Power Line Blog
July 15, 2007
The Star Tribune does the Ellison hustle


This past Sunday Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison invoked Nazi Germany to condemn the Bush administration before an audience of Twin Cities atheists. Star Tribune reporter Mike Kaszuba reported Ellison's comment as follows:

On comparing Sept. 11 to the burning of the Reichstag building in Nazi Germany: "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."
Ellison subsequently explained himself to Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten, who also commented on his explanation:
On Tuesday, Ellison told me that he invoked the Reichstag fire to make the point that "in the aftermath of a tragedy, space is opened up for governments to take action that they could not have achieved before that." Which of the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions did he place in that category? The Iraq war, Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence and certain provisions of the Patriot Act, he said.

Those seem a tad short of unleashing storm troopers, torturing political opponents and demolishing the rule of law.

During his speech, Ellison went on to tell the atheists that "I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that, because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."

Granted, such statements might get you dismissed as a nutball. But are they true?

Ellison now says they are not. When we spoke, he agreed that Osama bin Laden -- not the Bush administration -- was responsible for the attacks on 9/11.

Now comes the Star Tribune editorial board to lend Ellison a hand. In its editorial on Ellison's comment, the Star Tribune begins with the assertion that "[a]lthough he was careful to keep his comments in context,...Ellison...took predictable flak for alluding to the Nazi era during recent comments about the Bush administration." I have no idea what is meant by the assertion that Ellison was careful to keep his comments in context; he kept them in context of the Bush adminstration, which is the basis of the minuscule amount of criticism he has received about the comments from the likes of us. Moreover, Ellison has taken almost no flak for his comments. And the comments do a bit more than "allud[e] to the Nazi era." At the least, they assert that the Bush administration nefariously "used" the pretext of 9/11 to seize dictatorial powers. Any problem with that? Not according to the Star Tribune:
[T]he point Ellison was trying to make deserves a hearing: The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, were "almost like the Reichstag fire ... it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted."

Forget about Hitler for a moment. The terror attacks of 9/11 were indeed a starting gun that kicked off a rush to expand government power. Could the Patriot Act have passed without 9/11? Would Congress have authorized a war in Iraq? No credible observer believes that the attacks were some kind of inside job (though an alarming number of people in Muslim countries are happy to think so). But neither is it credible to suppose that the Bush administration has failed to take advantage of the popular support presidents enjoy in times of crisis. Any president would do so.

Few, however, would go as far as this president has gone. Bush and his team seem intent on enlarging his authority and defying those who would challenge him or his administration. Geneva Conventions? Quaint. Habeas corpus? Flexible. Court approval of wiretaps? Outmoded. Rising calls to replace a secretary of defense? "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best."

Insofar as the Bush administration is concerned, Star Tribune editors see no need to make an argument for their readers anymore. They are like the prisoners in the old joke who entertain each other by calling out the number of jokes they have told each other numerous times before. Joke number 54? Foreign terrorists captured abroad are entitled to treatment as prisoners of war. Joke number 65? Foreign terrorists captured abroad are entitled to use the federal court system to challenge their confinement. Joke number 78? Foreign terrorists calling into the United States have a reasonable expectation of privacy for their phone calls.

Then we have one that calls for a new number. Bush declined to fire a cabinet secretary despite "rising calls" for him to do so. Has any president ever before behaved so brazenly? Let's make that joke 100. And, finally, one for Power Line readers. Joke number 101? The Star Tribune editorial board.


"The truth about Keith Ellison."

"The Ellison hustle."

UPDATE: Gary Gross writes:

Joke number 101? What a sick joke!!!

Joke number 102? Keith Ellison was interviewed by the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He told them that signing on as a co-sponsor of Dennis Kucinich's impeachment bill was "a matter of principle." Keith Ellison has principles? Who knew? I wrote about it here.

Posted by Scott at 08:35 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

July 14, 2007
CNN's shell game

CNN's Anderson Cooper introduces his latest segment from Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware by claiming that Ware is "keeping them honest for us tonight." But Ware's report raises the question, who is keeping him honest?

Ware starts out okay:

Now, physically, can you pull troops out by April of next year? Sure. You can pull anything out by April next year, but only if you're willing to pay the cost. I mean, it could be a bloodbath by Christmas. And it would be an ignominious withdrawal for the United States. Anderson. . .

Perhaps sensing that Ware is off message, Cooper prompts him to talk about how bad the political situation is. Picking up steam, Ware then turns to the issue of sectarian violence, which is substantially down in Baghdad where the surge has focused, and down somehwat in Iraq as a whole. Ware seeks to minimize this accomplisment:

And let's not forget, say here in Baghdad, hundreds of thousands of people have left in the past 12 months. So, there's fewer people to be caught in the middle. Neighborhoods themselves are much more homogeneous than they were. They have essentially been ethnically cleansed. So, now the neighborhoods are Sunni and are Shia.

And, also, don't forget, America is now allowing predominantly Sunni neighborhoods to maintain their own militias here in the capital and some of the provinces. That means the police death squads can't get to them. So, really, has the sectarian violence abated? Not exactly. And is that directly related to al Qaeda? No, because that ignores the fact that al Qaeda's not the only one involved in the sectarian violence.

Ware's first point, that sectarian violence is down for reasons other than the effort of our troops, is both implausble and irrelevant. It's implausible because Sunnis had been leaving Shia neighborhoods (and visa versa) for many months prior to the surge. Yet the decline in sectarian violence coincides roughly with the onset of the surge. It's irrelevant because a sharp decline in sectarian violence will improve life in Baghdad, and our overall chance for success in Iraq, regardless of its cause.

Ware's comment that the decrease in sectarian violence is not "directly related to al Qaeda" is also irrelevant and a bit bizarre. To be sure, the goals of reducing sectarian violence in Baghdad and defeating al Qaeda are distinct, though related. But the evidence is we are making progress in both areas -- dramatic progress against al Qaeda in Anbar province and slower progress against sectarian violence in Baghdad.

Ware thus plays a shell game to the extent he suggests that our efforts with respect to sectarian violence aren't succeeding because these efforts may not be having a direct impact on al Qaeda. Each effort should be judged in terms of its effectiveness in achieving its own goal, not its effectiveness in achieving the goal of the other effort.

By playing this game, Ware heightens the prospects for the "ignominious withdrawal" and possible "bloodbath" he warns us of.

Via Real Clear Politics.

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Posted by Paul at 09:29 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Obama, Clueless

To say that Barack Obama is not ready for prime time understates the case. He isn't ready for a 3:00 a.m. infomercial. The latest from Obama: "Obama: Shift Troops to Fight al-Qaida":

"We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we're on the wrong battlefield," Obama said. "America must urgently begin deploying from Iraq and take the fight more effectively to the enemy's home by destroying al-Qaida's leadership along the Afghan-Pakistan border, eliminating their command and control networks and disrupting their funding."

Our military commanders have repeatedly stated that the number one foe they are fighting in Iraq is al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's leadership has declared Iraq the main front in their war against civilization. Zawahiri has urged radical Muslims to "hurry to Iraq." Bin Laden has declared Baghdad "the capital of the Caliphate." Iraq is the one place on earth where al Qaeda has chosen to risk its prestige on an effort to engage our forces, exhaust our patience, and drive us from the field.

Is it possible that Obama is unaware of these basic facts? Can he possibly not understand that if we desert Iraq, al Qaeda will thrive there, and will claim a propaganda victory far bigger than the September 11 attacks? Whereas, if we defeat al Qaeda in Iraq, that organization will be seen throughout the Muslim world as a spent force?

We can only take Obama at his word. Based on his own statements, he should not be allowed anywhere near the levers of power in our government.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by John at 06:48 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Is it war or just noise?

During the Reagan administration, Herbert Meyer was Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. Steve Hayward notes that in 1983, when the Cold War was still regarded almost unamimously as a fixture in global affairs, Meyer predicted that the Soviet Union was in its final stages. He argued that the U.S. therefore should begin planning for a post-Soviet world.

Earlier this week, Meyer turned his forecasting skills to the present situation. He noted that there are two competing views about the post-9/11 world: (1) that we're at war with radical Islam and (2) that we're simply experiencing high levels of violence as a result of our values and policies. Under the first view, we should strive for victory and avoid defeat on battlegrounds such as Iraq. Under the second view, we should merely try to reduce episodes of terrorism while adjusting our values and policies.

Meyer subscribes to the first view, but finds the second view to be prevailing now. Meyer takes the long view, however. Events will either confirm his view that radical Islam is at war with us, or they won't. In the former case, we'll finally start fighting to win, and will succeed. In the latter case, we won't and will not need to.

One danger, of course, is that we won't be forced to awake until it's too late. However, Meyer is optimistic enough to believe that even a "horrific" punch "won't knock us out."

But what about the other danger, that the horrific punch will only restore us to the semi-conscious state of the past few years?

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Paul at 02:42 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Dartmouth at a crossroads

Joe Malchow reports that Dartmouth is losing Professor Allen Stam to the University of Michigan. Joe says, consistent with everything I have heard, that this represents a significant loss, given Professor Stam's exceptional quality and the intellectual diversity he has provided Dartmouth's government department.

Joe adds:

[A]cademically, Dartmouth is at a crossroads. Two major seats are empty: the Shakespeare professor and the leading political science professor. How these two spots are filled -— with compelling, interesting, high-quality teachers or with en vogue drones —- will say a lot about the academic direction of this College.

Posted by Paul at 01:03 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Catch Michael Barone on the Northern Alliance

This morning, I'll be on the radio from 11 to 1, central, with the Fraters guys, as usual. Starting at 11:15 central, 12:15 eastern, we'll be delighted to welcome Michael Barone to talk about his new book, Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers. The book is excellent; its subject is the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the pivotal role it played in Anglo-American history and political culture. To read more about the book and order it from Amazon, click on the graphic below:


The remainder of the show will feature the usual political commentary and humor, with our traditional Loon of the Week and This Week in Gatekeeping awards. To listen on the web, go here.

Posted by John at 08:46 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Deep thoughts of an Arab terrorist

When Yasser Arafat died, I reported here based on information I trusted that he had died of AIDS. Arafat's homosexuality was an open secret during his life. In connection with her 1981 interview with Arafat, for example, Oriana Fallaci had observed Arafat's preference for young boys. Ion Pacepa subsequently disclosed in Red Horizons that Rumanian intelligence had surveillance videos of Arafat engaging in orgies with his male bodyguards.

Yesterday I noted the interview excerpt in which Ahmed Jibril states that he was told of the AIDS-related cause of Arafat's death by Mahmoud Abbas. Jibril is the founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. He is a terrorist thug who operates out of Damascus in the sheltering arms of Bashar al-Assad. There is no reason to credit anything Jibril says for public consumption.

Arafat dedicated his life to murder and mayhem on a large scale. He was a vile human being. Jibril of course finds no reason to object to Arafat's murderous predilections, his massive corruption, or his thoroughgoing duplicity. When Jibril announces that "the Fatah movement now has an opportunity to renew itself," it is a bit hard to fathom. His comments appear to support Hamas in its struggle with Fatah and to advise members of Fatah that they can rid themselves of the taint of Arafat's true shame, i.e., Arafat's homosexuality.

UPDATE: Along the same lines, Mark Steyn adds construes Jibril's statement as no Fatah, no fems.

Posted by Scott at 08:40 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Rove speaks

Clive Crook devotes an entertaining National Journal column to Karl Rove's appearance at the latte-sipping Aspen Institute conference that Bill Clinton wowed. Crook reports: "Almost everybody who stayed to listen to Rove on the festival's last day went there mainly in the hope that heavy equipment might fall on him from a great height." How does a public speaker deal with a, well, hostile audience? Read and learn:

Interviewed by the Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson, Rove started with some lighthearted self-deprecation. Driving to Aspen, he said with a grin, he had stopped for a coffee. Returning from the men's room, he stood in line at the counter and heard a man, just alerted to his presence in the cafe, say, "I'd like to hit that son of a bitch." Later, he was accosted by the driver of "a very expensive Land Rover," who shouted "go home" and then drove off. Rove said he was too slow to answer that he was home -- he was born in Denver -- and to tell the moneyed outsider to get into his private jet and fly back to the East Coast. The man had disappeared before Rove could frame the thought, but it was a good reply after the fact, he said.

It was clever to combine modesty with a pointed jab at the crowd. Despite itself, the audience laughed and was disarmed. Even Clinton would have been impressed.

Crook concludes that one of the greatest assets in politics is to be underestimated. I don't think that quite does justice to the story Crook tells. Rove appears to have found a topic or two on which he was able to elaborate views congenial to the Aspen Institute crowd. I think I would have groaned to hear Rove recognize the British for their success in reducing carbon emissions. Did anyone in the audience beside Crook leave with a revised estimation of Rove? I doubt it -- Crook reports that Rove's performance earned "polite applause" -- but Crook deserves credit for his own heterodox observations on the left's cartoon villain.

Via RealClearPolitics.

Posted by Scott at 07:55 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Cheney speaks

The new issue of the Weekly Standard features excerpts of the forthcoming biography Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President by Stephen Hayes. The publication date of the book is July 24; quotation from the book by those who have received prepublication copies is embargoed until then. Over the past three years Steve interviewed Cheney for nearly thirty hours and interviewed more than 600 other sources for the book. I don't think I'm violating any confidences to state that Steve's book furnishes an intimate portrait of a remarkable public servant.

Today's excerpts -- "Cheney speaks" -- focus on 9/11. Steve provides a compelling account of a horrible day. He takes readers inside the White House bunker where Cheney and the national security team operated. Here Steve addresses the decision regarding the president's destination upon his departure from Florida:

Bush had left Florida almost immediately after his first brief statement to the press at 9:30 A.M. White House staffers aboard Air Force One were not told where they were going. Reporters traveling with the president calculated that the plane was flying in circles because the televisions on board received a strong enough signal that the passengers could watch the local Fox affiliate for almost an hour with good reception.

In reality, Bush flew west to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. He spoke to Cheney several times on a secure line, reiterating his desire to return to Washington. Cheney, backed by other senior officials and the Secret Service, continued to advise against it.

The attempt to keep Bush away from Washington would be one of the few decisions that day to draw immediate criticism. "President Bush made an initial mistake," presidential historian Robert Dallek told Susan Page of USA Today. "The president's place is back in Washington."

In an interview two months later, Cheney dismissed the criticism. "That's crap," said Cheney. "This is not about appeasing the press or being the macho guy who is going to face down danger. You don't think in those personal terms....This is about preserving and protecting the presidency. His importance lies in the office he holds."

Flash forward five years for the concluding excerpt that recounts the commemoration of 9/11 in 2006:
The ceremony on the Pentagon's River Parade grounds began at precisely 9:37 A.M. The proceedings were marked by a solemnity befitting the occasion. Many in the audience looked skyward as an airplane roared overhead on its departure from Reagan National Airport, just two miles away, a powerful if unintentional reminder of the attacks. A massive American flag was unfurled from the roof of the Pentagon, released by the men who famously did the same thing five years earlier.

Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke first. Rumsfeld followed, and Cheney spoke last. A light rain began to fall as the vice president opened his remarks.

"The ones who were lost," he said, had begun their day "busy with life."

They had people who cared about them, people who depended on them, people who loved the sight of their face and the sound of their voice. They were unsuspecting of danger and undeserving of their fate. Each one of them had hopes and plans for the future....From two miles away, an Army chief warrant officer, whose wife worked in this building, saw the fire and ran to the scene. He joined in the rescue effort, and stayed in the work even after learning his wife could not possibly have survived.
Cheney stopped briefly. He was obviously moved.
We know of these and so many similar acts of courage and kindness on that terrible morning. Other stories, we will never know. Surely men and women here, and aboard Flight 77, were in their last moments holding and comforting one another. And when we think of them, it will always be with a special feeling of empathy and sorrow.
As Cheney spoke these words, he looked out at the families of the ones who were lost. Many of them, holding and comforting one another, looked back at him, their faces streaked with tears. A burly Army Ranger stood alone next to the holding area for the press, crying silently as he listened.
We will always understand the pain of their families. And our nation will forever look with reverence upon their place--this place where there lives ended.
And then Cheney paused, his words and his emotions tangled in his throat. He started to speak and then, choking back tears, stopped again. Reporters exchanged quick glances as if to confirm that they were seeing what they thought they were seeing.
UPDATE: Despite the embargo that I was advised applies to the book until publication, Karen De Young gets a jump on the competition in tomorrow's Washington Post Book World while occasionally referring to Steve as "Haynes."

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Scott at 06:36 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

July 13, 2007
At the copa

Someone once said, never resist an opportunity to have sex or to watch Brazil play soccer. The first prong of that advice is terrible and can even be deadly. The second prong holds up well for soccer fans in most cases.

The Copa America has been an exception. This is the tournament that determines the best national team in South America. This year, with North American powers Mexico and the U.S. participating, the winner can claim bragging rights for the entire hemisphere.

The matches have been irresistible, not because of Brazil but because of the overall wide-open play, which has led to an average of more than three goals per match. No World Cup has produced this much offense since 1958. Unfortunately, the U.S., which sent a team of second-tier players, did not contribute much to the excitement as it lost three straight matches.

An Argentine star who also played in Brazil once said, "We use the ball to achieve an objective, the Brazilians use it for their personal pleasure." At the Copa, though, it is Argentina that's having the most fun with the ball. Even with three tough-tackling midfielders, Argentina has been a supple scoring machine. Young Lionel Messi is playing like the best forward in the world and Juan Riquelme the best play maker.

Brazil, meanwhile, is experiencing a spasm of pragmatism, as it sometimes does after a disappointing performance (here, losing in the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup). Its pedestrian play led to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mexico (later beaten 3-0 by Argentina). And in the semi-final against Uruguay, a penalty kick that would have sent Brazil home hit the post.

Like Argentina, Brazil uses three defense-first midfielders. But with superstars Kaka and Ronaldinho having opted out of the tournament, there is no Messi (though Robinho comes close) and certainly no Riquelme to add the scoring and excitement.

On Sunday, Argentina and Brazil will meet for the championship. For a change, Argentina will be the favored both to win and to produce most of the pleasure.

Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Much ado about not much, Part Two

It occurs to me that my discussion of lobbying Fred Thompson may have performed in 1991 on behalf of an abortion rights group is somewhat superficial. It's true that traditionally in this country lawyers are not identified with the positions of their clients. But this tradition arises in the context of litigation (e.g., John Adams defending British soldiers who participated in the Boston Massacre). Arguably, congressional lobbying is different because here the lawyer may not be arguing the merits of an individual case but rather for a change in national policy. (The line isn't quite that bright, though, because litigation can affect national policy -- the one time I declined to participate in a representation was such a case -- and lobbying can be about an individualized matter).

It seems unlikely that someone firmly in the pro-life camp would agree to engage in serious lobbying to promote the right to have an abortion (something casual like a phone call to facilitate a meeting between pro-abortion groups and a Senator might be a different matter). If Thompson did serious lobbying on behalf of a pro-abortion group in 1991, one could easily suspect that he was not firmly in the pro-life camp at that time. But even if that were the case, Thompson's Senate record places him squarely in the pro-life camp well before Romney arrived there. Giuliani, of course, still isn't at that place.

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Conrad Black's Conviction

A reader wrote to ask whether we would be commenting on the jury's verdict in the Conrad Black prosecution. I won't be, because I don't know anything about it. But Mark Steyn has been covering the trial from the beginning; he doesn't seem to think much of the government's case:

There will be recriminations a-plenty over what was just announced on the 12th floor in Chicago. Conrad Black was found NOT GUILTY of racketeering, NOT GUILTY of tax fraud, NOT GUILTY of the CanWest scheme, NOT GUILTY on Bora Bora, the Park Avenue apartment and Barbara's birthday party, NOT GUILTY on the individual non-competes on US newspaper sales.

He has been found GUILTY in just two narrow areas - "obstruction of justice" re the security camera footage of him removing boxes from 10 Toronto Street, and three "mail fraud" counts relating to the APC non-compete agreement, in which (as the government argued) Black and Radler paid Black and Radler not to compete with Black and Radler. ***

The government alleged three schemes - the "US scheme", the "CanWest scheme", the "perks scheme" - and upgraded them to racketeering, and threw in tax fraud. They lost on racketeering and tax. They lost outright on two-thirds of the schemes. And on the remaining scheme - the "US scheme" - they lost on everything but the APC non-compete fee. Yet, absent successful appeals, four men could be spending the rest of their working lives in jail. The US Attorney's office might usefully adopt as its motto the IRA's message to Mrs Thatcher after the Brighton bombing, "You have to be lucky every time. We only have to be lucky once."

Given that the prosecution was brought by Patrick Fitzgerald, I'm predisposed to sympathize with the defendants.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by John at 06:42 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Today's McCain blogger call

John McCain had a blogger conference call this afternoon. Jim Geraghty has a good account of it.

McCain's opening remarks were brief, with nearly all of the time spent on questions and answers. In his opening, McCain talked about what he saw in Iraq, and touched very briefly on his campaign's recent problems, which he characterized as spending too much compared to the money on hand. McCain took full responsibility for this. He said he regretted parting with people who are, and will remain, his friends.

Nearly all of the questions were about Iraq, not the campaign. McCain's core assessment is similar to the administration's -- the effort to improve security is making good progress, but results on the political side have been disappointing. McCain didn't say whether he shares the administration's confidence that the political situation will improve when (if) the security situation does. However, his comments about Prime Minister Maliki suggested that he may see obstacles to political progress beyond and in addition to the formidable one posed by insecurity and sectarian violence.

McCain was guardedly optimistic at best about the political situation here in Washington. He acknowledged that it will be difficult to retain 40 votes in support of the administration given the apparent defection of Domenici, Luger, et al. McCain thinks lots of persuasion will be required in September, including the need for General Petraeus to explain the consequences of a significant troop withdrawal at that time.

Though not a McCain supporter, I remain a McCain admirer, and never more than today. He sounded tired (who wouldn't be) and maybe a little bit discouraged. But he remains a warrior, and the clearest most reliable voice in our political class on the most important issue of our time.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Paul at 02:14 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Who's Misleading Whom?

New York Times reporters Michael Gordon and Jim Rutenberg lost no time in following up on the exhortation by new Public Editor Clark Hoyt to attack President Bush's view that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq. Their article is titled Bush Distorts Qaeda Links, Critics Assert. Gordon and Rutenberg make no effort to disguise the fact that they are among the "critics."

But, as happens so often, it is the Times, not President Bush, that can't be relied on for the straight story. In the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn points out key areas where the Times' account is misleading. Read it all; here are some key paragraphs:

The Times states that when Zarqawi relocated to Iraq he did so "with support from senior Qaeda leaders, American intelligence agencies believe." This directly contradicts what has been reported at various times over the past several years by the New York Times and other media outlets. A common argument that has been made is that Zarqawi wasn't really an al Qaeda operative until 2004, when he swore bayat (loyalty) to bin Laden and was made emir of al Qaeda in Iraq.

There was always evidence tying Zarqawi to al Qaeda (for example, he helped plan attacks with top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah at the turn of the millennium). But it is interesting to see that the intelligence officials quoted in this piece recognize the role that al Qaeda played in supporting Zarqawi’s activities in Iraq all along.


[T]he Times muddles the evidence tying Zarqawi to another of his sponsors inside Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s regime:

"Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who became the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, came to Iraq in 2002 when Saddam Hussein was still in power, but there is no evidence that Mr. Hussein’s government provided support for Mr. Zarqawi and his followers." (emphasis added)

This is simply not true. The authors may disagree with the notion that the evidence is conclusive, but to say there is "no evidence" is demonstrably false. In this piece I summarized what three high-level al Qaeda associates (including one who actually recruits jihadis to send to Iraq for suicide bombing missions) had to say about Zarqawi and his associates’ ties to Saddam's regime prior to the war.

The Times ignores another important prewar link between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda. The authors state that "Abu Ayyub al-Masri is an Egyptian militant who emerged as the successor of Mr. Zarqawi, who was killed near Baquba in an American airstrike last year." This is correct, but the paper does not bother to report any of al-Masri’s history inside Saddam’s Iraq. Again according to George Tenet, al-Masri was in Baghdad throughout much of 2002, cooperating with Zarqawi and setting up al Qaeda cells. It is worth remembering that al-Masri was a top aide to al Qaeda's number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, since 1982! It seems highly unlikely that a top terrorist like al-Masri could operate in Baghdad without Saddam’s tacit approval, at the very least.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by John at 01:48 PM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

A call to action


Peter Hegseth is the Minnesota native and Princeton alumnus who served as an officer with the 101st Airborne in Iraq. He now heads up Vets for Freedom, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans group dedicated to supporting the troops and their mission in Iraq. They will be heading en masse to Capitol Hill on July 17, and deserve the support of all of us. If you’re an Iraq or Afghanistan vet, please consider joining them. If not, please consider supporting them. In a message this morning, Pete makes the following points:

1) We have the support of numerous other vets organizations -— American Legion, Troops Need You, Gathering of Eagles, Appeal for Courage, Move America Forward, Troop Talk, and more.

2) If we do this right, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans —- and the blog and talk radio communities -- could transform the Iraq war debate, much like they did for immigration. And this event could be a starting point.

3) We need vets to show up -— despite time constraints and financial constraints...it’s too important.

Pete's "Call to Action" can be seen in its entirety here. Here are excerpts:
Last week, Vets for Freedom launched our "10 Weeks to Testimony" campaign and committed to leading the charge to support General Petraeus and stop anti-war radicals and politicians on Capitol Hill from undermining the mission in Iraq.

Unfortunately -- despite thousands of phone calls to Capitol Hill this week -- even more Republican senators have bowed to political pressure and declared defeat, despite progress being shown by General Petraeus's new counter-insurgency strategy.

Next week, politicians in Washington, DC are poised to sell out America's safety because election season is near. As veterans, we cannot allow this to happen. The information battle Vets for Freedom was planning for September is upon us in July, therefore we must adapt, overcome, and do something immediately. Our collective voice must be heard on Capitol Hill, and it must be heard now!

This is a call to action. We are asking every Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who believes in supporting the mission--and defeating America's enemies--to converge on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Tuesday, July 17. It's time the fighters in this war tell their representatives--face to face-that now is no time to betray the mission.

Converge on Capitol Hill, July 17

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have already sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears on foreign battlefields. Now America needs one more thing while you're home -- one day of your time. We are the last line of defense.

We're not going to protest, wave signs, or scream slogans. We are going to make our voices heard, in a professional manner, in keeping with the finest traditions of our great country and military. I have no doubt you will want to join us.

But you say: "It's an entire Tuesday, and travel is expensive!" We share these legitimate concerns, but answer with this fundamental question: If not you, then who? Who else will tell Congress to give General Petraeus, his strategy, and our comrades time to complete the mission? It has come to this. It must be us...

To get specifics about time and place, go here.

UPDATE: At the Forum thread on this post, Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson writes that he is seeking "vets living in or with ties to Pasco County planning to attend the Washington event, or are in support of Vets for Freedom goals." If you are, he asks that you alert him at tjackson@tampatrib.com.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Scott at 11:10 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Much ado about not much

I haven't commented on the lobbying Fred Thompson may have done on behalf of an abortion rights group in 1991, and frankly I don't think it deserves more than passing comment. Thompson had a solid anti-abortion voting record in the Senate, whereas Rudy Giuliani favors a woman's right to choose and Mitt Romney did too until fairly recently. As Thompson explained on this blog (quoting John Roberts), "it’s a tradition of the American Bar that goes back before the founding of the country that lawyers are not identified with the positions of their clients." Having myself represented an alleged (and later convicted) war criminal and illegal immigrants, among other "politically incorrect" clients, I have no time for those who raise these questions about Thompson's legal career, whether in an effort to assist other candidates or otherwise.

But what about the fact that the Thompson campaign has backed-off its initial categorical denial that Thompson engaged in this lobbying? This is the familiar "gotcha" game -- raise a largely irrelevant charge from more than 15 years ago, and hope that the candidate trips up. After that, claim that the issue is not the underlying conduct, but the candidate's truthfulness.

A candidate cannot afford to lose the gotcha game very often. Therefore, it's unfortunate that the Thompson "pre-campaign" didn't handle this one better. The issue isn't Thompson's truthfulness -- please don't ask me about minor representations I undertook as an attorney in 1991 -- but the effectiveness of his political apparatus. However, one possible slip-up at this early stage, before he's even officially entered the race, isn't cause for real concern.

The bottom line is that, other things being even close to equal, a serious pro-life voter has strong reason to prefer Thompson over Giuliani and probably Romney on the record as it stands now. And that's true regardless of whether the record includes Thompson lobbying for an abortion rights group in 1991.

UPDATE: Here is an analysis of Thompson's record on the abortion issue. There are things for pro-lifers to dislike, but the author finds that Thompson had "a solidly pro-life voting record in the Senate." The National Right to Life organization gave him a low rating for 2001-2002, but apparently that was based on his support for the McCain-Feingold legislation, not his votes on abortion-related issues.

So I stand by my assessment that, other things (electability, relevant experience, stances on other important matters) being even close to equal, a serious pro-life voter has strong reason to prefer Thompson over Giuliani and probably Romney.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Paul at 10:16 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

A Lone Survivor's Story

During the second hour of our radio show on Saturday, we interviewed Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor. Luttrell was a member of a Seal mission in Afghanistan intended to take out a high-value Taliban target. The mission went awry, and he and his three comrades came under fire from a large contingent of Taliban fighters. The story of how Luttrell survived, although badly wounded, is little short of miraculous. He was kind enough to spend three segments with us. It's a riveting story.

You can download or just listen to the podcast here. Or, as always, you can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes by going here.

After you've listened to the podcast, you'll want to buy the book.


Posted by John at 10:11 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Ahmad Jibril: "I was told that Arafat died of AIDS"

In the notorious tradition of the "175ers" among the Nazi leadership, Yasser Arafat led an incredibly dissolute life. It was his dissolute life that ultimately resulted in his contraction of AIDS, the disease that led to his death in a French military hospital outside Paris. As with so many basic facts about this utterly vile human being, the truth, although baldly reported by Oriana Fallaci in the fall of 1981, remained shrouded in myth, deception and outright lies.

Late in his life Arafat took a wife for the purpose of keeping up appearances in a culture that loathes homsexuality. While his wife and political epigones fought over the billions he had stolen from his supposed beneficiaries, the scene of his death came to resemble a protracted farce befitting a second-rate Hollywood comedy.

Now MEMRI TV Monitor Project has posted the following interview excerpt from Ahmad Jibril, Secretary-General of the PFLP General Command, which aired on Al-Manar TV on July 5, 2007:

When Abu Mazen came to Damascus with his team, I asked them: "What happened to the investigation into the death of Abu Ammar [Arafat]? The Israelis killed him. He was my colleague ever since 1965 and used to sleep at my home. He and I followed the same path." Is it conceivable that when Rafiq Al-Hariri was killed, all hell broke loose, even though he was just a merchant in Saudi Arabia, who later entered politics, whereas the death of Yasser Arafat, who for 40 years had been carrying his gun from one place to another, is not investigate? Is this conceivable? They were silent, and then one of them said to me: "To be honest, the French gave us the medical report, that stated that the cause of Abu Ammar's death was AIDS." I am not saying this, they did. Now they pretend that they miss Yasser Arafat, and complain that [Hamas] entered his house in [Gaza] and so on...I say to every honorable member of the Fatah movement that he should be happy that we got rid of the plague, which had been imposed upon them and upon the Palestinian people. The Fatah movement now has an opportunity to renew itself.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Scott at 07:39 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

Look back in anger

The New York Sun wins headline of the day honors for "When Britain waived the rules" over an article by Bruce Bennett about Woodfall Film Prodcutions, the company responsible for the film version of John Osborne's "Look Back in Anger." Also in the Sun today is Claire Berlinski's excellent essay/review "The dawn of Islamic Europe." Berlinski's piece has a London theme that complements Bennett's. Today's news also carries a report that Churchill has been dropped from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary school -- a development suggestive of Londonistan.

To comment on this post, go here.

Posted by Scott at 06:57 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

From the Reagan Ranch: Hewitt speaks

Yesterday I noted the annual meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition at which Natan Sharanksy and Hugh Hewitt spoke this past Sunday. At Jewish Current Issues Rick Richman has posted a video of the first six minutes of Hugh's speech here.

Posted by Scott at 06:11 AM | Permalink  |  E-mail this post to a friend  |  

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