Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ex-FBI Agent Claims He's "Deep Throat"

Former FBI agent W. Mark Felt is claiming that he is the famous confidential source who supplied information during the Watergate scandal to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. From MSNBC:
"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," he told John D. O'Connor, the author of Vanity Fair's exclusive that appears in its July issue.

Felt, now 91 and living in Santa Rosa, Calif. reportedly gave O'Connor permission to disclose his identity.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Romanians Indict American "Hostage" For Participating in Hostage-Taking

Dr. Rusty Shackleford of The Jawa Report, citing his own source, reports that the Romanian government has indicted American Mohammed Monaf for complicity in the abduction of three Romanian journalists in Iraq. Read the full story, including speculation as early as March that Monaf was involved, here.

Thanks to Rusty for tipping me to this story, which has not been picked up yet by any mainstream media source.

Are Americans as Stupid as This Journalist Says?

American journalist Sandy Shanks, who I interviewed in January of this year, has written another opinion piece for Arab propaganda network al-Jazeera. This time Shanks blames Muslim hostility to the West in general and America in particular on thousand-year-old middle eastern history and his perception that, "The vast majority of Americans are clueless regarding the past of faraway lands, as well as their own."

Shanks goes on to compare Israel to al Qaeda:
The greatest ignominy, by far, perpetrated by the West upon the Arab people is the formation of the state of Israel.

Let us assume that the Arab League had the power to carve a nation out of the United States, say in Montana, meaning no disrespect to the inhabitants of that great state, and populate it with our deadliest enemy - members of al-Qaida. Would that not create a bit of a stir on the part of Americans? There could well be some American resentment about that.
I'll let this grossly anti-Semitic passage sink under its own weight.

Let's examine Shanks' central thesis, the stupidity of Americans, in some detail, using actual statistics rather than Shanks' repetition of Arab stereotypes about the United States and her citizens.

Specifically, let's examine selected adult literacy rates from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) from 2001. I won't even mention the fact that a large number of Muslim children, while technically "literate", are educated in the evil and virulent madrassa religious schools that preach anti-Western hatred and breed terrorists the way turds breed flies. Well, I'll only mention it in passing.

Adult Literacy Rates (% over age of 15):
Bahrain: 87.9
Egypt: 56.1
Islamic Republic of Iran: 77.1
Jordan: 90.3
Lebanon: 86.5
Oman: 73.0
Qatar: 81.7
Saudi Arabia: 77.1
Syrian Arab Republic: 75.3
United Arab Emirates: 76.7
Yemen: 47.7

But what you ask, is the literacy rate for the United States? According to Shanks', we're so stupid that we must rank below Yemen, at 47.7% the stupidest of Middle Eastern Muslim countries.

The UNDP ranks the United States at 99% adult literacy. Sandy Shanks didn't do his homework. And Sandy, terrorists murder people because they are vile, damaged humans, not because Sir Harald killed great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, granduncle Abdullah during a Crusade.

I find it grossly irresponsible of Shanks to write inflammatory and factually incorrect articles for people (the al Jazeera audience) who are basically stupid and hostile. Surely Shanks can find money and notoriety writing for the US market?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

WWII Japanese Soldiers Believed Still Hiding

Japanese diplomats are visiting the Philippines in search of WWII-era Japanese soldiers who became separated from their unit and are believed still to be in hiding, fearing court martial.

Tsuzuki Nakauchi, believed to be hiding on Mindanao

From The Sunday Times (Australia)
MANILA: Sixty years after World War II, reports that two Japanese Imperial soldiers have been found in the southern Philippines has sent Japan's diplomats on a frantic mission to try to contact them.

The men, in their 80s, reportedly have lived on the island of Mindanao since they were separated from their division.

A day of waiting at a hotel in General Santos, 1000km south of Manila, turned to disappointment for Japanese diplomats.

Japanese spokesman Yu Kameoka said the men were apparently reluctant to meet the officials because of the large crowds, including journalists, waiting to see them.

Diplomats were trying to schedule a meeting today.

Japan's Kyodo News agency said the two might be Yoshio Yamakawa, who would be 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85, from the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army.
A war doesn't really end with the last shot fired.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

London Times: Zarqawi Fled to Iran

In their Sunday edition, the Times Online (UK) reports that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has fled to Iran for surgery to remove shrapnel wounds suffered during Operation Matador three weeks ago.
IRAQ's most wanted terrorist has fled the country for emergency surgery after an American airstrike left him with shrapnel lodged in his chest, according to a senior insurgent commander in close contact with his group.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has a $25m bounty on his head after being blamed for suicide bombings, assassinations and the beheadings of western hostages including Ken Bigley, the Liverpool engineer is now believed to be in Iran.

He has suffered from bouts of high fever since being wounded by a missile that struck his convoy three weeks ago as he fled an American offensive near the town of al-Qaim in northwestern Iraq, the commander said.

His condition late last week was described as stable, but supporters were said to be preparing to move him to another non-Arab country for an operation to remove the shrapnel.
Zarqawi's reported destination seems odd, given that Shiite-dominated Iran has professed little love for his terrorist activities against the Shiites in Iraq. Following are excerpts from an opinion piece in the Tehran Times (emphasis added):
Rumors that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, is dead or seriously injured have placed a cloud over the future of the terrorist group.

Al-Zarqawi's charisma and leadership skills helped turn this dangerous terrorist into a modern-day legend.

Therefore, his death would be a serious blow to Arab terrorist groups operating in Iraq. However, it would not signal the end.

Undoubtedly, the newly appointed leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hafs al-Qarni, will follow al-Zarqawi's path because most Arab terrorists ascribe to the Wahhabi school of thought.

This dangerous and backwards sect has two main objectives: opposing all progressive Islamic thought and fighting against the Shias.

Although heightened security measures in violation of democratic principles may be necessary for a short while, the Iraqi government must use the current opportunity provided by al-Zarqawi's absence to deliver the death blow to his terrorist group.
Notice that the writer takes pains to describe Zarqawi and al Qaeda as "terrorists", and further, "Arab terrorists" of the "Wahhabi school of thought". Iranians are not Arabs, and Wahhabism is not welcome under the Iranian Shiite mullahs.

It's a safe bet that everything published in the Tehran Times is approved by the mullahs running Iran. If this isn't part of a ruse it begs the question: what kind of welcome can Zarqawi expect in Iran?

Update: From Reuters:
TEHRAN, MAY 29: Iran denied on Sunday a British newspaper report that Al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had fled to the Islamic republic after being injured in a US missile attack.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the report in the Sunday Times newspaper was without foundation. ‘‘This is an unprofessional kind of fabricating news,’’ Asefi told a weekly news conference. ‘‘Iran is a clear and transparent country, where such covert activities do not take place.’’
Alright, now I'm really suspicious.

Terrorists Murder Japanese Hostage

Terrorist insurgents in Iraq said they have murdered Japanese hostage Akihiko Saito and posted video footage of his body on the Internet. From Reuters:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Insurgents said on Saturday they had killed a Japanese hostage seized in Iraq and posted footage on the Internet showing his bloodied corpse.

Japan's Foreign Ministry and the hostage's brother confirmed the video footage showed the body of Akihiko Saito, 44, a former paratrooper and veteran of the French Foreign Legion, who was captured on May 8 when insurgents ambushed a civilian security convoy.
There's another issue here as well. This is the headline that Reuters used:

Insurgents say killed Japanese hostage in Iraq

Note the use of the word "insurgent" in describing a terrorist act. Nowhere in the Reuters article does the word "terrorist" appear.

Murdering a bound and helpless kidnap victim is the act of terrorists. Reuters' refusal to use that word in this story indicates an editorial staff of remarkably pigheaded stupidity. In fact, Reuters' insistence on calling these creatures "insurgents" rather than using the term "terrorists", to whatever degree that lends legitimacy to and encourages the terrorists and their ilk who committed this brutal act, makes Reuters complicit and accomplices after the fact in this and future acts of terrorism.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Zarqawi: Wormfood?

When al Qaeda makes an announcement it's not going to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It's going to be filled with whatever particular facts and lies they calculate will best suit their purposes; almost like some MSM outlets, in a way. Based on this story it's an even bet that Zarqawi cacked out and has been fed to camels to make sure the body doesn't surface. From Reuters:
Iraq Qaeda says Zarqawi in "good health"-Web sites
27 May 2005 19:42:29 GMT

DUBAI, May 27 (Reuters) - Iraq's al Qaeda said on Friday its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in good health and was back leading operations in Iraq after being wounded, according to a statement posted on the Internet.

"Our Sheikh is in good health and is running the jihad (holy war) himself and has been overseeing the details of operations up to the time this statement was prepared," a group spokesman said in a posting issued on Islamist Web sites.
It's beyond me how anyone who lops off hostages' heads and coordinates terrorist attacks on children can be described as "in good health".

A Little Mitigation for Newsweek

This is the latest information concerning the Newsweek story about Guantanamo guards flushing or otherwise mistreating the Muslim holy book, from the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON - Investigators have confirmed five cases in which military personnel mishandled the Qurans of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, but they have found no "credible evidence" that a holy book was flushed in a toilet.
Deliberately desecrating any religion's holy books lacks class, and even the rumor of it, as we've seen, can result in frenzied violence. But then there's this, also from the Associated Press:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A suicide bomber set off explosives Friday in the midst of Shiite Muslims reciting the Quran, killing at least 20 and wounding dozens gathered for a religious festival at a shrine near the capital.
I'd say blowing Qurans to smithereens, along with their owners, qualifies as "mishandling", at the very least. So far, there are no reports of rioters protesting this latest Quran desecration.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Senate Resistance Proposes Alternative Bolton Candidates

Democrats and RINOs of the US Senate Resistance, who have been obstructing opposing the nomination of John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations, have named two other men they feel would better represent the United States' interests in a world body such as the United Nations.

In a dramatic announcement, Ohio Republican George Voinovich and Democratic Whip Harry Reid (D, NV) said in a joint press release that they were, "ecstatic and enthusiastic" about the qualifications of each of their alternative candidates. "We need a person with the sensitivity to recognize the multi-cultural sensitivities inherent in an august body like the United Nations, not a bullying blowhard with a ridiculous mustache. That's why we're happy to put forth the names of Mr. Fred Rogers and Mr. Neville Chamberlain, either of whom have the demonstrated ability to convey US interests with the compassion and sensitivity so necessary when dealing with head lopping Islamist terrorists and people sensitive to the needs of Palestinian babyhunters."

Mr. Fred Rogers

Neville Chamberlain

When reached for comment, John Bolton said, "What the...they're both dead, and Chamberlain wasn't even an American citizen."

Senator Voinovich, weeping quietly, decried Bolton's blatant prejudice against the dead and foreign, and stated that Bolton's remarks merely emphasized Voinovich's earlier charge that Bolton was, "...a bully who attacks those least able to defend themselves."

"Dead people are, of course, unable to respond to vicious attacks on their qualifications," said Voinovich, "Bolton should be ashamed for pointing out an unavoidable disability. Who better to represent us in a dead world body than a dead person?"

Parody (duh)

Iraqi Government Official Confirms Zarqawi Wounded

Iraq's Interior Minister, Bayan Baqer Solagh, confirmed that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been wounded. Meanwhile, purported al Qaeda communications deny naming an interim replacement for Zarqawi. From The Australian:
BAGHDAD: Iraq's Interior Minister last night confirmed Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been wounded.

"We received information five days ago saying Zarqawi had been wounded but we don't know the seriousness of his injuries," Interior Minister Bayan Baqer Solagh said at a press conference with Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi.

The confirmation of Zarqawi's wounding came as al-Qa'ida's branch in Iraq denied it had named a stand-in for the terrorist leader.

As more people died in fighting in Baghdad, an earlier internet statement purportedly from the al-Qa'ida organisation in Iraq said the group's leaders had appointed Abu Hafs al-Kurani to replace Zarqawi.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified. But last night a second statement, claiming to be from the al-Qa'ida organisation in Iraq, denied that the Jordanian terrorist had been replaced.

"We deny the claim about the appointment of one Abu Hafs or anyone else," said the statement, signed by the information section of al-Qa'ida in Iraq.
Reports of Zarqawi having been gravely injured first came out during Operation Matador, the Coalition offensive in western Iraq.

More on the Zarqawi wounding story here.

Pantano Murder Charges Dropped

Finally. From the Associated Press:
RALEIGH, N.C. May 26, 2005 — A former Wall Street trader who rejoined the Marines after the Sept. 11 attacks will not be tried on murder charges for killing two suspected Iraqi insurgents, a Marine general decided Thursday.

The decision by Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, ends the prosecution of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, whom prosecutors accused of killing the men without justification.

"Down at the unit level, there was never a question about Ilario's conduct and whether or not he did the right thing," Charles Gittins, Pantano's civilian lawyer, said. "It was up in the higher echelons. The people removed from combat situations needed to put more trust in their officers rather than assuming they're guilty."
Via Outside the Beltway.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Believe it Or Not, These Celebs Criticize Media's Iraq Reporting

From an American Forces Press Service release by Spc. Erin Robicheaux; contributor: Spc. Derek Del Rosario:
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 25, 2005 - He may not have leapt over tall buildings in a single bound or dodged any speeding bullets to get here, but Dean Cain, the former star of ABC's "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," and current host of TBS's "Ripley's Believe It, or Not," did fly by plane to Iraq with his new sidekick, actress and model Amanda Swisten.

What seemed to surprise the stars most was how much is actually happening, in relation to the portrayal by the media. "I didn't see all of the negative stuff that the mainstream media reports," Cain said. "This is war and sometimes bad things happen, but those are isolated incidents. I've seen with my own eyes that this is not the whole story."

Swisten, who has appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and movies such as "American Wedding" and "The Girl Next Door," echoed Cain's sentiments of the real stories from troops in Iraq.

"The media blows a lot of it out of proportion. The small incidents are made to seem much larger. All we hear about are the scandals, like in the (Abu Ghraib) prison. What about the other stories?" she said.
This will probably get them both blacklisted by the Hollywood thought police.

More Details of Zarqawi Wounding, Two Top Aides Arrested

ABC News Online is reporting that two top aides to terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have been detained in Iraq:
Iraqi and US troops have arrested two top aides of Al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and are hot on the heels of militants loyal to him in north-western Iraq, commanders said today, a day after the country's most wanted man was reported wounded.
Meanwhile, more reports that Zarqawi has been seriously wounded are filtering out, including this claim that he has been evacuated from Iraq (Via Outside the Beltway):
BAGHDAD, Iraq (UPI) -- A militant Islamic Web site reported Wednesday Iraq al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was evacuated from Iraq after being injured.

Zarqawi`s group, al-Qaida Organization in Mesopotamia, said in a statement carried on the site Zarqawi was moved secretly to a neighboring country with the help of doctors from the Arab Peninsula and the Sudan.

The group did not identify the country to which Zarqawi was evacuated but said he is in a stable condition after a bullet pierced the right side of his chest causing breathing problems.

The group said in a message on the Web site Tuesday Zarqawi had been wounded. It asked for "prayers for our leader," and expressed pride at what they described as his heroic wounds. It did not say how or when the Jordanian-born Zarqawi was hurt.

The Bush administration named Zarqawi as an al-Qaida terrorist who fled to Iraq from Afghanistan in May 2002 for medical treatment for a severe leg injury. There is a $25 million bounty on his head.

His organization has been blamed for the majority of bomb attacks, kidnappings and assassination attempts in Iraq.
Earlier reports, which were later partially corroborated placed Zarqawi's wounding sometime during Operation Matador.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Militant Websites Now Saying Zarqawi Wounded

CNN and others are reporting that militant Islamist websites are calling for prayers for the recovery of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. On May 15 I posted about an Iraqi doctor who claimed to have treated Zarqawi, corroborating an earlier report from an Iraqi colonel claiming that the terrorist had been severely wounded during Operation Matador. From CNN
(CNN) -- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the Jordanian-born insurgent leader in Iraq -- has been wounded, several Islamist militant Web sites reported Tuesday.

The message -- which could not be independently verified -- is attributed to militant Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, who has posted al Qaeda messages.

It said that al-Zarqawi's comrades are proud of what they described as his heroic wounds and threatens that the "resistance will get tougher" as U.S.-led attacks on insurgents intensify.

The message also asks for "prayers for our leader."
Will Satan answer their prayers? We'll see.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Terrorists Targeted Preschool With Bomb

Just when you think the degenerate scum indiscriminately attacking Coalition forces and civilians alike has sunk as far on the evolutionary chart as possible, news like this comes; from an American Forces Press Service release:
A tip from a local civilian led Iraqi forces from the 2nd Public Order Brigade in eastern Baghdad to three roadside bombs, including one set up next to a preschool, May 22. The Iraqi forces were able to safely dismantle all the bombs.

Four individuals are in custody in connection with the explosive device near the Alkawther preschool.

"Many children would have been killed if this device would have been used," U.S. Capt. Rick Ackerman, an adviser to the Iraqi unit, said.
Utterly despicable. Such people should be fed to hogs. Big, fat, snorting hogs.

Posting Will Be Spotty...

...as we await the arrival of the very first Grand Dread Pundlet. My oldest is gathering her things for the trip to the hospital; I'll update later if possible. The Proud Father, a sergeant in the Army, is chewing his nails in the Middle East. Luckily my daughter has her aunt, who is a nurse, to stand in as coach.

Update: Well, not really an update other than to say the wait continues...

Update II: New mom and baby doing fine. Alexandre was born at 6:06 Eastern, weighing 7 lbs. 1 oz. We are very grateful to Doulas of Central New York whose Operation Special Delivery provides free Doula service to the wives of servicemen who are serving away from home at the time of birth.

Sunnis Decide to Participate in Iraqi Government

The Sunni political boycott, used as partial justification by terrorist groups for their actions, may be over. More than 1,000 Sunnis, including former hardliners, met in conference and formed a Sunni political alliance, which will participate in drafting the new Iraqi constitution. This alliance is a major blow to terrorist insurgent groups who have been trying to foment civil war between the Sunni minority and Shiite majority in Iraq. From the News Telegraph (UK)
Many delegates acknowledged that the Sunni boycott of the January elections was a mistake that handed power to the long-repressed Shia majority for the first time in modern Iraqi history. Just 17 Sunni Arabs were elected to the 275-seat assembly.

"We will not make the same mistake again," said Ahmed Abdul Ghafur Samarrai, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars that led the calls for a boycott. "Sunnis must unite and prepare to participate in the next election."
But the Sunnis are hardly unanimous now for political participation:
...other hard-line groups, such as the Religious Guidance Organisation, have refused to participate in the new Sunni bloc.

While many speakers rose to condemn "terrorist acts against civilians" and called for only legal opposition to US "occupation", the biggest cheers were reserved for those who threatened violence against the new government. A statement drawn up at the end of the meeting said that "resisting the occupier is a legitimate right".
Still, the Sunni alliance is devastating news for the terrorist insurgency, especially the former Baathists.

Via The Jawa Report.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Newsweek Declares America Dead

At least they seem to in their February 2 Japanese edition, which features a cover photo of an American flag tossed in a garbage can and the title "Amerika ga shinda hi" (The Day America Died). Riding Sun, an American blogger living in Tokyo, has the details.

12 Insurgents Killed in Afghanistan

The American Forces Press Service reports today that US warplanes attacked and killed 12 insurgents who had attacked a US patrol.
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2005 - U.S. warplanes killed 12 insurgents after the individuals attacked a coalition patrol east of Gayan, in Afghanistan's Paktika province, late May 21. One U.S. soldier was wounded during the incident.

The incident started when a group of four insurgents crossed the border into Afghanistan from Pakistan and attacked a U.S. patrol with small arms near the eastern city of Gayan. The unit returned fire, and the insurgents fled the area. They met up with a group of eight other individuals a short distance later.

U.S. warplanes responded to the attack and, in coordination with soldiers on the ground, reported killing all 12 insurgents.

The one U.S. soldier reported wounded during the attack received medical treatment at the site and returned to duty.

Defense Department: Detainees Tried to Flush Qurans

A Newsweek story posted on MSNBC now quotes a Defense Department spokesman as saying that Guantanamo Bay detainees, not their guards, desecrated the Quran in an attempt to spark unrest.
Log entries by the guards indicate that in about a dozen cases, the detainees themselves somehow damaged their Qur'ans. In one case a prisoner allegedly ripped up a Qur'an; in another a prisoner tore the cover off his Qur'an. In three cases, detainees tried to stuff pages from their Qur'ans down their toilets, according to the Defense Department's account of what is in the guards' reports.
Well, that's certainly different from The Newsweek blurb earlier, which sparked riots in Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of at least fifteen people. There's more:
In light of the controversy, one of these incidents bears special notice. Last week, NEWSWEEK interviewed Command Sgt. John VanNatta, who served as the prison's warden from October 2002 to the fall of 2003. VanNatta recounted that in 2002, the inmates suddenly started yelling that the guards had thrown a Qur'an on or near an Asian-style squat toilet. The guards found an inmate who admitted that he had dropped his Qur'an near his toilet. According to VanNatta, the inmate then was taken cell to cell to explain this to other detainees to quell the unrest. But the incident could partly account for the multiple allegations among detainees, including one by a released British detainee in a lawsuit that claims that guards flushed Qur'ans down toilets.
Why Newsweek didn't dig for these details before is anyone's guess. Possibly the furor over the original Quran desecration story jogged some people's memories.

In any case, while we shouldn't exonerate Newsweek for their sloppy reporting and use of anonymice (unidentified sources) in the original story, we should place most of the blame for the riot deaths on the rioters themselves, and the primitive, superstitious culture they represent. Clear thinking, intelligent people realize that the true value of religious texts lies not in the physical manifestation of those texts, but in the ideas that are represented. Flushing a Quran or a Bible down the toilet (or suspending a cross in a jar of urine) has no effect on those ideas, except in the ignorant minds of superstitious people.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

US at WEF: Messages Sent and Received Different

Officially, the US State Department emphasizes this message from Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick:
U.S. Dedicated to Supporting Mideast Reforms, Zoellick Says
Deputy secretary says political, economic reforms should be mutually reinforcing

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Dead Sea, Jordan -- Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick says the United States is committed to helping countries in the Middle East and North Africa implement political and economic reforms that are mutually reinforcing.

"The old days of a foreign policy characterized only by the meetings and machinations of 'diplomatic statecraft' are past," Zoellick told participants at the third World Economic Forum in Jordan May 20. "The transformational diplomacy of the United States will integrate the political and reform efforts of [the Middle East and North Africa] into the core of our foreign policy."
This, however, is the message reported from the same conference by The Daily Star (Lebanon):
U.S. warns Syria to pull agents out of Lebanon

The United States warned Syria to pull out all its intelligence agents from Lebanon.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said: "Pulling out military forces is not enough. You have to pull out all your intelligence agents."

Speaking at the World Economic Forum regional meeting in Jordan, Zoellick said Washington remains "deeply concerned about the level of interference by Syria on the part of security and intelligence services in Lebanon."

He added that Washington will increase its efforts to stop Syria and Iran funding Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah, adding that Iran was passing "millions of dollars per month" to the group.

The White House insists Hizbullah is a terrorist organization and along with Israel accuses the group of training Palestinian militants to carry out suicide attacks against Israelis.

Zoellick said: "If Syria wants good ties with the U.S., it can't be supporting Hizbullah."

Zoellick said he believed the outcome of Lebanon's upcoming elections, which are due to start at the end of the month, will apply pressure on Hizbullah to decide whether to "remain an armed militia or become a political party."

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter added: "American policy on Hizbullah is not going to change. They remain on our terrorist list. We will continue to confront it and its foreign backers."
Both messages are important, but the difference in emphasis is interesting. It's especially interesting that the The Daily Star doesn't hit on any of the points in the official State Department press release.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Abu Ghraib Attacked Again by Insurgents

The American Forces Press Service reports that five detainees at Abu Ghraib were wounded when insurgents launched a rocket attack on the prison.
WASHINGTON, May 20, 2005 - Five detainees were wounded in an insurgent rocket attack on Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison today, military officials reported.

Three of the five had serious injuries.

The rocket landed in one of the internment facility's detainee compounds at about 10:15 a.m. U.S. forces quickly responded to defend the facility and safeguard the detainees, U.S. military officials said. The injured were immediately taken to the 115th Field Hospital.

Officials said no coalition forces were injured in the incident.

UK Paper Publishes Photo of Saddam in Tighty-Whiteys

In their Friday edition, the British tabloid The Sun published a photo of Saddam Hussein, apparently in his prison cell, wearing only underwear. The paper claimed to have obtained the photo from US military sources. This is bound to set off a firestorm of criticism as every liberal and terrorist on the planet flies into a snit over this "violation" of Saddam's dignity.

Saddam examines his trousers for blowback

US military command in Iraq has already issued a press release condemning the release of the photo:

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2005 – Military officials in Iraq have condemned the release of photos taken of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in prison that appeared today in a British tabloid and have been widely circulated on the Internet.
"These photos were taken in clear violation of DoD directives and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals," a Multinational Force Iraq official said in a statement.
Meanwhile, thousands of Saddam's victims remain to be found in mass graves all over Iraq. Pardon me if I can't work up any sympathy for this monster. If military discipline was compromised in the release of the photo, those responsible should be charged accordingly.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Foley: Slander of US Troops "Taken Out of Context"

Newspaper Guild president Linda Foley, under fire for accusing US troops of murdering journalists, has now told Editor & Publisher that her comments were taken out of context. This is exactly what Foley said, according to the Editor & Publisher article:
"Journalists are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. And what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."

"It's not just U.S. journalists either, by the way. They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries, at news services like Al Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios, with impunity. This is all part of the culture that it is OK to blame the individual journalists, and it just takes the heat off of these media conglomerates that are part of the problem."
Linda, you stupid cow. Now, please don't take that out of context.

As an aside, Editor & Publisher inadvertently indicts liberals in general and the liberal mainstream media by stating that "some conservative groups" and "several conservative news organizations" were upset with Foley's slanderous and irresponsible remarks. That implies that liberal groups and liberal news organizations aren't upset that this giggling, witless turd from the Newspaper Guild (Linda, don't take that out of context either) has accused American servicepeople of murder. How many times have you heard liberals claim to support the troops?

Slate Promotes Knight Ridder Reporter

In a credulous, one-source piece about Operation Matador, Slate's Fred Kaplan uses the work of Knight Ridder's Mohammed al-Dulaimy to paint a typical leftist view of military action in Iraq. Kaplan also refers to Dulaimy as a "staff reporter".

This is not true. Dulaimy is a "special correspondent", an appellation that implies someone hired temporarily in an area where Knight Ridder didn't want to send permanent employees. In fact, Dulaimy's "career" seems to span only May 3 through May 16 of this year, and virtually every story he has covered for Knight Ridder has been virulently anti-American. Dulaimy's reporting, along with that of his colleague Mohammed Barakat, who writes for the Associated Press, and whose career seems to span exactly the same time frame as Dulaimy's, have been responsible for the lion's share of the "reporting" coming out of Operation Matador. Barakat is as relentlessly anti-American as Dulaimy.

Oddly, both AP and Knight Ridder have refused to supply me any background information about these men. I would feel more comfortable if AP and Knight Ridder could give me some assurance that they haven't inadvertently hired Jihadis to do their "reporting" for them.

"They target and kill journalists…uh"

These words refer to the US military, not the terrorist insurgency in Iraq, and come from the lips of Linda Foley, president of the Newspaper Guild. Just as Eason Jordan before her, Foley offered no evidence to back up her outrageous allegations. From The Washington Times:
"Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or politically," Miss Foley said Friday in St. Louis. "They are also being targeted for real, in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there is not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."
Foley's remarks came on the show "The Point". Mark Hyman, the host, was outraged by Foley's accusations:
"These completely irresponsible remarks speak for themselves. Foley should immediately deliver evidence that supports her horrible allegations, or she should immediately resign as Newspaper Guild president."
First blogged by The Junkyard Blog.

Via The Jawa Report.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

DREAD: Weapon of the (Near) Future?

Reader NoniNeil, a veteran of the 101st Airborne, sent me a link to this article about the DREAD Weapon System, an electrically powered centifugal projectile weapon. David Crane of Defense Review seems enthusiastic about DREAD's potential:
Imagine a gun with no recoil, no sound, no heat, no gunpowder, no visible firing signature (muzzle flash), and no stoppages or jams of any kind. Now imagine that this gun could fire .308 caliber and .50 caliber metal projectiles accurately at up to 8,000 fps (feet-per-second), featured an infinitely variable/programmable cyclic rate-of-fire (as high as 120,000 rounds-per-minute), and were capable of laying down a 360-degree field of fire. What if you could mount this weapon on any military Humvee (HMMWV), any helicopter/gunship, any armored personnel carrier (APC), and any other vehicle for which the technology were applicable?
The full article includes a link to a promotional video of the weapon. Several readers of Crane's column are skeptical of the claims being made for the DREAD system, and brought up possible problems with power required to operate the system and the accuracy of the round shot, but the versatility of the system would seem to make it worth investigating.

Lucas Has a Jar-Jar Binks Moment at Cannes

Star Wars director George Lucas has apparently decided to gather under the mantle of Hollywood idiocy and deceit created by Michael Moore. Either that or Lucas was simply shamelessly sucking up to the deranged Europeans who make up the bulk of the Cannes Film Festival audience.

FromYahoo! News:
"We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn't think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. ... The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."
I agree with Lucas here; the parallels are unbelievable, because they don't exist, much to the dismay of Hollywood liberals like Lucas, who have been pulling for a bloodbath for American troops since the invasion was launched.
"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin (soon to become villain Darth Vader) tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). The line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
Lines like this are red meat for the people who would have liked to see the oft-predicted tens of thousands of American soldiers in bodybags, so long as it reflected badly on President Bush. These are the sort of people will heed the political views of a man who doesn't realize that a "parsec" is a measure of distance, not time, and that there is nothing to conduct sound in space.

But Lucas' most heinous crime will, of course, always remain the creation of Jar-Jar Binks.

Via The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Grenade Thrown at Bush Speech Was Live, Failed to Function

The FBI has contradicted Georgian officials who had said that the grenade, discovered at the site of a speech by President Bush, was inert. From Yahoo! News:
TBILISI, Georgia - A grenade hurled in a crowd during last week's speech by President Bush in the Georgian capital was capable of exploding and was considered a threat against the president, the FBI said Wednesday.

In Washington, the White House spokesman said Secret Service agents in Georgia were examining whether security changes were needed, noting that some people were seen getting around metal detectors at Bush's May 10 speech.

The FBI statement contradicted initial reports by Georgian officials that the Soviet-era grenade was found on the ground, was inactive and posed no danger to Bush.

The grenade, wrapped in a dark handkerchief, fell about 100 feet from the podium where Bush was speaking and "simply failed to function," FBI agent Bryan Paarmann said.
The Secret Service should not be "whether security changes [are] needed", that's a given. They should be deciding what security changes are needed. The President should not have appeared if, as stated in the article, people were observed bypassing metal detectors.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Strange Case of the Mohammeds

Traditionally, Americans have accepted the good intentions of major news services and haven't questioned the credentials or history of the people whose names appear in bylines. But, in an age of advocacy journalism when reporters and producers have been know to cut corners when documents or testimony seem to match their pre-conceived notions, readers should demand more transparency from those who report the "news".

It's often difficult for news services to provide coverage in war zones, particularly one, like Iraq, where terrorist insurgents make no distinction between combatants and civilians. Sometimes news services hire locals as stringers or reporters. Two men Mohammed Barakat, writing for the Associated Press, and Mohammed al Dulaimy, writing for Knight Ridder newspapers, appear to be temporary or brand new hires. When you run a Google or Yahoo search on a reporter's name, usually you get a list of citations stretching back for months, even years. Googling Barakat or al-Dulaimy leads to citations that go back to the beginning of May, 2005. Either these folks are brand spanking new hires or they're using noms de plume.

Requests for biographical data have gone unanswered, but one thing is clear: beyond the coincidence of their first names, neither Mohammed has found anything positive to write about the US. In fact, the stories posted by these men read like sophisticated pro-insurgent propaganda.

How hard would it be for jihadis to get hired on by AP or Knight Ridder? Has the undeniable leftward bias of these major news outlets led them to hire people interested not in journalism, but in anti-American propaganda?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek Retracts Quran Flushing Story

From ABC News Online:
A retraction has been issued by Newsweek magazine for an article alleging abuse of the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which sparked deadly protests in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.

"Based on what we know now, we are retracting our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay," the magazine said in a one-sentence statement from editor Mark Whitaker.
Excellent. Now resurrect the 17 people who died and restore the United States' reputation in large parts of the Muslim world.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman had this to say today about the Newsweek story:
"Newsweek's story about Koran desecration is demonstrably false, and there havethus far been no credible allegations of willful Koran desecration, and Newsweek has produced no such evidence."

[The Newsweek article]"...was irresponsible and had significant
consequences that reverberated throughout Muslim communities around the world."

[Newsweek]"...hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny."

[Newsweek cannot]"...retract the damage they have done to this
nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations."
This is much worse than the Rathergate Texas Air National Guard forged memo scandal. No one died during that.

Newsweek Blames Cricket Player For Rioting

Newsweek: "This guy did it."

A former cricket player turned politician is the latest feeble excuse Newsweek has come up with for their failure to corroborate the Quran-flushing story. Imran Khan, a critic of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, quoted from the Newsweek story at a press conference in Pakistan on May 6.

From The Times of India:

"The spark was apparently lit at a press conference held on Friday, May 6, by Imran Khan, a Pakistani cricket legend and strident critic of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf," the magazine said in its latest issue reviewing last week's turbulent events.

"Brandishing a copy of that week's Newsweek (dated May 9), Khan read a report that US interrogators at Guantanamo prison had placed the Quran on toilet seats and even flushed one.

"This is what the US is doing," the magazine quoted Khan as exclaiming, "desecrating the Koran."

Khan's remarks, as well as the outraged comments of Muslim clerics and Pakistani government officials, were picked up on local radio and played throughout neighboring Afghanistan, it said.
This is a rather unique position for a news outlet to take: blaming a reader for not realizing that the news outlet's story wasn't true. Okay. I haven't seen this much flailing around since Eason Jordan accused American soldiers of "targeting" journalists.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Newsweek "Regrets" Getting Quran Story Wrong, Sort of

Of course that horse is already out of the barn. Fifteen people have died in Afghan riots sparked by Newsweek's story accusing Americans of desecrating the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by ripping out pages and flushing them down a toilet. Now Newsweek has admitted that their source erred and they have no corroboration for the charge originally made by a detainee. In fact, a guard has alleged that a detainee was ripping pages from a copy of the Quran and putting them in a toilet in an effort to plug it as a protest.

From The New York Times:
"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. In an accompanying article, the magazine wrote that its reporters had relied on an American government official, whom it has not named, who had incomplete knowledge of the situation.
Well, that does sound contrite of them, as if they're really, really sorry for causing the riots in Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths and put US troops in jeopardy. Good for them. But wait a minute:
"But," Mr. Whitaker said in an interview later, "We're not retracting anything. We don't know for certain what we got wrong."
So Newsweek has just apologized for a story that they're not retracting. I see.

Update: Here's another nasty little piece of innuendo from Newsweek that I first reported in January: Four Degrees of Propaganda.

Related: Citzcom reports that radical Muslim clerics are calling for a holy war over the Newsweek story.

Reports of Zarqawi Seriously Wounded Corroborated By Doctor

On May 11 I posted a story with a link to the Italian news agency AKI reporting a rumor from an Iraqi colonel that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been seriously wounded, possible killed, during Operation Matador. At that time, as this was the only report, I urged caution, especially as many Italian news sources are notoriously unreliable and quick on the draw. Now Fox News and others are quoting, with further corroboration from a senior terrorist, a doctor who claims to have treated Zarqawi last week:
"He was bleeding heavily and his escorts were well dressed with a look about them that was different from the casualties and family members we had been receiving from the al-Qaim offensive.

"I treated his injury and asked that he remain in hospital for further observations and told him that we would have to register him and take down his name and details. But he became very nervous and agitated. He refused and told me he would not be staying.

"The three men with him asked me politely that he be allowed to leave hospital immediately and that I supply them with a prescription and a list of medication that he may need."

Centcom Zarqawi Wanted Poster

The Dread Pundit Bluto hopes that no pain medication is available for this slimy POS, and that he dies in agony.

Other media are reporting that Zarqawi has been seriously injured (most via the wire service Agence France Presse):

Herald Sun (Australia)

Channel News Asia

Interactive Investor (UK)

Iraqi Kids Lead Troops to Weapons

According to a Centcom press release, on May 13, US soldiers were lead to a weapons cache by a group of Iraqi children. The cache, in southeast Baghdad, consisted of three rocket propelled grenades and some fuses, which were destroyed by an explosives ordinance team. But the press release seeks to emphasize the fact that the so-called insurgency has lost most of whatever popular backing it had in the wake of violent terrorist attacks aimed at civilians. Many releases now speak of detaining "specifically targeted" terror suspects. That means they were turned in by Iraqis, fed up with daily terror attacks. And a growing number of Iraqis are identifying the insurgency with foreign fanatics who come to Iraq seeking martyrdom. From the Washington Post:
Who are the suicide bombers of Iraq? By the radicals' account, they are an internationalist brigade of Arabs, with the largest share in the online lists from Saudi Arabia and a significant minority from other countries on Iraq's borders, such as Syria and Kuwait.

Among the dead are students of engineering and English, the son of a Moroccan restaurateur and a smattering of Europeanized Arabs. There are also long lists of names about whom nothing more is recorded than a country of origin and the word "martyr."
Probably a typo for "maniac", but whatever you call them, the world is a better place without them.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Pilot Who Violated Capital Airspace "Froze" in Flight: FAA

I once took a defense driving course called the "Smith System". During the class the instructor cited a survey naming as the most feared driver on the road, the "little old man wearing a hat". Well now it seems the little old men wearing hats are flying. From the Washington Post
The pilot who caused a midday panic in Washington on Wednesday failed to get briefings about the weather and restricted airspace and became lost minutes after leaving a Pennsylvania airport, Federal Aviation Administration records show.

Hayden "Jim" Sheaffer, 69, froze when he saw a Black Hawk helicopter appear near his right wing while flying toward the White House and had difficulty operating his small, single-engine aircraft, officials said yesterday. It took the valiant effort of Sheaffer's student-pilot companion, Troy D. Martin, who had only 30 logged hours of flight time, to take over the controls and land the plane at an airport in Frederick, officials said.
The FAA plans to revoke Sheaffer's pilot certificate.

Via The Jawa Report.

AP's Mohammed Barakat: Reporter or Propagandist?

Associated Press writer Mohammed Barakat, who is covering Operation Matador in western Iraq, displays a gross anti-American bias in his reporting. This "reporter" seems interested only in emphasizing civilian casualties (but not ones caused by terrorist activity) and trying to find evidence that the Marines aren't being successful. Following are a few examples of Barakat's writing. I was unable to find a story by Barakat that portrayed the US in a positive, or even neutral light, which is always a huge red flag.

Houston Chronicle:
JAZIRAH DESERT, IRAQ - On the first day of a major U.S. offensive, two shells landed in Um Mazin's house. Grabbing what she could, she fled with four other women and 21 children.

Baltimore Sun:
Frightened residents retreated indoors as a large convoy of mainly Marines, backed by tanks redeployed several miles from Rommana to Obeidi, on the northern bank.

Chicago Tribune:
The U.S. military says the remote desert region is a haven for foreign combatants who slip across the border along ancient smuggling routes and collect weapons to use in some of Iraq's deadliest attacks. But the fighters who remain in this Sunni town about 200 miles west of Baghdad insist there are no foreigners.

"We are all Iraqis," said one gunman, his face covered with a scarf. He said the fighters were trying to prevent U.S. forces from entering.

ABC News:
But in the bomb-blasted streets of Qaim, where the offensive began Saturday, fighters armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades roamed the streets, checking vehicles as they entered and left the town.

"We are trying to protect our city's entrances, and we will prevent the U.S. forces from entering the city," declared one fighter, who covered his face with a scarf.
As you can see, Barakat approaches, or claims to approach, insurgents with impunity. Barakat's name indicates that he may be a local hired by AP to cover events in Iraq. Unfortunately, writing for the Associated Press guarantees a wide dissemination of Barakat's opinions, while providing little insight into what's actually happening during Operation Matador. If AP hired Barakat to write opinion with local flavor, fine, but they should label commentary for what it is, not put it on the wire as news.

I've contacted AP for a bio on Barakat, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for a response.

Update: If the Associated Press does choose to respond to my request for a bio of Mr. Barakat, perhaps we'll know if the snippets below refer to the same Mohammed Barakat who is currently writing for AP (and seems to have begun only around May 13, 2005)

From a Vermont-based anti-Israel website:
Zionist prison authority isolates prisoner for delivering Khutba
Palestinian Information Center 9/15/2003
Askalan - The Zionist prison authority of Askalan in southern occupied Palestine has isolated Palestinian detainee Mohammed Barakat after delivering a Friday Khutba (sermon) in the jail. The prison administration claimed that Barakat touched on political questions in his Khutba. It further alleged that his address contained incitement.
From a European anti-Israel website
At approximately 12:00 on the same day, Israeli occupation forced attacked some journalists, including those of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, and denied them access to Jenin refugee camp to cover violations of human rights daily perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians. Israeli forces chased the staff of the Spanish Television and intimidated its correspondent Mohammed Barakat and searched his car. They also attacked Walid al-'Emari, correspondent of Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel and confiscated film from his camera.
If the Associated Press has hired someone with this much evidence of an inherent anti-western bias they have an ethical obligation to present his writing as opinion, not objective fact. Of course, that's assuming one can reasonably expect ethical behavior from mainstream media sources.

Senior al Qaeda Terrorist Executed By CIA Predator

ABC News reports that the CIA has killed Haitham al-Yemeni, a high level al Qaeda member, using a Predator drone.
Haitham al-Yemeni, a native of Yemen known for his bomb-making skills, had been tracked for some time in the hope that he would help lead the United States to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, intelligence officials said. But with the recent capture in northwest Pakistan of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, thought to be al Qaeda's No. 3 man, officials worried al-Yemeni would soon go into hiding, and decided to take action.
The CIA has declined to comment.

Predators can be used to fire Hellfire missiles
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Leah R. Burton

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pantano Nightmare May Be Over At Last

The Washington Times reports that the officer serving as de facto grand jury in the case of Marine Second Lieutenant Ilario Pantano, accused of pre-meditated murder in the deaths of two Iraqi insurgents, has recommended that the charges against Pantano be dropped:
An investigating officer has recommended that the Marine Corps drop murder charges against 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, who shot to death two Iraqi insurgents a year ago during a raid on an insurgent hideout in the "Triangle of Death."
Col. Winn had this to say about the prosecution's chief witness:
"I think now [Sgt. Coburn] is in a position where he has told his story so many times, in so many versions that he cannot keep his facts straight anymore."
If the charges are dropped, as recommended, a new investigation should begin into how this Marine ended up fighting for his life in court based on such slipshod evidence.

Via The Jawa Report.

Brigade Commander Relieved Over Abu Ghraib Scandal

The American Forces Press Service reports that an Army colonel has been relieved of his command for dereliction of duty in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, in a nonjudicial proceeding (the colonel could have demanded a court martial, but chose administrative action).
Army Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, was relieved of his command by Gen. B.B. Bell, commander of U.S. Army Europe, after the colonel was administratively punished for two instances of dereliction of duty.

The action alleged that Pappas failed to ensure that subordinates received adequately information, training and supervision in the applying interrogation procedures. He also allegedly failed to obtain the approval of superior commanders before authorizing a nonsanctioned interrogation technique, specifically the presence of military working dogs during the questioning of a detainee.
Pappas was relieved of his command, issued a written reprimand, and ordered to forfeit $8,000 in pay.

Maj. Gen. Bennie E. Williams, who presided, also chose to place a record of the proceedings in Pappas' official military records, effectively driving a stake through the heart of Pappas' career.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sgrena Lies During Interview, Admits Italian Violation of Policy

Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian communist "journalist" who was kidnapped in Iraq, and whose release resulted in the shooting death of an Italian secret service agent when her car tried to run a US roadblock, was interviewed by Newsweek. During the interview, Sgrena demonstrated the remarkable malleability of her story once again, was caught in a lie by the interviewer, and admitted outright that the Italians have been undermining anti-terrorism efforts in Iraq by negotiating with terrorists and paying ransoms.
Did you see a light signal?
No. There was no light signal.
What happened when the car approached the roadblock?
We didn’t see any roadblock. We saw nothing. At a certain point, we were on this road and there was a curve. The driver had just said that we were 700 meters [about 770 yards] away from the airport and suddenly we were hit by a light and strafed by a machine gun.
[Sgrena originally insisted that her car was attacked by a "tank".]
So there was a light?
It was at the same time we were hit, at the time we were shot. The bullets and a beam of light hit us simultaneously.
It's a pity the interview wasn't videotaped. One can imagine Sgrena at this point licking her lips and sweating like a hapless tobacco executive on Sixty Minutes. Soon after this, Sgrena admits that the Italians have been routinely violating Coalition policy regarding negotiating with terrorists and paying ransoms:
Why would the incident been intentional?
The big controversy is the Italian policy toward hostages: the fact that Italians negotiate with kidnappers and pay ransoms. Americans don’t want it, they’ve always been opposed to it.
This is true. Coalition policy has always been not to negotiate with terrorists. The reason is simple, negotiating and paying ransoms encourages further terrorist incidents.

Adolph Hitler learned quickly that the Italians make horrible, incompetent allies (unless facing Ethiopean tribesmen armed with spears). It's time the US learned the same lesson.

Dems: Conservative Speech is Illegal

From The Drudge Report as heard on the Rush Limbaugh show:
Two congressional Democrats called Wednesday for an investigation into recent activities by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, suggesting that efforts by the Republican chairman of the private nonprofit to add more conservative programs onto PBS may violate federal law.
That's right, illegal. I'm sure there are various and sundry nuances that these two congressvermin will expound at great length, but the bottom line is that they're happy with PBS as a federally funded Democrat party house organ and don't want any changes made to PBS' gross liberal bias.

I'm with Slate's Jack Shafer on the issue of federal funds for PBS. Cut them off and let them compete.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Student Suspended for Wearing Pro-Life T-Shirt

According to the Cybercast News Network a student at Fillmore Central High near Buffalo is suing for being forced to remove a pro-life t-shirt. The shirt reportedly reads, "Abortion is Homicide. You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for Life."

This message does seem unnecessarily provocative in a high school, especially with all the unstable liberal militants likely to be among the staff and student body. However, the student was reportedly not only told to remove the shirt, but suspended. If the suspension was not for disciplinary reasons separate from the message on the shirt, then it was unjust, but a federal lawsuit seems excessive.

Would "I ♥ Partial Birth Abortions" be considered acceptable?

New Terrorist Tactic in Anbar Offensive?

The Marine Corps has released more details on an incident Tuesday, in which a woman and child were killed at a checkpoint in Anbar province, Iraq. From a Marine Corps press release:
The driver, approaching the check point ignored the posted warning signs to stop and bypassed an obstacle barrier, continued toward the post. At 200 meters from the checkpoint, Marines used hand and arm signals then fired a warning flare towards the vehicle, both which the driver ignored. The Marines next fired warning shots in front of the vehicle.

The driver then jumped out of his moving car and fled away on foot, leaving his car, and its passengers, to continue towards the checkpoint. The Marines then fired at the vehicle’s engine block to disable it. The vehicle rolled to a stop in front of the checkpoint. At the time the vehicle was heading toward the checkpoint, the Marines were unaware of the gender of the passenger or that there was a child in the vehicle. The Marines stated that they believed the vehicle was a suicide car bomb.

The driver of the vehicle was apprehended and is being held for questioning in a nearby detention facility.
So, not only did the driver bypass an obstacle and ignore warning shots, he jumped out of the car and left the woman and child to their fate. This smells like a particularly odious tactic designed to generate propaganda. It will be interesting to see how Islamic propaganda sites, particularly ones endorsed by GoogleNews, like uruknet, play this up.

White House and Capitol Building Evacuated

Reports of an "enemy aircraft" prompted the rapid evacuation of the White House and Capitol building shortly after noon today. Witnesses reported fighter jets flying over the capital and radio reports indicate that a plane was successfully warned out of the restricted airspace over the capital with flares. From CNN:
"Run, this is no joke, leave the grounds," a U.S. Secret Service agent told CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. An all-clear announcement was issued a few minutes later. No other details of the evacuation were immediately available.

Zarqawi Reported "...seriously injured, possibly dead"

Italian news agency AKI is quoting an Iraqi colonel as saying that Zarqawi may have been seriously injured or killed during Operation Matador, the major Coalition offensive targeting foreign fighter smuggling sites, safe houses, and camps on the Syrian border.
Baghdad, 11 May (AKI) - The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is "serious injured, possibly dead" according to Colonel Fouad Hani Hassan, commander of the fifth division of the Iraqi armed forces, cited by 'Elaph', a popular website in the Arab world. Al-Zarqawi, considered al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, is believed to have been injured in the major offensive US-led forces have been carrying out in the western Anbar province over the last few days.
Before anyone gets too excited however, it's important to note that the Italian press is notoriously unreliable, having pronounced the Pope dead prior to his actual demise, among other gaffes. However, AKI has reported dispassionately in the past, even helping break the news of the Italian government's ransom payment for the release of hostage Giuliana Sgrena.

AKI also quotes Brigadier General James Conway as saying of al-Zarqawi: "...it would be a welcome event to come across him or his body." Indeed it would.

Via Captain's Quarters.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Huffington Post - Day Two

Who knew that a "celebrity blog" could be this intensely, mind-numbingly boring? After all the breathless pre-blog publicity this is what the public gets? At least Cousin Hubert's family blog has some pictures, for crying out loud.

The Huffington Post may accomplish what the mainstream media thus far has been unable to do: suck the life out of blogs. And btw, Arianna, it's not really a "blog" if you don't allow comments and trackbacks.

Nikki Finke of LA Weekly agrees:
Judging from today's horrific debut of the humongously pre-hyped celebrity blog the Huffington Post, the Madonna of the mediapolitic world has gone one reinvention too many. She has now made an online ass of herself. What Arianna Huffington's bizarre guru-cult association, 180-degree conservative-to-liberal conversion, and failed run in the California gubernatorial-recall race couldn't accomplish, her blog has now done: She is finally played out publicly. This Web-site venture is the sort of failure that is simply unsurvivable, because of all the advance publicity touting its success as inevitable. Her blog is such a bomb that it's the box-office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one. In magazine terms, it's the disastrous clone of Tina Brown's Talk, JFK Jr.'s George or Maer Roshan's Radar. No matter what happens to Huffington, it's clear Hollywood will suffer the consequences.

Outside the Beltway has a different take. But then again, OTB is on Arianna's blogroll...

Terrorists Abduct Governor of Iraq's Anbar Province

Terrorists have kidnapped Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi, governor of the Iraqi province of Anbar. They're demanding that US troops leave the area. An assault by approximately 1,000 US Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers has killed upwards of 100 foreign insurgent terrorists in an ongoing offensive near the Syrian border.

BAGHDAD (AP) Gunmen kidnapped the governor of Iraq’s western Anbar province Tuesday and told his family he would be released when U.S. forces withdraw from Qaim, the site of a major offensive against followers of Iraq’s most-wanted militant, relatives said.

Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was seized as he drove from Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi, his brother, Hammad, told The Associated Press.

The kidnappers later called the family and said they were holding the governor until U.S. forces pull out of the Syrian border town about 200 miles west of Baghdad, Hammad Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi said.
The foreign militants, believed to be followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have come from Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia to cross the border from Syria in this remote area.

The reversion to terrorist tactics is a clear indication that they are losing the battle badly against the Marines. Embedded journalists with the assault force have reported insurgents hiding in the basements of houses and firing up at Marines through floor grates.

This is the latest press release issued by the Marine Corps:
Marines continuing combat operations in northwestern Al Anbar province
May 10, 2005

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq -- Marines, Sailors and Soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2, 2nd Marine Division, are continuing combat operations in northwestern Al Anbar province.

The offensive is aimed at eliminating insurgents and foreign fighters from the area. The region, a known smuggling route and sanctuary for foreign fighters, is also used as a staging area where foreign fighters receive weapons and equipment for their attacks in the more populated key cities of Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul.

Yesterday, Soldiers from the Army's 814th Multi-Role Bridge Company constructed a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River where intelligence reports indicate the enemy is located. Marines crossed over from the southern banks to the north and are now operating in the northern Jazirah Desert and in pursuit of the enemy.

Last night, insurgents attempted to launch a counter-attack seven kilometers from nearby Camp Gannon, in Al Qaim. They attacked a Marine convoy with small arms fire, RPGs, roadside bombs and two suicide car bombers. One car bomb damaged an armored humvee. The second suicide car bomber was destroyed by a Marine M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. No Marines were killed in the attack. The two car bombers died in the engagement.

Ten insurgents who surrendered to the Marines are at a nearby detention center.

Coalition and Marine Corps aircraft are participating in the operation.
Carbombs are weapons usually used against soft targets - civilians. Their use against a well-armed assault force, and the subsequent surrender by the other members of the counter-attack, suggests growing desperation on the part of the foreign fighters, who had come to view the Anbar province as a safe staging ground for their activities.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Gray Lady Begins to Smell the Coffee

From Editor & Publisher:
NEW YORK An internal committee at The New York Times has recommended steps to increase readers' confidence in the newspaper, including reducing errors, increasing coverage of religion, "rural areas" and "middle America," making reporters and editors more accessible, and possibly starting a blog.
No, no, not that...anything but a blog from the New York Times. Here's a radical idea: stop with the interpretive reporting and advocacy journalism and just...report the news, accurately. Stop endorsing political candidates. Stop promoting causes. Just report the news without bias.

Via The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, where Emperor Darth Misha I did an excellent fisking of the NYT's self-important self-examination.

100 Terrorists Killed in Iraq

From the Associated Press via Yahoo News
BAGHDAD, Iraq - American troops backed by helicopters and war planes launched a major offensive against followers of Iraq's most wanted insurgent, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in a desert area near the Syrian border, and as many as 100 militants were killed, U.S. officials said Monday.
As always, I note the reluctance of the mainstream media to call a spade a spade. Terrorists are referred to variously as "insurgents", "militants", "fighters", and (better not use this one in my earshot) "the Resistance". This stupidity is usually explained by saying that "terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology", and therefore doesn't define those who use it. Does that mean we need to start calling "rapists" something else?

Abu Abbas Captured in Baghdad - But Wait a Minute

According to the Washington Post:
Monday, May 9, 2005; 8:03 AM

Amar Adnan Muhammad Hamzah Zubaydi, detained Thursday in an early morning raid on his home, was described as an associate of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, according to separate statements issued by the Iraqi government and U.S. military officials.
And The Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) points out that he was also known by the name Abu Abbas:
Monday 9 May 2005

BAGHDAD: A top aide of Al Qaeda frontman Abu Musab Al Zarqawi who planned an attack on Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison and organised a string of suicide car bombs has been arrested, Iraqi and US military forces said yesterday.

Ammar Adnan Mohammad Hamza Zubaidi, known as Abu Abbas, was arrested in a raid in a Baghdad district.
In fact, the capture of "Abu Abbas" is being widely reported. But wait a minute, Abu Abbas, one of the architects of the infamous Achille Lauro terrorist incident was arrested in 2003, as CNN reported:
Wednesday, April 16, 2003 Posted: 5:10 AM EDT (0910 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Abu Abbas, a convicted Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro on which a wheelchair-bound American was killed, was captured by U.S. Special Forces in the outskirts of Baghdad, U.S. Central Command said Tuesday.
And, according to the Wikipedia, Abu Abbas died of natural causes on March 8, 2004, while in US custody.

Can someone help me out here? Is there more than one terrorist known as "Abu Abbas"?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Traveling Wall

Escorted from Binghamton by thousands of motorcyclists, the Traveling Wall, a three-quarter scale replica of the Wall in Washington, came to the Syracuse Fairgrounds.

The Wall itself is almost lost in a sea of flags

In the joy of celebrating Mother's Day we don't usually think of the grim sacrifices too often demanded of mothers. Thirty years ago those sacrifices were made harder by a society, many of whose members had lost their way, that turned on its own soldiers and sought only to forget them.


Here, in the respect shown by the general public, is a measure of vindication, and perhaps, comfort, for those mothers whose children's names appear on this wall.

I am indebted to reader Sig94 for sending these photos to me.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fun With Real "News" Stories

Sometimes a story from a supposedly objective mainstream media source is just so grossly biased that it screams out for parody. As someone who studied journalism in college, back in the day, I really don't know how creatures like Ian Simpson of Reuters can live with themselves. But that's just me, having been taught by an old school print journalist who had little use for "interpretive reporting" and especially detested "advocacy journalism", which he considered to be blatant propaganda.

Basic News Slanting Techniques
a lecture by Ian Simpson of Reuters

Now remember class, it's inevitable that the imperialists will have military successes in Iraq; after all, they have the most powerful war machine in the world. Your job is to minimise those successes, and always, always, always...dwell on the negative. As an example, here's the lead of a recent story I posted from Iraq:
U.S. leans more on Iraq troops to fight insurgents

MUQDADIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - When Major Mark Borowski
plunged with Iraqi troops into a date palm grove notorious as an insurgent hideout, he did something a U.S. officer would not have done a year ago -- almost nothing.

Now class, as you might imagine, this assignment was particularly distasteful, pointing out as it does the success of the Forces of Occupation and Suppression against the glorious Resistance. But notice how I turned that around. Instead of emphasizing the Iraqis' successful operation, I say that the American is doing nothing, even though he's in the middle of a combat situation, which is of course, dangerous in its own right. Also he's trying to survive in this environment while simultaneously observing and evaluating his Iraqi counterpart's performance. And how often have we printed stories about valiant journalists doing essentially the same thing? No Matter!- always look for the negative! Let's continue:
Borowski's hands-off approach during the dawn sweep by hundreds of Iraqi soldiers marked the changing role of U.S. troops as they shift the burden of fighting insurgents onto under-equipped, barely trained Iraqi troops and police.
I've managed to slip a couple of extremely negative value judgments in here - it helps when the editors are on the team - even though I have absolutely no expertise in evaluating the effectiveness of military operations. As you will learn, it doesn't matter. The public unquestioningly accepts the word of "journalists", because "journalists" tell them to do so. Lovely bit of closed loop feedback there, what?
The brigade-size raid through dusty streets and a maze of towering palm trees, irrigation ditches and thickets at Buhriz, a town about 50 km (35 miles) north of Baghdad, was judged by U.S. officers to have been a success.
Isolate the imperialists every chance you get, lads. And imply that what you just saw with your own eyes is some sort of propaganda.
I was pretty happy, this is a complex mission," Borowski, a battalion operations officer in the 3rd Infantry Division, told Reuters. "You saw the terrain. It was like the land that time forgot back there."

U.S. aircraft and artillery were available for support. But most of the few U.S. troops on the ground stayed close to their Humvees as Iraqi soldiers kicked down gates, searched through brush and bashed open the doors of uninhabited huts.
This is the most troublesome part of the story, because I was obliged to use some actual quotes, and these colonial wankers are just a bit too articulate. But I was able to bury it several paragraphs deep and minimise the damage. Plus, I slipped in that "uninhabited", just to make it all look like a wild goose chase, even though I admit at the end of the story that several suspects were detained, so, of course, not all of the huts were actually "uninhabited". Poetic license, lads.

Notice that we're already five paragraphs deep. Most people have stopped reading now, but, just to be sure, I've put the successful aspects of the raid at the very end, in the twentieth through twenty-third paragraphs. Right after six paragraphs (actually single sentences stretched into paragraphs for emphasis) of negative opinion about the Iraqis' equipment and training.
But despite the difficulties, the raid netted a heap of munitions, including an anti-aircraft gun and an army motorcycle with sidecar that a U.S. soldier rode down Buhriz's main street.

Several suspects were detained.

Iraqi commander Brigadier General Haad Ibrahim al-Tamimi was pleased with the result.

"With the help of the U.S. and relying on our soldiers we have driven the criminals out of here," he said.
And there you have it class. The successes of the American warmongers and that odious Blair wanker have been themselves successfully buried deep into the propag...journalism.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Photos Released of Blackmailed Suicide Bomber, Car

The Army's Digital Video Distribution System (DVIDS) has released photos of the scene after a would-be suicide bomber's car was stopped fifteen feet from a US base on May 1st. The bomber survived, and is cooperating with Coalition forces after telling them that he had been blackmailed into driving the car after terrorists kidnapped his wife and children.

US soldiers attend to wounded would-be suicide bomber

Remains of carbomb stopped 15 feet from entrance to US base

Good News: Earth's Air is Less Polluted

Bad News: Global Warming Will Increase

Two studies from Science magazine indicate that reductions in the pollution of Earth's atmosphere in the past two decades have reduced "global dimming", meaning more sunlight reaches the ground.

From Nature.com:
Reductions in industrial emissions in many countries, along with the use of particulate filters for car exhausts and smoke stacks, seem to have reduced the amount of dirt in the atmosphere and made the sky more transparent.
Wow, that's good news! But wait a minute:
But the researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming. More sunlight will also have knock-on effects on cloud cover, winds, rainfall and air temperature that are difficult to predict.
So, even though we followed the environmentalists' advice and significantly reduced pollution, we're still screwed. I see, and so did renegade environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg
and author Michael Crichton.

It seems clear that there are those in the environmentalist movement who are using global warming as a profit source, and others who worship at its altar.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Brazil Spurns US AIDS Grant

Sherry at Bittersweet links a BBC story reporting that the government of Brazil has turned down a grant from USAid to combat AIDS. The problem is that a condition of the grant was that it not be used to fund abortions or treat prostitutes. Brazilians believe that their "sex workers" deserve access to state welfare and pensions like any other citizen. So they turned down the $40 million. In other words, screw the non-prostitute AIDS patients.

Update: Behind Enemy Lines has new information that puts the whole thrust of the BBC story in doubt.

UK Consulate in NYC Targeted by Makeshift Bombs - No Injuries Reported

Authorities are not singling out the British Consulate as the target, because other countries have missions there, and businesses operate in the building, but the coincidence of the blasts coming on the UK's election day would seem to indicate that the British diplomatic mission was the target. From BBC News:

The blast shattered the consulate's windows
New York police are looking for clues as to who set off two explosive devices outside the UK consulate in Manhattan.
The blast in the early hours of the morning shattered windows but did not cause any injuries.

The two devices, described by police as novelty hand-grenades packed with gunpowder, were put in a concrete flower tub in front of the building.

There were no witnesses, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said evidence from CCTV cameras was being checked.
The amateurish nature of the improvised explosive devices used would seem to point away from organized terrorist groups.

The Jawa Report has a roundup of blogs and other news sources reporting on the incident.

Secret Aubenas Ransom Imminent?

Is the French government about to make a ransom payment to secure the release of Florence Aubenas, the French journalist kidnapped on January 5th in Baghdad? The Italian government reportedly paid six to eight million dollars in ransom to obtain the release of communist propagandist Giuliana Sgrena, money that will undoubtedly be used to buy weapons to kill US troops. Sgrena's release lead to the infamous friendly fire incident in which Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was killed; in large part because the Italian government did not coordinate the release with US military authorities. The US, as a matter of policy, does not sanction negotiations with terrorists. The Italians didn't want to advertise the fact that they were flouting this policy.

Now, after weeks of silence about Florence Aubenas, there are suddenly whispers in the press about "secret" French efforts to win her release.

From News 24 (Australia):
The French government has been leading a secret effort to free Aubenas. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said last month that French officials are facing "difficult conditions" largely because of violence on the ground.
From Pravda:
The French government has mobilized a team of more than 100 people to secure the release of a kidnapped reporter in Iraq and has made stable but intermittent contact in the case, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre Raffarin did not specify with whom officials were communicating, but told parliament that contacts had been established in efforts to free Florence Aubenas.
And this, from the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia):
Mr Zadaan revealed he had been asked by an activist group in France to help rescue French journalist Florence Aubenas, who disappeared in Baghdad on January 5.

Mr Zadaan was named as a Sunni contender for deputy prime minister in the new government, but as one of Saddam's generals he was sidelined after a vitriolic Shiite campaign that included this memorable quote from the high-profile Shiite Ahmed Chalabi: "Bring back Uday and Qusay [Saddam's sons], but never Zadaan."

However, as a sheikh of the Al-Lehabi tribe and a towering figure in Saddam's military, Mr Zadaan has a vast network of tribal contacts, particularly among Sunnis who back the insurgency, and of former military men, who are often assumed to be the organisational backbone of the armed opposition. Also, his National Iraqi Dialogue Committee claims to have 264 offices across the country.
Hassan Zadaan is a mysterious figure who doesn't even show up in news records until May 3, 2005. The last thing our troops need is another half-baked ransom episode that transfers millions of dollars into the hands of the terrorist insurgency.

In the News 24 story cited above, it's also noted that a poll shows that 60% of the French think their journalists should stay out of Iraq. Finally, something I can agree with them about.