Friday, February 29, 2008

Holy OPSEC, Bat Man! We're In Trouble

Just who is in charge of OPSEC (Operational Security) for our military at the moment, Bozo the Clown? Our military has been transmitting unencrypted classified data to a British civilian at a mistaken e-mail address for eight years - including such things as the flight plans for Air Force One.


Our military is the finest in the world in large part because it holds itself to very high standards. Failures happen of course, but they are almost never of the spectacular variety and they are addressed as soon as they are recognized. So the story in today's Telegraph is an anamoly - but a huge one.

OPSEC has been a critical component of military operations since time immemorial. And our military and intelligence operations are no different. OPSEC means taking those steps necessary to insure that one's plans and other sensitive information stay secret. Sensitive materials must be protected from enemy agents and not disclosed beyond those with both the proper security clearance and the need to know.

In today's world, that means that you only transmit classified material to people authorized to receive it and that if you are transmitting classified materials by any sort of electronic means, that you do so by secure means. It should be encrypted. This is very basic stuff.

This is a big deal in the military. There are intelligence officers at battalion level on up whose duties specifically include overseeing OPSEC, and even the lowliest grunt is trained in the basic techniques of OPSEC. This is deadly serious.

So why on God's green earth is there some poor Brit in the town of Mendenhall, U.K. who can't get the U.S. to stop sending him their unencrypted classified documents - some of it very highly classified? And to raise the level of incompetence on this one - he's been trying to get them to stop for eight years:

A tourist information website promoting a small Suffolk town has had to shut down after it received a barrage of thousands of classified US military emails.

Sensitive information including future flight paths for US Presidential aircraft Air Force One, military strategy and passwords swamped Gary Sinnott's email inbox after he established, a site promoting the tiny town of Mildenhall where he lives, the Anglia Press Agency reports.

As well as Mr Sinnott and his neighbours, Mildenhall is home to a huge US Air Force base and its 2,500 servicemen and women, and the similarity in domain names has led to thousands of misdirected emails from Air Force personnel. Any mail sent to addresses ending would have ended up in Mr Sinnott's mailbox.

. . . Mr Sinnott said: "You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that I have been receiving - I wonder if they ever had any security training. When I told the Americans they went mental.

"I got mis-sent e-mails right from the start in 2000 but even after I warned the base they just kept on coming. At one stage I was getting thousands of spam messages a week.

. . . "But then I began to receive military communications from all over the world - a lot containing very sensitive information."

Agents from the USAF Office of Special Investigations have visited Mr Sinnott to ask him to delete any classified material he may have received, but concerns have been raised that resourceful terrorists could use similar methods to fool the US military into revealing state secrets. . . .

Read the story here. Oh my God! Resourceful? If this is all it takes to tap into our sensitive and classified information, setting up a website named closely to an official one, we are absolutely screwed. This is incompetence on a scale I would not even expect from the military of a third world banana republic.

There is only one conceivable first step in handling this. To put this in the military vernacular, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff needs to start a new collection - testicles in glass jars adorning his desk. The donors should be the G-2 Intelligence Officers responsible for OPSEC at Mildenhall AFB since 2000. Then our elected leaders, our military and our intelligence people need to get to the very bottom of how this could possibly happen - and why we have anyone, let alone what seems to be a bevy of soldiers, transmitting classified material without encryption.

We got lucky on this one - but the fact that our military is worried that this might not be isolated is potentially disasterous. What if this information fell into the hands of al Qaeda or Iran? Or possibly worse, the New York Times?

Update: I have contacted every source that I can think of to get confirmation of this story. I would expect to get feedback next week.


Friday's Verse


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley, 1875

Art: Leonidas at Thermopylae, Jacques Louis David, 1814


Interesting News & Posts - 29 February 2008

Interesting news and posts from across the blogosphere:

Art: A Dream of Solomon, Luca Giordano, 1693

From ABC News: The Joint Chiefs chairman has a word of warning to Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: A rapid of withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a "chaotic situation" and would "turnaround the gains we have achieved, and struggled to achieve, and turn them around overnight.

The Captain blogs on the Obamanomics of Fear, considering an article in the Economist that says Obama’s economic plans and rhetoric sound "worryingly populist."

From Seraphic Secret: "The impossible situation whereby the Palestinians continue to fire Qassams, while receiving electricity for their Qassam workshops and fuel used by vehicles that fire Qassams, is deluxe terrorism that fits well with the dictum: ‘The master of the house has gone mad.’" I concur. The only way Israel can stop this insanity is to respond with overwhelming force.

From Jammie Wearing Fool: "Like most normal human beings, I'm forever indebted to Matt Drudge for bringing us Monica Lewinsky, among other interesting stories. Over the past ten years, he's gone where most media cowards dare not tread. But what the hell was he thinking by revealing the fact Prince Harry was stationed in Afghanistan? Did we really need to know this?" Nope. We sure didn’t.

Blonde Sagacity tells of the defense being raised in an Australian trial of 12 men on charges of terrorism. Apparently, they were merely responding to the evil of the U.S.

Bull Dog Pundit thinks that McCain passed his "Sister Souljah" moment when he repudiated the statements made by local disc jockey Bill Cunningham taking leveling low class polemics at Obama. I concur and think it will go a long way to inoculating him against charges of racism.

Confederate Yankee ponders whether we "have . . . completely breed the violence of self-preservation out of this generation?"

From the Jawa Report, with appropriate visuals: "Angelina Jolie, official hot bi-curious celebrity babe of The Jawa Report," supports the troop surge.

From Villagers With Torches: VWT is one of the most incisive bloggers out there. His post today revolves around a quote attributed to de Tocqueville : A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.

U.S. foreign policy for moonbats, from a New Zealand blog posted by an Aussie. And leftie moonbat politics seem to be driving the Kiwis to the land down under. Meanwhile, the Velvet Hammer blogs from the U.S. about multiculturalism and gang violence in Melbourne. You gotta’ love the anglosphere.

Dinah Lord tells us that french supermodel Katoucha Niane, a victim of and activist against Female Genital Mutilation, has been found floating in the Seine.

At Brain Droppings, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is draining the swamp.

From Red Alerts, the deadly toxin ricin has been found in a Las Vegas hotel room. As many as seven people were possibly exposed. No word yet on the circumstances surrounding how the ricin got into the hotel room, though its hard to imagine that this is not connected to terrorism, and while it may make sense for the LVPD to play down the possible connection, it does not pass the smell test.



Will this be Obama's first real election? What happened to all of Obama's other opponents over the years? Read on for the full reptilian tale . . .


I got the ball rolling on this issue and took it to the 10 yard line by taking note of some very undemocratic activities by our would-be Messiah. Daffyd has picked up the ball, run with it the last 90 yards, spiked the ball in the end zone and done a Lizard-like victory dance. Do slither over to his site and read about "Chicago Rules." It is an exceptional post that ties together some very troubling - and reoccuring - themes that surround he who would be President.


Obaminations & Bad News (For the Left) On Iraq

I asked in an earlier post whether Obama was unprincipled and being less than honest with America. This report on Canadian television, if true, clearly answers those questions.

(H/T Taylor Marsh)

Obama's campaign has denied this reports accuracy. The television station that broke the story is standing by its veracity. Update: More at Powerline. Update 2: Hot Air is reporting that the television station has named Austin Goolsbee, a economic advisor of the Obama Campaign, as the person that contacted the Canadian government, and he is refusing to admit or deny the conversation.

Update: And it would seem that the remainder of the Democratic Party leadership is troubled by this "trade tirade."

And there have been some significant changes in U.S. pulic opinion about Iraq. This from the most recent Pew Research Poll:

Public perceptions of the situation in Iraq have become significantly more positive over the past several months, even as opinions about the initial decision to use military force remain mostly negative and unchanged.

The number of Americans who say the military effort is going very or fairly well is much higher now than a year ago (48% vs. 30% in February 2007). There has been a smaller positive change in the number who believe that the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals (now 53%, up from 47% in February 2007). . . .

Public perceptions about U.S. progress in Iraq continue to improve. In fact, in a number of areas those with positive evaluations outnumber those with negative views.

For the first time since Pew began tracking the question in December 2005, more respondents say that the United States is making progress in reducing civilian casualties (46%) than say it is losing ground (40%). Similarly, 49% now say the United States is making progress in defeating the insurgents, while just 35% say it is losing ground. A majority (57%) now says the U.S. is making progress in training Iraqi military forces (29% say the U.S. is losing ground).

Even on the key political objective of establishing democracy in Iraq, a plurality (49%) says the U.S. is making progress (vs. 40% who say the U.S. is losing ground). This is the first time since the fall of 2006 that a plurality sees progress on this measure. On another key objective, however, the plurality view remains negative. While more now say the U.S. is making progress in preventing a civil war between various religious and ethnic groups (35% now vs. 18% a year ago), just under half says the United States is losing ground on this objective (49% vs. 68% a year ago). . . .

As AllahPundit at Hot Air asks:

In case you were wondering why the Democrats are running from this debate, it’s because the more public opinion shifts, the more their willingness to abandon Iraq looks less like a “realist” exit strategy than calculated defeatism. Even so, note how inelastic most of the results are despite the security gains (especially in Anbar). The microresults show impressive shifts — click the image and follow the link to see double digit swings in the “Growing Perceptions of Iraq Progress” graph — but the baseline results below are static. I wonder why.

(H/T Instapundit)


The Council Has Spoken - Feb. 29, 2008

The votes have been tallied by the Watcher of Weasels and the winners this week are:


The winning post this week in the Council category was from Cheat Seeking Missles, In A PC Nation, How Will The GOP Run? This is a nuanced post on a very real problem that will invevitably arise. The race card is going to arise and it is going to be played against McCain. This post was my vote for second place. Coming in ties for second was my first choice, Find the Adjectives by Soccer Dad. It is not hard to fisk an article of agenda journalism, but Soccer Dad did this with such precision that I thought it deserved first place this week. Also tied for second was . . . . me, of course. I seem to have a lock on second place in the Watcher's Council. My post was Obama (with links) & McCain's Petard.

And in the Non-Council category, the winner was To Die in Jerusalem, Part II by My Shrapnel. Coming in second was my first place choice The Fierce Urgency of Lies in American Thinker. Coming in fifth place was my submission from Dr. Sanity, The Democrats' Collective Cognitive Catatonia.

You can find the full results of this weeks voting at the Watcher of Weasels.


Focus On An Ever More Dangerous Iran

Iran is at war with the United States - and has been since 1979. It is well on its way to achieving a nuclear arsenal as the world dithers. It is a triumpahist and expansionist theocracy that places no value on human life. It is a theocracy that does not enjoy popular support within its borders, but shows no signs of weakening. Indeed, the opposite appears to be occurring as Iran slowly moves ever more under the domination of the the Revolutionary Guards. Below is a roll-up of some of the important about devleopments regarding and within Iran.


Britian now joins with our own spy chief, Mike McConnell, in disputing the assertion in the NIE that Iran's atomic weapon's program is for "civilian" purposes. Meanwhile, the most recent IAEA report was a "whitewash" by IAEA director, Mohammed El Baradei - a man very accurately described in a recent WSJ article as "a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation." For example, there is this from Haaretz:

Referring to Iran's simulations and experiments with high-impact explosives and planned ballistic missile warheads, ElBaradei writes that there is no indication linking these activities to "nuclear materials." The IAEA cannot therefore reach a clear decision about the Iranian nuclear program's character, he writes. In other words, it is clear even to ElBaradei that Iran is concealing, misleading and ignoring the Security Council's resolutions, yet he refrains from stating explicitly that it is developing nuclear arms."

Read the article here. There is also a good article on this IAEA report at the Christian Science Monitor.

Between the perfidious acts of the author's of our NIE, the pro-Iranian agenda of the IAEA, and the economic motivations of our "allies," I do not see any chance to stop Iran from achieving nuclear arms unless Israel itself acts alone. Further tepid sanctions will clearly have no effect on a theocracy that sees itself supported by Allah against a weak and impotent West.

The fantasy of many in the West is that the deeply unpopular Iranian theocracy would fall internally to another revolution if it did not moderate. The chances of that happening appear remote at best. Indeed, if anything, the latest trends from Iran appear even more dire. It appears not that Iran's theocracy is transforming into a military dictatorship still retaining the ideological dynamic of Khomeinist Shiaism. This from AEI:

The clerical leadership in Iran has grown increasingly reliant on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to help it stave off internal pressure for political and economic reform and external pressure resulting from international concern over Iran's nuclear program. But as the IRGC gets more involved in domestic politics, the Islamic Republic is gradually morphing into a military regime, albeit one governed by theocratic principles. The March 14, 2008, parliamentary elections are likely to reinforce this trend.

Read the entire article.

On the issue of Iran's deadly activities in Iraq, and although I strongly disagree with his conclusion, Richard Dreyfuss, writing in the Nation, gives an fascinating look into the byzantine nature of Iran's involvement in Iraq. Where he goes wrong is in thinking that Iraqi nationalism will only reassert itself if the U.S. leaves Iraq. It does not take much in terms of arms and money for Iran's proxy forces to exert control through murder and mayhem if they are not contested by a stronger force - and the only force capable of that is the U.S.


Krauthammer on Lobbying, McCain & The Left's Demagoguery

Charles Krauthammer responds to the NYT hit piece on John McCain, providing a civics lesson and highlighting the demagoguery of the left in the process.


Charles Krauthammer takes a more benign view of lobbying than do most in this day and age, though he is completely correct that the "lobbying" is constitutionally protected speech that is often both reasonable and necessary. Krauthammer then notes, as I did here, that there was nothing untoward whatsoever in John McCain trying to get a recalcitrant FCC to do their job and make a decision on a matter effecting Paxson Communications. That, indeed, falls well within the ambit of what we expect our elected representatives to be doing. This from Krauthammer:

Everyone knows the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. How many remember that, in addition, the First Amendment protects a fifth freedom -- to lobby?

Of course it doesn't use the word lobby. It calls it the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Lobbyists are people hired to do that for you, so that you can actually stay home with the kids and remain gainfully employed rather than spend your life in the corridors of Washington.

To hear the candidates in this presidential campaign, you'd think lobbying is just one notch below waterboarding, a black art practiced by the great malefactors of wealth to keep the middle class in a vise and loose upon the nation every manner of scourge: oil dependency, greenhouse gases, unpayable mortgages and those tiny entrees you get at French restaurants.

Lobbying is constitutionally protected, but that doesn't mean we have to like it all. Let's agree to frown upon bad lobbying, such as getting a tax break for a particular industry. Let's agree to welcome good lobbying -- the actual redress of a legitimate grievance -- such as protecting your home from being turned to dust to make way for some urban development project.

. . . What would be an example of petitioning the government for a redress of a legitimate grievance? Let's say you're a media company wishing to acquire a television station in Pittsburgh. Because of the huge federal regulatory structure, you require the approval of a government agency. In this case it's called the Federal Communications Commission.

Now, one of the roles of Congress is to make sure that said bureaucrats are interpreting and enforcing Congress's laws with fairness and dispatch. All members of Congress, no matter how populist, no matter how much they rail against "special interests," zealously protect this right of oversight. Therefore, one of the jobs of the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee is to ensure that the bureaucrats of the FCC are doing their job.

What would constitute not doing their job? A textbook example would be the FCC sitting two full years on a pending application to acquire a Pittsburgh TV station. There could hardly be a better case of a legitimate "petition for a redress" than that of the aforementioned private entity asking the chairman of the appropriate oversight committee to ask the tardy bureaucrats for a ruling. So the chairman does that, writing to the FCC demanding a ruling -- any ruling -- while explicitly stating that he is asking for no particular outcome.

This, of course, is precisely what John McCain did on behalf of Paxson Communications in writing two letters to the FCC in which he asked for a vote on the pending television-station acquisition. These two letters are the only remotely hard pieces of evidence in a 3,000-word front-page New York Times article casting doubt on John McCain's ethics.

Which is why what was intended to be an expose turned into a farce, compounded by the fact that the other breathless revelation turned out to be thrice-removed rumors of an alleged affair nine years ago.

It must be said of McCain that he has invited such astonishingly thin charges against him because he has made a career of ostentatiously questioning the motives and ethics of those who have resisted his campaign finance reform and other measures that he imagines will render Congress influence-free.

Ostentatious self-righteousness may be a sin, but it is not a scandal. Nor is it a crime or a form of corruption. The Times's story is a classic example of sloppy gotcha journalism. . . .

Read the entire article.

The problem with lobbying is that it has become associated with pandering to special interests at best and, at worst, a tool of corruption when combined with earmarks - as Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson and John Murtha exemplify. In that light, McCain stands firmly on the right side of this issue, being a champion against the corrupting practice of earmarks and an opponent of the corrupting influence of money in politics. Indeed, his much maligned McCain-Feingold bill was aimed at precisely the latter. Regardless, lobbying will always be an element of our Democratic system, and to pretend otherwise, as does Obama - who happens to embrace earmarks - is pure demagoguery.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bad News From Iraq

The Provincial Elections law, one of three major pieces of legislation passed by the Iraqi Parliament this month, was vetoed by the Presidency Council and has been sent back to Parliament for reconsideration and revision.


The provincial elections bill, which would create moderately strong provinces, is at the center of a debate in Iraq over whether there should be a strong or weak central government. History would suggest that this is not an easy issue to resolve. In American history, we had the Articles of Confederation, creating a weak central government, that was finally replaced with our Constitution in 1788. And then we fought a civil war over much the same issue. Now its Iraq's turn, and the issue seems equally divisive. This from the NYT:

Political momentum in Iraq hit a sudden roadblock on Wednesday when a feud between the largest Shiite factions led to the veto of a law that had been passed with great fanfare two weeks ago. The law had been heralded by the Bush administration as a breakthrough for national reconciliation.

The law called for provincial elections by October, and it was hoped that it would eliminate severe electoral distortions that have left Kurds and Shiites with vastly disproportionate power over Sunni Arabs in some areas, a factor in fueling the Sunni insurgency. It would also have given Iraqis who have long complained of corrupt and feckless local leaders a chance to clean house and elect officials they believe are more accountable.

But the law was vetoed at the last minute by the three-member Iraqi presidency council, which includes President Jalal Talabani and two vice presidents. The veto came after officials in a powerful Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, objected to provisions that they contend unlawfully strip power from Iraq’s provinces.

Politicians involved in the debate said the main objections came from Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi, a Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council member. The bill now goes back to Parliament, where its prospects are unclear, given the acrimonious debate over the issue that led to the veto.

. . . The veto is “somewhat of a setback,” Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, acknowledged Wednesday during a hearing in Congress.

A common refrain among American combat commanders is that new local elections could help sweep out ineffective leaders while remedying deeply uneven provincial councils, a legacy partly of the Sunni Arab boycott of previous provincial elections.

. . . The Sadrists, who were furious at the veto, want to retain a strong central government that has the legal muscle to deal vigorously any province that Baghdad leaders believe is acting against the country’s best interests. They said the veto breached the historic agreement among political blocs two weeks ago that allowed the simultaneous passage of the provincial powers bill, the 2008 budget and another law granting amnesty to thousands of Sunnis and others in Iraqi jails.

“It’s a struggle of two wills,” said Nassar al-Rubaie, a legislator from the Sadr movement. “One side wants to strengthen the central government and federal authority, and the other wants to undermine it and grant the provinces greater powers.”

Read the entire article.


Will Turkey Lead A Revolution In Islam?

Turkey is proposing a far reaching revision and reinterpretation of the Hadith. This could mark a titanic event in the world of Islam which has come under increasing Salafization over the past decades. I have little trust in Turkey's pro-Islamic AKP government, but the scope of the proposed revision portends to far reaching and much needed.


I harbor very significant doubts about Turkey's Islamic movement today. The pro-Islamic AKP party is blurring the line between Church and state secular, it shows the hallmarks of Salifization, and it was only a few weeks ago that AKP PM Erdogan was in Germany, exhorting Turkish expatriates not to integrate into German society. Everything that I see tells me that Turkey is, at the moment, a trojan horse and its entrance into the EU would spell the death knell for Europe.

Almost a year ago, I posted in a lengthy essay that what Islam most needed was to go through its periods of Reformation and Enlightenment. In tracing the problems of modern day Islam, I noted:

Turkey, home of Sufi Islam and the caliphate presiding over the majority of the Islamic world, came into World War I on the side of Germany and was ultimately defeated. Its Middle Eastern empire was divided up among the European counties. Attaturk took power in Turkey and divested Islam from politics, secularizing the country. This was, in essence, the first step towards a revolution in the Islamic world – the divorcing of religion from the nation state and limiting it to the private lives of Turkish citizens. Unfortunately, as time has gone on, Wahhabism has infected Turkey, and today we see the creep of [Salafi] Islamism into the state apparatus. Turkey has withdrawn from the precipice of a revolution to moderate and modernize Islam that its combination of secular government and classical Sufi Islam may have led.

Read the entire post.

Yet today there is a major surprise in the news that Turkey is planning what has the potential to be the first major reinterpretation of Islam since the gates of ijtihad were closed near a millenium ago. This is potentially momentous - and it is a direct challenge to the 7th century Wahhabi / Salafi interpretations of Islam being spread across the world with billions in Saudi petrodollars.

Before becoming too excited, we must of course wait to see the finished product and assess its impact. It is possible that this could be nothing more than a PR movement aimed at gaining entrance into the EU by allaying very real and reasonable fears of EU nations. Possibly, but even with that in mind, the scope of this proposed revision is promising indeed. This from the BBC:

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam.

It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.

Commentators say the very theology of Islam is being reinterpreted in order to effect a radical renewal of the religion.

Its supporters say the spirit of logic and reason inherent in Islam at its foundation 1,400 years ago are being rediscovered. Some believe it could represent the beginning of a reformation in the religion.

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it.

The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University's School of Theology.

An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings - also known individually as "hadiths" - can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

"Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim - or pseudo-Muslim - practice of female genital mutilation," he says.

"You can find messages which say 'that is what the Prophet ordered us to do'. But you can show historically how they came into being, as influences from other cultures, that were then projected onto Islamic tradition."

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various - often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control.

Leaders of the Hadith project say successive generations have embellished the text, attributing their political aims to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Turkey is intent on sweeping away that "cultural baggage" and returning to a form of Islam it claims accords with its original values and those of the Prophet.

But this is where the revolutionary nature of the work becomes apparent. Even some sayings accepted as being genuinely spoken by Muhammad have been altered and reinterpreted.

Prof Mehmet Gormez, a senior official in the Department of Religious Affairs and an expert on the Hadith, gives a telling example.

"There are some messages that ban women from travelling for three days or more without their husband's permission and they are genuine.

"But this isn't a religious ban. It came about because in the Prophet's time it simply wasn't safe for a woman to travel alone like that. But as time has passed, people have made permanent what was only supposed to be a temporary ban for safety reasons."

The project justifies such bold interference in the 1,400-year-old content of the Hadith by rigorous academic research.

Prof Gormez points out that in another speech, the Prophet said "he longed for the day when a woman might travel long distances alone".

So, he argues, it is clear what the Prophet's goal was.

Yet, until now, the ban has remained in the text, and helps to restrict the free movement of some Muslim women to this day.

. . . According to Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkey from Chatham House in London, Turkey is doing nothing less than recreating Islam - changing it from a religion whose rules must be obeyed, to one designed to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy.

He says that to achieve it, the state is fashioning a new Islam.

"This is kind of akin to the Christian Reformation," he says.

. . . Significantly, the "Ankara School" of theologians working on the new Hadith have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy.

They have also taken an even bolder step - rejecting a long-established rule of Muslim scholars that later (and often more conservative) texts override earlier ones.

"You have to see them as a whole," says Fadi Hakura.

"You can't say, for example, that the verses of violence override the verses of peace. This is used a lot in the Middle East, this kind of ideology.

"I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."

Read the entire article.


Iranian Proxy Acts of War

Iran's proxy war in Iraq is now aimed at ending the Awakening movements that threaten the theocracy's efforts to expand its influence in Iraq.


Iran, long term, poses the most significant threat to Iraq. Its training and funding of proxies in Iraq is beyond dispute. Last week, the Governor of Basra, accused Iran of being behind plans to assassinate he and his brother. According to a recent report, Iran is conducting a surge of its own, significantly increasing its Qods Force infiltration into Iraq. According to "Baghdad's chief intelligence officer said Iran is working to destroy the Awakening movements" that have been so important to the gains in stability. This from the Long War Journal:

. . . The latest charge leveled against Iran is that Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, is working to destroy the Awakening movements that oppose al Qaeda and Shia terrorist groups. Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, the director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, accused Iran of sabotaging the Awakening, or Sahwa, movements. The Awakening movement and associated Sons of Iraq (formerly the Concerned Local Citizens) movements have been instrumental in securing vast regions of Iraq during the past year.

"We have information confirming that Iranian secret services have sent agents to sabotage the Sahwa experience in Iraq," Shahwani said in a press release issued today. Shahwani is a Kurd who served as a brigadier general in a Republican Guard unit under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Shahwani later organized efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

. . . The US has . . . linked Hezbollah to the formation of the Special Groups after the capture of a senior Hezbollah/Qods Force officer in Iraq in early 2007.

Both the Mahdi Army and the offshoot Special Groups cells have clashed with Shia members of the Awakening and Sons of Iraq movements. Special Groups cells have attack Awakening and Sons of Iraq checkpoints and murder and kidnapped members. The Mahdi Army has waged an aggressive campaign to prevent the formation of Awakening movements.

While Iraqi intelligence pointed the finger at Iran for attacking the Awakening and Sons of Iraq movements, US and Iraqi forces continue to target the Special Groups cells. Since Sadr declared the cease-fire on Feb. 22, there have been 11 raids against the Special Groups cells.

The most significant raid netted a yet-to-be-named senior Special Groups commander. Coalition forces captured a senior regional Special Groups finance facilitator and six associates during a raid in Suwayrah on Feb. 25. "The targeted individual was reportedly a finance leader for Iranian-affiliated Special Groups criminals and militias in Iraq’s southern provinces to include Najaf, Karbala, Babil, Wasit and Qadisiyah," Multinational Forces Iraq noted in a press release.

The Special Groups financier also doubled as "a mortar and rocket specialist who had trained in Iran." He served as a weapons trainer who conducted attacks with the deadly, armor-piercing explosively formed penetrator mines against Coalition and Iraqi troops.

Multinational Forces Iraq began targeting Special Groups weapons trainers during the fall of 2007 after knowledge of the Shia terror cells expanded. "Iran has adopted a 'train the trainer' model to facilitate attacks in Iraq," a senior US military officer serving in Iraq told who wishes to remain anonymous told The Long War Journal. Weapons trainers are instructed by the Iranian military, and then sent into Iraq to conduct attacks and disseminate knowledge to their cells. . . .

Read the entire article. It is clear that the U.S. and Iraq's government are attempting to contain Iran's deadly meddling without resort to direct attacks on training and command facilities on Iranian soil. At this point, I question whether such a policy is not counterproductive, encouraging Iran to further acts of aggression? Iran's theocracy has been at war with the U.S. since its inception, and indeed, as Sec of Def Gates said recently, "everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents - Christians, Jews and Muslims alike." Iran will not stop their aggression until they are forcibly stopped.

Update: Neoneocon has a very good post comparing and contrasting Obama's sound tough carry a stack of olive branchs approach with McCain's clear big stick approach.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Iraq & Afghani Obaminations

Obama seems to have a problem with recognizing reality, whether about Iraq or Afghanistan. And McCain weighs in.


This was Obama answering questions from Tim Russert last night during the Ohio debate:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about the future -- let me talk the future about Iraq, . . . . You both have pledged the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. You both have said you'd keep a residual force there to protect our embassy, to seek out al Qaeda, to neutralize Iran. . . .

SEN. OBAMA: . . . Now, I think that we can be in a partnership with Iraq to ensure the stability and the safety of the region, to ensure the safety of Iraqis and to meet our national security interests.

But in order to do that, we have to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there permanently, which is why I have said that as soon as I take office, I will call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we will initiate a phased withdrawal, we will be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. We will give ample time for them to stand up, to negotiate the kinds of agreements that will arrive at the political accommodations that are needed. We will provide them continued support. But it is important for us not to be held hostage by the Iraqi government in a policy that has not made us more safe, that's distracting us from Afghanistan, and is costing us dearly, not only and most importantly in the lost lives of our troops, but also the amount of money that we are spending that is unsustainable and will prevent us from engaging in the kinds of investments in America that will make us more competitive and more safe. . . .

MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask both of you this question, then. If we -- if this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals. And I believe that what's --

MR. RUSSERT: But this is reality.

SEN. CLINTON: . . . . But I also have heard Senator Obama refer continually to Afghanistan, and he references being on the Foreign Relations Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Europe. It has jurisdiction over NATO. NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan. He's held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.

You have to look at the entire situation to try to figure out how we can stabilize Afghanistan and begin to put more in there to try to get some kind of success out of it, and you have to work with the Iraqi government so that they take responsibility for their own future. . . .

SEN. OBAMA: Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.

I have been very clear in talking to the American people about what I would do with respect to Afghanistan.

I think we have to have more troops there to bolster the NATO effort. I think we have to show that we are not maintaining permanent bases in Iraq because Secretary Gates, our current Defense secretary, indicated that we are getting resistance from our allies to put more troops into Afghanistan because they continue to believe that we made a blunder in Iraq and I think even this administration acknowledges now that they are hampered now in doing what we need to do in Afghanistan in part because of what's happened in Iraq.

Now, I always reserve the right for the president -- as commander in chief, I will always reserve the right to make sure that we are looking out for American interests. And if al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, then we will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and our interests abroad. So that is true, I think, not just in Iraq, but that's true in other places. That's part of my argument with respect to Pakistan. . . .

There are several points raised in this exchange, but first, the McCain response and Obama's reply:

McCain . . . suggested his anti-war colleague’s response was either naive or uninformed.

“When you examine that statement, it’s pretty remarkable,” McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas.

“I have some news. Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It’s called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq,”‘ McCain said, drawing laughter at Obama’s expense.

The dig triggered a back-and-forth that continued long-distance through much of the day.

Obama quickly answered back, telling a crowd at Ohio State University in Columbus, “I do know that Al Qaeda is in Iraq.”

“McCain thought that he could make a clever point by saying ‘Well let me give you some news Barack, Al Qaeda is in Iraq,’ like I wasn’t reading the papers,” he said. “But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.” . . .

This really encapsulates Obama's argument against prosecution of the war in Iraq. Whether al Qaeda was present in Iraq prior to the downfall of Hussein is at least arguable. What is not arguable is that Iraq made it the central front in their war on the West by 2005. I find it fascinating that Obama, whose campaign asks America to not dwell on the past but look to the future, is stuck in 2003 when it comes to Iraq. I've talked before about the sheer sophistry of his line of argument and the catastrophic costs of leaving Iraq before it is a stable state. See here. McCain needs to move the debate onto this latter issue.

And Obama's testimony raises two other points. As the chairman of Foreign Policy Subcommittee on Europe, Obama has much to answer for as regards NATO. And Clinton was absolutely on target to hammer him on this, though she should have said much more.

Afghanistan is in large measure a mess because NATO is an absolute travesty. The European nations other than Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands have refused to provide combat soldiers. They have been content to let our soldiers and the soldiers of a few other nations do all of the fighting. Obama's assertion that this failure on the part of the European nations is because they think we made a mistake going into Iraq is insane. It doesn't take much reading of Der Spiegel's articles on Germany's debate on Afghanistan, to come away with the knowlege that Obama's Iraq argument is pure bull. Further, for Obama, as the European Subcommittee Chairman, to try and claim that his argument mimics that of Sec. of Defense Gates - whom you can read here - is ridiculous.

One, what the hell has Obama been doing while NATO is falling apart? This is not a new issue - its been clearly known since before Obama took over the chairmanship of his subcommittee in 2007. The problem with NATO is not Iraq, and its pretty clear that Obama has been no part of an attempt at a solution. This is a critical issue that the next commander in chief must address - yet Obama has apparently avoided it like the plague.

And are we seeing a very troubling pattern in Obama's veracity. There is certainly a huge gap between Obama's soaring rhetoric and the reality of his record. But of late, when he starts to get into specifics about Iraq and Afghanistan, his points equally lack any veracity. One can perhaps excuse Obama's bombast that the Anbar Awakening only came about because of the Democrat's victory in 2006. But the most recent examples above and Obama's recent ludicrous claims regarding a an anonymous captain in Afghanistan are very troubling indeed. Either someone was lying to Obama about the Captain and Obama bought it, or Obama has no problems with making things up as he goes along his divine path. The former suggests naïveté, the latter malignancy. In consideration of all of the above, I am on the knife's edge of no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt as to which it might be.


Osama Bin London

A very high profile case in Britain, coming on the heels of the recent appeals court decision throwing out the convictions of several British men for their intent to take part in jihad – further highlights the problem of using criminal courts to fight back against the scourge of Salafi / Deobandi radical Islam. A man at the center of the failed "7/21" attacks in London. Mohammed Hamid, aka Osama bin London, has been convicted today of "organizing terrorist training camps and encouraging Muslims to murder non-believers" – or as the Home Secretary would say, he was convicted of "anti-Islamic activities." But the British authorities knew of Hamid long before the failed attacks and did not act in time to forestall the attacks. And then there is the the very problematic role play by the BBC in all of this.


I’ve blogged here that if Britain is to effectively attack the severe problem it has with radical Salafi / Deobandi Islam, then it needs to pass laws that allow for a much more proactive approach - probably adopting the framework of child pornography laws. The case of Mahammed Hamid is a case study in the problems presented by using traditional law enforcement paradigm – which is reactive – to deal with the problems of terrorism and radicalization within Britain's border. It is also a case study in other ways. One, it shows the radicalization process and how it is tied into Wahhabi / Salafi / Deobandi Islam. Two, it shows just how utterly clueless the chattering classes and multiculturalists are about the true threat in their midst.

In 2005, the sophisticates at the BBC attempted to portray the face of "moderate Islam" to its many viewers with a production called "Don’t panic, I’m Islamic." Displaying the incredible naiveté of true multiculturalists, the BBC chose as the star of its show Mohammed Hamid to represent the face of moderate Islam in Britain. Mr. Hamid is now more popularly known as Osama bin London. The BBC would later compound its idiocy, but for now, let’s ask, who was Mohammed Hamid?

Despite the BBC’s portrayal to the contrary, Hamid seems in many ways the stereotypical radical Salafi Islamist. He has a distinct hatred for the West, the willingness to kill to see the imposition of a caliphate, close ties to Pakistan, and a man who treated his wife as a second class citizen and punching bag. According to one of his relatives, he was "evil personified." This from the Telegraph tells the background:

Mohammed Hamid is a former drug-addict who beat up his wife and could turn from a pleasant charmer into a domineering monster in the blink of an eye, a close family member told the Daily Telegraph.

. . . The woman, who is too afraid to be identified, said the family moved from Tanzania, East Africa to Batley in the 1960s. The town borders Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire where the July 7 bombers plotted their attacks.

The four brothers and seven sisters lived with their parents and other relatives in one house and ran a clothing business from home. Hamid, or "Babou" as he was known to the family, was the black sheep of the family who had a Muslim wedding, which was never registered, to an Afro-Carribean woman called Linda from Hackney, east London.

"He beat her black and blue," the relative claimed. "He was never afraid to put the boot in but he could also be nice as you like.

. . . Hamid was never faithful, the relative allegedly said, returning from one trip to Greece with a venereal disease. He served three prison sentences, even turning up to his mother's funeral in handcuffs.

"To my knowledge he never had a job. He used to make a lot of trips to Pakistan and India and return to his bookshop in Hackney with lots of packages. I thought he was bringing in drugs."

His turn to religion was the most surprising to his family, brought on by his father's death. He had an arranged marriage with a woman in India who wears the full veil and shortly afterwards made a family pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. But his turn to radicalism saw him try and recruit his nephews some of whom still lived in Batley.

"He was really a criminal and I think he only turned to religion for the attention," the relative said.

"But he hated Britain and told his nephews the whole country should be Islamic and they should kill non-believers.".

. . . To clean himself up, Hamid moved to India where he met and married his second wife, a committed Muslim, who wore a veil. They went on to have four children, now aged one, five, ten and 12. He returned to his council house in Britain and turned his life to Islam.

In 1997 he opened a bookshop in Hackney, east London, 10 minutes from his home, called the Al-Quran Islamic Book Centre, attracting visitors from as far afield as Scotland to chat away from the "strict" atmosphere of the mosques. In all he estimated more than 300 people visited the shop and, after it closed in 2004, meetings at his home in Almack Road.

Hamid became a disciple of the radical preacher Abdullah el-Faisal, later jailed for incitement to murder, and despite his turn to Islam he was arrested in March 2000 with six others accused of falsely imprisoning a man and woman, although the charges were later dropped.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Hamid bought a step ladder and began preaching at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. Three months later, just after the US attacks on Afghanistan, he set off for Karachi in southern Pakistan to deliver hospital equipment, travelling across the border into Afghanistan and going on to Kandahar, the site of the Taliban's last stand, and then Kalat, high in the mountains of northern Afghanistan. He was later to boast of his "links" but never specified what they were.

Back in Britain, Hamid was seen by neighbours with the radical preacher Abu Hamza outside Finsbury Park mosque in North London, although he claimed he had never met the cleric. It was through the bookshop in 2003 that Hamid met Yassin Omar, the Warren Street bomber, and through him that he met Muktar Ibrahim, the leader of the July 21 gang, when they were introduced at Edmonton mosque.

Ramzi Mohammed, the Oval bomber, met Hamid at Speaker's Corner, he said, when he arrived with Hussain Osman, the Shepherd's Bush bomber, and a few others from south and west London. They joined him on the camping trip to the Lake District in 2004 and Hamid said: "It was a case of the more the merrier."

Read the entire article. And today, Hamid has been convicted in a British court "of organizing terrorist training camps and encouraging Muslims to murder non-believers at the end of a four-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court." This from the Telegraph tells us that the government knew of the threat posed by Hamid, yet did not act proactively to forestall that threat:

. . . Street preacher Mohammed Hamid - who once told young Muslims the 52 deaths in the July 7 attacks on London were "not even breakfast to me" - groomed the would-be suicide bombers under the noses of watching police, security services and even the BBC.

Hamid, 50, who is believed to have met senior al-Qa'eda figures in Afghanistan, organised a series of training camps in the New Forest, the Lake District, and Scotland and paintballing sessions in Berkshire and Kent to train his followers.
He also held regular Friday prayer meetings at his home in Clapton, East London, where he would urge Muslims to attack non-believers.

All four of the failed suicide bombers of July 21 attended his meetings and Hamid ran an Islamic bookstall on Oxford Street with Muktar Ibrahim, the leader of the July 21 gang.

He was spoken to by police on three other occasions before July 2005 at his Oxford Street stall and on eight separate occasions afterwards - but was not arrested until September 2006, more than a year after the July attacks, after an undercover policeman infiltrated his group.

. . . Police first observed the July 21 bombers being put through their paces in the Lake District at one of Hamid's camps on May 2, 2004 - more than a year before they launched their failed attacks on London's transport system.

Following a tip off, a Cumbrian officer out fell running came across a group of 20 Asian men training in Great Langdale as Hamid barked orders.

Special Branch was called in to photograph the group and close-up surveillance pictures showed all four of the men who went on to attack London on July 21 the following year.

Hamid's home in Hackney, East London was subsequently put under surveillance and four weeks later, on May 29, he was seen collecting another group together to return to Great Langdale.

Once again the fell-running officer located them in the Lake District and this time the surveillance was left to Cumbrian police who saw the group "holding branches or sticks as though they were carrying rifles".

The case was handed over to MI5 but their agents brought the wrong camera equipment when they turned up in August 2004 because they were not expecting the group to be there again. They shot just 11 minutes of footage across three days, however the film once again included Muktar Ibrahim.

One former Royal Marine Commando watched the group as they performed press-ups, sit-ups, an anti-ambush drill and "leopard crawling," moving low and flat along the ground.

But the three-man surveillance team seemed to take a relaxed approach to the operation, at one point signing off on the camera: "And what a lovely view it is."
Also there were Hamid's co-accused Kibley da Costa, 24, Mohammed Al-Figari, 42, and Kader Ahmed, 20. They have been found guilty of attending terror camps in the New Forest and at a Berkshire paintballing centre.

Hamid was also joined in his teachings by Atilla Ahmet, 43, the self-styled emir of the gang, who admitted three charges of soliciting murder at the start of the trial.
Ahmet was Abu Hamza's right-hand man at Finsbury Park Mosque and took control of his notorious Supporters of Shariah group after his arrest in 2004.

During Hamid's trial, the court heard how he and Muktar Ibrahim set up a stall selling Islamic literature outside Debenhams department store in Oxford Street and how, in October 2004, both men were arrested following a disturbance at the stall.
Police called to reports of three men blocking the pavement with a trestle table stacked with religious books found they refused to move and started to abuse the black and Asian officers when they were threatened with arrest.

The officers had to call for assistance and as Hamid was handcuffed and dragged to the police van he told the officers: "I've got a bomb and I'm going to blow you all up."

At the police station Hamid gave his name as Osama bin London and was only identified after a fingerprint check which showed up his extensive criminal record for theft and burglary. Ibrahim ran from police and was only stopped when a member of the public tripped him up. However, he failed to turn up at Horseferry Road Magistrates Court because he had travelled to Pakistan where it is thought he learned how to make the bombs for July 21.

. . . Hamid exchanged 155 calls and text messages with the four July 21 bombers, including one message sent to Hussain Osman on the evening of July 7, in which he used the alias Al-Quran and wrote: "Assalam bro, we fear no-one except ALLAH, we will not change our ways, we are proud to be a Muslim an we will not hide. 8pm Friday at my place, be there food and talk, AL-QURAN."

He also sent Mohammed and Osman a text on the night of July 21 and attempted to ring both of them the following day.

Co-accused Kader Ahmed and Kibley da Costa also made attempts to contact the men in the two days after the attacks.

Hamid, assisted by Ahmet, was said to be a "recruiter, groomer and corrupter of young Muslims."

Read the entire article. And this article tries to get its hands around the extent of Hamid’s activities relating to the radicalization process of Wahhabi / Salafi / Deobandi Islam:

Mohammed Hamid spent 13 years grooming hundreds of young Muslim men to fight non-believers under the noses of the police and security services and Operation Overamp set out to put that right.

While the July 7 bombers bonded over white-water rafting in Wales, for the failed July 21 bombers it was camping expeditions to the Lake District.

In the days after the attempted attacks, the police found they had surveillance pictures of the would-be bombers with Atilla Ahmet, Abu Hamza's replacement at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London, and with Hamid on training camps in the Lake District.

The two men came together, they found, at Hamid's home in Hackney, east London, on Friday afternoons, where they would gather a group of young men around them.
When MI5 planted a bug in Hamid's home they uncovered a process of radicalisation that eventually led to July 21.

Hamid would begin at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park or his stall on Oxford Street where he would invite young men to the Friday meetings.

At the meetings they were addressed by Ahmet and Hamid would invite them to training camps in the New Forest, the Lake District, or Scotland and to paintballing sessions in Berkshire and Kent where he would train them for jihad [holy war].

Hamid said his meetings were "our pub, our restaurant" and berated his followers for wanting to study at college and follow "nine to five" jobs when women and children were dieing in Iraq.

"We must learn to move in numbers in this land of kaffirs [non-believers]," he said. "Either we become prisoners of this land or we free ourselves."

Two days before Christmas 2005 he talked about attacking Prince Charles, Camilla and Tony Blair at the London Olympics in 2012, adding: "Top-notch people from the whole world are coming to that area.

"The guy has told us 2012. He said, 'Don't think it is going to come on 2012, they're going to have six, seven atrocities before you get that.'"

A few months later Ahmet told his followers to attack the police, adding: "If you've got a little bit of strength in you pick up the tool and try and end one of the kuffar's [non-believer's] life."

Asked by one of the group if he was permitted to kill any kuffar, Ahmet said there were some who could be converted but added: "The House of Parliament, the big people, the MPs, the police, the army, the city slickers are all halal [permitted]."
But MI5 became suspicious that more was being said away from the meetings. At times music would be turned up and all that officers could hear were the strains of the Beach Boys or sexually explicit rap lyrics.

A Special Branch officer was chosen to try and infiltrate the group - and it could not have been easier.

Given the nickname "Dawood" by Hamid, he "converted" the man from Christianity to Islam during a half hour conversation at his stall on Oxford Street, central London on April 6 2006.

Almost the only words Dawood spoke were "yeah, you're right" and "exactly" as Hamid told him how DNA, mobile phones, air travel and the Iraq war had all been predicted by the Koran.

According to Hamid, Islam offered social security, the NHS, welfare and policing.
"It all comes from the sharia [Islamic law]. They have it but our country don't have it," he told Dawood.

Two weeks later, he received a text message from Hamid, who used the name al-Quran, telling him: "Salaam bro. 8pm my place, dinner and talk."

Dawood was able to join Hamid and his group on a camping trip to the New Forest and on a paintballing trip at White Waltham in Berkshire.

The officer said Hamid told the group they weren't just running around the woods, they were training for jihad [holy war].

And Dawood was so good that at the end of the day of paintballing, Hamid presented the undercover policeman with a medal as the best player.

Hamid, himself a former drug addict, did his best to relate to the young men he was addressing.

At his home in Hackney in June 2006 he told them: "The Muslims are bad boys, you know what I mean? If you go on the street everybody want to be a rapper, Puff Daddy. Everybody wants to be something and when they come to Islam everybody wants to be mujaheed [holy warrior]."

He told his followers they were "Soldiers of Allah" who were "fighting for shariah" [Islamic law].

"The whole aspect is for you to get shahada [martyred] for you to be shaheed [martyr]," he added.

Dawood said Hamid motioned as if holding a gun and said: "Everybody wants a bit of that."

. . . The meetings continued and at Hamid's house on July 14 his followers could be heard laughing at the death of a Muslim soldier fighting for British forces in Afghanistan.

Hamid told the meeting: "There's enough of them here that you know, you got House of Parliament, then you've got the things around it…you can pick them off like that, you understand?"

On July 22 2006 Hamid held a "family weekend" at the Jameah Islamiyah school in Crowborough, Sussex.

The school, a sprawling former Catholic seminary and ballet school set in 54 acres, had been used by both Abu Hamza and Sussex Police, who attended diversity training programmes there, but had only 12 pupils and has since been shut down after failing an Ofsted inspection.

In a recording made by Dawood, Hamid was heard telling him: "You know what happened on the Tubes, four people got shaheed (martyred).

"How many people did they take out? That's not even a breakfast for me."

On the same weekend, Ahmet sang a song to children at the camp to a callipso tune: "Come mister Taliban, come bomb England. Before the daylight come, you wanna see ten Downing Street done."

Hamid was aware he could be under surveillance by MI5 and as his group drove home from a camping trip, they passed Paddington Green police station where terrorist suspects are held and Hamid taunted: "Here is your terrorist. I'm here come and get me." . . .

Read the entire article. And lastly, there are the utterly clueless – and indeed, malignant – multiculturalists at the BBC:

A BBC producer failed to give police information that would have helped track down the July 21 bombers, the trial was told.

Don't Panic, I'm Islamic, which featured the group paintballing and an interview with Mohammed Hamid, was shown on BBC2 on June 12, 2005.

Nasreen Suleaman, the producer, told the court that Hamid said he would use his £300 fee to settle the fine he had been given by magistrates for racially abusing two policemen at his Oxford Street stall.

Called as a defence witness, Miss Suleaman admitted that she had spoken to Hamid in the days following the July 21 attacks and found out he knew the wanted men.
She said she thought he was scared the fugitives might try to call him but did not contact the police because she felt under "no obligation" to do so.

Miss Suleaman claimed she told BBC managers of the situation but no one passed on the information to the authorities. . . .

Read the article here. The BBC is every bit as problematic in Britain as the NYT is in the U.S., if not moreso.


Obamanations on Defense & the Economy

This is an undated video with Obama's plan for a real minimizing of our defensive capabilities. Coupled with his plans to chat over tea with Iran, Obama portends to be a disaster not only to America's national security, but to its ability to defend itself. (H/T Powerline)

And there is this from WSJ on Obama's plan to "end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America." It reads like a blueprint to unionize all major businesses in America and it demonstrates no understanding of economics:

Mr. Obama's proposal would designate certain companies as "patriot employers" and favor them over other, presumably not so patriotic, businesses.

The legislation takes four pages to define "patriotic" companies as those that: "pay at least 60 percent of each employee's health care premiums"; have a position of "neutrality in employee [union] organizing drives"; "maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in the United States relative to the number of full-time workers outside of the United States"; pay a salary to each employee "not less than an amount equal to the federal poverty level"; and provide a pension plan.

In other words, a patriotic employer is one which fulfills the fondest Big Labor agenda, regardless of the competitive implications. The proposal ignores the marketplace reality that businesses hire a work force they can afford to pay and still make money. Coercing companies into raising wages and benefits above market rates may only lead to fewer workers getting hired in the first place.

Under Mr. Obama's plan, "patriot employers" qualify for a 1% tax credit on their profits. To finance this tax break, American companies with subsidiaries abroad would have to pay the U.S. corporate tax on profits earned abroad, rather than the corporate tax of the host country where they are earned. Since the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, while most of the world has a lower rate, this amounts to a big tax increase on earnings owned abroad.

Put another way, U.S. companies would suddenly have to pay a higher tax rate than their Chinese, Japanese and European competitors. According to research by Peter Merrill, an international tax expert at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, this change would "raise the cost of capital of U.S. multinationals and cause them to lose market share to foreign rivals." Apparently Mr. Obama believes that by making U.S. companies less profitable and less competitive world-wide, they will somehow be able to create more jobs in America.

He has it backwards: The offshore activities of U.S. companies tend to increase rather than reduce domestic business. A 2005 National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists from Harvard and the University of Michigan found that more foreign investment by U.S. companies leads to greater domestic investment, and that U.S. firms' hiring of more offshore workers is positively, not negatively, associated with the number of American workers they hire. That's in part because often what is produced overseas by subsidiaries are component parts to final, higher-value-added products manufactured here.

Mr. Obama is also proposing to raise tax rates on affluent individuals, as well as on capital gains and dividends. This would also lead to more capital and jobs leaving the U.S. The after-tax return on U.S. investment would fall appreciably if these tax hikes were adopted, and no amount of tax-credit subsidy will keep capital from fleeing to lower tax jurisdictions.

If the U.S. didn't impose the second highest corporate income tax rate in the world, companies would have less incentive to move jobs overseas. Rather than giving politically correct companies a 1% tax credit, it makes more sense to reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate for everyone -- by at least 10 percentage points to the global average.

Economists have long understood that companies don't really pay taxes; they merely collect them. A study by the American Enterprise Institute has shown that U.S. workers bear the cost of the corporate income tax in lower wages and salaries. To borrow Mr. Obama's language, what's really unpatriotic is the 35% U.S. corporate tax rate.

Read the entire article.

Obama scares me. His presidency would yank our nation deep into socialism, reduce our defense, and see an explosion of radical Islam. We are at a crucial moment in history. There was only so much damage a Jimmy Carter presidency could do, occurring when it did. Obama portends to be far worse than Carter, and his candidacy comes about at a time when he really could drive America into a second-class state.


Management Parables

A friend in academia across the pond shared these nuggets of wisdom. They are quite clever. Enjoy.


Lesson 1:

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings.

The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs.

When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbour.

Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you $800 to drop that towel.'

After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob, after a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.

The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.

When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, 'Who was that?'

'It was Bob the next door neighbour,' she replies.

'Great,' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?'

Moral of the story:

If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:

A priest offered a Nun a lift.

She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.

The priest nearly had an accident.

After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.

The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand
slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest apologized 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'

Moral of the story:

If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3:

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.

They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.' 'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.' Puff! She's gone.

'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.'

Puff! He's gone.

'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.'

Moral of the story:

Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.

A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?' The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:

To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull.

'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.' 'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients.'

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.

The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.

He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:

Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there . . .

Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.

While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.

As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was.

The dung was actually thawing him out!

He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.

Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:

(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.

(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.

(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Watcher's Council Nominations - 26 February 2008

Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for best post. The Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning. The Watcher also has a process for anyone who would like to submit one of their posts for consideration as part of the weekly contest. You can find out more about that here. This week's nominations are:


Council Posts:

1. The Colossus of Rhodey - Mrs. Obama's ‘Proud’ Remark: It's the GOP's Fault
CoR ponders the genesis of Ms. Obama's angst with America and liberal academia.

2. Done With Mirrors - Packer on Iraq
DWM critiques George Packer's article on Iraq, interspersing it with his own assessments of historical parallels.

3. The Glittering Eye - Unforced Errors
GWM makes three very important points about Clinton's intervention in Kosovo. One, it was not in our national interest. Two, it pointed up the weakness of Clintonesque limited objective "humanitarian intervention." Three, our actions as regards Kosovo have been one in a series that have seen European nations pass the costs of defending their interests onto the U.S.

4. Soccer Dad - Find the Adjectives
I linked to this post earlier today. Soccer Dad takes a semantic knife to a bit of MSM agenda journalism. He leaves the flayed remains in his wake.

5. Wolf Howling - Obama (with links) & McCain's Petard
McCain has problems on the horizon with campaign financing. Obama is in the middle of McCain's problem at the moment.

6. Big Lizards - Associated Press, Like Others, Retails Malicious Rumor as "Reporting"
The Lizard uses his own semantic knife on an AP article that compares McCain's wife favorably to the other wive's of politicians whose husband's actually have been caught with pants at half mast. The problem of course is that Ms. McCain is not a member of that not quite so august crowd.

7. Cheat Seeking Missiles - In A PC Nation, How Will The GOP Run?
Updated: After rereading CSM's piece, I find it far more nuanced than I gave Laer credit for in the initial reading, and I think that Laer's first draft at a response to the racial politics charge is a very good one. I liked this piece much better on the second read. I think though, that McCain will be able to weather the racial storm probably better than Laer thinks. I note his public denunciation in Texas of the shock jock's comments about Obama was precisely the way he needs to handle that type of situation. I think it will be very difficult indeed to make any racial charges stick against McCain - and indeed, they could well backfire.

8. Bookworm Room - The Pursuit of Happiness
The age old argument of what should be the role of government in our individual lives. BWR uses the vastly different precatory language of the Declaration of Indepenance in juxatoposition with the preamble to the California constitution as the vehicles to frame her arguments.

9. The Education Wonks - John Murtha: Porker of the Year!
Actually, I think Murtha has a lifetime achievement award coming due on this one.

10. Joshuapundit - "I'd rather be with God against man than with man against God..."
The story of a prinicpled man who paid the price for his good deeds, but who has now been recognized for his heroism.

11. Rhymes With Right - An Ethics Flap That Isn't
RWR takes on the NYT McCain hit piece and the logic of those on the left who so want to believe that there is mud hidden under all the dust the NYT has kicked up.

12. Right Wing Nut House - Still At Risk: The Shocking Ignorance of Our Young
I agree with Rick that there is a huge problem with the teaching of our cultural heritage and the state of knowledge amongst our teenagers. I do not think he has identified the crux of the problems. There is nothing wrong with standardized tests. And the claim that teachers are teaching to the exam rather than teaching their subject I don't think a valid argument. I think the problem is that we have stopped teaching literature and history and, in their stead, adopted social studies and using the classroom to teach greater social truths. And if you trace this back, you will find socialism and multiculturalism at its core.

Non-Council links:

1. The Washington Post - The Dumbing of America

2. Roger L. Simon - Bobby Kennedy and Why Obama Unnerves Me

3. Kings of War - Greece and Rome in Iraq

4. My Shrapnel - To Die in Jerusalem, Part II

5. Dr. Sanity - The Democrats' Collective Cognitive Catatonia

6. Captain's Quarters - Clark Hoyt, Conscientious Objector

7. - DoD News Briefing with Col. James from Iraq

8. National Journal - Obama Logic Versus Racial Preferences

9. Michelle Malkin - 15 Years: The World Trade Center Bombing

10. Michael J. Totten - Guns in the Desert

11. Hillbilly White Trash - Hillary Is Losing

12. American Thinker - The Fierce Urgency of Lies

13. Validating AGW SkepticismThe QandO Blog

14. Fox News Headline -- Video Gamers Leave Baby To DieDodgeblogium