Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Islamists cannot be negotiated with, mainly because their demands, that we become Muslim or we die, are impossible to meet."

I just read a fascinating piece in The Ottawa Citizen, by Leonard Stern, that succinctly tells us what we are facing today. He attended the advance screening of the United 93 movie as a student of terrorism and militant Islam, and came away haveing learnt 3 lessons:

1) ...the hijackers, though on a suicide mission, were not madmen. They were disciplined, well-trained and committed, in other words, soldiers. ... the 9/11 hijackers had broader ambitions: They belonged to a political movement larger than themselves. Criminal acts are different from acts of war, and we need to understand the difference if we are to protect ourselves.
2) ...United 93 helps us understand the total vulnerability of what security experts call soft targets. ...Anything and anybody is a terrorist target -- a day-care centre, a shopping mall, a corner church -- and it's impossible to protect them all. The political lesson is that defensive measures alone are not sufficient to fight militant Islam, not when Islamists define their struggle as a war against civilians. ...So we have to look at anti-terrorism as an offensive and long-term effort. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was a radical attempt to reboot the Middle East, to spark a re-ordering of dysfunctional Arab-Muslim societies in a way that would make room for democratization. The Iraq gamble may ultimately prove too ambitious, but the Americans were right to try.

3) You do what you got to do: United 93 was the only hijacked plane that did not reach its target, and that's because the passengers rose up and tried to storm the cockpit. Why did they rise up? As the movie shows, the passengers learned from phone calls to family on the ground that the other planes had been commandeered into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. It was then that the United 93 passengers knew they weren't turning back to the airport for negotiations. When the enemy is on a suicide mission, your only hope is to destroy him before he destroys you. And so the men and women of United 93 died fighting.

If the Islamists -- those seeking to transform Islam from a religion into an expansionist, messianic, violent, political movement -- gain ascendancy in the Middle East, then the suicide bomber "will become a metaphor for the whole region," as the historian Bernard Lewis has put it. Islamists cannot be negotiated with, mainly because their demands, that we become Muslim or we die, are impossible to meet.

Currently the most dangerous Islamist is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's apocalyptic-minded president who is holding the West hostage with his quest for nuclear weapons. Right now the world is scared, yet still hoping Mr. Ahmadinejad will turn back to the airport, so to speak.

Very soon we will have our United 93 moment and realize this is one airplane we'll have to land ourselves.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Politically incorrect review of a book on Islam.

It is refreshing to finally read something written about Islam that is not the politically correct pablum we are fed constantly, whether it is on television or in the printed media. You can find out more by reading the review of Robert Spencer's book, The Politically Incorrect Guide of Islam (and the Crusades), by Andrew McCarthy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lest we forget: United 93.

Having just read Peter Simpson's review of the new movie United 93 in The Ottawa Citizen, as well as John Podhoretz's review in The Weekly Standard, I realize how immune many of us have become to all the unspeakable horrors we witnessed on that fateful morning of 9/11. Therefore, I feel compelled to share this video clip America Attacked for all who visit these pages to never lose sight as to why we fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a grim reminder that we must never forget, and a warning as to what happens when we do not take our enemies' threats at face value.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Richard Nixon - a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker?

Now that Deep Throat (Mark Felt) is back in the media, I came across a scathing article written by the incomparable Ben Stein in The American Spectator about 10 months ago. Mr. Stein points out that Richard Nixon's legacy was as a peacemaker:

He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton -- a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon's kharma.
When his enemies brought him down, and they had been laying for him since he proved that Alger Hiss was a traitor, since Alger Hiss was their fair-haired boy, this is what they bought for themselves in the Kharma Supermarket that is life:
1.) The defeat of the South Vietnamese government with decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam.
2.) The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people, often by making children beat their own parents to death. No one doubts RN would never have let this happen.
So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.

Today's quote.

A little gem from Ben Stein:

It doesn't hurt to try and fail. What hurts is to fail to try.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A simple remembrance.

Today, Poland once again honored the 6 million victims of the Holocaust with the Walk of Remembrance. Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister and Nobel peace laureate, led 8,000 people, mostly students, in the annual March of the Living, a two-mile trek from Auschwitz to the larger, neighboring camp at Birkenau. Just like the events of 9/11, the world ought not to forget the devastation that a well-organized horror machinery brought upon a continent. Here are my impressions - after visiting the infamous place - which I shared in this site last February.

From Krakow (Poland), driving through beautiful fields, along country roads with fruit trees lining the sides of the roads, one eventually arrives at the most infamous place in
the world...a pleasant little town called Oswiecim about an hour away from Krakow, where the railroad system was so efficient, it was a hub for all rail transport from Europe and beyond... Right in the town, there is a typical red-bricked conglomeration of 18th century buildings that had been used as a military garrison by the Austrians, when they ruled this part of the world. The buildings once upon a time housed soldiers, eating halls, recreation facilities, and the erstwhile jail. The effect of visiting this place is very strange. I have been there on a glorious Autumn day, and on a snowy dark Winter day. The regimental beauty is palpable... In many ways, the red bricks and the climbing ivy on some buildings give the place the feeling of a school of sorts.

But the place is dead. A bird may sing, but you can’t hear it. The sun may be warm, but you don’t feel it. Door 10 leads to the rooms where Mengele experimented on the little twins. He had a warm life in Paraguay and Brazil...he drowned while going for a swim as an old man. The twins he cut up and sewed together as Siamese twins were not so lucky. Mengele’s bloc.

There’s not that much to see in these buildings. They are mostly empty now. In fact, the Holocaust Museum in the US has more memorabilia than Auschwitz.

Walking from one building to another, or from one room to another, you get a sense of what Hannah Arendt used to refer to as the “banality of evil”. The room full of suitcases, big ones and small ones, looking so old-fashioned... Then you move on to see another room with a collection of what at first I thought were doll parts... But no, oh no, not wooden doll parts... These were the wooden arms, legs, hands, feet, prosthetics, back braces, orthopedic shoes, of those who carried those suitcases. For a second, I thought of my Father, who had to wear one of those orthopedic shoes when he was a boy.

Next stop: a gigantic skein of wires... wait, no, these are wire eyeglasses, a few monocles, all intertwined, thousands and thousands of them, big and small, all the same dull gray metal...and they all belonged to those who carried those suitcases.

Turn around, and you are hit by a wall of hair. Well, we all heard that those who carried those suitcases were shaved, to delouse them. Oh, but all this hair we hear has traces of the Zyklon B gas... mmm... the dead were also shaved. Who would have ever thought that you can make burlap, and reams of it, out of human hair?

The Germans meticulously saved everything that belonged to those who carried those suitcases.

Of course, the red-brick garrison (which, initially, had been used to keep Polish political prisoners) soon outgrew its functional capacity, and the Germans applied their engineering ingenuity a few kilometers away.

It only takes one look at the efficient animal stalls that they erected, together with a super-sized commode to sit 100, to understand that hell was right here for those who carried those suitcases.

Birkenau, or Auschwitz II, is where all the Jews from the Terezin Ghetto in Prague were sent.
Terezin is also known for the devastating loss of children… Among the many who perished in Auschwitz and other extermination camps after having “transited” in Terezin was Peter Ginz, an 11-year old boy, who drew his vision of travel in space in the early 1940’s. Ironically, his colorful drawing survived him; it eventually ended up in the national museum in Israel.

It was this particular drawing that Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died in the Columbia shuttle accident, took with him on his fateful journey. More than 50 years after this boy’s life was snuffed, his own drawing was destroyed in an overwhelmingly dramatic accident, a fitting tribute the boy’s violent death! Amazingly, the shuttle flight happened on February 1, 2003: Peter Ginz would have celebrated his 75th birthday.

The crematoria did not appall me the way I thought it would. I guess it is because by then, most of the victims had been relieved of their suffering (I say most, because a few were cremated alive).

I never realized that the Zyklon gas was soaked in re-usable pellets. It took those efficient Germans a few times to figure out how much gas they needed per capita, so that, on their first try (on Polish and Russian prisoners) it took them 3 days to kill them all.

Earlier in 2005, when I visited another bastion of evil, Eagle’s Nest near Salzburg, one of the descriptions of the history of the construction of Eagle’s Nest was that most of the buildings carefully designed by Albert Speer, were built by Polish, Russian, Hungarian construction workers...the implication being that these were your average foreign construction workers and not the slave laborers that they were.

In 2003, touring Caen in Normandy, France, the museum there displayed the uniforms of the fighters during the Normandy invasion: the British uniform, the American uniform, and the German uniform, with no description of who was the enemy in the fight, a case of political correctness gone amuck... I guess one’s freedom fighter is another one’s terrorist... In the end, just put the uniforms together...who cares who defended what...they all fought, and there’s no difference... Yeah, go tell that to the Poles!

The Caen memorial was quite eloquent. But, it was a shock to discover that the European PC (politically correct) attitude had permeated the memorials for World War II: the display depicted the Germans not as the enemy but as other warriors… despicable… but predictable, I guess. More than 2 years later, I came across the following article, which, unfortunately, confirmed my original gut reaction!

Museum to D-Day fails to mention the warThe Times (UK) ^
1/27/06 Adam Sage

THE museum set up by the French authorities to commemorate the D-Day landings is struggling under a mountain of debt amid a sharp decline in the number of visitors.

The Memorial Museum in Caen, Normandy, has been accused of mismanagement for turning its back on the Second World War to concentrate on subjects from feminism to Father Christmas. In recent months the museum has focused efforts on transforming itself into a “place of reflection on the contemporary world”.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Claude Quétel, who was sacked as the museum’s chief historian last year after protesting that it had fallen victim to political correctness. “The vocation of this place was to become the great museum on the Second World War in France. It’s drifting away from that idea, and it’s a dramatic error.”

In the grounds, for instance, are gardens created as a homage to the British, Canadian and American soldiers who lost their lives “so that freedom could triumph”.

But the museum’s brochure talks in pacifist tones of the need to “combat the violence around us . . . Peace begins at home, in the office, with our neighbours.”

“It is bizarre,” said Alain Chesnel, who runs tours of Normandy battlefield sites for American visitors. “I don’t advise people to go there. They should be retracing a page of our history, not presenting exhibitions that have absolutely nothing to do with it.”

Opened by François Mitterrand in 1988, Le Mémorial de Caen was designed to commemorate the Second World War, and notably the Battle of Normandy, in which 53,000 Allied troops lost their lives. The late French President described the museum as an “act of vigilance, confidence and hope”.

“But there was an ambiguity because it was officially called a Museum of Peace and told to look at the whole of the 20th century and not just the war,” said M Quétel. “That’s where the problem comes from.”
In 2002 the museum, which is run by Caen town council, opened a €13.72 million (£9.4 million) extension that includes sections on “the principal disorders in the world today” and the need for “eco-responsibility”. Stéphane Grimaldi, who was appointed director in October, said that it had lost €400,000 when the number of visitors fell to 400,000 from 560,000 in 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day.He announced cost-saving measures, including cuts to the guided tours of the D-Day landing beaches. His rescue plan includes exhibitions on Living without Petrol and on Father Christmas. M Quétel said: “I think they are turning their backs on the war and that’s a shame.”

CIA leaks.

In light of the recent news regarding the firing of the CIA leaker, I found this article by John Hinderaker fascinating.

THE CIA'S WAR against the Bush administration is one of the great untold stories of the past three years. It is, perhaps, the agency's most successful covert action of recent times. The CIA has used its budget to fund criticism of the administration by former Democratic officeholders. The agency allowed an employee, Michael Scheuer, to publish and promote a book containing classified information, as long as, in Scheuer's words, "the book was being used to bash the president." However, the agency's preferred weapon has been the leak. In one leak after another, generally to the New York Times or the
Washington Post, CIA officials have sought to undermine America's foreign policy. Usually this is done by
leaking reports or memos critical of administration policies or skeptical of their prospects. Through it all, our principal news outlets, which share the agency's agenda and profit from its torrent of leaks, have maintained a discreet silence about what should be a major scandal.
Read it all at The Weekly Standard.

Solution to the CIA leak...

What to do about the recent CIA leak? Christopher Hitchens suggests that

A special counsel must be appointed forthwith, to discover whether the CIA has been manipulating the media. All civil servants and all reporters with knowledge must be urged to comply, and to produce their notes or see the inside of a jail. No effort must be spared to discover the leaker. This is, after all, the line sternly proposed by the New York Times and many other media outlets in the matter of the blessed Joseph Wilson and his martyred CIA spouse, Valerie Plame.

A shadow government?

I came across an interesting and disturbing comment from Rush Limbaugh regarding the CIA leak. Instant messaging with some people, he wrote:

"I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and what's been going on with all these government leaks. They're all over the place. They're at State. They're at Pentagon, the CIA. Bush didn't replace them because of this 'new tone.' They've been out to destroy him and his policies from day one. The drive-by media will make this woman Daniel Ellsberg. They are Stalinists. These people will stop at nothing to get this country back in their hands. They don't care how many soldiers die. These are Sixties radicals who had finally grown to power. They are behaving in a treasonous manner and I'm looking for the media to circle the wagons around [Mary McCarthy] and call her a 'whistleblower'..."
Rush believes that there is a shadow government in operation.
I see a relationship between all of this. Valerie Plame gets her husband, Joe Wilson, that Niger trip at the CIA. McCarthy is leaking from the CIA. I'm not saying they work together, but look at this effort! Look at how Plame at the CIA gets her husband a critical trip to Niger and then they turn it around to get a scandal against the White House when this White House did nothing but try to find out what the hell happened. Wilson continues to lie through his teeth; McCarthy at the CIA is leaking about the prisons. Somebody leaked the National Security Agency project. Somebody leaked that to James Risen at the New York Times. Look at these Clinton generals. I mean, these guys were more than happy when they didn't have to actually go to war.
This is really thick, folks, and I'm just convinced that we're just at the very beginning of understanding the full scope and nature of this shadow government that's out there.
You can listen to Rush at

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dissident President George W. Bush has the courage to speak out for freedom.


Dissident President
George W. Bush has the courage to speak out for freedom.

Monday, April 24, 2006 12:01 a.m.

There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.
Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader's lifeline is the electorate's pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.

That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

With a dogged determination that any dissident can appreciate, Mr. Bush, faced with overwhelming opposition, stands his ideological ground, motivated in large measure by what appears to be a refusal to countenance moral failure.

I myself have not been uncritical of Mr. Bush. Like my teacher, Andrei Sakharov, I agree with the president that promoting democracy is critical for international security. But I believe that too much focus has been placed on holding quick elections, while too little attention has been paid to help build free societies by protecting those freedoms--of conscience, speech, press, religion, etc.--that lie at democracy's core.

I believe that such a mistaken approach is one of the reasons why a terrorist organization such as Hamas could come to power through ostensibly democratic means in a Palestinian society long ruled by fear and intimidation.

I also believe that not enough effort has been made to turn the policy of promoting democracy into a bipartisan effort. The enemies of freedom must know that the commitment of the world's lone superpower to help expand freedom beyond its borders will not depend on the results of the next election.

Just as success in winning past global conflicts depended on forging a broad coalition that stretched across party and ideological lines, success in using the advance of democracy to win the war on terror will depend on building and maintaining a wide consensus of support.
Yet despite these criticisms, I recognize that I have the luxury of criticizing Mr. Bush's democracy agenda only because there is a democracy agenda in the first place. A policy that for years had been nothing more than the esoteric subject of occasional academic debate is now the focal point of American statecraft.

For decades, a "realism" based on a myopic perception of international stability prevailed in the policy-making debate. For a brief period during the Cold War, the realist policy of accommodating Soviet tyranny was replaced with a policy that confronted that tyranny and made democracy and human rights inside the Soviet Union a litmus test for superpower relations.

The enormous success of such a policy in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end did not stop most policy makers from continuing to advocate an approach to international stability that was based on coddling "friendly" dictators and refusing to support the aspirations of oppressed peoples to be free.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. It seemed as though that horrific day had made it clear that the price for supporting "friendly" dictators throughout the Middle East was the creation of the world's largest breeding ground of terrorism. A new political course had to be charted.

Today, we are in the midst of a great struggle between the forces of terror and the forces of freedom. The greatest weapon that the free world possesses in this struggle is the awesome power of its ideas.

The Bush Doctrine, based on a recognition of the dangers posed by non-democratic regimes and on committing the United States to support the advance of democracy, offers hope to many dissident voices struggling to bring democracy to their own countries. The democratic earthquake it has helped unleash, even with all the dangers its tremors entail, offers the promise of a more peaceful world.

Yet with each passing day, new voices are added to the chorus of that doctrine's opponents, and the circle of its supporters grows ever smaller.
Critics rail against every step on the new and difficult road on which the United States has embarked. Yet in pointing out the many pitfalls which have not been avoided and those which still can be, those critics would be wise to remember that the alternative road leads to the continued oppression of hundreds of millions of people and the continued festering of the pathologies that led to 9/11.

Now that President Bush is increasingly alone in pushing for freedom, I can only hope that his dissident spirit will continue to persevere. For should that spirit break, evil will indeed triumph, and the consequences for our world would be disastrous.

..."The ice-cold evil that runs through the veins of those who have declared war on America and our allies."

Not Soon Enough
We have to face the ruthlessness of our enemy.

by Deroy Murdock
Contributing Editor, NRO

“Too soon!” some New York filmgoers recently yelled after seeing the trailer for United 93, the new movie about the Boeing 757 that crashed September 11, 2001, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. When this heart-pounding, gut-twisting picture opens April 28, four years, seven months, and 17 days will have elapsed since 9/11. Is that too soon?

Islamofascists do not know the words “too soon.”

Just 13 months after 9/11, al Qaeda franchisees bombed nightclubs in Bali on October 12, 2002, killing 202 people, including seven Americans.

Exactly two and a half years after 9/11, al Qaeda attacked trains in Madrid, on March 11, 2004, killing 191 commuters.

Nearly three years and 10 months after 9/11, al Qaeda struck yet again, on July 7, 2005, killing 52 on the London Underground and a local bus.

Almost daily, al Qaeda in Iraq blasts Iraqis, Americans, and others through ceaseless acts of stunning viciousness.

United 93 arrives just in time. As we bicker over Donald Rumsfeld’s job security by day and obsess over American Idol by night, writer-director Paul Greengrass offers a harrowing reminder of what’s in play on Earth today.

In a film of devastating emotional power, Greengrass traces that morning’s mounting horrors. This is no PC film crafted by moral relativists in Malibu. As soon as Universal Studios’ logo fades to black, a man quietly prays in Arabic. He holds a small Koran in his palms while sitting atop a motel bed. “It’s time,” one hijacker announces, and their murderous journey begins.

United 93 should bury for good the absurd cliché that violent Muslim zealots are “cowards.” Rather than watch their knees knock together like castanets, the four al Qaeda agents on the doomed flight are focused and ruthless. When a cockpit screen announces, “Two a/c [aircraft] hit World Trade Center,” the al Qaeda agents celebrate. “The brothers have hit the targets,” says pilot Ziad Jarrah. “We’re in control,” replies hijacker Saeed al Ghamdi. “Thanks be to God.”

Behind them, ordinary Americans who had been eating omelets, knitting, and perusing travel guides quickly discern that their plane is a missile, and they mount a plan to retake it.

Though their jet slammed upside down into a field at 580 MPH, United 93’s 44 passengers surely spared many more lives than they sacrificed. They also likely saved the U.S. Capitol, whose photo Jarrah affixes like prey to the airliner’s steering column.

“That final image haunts me — a physical struggle for the controls of a gasoline-fueled 21st-Century flying machine between a band of suicidal religious fanatics and a group of innocents drawn from amongst us all,” Greengrass said. “It’s really, in a way, the struggle for our world today.”

Greengrass uses little known actors and even some real-life air-traffic controllers and military tacticians who were on duty on 9/11. They make the film feel like a documentary, or perhaps a reality TV show captured on celluloid. The cast appears perfectly authentic as they grapple with a growing sense of doom and an increasingly unfathomable challenge.

One performance stands out among many fine ones. Ben Sliney ran the FAA’s Command Center in Herndon, Virginia, from which it coordinated air-traffic controllers’ response to the hijackings. It also quickly grounded some 4,500 aircraft across America. Sliney supervised all this on 9/11, his first day on that job. He is portrayed rivetingly on screen by none other than Ben Sliney himself.

This fine film’s verisimilitude parallels recent, real-world developments.

“Shall we pull it down?” Jarrah asks another hijacker as passengers bang on the cockpit door.

“Yes, put it in it, and pull it down,” the other replies. “Allah is the greatest.”

Those words are on tapes played at the death-penalty trial of al Qaeda agent Zacarias Moussaoui. His Arctic demeanor mirrors the ice-cold evil that runs through the veins of those who have declared war on America and our allies.

“We [Muslims] have to be above you,” the so-called 20th hijacker testified April 13. “You [Americans] have to be subdued.” He added, “No regrets. No remorse,” expressing his hope that 9/11 “happened on the 12th, the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th…every day until we get you.”

Newsday’s John Riley reported a touching anecdote in a story about Moussauoui’s trial. On April 11, Nicholas Hughes — the nephew of the late Kris Hughes, slain in the Twin Towers — wrote his uncle a letter. “Grandma,” Nicholas asked Kris’ mother, Elaine, “how does the postman know what planet to go to?”

Meanwhile, 456 bone slivers were discovered atop the condemned Deutsche Bank building across from Ground Zero — the giant, open wound that shamefully festers where the Twin Towers once soared. These fragments may help identify some of the 1,151 individuals whose survivors have yet to bury their loved ones’ earthly remains.

Also, New Jersey coroner Dr. James Kay has determined that NYPD detective James Zadroga, 34, died from “exposure to toxic fumes and dust” during his 470 hours of rescue and recovery service at Ground Zero, just after the attacks.

“Detective Zadroga was the 24th officer to die as a result of the World Trade Center attack,” Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Paladino told the New York Post’s Murray Weiss and Cathy Burke. “The original 23 died that day, but he died years later.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) told the Post that Zadroga’s autopsy “confirms what we’ve long feared: that the death toll from 9/11 is still growing.”

Too soon? This story never stopped.

— Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Arlington, Virginia.

"It matters not if the terrorist is home-grown, as was McVeigh, or driven by religious fervor, as were the 9/11 terrorists"

J.C. WATTS: We can't forget the past or we'll repeat it

Eleven years ago on April 19, Timothy McVeigh parked a rented moving van in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.

He chose a parking place closest to the always busy Social Security office on the first floor, and a day-care center in which the most innocent among us were happily playing just one floor above.

At 9:02 a.m., McVeigh lit a fuse in the truck in which he and fellow anti-government zealot Terry Nichols had constructed a 4,800-pound fertilizer bomb, and he ran like a coward.

Seconds later, 167 people -- whom McVeigh tried and found guilty in his court of one -- lost their lives because they worked or did business in a federal government building.

A nurse who bravely volunteered at the bomb site to help in triage efforts was struck in the head by a piece of falling debris, and also was killed.

One hundred sixty-eight souls -- not including three unborn children -- were lost in a senseless home-grown terrorist vendetta.

We Americans don't think much of McVeigh. I'm sure we can all agree on that. But he is revered by others who would like to see the United States destroyed.

Zacarias Moussaoui thinks McVeigh was pretty special. The Daily Oklahoman reported this past week that Moussaoui considers McVeigh to be "the greatest American." Indeed, when asked by a federal prosecutor in the sentencing phase of his trial if he was familiar with McVeigh, the 9/11 co-conspirator without remorse described McVeigh as "the one who wanted to strike the federal government."

McVeigh coldly conspired to kill 168 innocent Americans. I'm guessing he had wished it had been more. Moussaoui's buddies took out four airplanes and two of the tallest buildings in the world. They only wished to do more of the same.

Moussaoui said he's glad to have caused pain. He smiled as Rudy Giuliani and others testified as to how brutal 9/11 was. He says if he testifies truthfully, God will help him avoid execution.

After Moussaoui's confession, I am perplexed as to why people are softening on their resolve against terrorism. It seems that some of our friends and neighbors still don't understand that evil people want to do evil things to the United States.

Many are now making political hay out of the mistakes that have been made in war, politicizing the loss of life and using surveys to create an agenda about real security. To paraphrase a famous movie line, I hope the detractors will "show me the plan" before they pull the rug out from under our troops, and from under an emerging democracy in Iraq.

I see that re-enlistment figures for the U.S. Army are up -- 15 percent ahead of its goal for the year. This should tell even the most jaded observer that the men and women on the ground understand the seriousness of the job and recognize the success we're having. They want to finish the job. But the politicians and the press who want to take every chance available to make President Bush look bad, also hurt America with their posturing.

Is being critical of President Bush anti-American? Of course not. But subverting the effort here and abroad in the middle of a war emboldens the enemy and disheartens those fighting for us. Many took delight in hounding Bush when he dubbed Iran, Iraq and North Korea the Axis of Evil. Few major news outlets have reported this, but it has now been determined that Iraq was, in fact, shopping for uranium in Niger. And of course, no one can now doubt that Iran is pursuing evil.

We are in a war with evil people, and those on the ground know we're going in the right direction.

Moviegoers in New York were disturbed recently to see a trailer for the upcoming movie about United Flight 93. Some shouted "too soon!" when confronted with the images of that dreadful day. With all due respect to those touched by the terror of 9/11, it's not too soon. To the contrary, it's not soon enough. Our memories of the past horrors seem to have faded.

The philosopher George Santayana has been credited as saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I wish I had said that.

As an Oklahoman serving in Congress on that April day 11 years ago, I saw first-hand the gruesome results of terrorism. It matters not if the terrorist is home-grown, as was McVeigh, or driven by religious fervor, as were the 9/11 terrorists.

America must not forget our past, or we will surely repeat it.

J.C. Watts (, chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group, is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. His column appears twice monthly in the Review-Journal.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"For Ahmadinejad and some leading Ayatollahs the "final solution" is clear"

Appeasement 2006
Seventy years later, Russia and Britain haven't learned a thing
Guy Ronen

Former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sacrificed the Sudetenland in his deal with Hitler in order to bring "peace for our time." After Hitler trampled over the Munich agreement and whatever was left of Czechoslovakia, London waited three days before filing an "official protest."

In Moscow, Foreign Ministers Viacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop signed the famous non-aggression pact and divided up regions of influence in Eastern Europe among themselves. Stalin bought himself two years of quiet and was the first one to be stunned when the German army pulled a Napoleon-style act and launched Operation Barbarossa.

Almost 70 years after that shameful appeasement, it appears the successors of those leaders haven't learned a thing.

It may have been the Saudi desert's heat, or possibly skyrocketing oil prices that caused the British foreign minister to express public interest in "normal relations" with the Hamas government – the one that a day earlier characterized the terror attack in Tel Aviv as a "legitimate act of revenge."

It appears Chamberlain's black umbrella was the only thing missing from Jack Straw's photos with the corrupt, fanatical Saudi royal family.

And what lesson did the Russians learn from the Molotov-Ribbentrop disgrace? "Give us concrete evidence of a military nuclear program in Iran, and then we can talk about sanctions."

The Kremlin is inundated with documents and testimonies regarding what is taking place under Iranian soil. It is no secret Israel also took an active part in the gathering and persuasion work. But who needs classified intelligence evidence when the crafty leader from Tehran is presenting "good news" about progress in uranium enrichment and openly demands his country be treated as a nuclear power? What additional proof does the new Russian czar need, and how much sand does he think is still left in the hourglass?

Now, Moscow hopes that assistance in uranium enrichment for "peaceful purposes" would push the bomb away from the hands of the ayatollahs. And in any case, they assure us, they're still far from getting there, and even if they do get there, they'll never push the button.

Is anyone willing to take that chance? Can we even imagine life here under the shadow of the Iranian bomb, when any minor operation in Gaza or Lebanon, and possibly in Chechnya and the Muslim suburbs of Paris or London, leads to an implied, not-quite-conventional threats?

There is only one regime in the world still using apocalyptic terminology to discuss the extermination of another people and making remarks unheard around here since the German dictator's departure. And to this regime of all others, the world – from Beijing through Moscow and the International Atomic Energy Committee and all the way to the Security Council in New York - is willing to give access to doomsday weapons.

If there's one lesson from the death camps that must resonate today more than ever in Washington and also in Jerusalem, it's this: Do not take this chance, at any price.

On the eve of elections and now too, the bon ton among "social" circles here and their cheerleaders in the media is to view the Iranian question as no more than a spin. A spin by a candidate desiring a security agenda and by a defense establishment that wants more money and weapons.

"Instead of another F-16, boost minimum wage," says designated Defense Minister Amir Peretz. There might be some truth in this, but let's not get confused: This existential threat is not a spin and it is taking shape right before our eyes, here and now.

For Ahmadinejad and some leading Ayatollahs the "final solution" is clear. And therefore, on the eve of Holocaust Day, it might be a good idea to treat this – as well as our friends around the world that are letting it happen again – a little more seriously.

Guy Ronen is a Ynet editor


A delusional bin Laden comes out of his cave ..." to deflect growing Arab animosity toward Al Qaeda"

Alleged Bin Laden Tape: U.S. at War With Islam
Sunday , April 23, 2006

CAIRO, Egypt — Usama bin Laden issued ominous new threats in an audiotape broadcast Sunday, saying the West was at war with Islam and calling on his followers to go to Sudan to fight a proposed U.N. force.

In his first new message in three months, bin Laden said the West's decision to cut off funds to the Palestinians because their Hamas leaders refuse to recognize Israel proved that the United States and Europe were conducting "a Zionist crusader war on Islam."

"The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusader war on Islam," said the speaker on the tape broadcast by the Al-Jazeera network.

"I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us."

The voice on the tape sounded strong and resembled that on previous recordings attributed to bin Laden. There was no way to independently verify the authenticity of the tape.

"We are aware of the tape and a technical analysis of the recording is being conducted," a U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Israeli government spokesman Raanan Gissin said bin Laden had decided to attack Israel to deflect growing Arab animosity toward Al Qaeda.

"When he attacks Israel, this is something the Arab world can agree upon," Gissin said. "He has been criticized for the destruction and carnage he's causing the Muslim nation. He's looking for another justification ...

"Criticizing Israel sounds more politically correct."

Al Qaeda is believed to have no direct links to Hamas, which is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they share an anti-Israel ideology that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Recent media reports in the Middle East have said Al Qaeda is building cells in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Sudan.

Israel has indicted two West Bank militants for Al Qaeda membership and a Palestinian security official has acknowledged Al Qaeda is "organizing cells and gathering supporters," although Israeli officials say the inroads appear preliminary.

A Hamas spokesman said the militant group's ideology is vastly different from Al Qaeda's but noted that international sanctions on the Palestinian government would naturally cause anger among some Muslims.

"It's natural that this tension is going to create an impression that there is a Western-Israeli alliance working against the Palestinians," Sami Abu Zuhri said, adding that Hamas is interested in having good relations with the West.

Bin Laden also addressed the conflict in Sudan, where he was based before being expelled under threats from the United States. He then moved to Afghanistan and is believed to be hiding out in the rugged mountains on the Pakistani side of their common border.

In Washington, U.S. intelligence officials said bin Laden is separated from his top deputy and, in a sign he has to be careful about whom he trusts, surrounded by fellow Arabs.

His No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is hiding in a more settled area along the border, also surrounded by Al Qaeda operatives from Egypt, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

A three-year conflict between Darfur's rebels and the Arab-dominated central government has caused about 180,000 deaths — most from disease and hunger — and displaced 2 million people.

The United Nations has described the conflict as the world's gravest humanitarian crisis. The United States has described it as genocide.

Negotiators are trying to broker a peace deal between warring factions by an April 30 deadline. Members of the African Union have agreed in principle to hand over peacekeeping duties to the United Nations beginning Sept. 30.

"I call on mujahedeen and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arab peninsula, to prepare for long war again the crusader plunderers in Western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but to defend Islam, its land and its people," bin Laden purportedly said.

"I urge holy warriors to be acquainted with the land and the tribes in Darfur."

Al Qaeda has targeted Western forces in Africa before — including its attacks against U.S. troops trying to bring peace to Somalia in 1993.

Al-Jazeera apparently had the tape long enough to make significant edits, with its news reader providing substantial transition and background comments between excerpts from bin Laden.

It was the first purported new message from bin Laden since Jan. 19. In that audiotape, he warned that his fighters were preparing new attacks in the United States but offered the American people a "long-term truce" without specifying the conditions.

That tape was posted in full on a Web site a month later and included a vow by the terrorist chieftain never to be captured alive.

"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said in that previous 11-minute, 26-second tape.

In the message broadcast Sunday, bin Laden also called for a global Muslim boycott of American goods similar to the recent boycott of Danish products after the publication there of caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

He also said the artists who drew those offending cartoons should be handed over to him for trial and punishment.

The Al-Jazeera news reader said bin Laden, in a portion of the tape not aired by the Qatar-based broadcaster, scoffed at Saudi King Abdullah for his calls for a "dialogue among civilizations" and blasted liberal-minded Arab writers for taking part in the Western cultural invasion of Muslim lands.

"We face a world of unfriendly regimes"

Old States, New Threats
You know these bad guys. But there is a whole other world of tyrants, dictators and despots.

By Robert D. KaplanSunday, April 23, 2006; B01

Crossing a border has always carried a special drama. Moments after my train crossed from Hungary to Romania in the 1980s -- from a country run by a liberal communist regime to one under the banana republic-style jackboot of Nicolae Ceausescu -- the Romanian customs officials tried to confiscate my typewriter. It was the reverse of my experience going from Iraq to Syria: The sense of fear left me as I departed Saddam Hussein's penitentiary state and entered a merely repressive dictatorship, where the worst thing that befell me was that news sources did not return my phone calls. More recently, when I crossed from the enfeebled democracy of Georgia to a province of southern Russia, overseen by the quasi-autocratic Vladimir Putin, the thuggery of the police suddenly intensified.

Borders may be eroding and stateless terrorist groups like al-Qaeda proliferating, but don't be fooled: The traditional state remains the most dangerous force on the international scene. Perhaps the greatest security threat we face today is from a paranoid and resentful state leader, armed with biological or nuclear weapons and willing to make strategic use of stateless terrorists.

These old-fashioned bad guys often have uncertain popular support, but that does not make them easy to dislodge. We don't live in a democratic world so much as in a world in the throes of a very messy democratic transition, so national elections combined with weak, easily politicized institutions produce a lethal mix -- dictators armed with pseudo-democratic legitimacy. And they come in many shapes and forms.

Of course, there are the traditional dictatorships like that of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong Il, who have evoked the morbid, crushing tyrannies of antiquity, using personality cults to obliterate individual spirit and keep populations on a permanent war footing. Then there are warlord-cum-gangster states, including Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia and Charles Taylor's Liberia, where the face of the regime has been a thug in a ski mask or a child soldier bent on sadism. In these, the leader is surrounded by chaotic layers of criminal organizations that recall medieval chieftaincies and the beginnings of Nazi rule, before the brownshirts were eliminated in 1934 and Hitler consolidated power.

There are Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, built on economic anger and religious resentment, where oil and nuclear power have become symbolic fists raised against a perceived oppressor -- whether it be the gringos or the Great Satan. And there are the time-warp tyrannies, like that of dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who has turned Belarus into the political equivalent of a Brezhnev-era theme park, and the shadowy Burmese generals who have kept their country in a condition of sepia-toned, post-World War II poverty, even as the rest of Asia has undergone economic growth. There is the comic-opera, natural gas-rich regime of Saparmurad Niyazov in Turkmenistan, with his Disneyfied personality cult and slogans ("Halk, Watan, Turkmenbashi," ghastly echo of "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and the grim, unrelenting thuggery of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, where bitterness against former white rulers has become a pretext for grabbing wealth.

These categories are loose and overlapping. What they have in common is that the rulers can exploit the whole panoply of state power, without regard for the will of the people. The irony of Iran has been that, for years now, a significant portion of its population has been decidedly less anti-American than almost any other state in the Middle East, and yet the clerics and their lumpenproletariat revolutionary cohorts like Ahmadinejad have, through manipulated elections, been able to retain control of the security and foreign policy establishments. Chavez, Mugabe and Lukashenko are also hated by vital parts of their populations.

Because states are harder and more complex to rule now (the result of urbanization, rises in population and independent media), a strongman requires not only coercion but an energizing ideology to whip his supporters into a frenzy and keep opponents at bay.

Television also puts individual charisma at a premium. While advanced democracies in the West tend to produce bland, lowest-common-denominator leaders, less open electoral systems, in which a lot of muscle and thuggery is at work behind the scenes, have a greater likelihood of producing rabble-rousers.

And there also is an economic component. The fist that Ahmadinejad and Chavez hold up to America is a sign of deep unhappiness and latent instability at home. But do not expect sanctions to weaken the Iranian regime or, more particularly, the Hamas-led Palestinian government: Shared sacrifice can help mobilize the population behind a regime, especially one that has come to power through popular decree.

Social tensions have exploded as a result of the unleashing of market economies that create rapid but uneven growth. The backlash of the have-nots has led not only to Chavez's rule in Venezuela, but also to the election of the leftist populist Evo Morales in Bolivia -- an indigenous Aymara who stands against the forces of globalization. Morales has cut his salary in half and has called capitalism "the worst enemy of humanity." Upon assuming office, he made visits to Venezuela and Fidel Castro's Cuba. In moral terms, he is not a bad guy, let alone a war criminal, but he is part of a leftist drift in Latin America that poses challenges for U.S. interests.

Meanwhile, cold-turkey democracy in Russia in the 1990s has produced a backlash in the form of Putin's low-calorie autocracy, more popular among Russians than Yeltsin's regime. And the failure so far of democracy in Iraq only strengthens the hand of Syria's Bashar al-Assad next door in maintaining his sterile, Baathist grip over Damascus. For Russians and Syrians, personal security comes before Western-style freedom.

The most suffocating of these dictatorships sit atop a cauldron of anarchy. For they rule by eliminating all legitimate forms of social organization between the ruler on top and the tribe and extended family below. Removing such leaders, while morally justified, is fraught with risk. Nobody should think a regime collapse in North Korea would be any prettier than it has been in Iraq. The breakdown of a governing infrastructure, combined with the guerrilla mentality of the Kim family regime's armed forces, could spawn widespread lawlessness, with insurgencies led by former generals vying for control.

What's more, the enduring difficulties in Iraq -- I supported the invasion -- should stand as a warning for how to handle North Korea, all of whose neighbors, including China, are on much better terms with the United States than were Iraq's.

Despite the dangers they represent, such crushing, Dear Leader tyrannies are not our major concern. The future problems of the United States lie more with regimes that thrive on information exchanges with the global media, using it as their megaphone, in the way Chavez does, and ones in such a condition of underdevelopment, tribal animosity and physical insecurity (take Taylor's Liberia) that the state, to the extent it exists, becomes psychologically isolated from any mitigating global forces.

Globalization is a cultural and economic phenomenon -- not a system of international security. Indeed, the notion that a state's sovereignty carries less weight these days because the international community will not tolerate grave human rights abuses seems relevant only in the case of poor, marginal states like Liberia, Somalia and Haiti, where no great power has an overriding interest in maintaining the regimes. Nevertheless, just look at how hard it has been to get Sudan's president, Omar Hassan Bashir, to cooperate in alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur. As for Taylor, multilateral action has finally brought him to justice, but only after the "Lord of the Flies"-style children's army he supported killed and mutilated thousands of people in Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the tyrants from big states continue to use the global media as an equalizing weapon against the United States and the rest of the West. They may also use what Yale political science professor Paul Bracken calls "disruptive technologies," referring to nuclear and biological weapons -- the secrets of which cannot ultimately be protected. A host of new powers, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, can, by concentrating on such technologies, render our tanks, bombers and fighter jets impotent. Our military edge against these traditional bad guys is slipping even as our military gets better because our relative power in the world depends on a status quo that cannot be maintained.

We are entering a well-armed world, with more players than ever who can unhinge the international system and who have fewer reasons to be afraid of us. That's why a resentful state leader, armed with disruptive technologies and ready to make use of stateless terrorists, poses such a threat. Hussein was a wannabe in this regard. According to a Joint Forces Command study, parts of which appeared in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, he was preparing thousands of paramilitary fighters from throughout the Arab world to defend his regime and to be used for terror attacks in the West. Looking ahead, Ahmadinejad would also be a prime candidate for such tactics, as would Chavez, given his oil wealth and the elusive links between South American narco-terrorists and Arab gangs working out of Venezuelan ports.

We face a world of unfriendly regimes, even as our European allies are compromised by burgeoning Muslim populations and the Russians and Chinese deal amicably with dictators, because they have no interest in a state's moral improvement. Never before have we needed a more unified military-diplomatic approach to foreign policy. For the future is a multidimensional game of containment.

Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of "Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground" (Random House).

© 2006 The Washington Post Company


In Egypt..."the trend now is towards the restoration of Shariah."

By David Warren

There were riots in Alexandria, Egypt, through the weekend, in the wake of a stabbing spree that left Coptic Christian worshippers dead in three local churches. That much is clear, as it is also clear that Christians in Alexandria, as elsewhere through the Muslim world, remain under attack from those who hold them responsible for purportedly blasphemous cartoons in a Danish newspaper. The "cartoon affair" has not blown over. Only the media reporting of it has blown over.

The reprinting of those cartoons, in media elsewhere, and the appearance of other cartoons -- including one in a Catholic paper in Italy that alluded to the fate of Mohammad in Dante's Inferno -- have helped keep the issue updated. But it is incendiary rhetoric that inspires violent attacks on (usually) defenceless Christians; not cartoons few have ever seen.

It is worth repeating, that we cannot remove all unflattering references to Islam's Prophet without stripping the whole fabric of Western art and literature. Moreover, Christian faith in the divinity of Christ is itself blasphemous from every Islamic point of view. There is therefore no future in appeasement.

On the other hand, the Da Vinci Code is extremely offensive to Christians. But it is part of our modern Western heritage to live with that. For as we learned through centuries of painful experience, the cost of banning it would be greater than any possible benefit. The best we can do is confute the demonstrable historical lies on which it was constructed.

The received Western view is that we meet arguments with superior arguments, and force with superior force. This is now in direct clash with the alternative views of radical Islam, and of "political correctness". Both hold that the errors in other people's doctrines must be corrected by force, without argument.

Back to Alexandria, where churches have been for some weeks under escalating vandal and arson attacks from self-declared "pious" Muslims. The stabbings in the churches last Friday (which was the one before Palm Sunday, in this year's Coptic calendar) were the culmination of what seemed to the Copts like an orchestrated campaign. They became more incensed when a man arrested for the killings -- a known local Islamist -- was described by the police as "a madman acting alone"; and more still when the funeral procession for one of the victims was attacked by a Muslim mob at the moment the crucifix was raised -- with the usual tardy police intervention. The communal rioting proceeded from there.

Egypt was once a pioneer of secular, Western constitutional government in the Arab world, but like every other Muslim jurisdiction of which I am aware, the trend now is towards the restoration of Shariah. The current Egyptian constitution declares the absolute priority of Islam, and while to my certain knowledge a great effort is made from the minbars (pulpits) of many mosques, and sometimes by the government, to inculcate gracious behaviour towards the Christian minority, the opposite is also preached.

Alexandria has anyway always been a likely flashpoint. It contains a much higher proportion of Christians than other Egyptian cities, including Cairo; and they play a prominent role in its business and civic life. But the city is also a major centre of "Islamism", and fanatic slogans now decorate its walls. The last of the once-large Jewish, Greek, and other long-settled "foreign" communities were driven out two generations ago, following Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal. The Copts remember.

As I found from my own travels among the Copts in Egypt, several years ago, the story is always more complicated than you could ever understand, unless you lived there; but if you live there, your own interests will make objectivity impossible. All human affairs are conducted in a fog, not just wars, in which the fog thickens.

Here, for instance, is one interesting twist. According to Eli Lake -- one of the best journalists writing about the Middle East, for the little New York Sun -- the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt's oldest "Islamist" society) sent mourners to march with the main Christian funeral procession, in a gesture of sympathy and solidarity.

This is quite plausible, for I was myself told by Coptic clergy in Alexandria that they went out of their way to cultivate good relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. This fact also helped explain otherwise incomprehensible Coptic anti-American and anti-Israeli declarations, and sometimes even extenuations of Palestinian suicide bombers. It is part of the "unwritten bargain" by which a minority community assures its survival in the midst of a society prepared to lethally punish the slightest hint of disloyalty. I would go so far as to say, that what the individual Copt really thinks about politics is in almost every case a secret, closely guarded even from himself. He does not have the luxury of the "opinions" that we still enjoy in the West.

Alas, people here forget how wonderful a luxury that is.
© Ottawa Citizen

Smartmatic outsmarts the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US

March 28, 2006
Why is Hugo Chavez Involved With U.S. Voting Machines?
By Richard Brand

The greater threat to our nation's security comes not from Dubai and its pro-Western government, but from Venezuela, where software engineers with links to the leftist, anti-American regime of Hugo Chavez are programming electronic voting machines that will soon power U.S. elections.

Congress spent two weeks overreacting to news that Dubai Ports World would operate several American ports, including Miami's, but a better target for their hysteria would be the acquisition by Smartmatic International of California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, whose machines serve millions of U.S. voters. That Smartmatic -- which has been accused by Venezuela's opposition of helping Chavez rig elections in his favor -- now controls a major U.S. e-voting firm should give pause to anybody who thinks that replacing our antiquated butterfly ballots and hanging chads will restore Americans' faith in our electoral process.

Consider the lack of confidence Venezuelans have in their voting system. Anti-Chavez groups have such little faith in Smartmatic's machines that they refuse to run candidates in elections anymore as reports surface of fraud and irregularities from Chavez's 2004 victory in a recall referendum. Yet somehow Smartmatic International and its Venezuelan owners were able to purchase Sequoia last year without the deal receiving any scrutiny from federal regulators -- including the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which is tasked with determining whether foreign takeovers pose security risks.

CFIUS generally investigates such transactions only when the parties voluntarily submit themselves to review -- which Smartmatic did not do. But it retains the authority to initiate an investigation when it suspects a takeover compromises national security.

Smartmatic has a brief but controversial history. The company was started in Caracas during the late 1990s by engineers Antonio Mugica and Alfredo Anzola. They worked out of downtown Caracas providing small-scale technology services to Latin American banks. Despite having no election experience, the tiny company rocketed from obscurity in 2004 after it was awarded a $100 million contract by the Chávez-dominated National Electoral Council to replace Venezuela's electronic voting machines for the recall vote.

When the council announced the deal, it disingenuously described Smartmatic as a Florida company, though Smartmatic's main operations were in Caracas and the firm had incorporated only a small office in Boca Raton. It then emerged that Smartmatic's ''partner'' in the deal, Bizta Corp., also directed by Anzola and Mugica, was partly owned by the Venezuelan government through a series of intermediary shell corporations. Venezuela initially denied its investment but eventually sold its stake.

When the vote finally came, exit polls by New York's Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates showed Chavez had been defeated 59 to 41 percent; however, when official tallies were announced, the numbers flipped to 58-42 in favor of Chavez. Venezuela's electoral council briefly posted machine-by-machine tallies on the Internet but removed them as mathematicians from MIT, Harvard and other universities began questioning suspicious patterns in the results.

Flush with cash from its Venezuelan adventures, Smartmatic International incorporated in Delaware last year and purchased Sequoia, announcing the deal as a merger between two U.S. companies.

Smartmatic says the recall vote was clean and that it is independent of the Chávez government. Responding to my inquiries, Smartmatic-Sequoias sent a written statement: ``Sequoia's products consist only of voting devices and systems, all of which must be federally and state tested and certified prior to use in an election. As Sequoia's products do not have military, defense or national security applications, they do not fall within the parameters of the matters governed by CFIUS.''

In fact, Smartmatic International is owned by a Netherlands corporation, which is in turn owned by a Curacao corporation, which is in turn held by a number of Curacao trusts controlled by proxy holders who represent unnamed investors, almost certainly among them Venezuelans Mugica and Anzola and possibly others.

Why Smartmatic has chosen yet again to abuse the corporate form apparently to conceal the nationality and identity of its true owners is a question that should worry anyone who votes using one of its machines. Congress panicked upon hearing that our ports would be run by an American ally, Dubai, but never asked whether America's actual enemies in Venezuela have been able to acquire influence in our electoral process.

Richard Brand is a second-year law student at New York University and a former staff writer for The Miami Herald. Email:
This article first ran in The Miami Herald. It is reprinted with the author's permission.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

One reason to support the President and his policies

Atlanta men met with extremists in Toronto: FBI News Staff

Updated: Fri. Apr. 21 2006 11:28 PM ET

Two Atlanta-area men met with Islamic extremists in Toronto, where they discussed "strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike," according to an FBI affidavit made public Friday.

Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee -- U.S. citizens from the Atlanta area -- met with at least three other targets of FBI terrorism investigations during a trip to Toronto last month, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said the men discussed attacks against oil refineries and military bases. They also planned to travel to Pakistan for military training at a terrorist camp, which authorities said the 21-year-old Ahmed then attempted to do.

Authorities wouldn't reveal exactly what Ahmed allegedly did, but he was indicted on suspicion of giving material support of terrorism.

Ahmed, arrested March 23, was being held at an undisclosed location. He waived his right to arraignment and pleaded not guilty.

In a joint news conference with FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones on Thursday, U.S. District Attorney David Nahmias stressed that authorities are not calling Ahmed a terrorist.

"We're not alleging that a terrorist act was committed or that Mr. Ahmed, at this point, we're not alleging that he was involved in a terrorist act. We're alleging that he provided support in the form of goods or services, to commit terrorist acts," said Nahmias.

Both Ahmed and Sadequee claim to have ties in Toronto: they have family in the city, and Sadequee attended high school there.

However, the RCMP did not disclose any information about either of the men.

Ahmed's indictment, unsealed by the court Thursday, carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 US.

Meanwhile, Sadequee was arrested in Bangladesh and was en route to New York City to be arraigned.

The 19-year-old was accused of making materially false statements in connection with a U.S. government terrorism investigation.

'No threat' to public

While the FBI says there is no imminent threat to the public, U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson Bryan Sierra said authorities are taking the case "very seriously. It's national security."

Authorities said the two men spent several days in Canada, where they met with others being investigated by the terrorism task force.

Sadequee is accused of lying to officials about the trip when he was interviewed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in August, as he was about to leave for Bangladesh.

The affidavit said Sadequee told investigators he had travelled alone in January to visit an aunt.

When Sadequee's suitcase was searched at JFK, agents found a CD-ROM. The affidavit said the CD contained encrypted files the FBI has been unable to decode, and a map of the Washington area was hidden in the suitcase lining.

A day later, government agents interviewed Ahmed, who was coming back from a month-long trip to Pakistan, at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The affidavit also revealed:

Ahmed went to Toronto with Sadequee in March, and that they had stayed with another conspirator.
U.S. government agents found money for both men's 2005 bus trip from Atlanta to Toronto was withdrawn from Sadequee's account.
They had tickets to depart March 6 and return seven days later. But the affidavit said they returned to the U.S. moments apart on March 12.
In March 2006, Ahmed told agents they had met with extremists and plotted how to disrupt military and commercial communications and traffic by disabling the Global Positioning System.

Ahmed was born in Pakistan and moved with his family to the United States about 10 years ago.

He said he met Sadequee at a mosque in Atlanta, according to the affidavit from FBI agent Michael Scherck. Sadequee, whose family came from Bangladesh, was born in Virginia and lived with his family in Roswell, Ga.

With files from CTV's Washington Bureau Chief Tom Clark and The Associated Press

Marxist-Leninist ideology inspires Islamic fundamentalists

Wolves in sheep's clothing on an extremist Islamic mission
By Miranda Devine
April 23, 2006

There is a new wave of sophisticated, articulate Islamic fundamentalists trying to spread the word among moderate Muslims in Sydney. Young men, wearing regular clothes, with neatly trimmed beards, broad Australian accents and fluent in Arabic, they appear to be fully assimilated, second-generation Australians.

But they belong to a political group called Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) that calls for the creation of a global Islamic state, or caliphate, under strict sharia law.

The message from these young men is one of division, non-assimilation and rejection of the values of the "kafir" - non-Muslims.

At a public lecture at Bankstown Town Hall earlier this month, Hizb ut-Tahrir organiser Soadad Doureihi, his brother Wassim, and Usman Badar, president of Sydney University's Muslim Student Association in 2005, outlined their utopian goal of the ultimate overthrow of Western democracies.

"Islam can never coexist one under the other or one within the other," Soadad told the crowd. "When the state is established, when people see the mercy of Islam they embrace Islam in droves."

The April 8 lecture, to about 200 men and 50 women, was titled "Should Muslims Subscribe to Australian Values?"

Banned in Britain, Germany, Holland, Russia, and much of the Muslim world, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) has been invited to speak at Sydney Boys High at least twice, and often addresses students at Sydney University.

Borrowing its methodology and ideology from Marxist-Leninist groups, HT calls itself a political party which works to "change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society", its website says.

It opposes integration and assimilation of Muslims into Australian society.

Wassim told the Bankstown crowd: "The pushing to integration and assimilation is to get us to think and believe and feel in a certain way that Islam will not condone.

"On the collective level everyone accepts you have to have one set of laws and no Muslim in this country is demanding today the implementation of sharia law.

"In this country, yes, we believe this is the best way forward but . . . our current struggle is the implementation of Islamic law in the Muslim world and that will serve as a model for the rest of humanity. [But] if governments want to interfere in the individual, personal affairs of any citizen, they are going to create the conditions of civil unrest and chaos like in France."

Soadad had a message for youth: "They must be aware of the plot of the kafir, the plot of the Western society to enforce on them a palatable Islam . . . Secularism is a clear assault on the fundamental belief of a Muslim. Democracy is a clear assault on the fundamental belief of a Muslim also."

HT says it advocates non-violence, and yet, terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna, from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told a conference in 2004, "key members of the al-Qaeda organisation [such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] formerly belonged to the HT organisation . . .

"The upper echelons of organisations of key interest to us, operating at a violent, extremist, radical level, consist of former members of HT."

In Australia, HT's threat is its anti-integration message.

An audience member in Bankstown asked: "The reality is many of us live in Australia as citizens. We or our parents and families have accepted this citizenship with the full knowledge of Australia's social construction and her values. Can we not as Muslims hold these Australian values [while] keeping our Islam intact?"

Badar, a graduate of Malek Fahd Islamic High School in Chullora, who was such a good student he appeared on the 2002 HSC all-rounders list, answered: "It comes back to the theory that Western values, their opposition, the conflict is so clear, so stark there is no middle ground.

"How do you come to middle ground on whether sovereignty belongs to the people or to Allah? You can't.

"Yes, our parents came here. I wouldn't say they were fully aware of the Australian values and systems, way of life and so on . . . But what's more important is why did they come here? What were they running away from? Was the country in which they lived not providing for them? What was the cause of the conditions in that country?

"They were running away from the very same values . . . If you are saying they came here so we should accept or follow those values, there's a clear contradiction. The simple matter of fact is there is no middle ground."

No middle ground. Hizb ut-Tahrir is a fringe group, rejected by most Australian Muslim leaders. But its message is alluring to the disenfranchised. Is the answer to ban it? Wassim says the more the group is attacked, the more it grows. "The more we come under pressure the more we return closer to Islam."

Video of the lecture is at

..."Bill Clinton showed almost no interest in intelligence matters."

Thursday, April 20, 2006 1:13 a.m. EDT
Pulitzer Winner: Bill Clinton Decimated the CIA
by Carl Limbacher

Author James Risen won the Pulitzer Prize on Tuesday for his much ballyhooed New York Times report last December that revealed President Bush's previously secret terrorist surveillance program - a revelation he uncovered while researching his book "State of War."

In the same book, however, Risen makes an equally explosive claim about President Clinton's relationship with the CIA - which his editors at the Times have so far declined to cover.

Upon taking power in 1993, Risen reports, the Clinton administration "began slashing the intelligence budget in search of a peace dividend, and Bill Clinton showed almost no interest in intelligence matters."

The agency cutbacks combined with presidential disinterest took their toll almost immediately.

"Over a three-or-four-year period in the early-to-mid 1990s," reports Risen, "virtually an entire generation of CIA officers - the people who had won the Cold War - quit or retired. One CIA veteran compared the agency to an airline that had lost all of is senior pilots . . . "

After Clinton CIA Director John Deutch cashiered several senior officers over a scandal in Guatamala, the situation got even worse.

"Morale [at the CIA] plunged to new lows, and the agency became paralyzed by an aversion to high-risk espionage operations for fear they would lead to political flaps. Less willing to take big risks, the CIA was less able to recruit spies in dangerous places such as Iraq."

The Clinton era of risk aversion also hobbled CIA efforts to get Osama bin Laden. In early 1998, Risen says, the agency was prepared to launch a special operation to kidnap the al Qaeda chief in Afghanistan.

"To be sure the operation was high risk, and there was a strong possibility that it would be so messy that bin Laden would be killed rather than captured. [CIA Director George] Tenet and the CIA's lawyers worried deeply about that issue; they believed the covert action finding on al Qaeda that President Clinton had signed authorized only bin Laden's capture, not his death."

Frustrated by restrictions that made dealing with the big challenges too difficult, the agency turned its energy to lesser problems.

Reports Risen: "Thanks to Vice President Al Gore, for example, the CIA briefly made the global environment one of is priorities."

"[Mary McCarthy] named to the position by Berger, who pleaded guilty last fall to stealing classified information from the National Archives..."


Sandy Berger appointed
CIA officer fired for leak
McCarthy served as assistant to Clinton,
senior director for intelligence programs

© 2006
WASHINGTON – A CIA officer fired for leaking classified information was appointed as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for intelligence programs by former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who pleaded guilty to stealing highly classified documents.

Mary McCarthy

Mary O'Neil McCarthy was fired Thursday for reportedly leaking classified information that contributed to a Washington Post report about alleged secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

She most recently worked for the CIA inspector general's office and served as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Public records show McCarthy, a veteran CIA officer, had served as a special assistant to Clinton and, later, President Bush – a tenure that stretched from 1998 to 2001. She testified to the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

The CIA acknowledged the dismissal of an officer over a media leak is extremely rare. It resulted from a 3-month investigation.

The Washington Post report in November about secret CIA prisons for terrorism suspects prompted an international controversy over U.S. detainee policies and also won a Pulitzer Prize.

The CIA would not say what the leak involved, and declined to identify the officer or describe the officer's duties at the agency, saying that such disclosures would violate the Privacy Act of 1974.

"This CIA officer acknowledged having unauthorized discussions with the media in which the officer knowingly shared classified intelligence, including operational information," CIA spokeswoman Michele Neff said.

Neff said the officer's actions violated a secrecy agreement that CIA employees sign when they begin working for the agency.

The Washington Post reported that the CIA operated a network of secret prisons for terrorism suspects in countries overseas, including Eastern Europe. The report spawned a number of investigations in Europe that have yet to produce definitive evidence that the secret prisons existed.

McCarthy succeeded Rand Beers in the job of special assistant to the president and senior director for intelligence programs. Ironically, she was named to the position by Berger, who pleaded guilty last fall to stealing classified information from the National Archives while preparing Clinton to testify to the 9-11 commission.

Sandy Berger

Last September, a judge ordered Berger to pay a $50,000 fine for his crime. Berger avoided prison time under the punishment handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.

In addition to the fine, which exceeded the $10,000 recommended by government lawyers, he was prohibited from access to classified government materials for three years.

"The court finds the fine is inadequate because it doesn't reflect the seriousness of the offense," Robinson said as Berger stood before her.

During the hearing, Berger described his crime as a lapse of judgment.

"I let considerations of personal convenience override clear rules of handling classified material," Berger said. "I believe this lapse, serious as it is, does not reflect the character of myself. In this case, I failed. I will not again."

The stolen documents were copies of highly secret memoranda, possibly with handwritten notes, that allegedly were critical of the Clinton administration's response to the "Millennium 2000" terror plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport.

Berger, who was an adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry when the scandal broke, has held multiple national security jobs since the Carter administration and recently was a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Public records show that McCarthy contributed $2,000 in 2004 to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee.

Berger initially said he took copies of the classified documents regarding terrorism from the National Archives by "accident" and then misplaced them in what he described as an "honest mistake." He later admitted, however, that after pilfering the documents, he destroyed three of the five with scissors at the office of his consulting firm.

"But Matthews's critics were more right than wrong, and his career is an object lesson to anyone with aspirations to being an accomplished reporter."

'The Man Who Invented Fidel,' by Anthony DePalma
Taking Sides

IN August, Fidel Castro will turn 80, with no final reward in sight. The small island nation he has tyrannized for an astonishing 47 years has played an outsize role in modern history, from the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, which brought the superpowers "thisclose" to nuclear war (in the words of Robert McNamara), to the Elián González case, which helped tip Florida and thus the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.

At a deeper level, Castro has influenced the American culture wars of the last half-century. The beard and fatigues he presented to the world in 1957 anticipated the rebellious romanticism of the 1960's. The curdling of the Cuban revolution offered at least some vindication to the American right, while extending the ferocity of American ideological combat long past the end of the cold war. And, as we learn in Anthony DePalma's fascinating and admirably dispassionate book "The Man Who Invented Fidel," today's tussles over the "liberal media" in general, and The New York Times in particular, are merely an extension of an old story from the precomputer age — a story that helped create Castro and, even now, illuminates the enduring power of bias and myth.

The explosive consequences of reporters growing too fond of their sources are all on display in the case of Herbert L. Matthews, one of the most famous — and infamous — men ever to write for this newspaper. Born in New York in 1900, Matthews barely missed combat in World War I and thought about becoming an academic. Instead, he drifted into secretarial work at The Times and by the 1930's was a foreign correspondent — "brave as a badger," in the words of his friend Ernest Hemingway. Matthews's journalistic hero was Richard Harding Davis, the swashbuckling turn-of-the-century correspondent known as Theodore Roosevelt's "personal publicist" for creating the myth that T.R.'s charge up San Juan Hill was a pivotal battle in the Spanish-American War.

Matthews's first big story for The Times was the 1935 Italian invasion of Abyssinia, where he openly sympathized with Mussolini's Fascists. In Spain the next year, he switched sides and drew close to the Loyalist cause. Hemingway's wife, the journalist Martha Gellhorn, believed Matthews was the model for Robert Jordan in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." To the end of his life, members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, made up of American leftists and Communists who took part in the Spanish Civil War, considered him a sympathetic friend.

In 1957, Matthews was an aging Times editorial writer whose strong relationship with the publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, allowed him to double as a roving straight-news reporter, an arrangement that was a departure from Times policy. After The Times and other newspapers reported that the young Cuban rebel leader Fidel Castro was dead, Matthews — always a resourceful, enterprising correspondent — decided to go see for himself. Posing as tourists, he and his wife made their way through the dictator Fulgencio Batista's military lines before Matthews alone completed the difficult journey into the Sierra Maestra on foot.

The front-page scoop that followed and two additional articles predicted "a new deal for Cuba" if Castro's insurgency won and reported that the romantic revolutionary was no Communist; in fact, the local Communists opposed him. [From the archives: Cuban Rebel Is Visited in Hideout.] The exclusive was a sensation at the time and transformed Castro's image from a hotheaded Don Quixote into the youthful face of the future of Cuba. Unfortunately for Matthews and The Times, it didn't age well.

By 1958, Times editors were already growing uncomfortable with Matthews's pro-Castro bias, and by 1959, when Castro credited the articles with helping to bring him to power, the remarkable access afforded Matthews began to boomerang. On a celebrated visit that year to the United States, the charming new Cuban leader bragged that when Matthews met him in the mountains two years earlier his movement was down to 18 soldiers — one bedraggled column that walked in circles to fool the reporter. DePalma shows that this was almost certainly untrue — one of Fidel's cruel jokes — and that Matthews's larger estimates of Castro's troop strength came from careful reporting in Havana. But the damage to Matthews's reputation was done. For all the years since, conservatives who distrust everything coming out of Castro's mouth have chosen to believe their enemy on this single point, so as to make a fool of Herbert Matthews.

His career did not crater all at once. In 1961, John F. Kennedy asked him to the Oval Office after the failure of the C.I.A.-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs. A candid president, trying to learn from his mistakes, had earlier told The Times's managing editor, Turner Catledge, that "you would have saved us from a colossal mistake" if the paper had gone ahead and printed what it knew about the operation beforehand — a sharp contrast to President Bush's attitude toward critical reporting. In his private chat with Matthews, unearthed by DePalma, Kennedy told the reporter that if it hadn't been for the failed invasion, "we might be in Laos now — or perhaps unleashing Chiang." In other words, the botched invasion of Cuba may have spared the United States a much more disastrous invasion of mainland China.

DePalma shows that Matthews was a determined liberal but not a faker like Walter Duranty, the Times correspondent who won a 1932 Pulitzer Prize for his fawning coverage of Stalin and was probably in league with the Soviet secret police. Matthews's articles were for the most part factually accurate. But he comes across as a self-righteous and credulous analyst who sided with those who gave him access and then refused to reassess, whatever the changing facts. While other reporters who also misread Castro toughened their coverage after he began ordering summary executions, Matthews stuck stubbornly to his original myth.

While his pacing and historical context are first-rate, DePalma — himself a correspondent at The Times — might have quoted more extensively from the many rationalizations of Castro that Matthews undertook in books and articles in the 20 years between the famous interview and his death in 1977. Did he ever go beyond comparisons to Oliver Cromwell and John Brown and call Castro by his proper name — dictator? Apparently not, though DePalma doesn't say.

The Matthews story is about the power of myths. The most enduring on the left are that the United States drove Castro into the hands of the Soviets (DePalma explores documents from the Soviet archives that suggest the Soviets offered to send military trainers into Cuba well before the relationship with the United States deteriorated) and, most perniciously, that there is still something romantic and appealing about the Cuban revolution. The most persistent myths on the right are that a trade embargo makes sense (it actually helps perpetuate Castro's power) and that the dictator is just a garden-variety Communist; in fact, he has always been an original and unpredictable chameleon whose only commitment is to his own survival.

Herbert L. Matthews didn't invent Castro, as he initially claimed with characteristic self-regard. As DePalma suggests, Castro's charm and will to power were such that he most likely would have triumphed without Matthews's notorious articles turning him into a romantic hero. The rabid Cuban exiles who continue to revile the reporter nearly 30 years after his death simply wanted to shoot the messenger. (Some literally: the F.B.I., while spying on Matthews, also reported a death threat against him.) But Matthews's critics were more right than wrong, and his career is an object lesson to anyone with aspirations to being an accomplished reporter. Passion for sources and causes can make you famous, but they often pull you farther from the brambled path of truth.

Jonathan Alter, a senior editor and columnist at Newsweek, is the author of "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope," to be published next week.