Enter Iran's Parliament. Yesterday's news flash: Iran has announced plans to build 10--yes, that's ten!--new nuclear plants for enriching uranium. The Sydney Morning Herald carried details of the announcement from the Majlis, Iran's parliament:
State television reported on its website that Ahmadinejad's cabinet overwhelmingly ordered Iran's atomic body to begin building at five new sites earmarked for uranium enrichment plants and to locate sites for another five over the next two months.
The report said the Islamic republic plans to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power which would be generated by building another 10 uranium enrichment plants the size of the one in the central city of Natanz.
"In order to produce 20,000 megawatts we need 500,000 centrifuges with the current capacity. But we have designed new centrifuges which have higher capacity, so we would require less centrifuges and as soon as they become operational we will use them," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.
"We have to reach the level to be able to produce between 250 and 300 tons of fuel per year in the country, and for this we need newer centrifuges with a higher speed."
A Wall Street Journal editorial notes that 500,000 centrifuges can filter enough enriched uranium to make 160 nuclear bombs per year--this is more than the size of Pakistan's entire nuclear arsenal.
Exit El-Baradei. Upon his exit from the chief position at the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Muhammad el-Baradei declared the Iran nuclear program investigation at a "dead end" after nearly a decade of probing. El-Baradei cited Iran's obstruction of IAEA efforts:
There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," El-Baradei told the opening session of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors. "We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us."
Iran's idea of "engaging fully" is to reject the P 5 + 1 proposal (UN Big Five + Germany) that Iran ship 3/4 of its commercially-enriched uranium (3.5 - 5% enriched) to Russia for enriching to medical research level (19.75%, just shy of official baseline weapons-grade of 20% enrichment) and then processed in France, to be returned to Tehran. Instead, Iran wants uranium enriched outside, shipped to tehran, and THEN it will surrender and equivalent amount of its own stockpile. On Fox News, John Bolton rightly slammed el-Baradei for, in essence, covering his tail as he exits, after having aided Iran's protracted stall and evasion over the years. El-Baradei, recipient of another Nobel Peace Prize awarded for pseudo-peace efforts, has openly said he thinks it unfair that big nations have the bomb and Third World nations do not. Just what we need at the IAEA, a multiculturalist egalitarian.
Meanwhile, Iran has cracked down on schools as part of an "ideological soft war"; Iran also defends freezing financial assets of the 2003 Nobel laureate, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi. Iranian officials have also seized Ebadi's medal. and replied to protests from the Norwegian Nobel Committee that the Norwegians should not (you guessed it) "interfere in Iran's internal affairs."
WSJ reporter Gerald F. Seib reports on the Victims of Iranian Censorship Act, which the Senate has passed, providing funding to enable Iranian dissenters to access US-controlled Internet proxy servers and thus circumvent Iranian censors; Team Obama is not happy.
Bottom Line. Iran's nuclear-aspirant, tyrannical regime marches on, the UN (as usual) dithers and The One in the White House continues to do what he does best: talk, talk & talk.
Posted online Sunday, released officially today, "Tora Bora Revisited: How We Failed to Get Bin Laden and Why It Matters Today" (43 pages) was issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Majority Staff, under the aegis of SFC's Chairman, John F. Kerry (D-MA), a longtime critic of Team Bush over missing OBL in 2001. The report includes as appendices an article by top-class Brookings Institution scholar Michael O'Hanlon, evaluating performance of our military in the Afghan campaign of 2001-2002, plus the official history of the first Afghan campaign by special operations historians.
The report concludes that while the "light footprint" model adopted by SecDef Donald Rumsfeld & Gen. Tommy Franks was the right one for most of the campaign it proved the wrong model for Tora Bora and the effort to nail top al-Qaeda leaders. There were some 150 escape routes within a 25-mile front that OBL could use, and the necessary 1,000 - 3,000 military troops--Marines and Army Rangers--were potentially available but not deployed. Instead, low-quality local warlord surrogates were entrusted with guarding the routes, and OBL, Zawahiri, Mullah Omar & Co. purchased their passage into Pakistan.
Defenders of the Bush policy dispute the acuity of our intelligence, and maintain that increasing American forces to be used there risked local antagonism. But we now face a far worse insurgency, with far less chance of success. Surprised by the ferocity of American attacks in the first campaign, the Taliban & al-Qaeda have regrouped into a far more effective fighting force. Winning the second campaign will prove far more costly in blood & treasure, with victory a dicey proposition.
We cannot be 100 percent certain that had we followed alternative proposals--which were brought to President Bush's attention and vigorously advocated by top local commanders, including legendary Marine Gen. James R. ("Mad Dog") Mattis--that other plans would have succeeded. But our failure to kill charismatic al-Qaeda leaders has proven costly indeed, and serves as inspiration for jihadists worldwide.
Corroboration comes from Kill Bin Laden (2008), an account of the Tora Bora hunt for OBL written by a Delta Force commander, writing under the nom de plume of Dalton Fury. One Delta plan nixed by higher-ups was to airdrop Delta teams behind Tora Bora, on 14,000-foot peaks in Pakistan's northwest frontier, for fear of offending Pakistanis. Another idea was to lay CBU-89 GATOR land mines; these 1,000-pound "cluster" munitions can destroy armored vehicles. This was vetoed by squeamish allies, despite the ability to set automatic disabling times to minimize long-term hazard. One notable ally exception: British SBS commandos in the field were tops; they were, writes Fury, "brave, talented, professional and passionate, [all Deltas] were impressed with their skill and courage, and proud to call them teammates during that cold December." (Other stalwart allies, e.g, Australia & Canada, are not discussed in the book.)
Delta plans to improvise were killed by bureaucratic sloth. Said Cmdr. Fury at Tora Bora to a Delta comrade: "Bernie, this is why we will never be as good as the Israelis at killing terrorists. We have too many bureaucratic layers and decision makers who stifle initiative and waste precious time." (During Tora Bora Mullah Omar was in the sights of a Predator, but escaped thanks to lawyerly review of the strike; Rumsfeld went ballistic when he found out. Fury does not tell this tale, as his chase was for bin Laden)
Night operations were nearly impossible, despite nighttime being best for Delta, because "our nation was relying on a fractious bunch of AK-47-toting lawless bandits and tribal thugs"--some of whom were on OBL's payroll as well as ours. Reporters got in the way during daytime hours, often tipping off Delta positions. "Muhj" locals played air controllers and called in strikes on their own positions, which would be reported as friendly fire incidents that were (of course) our fault, as the "muhj" got the glory, while we got the blame.
Offers of al-Qaeda surrender were often hoaxes--they also asked to be turned over to--you guessed it--the United Nations. Our Deltas scorned the offers and demanded unconditional surrender or death. But on December 13 Delta commandos heard bin Laden's voice, calling for arming women & children to fight the infidels, but also expressing regret & defeat: "I am sorry for getting you involved in this battle, if you can no longer resist, you may surrender with my blessing." On December 14 OBL wrote out his will. Yet by December 18 the Battle for Tora Bora had ended, and bin Laden had escaped, a fact confirmed in October 2004 when he put out an election eve videotape aimed at American voters.
Cmdr. Fury writes that the locals-as-spearhead strategy worked versus the Taliban in taking Mazar-i-Sharif & Kabul, because our local surrogates wished to get rid of the hated Taliban oppressors. But at Tora Bora al-Qaeda was the enemy of ours only; OBL had paid off the locals handsomely, thus purchasing their loyalty. (Kerry's 2004 assertion that planning for Iraq aided OBL's escape--repeated in the SFC majority staff report--seems weak; plans in place were not going to be reversed, as the high command did not grasp the difference that Comr. Fury saw.)
Bottom Line. Though partisan, the SFC majority staff report is credible, and buttressed by the superb book that was one source for the SFC. Kerry has pushed this thesis for a long time, and his motives are hardly pure. But once again it appears that the US likely failed to gain victory within our grasp, as surely we did in Desert Storm in 1991. And once again, as a result, we face a harder, more precarious passage, with outcome uncertain.
Start with the P.C. back home: last week, ten Naples, Florida school-kids were suspended for taking part in "Kick a Jew day". If this story is not screaming headlines everywhere in American news media outlets by today you will know that P.C. has struck again. Simply imagine instead that the kids had taken part in a "Kick a Muslim day" in the school. They would likely already have been expelled, and a criminal investigation would likely be underway.
Meanwhile, three NAVY SEALs who in September captured a top terrorist leader, Ahmed Hashim Abed, wanted for arranging the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater contractors in Iraq in March 2004, an outrage that triggered the First Battle of Fallujah, face court-martial for allegedly hitting their captive either in the face, splitting his lip, or in the stomach. One is charged with assault, and all three face dereliction of duty, false statement and obstructing justice charges in varied mix. Three other SEALs involved in the capture were not charged, and presumably will be witnesses.
The trial is expected to begin in Norfolk, Virginia, come January. In the military proceeding, the defendants will lack the legal right to confront witnesses. This right is guaranteed all criminal defendants on trial in US criminal courts, per the Sixth Amendment "Confrontation Clause" of the US Constitution. Here is the Sixth Amendment text:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
Here is the upshot, in terms of Team Obama's legal positions:
Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and his four al-Qaeda confederates, to be tried in federal criminal court for the mass murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people (nearly all civilians) on September 11, 2001, will enjoy the full panoply of Constitutional rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, including those under the Sixth Amendment. But three NAVY SEALs, for allegedly slightly roughing up a top terrorist leader they captured in a high-risk commando raid, will be denied such rights.
This is the sheer insanity--and simple asininity--of the legal position that Team Obama has adopted.
Two former senior Bush 43 officials defend as "reasonable" A-G Eric Holder's decision to move the trial of five al-Qaeda 9/11 plotters from military tribunal to a New York federal courthouse. They argue that military tribunals do not necessarily work better, depending upon a given case, than do federal criminal trials.
Their op-ed is eviscerated by terror prosecutor Andy McCarthy in a brilliant 6-pager that is a riveting read. After dissecting the appalling performance of criminal justice terror trials since 2001, a history the Bush-43 authors disregard, McCarthy suggests a larger context that explains Holder's decision to try KSM & Co. in NYC:
What Holder has done is in fact the antithesis of pragmatism. He has taken a military-commission case — one in which five terrorists had announced their desire to plead guilty and proceed to sentencing — and, after ten months of delay, moved it to the civilian system, where we are likely to see a trial under rules that will make the prosecution’s task more difficult. In a case that might be over by now had it been kept in the commission system, our worst enemies will get a couple of years to plow through the government’s intelligence files and put American counterterrorism policies on trial. There will be sworn testimony about the development and implementation of those policies. Left-wing lawyers, who are already urging European courts to bring war-crimes indictments against U.S. intelligence officers and Bush-administration officials, will enjoy a windfall. National-security agents, who must make difficult decisions as our country is under siege, will be further mired in the ethos of timidity that Goldsmith warned about in his excellent book, The Terror Presidency.
Plus, there is the larger context to consider: Holder has packed the Justice Department with lawyers who spent the last eight years representing America’s enemies. By so doing, the attorney general has demonstrated a stunning insensitivity to conflicts of interest, a subject on which the Justice Department traditionally hews to a high standard — namely, the requirement that its lawyers avoid not just real conflicts of interest but the mere “appearance of impropriety.” Wittingly or not, the precedent Holder has created in rewarding KSM with civilian-trial rights redounds to the benefit of all lesser terrorist detainees, including those still represented by Holder’s former firm. They now have an argument that proceedings against them in the military system prescribed by Congress are unfair and capricious.
Another successful terror prosecutor offers a case example showing how difficult getting 12 jurors to impose the death penalty could well be in this mega-trial:
"It will be an uphill battle to get a death penalty in these cases," said Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor in New York. He helped win convictions for four acolytes of Osama bin Laden who plotted the 1998 simultaneous bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people. Jurors in 2001 found the men guilty, but they were divided on the punishment. As a result, all four were sentenced to life in prison.
Some jurors said afterward that they opposed a death sentence because the defendants had said they wished to die as martyrs.
"Obviously, the 9/11 crimes are as serious as you can get," Butler said. "But it is difficult to get 12 people in Manhattan to agree on a death penalty."
Bottom Line. Holder's decision cannot even successfully be defended by two legalists from Team Bush. In Holder's Justice Department, suicide-pact legalism rules the day.
AS EVERYONE SENTIENT IN THE US OF A BY NOW KNOWS, THERE WAS a wonderful historical first from last week's first Obama White House state dinner: One couple crashed the reception before the dinner! (They left before the sit-down dinner, as then they would have been discovered, because their names were not on any place cards.) And yes, the couple scored a photo-op with President Obama.
Some of their Obama WH state reception photos are on Michaele Salahi's Facebook page. Among the other guests they scored pictures with were Joe Biden, he who recalled how FDR used TV in 1929 to rally the nation, and (Thanksgiving thanks, God!) Katie Couric, who, big-shot A-lister, would have recognized prominent socialites, right? Savor the dopey look on Katie's face in this photo of Katie with Michaele! The Washington Post reports more gaudy detail: her husband, Tareq Salahi, is captain of the America's Polo Cup Team, an event apparently created by him; but the couple has multiple financial problems, too. Michaele claims having been a Redskinette (NFL team cheerleader), but the team denies she ever was on the roster. Anne Applebaum offers tart historical perspective on social climbing since the 18th century.
One WH veteran offered this explanation as to how the couple, a socialite pair known from reality TV ambitions, slipped past security:
A savvy pair of crashers, dressed to the nines, might arrive on foot at the visitors' entrance, announce their names -- then express shock and concern when the security detail at the gate failed to find them on the guest list. On a rainy night like Tuesday, with a crowd of 300-plus arriving, security might have lost track of or granted a modicum of sympathy to a pair who certainly looked as though they belonged there. If their IDs didn't send up any red flags in the screening process, they would be sent through the magnetometers and into the White House.
What Team Obama failed to do, the veteran also noted:
And yet, the former staffer noted: Someone from the White House social office should have been posted at the guest entrance with the guards.
Not all is fun & games. The Los Angeles Times reports that GOP Congressman Peter King (NY), savvy in homeland security matters, said that the incident could have ended with killings:
The acknowledgment that the pair had gained access to the president is likely to inspire more calls for formal reviews of the incident. Even before Friday's admission, Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) called for a congressional hearing on the matter.
Although the couple went through a metal detector, that is not sufficient to protect the president and White House officials, King said. A determined terrorist could have smuggled in biological weapons or grabbed knives and forks to inflict harm, he said.
"If these had been terrorists or psychopaths who had anthrax or training in the martial arts, and who were arm in arm with the vice president and Cabinet officials, they could in a matter of seconds have killed someone," King said.
Bottom Line. Who'd a thunk it....
"THE ONE": OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT, OMNICOMPETENT, OMNI-ONE-UPPED!!!
4 posts: (1) Our "al-Qaeda Bar"--9/11, 3/11 & N/11; (2) Fort Hood: Multi-Culti Masochism--9/11, 3/11 & N/11; (3) Grading The One's Asia 2009 Tour; Indian PM's State Visit--"It's the Earth Stupid!"; (4) FDR's "Franksgiving" Turkey--The Home Front.
LFTC will not post Thursday or Friday this week. Happy Thanksgiving!
Writing in Human Events, Rowan Scarborough profiles what legal ace Andy McCarthy calls "the al-Qaeda Bar"--lawyers from high-powered law firms donating tens of millions of dollars in free legal services to represent terror detainees during wartime. The lawyers, naturally, wrap themselves in the cloak of protecting the Constitution and serving a long legal tradition of representing unpopular defendants.
Now, grab your nearest (large) airsick bag, and watch 9/11 trial defense lawyer Scott Fenstermaker interviewed by an incredulous Bill O'Reilly (5:49). (This video may take a little while to download; simply pause it and let stand for a few minutes.) For sheer chutzpah this legal flack has few peers.
Scarborough notes McCarthy's scathing critique of such "lawfare" efforts:
McCarthy believes the lawyers are wrapping themselves in the Constitution to make an otherwise odious exercise look patriotic.
"One of the things I think is primarily wrong with it is the way it has been pitched to the public, which is that everybody is entitled to counsel and they're just fulfilling constitutional obligation," McCarthy said. "Therefore they created a fictional narrative that they're not really representing the enemy, they're representing the Constitution as they put it. It's a fairy tale and it's not true. Most of these cases are detainee cases. They're detention under the laws of war. They're habeas corpus cases in which people are not entitled to counsel.
"The moral of the story is these people made a voluntary choice to represent these guys. None of them was entitled to counsel. So these lawyers made a calculated decision to represent America's enemies during wartime in law suits against the American people which are designed to make it more difficult for the United states to wage war. I think it's reprehensible."
And there is more. Radical lawyer Lynne Stewart, protege of the late radical lawyer William Kunstler, convicted of aiding terrorists she was representing in court, regards Islamists as fighting wars of liberation.
Bottom Line. "Al-Qaeda Bar" is an apt term for those who, during wartime, throw sand in the gears of our ability to fight effectively, hand our enemies propaganda victories that demoralize us, undermine the efforts of our troops and confer rights on unlawful combatants hitherto never even given lawful combatants in prior wars. Under prior legal interpretations unlawful combatants had zero rights under our Constitution. Lawfare rears its ugly head yet again.
Christopher Hitchens roasts the P.C. crowd--especially, the media--for looking the other way at Major Hasan's Islamist fanaticism as a cause of the Fort Hood atrocity. He impales author Robert Wright, an apologist for militant Islamists:
Everything in me revolts at this conclusion, which is echoed and underlined in another paragraph of the article. Why, six months ago, did "a 24-year-old-American named Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad—Carlos Bledsoe before his teenage conversion to Islam—fatally shoot a soldier outside a recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.? ABC News reported, "It was not known what path Muhammad … had followed to radicalization." Well, here's a clue: After being arrested he started babbling to the police about the killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan." Wright describes this clue-based deduction of his as an illustration of the way that "an isolated incident can put you on a slippery slope." Though I can't find much beauty in his prose there, I want to agree with him.
For a start, did Hasan or Muhammad ever say what "killing" of which "Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan" they had in mind? There isn't a day goes by without the brutal slaughter of Muslims in both countries by al-Qaida or the Taliban. And that's not just because most (though not all) civilians in both countries happen to be of the Islamic faith. The terrorists do not pause before deliberately blowing up the mosques and religious processions of those whose Muslim beliefs they deem insufficiently devout. Most of those now being tortured and raped and executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran are Muslim. All the women being scarred with acid and threatened with murder for the crime of going to school in Pakistan are Muslim. Many of those killed in London, Madrid, and New York were Muslim, and almost all the victims callously destroyed in similar atrocities in Istanbul, Cairo, Casablanca, and Algiers in the recent past were Muslim, too. It takes a true intellectual to survey this appalling picture and to say, as Wright does, that we invite attacks on our off-duty soldiers because "the hawkish war-on-terrorism strategy—a global anti-jihad that creates nonstop imagery of Americans killing Muslims—is so dubious." Dubious? The only thing dubious here is his command of language. When did the U.S. Army ever do what the jihadists do every day: deliberately murder Muslim civilians and brag on video about the fact? For shame. The slippery slope—actually the slimy slope—is the one down which Wright is skidding.
It is he, who I am taking as representative of a larger mentality here, who uses equally inert lingo to suggest that Maj. Hasan was "pushed over the edge by his perception of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars." That's a nice and shady use of the word "perception." Might it not be equally true to say that Hasan was all-too-easily pulled over the edge, having already signaled his devout eagerness for the dive, by a cleric who makes a living by justifying murder of Muslims and non-Muslims alike?
In many recent reports of this controversy one has seen reporters from respectable papers referring not just to generic, uniform "Muslims" but even to the places where they live as "Muslim lands." If you would object to seeing the absurd term "Christendom" in your newspaper as a description of Europe, let alone to reading about "Jewish land" on the West Bank, then please have the fortitude to complain next time violent theocracy is smuggled into the discourse under the increasingly feeble disguise of multicultural masochism.
Ace diplomat John Bolton gives a failing grade to The One's Asia tour last week, as does Asia maven Ross Terrill in a more detailed piece. Calling it the worst Presidential visit to the region in decades, Bolton justifies his failing grade:
But it was on matters of substance where Mr. Obama's trip truly was a disappointment. On economics, the president displayed the Democratic Party's ambivalence toward free trade, even in an economic downtown, motivated by fear of labor-union opposition. On environmental and climate change issues, China, entirely predictably, reaffirmed its refusal to agree to carbon-emission limitations, and Mr. Obama had to concede in Singapore that the entire effort to craft a binding, post-Kyoto international agreement in Copenhagen had come to a complete halt.
On U.S. national security, Mr. Obama came away from Beijing empty-handed in his efforts to constrain both the Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs, meaning that instability in the Middle East and East Asia will surely grow. In Japan, Mr. Obama discussed contentious issues like U.S. forces based on Okinawa, but did not seem in his public comments to understand what he and the new Japanese government had agreed to. Ironically, his warmest reception, despite his free-trade ambivalence, was in South Korea, where President Lee Myung-bak has reversed a decade-long pattern by taking a harder line on North Korea than Washington.
Overall, President Obama surely suffered his worst setbacks in Beijing, on trade and economics, on climate change, and on security issues. CNN analyst David Gergen, no conservative himself, compared Mr. Obama's China meetings to Kennedy's disastrous 1961 encounter with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna, a clear indicator of how poorly the Obama visit was seen at home. The perception that Mr. Obama is weak has already begun to emerge even in Europe, for example with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and if it emerges in Asia as well, Obama and the U.S. will suffer gravely.
Bolton notes The One's latest ludicrous exercise in self-anointment, namely, styling himself America's "first Pacific President." George Will, in a deliciously witty column, chronicles prior Pacific experiences of American Presidents dating back to James Polk (1845-1849). William Howard Taft (1909-1913) actually governed the Philippines. US Grant, for his part, visited Japan after serving, met the Japanese Emperor, and shook his hand--without bowing. This history is yet another example of the superficiality of President Obama's high-toned Columbia + Harvard Law education: only ignorance of American (never mind Asian) history explains 44 making such a risible claim as being Uncle Sam's First Pacific Prez.
Yesterday the President conducted a press conference with India PM Manmohan Singh. 44 said that it is not America's place to resolve the Indo-Pakistani conflict, but that he would offer such assistance as possible. Singh spoke warmly of America. Singh pronounced himself "very satisfied" with his visit and his host; he spoke of cooperation on getting the US-India civilian nuclear deal through Congress ASAP, and on terrorism and related security issues.
Bottom Line. More and more, with each unilateral concession, bowing & scraping, and serial apology The One is looking "pacific" indeed, but not in the sense of the ocean misnamed by Balboa on a calm day. The One is "pacific" in the sense of showing increasingly neo-pacifist tendencies in much of his foreign policy.
Palin "Does Bill." Last Thursday & Friday, and Monday night Bill O'Reilly interviewed Sarah Palin. The first night focused on the campaign and personal stuff. Thursday (Parts 1 & 2 video clips) offers not much new. But Friday's two clips (Parts 3 & 4) are well worth watching. O'Reilly - Palin Video Part 3 is mostly on issues. She slams President Obama over Guantanamo, and O'Reilly suggests opening a Gitmo North on a remote base in Alaska, which leads to a lively exchange. On foreign policy Palin is fairly solid--a little sketchy on details, but unlike that charming fellow at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, she does not get daily Presidential briefings. On domestic policy she perfectly pinpoints the GOP message, calling for "free-market, results-oriented, patient-centered" health care. Asked about her experience she compared her resume to Obama's as to her superior managerial experience and came off well; but then she undid her good answer by switching to Biden, saying that she was not running for the Presidency. O'Reilly did not let that pass, noting McCain's age.
Palin also sounded lame in complaining that Biden did not get comparable skeptical scrutiny. Quite apart from Biden being a known quantity after six Senate terms (Obama was, like Palin, little known) and thus reporters can rationalize lessened scrutiny, American voters do not like to hear complaints, even if they are justified. Where is the Sarah Palin who hunts at 4 AM and can field-dress a moose? That Sarah Palin would move on, and let her supporters make the case about unfair treatment.
O'Reilly - Palin Video Part 4 covers Iran & Russia. Palin is overly sanguine on prospects that embargoing oil to Iran will work. She slams Obama for hectoring Israel over settlements. She says we must get Vladimir Putin to go along re Iran, and called a military strike "the absolute last option." When she says that we must make Putin care enough to come around over Iran, based upon his presumed needs from our Western allies, she sounds flat (as does the idea); she urged 44 to listen to his own pick, General MacChrystal, and commit resources needed to win. On Afghanistan she said we simply must prevail, to prevent re-establishment of a haven for al-Qaeda. She defended President Bush over keeping America safe, and called for going back to a "9/12 policy" instead of President Obama's "9/10" policy. Asked about China, she referred to last week's summit and said that America cannot blame China for Uncle Sam's reckless spending.
O'Reilly - Palin Part 5 (link not yet posted) covers why Palin is hated, whether she likes her life more or less now than before being selected as VP and whether she intends to lead a populist movement. It is a brief segment, adding little--Palin says she wants to be part of, but does not assert that she will lead a populist movement. She loves her life today, and asks her haters to read her book. (Most won't, and those that do will still hate her.)
Palin also sat down with Greta, in videos only some of which I saw. Most notable was that on India - Pakistan she said we should get them into an alliance with the US versus terror, in a more formal way; this goal is unrealistic. Palin did, however, offer ultimate proof of her genuine glamour, sitting down wearing an ARMY T-shirt and still looking great; few politicians of either sex can look just as good in a T-shirt as in fashionable outfits. (The idiots in the McCain campaign who shopped for her expensive campaign wardrobe could not figure this out, easy though it should have been to do so.)
Palin "Goes Rogue." A week ago Sarah Palin's already best-selling memoir, "Going Rogue ": An American Life went on sale. In its first week it has sold 700,000 copies, on top of 1.5 million advance sales. I read it, and found en engaging memoir. She begins with her passage from infancy to adulthood, looking back two generations, and conveys the flavor of growing up in Alaska. My favorite line: "For many in Alaska, being 'green" isn't about wearing Birkenstocks and driving a hybrid; it is about survival." A hint of Palin's disconnect from Beltway culture is given when she describes her husband Todd's Eskimo temperament, where the men, "unlike some others, don't feel the need to fill up the air around them with words all the time." Strong silent types play well in much of American's heartland; Hollywood and inside the Beltway go for talky and glib.
Referring to September 11, 2001, Palin uses a noun I have often used to describe it: atrocity. I have always gagged when "tragedy" has been used--as it has even by folks who should know better. The latter word works for hurricanes, earthquakes, and the like--natural disasters. But carnage caused by malicious human agency deserves a more pointed noun. Way to go, Sarah.
"Drill, baby, drill!" Palin's prime accomplishment, consummated after the 2008 election, was getting the Big Three oil companies to sign on the dotted line for the $40 billion, 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline importing gas from Canada. Palin's bumper-sticker slogan for her campaign to complete the deal was amusingly alliterative: Greenies (clean fuel), Grannies (lower market prices for fixed-income energy consumers) and Gunnies (reduced energy dependence, thus increasing national security). Palin notes that Alaskans spent the bounty from their first oil boom (the Alyeska pipeline & Prudhoe Bay), citing a state bumper ticker: Dear God, give us another oil boom and we promise not to piss it away this time. On the Greenie side, she established the nation's first Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO), to monitor how oil companies were maintaining pipelines and guarding against environmental damage. (Sounding a similar energy note as Palin, George Will crisply cites repeated wrong forecasts of energy scarcity, and aptly impales Greens for seeking to use scarcity fears to increase government control over our lives.)
Palin replaced Alaska's Petroleum Profits Tax with ACES: Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share. Instead of simply collecting royalties from energy companies, the state adopted a mix of energy taxes calibrated on a sliding scale to account for swings in oil prices, changes that affect company incentives to invest.
The long campaign section has lots of inside baseball. My overarching impression is that Palin was pushed into Zombie Campaign Mode and thus she was pressured to jettison her sparkling personality. Now, if your VP candidate is like Spiro Agnew (Nixon's) this is understandable. Agnew, after all, had the charisma (and intelligence) of a toad. But given a budding superstar like Palin, a natural personality, Team McCain had a priceless asset--of which they had no idea. So they squandered it, by imprisoning Palin and muzzling as much as they could her star power, which Canadian columnist Rex Murphy rightly sees as comparable to that exuded by The One at 1600. Further indicative of real star power is Palin drawing an 18-hour queue for her Rochester book signing event. Joe Lieberman grasped this, having advised Palin prior to her debate with Joe Biden to simply "Be yourself." She was, and she won.
"I knew Ronnie...and Sarah, You're No...." Palin's frequent self-comparisons to Ronald Reagan mildly grate on this reader. That she admires Reagan is fine. But Palin despite a successful gubernatorial stint (albeit cut short) is hardly a match for the most successful President since FDR. She surely knows this, and might have been more restrained in her patting herself on the back for emulating The Gipper.
FactCheck Strikes--Mostly Out. The online FactCheck folks put out, before Palin's book hit the stores, a rebuttal covering certain claims and assertions of fact in Palin's book. My read of the four pages found nothing major, surely by the standards of political books. A few clear mistakes of historical fact, a few disputed claims of political credit, a few allegations of ethics violations that, even if true, are not in the same league as Barney Frank sleeping with a staffer at Fannie Mae while regulating the agency, or Chris Dodd getting sweetheart real-estate deals from a mortgage financier he regulates. FC scores, however, on one item. Palin praised herself for seeing through to victory in the Supreme Court the end of a 20-year battle with ExxonMobil to collect damages arising out of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. While in the end ExxonMobil had to fork over $500M, the final amount had been reduced 80 percent, from the original $2.5B verdict. Palin expressed outrage at the time. She would have done well to acknowledge that, and simply state that $500M was a modest victory, better than zero, but nonetheless a disappointment.
Bottom Line. "Going Rogue" is an engaging memoir. Folks in the Lower 48 can learn much about our largest state. The campaign stuff is of necessity inside baseball, but what emerges is--even given denials emanating from her targets within Team McCain--that a bunch of too-clever insiders substituted their own judgment for that of someone who had actually won elective office several times and was a rare natural political talent. Palin's performance on issues questions now, plus the small section at the end of her book, show someone well able to talk--and think--issues. She is weak on Russia & India-Pakistan, naive in what may be achievable--this too is common inside the Beltway. If she knows less foreign policy than vastly experienced Joe Biden, so does Biden's current boss. And Palin has more common sense than Barack & Joe combined.
None of this means Palin will--or even should--run. She has negatives too high to credibly run as a third party candidate. And there are lots of reasons to doubt she would throw herself back into the grinder, and open up all the nasty stuff aimed at her and her family. She is qualified to be President, if less so than some already in the history books, more so than the current incumbent.
Palin may prefer to use her rock-star power to shape issues from outside, as already she has done with "death panels" and health care (think: mammogram screenings covered at 50 but not at 40, a policy change now on history's ash-heap). And she need not put up with Charlie & Katie, nor pay to defend against bogus ethics charges.
Notably, John McCain has not joined those on his campaign staff who are dissing Palin. As for those staffers, let them write their memoirs, and then see if people starting lining up 18 hours ahead of their book-signing event.
WSJ pundit Dan Henninger sees the Fort Hood massacre as the template for future terror attacks in the States, rather than 9/11. He sees "our values" and our laws as making preventive action nearly impossible in domestic terror cases:
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, as the judge presiding over the 1995 trial of the "blind sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, had to instruct the jury that the sheik's violent, "holy war" sermons at New York mosques were legal, protected activity (he was convicted of conspiracy). There is a mosque in Manhattan at 96th Street and Lexington Avenue, on whose sidewalk one can hear adherents spouting support for violence against the U.S. That, too, is protected.
A violent ideology is just an ideology, and that is protected speech. It requires acts to put in motion aggressive surveillance, such as wiretapping.
I think the Hasan case shows this is wrong, or at least too dangerous. First Amendment law has never dealt with a widely distributed ideology that has as its raison d'être the mass murder of Americans and destruction of American property.
For now this is the way it is: Future Hasans can get jacked up all day on kill-the-Americans Web sites, and we have to wait until they put in motion a conspiracy like Fort Dix or the Colorado jihadists. Or until they start shooting.
Politics is the only recourse.
This is what the political fight was through the Bush years—fights over the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretaps of conversations between U.S. citizens and foreign suspects, using the Swift financial data system to track terrorist transfers (or, with KSM, military tribunals versus civil courts). The argument against these policies was that "our values" require that judges review and approve virtually all such activity.
The problem with this view is that "our values" were already protected to an unprecedented degree. Raising the bar higher is asking too much of the people assigned to catch all these self-radicalizing jihadists.
Ex-special ops ace Gordon Cucullu wonders how many soldiers will die to preserve political correctness in leaving dangerous jihadists within military ranks. His prime target is General Casey, who has defended P.C. via the sacred mantra of "diversity" as strength:
Let’s look at this contrived value of diversity for a minute. If mere diversity -- expressed as moral equivalency of points of view and inclusiveness for all -- is such a critical factor to the Army’s success, then why are white supremacists, anarchists, and Luddites not encouraged to join up in the fight? In fact, particularly in the case of the former, discovery will lead to disciplinary action and dismissal from service. And it should.
While speaking so forcibly of the value of diversity, Casey ought to be questioned about the wisdom of including Quakers, Amish, Mennonites, and other anti-war believers into the total force structure. Or would he be forced to admit that recruiting from groups that espouse pacificism as a core value would detract from combat readiness?
If the implications of bringing large numbers of conscientious objectors into active duty, thereby filling sorely needed combat personnel slots in the name of diversity seems frivolous, then it would make good sense to challenge the concept that including large numbers of Muslim soldiers simply because of their religious affiliation ought to be questioned too.
What we are observing here is an Army based not on potential skill sets and capabilities but on quotas. So many African-Americans, so many women, so many Hispanics, so many Muslims. Statistical preoccupation with racial, ethnic, and religious quotas guts the core purpose of the military which is to kill people and break things.
Not to say that Muslims, Christians, Jews, and non-believers cannot be good soldiers. But the emphasis needs to be on the latter factor: is this person a good soldier? rather than on some bogus bean-counting standard that detracts from the military’s basic mission.
Perhaps in a twisted way Hasan was right. Any Muslim -- or believer of any other persuasion -- who is not willing to participate as a soldier in the call to duty ought to be dismissed.
Ex-CIAer Reuel Marc Gerecht sees the FBI unprepared to combat domestic Muslim militants, due to political correctness. He contrasts American P.C. with French realism:
For those of us who have tracked Islamic militancy in Europe, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's actions are not extraordinary. Since Muslim militants first tried to blow a French high-speed train off its rails in 1995, European intelligence and internal-security services have increasingly monitored European Muslim radicals. Whether it's anti-Muslim bigotry, the large numbers of immigrant and native-born Muslims in Europe, an appreciation of how hard it is to become European, or just an understanding of how dangerous Islamic radicalism is, most Europeans are far less circumspect and politically correct when discussing their Muslim compatriots than are Americans.
A concern for not giving offense to Muslims would never prevent the French internal-security service, the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST), which deploys a large number of Muslim officers, from aggressively trying to pre-empt terrorism. As Maj. Hasan's case shows, this is not true in the United States. The American military and especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation were in great part inattentive because they were too sensitive.
RMG sees a missed opportunity in Obama's embracing P.C.:
Moreover, President Barack Obama's determined effort not to mention Islam in terrorist discussions—which means that we must not suggest that Maj. Hasan's murderous actions flowed from his faith—will weaken American counterterrorism. Worse, the president's position is an enormous wasted opportunity to advance an all-critical Muslim debate about the nature and legitimacy of jihad....
...Westerners could certainly benefit from Mr. Obama underscoring something else he touched on in his Cairo speech: Muslims should stop blaming non-Muslims for their crippling problems. He could ask, as some Muslims have, why is it that Islam has produced so many jihadists? Why is it that Maj. Hasan's rampage has produced so little questioning among Muslim clerics about why a man, one in a long line of Muslim militants, so easily takes God's name to slaughter his fellow citizens?
Had Mr. Obama asked this, we might now be witnessing convulsive debate among Muslims. He missed the opportunity to start this conversation before what is clearly the first Islamist terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. He will probably get another opportunity.
As it stands now, however, Iranian youth who once so eagerly welcomed Mr. Obama's election by shouting his name in Persian—U ba ma! ("He is with us!")—are now writing the president's likely legacy among Muslims who yearn for a better modernity. Disappointed to see how determined Mr. Obama has remained to engage the regime they despise, they now forlornly chant U ba unhast ("He is with them.").
Bottom Line. P.C. at and after Fort Hood augurs ill for domestic security. Combine Fort Hood with the upcoming 9/11 trial in the Big Apple, and the risk of a copycat attack during the circus trial seems significant.
Begin with David Beamer, father of the late Todd, whose "Let's roll!" call to action started the charge of passengers on United Flight 93, thus forcing jihadist pilots to crash in western Pennsylvania, rather than into the Capitol. Mr. Beamer writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
How can we be assured that these enemies will be found guilty? Given that criminal courts are now the presumed venue for those captured on the battlefield, will soldiers need to read them their rights at the time of capture? Since you wish to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis to the presumed civil venue, don't all those captured need to be read their rights and have the opportunity to remain silent? Won't this venue expose intelligence to our enemies? Can our classified information really be secured? Can we in fact predict how the judge will rule? If these people are brought into the country will they get additional rights under immigration law? What if they claim asylum?
The attorney general seemed bewildered in the face of these inquiries. Recurring themes in his responses included "I think," and "I can't imagine," and "I am not an expert in immigration."
Has our attorney general not considered these issues, or imagined the possible unintended consequences that will arise from his historic decision? It certainly seemed that way. If he had, he would have had better answers.
A second shocker: Mr. Holder said that he and his boss had not spoken in person about this decision. This matter only involves upholding the constitutional rights of Americans, establishing a precedent with battlefield impact, and the safety and security of our citizens in a time of war. What are the criteria to make something a priority with President Barack Obama? How can it be that this matter didn't make the cut?
The Democrats used much of their questioning time to heap praise upon Mr. Holder. They all repeated the same trope: We'll show the world that America can conduct these trials openly in criminal courts. And we'll be successful, even as we convey rights to the defendants that are not warranted.
Since when has "show the world" been a primary objective?
No thoughtful questions from the majority party regarding this decision were forthcoming. Their questions mostly addressed other matters. They discussed overcrowding in our prisons (too many drug criminals being sentenced), asked why none of the $500 million in appropriations have helped the rape-kit processing backlog, and inquired about when recommendations for additional staff would be presented for confirmation. Their lack of attention to the pressing matter at hand suggested apathy.
Charles Krauthammer sees "travesty in New York" in trying the 9/11 plotters in criminal court:
Finally, there's the moral logic. It's not as if Holder opposes military commissions on principle. On the same day he sent KSM to a civilian trial in New York, Holder announced he was sending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, to a military tribunal.
By what logic? In his congressional testimony Wednesday, Holder was utterly incoherent in trying to explain. In his Nov. 13 news conference, he seemed to be saying that if you attack a civilian target, as in 9/11, you get a civilian trial; a military target like the Cole, and you get a military tribunal.
What a perverse moral calculus. Which is the war crime -- an attack on defenseless civilians or an attack on a military target such as a warship, an accepted act of war which the U.S. itself has engaged in countless times?
By what possible moral reasoning, then, does KSM, who perpetrates the obvious and egregious war crime, receive the special protections and constitutional niceties of a civilian courtroom, while he who attacked a warship is relegated to a military tribunal?
Moreover, the incentive offered any jihadi is as irresistible as it is perverse: Kill as many civilians as possible on American soil and Holder will give you Miranda rights, a lawyer, a propaganda platform -- everything but your own blog.
Ken Blackwell writes in TAS of the Mad Hatter flavor of an NYC 9/11 trial. He notes also Obama's statement that KSM will be convicted and will be executed, plus Holder's statement before the Senate last week that failure is "not an option" and questions how a verdict can be perceived globally as a fair one. These statements will, one may figure, be played at the trial, ISO a juror to hang the case. A lawyer for the five defendants says that his clients will plead not guilty so as to use the trial to speak to the world. Der Spiegel reports that Germany will send a team of observers to attend the 9/11 trial; Germany provided evidence that prosecutors cannot use, because it was given on condition that it not be used in a death penalty case.
LOPEZ: The president told NBC’s Chuck Todd in China: “I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.” Is there any way to guarantee that?
BURCK: There is no way to guarantee that. The judge and the jury will make those determinations, and neither the president nor the attorney general has any power to dictate the outcome of a federal criminal trial. I do believe that there is a lot of evidence against KSM; in fact, he may not wish to contest the charges in a conventional way and instead essentially proclaim his guilt but insist on a trial as a platform for his views. This would not be dissimilar to Moussaoui’s trial.
But remember two indisputable facts: Attorney General Holder has gone on record that he believes waterboarding is torture; and it is now known that KSM was subject to enhanced interrogation techniques, including repeated use of waterboarding. KSM’s lawyer will almost certainly ask the judge to throw out all the charges against him because he was allegedly tortured. How can the Department of Justice contest that KSM was tortured if the attorney general has gone on record that waterboarding is torture? They can’t. Jose Padilla and other convicted terrorists have sought to have charges thrown out on the basis of the so-called “outrageous government misconduct” doctrine, and so far they have not been successful (in Padilla’s case, however, the government did not concede that he had been abused). But no one can really dispute that there are some judges who would give serious consideration to KSM’s request based on his supposed torture, and there is at least some case law that supports it. That doesn’t mean he would be released if he were to get the charges dismissed — the Obama administration (I hope) would exercise other authorities available to it to keep KSM in some form of custody. But there is no doubt that once the grand jury returns an indictment, the prosecutors lose a lot of control and the most important decision-makers are the judge and the jury.
LOPEZ: Further: Is that the way the justice system should work? Nevermind war?
BURCK: Our federal criminal-justice system is premised on the complementary notions that all defendants are presumed innocent and the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt rests solely and at all times with the government. Those principles will apply no less to KSM than they do to any other criminal defendant. I sincerely hope that shoving KSM into the criminal process won’t create bad precedent that helps convict KSM but undermines the rights and protections that Americans accused of crimes currently have. But we are already seeing unusual behavior for a criminal case. Typically, federal law-enforcement officials like the attorney general keep their public comments about criminal cases to a minimum because, for example, they do not want to be accused of tainting the jury pool. Federal prosecutors learn that you do 99 percent of your talking about a criminal case in the courtroom and only in the courtroom. The attorney general and the president are being remarkably free about predicting KSM’s conviction and execution — and discussing the facts of the case against him — given that this is a criminal case. KSM’s lawyers will likely argue to the judge that he can’t receive a fair trial in part because of their pre-trial comments.
But National Journal legal ace Stuart Taylor sees the trial as the right choice. Taylor is a top-drawer legal writer, so let us offer parts of his argument, while noting that the full article merits a close read. He sees two grand benefits to a criminal trial:
One advantage is that a civilian trial will show Americans and the rest of the world that our government is sure it can prove the 9/11 defendants guilty in the fairest of all courts; is confident that the hate-filled propaganda of the accused will appeal only to barbarians like themselves; and will not let fear of more terrorist attacks drive the trial away from the most logical venue, which is the federal courthouse near the scene of the most horrific crime.
Trying the 9/11 defendants before military commissions, on the other hand, would be widely (if unfairly) denounced as designed to ensure convictions regardless of the evidence. A decision to continue holding the suspects without trial -- after eight years of presidential vows to put them on trial -- would be a damning admission that America is simply not up to the task of bringing war criminals to justice.
A second advantage is that international opinion sees civilian trials as the only legitimate way to deal with those accused of terrorism.
ST raises two more points, as to international opinion, that merit consideration:
"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo," Matthew Alexander, a former military interrogator in Iraq, wrote in a November 2008 Washington Post op-ed. "At least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse."
The abuses symbolized by Guantanamo have also taken a toll on the willingness of foreign governments to help us fight terrorism.
To be sure, Guantanamo had become a model prison by the time President Bush left office, and the international condemnation is outdated. But it is still a fact of life, and is critical to a hard-headed appraisal of the benefits of a civilian trial.
Taylor runs off about half a dozen rejoinders to objections made by those who oppose the move. Here is one, as to jurors:
• Crazy jurors. The chance of an acquittal seems infinitesimal. Yes, a few juries have done crazy things. But to have a chance of emulating O.J. Simpson's success at playing the race card, for example, Mohammed would need a jury full of jihadist sympathizers. That's a statistical impossibility. In any event, any defendant acquitted of war crimes could still lawfully -- if awkwardly -- be held as an enemy combatant.
Taylor would do well, as to the latter point, to read this NY Post article on renegade jurors in big NYC trials. Better yet, he misses two points. First, it only takes one juror to hang a case. Let there be two hung juries, and a third trial will look like unfair treatment to impressionable Muslims overseas, the target audience President Obama seeks to sway by showing how fair we can be to our worst enemy. And let there be an acquittal, and international pressure to release KSM will be intense. Does Taylor really believe that Muslims worldwide will approve of our holding KSM in jail AFTER an acquittal? (Or, even, after a couple of hung juries?) FAT CHANCE. They will perceive a fraud, especially given al-Jazeera covering events.
Bottom Line. Team Obama is betting the proverbial farm on impressing "world opinion"--first among all, Muslims--with this showcase trial. There are huge risks that it will backfire spectacularly.
WTOP reports that UN inspectors believe Syria is concealing nuclear activity. Reuters reports that UN experts also believe that North Korea is evading UN sanctions for nuclear violations via an elaborate scheme. Expect more news like this, if violators are not caught en flagrante--and even then, expect more of the same if violators are not punished harshly. New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier urges President Obama to press for liberal regime change in Iran as the solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, but sees in Obama's passing up the 20th anniversary Berlin Wall celebration as indicating lack of interest in connecting regime reform to arms control.
And while rogues pursue nukes, with the possibility of their being passed on to terrorists, the US has run out of a key raw material needed for plutonium bomb detection devices.
Hudson Institute scholar Anne Bayevsky has been banned from UN Headquarters. Seems she offended the Palestinians by condemning the omission of Hamas from a UN resolution on its slanderous Goldstone Report. As the WSJ editors note, this is Orwellian:
Meanwhile, a committee of the General Assembly recently passed a resolution on the so-called defamation of religion. "Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference, and has the right to freedom of expression, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities and may therefore be subject to limitations," it says.
"Without interference" yet "subject to limitations." Orwell should be living now.
Bottom Line. Orwell's 1984 totalitarian prophecy fortunately did not come to pass. But the Ministry of Truth (Lies) in that great work exists today, and the UN's Turtle Bay HQ is one of its chief departments.
3 posts: (1) Salute to a Departed Hero: Lewis L. Millett--The Home Front; (2) Fixing Fort Hood's Diversity Delusion--9/11, 3/11 & N/11; (3) An Expert Warns: Possible Acquittal of 9/11's Mastermind--9/11, 3/11 7 N/11.
Special Post: My 11/18/09 Appearance on the Dennis Miller Show, discussing the planned NYC trial of 9/11 plotters.
Lewis L. Millett's LA Times obituary gives the stirring details of his storied military career. Among his countless decorations were the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Stars, four Purple Hearts and three Air Medals.
But it is his Medal of Honor that tops the list. He won it for leading, during the Korean War, a bayonet charge up a hill that one prominent military historian called "the most complete bayonet charge by American troops since Cold Harbor"; that 1864 charge resulted in 7,000 Union troops falling in 20 minutes. But Millet's charge came when the machine-gun was commonly in use.
Read the astonishing story of an American hero, gone at 88 to the Valhalla reserved for true heroes.
Ann Coulter can be over-the-top at times, as all provocateurs like to walk on the wild side, so to speak. But she can also hit the mark dead-on, and say (or write) what needs to be said about politically incorrect topics. Writing about the Fort Hood atrocity and saying that "diversity has jumped the shark" AC nails it. And she follows with a truism about diversity and society, that runs precisely opposite to what General Casey's "diversity is a strength" mantra:
It cannot be said often enough that the chief of staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, responded to a massacre of 13 Americans in which the suspect is a Muslim by saying: "Our diversity ... is a strength."
As long as the general has brought it up: Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations.
Or consider the warring factions in India, Sri Lanka, China, Iraq, Czechoslovakia (until it happily split up), the Balkans and Chechnya. Also look at the festering hotbeds of tribal warfare -- I mean the beautiful mosaics -- in Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central, L.A.
"Diversity" is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought. True, America does a better job than most at accommodating a diverse population. We also do a better job at curing cancer and containing pollution. But no one goes around mindlessly exclaiming: "Cancer is a strength!" "Pollution is our greatest asset!"
Can diversity prove an asset at times? Sure. America's ethnic diversity gave us Navajo code-talkers in the Pacific Theater during World War II, chatting over battlefield radios in their native language and thus baffling Japanese code-breakers. But diversity politics inflicts great harm when it muzzles truthful discussion of the threat posed by militant Muslims, a threat not comparably posed by, for example, militant Jews. Yale Press refuses to publish the Danish 2006 Muhammad cartoons for fear of Muslim violence, thus undermining First Amendment freedom of speech and press. This is not good. The Flying Imams win a settlement from the airports & airlines, thus penalizing good-faith security concerns. (I discussed this case in my Monday LFTC posting; simply scroll down to the 11/16 posts below.).
And now, as AC notes, KSM will get the same panoply of constitutional and legal rights given American citizens--more, she notes, than given members of the US military who face military tribunals (which do, however, confer more due process rights than most Americans realize). But for this there is a remedy, which she captures perfectly:
Members of Congress have it in their power to put an end to this lunacy right now. If they don't, they are as complicit in Mohammed's civilian trial as the president. Article I, Section 8, and Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution give Congress the power to establish the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts and to create exceptions to that jurisdiction.
Congress could pass a statute limiting federal court jurisdiction to individuals not subject to trial before a military tribunal. Any legislator who votes "nay" on a such a bill will be voting to give foreign terrorists the same legal rights as U.S. citizens -- and more legal rights than members of the U.S. military are entitled to.
Bottom Line. It is not too late to stop manic diversity politics. If we do not do so, one day we will see a WMD Fort Hood, with a lot more than 13 dead and 42 wounded.
The following essay on the impending terror trial of Khalid Shekih Muhammad, is reprinted by permission from Stratfor. It is the first essay I have seen that raises the prospect that the United States may actually fail to convict 9/11's mastermind, due to the huge hurdles the American criminal justice system erects. It bears close reading.
Deciphering the Muhammad Trial
By George Friedman
November 16, 2009
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in federal court in New York. Holder’s decision was driven by the need for the U.S. government to decide how to dispose of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. Naval base outside the boundaries of the United States selected as the camp in which to hold suspected al Qaeda members.
We very carefully use the word “camp” rather than prison or prisoner of war camp. This is because of an ongoing and profound ambiguity not only in U.S. government perceptions of how to define those held there, but also due to uncertainties in international law, particularly with regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Were the U.S. facility at Guantanamo a prison, then its residents would be criminals. If it were a POW camp, then they would be enemy soldiers being held under the rules of war. It has never really been decided which these men are, and therefore their legal standing has remained unclear.
The ambiguity began shortly after 9/11, when then-U.S. President George W. Bush defined two missions: waging a war on terror, and bringing Osama bin Laden and his followers to justice. Both made for good rhetoric. But they also were fundamentally contradictory. A war is not a judicial inquiry, and a criminal investigation is not part of war.
An analogy might be drawn from Pearl Harbor. Imagine that in addition to stating that the United States was at war with Japan, Franklin Roosevelt also called for bringing the individual Japanese pilots who struck Hawaii to justice under American law. This would make no sense. As an act of war, the Japanese action fell under the rules of war as provided for in international law, the U.S. Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Japanese pilots could not be held individually responsible for the lawful order they received. In the same sense, trying to bring soldiers to trial in a civilian court in the United States would make no sense. Creating a mission in which individual Japanese airmen would be hunted down and tried under the rules of evidence not only would make no sense, it would be impossible. Building a case against them individually also would be impossible. Judges would rule on evidence, on whether an unprejudiced jury could be found, and so on. None of this happened, of course — World War II was a war, not a judicial inquiry.
It is important to consider how wars are conducted. Enemy soldiers are not shot or captured because of what they have done; they are shot and captured because of who they are — members of an enemy military force. War, once launched, is pre-emptive. Soldiers are killed or captured in the course of fighting enemy forces, or even before they have carried out hostile acts. Soldiers are not held responsible for their actions, but neither are they immune to attack just because they have not done anything. Guilt and innocence do not enter into the equation. Certainly, if war crimes are in question, charges may be brought; the UCMJ determines how they will be tried by U.S. forces. Soldiers are tried by courts-martial, not by civilian courts, because of their status as soldiers. Soldiers are tried by a jury of their peers, and their peers are held to be other soldiers.
International law is actually not particularly ambiguous about the status of the members of al Qaeda. The Geneva Conventions do not apply to them because they have not adhered to a fundamental requirement of the Geneva Conventions, namely, identifying themselves as soldiers of an army. Doing so does not mean they must wear a uniform. The postwar Geneva Conventions make room for partisans, something older versions of the conventions did not. A partisan is not a uniformed fighter, but he must wear some form of insignia identifying himself as a soldier to enjoy the conventions’ protections. As Article 4.1.6 puts it, prisoners of war include “Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.” The Geneva Conventions of 1949 does not mention, nor provide protection to, civilians attacking foreign countries without openly carrying arms.
The reasoning behind this is important. During the Franco-Prussian war, French franc-tireurs fired on Prussian soldiers. Ununiformed and without insignia, they melded into the crowd. It was impossible for the Prussians to distinguish between civilians and soldiers, so they fired on both, and civilian casualties resulted. The framers of the Geneva Conventions held the franc-tireurs, not the Prussian soldiers, responsible for the casualties. Their failure to be in uniform forced the Prussians to defend themselves at the cost of civilian lives. The franc-tireurs were seen as using civilians as camouflage. This was regarded as outside the rules of war, and those who carried out such acts were seen as not protected by the conventions. They were not soldiers, and were not to be treated as such.
Extending protections to partisans following World War II was seen as a major concession. It was done with concerns that it not be extended so far that combatants of irregular forces could legally operate using their ability to blend in with surrounding civilians, and hence a requirement of wearing armbands. The status of purely covert operatives remained unchanged: They were not protected under the Geneva Conventions. Their status remained ambiguous.
During World War II, it was U.S. Army practice to hold perfunctory trials followed by executions. During the Battle of the Bulge, German commandos captured wearing U.S. uniforms — in violation of the Geneva Conventions — were summarily tried in field courts-martial and executed. The idea that such individuals were to be handed over to civilian courts was never considered. The actions of al Qaeda simply were not anticipated in the Geneva Conventions. And to the extent they were expected, they violated the conventions.
Holder’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to federal court makes it clear that Mohammed was not a soldier acting in time of war, but a criminal. While during times of war spies are tried as criminals, their status is precarious, particularly if they are members of an enemy army. Enemy soldiers out of uniform carrying out reconnaissance or espionage are subject to military, not civilian, justice, and frequently are executed. A spy captured in the course of collecting information is a civilian, particularly in peacetime, and normally is tried as a criminal with rules of evidence.
Which was Mohammed? Under the Geneva Conventions, his actions in organizing the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out without uniforms or other badges of a combatant, denies him status and protection as a POW. Logically, he is therefore a criminal, but if he is, consider the consequences.
Criminal law is focused on punishments meted out after the fact. They rarely have been preventive measures. In either case, they follow strict rules of evidence, require certain treatments of prisoners and so on. For example, prisoners have to be read the Miranda warning. Soldiers are not policeman. They are not trained or expected to protect the legal rights of captives save as POWs under the UCMJ, nor protect the chain of custody of evidence nor countless other things that are required in a civilian court. In criminal law, it is assumed that law enforcement has captured the prisoner and is well-versed in these rules. In this case, the capture was made without any consideration of these matters, nor would one expect such consideration.
Consider further the role of U.S. covert operations in these captures. The United States conducts covert operations in which operatives work out of uniform and are generally not members of the military. Operating outside the United States, they are not protected by U.S. law although they do operate under the laws and regulations promulgated by the U.S. government. Much of their operations run counter to international and national law. At the same time, their operations are accepted as best practices by the international system. Some operate under cover of diplomatic immunity but carry out operations incompatible with their status as diplomats. Others operate without official cover. Should those under unofficial cover be captured, their treatment falls under local law, if such exists. The Geneva Conventions do not apply to them, nor was it intended to.
Spies, saboteurs and terrorists fall outside the realm of international law. This class of actors falls under the category of national law, leaving open the question of their liability if they conduct acts inimical to a third country. Who has jurisdiction? The United States is claiming that Mohammed is to be tried under the criminal code of the United States for actions planned in Afghanistan but carried out by others in the United States. It is a defensible position, but where does this leave American intelligence planners working at CIA headquarters for actions carried out by others in a third country? Are they subject to prosecution in the third country? Those captured in the third country clearly are, but the claim here is that Mohammed is subject to prosecution under U.S. laws for actions carried out by others in the United States. And that creates an interesting reciprocal liability.
The fact is that international law has not evolved to deal with persons like Mohammed. Or more precisely, most legal discussion under international law is moving counter to the Geneva Conventions’ intent, which was to treat the franc-tireurs as unworthy of legal protection because they were not soldiers and were violating the rules of war. International law wants to push Mohammed into a category where he doesn’t fit, providing protections that are not apparent under the Geneva Conventions. The United States has shoved him into U.S. criminal law, where he doesn’t fit either, unless the United States is prepared to accept reciprocal liability for CIA personnel based in the United States planning and supporting operations in third countries. The United States has never claimed, for example, that the KGB planners who operated agents in the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union were themselves subject to criminal prosecution.
A new variety of warfare has emerged in which treatment as a traditional POW doesn’t apply and criminal law doesn’t work. Criminal law creates liabilities the United States doesn’t want to incur, and it is not geared to deal with a terrorist like Mohammed. U.S. criminal law assumes that capture is in the hands of law enforcement officials. Rights are prescribed and demanded, including having lawyers present and so forth. Such protections are practically and theoretically absurd in this case: Mohammed is not a soldier and he is not a suspected criminal presumed innocent until proven guilty. Law enforcement is not a practical counter to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A nation cannot move from the rules of counterterrorism to an American courtroom; they are incompatible modes of operation. Nor can a nation use the code of criminal procedures against a terrorist organization operating transnationally. Instead, they must be stopped before they commit their action, and issuing search warrants and allowing attorneys present at questioning is not an option.
Therefore — and now we move to the political reality — it is difficult to imagine how the evidence accumulated against Mohammed could enter a courtroom. Ignoring the methods of questioning, which is a separate issue, how can one prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt without compromising sources and methods, and why should one? Mohammed was on a battlefield but not operating as a soldier. Imagine doing criminal forensics on a battlefield to prove the criminal liability of German commandos wearing American uniforms.
In our mind, there is a very real possibility that Mohammed could be found not guilty in a courtroom. The cases of O.J. Simpson and of Jewish Defense League head Rabbi Meir Kahane’s killer, El Sayyid Nosair — both found not guilty despite overwhelming evidence — come to mind. Juries do strange things, particularly amid what will be the greatest media circus imaginable in the media capital of the world.
But it may not be the jury that is the problem. A federal judge will have to ask the question of whether prejudicial publicity of such magnitude has occurred that Mohammed can’t receive a fair trial. (This is probably true.) Questions will be raised about whether he has received proper legal counsel, which undoubtedly he hasn’t. Issues about the chain of custody of evidence will be raised; given that he was held by troops and agents, and not by law enforcement, the chances of compromised evidence is likely. The issue of torture will, of course, also be raised but that really isn’t the main problem. How do you try a man under U.S. legal procedures who was captured in a third country by non-law enforcement personnel, and who has been in military custody for seven years?
There is a nontrivial possibility that he will be acquitted or have his case thrown out of court, which would be a foreign policy disaster for the United States. Some might view it as a sign of American adherence to the rule of law and be impressed, others might be convinced that Mohammed was not guilty in more than a legal sense and was held unjustly, and others might think the United States has bungled another matter.
The real problem here is international law, which does not address acts of war committed by non-state actors out of uniform. Or more precisely, it does, but leaves them deliberately in a state of legal limbo, with captors left free to deal with them as they wish. If the international legal community does not like the latter, it is time they did the hard work of defining precisely how a nation deals with an act of war carried out under these circumstances.
The international legal community has been quite vocal in condemning American treatment of POWs after 9/11, but it hasn’t evolved international law, even theoretically, to cope with this. Sept. 11 is not a crime in the proper sense of the term, and prosecuting the guilty is not the goal. Instead, it was an act of war carried out outside the confines of the Geneva Conventions. The U.S. goal is destroying al Qaeda so that it can no longer function, not punishing those who have acted. Similarly the goal in 1941 was not punishing the Japanese pilots at Pearl Harbor but destroying the Japanese Empire, and any Japanese soldier was a target who could be killed without trial in the course of combat. If it wishes to solve this problem, international law will have to recognize that al Qaeda committed an act of war, and its destruction has legal sanction without judicial review. And if some sort of protection is to be provided al Qaeda operatives out of uniform, then the Geneva Conventions must be changed, and with it the status of spies and saboteurs of all countries.
Holder has opened up an extraordinarily complex can of worms with this decision. As U.S. attorney general, he has committed himself to proving Mohammed’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt while guaranteeing that his constitutional rights (for a non-U.S. citizen captured and held outside the United States under extraordinary circumstances by individuals not trained as law enforcement personnel, no less) are protected. It is Holder’s duty to ensure Mohammed’s prosecution, conviction and fair treatment under the law. It is hard to see how he can.
Whatever the politics of this decision — and all such decisions have political dimensions — the real problem faced by both the Obama and Bush administrations has been the failure of international law to evolve to provide guidance on dealing with combatants such as al Qaeda. International law has clung to a model of law governing a very different type of warfare despite new realities. International law must therefore either reaffirm the doctrine that combatants who do not distinguish themselves from noncombatants are not due the protections of international law, or it must clearly define what those protections are. Otherwise, international law discredits itself.
Last week Israel seized a ship carrying weapons clearly intended for Hezbollah, sent by Iran to be transshipped via Syria. Included were 3,000 Katyusha rockets, nearly equal to the 4,000 rockets fired by Hezbollah into Israel during the 2006 Israel - Hezbollah War. This parallels the 2002 shipment on the Karine-A, that caused President Bush to end engagement with Yasser Arafat. Team Obama shows no signs of following this path. Talking with our enemies, no matter what they do, remains the order of the diplomatic day.
Also watch this 4-minute video from Mideast maven Yoram Ettinger on why all Arab-Israeli wars over the past 61 years were fought without regard to the Palestinians. This demolishes the diplomatic shibboleth dear to Foggy Bottom and most American administrations, that the Palestinian problem lies at the root of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Bottom Line. As for what is the Mideast's main national security problem, the message for American leaders is: "It's IRAN, Stupid!"
Begin with this CBS-TV interview excerpt with NY State governor David Patterson, courtesy of James Taranto's Best of the Web, followed by Taranto's commentary on what Governor Patterson said:
Paterson also said that the White House warned him six months ago this very situation would happen.
Whoa, hold on a second, Governor? The White House told you six months ago that they were going to put your constituents through this? Gee, thanks for letting us know.
Here's a question: If the White House made up its mind about this six months ago--that would be in May, roughly four months after President Obama's inauguration--why did it wait until last week to make the announcement? That it was the week after an election is bound to raise suspicions that the timing was politically motivated.
Wall Street Journal pundit Bret Stephens captures the mess that the New York 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Muhammad terror trial will create, and suggests a wonderful remedy that, alas, will never be carried out:
I have long thought it would be a good idea to bring 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his accomplices to lower Manhattan. In my concept, the men would be taken by helicopter to a height of about 1,000 feet over Ground Zero and pushed out the door, so that they, too, could experience what so many of their victims did in the awful final flickering seconds of their lives.
And since al Qaeda intended the attacks as a spectacle for the benefit of its would-be recruits, I'd give al Jazeera the exclusive TV rights.
Ex-Bush 43 speechwriter William McGurn sees a KSM trial giving al-Qaeda incentives to target Americans here, and thus gain more legal protection that fighting Marines abroad. Sarah Palin slammed Team Obama's decision to try the 9/11 masterminds in New York as "atrocious" and sees criminal defense attorneys & defendants having a file day manipulating the American legal system. The media are in full legal mode, on the reportorial side, with even the Wall Street Journal front-pager calling the defendants "alleged" 9/11 plotters, a real-world must due to possible libel suits. Our judges might well be foolish enough to allow such suits, despite the plotters having confessed already in open court, because those confessions will surely be challenged as involuntary come the trial.
Bush 43 national security lawyer John Yoo sees an intelligence windfall for al-Qaeda likelyin the 9/11 trial. He harks back to what happened during the World Trade Center I trial in the 1990s:
Now, however, KSM and his co-defendants will enjoy the benefits and rights that the Constitution accords to citizens and resident aliens—including the right to demand that the government produce in open court all of the information that it has on them, and how it got it.
Prosecutors will be forced to reveal U.S. intelligence on KSM, the methods and sources for acquiring its information, and his relationships to fellow al Qaeda operatives. The information will enable al Qaeda to drop plans and personnel whose cover is blown. It will enable it to detect our means of intelligence-gathering, and to push forward into areas we know nothing about.
This is not hypothetical, as former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has explained. During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (aka the "blind Sheikh"), standard criminal trial rules required the government to turn over to the defendants a list of 200 possible co-conspirators.
In essence, this list was a sketch of American intelligence on al Qaeda. According to Mr. McCarthy, who tried the case, it was delivered to bin Laden in Sudan on a silver platter within days of its production as a court exhibit.
Bin Laden, who was on the list, could immediately see who was compromised. He also could start figuring out how American intelligence had learned its information and anticipate what our future moves were likely to be.
Jeremy Rabkin, legal ace, sees human rights advocates using KSM's case as a cause if capital punishment is sought. The NRO editors capture perfectly the absurdity of putting the 9/11 ringleaders on trial in New York, within blocks of the fruits of their atrocity of September 11, 2001:
It is difficult to quantify how dangerously foolish this course is. As they demonstrated in offering to plead guilty while bragging about their atrocities, KSM and his cohorts don’t want a trial so much as they want a soapbox to press their grievances against the United States and the West. With no real defense to the charges, they will endeavor to put America on trial, pressing the court for expansive discovery of government intelligence files. Having gratuitously exposed classified information on interrogation tactics and other sensitive matters in order to pander to Obama’s base, the Justice Department will be in a poor position to argue against broad disclosure, even if it were so inclined. As the court orders more and more revelations, potential intelligence sources and foreign spy services will develop even graver doubts about our capacity to keep secrets. They will reduce their intelligence cooperation accordingly, and the nation will be dramatically more vulnerable.
Moreover, the transfer of the worst al-Qaeda prisoners into the U.S. will grease the skids for many, if not most, of the remaining 200-plus Gitmo terrorists to be moved here. This will be the worst of all possible outcomes. These are trained terrorists who have been detained under the laws of war, but most of whom cannot be tried because the intelligence on them cannot be used in court. We are still holding them because they are deadly dangerous and because no other country is willing to take them off our hands. Once inside the United States, they will indisputably be within the jurisdiction of the federal courts — which are staffed by judges predisposed against wartime detention without trial. As long as the terrorists were at Gitmo, those judges were reluctant to order them released into the U.S. — a transfer that would violate federal law. If the terrorists are already here, though, judges will not be as gun-shy. Inevitably, some will be freed to live and plot among us.
The Obama Left delusionally argues that running these risks will make us safer. The international community will see how enlightened we are, the fable goes. The hostility of America’s enemies will melt away. They’ll lay down their bombs and stop attacking us. As observed by former attorney general Michael Mukasey — who presided over terrorism cases as a federal judge — “We did just that after the first World Trade Center bombing, after the plot to blow up airliners over the Pacific, and after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. In return, we got the 9/11 attacks and the murder of nearly 3,000 innocents.”
The WSJ editors see horrors ahead:
Mr. Holder expressed confidence that KSM and the rest will be convicted, but it is telling that he also delayed filing formal charges. Will KSM be formally charged with the 9/11 murders, or merely with "material support" for terrorism or some lesser offense? The specific charges may depend on how much evidence is admissable in a civilian courtroom. The MCA allowed for the reality that much of the evidence against enemy combatants may be classified, and it allowed for some hearsay evidence on grounds that they have been picked up on a battlefield, not in Brooklyn. There is no CSI: Kandahar. A civilian court has far tighter rules of evidence.
KSM and his co-conspirators so far have refused legal counsel and at one point tried to plead guilty. They may again. But an army of self-declared defenders of human rights from Yale Law and Shearman & Sterling will clamor to represent them. Those lawyers are certain to challenge all evidence obtained after KSM's March 2003 capture on grounds that it was produced by "torture," if you call waterboarding torture.
As he said at a hearing in 2007, "I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z." But even that admission will probably be challenged on grounds that the trauma of his "torture" means he wasn't capable of "informed consent." Oh, and once he got to Gitmo in 2006, he may not have been read his Miranda rights in full. The possibility exists that one or more of these detainees could be acquitted on procedural grounds, which would be a travesty of justice.
One certain outcome is that an open civilian trial will provide valuable information to terrorists across the world about American methods and intelligence. Precisely because so much other evidence may not be admissable, prosecutors may have to reveal genuine secrets to get a conviction. Osama bin Laden learned a lot from the 1995 prosecution in New York of the "blind cleric" Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman for the first World Trade Center attack. His main tip was that the U.S. considered bin Laden a terrorist co-conspirator, leading him to abandon his hideout in Sudan for Afghanistan.
Also at NRO, Andy McCarthy sees a more sinister motive: A-G Eric Holder and his boss want to get CIA secrets into public view by using the disclosures sure to be ordered as part of a criminal trial on US soil.
Bottom Line. Team Obama's decision was, in the words of the 19th century French statesman Talleyrand, "worse than a crime, it was a blunder." Legalism has driven us back, not to September 10, 2001, but to 1993 and the first World Trade Center bombing, after which we took a law enforcement approach. And we know where that led.
The New York Times reported Sunday that investigators are studying the "tangle pf clues" in the Fort Hood shooter's history to see if Nidal Malik Hassan is a terrorist or deranged nut case or both. Charles Krauthammer eviscerates the excuses offered to keep voters from seeing the Fort Hood Massacre as an act of domestic terrorism committed by a jihadist:
Have we totally lost our moral bearings? Nidal Hasan (allegedly) cold-bloodedly killed 13 innocent people. His business card had his name, his profession, his medical degrees and his occupational identity. U.S. Army? No. "SoA" -- Soldier of Allah. In such cases, political correctness is not just an abomination. It's a danger, clear and present.
Consider the Army's treatment of Hasan's previous behavior. NPR's Daniel Zwerdling interviewed a Hasan colleague at Walter Reed about a hair-raising grand rounds that Hasan had apparently given. Grand rounds are the most serious academic event at a teaching hospital -- attending physicians, residents and students gather for a lecture on an instructive case history or therapeutic finding.
I've been to dozens of these. In fact, I gave one myself on post-traumatic retrograde amnesia -- as you can see, these lectures are fairly technical. Not Hasan's. His was an hour-long disquisition on what he called the Koranic view of military service, jihad and war. It included an allegedly authoritative elaboration of the punishments visited upon nonbelievers -- consignment to hell, decapitation, having hot oil poured down your throat. This "really freaked a lot of doctors out," reported NPR.
Nor was this the only incident. "The psychiatrist," reported Zwerdling, "said that he was the kind of guy who the staff actually stood around in the hallway saying: Do you think he's a terrorist, or is he just weird?"
Was anything done about this potential danger? Of course not. Who wants to be accused of Islamophobia and prejudice against a colleague's religion?
Ralph Peters is even more blunt in blaming P.C. for failure to perceive the danger:
This was a terrorist act. When an extremist plans and executes a murderous plot against our unarmed soldiers to protest our efforts to counter Islamist fanatics, it's an act of terror. Period.
When the terrorist posts anti-American hate speech on the Web; apparently praises suicide bombers and uses his own name; loudly criticizes US policies; argues (as a psychiatrist, no less) with his military patients over the worth of their sacrifices; refuses, in the name of Islam, to be photographed with female colleagues; lists his nationality as "Palestinian" in a Muslim spouse-matching program and parades around central Texas in a fundamentalist playsuit -- well, it only seems fair to call this terrorist an "Islamist terrorist."
But the president won't. Despite his promise to get to all the facts. Because there's no such thing as "Islamist terrorism" in ObamaWorld.
And the Army won't. Because its senior leaders are so sick with political correctness that pandering to America haters is safer than calling terrorism "terrorism."
And the media won't. Because they have more interest in the shooter than in our troops -- despite their crocodile tears.
The problem is confusion. The combatants at each end of the spectrum in the war over the war on terror know exactly what they think about surveilling suspected terrorists. But if you are an intel officer or FBI agent tasked with providing the protection, what are you supposed to make of all this bitter public argument? What you make of it is that when you get a judgment call, like Maj. Hasan, you hesitate. You blink.
Now everyone thinks the call was obvious. But it wasn't so obvious before the tragedy. Not if for years you have watched a country and its political class in rancorous confusion about the enemy, the legal standing of the enemy, or the legal status and scope of the methods it wants to use to fight the enemy.
In war, uncertainty gets you killed. It just did.
Bottom Line. Fort Hood places P.C. in the spotlight. If voters figure out what the Feds & the Army ignored, there will be Hell to pay, and P.C. will be on the run. If they fall for the deranged psycho excuse, P.C. will win another round.
Recently SecState Hillary Clinton offered her thoughts on principles to guide nuclear nonproliferation policy. She recognizes that the current nonproliferation regime is in peril:
Recent developments underscore the threat. The international community failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Iran continues to ignore resolutions from the U.N. Security Council demanding that it suspend its enrichment activities and live up to its international obligations. Too much of the world's nuclear material remains vulnerable to theft or diversion, even as illicit state and nonstate networks engage in sensitive nuclear trade. And as we saw with the failure to detect Iran's covert enrichment plant and Syria's reactor project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) doesn't have the tools to carry out its verification mission effectively.
If we do not reverse this trend and strengthen the international nonproliferation regime, we will find ourselves in a world with a steadily growing number of nuclear-armed states, and an increasing likelihood of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons.
She also noted that President 44's goal of ultimate total nuclear abolition (a goal shared by every President who has held office in the Atomic Age) is a long way off:
As the president has acknowledged, we might not achieve the dream of a world without nuclear weapons in our lifetime. But by making the reduction of nuclear threats one of our highest national priorities and by reaching out to a diverse group of international partners, we can help build and lead a unified international effort that will make us safer and stronger.
Where she falls down--as does the President--is with the idea that America and other nuclear-armed states must lead by example in reducing their existing stockpiles:
To improve our standing to build broad international support for pursuing these means of strengthening the nonproliferation regime, the United States and the other nuclear-armed powers should fulfill their own obligation to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.
The problem with this is simply put: (1) America's nuclear weapons stockpile peaked in 1967; (2) the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons stockpile peaked around 1980; (3) the other four major powers--Russia, Great Britain, France & China, which are the only signatory parties entitled to keep nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), subject only to a "good faith' effort to ultimately fully disarm--are now modernizing, and in some cases, increasing, their nuclear weapons inventory.
These issues are superbly analyzed in detail in "Nuclear Disarmament, Nonproliferation and the 'Credibility' Thesis" (September 2009, 19 pages), a superb white paper by Hudson Institute scholar Christopher Ford, who held a senior State Department arms control post in the prior administration. Ford addresses in detail the thesis that America has failed to lead by example. In fact, as American and Russian disarmament accelerated after the signing of the INF Treaty in December 1987, the first arms treaty in which the signatories agreed to eliminate an entire class of weapons (Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles and cruise missiles based in Europe)--proliferation efforts accelerated elsewhere.
Worse, while we argue the above domestically and with our allies, an Iran-Venezuelan axis of nuclear evil is emerging in the southern hemisphere. A second Cuban Missile Crisis may yet be in our future. Iran maven Ruy Takeyh sees Iran using the nuclear issue to shield its rulers from human rights pressure, and thus preserve the regime and its perceived legitimacy. SO on the 30th anniversary of Iran's taking our embassy, President Obama avows not to "intervene in Iran's internal affairs"--code-speak for ignoring repression at all costs. WSJ editors note that, plus the contempt Obama has earned from the democratic opposition:
But the opposition's dreams of American support, moral as much as anything, have been dashed. Mr. Obama was slow and reluctant to speak out on their behalf and eager to engage the Iranian regime in nuclear talks as soon as the summer of protest tapered off. Iran's democrats are now letting their disappointment show. The new chant passed around in Internet chat rooms and heard in the streets yesterday was, "Obama, Obama—either you're with them or with us."
Knowing the opposition was planning to march, Mr. Obama issued his own statement the night before that instead chose to reach out to the regime. America, he said, "seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs." He went on to list the Administration's various efforts to appease the regime. So far and on all counts, the mullahs have rebuffed these entreaties.
Bottom Line. Embracing mythic history of the Atomic Age can lead us dangerously astray. Instead of almost obsessively focusing on further superpower disarmament we must focus on emerging rogue proliferators, and not deceive ourselves into believing that by "setting an example" the world's most dangerous regimes will follow. The contrary is far more likely. For the world's worst proliferators there is but one viable solution: regime change.
This Weekly Standard piece on how the infamous "flying Imams" won a settlement against defendant airlines and the Minneapolis Airport authority shows that the lessons of 2001 have not been fully learned in the West. I will not summarize the 2-pager, but simply note that it details that a fool federal judge dismissed as meritless the unanimous opinions of 15 law enforcement officers that sufficient reason existed to remove the 6 imams from the flight they boarded. Read the article and weep.
Then weep some more, by reading in full an op-ed former Attorney-General Judge Michael Mukasey, who presided over trials of terrorists in the 1990s and knows full well the holes in the criminal justice system. The good judge explains how the plea bargain Justice reached with Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, one of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's accomplices, caught in the US collecting data for possible WMD attacks in a second wave after 9/11, exposes America to possible grave harm. Citing what he termed excessive detention in the Charleston naval facility, the trial judge handed down a light sentence, to a defendant the judge knows is a terrorist and fully realized might resume terror activities upon being released.
Judge Mukasey recounts this perfectly:
Marri's time in the brig at Charleston apparently was substantially responsible for the judge's decision to impose even less than the 15-year maximum "in order to reflect respect for the law and reflect just punishment." The judge rejected Marri's attempt to portray himself as a lackey -- "that would be an insult to your intelligence and to the commitment you made when you came here as a sleeper agent for al Qaeda" -- and acknowledged that it "remains to be seen" whether Marri would resume that commitment after he was released, but added that "we are defined as a people by how we deal with difficult and unpopular legal issues."
Unlike lightning, Lawfare can strike twice in the same place (in this case, the Judiciary).
Begin by savoring a clip of President Ronald Reagan's 1987 Berlin address (3:59) (full text) in which he called for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down that wall!" Then savor the 1963 clip of JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech (4:41). (For full text of JFK speech scroll down in this link.) Both were cheered heartily by the Berliners. As LFTC has earlier noted, JFK's translators blew it. In German, "ein Berliner" is a dough-nut, and thus JFK said "I am a dough-nut!" But Berliners, who say "Ich bin Berliner" to indicate residency there, cheerfully let it pass. JFK immediately followed with "I appreciate my interpreter translating my German" and at the end repeated his formulation. JFK did better later on in his speech, proclaiming "Lach sie nach Berlin kommen!"--proper German for the theme of his speech that day: calling to those searching for where the center of the struggle between freedom and tyranny lay by proclaiming "Let them come to Berlin!"
Rich Lowry of NRO explains why Barack Obama is skipping the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a nutshell, 44 is just not, as they say, into it. It's not a "liberal thing": Liberal columnist Pete Hamill recounts his Berlin Wall journeys, then and now. Euro-historian Timothy Garton Ash looks back at 1989 and sees in what he calls Europe's greatest year ever the continent's greatest triumph (freeing Eastern Europe), that year's greatest surprise (China) and tragedy emerging from the chrysalis (Islamism's fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie, presaging 9/11/2001), all at the same time, in the world's most consequential year since 1945:
In 1989, Europeans proposed a new model of nonviolent, velvet revolution, challenging the violent example of France in 1789, which for two centuries had been what most people thought of as "revolution." Instead of Jacobins and the guillotine, they offered people power and negotiations at a round table.
With Mikhail S. Gorbachev's breathtaking renunciation of the use of force (a luminous example of the importance of the individual in history), a nuclear-armed empire -- which had seemed to many Europeans as enduring and impregnable as the Alps, not least because it possessed those weapons of total annihilation -- just softly and suddenly vanished.
But then, as if this were all somehow too good to be true, 1989 also brought us Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa on Salman Rushdie -- firing the starting gun for another long struggle in Europe, even before the last one was really over.
Daily Telegraph columnist Janet Daley says the West has failed to learn the economic lesson of 1989, i.e., that Marxism had to eventually collapse but a true capitalist system will endure. A WSJ op-ed explains how Italy's conviction of 23 CIA officers for "rendering" from Italy to Egypt a terrorist wanted in Italy will undermine US-European cooperation in the hunt for terrorists. Thus another 1989 lesson is lost: fight against the common enemy, not among ourselves.
The threats besetting the world today involve essentially the same old conflict: freedom vs. tyranny. Today's variations on the Berlin Wall can be discerned in places where women face the coerced wearing of the veil; in the prison camps and firewalls of China; in the gulag and murderous border patrols of North Korea; in the rising police state in Russia; the missionary thuggery of Venezuela's Chavista "revolution"; the global tentacles of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and al-Qaida; the security forces that murdered protesters this spring in the streets of Tehran.
Today's Wall looms in such ventures as the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, both involving not only the potential use of monstrous weapons by murderous regimes, but nuclear extortionist leverage--which these regimes are already using to bring free nations to heel.
In the matter of facing down such threats, the Cold War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, has plenty to teach--especially to a free world with current leaders too much given to disparaging capitalism and downplaying freedom.
The West has by now traveled a long road--from Reagan, who demanded, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," to Obama, who in Berlin last year recast this piece of history as one big group hug: "A wall came down, a continent came together and history proved there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."
Unfortunately, it is not the world standing "as one" that brings down such walls. There has always been good and evil. The attempt to straddle such divides, as Washington is now doing with Tehran, is an invitation to be torn apart. The Berlin Wall fell because brave people--on both sides of it--took a clear stand against tyrants and for freedom. That's still how the world works, and America's own fortunes still depend on whether our leaders live up to the principles that brought down the Berlin Wall, or sideline them as yesterday's news.
Here is an NRO symposium (prints 5 pages) on the anniversary. Historian David Pryce-Jones recalls the role accident played in the fall of the Wall. This William Buckley NRO link offers WFB's elegant takes on the event, from his book on the subject.
Ex-Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson recalls the joy in Berlin then, and the inspiration Reagan's call had given to those captive behind the Wall:
Ronald Reagan, I recognized in that Berlin hotel room, had given something to people in the East, something difficult to describe but tangible all the same. In predicting that Communism would end up on the ash heap of history, in describing the Soviet Union as an evil empire--in insisting that the West remained fundamentally vibrant and good, the Soviet Union backward and corrupt--Reagan had spoken the unspeakable. He had done what no one could do. And he had thus created for people in the East a new space for thought and feeling, a new sense of the possible.
Reagan had never been alone in calling for freedom. Pope John Paul II, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and others had all denounced the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, demanding human rights. Yet if an American president could call on the leader of the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall--if that could happen, if it were true--then what else might prove possible?
Ken Duberstein, then the White House deputy chief of staff, was in the limousine with Reagan as the president drove to the Wall to deliver the address. Years later, Duberstein told me what took place as they arrived. Reagan told Duberstein he was determined to deliver the controversial passage. Then the president smiled. "The boys at State are going to kill me," Reagan said. "But it's the right thing to do."
Alas, 44 seems to listen too much to "the boys (and girls) at State" to reprise with Iran what Reagan did over East Germany. In a touch of pure irony, Reagan's 1987 Berlin call to Gorbachev came on Jun 12--the very date in 2009 that Iran's fraudulent election was held. And 44 responded not like Reagan but like the striped-pants set at Foggy Bottom.
For her part, Angela Merkel expressed her thanks to America Tuesday last week, first at a White House photo op with 44, and then in her address to a joint session of the Congress (the first in over 50 years for a German leader). Here is a neat Merkel quote from the address, for those pressed for time.
My own favorite recollection is another key moment, on October 25, 1989--just 15 days before the Wall was toppled. Soviet spokesman Gennady Gerasimov announced on American TV that Moscow's new policy for Warsaw Pact nations was the "Frank Sinatra 'My Way' Doctrine"--each country could go its own way. This sent a powerful signal to all Berliners. And the rest was, as they say, history--1989 became annus mirabilis for all those who cherish expansion of human freedom within a framework of ordered liberty.
Bottom Line. At the end of his Berlin speech, JFK proclaimed: "All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin." Had President Obama understood either JFK or Reagan, in their Berlin speeches, he today would proclaim everyone a citizen of Tehran, and make Tehran the locus of today's struggle for freedom.
Last week's killing of five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman they had been training shows how dirty a counter-insurgency campaign can get. More such betrayals and an exit from Afghanistan becomes front-burner. The enemy knows this. A new book from a retired French magistrate alleges a Pakistani double-game betrayal of the CIA in the post-2001 wars. But America is not only sinned against but also sinner: Team Obama's pullback from Iraqi internal affairs has left the UN mediating, which means fakery instead of competence; the result could prove political disaster, and unwind much of the benefit of America's hard-earned position in that country.
And it is Team Obama's deal with Moscow, over the head of Poland & Czech Republic, that has Eastern Europe fearing more betrayal by America. Moscow intends to use its new-found diplomatic position with Team Obama as a basis for exercising vetoes over possible US moves in its former satellite Warsaw Pact territories. Thus, Moscow has publicly objected to possible deployment of US troops in Poland (requested by Poland's foreign minister), and has warned that a new war may be brewing with Georgia, due to Georgia's refusal to recognize the independence of its two breakaway provinces, South Ossetia & Abkhazia. That Russian meddling led to the breakaway, and that Russia's invasion was flatly illegal, premised upon its asserted, though non-existent, legal right to "protect" Russian minorities allegedly being abused in the provinces, does not disturb Moscow in the least. They have an American fish on the hook, and intend to reel in as much as they can, lest they lose the big fish.
Bottom Line. America can only combat betrayal by its allies if America itself does not betray allies.
The Guardian UK reports that Iran may well have tested an advanced nuclear warhead design. The design is far more advanced than Iran was thought ot have been working on. The US believes Iran stopped warhead design in 2003, but France & Germany disagree, as surely does Israel. The Guardian offered this summary:
The UN's nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian has learned.
The very existence of the technology, known as a "two-point implosion" device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as "breathtaking" and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.
The entire article merits a close read. Also read this account of Iranian pro-US anti-regime protests in Tehran on the Nov. 4 hostage anniversary. Warhead advances make regime change more imperative than ever. How to wake President Obama up on this is an increasingly urgent question.
Bottom Line. All along the assumption of American intelligence has been that Iran has a long way to go to be able to put a nuclear warhead on a missile. The Guardian story suggests that Iran is years ahead of where our intelligence agencies think it is.
On Wednesday the GOP introduced its own health care proposal, in the form of an amendment to H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, introduced October 29, 2009 by the Democratic leadership. (The link is to Rep. Louise Slaughter's statement re the bill--you can download the full text from the link, but it may choke your Internet connection & freeze your computer, as it did mine.) Here is the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the GOP substitute. It is projected to cost $61 billion over 10 years, perhaps 1/16th of the Democratic bill and perhaps 1/25th of what the Democratic bill would cost if promised savings do not materialize--such as $400B - $500B Medicare cuts.
Add to the cost of PelosiCare that her bill contains provisions partially repealing the indexation of tax rates on dividends & capital gains, a protection against inflation that has survived more than 20 years. The WSJ editors supply details--in a piece that should be read in full:
The Pelosi-Obama health tax surcharge will have a similar effect. The tax would begin in 2011 on income above $500,000 for singles and $1 million for joint filers. Assuming a 4% annual inflation rate over the next decade, that $500,000 for an individual tax filer would hit families with the inflation-adjusted equivalent of an income of about $335,000 by 2020. After 20 years without indexing, the surcharge threshold would be roughly $250,000.
And by the way, this surcharge has also been sneakily written to apply to modified adjusted gross income, which means it applies to both capital gains and dividends that are taxed at lower rates. So the capital gains tax rate that is now 15% would increase in 2011 to 25.4% with the surcharge and repeal of the Bush tax rates. The tax rate on dividends would rise to 45% from 15% (5.4% plus the pre-Bush rate of 39.6%).
As for the business payroll penalty, it is imposed on a sliding scale beginning at a 2% rate for firms with payrolls of $500,000 and rising to 8% on firms with payrolls above $750,000. But those amounts are also not indexed for inflation, so again assuming a 4% average inflation rate in 10 years this range would hit payrolls between $335,000 and $510,000 in today's dollars. Note that in pitching this "pay or play" tax today, Democrats claim that most small businesses would be exempt. But because it isn't indexed, this tax will whack more and more businesses every year. The sales pitch is pure deception.
Broadly speaking the GOP alternative to the Democrats' 2000-page monstrosity focuses on tort reform, insurance reform--federalizing regulation to eliminate state impediments--cafeteria choice akin to the plan Congress enjoys, all at a cost that is a fraction of the Democratic proposals. The major concession to fiscal reality is not mandating universal coverage--which youths do not need, save for catastrophic care. Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) details how state regulations mandating dubious benefit coverage push up health insurance costs.
SPECIAL 9:30 AM ADDITION: FRIDAY'S ANNOUNCED UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF 10.2 PERCENT IS THE HIGHEST SINCE 1983. THIS WILL NOT HELP NANCY PELOSI IN ROUNDING UP WAVERING DEMOCRATS FOR SATURDAY'S VOTE ON THE HOUSE DEMOCRAT HEALTH CARE BILL.
Bottom Line. The GOP plan is far better, in that it is affordable, choice-friendly (N.B., many youths are uninsured by choice) and targets lawyers, whose tort suits comprise as much as one-tenth of the nation's $2.5 TR annual health care bill. The bill cannot pass a Democratic Congress, let alone would 44 sign it. What it can do is set up a debate for 2010.
On Tuesday, while voters went to the polls, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 867, defending Israel's conduct during the Gaza War and rejecting the UN's Goldstone Report that condemned Israel and largely exonerated Hamas. Read the entire Resolution, but savor one of its five final zingers:
(1) considers the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' to be irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.
Tuesday's Message to Both Parties. THE CENTER RULES. Politics maven Jay Cost cautions that election returns ought generally be interpreted narrowly, and that if voters perceive a politician to have failed to perform no amount of political hocus-pocus will save the day. Just ask Jon Corzine. Dan Henninger gets it, in a brilliant column that is a must-read. Put simply, the new norm is volatility, with voters distrusting both parties:
Welcome to the permanent American tea party.
You will recall how when the tea-party movement erupted during the congressional recess in August, it was spun on the left that these events were the creation of conservative ideologues. At the start, yes. By the end, though, it was about anxieties deeper than that.
The GOP is now spinning the results in Virginia and New Jersey as proof that voters are fed up with the liberal ideologues in the White House and Congress. Yes, but it's deeper than that.
What was learned Tuesday is that the American voter is absolutely, totally, unremittingly disgusted with both political parties. More than anything, the American voter is desperate for political leadership.
That electorates in two politically significant states, led by the widening independent movement, could swing within one year from enthusiasm for electing Barack Obama to support for Virginia's OK Republican Bob McDonnell and New Jersey's lackluster Chris Christie is simply astonishing.
One lesson from Tuesday' vote that the GOP core must heed: Grassroots activism must touch issues near & dear to voters in order to succeed. Fighting over who is a real Republican or seeking a national mandate will backfire, as it did in NY State's 23rd Congressional District. A Democrat has the seat for the first time since...the 1870s--not a misprint, the 1870s.
As for the Democrats, Karl Rove noted that Governor-Elect Bob McDonnell's 18-point winning margin was the largest in modern Virginia history. He also swept into office every statewide candidate. Rove also writes today in his WSJ weekly column that a 5-point swing in 2010 towards the GOP would spell disaster for Democrats. Rove applies those numbers to 2008's results:
Even a five-point swing in 2010 could bring a tidal wave of change. Today, Democrats enjoy 60 votes in the Senate, Republicans a mere 40. Had there been a five-point swing away from Democrats last fall, the party would have started this year with 54 seats and the Republicans 46.
A five-point shift in 2006 would have left the GOP in control of the House. In 2008, a five-point shift would have produced a Democratic loss of six House seats rather than a gain of 21. It would also have put John McCain into the White House with 279 Electoral College votes to Mr. Obama's 259.
Byron York canvassed issues and found health care behind jobs and the economy as a voter issue. If the Democrats wish to lose the House next year and seats in the Senate and the Presidency in 2012, they will take this advice from Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos: spurn bipartisanship in favor of liberal orthodoxy, or the base will stay home.
Michael Barone sees the union agenda as the biggest loser in Tuesday's tally. He notes that unions comprise only 8 percent of private-sector workers and thus are predominantly public employees. And worse for Democrats, voters are on to this:
The unions' unprecedented political push in 2008 has not been unnoticed by the voters. Mr. Corzine's cozy relationship with public employee union heads proved a liability in New Jersey, and in Virginia Mr. McDonnell campaigned hard against card check and the Obama agenda. The Gallup organization reports that Americans are less pro-union than they have been at any time since it first started asking the question in 1936. Maybe around the country union members will start asking their leaders what they have gotten for all the money they've spent on politics.
NANCY PELOSI, IN A SURREAL "LSD MOMENT," DECLARED VICTORY BASED UPON THE NYS CD 23rd RACE, DISSING LOSING TWO KEY GOVERNORSHIPS. Dennis Miller said last night that Nancy has "a sub-reptilian intellect....She could lose a game of tic-tac-toe to an amoeba." (UH-OH: the ASPCA--American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Amoebas--may well lodge a formal protest.)
Looking to 2010, ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina announced her candidacy for the California Senate seat now held by Barbara Boxer; CF must first win the GOP primary. If she succeeds she could join eBay founder-CEO Meg Whitman on the Golden State 2010 ballot; MW is running for the governorship.
Dick Morris & spouse Eileen McGann say that ObamaCare is now dead. They note that more than 80 Democratic Members of the House and more than 20 Democratic Senators come from jurisdictions John McCain carried in 2008. They also note that victor Bob McDonnell edged out his 2009 opponent, Creigh Deeds, by a few tenths of a percentage point in their previous race, for Virginia Attorney-General.
Bottom Line. America is a center country, tilting a tad right or left depending upon time & circumstance. Voters trust neither party. Performance on substance rules the day. Neither party's ideology matters much. Fail to perform, and you will be out.