Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're going on vacation ourselves, so will be offline for a while...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Calls for Peter Galbraith Investigation

Media silence regarding allegations concerning former US Ambassador Peter Galbraith's "sleaze factor" has been deafening, in the wake of the New York Times' front-page expose. Very little follow-up, until this item in TPM Muckracker:
A good government group is calling on the State Department to investigate the role of former ambassador Peter Galbraith in drafting Iraq's constitution in 2005 while he held a lucrative stake in a Kurdish oil field.

The letter from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to the State Dept. Inspector General asks whether State approved Galbraith's activities, and cites a recent New York Times exposé that built off work of the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.
Text of the letter posted on the TPM website at this link. More background on the Galbraith scandal by Reidar Visser at

Memo to President Obama: Fire Secretary of Defense Robert Gates...

His press conference dealing with the Ft. Hood Massacre failed the "red face test," IMHO. Obviously, General Casey isn't the only one at fault. After hearing this on C-Span radio yesterday, it's pretty clear that Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates were on the same page. And setting up a yet another commission to conduct yet another investigation is a Bush-era move...From the weak response to the Ft. Hood massacre, his failure to take responsibility and his discussion of meeting with the Saudis, the official press conference transcript seems to cast an Islamist pall over Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen:

Q There is one detail of the investigation that, since it's already on the record, I'll ask you about. Yesterday, Attorney General Holder said he was disturbed by information that Hasan had e-mail communications with Anwar al-Awlaki. And I wonder if you were also disturbed by that.

SEC. GATES: I'm going to wait before I draw -- it's -- yes, it's disturbing. But before I draw any conclusions about it, I want to find out all the facts.

Q Sir, what is your advice to, say, an Army family right now, going in and out of Fort Hood or another base, that is now perhaps looking at their neighbors with suspicion? What are you telling them? What should they be watching for?

SEC. GATES: Well, I think that -- you know, I remember being on the outside of the government after 9/11, and the cautions that President Bush and others in the government exercised against identifying certain categories of people as -- as potentially suspicious.

And the thrust of their remarks was that, in a nation as diverse as the United States, the last thing we need to do is start pointing fingers at each other, particularly when there's no basis in fact for it. So until all the evidence is in, I think that the comments about how we treat each other still ought to apply. And I know this is an issue that's of concern to the services.

ADM. MULLEN: I would add to that, Kim, that it doesn't take this kind of direction to have leaders recognize the challenges that are associated with this. Every base, every unit, literally leaders have I think immediately grabbed this to look within, to kind of see where they are, and to look at what -- whether there's potential or not, and to reassure members and families that not only do we take it extremely seriously, we are looking at it, and to really come together in what is, you know, what was certainly a tragic, tragic incident, and a reminder of the times in which we live, and that leaders are in fact taking action, literally, before this guidance to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

SEC. GATES: Joe --

Q What is your message to the Muslim community in uniform? Because they're very -- they're caught by this incident.

ADM. MULLEN: My message to all those in uniform, including Muslims in uniform, is how much we appreciate their service, the difference that they make; that the -- I have, for my entire career, the diversity of our force is one of its greatest strengths; and that, not unlike what the secretary said, that no one should -- should draw any rapid conclusions. And we need to ensure that we treat everybody fairly -- I mean, before this incident and after this incident -- everybody fairly. And there are procedures that exist in all the services to look at our people and our programs, and evaluate ourselves routinely. And I am sure that leaders are doing that.


Q Will this review look specifically at the mental health ranks within the Army, where, you know, the allegation has been made that a shortage of mental-health professionals may have let unqualified people continue on rather than being drummed out. How specific to the case before us will this be versus a general look at personnel policy?

SEC. GATES: Well, I think they're going to -- as I've indicated here, they are going to look at how we deal with stress of our healthcare providers. And I would say that it shouldn't be limited only to mental healthcare providers.

You know, you talk to the -- you go to the hospitals, and you talk to the nurses and the doctors and those who care for these grievously wounded young men and women, and, I mean, their level of commitment -- and I can't imagine the burden on them of doing that all day, every day. And so I think one of the things, for their own benefit, if nothing else, is for us to take a look at how are we helping them deal with stress, given the circumstances that they face.

ADM. MULLEN: Can I -- I'd just add to that that clearly there is a shortfall, and it's across the department. It's about 20 percent or so. It's a little more significant in the Army, in terms of the statistics. And that is represented -- representative of the shortfall that we actually have.

In the country, we've recruited significant numbers in the last several years. We've increased the mental health providers for both members and families in the last several years, but we certainly haven't closed that gap.

SEC. GATES: And it gets harder as you get to more rural areas, in terms of finding the -- an adequate number of mental healthcare providers.

One of the things that we're looking at, for example, is whether the military medical education system can expand beyond -- how much it could expand beyond doctors and try and provide opportunities for the training of psychologists and counselors and so on. To -- in -- and we would pay for that in exchange for a period of commitment to serve and then go into the communities. Because one of the things that -- as the chairman has just implied, one of the things we're discovering as we go around trying to hire people all over the country is that there really is a national shortage of these folks.

Q Mr. Secretary, based on the facts that you have now, about Hasan and what happened that day, is it fair to characterize the shooting as a terrorist attack?

SEC. GATES: I'm just not going to go there. I -- as I said in the very first paragraph, I am first of all -- as the senior person in the departmental chain of command, I am the least able to render opinions on these kinds of issues. I'm going to wait until the facts are in. And we'll let the military justice system take care of it.

Q Do you think it's possible they'll draw a conclusion, to that end, as a result of the criminal investigation?

SEC. GATES: I have no idea.

Q One of the threats that's obviously being looked at is the issue of whether the intercepted e-mails should have been shared with the Pentagon earlier. Given your background in the intelligence world, how much of a concern is it, do you think? I mean, is that relationship -- as far as intelligence-sharing between civilian intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, is that what it should be?

SEC. GATES: Well, without reference to this case, I will tell you that the sharing of information, between the intelligence community and the Department of Defense and I would say law enforcement, is so far superior to what it was when I left government in 1993.

It's dramatically different and dramatically better. And so you know, one of the things everybody is looking at and, after all, the purpose of the president's requirement, in terms of looking at who had what intelligence when and shared it with whom, is to answer your question. And we won't know the answer to that until it's over.


Q Short of someone in the U.S. military making a direct, specific, public threat, when you're in the military, what is allowed and not allowed for someone who might be described as becoming self- radicalized? What are they allowed to do, in terms of making Internet or e-mail contact with people known to the U.S. government to be of a radical bent, to belong to certain groups which are not in line with U.S. government policy? What is allowed here?

ADM. MULLEN: Well, I think -- I mean, we all have private lives. And basically in any command, you typically are not overly involved unless -- in private -- in the private lives of people that serve, in the command, unless circumstances surface that there are some difficulties and challenges.

And leaders, mid-level NCOs in particular, are intimately -- oftentimes intimately involved with challenges that young -- that actually any people would have, across a wide spectrum of areas. And the expectation that leaders engage so is very much there.

So, as leaders become aware of something like this over time, you know, my -- not -- or something else -- my expectation is that that gets surfaced in the chain of command. And commanders, whether they're squad leaders right up through battalion commanders or ship commanding officers, are -- they routinely deal with these kind of things when they are -- when they are made known. The question is, how are they made known? And that varies depending on the kind of situation you're talking about.

Q So, Admiral, if you had a young sailor in your command making statements of a radical nature, what -- what would -- what would be the appropriate course of action?

ADM. MULLEN: My -- without trying to map it to the -- to the current incident, you know, my expectation is for -- you know, for any commander to -- certainly to be aware of those kinds of things, and then to take appropriate action; to certainly not sit idly by, but to address it. And there are a lot of different ways to address it. And you know, a single -- a single proclamation, if you will, doesn't, in and of itself, necessarily mean anything. You got to put it into the circumstances.

Q Let me ask you, what's your expectation of any sharing of information between the criminal investigation and this broad review you've laid out in terms of any patterns or any shortfalls they saw in the Hasan case that might not bear on the criminality aspect, but might show a systemic problem that your -- that your larger review should take a look at?

SEC. GATES: Well, clearly we are going to have to be careful as we put together the terms of reference and as we go forward to ensure that we don't do anything to complicate or jeopardize the criminal prosecution. And so we will have some very clear guidelines in terms of the information that we're seeking. But the information that we're seeking in this shorter review really is -- really can, I think, be almost entirely isolated from the criminal investigation because we're really looking at the whole rest of the country in terms of what are our security capabilities, what are our capabilities for responding to a mass casualty event. And that might not be -- that might not be an act of murder; it may -- it might be a natural disaster of some kind. How -- what are our policies and procedures? Going back to the first question, what are our policies and procedures in certain of these areas on how we deal with these certain kinds of problems.

So I think -- I think we can deal effectively with the questions that are being posed without creating difficulties for the criminal prosecution. But at the same time, there'll be some very clear guidelines.

Q Can I ask you -- we haven't talked to you since the -- this horrendous event, but what was your initial reaction when you heard this -- the -- heard of the shooting? And what are one or two of the unresolved questions in your mind as a citizen you'd like answers to?

SEC. GATES: Well, I mean, my reaction was, I'm sure, the same as almost everybody in the country. It was one of horror. And I would just answer the second part by saying the most important thing for us now is to find out what actually happened, put all the facts together and figure out a way where we can do everything possible so that nothing like this ever happens again.

Q Sir, I would like to ask you about your meeting on Tuesday with the Saudi Prince bin Sultan. Could you give us an update about that meeting? Did the prince deliver any request, any message? And what are your views about the conflict -- the current conflict in Yemen?

SEC. GATES: Well, we have a -- we obviously have a very close -- (coughs) -- excuse me – military to military relationship with the Saudis and an ongoing arms sales program with them. And I would just leave it at the fact that we reviewed the programs that are -- for which there are outstanding requests and those that the Saudis may be thinking about. We did discuss the situation in Yemen, and he -- the assistant secretary -- basically outlined for me the Saudi view of the situation there. I'd just leave it at that.

President Obama, It's time for some new blood, and new approaches, at the Department of Defense. Someone who can say "Yes, we can!" with confidence, clean house, and purge Islamist influence from the US military. Obviously, given the failures at Ft. Hood, their slowness to react, and their reversion to Bush-era scripts for "damage control," Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen are not up to the job.

Stop University of California Tuition Hikes!

I'm with the student protesters on this one. The middle of a recession with high unemployment is no time to pull up the ladder of education for those unable to afford college tuition. State universities were not intended to be run like a business--that's for private universities like USC and Stanford. What made the UC system great was its commitment to providing at first a free education, later a modestly-priced education, for California state residents. The very last thing that should be done is to hike tuition.

I'd suggest that before any tuition hike, administrators try very hard to cut from administrative overhead, conference travel, and other non-instructional expenditures--before gouging their students any further.

Here's a link to's account of UCLA protests (full disclosure, this blogger is a lifetime member of both the UC Berkeley and UCLA Alumni association):
About 30 to 50 protesters staged a takeover of Campbell Hall, a building across campus that houses ethnic studies, said UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton.

They chained the doors shut but were peaceful and there were no immediate plans to remove them, Hampton said.

No arrests had been made, although 14 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday and cited for failure to disperse or disturbing the peace.

Demonstrations also were held at other UC campuses.

UC President Mark Yudof told reporters Wednesday he couldn't rule out raising student fees again if the state is unable to meet his request for an additional $913 million next year for the 10-campus system.

"I can't make any ... promises," he said.

After a series of deep cuts in state aid, and with state government facing a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, Board of Regents members said there was no option to higher fees.

"When you have no choice, you have no choice," Yudof said after a Regents' committee endorsed the fee plan Wednesday. "I'm sorry."

The Los Angeles meeting was repeatedly interrupted by outbursts from students and union members, who accused the board of turning its back on the next generation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NPR: Walter Reed Psychiatrists Didn't Miss Hasan Warning Signs

With NPR's release of this memo from his personnel file (ht Huffington Post), the Nidal Malik Hasan case begins to come into focus:
On May 17, 2007, Hasan's supervisor at Walter Reed sent the memo to the Walter Reed credentials committee. It reads, "Memorandum for: Credentials Committee. Subject: CPT Nidal Hasan." More than a page long, the document warns that: "The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism." It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran.

When shown the memo, two leading psychiatrists said it was so damning, it might have sunk Hasan's career if he had applied for a job outside the Army.

"Even if we were desperate for a psychiatrist, we would not even get him to the point where we would invite him for an interview," says Dr. Steven Sharfstein, who runs Sheppard Pratt's psychiatric medical center, based just outside Baltimore.

Sharfstein says it's a little hard to read the evaluation now and pretend that he doesn't know that Hasan is accused of shooting dozens of people. But he says if he had seen a memo like this about an applicant, Sharfstein would have avoided him like the plague.

The memo ticks off numerous problems over the course of Hasan's training, including proselytizing to his patients. It says he mistreated a homicidal patient and allowed her to escape from the emergency room, and that he blew off an important exam.

According to the memo, Hasan hardly did any work: He saw only 30 patients in 38 weeks. Sources at Walter Reed say most psychiatrists see at least 10 times that many patients. When Hasan was supposed to be on call for emergencies, he didn't even answer the phone.

Sharfstein says the memo doesn't suggest that Hasan would end up shooting people, but it warns that Hasan was "somebody who could potentially put patients in danger."
Link to PDF facsimile of memo on NPR website, here. One interesting item:
He failed his HGT/WGT screening and was found to be out of standards with body fat % and was counseled on that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I Support Attorney General Holder's Indictment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

There's been railing from the right about criminal charges brought against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but I think Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing, for the following reasons:

1. The Bush Administration had 7 years to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Military Courts or Commissions

For whatever reasons--fear, incompetence, indecision, legal questions--President Bush did not put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial, despite waterboarding, detention, and general warehousing. He didn't know what to do with him, it's pretty obvious. At least Holder is doing something to resolve the situation.

2. Islamists currently exploit Guantanamo and waterboarding for propaganda purposes

A criminal trial might provide a platform for Islamists, but also provides a platform to discredit Islamists in public--something indefinite detention at Guantanamo does not do.

3. Facts will come out in court to confound conspiracy theorists

Conspiracy theories thrive under conditions of coverup and silence. Bringing a public case in a public court allows the evidence to be examined by the public, in a way that undermines conspiracy theories. The failure to bring Lee Harvey Oswald to trial -- as opposed to Sirhan Sirhan -- undermined faith in the US government for years, and may have led to defeat in Vietnam.

4. The People of the United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

One of the important facts about a criminal trial is that it is the People of the United States who are prosecuting the defendant, not a privatized, contracted-out, politically compromised, possibly fifth-column infiltrated US Military. The crime was against the people of the United States, not just the 3000 or so victims in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That is the strongest charge that we have.

5. If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed walks, he deserves to get off

One of the important things about a trial is that it is a genuine test for both the defendant the prosecution. The prosecution must prove the defendant guilty in open court. Justice results precisely because the result is not 100 percent certain beforehand.

IMHO, If our criminal justice system can't convict Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, it might not be worth fighting for. If the Attorney General can't convict an alleged mastermind of the attack on the World Trade Center, then something is wrong that better be fixed. This is one way for the public to find out what went wrong.

6. Opponents of a criminal trial are cowards

They are obviously and declaredly afraid of terrorist attacks on NYC, of terrorist propaganda, of media circuses, of a failure to convict, and so on... Such cowardice sends a signal of weakness even stronger than a failure to convict would send... Critics are too afraid to even try.

In this case, I agree with Attorney General Holder and President Obama. In answer to the question, "Can we try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, prove the case against him, and convict him in open court?" I answer, "YES, WE CAN!...and yes, we must."

Schroedinger's Cat Explained

After seeing the Coen brothers' A Serious Man, I found the University of Nottingham's explanation of Schroedinger's Cat on YouTube:

M.D. Nalapat: Give Karzai a Chance...

Writing for UPI, Indian analyst M.D. Nalapat argues that Hamid Karzai is doing a better job than NATO in Afghanistan, and should not be made a scapegoat for the alliance's failures:
It is no secret that the NATO chancelleries are in a state of panic over the situation in Afghanistan, nor that they are engaged in a desperate search for "good Taliban" – in other words, those promising a ceasefire in exchange for protection.

This would ensure for Karzai what a London newsweekly that is close to NATO has warned – a Najibullah-style fate. In 1996, the very squads that were hosted in Washington by the Clinton administration castrated and tortured former Afghani President Mohammed Najibullah and hung his blood-soaked body on a traffic light post.

However, as in many other cases involving peoples of a culture alien to the weekly's editors, the magazine is wrong in believing that Karzai can escape such a fate only by cooperating with NATO's designs, for the reverse is true: doing so would only accelerate the collapse of the moderate Pashtun polity in Afghanistan.

It is small wonder that Karzai has finally decided to hit back at his NATO traducers by making the counter-narcotics chief, General K. Khodaidad, go public about the assistance given by NATO elements to drug smugglers. That several NATO elements are involved in the drugs trade is no secret in Afghanistan, although it seems so to the international media and those in NATO capitals.

Perhaps such assistance is part of a policy of seeking to co-opt the Taliban by facilitating riches through the drugs trade. If such a strategy were adopted, it would be suicidal not only for Afghanistan but also to Europe, because rogue elements linked to the Taliban have succeeded in setting up viable networks within key NATO states, ready for activation since the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States.

Such a war will be waged in earnest once the Taliban wins the war in Afghanistan by becoming the dominant force in a new government that presumably will meet Obama's standards of integrity and modernism better than the Karzai team.

This columnist had warned against a second round of elections when it was only Karzai who could rally moderate Pashtuns and align them with Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras into a combination that can defeat the terrorist militia helped by the Middle East, cash from the narcotics trade and NATO's numerous policy errors.

Karzai has brought together Mohammad Fahim, Ismail Khan, Rashid Dostum, Karim Khalili and others who are effective on the ground but disliked by NATO for their independent thinking. It would seem that the United States and its allies in Europe interpret "freedom" the way Henry Ford defined customer choice: "Any color so long as it's black."

A "democratic" Afghan is by such a definition an individual who follows the confused and contradictory instructions from NATO commanders under fire from constituencies back home for their failure to subdue a ragtag force. Any Afghan who acts as though he is part of a free country needs to be reviled and cast aside as "corrupt" or "incompetent."

Harking to India, had New Delhi followed the many Kashmir nostrums peddled by the Clinton administration and later, in the post-9/11 phase, by the Bush team, U.S. troops would have been fighting today in Kashmir as well.

Karzai, by not acting on the suicidal course suggested to him by media outlets close to NATO, is keeping alive the possibility of an Afghan response to the Taliban after NATO finally pulls its troops out of the country. His team needs to succeed where NATO has failed. Of course, the reason for this failure is the alliance's inability to acknowledge the need to flush out the Taliban from their nests in Pakistan, notably in and around Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan.

The mistakes made during the Afghan war of the 1980s need to be avoided to avoid the blowback of such policies, which has caused the upsurge in terrorism worldwide. However, recent policy spasms of NATO indicate that a repeat of that tragic history is approaching.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hermitage Capital Lawyer Dies in Russian Prison

After being denied medical treatment:

Death of Hermitage Lawyer in Russian Prison

17 November 2009 - Last night Sergey Magnitskiy, a 37-year old legal adviser and father of two, died in Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in Moscow.

Since 2007, Sergey Magnitskiy was defending the Hermitage Fund and HSBC against serious frauds perpetrated with the involvement of Russian officials. Sergey Magnitskiy gave formal testimonies naming officers of the Interior Ministry and their role in the seizure of Hermitage Fund/HSBC companies. Shortly after his testimony, on 24 November 2008, Sergey Magnitskiy was arrested by the team of the same Interior Ministry officers named in his testimony.

Sergey Magnitskiy was refused bail and kept in detention for a year without trial. Yesterday, Sergey’s lawyers came to see him at a planned investigative procedure at Butyrka detention center and were denied access to him. The lawyers were told Sergey could not leave his cell because of his state of health. Investigators Oleinik and Silchenko refused to show a medical report about Sergey’s health to his lawyers, stating it was an “internal matter”.

Sergey’s mother was the first to find out about the death of her son this morning. She came to Butyrka detention center to give him some personal items and was told that her son had been transferred to a different detention facility, the Matrosskaya Tishina center, the previous day. When she then went to Matrosskaya Tishina, she was told that her son was dead.

Sergey’s lawyers were told that Sergey Magnitskiy died of a rupture to the abdominal membrane around 9:00 pm on 16 November 2009 and that his body was transferred to the 11th Morgue in Moscow.

Sergey Magnitskiy was kept in pre-trial detention for a year and denied by Investigator Silchenko the ability to see his mother and his wife and speak to his children for the entire time of his detention. He was transferred between four detention centers and his detention conditions progressively deteriorated. Numerous complaints by Sergey Magnitskiy and his lawyers about the physical and psychological pressure exerted on him, the legal breaches during the pre-trial investigation, the obstruction to his defence and the inhuman and degrading conditions in detention, were left unaddressed.

Additionally, Sergey Magnitskiy wrote a 40-page complaint to General Prosecutor Chaika describing a serious medical condition which developed in detention, the on-going and regular denial of medical treatment which resulted in a serious worsening of his health, and pleaded for access to medical attention. There was no response to his complaint.

“I would like to express my shock and sadness at the passing of Sergey Magnitskiy. Sergey was a brilliant and honourable lawyer known by all whom met him as a diligent professional and a committed family man. I know I speak for all the staff of Hermitage Capital when I say that both Sergey and his family are in our hearts at this time. He and the ideals he stood for will not be forgotten,” said CEO of Hermitage Capital William Browder.

Lawyers will conduct an independent investigation into his death.

For further information, please contact:

Hermitage Capital Management
Phone: +44 (0)20 7440 1777

Monday, November 16, 2009

Barry Rubin: Ft. Hood Gunman Announced He Was Jihadist

From The Rubin Report (ht AtlasShrugs):
How do we know that the attack at Fort Hood was an act of Islamist terrorism? Simple, Major Nidal Hassan told us so. You’ve seen reports of a long list of things he did and said along these lines. But what’s most amazing of all is this:

Hassan is the first terrorist in history to give an academic lecture explaining why he was about to attack. Yet that still isn’t enough for too many people—including the president of the United States--to understand that the murderous assault at Fort Hood was a Jihad attack.

It was reported that the audience was shocked and frightened by his lecture. He was supposed to speak on some medical topic yet instead talked on the topic: “The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.” All you have to do is look at the 50 Power Point slides and they tell you everything you need to know.

It is quite a good talk. He’s logical and presents his evidence. This is clearly not the work of a mad man or a fool, though there’s still a note of ambiguity in it. He's still working out what to do in his own mind and is trying to figure out if he has a way out other than in effect deserting the U.S. army and becoming a Jihad warrior. Ultimately, he concluded that he could not be a proper Muslim without killing American soldiers. Obviously, other Muslims could reach different conclusions but Hassan strongly grounds himself in Islamic texts.

In a sense, Hassan's lecture was a cry for help: Can anyone show me another way out? Can anyone refute my interpretation of Islam? One Muslim in the audience reportedly tried to do so. But unless these issues are openly discussed and debated--rather than swept under the rug--more people will die.

In fact, I’d recommend that teachers use this lecture in teaching classes on both Islam and Islamist politics.

National Review: Congress Must Investigate Islamist Fifth Column

Alex Alexiev writes:
To understand the nature of the problem, a quick look at the origins and evolution of Islamic extremism in America and its sponsors is essential. Radical Islam made its first appearance in America in 1963 at the University of Illinois with the founding of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) by group of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimin) immigrant activists with money from the Saudi front organization Muslim World League (MWL). In the decade following the founding of the MSA, many of today’s self-proclaimed leading Islamic organizations were spun off from it and began acting independently — though neither the ideological nor the organizational ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Saudi paymasters were ever severed. These included the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and a number of smaller groups.

In the 1990s, this network was augmented with a number of other radical-Islamist organizations affiliated with the Brotherhood, such as the Muslim Political Affairs Council (MPAC) and the above-ground incarnation of the clandestine Brotherhood, registered in 1993 as the Muslim American Society (MAS). What they all had in common was adherence to the hate-filled Wahhabi-Salafi Islamist ideology and a visceral dislike for America and the West, leading at least some of them to see their ultimate objective as “destroying Western civilization from within,” as an internal Brotherhood document put it succinctly. To understand the magnitude of the problem, it is worth recalling that as early as the period of 1980 to 1985, according to the Muslim World League Journal, some 60 American Islamic organizations were financed by Wahhabi interests. In 1991, the Brotherhood counted 29 American Islamic organizations among its allies; the MSA, which openly lionizes Osama bin Laden, now boasts over 1,000 college chapters in North America.

With the help of huge inflows of mostly Saudi money, these radical networks, which should more appropriately be seen as branches of the same organization run by a few dozen individuals through a system of interlocking directorships, have made radical Islam the dominant idiom of the American Muslim establishment, despite the fact that most American Muslims are well-integrated, economically prosperous, and not given to extremism. Taken together, this network, which controls a majority of American mosques, Islamic cultural centers, charities, and schools, is nothing short of an Islamist fifth column radicalizing large numbers of American Muslims and increasingly capable of infiltrating our government and key institutions including the military. Unfortunately, neither the U.S. government, nor the FBI, nor the military understands that what this fifth column is engaged in is not religion but political sedition and the subversion of our constitutional order under the guise of religion — both of which are prohibited under current U.S. law.

A gentleman by the name of Abdurahman Alamoudi provides a typical example of the Islamist modus operandi. In October 2004, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for terrorism-related activities, and he is currently serving his sentence in a federal penitentiary. Prior to that, Alamoudi had been a kingpin of the Islamist network as a key official in a dozen top Islamist organizations and five charities suspected of funding terrorism. Despite that, Alamoudi evidently enjoyed unimpeded access to the White House under Presidents Clinton and Bush, and also served as a State Department “goodwill ambassador” in the Middle East and a U.S. Information Agency speaker abroad. Most important, as a founder of an organization called American Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Council (AMAFVAC), this radical Islamist became the first exclusive endorsing agent for Muslim chaplains for all branches of the U.S. armed forces and was able to place Islamist extremists in the military virtually at will.

It is within this vast subversive enterprise that Major Hasan, like thousands of others, became radicalized and eventually a terrorist long before the war in Iraq came along to annoy him. It is not difficult to trace his transformation into a mass murderer by simply looking at the institutions in which he was indoctrinated. First, at Dar al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Va., one of the largest and most radical mosques in the country, where his mentor was Imam Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American-born jihad and suicide-bombing advocate; and then at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md., under Imam Faizul Khan, yet another Muslim extremist, a key figure in the Washington, D.C., Islamist scene and an official at both ISNA (an unindicted co-conspirator at a terror-finance trial) and the Saudi front MWL.

All of the above information is easily accessible to anybody with an Internet connection. Yet, the U.S. government, our counterterrorism organs, and the military all refused to recognize or act upon it, and twelve young Americans have paid the ultimate price. Whether this was the result of sheer incompetence or obsequious political correctness or both, the American people have the right and duty to ask their representatives to conduct a broad investigation of this catastrophic failure and take appropriate measures to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. And do it soon. If not, the next suicide bombing in the homeland is not a matter of if, but when.

St. Petersburg Times: Peter Galbraith 'Self-Dealing' Harms US War Effort

From an editorial headlined "Corruption Erodes Trust":
Then there is the apparent self-dealing of Peter Galbraith, a former American ambassador and the son of legendary economist John Kenneth Galbraith. He appears to have secured rights to a share of the oil wealth of Kurdistan in the northern region of Iraq. The conflict of interest arises because he had been an adviser to the Kurdish government on the drafting of the Iraqi constitution, which partly addressed how the oil wealth of the region would be divided.

According to the New York Times, Galbraith helped the Kurds gain control over the region's internal affairs, including new oil discoveries, after Galbraith had already obtained rights to at least one of Kurdistan's oil fields. Galbraith's interest could be worth a hundred million dollars or more.

Galbraith claims no wrongdoing and argues he was a private citizen acting as an unpaid adviser. But those details don't matter to Iraqi officials in Baghdad, who see an American absconding with the country's oil wealth through manipulative self-dealing.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of American forces in Iraq, told the BBC recently, "The endemic corruption within the Iraqi system — not only the security forces, but the system — is still probably the biggest problem facing Iraq." President Barack Obama has publicly called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to rid his country of corruption. Those vital messages are undermined by the unethical behavior of Americans. Even as Blackwater officials and Galbraith acted in their own self-interests, they are staining the nation's image among Iraqis and Afghans.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"White Powder" Letters Hit 5 UN Missions

This seems like more than a coincidence, given the timing of the Ft. Hood attacks, and the fact that the countries hit are involved in Afghanistan. There were some anthrax letters right after 9/11. Even if there's no anthrax in these, they surely disrupted and terrorized those working in the affected UN missions. Louis Charbonneau reports for Reuters:
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Police are investigating letters containing white powder that were sent to five U.N. missions in New York City, but diplomats from the affected countries said on Tuesday that the material was harmless.

The U.N. missions of Austria, France, Germany and Uzbekistan received letters with an unidentified white powder on Monday.

Britain's U.N. mission in Manhattan also received a letter containing white powder on Tuesday and authorities were decontaminating the office where it was found, a British diplomat in New York told Reuters.

The New York Police Department has said that it had already decontaminated 40 people as a precaution.

Gal Luft: Saudi-Sponsored Fifth Column Behind Ft. Hood Massacre?

From Gal Luft's Middle East Strategy at Harvard blog post: "How the Saudis Radicalize US Troops":
While Muslim soldiers have served in uniforms loyally for decades, it is the rising number of Wahhabi-trained and converted Muslims that is a relatively recent phenomenon. Since Wahhabism is one of the most radical and puritan strands of Islam, the penetration of Wahhabi thinking into the ranks of the military must be treated with care.

The genesis of radical Islamic thinking within the military was in the 1990-91 Gulf War, when nearly half a million soldiers and marines were deployed in Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait and defend the oil kingdom from Saddam Hussein’s aggression. While the Saudis were adamantly opposed to any expression of religious practice by their guests, including a ban on Christmas carols, bible classes and Christian and Jewish prayers, they embarked on a well-orchestrated and generously funded effort sponsored by the Saudi government to convert as many American military members as possible to Islam.

According to General Norman Schwarzkopf’s aide Rick Francona,

Saudi officers appeared to have been directed by their senior military or religious leadership to spot and assess potential converts to Islam among American military members. Once a particular American was ‘targeted,’ […] a few Saudi military officers, including a military imam, would attempt to meet the American in either a purely social setting or at least outside of the work area. These approaches usually included fairly generous gifts and of course, literature about Islam. The gifts included expensive briefcases, pens, books and other personal items. Americans who decided to convert to Islam were rewarded handsomely […] including all expenses paid trips to Mecca, and payments as high as $30,000.

The commander of Saudi forces in the Gulf, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bragged in his memoir that more than 2,000 American troops converted to Islam through this campaign. “These Muslim troops are now the messengers of Islam in the U.S. forces,” said Dr. Abu Ameena Bilal Phillips, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam (1972) who worked during the Gulf war under the auspices of the U.S. Air Force while converting U.S. troops to Islam in his spare time. After the war, Phillips moved to the United States to “set up Islamic chapters in the U.S. Defense Department.”

Nearly two decades have passed since the Saudi conversion campaign, and most of the converts may no longer be in uniforms. But the seeds sown during the Gulf War have germinated, creating scores of radicalized Americans who are a threat to their comrades in uniforms as well as to their civilian communities.

Fort Hood’s Hasan yelled “Allahu Akbar“—Arabic for “God is Great”—just before the shooting. As Camp Pennsylvania’s killer Akbar was being led away after the incident, fellow soldiers heard him shout: “You guys are coming into our countries and you’re going to rape our women and kill our children.” Allahu Akbar, “you guys,” “our countries”—strong words which tell us that it is time to investigate what exactly happened back then in the desert and assess how serious and deep-rooted the damage is.
Jacob Heilbrunn, writing in The National Interest, has also raised the question of a Fifth Column:
Make no mistake: hovering over Sen. Lieberman’s inquiry will be the question of whether the army contains a fifth column of Muslim-Americans intent on waging a war against the war on terror on the American homeland. Done properly, it could provide a salutary look into what may well be a nonissue. But done in an inflammatory fashion, it could end up making the Army-McCarthy hearings look like a dainty tea party. Carried far enough, the ultimate target of suspicion for some could be none other than President Barack Hussein Obama, whose patriotism has already been impugned by his detractors.
World Net Daily has likewise raised the question of a Fifth Column, linked the release of a new book on the subject:
According to an explosive new book, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America," Hasan is just the tip of a jihadist Fifth Column operating within the ranks of the U.S. military – which is too blinded by political correctness to see the threat.

Quoting from a classified military briefing, "Muslim Mafia" reveals that this Fifth Column has penetrated "every branch of the U.S. military." The Islamist enemy has even infiltrated the al-Qaida detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Security officials at Gitmo have been investigating a possible new spy ring involving several "dirty" Arabic linguists who are accused among other things of:

* omitting valuable intelligence from their translations of detainee interrogations;

* slipping notes to detainees inside copies of the Quran;

* coaching detainees to make allegations of abuse against interrogators; and

* meeting with suspects on the terrorist watchlist while traveling back in the United States.

More than 75 former Gitmo detainees have returned to the battlefield or anti-American jihad. Some met with the suspect Muslim translators. Others were privately counseled by chaplains also under investigation for security breaches.

Gitmo security officials recently met with FBI agents in Philadelphia to aid their investigation into one of the Muslim linguists under contract at Gitmo, according to sources quoted in the book who are familiar with the investigation.

They also this summer briefed members of Congress about the prison camp's internal security breaches, according to "Muslim Mafia," which is co-authored by former federal agent P. David Gaubatz and investigative journalist Paul Sperry, author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington," which is being used by law enforcement and the military.

"Three years of investigations have revealed the presence of pro-jihad/anti-Western activities among the civilian contractor and military linguist population serving Joint Task Force Guantanamo," states a copy of the classified Gitmo briefing, which was prepared in May 2009 for the FBI and CIA, as well as the congressional intelligence committees.

The report explains that "dirty" Arabic linguists have gathered classified data involving detainees, interrogations and security operations in an effort to "disrupt" Gitmo operations and U.S. "intelligence-collection capabilities."

It goes on to specifically finger the Muslim Brotherhood, which it calls a terrorist group, in the conspiracy. The Muslim Brotherhood and its U.S. operations and front groups are the subject of "Muslim Mafia."

"These actions are deliberate, carefully planned, global, and to the benefit of the detainees and multiple terrorist organizations, to include al-Qaida and Muslim Brotherhood," the briefing states, according to the bestselling book.

The enemy infiltration is not limited to Guantanamo.

The report strongly suggests that Islamist spies have penetrated nearly every sensitive U.S. security agency involved in the war on terror, potentially compromising intelligence government-wide.

"Persons participating in this activity move regularly between multiple contracting companies, various intelligence agencies in the U.S. government [FBI, CIA, DIA, NSA, etc.], and every branch of the U.S. military."

The investigation comes on the heels of a major Muslim espionage ring that the FBI broke up at Gitmo in 2004.
The American Thinker's Selwyn Duke similarly discusses the possibility of a Fifth Column.
Given this, was it really shocking when Hasan walked among the "aggressors" and yelled Allahu Akbar before punctuating his story with a burst of violence?

It wasn't to me. You see, I knew the rough details of the event as soon as I heard about the shooting. I knew that there are jihadists among us; I knew the perpetrator was likely one of them; and I knew that a three-little-monkeys society, blinded, deafened, and dumbed down by political correctness, is allowing this fifth column to operate unfettered. I knew it not because I'm a genius but because I'm willing to profile -- also known as seeing reality as it is, not as fashions dictate it must be. And this brings us to what is most shocking.

Why was an obvious jihadist in our military in the first place, let alone promoted to major?

Well, the question has already been answered. We have become a sick society, where fantasies are favored and reality is called "racist." If there were an officer of Japanese descent in our military during WWII, he wouldn't have lasted til the next day's rising sun if he had expressed pro-Imperial Japanese sentiments. But that was then, when America was America, before she was sacrificed on the altar of the leftist dystopia in utopian clothing.

The Gall of Peter Galbraith

Is Peter Galbraith a corrupt thug?

Even if he's not, he sure sounds like one to me, judging from this account in Vermont's Rutland Herald. The ex-US official appears insensitive to the appearance of corruption, as well as unapologetic about reports in yesterday's front-page NY Times article that he stands to gain over $100 million from oil deals between Kurdistan and a Norwegian oil company:
He said he had done nothing wrong and didn't have a conflict of interest by having business and political dealings with the Kurds. "It was a straightforward business transaction," he said.

The New York Times estimated that Galbraith's oil interests in Kurdistan could net him more than $120 million, a figure that Galbraith disputed. "These numbers, I wish they were true," he said.

Galbraith said he had left his work for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was working as a private citizen when he started working for the Norwegian oil firm DNO in 2004.

Later, in August 2005, Galbraith said, the Kurds, knowing of his relationship with DNO, asked him to advise them as Iraq wrote its constitution, which dealt in part withon how to divide its oil wealth.

"I was not a negotiator. I gave them advice," he said.

Galbraith said he had always been supportive of Kurdistan's self-determination, which meant having control over its oil fields and establishing a Kurdish oil industry. Kurdistan is the northern, oil-rich section of Iraq.

His positions have always been "congruent," he said, that Kurds should control their own natural resources.

He said the news of his Kurdish oil interests had first been made public a week after he was dismissed by the U.N. and the stories first surfaced in Norway and were later picked up by American press.

He said he had no proof that it was payback for his criticism of Eide, a top ranking Norwegian diplomat, but he was suspicious about the news of the Kurdish oil interests first becoming public a week later. "I can't prove anything," he said.

Galbraith was speaking to a sympathetic audience: the Windham World Affairs Council of Vermont. He has spoken to the organization for the past seven years in the fall, he said.

He had no plans to address them this fall until he lost his diplomatic posting in Afghanistan over his criticism of the fraudulent elections in that country.

Galbraith, who spoke for more than an hour about the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, later answered questions from the audience. Of the 50 or so questions, only a handful dealt with Thursday's Times article.

But Galbraith said he had hoped to defend himself to his "friends and neighbors," and said that the financial estimates used by the Times were grossly overstated.

As an example of other mistakes he cited in "These numbers — I wish they were true," he said. The Times estimated that Galbraith stood to reap about $120 million from the 5 percent interest he held in a Kurdish oil field.
There's a similar account in the Brattleboro Reformer.

Blogger SouthFloridaLawyers says Galbraith sounds "almost...pathological":
Galbraith's defense was basically that there is no conflict -- his investments in Kurdish Oil are entirely consistent with his advocacy of Kurdish autonomy and control over their oil fields.

I couldn't help but think how disingenuous this is, and how often we see this in legal briefs nowadays.

Remember in law school how there was some loose governing feature which reigned in absurd or ridiculous arguments -- the "red face" test. You just weren't supposed to make an argument that you knew yourself was preposterous.

Yet Galbraith did just that -- the issue was not whether he personally has an inner conflict between his business investments and his public advocacy. That has nothing to do with anything.

The issue is whether it was unethical for Galbraith to pretend to be an "independent expert" and hold himself out as a disinterested observer yet fail to disclose he would personally and financially benefit from the policies he advocated.

Any moron can see this, yet Galbraith very happily and vigorously acted as if what he was saying made perfect sense.

We see arguments like this all the time in the law nowadays -- non sequiturs that have nothing to do with the issue at hand yet sound superficially appealing and noncontroversial in the abstract. Listening to Galbraith this morning I almost felt he was pathological -- he was utterly convinced that what he was saying was entirely logical and reasonable, yet it was totally irrelevant to the issue at hand.
Meanwhile, The Times of London ran this:
Not public at the time was the fact that Mr Galbraith stood to profit from the provisions through his arrangement with a Norwegian oil company, DNO. Months later, DNO discovered the large Tawke oil field in northern Iraq. The disclosure of Mr Galbraith’s stake fuelled Iraqi complaints that influential people in the Western powers that launched the 2003 war were trying to take control of Iraq’s oil.

Feisal al-Istrabadi, a former Iraqi diplomat and legal advisor, said the revelation cast doubt on Iraq's fragile constitutional order.

“The idea that a foreign oil company was in the room drafting the Iraqi Constitution has me reeling,” he said. “It casts a tremendous pall on the legitimacy of the process. We do not let Shell draft the constitution of Nigeria.”
Mr Galbraith acted as a go-between for the Norwegian oil company with the Kurdish regional government until its oil contract was signed in 2004. He continued to be paid by DNO while advising the Kurds in negotiations on the Iraqi Constitution.
My question is: Why is Galbraith allowed to have any stake in oil deals at all? Aren't there any US anti-corruption, anti-insider trading, or anti-conflict-of-interest laws that might apply? Couldn't the Kurds use his commission to feed their people?

At least the NY Times realizes something is wrong here, judging from today's Editor's Note:
On Thursday, a news article in The Times reported on the ties between Peter W. Galbraith, a former United States ambassador, and a Norwegian oil company that operates in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. According to the article, Mr. Galbraith “received rights to an enormous stake in at least one of Kurdistan’s oil fields in the spring of 2004.”

Since that time, Mr. Galbraith has written several opinion articles for the Op-Ed page in support of Kurdish independence and security. These articles should have disclosed to readers that Mr. Galbraith could benefit financially from an independent Kurdistan that would not have to share oil revenues with Iraq.

Like other writers for the Op-Ed page, Mr. Galbraith signed a contract that obligated him to disclose his financial interests in the subjects of his articles. Had editors been aware of Mr. Galbraith’s financial stake, the Op-Ed page would have insisted on disclosure or not published his articles.
In other words, this note apparently charges that Galbraith filed a false declaration with the NY Times.

UPDATE: In National Review Online, Michael Rubin points out an alleged connection between Galbraith and a reputed Iraqi arms smuggler:
The Other Partner in the Galbraith Oil Scandal [Michael Rubin]
The Norwegian press has been doing great work in investigating the Norwegian oil firm DNO's somewhat questionable dealings in Iraqi Kurdistan, during the course of which they identified former ambassador Peter Galbraith as a claimant to a share of the Tawke oil field.

The other claimant is Shahir 'Abd-al-Haq, a Yemeni businessman, who had handled DNO's business in Yemen and, at some point, also bought shares in Tawke. It is uncertain whether Galbraith and 'Abd-al-Haq were formal partners, or were just thrown together by mutual interests and holdings in the same field. What is not disputed, however, is that they are co-plaintiffs in court proceedings in London seeking compensation from DNO for having been ousted from the contracts.

'Abd-al-Haq has appeared on the U.S. radar screen before, as he helped Iraqi president Saddam Hussein subvert U.N. sanctions and import weapons. So now we have Peter Galbraith, who was an outspoken advocate for Kurdish rights in the wake of Saddam's ethnic cleansing becoming a partner with a man who helped arm Saddam. Greed makes strange bedfellows.
More on "Tawke-gate" from Walid Khaddui's Oil in a Week blog:
In any case, Galbraith succeeded in concealing information regarding his million-dollar investments in the Tawke oil field Production Sharing Agreement, signed between the KRG and DNO - a small Norwegian oil company. This continued to be the case until the leading Norwegian business newspaper “Dagens Næringsliv” exposed Galbraith’s involvement, through a series of investigative reports focused on DNO’s shareholders, after having obtained information about them directly from the Oslo Stock Exchange.

In fact, the importance of what the Norwegian newspaper has published lies in the many questions these articles have added to the ones we already had regarding the lack of credibility in the slogans adopted by the Bush administration, in what concerns fairness and transparency in the Middle East (insofar as being its aims behind the occupation of Iraq). This is in addition to raising questions about the intentions and objectives of one of the most prominent advocates of ending the Iraqi state, and about how he, Galbraith, abused his political power and engaged in questionable practices to further his business interests. Dagens Næringsliv’s reports also helped shed light on the role of American diplomats and individuals theorizing for the U.S occupation of Iraq, who exploited their political posts to have stakes in the Iraqi oil wealth.

Moreover, the reports published in the Norwegian Newspaper revealed that a “third party”, who was not initially named, was between 2004 and 2008 a partner in the production sharing agreement of the Tawke oil field in northern Iraq, and which was signed between the Norwegian company and the KRG. It was also revealed that this third party was excluded from signing the new agreement in early 2008, and that a new partner, the Turkish company “Genel Enerji”, was given a stake in the agreement. This prompted the third party to sue DNO for 500 million dollars for the losses suffered it had suffered.

It soon became evident that this third party was none other than Peter Galbraith. DNO then admitted that Galbraith, along with his Yemeni partner Shaher Abdulhak, were that third party, and that they had a 5 percent share in the Tawke oil field contract, through Porcupine, a company registered in the American state of Delaware in 2004. To validate this information, DNO then published several documents issues by Porcupine, and which bore the signature of Mr. Galbraith. Also, it should be mentioned here that Porcupine had entered in arbitration with DNO.

Moreover, the Norwegian Economic Crime Division “Økokrim” is currently investigating DNO’s transactions, which means that there is still more room to obtain more information before the end of the investigation. Meanwhile in Erbil, the “change” opposition bloc at the Kurdish Parliament called on Mr. Ashti Hawrami, the Minister of Natural Resources in the KRG, to appear before the parliament to respond to the charges made against him of involvement in a deal to sell 30 million dollar stocks to the Turkish company “Generl Enerji.”
Huffington Post article here.

PLUS THIS, from Christopher Dowd in the Boston Examiner:
Galbraith's massive financial stake in the war in Iraq and in war generally is par for the course for the entire Beltway elite. His corruption is nothing special. From generals with massive investments in "defense" firms given time on air as "military analysts" to ex CIA directors being given cushy sinecures on the boards of MIC companies to "journalists" given chairs in oil industry funded "think tanks"- from top to bottom our Beltway is a corrupt cesspool of incestuous back room deals, nepotism, back scratching, bought and paid for pens for hire, and talking heads willing to say anything on air as long as the price is right...
UPDATE: Someone I know points out that the American Enterprise Institute blog has had a post up on Peter Galbraith's Kurdistan oil connection for a month, already. An uncredited source for the New York Times' article? Also, the same someone provided this link to an English translation of the original Norwegian Dagens Næringsliv articles.

Petition: Stop Columbarium Conversion of Chicago's Three Arts Club!

Of all the icky real-estate deals I've heard of, this has to be the ickiest. The charming and beautiful Three Arts Club of Chicago--once a residence for single female artists, adorned with beautiful bas-reliefs and courtyards-- is facing a planned conversion to a columbarium for the remains of cremated Chicagoans.

Chicago Tribune story here.

ArchitectureChicagoPlus blog post here.

Crain's Chicago Business story here.

A petition drive to stop this has been launched online. You may add your signature by clicking here. The text is pretty straightforward:
To: Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Petition To Alderman Reilly
Against Columbarium Proposal
for Three Arts Club Building
1300 North Dearborn
Chicago, Illinois, 60610

42nd Ward
Chicago City Hall
121 North LaSalle Street, Room 300
Chicago, Illinois 60602
phone: 312-744-3062


We, the undersigned, do not want a columbarium or any related facilities at the Three Arts Club building, 1300 North Dearborn, Chicago, Illinois.

The Undersigned

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

James Taranto on the Ft. Hood Massacre Media Party Line

This essay on Best of the Web really made me think. An excerpt:
Some have detected in the Fort Hood coverage a return to a pre-9/11 mindset, and there is some truth to this. In particular, the left-liberal tendency to stereotype servicemen and veterans as psychopaths, suckers and victims is a return to form. But the bending over backward to explain away the role of religious fanaticism in the Fort Hood massacre is, it seems to us, something new--something distinctly post-9/11, or post-post-9/11.

Politically correct sensitivities have, of course, long been with us. But as we noted Monday, journalists and political leaders really seem to be going to extremes to avoid acknowledging the evident religious motivations for Hasan's alleged crimes. We'd suggest that there are three reasons for such denial, all of which grow out of 9/11:

First, the liberal left has embraced the notion that America overreacted after 9/11, was beastly toward Muslims, and now needs to "reach out" and atone. There is very little truth to this. President Bush constantly reminded the world that we were not at war with Islam, which he called a religion of peace. But Bush-was-too-aggressive rhetoric is a much better fit with liberals' natural inclination toward inaction than the Bush-wasn't-aggressive-enough rhetoric that Barack Obama occasionally used while still a candidate.

Second, it is comforting to think that 9/11 was a one-off rather than the most horrific example (so far) of a continuing threat. From this standpoint, it's psychologically preferable to emphasize that the Fort Hood suspect appears to have been a lone nut rather than that he seems to have espoused an ideology similar to that of the 9/11 terrorists.

Third, the impulse to protect a religious minority from prejudice and discrimination is a noble one. Muslims are not collectively guilty for the worst crimes of their coreligionists. We've encountered enough anti-Muslim prejudice to say that fears of it are not unfounded.

But the denialist attitude is counterproductive on all three grounds. Willful ignorance of the enemy's ideology is of no help in fighting the enemy--or preventing future attacks. In any case clarity, not obfuscation, is the enemy of prejudice.

Frank Gaffney Charges Ft. Hood Massacre Exposed Pentagon's Islamist Fifth Column

He names a name, too. Writing in, Gaffney charges that there are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood working in the Pentagon, who bear responsibility for policies that led to the Ft. Hood massacre:
The run-up to the Ft. Hood massacre and the official response in its aftermath demonstrates the extent to which U.S. government civilian and military agencies have allowed themselves to be influenced, penetrated, and suborned.

The problem goes beyond political correctness and an attendant, inadequate oversight of an obviously problematic individual. Neither can it be excused away as an isolated instance of incompetence in the chain of command, the intelligence community and/or law enforcement.

What is at work here is, in the words of Stephen Coughlin, a comprehensive and collective failure of the “professional duty to know” our enemy, what animates him, and the nature of his intentions and his strategy for actualizing them.

Coughlin, another major in the U.S. Army (Reserves), used to warn against this practice as a contractor supporting the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Until, that is, he was purged from the George W. Bush Pentagon by an influential friend of the Muslim Brotherhood in then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England’s office.

As National Review Online’s Andy McCarthy has pointed out, the message to those in and out of uniform could not have been more clear: You will jeopardize your livelihood if you are not adequately “sensitive” — which is to say acquiescent to — Muslim sensibilities. No one with any ambition, or simply with a well-developed sense of self-preservation, wants to risk ending a career by being called a “bigot,” “racist,” or “Islamophobe.”

CAIR, in particular, was in a position powerfully to imprint this message on FBI agents (including, presumably, some who found unobjectionable Hasan’s many interactions with the terrorist-tied imam, Anwar al-Awlaki) in mandatory “sensitivity training” sessions it regularly ran for the Bureau until last year when the latter broke off the relationship. (Incredibly, the FBI now uses another Brotherhood front, ISNA, to desensitize our front line of defense against domestic terrorism.)

We are witnessing in the collective cognitive dissonance over Shariah’s role in the Fort Hood massacre the cumulative result of the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in intimidating not only government officials but journalists and the public at large since shortly after the 9/11 attack.
My question is still whether Senator Lieberman has the guts to follow this investigation wherever it may lead...

UPDATE: In hindsight, this 2003 article by Frank Gaffney in FrontPage magazine looks prophetic.

And now for something completely different...

It's a link to the website of the National Arts Program, the organization behind a National Press Club art exhibition that includes one of my drawings, Pears. Their mission statement:
The National Arts Program® was established in 1983 to identify, showcase, and reward the visual artistic talent in America. Today we sponsor 86 annual venues within 44 states and the District of Columbia with steady growth.
Their motto: "Never hide your talent."

Michelle Malkin on Veteran's Day

A few years ago, I had the great honor and thrill of interviewing several of the surviving WWII Doolittle Raiders for Hot Air. Watch the clip here. I asked Lt. Col. Dick Cole, Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, for his thoughts on America at war today. He answered bluntly:

“We’re at war. We ought to get on a war footing and get the job done.”

From Lt Col. Cole’s lips to the White House’s ears…

President Obama's Ft. Hood Address

An excerpt from
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It's a chance to pause, and to pay tribute -- for students to learn the struggles that preceded them; for families to honor the service of parents and grandparents; for citizens to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in pursuit of a more perfect union.

For history is filled with heroes. You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But as we honor the many generations who have served, all of us -- every single American -- must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who've come before.

We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.

This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in the time of certain danger. They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different and difficult places. They have stood watch in blinding deserts and on snowy mountains. They have extended the opportunity of self-government to peoples that have suffered tyranny and war. They are man and woman; white, black, and brown; of all faiths and all stations -- all Americans, serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life.

In today’s wars, there's not always a simple ceremony that signals our troops’ success -- no surrender papers to be signed, or capital to be claimed. But the measure of the impact of these young men and women is no less great -- in a world of threats that no know borders, their legacy will be marked in the safety of our cities and towns, and the security and opportunity that's extended abroad. It will serve as testimony to the character of those who served, and the example that all of you in uniform set for America and for the world.

Here, at Fort Hood, we pay tribute to 13 men and women who were not able to escape the horror of war, even in the comfort of home. Later today, at Fort Lewis, one community will gather to remember so many in one Stryker Brigade who have fallen in Afghanistan.

Long after they are laid to rest -- when the fighting has finished, and our nation has endured; when today’s servicemen and women are veterans, and their children have grown -- it will be said that this generation believed under the most trying of tests; believed in perseverance -- not just when it was easy, but when it was hard; that they paid the price and bore the burden to secure this nation, and stood up for the values that live in the hearts of all free peoples.

So we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. We press ahead in pursuit of the peace that guided their service. May God bless the memory of those that we have lost. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why Isn't Anwar al-Awlaki in Jail?

According to the Toronto Star, the US citizen and radical imam is pretty clearly giving aid and comfort to the enemy from his new home in Yemen, most recently in this praise of Nidal Malik Hasan's killing spree at Ft. Hood. Why hasn't he been extradited, tried, and jailed or executed for treason?

Given this latest disaster, the FBI, CIA, DIA, and State Department had better have a pretty good explanation...I wonder, will Senator Lieberman have the guts to pursue this matter--or is his announced investigation into the Ft. Hood slaughter mere political grandstanding?

UPDATE: This from Reuters: "YEMEN: Yemen signed an agreement with the United States for cooperation on military intelligence and training , its official news agency reported, as the Arabian peninsula state faces a worsening rebellion in the north. The two countries signed the agreement in Sanaa on Tuesday after two days of talks, the second round of such negotiations, Saba reported."

Why not demand extradition of Anwar al-Awlaki in connection with the Ft. Hood massacre as part of any defense agreement? How could the US act to defend a government which is harboring a terrorist who has just incited and celebrated an attack on a US military base--that's nuts, IMHO...

UPDATE 2: More on al-Awlaki, including a look at his Facebook page, from Pamela Geller.

UPDATE 3: The Weekly Standard's Thomas Joscelyn has more on the FBI's relation to al-Awlaki. IMHO, after reading this article, I would guess that the cleric has been protected for reasons as yet unknown by British (he went to London after 9/11) and US (he has not been extradited from Yemen despite years of openly recruiting online for Al Qaeda) intelligence agencies. I wonder if Senator Lieberman will have the guts to pursue this--and the intestinal fortitude to stand up to charges of "McCarthyism" should he take on the FBI and other intelligence agencies over their manifest failures (or worse)?

Hugh Fitzgerald on NPR Coverage of Ft. Hood Massacre

He calls it "A Nest of Ninnies"
Though I watched many different programs, one stuck in my mind. Because I could listen to it first in the morning and then to the rerun the same evening, I managed to take more complete notes (the first time round, I was too stunned by the varieties of idiocy on parade to do so). This was Tom Ashbrook's "On Point" on NPR. His guests, along with his fellow commentator Jack Beatty (who is permitted to phone in his work from Hanover, N.H. and never need make the trek to Boston and WBUR) were Hendrik Hertzberg, who writes for Talk of the Town in The New Yorker, and an editor on the Dallas Morning News, Bill McKenzie.

Ashbrook got the whole thing going on a note of youth-wants-to-know gosh-darn-it puzzlement, asking "what could have driven Major Hasan to this?" What, indeed? What could it have been? During the entire program there was not a single mention of Major Hasan's deep commitment to Islam, not a single attempt to ask what might be in the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira, that might, conceivably, possibly, explain not only the behavior of Major Hasan, but of the thousands of Muslims picked up, before, during, and after planned, or foiled, or unsuccessful, or successful, attempts at waging Jihad violently, and directly, rather than waging Jihad through other means. There was not a syllable about Islam inculcates, not a question about it, for it was simply nervously assumed that of course it couldn't be Islam - how could it be? For if it could, what in god's name would that mean? What would that require us to think, or - horribile dictu - even possibly to do, in policies both foreign and domestic?

The calls came in, fast and furious, no doubt most of them vetted for their contents ahead of time. Anyone who was likely to mention the little matter of Islam was kept out, or kept out until the very end, when one tiny one-sentence mention managed to slip by Ashbrook's call-vetters and handlers, who are given instructions as to what to allow on, and what lines of inquiry or inquirers are to be kept, under one pretext or another ("we'll get to that in another show" or "we don't think this is the time to focus on that" or "we already have a question about that lined up" or "gee, we are running out of time but we'll see if we can get to you" and so on) to keep ruthlessly off (I know this, from informants on the inside).

One person, a former army psychiatrist during the Vietnam war, was chosen to offer a comment about Nidal Hasan's performance as an army psychiatrist -- "he had a subpar performance evaluation" - which of course makes one think that Hasan may have sought vengeance as a "disgruntled employee." In other words, his massacre had nothing to do with his deepest lifelong beliefs, and everything to do with that comforting alternative, "going postal."

Then someone else offered her (or was it his) two bits. "This guy was a graduate of Virginia Tech. A lot of stuff went on there. This guy was a time-bomb." Get it? It's all the fault of that campus killing a few years ago at Virginia Tech. He went there. He was therefore a time-bomb, just waiting to go off. I wonder how many parents, siblings, employers, are expected to now be eyeing uneasily their children, siblings, employees, the ones who made the fatal mistake of going to Virginia Tech and are now walking "time-bombs" like Major Nidal Malik Hasan.

Then someone else called to Blame The Army (And The System, And While We Are At It, Amerikka Too). The army has taken "an enormous toll on clinicians" who are "already on the edge." And Nidal Malik Hasan was "very affected by the physical and mental injuries." Do you think so? Do you think Nidal Malik Hasan was "very affected" by the physical and mental injuries suffered by the Infidel servicemen he was supposed to treat? Or do you think, rather, that he wasn't upset with those injuries at all, but only with what he learned, or what he imagined, about the injuries suffered by Iraqis, or Afghans, or any Muslims at all, non-Iraqi and non-Afghan, who might have been lending a hand in either country to the war against the American infidels? What a preposterous and ludicrous idea! A devout Muslim such as Major Nidal Hasan made no secret of his views. To classmate Val Finnell he was "a Muslim first and an American second." He posted on websites under his real name (Nidal Hasan) that "if one suicide bomber can kill 100 enemy soldiers because they were caught off guard that would be considered a strategic victory" a few months before he tried to kill "100 enemy soldiers" (falling 87 short, but not for want of trying - rather, only because someone armed, a policewoman, appeared on the scene). It is absurd to think he would have been upset - as others were upset - by the spectacle of any Infidel suffering.

But other callers kept up that theme: "The strain these people suffer." Who? Army people? Army psychiatrists? People who served in the war or people who are about to be deployed, even if, like Major Nidal Malik Hasan, in non-combat positions? No doubt the army is understaffed and psychiatrists often find themselves troubled, because they feel sympathy with, identify with, those who have come back deeply scarred in one way or another. But there is no evidence that Major Nidal Malik Hasan felt any sense of identification, any sympathy whatsoever, for those he was assigned to help, and it is silly to believe, or pretend to believe, that he would. And it is doubly offensive given that this belief or pretend-belief is offered in order to deflect attention from what Major Nidal Malik Hasan so obviously and openly believed deeply truly madly in -- Islam.

Punctuating these phone calls were approving comments of both Ashbrook and his two guests, Bill McKenzie, whose voice, and the sentiments that he expressed, made one think of Ned Flanders, the comically goody-goody neighbor of Homer Simpson, while smooth nieuw-amsterdamer Hendrik Hertzberg (Jonathan Schell! Jake Brackman! The Crimson! Mr. Shawn!), though slightly more urbane, was equally comical in his amazing ability to avoid the obvious.

More, more, more calls, all about the psyches of American soldiers. You see, still another of those vetted callers-in "joining the conversation" said, "the kind of war we are fighting is much harder on the psyches of soldiers." And yet again, someone said (it doesn't matter who): "In Afghanistan and Iraq our soldiers are subject to almost a 24/7 anxiety." Oh, I have no doubt it is hard on the psyches of American soldiers, who are deeply demoralized by what their generals and civilian leaders tell them, and what they observe, up close, about the people, the Muslim people, whom they are expected to trust, and in some cases trust with their lives, in order to make life better for these Muslim people who seem so strangely ungrateful, and whining, and treacherous, and dangerous, and yet the generals keep saying we must do this, we must do that, to win their hearts and their minds - and that is a very large part of the psychic distress from which our soldiers and Marines suffer, the disconnect between what they are told is the mission, and what they must believe in order to accomplish that impossible mission, and what they see, what they experience, for themselves.

But the subject of "On Point" was not supposed to be the psychic damage done to many of our soldiers and Marines coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. It was not supposed to be about the post-traumatic stress disorder (mentioned again and again, as a leitmotif of that particular edition of "On Point") of "our soldiers" as in the phrase that was uttered by yet another caller - or was it Ashbrook himself (I forget): "In Afghanistan and Iraq our soldiers are subject to almost a 24/7 anxiety." The subject was supposed to be not "our soldiers" but one particular Muslim soldier who killed "our soldiers," that is the mass-murderer Nidal Malik Hasan, who hasn't spent a single second in Iraq or Afghanistan, who has been consumed not with pity for the squandering of American lives, and the miserable missions they have been asked to fulfill, but rather consumed with hatred for the very Americans, the non-Muslim Americans, who trust him so much that they allow him to live among them, even to treat them, even to be deployed, possibly, as an army psychiatrist, to Afghanistan or Iraq, where the army naively assumed he would not pose a threat any more than they thought he would pose a threat at Fort Hood. But there was every sign that this man took his Islam seriously. Nothing more need be known.

Still, the program continued in its complacent display of idiocy. Ashbrook alluded a little nervously, I thought, to the American military, which was now "a military of such diversity, a diversity which we celebrate" and therefore, apparently, it would be A Very Bad Thing Indeed to raise any issue or matter that might impinge or infringe on that celebrated Diversity Of Which We Can All Be Very Proud.

Then, toward the end of the program, one lone voice somehow got through. Was it because there had been dozens of would-be callers who wished to express the same thing, and Ashbrook decided to let one short call stand for all of them, in the interests of "fairness" in order to head off potential future complaints? Or was it a case where the caller simply lied about what he intended to say, in order to get on, and then said it, quickly? He said something of such obvious truth that it startled the proceedings. And this is what he said. He said that all the attention deflected onto PTSD and other forms of craziness ignored the main point, and the main point was this: "An American Muslim who has decided to be a Jihadist in the military."

An uneasy silence, and then, after that single moment of illumination, they put out the light. Or rather, they dimmed those lights, dimmed them quickly. Tom Ashbrook, and Jack Beatty, and Bill McKenzie, and Hendrik Hertzberg dimmed them, so that listeners would, as it were, see once again as through a glass, darkly, and it was quickly back to the dismal mixture as before. You know, the terrible "stress" felt by soldiers who had been in Iraq and Afghanistan (where Nidal Malik Hasan, remember, had never been), and the terrible "stress" felt by the overworked psychiatrists who had to deal with those soldiers who had felt that stress in Iraq and Afghanistan. But their suffering, as Infidels, would have been a matter certainly at most of indifference to Nidal Hasan. More likely their suffering, mental and physical, was a source of great secret pleasure by Nidal Malik Hasan.

Jack Beatty intervened quickly with "we just don't know enough.... the horrors of war... affected him." And then Beatty outdid himself, by choosing to deflect attention not to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and overwork in the military, but to a theme of Injustice. And what was the Great Injustice? It wasn't the fact that the bigshots, in the government, in the military, and in the media, have done their damnedest to prevent any of us from seeing steadily and whole the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam, which might make both soldiers and civilians much more secure, and not incidentally, save a few trillion dollars along the way by pointing up the folly of military intervention, as a way to combat the worldwide Jihad, in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, what exercised the voice-from-Dorchester Jack Beatty, who never forgets the Plight of the Common Man (of which he is a perfect exemplar), is that many soldiers enlist, he said, because of "lack of economic opportunity" (as well, he hastened to add, also out of "patriotism"). And that, somehow - don't ask me how - the fact that many people enlist out of the economic injustices of our society, that by allowing the current system of enlistment, we in the larger society engage in "ratifying the injustice of our own society."

Tiens! Now there is no doubt that there is plenty of injustice in our society, and there is no doubt that one reason rich people tend not to enlist is that they do not need to do so for economic reasons (so that anyone well-off who joins the army is doing so for quite different reasons), but for god's sake, Jack and Tom and Hendrik and Bill, the program today, On Point, was supposed to discuss what prompted someone who was born and raised in this country, whose entire medical school costs were borne by the American taxpayers, to decide to mass-murder as many of his fellow soldiers as he could. And the "economic injustice" of American society, and the fact that no doubt many of those he murdered were from the identifiable class of economically "disadvantaged," is utterly irrelevant. Or it is irrelevant unless your goal is to quickly make everyone forget the caller who mentioned, in a moment of rare truth on this comically confused and confusing program, that Nidal Malik Hasan was "an American Muslim" who had decided to be a Jihadist, and on an army base. He was just like Muslims in Iraq or Afghanistan who try to kill Infidel soldiers on army bases, or like some Muslims a year or two ago were planning to attack an army base in New Jersey, or the attack on the recruitment center just a few months ago, or any of the many attacks by Muslims, in this country, and in Canada, and in Great Britain, and in France, and in Belgium, and in Germany, and in Denmark, and in Italy, and in Spain. All that carefully went unmentioned by Jack, by Tom, by Bill, by Hendrik.

Apparently neither Ashbrook, nor the equally egregious Beatty, nor ned-flandersish McKenzie, nor child-of-refugees-from-Hitler Hertzberg, thought they had any duty to treat their listeners with anything other than contempt, a contempt expressed in their apparent belief that they could get away without addressing, without coming close, to Islam - to at least asking, just once - gosh, shouldn't we look into the texts of Islam to find out what it was this Major Nidal Malik Hasan believed? Shouldn't we demand that they, or those who one hopes will soon take their places, take all of their places, do so? Don't we owe it to the living, and the dead?

Dr. Ali Alyami: Nidal Hassan is a Jihadist Murderer

Dr. Alyami, founder of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, sent us a copy of his letter to the editor of the Arab News:

With due respect, Dr. Nadal Hassan has many options not to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. He could have refused and get court martialled, he could have claimed conscientious objector statues and he could have fled the country. He could have claimed insanity and he could have disguised himself and live in California without being found for decades or ever. According to his medical colleagues, he has become a religious extremist who condemned non-Muslims on many occasions.

He has described terrorists as heroes. He went to work the day he massacred his colleagues (people he is supposed to help) in his Muslim outfit, mind you he is a major in the US military; even in Saudi Arabia, military personal must wear military uniform when on duty. Some eyewitnesses are reported to have said, he prayed first and during his murderous rampage was screaming, Allah o Akbar. How could anyone say he is not driven by religious hate? He is a Jihadist murderer. He could have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan and defected to his Muslim brethrens if he did not want to be a US citizen instead of gunning down people that trusted him and looked up to him for help.

Do you really believe if the US withdraws from Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of Arab and Muslim countries, Muslim terrorists and religious Jihadists would cease to exist? Do you think religious incitements against non-Muslims and Muslim minorities would stop in Saudi mosques and schools? Saudi Arabia is the birth place of Islam and home to its holy shrines; and from what we hear and read, religious extremists, (Albeia’h Althallah or deviants) and large amounts of weapons are apprehended and confiscated frequently. Saudi Arabia is protected by the West from external (and internal) threats, so why not be grateful for such service?

Can you print this response on your paper so Saudis and others could debate the issue publicly and address the root causes of religious hate and extremism? You can use factitious name if using Ali Alyami will cause swift reprisal by the authorities, Naif and his long arm religious extremists.

Thank you,

Dr. Ali Alyami

UPDATE: The Washington Post has posted Hasan's Walter Reed PowerPoint Presentation about Islam on its website.

Why Nidal Hasan Did It...

On Counterterrorism Blog, Evan Kohlmann quotes from sermons of the Yemeni-American imam tied to Al Qaeda--whom the FBI suspiciously released to flee to Yemen shortly after 9/11:
One of the key questions for investigators who are now looking into potential links between radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the accused perpetrator of the massacre at Ft. Hood, Maj. Malik Nidal Hasan, is understanding to what degree al-Awlaki's extreme sermons may have influenced Hasan's actions. Toward that end, they should be keeping an especially close eye out for one such al-Awlaki sermon in particular--"Constants on the Path of Jihad"--which itself is based upon an Arabic-language text penned by the founder of Al-Qaida's network in Saudi Arabia, Yousef al-Ayyiri. In order to bring al-Ayyiri's words to an English-speaking audience, al-Awlaki dedicated a lengthy lecture to his work--a lecture that over time has become the "virtual bible" for lone wolf Muslim extremists. In "Constants", al-Awlaki argues:

“Jihad does not end with the disappearance of a person. Jihad must continue regardless because it does not depend on any particular leader or individual… Jihad does not depend on any particular land. It is global. When the Muslim is in his land, he performs jihad… No borders or barriers stop it. The message cannot be conveyed without jihad. If a particular people or nation is classified as… ‘the people of war’ in the Shariah, that classification applies to them all over the earth. Islam cannot be customized to suit the conditions where you are, for instance Europe.”

According to Awlaki, al-Ayyiri also instructed that “victory” cannot be limited to mere “military victories” alone, and should also include “sacrifice. The Mujahid sacrificing ‘his self’ and his wealth is victory. Victory of your idea, your religion. If you die for your religion, your death will spread the da`wa… Allah chooses Shuhada (martyrs) from amongst the believers. This is a victory.”

It is thus perhaps little surprise that Anwar al-Awlaki's name and his sermon on "Constants on the Path of Jihad" seem to surface in every single homegrown terrorism investigation, whether in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, or beyond. For a sense of what role Awlaki and his message play in these cases, take for instance the New Jersey-based conspirators behind the attempted terror plot at Ft. Dix...