Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iran & The Nuclear EMP Threat

In a world on the edge of unchecked nuclear proliferation, an asymetric threat can also be an existential one.

With that in mind, here is an interesting question. To do the most damage to the U.S., where would you detonate a single nuclear warhead? Hidden in a Sea-Land container in NYC? Perhaps carried in the hull of a ship going to port in LA? Or somewhere else?

If you said Kansas, go to the head of the line.

If you said 250 miles or so above Kansas, give yourself a gold star. You know your weapons of mass destruction.

That is the "EMP" threat. It would knock our entire country from the modern age to the horse and buggy era in under a second. It would be the penultimate form of asymetric warfare. And there are indications that Iran is seeking such a capability.

When a nuclear weapon explodes, it produces a high energy magnetic pulse that can do damage at distances vastly beyond the blast radius of a nuclear weapon. As a rule of thumb, the distance at which an EMP will be felt will be to the end of the visual horizon as seen from the point of detonation. Thus a blast 250 miles above Kansas would effect all of the continental U.S. An EMP is not dangerous to humans, but it will fry unprotected electronics. When I say unprotected, I mean virtually all of the non-military electronics in the U.S. on which we are dependent for everything from energy to transportation to communications. It is an incredibly serious threat.

Ken Timmerman, writing at NewsMax, describes troubling tests by Iran that suggest they are seeking to develop an EMP capability:

. . . In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t have a story” to explain the recent Iranian tests.

One group of tests that troubled Graham, the former White House science adviser under President Ronald Reagan, were successful efforts to launch a Scud missile from a platform in the Caspian Sea.

“They’ve got [test] ranges in Iran which are more than long enough to handle Scud launches and even Shahab-3 launches,” Dr. Graham said. “Why would they be launching from the surface of the Caspian Sea? They obviously have not explained that to us.”

Another troubling group of tests involved Shahab-3 launches where the Iranians "detonated the warhead near apogee, not over the target area where the thing would eventually land, but at altitude,” Graham said. “Why would they do that?”

Graham chairs the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, a blue-ribbon panel established by Congress in 2001.

The commission examined the Iranian tests “and without too much effort connected the dots,” even though the U.S. intelligence community previously had failed to do so, Graham said.

“The only plausible explanation we can find is that the Iranians are figuring out how to launch a missile from a ship and get it up to altitude and then detonate it,” he said. “And that’s exactly what you would do if you had a nuclear weapon on a Scud or a Shahab-3 or other missile, and you wanted to explode it over the United States.”

The commission warned in a report issued in April that the United States was at risk of a sneak nuclear attack by a rogue nation or a terrorist group designed to take out our nation’s critical infrastructure.

"If even a crude nuclear weapon were detonated anywhere between 40 kilometers to 400 kilometers above the earth, in a split-second it would generate an electro-magnetic pulse [EMP] that would cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure," the report warned.

While not causing immediate civilian casualties, the near-term impact on U.S. society would dwarf the damage of a direct nuclear strike on a U.S. city.

“The first indication [of such an attack] would be that the power would go out, and some, but not all, the telecommunications would go out. We would not physically feel anything in our bodies,” Graham said.

As electric power, water and gas delivery systems failed, there would be “truly massive traffic jams,” Graham added, since modern automobiles and signaling systems all depend on sophisticated electronics that would be disabled by the EMP wave.

“So you would be walking. You wouldn’t be driving at that point,” Graham said. “And it wouldn’t do any good to call the maintenance or repair people because they wouldn’t be able to get there, even if you could get through to them.”

The food distribution system also would grind to a halt as cold-storage warehouses stockpiling perishables went offline. Even warehouses equipped with backup diesel generators would fail, because “we wouldn’t be able to pump the fuel into the trucks and get the trucks to the warehouses,” Graham said.

The United States “would quickly revert to an early 19th century type of country.” except that we would have 10 times as many people with ten times fewer resources, he said.

. . . In his recent congressional testimony, Graham revealed that Iranian military journals, translated by the CIA at his commission’s request, “explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States.”

Furthermore, if Iran launched its attack from a cargo ship plying the commercial sea lanes off the East coast — a scenario that appears to have been tested during the Caspian Sea tests — U.S. investigators might never determine who was behind the attack. Because of the limits of nuclear forensic technology, it could take months. And to disguise their traces, the Iranians could simply decide to sink the ship that had been used to launch it, Graham said.

. . . While not explicitly naming Iran, Rumsfeld revealed that “one of the nations in the Middle East had launched a ballistic missile from a cargo vessel. They had taken a short-range, probably Scud missile, put it on a transporter-erector launcher, lowered it in, taken the vessel out into the water, peeled back the top, erected it, fired it, lowered it, and covered it up. And the ship that they used was using a radar and electronic equipment that was no different than 50, 60, 100 other ships operating in the immediate area.”

. . . Rep. Trent Franks, R, Ariz., plans to introduce legislation next week that would require the Pentagon to lay the groundwork for an eventual military strike against Iran, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and EMP capability.

“An EMP attack on America would send us back to the horse and buggy era — without the horse and buggy,” he told the Claremont Institute conference on Saturday. “If you’re a terrorist, this is your ultimate goal, your ultimate asymmetric weapon.”

Noting Iran’s recent sea-launched and mid-flight warhead detonation tests, Rep. Franks concluded, “They could do it — either directly or anonymously by putting some freighter out there on the ocean. . . .“

Read the entire article.

Who, by the way, was the idiot not too long ago who said we have no reason to feel threatened by Iran?


So Boys, Are You Just Happy To See Me . . .

Or are you just an Islamic suicide bomber packing explosives in your cod piece?

If one goes to the latest Islamic Radical fashion show and ganders at the cat-walk, they will find suicide vests are out, but that suicide cod pieces for the men and anal floss for the ladies are now apparently all the rage. This from Pakistan's Daily Times:

Would-be suicide bombers could be using explosives “underwear briefs” rather than explosives jackets to evade “conservative” body searches, sources said on Wednesday.

Sihala Police College forensic lab sources told Daily Times that the study of recent suicide attacks showed that suicide bombers used “explosives-laden” under-garments, briefs in particular, to carry out the attacks.

The sources said that the explosives could weigh between five kilogrammes to seven kilogrammes, made deadly by adding glass splinters, metal ball bearings and bullets. The law enforcers normally search upper body parts sparing the “privates”, the sources said, hence assailants are increasingly using the lower body parts to dodge the searches. The sources said that forensic experts were trying to devise methods to pre-empt suicide bombing. The experts have achieved successes in “Post Bombing Investigation,” the sources said, adding that resources are sharpening “Pre Bombing Investigation” techniques.

This is nothing more than the evolution of tactics against counter-tactics, but it does present a problem for the sexually repressive regimes of the Middle East who not only prescribe clothing that is fully adapted to hiding bombs, but who also proscribe nearly anything that hints of sex in the public realm. Trying to adapt 7th century culture and taboos to 21st century technology in the hands of psychopaths who want a complete return of society to their vision of the 7th century sets up an interesting conundrum.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Watcher's Council Nominations

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. Historically, the Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning.

As reported last week, the Watcher has withdrawn from the council. A new, permenant Watcher will likely be appointed shortly. For this week, Bookworm Room is acting as Watcher. This week's nominations are:

Council Nominations:

1. The Razor: Here’s my response to Jack Markell’s commercial

2. Done With Mirrors: Us and Them

3. Wolf Howling: Stop The Destruction of Our Environment — Drill Now

4. Soccer Dad: Hating israel more than loving palestinians

5. Cheat-Seeking Missiles: An Awful Idea for Renaming a Perfectly Good Mountain

6. The Colossus of Rhodey: And Phil Gramm got grief? How come?

7. The Glittering Eye: Ooh-ooh-ooooh!

8. Rhymes With Right: Obama Desecrates Holiest Site In Judaism

9. Joshua Pundit: “Ich Bin Ein Beginner!”

10. Hillbilly White Trash: China

11. Bookworm Room: Nobody here but us biased chickens


1. Bjorn Lomborg: How to Get The Biggest Bang for 10 Billion Bucks

2. Daniel W. Drezner: America’s soft power military

3. Jammie Wearing Fool: A Real Democrat Party

4. Maryland Conservatarian: Visiting Poland : A Warning

5. Patrick Poole - Pajamas Media: Anti-Patriot Act Poster Boy Kidnaps Own Kids

6. The Atlantic Online: Electro-Shock Therapy

7. Gregory Scoblete - Real Clear Politics: Will Obama Really Withdraw from Iraq?

8. UrbanGrounds: Barry in Berlin — I Am Not a Presidential Candidate

9. Jay Cost - Real Clear Politics: On Obama’s Message

10. Investor’s Business Daily Barack Obama’s Stealth Socialism

11. Jeff Jacoby Missing from that Berlin speech


Amateur Hour

We better hope this man is not as totally clueless as he appears when speaking extemporaneously.


Obama cannot seriously believe what he is saying here. Even the crowd of Obama supporters, whose silence is defeaning, seem to understand that what Obama is saying does not pass the laugh test. Given that the latest CNN poll shows over two thirds of all Americans support offshore drilling and the exploitation of our own resource, it would seem there were a few of that two thirds in the audience.

This from Powerline:

Just for fun, I did the math. Properly inflating your tires can improve gas mileage by 3%. Of course, many people already keep their tires properly inflated, and many more are at least close to being properly inflated. Let's be generous and assume that one-half of the total possible savings would be realized if we all inflated our tires properly; that's a net gain of 1.5% fuel efficiency.

Americans drive approximately 2,880 billion miles per year. If we average 24 mpg, we use around 120 billion gallons of gasoline in our vehicles. If, through perfect tire inflation, we improved our collective fuel efficiency by 1.5%, that would be 1.8 billion gallons. A barrel of oil produces around 20 gallons of gasoline, so the total savings available through tire inflation is approximately 90,000,000 barrels of oil annually.

How does this stack up against "all the oil that they're talking about getting off drilling?"

ANWR: 10,000,000,000 barrels
Outer Continental Shelf: 18,000,000,000 barrels (estimated; the actual total is undoubtedly much higher, since exploration has been banned)
Oil shale: 1,000,000,000,000 barrels . . .

You actually have to break into exponential notation to show the mathmatical relationship between the oil to be had from drilling our own resources and the pittance to be saved from tire inflation. This really is amateur hour.

The press will have a field day with this tomorrow. There is no way they can try to cover-up a gaffe of this magnitude on this important of an issue. So you know the press corps are sharpening their quills now. Just hold your breath and wait for it . . .


Trying To Defend The Indefensible

The left, led by the Washington Post, is complaining that the attack on Obama for his decision not to visit wounded soldiers at the Landstuhl RMC is unjustified. They clearly do not understand that there is a bright line here, and however you try and spin it or justify it, Obama displayed extremely poor judgment and lack of concern by crossing it.

Landstuhl RMC is where the U.S. military transfers its seriously wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama was scheduled to visit the wounded soldiers there. The military contacted Obama's staff, letting them know that he was welcome, but that his "army" of reporters and staff were not, including one of his campaign advisors who was also a retired AF General. Obama then chose not to attend, putting the best possible spin on it - that he did so out of concern for the troops.

Lynne Sweet at the Chicago Sun Times asked Obama for a clarification which she believes makes Obama's decision justifiable.

Q. Can you clear up the controversy about visiting the troops in Germany, the Pentagon said you were more welcome to come but you cant bring the media and were not allowed to bring campaign staff other than that you are more than welcome anytime, inaudible, we have gotten a few conflicting claims...

OBAMA: The staff was working this so I don't know each and every detail but here is what I understand happened. We had scheduled to go, we had no problem at all in leaving, we always leave press and staff off that is why we left it off the schedule. We were treating it in the same way we treat a visit to Walter Reed which I was able to do a few weeks ago without any fanfare whatsoever. I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, former military officer. And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn't on the senate staff.

That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political and the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns. So rather than go forward and potentially get caught up in what might have been considered a political controversy of some sort what we decided was that we not make a visit and instead I would call some of the troops that were that. So that essentially would be the extent of the story.

Ms. Sweet, like the Washington Post and like Obama, simply does not get it.

Some things are apolitical. Visiting soldiers who are severely wounded is one of them. It is never inappropriate. It should never be weighed on the scales of political expediency.

Mr. Obama's ostensible concern for the staff having to sort through "whether this is political or not" is pure bull. His campaign was already told that he personally would be welcome, minus his entourage. His further reasoning that the troops "might get caught up in the crossfire between the campaigns" is equally baseless and even more inexplicable. Those troops at Landstuhl now know two things. Obama visited Germany to speak before 200,000 screaming Euro-lefties, but then did not make the visit over to the quieter section of Germany where they lie in beds convalescing from attacks by enemies of our country. As an aside, regardless of what anyone thinks of McCain, is it possible to envisage him criticizing Obama for visiting our wounded soldiers personally?

Obama made a decision. It was a wrong one. Apologists can spin this one any way they want to, but Obama's decision not to visit our troops crossed a bright line.

I wrote yesterday, in response to a different matter, "I could think of no man less qualified to be commander in chief than Obama. That belief is far from predicated on his lack of any military experience. It seems clear that his decision making will be guided by political expediency rather than principle. It seems clear that his decision making will always prioritize the political over military necessity or force protection. . . ." Obama's decision not to visit our wounded soldiers without press and staff falls completely in line with my assessment. No matter how anyone spins it, it showed his very poor judgement.

Let's give the former CSM of Landstuhl RMC, Craig Layton, the last word on this matter:

"Having spent two years as the Command Sergeant Major at Landstuhl Hospital, I am always grateful for the attention that facility receives from members of Congress. There is no more important work done by the United States Army than to care for those who have been wounded in the service our country. While Americans troops remain engaged in two hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a steady stream of casualties to the hospital, and a steady stream of visitors who wish to meet with those troops and thank them for their service.

"Senator Obama has explained his decision to cancel a scheduled visit there by blaming the military, which would not allow one of his political advisers to join him in a tour of the facility. Why Senator Obama felt he needed an adviser with him to visit U.S. troops is unclear, but if Senator Obama isn't comfortable meeting wounded American troops without his entourage, perhaps he does not have the experience necessary to serve as commander in chief."

(H/T Gateway Pundit)


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) Indicted On Seven Counts

King of pork, author of the Bridge to Nowhere, and the corrupt poster child for all that was wrong with the Republican Party, has been indicted on seven counts by a grand jury in Washington, D.C.

This from McClatchy News:

Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate and one of the chamber's most powerful members, was indicted Tuesday in Washington for failing to disclose more than $250,000 worth of gifts that he received from businessmen who were seeking his help on federal issues and projects.

The seven-count indictment charges Stevens with making false statements by failing to disclose things of value he received from the Veco Corp., an Alaska-based oil services compmany, and from its CEO, Bill Allen, over an eight-year period.

The indictment charges that among the undeclared items were substantial improvements to Stevens' home in Girdwood, Alaska; automobile exchanges in which he received new vehicles that were worth far more than the old ones he exchanged; and household goods, including a Viking gas grill.

At the same time, according to the indictment, Stevens received solicitations for official actions from Allen and and other Veco employees, and used his office on behalf of Veco.

The federal Ethics in Government Act requires all senators to file financial disclosures statements detailing their transactions during the previous calendar year, including the disclosure of gifts above a specified value and all liabilities greater than $10,000.

Allen, the former Veco CEO and Richard Smith, a former Veco vice-president of community affairs and government relations, pleaded guilty in May, 2007, to providing more than $400k in corrupt payments to public officials from Alaska.

A broad federal investigation of public corruption has been under way in Alaska for more than four years, . . .

Alaska's sole congressman, Don Young, is also under federal investigation.

Stevens' home in Girdwood was renovated in 2000. Those renovations doubled the size of the home and were overseen by Veco Corp. chief executive Bill Allen. Witnesses with knowledge of Veco's role have reported testifying before grand juries in Anchorage and Washington, D.C.

Stevens has said he paid all the bills he was presented, leaving open the question of whether he was billed the entire amount. . . .

Read the entire article. All I can say is, it's about time.


Taheri On Obama's Perfidy & Naivity

Amir Taheri opines in the NY Sun today on Obama's world tour, providing some fascinating observations from his sources in Iraq and Europe. They track with what I have been saying since I started this blog - that the far left wants to declare Iraq illegitimate and a defeat for political gain. It is perfidy, partisanship and naivity writ on a grand scale. And in part, Taheri explores the hypocrisy and consequences inherent in Obama's call to leave Iraq in order to shore up Afghanistan with two combat brigades.

This from Amir Taheri:

Termed a "learning" trip, Sen. Barack Obama's eight- day tour of eight nations in the Middle East and Europe turned out to be little more than a series of photo ops to enhance his international credentials.

"He looked like a man in a hurry," a source close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said last week. "He was not interested in what we had to say."

Still, many Iraqis liked Obama's claim that the improved situation in Iraq owed to Iraqi efforts rather than the Gen. David Petraeus-led surge. In public and private comments, Obama tried to give the impression that the Iraqis would've achieved the same results even without the greater resources America has poured into the country since 2007.

In private, though, Iraqi officials admit that Obama's analysis is "way off the mark." Without the surge, the Sunni tribes wouldn't have switched sides to help flush out al Qaeda. And the strong US military presence enabled the new Iraqi army to defeat Iran-backed Shiite militias in Basra and Baghdad.

Nevertheless, in public at least, no Iraqi politician wants to appear more appreciative of American sacrifices than the man who may become the next US president.

Iraqis were most surprised by Obama's apparent readiness to throw away all the gains made in Iraq simply to prove that he'd been right in opposing the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. "He gave us the impression that the last thing he wanted was for Iraq to look anything like a success for the United States," a senior Iraqi official told me. "As far as he is concerned, this is Bush's war and must end in lack of success, if not actual defeat."

Even so, Obama knows that most Americans believe they're still at war with an enemy prepared to use terror against them. So he can't do what his antiwar base wants - declare an end to the War on Terror and the start of a period of love and peace in which "citizens of the world" build bridges between civilizations.

That's why Obama is trying to adopt Afghanistan as "his" war. He claims that Bush's focus on Iraq has left Afghanistan an orphan in need of love and attention. Even though US military strategy is to enable America to fight two major wars simultaneously, Obama seems to believe that only one war is possible at a time.

But what does that mean practically?

Obama says he wants to shift two brigades (some of his advisers say two battalions) from Iraq to Afghanistan. But where did that magical figure come from? From NATO, which has been calling on its members to provide more troops since 2006.

NATO wants the added troops mainly to improve the position of its reserves in Afghanistan. The alliance doesn't face an actual shortage of combat units - it's merely facing a rotation schedule that obliges some units to stay in the field for up to six weeks longer than is normal for NATO armies.

Overall, NATO hopes that its members will have no difficulty providing the 5,000 more troops it needs for a "surge." So there's no need for the US to abandon Iraq in order to help Afghanistan.

The immediate effect of Obama's plan to abandon Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan is to ease pressure on other NATO members to make a greater contribution. Even in Paris, some critics think that President Nicolas Sarkozy should postpone sending more troops until after the US presidential election. "If President Obama can provide all the manpower needed in Afghanistan, there is no need for us to commit more troops," said a Sarkozy security adviser.

Obama's move would suit Sarkozy fine because he's reducing the size of the French army and closing more than 80 garrisons. Other Europeans would also be pleased. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will soon face a difficult general election in which her main rivals will be calling for an end to "the Afghan adventure."

Today, with the sole exception of Spain (where the mildly anti-American Socialist Party is in power), pro-US parties govern Europe. These parties feel pressure from the Bush administration to translate their pro-American claims into actual support for the Afghanistan war effort. By promising to shoulder the burden, Obama is letting the European allies off the hook.

. . . Having announced his strategy before embarking on his "listening tour," he couldn't be expected to change his mind simply because facts on the ground offered a different picture. . . .

Read the entire article. One of the things Taheri misses in the above is that Obama is the Chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee for Europe. While our problems in Afghanistan are NATO related, Obama has yet to hold a single hearing to find out why our NATO allies are not cooperating and to bring pressure on them to do more.

I could think of no man less qualified to be commander in chief than Obama. That belief is far from predicated on his lack of any military experience. It seems clear that his decision making will be guided by political expediency rather than principle. It seems clear that his decision making will always prioritize the political over military necessity or force protection. While he will no doubt make the American hating far left happy, what that translates into for those who have volunteered to served and defend this nation is dead U.S. soldiers.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Michael O'Hanlon - Assessing Success In Iraq

At the American Prospect, the editors ask "how important was the surge?" This after Obama who, in order to suggest that his judgement in opposing the surge was not as grossly poor as in reality it was, has shown the even worse judgment in denigrating the importance of the surge, crediting the lions share of the success to the Anbar Awakening and Sadr's cease fire, as if both were unrelated to the surge. I've answered this question several times, but Michael O'Hanlon has the most articulate and accurate answer to date.

What was the most important factor in the dramatic turnaround in Iraq over the past year or so (a period during which violence rates have declined by at least 75 percent and about half of key legislative goals have been partially or fully satisfied, even if much remains to be done?) There is room for some debate in this matter, to be sure, but only so much. It seems incontrovertible to me that several major factors, including certainly the surge, were hugely important--and also synergistically important, in that the sum of effects was much greater than the sum of the parts.

Certainly the Sunni Anbar Awakening gets high marks. It was the first thing to happen in the last two years of major note. It brought much of the core of the insurgency into alliance with the United States and Iraqi government, and over time it spread to the Baghdad belts and increasingly to the north of Iraq.

However, it was the United States that organized the Awakening tribes into a coherent military and policing effort.

It was the United States, with Iraqi Security Forces, that cleared cities like Ramadi -- and unlike in past efforts, kept forces there afterwards to preserve the stability and keep extremists like al-Qaeda in Iraq out of the places from which they had been driven. It was the United States that sufficiently intimidated Muqtada al-Sadr into realizing a ceasefire better served his interests than would a renewal of battle. It was American and Iraqi security forces that, in larger numbers than before and with new operational guidelines and tactics, built blast barriers near markets, put up concrete dividers along sectarian fault lines in Baghdad, created joint security stations and started walking the streets to protect the Iraqi population, and conducted raids on insurgent safehouses and weapons caches at two to three times the rate of previous years (largely due to improved intelligence made possible by a safer, friendler, better protected population). And through all these combined efforts, it was largely the United States that was able to figure out which Iraqi commanders needed to be purged -- and that then put pressure on the Iraqi government to replace them.

On balance, many things were important, but the surge and the associated emphasis on better protection for the Iraqi population were crucial -- and absolutely necessary to the huge progress that has been made.

Yeah. What he said.


The Bounce

Obama did his world tour. He announced his findings and plan for Iraq and Afghanistan and then visited those countries. He did Europe where he had to remind people that he would not be voted in as President until November. The Germans went wild. The Brits were in awe. Our troops, a bit less so, but he did not see them that often, so no problems there. The press coverage was all Obama, all the time. It has become so obvious that the MSM is in the tank for Obama one was surprised to hear the occasional mention of John McCain.

So here it comes. The bounce in the polls. . . . .

It is now McCain by 4 points.

That according to the latest from the USA Today-Gallup Poll.

As Gateway Pundit puts it, ruh roh. One can only imagine the sudden breakout of tourettes on the far left this afternoon.

Yes, I know this is but one poll. Yet . . . Abe Lincoln has been validated. You really can't fool all the people all the time.


Collision Course With The Mad Mullahs

The Iranian theocracy's dash towards a nuclear arsenal as picked up speed as they make no attempt now to engage in even the motions of cooperation on the nuclear issue. The U.S. changed its policy and met as part of unilateral negotiations with Iran to no avail. Ahmedinejad has announced a near doubling in centrifuge capacity at Natanz, turning out enriched uranium on an industrial scale. There are many meetings going on between U.S. and the Israeli government. The immediate question is whether President Bush will deal with this problem while he is still in office or whether he will kick it down the road. The former is seeming more likely.

The mad mullahs race towards a nuclear weapon grows ever apace. On Saturday, Ahmedinejad announced that Iran had doubled the enrichment capacity of its Natanz plant to 6,000 centrifuges. Iran has no use for this nuclear fuel in any sort of civilian energy program. Nonetheless, as Fox reported:

A total of 3,000 centrifuges is the commonly accepted figure for a nuclear enrichment program that surpasses the experimental stage and can be used as a platform for a full industrial-scale program that could churn out enough material for dozens of nuclear weapons.

Iran says it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that ultimately will involve 54,000 centrifuges.

Moreover, Iran has announced a complete halt to cooperation with the IAEA and their probe of the nature of Iran's nuclear program. This also from Fox News:

Iran on Thursday signaled it will no longer cooperate with International Atomic Energy Agency experts investigating for signs of nuclear weapons programs, confirming that the probe — launched a year ago with great expectations — was at a dead end.

Coming from Iranian Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the announcement compounded international skepticism about denting Tehran's nuclear defiance just five days after Tehran stonewalled demands from six world powers to suspend activities that can produce the fissile core of warheads.

Besides demanding a stop to uranium enrichment — which can create both fuel and the nuclear missile payloads — the international community also has been pressuring Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA in its probe of allegations that Tehran hid attempts to make nuclear arms.

That investigation was launched a year ago under a so-called "work plan" between the Vienna-based agency and Tehran.

Back then, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei hailed it as "a significant step forward" that — if honored by Iran — would fill in the missing pieces of Iran's nuclear jigsaw puzzle; nearly two decades of atomic work, all of it clandestine until revealed by dissidents nearly six years ago. And he brushed aside suggestions that Iran was using the work plan as a smoke screen to deflect attention away from its continued defiance of a U.N. Security Council ban on enrichment.

But the plan ran into trouble just months after it was put into operation. Deadline after deadline was extended because of Iranian foot-dragging. The probe, originally to have been completed late last year, spilled into the first months of 2008, and then beyond.

Iran remains defiant, saying evidence from the U.S. and other board members purportedly backing the allegations was fabricated, and on Thursday Aghazadeh appeared to signal that his country was no longer prepared even to discuss the issue with the Vienna-based IAEA. . . .

Read the entire article.

And a month ago, Bush radically reversed U.S. policy and took part directly in a meeting with Iran on its nuclear issue. The meeting, which also involved the EU-3, China and Russia was a joke, with Iran refusing to discuss nuclear enrichment then or in the future. Was that meeting designed to justify a U.S. attack on Iran? That is certainly looking more plausible as time goes on. This from the Jerusalem Post:

Recent talks the United States held with Iran are aimed at creating legitimacy for a potential attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, defense officials speculated on Sunday as Defense Minister Ehud Barak headed to Washington for talks with senior administration officials.

Barak will travel to Washington and New York and will hold talks with his counterpart Robert Gates, Vice President Dick Cheney, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

. . . IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi returned to Israel on Sunday from a week-long visit to the US as Mullen's guest. Ashkenazi held talks with Cheney, Hadley and other senior officials with a focus on the Iranian nuclear program.

"There is a lot of strategic thinking concerning Iran going on right now but no one has yet to make a decision what to do," said a top IDF officer, involved in the dialogue between Israel and the US. "We are still far away from the point where military officers are poring over maps together planning an operation."

In recent weeks, Mullen has said publicly that he is opposed to military action against Iran which would open a "third front" for the US military which is currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. . . .

Barak's talks in the US come a little over a week after the Bush administration sent its number three diplomat to Geneva to participate in European Union talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

The move led to reports that the US was changing its isolation tactic vis-à-vis Iran but Israeli defense officials speculated Sunday that the move was really a ploy to buy international support in the event that Bush decides to attack Iran in his last months in office.

"This way they will be able to say they tried everything," one official speculated. "This increases America's chances of gaining more public support domestically as well as the support of European nations which are today opposed to military action." . . .

Diplomatic officials have speculated that the Iran-US talks were also connected to the presidential elections.

Read the entire article. If we are going to go to war with Iran over the nuclear issue - and I think it is inevitable - the sooner the better. Waiting will only benefit Iran, much like waiting through the mid-30's allowed the Nazi's to go from extreme weakness to a war machine of sufficient size that it cost tens of millions of lives to defeat. The problem is exponentially more dangerous when the topic under discussion is a nuclear arsenal. We forget the lesson of Nazi Germany at our peril.


General Petraeus Goes Public With Opposition To Obama's Timelines

McClatchy Newspapers has interviewed General Petraeus on the idea of a timetable for the withdraw of all U.S. combat brigades from Iraq. While General Petraeus has warned against timelines in his repeated appearances before Congress, this is his first public assessment in the papers, during the heat of a political campaign, and with peace taking hold in Iraq. General Petraeus also addressed many of these same themes in an interview with NPR, in which he also added that PM Maliki raised the issue of tying withdraw to conditions in his meeting with Obama. Obama, for his part, continues to "refine" his position on Iraq.


This from a McClatchey interview with General Petraeus:

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq isn't buying the increasingly popular idea of a publicly stated timetable for American troop withdrawal.

Gen. David Petraeus, the Iraq commander, said in an interview with McClatchy that the situation in Iraq is too volatile to "project out, and to then try to plant a flag on, a particular date."

With violence at its lowest levels of the war, politicians in both the United States and Iraq are getting behind the idea of a departure timetable. . . .

. . . "We occasionally have commanders who have so many good weeks, (they think) it's won. We've got this thing. Well we don't. We've had so many good weeks. Right now, for example we've had two-and-a-half months of levels of violence not since March 2004," he said from his office at Camp Victory.

"Well that's encouraging. It's heartening. It's very welcome. But let's keep our powder dry. . . .Let's not let our guard down."

Petraeus is pushing for a more nuanced debate as both U.S. and Iraqi political leaders are in campaign seasons, with many voters in both countries wanting to hear there is an end. Maliki is trying to sway voters in time for this fall's scheduled provincial elections by winning support from his political rival, firebrand cleric Muqtada al Sadr, who has called for a U.S. withdrawal date since 2004.

Throughout his tenure, Petraeus has argued for a drawdown based on conditions, saying that the last of the five surge brigades could leave earlier this month because Iraqi forces are increasingly capable of securing Iraq.

Petraeus said that while both Sunni and Shiite extremists groups are weaker, Iraqi security forces still face threats as the groups try to reconstitute themselves throughout Iraq. And because of that, U.S. and Iraqi forces must not assume that the battle here is won, he said.

Maliki's surprise spring offensive in the southern port city of Basra was a turning point in the security situation. It rid Iraq's second-largest city of militia control and bolstered the confidence of both the Iraqi people and military. But the Iraqi security forces turned to U.S. troops to help them win, leading some to call for a more cautious withdrawal plan.

Petraeus has said he believes there will be a "long-term partnership" in which the U.S. acts primarily in an advisory role to Iraqi forces, but with enough combat power to step in and help if major battles erupt. But he said that that like most things in Iraq, plans could change.

"We know where we are trying to go. We know how we think we need to try to get there with our Iraqi partners and increasingly with them in the lead and shouldering more of the burden as they are," Petraeus said.

"But there are a lot of storm clouds out there, there are lots of these possible lightning bolts. You just don't know what it could be. You try to anticipate them and you try to react very quickly. . . .It's all there, but it's not something you want to lay out publicly."

Read the entire article.

General Petraeus also spoke in an NPR interview this morning. He tactfully says that Maliki's seeming call for timelines of withdraw need to be read in respect of the elections also coming up in Iraq. The situation has drastically improved, but there are "many challenges" ahead. (H/T Hot Air)

As I've written before, Iran is still an existential danger to Iraq and will be until Iran's theocracy is driven from power or it succeeds in turning at least southern Iraq into a satellite. With that in mind, it is important to view security gains in Iraq with the thought that there will inevitably be further proxy assaults from Iran. An actual withdraw of all combat forces within sixteen months would, in all likelihood, be an incredible disaster.

Obama has taken the position the mostly contradictory position that he will listen to the advice of his commanders on the ground during the sixteen month drawdown - though not as to the timetable for withdraw. I noted this glaring inconsistency in his speech in Jordan given the day after his 'check the block' visit to Iraq. Hot Air picked it up the same theme in response to another interview:

According to The One, the president sets the strategy: Most troops out in 16 months but some left behind for various missions. The generals supply the tactics: To carry out those missions responsibly, we need X number of troops. What does X equal? Why, it’s … “entirely conditions-based”

It seems Obama is trying to refine his Iraq position as far as he can without bringing down the wrath of his base who want, above all else, to have Iraq declared a defeat for the U.S.


UK's Highly Radicalized Islamic Students

The above is a graphic from the Daily Mail summarizing the troubling results of a study on the attitudes of the UK's Muslims in colleges and universities.

The study referenced above was carried out by the UK's Centre for Social Cohesion. You can find the full results of the study, the methodology and the raw numbers in their report here. This study tracks completely with an earlier study released by Professor Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, warning that Britain's colleges and universities were heavilly infiltrated by radical Salafists, radical Salafist organizations, and were heavilly influenced by large grants from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim donors. This in fact is a blue print for how Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood have long sought to bring Salafi Islam to dominance in the West. It is occurring in the U.S. also, though not anywhere as effectively and efficiently in the UK whose Muslim population is easilly the most radicalized in Europe.

Here is the summary of the study from the Daily Mail:

Nearly one third of Muslim students believe it can be acceptable to kill in the name of religion, according to a survey published yesterday.

It also found that 40 per cent want to see the introduction of Islamic sharia law in Britain, 40 per cent think it wrong for Muslim men and women to mix freely together, and 33 per cent want to see a worldwide Islamic government based on sharia law.

The findings were described by researchers at the Centre for Social Cohesion think tank, which commissioned the poll, as 'deeply alarming'.

. . . The Centre for Social Cohesion, founded last year to study religion and tolerance, has drawn attention to the extremist influence of Islamic societies and study centres at British universities.

The survey was based on a YouGov poll of 1,400 students, 600 of them Muslims, at 12 universities with influential Islamic societies.

These included eight in London, among them the London School of Economics, Imperial College, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the universities of Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester.

It found that a large minority of Muslim students express views that are strongly socially conservative or which suggest they are open to extremist thinking.

While 32 per cent justified killing in the name of religion if the religion was under attack, 60 per cent of students active in Islamic societies did so. Four per cent thought killing to promote religion was permissible.

More than half, 54 per cent, wanted an Islamic political party to stand up for Muslims at Westminster.

. . . Report author Hannah Stuart said: 'These findings are deeply alarming. Students in higher education are the future leaders of their communities, yet significant numbers of them appear to hold beliefs which contravene liberal, democratic values.

'These results are deeply embarrassing for those who have said that there is no extremism in British universities.'

Miss Stewart also said that ministers should be wary about treating university Islamic societies as representative because their members appeared to be more extreme than other Muslim students.

. . . Concerns over extremism among the 90,000 Muslims studying at British universities have grown alongside the spread of radical groups, including the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation which Tony Blair said in 2005 should be banned.

Terrorists who have passed through British universities include Kafeel Ahmed, who died after driving a burning vehicle into a Glasgow airport terminal last year, and Jawad Akbar, jailed for life in April 2007 for conspiring to attack shopping malls and nightclubs. He was said to have become involved in militancy while a student at Brunel University.

Read the entire article. Though unmentioned in the above article, the actual report goes into more detail, showing the differences in attitudes between those Muslims studying UK Universties who are members of the Islamic student groups and those who are not. The difference in attitudes are significant.

Possibly the best source for an understanding of the problems with radicalization in the West being driven by Salafists and being opposed by "moderate" Muslims in the West is the debate between devout Muslim reformer Zhudi Jasser and a Salafi Imam that you can find here. If you have not watched it, it perfectly encapsulates the war that is going on today for the heart and soul of Islam.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

NYT Acknowledges The Decline Of The Sadrists

On top of the AP article of the other day stating the judgement that we are winning the war in Iraq, todays NYT article must have swine across the globe filing flight plans. After over a year of spinning Sadr and his Mahdi Army as all powerful and all popular Iraqi nationalists, the NYT finally acknowledges that Sadr and his militias are anything but - though there is still the spectre of it arising from the dead.

That said, the NYT still puts its old spin on it all. They refuse to acknowledge that the Mahdi Army were Iranian proxies from inception. The Mahdi Army was a creation of Iranian sponsorship and organized by Hezbollah uber-terrorist Imad Muginayah. The NYT, like the rest of the far left, is quite willing to ignore reality in order to argue against any use of force against the Western world's most existential threat, Iran.

Further, the NYT gives no credit to U.S. forces or the surge for the decline in Sadr's fortunes. Prior to the surge, PM Maliki had been protecting Sadr. Half the reason for the surge was to target Sadr's militia and to break its hold on power. PM Maliki, faced with a rebellion that saw other Shia elements in the government talking with Sunnis and Kurds about forming a ruling coalition and ousting Maliki in Dec. 2007 finally brought Maliki around. He removed his protection from Sadr. At that point, Sadr ran for Iran and his Mahdi Army - having been decimated twice before by U.S. forces - went underground and has been methodically weeded out by U.S. forces. Add to that, beginning in March, Iraqi forces.

This article, moreso than the AP article of yesterday, could qualify as an effort to give support to the Obama narrative that the defeat of Sadr/Iran might well have occurred irrespective of the surge. But perhaps not intentionally, as it is done with more subtelty than is usually seen in the NYT's agenda journalism.

This from the NYT:

The militia that was once the biggest defender of poor Shiites in Iraq, the Mahdi Army, has been profoundly weakened in a number of neighborhoods across Baghdad, in an important, if tentative, milestone for stability in Iraq.

It is a remarkable change from years past, when the militia, led by the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr, controlled a broad swath of Baghdad, including local governments and police forces. But its use of extortion and violence began alienating much of the Shiite population to the point that many quietly supported American military sweeps against the group.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki struck another blow this spring, when he led a military operation against it in Baghdad and in several southern cities.

The shift, if it holds, would solidify a transfer of power from Mr. Sadr, who had lorded his once broad political support over the government, to Mr. Maliki, who is increasingly seen as a true national leader.

. . . The Mahdi Army’s decline also means that the Iraqi state, all but impotent in the early years of the war, has begun to act the part, taking over delivery of some services and control of some neighborhoods.

“The Iraqi government broke their branches and took down their tree,” said Abu Amjad, a civil servant who lives in the northern Baghdad district of Sadr City, once seen as an unbreachable stronghold for the group.

The change is showing up in the lives of ordinary people. The price of cooking gas is less than a fifth of what it was when the militia controlled local gas stations, and kerosene for heating has also become much less expensive. In interviews, 17 Iraqis, including municipal officials, gas station workers and residents, described a pattern in which the militia’s control over the local economy and public services had ebbed. Merchants say they no longer have to pay protection money to militiamen. In some cases, employees with allegiances to the militia have been fired or transferred. Despite the militia’s weakened state, none of the Iraqis interviewed agreed to have their full names published for fear of retribution.

In a further sign of weakness, Shiite tribes in several neighborhoods are asking for compensation from militia members’ families for past wrongs.

The changes are not irreversible. The security gains are in the hands of unseasoned Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints spread throughout Baghdad’s neighborhoods. And local government officials have barely begun to take hold of service distribution networks, potentially leaving a window for the militia to reassert itself.

The militia’s roots are still in the ground, Abu Amjad said, and “given any chance, they will grow again.”

At the peak of the militia’s control last summer, it was involved at all levels of the local economy, taking money from gas stations, private minibus services, electric switching stations, food and clothing markets, ice factories, and even collecting rent from squatters in houses whose owners had been displaced. The four main gas stations in Sadr City were handing over a total of about $13,000 a day, according to a member of the local council.

“It’s almost like the old Mafia criminal days in the United States,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, an Army engineer rebuilding Sadr City’s main market.

. . . A spokesman for the movement in Sadr City, Sayeed Jaleel al-Sarkhy, defended the Mahdi Army, saying in an interview that it was not a formal militia and denying the charges that it had taken control of local services. He said the militia had been infiltrated by criminals who used the name of the Mahdi Army as a cover.

“The Mahdi Army is an army of believers,” he said. “It was established to serve the people.”

An employee in the Sadr City local government who oversees trash collectors — daily laborers whose salaries he said were controlled by the militia — said that had long stopped being true.

“I am sick all over,” he said. “I am blind. I’ve got a headache. I’ve got a toothache. My back hurts. All of this is from the Mahdi Army.”

. . . A month after Mr. Maliki’s military operation, strange things started to happen in Shuala, a vast expanse of concrete and sand-colored houses in northern Baghdad that was one of the Mahdi Army’s main strongholds. Militia members suddenly stopped showing up to collect money from the main gas station, a worker there said.

A member of the Shuala district council said: “They used to come and order us to give them 100 gas canisters. Now it’s, ‘Can you please give me a gas canister?’ ”

Then, several weeks later, 11 workers, guards and even a director, all state employees with ties to the militia, were transferred to other areas. Employees’ pictures were posted so American and Iraqi soldiers could identify impostors.

The Iraqi Army now occupies the militia’s old headquarters in Shuala. Soldiers set up 18 checkpoints around the neighborhood, including at the gas station. When the militia opened a new office, soldiers put a checkpoint there, too, said an Iraqi major from the unit based there. Iraqi soldiers recently distributed warning notices to families squatting in houses whose rent had been collected by the Mahdi Army until May.

In Sadr City, the authorities closed the militia’s radio station. The leader of the district council was arrested by the American military. Cooking gas delivery documents must now be approved by three officials, not just one, the council member said.

Another sign of weakness is the growing number of financial settlements between powerful Shiites and Mahdi Army members’ families over loved ones who were killed by the militia. In Topchi, a Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad, a handwritten list of militia members’ names was taped up in the market this month, with the warning for their families to leave town. Several of their houses were attacked.

Some militia members’ families went to the local council to ask for help. They found none. Mahdi militiamen killed four local council members over several weeks last fall.

“I told them this isn’t good, they must not be blamed,” the council member said. Even so, “if your brother has been killed, this is the time for revenge.”

Now neighborhoods are breathing more freely. A hairdresser in Ameen, a militia-controlled neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, said her clients no longer had to cover their faces when they left her house wearing makeup. Minibuses ferrying commuters in Sadr City are no longer required to play religious songs, said Abu Amjad, the civil servant, and now play songs about love, some even sung by women.

“They lost everything,” said the Sadr City government employee. “The Sadr movement has no power now. There is no militia control.”

The Mahdi Army might be weak, but it is not gone.

Majid, a Sadr City resident who works in a government ministry, said several Iraqi Army officers in his area had to move their families to other neighborhoods after Mr. Maliki’s military operation because the militia threatened them. Bombs are still wounding and killing American soldiers in the district. And early this month, one Iraqi officer’s teenage son was kidnapped and killed, his body hung in a public place as a warning, said Majid, who gave only his first name because he feared reprisals.

. . . The militia is painting its response on Sadr City walls: “We will be back, after this break.”

The Iraqi Army is painting over it.

Read the entire article.


The Carnival of the Insanities

Yet again, Dr. Sanity provide group therapy for the insanities of the modern world at her site. Do pay her a visit lest more dire theraputic treatments become necessary.


Borders Out Of Control - In The EU

The EU has set up an insane immigration system that is an invitation nearly uncontrolled third world immigration. Ireland, being one of the few sane countries across the pond, passed a law to stop some of the worst abuses. Their law provided that non-EU spouses of EU citizens were deportable. No longer, per the highest Court in the EU.

EU law currently provides a backdoor for mass third world immigration, and the highest Court in the EU just opened the door much wider. Current EU law, actually dating back to the Treaty of Rome, provides that once a person lawfully becomes an EU citizen, they can automatically bring over their entire family. The way this works in Britain is that the socialist Labour Party is allowing large scale immigration from Pakistan that then itself gets significantly augmented. Once in Britain, a large number of the Pakistanis are importing wives from Pakistan. You can figure out the math from there. It has created an immigration/emigration nightmare in Britain.

Ireland tried to put the squelch on this occurring in their country. But today, their law was overturned, thus exposing Ireland to the same inability to control their borders as enjoyed by all the other provinces of that great experiment in socialism, the EU. But this decision of the EU even went farther, in essence giving illegal aliens the right to EU citizenship so long as they marry an EU citizen before being physically deported. As Hibernia Girl states:

This is not just some little loophole that failed asylum seekers will now be able to exploit -- this is a GAPING hole in the EU's immigration population replacement policy that is obviously being forced on all Europeans whether we like it or not.

Read the whole post. And see the detailed explanation of the EU ruling and its ramifications at EU Referendum.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Labour Calls For Local Election Of Police Chiefs In The UK

Hell may well be freezing over. Just as I wrote on the decline in law and order in Britain due to a perfect socialist storm, the Labour Party up and publishes a proposal to devolve power to localities to elect their own police leadership. That's the equivallent in the U.S. of Nancy Pelosi coming out for offshore drilling and Harry Reid endorsing free trade agreements.

At any rate, in addition, Labour plans to end most national policing targets and cut the mountains of red tape that currently ham-string local policing. While this still leaves the insidious problem of a breakdown in courts and punishment, it may well work a sea change to policing in Britain. Amazingly, though, many "conservatives," among them Mellanie Phillips, opposed this change.

The proposals are contained in a Home Office document, the Policing Green Paper. It is long and dense, taking four times the words to say what is needed. That said, it actually appears to be a coherent plan that oculd work. Coming from the Labour Party - you could knock me other with a stick.

The plan calls for the locality to elect its police leadership who then must work within the regulatory framework set up by the Home Office and under the authority of the Home Office. This may or may not be problematic, depending on how steep a regulatory burden the Home Office retains and how much control they still try to wield, neither of which were clearly answered in the Green Paper.

An interesting point of the plan is to require regular, published inspections of the local police by a national Inspector General. This would provide information to the locals from a neutral third party and would provide a strong motivation to maintain standards. The plan also provides for the Home Office, at its discretion, to remove elected police officials if it becomes apparent that there is corruption or deeply substandard performace in any locality.

Interestingly enough, opposition to the plan is coming not only from Labour, but also from some well-known Conservatives. Mellanie Phillips commented on the proposed changes approximately a week ago in her blog, arguing strenuously against these changes. Her initial criticism was that allowing local elections of police would present a "very real danger of extremists and single issue pressure groups targeting these elections for their own ends."

The fundamental purpose of democracy is to give people a say in how they are governed at every level. It means trusting people to make their own decisions - a bedrock priniciple of conservativism - and locals are certainly in the best position to adjudge who they wish to run their local policing. If they make a mistake, well, that is why there are elections. It will, in the long run, mean policing that is far more responsive to the local communities.

That said, Britain does have a real problem with extremism. It is the problem of "two Britains" where there are areas in Britain that appear to have been directly transplanted from the rural hinterlands of Pakistan. Allowing elections in areas that have come to be dominated by radical Islamists is a double edge sword. Nonetheless, that is not a reason to deny local elections, nor is it a reason to assume even in these areas that the person elected by secret ballot would be problematic. Besides, the plan set forth in the Green Paper strikes the appropriate balance, maintaining the right of the government to step in if their is a corrupt police administration.

Beyond this particular objection by Ms. Phillips, whom I assume is indicative of those conservatives who likewise object, her further objections are simply non-sensical.

The independence of the police is crucial to maintaining Britain’s dispassionate tradition of law and order. The fact that that independence has been catastrophically eroded through control by central government does not mean that the remedy is to replace such control by other kinds of political interference.

. . . But it is a mistake to think that the danger of politicisation resides only in Whitehall. Elections offer the means for any number of obsessives, ideologues or fanatics to seize the reins of power. That’s bad enough when it comes to elected bodies themselves but when applied to the police it is a potential disaster.

. . . What’s broken in Britain is the culture and trade-craft of policing. It’s that culture which has to be repaired and restored. For sure, the first step must be to remove the means of political control from Whitehall. But then the police have to be taught, persuaded, cajoled, shamed -- whatever -- into rediscovering their lost professional ethic. And for that to happen their independence is vital. . . . But that’s what has to be done. Delivering the police from the Whitehall frying-pan to the fire of local extremists or other obsessives is most certainly not the answer

Ms. Phillips seems to be confused. There is always going to be some political entity in ultimate authority over the police in a democratic society. The only question is who will be that authority. There is no real option other than central control or local elections that will, directly or indirectly result in the choice of police leadership. There is a vast spectrum in between those two points where the government still sets the boundaries and mainatins some regulatory control. That is what is set out in the Green Paper. Britain has had the experiment in central contol now for decades - and it is failing, not catastrophically yet, but as I articluated here, the system is clearly broken. A significant change is needed.

Ms. Phillips also shows a troubling and fundamental distrust in democracy - a trait that shows up with uncomfortable regularity in many "conservatives" across the pond. That said, what I have read in the Green Paper suggests that Labour may actually have developed a workable plan that will be good for Britain. I would suggest to those conservatives who think otherwise that they actually sit down and read the Green Paper before criticizing it on the grounds that it provides too much democracy.

My hats off to Labour. If they are able to keep their statist tendencies at bay, they may have found at least a partial solution to Britain's policing problem. Now they need to work on the punishment side of the house.


John McCain On The Audacity Of Hopelessness

This from the recent speech by John McCain in Denver:


McCain Ad Takes Obama To Task For Cancelling Visit To Troops In Germany

Obama made a mistake by cancelling a visit to see our wounded soldiers when told it would have to be sans his massive press entogrague. McCain rightfully is holding his feet to the fire on this one. This is McCain's latest 30 second ad.


AP Weighs In On Iraq, Saying We Are Winning The War

Two heavyweights at AP, Robert Burns, chief military reporter, and Robert Reid, chief of bureau in Baghdad have reviewed the situation in Iraq and concluded: "The United States is now winning the war that two years ago seemed lost." They finally report the obvious. Admittedly, they toss in a backhanded slap towards Bush and a mischaracterization of McCain's position on Iraq, but for the AP, those are nothing more than boilerplate.

This from AP:

Limited, sometimes sharp fighting and periodic terrorist bombings in Iraq are likely to continue, possibly for years. But the Iraqi government and the U.S. now are able to shift focus from mainly combat to mainly building the fragile beginnings of peace — a transition that many found almost unthinkable as recently as one year ago.

Despite the occasional bursts of violence, Iraq has reached the point where the insurgents, who once controlled whole cities, no longer have the clout to threaten the viability of the central government.

That does not mean the war has ended or that U.S. troops have no role in Iraq. It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had. The new phase focuses on training the Iraqi army and police, restraining the flow of illicit weaponry from Iran, supporting closer links between Baghdad and local governments, pushing the integration of former insurgents into legitimate government jobs and assisting in rebuilding the economy.

Scattered battles go on, especially against al-Qaida holdouts north of Baghdad. But organized resistance, with the steady drumbeat of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and ambushes that once rocked the capital daily, has all but ceased.

This amounts to more than a lull in the violence. It reflects a fundamental shift in the outlook for the Sunni minority, which held power under Saddam Hussein. They launched the insurgency five years ago. They now are either sidelined or have switched sides to cooperate with the Americans in return for money and political support.

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told The Associated Press this past week there are early indications that senior leaders of al-Qaida may be considering shifting their main focus from Iraq to the war in Afghanistan.

Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the AP on Thursday that the insurgency as a whole has withered to the point where it is no longer a threat to Iraq's future.

. . . Shiite militias, notably the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, have lost their power bases in Baghdad, Basra and other major cities. An important step was the routing of Shiite extremists in the Sadr City slums of eastern Baghdad this spring — now a quiet though not fully secure district.

Al-Sadr and top lieutenants are now in Iran. Still talking of a comeback, they are facing major obstacles, including a loss of support among a Shiite population weary of war and no longer as terrified of Sunni extremists as they were two years ago.

Despite the favorable signs, U.S. commanders are leery of proclaiming victory or promising that the calm will last.

. . . People are expressing a new confidence in their own security forces, which in turn are exhibiting a newfound assertiveness with the insurgency largely in retreat.

. . . Statistics show violence at a four-year low. The monthly American death toll appears to be at its lowest of the war — four killed in action so far this month as of Friday, compared with 66 in July a year ago. From a daily average of 160 insurgent attacks in July 2007, the average has plummeted to about two dozen a day this month. On Wednesday the nationwide total was 13.

Beyond that, there is something in the air in Iraq this summer.

In Baghdad, parks are filled every weekend with families playing and picnicking with their children. That was unthinkable only a year ago, when the first, barely visible signs of a turnaround emerged.

Now a moment has arrived for the Iraqis to try to take those positive threads and weave them into a lasting stability.

The questions facing both Americans and Iraqis are: What kinds of help will the country need from the U.S. military, and for how long? The questions will take on greater importance as the U.S. presidential election nears, with one candidate pledging a troop withdrawal and the other insisting on staying.

Iraqi authorities have grown dependent on the U.S. military after more than five years of war. While they are aiming for full sovereignty with no foreign troops on their soil, they do not want to rush. In a similar sense, the Americans fear that after losing more than 4,100 troops, the sacrifice could be squandered.

U.S. commanders say a substantial American military presence will be needed beyond 2009. But judging from the security gains that have been sustained over the first half of this year — as the Pentagon withdrew five Army brigades sent as reinforcements in 2007 — the remaining troops could be used as peacekeepers more than combatants.

. . . Although Sunni and Shiite extremists are still around, they have surrendered the initiative and have lost the support of many ordinary Iraqis. That can be traced to an altered U.S. approach to countering the insurgency — a Petraeus-driven move to take more U.S. troops off their big bases and put them in Baghdad neighborhoods where they mixed with ordinary Iraqis and built a new level of trust. . . .

Read the entire article, there is much more. AP's coverage of war has been, til this article, unrelentingly negative. Indeed, they put the "agenda" in "agenda journalism" with their reporting on Iraq over the past three years. But this is a fair report and I cannot perceive any hidden agenda. My hat's off to the AP on this one.


Friday, July 25, 2008

RedLasso, CAIR, Fair Use & The First Amendment (Updated)

RedLasso is a tremendous program that allows bloggers to search through all the newscasts of the last two weeks and make clips of up to ten minutes in length. Unfortunately, today, it appears that the site has been shut down by lawsuits brought by two broadcast companies.

This appears on the RedLasso website, dated July 25, 2008:

To Our Loyal Users:

We would like to thank you for your continued support of Redlasso. You have been essential to making Redlasso a household name online. Unfortunately, due to the legal actions taken against Redlasso by two networks, we are left with no alternative but to suspend access to our video search and clipping Beta site FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE. The networks have provided a big blow to the blogger community’s right to exercise the first amendment and comment on newsworthy events. It is anti-Web. During this service suspension, we will continue our conversations with content providers, with the goal of establishing formal partnerships that will quickly help us restore access to the Beta site. . . .

This is unfortunate to say the least. I am not a first amendment scholar, but RedLasso's service would seem to fall within the "fair use" doctrine. Given the grotesque bias oft displayed by the MSM, services such as RedLasso are of incredible import to the blogging community and the ability of the blogging community to provide an alternative voice.

The "fair use doctrine," a common law doctrine originating in the 1840's and codified as part of the Copyright Act of 1976 provides:

US COPYRIGHT ACT, Chapter 1, § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

This doctrine was unchanged by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

For example, the "fair use" doctrine was recently used by CAIR to defend successfully against a lawsuit brought by Michael Savage over their use of clips from Savage's show:

Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, for copyright infringement and racketeering lawsuit late last year, claiming the group violated his rights by using a segment of his "Savage Nation" show in a letter-writing campaign to get advertisers to boycott the program. In the broadcast used by CAIR, Savage also called the Muslim holy book "a throwback document."

In her ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said people who listen to a public broadcast are entitled to use excerpts for purposes of comment and criticism. She also said no evidence was presented to show that advertising on the show's broadcast was affected by CAIR's actions.

Without considering the commercial aspects of CAIR's use, I otherwise have no doubt that the Judge got this decision right. I do hope RedLasso has good lawyers. This is a matter that could have huge ramifications for the blogopshere.


Writing The Next Biblical Chapter On The Would Be Messiah

Gerald Baker at the UK newspaper the Times has written a hilarious article in biblical style on the meanderings of our new would-be Messiah whom, he writes, has ventured forth to bring light to the world:

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”