Saturday, June 23, 2007

So Big Radio is Free to Shove Radical Rightist Radio Down Our Throats....

Really, thanks to the FCC. The raw data is here.

Our Leaders' Respect for Law

Joke. We know they have none.
A series of letters released today by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman reveal that Dick Cheney has taken extraordinary steps to exempt his office from a presidential executive order designed to safeguard classified national security information.

As Waxman explains in a letter to Cheney, an executive order George W. Bush has "amended and endorses" requires federal agencies and White House offices to report to the National Archives on the steps they're taking to protect classified information and directs the National Archives to conduct inspections to ensure compliance with the order. Pursuant to that directive, the National Archives tried to schedule an inspection of the Office of the Vice President in 2004.

Cheney's response? His office failed to report to the National Archives and ignored the request for an on-site inspection. In April 2006, a Cheney spokeswoman argued that the reporting requirement of the executive order "does not apply to the Office of the Vice President." Officials at the National Archives followed up by sending two letters to Cheney's staff arguing that the order's requirements do, in fact, apply to the OVP.

Cheney's office never responded.

In January, the National Archives asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step in and render an opinion as to whether the executive order applies to the OVP. Cheney's next move? He reportedly tried to get the executive order amended to exempt his office from the reporting requirement -- and to abolish the office within the National Archives that's supposed to be conducting the inspections.

Waxman characterizes Cheney's moves as "possible retaliation" against the National Archives, and he says the actions of the Office of the Vice President are particularly troubling given its track record when it comes to protecting -- or not -- classified information. Pointing to the Valerie Plame case, Waxman asks for answers from Cheney and tells him: "Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information."

So much for Dick. And Our Beloved Leader's alleged take?
If Dick Cheney won't cooperate with National Archives personnel assigned to ensure that classified national security information is being kept secure -- if, indeed, he has tried to abolish the government agency assigned to that task -- then shouldn't we be a little worried that the vice president's office isn't doing everything it's supposed to be doing to protect sensitive information?


At least that's the word from the White House, where spokeswoman Dana Perino responded to questions from reporters today by saying, essentially, that Americans will just have to trust the president and his vice president to do what's right.

Perino declared Bush the "sole enforcer" of the executive order setting forth the classified-information procedures, and things went downhill pretty fast from there.

Me, I wanna know the opinion of Mr. Rudy Law-and-Order. Can he pander on this? (Kidding. Of course he can. He has only one principal, and this isn't it: get elected by any means necessary.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Blast from the Past

How the FBI investigated 9/11 -- by knowingly letting potential witnesses leave without interviews.

How Our Leaders Make Us and the World Safer: By Abrogating their Responsibility, of Course

Link. (Not that Big Media can bother to tell you....)

Rudy's #1 Supporter

No comment; we report, you decide.
So who is this bird of prey Singer who holds Rudy in his beak?

Unlike feathered predators, Singer preys on the living. Singer figured out a way to siphon off funds intended for debt relief to some of the poorest countries in the world. Nice guy.

And by the way, I didn't come up with the moniker "vulture." Just about everyone, from the new Prime Minister of Britain to the World Bank, calls Singer and his ilk "vultures."

Here's how a vulture operation works. The vulture fund buys up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest -- sometimes more than ten times what they paid for it. Singer, for example, paid just $10 million for Congo Brazzaville's debt and is now suing for over $400 million.

Singer knew he'd turn a 1000%-plus profit on his $10 million investment with George Bush's help.

Bush convinced the US Congress to forgive the money Congo owes the US taxpayer, but once the US taxpayer forgives Congo's debt, the vulture, Singer, swoops in with lawyers to claim, "Congo now has the money to pay ME."

But wait a minute - the debt money given up by US taxpayers wasn't supposed to go to Rudy's predator Singer. In fact, the US Constitution provides power to the President to stop vultures from suing a foreign country in a US court if the President states such a private lawsuit interferes with America's foreign policy.

Singer, by suing Congo for the taxpayer money meant for debt relief and medicine, is interfering with US foreign policy. Yet Bush has done nothing.

While the President has made big speeches about debt relief for Africa and has even had his picture taken with a Bono, he won't get in the way of Singer's talons. One wonders if the President is influenced by Mr. Singer's strong support for debt relief, that is, debt relief for the Republican Party. The world's top vulture has become top donor to the GOP in New York.

Singer's not alone. He's joined in tearing at the flesh of the Congo's poor by a Washington operator named Michael Francis Sheehan. Sheehan is also known as "Goldfinger."

Besides joining Singer in attacking Congo, Goldfinger has also taken a piece of the debt relief earmarked for AIDS medicine for Zambia. Goldfinger paid $4 million for the right to collect on Zambia's debt - and just won $22 million from Zambia in a UK court, half that nation's debt relief. Goldfinger was able to seize that money because, he boasts in an email, he secretly paid $2 million to the "favorite charity" of Zambia's president. (That former President, Frederick Chiluba, is now under arrest for taking bribes ... but Goldfinger can still collect his pound of flesh.)

It's Not the Triumph of Global Capitalism but of Global Corporatism

We're all living in corporatist (more or less) states now of one type or another. But we're losing our freedoms.

And see this too for more.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Our Leaders Make Us Safer

Here's how they've succeeded.

Know a Leader by His Enablers

While one does not always agree with comments posted on the Free Republic web site, sometimes those Freepers hit the nail on the head. Viz today’s response to the indictment yesterday afternoon of South Carolina state treasurer Thomas Ravenel and acquaintance Michael L. Miller on charges of cocaine distribution.

The indictment alleges that beginning in and around late 2005, and continuing up to the date of this indictment -- June 19, 2007 -- defs knowingly and intentionally did combine, conspire and agree together . . . to knowingly and intentionally and unlawfully to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a quantity of cocaine.

Short and sweet. As the Freepers and several news reports note, Ravenel -- scion of a politically connected Republican clan in SC and touted as potential challenger to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the 2008 Republican primary -- is also Rudy Giuliani's South Carolina campaign chairman. Here's what Free Republic has to say about that:

"Fruity Giuliani’s SC campaign chairman goes up in flames. Again, be in awe of Fruity’s judgment...

- Russel Harding (child porn, graft, cronyism)
- Bernard Kerik (whores, graft, illegals, cronyism, incompetence)
- Michael Chertoff (incompetence)
- Thomas Ravenel (crack)"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Awesomely Great Name for a Book about Iraq

"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot"

What it is.

The Mystery Continues: Why are We in Iraq?

No, I mean, really? They mystery deepens:
We never even considered an insurgency as a reasonable option. We took down the regime, and we thought what we had to do then was occupy then country, stabilize it, and in the mater of a few months we could reduce the force," says Keane, the former Army Vice Chief of Staff and intellectual co-author of the current troop "surge."

Proof for Believers who, of Course, Need No Proof



$10.00/month DSL.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is Case There's Doubt that this Country's Becoming a Theocracy -- You Know, Like what We're Fighting

Iraq. Afghanistan. Iran. And this:
More than two years ago, Mikey Weinstein launched the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog group that aims to keep a close eye on the military to ensure its adherence to the law mandating the separation between church and state, after his son, a student at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, was harassed about his Jewish faith and urged by other cadets and Air Force officials to convert to Christianity.

Weinstein is no military outsider. He describes his and his family's background this way: As a 1977 honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Weinstein spent 10 years in the Air Force as a "JAG," or military attorney, serving as both a federal prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. His oldest son and daughter-in-law are 2004 Air Force Academy graduates, and Weinstein's youngest son is currently a first classman (senior) at the Academy and the sixth member of the Weinstein family to attend the institution. Weinstein's father is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy.

Since he launched his watchdog organization, Weinstein has been contacted by more than 4,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity, he told me during a recent interview at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Weinstein said the military has been hijacked by a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian agenda, in what appears to be a clear-cut violation of the constitutional separation between church and state, that has rippled across all four branches of the military under President Bush.

"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into its own personal faith-based initiative."

He recently published a book on the issue, "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military."

It's a cliche but the Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves....

Which is More Important in Our Leaders' America?

ZSo which will it be? The right to free elections or the non-existent right of corporations to enable rigged elections?

Well, look at this draft law Micro$oft wrought.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Our Leaders: The Boys who Cried Wolf

Really, they really seem to be stupid and/or desperate enough that they think busting these kind of threats, I dunno, proves something. I mean, really, the threats seem to be those who believe in good old fear and repressions, not these mooks....
Meet The JFK Informant

Terror scheme snitch dealt cocaine, plotted to kill rival druglord

JUNE 14--The government informant who played the central role in building the JFK airport terrorism case is a longtime New York City drug trafficker who began cooperating with federal investigators after NYPD detectives arrested him on a Bronx street and charged him with possession of about $2 million in cocaine, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Additionally, the informant, Stevie "Toro" Francis, was previously convicted on felony charges for his involvement with a violent drug gang, a role which included him attempting to murder the leader of a rival Brooklyn narcotics operation.

Earlier this month, when federal officials announced charges against four men for plotting to blow up gas lines at JFK, a paid "confidential source" was credited with infiltrating the terror cell and gathering critical information--via tape recordings, documents, videos, and photographs--on the alleged plot. A footnote in a criminal complaint notes that the source had two prior drug convictions and was, through his cooperation, seeking leniency in sentencing on the latter trafficking rap.

While investigators have offered no additional information on the source's identity, a TSG probe has confirmed that Francis, 36, is the informant who spent almost a year helping agents build the JFK case. Citing confidentially concerns, spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment on the government source and his prior criminal activity.

Along with recording dozens of meetings and phone calls in New York, Francis traveled several times to Guyana, where he spent a total of three months gathering evidence for the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Last month, days before arrests were made in the case, Francis flew to Trinidad in a failed bid to meet with a leader of Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim terror group based in the southern Caribbean nation.

A review of court documents filed in Francis's last two criminal cases (one federal, one state) reveals that he has twice opted to snitch after being caught dealing large quantities of cocaine.

In March 1994, Francis was arrested by federal agents and charged with distributing "large quantities" of cocaine in West Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens. Prosecutors alleged that Francis was a member of a drug gang that trafficked crack cocaine and "engaged in violence, including murder, to intimidate and eliminate competing drug groups, and to enforce discipline among the organization's members." The group also distributed heroin under brand names like "Caution," "Predator," and "Undercover."

While accused of possessing "revolvers and semi-automatic pistols," Francis was not charged with a homicide (though it was not for a lack of trying on his part). According to a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Francis and his cohorts attempted to murder Willie "Little Will" Mora, a notorious Brooklyn drug boss, in early 1994. Mora, who survived the hit attempt, headed a ruthless gang that dominated the crack trade in East New York, Brooklyn. He was later convicted of federal charges and sentenced to life in prison.

After his arrest, Francis filled out a financial affidavit in a bid to qualify for court-appointed counsel. He claimed to be jobless and described his sole income as a twice-monthly $264 unemployment check. He reported being married and listed three dependents: his mother, younger brother, and wife.

Francis was jailed following a detention hearing after a magistrate ruled that he was a flight risk due to the "severe penalty" he faced if convicted of racketeering and narcotics conspiracy counts. Also, Francis's "substantial" family ties to the Dominican Republic were cited in an order of detention (it is unclear whether he or his parents were born there). Francis was charged in the federal case under the name Steve Francis Taveras, though he is referred to as "Steve Francis" and "Stevie Francis" in other court documents. A charging document lists him as "a/k/a 'Toro.'"

In what would prove to be a template for his future work with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Francis--facing a possible lengthy prison stretch on the drug and RICO charges--cut a cooperation deal with federal investigators and pleaded to both felony counts. While the nature and extent of his government cooperation remains confidential, Francis benefited greatly from it when he was sentenced in 1996.

Though federal guidelines called for an "imprisonment range" of between 27 and 34 years, Francis was only hit with a seven-year sentence. In a court filing, Judge Loretta Preska reported that the greatly reduced punishment, known as a "downward departure," came following a prosecution motion citing Francis's "substantial assistance" to the government. Francis was also fined $100 and placed on five years probation upon his release from prison.

Francis eventually did about six years in custody and was released in April 2000, after serving the final six months of his term at a New York City halfway house.

Records indicate that Francis lived in Queens and upper Manhattan following his release. But it was in the Bronx where he ran into trouble in late-2002.

On November 2, Francis was arrested by detectives assigned to an NYPD Tactical Narcotics Team. He was nabbed carrying a Gap bag containing five kilogram packages of cocaine. A subsequent search of a Kingsbridge apartment connected to Francis turned up 44 more kilo-sized packages. When asked about his cocaine-filled satchel, Francis told one cop that he "just found the bag." At the time of his bust, a kilo of cocaine wholesaled for about $25,000. Since the street value was double that amount, the coke seized from Francis was worth around $2 million.

Indicted on four felony charges, Francis was jailed and his bail was set at $1 million.

He remained in custody, records show, for nearly a year, until mid-December 2003. It was then that Francis cut his second cooperation deal. Though that agreement and his guilty plea are not part of the public record, the criminal complaint in the JFK terror case notes that, "The Source was...convicted on drug trafficking charges in New York Supreme Court in 2003. His sentence in that case is pending as part of his cooperation agreement with the government."

On December 11, Francis's bail was slashed from $1 million to $50,000. He was released after his older brother Jan deposited $5000 with the court. As for the $45,000 balance, Jan; Francis's mother Kirsche; and a second woman signed affidavits pledging to cover the sum if Francis bolted. But the government's desire to spring Francis and put him to work was reflected by the fact that the bail package was only partially secured and the guarantors--a hospital clerk, a $15,000-a-year custodian, and a clothing store manager--were far from financially sound.

Since pleading guilty in state court, Francis's case has been continued 18 times over the past 3-1/2 years. The matter is next due to be called on August 13, when 1726 days will have passed since his indictment. As noted in the JFK criminal complaint, the unnamed government source eventually expects a "reduced sentence" in exchange for his most recent round of cooperation.

According to the JFK complaint, the government "has been working with the source since 2004." The document makes no mention of Francis's "substantial assistance" following his mid-90s plea to federal drug and racketeering counts. The complaint also fixes the start date of the alleged airport scheme as January 2006 and reports that the source first met with the plan's ringleader, Russell Defreitas, in July 2006. As for what Francis was doing for the government in 2004, 2005, and early-2006, that information will presumably surface at a future trial (ditto as to the extent of the "financial assistance" that investigators said they provided to the source).

Tracking Francis's whereabouts during that period is difficult, though New York City Board of Elections records show that he registered to vote in October 2004 from a small apartment building in East New York, Brooklyn, one of the blighted neighborhoods where his old drug gang peddled crack cocaine in tiny Ziploc bags.

Likely owing to a busy schedule of government informing, Francis has yet to find time to actually vote.

Read this and Weep....

Watergate's 35th Anniversary: Would That Story Have Been Broken Today?
Who knows, someone with a cell phone camera working in the parking garage might have snapped a photo of Woodward chatting with this unknown source. Or a blogger would have blown the whistle.

By Joe Strupp

NEW YORK (June 15, 2007) -- Sunday will be a memorable day for me, for two reasons. Yes, it is Fathers Day and a reminder of the joy my two children have brought to my life, not to mention some likely breakfast in bed.

But just as significant in my life, and that of many other reporters is that it's also the 35th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. Even though I was no more than six years old at the time that the five burglars broke into the Democratic National Headquarters in that Washington hotel and office building, the impact it had on me was strong.

As I grew older and became almost obsessed with the break-in and subsequent investigations, trials, and finally resignation of Richard Nixon, I also marveled at the way two reporters from The Washington Post had broken the story of Nixon administration ties to the crime, and later his criminal cover-up. As interesting to me, and probably thousands of other young journalists, was the way Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and many others at the Post meticulously investigated the administrative crimes, using old-fashioned "shoe-leather" reporting, sources, and digging up information.

As any readers of "All The President's Men" know, it took Woodward and Bernstein, as well as others who broke elements of the story, hundreds of boring hours poring over documents, transcripts and finding often-reluctant interviewees to track down the stories. When the Pulitzer Prize went to the paper in 1973, it was not for any "gotcha" interviews, opinion-laden blog postings, or cable gasbag arguments over guilt, innocence or constitutional abuse.

These reporters used the journalistic basics that I, and all other seasoned reporters, would learn and hopefully practice during our careers. Taking time to find out what happened, why, and what it meant. They also did much of their reporting through anonymous sources, with little if any real threat of jail time or court subpoenas.

Yes, subpoenas were threatened and even served on the Post journalists, but no one ended up in a Judith Miller-style court appearance, or jail time, and likely would not have given the way reporters were treated then.

If Watergate had broken today, chances are someone would have posted a news story with inaccurate information too early, or the in-depth reporting needed might have been neglected in favor of quicker, more immediate, and more broad-interest scoops. That is not to say that the Post, still among the best daily papers and Web sites in the industry, would not have been on top of the story. But there is no doubt that online and immediacy demands of today could have impacted the careful, slow-building and meticulous coverage.

As for anonymous sourcing, it is clear the recent efforts to penalize confidential sources, and reporters who use them, may have an impact onreporting another Watergate today. Famed Deep Throat source W. Mark Felt, who helped guide Woodward during his parking garage meetings, may have felt more threatened with legal problems, and possibly jail, had he cooperated in today's climate -- as would Woodward and Bernstein.

Who knows, someone with a cell phone camera working in the parking garage might have snapped a photo of Woodward chatting with this unknown source. Or a blogger would have blown the whistle.

While it is important to remember the political tragedy and journalistic success that was Watergate, it is also sad to remember how much journalism has changed since then. Yes, the advent of online news and worldwide Web reach has helped newspapers, and most other media, tremendously by allowing daily papers to compete with other 24-hour news animals.

But it has also rushed much of the news process to the point where careful reviews and triple-checking of facts are often not done in time. During their award-winning reporting, much of it done over days and weeks, the Watergate reporters had their share of goofs and mistakes, but far fewer than the scoops and revelations that made such coverage valuable, and able to stand up to the scrutiny of those who regularly sought to criticize it.

I'm not saying all is lost in the realm of true investigative journalism. A look at the recent Pulitzer Prizes found a welcomed return, in many categories, to investigative packages and stories, with news microscopes focused on issues ranging from housing scandals in Miami to oceanic problems in the Pacific.

Still, the majority of today's newspaper reporting is having to be limited in some cases -- both due to staffing cuts and new 24/7 demands. The Watergate anniversary is a good reminder of the need for that vital part of newspapers, watchdog news, not to be forgotten.

An Expert of Security Expert who is Not a Mouthpiece for Our Leaders and their Enablers

Bruce Schneier:
Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot
The recently publicized terrorist plot to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport, like so many of the terrorist plots over the past few years, is a study in alarmism and incompetence: on the part of the terrorists, our government and the press.
Terrorism is a real threat, and one that needs to be addressed by appropriate means. But allowing ourselves to be terrorized by wannabe terrorists and unrealistic plots -- and worse, allowing our essential freedoms to be lost by using them as an excuse -- is wrong.
The alleged plan, to blow up JFK's fuel tanks and a small segment of the 40-mile petroleum pipeline that supplies the airport, was ridiculous. The fuel tanks are thick-walled, making them hard to damage. The airport tanks are separated from the pipelines by cutoff valves, so even if a fire broke out at the tanks, it would not back up into the pipelines. And the pipeline couldn't blow up in any case, since there's no oxygen to aid combustion. Not that the terrorists ever got to the stage -- or demonstrated that they could get there -- where they actually obtained explosives. Or even a current map of the airport's infrastructure.
But read what Russell Defreitas, the lead terrorist, had to say: "Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow.... They love JFK -- he's like the man. If you hit that, the whole country will be in mourning. It's like you can kill the man twice."
If these are the terrorists we're fighting, we've got a pretty incompetent enemy.
You couldn't tell that from the press reports, though. "The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable." Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) added, "It had the potential to be another 9/11."
These people are just as deluded as Defreitas.
The only voice of reason out there seemed to be New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said: "There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life.... You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist."
And he was widely excoriated for it.
This isn't the first time a bunch of incompetent terrorists with an infeasible plot have been painted by the media as poised to do all sorts of damage to America. In May we learned about a six-man plan to stage an attack on Fort Dix by getting in disguised as pizza deliverymen and shooting as many soldiers and Humvees as they could, then retreating without losses to fight again another day. Their plan, such as it was, went awry when they took a videotape of themselves at weapons practice to a store for duplication and transfer to DVD. The store clerk contacted the police, who in turn contacted the FBI. (Thank you to the video store clerk for not overreacting, and to the FBI agent for infiltrating the group.)

The "Miami 7," caught last year for plotting -- among other things -- to blow up the Sears Tower, were another incompetent group: no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, no money and no operational skill. And don't forget Iyman Faris, the Ohio trucker who was convicted in 2003 for the laughable plot to take out the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. At least he eventually decided that the plan was unlikely to succeed.
I don't think these nut jobs, with their movie-plot threats, even deserve the moniker "terrorist." But in this country, while you have to be competent to pull off a terrorist attack, you don't have to be competent to cause terror. All you need to do is start plotting an attack and -- regardless of whether or not you have a viable plan, weapons or even the faintest clue -- the media will aid you in terrorizing the entire population.
The most ridiculous JFK Airport-related story goes to the New York Daily News, with its interview with a waitress who served Defreitas salmon; the front-page headline blared, "Evil Ate at Table Eight."
Following one of these abortive terror misadventures, the administration invariably jumps on the news to trumpet whatever ineffective "security" measure they're trying to push, whether it be national ID cards, wholesale National Security Agency eavesdropping or massive data mining. Never mind that in all these cases, what caught the bad guys was old-fashioned police work -- the kind of thing you'd see in decades-old spy movies.
The administration repeatedly credited the apprehension of Faris to the NSA's warrantless eavesdropping programs, even though it's just not true. The 9/11 terrorists were no different; they succeeded partly because the FBI and CIA didn't follow the leads before the attacks.
Even the London liquid bombers were caught through traditional investigation and intelligence, but this doesn't stop Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff from using them to justify (.pdf) access to airline passenger data.
Of course, even incompetent terrorists can cause damage. This has been repeatedly proven in Israel, and if shoe-bomber Richard Reid had been just a little less stupid and ignited his shoes in the lavatory, he might have taken out an airplane.
So these people should be locked up ... assuming they are actually guilty, that is. Despite the initial press frenzies, the actual details of the cases frequently turn out to be far less damning. Too often it's unclear whether the defendants are actually guilty, or if the police created a crime where none existed before.
The JFK Airport plotters seem to have been egged on by an informant, a twice-convicted drug dealer. An FBI informant almost certainly pushed the Fort Dix plotters to do things they wouldn't have ordinarily done. The Miami gang's Sears Tower plot was suggested by an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the group. And in 2003, it took an elaborate sting operation involving three countries to arrest an arms dealer for selling a surface-to-air missile to an ostensible Muslim extremist. Entrapment is a very real possibility in all of these cases.
The rest of them stink of exaggeration. Jose Padilla was not actually prepared to detonate a dirty bomb in the United States, despite histrionic administration claims to the contrary. Now that the trial is proceeding, the best the government can charge him with is conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim, and it seems unlikely that the charges will stick. An alleged ringleader of the U.K. liquid bombers, Rashid Rauf, had charges of terrorism dropped for lack of evidence (of the 25 arrested, only 16 were charged). And now it seems like the JFK mastermind was more talk than action, too.
Remember the "Lackawanna Six," those terrorists from upstate New York who pleaded guilty in 2003 to "providing support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization"? They entered their plea because they were threatened with being removed from the legal system altogether. We have no idea if they were actually guilty, or of what.
Even under the best of circumstances, these are difficult prosecutions. Arresting people before they've carried out their plans means trying to prove intent, which rapidly slips into the province of thought crime. Regularly the prosecution uses obtuse religious literature in the defendants' homes to prove what they believe, and this can result in courtroom debates on Islamic theology. And then there's the issue of demonstrating a connection between a book on a shelf and an idea in the defendant's head, as if your reading of this article -- or purchasing of my book -- proves that you agree with everything I say. (The Atlantic recently published a fascinating article on this.)
I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all the facts in any of these cases. None of us do. So let's have some healthy skepticism. Skepticism when we read about these terrorist masterminds who were poised to kill thousands of people and do incalculable damage. Skepticism when we're told that their arrest proves that we need to give away our own freedoms and liberties. And skepticism that those arrested are even guilty in the first place.
There is a real threat of terrorism. And while I'm all in favor of the terrorists' continuing incompetence, I know that some will prove more capable. We need real security that doesn't require us to guess the tactic or the target: intelligence and investigation -- the very things that caught all these terrorist wannabes -- and emergency response. But the "war on terror" rhetoric is more politics than rationality. We shouldn't let the politics of fear make us less safe.

Leadership that Makes You Feel Safe

For instance, Barrett told us, Giuliani’s personal insistence that the city’s Emergency Operations Center be located in the World Trade Center’s Building 7 was “a disastrous decision with deadly consequences,” because once the building was damaged (it eventually collapsed), it “left no functioning command center” for emergency agencies to coordinate their work.

This decision was especially puzzling, said Barrett, because the World Trade Center (WTC) had already been the target of a 1993 terrorist attack. This was a key reason why top Giuliani officials, including his police chief and emergency management director, argued, against the mayor’s insistence, not to locate the headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Ironically, the blunder that left the city without a unified command post and drove Giuliani into the city’s media-populated streets for a good part of the day was a major factor in cementing his image as the take-charge hero of September 11.

Failure of coordination

The loss of a fixed, unified command center was especially crucial, Barrett explained, because of other Giuliani administration failures: One, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), an agency founded by Giuliani in 1996 to deal with crises demanding multi-agency coordination, utterly failed to coordinate fire, police and other emergency agencies on the day of the attacks.

On September 11, according to the 9/11 Commission, Giuliani’s OEM was not able to “overcome” a situation in which the FDNY and NYPD considered themselves “operationally autonomous.” The failure of the administration to bridge differences in the two often contentious departments, said the Commission, meant “the city’s police and fire rescue workers were not fully prepared to coordinate their work when terrorists struck the World Trade Center.”
But when Giuliani testified before the 9/11 Commission, he told the panel:

Part of my job description was to coordinate and supervise emergencies. The agencies that were the primary responders were all agencies that worked for the mayor. We had a format for how we did it, and part of that included my being there, so that I could coordinate and make sure everybody was working together.

The command situation was further compromised by the city administration’s failure to provide the firefighters with radios that worked properly and could communicate with police radios. The inadequate fire department radios were no secret; they had been publicly discussed for years, especially after they failed to perform properly during the 1993 WTC attack, shortly before Giuliani came into office. The 9/11 Commission noted this fact, while Barrett and Collins named names, fingering the Giuliani administration’s negligence of the long-standing security issue.

The faulty radios were so critical in 2001 because information available to police could not be communicated to firefighters. According to Barrett, unnecessary deaths resulted when firefighters were not privy to police warnings, based on information from police helicopters, that the towers were in danger of partial collapse. Unaware, firefighters continued their efforts in the towers instead of immediately evacuating. Similarly uninformed, according to Barrett, 911 emergency telephone operators were telling people in the towers to stay put, well after police warnings of possible collapse had been issued.

A fatal decision

But problems with the command center, the radios and interagency coordination might have been mitigated, said Barrett, but for another faulty Giuliani management decision on the day of the attacks.

With his command center out of commission, Giuliani took to the streets with top police commanders. At one point the mayor’s entourage traveled to a nearby location on West Street, near the Hudson River shore, where fire department brass had set up a temporary command post.

So far, so good: With police and fire department commanders together in one place, interagency communications problems could be managed. If the police and fire department brass had remained together, either on West Street or at another location, the tragedy might have been mitigated because, with police and fire department radios in the same place, the latest information could be relayed between the two departments.

But Giuliani made the fatal decision to go to another location, taking police brass with him and splitting the command centers. This left no way to communicate the latest information to the firefighters, who, making up the majority of the rescuers, would perish in far greater numbers than workers from other emergency agencies.

When Extra! asked why Barrett thought Newsweek and other reporters resisted citing his work, he was quick to say, “It’s not important whether they cite us,” pointing out “there are official reports calling the Giuliani myth into question.”

In addition to the 9/11 Commission report, citing administration failures from the incompetent OEM to the faulty fire department radios to the unwise decision to separate police and fire department commanders, Barrett said, “there are at least two other official reports available to reporters and the public.”

Barrett pointed to the McKinsey Report (2002), commissioned by the New York Fire Department to review the department’s response to the 9/11 attacks, and to a 2005 report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The McKinsey Report was the first official inquiry to criticize Giuliani’s placing the emergency operations center at the troubled site that would become known as Ground Zero, and the failure of police and fire department command coordination.

NIST found that the collapse of WTC 7 likely originated on the building’s fifth floor, where the distribution system for diesel fuel reservoirs was housed. At least one of the fuel reservoirs had been built into WTC 7 to run Giuliani’s emergency command center, over the objections of fire department officials.


Can you find the absurdity in this headline? Read the first par., and it becomes obvious: 4 Sunni mosques get bombed. Why should the majority of Iraqis care? And aren't the Sunni "insurgents" active enough as it is? And does the headline writer have a clue what's going in Iraq, or the heads just shots in the dark?


Our Leaders' Love for American Democracy

Of course, when the worst president since, oh, I'd say, at least since Lincoln, was elected by only five voters (but they got to vote twice) with no respect for the system of law (even though they're judges*), what can one expect?
Are you saying that detaining people who are plucked off the battlefields is an assault on democracy? Are you kidding me? You're talking about the people who were responsible for supporting the Taliban, somehow detaining them is an assault on democracy?

Really, where is the shame, the outrage?

(*Of course, if you don't get the reference, you're really young, really decrepit, or just ast the wrong damn blog.)

He who Our Leaders Love


Actually, you could call him Our Beloved Leaders' Beloved Leader.

Amazing odd fact: he's a Muslim!

This is Real

I dunno, maybe it's me, but I dunno that I'm convinced that this is terribly accurate... I mean, Eve's face doesn't look, well, authentic... and this standing amongst the lily pads seems a little, well, strange.

Link and another link.

Idiocy of the Day

Does it matter who said this (as if you can't guess)?
I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists’ War on Us.
I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation.
I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.
I will cut taxes and reform the tax code.
I will impose accountability on Washington.
I will lead America towards energy independence.
I will give Americans more control over, and access to, healthcare with affordable and portable free-market solutions.
I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children.
I will reform the legal system and appoint strict constructionist judges.
I will ensure that every community in America is prepared for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
I will provide access to a quality education to every child in America by giving real school choice to parents.
I will expand America’s involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation around the world.