some countries, apostasy means death sentence."

It's a pretty balanced piece, free of hysteria and addresses concerns over the tribunals.

(Link via Right Wing News.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:46 AM | Comments (6)

April 28, 2004

Al Qaeda suspected in attack in Syria

Apr. 28 - A gun fight in the diplomatic district of Damascas, Syria, (very near the Canadian and Iranian embassies) is being blamed on al Qaeda, according to this report at the Daily Telegraph (UK) (Al-Qa'eda gunmen attack Syrian capital.)

An unoccupied car was bombed which brought police, a gun fight ensued, and an empty UN building was burned.

2 attackers were killed and the 2 captured were critically injured. Weapons and explosives were seized in a house said to be used by the group.

This is unbelievable. (I really mean that.) There doesn't seem to have been any real target, and there are a large number of conflicting reports as to how many explosions there were.

Why would al Qaeda, or any terrorist group, be in the vicinity of a number of embassies as well as the British ambassador's residence and go after an abandoned building?

According to CNN,

The Interior Ministry source blamed the incident on the atmosphere created by instability and confusion in security and politics in the region.

"The Syrian Republic ... is condemning this terrorist attack," the source said, contending it was meant to affect the stability and security of the country.

According to the Telegraph,
Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, appeared to blame al-Qa'eda for the attack last night.

"We have been doing our best against al-Qa'eda," he said. "We share the same enemy [as America]. We aid the US in its fight against al-Qa'eda and terrorism."

Apr. 29 - 12:11: A bit of follow-up here, including speculation that the abandoned building was targeted by a car bomb by mistake and the intended target was the nearby home of the British ambassador.

Posted by Debbye at 10:43 PM | Comments (2)

Kofi Annan defends the U.N.

Apr. 28 - CNN has taken note of the breaking scandal over the U.N. Oil-for-food program by reporting Annan's defence of his and U.N. inaction by claiming they had no mandate to stop the smuggling and the corruption was not under their control. Annan lashes out at oil-for-food critics:

In his strongest comments to date on the burgeoning oil-for-food scandal, Annan said U.N. officials were blamed for Saddam's smuggling of oil and a variety of other misdeeds that they had no way of controlling.

"We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling," Annan told a news conference. "They were driving the trucks through northern Iraq to Turkey. The U.S. and the British had planes in the air. We were not there."

He called some of the comments he read "constructive and thoughtful." But he said: "Others have been outrageous and exaggerated. In fact, when you look at it, if you read their reports, it looks as if the Saddam regime had nothing to do with it. They did nothing wrong. It was all the U.N."

Mr. Annan, you could have refused to approve Saddam's purchases and told the UNSC that you refused to continue the farce.

You could have been more honest in the run up to the war instead of claiming that containment was working.

But you did none of those things, and did everything you could to keep Saddam in power and the sanctions in place.

Further down in the page is what will probably be the line of the U.N.'s defenders, that the US and UK held their noses at the corruption in order to keep the sanctions in place.

A stellar piece of reporting by the always objective CNN.

Apr. 29 - 17:17 Ozguru shows the difference one word makes. Wonderful and pointed.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Thailand

Apr. 28 - Co-ordinated dawn assaults of suspected separatists armed with machetes and a few guns on 10 police stations and security checkpoints was fought off resulting in over 112 dead in southern Thailand.

Thailand's Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said that the attackers wanted to steal the weapons and sell them, but weapons and explosives have been stolen in the past and there have been several terrorist attacks by Islamic separatists in the region.

CNN says it was 15 police stations, and 107 attackers, 3 policeman and 2 soldiers were killed.

On Wednesday afternoon, police stormed a mosque in which said a gang had holed up using rocket propelled grenades and tear gas. 30 were killed.

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

5 reasons we hate Bobby Clarke

Apr. 28 - Toronto's Top 5 column.

I'm going with #1, and #2 is why the mute button is used when Clark's mug shows up on the TV.

We hate the flyers,
Bobby Clark's a maggot
A whiny little maggot

(By the end of this round of the play-offs, I might even know all the words to the song.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)

Groups say ... never mind

Apr. 28 - Special interest groups in Ontario say that we, the taxpayers, won't mind paying extra money to keep their pet projects afloat (Grits say you want deficit.

The groups, involving a total of 254 people in six cities, ...

Posted by Debbye at 05:23 PM | Comments (2)

UNSCAM in the Australian press

Apr. 28 - The Australian carries an opinion piece by James Morrow on UNSCAM, UN apologists remain silent on oil scandal which raises some points U.N. apologists and the left might eventually have to answer.

Posted by Debbye at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

On WMD in Iraq

Apr. 28 - Interesting article by Kenneth Timmerman in Insight Magazine, Saddam's WMD Have Been Found, which raises some questions about the stockpiles of pesticides found early on in the war and which continue to be found.

Read also Iraqi Weapons in Syria for a refresher on how the suspicion began - and was seemingly dismissed - that the WMD had been moved to Syria and then a story from April 23, Sudan orders Syrian WMD out of country.

It's tempting to speculate and connect some dots; in fact, it's too tempting by far. Among the considerations are the recent allegations from Jordan that a major chemical attack in Amman originated in Syria, and even more intriguing is that Sudan would demand Syria remove their WMD now, when so many eyes are now on the Sudan because of the ethnic cleansing that has occurred durng their civil war.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2004

UNSCAM (Updated)

Apr. 27 - The testimony by Claudia Rosett on the U.N. Oil for Food program before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations is up.

Apr. 28 - 18:13: Dick Morris in today's NY Post writes How to Buy a French Veto:

ANYONE who pines for genuine international multilateralism would do well to follow the bribes now being uncovered in the United Nations' Oil-for- Food scandal.

Why did France and Russia oppose efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime? And why did they press constantly, throughout the '90s, for an expansion of Iraqi oil sales? Was it their empathy for the starving children of that impoverished nation? Their desire to stop the United States from arrogantly imposing its vision upon the Middle East?
You just know where he's going. Keep the pressure on.

Posted by Debbye at 07:23 PM | Comments (0)

Odd ransom demand for Italian hostages

Apr. 27 - This is strange even for the kind of barbarism we've seen from the "insurgents" in Iraq - Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Italians in Video:

In the video, the apparent kidnappers vow to kill the hostages in five days unless the Italian people protest against their military presence in Iraq.
As a cynical note, the demand implies that the anti-war demonstrations are staged events anyway, undertaken without underlying ideals or beliefs, and therefore it shouldn't be hard to hold another one.

One of the odder parts is that it puts the Italian anti-war movement on the spot rather than the Italian government. What is their game? What does this Green Brigade hope to achieve?

But I'm also wondering if a bit of Italian history might figure in to this: an Italian group of ultra-leftists back in the 60's and 70's was called the Red Brigade. They kidnapped Aldo Moro on March 16, 1978, and executed him on on May 9, 1978. (The Moro link makes some assertions about Moro's influence on Italian politics. I'm not familiar enough to agree or disagree, but it is interesting.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

Getting down to business

Apr. 27 - CNN uses the same url throughout the day, so the numbers will have changed since I first saved the link. U.S. forces kill 64 insurgents near Najaf

and yesterday evening, but the same link: US warplanes pounding Fallujah

May their bullets fly true.

Posted by Debbye at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

Looking through keyholes

Apr. 27 - NY Times columnist David Brooks takes a look at D.C. in Looking Through Keyholes:

These are the crucial months in Iraq. The events in Najaf and Falluja will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward normalcy or slide into chaos.

So how is Washington responding during this pivotal time? Well, for about three weeks the political class was obsessed by Richard Clarke and the hearings of the 9/11 commission, and, therefore, events that occurred between 1992 and 2001. Najaf was exploding, and Condoleezza Rice had to spend the week preparing for testimony about what may or may not have taken place during the presidential transition.

[...]

This is crazy. This is like pausing during the second day of Gettysburg to debate the wisdom of the Missouri Compromise. We're in the midst of the pivotal battle of the Iraq war and le tout Washington decides not to let itself get distracted by the ephemera of current events.

Damned freaking straight, Mr. Brooks.

Posted by Debbye at 11:49 AM | Comments (14)

Ask a good question ...

Apr. 27 - Sometimes we joke about the pithy responses of Glenn Reynolds, but you can't deny he can be short and direct as in the linked post where someone questions why the USA is seen as eeeevil when so many countries won't decriminalize the murders of women, aka, honour killings.

Apr. 28 - And an even better answer from Kathy, as well as a reminder of what some of those "elites" are from Ghost of a Flea.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)

3 arrested in terror sweep released

Apr. 27 - Update on the arrests in England last month on terrorism charges: Two men and woman held by terrorist police were released when the court did not approve an application for their further detention:

Warrants for the further detention of the seven men until this Thursday have been issued by Manchester city magistrates. But District Judge Michael Abelson ruled at a specially convened court which sat on Friday and Saturday that there was no right in law to hold the other three.
Imagine the Sept. 11 hijackers had been detained before the attack. Imagine how long they would have remained in jail.

Conspiracy charges are very difficult to prove.

Posted by Debbye at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

3 IRA members acquitted in Columbia

Apr. 27 - The three IRA members who had been accused of training Columbian terrorists in bomb-making techniques were acquitted of the charges but the prosecution has filed an appeal.

The news report says the defence destroyed key witnesses on the stand.

Posted by Debbye at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

Senior diplomats in Britain

Apr. 27 - Sheesh, and I thought our State Dept. was a total screw-up! Dismay over Blair stance on Mid-East:

Tony Blair's approach to Iraq and the Middle East was savaged last night by 52 senior diplomats, who questioned his support for America's "doomed" policy in the region.

Their unprecedented onslaught came as the Government confirmed it was discussing sending more troops to Iraq to fill the gap left by Spain's withdrawal.

The former ambassadors, high commissioners and governors called on Mr Blair to stop supporting President George W Bush's policies unless he could persuade the US to rethink its approach.
Now I do understand how diplomats feel. They are supposed to go to dinner parties and have pleasant conversations, not be confronted by people who say "You just like to fight and kill." It must be really hard to contend with that kind of thing when your job is to be likeable.

However, adults are generally people who understand that "being liked" isn't really all that it's cracked up to be.

The letter is here. It isn't very long, and the proposals in the letter may surprise you.

Naturally I dashed over to see if Expat Yank had commented on this letter (he had) and got a brief history lesson and some insight into Who's Responsible for the basket case we call the Mid-East because

Underlying those moves was an attitude -- as a group, such "professionals" had come to take the appallingly patronizing view that Arabs/Muslims were somehow "beguiling," "romantic," "unique" and "exceptional" in their cultures and outlooks. Worst of all, they believed that Arab/Muslim culture was incapable of "adaptation", "change" and "modernity".
Read the post; it isn't very long, and Robert makes a pretty compelling case that the decisions their predecessors made and the ones they still urge are the heart of the problem, not the solution.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 AM | Comments (2)

April 26, 2004

They fought like lions

"I am very proud of my men. They fought like lions," said Capt. Douglas Zembiec.

Marine plays bagpipes in Fallujah.jpg
The above is of a Marine playing "America the Beautiful" on the bagpipes at Fallujah.

Imagine the strains of that song drifting to the Marines with the setting sun. It must have been a quiet moment, a reflective moment for them. They are so far from home, and surely they miss our spacious skies and purpled mountains. Yet they stay, and that song tells us why.

Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!

Until, that is, one Tuesday in September.

We, as a society, may have produced them, but these days they are producing us, and daily, by example, they remind us to be strong and us to be brave. The casualty reports hurt; news of roadside explosions and mortar attacks catch in our throats, but, like them, we must endure.

God bless them all. Never forget them, never take them for granted, never try to diminish their sacrifice with cynical exploitation, and never doubt their dedication.

And never, ever break faith with them.

Posted by Debbye at 08:11 PM | Comments (1)

Chemical attack thwarted in Jordan

Apr. 26 - Updating the story which started April 14 and linked here, here, here, and here, Jordanian officials have released more information (CNN story here and Fox story here) about the attack.

The one who allegedly ordered the attack was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The confession of the man identified as the head of the Jordanian cell of al Qaeda, Azmi al-Jayousi, was aired on television:

In a nighttime raid in Amman, Jordanian security forces moved in on the terrorist cell. After the shooting stopped, four men were dead. Jordanian authorities said. They said at least three others were arrested, including Azmi Jayyousi, the cell's suspected ringleader, whom Jordanian intelligence alleges was responsible for planning and recruiting.

On a confession shown on state-run Jordanian television, Jayyousi said he took orders from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist leader who has been linked to al Qaeda and whom U.S. officials have said is behind some attacks in Iraq.

"I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning," Jayyousi said.

Fox reports that he said Zarqawi gave him about $170,000 and he used it in part to purchase 20 tons of explosives. He also said he met Zarqawi in Afghanistan where he studied explosives and met up with him later in Iraq.

Also arrested was car mechanic Hussein Sharif Hussein, who was asked to "purchase and modify vehicles to crash through gates and walls."

CNN reports:

In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades. [Emphasis added]

Jordanian authorities said the attack would have mixed a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, which they said has never been done before, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents.

A Jordanian government scientist said the plot had been carefully worked out, with just the right amount of explosives to spread the deadly cloud without diminishing the effects of the chemicals. The blast would not burn up the poisonous chemicals but instead produce a toxic cloud, the scientist said, possibly spreading for a mile, maybe more.

The Jordanian intelligence buildings are within a mile of a large medical center, a shopping mall and a residential area.

"And there is no one combination of antidote to treat nerve agent, choking agent and blistering agent," the scientist said.

Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has been accused of plotting chemical attacks before, and authorities said it would not be his first attempt to strike Jordan.

In 2000, a Jordanian court charged him in absentia with planning to blow up a hotel and attack tourist destinations.

Fox concludes

Government officials have said the suspects plotted to detonate a powerful bomb targeting Jordan's secret service and use poison gas against the prime minister's office, the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions. Had the bomb exploded, it could have killed at least 20,000 people and wrecked buildings within a half-mile radius, the officials have said.

No trial date has been set in the case.

Airing suspects' confessions before their trial is unusual in Jordan. In 1998, six men accused of affiliation with a militant group confessed on television to planting a bomb that exploded outside an Amman hotel. Five years later, a court found them innocent.

The unusual move may be an attempt to answer critics who claim the government has exaggerated the terror danger to justify tightening security. Officials in Jordan, a moderate Arab nation with close ties to the United States and a peace treaty with Israel, say the kingdom has been repeatedly targeted by Al Qaeda and other militant groups.

Posted by Debbye at 07:03 PM | Comments (2)

Canadian security

Apr. 26 - In preparation for the upcoming visit by PM Martin to D.C. and in the aftermath of Sept. 11, Canada's first security policy is to be tabled this week (Security on front burner.) Uh huh.

In another related story, RCMP commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli told an international conference on counter-terrorism that Canadians need to begin to assess how best to balance security and privacy, noting that these assessments have yet to take place among lawmakers as well as citizens:

Zaccardelli said Canadians haven't even talked about that balance.
Is it just me, or was that admission downright embarrassing? at a conference on counter-terrorism, no less.

I predict that the upcoming meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Martin will be spun by the Canadian media as Martin giving Bush advice and offering expertise in whatever the government's Expertise Flavour of the Week might be at the time (I think we can safely rule out balancing security concerns with privacy, though.) The US government will acknowledge the visit, probably in a press briefing, and there won't be much spin but platitudes aplenty: "The President and Prime Minister had a very fruitful discussion ... it was a valuable exchange of ideas ... they got along quite well ... shoulder to shoulder ... the Terrence-Phillip issue didn't come up ..."

Apr. 28 - 17:55: Here's a brief overview of the security plan and there's more in depth at CTV news including this curious bit:

To ensure that civil liberties are protected as the country strengthens its security systems, a new advisory body will be established, called the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security.

It will be composed of representatives of cultural groups and religious communities and will provide a forum for concerns about how security efforts may be affecting Canada's multicultural society.

"The National Security Policy protects our collective security interests in a way that reflects core Canadian values of tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms," said McLellan.

Posted by Debbye at 02:42 PM | Comments (3)

Bulgarian President visits Iraq

Apr. 26 - Georgi Parvanov, the president of Bulgaria, visited Iraq yesterday and his car convoy came under fire near Karbala (Bulgaria president shot at in Iraq.) No one was hurt.

President Parvanov returned to Bulgaria with the body of Sgt. Dimitar Dimitrov who was killed Friday in an ambush in Karbala and some other Bulgarian soldiers suffering from combat stress.

Sgt. Dimitrov is the sixth Bulgrian soldier to be killed in Iraq.

All the Bulgarian soldiers in Iraq have volunteered for the mission.

Posted by Debbye at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

Who pays for UN peacekeeping?

Apr. 26 - Eric Scheie started off wondering why the media is ignoring UNSCAM (read through the whole thing which, like all good questions, answers questions unasked) and he follows a path that came up with a link that answers some questions that have been nagging at me for awhile.

There are a lot of people who wanted the U.N. to take the lead in removing Saddam from Iraq for strictly financial reasons: they believed it better that the U.N. foot the bill instead of the entire burden falling on the American taxpayer. That attitude was understandable, but did it reflect reality?

Read this 1998 article at the Cato Institute: The United Nations Debt: Who Owes Whom?.

Not only does the Cliff Kincaid article indicate some questionable methods of channeling funds to the U.N. by the Clinton administration which bypassed Congress but also some early steps by lawmakers to try to end this circumvention. Some excerpts:

The United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997.

[Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)] ... cites a Congressional Research Service report that found that the United States paid more than $11 billion for international peacekeeping efforts between 1992 and 1997. Although the report didn't specify how much of that money had been counted as U.S. "dues" to the UN, the figure could be as low as $1.8 billion. That leaves about $9 billion worth of what the administration calls "voluntary" international peacekeeping assistance. But the $9 billion only covers assistance provided by the Department of Defense. Other federal agencies have also been ordered by the administration to support the UN, bringing the sum of uncredited payments to perhaps $15 billion.

The $1.8 billion figure counted as U.S. "dues" to the world body derives from a 1996 General Accounting Office report on U.S. costs in support of UN-authorized "peace operations" in places like Haiti, Somalia and Rwanda during the previous three years. The figure represents the State Department's share of the costs of those operations. That is the budget from which the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping operations has traditionally been funded. Overall, the GAO found that the costs reported by U.S. government agencies for support of UN operations in those areas of the world was over $6.6 billion and that the UN had reimbursed the U.S. $79.4 million "for some of these costs." That leaves about $4.8 billion in what the administration calls "voluntary" assistance to the world body.

By refusing to pay the UN "debt," Congress would not only put a stop to the improper if not illegal practice of misappropriating funds to the UN; it would also acquire additional leverage for forcing tough reforms on that body...

Note that the $11bn figures doesn't include Gulf War I or Kosovo.

We are the forefront of peacemaking efforts on behalf of the U.N., and the American taxpayer involuntarily foots a bill which is not even charged to the U.N.

The taxpayer, under U.N. leadership in Iraq, would still have been footing the bill (as well as the blood) but the US soldier would have been operating under the same kind of feckless U.N. leadership as we saw in Somali, Rwanda and even the UNHQ at the Canal Hotel which was bombed in Baghdad because they failed to take security measures.

Again, note the date of the article and Congressional consideration of finding ways to cut off irregular U.N. funding: 1998.

Enter the oil-for-food project for Iraq, the 2.2% administration fee charged by the U.N. and, lest we forget, the 0.8% fee charged to Iraq for inspections even though they didn't happen afterr 1998 and then this revelation in yesterday's Daily Telegraph (UK) Oil-for-food inquiry says 'key' is $1bn UN paid itself in fees. Excerpts:

More than $1 billion (£560 million) collected by the United Nations as its "commission" on Iraq's oil-for-food programme has become a fresh focus for the inquiry into the biggest scandal ever to engulf the organisation.

At least $1.1 billion was paid directly into UN coffers, supposedly to cover the cost of administering the $67 billion scheme, while Saddam Hussein diverted funds intended for the poor and sick of Iraq to bribe foreign governments and prominent overseas supporters of his regime.

Although the UN Security Council approved the plan to levy a 2.2 per cent commission on each oil-for-food transaction, the huge sums this reaped for the UN have never been fully accounted for.

A senior UN official who is closely involved in uncovering evidence of the scandal admitted: "The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam's government was keeping the UN going for a few years.

"No one knows exactly what sums were involved because an audit has never been done. That is why they are wriggling and squirming now in New York."

[Mr Hankes-Drielsma] said that Iraqi investigators had discovered "memorandums of understanding" suggesting that Saddam could decide which UN officials operated within Iraq. "They were either at his beck and call, or they were sent home," he said. "It seems that we have still only uncovered the tip of the iceberg."

The first alarm bell is the inexplicably sloppy bookkeeping, which we usually take as a sign that there was corruption and the trail was deliberately muddied.

The second alarm bell is that the U.N. bureaucrats controlled $67 billion dollars, never did an audit despite questions raised in the UNSC as early as 1998, and that the organization has no provisions demanding financial accountability.

The third alarm bell is that much of the funding of U.N. missions were provided

a) by the US taxpayer bypassing Congress, and

b) by Saddam himself.

What are the odds that they would voluntarily end a revenue which they didn't even need to account for?

Think it through. In Canada we are being hit with revelation after revelation of financial wrongdoing on the federal, provincial and local levels and the ensuing investigations. Much as the financial irresponsibilities infuriate Canadians, there is a mechanism to make the Members of Parliament (and the parties they represent) accountable: elections.

The U.N. is now under investigation and the international community has no means to demand accountability because there are no elections. Maybe the proponents of the international community would like to explain why any free person would acknowledge the authority of the unelected U.N.

Posted by Debbye at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Arthur Millholland confides in the Globe and Mail

Apr. 25 - An article about Canadian Arthur Millholland of Oilexco Ltd., who was on the list of oil voucher recipients. (Friends of Saddam: Millholland Says UN Knew links to Axis of Logic which links to a piece in Friday's Globe and Mail Executive says oil-for-food program was rife with corruption.)

Millholland asserts his innocence and that he would never be party to bribery or corruption. The article concludes with a lofty assertion of high principles and decency:

Mr. Millholland has travelled to Iraq several times and he has been an outspoken critic of the sanctions and the U.S. occupation. He said he got Oilexco into the oil-for-food program as a way of helping people in the country and he resents any suggestion that he was an apologist for the Saddam regime.

He said he welcomed the UN review of the oil-for-food program. "It wasn't a total failure from a humanitarian perspective," Mr. Millholland said. "But the other side of it was the corruption of it. The questions from the diplomatic side is, did they know about the corruption and overlook it and say that it was something that was inherent in the system and it was a lesser of two evils. In other words, if you have kids that are dying, do you stop the food going in to stop the corruption and cause more kids to die?"

Think of the children. How original.

A real reporter would have asked "And when you found no kids had died because of the sanctions but many died due to the expired drugs and substandard hospital equipment, did you feel like a total idiot?"

Or "When you learned that Saddam had a prison just for children, did you feel the slightest twinge of doubt?"

Or even "Can you describe how you felt when the bodies of children clutching their dolls were unearthed in mass graves?"

The reporter, by the way, is Paul Waldie.

Posted by Debbye at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

Joe Clark, MP

Apr. 25 - Jack Davies has a devastating post on former Conservative leader and (briefly) PM Joe Clark and his recent endorsement of Paul Martin:

Joe Clark, the saviour of all that was worthwhile in the conservative movement. The Liberals loved it and because the Liberals loved it, the media did too. In the service of the Liberal Party and Liberal government, they built his political acumen out of all proportion to what the man is really capable of. It also served their own ends.

He became a legend in his own mind as he began to believe all the nice things his political enemies were saying about him!

Apr. 27 - 12:35: Joe Clark should have stayed Joe Who. Now Paul is on his case... and Bob is running a contest to Name Joe Clark's World.

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 PM | Comments (4)

Marine Barracks bombing mastermind involved in Iraq, backed by Iran

Apr. 25 - There have been sporadic reports in the media about Iranian backing and funding of Muqtada al'Sadr and his aspirations, but this latest report has the markings of Stop! Look! Think!: Beirut veteran blamed over Basra attacks. Excerpts:

A leading Lebanese terrorist accused of blowing up the American embassy in Beirut in the 1980s is being held responsible for the increase in suicide bomb attacks against coalition targets in southern Iraq.

Western intelligence officials have uncovered evidence that the attacks are being co-ordinated by Imad Mugniyeh, a leading figure in Lebanon's extremist Hizbollah Shia Muslim terror organisation.

Washington has accused Mugniyeh of blowing up the American embassy and the United States marine compound in Beirut in the 1980s, killing more than 300 US officials and troops.

The link to the FBI was on the Telegraph web page.

Mugniyeh, who is now in his fifties and has a close relationship with Iran's Revolutionary Guards, has been based in Teheran since the end of the Lebanese civil war, and is also known to have close links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network.

Intelligence officials in Iraq have uncovered evidence that Mugniyeh has been helping to train the self-styled al-Mahdi army set up by Moqtada al-Sadr, the dissident Iraqi Shia leader.

Mugniyeh, the head of Hizbollah's external security apparatus, has deployed scores of Lebanese Hizbollah fighters in Iraq, and set up secret training camps along the southern part of the border with Iran.

The Hizbollah fighters are working closely with members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, with whom they developed a close relationship during the 1980s when their terror tactics forced the Reagan administration to withdraw US forces from Beirut.

Attempts by Iranian hardliners to encourage attacks on coalition targets are being undertaken against the wishes of the Iranian government, which earlier this month sent a team of diplomats to Iraq to persuade Sadr to end his stand-off with American troops.

But at the same time as Iranian officials were negotiating with Sadr, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's hardline spiritual leader, was circulating a cassette tape in Arabic to a number of Iraqi mosques in which he called on the Iraqis to "unite and expel the occupiers to ensure the establishment of a new power based on Islam".

A commentary in the Washington Times, Iran's covert actions in Iraq, by Constantine C. Menges covers some more background (although it doesn't name Imad Mugniyeh) and concludes with this:

President Bush has spoken eloquently and often about the Iranian people's right to freedom. Now he needs to instruct his State Department to cease all its open and secret "dialogue and engagement" activities with the clerical regime. These legitimatize the dictatorship and discourage those in Iran who might otherwise act to bring about a democratic future.

Taking these actions now in Iraq and encouraging the Iranian people to liberate themselves this summer could result in two democracies. Otherwise, there is grave risk the removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein will ultimately result in two Irans — two Shi'ite extremist regimes in the region.
Axis. Of. Evil.

Kerry wants to normalize relationships with Iran, which means abandoning the pro-democracy forces in Iran and granting the the mullahs legitimacy. He brings new meaning to the phrase "useful fool."

Posted by Debbye at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

War on terrorism, Canadian style

Apr. 25 - I'm certainly not going to disagree that it is important for Muslims in Canada to know their legal rights (30,000 pocket guides on how to deal with CSIS circulating among Muslims.)

Mustafa, 26, an Islamic school official in Ottawa, has memorized the guide and says it's a handy tool for his students. He didn't want his last name published.

"It's very important given the (political) climate we are living in," he said.

The guide is free and available upon request, but an abbreviated version can also be downloaded from the CAIR-CAN website. It is part of the group's Ottawa Raid Community Kit, a larger education campaign dealing with the fallout from the RCMP raid on the Khawaja family home in Ottawa last month.

Canadian-born Mohammad Momin Khawaja, 29, faces two terrorism-related charges. Details of his case remain secret, but it's the first time a charge has been laid under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act.

"It's been a huge shocker for the community," he added. "In this case, it is a family well-known in the community."

"So there is certainly this fear that if it can happen to someone who is so run-of-the-mill in the community, then it can happen to me."

What's missing? They mention Mohammad Momin Khawaja, and you might well think I mean the Khadr family who's brazen flouting of their terrorist sympathies and close association with bin Laden, however loathsome, is not in violation of Canadian law.

Maybe you're thinking of would-be LAX bomber Ahmed Ressam, but he's in jail in the US, not Canada, because an American border guard caught him. His roommate in Montreal, Mustapha Labsi, was also said to be trained by al Qaeda, but he was arrested in London and released after serving a 6 month sentence.

Maybe you're thinking of Raouf Hannachi, who Ressem says recruited him. He returned to Tunisia.

And what of fellow al Qaeda trainee Adil Charkaoui, known to Ressem as Zubeir Al-Magrebi, who remains in Canadian custody on a security certificate and may be a sleeper of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group?

Amr Mohamed Hamed of British Columbia was killed at an Afghan al Qaeda training camp in 1998, but not Montreal Abderaouf Jdey, who's martyr suicide note was found in Kabul and for whom the FBI has issued a world-wide warrant for his arrest.

Maher Arar was released by Syria without explanation shortly after the US vetoed a UNSC condemnation of Israel for bombing a terrorist camp in Syria. I thought it was wrong to send him to Syria when he was first detained in the US on principle, and his release from Sytia is not, for me, proof of his innocence (except in the "until proven guilty" sense.)

Does the name Mohammed Abdullah Warsame ring a bell? He too is under inditement in the USA.

The most dangerous Canadian until his capture in Thailand may have been Jabarah who was in charge of al Qaeda operations in Asia and played a leading role in the Bali bombing.

[Apr. 26 - I got up this morning and it hit me: Hambali, who is not a Canadian, was captured in Thailand. Jabarah was taken into custody in a third country, deported to Canada, and from here turned over to US officials to a hue and cry from the media and civil rights groups. His home is St. Catharines. His brother was killed in a shootout with Saudi police.]

The truth about the political climate we're living in is that it makes everyone nervous. The truth about CAIR is a rant for another time.

Apr. 26 - 9:10 Fred points out I forgot Marc Lepine, born Gamil Rodrigue Gharbi, of the 1989 Montreal Massacre. Thank you for the reminder and the link, Fred.

Posted by Debbye at 05:24 PM | Comments (4)

MFP Scandal Review

Apr. 25 - It all started with computers and an arrangement with MFP Financial Services Ltd. in Mississauga, which claims to provide innovative solutions.

Corruption concerns raised in computer probe - Ya think?

Alarm bells began sounding in Toronto after municipal officials in Waterloo, about 100 kilometres to the southwest, found their financing costs for a new sports park had blown up by more than $100 million to $227 million.

As with Toronto's computers, MFP had arranged the Waterloo financing.

A closer look showed the computer deal, which had been slated to cost about $43 million, had somehow ballooned to about $83 million.

In due course, council opted for a full-blown judicial inquiry to find out how Toronto taxpayers had ended up paying an average of more than $8,000 for personal computers, many of which are now obsolete but still in use and still sucking up tax money.

The final bill to the city will exceed $110 million. Toronto taxpayers are shelling out another $15 million for the inquiry.

Read the whole thing with especial attention to the references to Tom Jakobek.

A lot of people would have voted for Tom Jakobek in his run for mayor had he not been caught in a foolish lie about a stupid plane trip (at the time, most people assumed that he accepted a free ride. Turns out it may have been figurative as well as literal.)

What was presumed to be ethical idiocy has expanded to something worse, but the decision was made in January to end the first phase of the inquiry early so they could focus on the city's dealings with two US based consulting firms. As the article notes, in 2002 provincial police found no grounds to file criminal charges against any of the players.

Posted by Debbye at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

What to wear to concerts ...

Apr. 25 - I'll bet the first thing you thought of wasn't a bullet-proof vest.

Posted by Debbye at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

Afghan forces with ISAF teams raid terrorist cells

Apr. 25 - NATO operations in Kabul turning into more-offensive measures on terrorists:

KABUL (CP) - NATO operations in Afghanistan's capital city have taken a significant shift away from routine patrols, do-good projects and social visits to more-offensive measures against terrorist elements.

Canada and other countries are cashing in on 2 1/2 years of nurturing trust among locals with relentless presence patrols, whose main weapons have been simple smiles, friendly waves and a cup of tea.

While the routine continues, the 34-member International Security Assistance Force is now showing its other hand - a formidable arsenal of intelligence and military might backing city police and national security forces in so-called directed operations.

Recent raids involving Canadian and British troops acting in support of Kabul City Police and National Security Directorate agents have captured several members of the terrorist group Hekmatyar Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG.

The group is believed responsible for last October's mine strike that killed two Canadian soldiers and wounded four, as well as last June's suicide attack on a bus that killed four German soldiers and wounded 29.

The ISAF commander, Lt.-Gen. Rick Hillier of Newfoundland, said that these are Afghan missions backed by ISAF and that the training of Afghan security forces are beginning to produce results.

Posted by Debbye at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

ANZAC Day

Apr. 25 - Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand.

You never heard of Gallipoli? (Real question. Given the state of history courses these days, it is entirely possible people never heard of Gallipoli.) Still wonder why it matters?

PM Howard in Iraq.jpg

CNN is actually carrying this story, but I prefer the account in the Australian press (PM in Baghdad for Anzac Day) which quotes Australian PM John Howard extensively:

"The trip to Iraq is in recognition of the great sacrifice and contribution Australian personnel are making there in challenging conditions," Mr Howard said.

"They are following in the footsteps of countless other Australians who have served the nation in many other parts of the globe.

"I am certain that all Australians will join me in expressing heartfelt thanks for their efforts.

"In remembering those who in the past have given their lives defending our freedoms and way of life, we should also honour those who today put their lives at risk in the service of Australia."

Mr Howard was joined by Mal Brough, minister assisting the defence minister, and Chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove.

How much do the people down under care about ANZAC Day?
In Perth, children in pyjamas were among the 30,000 people massed for a dawn service in Kings Park.

Melbourne's service attracted about 15,000 and there were big crowds for events in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart.

[...]

About 6000 people attended the dawn service at Adelaide's War Memorial, more than in previous years, despite chilly morning weather.

Remember, it's November weather there, not April weather.
More than 10,000 people packed the streets of Brisbane to watch one of the biggest Anzac Day marches in years.

It was the first Brisbane march in which no World War I veterans took part because Australia's oldest digger Ted Smout was too ill to attend.

But that didn't stop the crowds cheering and clapping as the parade moved from George Street along Adelaide Street and past the Shrine of Remembrance in the heart of the city.

One of the biggest cheers was reserved for the huge contingent of Vietnam veterans.

The parade took more than two hours to pass King George Square, where Queensland Governor Quentin Bryce joined Premier Peter Beattie in taking the salute.

Last year, ceremonies were held in Gallipoli but terrorist threats caused the Australian govenment to issue travel warnings.
Meanwhile, thousands of Australians defied the government's travel advice to make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Day.
After the horror of Bali, why would they do so? Maybe because of Bali?
At Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, former Templestowe College student Warren Evans, 19, spoke about attending the Anzac Cove and Lone Pine service last year in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Gallipoli soldier Horace Scott Holland.

"It was a defining moment for me, a moment that helped shape my understanding of my family and an understanding of my identity as an Australian," he said.

"It was then I thought of my great-grandfather facing those huge cliffs. He was a survivor but later died when he was gassed on the western front.

"I thought that when he went to war and when my grandfathers went to New Guinea in the Second World War they were much the same age as me.

"In this moment, I came to understand my place as an Australian."

Our North American media notwithstanding, the internet has allowed us to bypass their filters and go the the source. Thus we know about East Timor, the Solomons, and Australia's central importance in an often overlooked theatre in the war on terror: South-east Asia.

I can't resist comparing the differences in attitude toward veterans in Canada, Australia, and the U.S.

In Canada, Remembrance Day is very solemn and teary. Although there are many words about how "they died to make us free" there are also determined government and media voices that vow "never again." There are gatherings at Cenotaphs which reinforces the death theme, but attendance has been larger these past two years than before Sept. 11 and it's pretty clear that the people of Canada are angry (and getting angrier) with the treatment of those in the Canadian Forces and are demanding better equipment and more funding. When the troops returned from Afghanistan in 2002, the people of Edmonton turned out to cheer them.

I go to the Toronto Cenotaph out of respect and wish I could have been in Edmonton. However much we may grieve for the loss of lives in defence of the nation, I think we can proudly cheer the fact that this country has produced and continues to produce such fine men and women.

In Australia, ANZAC Day is both solemn and celebratory. They honour their warriors of the past, renew their country's pledge to safeguard the region, and cheer their troops. I might add that last year's ANZAC Day ceremonies were also well attended. Australians not only have Sept. 11 but Oct. 12 Bali to stiffen their resolve.

In the USA it is all of the above, maybe because we have two days: Memorial Day in May is when we honour our dead; Veterans' Day is when we honour all those who served. Memorial Day has it's teary moments, but it's less an orgy of sorrow and more of a "stand up straighter and complete the mission" kind of thing. And the Gettysburg Address is recited in every town and hamlet by somebody and everybody.

I have heard people say that "of course they would fight if the enemy was actually on our shores" and I retort "by then, it's too late" and resist from adding "Moron!"

Sheesh, what part of they fight so we don't have to don't people get?

Honour those who serve and have served. Cry for their loss, and cheer their resolve. We owe them both gratitude and a renewal of our committment to them.

Silent Running has a wonderful tribute on this day, Ambient Irony is pithy but eloquent, and Professor Bunyip is now cutting Howard some slack.

13:24 Kathy, another American, remembers, and her post provided a link to a dummies guide to Anzac Day (and an interesting fact about the Australian army forces) at G'Day Mate. (Update: Ozguru has more information here. Wow. I didn't any of these things.)

20:32 According to the Daily Telegraph (UK), over 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders went to Gallipoli despite government warnings. Absolutely awesome. According to the Australian press, they were mostly young and surpassed the record numbers set in 2002.

UPDATE Feb. 2, 2005: Thanks to Paul Woodward for bringing this link to my attention. It concerns a project to bring the Levies (Assyrians) who fought beside the Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI and WWII to Australia to participate in the 2005 ANZAC Day parade:

In April of 2005, the Levies (Assyrian) veterans who fought side-by-side with the Australian and New Zealand contingents in WWI and with the RAF and British Commado in WWII will march with the RAF at the ANZAC parade in Sydney, Australia. My good friend (Akhooney) Gaby Kiwarkis - 6th Battalion - Royal Australian Regiment is one of a small team of first or second generation vets that will enable the Assyrians to March with the RAF at the parade. In the simplest of terms, we need your help to fund the cost of bringing Assyrian Levies to Sydey from all over Australasia - in fact from all over the world. Gaby will be taking point and will speak at the memorial ceremony. In his own way, he will commemorate and celebrate the life of Squadron Leader Colin Woodward, Squadron Leader Maurice Skeet and Lieutenant Robert Sherwood - all of whom were dependent upon the Levies, many of whom gave their lives for freedom and democracy.
It seems like a very worthy project.

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 AM | Comments (8)

April 24, 2004

Saudi Arabia

Apr. 25 - In Saudi Arabia, 5 suspected terrorists killed in raid after Wednesday's suicide bombing and over at the Iraq page at The Command Post is this report on some assistance and aid we got from the Saudis during the Iraq War.

President Bush told us back at the beginning of the war that we would be assisted by other countries both publicly and privately. It wasn't hard to figure that if Saudi Arabia was assisting it would definitely be on the Private list.

I'm not sure how much credit the Saudis deserve (note unnamed sources alert) but I think maybe it is somehow both more and less than they get.

Apr. 25 13:04 The AP story is being carried in Canada, too.

Posted by Debbye at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)

Attacks launched from boats in Iraq

Apr. 24 - On Saturday, A series of attacks in Iraq left 28 people dead, including seven eight U.S. militrary personnel.

An mortar attack on a market in Sadr City in Baghdad killed 12 Iraqis and a roadside bomb in Tikrit killed two Iraqi police and two civilians.

A rocket north of Bagdad killed five US soldiers and wounded six.

In Karbala, five attackers who fired mortar at a coalition base were killed by coaltion forces. Fox identifies the coalitions forces that came under mortar attack as Polish.

A new tactic for Iraq is attacks from boats.

Three small boats were involved in explosions near Iraq's main oil terminal.

The first exploded after a team of 7 US sailors boarded the boat. 2 sailors were killed and 4 others wounded. (The report doesn't state what happened to the people on the boat.) [Update: A third sailor has died, and this report states that two of the dead were US Navy, and a third was Coast Guard.]

Shortly afterwards, two other boats were intercepted. They detonated near moored ships.

According to the report carried by Fox, the boats exploded near two Iraqi oil terminals:

The two sailors were killed when they tried to intercept a small boat sighted near the Khawr al-Amaya oil terminal in the north of the Gulf, the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said in a press release.

As the eight-member boarding team approached the boat, it exploded, flipping the team's craft and throwing the crew into the water.

Soon afterward, two more boats were seen approaching the al-Basra terminal. Security forces from the terminals went to intercept the boats, which then exploded, the statement said.

Since no casualties were reported from the explosions of the other boats, I'm assuming that we took different measures when approaching them.

Initiative. Adaptability. Those too are values of Western civilization and worth defending.

Apr. 26 - 12:46 ExPat Yank makes some good comments on the last tactic in Once "Coled", Twice Smarter.

18:33 Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the boat attacks and said that it was ordered by Zarqawi.

Posted by Debbye at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

Warning! Warning! Upgrade happening!

Apr. 24 - Munuvania's fearless leader and absolute ruler will be doing some stuff to thingies in the database at 2 a.m. GMT (which I think means 9 p.m. EST.)

None of us will be able to post or edit things, and something odd will happen with comments. I don't think anyone will be able to make them, but even if you can, they'll disappear.

Or something like that. It's tech stuff, and thus techie.

Everything should be restored back to normal around 10 a.m. GMT which is 5 a.m. our time. I think.

Go Leafs!

Posted by Debbye at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

The last full measure of devotion

Apr. 24 - I came to a full stop yesterday when I learned of Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan (Former Cardinals safety Tillman killed in combat.)

Maybe this story has had so much impact because it is about everything, and, like everthing, it can't be summarized.

When placed beside media piffle-stories about other celebrities who are so prominent in the news, this story - and the man - stand while the others just lie supine as do all sick things.

I tried to put everything into words but I can't. There are those who just can't get beyond their disbelief that a man would give up fame, gridiron glory and millions of dollars to serve the country he loves because they know they never would. I doubt anything I or others might write will clarify matters for such because they lack that language of the heart that defines the overwhelming love of country.

The USA isn't perfect. It's not about how things are but how we continue to strive to form a more pefect union. It's about ideals, and hopes, and dreams that aren't shattered by an oppressive regime that dictates how long the beards must be, restricts the freedom of our thoughts, and decaptitates those who say "No."

Love isn't about perfection. If it was, none of us could love; it's all about loving despite flaws and often even because of them.

What astounds me is not how much we love our country but the lack of bold admissions from others that they love their countries. I may be a simpleton because I love my country, but they are ungrateful, shallow bastards for not honouring the blood and dedication of those who came before them.

Love of country isn't pride, people, it's humility. It's being bowed by the burden of mighty examples and, even as we enjoy the freedoms bequeathed by those who came before us, we freely accept that our heritage includes the admonition that we highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

Is that the real reason modern education obscures the country's history? Are they trying to eliminate the debt we owe to those of the past by juggling the books? History, which didn't end in the last decade, still informs our thoughts like an insistent whisper that won't be stilled.

History is the story of those who stood up straighter and said Fix bayonets with grim determination. It's about the willingness to fight, die, and yield no quarter.

I used to believe that everyone had something they felt worth fighting for. Now I know better, and maybe that's why I feel so indebted to those who stand so tall and are willing to fight.

That his death should come right now while there's babble about reinstating the draft contains rich irony as well as the definitive response to that debate.

Tillman symbolizes every single man and woman who has chosen to do their part in this mighty struggle. If the fact that his is a household name has lent new clarity to words like honour, valour and service, then I think he's content.

Where do we find such people? Look at your next door neighbour and maybe you'll have your answer.

20:33 Ghost of a Flea pays tribute (and be sure to follow the link under hero.)

Apr. 25 10:41 Just to clarify, when I refer to next door neighbours, I mean that literally. The kids who play hockey in the street or deliver your paper are the stuff from which our real heroes are made.

I sympathize with Al Maviva's epiphany:

I wish I could call him a hero - but he isn't.

He is simply what the rest of us should be. That's right, he's not a hero, it's that most of the rest of us are slackers.

Yep. That about sums it up.

Opinion Journal is republishing a piece by Peggy Noonan when Tillman first enlisted. It makes even better reading today especially given the foolish utterances by those who are promoting conscription.

Posted by Debbye at 10:30 AM | Comments (8)

Train blast in North Korea

Apr. 24 - Details are still scarce on the story but the real news is that North Korea has communicated anything about the explosions (N. Korea breaks silence on blast.)

Posted by Debbye at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2004

Go Leafs!

Apr. 22 - I managed to catch some sleep (I worked last night) and it's almost face-off time.

Mark reports that the morning show on Q107 has been having fun with this round of the play-offs. Apparently they've got this ditty going:

We hate the Flyers.
Bobby Clarke is a Maggot.

Okay, it isn't poetry, but it is emotionally satisfying.

Guess you'd have to remember some play-offs during the 70's to get how some of us feel about the Flyers (and I'm not saying it's rational, it just is.)

Next superstition we invoke is putting the Leafs poster up in the window (never ever put it up during the first round of the play-offs. That's bad luck.) Gotta run and do that like now - no, wait, let the Men Do The Work.

I think we're now allowed to say "the Leafs could go all the way this year if they can just get past Philly" but I have to check.

Posted by Debbye at 07:34 PM | Comments (4)

Re-instating the draft

Apr. 22 - I guess when CNN creates addresses a controversial subject on one of their broadcasts, it needs to be addressed by rational people sooner rather than later.

The subject is reinstatement of the draft. Never mind that the armed forces have too many eager applicants and are turning people away, so it's unnecessary to force anyone to serve when so many are willing. Never mind that today's military are highly skilled, motivated men and women with training that consists of slightly more than 6 weeks in boot camp.

Donald Sensing dissects the arguments for reinstating the draft in A bad idea is a bad idea from a practical point of view, and John Hawkins takes a humourous look at some of the twitterings from the left and looks at who's for and who's against the draft in Chuck Hagel Is A Clown -- There Isn't Going To Be A Draft.

Posted by Debbye at 12:14 PM | Comments (4)

Saddam's Missing WMD

Apr. 22 - Remember the thwarted terrorist attack in Jordan? It was inevitable that speculation would arise that there could be a connection with Saddam's missing WMD. It seems that Lab Tests Could Link Saddam's Missing WMDs to Jordan Plot .

Laboratory tests on the poison gas smuggled from Syria into Jordan by al Qaeda terrorists earlier this month could determine whether their weapons came from Iraq, intelligence expert John Loftus said Monday.

"What they captured was a poison gas that consisted of several chemicals to be mixed together," Loftus told nationally syndicated radio host John Batchelor. "This has to be a poison gas of what they call the G-series; Sarin, Somin, Taubin and VX."

The terrorism expert noted that, "VX is the only kind of nerve gas where the chemicals could be safely mixed together in the field."

To quote John Hawkins, "this is worth keeping an eye on."

(Link via Right Wing News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal (UNSCAM) hits British media

Apr. 22 - The Oil for Food program scandal (UNSCAM) has been covered by several articles today in the Daily Telegraph (UK) as well as other media in Britain, Canada, and the U.S.

From the Telegraph, UN officials 'covered up Saddam theft of billions in aid for Iraqis':

Saddam Hussein diverted huge sums from the £60 billion United Nations oil-for-food programme for the poor and sick of pre-war Iraq to foreign governments and vocal supporters of his regime worldwide, the US Congress heard yesterday.

Senior UN, French and Russian officials were alleged to have connived at the scandal, said Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council inquiry into the affair.

He said some suppliers, mostly Russian, routinely sent out-of-date or unfit food, or sent fewer goods than were paid for and padded out contracts. In that way they created an excess that could be skimmed off by Iraqi officials.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having received bribes on the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the UN official in charge of the programme. Mr Sevan, who is on extended leave pending retirement, denied the claims.

Mr Hankes-Drielsma, a former leading executive at the London-based auditors Price Waterhouse, said that Saddam and his henchmen pocketed billions in surcharges and bribes.

The biggest humanitarian scheme in the UN's history had provided the dictator and "his corrupt and evil regime with a convenient vehicle through which he bought support internationally by bribing political parties, companies, journalists and other individuals of influence.

"The very fact that Saddam Hussein, the UN and certain members of the Security Council could conceal such a scam from the world should send shivers down every spine in this room today."

The Telegraph also has a scathing leader (editorial) Iraq has enough troubles without adding the U.N. which concludes:
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.

Another article, Saddam cronies grew rich on cash meant for the starving, points out the hypocrisy of those on the UNSC opposed to the war:

Yesterday, the United States Congress was told that Iraqi files indicated that some of the most vocal critics of sanctions were on the take from Saddam Hussein, benefiting from monies intended to buy food and medicine.

Such friends of Iraq were granted vouchers to buy and trade Iraqi oil, though such vouchers should have been reserved for oil firms with refineries. The vouchers allowed the bearers to make millions in profits.

One of those named in Iraqi files as having profited from the sale of oil is Benon Sevan, the top UN official in charge of the oil-for-food programme. Another is a former French ambassador to the UN, Jean-Bernard Merimee, according to Claude Hankes-Drielsma, who is leading the Iraqi Governing Council's inquiry into the issue.

He told a Congressional sub-committee that Iraq's suppliers routinely sent out of date, or unfit, food to Iraq, or sent fewer goods than were paid for, in order to "pad out" contracts so they could be "skimmed off" by Iraqi officials. Most of those suppliers were Russian companies.

Those involved have reason to fear, Congress was told.

The fall of Saddam uncovered a mountain of meticulous files in several Iraqi ministries, detailing every last aspect of the bribes and commissions extracted by those in Saddam's pay.

[...]

UN officials, for their part, have called for evidence of the claims being made, and hinted - off the record - that the investigations were being driven by the political animus of Ahmad Chalabi, a Pentagon favourite who is disliked and distrusted at the UN. But Mr Hankes-Drielsma told Congress that the UN had a clear case to answer, which ran to the very top.

"From the information available to date, it is clear that the UN failed in its responsibility to the Iraqi people in administering the oil-for-food programme during the period 1995 to 2003. It will not come as a surprise if the oil-for-food programme turns out to be one of the world's most disgraceful scams and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the United Nations aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression."

He added that it appeared to be no coincidence that the countries most involved in the corruption - Russia, France and Syria, to name just three - were among the fiercest opponents of toppling Saddam as they sat in the UN Security Council.

Then, in How the system was abused,
According to Al Mada, the Iraqi newspaper that listed the names of some of the individuals allegedly involved in the scam, French and Russian middlemen formed the largest group.

Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of cut-rate crude, some 1.4 billion barrels of which went to the Russian state, according to Iraqi documents leaked to the paper.

French oil traders gained 165 million barrels of cut-rate crude.

The scam worked on two levels. Not only did Iraqi oil purchasers benefit from being able to resell at huge profit but also Saddam distributed "oil vouchers" to corporations, political parties and individuals whom he favoured.

More, in French and Russian politicians 'bribed to relax UN sanctions':
Documents emerging from Baghdad appear to show how Russian and French politicians and businessmen were bribed by Saddam, using money skimmed off the oil-for-food programme. These claims have been denounced by many in France as American propaganda.

UN officials say their programme was audited more than 100 times, although it has never made public the detailed findings.

What is known is that France and Russia's financial interest in Iraq was heavily influenced by Saddam's failure to pay for billions of pounds of arms sold to him on credit during the late 1980s. Many of the weapons were then used to invade Kuwait.

France joined the Allied liberation of Kuwait at the last minute, but its government was left guaranteeing £3 billion in loans to Saddam which he had no intention of repaying.

France's relationship with Saddam dated back to the mid-1970s when Jacques Chirac, the then prime minister, visited Baghdad. Between 1974 and 1990, more than 20 French ministers from all the main parties travelled to Iraq to expand France's commercial interests, which ranged from construction to armaments and a nuclear reactor that the Israelis promptly bombed.

Iraq became France's second biggest oil supplier and France in turn became Iraq's second largest civil and military supplier.

Even when Iraq began to show signs of financial strain during its war with Iran, France helped out. In 1986, M Chirac promised French arms makers that it would guarantee any credit they extended to Saddam.

Even after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the US-led war to evict him the following year, the special relationship between France and Iraq continued.

In 1994, Charles Pasqua, the then interior minister, gave a visa to Saddam's right hand man, Tariq Aziz. France's UN ambassador lobbied for the easing of sanctions against Iraq. The fruit of this was Iraq's acceptance of the oil-for-food programme in 1995. A French bank, BNP Paribas, was chosen to do much of the financial administration.

Critics of the programme say it swiftly became a way for Saddam to reward his friends in the West and manipulate the UN.

[...]

In Russia, companies supplying goods and services to Iraq under the UN's oil-for-food programme enjoyed years of inflated contracts and preferential treatment with Iraq.

In return, Moscow used its clout as a permanent UN Security Council member to influence the sanctions programme in Iraq's favour.

Sweetheart deals between Moscow and Baghdad for products ranging from rice to refinery equipment continued right up to the moment American and British forces invaded Iraq last year. In 1997 Lukoil, one of Russia's leading oil firms, signed a deal for exploration and extraction in Iraq's western Qorna region, where reserves were estimated at 20 billion barrels.

In the summer of 2001 when London and Washington were pressing the UN to reduce the list of goods and services permitted under the programme, Russia threatened to use its Security Council veto unless the sanctions were left unchanged for a further five months.

Mohammed Salekh, Saddam's trade minister, said that as a reward, Russia received contracts worth £22 billion, almost 10 times more than it had received in the previous five years.

The Telegraph even links to the U.N. News Centre story of the independent panel that will probe the Oil-For-Food allegations. London NewsNet quotes panel head Paul Volcker on the aims of the panel here, and the London Times has an article (but I'm not a subscriber so I couldn't access it.)

The Toronto Star carries the story, U.N. backs probe of Oil-for-food scandal which makes it look as though Annan always wanted this investigation; the Toronto Sun has UNSC approval of the investigatory panel which has a bit more substance than the Star coverage but not by much.

CTV-Canada has a story about Muslims leaders urging a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq but I saw nothing about the probe.

The CBC - surprise - takes a very sharp tone in UN Security Council approves oil-for-food probe:

Russia and France wanted a discreet internal probe, thinking it was better to keep the corruption charges in-house at the UN rather than have outside investigators poking into the alleged links between Saddam, top UN staffers and Russian and French companies.

Resolution 1538, as it is officially known, may come to be remembered as the official lifting of the lid on a financial scandal that could ultimately dwarf even the worst excesses of Wall Street.

The UN oil-for-food program in Iraq was supposed to be a humanitarian effort. Profits from Iraqi oil sales were to be used exclusively to buy food and medicine for the people of Iraq.

But it seems billions of dollars may have gone missing.

CBS has a story about the independent investigation but hardly the extensive information ABC carried yesterday.

Glenn Reynolds has some links from yesterday as well as today's links to US papers on the scandal, including one that goes into politicians who received money from Samir Vincent and Shakir Alkhalaji who were on the list of those who allegedly received oil vouchers from Saddam.

Austin Bay has an article on The Myth of Oil for Food at Strategy Page.

Something I didn't have a chance to post yesterday is an article by Claudia Rosett in OpinionJournal - The Real World and some ideas how the U.N. could realistically help Iraq.

It seems the U.N. is holding approximately $100 million to cover potential liabilities from the Canal Hotel bombing last August that destroyed the U.N. HQ in Bagdad:

Given that the independent report last October on the U.N.'s security systems in Baghdad found the entire U.N. security apparatus "dysfunctional," and given that the dysfunction was so egregious that the U.N. recently fired the official in charge, it seems strange to reserve that $100 million to help the U.N. potentially cover the cost of its own grievous mistakes. That money was meant to help provide for the betterment of the 26 million citizens of Iraq, not insure the U.N. against its own malfunctions.

As it happens, Iraq-born architect Kanan Makiya was in New York recently seeking funds for the project of building a memorial and a holocaust museum in Baghdad, the better to help Iraq's people understand and come to grips with the atrocities of Saddam's regime. The project would include the cataloguing and preservation of millions of pages of documentation, and the presentation of evidence about the decades of abuse that took place, from which Iraq must still recover. Mr. Makiya is director of the Iraq Memory Foundation (www.iraqmemory.org), which is trying to assemble this project. His proposal states: "The Iraq Memory Foundation is not a project intended to apportion blame or play politics. First and foremost it is designed to allow future generations of Iraqis to glimpse the inner sanctum of the atrocities that were perpetrated during the period of Ba'athist rule from 1968 until 2003."

[...]

For this project, Mr. Makiya is seeking, ultimately, an endowment of some $40 million. That's less than half what is still sitting in the Secretariat's own Oil-for-Food account, and it is hard to imagine a more appropriate use of this money than to help Iraqis document, preserve and confront the full truth of Saddam's abuse. In the interest of fairness, the U.N. might also want to turn over a portion of the remaining $60 million or so for a memorial in northern Iraq, where Saddam used chemical weapons to murder thousands of Kurds, and another portion to southern Iraq, site of so many of Saddam's mass graves. It would be the philosophical beginning of restitution for U.N. collusion with Saddam, and of genuine re-legitimization for the U.N. in Iraq.

Pay a visit to the Iraq Memory Foundation and see what you think.

Dang. This post is long even for me.

Posted by Debbye at 08:41 AM | Comments (4)

April 21, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food Program website

Apr. 21 - I'm relieved to announce that a web site devoted to coverage of UNSCAM, or the U.N. Oil for Food Program/Scandal, is on the internet.

Good title: Friends of Saddam and the emblem at the top says it all.

The archives go back to Oct., 2002. I think I could probably spend a couple of days at this site. Unfortunately, I have to go to work (the one that pays me, that is.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:05 PM | Comments (1)

Saudi police targeted

Apr. 22 - The police in Saudi Arabia were also targeted today by a homicide bomber Saudi suicide bomb toll revised killing four and injuring 150.

The bomber attempted to drive an explosive-packed car into the Traffic Department building, which houses police offices, at around 2 p.m. local time, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.

He was stopped by officers about 30 meters from site and outside the old General Security building, where the bomber set off the explosion, the ministry said.

The dead include a civil servant, two security officers and an 11-year-old Syrian girl, Interior Ministry officials announced. Of the 148 injured, 45 remained hospitalized Wednesday night and three of those were in critical condition, the ministry said.

Television pictures from the scene showed the entire front of the building had been shattered. Burned-out and damaged cars littered the area.

A senior Interior Ministry official said that authorities, tipped off that six explosions had been planned, had found and defused five of the bombs.

Yesterday, police were tipped off and were able to defuse 2 truck bombs outside Riyadh.

Sherwin at Tonecluster has some thoughts as to why bin Laden is targeting Saudi Arabia which are worth considering (and yes, I think it likely that al Qaeda was behind the attacks in Saudia Arabia and possibly those today in Basra)

Consider the possibility that what he wants is to bring US forces back into the Kingdom to protect the royal Saudi heretics and to demonstrate to the rest of the Arab world his power and their weakness. He would split the US forces into defending two areas where his operatives have the advantage, and with Saudi Arabia he could damage the economies of the West.
There's been a lot of speculation as to why most of the Sept. 11 hi-jackers were Saudis, none of which were entirely satisfying, but we remember from the bin Laden Dinner Tape that he was extremely interested in what the people back home in Saudi Arabia thought of him and if they talked about him.

Posted by Debbye at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

Precision Guided Humour

Apr. 21 - This week's assignment from the Alliance of Free Blogs is about the The 9/11 Commission. We can either explain the commission or come up with suggestins to improve the ratings.

My suggestions include thongs, tassles and wardrobe malfunctions. Once you do that, explanations will be unnecessary.

19:28 Okay, it appears some explanation is necessary.

Two words: strip tease.

Posted by Debbye at 06:08 PM | Comments (1)

Iraq (updated)

Apr. 21 - Basra bombs kill at least 68 Iraqis

One car exploded in Az Zubayr and then, 30 minutes later as people gathered at the scene, a second suicide car bomb went off in the same location, police officer Hassan Kahlaf said. He said that the first bomber was dressed as a policeman.
18 children on their way to school are among the dead.

The rage such atrocities arouses is too immense for words. May the bullets of our soldiers find and target the bastards that plan these murders.

20:49 Alaa has a pointed response to the coverage by the Arabiya reporter on the scene. Read it. (End update)

A Dane who disappeared in Iraq April 11 has been found dead.

No information has been released about the man's identity or nature of his death. Did he, like Fabrizio Quattrocchi, show too much courage for his captors?

Another Canadian has been taken hostage. From the Canadian Office of Foreign Affairs:

A spokesperson for the department said Rifat Mohammed Rifat (sic) has been missing since April 8. Ottawa confirmed on Tuesday he is Canadian and has been kidnapped.

He is alive, the spokesperson said, but Ottawa doesn't know who kidnapped him or where he's being held.

Rifat, 41, was last seen leaving work at a prison west of Baghdad, where he was working for a Saudi company doing repairs.

His brother, Ali Rifat, reported him missing.

It's not clear his captors know he is Canadian.

Thanks to Nik for sending me the link. Nik comments in the email
"It's not clear his captors know he is Canadian." But it's pretty DAMNED CLEAR they don't give a f***. (Lightly edited by me.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

U.N. Oil for Food Program (updated)

Apr. 21 - The U.N. Oil for Food Program continues to break into the mainstream media: ABC News has a fairly extensive coverage in U.N. Officials Bribed by Saddam? and it is note worthy that the url contains the phrasing "investigation/oil/for_food_ripoff." Do they think people like me don't read the fine print?

ABC provides the conservative figure of $ 5 billion which is half of that estimated by the General Accounting Office but goes further on the suspects:

At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS. (Emphasis added.)
The one that is most clearly implicated in Benon Sevan.

20:26 Roger L. Simon and ABC place a lot more faith than I that the hand-written memo is the smoking gun that finally compromises Benon Sevan, maybe because I live in Canada and recognize how incredibly difficult it is going to be for Canadians to accept that their beloved child, the U.N., is corrupt.

This is the testimony given today before the House Committee on Government Reform's subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Affairs by MEMRI Senior Analyst Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli. I need to read it a few more times, I think, but there are some peculiarities in how the U.N. handled the initial rumours that are disturbing. (End update.)

Claudia Rosett, who has researched the program perhaps more than any other journalist, has a lengthy and detailed account of the program from its inception to the present at Commentary The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?. Read the whole thing. More than once.

Posted by Debbye at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

Being Too Canadian and Un-Canadian

Apr. 21 - Jim Elve recently learned that his site was too Canadian and told he would have to "cease and desist from what they contend is reproducing the Government of Canada's corporate signature, the Canada wordmark and the Common Look and Feel layout."

In an excellent display of solidarity, two Canadian bloggers have redesigned the look of their site to bring you the Government of PolSpy located in Canaduh.

However, with tabs like "Boondoggles" and "Song Parodies," they come much closer to the "Common Look and Feel layout" that many Canadians believe federal sites should have. Bring it on indeed.

But it seems there's just no pleasing the federal government. The undeclared federal election up here has produced a lot of undeclared federal campaigning and thus inevitable (albeit declared) name-calling and labelling.

One label is that the Conservative Party is Un-Canadian. That has always been implied by the Liberal Party, but to come right out and say it? So much for values as tolerance, diversity, and freedom which are Canadian and which the Liberal Party defends by being intolerant, undiverse and attacking the freedom to disagree with them.

In the USA, the issue of national defense has been attacked as paranoia-mongering by some Democrats and leftists and they continually defend themselves against unmade accusations of unpatriotism. Up here, the issue of Canadianism is defended by the Liberal party and some leftists with paranoia-mongering and they accuse the Oppostion of unpatriotism.

This strategy was unveiled by the Liberal Party campaign co-chair David Herle, and, as Jay posted here,

What's amazing about Herle is his ability to conclude that if you take issue with the Liberal agenda in Canada you are anti-Canadian.

Usually, when a political party sees its agenda and performance as synonymous with the nation it is well past time for that party to spend some time in Opposition. The last thing Martin needs is a senior party operator telling people that Canada and the Liberal Party are, well, the same thing.

Evidently, the Liberals plan to be the Committee on Un-Canadian Activies until election day.

Spin Killer interprets all this succinctly:

If you ask the Liberals a question they can't answer...you are a bigot redneck!

So what are Canadian values? Maybe these? Or how about these? Exactly how do the Opposition parties violate them?

Laurent wonders when waste, mismanagement, embezzlement, theft, fraud, lies, misrepresentations, corruption, cronyism and patronage became Canadian values.

Ouch.

Maybe the Liberals might consider hiring Occam's Carbuncle, who has come up with these campaign slogans (link via Let It Bleed.)

Normally I'd demand the Liberals campaign on the issues, but as a main issue is the Liberal Party itself, that could be a problem.

Interesting times.

Posted by Debbye at 02:24 PM | Comments (1)

Remembering the Chaplains

Apr. 21 - Letter from a chaplain serving in Iraq in "... the preachers weren't teaching the golden rule today.":

Second, I work to coordinate Good Friday, Easter Sunrise and Protestant Easter Service. Having services in a war zone is a little different.

A) we have to worry about getting large numbers of people in one place. One mortar round into the right place and you could kill alot of marines.

B) organists are in sort supply and we don't have an organ. Music?

C) We are going to worship and it will be well attended...we need Easter..because we live in the valley of the shadow of death..we need the resurrection.

Remember those who serve.

18:42 I really didn't do this justice, but those who followed the link and read the entire letter already understand why. It is powerful, possibly one of the most powerful accounts from Iraq I've read in a long time.

Posted by Debbye at 12:13 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Fallujah

Apr. 20 - From the Command Post, Marines go after the Backers of the Fallujan insurgents targeting the suppliers of weapons, money and recruits.

Not surprisingly,

The operations have focused on locales along the border with Syria and in small towns surrounding Fallujah that are part of a clandestine network of support for fighters locked in a bloody, two week standoff with Marines, the official said.
Taken from The Australian.

Posted by Debbye at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

Kerry on Meet the Press

Apr. 20 - Good summation of Sen. John Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday at Free Will. Aaron also has some well-placed comments for some of Kerry's more astonishing obfuscations.

Posted by Debbye at 06:26 PM | Comments (3)

British rails sabotaged

Apr. 20 - Speculation is unavoidable when an arrest on charges of sabotage involves high-speed trains - Cops quiz 'rail vandal':

POLICE are questioning a lad aged 15 over an apparent series of attempts to derail a high speed train, it emerged today.

It appears the youth was arrested after rail workers reported that obstacles had been placed on tracks near London’s Paddington Station.

Debris was discovered on the rails where First Great Western trains travel at speeds of up to 100mph.

One train smashed into 8ft of steel fencing, which it dragged along the track, ripping off early warning safety equipment used to alert trains to danger.

The attacks have all affected trains heading into the capital.

Superintendent Andy Ball, of the British Transport Police, said the damage caused to the trains was "fairly substantial".

"We are not just talking about vandalism, we are talking about premeditated damage with intent to harm human life," he said.

Mr Ball told how four pieces of troughing - used to cover cabling at the side of the track - had been dragged 5ft across both railway lines.

Each piece of troughing weighed 60lbs.

"There are serious safety fears that the train could have been derailed," he said.

There have been eight incidents over the past six weeks at Westbourne Park, west London, police said.

This may or may not be connected in some way with a recent incident in which obstructions were placed on German train tracks but it would seem that trains are becoming (or remain?) a target.

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

UK terror attack thwarted

Apr. 20 - From the Daily Telegraph (UK): Ten held in raids over 'Islamic plot' in Britain.

Ten people were arrested in dawn raids yesterday by anti-terrorist police alerted to an alleged Islamic extremists' plot to blow up civilians in Britain.

Security services are believed to have intercepted mobile telephone and e-mail messages that indicated the possible bombing of a large gathering.

Police arrested 9 men and 1 woman (6 men and a woman in Greater Manchester, 1 in Staffordshire, 1 in South Yorkshire and 1 in the West Midlands.) The suspects are believed to be North Africans and one Iraqi Kurd.
It is understood that officers from the Menwith Hill listening station in North Yorkshire, GCHQ in Gloucestershire and the United States National Security Agency spent weeks monitoring the movements of a number of suspects before the search warrants were executed.
Jay found the story first via Reuters in The Sun (UK), and the Sun unabashedly claims that a suicide-bombing attack was planned on Saturday's upcoming Manchester United-Liverpool match:
Intelligence chiefs believe al-Qaeda fanatics planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters. A source said: “The target was Old Trafford.”

The Islamic fanatics planned to sit all around the ground to cause maximum carnage.

They had already bought the tickets for various positions in the stadium, cops revealed last night.

But armed cops foiled the horrific plot - which could have killed thousands watching Manchester United’s home game against Liverpool on Saturday - in a series of dawn raids yesterday.

Yes, I know it's the Sun, but they do tend to be more aware of what concerns most of us have.

May 2 - 13:41: According to this report from Australia, the British paper the Observer says the grounds for a plot to set off explosives during a soccer match are groundless based on a statement by one of the lawyers for the defence. (End update)

Sheikh Mohammed bal Qadri, deputy director of a mosque in Upper Brook Street, said he did not believe any of his members were among those being held.

He added: “Since September 11 we have been very vigilant, as mosques should be.

“If I see a person who is new, I ask him why he is here and what he is doing and ask these kind of questions.

“We are against these evil acts. In the religion of Islam we have tolerance.” The raids follow revelations last week that police in Manchester had raised their terror alert level.

I doubt we'll ever know or fully appreciate the level of support and cooperation that anti-terrorism forces receive from Muslims in Britain, the US or Canada (or, in fact, anywhere,) but it's something to keep in mind before any of us blindly assume that there is no cooperation.

Posted by Debbye at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)

Go Steyn!

Apr. 20 - The title of this column by Mark Steyn says it all: Stop whimpering, we're in a battle.

Posted by Debbye at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2004

Spain Updated III

Apr. 19 - Bush Disappointed by Spanish PM's Decision on Iraq:

WASHINGTON — President Bush scolded Spain's new prime minister Monday for his swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq and told him to avoid actions that give "false comfort to terrorists or enemies of freedom in Iraq."
(CNN coverage here.) If I'm reading between the lines correctly, the Bush administration too reads the hastiness of the withdrawal as accepting bin Laden's offer of a truce.

John at Ibernian Notes thinks that Spain is #2 on the shit list.

Paul has news of the desecration of the grave of Francisco Javier Torrenteras, the Spanish agent in the National Police's Special Operations Group who was killed in the house explosion while trying to apprehend suspects in the March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 03:25 PM | Comments (5)

Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, France

Apr. 19 - There were persistent rumours throughout last winter that a spring offensive would be launched against Syria, possibly in Lebanon. Many bloggers, including me, backed off when we suddenly realized that the rumours were probably true.

One of the older rumours asserted that WMD were hidden in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. My oldest complains that we Americans communicate as much by what we don't say as by what we do say; for example, I interpreted the president's joke about searching his office for WMD as saying Yes, we are still looking for them. I also interpret the fact that the administration has not said that there were no WMD in Iraq as asserting that intelligence still believes that they were there and the rumours and spin around WMD are a smokescreen to confuse the enemy.

Saddam's WMD weren't central to my support of the Iraq War; removing Saddam and Iraq's geographical position were. Nevertheless, finding them is a priority. The fact that Jordan hasn't released specifics about the chemicals that were to be used in the thwarted attack is suggestive but inconclusive and highly frustrating. Is the lack of specificity to hide intelligence or to produce rumours? Take your pick.

Despite the certainty stated by King Abdullah of Jordan that Assad was not involved in the thwarted terrorist attack, the firefights on the Syrian border with Iraq are extremely suggestive: either Assad isn't doing anything to stop them or he is passing information to both the Jordanians and the US.

I think it more likely he is trying to do both, but my view is skewed by the fact that I don't trust him.

Apr. 22 11:30 Further speculation that this could be connected to Saddam's missing WMD.

Wretchard concludes

Indeed, it is virtually certain that Al-Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah and the road network from Baghdad constitute a single "front" centered on Syria, whose principal axis is the Euphrates itself. Operations in Fallujah cannot be understood without putting it in the context of the wider area.
Read the report on the front at al-Ramadi by Oliver North: Back in Iraq if you haven't already done so not only for a military analysis of what is happening there but also to restate what is a major strategy in Iraq: encouraging the people there to participate in their own nation building.

That practice is contrary to the politics of victimology. For all the modern psychobabble about "empowerment," our touchy-feely philosophers back away from actually allowing people true power over their lives. It's all very well to claim you feel my pain, but insulting when you're causing it.

The US media, with notable exceptions, continues bewail that the U.N. isn't going to take charge. The American people who follow the news, meanwhile, are watching the stymied independent U.N. investigation as well as the Senate investigation into the U.N. Oil for Food program and more questions about the viability of the UN are being raised.

[Aside: I noted that Glenn Reynolds has referred to it as UNScam.]

In the classic definition of conservative, those trying to preserve institutions and social attitudes despite their lack of relevance but strictly for preservation's sake are the conservatives. The U.N. is an excellent case in point, and the argument that it should be preserved "because we don't have anything better" is a classic conservative argument; a classic liberal response would be "let's build a better institution."

Do we need new definitions? Maybe liberal-conservative and conservative-liberals might fit the reality if not the emotional.

Sometimes I think the real war is between the Departments of State and Defense. Michael Ledeen has a brilliant essay in the Opinion Journal The Iranian Hand that notes revelations by the Italian intelligence agency

That the war being waged by Shiite militants throughout Iraq is not just a domestic "insurgency" has been documented by the Italian Military Intelligence Service (Sismi). In a report prepared before the current wave of violence, Sismi predicted "a simultaneous attack by Saddam loyalists" all over the country, along with a series of Shiite revolts.
The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).

[...]

The editor of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah recently wrote a front-page editorial saying that Hezbollah and Hamas were working with Sadr, "backed by the ruling religious fundamentalists in Tehran and the nationalist Baathists in Damascus." No classified information was required for that claim, since Sadr himself has publicly proclaimed that his militia is the fighting arm of both Hezbollah and Hamas. Nonetheless, the State Department still doesn't believe--or won't admit publicly--that there's a connection between Sadr's uprising and Iran's mullahs. Just last week, State's deputy spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters that "We've seen reports of Iranian involvement, collusion, provocation, coordination, etc., etc. But I think there's a dearth of hard facts to back these things up."

One wonders what Foggy Bottom's analysts make of Sadr's recent visit to Iran, when he met with Hashemi Rafsanjani (the No. 2 power in the regime), Murtadha Radha'i (head of intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards) and Brig. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (the al-Quds Army commander in charge of Iraqi affairs). And what might they say about the fact that much of Sadr's funding comes straight from Ayatollah al-Haeri, one of the closest allies of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?

Ledeen is being rhetorical. We know how Foggy Bottom thinks: maintain the illusion of friendship and cooperation whatever the cost, including lives.
Above all, they [the American people] want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy. Thus far, they have heard conflicting statements and mealy-mouthed half truths of the sort presented by Mr. Ereli, along with astonishing proclamations, such as the one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in which he averred that Iran is "a democracy." (One wonders whether he will liken Muqtada al-Sadr to Patrick Henry.)
Fortunately, we don't have to rely on the State Department for news out of Iran. Feminists in particular might take note of this story from The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran which recounts the rescue of a woman who was taken into custody for "non-Islamic comformity."

The details of the evidence which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Muqtada al-Sadr in the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei poses one glaring question: to what extent, if any, was Iran implicated in that murder? Al-Sadr has openly proclaimed his solidarity with Hezbollah and Hamas - based to the east and to the west of Iraq - and I think it more likely that his solidarity was a statement of fact rather than an attempt to form a coalition.

Mr. Armitage (and the State Department) might also read the open letter to Congress of March 11 before he pronounces Iran to be a democracy. As for Sen. Kerry's blunderous call to drop sanctions against Iran, he will probably try to flip-flop-flip on that too but certainly the pro-democracy forces in Iran won't be fooled.

I suspect that cleaning up State will be a post-election endeavour given Bush's victory, but the cost of allowing them to continue to set their own policies may turn out to be high indeed.

I include France in this because of a that French passports are missing: 10,000 in February (6,300 were stolen on Feb. 3 and 3,000 disappeared on Feb. 10.) The story also notes that

The Feb. 3 incident, the FBI said, also included the theft of 5,000 blank French driver's licenses, 10,000 blank car ownership certificates, 25 titres de voyages (Geneva Convention travel documents) and 1,000 international driver's licenses without any identification numbers.
There are reasons other than terrorist-related to steal passports, of course, and the number of French passports missing is minor compared to Canada's 25,000 annual rate.

Relationship to Iran? Possibly none, or possibly another dot to the French-built nuclear facility.

Aside: Stealth posting is a pain. I don't have the time necessary to paintakingly link everything from past events much less draw definitive conclusions from current events.

But I doubt I really need to connect things for most readers and do it more to clarify my own thoughts.

Disclaimer over. And I am so far behind in my (ahem) real work.

Posted by Debbye at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Methuselah's Daughter

Apr. 19 - Methuselah's Daughter has returned (note new url.)

I'm never sure to what category she belongs - lifetimes of experience? Anyway, I'm just happy to be able to read this gifted writer again.

Posted by Debbye at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

Australian PM slams Spanish retreat

Apr. 19 - Australian PM John Howard slams Spanish troops home

Prime Minister John Howard has attacked Spain's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq and brushed aside suggestions Australian troops might be sent to fill the gap.

Mr Howard told reporters at Traralgon in eastern Victoria that Spain had made a mistake.

"Spain's decision will give heart to those people who are trying to delay the emergence of a free and democratic Iraq," he said.

"Every time a country appears to be retreating from a difficult situation encouragement is given to those people who have created the difficulty."peMr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australians might replace Spanish troops.

"We have had no request to do so," he said.

[...]

"I am going to repeat the principle: we are not cutting and running, we are going to finish the job, we are going to do what Australians always do and that is to see things through."

Australia has 850 personnel in the Middle East with about 300 inside Iraq, providing security, air traffic control at Baghdad airport and training Iraqi military personnel.

Australia has been a true friend and staunch coalition partner.

Posted by Debbye at 02:41 AM | Comments (0)

Who knew about al Qaeda

Apr. 19 - Kenneth Timmerman writes in the Reader's Digest about what he knew about bin Laden and when he knew it (What We Knew...and Didn't Do.)

Even the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which had successfully prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, refused to discuss ties between convicted bomber Ramzi Yousef and bin Laden, although glimpses of those connections were clear to me as I pored through thousands of pages of trial transcripts and interviewed lawyers for the defendants.

Nor could the prosecutors explain the whereabouts of bin Laden deputy Ali Mohammad, a former U.S. Special Forces operator who testified during the trial that he had been bin Laden's personal bodyguard while he was living in the Sudan in the early 1990s. If this was an administration that made terrorism its top priority, nobody in the Department of Justice or the FBI seemed to know it. Mohammad finally surfaced again during the Africa bombing trial in 2000. In the interim, according to his guilty plea, he had been conspiring to murder U.S. citizens and destroy U.S. buildings and property around the world.

[...]

I also managed to locate and interview a key bin Laden operative named Tarik Hamdi, who appeared later with Mohammad in the Africa embassy conspiracy plot for having carried a satellite phone battery to bin Laden in Afghanistan that was used to plot terrorist acts. Hamdi and I had lunch together in a suburban Washington, D.C., Olive Tree restaurant, where he offered for a fee to introduce me to bin Laden's "fixers" in Peshawar. (I am left wondering why our federal government wasn't pursuing Hamdi and Mohammad more vigorously, instead of allowing them to operate openly in the United States.)

Janet Reno testified last week that she didn't brief John Ashcroft about al Qaeda because she was looking at the ruins of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

Oliver North wrote last year that Clinton's response to the first bombing of the WTC was to instruct Reno to investigate fundamentalist Christians. Those investigations led to Waco.

The problem with the Blame Game is that even those of us who don't really want to play eventually feel compelled to give some back.

Posted by Debbye at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)

UN Oil for Food Scandal (ongoing)

Apr. 19 - On one hand, there is continuous urging for the UN take take over running Iraq, and on the other there is the KMPG audit of the U.N. Oil for Food Program on behalf of the Iraqi Provisional Council.

It's still not being carried by a lot of the media, but more and more articles are finally popping up. Mortimer B. Zuckerman writes about it for USNews (The U.N. and the Iraq oil-for-food scandal (4/26/04)) and opens with the point that seems to have missed a lot of people:

The prospects of the United Nations taking over the transition in Iraq may now be fatally compromised... At least $10 billion, evidently, went into the pockets of political operators.

[...]

Coincidence. If you wondered why the French were so hostile to America's approach to Iraq and even opposed to ending the sanctions after the 1991 Gulf War, here's one possible explanation: French oil traders got 165 million barrels of Iraqi crude at cut-rate prices. The CEO of one French company, SOCO International, got vouchers for 36 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Was it just a coincidence that the man is a close political and financial supporter of President Jacques Chirac? Or that a former minister of the interior, Charles Pasqua, allegedly received 12 million barrels from Baghdad? Or that a former French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Bernard Merimee, received an allocation of 11 million barrels? Perhaps it was just happenstance, too, that a French bank with close ties to then French President François Mitterrand and one of the bank's big shareholders who is close to Saddam became the main conduit for the bulk of the $67 billion in proceeds from the oil-for-food program. All told, 42 French companies and individuals got a piece of this lucrative trade. No matter how cynical you may be, it's sometimes just plain hard to keep up with the French.

They don't spare Russia or Kofi Annan's signing off $20 million on Uday's Olympic sports city or the $50 million he signed off for television equipment.

The article concludes:

All of this would seem to raise a few questions about the intense opposition to the American intervention in Iraq within the U.N. Security Council, and particularly from Paris and Moscow. In one way or another, the U.N. stonewalled, until now, a serious independent investigation of the oil-for-food program. To his credit, Kofi Annan is now supporting such an investigation, but the Security Council has not approved it, and France and Russia--surprise!--are actively blocking it. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has agreed to head the inquiry, but only if it is blessed by a Security Council vote. Absent such a vote, there is still an awful lot of explaining to be done.

Will the investigation be whitewashed to preserve the U.N.'s reputation so that it can replace the CPA in Iraq, or will the investigation get to the bottom of this ugly mess? Fortunately, Congress is going to conduct its own hearings on the largest public financial scandal in history--and the disgraceful insiders' game played at the U.N.

The NY Times has coverage on the Russian objections to an independent investigation:

United Nations officials said Friday that Mr. Volcker, 76, had been selected for the panel along with Mark Pieth, 50, a Swiss law professor with expertise in investigating money laundering and economic crime, and Richard J. Goldstone, 65, a South African judge who was chief prosecutor for the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia.

But the nominations stalled Friday when Russia said it would not agree to a Security Council resolution that Mr. Volcker said he needed to give him the authority to conduct the wide-ranging inquiry that Mr. Annan was seeking.

"We understand the reputation of the Secretariat is in question, but we do not think it is possible to adopt a resolution on the basis of mass media reports," said Sergei Trepelkov, spokesman for the Russian mission.

Those reports, published first by an Iraqi newspaper in January and in the international press since then, listed companies and individuals as recipients of illegal allocations of oil. Forty-six were Russian, among them Vladimir Titorenko, a former Russian ambassador to Baghdad, and Nikolai Ryzhkov, a member of Parliament. In a statement at the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry denied any wrongdoing by Russians.

(Via Instapundit.)

16:37: More on Russian obstructionism in the U.N. on the independent panel here and a new article by Claudia Rosett up at the National Review Online titled Oil-for-Terror?

There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan.

These cases were reported in a carefully researched story published last June by Marc Perelman of the New York-based Forward, relying not only on interviews, but on corporate-registry documents and U.S. and U.N. terror-watch lists. It was an important dispatch but sank quickly from sight.

[...]

One link ran from a U.N.-approved buyer of Saddam's oil, Galp International Trading Corp., involved near the very start of the program, to a shell company called ASAT Trust in Liechtenstein, linked to a bank in the Bahamas, Bank Al Taqwa. Both ASAT Trust and Bank Al Taqwa were designated on the U.N.'s own terror-watch list, shortly after 9/11, as entities "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." This Liechtenstein trust and Bahamian bank were linked to two closely connected terrorist financiers, Youssef Nada and Idris Ahmed Nasreddin — both of whom were described in 2002 by Treasury as "part of an extensive financial network providing support to Al Qaeda and other terrorist related organizations," and both of whom appear on the U.N.'s list of individuals belonging to or affiliated with al Qaeda.

The other tie between Oil-for-Food and al Qaeda, noted by Perelman, ran through another of Saddam's handpicked, Oil-for-Food oil buyers, Swiss-based Delta Services — which bought oil from Saddam in 2000 and 2001, at the height of Saddam's scam for grafting money out of Oil-for-Food by way of under-priced oil contracts. Now shut down, Delta Services was a subsidiary of a Saudi Arabian firm, Delta Oil, which had close ties to the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's heyday in Afghanistan in the late 1990s. In discussions of graft via Oil-for-Food, it has been assumed that the windfall profits were largely kicked back to Saddam, or perhaps used to sway prominent politicians and buy commercial lobbying clout. But that begs further inquiry. There was every opportunity here for Saddam not solely to pocket the plunder, but to send it along to whomever he chose — once he had tapped into the appropriate networks.

Are there other terrorist links? Did Saddam actually send money for terrorist uses through those named by the Forward? Given the more than $100 billion that coursed through Oil-for-Food, it would seem a very good idea to at least try to find out. And while there has been great interest so far in the stunning sums of money involved in this fraud, there has been rather less focus on the potential terrorist connections. While Treasury has been ransacking the planet for Saddam's plunder, there is, as far as I have been able to discover, no investigation so far in motion, or even in the making, focused specifically on terrorist ties in those U.N. lists of Saddam's favored partners.

Of course there are records, right? Yes, but no one seems to know exactly where.

RTWT.

22:34: Russia has dropped objections to a UNSC motion endorsing the independent investigation. Paul Volcker will head the team

The two other panel members selected by Annan are former Yugoslav war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone of South Africa and Swiss criminal law professor Mark Pieth, who is an expert in money laundering for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Posted by Debbye at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

Rallies for peace in the streets

Apr. 18 - There were 2 peace rallies yesterday appealing for an end to the gun violence that has been plagueing Toronto of late.

The problem remains the same for too many of the cases: no witnesses willing to speak up.

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 AM | Comments (0)

Fadi Fadel on being a hostage

Apr. 18 - Fadi Fadel has spoken out about his time with his captors, who tried to torture him into confessing to being an Israeli, American and / or Spanish spy.

Fadel had been working for the International Rescue Committee in Iraq when he and another associate, Nabil Razouk, 30, an Arab from East Jerusalem, were kidnapped.

There has been no new information on Razouk.

Once his captors saw a photocopy of his Canadian passport, he was taken to the office of Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2004

Bill Graham's peace plan

Apr. 18 - According to this over at the Shotgun, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham's peace plan is to cut Israel in half.

On the bright side, it could give Paul material for tomorrow. Screeching Bill Graham is one of his favourites.

Posted by Debbye at 11:56 PM | Comments (0)

Thwarted attack in Jordan

Apr. 18 - There is growing evidence that the thwarted terror attack in Jordan was to have been a chemical attack according to a couple of links in this entry at The Command Post.

From the BBC link:

Earlier this week King Abdullah said a massive attack had been thwarted by a series of arrests, but named no target.

Now unnamed officials say the suspects have confessed to plotting to detonate a chemical bomb on the Amman HQ of the Intelligence Services.

The plot was reportedly hatched by al-Qaeda suspect Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.

[...]

An official involved in the inquiry in Jordan told AFP news agency: "We found primary materials to make a chemical bomb which, if it had exploded, would have made nearly 20,000 deaths ... in an area of one square kilometre.

"The target of this bomb was the headquarters of the Intelligence Services," situated on a hill in the western suburb of Amman, he added.

The official said another operation planned by the network was to use "deadly gas against the US embassy and the prime minister's office in Amman ... and other public buildings in Jordan".

According to this link, King Abdullah of Jordan told the SF Chronicle
Jordan's King Abdullah revealed on Saturday that vehicles reportedly containing chemical weapons and poison gas that were part of a deadly al-Qaida bomb plot came from Syria, the country named by U.S. weapons inspector David Kay last year as a likely repository for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
There have long been suspicions that WMD were shipped out of Iraq before the US invasion and sent to Syria and / or Lebanon:
In his testimony before Congress last year, weapons inspector Kay said U.S. satellite surveillance showed substantial vehicular traffic going from Iraq to Syria just prior to the U.S. attack on March 19, 2003.

While Kay said investigators couldn't be sure the cargo contained weapons of mass destruction, one of his top advisers described the evidence as "unquestionable."

"People below the Saddam-Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse," said James Clapper in comments reported by the New York Times on Oct. 29. Clapper heads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

The chemicals are not named, so any actual connection to Saddam's WMD are purely speculative. The terrorist camp (name? darned rotten memory) bombed by the US military in the early days of the war specialized in chemical training for al Qaeda operatives.

By the way, the article about the interview with King Abdullah in the San Francisco Chronicle (aka SFGate) is interesting reading. The bias is evident, but it does show the delicate postion of both Jordan and King Abdullah.

Posted by Debbye at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

New Hamas leader named secretly

Apr. 18 - I first thought Bob at Canadian Comment was joking: New Hamas Leader Named, Sort Of:

Hamas has secretly appointed a new leader for its rejectionist / terrorist group, but it turns out they aren't telling anyone who that person is though, jeez, I wonder why? With its last two leaders killed by the IAF within the last month, I guess Hamas actually wants to keep this guy in place for more than three weeks. Full story here.
Joke or no, I can't help laughing.

I had spoken too soon the other day when I referred to the lack of terrorist attacks in Israel since Yassin was killed, because an attempted incursion was stopped and a real human shield, an Israeli soldier, was killed.

Israel's answer was swift and uncompromising. Good bye Rantisi.

What is this morality that says its okay to kill nameless victims, but not the known persons who ordered those deaths?

Dana sees this as the PLO and Hamas getting the war they wanted.

Apr. 19 Tim Blair reports that the new leader of Hamas is Dr Mahmoud Zahar. (Drink alert in effect for the last line of the quote.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:00 PM | Comments (0)

Speedy Spain withdrawal from Iraq

Apr. 18 - Looks like Zapatero is taking bin Laden up on his offer of a truce (Spain plans quick pull out of Iraq.)

I don't know if he'll go all the way and withdraw from Afghanistan, though. Does bin Laden do compromise?

Posted by Debbye at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Canadian connection to March 11 attackers?

Apr. 18 - The Globe and Mail reports that, according to a Moroccan press report, a Montrealer is a member of a sleeper cell of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group which conducted a terrorist attack by placing bombs on trains in Madrid March 11.

A Moroccan extremist faction suspected of carrying out the March 11 bombings in Madrid had a sleeper cell in Montreal and Ottawa, according to a Moroccan press report.

The newspaper also claimed that Adil Charkaoui, the Montrealer held on a security certificate and alleged by authorities to be an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, is one of two members of the Canadian cell of that extremist group.

Yesterday's edition of Aujourd'hui Le Maroc said the information was given to investigators by Nouredine Nfia, an imprisoned leader of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.

Mr. Charkaoui, the newspaper said, was in charge of logistics, sent a laptop computer to the group, and twice wired $2,000 (U.S.) to it.

The other Canadian sleeper agent was a 28-year-old Ottawa resident who was identified only as "Abdeslam the Canadian," it said.

The article notes that Nfia may have made these assertions under torture.

(I have no memory of where I came to find this link. My apologies if I lifted it from someone without credit.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

The Charges against Muqtada al-Sadr

Apr. 18 - This from the Command Post: Extent of Al Sadr's Criminal Activities Revealed which covers this article in The Australian which lays out the legal charges against al-Sadr and the grounds for the arrest warrant for the murder of Abdul Majeed al-Khoei over a year ago

Prosecutors had announced that Sadr was charged with the murder last year of rival cleric Abdul Majeed al-Khoei, the alleged theft of religious funds from several mosques, and the murder by his guards of an Iraqi family.

But Sadr has also been charged with ordering several other murders, setting up illegal courts and prisons, inciting his followers to violence, and other breaches of the Iraqi penal code.

The barrage of charges and evidence amassed by Juhy, a Najaf-based judge, means that even if Sadr can distance himself from the killing of Khoei, he will still face serious problems in court.

The Daily Telegraph (UK) picks up the story with an interview with one of the witnesses to Khoei's murder, Ma'ad Fayad.

The failure of the Shiite majority to support al-Sadr seeminly surprised him, but perhaps he failed to take into account that Iraqis would see the Mahdi Army as Saddammites under another name.

The destruction by religious extremists of an entire community gives a foretaste of life in Iraq if the hardline cleric takes control, writes Philip Sherwell in Najaf.
I wish to note that the story carries no byline, including that of Philip Sherwell.
On the dust-blown plains of central Iraq, Qawliya had long held a notorious reputation as a haven for prostitution, drug dealers and gun runners - until the village was reduced to rubble and its population driven from their homes.
Not the nicest place in the world, granted.
The attack that destroyed Qawliya was launched by the Mahdi Army militiamen of Moqtada al-Sadr, the young clerical firebrand who has become the voice of anti-American discontent for many of the country's Shia Muslim majority.

It was this brutal display of Mahdi Army muscle last month - combined with the increasing power wielded by its Islamic sharia law courts - that finally persuaded Paul Bremer, chief US administrator of coalition forces, to declare al-Sadr an outlaw, The Telegraph has been told.

Yahya Shubari, the young commander of the Mahdi Army in the nearby city of Diwaniya, said last week: "I sent a group of my men to Qawliya because a young girl had been abducted by pimps and we wanted to rescue her. But they were fired at by the villagers and one was martyred. So we went back later in larger numbers and with local tribesmen to confront them."

Others claim that the Mahdi Army had simply decided to make an example out of Qawliya. Whichever version is correct, the village is now a wasteland after an attack that lasted several hours. Some of its estimated population of 1,500 were killed; most fled to other cities, abandoning their homes to looters.

Both sides exchanged gunfire before the militiamen apparently used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades in their onslaught. However, they deny local reports that they used a bulldozer to flatten houses.

Shubari claimed: "In Diwaniya, the Mahdi Army is restoring peace and order. We have sharia courts, they are run by judges sent from Najaf and we impose 80 lashes for stealing and drinking alcohol. The punishments are carried out by court police."

[...]

So much for democracy, whisky, sexy.
Nonetheless, senior coalition officials privately acknowledge that they have been taken aback by the scale and organisation of the uprising launched by the militant cleric in several southern and central cities.

The Telegraph has also learnt that US intelligence warned Mr Bremer not to move against al-Sadr without a back-up military plan - but that he bowed to pressure for quick action from hawks in the Pentagon led by Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence.

I disagree with that assessment. We had the means and manpower (due to British and US troop rotations) and attacked on two fronts (like that's never happened before!) That was the back-up military plan the writers for the Telegraph can't see due to their attitude toward Paul Wolfowitz. Too bad they couldn't maintain their professionalism for it's a fairly decent article otherwise.
In a disturbing echo of the era of Saddam Hussein, local residents appear cowed as they publicly praise their new leader - a man whose father and brothers were murdered by the former dictator. "We are all volunteers in the Mahdi Army now," said an Iraqi policeman. "At my police station, the policemen and the Mahdi Army stand side by side. Of course I will fight the Americans if they come here."

However, the refrain is different in private. "Al-Sadr is a thief who steals from pilgrims and he is a murderer," said a member of a prominent Najaf family. "His people will kill anyone who speaks out against him."

In one of the few stores still open there is a pro-Sadr tract for sale entitled A Muslim Woman's Education. It forbids women to dance, even with their husbands, and says young girls should not learn nursery rhymes as they must not sing.

It is the type of Islamic zealotry which the Mahdi Army brought to Qawliya, and which al-Sadr hopes to enforce across more of Iraq if coalition forces leave the country.

Apr. 19 09:03: I'm wrong, it's a 3-prong attack. There's been skirmishes on the Syrian border since Apr. 13 leading to the attacks over the weekend More here. Wretchard also notes that the closure of the western highways out of Baghdad cut off Qaim.

Oh, and just for the record, Blair says violence in Iraq will get worse before the June 30 handover

Tony Blair will tell MPs tomorrow that Britain should be prepared for worse violence in Iraq in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister believes that British and American troops must brace themselves for "acts of desperation" by anti-Coalition rebels as the June 30 deadline for the handover of sovereignty in Iraq draws closer, senior advisers to Mr Blair said yesterday.

So please, let's have no wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media at every bump and roadblock on the track. The only ones who thought this would be a cakewalk were your expert commentators (after they stopped predicting millions of civilians being killed and thousands of soldiers dying in street-to-street battles of Stalingrad Baghdad.)

Take a real history class. Feel lucky, and thank God that the losses have been fewer than even moderate predictions.

Grieve for every loss. An irreplaceable soul has been lost, but we have good, well-trained soldiers who are doing their mightiest to achieve victory.

And they have great taste in music (drink warning in effect for the last line in the post.)

Posted by Debbye at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

The usual Sunday stuff

Apr. 18 - It's Sunday, I have to go to work, blah blah blah.

There are so many good web logs out there these days it's hard to pick any, but I'll stick with the Methodology of Randomness:

Winds of Change is always worth reading. They connect events and dots (and I'm not just saying that because they occasionally link to me ...)

Ambient Irony lives up to the name. Amazing posts, and never dull.

Murdoc looks at the war and homefront with analytical posts that help make sense of where we're going.

Andrew Coyne is still heroically navigating the complexity of Adscam and now Svend Robinson. My compass went nuts as we approached the North Pole, and I knew Robinson was nuts a long time ago, but Coyne analyzes it all as a real columnists should.

That was a clumsy segue to Let It Bleed. It's Sunday, and you know what that means.

Jay Currie continues to make sense and reins us all in when emotions run high.

Check out Shotgun for the meeting of minds of Canadian bloggers. I received and accepted an invitation to join, and would say more but I'm embarassed by such things and need much time and massive re-editing for that post.

Command Post is faster than CNN with news.

Although I haven't mentioned the American hostages currently held in Iraq I do think of them. I think most of us recognize that we must remain stoic and those of us old enough to remember the hostages-taking in Tehran probably have a harsher view of this than others.

I prefer to say less than more on this because of the torture being inflicted on their families, but Fabrizio Quattrocchi has set the example for us all. God forgive his murderers because I won't.

But it's Sunday, and I try to wrestle with my own demons however hard may be.

Yeah, there's a thunderstorm outside. At least it isn't snowing!

Go Leafs! and hurrah for the Montreal fans last night! A lot of cliches about people of good will spring to mind, but I'll let each of you supply your own.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2004

March 11 Update

Apr. 17 - A Bosnian, Sanel Sjekirika, wanted in connection with the March 11 terrorist attack in Spain has returned from Sweden and surrendered to Spanish police (Bosnian surrenders to Spain police).

Sjekirika was wanted by Spanish authorities on suspicion of financing Islamic terrorist activities.

In their investigation of Sjekirika, police discovered he had known a Tunisian man [Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet]
suspected of coordinating the March 11 attacks on Madrid commuter trains that killed 190 people, the spokesman said.

[...]

The National Court has charged 18 people in the bombings, 14 of them Moroccans. The others charged are a Syrian, a Spaniard and two natives of India. Some of the 18 have been charged with mass murder in the deaths, while others face lesser charges of collaborating with a terrorist group.

Three more suspects were arrested Friday in the Madrid area. They are described as being from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco.

Posted by Debbye at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Gorelick urged to step down II

Apr. 17 - Jonah Goldberg nailed much of the US media on CNN yesterday for not paying attention to the conflict of interest of Jamie Gorelick's membership on the Sept. 11 Commission given her construction of the wall that prevented intelligence and criminal divisions from sharing information as well as her connection to anti-terrorism efforts under the Clinton administration.

Linda Chavez Misplaced priorities . . . with walls keep the pressure on.

There were probably still people who believe that the commission is not an exercise of partisanship, but I fail to see how they can maintain that position after Ashcroft's testimony.

Those who wanted a blame game got it. Now what will they do?

21:43: Jamie Gorelick's conflict of interest is much more than reported thus far. Among other things, she is a partner in the lawfirm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering which is representing Prince Mohammed al-Faisal al-Saud who is connected to a financial agency which is being sued by Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism, which is a coaltion of 600 Sept. 11 families. Link from Alpha Patriot, who lists more conflicts here.

Posted by Debbye at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

Convinctions under Patriot Act

Apr. 17 - I've opined before that everyone rushing to claim persecution whenever someone is arrested has an inherent danger.

Tracking down and stopping terrorists is a priority. Period.

I'm happy to applaud successes, as in this one which Terence P. Jeffrey writes about in the Washington Times commentary Two who didn't get away.

But, and it's a major one, when the automatic response for every arrest is to scream "fascist totalitarian pigs" then those who should be at the forefront of making sure that innocent people are not victimized have reduced their credibility and when an innocent person is indeed victimized - and the odds are that will happen and, in fact, appears to have happened in the case of a chaplain stationed at Guantanamo - then we will have been so pre-conditioned by the hysteria of those groups that we could fail to pay proper attention when necessary.

We all know the fable of the little boy who cried Wolf!

Groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International have a responsibility, and if they won't be responsible they must be replaced by more sober people who are more interested in justice than political opportunism.

Knee-jerk reactions in war time is unacceptable.

Posted by Debbye at 09:56 AM | Comments (8)

Toronto Affairs

Apr. 17 - The Toronto City Council has 44 councillors, and its size has been the source of many arguements since amalgamation (Size matters on city council.)

Why did we amalgamate again? Oh right, to reduce duplication in services and save money by reducing the numbers of civic workers and thus reducing the tax load on residents and the need for payments from the province.

The words "dismal failure" spring to mind.

Posted by Debbye at 09:35 AM | Comments (2)

Profiling Joe Katzman

Apr. 17 - Noted blogger Joe Kaztman of the Winds of Change (which I assume is on everyone's list for daily must-reads) was interviewed by Norman Geras of Normblog.

Joe is a Torontonian, which everyone probably already knows, but he also likes two of my favourite authors: Tokien and Bronowski. I'm particularly gratified as it's been a long time since anyone has mentioned the latter, who argued that the imagination is absolutely required in science.

Posted by Debbye at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

Thwarted terror attacks

Apr. 17 - Terror attacks have been thwarted in Saudi Arabia and (oldish news) Jordan.

In Saudi Arabia, the police found and seized a white GMC Suburban that they have been looking for since February. It was filled with explosives. It is not known if there were any arrests when the vehicle was seized.

In Jordan, three trucks were intercepted:

Jordanian security last week intercepted three trucks, believed to be traveling from the northern border with Syria, that were packed with explosives intended for government buildings, the U.S. Embassy and a number of hotels.

Authorities arrested a number of people over a period of nearly 10 days. Jordanian security agencies had been on high alert following the arrest of two alleged terrorists on April 1.

In a letter to Gen. Saad Khair, the head of Jordan's intelligence department, King Abdullah said the scheme was unprecedented in terms of the quantity of explosives, the means of the attack and the targets. (Emphasis added)

One of the suspected targets was the US Embassy in Amman.

Posted by Debbye at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

Bush and Blair meeting

Apr. 17 - No one should be surprised that British PM Blair is in accordance with the president's support of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and portions of the West Bank; what would have been a surprise would have been if the president had not discussed this with the prime minister before the announcement was made. That's just common sense, but few expect that in the news media any more.

To the story: Bush, Blair endorse Israel's land claims:

"Look, what have people been asking for years?" he added. "They've been asking for the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied territories."
Both leaders sensibly refused to comment on some comments of Israeli PM Sharon's until they saw the context.

Sharon reportedly said that the plan would bring an end to the dreams of Palestinians.

As the avowed aim of a great many Palestinian groups is the annhilation of Israel, I can't help wondering if that's the dream Sharon was referring to, but I too haven't seen the context of the comments.

In Gaza City, thousands of Palestinians are reported to have marched demanding the release of prisoners being held in Israel:

In Gaza City, parents carried pictures of their imprisoned sons and daughters. Actors dressed as Israeli soldiers beat shackled and blindfolded Palestinian "prisoners," using the back of a truck draped with barbed wire as their stage.

Leaders of the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened to kidnap Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips in future prisoner swaps with Israel - a tactic successfully used by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

There have been no successfuly terrorist attacks in Israel since Yassin was killed.

09:04 - CNN has a summation of the Israeli disengagement plan.

Posted by Debbye at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2004

Chirac's Oil Deals with Saddam

Apr. 16 - From Front Page Magazine, Jamie Glazov interviews Kenneth Timmerman (FrontPage magazine.com :: Chirac's War for Oil by Jamie Glazov) which details the deal Saddam had with CFP Total and Elf Aquitaine (since merged as TotalFinaElf) before the war for exploration and development of two oil fields.

The deals were very lucrative for the French, so much so that Timmerman concludes that, as the projects could not begin until the sanctions were lifted, then the lifting of the sanctions must have been the pay-off for Saddam.

There are also some surprising revelations about how Chirac's party does fund-raising.

Posted by Debbye at 11:14 PM | Comments (1)

Courage of an Italian

Apr. 16 -

The Italian hostage executed in Iraq tried to tear off his hood seconds before he was shot dead and screamed: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies."
I've been trying to find words for the bravery and defiance of Fabrizio Quattrocchi but I can only stare.

Fabrizio Quattrocchi was 36 years old. He was a former baker. He was forced to dig his own grave.

Fabrizio Quattrocchi, in his final act, denied victory to his murderers. He won.

They taped his murder for use as propaganda so they could gloatingly use it to torture the families and nations of those who have been kidnapped and he ruined it for them.

It's a Flight 93 moment, one of those times when ordinary people become extraordinary and decide that their deaths will. not. be. used to terrorize, intimidate and kill others.

How, after being held blindfolded for countless days, does someone keep that spark - the love of freedom and one's own personal dignity - ready to break free in an act that inspires the world?

(Al Jazeera refused to air the killing because it was too bloody, or so they claim. Right.)

Thanks to Ghost of a Flea for the link.

Apr. 17: Ghost of a Flea made his own tribute, as have Chaos Overlord, Alpha Patriot and Conservative Teen Angst.

Apr. 20 I missed this in the New York Post:

The Italian troops risking their lives in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led Coalition have fought with great skill and courage, and are a credit to the Italian nation, but even their valor pales before the bravery of Fabrizio Quattrocchi.

Apr. 28 12:42: James S. Robbins pays tribute in Moments of Truth.

Posted by Debbye at 07:08 PM | Comments (13)

Canada. vs. Bloggers II

Apr. 16 - The Canadian government doesn't like to be parodied, and has taken on blogger Jim Elve of BlogsCanada:

Last Thursday, there was a knock on my door and a friendly fellow from Canada Post had a registered letter for me. The letter was from a lawyer with the Department of Justice (DoJ) acting for the Treasury Board.

The Government of Canada has requested that I cease and desist from what they contend is reproducing the Government of Canada's corporate signature, the Canada wordmark and the Common Look and Feel layout.

Surprisingly, the letter was sent from Ottawa, dated April 8 and it arrived here on the morning of April 8. Ottawa is over 400km away. Canada Post can be fast.

Read the whole thing; Jim adamantly denied he copied anything, and points out
If I were to take a $100 million cheque into my bank and the signature read, "Definitely NOT Reg Alcock," I'm fairly certain the bank would know right away that the cheque did not bear the signature of the Treasury Board president Reg Alcock.
At first glance, it does resemble official Canadian websites, but only at first glance. For one thing, it says very clearly "Definitely NOT the Goverment of Canada." For another, it gets right down to business without the obligatory introduction page, Mission Statement, language selection, and all the other fun pages you impatiently click through to get the information you seek. Most importantly, it is not written in bureaucratese.

As I said, clearly not a government site.

It would have been more to the Treasury Board's credit had they asked for some pointers on how to construct a web site that actually greets and meets the visitor's needs instead of the pissy approach.

Jim speculates that the high volume of traffic he's had over Adscam may have triggered the letter, and although it sounds paranoid, I'm actually inclined to believe him because there is a precedent.

Last December, bullying tactics were used in an attempt to shut down the parody site Paul Martin Time which was first reported by Boing Boing here (see posts and media coverage on the threatened lawsuit here.)

The creators of Paul Martin Time made some changes to the website's appearance, but that was not what Mr. Martin's representatives really wanted: they want the web site gone altogether.

The Treasury Board would do well to back off. The web logging community has some experience in acting in unison (for example, publicizing and championing Iranian bloggers when their government caught and arrested them) and however much it may appear that we are divided by a great political chasm, we do understand the right of free speech sufficiently to know that we must stand by and defend one another against censorship and harassment.

Taking on the one site that lists all bloggers in Canada may simply be a supremely stupid move, but if they are actually serious and try to regulate the appearance of web logs, the alarm bells will go off everywhere.

Please visit Jim's site and read his post on this battle. Your freedom may depend on it.

Hmm, Jim reports something odd in this post.

Posted by Debbye at 03:49 PM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2004

Off today

Sorry about the no posting - I've been feeling ill all day, nothing specific just yucky. It wasn't so bad I couldn't work, but I fell asleep as soon as I got home and think I'll head back to bed.

Last night's hockey game ended on a very down note. Last I heard, it wasn't known if Mats Sundin would be playing, but they reported he was able to walk out of the arena. The less I say about the referees, the better.

Rumour has it that Boston fans cheered the Canadian national anthem. That'll show certain fans in Montreal the meaning of class.

Before I go, a good one from Ith: some Allah photo shop moments.

Posted by Debbye at 10:34 PM | Comments (4)

U.N. Oil for Food Program

Apr. 15 - Insight Magazine on the U.N. Oil for Food Program investigations


(Linked from the Professor to Transterresrial Musings post Oil for Palaces and East Side Condos.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2004

Keeping Iran to the fore

Apr. 14 - A couple of days ago, Roger Simon wrote an impassioned post on the need to remember the dangers Iran poses to every country and the need to keep to the fore the struggle by Iranians against their mullocracies in It's Iran, Stupid! - A Message to the Blogosphere.

Yesterday, Roger linked to an essay by an Iranian, Dariush Shirazi, here which, among other things, questions why the world is so reluctant to support the efforts for democracy in Iraq.

On April 11, he also noted here the ties of Iran to the insurgents in Iraq and a NY Post editorial Iran, Hezbollah aid Crazed Cleric.

I'm bring this out of draft mode now because of a new post up on Roger's site about an uprising outside Tehran.

The Student Movement Coordintion Committee for Democracy in Iran has an entry on their page dated yesterday about it here.

More later.

Posted by Debbye at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

U.N. Oil for Food Program

Apr. 14 - More information on the use of oil vouchers to circumvent the U.N. Oil for Food scandal, this time from Ireland.

Look at this post, which says that a man who was active to end UN sanctions against Iraq, Denis Halliday, went on to become chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration team. [Correction: Denis Halliday was a member of a PR firm who was retained for the anti-sanctions campaign; former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds became chairman of Bula Resources. The link to the original post is here.]

The former special adviser to former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson introduces the Iraqi chairman of a pressure group dedicated to the lifting of UN sanctions to the head of a reputable Irish PR firm. The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner hires the PR firm to seek to influence several high-profile Irish politicians to support the campaign to lift sanctions for an estimated €80,000.

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner's website features quotes from former UN Assistant Secretary General in charge of the Oil for Food program Denis Halliday., After quitting his job in 1998, this proud Irishman has been able to travel the world to campaign against sanctions and the US military use of Shannon airport.

As part of the anti-sanctions PR campaign, several Irish politicians, including former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds, visited Iraq in 1998.

After Mr Reynolds' visit, he made pleas for ending sanctions. Then he became chairman of Bula Resources, an Irish oil exploration firm.

The PR firm's fees for the anti-sanctions campaign were paid by Bula Resources.

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner was listed by the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada as receiving 11,000,000 barrels in oil "allocations" (worth up to $3,300,000 according to the Financial Times estimates).

The Iraqi anti-sanctions campaigner "insisted that the Irish exploration company Bula Resources and its former chairman Albert Reynolds were always aware that he was selling oil on behalf of Saddam Hussein's government."

The link to the MEMRI inquiry on the oil vouchers is here and when we look under Ireland, there are two names:

1. Riyadh Al-Taher - 11 million
2. Afro-Eastern - 2 million

"His account conflicts with the version of events offered by the former taoiseach, who said he was never aware that el Taher was working on behalf of the former Iraqi dictator's government."

Bula Resources is now in liquidation by the High Court and its 43,000 shareholders are most worried about recouping a €1.5 million deposit paid by the company as part of a deal involving an entity in Bahrain.

The company is also being investigated by officials from the [Irish] Office of the Director of Company Enforcement (ODCE).

Meanwhile, the second "Irish" company on the al-Mada list is "Afro-Eastern", a defunct company located in the village that was the headquarters of another company involved in a long running scandal about the Irish-Iraqi beef trade. Afro-Eastern was once headed by a Coptic couple who seem to have disappeared.

It gets better. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 06:21 PM | Comments (4)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 14 - The transcript of George Tenet's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission hering of this morning is up courtesy of the Washington Post web site here.

FBI Director Mueller is now on, and I'll add the link for the transcript when it becomes available.

17:00: Further questions about Jamie Gorelick's failure to disclose her conflict of interest at Instapundit: More Gorelick Developments, Mitch Berg and several updates to his post yesterday here.

Is there a main server down somewhere? I'm having trouble linking to a lot of sites.

Posted by Debbye at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

President Bush's Press conference

Apr. 14 - The transcript of last night's press conference is available at ABCNEWS.com : Transcript: Bush News Conference Q & A.

Posted by Debbye at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

Documentaries as Swing Votes

Apr. 14 - Sometimes I wonder if people actually understand the function of propaganda or even recognize it when they see it.

It seems a lot of people in Hollywood do: Liberals putting politics on film:

Meanwhile, the trend among some filmmakers to peddle their agendas and slam political opponents has become so pronounced that an industry name has emerged for it: "Documentaries as Swing Vote," according to a symposium at an independent film festival in North Carolina last week, which featured Mr. Moore, actor Harry Shearer and others.
Mr. Moore intends to release a documentary called "Fahrenheit 9/11" — subtitled "The Temperature When Freedom Burns" — to theaters this fall, said "to contain explosive info about Bush," according to this week's Variety.
(Via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 05:10 AM | Comments (3)

Spain Updated II

Apr. 14 - Paul reports on a tape that was recovered when the 5 terrorists blew themselves up late March rather than face justice and which the Spanish authorities have rebuilt in Madrid Update. No surprise it threatens further bloodshed until Spain withdraws troops from all Muslim bases, but their colourful language and defiant assertion that civilians are legitimate targets is breathtaking.

I wonder if they include Andalusia as a Muslim base? Bin Laden certainly does.

By the way, the last line in Paul's post should have a drink warning.

Posted by Debbye at 04:16 AM | Comments (2)

April 13, 2004

U.N. Oil for Food Program

Apr. 14 - More Oil for Food Program questions, these involving the money given to Scott Ritter for his movie Shifting Sands.

According to the Financial Times, the money for the movie came from Shakir Khafaji who admits the money came from oil vouchers from Saddam:

A Detroit-based businessman of Iraqi origin who financed a film by Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, has admitted for the first time being awarded oil allocations during the UN oil-for-food programme.

Shakir Khafaji, who had close contacts with Saddam Hussein's regime, made $400,000 available for Mr Ritter to make In Shifting Sands, a film in which the ex-inspector claimed Iraq had been "defanged" after a decade of UN weapons inspections.

[...]

Mr Khafaji says there was no connection between the oil allocations, which he says he sold on behalf of his "family", and his relationship with Mr Ritter, an ex-Marine who shifted from being one Saddam Hussein's toughest critics on weapons of mass destruction to being an opponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

In an interview with the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, Mr Khafaji admitted that he sold allocations to Italtech, a Tuscany-based company, which resold the oil to a Houston-based oil trading company called Bayoil, or its subsidiaries. But he says he never told Mr Ritter about his receipt of the oil allocations.

It's good to see that people are still pursuing the truth about the oil voucher program and, by extension, the U.N. Oil for Food Program scandal.

Posted by Debbye at 11:22 PM | Comments (3)

Transcript of Sept. 11 hearings

Apr. 13 - The Washington Post has the transcript of today's session of the Sept. 11 Commission online Transcript: 9/11 Commission Hearing.

Enjoy and good night.

Posted by Debbye at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Petition to eject Khadrs from Canada

Apr. 13 - An online petition here has been mounted to force two members of the Khadr family to leave Canada. The reaction has been a lot of traffic to the website, threats against the woman who began the petition, Donna Campbell, and even someone turning Canada in to the FBI for harbouring known terrorists.

Abdul Karim Khadr was released last January by Pakistan authorities after being shot in the spine during a shootout with al Qaeda forces and the Pakistan army last October. He is in need of medical care and has returned to Canada to receive it.

He doesn't qualify for OHIP (free health care) until he has been in the country for 3 months, although the Canadian government has not confirmed that to be the case.

His wounds were sustained during hostile actions against a friendly nation (Pres. Musharref was in Canada only a few months ago and addressed the Parliament) and too I don't know if OHIP would cover injuries sustained from such activity.

The reaction by the Oppostion was predictable, but not the widespread sentiment about the return.

It may be due in part to the fact that the Khadr family (brief history here, much more detailed history here) has taken advantage of Canadian openness on far too many occasions. The country was shocked when one of the sons, Abdurahman Khadr, returned to Canada after his release from Guantanamo and admitted that, despite their protestations of innocence, the Khadr's had in fact been activer supporters of al Qaeda, knew Osama bin Laden, and even stayed at his residence.

A great many Canadians had believed they were innocent, so it's not hard to imagine how they felt when they learned they had been played for fools.

Except for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, of course. He expressed his views today:

Until Ottawa says otherwise, McGuinty said Canadian citizens Maha Elsamnah, her 14-year-old son Karim and his brother Abdurahman Khadr, 21, are as entitled as anyone else in Ontario to receive health-care coverage or apply for social assistance benefits.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham also spoke up:
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Tuesday in Toronto that the Khadrs have rights as citizens.

"The thing about Canada is that we live in a society of law - we have to deal with terrorism, we have to deal with many problems."

"There is a man out west accused of serial murder that they're investigating but the investigation and the trial will be conducted within the Canadian legal framework and within the Charter (of Rights). The Khadr's have citizenship and they're entitled to that."

There you have it: it's a law enforcement issue.

Posted by Debbye at 10:57 PM | Comments (9)

Fadi Fadel

Apr. 13 - False Story Delays Release? Fadi Fadel, a Canadian held hostage by unknown forces in Iraq, has been reported on Arab television to be an Israeli agent.

"(The tape) shows him giving a different name and saying he's Israeli and this is what we've been trying to correct," [Fadi's brother Ghayas] Fadel said in an interview from his home near Montreal.
The Canadian ambassador to Jordan, John Holmes, held a televised news conference in Amman today to confirm Fadi's identity.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Update on Mahboob Khawaja

Apr. 13 - Canuck blames RCMP

AN OTTAWA man being detained in Saudi Arabia has told his family Saudi authorities plan to keep him in custody until he can be interviewed by an RCMP investigator, CBC News reported last night. Mahboob Khawaja managed to call his son Qasim yesterday afternoon, CBC News reported from Ottawa.
The CBC story is here.

Intial reports on Mahboob Khawaja's arrest from unnamed Saudi sources claimed that he had been arrested at the request of Canadian authorities. Last week, RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. Paul Marsh said that the force had not been in touch with Saudi authorities over Mahboob or his son Mohammad Momin Khawaja, who was arrested in Canada March 29 in the same sweep that included the arrest of 8 men in Britain.

Apr. 14 The son, Mohammad Momin Khawaja was indited in a British court as a co-conspirator with the men and teenager arrested in Britain. (Yahoo! News - British teen in court on explosives charges linked to arrest of Ottawa man.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Get your brain imaged

Apr. 13 - I don't know how I could have missed this ad in the Sunday Sun looking for participants in a brain-imaging study:

"Have you ever used a weapon to hurt another person? If you have ever fired a gun, used a knife, or another weapon to harm someone, then you may be eligible for a brain-imaging study at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health." -- Ad in The Sunday Sun

FIRST OF all, imagine the waiting room.

I kind of expected it was a scam to net criminals, but it is a legitimate study.

Besides, it turns out most of the participants had used baseball bats rather than knives and guns.

Posted by Debbye at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

PM Martin will meet with Dalai Lama

Apr. 13 - Despite the objections of China, Martin will meet with Dalai Lama.

Apr. 14 16:23: canoe.ca is down, but here's the CBC link to the story.

Posted by Debbye at 09:59 PM | Comments (2)

Toronto Affairs

Apr. 13 - Maybe you have to live in Toronto (or San Francisco) to realize how startling this is: according to a Sun/Leger poll which asked respondents to rate public figures, Police Chief Julian Fantino got the highest approval rating - 65% - compared to Mayor Miller with 51%, PM Martin with 34%, and Ont. Premier McGuinty with 25%.

Posted by Debbye at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

The Leafs win 2

Apr. 13 - I fell asleep before the game last night so missed it but I can cheer retroactively Zero hero saves day. They're giving Eddie Belfour's chiropractor the win. Numerous links in the article about last night's game.

Posted by Debbye at 09:45 PM | Comments (2)

Precision Guided Humour

Apr. 13 - I keep missing assignments because I'm trying to come up with funny stuff, but no more. I'm just going to post whatever pops in my mind and be done with it. I may as well churn out unfunny stuff without all the angst and torture it takes me to churn out unfunny stuff.

The latest assignments is Write a witty tagline for Air America.

Air America Now Under New Management!

Grass and cocaine are cool, but do you feel you need something more? Try our product!

We guarantee to distort the news, not your vision!!!!!

Note: Possible side effects may include nausea, drowsiness, acne, stunted growth, irrational lapses of logic, unsubstantiated rumour mongering and paranoia. If you experience these symptoms, don't see a doctor who's probably a member of the vast right wing conspiracy.

Posted by Debbye at 07:53 PM | Comments (2)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 13 - I missed this morning's testimony, so am noting the links to the story on CNN and Fox.

As for this afternoon's testimony, Ashcroft blew them away, and, unsurprisingly, CNN headlines the website story with with "Ex-FBI chief criticizes Ashcroft" instead of Ashcroft's reminding them of the "wall" which kept intelligence and criminal investigations from sharing information and pooling resources.

Atty. Gen. Ashcroft angrily pointed out that FBI perceptions about this wall is what kept FBI investigators from getting a search warrant to access Moussaoui's laptop computer which might in turn have provided the information necessary to connect other nebulous dots and let us know that we were in danger of imminent attack.

I had just read (via Instapundit) the National Review article about the "wall" (What about the wall by Andrew McCarthy.) Read it, and please don't be too quick to leap to judgement.

One of the revelations of the Watergate Hearings was that the FBI had spied upon American citizens who were involved in a number of legal organizations including those promoting civil rights and the movement against the war in Vietnam as well as legal student and leftists organizations. The operation, known as COINTELPRO, involved wire taps, stealing mail out of the target's mailbox to read, re-seal and return, and questioning the target's employer and family members. It also involved sending in agents provocateur to encourage groups to engage in illegal acts like bombing, vandalism and sabotage.

Some of the names of those agents came out, and I shouldn't have been surprised (although I was) that two people I had dismissed as nutcases were actually FBI agents. The one had constantly advocated that we bomb the computer room at San Francisco State College whenever mass meetings were held about political actions and the other was just plain strange but didn't advocate violent actions (we always thought we was stoned, but it turned out he was taking painstaking notes.)

Read the Wikipedia post linked above on the subject; these are not accusations against the US government, they are facts. The breaking in of offices, theft of documents and acts like firehosing the offices were assumed by us to be as likely to be actions of pro-war types as actions by police and law enforcement, but it was a shock to get proof that it was the FBI behind these acts. Didn't they have real criminals to chase?

[Aside to Canadians: even the Communist Party in the USA was never outlawed. Even at the height of the McCarthy hearings, the Party was legal and ran candidates in local, state and federal elections. As I stated, these were operations against legal organizations.]

On the other hand, we took it for granted our office and home phones were tapped and as I lived with a group of girls aged 18-21, the main topic of discussion over the phones were (surprise!) school, boys and clothes. (Some poor junior agent had to transcribe these conversations. Good grief.)

Far more serious was the death of Fred Hampton in 1969. It's not exactly relevant to the discussion at hand, but for those of us who were politically active, it was as outrageous as the deaths of 4 students at Kent State in 1970.

I never forget that there are several good reasons why Americans don't trust the government. But I also know that to hang on to attitudes from 30 years after a major attack as the one we suffered on Sept. 11 is as dangerous as it is to blindly trust any government.

Back to the subject and putting the above into context, steps were taken to reduce the power of the FBI to spy on us and it actively hurt us in assessing the threat before Sept. 11 and in part that's because these protections were extended to everyone on US soil including illegal aliens and that in turn opens up another overloaded bureaucratic entity, Immigration. And State, who granted visas to people who were already on watch lists.

But it also partially stems from political correctness which comes from exellent sentiments and motives but when taken too far, acts as blinders.

That stupid pendulum. It gets you every time.

Perhaps all that means that if you must blame someone, you can blame J. Edgar Hoover for his single-mindedness in interfering with the rights of Americans to organize to seek to change the politicies of the government of the day.

To be sure, it would be heavy-handed to lay the entire culture of intelligence dysfunction at the feet of the Clinton administration. If we are to play the blame game, there is plenty to go around. The relevant history in fact goes back to the 1978 enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1862). FISA, a reaction to domestic-intelligence abuses during the Vietnam and Watergate eras, permits the federal courts to regulate and monitor the executive branch's execution of two crucial investigative techniques — electronic surveillance and physical searches — in the context of national-security (or "intelligence") investigations. This is in contrast to ordinary criminal investigations, where the use of those techniques is governed by other federal law — what is called "Title III" for wiretaps or bugs, and the criminal procedure rules that govern searches.
The wall that Ashcroft referred to was constructed by Sept. 11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick, and anyone who has following the hearings has noted her exceptionally haughty and virulent manner on the Commission. As McCarthy notes,
Commissioner Gorelick, as deputy attorney general — the number two official in the Department of Justice — for three years beginning in 1994, was an architect of the government's self-imposed procedural wall, intentionally erected to prevent intelligence agents from pooling information with their law-enforcement counterparts. That is not partisan carping. That is a matter of objective fact. That wall was not only a deliberate and unnecessary impediment to information sharing; it bred a culture of intelligence dysfunction. It told national-security agents in the field that there were other values, higher interests, that transcended connecting the dots and getting it right. It set them up to fail. To hear Gorelick lecture witnesses about intelligence lapses is breathtaking.
The panel's questions and follow-ups were subdued, to say the least. I, for one, had severely underestimated the Attorney General and never would have figured Ashcroft to be so passionate.

Of course it helps your case when you have copies of the "wall" memo on hand because you just had it de-classified. He shoots, he scores!

Heh, I see Glenn Reynolds is saying Ashcroft slammed Jamie Gorelick and provides a link to the NY Times article on the subject.

The memo on the wall is here. It's a .pdf, and it finally loaded.

19:29 Ith is fed up and adds some information from history which I guess means that we were also as whiny and selfish in WWII.

23:09: The Washington Post has the transcripts up here.

Transcript for Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's statement here; Former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno's statement here; Former FBI Director Louis Freeh's statement here, and former Interim FBI Director Thomas Pichard's statement here.

Posted by Debbye at 06:59 PM | Comments (2)

April 12, 2004

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Apr. 12 - The name of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has come up again, this time calling for an Afghan uprising.

This shouldn't be a surprise (which isn't to say that I would have preferred to be disappointed):

In a statement obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday, Hekmatyar calls for an Afghan uprising in a competitive spirit with Iraq. He welcomed the uprising by supporters of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who have been battling U.S. forces in Iraq.

Afghans "like Iraqi mujahedeen, will choose the way of uprising against the occupiers," said the Pashtu-language statement, translated by AP.

Hekmatyar heads Hezb-e-Islami, an Islamic guerrilla faction that fought invading Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He has reportedly joined forces with the Taliban against the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The statement was in the form of a letter delivered by a Hekmatyar aide, and note that the authenticity of the letter has not been confirmed.

There is more about Gulbuddin Hekmatyar here, here, here, here, and a short biography that only covers up to 1997 here. (By the way, if you chose to do your own google search is name is often inverted, as Hekmatyar Gulbuddin.)

The man arrested for the bombing attack that killed Canadian Cpl. Jamie Murphy on Jan. 27 was said to be a disciple of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

An odd twist is an incidence of kidnapping in Afghanistan:

KABUL (AP) - Dozens of suspected Taliban kidnapped an intelligence chief and two soldiers in a central Afghan province, a local government official said Monday, and there were conflicting reports about their fate.

The three men were abducted Thursday near Chenartu, a town 355 kilometres southwest of Kabul in Uruzgan province, said Fazel Rabi, a senior official in the provincial government. Authorities were negotiating their release, he said.

Another report states that they are already dead, but their bodies would be traded:
But Mullah Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, told The Associated Press that Hamidullah and the soldiers had been killed. The Taliban, which was ousted by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001, would swap the three bodies for that of a Taliban held by Uruzgan officials, he said.

[...]

Taliban militants are also blamed for a string of kidnappings, including the abduction last month of a Turkish engineer working on a U.S.-financed road project in neighbouring Zabul province.

No, I'm not inferring a conspiracy or any such as it's more likely that the power of example is at work here, but Canadian soldiers have already incurred Hekmatyar's wrath by arresting some of his associates and I presume they are being extra cautious.

Remember those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)

April 11, 2004

Iraq Endgame IV

Apr. 11 - Gary Teeley, a Briton held hostage has been freed and handed over to Italian units after being held for six days in Nasiriyah:

The troops' spokesman, Col Giuseppe Perrone, said: "Our special forces carried out a targeted action against the headquarters of supporters of [the Shi'ite cleric] Moqtada al-Sadr to check that there were no weapons.

"As a result and thanks to the local population, those who had the hostage felt under pressure and freed him. Our troops then took him into their care."

Eight truck drivers were also freed: three from Pakistan, two from Turkey, and individuals from India, the Phillipines and Nepal.

American Thomas Hamill and the three Japanese being held are still in captivity.

The leader (editorial) in the Daily Telegraph has a somewhat disquieting paragraph:

If the truce that has now been called between Allied forces and the insurgents in Fallujah is a face-saving prelude to a total surrender (or even a ruse to bring about an SAS-style raid to free the kidnapped) then all well and good. But if it comes to be perceived as part of a broader political deal with the insurgents - such as that which may have been cut with kidnappers in the south to secure the freedom of Gary Teeley - then any short-term gains will be massively outweighed by problems further down the pike. Many within Iraq and the wider Arab world will draw unfortunate inferences from the political aesthetic of gunmen negotiating on an apparently equal footing with the mightiest superpower on earth. (Emphasis added)
One thing I did note during this morning's Centcom briefing was that the Fallujah ceasefire was characterized as being a "unilateral suspension of offensive operations in Fallujah" (which did not preclude the right to return fire) by Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, and Dan Senor confirmed there are attempts to get a council delegation into Fallujah to have discussions with leaders there.

There's been much speculation (including perhaps the quoted paragraph from the Telegraph) but not a lot of facts. The problem remains: integrating the Sunni minority into Iraq society but still rooting out and, quite frankly, eliminating the deadenders which needs to be done if the country is going to shake off the bloody heritage of Saddam.

Posted by Debbye at 11:24 PM | Comments (2)

March 11 terrorists called the UK

Apr. 11 - According to Spanish investigators, the terrorists who blew themselves up (also killing a Spanish policeman) in Madrid telephoned a radical Islamic leader in the UK shortly before they died (Madrid rail bombers 'made call to Britain.)

Spanish investigators believe that the man they called is a fundamentalist imam and a member of the al-Qa'eda network.

The newspaper also reported that international arrest warrants were expected to be issued against several new suspects within days.

[...]

British links to two of the suspects have already been uncovered. Police raided an address in east London which is connected to two Moroccan men, Kohamed Oulad Akcha and his brother Rachid, who are suspected of being involved in the rail attacks.

Note that the two arrested men are not those who were telephoned from Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Salim Mansur on the war on terror

Apr. 11 - Salim Mansur in A year in the war on terror not only looks at this past year but a number of previous attacks linking them to what we now face.

He also makes a point that cannot be emphasized too often:

The events of 9/11 altered the perception of terror in the U.S. and elsewhere. Terror could no longer be viewed as isolated acts of deranged individuals, to be dealt with by law enforcement agencies and the courts.

9/11 was seen for what it was, an act of war through terror, unleashed against the West, particularly the United States -- labelled as the Great Satan -- by a transnational terrorist network of Arab-Muslim fanatics.

In return, President George W. Bush declared war on terror and its operatives worldwide.

The tendency to see 9/11 as an isolated event is compelling. It removes the burden of trying to understand the incubation and growth of terror, its capacity to intimidate states and enlist support from governments over the past several decades.

Consequently, it serves the wishful thinking that terror of the order that produced 9/11 can be contained and eliminated by addressing its presumed root causes.

Mansur suggests the 1972 Munich Olympics might have been the "opening act of this war." Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Semitism in Canada

Apr. 11 - First Toronto, then Montreal, and now the nation's capitol and national leaders: Threats target Jewish MP and others:

OTTAWA -- A federal cabinet minister says he has received threatening letters and menacing phone calls because he's Jewish. The Hill Times weekly newspaper said the last of those threats against House Leader Jacques Saada, 56, came earlier this year and that other Jewish MPs and ministers have received messages.

"I have received phone calls and also written correspondence which were either threats or direct accusations ... related to my faith and who I am," Saada told the Hill Times. "I think the most important danger would be indifference to those acts."

Posted by Debbye at 09:15 PM | Comments (1)

Canadian hostage Fadi Ihsan Fadel

Apr. 11 - Efforts begin to free captive Canuck. No real details, but some unsettling aspects to the few details that are offered, especially this one:

"He is still alive," said foreign affairs spokesman Sameer Ahmed, adding, no other details could be provided for "operational" reasons. He refused to confirm whether the Palestinian Authority was doing the talking on behalf of Canada. On Friday, Palestinian cabinet minister Azzam al-Ahmed, offered to help track down the kidnappers of Fadel and an Arab-Israeli to "clarify matters with the group that abducted them."
As Muqtada al-Ansr has pledged to be the hand of Hamas and Hezbollah, it is too easy to draw some inferences from rumours so care must be exercised before leaping to any conclusions.

Posted by Debbye at 08:35 PM | Comments (2)

Two Canadian Families

Apr. 11 - Today's Toronto Sun has two articles about families who were affected by the attacks of Sept. 11: the Khadr family, who reportedly applauded as the two towers collapsed, and Cindy Barkway, whose Torontonian husband David died when the towers came down.

IT'S SICKENING that Ottawa allowed family members with links to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network to enter the country, says the wife of a Toronto man killed on 9/11. Maha Elsamnah and her 14-year-old son Karim Khadr, who both have had ties to al-Qaida, were granted entry into Canada on Friday without passports.

"I hope the government will take steps to protect us and monitor their activity," said Cindy Barkway, whose husband David was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

"It's frustrating. They are here taking advantage of our democratic society and they hate us. The government helps the perpetrators and not the victims. It's not fair."

Mrs. Barkway isn't alone in her outrage, as Syed Soharwardy of the Canadian organization Muslims Against Terrorism is also angry.

Abdurahaman Khadr admits his family, former residents of Scarborough, fought with al-Qaida and lived at bin Laden's camp. Elsamnah, in a recent TV interview from Pakistan, said she was proud of her family's connection to bin Laden.

"The interview was shocking, admitting she had ties to al-Qaida. Hasn't the government seen this?" said Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Canadian organization Muslims Against Terrorism. "The Canadian government has a responsibility to ensure the wrong people are removed from our society."

But I wouldn't want you to think that the Canadian government is complacent about the return of two more members of the Khadr family. Canadian Federal agents will grill Khadrs about any recent contact they may have had with bin Laden and which other Canadians might be agents of al Qaeda.

Maha Elsamnah, 47, and her son, Karim Khadr, 14, will doubtless answer as honestly as they always have while on Canadian soil. And then there's this:

"I can't imagine that their movements wouldn't be monitored" if they attempted to cross into the United States, an American government official told Sun Media yesterday on condition of anonymity.
I can't imagine they would actually be allowed to cross into the US, Canadian citizens or no.

Bob MacDonald writes that after 3 months, Karim will be eligible for OHIP, which means that the Canadian taxpayer will be paying for his medical expenses. In truth, it's not about the money, its about the fact that he was injured during hostile actions against an ally. Has Canada formally declared neutrality in the war on terror? Or do they stand with the Canadian troops currently stationed in Afghanistan?

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)

Carl, Canadian: a US soldier in Iraq

Apr. 11 - On the other side of world:

A specialist and team leader in the First Infantry Division of the American army, the 23-year-old son of a Canadian mother and American father drove down to Buffalo and enlisted six months after 9/11. "Carl felt he was needed," his mom Anne said yesterday, as CNN images of more Iraqi battles play in the background. "He was deeply moved by the impact of the attack on the United States and saddened by our government's response to it."
Holidays are extra hard on the families of soldiers deployed in hot spots, and no words can adequately express that. You watch CNN by the hour, and try to send cheerful letters and packages of those sundries we take for granted. This week, Carl's parents are sending him a Maple Leaf's shirt.
He is deployed north of Baghdad in the midst of what is called the Sunni triangle, a flashpoint of insurrection by factions hellbent on driving out the Americans.
He was deployed there in February and is part of the troop rotations that have been the backdrop to the counter-attacks in Iraq.
"They're getting mortars and rockets fired on them every day," says his dad, Carl Sr., with a trace of the drawl of south Florida despite his 27 years here. "He's going to come home with memories that are going to be hard. But he's doing his best to show calm and control for the other men."
This next bit is only too familiar:
What mystifies their son is the lack of support Canada has shown for the Iraq war. "He feels he is serving a good purpose over there and that the people there definitely need help to get out of the situation they're in," his mom says.

But they have seen enough anti-American feeling in Toronto over the last year of the conflict to fear for their safety and have asked that their last name not be published.

When Carl has finished his stint, he wants to come home and become a policeman. One thing that surprised many Americans back home was how many of their police and rescue workers were also in the reserves. It is as though our entire society depends on only a few people to protect us, and their committment is so great as to function in more than one capacity.

What does that say about the rest of us?

Posted by Debbye at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

Memo released reveals nothing to Kerrey

Apr. 11 - The release of the Aug. 6 memo of the presidential daily briefing (pdb) tell us little we didn't already suspect (White House releases bin Laden memo) and for those of us who have been paying attention, it is quite unspectacular. It goes without saying that the media hasn't been paying attention.

As is often the case, what is more revealing are the things the media isn't covering.

Those involved in the first bombing of the WTC were about to be sentenced when we were attacked. Am I presumed to have forgotten that?

Am I presumed to have forgotten that past hijackings were done specifically in order to secure the release of jailed terrorists, like Zawahiri himself, and that the hijackings were done not in the US but abroad?

The crews and passengers aboard three of the hijacked airliners certainly conducted themselves in accordance with the expectation that the hijackers were following a well-established pattern, and only the fact that Flight 93 was delayed permitted its crew and passengers to learn the fates of the other three and were thus roused to take action.

There persists this myth that Somebody should have known.

Look, I've tried to be sensitive to those few who stylize themselves as The Familes of Sept. 11 but I'm becoming impatient. I'm glad to see I'm not alone, because others have spoken up, like Steve who remind us that we were all Sept. 11 families, Paul who states unequivocally who should do the apologizing and that we can't allow ourselves to be manipulated with their grief, then Ith who points to another Sept. 11 family member who isn't sought by the news media for quotes, and Jay (note new url and web log title) who says the sytemic problems also come from systemic sheep.

It is wrongheaded to shift blame from al Qaeda to the Bush administration. Those who are doing so either suffer from displaced anger and they should be called on this or they are trying to manipulate public sentiment and should be reviled.

Bob Kerrey, in a guest op-ed in the NY Times, makes the astounding claim that the attacks on Sept. 11 could have been averted but offers no proof, only citing the Phoenix memo which, he admits, never made it to Dr. Rice or the president, yet even that memo was concerned about hijackings and never referred to the prospect that jets would be used as missiles. Kerrey offers this opinion without any evidence? All he's done is prove that the commission was an exercise in partisanship.

He then claims that peacekeeping in Iraq should be turned over to the U.N., but he doesn't mention a single success of the U.N. that would make that case, and the news of late has been more about the spectacular failures of the U.N. - Kosovo, Rwanda, Cyprus, the Oil for Food program and the admission that the U.N. alone was responsible for their vulnerability in Baghdad's Canal Hotel attacks.

Talk about bringing a dandelion to a gunfight.

The president has repeatedly urged the U.N. to rise above their intransigence to face the challenges of the day, and the member nations have resisted. Is that a surprise? They were profiting during the U.N. Oil for Food program. They were on the other side, and decidedly not the side of the oppressed people of Iraq.

People do not rise in bureaucratic institutions because of their imagination and flexibility. They rise because they can navigate a twisting path of procedures which require no thoughtful analysis but much paperwork. When success is identified as crossing t's and dotting i's, who cares if the document was even worth reading?

Anyone who claims that Kofi Annan represents vigorous and unflinching leadership hasn't been paying attention. He won't send peacekeepers into areas that are not peaceful, so what use are they? He actually withdraws peacekeepers once violence breaks out. How would that do other than encourage increased violence in Iraq?

Kerrey then cites the need for troops from Muslim countries. Isn't that sensitive of him?

Wisely, he doesn't mention the al Qaeda attack on the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad because it refutes his argument. Al Qaeda didn't care that they were attacking Muslims. They never have and they never will. He doesn't mention the attacks on the Iraqi Police. He doesn't mention the attacks on Shi'ite religious observances. He doesn't mention that the Sunni minority in Iraq terrorized the Shiite majority with the full knowledge of Muslim countries. In short, he doesn't mention the truth of the matter: it is the predominantly Muslim countries that turned their backs on the suffering of their Muslim brethren.

He doesn't mention those things because they contradict his unstated contention that the war on terror should be concerned with radicalized Muslim terrorists attacking Westerners because he doesn't care that Islamic terrorism primarily targets moderate Muslims; yet if we abandon moderate Muslims, who would be our allies? And they aren't going to join us until they are convinced that we will stand firmly and solidly with them in this fight.

Can we blame them for their doubts? The international coverage that the campaign speeches of Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry and Wesley Clark received could only further those doubts and convince the rest of the world that the average American was fickle and short-sighted.

The president has articulated on many occasions that the war on terror is being waged on all those who engage in terrorism be it in Algeria, Tunisia, the Phillipines, East Timor, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Tamil, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Morroco, Israel, and even Saudi Arabia. The war on terror is to be fought wherever terrorists disrupt the lives of peaceful people.

Al Qaeda has obligingly educated us on what the global war on terror means by attacking civilians in a broad spectrum of countries. Bob Kerrey needs to pick up a map and study it. Maybe then he will present his arguments on the basis of facts -- if he can.

Posted by Debbye at 04:15 PM | Comments (6)

Sadr, Steyn, and Doggerel Pundit

Apr. 11 - It was unintentional, but I had three screens up and they complemented one another wonderfully: CNN, Mark Steyn, and Doggerel Pundit.

Muqtada al-Sadr, aka Militant cleric issues demands of coalition. First the obligatory victim card. They started it! He is a peaceful man. If you don't believe, just ask his spokesman.

I interpret it a bit differently: he was given a choice to play by the rules, he chose not to, and now he and his supporters are getting whacked. Life sucks when someone calls your bluff.

His demands are as follows:

Saddam should be tried by "a Supreme Court." [That means what?]
Sadr's supporters must be released.
Sadr wants a guaranteed date of withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq. [That is rich: he starts an armed insurrection and wants us to set the date for withdrawal.]

He has also called upon his followers to go on a 3-day strike. I'm all for that. On the third day, when they are disoriented and weak, we hit those who are still carrying guns.

On the other screen, Mark Steyn warns about being too afraid to rattle teacups.

The problem with this deference to the locals is that, partly in consequence, most of the folks who are getting rattled are on our side.
Pinpointed accuracy. People think Sadr is important because he says he is, and CNN et alia dutifully parrot his delusions.

Everyone is tired of the vapidness of the media. Doggerel Pundit has a new one up, Prayer of the Press, which is a timely commentary on the inability of the press to define anything except in Vietnam War era terminology:

Let us for ‘Quagmire’ thankful be.
We can all, without any thought, agree,
Though a vital job be a long hard pull;
Though it show result, it’s impossible.
Steyn too isn't happy about the unoriginal and non-analytical summation of events by Senator Kennedy:
Here's a good rule of thumb: The Pentagon's demonstrated in two wars now that it's got beyond Vietnam. If a politician or pundit can't, pay him no further heed. If Sen. Kennedy wants to give rhetorical aid and comfort to the enemy, he could at least be less lazy about it.
Laziness. That's an apt characterization for both Sen. Kennedy and the media.

Posted by Debbye at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2004

Maple Leafs Win

Apr. 10 - Of course I watched the hockey game because the Leafs game is the Most Important Thing happening in our home. Tonight they won, and the series with Ottawa is 1-1.

The men here were howling with laughter over Darcy Tucker and his second black eye, saying "he may be a little sh*t, but he's our little sh*t."

Robert Reichel was hailed as doing an uncharacteristically competent job during his penalty killing stints.

I am surrounded by witty, happy people tonight, which is better than glum, sour, scowling types as I was last Thursday. The Leafs lost, for those who don't live in Toronto don't follow hockey. I didn't post anything about it Thursday for superstitious reasons. (There are different codes for each round of the play-offs, so don't assume inconsistency if I seem to violate the codes as the Leafs advance.)

Keeping the homefront peaceful Thursday (or whenever the Leafs lose in playoffs) is actually very easy. There are standard replies (which are not to be confused with converstion.) They far outrank the soothing "yes dear" that men can see right through: Yes, indeed, the refs sucked. Total disgrace. They gave the game away. Yes, I thought that was a clean hit. Totally. Absolutely. McCabe was totally innocent. Completely. Absolutely. "Three blind mice" for sure. I really miss that organ, it could make commentary ... What? Yes. You're right. It was stolen. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Right. Yes. Works every time.

Just don't bring up how the Jays are doing.

Oh Lord. Don Cherry confirmed the Men's Viewpoint about Darcy Tucker and Robert Reichel. I will absolutely never hear the end of this.

Then he invoked the Dummy Penalty warning. And remember, kids, "The Glass is Your Friend." Don is validating everything husband and son yelled during the 3rd period. He taught them well.

Mark used to be an adult player as well as a minor hockey coach. He and his friends would play at 2 a.m. every Tuesday. That may seem like dedication, but it's actually pretty common among adult hockey players. There's never enough ice time, and the adults get it when they can. Now he coaches baseball exclusively.

First Son played both sports. 2nd Son played both until it occurred to him that being over 6 ft. tall was sufficient grounds to play basketball. No basketball or baseball games begin at 6 a.m.) I always supported my kids' choices.

These days I support their decisions even more heartily. The kids can set their own alarm clocks, drive themselves to their games, and are even old enough to drink legally in every state and province.

Parenthood is a wonderful thing.

Posted by Debbye at 10:58 PM | Comments (3)

Work

Apr. 10 - I have to go to work (to a place that has no access for stealth posting) but check out the blogroll.

My usual first ports of call (as Damian is out of the country and others like Instapundit and Expat Yank are taking the weekend off) would be

Let it Bleed
Spin Killer
Jay Currie
Canadian Comment
Ghost of a Flea
Right Wing News
Winds of Change

but those are only the first, not the only.

The Western Standard group blog Shotgun has a much better viewing platform, permalinks and enabled comments, so have a look.

Later ...

Posted by Debbye at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Khadr family returns to Canada II

Apr. 10 - Updating the story that two members of the Khadr family have returned to Canada to get medical attention for one injured during a firefight with Pakistani forces, at least one political party has reacted: Oust Khadrs, Tory demands.

Here's some Khadr family history.

The Toronto Sun has taken a decisive stand in today's editorial:

Maha and her daughter, Zaynab, praised Ahmed as a martyr in a CBC interview and denounced the U.S., saying it "deserved" the terror attacks of 9/11 -- and worse. The mother said bin Laden's camps were a better place for her children than Canada's open, permissive society.

Aside from Abdurahman, 21, who returned to Canada and publicly rejected terrorism, the family has effectively renounced everything this country stands for.

Except, of course, for our health care system.

Karim needs medical treatment. So he and mom are back. It is hard to think of a more cynical abuse of the privileges of Canadian citizenship.

Although they will initially have to pay the teen's medical bills because of his long absence from Canada, they will ultimately be eligible for medicare. And Foreign Affairs went to extraordinary measures to help them obtain exit visas from Pakistan and emergency Canadian passports for the trip.

(See the extended entry for more from the Toronto Sun editorial.)

I am an American. The Khadrs have proudly aligned themselves with those who declare they intend to kill me. I am not impartial on this issue.

The April 10 Toronto Sun editorial in full: (one day link)

Welcome back, Khadrs

MAHA ELSAMNAH and her 14-year-old son, Abdul Karim Khadr, should not expect a warm welcome after their return to Canada yesterday. They should expect outrage.

They are, in the blunt words of son Abdurahman Khadr, "an al-Qaida family."

As the wife and son of Ahmed Said Khadr, a high-ranking operative in Osama bin Laden's terrorist network -- the family even lived alongside bin Laden in his training compound in Afghanistan, according to Abdurahman -- they are far from ordinary Canadians.

Ahmed, the father, was recently killed in Pakistan, battling security forces. Karim was shot and paralyzed in the same firefight. Another son, Omar, 17, is imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, charged with killing a U.S. soldier.

Maha and her daughter, Zaynab, praised Ahmed as a martyr in a CBC interview and denounced the U.S., saying it "deserved" the terror attacks of 9/11 -- and worse. The mother said bin Laden's camps were a better place for her children than Canada's open, permissive society.

Aside from Abdurahman, 21, who returned to Canada and publicly rejected terrorism, the family has effectively renounced everything this country stands for.

Except, of course, for our health care system.

Karim needs medical treatment. So he and mom are back. It is hard to think of a more cynical abuse of the privileges of Canadian citizenship.

Although they will initially have to pay the teen's medical bills because of his long absence from Canada, they will ultimately be eligible for medicare. And Foreign Affairs went to extraordinary measures to help them obtain exit visas from Pakistan and emergency Canadian passports for the trip.

Other Canadians -- say, Bill Sampson and Maher Arar, both of whom got no help from Ottawa while they were tortured abroad -- can be forgiven for wondering why the Khadrs merit such help. They deserve Ottawa's attention, all right, but for security reasons.

Even Abdurahman has said his relatives could pose a threat to national security. But because this is Canada, where we value free speech, free medical care and an open, tolerant society, they will be able to resume their lives in safety and comfort here -- no matter how grossly they have offended those values.

Let them reflect on that. And then let them try doing the same in bin Laden's hateful, evil, repressive, fundamentalist, terrorist world. The sooner the better.

And another thing ...

SO, A Canadian is captured and held hostage in Iraq -- and now Foreign Affairs issues an advisory telling people it's dangerous and not to travel there? Talk about being slow off the mark.

Posted by Debbye at 10:48 AM | Comments (4)

Italian PM Berlusconi visited Iraq

Apr. 10 - Cease-fire offered in Fallujah and a round-up of recent events has this nugget:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Saturday arrived in southern Iraq for a surprise visit to Italian troops and regional leaders stationed in Nasiriya, his office in Rome said.
On the other hand, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is worried about the increased violence and we may lose Thai participation. They've had their own problems with terrorists in Thailand including some new ones.

Surprised that the goal of the insurgents (as well as al Qaeda) is to isolate us? No. That's always been part of their strategy.

Posted by Debbye at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2004

Iraq Endgame III

Apr. 9 - Two U.S. soldiers and several contractors missing near Baghdad after a fuel convoy was attacked near Baghdad Airport; tribal leaders in Kut joined coalition forces to against Sadr's Mahdi Army; Briton Michael Bloss, who is working in Iraq as a security guard, was shot and killed.

There has been no change in the status of the three Japanese being held hostage.

Posted by Debbye at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Iraq Endgame II (Updates)

Apr. 9 -

15:40: US Marines retake Kut and return fire in Fallujah. I don't know but that sure seemed like the shortest ceasefire in history ... anyone?

Greyhawk has been conducting daily morning briefings (Apr. 2, Apr. 5, Apr. 7, Apr. 8, and Apr. 9. [Why all the retroactive linkage? Because although I visit the page more than once a day, I become so absorbed that I forget that I am a blogger and should be sharing the news of this feature at Mudville Gazette.]

There is, by the way, further confirmation that the atrocities in Fallujah were planned:

But now it appears that the four private security contractors killed, burned and mutilated in Falluja last week were in fact lured into a carefully planned ambush by men they believed to be friendly members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, according to Patrick Toohey, a senior executive at the security firm, Blackwater USA.

The Iraqi men, Mr. Toohey said, promised the Blackwater-led convoy safe and swift passage through the dangerous city, but instead, a few kilometers later, they suddenly blocked off the road, preventing any escape from waiting gunmen.

"We were set up," he said.

Two senior Pentagon officials said yesterday that they could not independently confirm the conclusions of the Blackwater investigation, and that a separate military inquiry was continuing.

I'm also a bit late posting a Washington Times article exploring the links between Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran (Iran, Hezbollah support al-Sadr.) This was earlier reported by Iraqi bloggers including Sam, Zeyad (as well as one in which Zeyad reports that al-Sadr offered himself to be a "striking hand" for Hamas and Hezbollah,) and Omar.

CNN is trying to cover events in Iraq including the temporary so-called halt but better information is available at the US Dept. of Defense, Centcom, and the Defend America websites.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News gives the definitive reason why sending in the Blue Helmets is a no-go: it would still be US and British soldiers on the front lines but serving under a discredited U.N. leadership. My suggestion is that anyone who thinks that would be a good thing didn't pay attention to events in Somalia and Rwanda.

U.S. soldiers will not be cannon fodder to retain the illusion that the U.N. has any legal or moral authority. If the rest of the world truly wants a viable, international peacekeeping force, they can best do so by proving their readiness to send their own sons and daughters into battle in more than token numbers.

15:14: The much-touted news that Canada has increased the budget for its military is decidedly not cause for celebration after some reading about what the additional funding is for. See posts by Brock and Spin-Killer. (End update)

Speaking of the U.N., a Senate committee has asked US Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte to compile and supply the list of US contractors under the U.N. Oil-For-Food Program.

CNN is still referring to the attacks this past week as "unexpected." Unexpected by CNN correspondents who had been told repeatedly (and which they reported) after Centcom and DoD briefings that there would be an increase in attacks during the month of March and beyond as Iraq moved closer to the hand-over date? It baffles the mind.

Apr. 10 - 09:19: Firstly, terrific map.

Murdoc thinks that, although the counter-offensive wasn't unexpected, the level was. The level was heightened because the coalition choose now to move against Muqtada al-Sadr (which in retrospect makes strategic sense) and that the two factions have openly aligned themselves makes for some interesting speculations. The nice thing about sitting here at looking at events is that we can draw conclusions about that coalition that Centcom publicly can't. Yet those who declared vehemently that al Qaeda and Saddamites couldn't possibly have found common ground are witnessing it for themselves. Anticipate a chorus of "Yes, but .." arguments to explain it rather than admissions that the seeds were always present.

Murdoc also brings up something about which I've been reluctant to explore, the participation of the Iraqi police and special forces. I no longer trust the American media in Iraq (or at home) but maybe a picture is worth a thousand words. And he makes a further, possibly the most important point in this struggle:

We need the Iraqis to begin doing more. When Iraqis see Iraqis upholding law and order, Iraqis will begin to feel like they're moving ahead.
See the post above on how tribal leaders in Kut recognized they needed to act. Baby steps, maybe; but weren't those first steps the most important in a baby's development? That's why we remember them (and baby's first words) long after our kids have grown and built their own lives.

Pitching some more thoughts: what if the planned attacks in the UK as well as further attacks in Spain had actually happened this past week? What if the British hadn't moved so quickly into Kosovo? Or if attacks in France had succeeded? and attacks in the Phillippines hadn't been averted, and events in Uzbekistan had deteriorated further?

No, I can't prove anything. I'm only looking the landscape and doing a lot of wondering, but the question of whether there is a coordination to events requires at least contemplation, and the fact that this has been the week leading up to one of Christianity's most holy observances should not be discounted.

Posted by Debbye at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Mohammad Momin Khawaja

Apr. 9 - Information about Mohammad Momin Khawaja is coming out slowly. Today, information that Khawaja had access to confidential names and addresses of Canadian diplomats abroad.

Khawaja was arrested last week in Ottawa during the same operation that arrested 8 in the UK and another suspect days later. He worked as a computer programmer under contract with Canada's Foreign Affairs department.

(Link via Neale News.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

Khadr family returns to Canada

Apr. 9 - The Khadrs, Canada's first family of al Qaeda, is returning to Canada to get medical care for a son wounded in battle.

Abdul Karim Khadr, 14, is recovering from a bullet that grazed his spine last October. His father, known as al-Kanadi, Arabic for "the Canadian," was among the militants killed in that battle, with Pakistani counterterrorism agents.

Family members have said that if the teenager is ever going to walk properly again, he's going to need the help of the Canadian health-care system.

Members of the Khadr family have lost their share of passports. The fact that over 25,000 passports are missing or stolen annually was a key point in the 2004 Report of the Auditor General on National Security. Initally, the Canadian government had refused to issue them new ones, but gave them "one-time only" passports for the trip to Canada. They are Canadian citizens, so the issue is sticky.
But they stress that taxpayers are not on the hook for the bill. "The family have used their own funds to travel back to Canada," said Reynald Doiron, spokesman for Canada's Foreign Affairs Department.

Abdul Karim has been out of the country too long to qualify for universal health care, so the family would likely have to pay his medical bills as well, at least initially. (Emphasis mine.)

How nice to live in a country that gives aid and comfort to my enemies.
Ms. El Samnah has recently expressed joy that her husband died as a martyr for Islam.

And she has spoken of wanting her sons to be warriors, too. "I like my son to be brave. I mean as I was telling you, if I was in Canada, I would like my son to be trained to protect himself, to protect his home, to protect his neighbour, to really fight to defend it," she told the CBC. "I would really love to do that, and I would love my son to grow with this mentality."

Only in Canada, eh?

Bob at Canadian Comment er, comments.

Posted by Debbye at 11:08 AM | Comments (2)

Canadian among hostages

Apr. 9 - A Canadian, Fadi Ihsan Fadel, is among those held hostage in southern Iraq. Mr. Fadel worked with the International Rescue Committee based in New York. His brother lives in Laval.

15:47: The Mohammadi Jihad Brigades has taken responsibility for the kidnappings, and Paul isn't happy about how the Canadian news media is depicting this group.

16:26: Reader Nik sends this link from the CBC. Burst into his house to kidnap him? I had mistakenly thought this was a random act.

Posted by Debbye at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

April 08, 2004

Courage

Apr. 8 - Today is Bill Whittle's birthday and he has started a new enterprise (it's a short post) so go over and wish him a happy birthday!

While you're there, read History.

Seriously. Read about Gettysburg, and a professor from Maine named Joshua Chamberlain.

And so we come to this exact time and place. It is the 2nd of July, 1863, just south of a small Pennsylvania town. You are on a small hill covered with thin pine trees. Your face is black with gunpowder: it burns your throat and eyes, it has cracked your lips, and you are more thirsty than you believed possible.

All around you are dead and dying men, some moaning, some screaming in agony as they clutch shattered arms or hold in their bowels. The field in front of you is covered with dead Rebels, and yet the ground looks alive, undulating, as the wounded Confederates try to crawl back to safety. In the woods below you can hear fresh enemy troops arrive, hear orders being issued in the soft accents of the deep South. You have no more musket rounds. There aren’t even very many rocks left to throw. And you know that this time, they will succeed.

These men have never been beaten, least of all by you. You are a professor of Rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. As you walk what is left of your line, you know you have fought bravely and well, done more than could ever be asked of you. You have no choice but to fall back in orderly retreat. Your men are out of ammunition. To stand here and take another charge is to die. It’s that simple. These men are your responsibility. Their families depend on you to bring them home. Many have already died. To not retreat will likely condemn many more wives to being widows, not the least your own.

You look down past the dead and dying men to the bottom of the hill. Masses of determined Confederate men are emerging, coming for you. They are not beaten. They are determined to have this hill. Off to your left stands Old Glory, the hinge in your pathetic, small gate.

You know that this is war to preserve a Union, a system of government four score and seven years old. Many said such a system of self rule could not possibly survive. If you retreat now, today will be the day they are proven right.

Gettysburg. A Southern attack on Northern soil. France was offering to hold peace talks. England was on the verge of recognizing the Confederacy. This experiment in democracy was less than a hundred years old and it teetered at the brink. You're out of ammunition, you're running out of rocks, and you must hold that position. The union depends, literally, on you denying them the high ground.
You cannot go back. You cannot stay here. Your men look at you. You utter two words:

“Fix Bayonets.”

You can see the reaction on the faces of the men. No, that can’t be right. He couldn’t possibly mean it.

But you do mean it. You know history. In the middle of this shock and death and agony, amid the blood and stench and acrid smoke, you have the perspective even now to see what is really at stake here.

As Chamberlain walked his line one last time, he smiled, and shouted, “Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!" (My emphases)

Then, after reading "History," read the day's news. Read about the fierce fighting in Fallujah.

And know that the men and women in Iraq know what they're fighting for.

May God bless and protect those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 09:58 PM | Comments (7)

Sudan

Apr. 8 - A few items on Sudan today. In the NY Times, Brutal Conflict in Sudan Brings Warnings by Bush and Annan. The latest civil war has served as an opportunity for Arab militias in Darfur to push over 100,00 black Africans into refugee camps in Sudan, and both the U.N. Secretary-General and the US President hav issued warnings to the government and called on it to allow humanitarian agencies access.

According to CNN, the Sudan government and rebels have reached a cease-fire agreement which is to be signed in Chad on Thursday.

Posted by Debbye at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

Serious Steyn

Apr. 8 - Mark Steyn is very serious in Murderous Rhetoric. He looks at the "virus of hate" in the Democratic Party and referring to the intemperate reactions to a high volume leftist blogger to the atrocities at Fallujah:

And, in a way, who can blame him? Where would he have got the idea that American civilians in Iraq are ‘mercenaries’ who aren’t ‘trying to help the people’ but are there to ‘wage war for profit’? Maybe from Senator John Edwards, former presidential candidate, whose solitary reference to the war in his stump speech was a pledge to stop ‘Bush’s friends’ from ‘war-profiteering in Iraq’. Or maybe from Senator Bob Graham, another candidate, justifying his vote against the Iraqi reconstruction bill by saying, ‘I will not support a dime to protect the profits of Halliburton in Iraq.’ Or DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe declaring on TV last October that Bush would never withdraw from Iraq because ‘I don’t think they want to give up Halliburton and the $6 billion of no-bid contracts they’ve got on oilfields over there.’ Or Kerry sidekick and former senator Max Cleland, who fumed that Bush’s ‘insane’ war was all to do with profiteering and ‘oil wells’ and ‘Cheney getting income from Halliburton’. Or John Kerry, who says, ‘Halliburton is guilty of shameful war-profiteering.’

For a year, any reference to Halliburton has been a surefire applause line for Democratic candidates: ‘Halliburton’ is shorthand for everything that’s wrong with everything — the war, the reconstruction, the economy, why gas is up to a buck seventy-seven a gallon in California (‘Those are not Exxon prices, those are Halliburton prices,’ says John Kerry). Halliburton is why your roof leaks, why your car radio’s stuck on the polka station, and why your Viagra isn’t working. It’s all the fault of ‘cosiness with Halliburton’, says Howard Dean. When it was pointed out, after one attack on Halliburton, that Senator Graham in fact owned shares in Halliburton, he explained that he wasn’t attacking the company’s shareholders or employees but ‘war-profiteering’ in general.

Read the whole thing. It won't make you laugh, but it may cause you to wonder when such viciousness became part of our political culture and, worse, where it will lead.

Many have written about trying to get off that particular train, and I still think it a good principle. But it is getting harder.

Posted by Debbye at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)

Personal Responsibility

Apr. 8 - Ghost of a Flea has written an insightful analysis of a recent political debate and how it revealed the need in Canada to define Conservative.

For these parties to offer viable alternatives they must espouse convictions about what government is for and therefore how policy should be made. There is a legitimate difference between those advocating personal responsibility in contrast with collective responsibility and these have reasonable correlates in views toward business, health care, trade and so forth. Political views formed solely on the basis that a particular religious or secular worldview should predominate do not meet this test.
Canada has has a united right-of-center party after years of schism, but what exactly is it other than the not-Liberal and not-ND Parties?

Posted by Debbye at 05:33 PM | Comments (3)

Sept. 11 Commission Hearings

Apr. 8 - The transcript of Dr. Rice's testimony before the Sept. 11 Commission is here (via Murdoc.)

The text of the presidential daily briefing is here. As Dr. Rice said, it is primarily a document outlining the history of al Qaeda intentions in the US and non-specific. Key quote:

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.

I watched it Live! on CNN. Dr. Rice did well, I thought, but when one of the commission members challenged the "swatting flies" characterisation of prior dealings with terrorists and said we had only done that once, I kept muttering "aspirin factory in Sudan" but she didn't hear me.

The outbursts of applause from both sides sickened me - they parodised the proceedings and stripped away the dignity the hearings should have had. I almost wished the hearings were subject to the same rules as a true courtroom so the panel chair could have cleared the room after the first outburst.

The enemy seems to believe that what is strutted before the television cameras is us (understandable in that those on both sides of the camera seem to believe that also.) We do give the appearance of easy prey.

After Dr. Rice's testimony, CNN immediately turned to the ongoing battles in Iraq, and their propaganda was in full On mode. They show a tank with a small fire (hit a mine?) and show a Marine emerging with what appeared to be a burnt forearm and blood on his thigh - the commentator talked about how graphic the images were and how disturbing some might find them.

Note to CNN: I'm much more concerned about the soldiers who can't walk away than those who can, especially when I can plainly see that same Marine charging back to help put out the fire.

One of the most vivid silver screen moments from A Few Good Men is when somebody asks Galloway why she likes the Mariines and she replies

Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."
Forget the shenanigans in DC. The real heart of America is in Iraq and on other walls around the world.

Posted by Debbye at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Blogroll Change

Apr. 8 - New home for Anticipatory Retaliation here in sunny, downtown Munuvania.

Go over to say hi, and change your bookmarks.

Posted by Debbye at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2004

Pres. Bush to meet with PM II

Apr. 7 - The date for a meeting between President Bush and PM Martin has been set for April 30 and will be in DC.

Mr. Martin has said he wanted to meet Bush before calling a federal vote.
No explanation for that statement was offered.

Posted by Debbye at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

Two fronts in Iraq III

Apr. 7 - News from Iraq:

From Fox: Mosque, Journalists Possible Targets in Iraq. You probably already know all the news in that report, but while everyone is focusing on US troops, I'd like us to remember that we have worthy allies in this fight:

-- Polish troops killed the head of the Karbala office of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during clashes in the holy Shiite city, Iraqi police said. But Arab networks reported that "a member" — not the head — of al-Sadr's office was killed.
-- Ukrainian troops were forced to evacuate Kut early after enemy forces hit the position with mortar fire during the night. There were no Ukrainian casualties, but several dozen militants were killed.
-- Operations from the Syrian border to the Baghdad suburbs have resulted in the capture or death of a significant number of anti-Iraqi forces and foreign terrorists, the U.S. military said in a statement Wednesday.
-- Militiamen battled Spanish soldiers in Najaf, south of Baghdad; an Iraqi taxi driver was reportedly killed in the crossfire.
-- Al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army also had virtual control of Kufa and Karbala; Iraqi police allowed militiamen to move freely and acted only to prevent looting; militiamen in Karbala clashed with Polish patrols that moved through their areas.
(Iraqi police and special forces get an ambiguous mention, and I'm holding off comment while I try to unravel it.)

There's another major coalition member that rarely gets praise or notice:

Citizens remained in their homes during fighting there, the statement said. Several Iraqis called the coalition tip line to help identify, isolate and combat the insurgents, a U.S. military statement said.
Mosques haven't exactly been fired upon at the time of this report; Marines were being hit with fire from rebels hiding behind a wall so the Marines took out the wall.

And then there's this:

Meanwhile, Kimmitt vowed to "destroy" a Shiite militia that, along with Sunni Muslim guerrillas, waged the most extensive fighting since Bush declared the war over in May.
Bush declared the war over? No, not in May, not ever. That is an outright lie.

Oh, they got the report from AP. Right.

The evening CNN page reports that this is "a test of will" - oh wait, they are quoting Def. Sec. Rumsfeld. I should have known they wouldn't have figured that out for themselves.

"U.S. forces are on the offense. The United States and our partners and free Iraqi forces are taking the battle to the terrorists," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference in Washington.

"We're facing a test of will, and we will meet that test," he vowed.

I strongly suspect that the American people are with this appraisal, and that approval numbers will roar back now that we are finally moving against the enemy.

Only the press would fail to understand that numbers were going down due to inaction.

U.S. Marines carrying photographs were "systematically" going through Fallujah and had captured at least nine militants wanted in last week's killing and mutilation of U.S. civilian security contractors, Rumsfeld said.

A later Fox report covers Def. Sec. Rumsfelds determination to continue to stabilize and bring progress to Iraq, an update on a mosque that was taken and from which live mortar and ammunition was seized.

These last few days have been hard as we reflect on those in harm's way. We expect so much from them, and must demand the same of ourselves.

Strength. Courage. Resolve.

Posted by Debbye at 09:08 PM | Comments (2)

On Tyranny

Apr. 7 - Bob has written a thoughtful piece On Tyranny and reminds us of that one truth that must be our rock:

Our culture, our society, has stood confronted by fascism before, and far braver men and women than I were steadfast, because they knew one fundamental, irrevocable truth: We can't let them win.
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

Thinking of the children

Apr. 7 - I really can't be rational on this: Peel cops knew.

I know it's not the fault of the police. They have been denied the proper tools.

More information about Moore here and here.

Posted by Debbye at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

UN Oil for Food Scandal (ongoing)

Apr. 7 - Editorials in both the NY Times (Iraq Needs a Credible U.N.) and Opinion Journal (Saddam's U.N. Financiers) agree!

14:39: It's a coincidence that Roger L. Simon uses the same wording. Obviously he and I are on the same mailing lists.

Posted by Debbye at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

Two fronts in Iraq II

Apr. 7 - My take: the current insurgency in Iraq is an opportunity to clean out the deadenders and fanatics, and it was handed to us on a golden platter. Go for it.

Furthermore, this doesn't place the handover of power to Iraqis in jeopardy but rather removes many of the risks of the handover. To use the phrase in use about poultry in Canada, we're "culling.".

Real Media pundits weigh in:

NYT columnist William Safire in Two-Front Insurgency:

All this means that we are now fighting an active two-front insurgency. That calls for a change in our strategy. ...

But now that the Saddam restorationists and Islamic fundamentalists have made their terrorist move on both fronts, we can counterattack decisively.

"In war, resolution." Having announced we would pacify rebellious Baathists in Falluja, we must pacify Falluja. Having designated the Shiite Sadr an outlaw, we must answer his bloody-minded challenge with whatever military force is required and with fewer casualties in the long run.

Safire advocates the US accept the Turkish offer to place 10,000 troops in Iraq; break the Iranian-Hezbollah-Sadr connection; and "coolly confront the quaking quagmirists here at home."

John Burns describes the detention of a NYT reporter and photographer by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and sums up that army as more milling about than militant.

Mark Steyn, as always, delivers the last word "a shaft of Steyn sunshine".

15:09: I'm wrong: ExPat gets in several last words covering the current battles from England - and battles the media, too. Excellent post.

I doubt Robert would be surprised that the "since Bush declared conflict over in May, 2003" phrase has been beaten into the ground here too. And CNN wonders why their ratings have plummeted?

Posted by Debbye at 12:43 PM | Comments (3)

Possible chemical attack in Britain (Update)

Apr. 7 - I never heard of osmium tetroxide before, but it has become one more chemical compound that must be regarded as a threat after US and British security sources said that UK chemical attack foiled.

Seems somebody planned to lace a bomb with osmium tetroxide.

Osmium tetroxide is toxic, can produce eye and skin irritations, and in closed spaces can be lethal.

There has been no suggestion that this information is related to the arrests of 9 British, 1 Canadian and 1 Saudi last week (unless you count CNN's urge to include that disclaimer in this article.)

13:25: Via Jack's Newswatch, The Sun (UK) describes it thusly:

ANTI-terror forces have foiled a plot to blitz Britain with chemical bombs that melt flesh, blind and cause horrific deaths, it was revealed yesterday.

[...]

The chemical [osmium tetroxide] — available on the internet for £100 — dissolves flesh, causes blindness, choking and kills by “dry-land drowning” where lungs fill with fluid.

The Telegraph tends to side with the less horrific CNN report - the effectiveness and lethal nature of the chemical is minimal. I would go with the Telegraph account, but when they title a story after a Supertramp album I'm hard-pressed to explain why they are more credible.

Posted by Debbye at 01:45 AM | Comments (2)

Anti-Semitism in Montreal

Apr. 7 - A library was set on fire at U.T.T. St-Laurent, a Jewish elementary school in Montreal.

Sari says it well:

... We truly, naively believed that the stories they taught us in Jewish history classes about hatred against Jews were just that - chapters in history books. It never occurred to us that our school was anything but safe.

I feel bad for the students who will have to face the fact that someone set fire to their school. No elementary school child should have that illusion of safety shattered.

There were apparently notes left on the scene which claimed the motive for the attack was retaliation for the death of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.

The excuse in for anti-Semitic graffiti and knocking over headstones in Toronto was the Iraq War.

The operative word being "excuse."

The prime minister and Min. of Justice have issued strong statements denouncing this expression of hate, as have the mayor of Montreal and premier of Quebec.

Link via Paul.)

Apr. 7 13:04: Updates on the arson, described as a fire-bombing, from the Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette (which says, if committed by adults, is a clear act of terrorism and should be prosecuted as such,) and an extremely well-targeted Letter to the Editor of the National Post. Excerpt:

Having thus left Canadians with a clear impression that attacks against Jews outside of Canada are acceptable or tolerable, it is no surprise that anti-Semites in Canada have become emboldened in their attacks against Jews inside Canada.
(Links via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 01:12 AM | Comments (5)

April 06, 2004

Two fronts in Iraq

April 6 - A long, hard day. We said we would pay the price, and we knew it would include our tears. God bless the men and women who serve, and remember our allies: one Ukranian, one Salvadorean have been confirmed killed by enemy fire. (I'd also heard that 2 Spanish soldiers have been killed.)

The enemy's mistakes

Another mistake

Apr. 4 - Mustapha Yacoubi, close associate of Muqtada al-Sadr, arrested Apr. 3. Muqtada al-Sadr issues call to arms

In Najaf, two allied soldiers were killed, 20 Iraqis died and 210 were wounded after gunmen among 5,000 demonstrators opened fire at a base for Spanish soldiers.

In Amarah, near Basra, British troops were involved in fighting which led to four Iraqis dying.

Apr. 5 - Warrant for arrest of Muqtada al-Kadr issued by Iraqi judge for the Apr. 10, 2003, stabbing murder of Abdel-Majid al-Khoei killed outside a shrine in Najaf.
U.S. officials said the warrant against al-Sadr was issued months ago by an Iraqi judge and that Iraqis only now want to carry it out.
Apr. 6 - Marines lock down Fallujah

Taking car of some long, overdue business.

Apr. 6 - Fighting in Ramadi

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As many as a dozen U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday in heavy fighting in the western Iraq town of Ramadi, the latest in a series of clashes with anti-coalition elements, Pentagon officials said.

The large-scale attack was mounted by suspected remnants of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, officials said.

Coalition forces fighting on two fronts
Backers of fiery anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked coalition forces in three cities — Italians in Nasiriyah, Britons in Samawah and Ukrainians in Kut — after a weekend of fighting that was especially intense in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said U.S. troops have captured a number of people in Fallujah in the last 36 hours.

"They have photographs of a good many people who were involved in the attacks against the individuals and they have been conducting raids in the city against high-value targets," Rumsfeld said.

At the moment, about 135,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq — "an unusually high level," Rumsfeld said. American officials had expected to go down to about 115,000 troops when a series of rotations of new troops into and older troops out of the country was complete, Rumsfeld said.

Note: I wish I could remember which genius over a month ago mentioned that troop levels would be at an unusually high level. Good call.
The United States declared al-Sadr an "outlaw" after his militiamen battled coalition troops Sunday in Baghdad and outside Najaf in fights that killed 61 people — including eight U.S. soldiers.
New al Qaeda tape attributed to Zarqawi.

New al Qaeda tape takes responsibility for the Canal Hotel bombing Aug. 19, and attacks on

"the coalition forces in Karbala, the Italians in Nasiriya, the American forces in the Al-Khaldiya Bridge, the American intelligence in the Al-Shahine Hotel, the CPA in Baghdad, the CIA in the Al-Rashid Hotel, and the Polish military in Al-Hilla."
Portions call for religious warfare:
Al-Zarqawi was especially hostile toward the Shiite majority, calling them "idolaters" and traitors who allied themselves with "the enemies of Islam to seize control over Sunni Iraq."
Boasting about the death they have brought to Iraq taking credit for the bombing of the Mount Lebanon Hotel March 17 and the car bomb that killed Ayatollah Mohammad Baqr al-Hakim Aug. 29.
One theme of the tape echoed that of a letter U.S. authorities released earlier this year in which al-Zarqawi purportedly wrote to other al-Qaida leaders that the best way to undermine U.S. policy in Iraq was to turn the country's religious communities against each other.

Iraq's Shiite majority was suppressed under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who favoured his own Sunni community. Saddam loyalists in heavily Sunni parts of the country and foreign fighters have been blamed for the bulk of attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

On the tape, the speaker said Shiite Iraqis were not true Muslims and were "the ears and the eyes of the Americans" in Iraq. He called upon Sunni Muslims in Iraq to "burn the earth under the occupiers' feet."

Beware the Tet Offensive Syndrome!

UPI editorialist Arnaud de Borchgrave agrees.

We're clearing some extremely bad characters out of Iraq. I fail to see that as being a problem.

Apr. 7 01:22: Expat Yank covers the view from the other side of the Atlantic.

And a new weapon has been unveiled by the Pentagon.

01:50: The British are also in the midst of troop rotations. 700 of 5,000 troops going into Iraq flew in today (Wednesday.) (Via Rantburg, who also has a good summary of Tuesday's events here.)

The Scotsman explains why the Iraqi elections should not be delayed.

Posted by Debbye at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

Tartan Day 2004

Apr. 6 - Ith has a slew of posts about Tartan Day 2004 and they are wonderful.

This is the intro of the series, Not For Glory, Nor Riches and the Calling of the Blogs is here. Before you start linking, though, check out her other posts for the day.

She has some haunting photos of standing stones, poetry, and favourite Scottish things, and a link here to a bit of Scottish military history.

I can't resist linking to this picture of Paul in his Tartan.

Enjoy, and Happy Tartan Day to you all!

Posted by Debbye at 03:08 PM | Comments (3)

Rwanda Memorial Conference II

Apr. 6 - Paul salutes Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dalliare (Ret.) who alone has the decency to attend the Rwanda Memorial Conference today.

Apr. 7 - 11:37: Interesting Op-ed in the NY Times by Emmanuel Dongala, who was in Brazzaville during the Rwandan genocide and became a refugee when the ethnic violence flared in Congo Republic. He poses some interesting questions and challenges, especially how the lessons we claim to have learned from Rwanda .

Today, I still think the genocide in Rwanda has not been the electroshock that should have jolted me and other African scholars from our "Africanly" correct way of thinking.

Some of our outdated ideological ideas must be challenged. With the backing of the government, Arabs are carrying out a massacre of genocidal scale against black Africans in Sudan, yet many academics and leaders in Africa are reluctant to speak out because of a misplaced sense of solidarity. We are also reluctant to face other unpleasant realities because we are afraid that would project the wrong picture of Africa to the world.

In 1958, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea was the only leader of all the French African colonies to seek immediate independence. Because of this, we refused for a long time to denounce the crimes Toure was committing against his people. And because Robert Mugabe fought for freedom in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe), it is not acceptable to criticize his autocratic rule, for doing so would be siding with the white settlers. As for Rwanda, many people dare not speak against the crimes that Rwandan troops are committing in the Democratic Congo Republic because of the moral legitimacy President Paul Kagame gained by stopping genocide in his country.

The solidarity expressed by "Africanly" political correctness is not necessarily a bad thing, but the genocide in Rwanda reflected that this unity reflects words and not sentiments among the peoples of Africa. Like many other Westerners, though, I am reluctant to scold and advise Africans on the best course; yet when I see mounting death tolls from tribal conflicts, I feel we should be doing more to stop it.

I wonder if the hesitation to intervene was due more to concerns about appearing "culturally insensitive" than total indifference. When all recourses are laden with risk it is easier to do nothing, and the US would probably have been reviled and condemned as racist had we intervened militarily.

I don't know. Today, the mindset of 1994 is a vague memory.

Belmont Club makes several observations about the criticism Dalliare received at the memorial, but the key one is this:

First, it is a candid admission that the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission was wholly unprepared to fulfill its mission.
Dallaire was harshly criticized by two Belgiums and didn't respond by asking them why their troops pulled out when it became clear that a genocide was beginning. He's a better man than I am. (End of update)

On the other hand, Paul isn't saluting the decision of unnamed morons to keep the Snowbirds (Canada's aviation aerobatic team) in the same jets until the year 2020 (that is not a misprint.)

Posted by Debbye at 02:44 PM | Comments (2)

Hong Kong Watch (Updated)

Apr. 6 - Timing is everything, they say. When the eyes of the world are focused on Iraq, China lays down the law in HK.

China has declared that it alone has the power to determine what changes may happen in Hong Kong.

In a clear message that China's central government is tightening its control over the rule of law, news Chinese delegates on Tuesday said they had decided the territory must submit proposed political reforms to Beijing for approval.
Concentrated, centralized power in a country as large and populous as China is only one of the ills of that country and of communism.
In recent months, Chinese President Hu Jintao's administration has played hardball, worried calls for more democracy in the territory will spill over to the mainland.

Beijing is also concerned about losing control over the territory, prompting it to issue rhetoric not seen in decades.

It stressed that Hong Kong's ruling elite must consist of "patriotic" elements and has labeled pro-democracy politicians "unpatriotic."

This isn't exactly a surprise, but it does pose a serious challenge to countries who support freedom.

Apr. 7 - 12:13: And leaders in Hong Kong protest the decision.

Opposition parties in Hong Kong attacked the ruling as an infringement on the 50-year period of autonomy China promised when it replaced Britain as Hong Kong's sovereign power in 1997, and as a big step back for democracy.

The Civil Human Rights Front, a broad coalition of pro-democracy groups, announced Tuesday night that it would hold a march on Sunday afternoon to protest Beijing's decision.

Posted by Debbye at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2004

France and the war on terror

Apr. 5 - The counter intelligence units in France have shown why they have so excellent a reputation: 13 people were arrested Monday morning on suspicion of being members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group and in connection with the terrorist bombings in Casablanca last year, and an ETA arms factory and a large supply of weapons was found near the Spanish border in the village of San Michel (in the Basque region of the Pyrenees.) They had arrested 3 members of the ETA on Friday.

Posted by Debbye at 10:16 PM | Comments (3)

British, Canadian Terror Link II (Updated)

Apr. 5 - According to the Sunday Times (UK) a communication between al Qaeda forces in Pakistan and the UK which appeared to give instructions for an attack on British soil was intercepted by the NSA in the USA. They alerted British authorities (CNEWS - World: Report: U.S. eavesdropping led to arrests) who arrested the 9 people they already had under surveillance and seized half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

According to the Times, Canadian Momin Khawaja played a "pivotal role" in the plot.

The sweep in the UK was called Operation Crevice, and its counterpart in Canada was called Project Awaken.

The operational instructions appeared to come from someone familiar to Americans, Iraqis and Spaniards:

The sender was apparently in the circle around Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to be the mastermind of attacks in Baghdad and Karbala last month in Iraq that killed 280 people during a Muslim religious festival.

The link to Pakistan is also seen as significant because it disproves a view that al-Qaida's command structure had been broken up and scattered by the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and arrests made around the world in the last 2 1/2 years of the war on terror, The Sunday Times said.

"We all thought there were cells operating in isolation and had been told that the al-Qaida network had been destroyed from the top when suddenly we find a chain of command leading back to Pakistan," a senior Scotland Yard source is quoted as saying.

The assertion that al-Zarqawi masterminded two major attacks on two different continents only last month followed by an assertion that senior level officials thought al Qaeda had been destroyed from the top is either simplistic in the extreme or bad editing.

Have al Qaeda activities been disrupted? Yes. Are they still dangerous? Yes. Should we give up? No.

Is the terrorist counter-offensive finished? Maybe, or at least partially. The rapid deployment of an additional 650 British troops to Kosovo stopped further ethnic cleansing there, and the effectual disruption in Spain of further attacks (with a major assist from the French) in addition the arrests in the UK means that the line in Europe held.

(CNews links via Neale News.)

22:41: Via Jack's Newswatch, this report that Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, the new leader of the terror network in Saudi Arabia, has issued a threat: one of al-Qaeda’s top officials has ordered the killing of Muslim leaders if they co-operate with intelligence services and the police to thwart terrorist attacks.

The ultimate goal of the Islamists is to force all Muslims to accept their version of Islam. We know this because they've said it repeatedly, and this latest pronouncement is part of their on-going attempts to terrorize other Muslims.

Apr. 6 - 01:50: From Winds of Change, Italy has detained 106 people, mostly Moroccan, on suspicions of having links with terrorists. Italy has been in a state of alert since the March 11 train bombings in Madrid.

Posted by Debbye at 08:57 PM | Comments (2)

German train tracks sabotaged

Apr. 5 - Six metal slabs bolted to train railes in Germany nearly caused a high speed train to derail. The driver saw the slabs and was able to slow the train before it hit the slabs.

22:03: More here. A train that passed the area 18 minutes earlier hadn't seen the slabs, so the time frame during which the obstruction was assembled has been established.

No one has taken responsibility for the incident.

(Newsday link via Jack's Newswatch.)

Posted by Debbye at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

Hessians? Think Again.

Apr. 5 - I wrote the post Andy Bradsell, KIA in Iraq, about an extraordinary Canadian who, with his partner Christopher McDonald, put themselves between a convoy of executives from the power plant and gunmen. Although the convoy did reach the power plant safely, Mr. Bradsell and Mr. McDonald were killed.

We call that service above and beyond.

I would ask that readers follow the link, not for my words but for the words of tribute from Andy's aunt, June Bradsell, and two several of his friends in the comments. Of especial concern is the pain caused by those who grabbed the label "mercenary" to shrug aside Bradsell's heroism, explain their lack of outrage over the events in Fallujah and who even invoked the despised Hessians of the late 18th century, the deployment of whom in colonial America was the cause of much grievance against Mother England.

We call that propaganda. We call that a deliberate distortion of the truth. We call that using a term that attempts to focus emotional images in the minds of Americans from the past as a way of excusing the ugliness of the present.

I've tried not to let my rage write this post, but it finally occurred to me that the fact that Americans started this mercenary nonsense was a good thing because I can take the gloves off when I'm dealing with my countryman whereas I try to be more diplomatic when dealing with Canadians.

The men we've lost in Iraq are among the bravest of the brave. It is precisely because they are there by choice that elevates them to a place of special respect and honour and the military personnel in Iraq consideres them partners, not impediments or competitors.

What don't those who contemptuously call these men "mercenaries" comprehend?

The actions of men like Bradsell, McDonald and those who died in Fallujah speak more eloquently than any words I can summon to describe such men.

What is it propagandists would have us forget? That Bradsell and McDonald deliberately put themselves in harm's way to protect those who are trying to stabilize the flow of electricity in Iraq? That Zovko, Teague, Helvenston and Batalona knew when they drove into Fallujah that they could be ambushed and deployed themselves to take the fire and allow the food convoy to get through?

Actually, yes. That diversion from the mission of contractors like these men and the others who are working in Iraq is exactly what they hoped to achieve. We got to squabbling about the term mercenary and forgot why their presence is vital to restoring Iraq.

Iraq is dangerous. There are many forces there who care very much that electricity flows are disrupted and food is scarce because they want to destablizing the country further. As they have demonstrated for the last 35 years, they care nothing for the welfare of the Iraqi people. Yet, due to the political polarisation over Operation Iraqi Freedom, their stealth tactics have caused many on the anti-war left who believe themselves to support a liberation struggle to say things and take positions that I think they will someday regret.

Many who presumed to speak out angrily on behalf of Iraqis who suffered electrical black-outs have been silent about both the attempts to restore service and those who would sabotage and disrupt those services. Many who anxiously warned of humanitarian disaster in the wake of the war have been silent about attempts to deliberately disrupt the delivery of food and supplies. That's their contradiction, not mine, and there will come a time when the more honest of them will see that their desire to defend their opposition to the Iraq war has led them to violate their own values.

Remember the human shields who piously and nobly headed to Iraq before the war? Mohammed does and quotes from his 2003 journal:

The worse I hate are those human shields. I hate them for their stupidity, what peace they seek? Don’t they think for one moment about what’s happening here? We’re already dead. Whom are they defending? I don’t know.
Today there are real human shields in Iraq, and they are contributing to the fight to restore life to Iraq after 35 years of living death. Maybe their importance is illustrated by what happens when they aren't present.

Web logger Bob Zangas, after being Iraq for 6 months with the USMC, returned as a civilian with the Public Affairs office with the Coaltion Provisional Authority. This was his final entry from Iraq. Bob was killed in an ambush on March 10:

Zangas, another CPA employee and their Iraqi interpreter were killed Tuesday evening when Iraqi policemen chased the vehicle in which they were riding, forced it off a road and then executed them with a hail of machine gunfire.

The three had been on a return trip to their fortified compound in Hilla after they had visited a newly opened Women's Rights Center in Karbala. The other American, Fern Holland, had worked as a lawyer in Oklahoma before coming to Iraq.

Bob, Fern Holland, and their interpreter were travelling without escort.

But the underlying question remains on the table: why do men like Bob Zangas and Andy Bradsell put themselves at risk in a country like Iraq? Is it for the money? Adventure? Or are they answering a higher calling?

Greyhawk over at Mudville Gazette answers this and other questions with a number of links to military bloggers in The "Mercenary" Response among which is Grimbeorn who proclaims himself to be a mercenary and explains why he volunteered (note that I tried to excerpt this, but dang! the entire post is wonderful):

All the identified are former members of the US military. So what are they doing in Iraq?

I can answer, as I volunteered for such a deployment earlier this year--although my employer preferred to keep me working at another GWOT project in the USA. I volunteered recently for a deployment to Kabul, about which I've not yet heard.

I would be surprised to learn that these men differed very much in motives. Like them, I joined the military--the USMC--right out of high school, largely for patriotic reasons, though also out of a youth's desire for adventure. My service ended in 1994. On 9/11, I abandoned the career I'd embarked upon and started looking for ways to return to service.

Damned straight. And Beorn is hardly alone: most of us responded to Sept. 11 with a desire to do something, anything, to defend our country and values.
The military has strict caps on how many people it can have, though, at every grade. The USMC, being the smallest, has the least room--and the wave of volunteers that came with 9/11 meant that recruitment was, and remains, topped out. There was simply no room.

There are also age limits, and in the years since 9/11, I've run afoul of them. Even if room opened up now, I couldn't return because I'm too old.

But our service is still needed. I went looking for other ways to serve, since the military was closed to me. I found it in the 'mercenary service,' which allows me to work hand in hand with the US military. I've worked on projects for every branch of the service, and most of the global commands.

Estimates on just how many people like me there are run wild, and no one is really sure. It seems likely to be at least one "contractor" to every five servicemen, but it may be as high as one to one.

Many bring skills that they've gotten later in life, which broadens the range of talent and knowledge beyond what the military itself has to offer. Deployments are not much less gentle than the military's own, although they are softened a bit by being purely volunteer--you can leave, if you really want to. Few do.

This is what US mercenaries are like. They exist at all because the Congress and DOD bureaucracy aren't realistic about the force levels needed, and cling to outmoded concepts like age limits. As with anything else in a free society, where there is a demand that isn't being met, a service appears to meet it. I would rather be in uniform; but since I cannot be, I'll do this instead. (Emphasis added.)

Read the whole thing; I'm actually quoting Beorn quoting himself, and he has a lot more to say about answering the call to freedom in whatever capacity he can and about some of those with whom he serves. A snippet:
Most people in these various defense contractor, "Private Military Company" firms are former military, but there are also many who aren't, people who admire the military but who aren't made to be soldiers. They still want to do their part, and they do. Some of them have skills that are rare in the military, too--I know a lot of Arabists like that, including quite a few non-US citizens who want to be a part of what America is doing, but whose nations aren't in the Coalition--Syrians, Egyptians, and Sudanese. They can't serve in their own nation's armies, but they can still help make a stand against terrorism.
We have, therefore, a collection of people who wish to make a stand. I know just how they feel. Were I several decades younger I'd be there, but I'm stuck in this (ahem) mature body and can only wield my keyboard in this fight. And you know what? It's not enough! My heart burns to be doing more, to stand up taller and higher so I can shout to the world "Let Freedom Ring!"

God, how many of us feel like that! I don't want to stand foursquare behind our troops, I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and join in this mighty struggle. And I honour, revere and even envy those who can and do.

Soldier and civilian, contractor and armed guard, all are necessary to this fight. They are engaged in the most audacious and noble enterprise ever known to humanity: the struggle to bring freedom to the oppressed and the fight against those who seek to put forward another Saddam as the bringer of death and cruelty to the people of Iraq.

Those who call civilians like Andy Bradsell "mercenary" might do well to consider what Jason Van Steenwyk calls them: partners.

I should say that I had the privilege to meet many civilian contractors and security professionals from all over the world. Most of them were there supplementing coalition forces security, or providing needed logistical or security services to US troops and to the Iraqi people.

Most of the American contractors I talked to had served 20 years on active duty with the US military in one capacity or another.

Unlike my troops, these guys could have left at any time, just by saying "I quit" and catching a ride to Baghdad or Kuwait. Instead, despite the risks, they chose to stay.

They are, in every sense, our partners. And their families, I'm sure, loved them and missed them and feared for their safety just as fervently as ours.

Anyone who tries to force a moral distinction between our soldiers and these civilians who served alongside us--who dismisses them as "mercenaries" in it for the "pecuniary interests alone," and anyone who buys into that idea, is merely displaying a frightening degree of ignorance.

So it occurs to me that the reason some have targeted the civilians who protect and defend other contractors is precisely that they are there by choice and by conviction. It kind of ruins the image of US soldiers who have no choice to be there and are thus victims of the Bush administration, doesn't it? Of course, the fact that re-enlistment targets have been met ruins that image anyway, but why let facts get in the way of propaganda?

Andy Bradsell was a Canadian. Andy heard the call of freedom and served that call by contributing his skills to advancing that cause. I call him a warrior, not only because he was fortunate enough to have the requisite skills that allowed him to follow the path of a warrior, but because he was willing to fight and die for his beliefs.

Don't you get it? Andy Bradsell stood on guard for thee!

There are so few people like Bradsell, McDonald, Zangas, Holland, Teague, Helvenston, Batalona and Zovko. They will long be remembered for their heroism. That's not a bad place in history to occupy.

Apr. 6 09:26: Warren suggests we begin using the term paladin to describe the security forces in Iraq. I like it.

10:18: Private guards repell attack on US HQ in Najaf:

An attack by hundreds of Iraqi militia members on the U.S. government's headquarters in Najaf on Sunday was repulsed not by the U.S. military, but by eight commandos from a private security firm, according to sources familiar with the incident.

Before U.S. reinforcements could arrive, the firm, Blackwater Security Consulting, sent in its own helicopters amid an intense firefight to resupply its commandos with ammunition and to ferry out a wounded Marine, the sources said.

Read the whole thing. Commandos, mercenaries, armed security guards, call them what you will. Warren is right: they are paladins, champions, fighters for a cause.

Apr. 11: We have another paladin to add to the roll of honour: Michael Bloss:

Michael Bloss, 38, a former paratrooper, died in a gun battle after leading civilian contractors to safety. They had come under fire near the town of Hit, about 110 miles west of Baghdad.
Honour those who serve!

Apr. 21 16:11 There is a Canadian-based honour role of The Fallen for security personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Posted by Debbye at 12:23 PM | Comments (13)

April 04, 2004

Work

I'm not going to be able to post until after work this evening. I've updated the post on Spain with the news slowly coming out about yesterday's explosion.

Working weekends really sucks. Not working sucks even more, so I'm not complaining (much.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Kosovo

Apr. 4 - Britain's troops must stay, demands president of Kosovo. Ibrahim Rugova, the president of Kosovo, thanked Britain for her swift deployment of troops last month but asks they stay to longer.

The Telegraph has learned that four corpses of leading rioters killed by the security forces have yet to be claimed by families, suggesting that they were from outside Kosovo.

[...]

"This violence happened because, more than five years after the Nato intervention, power has still not been transferred to local institutions," he said. "This prevents proper economic development, and means we cannot improve security ourselves."

His uncompromising message goes against the grain: since the violence, many Western officials have been reassessing the prospects for Kosovan independence, fearing for the security of the estimated 10 per cent Serb minority. Meanwhile, Serbian calls for the division of Kosovo into ethnic cantons are being taken more seriously.

Mr Rugova is resolute, however. "We can build security for all communities if we have the power to do so," he said. He said that two of the provisional government's 10 ministers were Serbs, and the Serb grouping was the third largest in Kosovo's parliament. He was less keen to dwell on events on the ground, however, where many Serbs are living in fear for their lives in shrinking enclaves, many of which had seen their churches, schools and hospitals destroyed. Without Kosovan independence, he said, extremists would gain more power. The shadowy Albanian National Army was implicated by some in the violence.

"This group stands for the unification of all Albanian lands," he said. "If we see recognition of Kosovan independence, they will lose ground. If not, they will gain ground among the people."

Posted by Debbye at 12:26 AM | Comments (5)

April 03, 2004

British Muslims confront terrorism

Apr. 3 - As noted here, the Muslim Council of Britain called on imams in British mosques to denounce terrorism with mixed results. Despite the lead in the Telegraph story, Union flag burnt as extremists cheer bin Laden, which is about a small group of people, the heart of the issue is further down in the body of the article:

Abdul Qayum, the imam of the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets, said in his sermon that true adherents of Islam "could not conceive" of killing people unlawfully.

But he warned the international community against confusing this with the "freedom movements by the oppressed people of Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya against the occupation forces".

That might be seen as defending terrorism as a tactic.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Debbye at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

Spain Updated

Apr. 3 - Updating the meagre details of this story from yesterday, the Daily Telegraph (UK) has an extremely coherent account of the latest discovery of the letter bombs and foiled plot to blow up Madrid express.

A warning has been issued in the US to be on guard against potential bombing of transport systems there. (In American English, that means being alert to abandoned back-packs and such.)

20:01: 1 policeman killed, 11 injured when 3 terrorists blew themselves up as policement entered premises to search for suspects in Mar. 11 train bombings. Paul has more (and probably better) information from La Vanguardia.

23:55: Daily Telegraph report here. Jamal Ahmida, "The Chinaman," (perhaps earlier named as Jamal Ahmidan?) is believed to be have been killed by the bomb. The explosive device was attached to the door of the apartment.

Apr. 4 - 07:44 Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the Tunisian believed to be the organizer of the March 11 attack, was among the dead. Spanish officials believe the organization behind the attack was Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM).

Apr. 5 - 17:03: John Ibbitson reports here and here that five suspects in the March 11 Madrid train bombing self-detonted. The identifies of four, three of whom had international warrants for their arrests, have been confirmed:

"The Tunisian", Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, ringleader;
Jamal Ahmidan, who rented the premises where the bombs were made;
Abdennabi Kounjaa, who procured the explosives;
Asri Rifaat Anouar, only identified as a Morrocan;
A fifth who has not been identified.

Five others suspected of being involved in the plot to bomb the trains are in jail: Zougam, Chaoui, Bekkali, Zbakh and Ghayoun.

Apr. 7 - 15:00: The number of terrorists who died in that house has risen to seven.

Posted by Debbye at 10:18 AM | Comments (2)

Sudan: Rwanda or Kosovo (Updated)

Apr. 3 - A short while ago there was a lot of talk - lots and lots of talk - about how badly Kofi Annan felt that he did nothing to stop the massacres in Rwanda (actually, he did "something": he ordered the withdrawal of a large body of UN troops.)

April 7 marks the anniversary of the bloodshed, but naturally the "world leaders" aren't going to attend the memorial service in Rwanda, all too Bloody Typical, as Paul notes.

There have been several danger signs in Sudan with claims that Arab militias are forcing black Africans out of their villages and into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad, and the UNSC is having a meeting about it.

"I have no reason to believe that the government is actively planning it, but I have reason to say that little is done to stop it, and therefore it seems as if it is being condoned," Jan Egeland, the world body's humanitarian affairs chief, said after briefing the Security Council.

"Scorched-earth tactics are being employed throughout Darfur, including the deliberate destruction of schools, wells, seed and food supplies, making whole towns and villages uninhabitable," he said, describing an "organized campaign" that has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes and triggered "one of the world's worst humanitarian crises."

Following his briefing, the 15-nation council issued a statement calling on the Sudan government and rebel groups to protect civilians in the northeast African nation, help aid workers gain access to needy regions, agree on a humanitarian cease-fire and "reach a political settlement to the dispute."

Darfur peace talks opened this week in N'Djamena, the capital of neighboring Chad, where the United Nations says tens of thousands of Darfur refugees have fled.

But the talks have gotten off to a slow start, with the first few days devoted to "talking about talks," Egeland said.

US diplomats say that representatives from Pakistan and Algeria "watered down" the resolution, the two countries deny it, and, in short, the UN shows how vital and effective it is when dictatorships control the agenda in the name of multilateralism.

The Sudanese government this week arrested a leader of the Opposition and several others on charges they had tried to overthrow the government, but even so, Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa, says the claims of the UN are exaggerated.

Egeland noted that the situation in the Sudan should not be compared Rwanda as the inhabitants are being forced out of the area but not being killed.

Am I supposed to feel better that the situation is closer to that in Kosovo, another country in which the UN failed to act?

Remind me again why multilateral institutions like the UN are essential to world peace and the advancing of human rights. As talk is cheap, surely the UN is the biggest 'ho house in town.

23:41: Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire (Ret.) will attend the April 7 ceremony.

Apr. 5 - 23:10: This NY Times piece explains the "talks about the talks" comment:

The most important step now, he said, was to get a cease-fire declared. But reports from Ndjamena, the Chadian capital, where talks were under way, indicated that the combatants' representatives would not even enter the same room. The negotiations had descended into "talks about talks" while people continued to die, Mr. Egeland said.

Posted by Debbye at 09:33 AM | Comments (4)

April 02, 2004

Blogroll Changes

Apr. 2 - New address for Jay Currie, so change your bookmarks.

Also, a new blog called The Shotgun is up at the newly launched Western Standard and features some well-known Canadian bloggers: Nicholas Packwood, Damian Penny and Colby Cosh.

Of course, I lure you there by telling you that Mark Steyn has a column up at the Western Standard, but you'll find that out when you go to their main page.

Posted by Debbye at 11:55 PM | Comments (4)

Pres. Bush to meet with PM

Apr. 2 - Martin to meet Bush later this month in Washington, D.C.

Posted by Debbye at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Documents unclear on bin Laden options

Apr. 2 - Anyone who remembers the Watergate hearings can't help but groan at the soft-shoe dancing over whether the CIA was permitted to kill bin Laden (Details emerge on efforts, obstacles to killing bin Laden in 1990s.)

Had the CIA killed him, it is probable (and I obviously haven't seen the documents) that the wording was sufficient to give Clinton plausible denialibility:

The authorities granted to the CIA gradually increased, but a former senior CIA official said Clinton never signed a "pure kill" authorization.
President Bush was far less nuanced on the subject:
Dead or Alive.

Posted by Debbye at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)

Toronto Affairs

Apr. 2 - Yet another reason to wonder if Toronto will ever grow up to be a responsible adult: T.O. surplus fight heats up (excerpts):

Toronto council has no choice but to spend almost all of last year's $39-million budget surplus on items recommended by city bureaucrats, insists budget chief David Soknacki. Councillor Jane Pitfield last week complained that city officials recommended spending most of the cash instead of leaving it to politicians to determine what to do with the money.
Never mind that bureaucrats wasted millions of Toronto taxpayer dollars in the MFP affair because the City Council approved a bureaucrat-recommended contract without reading it. Who runs this city, anyway? I don't recall elections for any of the bureaucrats.

Using the money to offset this year's proposed 3% residential property tax hike was one thing politicians could do with the cash, Pitfield said.

However, Soknacki argued the city needs to cough up cash to meet financial commitments, such as paying for the MFP inquiry and making a computer leasing payment.

Uh huh, because when bureaucrats misspend our money we have to pay to unravel their paper trails.
A finance department report to councillors urges them to use $4.5 million of the surplus to pay part of the tab for an inquiry into the city's leasing deal with MFP Financial Services Inc. It also earmarks $3.5 million to finance a municipal election campaign rebate program, $9.8 million to meet the city's funding obligations to GO Transit and $4.6 million for a computer leasing payment.
Yet they still plan to increase transit fares, after which they'll moan about downtown gridlock.

Posted by Debbye at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Fallujah (Updated)

Apr. 2 - There are some disturbing implications in portions of the NY Times article The Occupation: Mix of Pride and Shame Follows Killings and Mutilation by Iraqis. (Excerpted out of order)

On Thursday, several Falluja residents spoke of the attack against the Americans in admiring terms. "It was a very good ambush," said Mr. Khalifa, the spare-parts seller. He said he was driving to work in downtown Falluja around 10 a.m. on Wednesday when he passed some men alongside the road who frantically waved at him and said: "Go back! Go back! Something is about to happen."

Mr. Khalifa, 38, said the men, some wearing masks, some carrying guns, cleared the streets so that when the security consultants rolled into town in two sport utility vehicles, they were the only cars on the road.

Within seconds, Mr. Khalifa said, the gunmen blasted the cars, killing the Americans, and melted back into the streets. Then the mobs came. Iraqi television crews caught the end of the mayhem. The images beamed worldwide were reminiscent of scenes from Somalia in 1993, when a mob dragged the body of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu. (Emphasis added)

Mr. Khalifa's account makes the resultant mob appear less than spontaneous - they were prepared for "something" to happen - and possibly even orchestrated. Furthermore, earlier reports stated that al Jazeera was also there.
The families of three of the victims confirmed their identities. They were Jerry Zovko, 32, an Army veteran from Willoughby, Ohio; Michael Teague, 38, an Army veteran from Clarksville, Tenn.; and Scott Helvenston, a Navy veteran from Big Bear, Calif. The company the men worked for, Blackwater U.S.A. of Moyock, N.C., declined to identify them.

In the morning, a team of American officials rushed to a meeting with Falluja's mayor and top clerics. American officials said the clerics promised to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, at Friday Prayer to condemn the ambush and the grisly aftermath. One of the gravest sins in Islam is desecrating the dead.

Sometimes, it seems as if American overseers have few friends. But on Thursday, a group of clerics and policemen helped the American authorities recover the bodies of the four security consultants. After the four were shot, they were yanked from burning vehicles by a jeering mob and dragged to a bridge over the Euphrates River where at least two bodies were strung up by a rope and dangled over the water.

Other reports note that the killing wasn't condemned, although the aftermath was. And however much the mutilations and desecrations may anger us, the Marines and Iraqi police probably made the right call in waiting to intervene (although yes, I'd far prefer they had used lethal force to disperse the mob. But that's an admittedly easy thought coming from this side of the world.)

Today's Washington Times editorial calls for an Apollonian rather than a Dionysian response.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force had only been assigned to the area last week, but the necessity of confronting the action in Fallujah means they will focus less on the reconstruction problems and more on rooting out the insurgents. We can make that of what we will.

I'm not even going to pretend to know what the families of are going through, but my heart goes out to them. They were all men who had bravely served their country and, like Canadian Andy Bradsell, were warriors in the finest tradition.

Never forget those who serve - in whatever capacity.

16:15: After itemizing a surprisingly lucid al Qaeda summation of US goals and aims in bringing democracy to Arabs countries, Stephen den Beste gets to the heart of the matter:

The key to achieving most of that is establishment of a relatively successful liberal democracy in Iraq, which was the primary reason for the invasion (rhetoric about WMDs notwithstanding). And it can't be done unless the Sunnis participate and are accepted by the Kurds and Shiites.
Therein lies the need for a skillful response.

17:15: Peggy Noonan says we've got the grinning faces of those who celebrated the desecrations on tape, so arrest (or kill) them, and blow up the bridge. She too doubts this was entirely spontaneous, but we need to send a message that "savagery is yesterday."

17:40: Wretchard offers his (?) usual incisive analysis of crafting our response and notes there was good reason to believe an ambush was set up for the anticipated 1st MEF's dash into Fallujah to retrive the bodies.

Apr. 3 - 20:42: Belmont Club gleans a lot of information from the Washington Post article Fallujah Plan is Readied (which is based in part on this ABC report Anatomy of the Attack.) There are indeed strong reasons for believing that the attack was an ambush (and that the men were prepared for that possibility going in) as well as a possibility that there was complicity with Iraqi security forces in Fallujah. He analyzes the cordon around Fallujah and probable strategic decisions in Command Decision.

Mohammed of Iraq the Model remind us what these unemployed special forces people are really like here (and if you haven't been following his series "Days I do not want to forget" then you're missing some moving writing.)

Many thanks to Jay Reding for posting the bios and pictures of Jerry Zovko, Michael Teague, and Scott Helvenston. Their final action was to see that the convoy got through.

23:26: The NY Times has an article about the men Familes of Men Slain by Mob Focus on Their Lives, Not How They Died.

Apr. 5 - 16:16: The fourth victim in Fallujah has been identified as Wesley J. Batalona of Honokaa, Hawaii. Mr. Batalona, 48, was a former Army Ranger who went to Iraq because he wanted to help:

"He thought the people over there were good people," his sister-in-law, Darla Baquiring, said yesterday. "That's why he was over there. To help the children."
Always honour those who serve.

Posted by Debbye at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Parliamentary Question Period

Apr. 2 - Andrew Coyne has a must-read goody for Americans who've wondered what is this Question Period that takes place daily in the Canadian Parliament and provides a comparison transcript from the British Parliament's Question Period that explains why some of us view Canada's version as a reasonable alternative to the Comedy Network.

(By the way, the mention of oh, oh that you'll read are truly the sounds the MPs - Members of Parliament - make. I'm not kidding.)

Posted by Debbye at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Bomb found under Spanish train tracks

Apr. 2 - I guess you can't appease everyone: a bomb was found on the Spanish rail line that runs between Madrid and Seville. 10-24 kg of dynamite were connected to a detonator by a 131 m (430 ft.) cable. The bomb was defused by the Civil Guard. [Note in update that Ángel Acebes, the Minister of the Interior, says there was no detonator.]

Media reports have not been confirmed by officials. There may been a telephone call warning of the bomb, and a contractor hired to build new tracks may have found the bomb.

14 people are being held in connection with the Mar. 11 terror attack on Madrid trains. A Spanish judge released two Syrians without charges and a Moroccan was released but ordered to report daily by the judge.

There are international warrants for six others - one Tunisian and five Morrocans. Tunisian Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet is thought to be the leader. Morrocan Jamal Ahmidan rented the premises where the bomb was built and Mohamed Oulad Akcha, his brother Rachid Oulad Akcha, and Abdennabi Kounjaa procured the explosives and made the bombs. Said Berraj is believed to be the link to al Qaeda.

15:11: Paul has information from La Vanguardia account on some of the details, including the fact that the bomb was minus a detonator.

18:15: Iberian Notes reports that the timer wasn't set. Official consensus seems to be that whoever was planting the bomb was interrupted. He says: "La Vangua ran a story saying that they suspect there are 300 Moroccan Islamist Combatent Group affiliates in Spain, which means there are plenty more where Jamal Zougam and Abderraman Balkh came from."

18:30: Tim Blair's update is from Franco Alemán of Hispa Libertas who says that there was no telephone warning and it had been raining all night (which is why the dryness of the bomb was important.)

Apr. 3 - 08:58: AP confirms that the bomb material matches that used Mar. 11. This report says the bomb failed to detonate because it wasn't properly connected, and CNN is confirms that no initiator was found.

The Washingtn Times carries a report from AP which refers to a claim in the Spanish paper El Mundo reporting that the Spanish Embassy in Egypt received a letter from the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri threatening to attack again unless Spain withdraws troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by Debbye at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

Terror threats in Australia

Apr. 2 - The hunt is on for Abou Saleh, a Chechen said to be one of bin Laden's most senior bomb experts, who was recruited by a deported terrorist, Willie Brigitte, to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia.

Brigitte told interrogators he had been ordered by Pakistan-based al-Qaeda operatives to meet Salah in Sydney to help him prepare an Australian atrocity.

According to the French dossier on the Australian terror threat, Salah and Brigitte were to work with Pakistan-born Sydney architect Faheem Khalid Lodhi to prepare "an attack of great size" in Sydney.

The dossier said Salah was also the commander of a series of vast terror-training camps in Pakistan.

It is believed that the attack is to be made upon military or nuclear facilities.

A report on transport security prepared by Australian officials was distributed at an anti-terrorism conference in Manila organized by the ASEAN Regional Forum. It stated that terrorists may be planning to attack shipping lanes with a "crude nuclear device". Jemaah Islamiyah is said to be thriving despite the crackdown by the Indonesian government and

... appeared to be pursuing terror training and links with groups from the Philippines to Pakistan.

"The overall picture ... is that South-East Asia remains a front line in the fight against terrorism. More attacks that threaten the safety and security of regional communities are inevitable," said an Australian government report. [Original ellipses]

[...]

One indication that the group [Jemaah Islamiha] was determined to survive was its effort to link up with organisations beyond South-East Asia, the report said, citing the discovery of a Jemaah Islamiah unit, identified as the al-Ghuraba cell, in Karachi, Pakistan, last year.

The cell, composed of Malaysians, Indonesians and Singaporeans, was established to train future religious and military leaders, it said.

Another Pakistan-based terror group, the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, has also been linked to the Karachi cell, the report said.

It said there were indications that Jemaah Islamiah was working with extremist groups in the southern Philippines "to the point of sharing training facilities and operational expertise".

Posted by Debbye at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004

British, Canadian Terror Link (Updated)

Apr. 1 - To update this post about the UK arrests of eight British men and the Ottawa arrest of a Canadian, Mohammed Momin Khawaja, on terrorism charges, there was another arrest in the UK Thursday evening.

The CNN reports this on the arrest in Saudi Arabia of Khawaja's father, Mahboob Khawaja:

Saudi intelligence sources said the arrest was made at the request of the Canadian government. It was not known what charges, if any, the elder Khawaja might face.
Some odd statements by the families of those arrested in the UK might imply, to an amateur detective type, that the bombing was planned for next week and the perpetrators had an escape route planned. (And yes, this could also all be a terrible misunderstanding and they are all innocent.)

Police in Canada and Britain were exploring any links the men may have had to extremists in Pakistan. Seven of the eight men arrested in Britain on Tuesday are British-born of Pakistani descent. The eighth is a naturalized Briton born in Algeria.

Ansar Khan, whose 18-year-old son Ahmed was among those detained in Britain, has said that his nephew, Omar Khyam, age 22 and also detained Tuesday, traveled to Pakistan in January 2000 after telling his family he was going on a school trip to France.

The family enlisted the help of relatives in Pakistan's military and intelligence services to find Khyam, who was eventually located in a Kashmiri "freedom-fighters" camp and returned to Britain, his uncle said.

The family said that Khyam was attending a computer school at the time of his arrest this week.

Omar Khyam's brother Shujah, age 17, also was detained in Britain Tuesday.

The Khan and Khyam families also said they were approached in recent weeks by a man who identified himself as "Mr. Gould" and said he worked for the British domestic intelligence agency MI5.

After meeting family representatives on several occasions, "Gould" suggested that the young males of the family -- who are now in custody -- should leave Britain.

According to the family, "Gould" said the young men did not represent a threat to national security but had been in contact with people who did represent such a risk.

The family said they had made arrangements for the three -- Ahmed Khan and Omar and Shujah Khyam -- to travel to Pakistan next week.

A spokesman for MI5 denied the claim that one of its officers had contacted the families.

It's hard not to wonder about the implications of this last part.

Apr. 2 - 15:30 British admit they were "liasing" with RCMP. (Their word, not mine.)

(CTV link via Jack's Newswatch.)

21:28: The arrests in Jordan may be part of the arrests in the UK and Canada, according to this article in the Ottawa Citizen by Robert Fife. Excertps:

Officials say the RCMP's arrests this week of Mr. Khawaja in Ottawa and the arrests of nine British Muslims in London -- all of whom are of Pakistani descent -- are just the start of a series of anti-terrorism operations to take place around the globe.

On Tuesday, authorities arrested three al-Qaeda suspects in Jordan for allegedly planning terrorist attacks.

Mr. Khawaja is being dubbed "The Fixer" by several newspapers in Britain that claim he was acting as a mentor for a cell of young British terrorist suspects before he was arrested.

Before the arrests, the British spy agency MI5 had conducted a two-month surveillance operation during which the suspected cell is alleged to have discussed bombing several targets in and around London. Lip readers were used to study films of the cell taken by undercover officers and tracking devices were attached to cars

While the cafe and its owners have no connection with terrorist activity, British newspapers are speculating that the suspects have been using the e-mail to talk with al-Qaeda "mentors" or "fixers" in other countries. Police are looking for communications between members of the cell and "fixers" whose job is to offer help.

Insiders say Prime Minister Paul Martin and Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan were briefed on the extensive file on Mr. Khawaja, 24, a contract employee at Foreign Affairs.

(Link via Nealenews.)

Apr. 3 - 10:34: Canadian Mohammed Momin Khawaja appeared by videolink in court and was remanded into custody until Wednesday. And this report from the CBC implies that the Canadian government didn't ask the Saudi government to arrest Mahboob Khawaja.

Posted by Debbye at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Timeline of Terror

Apr. 1 - How 9-11 happened. This timeline of terror actions against the US contains some things even I had forgotten about:

On April 5, 1986, a West Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen was bombed by Muslim extremists from the Libyan Embassy in East Berlin, killing an American.

Ten days later, Reagan bombed Libya, despite our dear ally France refusing the use of their airspace. Americans bombed Gadhafi's residence, killing his daughter, and dropped a bomb on the French Embassy "by mistake."

Classic Coulter.

Posted by Debbye at 06:52 PM | Comments (2)

54 arrested in 6 countries

Apr. 1 - In a sweep that included 6 countries, 54 people were arrested in connection to homicide bombings in Turkey.

The people arrested were suspected members of a Turkish Marxist organization called the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

38 suspects were arrested in Turkey, and another 16 were taken into custody in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Italy.

15:27: The Australian news report is far more detailed, and credits the cooperation of security forces in the lead up to the Olympics and notes that such cooperation had already been increasing due to the war on terror. Also, one of those killed in DHKP-C attacks in Turkey was an Australian woman.

Apr. 2 - 18:04: 10 more arrests in Turkey bring the total to 63. (Yes, I know there's a discrepancy with the numbers, but the original CNN report still says 54; this may be due to the fact that a German man was arrested in Greece and charged with being linked to the group but his arrest wasn't part of the wider operation.)

Posted by Debbye at 03:03 PM | Comments (2)

Help with movie title

Apr. 1 - Can anyone help Name that movie?

It's going to be bug me all day.

Posted by Debbye at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Canada The Unready

April 1 - The title of this news article inadvertantly sums up the entire problem: Canadians told: Get 'damn mad' but at who? Canadians are nice and polite, and terrorists would never want to hurt them (or so I'm told) and, judging by the media up here and far too many Canadians, the biggest danger to world peace is the USA.

Anti-Americans might eventually have a moment of truth: what if China or Russia were to offer to send troops here to stabilize a situation?

A passive citizenry digs its own grave.

22:40: Spin Killer nails it in Canada ... a Deer in the Terror headlights.

Apr. 2 14:35: Alright already, this is a link to the "chilling new call to arms from al Qaeda" that names Canada. Trust me, there will be a fuss for awhile, then complacency, and when Canada is finally hit there will be great gnashing of teeth and prolonged wailing of why weren't we prepared?

It's been nearly a year since SARS hit us in two waves, and they still don't have a plan to respond to biological attacks. And we expect them to be ready for what they can't conceive could happen?

Posted by Debbye at 12:24 PM | Comments (4)

Jose Maria Aznar, truth, and Canada

Apr. 1 - This article by Jose Maria Aznar in Opinion Journal should be read for three reasons.

First, it sets the record and chronology straight. Bloggers who followed the chronology of events have links to the news items which confirm Aznar's account.

Second, it reminds us that politics is a game of deception, and that to automatically assume the government is lying is the best way to allow ourselves to be manipulated by the other guys, those who want the same power a sitting government posseses and have no scruples about how they get that power:

Once deception had successfully supplanted truth, our opponents sought to redirect the public's anger against the terrorists, exhorting people to channel their ire toward a government that was hard at work, a government that is still working to clarify what happened and to bring the guilty to justice. Last weekend was a time for solemnity, and for reflection. Instead, people with partisan motives scarred the moment with their screeching accusations. (Emphasis added)
Isn't that what is happening in the Sept. 11 Commission hearings? I know who is to blame for Sept. 11: al Qaeda. Those who are trying to shift the focus of blame away from al Qaeda aren't interested in truth but in power, and they don't care that their quest for power endangers us.

The third reason is that it provides a useful lesson in the tactic of how lies are spun to aid misdirection. Curiously, Canadians are in a tough spot right now of trying to determine truth but they have to approach it from the other side: is the ruling Liberal Party a pack of greedy, shameless liars?

Chretien spoke about Adscam the other day and invoked the We stood up to the US over Iraq card. He is trying to redirect Canadian anger over Adscam theft into smug complacency that Hey, the Liberals stood up to the Americans. Aren't they wonderful?

The problem is, Chretien originally brushed off concerns about the Sponsorship Program funds by pulling the Unity Card, remember? Back then it was Maybe some money is unaccounted for, but is any price too high for national unity?

It will be interesting to see if Canadians fall for this latest re-direction.

(Opinion Journal link via Yankee from Mississippa.)

Posted by Debbye at 10:45 AM | Comments (4)

Daisy-gate

Apr. 1 - I have nothing substantive to contribute to the vital issues springing from Daisy-gate. I believe that Jean Kerr was the author of "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," yet even if my memory is proven correct, is the similarity between the surnames Kerr and Kerry coincidence, and if not, how might that uncover the sinister motives of this vast, daisy-chain conspiracy?

Indeed, America does want to know.

Apr. 2 15:07: Mystery solved.

Posted by Debbye at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

Thailand

Apr. 1 - Thailand - 1.3 tons of ammonium nitrate have been stolen in the southern part of the country and security forces placed on high alert.

58 sticks of dynamite and 170 detonators were also stolen.

Bhokin Bhalakula, the interior minister, said his immediate fear was an attack on Hat Yai - a southern town popular with tourists from neighbouring Malaysia - at next week's Thai new year water festival.
See here for information on the terrorist attack last week.

Posted by Debbye at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)