web counter Media Lies: July 2004

Saturday, July 31, 2004

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Bush vs Kerry on terrorism

Rantingprofs has a thoughtful analysis of both the Bush and Kerry positions on terrorism, threats to America and how each would deal with them, if elected. She sees distinct differences between the two and argues that America will have a clear choice this fall.

I agree.


The press always reports the truth, right?

Omar posted more translations of comments from Arabs today. There were several that interested me, but one in particular, from a resident of Ramadi, that is very revealing.
"The media don't show the slightest care about hundreds, no, thousands of innocent lives. All the media care about is to spread lies as solid facts. For example some media sources reported that jet fighters flew over Ramadi (where I live) and broke the sound barrier, which didn't happen. Another example: they reported that the American army bombed a house, while the fact was that some mortar shells fired by the so-called resistance men hit the house and this was not the first time; tens of mortar shells fell on residential areas in my town. What can I say, I'm talking to the deaf"
Mohammed Al-Taa'i - Ramadi/Iraq.
For some time now I have disbelieved the reports that come out of Fallujah and Ramadi. It seems that every time an event occurs where lives are lost, a "doctor" in Fallujah is quoted as saying that "X" number of lives were lost, and it always includes women and children.

It's a bit hard to believe that there are so many women and children dying in a place where terrorists are openly welcomed and supported. You would expect that the local people would do one of two things; either they would be aware of and collaborating with the terrorists or they would be "staying low" to try and keep from being killed. You would certainly not expect them to be in the same area as the terrorists unless they were involved. Yet every story out of Fallujah and Ramadi reports the deaths of lots of innocent people. Are they to be believed?

Now we have someone from inside Ramadi, someone with a reason to know the truth and the position to witness what's going on, and he reports that even inconsequential things, such as the breaking of the sound barrier by US jets, are being falsely reported. How much more should we question reports of the fighting or of the deaths of innocent civilians? We saw the same thing in Najaf, where the press reported that US troops hit the Imam Ali shrine, but local residents reported it was al Sadr's people who did it.

We also have a confirmed report from an eye witness that al Jazeera reporters are collaborating with the terrorists. They arrange the tape recordings of the kidnapped hostages as well as their beheadings, and then pass it off as "news". Why would we believe anything reported by al Jazeera?

Some Arabs are asking themselves the same question.
"It's time for you Iraqis to rise and unite your efforts against terror and terror-supporting countries. We will continue to water the tree of freedom with our blood and woe to the enemies of the people whether Arab or not. Woe to the hypocritical media. We will all build the new Iraq, the Iraq of hope and freedom and let the enemies of freedom go to hell."
"The corrupt media that is bribed by the neighboring countries is morally responsible for these tragedies because they try to give legitimacy to these coward attacks by using the term "resistance". The government is strong and its steps are supported by all the honest. Time will be on our side"
Mohammed Abdul jabbar-Baghdad.
"Here I call the Iraqi government to sue the satellite channels that take part in these incidents through providing publicity to the terrorists and their supporters.
Martyrs of Iraq, heaven is yours."
Bashar Al-Baldawi-Iraqi in Oman.
Isn't it time that the world media began to tell the truth?


Lost Florida voting records found

Can anyone explain what is going on in Florida? Miami-Dade elections officials have now found the records of the 2002 gubernatorial primary that were thought to be lost.

"Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the Elections Supervisor office, said the records were found on a compact disc in the office. 'We are very pleased,' he said."

This points to a complete lack of any sort of accountability for elections records, and that is a management problem. The state should have clear standards and procedures for the handling of elections records (at a minimum for federal and statewide elections records), written into law and enforced. As soon as a ballot is cast, there should be an audit trail accounting for every location and possessor of any ballot record, and there should be procedures in place that make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to bypass that system.

Florida passed new election laws in 2002 (which can be found here.) Among other things, the new laws require that both volative memory and removeable media demonstrate the ability to retain data for six months, but incredibly there is no mention of any requirements for the "chain of custody" of election records!

According to the 1S-2.015 - Minimum Security Procedures for Voting Systems (pdf,97kb) (which can be found here), the state leaves records retention and security decisions in the hands of each county Election Supervisor's office! This is a system fraught with the potential for fraud, corruption and error. Unless the state embodies in law the correct, secure handling of elections records, they have no authority to correct some of the most fundamental errors. Counties should be regularly audited by the state and disciplined for errors in recordkeeping or records retention.

Furthermore, I can find no evidence of any ordinance in Miaim-Dade county that even addresses the issue of ballot security, handling and retention except fot the requirements placed on voters! No wonder records can be "lost" and the "found" a few months later! (It might be revealing to do a study nationwide of the elections records handling and retention approaches of every state.)

The right to vote is the single most sacred right of any citizen. Without it, all other rights become moot. Federal law should require specific standards with regard to the handling, retention and security of all elections for federal office. This would go a long way toward motivating the individual states to move their procedures in to the 21st century.


Friday, July 30, 2004

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Terror in the Skies, Part Cinco

The Washington Times is reporting that a second passenger has been located that confirms Annie Jacobsen's story about suspicious behavior aboard a flight from Detroit to LA.

The report indicates that Congress has gotten involved in investigating this incident, however the Homeland Security Department states that they "doubted" Annie Jacobsen's account. Furthermore, when department officials were asked about reports of "terrorists making dry runs", they said "it has no intelligence on such activities." Perhaps they should ask the flight personnel who are reporting that they "see these dry runs and are very concerned"?

Why does it seem that the Homeland Security Department is reluctant to investigate incidents like this and has such a cavalier attitude about what could be the early indications of something terrible?

In a story published yesterday the Washington Times reported that
An Immigration Customs Enforcement official said Monday the men had overstayed their visit and should have returned on June 10, but a Homeland Security Department spokesman said they learned late Tuesday that an extension had been granted through July 15.
So they really were here legally.

In a more bothersome part of the story, the Time reports
One staffer who attended the briefing said officials were "very cagey" on details, which he described as "very frustrating."

However, the officials confirmed air marshals found the activities unusual and suspicious.

"They are trying to have it both ways and say yes, our people are smart enough to see something and that's why they called for authorities, but they deny it was as scary as it has been portrayed," the staffer said.

Homeland Security officials say they have no intelligence that terrorists are conducting dry runs on airplanes.

Federal air marshals and pilots also back Mrs. Jacobsen's account as similar to other incidents, and say terrorists constantly are probing security.

The Federal Air Marshals Association yesterday requested a meeting with top Homeland Security officials to discuss the issue of terrorist dry runs.

"A test run for terrorism is not to be ignored," said Bob Flamm, director of the association. "When a citizen stands up and speaks out in regard to air safety, it is the responsibility of law-enforcement officials involved to seek out the truth and not bury it."
This smells a great deal like CYA. I'd be a lot more comfortable if officials would just be honest with the public, as the director suggests.

On July 19, the New York Daily News published an article entitled Jet's Crew Called FBI In Hijack Scare, reporting that
The bizarre behavior of 14 Syrian musicians on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles last month prompted a jittery Northwest Airlines flight crew to alert the FBI of a possible hijacking, officials said yesterday.

Los Angeles police and agents from the FBI, Federal Air Marshals Service and the Transportation Security Administration swarmed the group when the flight landed on June 29, but federal law-enforcement officials said that none of the men were on any terrorist watch list.

"They were interviewed at the airport and we found out that they were musicians on their way to a gig. Period," said a senior FBI official. "There was no terrorism nexus."

But the flight attendants and pilots aboard Northwest Flight 327 believed otherwise after apparently observing the Syrians crowd around bathrooms and emergency exits throughout the long flight - including just before landing, according to one passenger's written account.

"[The flight crew] said there was something hinky that they were concerned about and it was radioed in," said the senior FBI official.
At least two passengers were bothered enough by the musicians' behavior to report it to the media. The flight crew was bothered enough to contact the FBI during the flight. The Federal Air Marshals confirm that there are "dry runs" all the time and confirm the passengers' accounts of the flight. Yet the Homeland Security Department says they have "no intelligence" of any dry runs?

Have we made any progress since 9/11? Can't we even get officials from two different departments to talk to each other? At least the Washington Times is asking the same questions.

This story has more twists and turns than Mulholland Drive.


More good news from Afghanistan

Suprise, surprise, Afghanis want democracy. Afghanis want freedom. And they believe they're going to get it.

So says the results of a Washington Post poll that finds, among other things, that 81%! intend to vote. (One can only pray that Americans will take their franchise this seriously, again, some day.) Hamid Karzai's approval rating is 62%, and his favorability rating is 85%!. Fully 77% say that electing a President and Parliament will make a difference in their future.

The road ahead will not be easy. There are many stumbling blocks in the way, not least the need to educate the populace in the ways of democracy and how to live together in peace rather than avenging every wrong with violence and murder. But the hope is evident in the air.
Our survey showed that nearly three years after U.S. troops launched the war on terrorism in Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, Afghans want democracy. They are looking forward to their first free presidential election, scheduled for October, and say they will vote in large numbers. They are also surprisingly supportive of democratic values such as equal rights and peaceful opposition. Though big problems -- public ignorance, administrative and partisan difficulties, and insecurity -- must be faced if the elections are to succeed, the research indicates democracy's chances in Afghanistan may be better than widely thought.
Hat tip to Ranting Profs.


Krugman admits the news is biased

Oh, not in the way you might think, but the admission is there just the same. In his editorial today, entitled "Triumph of the Trivial", Krugman complains that the press is not doing their job. (I guess this comes as a surprise to Krugman?)

For example, he writes, "On the other hand, everyone knows that Teresa Heinz Kerry told someone to 'shove it,' though even there, the context was missing."

Long time Times readers will recognize this as a common problem in the Times' coverage of many issues, particularly things like the Joe Wilson story, the Sandy Berger story, the 9/11 Commission coverage, weapons of mass destruction, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum ad infinitum. But for Krugman to discover it is something of an epiphany.

Krugman, you are surely aware, is the leftist editorialist who insists passionately that any bias in the media is on the right. In fact, Krugman thinks the press is neutral in its coverage! (He must be furious with Okrent!)

But back to the point. Krugman complains that "Republicans, of all people, are practicing the politics of envy, and the media obediently go along."

What he means is that politicians set the agenda and the media simply parrots the party line without question. (Apparently Krugman is just discovering this as well?)

Krugman also complains that the Washington Post "quotes a voter" who questions the Democratic ticket's committment to health care. What upsets him is that the voter calls Kerry and Edwards "these millionaires" but isn't aware of Kerry's healthcare plan because the press is covering the former but not the latter. Krugman has a point, but this ubiquitous problem only bothers him because, in his view, it mispresents Kerry and Edwards. Krugman has never complained about the quotes the Times uses to misrepresent Bush. To him, that's objective coverage.

To Krugman, all these problems with the media are benefiting the Republicans at the expense of the poor, hapless Democrats who have no media to support their views. While this obviously cloistered view of the media doesn't reflect reality, at least he's beginning to see that there is a problem!

What did it take for Krugman to become aware of this problem? Competition, pure and simple. Now that the major media doesn't have a monopoly on the news, the problems they have always had and never addressed are suddenly coming back to bite them.

It's about time.

Hat tip to Tom Maguire.


Update on Zarqawi arrest story

The Command Post is reporting that the Zarqawi arrest story may be false. The story referenced was on a Russian website, not the Arabic one that I referenced from Lexis/Nexis, but the basic details appear to be the same. Iraqi police and Americans arrested Zarqawi in western Iraq, near the Syrian border, and a blood sample was sent to Baghdad for DNA testing. However, Command Post states that the story is being refuted by another story on a different Russian website. That website has some details that match the Arabic website, so it may be the source of both stories.

UPDATE: The Russian website that claims the story was refuted stated that "representatives of the American servicemen and Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country reported" that the story was false.

Agence France Presse reported on Tuesday, July 27, that "A follower of alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was arrested in the northern oil city of Kirkuk, along with a suspected local kidnapping ring, the US military said Tuesday.

The suspect was arrested on Monday night, Colonel Lloyd Miles of the 25th Infantry Division told reporters during a press conference at the US military base at Kirkuk's airport.

He provided no further details about the detainee."

Maybe the Zarqawi arrest story had its genesis in this "real" story? No one seems to be reporting anything about it today.

UPDATE2: THe Xinhua General News Service is reporting today, from Kuwait City:
A man said to be Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, whose Tawhid and Jihad group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Iraq, was captured during a joint operation by coalition forces and Iraqi police, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Friday.

The Politics newspaper quoted a senior Iraqi police official as saying that the US and Iraqi investigators are trying to identify the captive, who was seized at the border of Iraq and Syria, and has sent his DNA sample for testing.

Zarqawi, the No. 3 person of the al Qaida terrorist network, is the most wanted suspect in Iraq and has a US bounty of 25 million US dollars on his head.

The captive said his group operates mainly in west Iraq and a small faction of the group scatters around Baghdad and southern Iraq. He also revealed the hideouts of some members and ways of their communications.
It appears that someone has been captured in western Iraq. It's just not clear yet who it is.

UPDATE3: Global News Wire published an interview with Iyad Allawi today. The date of the interview is not specified, but Allawi had this to say about Zarqawi:
Al-Zarqawi is behind a large number of the bombing operations, especially the suicidal ones. But his presence in Iraq is doubtful. No one knows if he is inside or outside Iraq. But there is a gang leader who is carrying out terrorist actions and calling himself Al-Zarqawi and he is in Iraq. I do not know however if he is the real Al-Zarqawi or not. Al-Zarqawi always disguises himself and uses different names and several passports. He has different identity cards.
Perhaps this "gang leader" is the one who was arrested in western Iraq?

Readers note: I'm getting all this off Lexis/Nexis, which is why I can't provide links. If I later find the actual articles on the web, I'll link them here.

UPDATE4: Another source reporting essentially the same thing we already know. Are all these reports just echos of the original story? It's hard to determine what's really going on at this point, but I'm voting for the "gang leader" explanation that possibly is the actual al Zarqawi. (Hat tip to Tom Maguire for this one.)


Thursday, July 29, 2004

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Nothing new under the sun

In case anyone thinks the media is somehow diferent now than they were in the past, A Familiar Place, by Mark Levin, will sound eerily familiar. After WWII was over, the media immediately began focusing on what was wrong with the occupation of Europe, how the Europeans hated us and how we could lose the peace after winning the war.

Sound like a broken record? It is. The difference is, we have the internet now, and we can see for ourselves what's going on rather than depend on elistist "journalists" who want us to understand the world through their filter.


Top level Al Qaeda operative captured

According to CNN, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, one of the terrorists involved in the African embassy bombings was captured last Sunday in Pakistan. There's no mention in the article of why it took so long for the story to be covered by the media. BBC confirms the report.

Rumors are also flying in the blogosphere that Al Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist responsible for some much death and destruction in Iraq has been captured. No confirmation yet, but if true, it would be amazing news. Two top leaders in one week? It sounds too good to be true. Remember, back in June the rumors were flying that Zarqawi had been captured, and those were quickly denied.

According to LexisNexis (sorry, no link), the BBC's MIddle East section reports that an Arabic website had this story:
Text of report by Najah Muhammad Ali in Tehran: "Unconfirmed Reports of Al-Zarqawi's Arrest", published by Elaph web site on 29 July

Iraqi sources are talking about the possible arrest of Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, the main suspect leader of widespread bombings and assassinations inside Iraq. Iraquna web site reported that the arrest was made after a campaign of raids and chases by a joint force from the multinational and Iraqi security forces. Al-Zarqawi was arrested at the outskirts of Hudaythah town, which is close to the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The web site cited some Iraqi police commanders as telling people close to them that American and Iraqi investigators are trying to verify the detainee's identity and a sample of his blood has been sent to a laboratory for a DNA test.

According to these sources, Al-Zarqawi admitted from the first moment that there is prearranged coordination with the so-called Saddam Fedayeen and that he had received 1bn dollars sum as published before the downfall of Saddam's regime in coordination with Qusay. Investigators who took part in the first investigations sessions with the person believed to be Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi asserted that he was threatened that, unless he confessed immediately, he would be left in Al-Tahrir Square, people would be told to come to see him, and the Iraqis would be let loose on him. He provided the Iraqi police with information about the Monotheism and Jihad Group's places and hideouts, their addresses and the means of contacting them. It became apparent that the majority of the places and centres for handing over instructions and sometimes weapons were in the western areas, in addition to few terrorist centres distributed between Baghdad and some southern provinces.

The sources added that the detainee was wearing jeans and a white shirt when he was arrested and did not put up any worthwhile resistance after finding out that the house he was in was completely encircled and after helicopters began to help the Iraqi police in their mission. The multinational and Iraqi security forces continue to encircle the area where Al-Zarqawi was believed to be arrested.


News you've probably never heard

There's been so much criticism of Bush's "unilateralism", and the press has been so focused in on that issue, that they have completely missed a major story that's happening right under their noses - the PSI. What's the PSI you say? It's the Proliferation Security Initiative, and it's already made some significant achievements.
It is playing a key role in curbing and caging North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. It played a key role in disarming Libya, discovering and rolling up the Pakistani A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network, and has become a framework for international military and police exercises organized by the United States. Its membership includes most of the world's largest economic powers, most of the world's largest military powers, and most of the most influential states on earth. The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Germany are among its 15 member states, and it is one of the pillars of the Bush administration's strategy to both win the war on terrorism and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As an organization set up to perform a mission that the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have jointly failed, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, it has the potential of becoming an alternative to the UN itself in coming decades. Notably, all of its members to date are democracies.

The work of the much maligned Under Secretary of State for Arms Proliferation and International Security John Bolton, PSI is already a great success in bringing nations that disagreed bitterly over the Iraq war together under one flag to deal with larger weapons proliferation issues, especially those relating to the Korean Peninsula.

How It Works

The PSI is a bit of a strange bird, neither pure military alliance nor economic consortium nor intelligence agency, though it bears some of the features of all three. There is no guarantee among PSI members to come to the defense of any other member attacked by another party, for instance, such as exists in the NATO charter. It has no operating budget or swank headquarters building, and no jet-setting General Secretary or Supreme Commander. But most of the world's great navies -- America's, the UK's, Japan's, Australia's, and Russia's all play key roles. Many of the world's best intelligence assets, from spy satellites to human intelligence sources to financial investigators, are devoted to working with the PSI at some level.
What has PSI accomplished, you ask?
PSI's role in the disarmament of Libya has been poorly explained by the Bush administration and therefore poorly understood by the American public, with the media playing an assisting role in fostering ignorance.

Intelligence gathered mostly by the US and UK last summer indicated that North Korea was shipping a large amount of nuclear weapons manufacturing gear -- centrifuge parts to be exact -- to Libya via several ships. Acting on that information, US and UK warships stopped, boarded and seized those ships, discovering the expected gear on board. Confronted with those findings and the recently successful military operation to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq -- and undoubtedly mindful of his own unhappy experiences with President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s -- Libya's dictator, Col. Muammar Ghaddafi, who had connections to terrorists going back a few decades, decided it was no longer healthy to pursue nuclear weapons.
By now you're probably wondering why the media hasn't covered this. After all, an organization that could potentially replace the UN and the IAEA is important news, isn't it?

Well, the media just can't cover everything you know. (Do you practice "iceberg journalism"?)

Hat tip to Instapundit.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Terror in the Skies, Part Quattro

Maybe those Syrian musicians weren't quite as innocent as we thought. Patterico uncovers the fact that 13 of the 14 had expired visas and they sing a song celebrating Palestinian "martyrdom" (which Patterico points out is code for suicide bombers.)


Editor and Publisher discusses media bias

Editor and Publisher published an article today that discusses liberal bias in the media. (Interesting, isn't it, that the media is just now "discovering" this?) The article is interesting for a number of reasons, but this quote almost made me fall out of my chair laughing.
Journalism veterans interviewed by E&P disagree about why an ideological schism exists. Some say fewer conservatives enter journalism because the profession offers modest financial rewards and promotes aggressive questioning of the establishment. As Tribune Media Services columnist Cal Thomas put it, "It's just not the kind of thing conservatives do." But others contend that conservatives feel unwelcome in today's newsrooms because they contradict the "group think," to quote one editor.
This is hilarious. According to "journalism veterans" conservatives don't enter the media because it doesn't pay well: (aren't we so proud of those poor, self-sacrificing liberals like, oh, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Katie Kouric, et. al, who, though they can barely make ends meet, sacrifice for us so we can get the news?) and because it requires questioning authority (which, of course, no self-respecting conversative could ever bring themselves to do, oh, like say, criticize the President?

The self-righteous sanctimony almost had me barfing when - I read Cal Thomas' response - "It's just not the kind of thing conservatives do." - Like Bill Buckley, for example? Yeah, Bill never created the premier conservative magazine, National Review, because, well, as Cal says, that's "just not the sort of things conservatives do". That magazine is, well, just a figment of all our imaginations, right Cal? This is so patently absurd on its face that it made me break up in laughter.

You can't make this stuff up. It takes liberal journalists, enscounced in their safe little fantasy worlds, where no one disagrees with their positions because, well, how could they, to come up with these absurdities and say them with a completely straight and sincere face.

Hat tip to Ranting Profs.


Sam, OTOH, is furious at his government

If you're not familiar with Hammorabi, you find find Sam's passion and blunt speaking offensive. Some of his posts are saturated with irony, which can take some getting used to. Today's post is filled with invective both toward the terrorists who killed 70 innocent Iraqis today and toward the government of Iraq, who he is convinced has to be corrupt to all this sort of thing to happen.

Democracy really is taking hold in Iraq! Can you imagine Sam saying these things while Sadaam was in power?


Iraq the Model AGAIN

Not surprisingly, Mohamed has some very harsh words for Spain, Egypt and the Philippines. Much more encouraging, however, are his words for the terrorists and the coalition:
Can you answer the question what will be the response of Iraqis towards these horrible attacks? I'll help you; These victims came to volunteer to serve their country as IP members and this is not the 1st time this happens and the response of Iraqis to such attacks was always more volunteers and longer lines. What does that tell you Philippine and Spanish government? If this is bravery and wisdom, then how should your actions be labeled? Maybe it's not your business? That would've been a more honest answer had you said it, but you're not just cowards or stupid, you're also hypocrites. This include all the "anti-war" crowd with all the clowns there such as Michael Moore and George Galloway and their likes. You make me SICK when you support the "Iraqi resistance" and call these killers a revolutionists. Did you watch your "resistance" today? This is what you support and this is how history will view you; supporters of murderers and criminals, and for what? Fame and money! Enjoy it. It won't last, as the truth will soon be revealed and you'll be exposed to all as the disgusting parasites you are.

I doubt that we can forgive you all for your cowardice, stupidity and hypocracy just as we'll never forget the sacrifices and the help of the Americans, Australians, British, Italians, Japanese and all the other coalition members.


What is wrong with Florida?

The New York Times reports today that Florida has lost voting records from the 2002 elections, and surprise, surprise, the problems are in....Miami-Dade county and Broward county. You may recall that both of those counties were at the center of the recount controversy in the 2000 Presidential election along with Palm Beach County, which has "suffered" from voting irregularities for quite some time.

During the 2000 election, I did some research on the recount problems, and I uncovered problems that were disturbing enough that I sent the information to the Florida Attorney General's office. I never received a response, and I have no way of knowing if any follow up ever occurred, but this report from the times is not encouraging.

Most of the statistical analysis done of the voting patterns in the 2000 Florida election "proved" that Gore lost votes to Buchanan in Palm Beach County, but a statistical analysis I saw indicated that this was not the case. Buchanan is from Palm Beach County, and his proportion of the vote in the election was similar to his proportion of the vote in the primaries. Ditto for the raw data rather than percentages.
ONLY in Palm Beach did Buchanan get less than HALF the of votes he received before in 1996. Buchanan's "lost" votes in that county in 2000 were much greater than in any other district in Florida. (Buchanan received over 8,000 votes in 1996 Republican PRIMARY (where only registered Republicans can vote; but he received only 3,407 under the Reform Party from ALL voters in the 2000 Presidential election. (Pat Buchanan has relatives who live in Palm Beach County, and this local support greatly increases the number of local voters who choose Buchanan, compared to every other region of the country. There are over 14,551 members of the Reform party in Palm Beach County - which indicates that less than 1/5 of the Reform voters voted for their own candidate. The Fraud is NOT whether Gore voters were "confused" and voted for Gore, but rather WHY Reform Party and Libertarian voters were prevented from registering THEIR vote!)
What caught my eye was what appeared to be deliberate alteration of ballots after they were cast.
Assume 45,000 ballots were stuck with a stiff wire or pointed tool. It would take somebody a little bit of privacy and about 15 minutes. A ream of paper is 1 inch thick, 45,000 many ballots can be carried by one person in one handcart or box, damaged, and returned to position very quickly. More simply, they could be punched several hundred at a time while the stack is lined before being read at the voting machine - since all the ballots would already be lined up and stacked neatly in order at that time.

3,000 = Buchanan
15,000 = Bush
25,000 = Gore (Gore has approximately a 2:1 margin over Bush in Palm Beach Cty.)
1,250 = other parties and random existing errors
750 = "blank" or "protest votes"- No vote for President; other spots may be filled in.

After ....
3,000 Buchanan + Gore = thrown out.
15,000 Bush + Gore = thrown out.
25,000 Gore (+ Gore) = GOOD VOTES for Gore = counted already
1,250 + others + Gore = thrown out.
750 = "blank" + Gore = Gore additional "free" votes

Stamping 45,000 ballots with a tool (or other device) THROUGH the Gore slot gives:

Every Gore vote = still a valid Gore vote. (No change in the total, no change in the recount.)

Every Bush, Buchanan, Workers Party, and Libertarian Party ballot IS IMMEDIATELY INVALID. They will be thrown out because they have two votes. They NEVER were counted in the first place = no change in the recount. The double-punch occurs ONLY in the presidential race, and no position on the ballot is disturbed. All other races are correctly counted.

EVERY ballot that had no vote (a "protest vote" against both major candidates) becomes a Gore vote. All other races on the ballot are not disturbed, and are correctly counted.
To my knowledge this was never investigated.

I had hoped that electronic voting would make ballots untamperable, but it appears that this may not be the case. Is Florida headed for another election day disaster?


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

PLEASE NOTE: Media Lies has moved.
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Interesting cartoon

I told you you should be reading Iraq the Model. :-)


The case for removing Sadaam

FoxNews published an article today entitled The Threat We Couldn't Ignore, which discusses the reasons why we were right to go in to Iraq. The article also gives us some historical context that differs significantly from the picture the liberals try to portray.
"We were right to go into Iraq," President Bush said recently. Is he right?

Before we answer, let's look back at what two politicians were saying about Saddam Hussein not that long ago.

1) "Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

2) "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."

Who were these warmongers? Vice President Cheney? President Bush?

Neither. The first quote is from Rep. Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif., now House minority leader. The second is from President Bill Clinton. Both were spoken in 1998, when politicians from both parties were insisting that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States.
To anyone who's been following the "debate" about Iraq and whether or not we should have removed Sadaam, these quotes will be met with a "Ho-hum, so tell me something I didn't know" response.

To many liberals, however, these quotes will simply evoke the nonsensical response that "That was then. When Bush did it, he had no justification." This kind of sophism is what passes for debate on this issue. And the major media has played along for far too long.

I want to believe that liberals really do care about this country and that they simply disagree on policy issues, but the conduct of liberals since Bush took office is not encouraging. Rather than support the war on terror and disagree with its prosecution or with elements of the Bush doctrine, the liberals have chosen the path of the ostrich. They want us to believe that Sadaam never was a threat. That we were mistaken to go in to Iraq. And that the SICR and the 9/11 Commissions prove that.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but being far from the truth doesn't seem to bother liberals. In their zeal to avenge for what they view as a "coup" in 2000, they are willing to abandon sanity and this nation's (and indeed the entire civilized world's) safety and security simply to seize what they believe is rightfully theirs.


Belmont Club hits the nail on the head

The Belmont Club cuts through the political rhetoric and articulates the difference between the Democratic (and French) and Republican approaches to terrorism. The choice this year could not be more stark. Do we return to the days of concession and equivocation and negotiation (as Spain has chosen to do) or do we continue to take the fight to the enemy?

If you want to see your children and grandchildren grow up in a world where they are safe and free to do as they chose, then you should fully support the war on terrorism. For Americans, there has never been a more important election, perhaps in our entire history, than this one.

I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemoeller's famous saying from World War II
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


Does Moore's film demoralize the troops?

One soldier says yes, but another soldier thinks the story is overblown. People can come away from an experience with highly emotional reactions, but over time they begin to see reality. I think this will be the case with many of the troops described in the first story. Once they put some space between themselves and Moore's propaganda, they'll realize that they were caught up in the experience. If they don't, well, then they'll become liberals, were fantasy is reality and truth is fiction.


Monday, July 26, 2004

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Good news from......Afghanistan

That's right. Afghanistan. It's hard to find any news about Afghanistan these days (which is good, I suppose, because it means there isn't much bad happening there.) I was reading FoxNews today and saw an article about the upcoming elections and Hamid Karzai throwing his hat in the ring. I thought I should write something about what's going on in Afghanistan, but other things too precedence. Tonight I'm browsing through the blogs and lo and behold, Chrenkoff has added a Good News from Afghanistan section to his sight.

Chrenkoff seems to have a nose for the good news. I've linked to his Good News from Iraq more than once. Now, with this new series, he may be the only person in the world bringing you positive news from that part of the world. Lord knows we've needed somebody to ignore the negative stuff and talk about good things. Chrenkoff is just what you need after a tough day at the office.


My right to speak is not yours?

Democrats, liberals and anti-war types have been howling constantly about freedom of speech and "McCarthyism" whenever people opposed to them speak their minds. The most recent example is the Linda Ronstadt flap, but the list is long. From Michael Moore to Tim Robbins, the left has complained bitterly when their speech is opposed by those who disagree with them.

So we come to the Democratic Convention, a site where the greatness of American politics is on display, and what do we find? Teresa Heinz Kerry tells a reporter to "Shove it" because she doesn't like the question. Ann Coulter has her column spiked by USA Today because they didn't like what she wrote. The DNC works hard to keep controversial speakers out of the limelight. Protestors are confined to a box with with barbed wire and netting, and anti-abortion protestors get the finger from a passing motorist.

And this is the party of free speech.....


Has Iraqi life returned to normal?

Something struck me today as I was reading Al Sabaah. It seemed so.....well.....normal. It read like a hometown newspaper in America - "Local man receives service award" - "City allocates funds for parks project" - that kind of stuff. Look at the headlines for today:









What? No bombings? No kidnappings? No beheadings? What's going on here? Could Iraq actually be returning to "normal"?

Firas Georges posted for the first time in a while yesterday. He had this to say:
With all that I had to finish building my own house, and ............its finished and I moved in and writing my first article in it using my laptop without electric power, its still bad and now I can understand part of the problem of the electric power, because when we moved into the new house we left the old one for my mother full furnished (especially electrically) and we bought all the electric stuff new (refrigerator, second TV, water cooler, four air conditioners, washing machine, second receiver), with all that how could any one blame the electricity ministry for not fixing the electricity problem, every time they add another watt for the electric pool another guy like myself moves into a new house and drag the extra watts for himself, and so............. Knowing that we can see how Iraqi family monthly income is expanding and they are using it to make life easier and full of prosperity.
What may back up my criteria is what is going on in the ISX (Iraq Stock eXchange). Things there are more than good, its terrifying good. Nobody expected to close deals in one day with the same value of what he used to close in three months work, and investors are trying to find themselves a broker who isn't so occupied with deals.
Among all that good things we have problems like electricity shortage because of what we became capable to buy, traffic jam because of hundred thousands cars entered the market with low prices, and also because of the many check points made by the new Iraqi National Guards who made a great difference in the security situation and many more problems like those which we should be happy with and thankful for whoever are trying to build a good future for Iraq & Iraqis.
Will you hear about this on your evening news? Or Al Jazeera? Not likely. But the truth is, things are getting better, and the average Iraqi is beginning to realize it.

It's just possible that all the so-called "experts" were wrong about Iraqis being able to live together - Sunni, Shite and Kurd. That the Iraqi people are finding freedom more enticing than old tribal allegiances. That George Bush may actually have been right!


McConnell skewers Wilson on the Senate floor

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Whip, issued a press release, which he read on the Senate floor, that absolutely skewers Wilson and the 16 words controversy. It was released on July 21, and among other things McConnell called on the major media to give the story of Wilson's lies as much coverage as they had the original accusations.

So far, the media hasn't taken him up on it. With the Democratic convention starting today, it's unlikely they will take up the charges in the next week, and it's equally likely that they will hope that the story disappears in the clutter of "other news". Both the press and the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for ignoring the evidence and refusing to repudiate Wilson. But as Paul Krugman of the NY Times keeps insisting, "there is no liberal media". That's a fantasy concocted by the "vast right wing conspiracy". Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

(Another hat tip to Tom Maguire who has been relentlessly pursuing this story.)

Maguire thinks that McConnell has gotten results. I prefer to reserve judgment. Until CBS, ABC and NBC include the story in their primetime evening news segments, it will not have received the attention that it deserves. Can you see Brokaw announcing, "In a stunning reversal, the allegations that Joe Wilson leveled at the President have been proven completely false"?

A mention by Howard Kurz, on page A07 (pointed out by Instapundit) doesn't count. Until the media gives this story the same attention that did the original, they can not be considered to have covered it. The American public needs to know that the entire basis of the "Bush lied" story was fabricated.


Sunday, July 25, 2004

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Is the NY Times liberal?

Of course it is says Daniel Okrent, the Times public editor. I suppose I should have posted this earlier in the day, but there's so much going on it's hard to cover everything and still have a life. Besides, the blogosphere is all over this one any way. See Instapundit, Oh, THAT Liberal Media, Tom Maquire or Ranting Profs for a thorough analysis of the editorial.

The blogosphere will wait with bated breath for Okrent to admit that the news the Times prints also has a liberal bias.


Positive story from Iraq

The Ashbrook Center blog has an interesting story about an Iraqi officer's encounters with the US forces and how they changed his life. (Hat tip to Iraq the Model again!)

If you're not reading Iraq the Model regularly, you should. I'm only telling you the highlights.


Maguire discusses the "oddly passive" Kerry

Tom Maquire discusses the response of John Kerry to a question about anti-terrorism planning. Coupled with Kerry's nonchalant attitude toward war on terrorism briefings ("I haven't had time"), one has to wonder what world John Kerry is living in. It certainly isn't the one we have to deal with every day, where you can never be sure if someone wants to kill you or not. When you consider his (and Bill Clinton's) attitude toward Sandy Berger's security lapses, which I pointed out earlier today, a Kerry presidency doesn't bode well for America.


Using diversion to avoid the real issue

This is a tactic the media uses (and falls for) quite often. One recent example is the Sandy Berger story. Sandy says he "inadvertantly" took some personal notes and classified documents from the National Archives. Over the following days the media has focused on two issues; was the theft really inadvertant or was it deliberate and who leaked the story and why?

While the second question may be of interest to some, the first question is irrelevant. Whether Sandy Berger took the documents inadvertantly or deliberately, both he and his lawyer have publicly stated that he took them. That is a violation of the law. Since Berger has admitted to violating the law, what is the FBI still investigating?

Senator Trent Lott, in a Hardball interview pointed out that "if it is of highly sensitive classified material, you cannot take that kind of information, even in your own handwriting, out of the room." So the attempt to characterize the Berger incident as the inadvertant taking of classified documents in itself obscures the fact that it was illegal for Berger even to take his own notes out of the room. Berger had to know that, and when discussing the matter he stated that "he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio."

Note the use of the phrase "actual classified documents". The handwritten notes were also classified documents, and Berger admits to "knowingly" removing them from the room. IOW, he has publicly confessed to the crime and admitted that he did it deliberately! Then he characterizes the theft of the "actual classified documents" as "inadvertant".

Others have been investigated when they had much less important documents stolen from them, even though the documents were later recovered. Some have been indicted and later convicted for stealing documents of lower classification than the ones that Berger took.

What may be even more bothersome is the reaction of Democrats, particularly Bill Clinton, who had the following to say about Berger's theft of top secret, codeword documents: the news "is a non-story", and "We were all laughing about it on the way over here". However humorous Clinton may find Berger's lack of organization, the theft of top secret documents is no laughing matter.

John Kerry's response is perhaps even more troubling. He stated, "Sandy Berger is my friend, and he has tirelessly served this nation with honor and distinction. I respect his decision to step aside as an adviser to the campaign until this matter is resolved objectively and fairly." Until this matter is resolved? Does this mean that Kerry would be willing to retain Berger's services in the future? He has publicly admitted to, at the least, an extremely lax attitude toward security. Is this the kind of man that Kerry would trust for advice?


Saturday, July 24, 2004

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How do Iraqis feel about the security situation?

The Mesopotamian sees "a definite improvement". link He also chastises a friend who doubts him, saying he is "falling prey to the Media". That seems to be a common malady these days. Even now most of the stories out of Iraq are of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, as if those were the only things going on. If you get your news from the major media, you are in for quite a shock when the Iraqi story "suddenly" turns positive.

A friend of mine criticized me the other day for criticizing the media "while you depend upon them for your news". What he doesn't understand is that I don't get my news from the media. I get my material from the media. I get my news from the Internet. More and more people are doing this, and the major media doesn't even realize it. A revolution is underway, and they are oblivious.

As much as possible, I use "original" sources -- the 9/11 Commission Report, for example -- and do the research myself. When I do get unusual stories secondhand, such as the Iraqi nukes story, I look for confirmation or I note that it is "reported" or "alleged". Like you, I routinely browse through blogs looking for interesting information, and of course, I use search engines extensively. (My favorite is Alta Vista, but I also use Lexis/Nexis and Google.)

Hopefully the end result is something useful.


Bill Deore cartoon on Berger

When you see this political cartoon in the Dallas Morning News, you'll realize that Sandy Berger is in serious trouble.

UPDATE: This cartoon appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal.


More good news from Iraq

Al Sabaah is reporting the arrests of 165 people including 20 of foreign nationalities and the killing of "a number of terrorists from different nationalities" in a raid that began at dawn on Thursday. The site of the fighting was Haifa street.

You may recall that Al Sabaah reported another gun battle on Haifa street on the 10th of July. In that raid, 19 terrorists died and another nine were arrested. If you were worried that the Iraqis couldn't handle their own security, these raids should be encouraging news. While they will require a US presence for a while, the Iraqis appear to be very serious about rooting out the "bad guys" and establishing law and order.

Al Sabaah also reports today that "Sheikh Abdul Kerim Mohammedawi, former Iraqi Governing Council member" was released from jail after a trial failed to establish sufficient evidence that he was guilty of murdering an Iraqi police officer in Maissan Province. Despite the constant drumbeat of negative news from the Western press, the Iraqis appear to be proceeding with normal government business. The court system is working. The police and Iraqi National Guards are doing their jobs. The terrorists are being hunted down and killed, and life is going on. It appears that the elections will be able to proceed on schedule, just as everything else has.

If you wonder why you don't read this stuff in your newspaper or hear it on your evening news programs, maybe you should consider asking them.


Amazing story about Sadaam's arrest

There's a story at Blackfive today that you have to read. It turns out that the first guy to grab Sadaam as he was coming out of his spider hole is an Iraqi named Samir who left Iraq and now lives in St. Louis, MO. He's a translator for the US Army. The arrest was particularly sweet for him because his family suffered and died under Sadaam's regime. Hat tip to Iraq the Model again! Mohamed is the source of more good news from Iraq than any media outlet.


Tom Maguire all over the Wilson story

As usual, Tom Maguire is all over the Wilson story, but this time he claims to have been outdone by Kevin Drum who thinks Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, may be behind all the leaks Wilson made.

It's an interesting theory, and the timing of various events, as Kevin points out, fits his theory.


Friday, July 23, 2004

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Iraq, al Qaeda and 9/11

This is a sore subject with me. The constant claims that there were no ties between Iraq and al Qaeda simply won't stand up to scrutiny. No reasonable person can come to this conclusion. Yet this sophism is repeated in the press and by the Democrats like a mantra. Now that we have access to the 9/11 Commission report (and the ability to search easily), we can address the issue using the facts.

One argument that has been made is that al Qaeda would never have worked with Sadaam because they are radical Islamists and Sadaam was a secularlist whom they despised. It doesn't take much reading of the report to destroy that claim. On pgs 65 & 66 we read (referring to bin Laden)
He also stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam's holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, and he protested U.S.support of Israel.
I won't waste a lot of time on this. Anyone could google for links prior to 2000 and see that the Clinton administration and the press in general saw bin Laden's invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people as a reason to attack America. Here's one link. Many more are available.

Rather than quoting the report copiously, I will simply provide the page numbers and the facts of the ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. All these events either involve bin Laden or al Qaeda representatives directly and are known with varying degress of certainty. (Read the report yourself.)

Page 78 - sponsored anti-Sadaam Islamists in Kurdistan in the early 90's
met with an Iraqi intelligence agent to request the establishment of training camps in Iraq in 1994 or 95
agreed to no longer support anti-Sadaam activities in 1998
reformed the group as Ansar al Islam in 2001 with the support of Sadaam to oppose the Kurds

Page 83 - attempted to establish a relationship with Sadaam when pressure mounted in Sudan in 1997
were approached by Iraqi intelligence agents in 1998, two meetings took place, one in Bagdhad, another in Afghanistan, were bin Laden was present
Iraqi officials offered bin Laden safe haven in Iraq in 1999

Page 142 - Richard Clarke reported that "the Taliban appear to be up to something" in November 1998 - this coincides with the time when meetings took place between Iraq and al Qaeda both in Baghdad and Afghanistan
Clarke also commented at that time that "Iraq and Libya had previously discussed hosting Bin Ladin"

Page 145 - mentions the indictment of bin Laden, which included these words, penned by the Clinton Justice Department, that bin Laden had "reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq"
Clarke also told Berger, based on intelligence reports, that "a large Iraqi presence at chemical facilities in Khartoum was 'probably a direct result of the Iraq-Al Qida agreement.' Clarke added that VX precursor traces found near al Shifa were the 'exact formula used by Iraq.'" (This is the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant bombed by the Clinton administration in the supposed "wag the dog" incident.

Page 151 - cites intelligence reports from a "reliable source" that bin Laden met with "Iraqi officials" who "may have offered asylum" in Iraq.
This next I must quote in its entirety. "Other intelligence sources said that some Taliban leaders, though not Mullah Omar, had urged Bin Ladin to go to Iraq. If Bin Ladin actually moved to Iraq, wrote Clarke, his network would be at Saddam Hussein's service, and it would be "virtually impossible" to find him. Better to get Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Clarke declared. 134 Berger suggested sending one U-2 flight, but Clarke opposed even this. It would require Pakistani approval, he wrote; and "Pak[istan's] intel[ligence service] is in bed with" Bin Ladin and would warn him that the United States was getting ready for a bombing campaign: "Armed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad." 135 Though told also by Bruce Riedel of the NSC staff that Saddam Hussein wanted Bin Ladin in Baghdad, Berger conditionally authorized a single U-2 flight. Allen meanwhile had found other ways of getting the information he wanted. So the U-2 flight never occurred." This reveals that there were multiple sources for this intelligence.

Page 351 - a Polish intelligence report stated that "personnel at the headquarters of Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad were told before September 11 to go on the streets to gauge crowd reaction to an unspecified event."

Were there ties between Iraq and al Qaeda? The evidence is certainly strong enough to raise concerns in government and spur people to action. To argue that there were none when so much evidence exists that there were reveals an insidious bias against the obvious.

Iyad Allawi has stated on the record "I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September -- atrocities or not, I can't -- vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists."

Furthermore, the 9/11 Commission never even investigated the report of a meeting between Mohammed Atta and Habbash al Tikriti, the head of the Mukhabarat, in Baghdad, in the summer of 2001. According to Iyad Illawi, "In the memo, Habbush reports that Atta 'displayed extraordinary effort' and demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be 'responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy'. Is this a reference to 9/11? We may never know, because no one has investigated it. The Iraqis insist the document is geniune, and several claim to recognize Habbush's handwriting. The document is dated July 1, 2001.

According to the report, Atta traveled in the US in late June and was in New Jersey on July 4, 2001. He purchased tickets to Spain at a travel agency there. Is it possible he could have been in Baghdad earlier in the year? In mid-June? Or May? Not all of his time is accounted for in the report.


Did Berger really nix four attacks on al Qaeda?

The New York Sun published an article today entitled The Boldness of the President. The writer asserts that Sandy Berger nixed four different plans to either capture or kill bin Laden.

My reading of the report doesn't support this assertion. The first instance was a plan to capture bin Laden at Tarnak Farms using "tribals" in Afghanistan. According to the report:
Impressions vary as to who actually decided not to proceed with the operation. Clarke told us that the CSG saw the plan as flawed. He was said to have described it to a colleague on the NSC staff as "half-assed" and predicted that the principals would not approve it. "Jeff" thought the decision had been made at the cabinet level. Pavitt thought that it was Berger's doing, though perhaps on Tenet's advice. Tenet told us that given the recommendation of his chief operations officers, he alone had decided to "turn off" the operation. He had simply informed Berger, who had not pushed back. Berger's recollection was similar. He said the plan was never presented to the White House for a decision.
Although it isn't certain who actually nixed the plan, reading the events leading up to the decision to kill the plan reveals that, while the field agents were enthusiastic about the plan, there was a great deal of trepidation about it back in Washington.

The quote that the Sun uses accurately portrays Berger's thinking at the time, but that was more than ten days before the decision to kill the plan was made. While I'm all for skewering Berger for his stupid antics with the top secret documents in the National Archives and for his lies in the past, I think it's unfair to accuse him of having killed a plan that both he and CIA Director Tenet agree was killed by Tenet, not Berger.

Furthermore, I find Berger's objections reasonable. At the time, recall, we were pursuing terrorism legally, not militarily, and it may well have been a disaster to capture bin Laden, bring him to trial only to have him acquited of the charges.

On page 134, the report states, in reference to the attack on the Sudan pharmaceutical plant, "Berger has told us that he thought about what might happen if the decision went against hitting al Shifa, and nerve gas was used in a New York subway two weeks later."

On page 151 we find that Berger authorized a U2 flight over Afghanistan over the objections of Richard Clarke, who felt that, because the US would have to get Pakistani approval for the overflight, the Pakistanis would warn bin Laden about the flight, just as he believed bin Laden had been warned about the 1998 missile strikes on Tarnak Farms. The flight never took place, but Berger did authorize it.

Page 158 contains the Sun's reference to a handwritten Berger note regarding some "families" and "we'll be blamed". Although the strike never took place, there's no testimony in the report that points to Berger having been the one who nixed the strike.

The note referred to where Berger wrote "no" in the margin, in reference to attacks on bin Laden at the end of 1999 appears in Chapter 6, note 11, in the addendum. While it is Berger's note, there's simply no way to determine if Berger nixed the plan himself or simply wrote down a decision made by others in the margin. Considering the normal course of decision making prior to this point, I think it's more likely that Berger was simply noting a decision that had been made by others.

The August 2000 memo the Sun refers to appears on page 206. While it accurately quotes the memo, it has nothing whatsoever to do with any decision to take action on anything. It's simply Berger's note that he wants good information from the Predator drones before taking action in Afghanistan. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

This casts Berger in a different light than the Sun attempts to cast him. Berger may be a lot of things, but he apparently is not quite the timid soul (or perhaps coward) that the Sun portrays him as. He certainly isn't responsible for missing four opportunities to get bin Laden.

I'll be honest. I want Bush to win this election. I want the lies of the Democrats exposed. But I do not want to see distortion and misrepresentation used to make the case for Bush. Hasn't there been enough of that already? Sandy Berger has enough problems with the things he has done wrong. He should not have to defend himself against false accusations and innuendo as well.

The Sun owes Sandy Berger an apology.


Lehman claims the commission was "mugged"

National Review has an interesting article today where Commissioner Lehman claims
"I think we were mugged by Viacom," Lehman told NRO in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. "Because they changed the release date of the book and geared up 60 Minutes to launch his book to time them with his testimony and they edited his book to take out all of the criticisms of Clinton from his [original private] testimony. Because they wanted to make it a jihad against Bush."

Lehman says that Clarke's original testimony included "a searing indictment of some Clinton officials and Clinton policies." That was the Clarke, evenhanded in his criticisms of both the Bush and Clinton administrations, who Lehman and other Republican commissioners expected to show up at the public hearings. It was a surprise "that he would come out against Bush that way." Republicans were taken aback: "It caught us flat-footed, but not the Democrats."
Is anyone surprised? Clarke knew he could sell more books that way, so perhaps he could be excused for slanting his public testimony.

What's the 9/11 Commission's Democrat members' excuse?

These are interesting times. We have the Wilson meltdown, the Sandy Berger mess and now the revelation that Clarke and the Democrats, with the willing help of Viacom and CBS, ambushed the Republicans in an effort to hurt Bush. Just more evidence that the Democrats will stop at nothing to damage Bush in the eyes of the public, without any regard to the damage to the US or its troops.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis seem to be taking their future firmly in their hands, more and more evidence of al Qaeda-Sadaam connections are being found, we have the possibility that nuclear missiles may have been found in Iraq, destroying the "no-WMD" crowds' argument, the economy is booming and Kerry is "clueless". Perhaps the Democrats have "misunderestimated" ol W once again?

Hat tip to Tom Maguire.


"The land of spies"

Mohammed (of Iraq the Model) blogged a report called "The Land of Spies" in which he discusses one of the remaining holdout areas of Bahgdad. He talks about the mentality of the Baathists and terrorists that are still fighting and how they should be dealt with:
These people who are still fighting think in the same way. They carry Saddam mentality ; they and only they are right while everyone else are wrong and there's no other solution for this problem in their minds other than exterminating them. There's no place for a dialog in their dictionary and with these you can put the extremist Islamists like Bin laden, Zargawi and even their 'child's play' Sadr. I want to say that I think there's no use of negotiating with these people who process the absolute truth and are willing to kill everyone who oppose them even if by words. Firm dealing with their ill mentality that's polluted by illusions from the remote past is what we need and what we should not hesitate to apply.
What struck me about this is that he thinks precisely the same way as the 9/11 commission does. You do not negotiate with terrorists. You eliminate them.

Mohammed closes his story with this compelling thought:
Everyday passes make me surer than before that Iraqis have made up their minds and that there will be no turning back.
Refreshing, isn't it?


Thursday, July 22, 2004

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And more observations

Are We Safer?
Since 9/11,the United States and its allies have killed or captured a majority of al Qaeda's leadership; toppled the Taliban, which gave al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan; and severely damaged the organization. Yet terrorist attacks continue. Even as we have thwarted attacks, nearly everyone expects they will come. How can this be? The problem is that al Qaeda represents an ideological movement, not a finite group of people. It initiates and inspires, even if it no longer directs. In this way it has transformed itself into a decentralized force. Bin Ladin may be limited in his ability to organize major attacks from his hideouts. Yet killing or capturing him, while extremely important, would not end terror. His message of inspiration to a new generation of terrorists would continue. Because of offensive actions against al Qaeda since 9/11, and defensive actions to improve homeland security, we believe we are safer today. But we are not safe. We therefore make the following recommendations that we believe can make America safer and more secure.
Well isn't this interesting?

The 9/11 Commission unanimously believes that we are safer now than we were before 9/11. This is a clear validation of what Bush has been saying. How the Kerry campaign manages to spin this, with the help of the biased media, should be fascinating to watch.

UPDATE: It has already begun. ABC quotes the report's statement that we are "not safe" without pointing out that the report also says "we are safer" in the previous sentence. (Talk about selective quoting!) They also state that the report "could be trouble for Bush". Did they even bother to read it?

MSNBC states
"we are not safe" yet. "Every expert with whom we spoke told us an attack of even greater magnitude is now possible and even probable," said the panel's chairman, Republican former Gov. Thomas Kean of New Jersey.
but fails to point out that the report says "we are safer".

The Drudgereport has this:
The 9/11 commission report offers a broad critique of a central tenet of the Bush administration's foreign policy _ that the attacks have required a 'war on terrorism'... The report argues that the notion of fighting an enemy called "terrorism" is too diffuse and vague to be effective. Strikingly, the report also makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, a frequent assertion of President Bush and his top aides... Developing...
There is no mention of the "war on terrorism" in the Executive Summary.

In the full report, the phrase "war on terrorism" appears 18 times; pgs 348, 350, 352(3), 375(3), 380, 391(2), 458, 486, 515(2), 576, 580.

On page 379, the following argument is developed:
Now threats can emerge quickly. An organization like al Qaeda, headquartered in a country on the other side of the earth, in a region so poor that electricity or telephones were scarce, could nonetheless scheme to wield weapons of unprecedented destructive power in the largest cities of the United States. In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests "over there" should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America "over here." In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just "terrorism", some generic evil.2 This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism-especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology.3
This is not a repudiation of Bush's "war on terrorism", but a reminder that we should not forget who the enemy is in the war on terrorism.

This is the sort of pettiness that will dominate the debate over the next few days.

UPDATE II: Drudge is getting this from WaPo, which can only be said to be "making a mountain out of a molehill". The "broad critique consists entirely of what I've quoted above. One paragraph in a 585 report is called "a broad critique of the central tenet" of Bush's policy on terrorism.

Then there's this incredible statement:
Strikingly, the report makes no reference to the invasion of Iraq as being part of the war on terrorism, a frequent assertion of President Bush and his top aides.
Someone please call WaPo and tell them they're reading the 9/11 report! Hello, earth to Washington. Why would the Iraq war be mentioned in a report on an event that ocurred 18 months earlier?

The Post is cherrypicking a comment the Commission made on page 384 to make a point that the Commission does not make.
Every policy decision we make needs to be seen through this lens. If, for example, Iraq becomes a failed state, it will go to the top of the list of places that are breeding grounds for attacks against Americans at home. Similarly, if we are paying insufficient attention to Afghanistan, the rule of the Taliban or warlords and narcotraffickers may reemerge and its countryside could once again offer refuge to al Qaeda, or its successor.
The U.S. government must identify and prioritize actual or potential terrorist sanctuaries. For each, it should have a realistic strategy to keep possible terrorists insecure and on the run, using all elements of national power. We should reach out, listen to, and work with other countries that can help.
UPDATE III: The Wall Street Journal had a much more measured response to the same section that WaPo jumped all over last night.
Notably, the Commission performs a service by defining the threat we now face in refreshing fashion. "The enemy is not just 'terrorism,' " it says. "It is the threat posed specifically by Islamic terrorism." Bush Administration officials say the same thing privately, but they have been reluctant to state this publicly lest they offend the broader body of peaceable Islam. But it is hard to defeat an enemy without defining who it is. And the fact that Islam has a problem with its radical factions is something that Muslims themselves have to face up to.

This failure to speak candidly has ramifications at home, too, specifically in the Transportation Department's continued failure to endorse racial profiling in airport security checks. The policy reduces the government's credibility among ordinary Americans who understand that the policy defies common sense. Commissioner John Lehman noted at one hearing that any airline that set aside more than two Middle Eastern-looking passengers for secondary security clearing at any one time still faces large anti-discrimination fines.
Note how the Journal, quoting the same section of the report as WaPo, has a completely different take on its meaning.


More observations

Following the August 20, 1998, missile strikes on al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan, both senior military officials and policymakers placed great emphasis on actionable intelligence as the key factor in recommending or deciding to launch military action against Bin Ladin and his organization. They did not want to risk significant collateral damage, and they did not want to miss Bin Ladin and thus make the United States look weak while making Bin Ladin look strong. On three specific occasions in 1998–1999, intelligence was deemed credible enough to warrant planning for possible strikes to kill Bin Ladin. But in each case the strikes did not go forward, because senior policymakers did not regard the intelligence as sufficiently actionable to offset their assessment of the risks.
What we have here is a conundrum. On the one hand, the 9/11 commission points out that officials are afraid to act without "actionable" intelligence. On the other hand, the SICR criticizes the CIA for not having developed enough solid intelligence to provide American leaders with the confidence that they can move on the intelligence.

Sounds like the perfect setup for Al Qaeda to continue wreaking havoc. American officials fiddle while Americans burn. I have long been frustrated by the unresponsive nature of our government and its inability to function efficiently. Now that we are faced with an unprecedented threat to our future viability, one can only hope that the government, particularly Congress, can find a way to focus on what matters and stop bickering over politics. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is elected. Our security is threatened, and they had better do something about it.
The intelligence community struggled throughout the 1990s and up to 9/11 to collect intelligence on and analyze the phenomenon of transnational terrorism. The combination of an overwhelming number of priorities, flat budgets, an outmoded structure, and bureaucratic rivalries resulted in an insufficient response to this new challenge.
This is the crux of the matter, is it not? Congress needs to fund intelligence sufficiently to do the job, define the focus of the agencies, restructure the agencies for the new threats and command in no uncertain terms that any rivalries need to go away while we fight this battle.

Did I say Congress? Yes, that's right, Congress. The one part of our government that seems to have taken no responsibility for what happened on 9/11. Isn't it time our 535 representatives stepped up to the plate and did their job?
The Congress, like the executive branch, responded slowly to the rise of transnational terrorism as a threat to national security. The legislative branch adjusted little and did not restructure itself to address changing threats. Its attention to terrorism was episodic and splintered across several committees. The Congress gave little guidance to executive branch agencies on terrorism, did not reform them in any significant way to meet the threat, and did not systematically perform robust oversight to identify, address, and attempt to resolve the many problems in national security and domestic agencies that became apparent in the aftermath of 9/11. So long as oversight is undermined by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need. The United States needs a strong, stable, and capable congressional committee structure to give America’s national intelligence agencies oversight, support, and leadership.
Will Congress listen? Will Congress act? Time will tell, but the indicators are not encouraging. There's far too much bickering and infighting, and jockeying for position.

Congress needs to take responsibility for our security and take whatever actions are necessary to change, reform, eliminate or create whatever agencies we need to provide Americans with the security that we pay them for. It's time to stop making excuses and act. All Americans, no matter what their political persuasion, should lobby their congressperson to make security "job number one".


Preliminary observations on the 9/11 Commission Report, Executive Summary

The transition to the new Bush administration in late 2000 and early 2001 took place with the Cole issue still pending. President George W.Bush and his chief advisers accepted that al Qaeda was responsible for the attack on the Cole, but did not like the options available for a response. Bin Ladin’s inference may well have been that attacks, at least at the level of the Cole,were risk free. The Bush administration began developing a new strategy with the stated goal of eliminating the al Qaeda threat within three to five years.
During the hearings, the phrase "tired of swatting at flies" was attributed to President Bush. This is, apparently, confirmation of this thinking. Instead of continuing the status quo, Bush wanted a plan to "eliminate" al Qaeda.

This flies directly in the face of the claims of Richard Clarke that the administration wasn't "focused" on Al Qaeda or the claims of others that the problem wasn't "on their radar screen". They clearly wanted to step up the tempo and take the fight to the enemy.
While the United States continued disruption efforts around the world, its emerging strategy to eliminate the al Qaeda threat was to include an enlarged covert action program in Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic strategies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The process culminated during the summer of 2001 in a draft presidential directive and arguments about the Predator aircraft, which was soon to be deployed with a missile of its own, so that it might be used to attempt to kill Bin Ladin or his chief lieutenants. At a September 4 meeting, President Bush’s chief advisers approved the draft directive of the strategy and endorsed the concept of arming the Predator. This directive on the al Qaeda strategy was awaiting President Bush’s signature on September 11,2001.
This is the "new strategy" mentioned earlier. The Bush administration was about to get very serious about al Qaeda. Unfortunately, al Qaeda completed their plans before Bush approved his.
As final preparations were under way during the summer of 2001, dissent emerged among al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan over whether to proceed. The Taliban’s chief, Mullah Omar, opposed attacking the United States. Although facing opposition from many of his senior lieutenants, Bin Ladin effectively overruled their objections, and the attacks went forward.
The first thing I thought of when I read this was the famous story of the (apocryphal) words of Admiral Yamamoto that he feared Japan had awakened "a sleeping giant". I wonder if Bin Laden already regrets not listening to his senior lieutenants, who were opposed to this operation? I wonder how long Al Qaeda could have gone on killing Americans with impunity had 9/11 not happened? I wonder if Sadaam would still be in power and the US would still be petitioning the UN to act, if 9/11 had not happened? Isn't it always the fate of psychotic leaders to overreach and underestimate their enemy?
The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat. The terrorist danger from Bin Ladin and al Qaeda was not a major topic for policy debate among the public, the media, or in the Congress. Indeed, it barely came up during the 2000 presidential campaign.
I certainly never imagined that hijackers would crash planes into buildings in an attempt to kill as many people as possible. Did you? Did anyone? Yet the Bush administration has been criticized for not doing that.
Terrorism was not the overriding national security concern for the U.S. government under either the Clinton or the pre-9/11 Bush administration. The policy challenges were linked to this failure of imagination. Officials in both the Clinton and Bush administrations regarded a full U.S. invasion of Afghanistan as practically inconceivable before 9/11.
I'm pleased to see this conclusion. As much as I have criticized the Clinton administration for not acting sooner or with more ferocity, I think their options, politically, were limited. The American public, at that time, never would have stood for the actions that we so willingly approved after 9/11. (Truth be told, I thought we should have bombed the hell out of Hezbollah when the Marine barracks in Lebanon was bombed and we lost 240+ men.)
There were also broader management issues with respect to how top leaders set priorities and allocated resources. For instance, on December 4, 1998, DCI Tenet issued a directive to several CIA officials and the DDCI for Community Management, stating:“We are at war. I want no resources or people spared in this effort, either inside CIA or the Community. ”The memorandum had little overall effect on mobilizing the CIA or the intelligence community. This episode indicates the limitations of the DCI’s authority over the direction of the intelligence community, including agencies within the Department of Defense.
That is a startling admission! CIA Director George Tenet, who just just fell on his sword for the cause, clearly saw the danger. Yet, even being the Director, he didn't have the ability to mobilize resources for something he clearly stated the CIA should "spare [no resources or people] in this effort"! My God! This is an incredible indictment of the upper management of the CIA! Clearly there needs to be a major shakeup if we are to have any sort of agility to respond to future threats. Or perhaps we simply need to scrap the entire organization and create a new agency with clearly defined responsibilities?

More to follow........


Terror in the Skies, Part Tres

Doing some nice detective work, Clinton Taylor has tracked down the Syrian musicians and confirmed that they were, in fact, not up to no good. He also has some very interesting thoughts about the episode. You can read all about it at National Review. (Hat tip to The Volokh Conspiracy for this one.)


Curious new twist to the Berger story

Talon News is reporting that the Kerry campaign has removed its anti-terrorism plan from its website. Democrats have complained about the timing of the Berger revelation, claiming it was politically motivated. What does the timing of this removal say about the Kerry campaign? Was there something in their plan that would reveal knowledge of ill-gotten secrets?

Thanks to the Internet, we can know, because according to Talon:
the link to the policy is now defunct, but the original page was temporarily preserved in a Google cache. The Kerry release outlining the policy is also archived on the conservative discussion board FreeRepublic.com (web site).
This story gets curiouser and curiouser by the minute. It's like the Keystone Cops. Or the Watergate burglars......

For more information, see Tom Maquire's latest


Followup on Iraqi nukes

Al Sabaah has published a follow up article that addresses the "nuke" story they published yesterday.
Baghdad, as-Sabah, July22 , P1
An official source at the Interior Ministry and the National Security Counselor has refrained to give any comment concerning news of seizing three nuclear missiles during arresting Khuder ad-Douri, the former leader at the dissolved al-Ba'th party.Iraqi political sources in condition of anonymity have confirmed that arresting ad-Douri which implemented by Iraqi security services have seized also three missiles.The same sources informed as-Sabah that Khuder ad-Douri who occupied great security and party positions, his death was declared following Saddam's regime fall and a certain side had issued him a false death testimony was arrested in the district between al-Oaja and Dour.The Security reporters clarified that a heavy concrete plate had designed in away capable to mislead the up-dated scientific radar apparatuses specialized to discover radiation released by such nuclear heads.
This is confirmation of the seizure of three missiles, but not yet that they are nuclear.