Support Denmark, Defend Freedom

Friday, March 31, 2006

Coerced or Hearst?

Via Jonah Goldberg at The Corner, ABC News provides a transcript of a tape of hostage Jill Carroll found on an "insurgent Web site." (I'm gonna go ahead and assume that the website itself is not insurgent, but that it's a normal website, run by insurgents.) The tape apparently was made before Carroll's release.

Based on the transcript, you have to conclude that Carroll was either coerced into making this tape, or she's got the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome since Katie Holmes.

Some excerpts:

Voice: What will you tell the American people?

Carroll: Well, first of all I want them to be able to understand, I want them to understand the Mujahedeen, truly. There are a lot of lies to come out of the American government, calling the Mujahedeen terrorists and other things and I think it's important that American people hear from me the Mujahedeen are only trying to defend their country. This is only a jihad to stop an illegal and dangerous and deadly occupation so I think it's important that people see the Mujahedeen are people that we've seen in our entire history resisting an occupation trying to fight a foreign force in their land, it's their country and they have a right to fight for their own freedom so I want people to understand that it's not people that like to kill, not people that like violence but people who love their country....
[snip]

Voice: Do you have a message for Mr. Bush?

Carroll: (Laughs)Yeah, he needs to stop this war. He knows this war is wrong. He knows that it was illegal from the very beginning. He knows that it was built on a mountain of lies and I think he needs to finally admit that to the American people and make the troops go home and he doesn't care about his own people.

[snip]

Voice: Do you think the Mujahedeen will win against the American Army?

Carroll: Oh definitely. Things are very clear to see even now they're already winning. Everyday there are soldiers killed. Everyday humvees are blown up. Helicopters are shot down from the skies. Everyday, it's very clear that the Mujahedeen have the skills and the ability and the desire and the good reasons to fight that'll make them ensure that they will win.

Voice: What do you feel now that the Mujahedeen are giving you your freedom while there are still women in Abu Ghraib living in very bad (unclear)?

Carroll: Well, I feel guilty honestly. I've been here, treated very well, like a guest. I've been given good food, never, never hurt while those women are in Abu Ghraib. Terrible things are happening to them with the American soldiers are torturing them and other things I don't want, I can't even say, so I feel guilty and I also feels it shows the difference between the Mujahedeen and Americans, the Mujahedeen are merciful and kind that's why I'm free and alive. The American army they aren't […not clear…] I feel guilty and I also feel that it just shows that Mujahedeen are good people, fighting an honorable fight, a good fight while the Americans are here as an occupying force treating the people in a very, very bad way so I can't be happy totally for my freedom, there are people still suffering in prisons and very difficult situations.

Actually, now that I think about it, she doesn't sound coerced as much as she sounds like the Democratic party leadership. (Easy now...)

(For the record, I'm not bashing Carroll at all. God only knows what she's been through.)

"God help us all if the next terrorist attacks involves this same type of plane"

That's from an email sent to FBI Special Agent Harry Samit by a CIA Counterterrorism Center official on September 10, 2001. The "same type of plane" is a reference to Samit's numerous unheeded warnings to his superiors regarding a possible terror attack involving 747s, warnings based on Zacarias Moussaoui's training on those aircraft.

Over at Reason Online, Jeff Taylor has a fascinating -- and frightening -- article that shows, based on information gleaned from Moussaoui's trial, just how badly the FBI screwed the pooch and how the claims that "nobody could have forseen" the 9/11 attacks are simply false. As Taylor says, "Beginning with Moussaoui's August 16, 2001 arrest Samit mounted a global and indefatigable investigation of the man and concluded that an attack involving hijacked airplanes was imminent."

According to Taylor, then-head of the FBI's International Terrorism Operations Section Michael Rolince testified at Moussaoui's trial that Agent Samit's "suppositions, hunches and suspicions were one thing and what we knew" was another. How do you spell "bureaucrat?" Wouldn't want those pesky field agents to actually trust their hunches and suspicions, would we? Much better to draw up a memo prioritizing your action items and integrating your known knowns and unknown knowns matrices, I guess.

When defense lawyer Edward MacMahon cross-examined Rolince, possibly the first and only time a government security official has been so challenged on 9/11, the disconnect between the official story and reality was plain. Rolince knew nothing of the August 18, 2001 memo Samit had sent to his office warning of terror links. In that memo, Samit warned that Moussaoui wanted to hijack a plane and had the weapons to do it. Samit also warned that Moussaoui "believes it is acceptable to kill civilians" and that he approved of martyrdom. Rolince testified he never read the memo.

On August 17 Samit sent an e-mail to his direct superiors at FBI headquarters recounting Moussaoui's training on 747 simulators. "His excuse is weak, he just wants to learn how to do it... That's pretty ominous and obviously suggests some sort of hijacking plan," Samit wrote.

Rebuffed by his superiors and ignored by Rolince, Samit still sought out more info worldwide and from sources as diverse as the FBI's London, Paris, and Oklahoma City offices, FBI headquarters files, the CIA's counterterrorism center, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, probably the National Security Agency, and the FBI's Iran and OBL offices.

He was sufficiently alarmed by what he heard that Samit sent an August 21 e-mail requesting that the Secret Service be informed about Moussaoui's intentions to see the White House and that he was interested in flight training.

Not sold on Samit's hunches yet? Well, hold on. If you order by credit card within the next 15 minutes, we'll throw in, absolutely free:

Samit testified that on August 22 he had learned from the French—the French!—that Moussaoui had recruited a fighter to go to Chechnya in 2000 to fight with Islamic radicals with previous links, so the CIA told Samit, to Osama bin Laden. The FBI brass remained unmoved.

Defense attorney MacMahon then displayed an August 30, 2001 communication addressed to Samit and FBI headquarters agent Mike Maltbie from a Bureau agent in Paris. It passed along that French intelligence thought Moussaoui was "very dangerous" and had soaked up radical views at London's infamous Finnsbury Park mosque. The French also said Moussaoui was "completely devoted" to bin Laden-style jihadism and, significantly, had traveled to Afghanistan.

Yet on August 31 Maltbie stopped Samit from sending a letter to FAA headquarters in Washington advising them of "a potential threat to security of commercial aircraft" based on the Moussaoui case. Maltbie said he would handle that, but it is not clear if he ever did.

"Minneapolis believes Moussaoui, [Moussaoui's roommate Hussein] Al Attas and others not yet known were...engaged in preparing to seize 747s," the aborted warning said.

Taylor details warnings from other FBI Bureaus that were similarly ignored. Yet, as he says,

Minneapolis, Phoenix, New York. Three different Bureau offices were hot on the terror plot in the days leading up to 9/11 and all were stiffed by Washington. If that is not institutional incompetence, Stalin purge-worthy stuff, heaven help the next 3,000 martyrs to J. Edgar Hoover's über-suits.

One exchange from the Moussaoui trial makes clear what happened in the weeks running up to 9/11:

"You tried to move heaven and earth to get a search warrant to search this man's belongings and you were obstructed," MacMahon said to Samit.

"Yes sir, I was obstructed." Samit replied.

The rest of the article is chock full of more things that make you feel real good about your DC boys. Taylor's only flaw lies in overlooking the good news that you take away from all this: after reading this article, I have no doubt whatsoever that if Muslim men of Arab descent, some of whom trained in terror camps and are "completely devoted" to jihadism, ever again sign up for flight training and show a curious disregard for learning how to take-off or land, the FBI will be all over them.

"French Offer Concessions: World Not Shocked"

From msnbc.com:
President Jacques Chirac said Friday he would press ahead with a contentious labor law making it easier to fire younger workers, but he offered some concessions in hopes of calming furious protests that led to nationwide strikes.

Chirac said he would reduce a trial period during which employees 26 and younger could be summarily dismissed from two years to one, and he would require employers to offer reasons.

Remember when France was actually a world power? Neither do I.

More like Basic Instinks 2...right? See what I did there?

I know it's hard to believe, but the critics are not exactly being kind to Sharon Stone's latest.

Oh, well. At least she's not crazy. Did you ever think that one day you'd actually have to consider that Oliver might be the saner of the two Stones?

I'm sure this comes as a relief to the ones who want to stay single

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Possibly the Coolest Thing Ever

I never thought I'd say that about juggling.

Make sure your sound is up.

(Hat tip: Joey Ponch)


Mase in Your Face

The Cato Institute's Radley Balko has a good column on who exactly George Mason was. Balko writes,

Mason was never president. Nor did he sign the Constitution. But he was enormously influential in helping craft it. In fact, George Mason was probably early America's most eloquent defender of individual liberty. Principled and uncompromising, Mason was a man who loathed politics but understood the urgency of the times in which he lived, and engaged in politics to help ensure his new country put a premium on freedom.

Mason was an unabashed radical, perhaps the foremost defender of individual rights, localism, and critic of government among an already radical group of founding fathers, including Madison, Jefferson, and Paine.

But could he dunk?

Check out the whole thing.

South Park

First it was Scientologists, now it's hybrid car owners and George Clooney. All the South Park folks need to do is an episode in which the kids realize that the "A" in type A personality stands for "asshole," and they'll have covered pretty much all of Hollywood. I'm worried that if Matt and Trey keep this up they'll never work in that town again.

If you missed last night's hysterical episode, try to catch a re-run. Briefly, a "smug cloud" that comes from hybrid owners (the car is called a "Pious") mixes with a smug cloud from the "head up their own asses" citizens of San Francisco and a smaller cloud from George Clooney's Oscar acceptance speech to form a perfect storm of smugness. (Every time they showed Clooney's cloud you could hear a little snippet from his speech. I was dying.) Obviously, it's up to the boys to save the day.

Curiously, there's been no response from the Huffington Post people. As the repository for insufferable liberal smugness on the interweb, I thought HuffPo would be all over this. Arianna? Laurie? Alec? Bueller?

Borders Runs

From Tim Blair (via Instapundit), it seems as though Borders Books will not carry the next issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains four of the cartoons of Muhammed that were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllends Posten.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle,
Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.

"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.

The magazine, published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst, includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September, including one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse.

Well, at least Borders is being honest, unlike the New York Times, which claimed it wasn't running the cartoons because they "didn't further the story."

Of course, the unfortunate thing here is that it sends the message to Islamists and others that if you threaten or commit violence, you get your way, particularly in the West. It even backs up bin Laden's idea that America and the West don't have the stomach for a fight, whether it's militarily, culturally or philosophically.

I would argue that the ability to mock other people's beliefs -- be they religious, political, or whatever -- is an essential component of our freedom. What too many people (including the UN and half of Europe, naturally) don't understand is that you can't put limits on what is fair game, and that if you try to, those limits will inevitable come back to haunt you. I'm tired of hearing that of course freedom of speech is important, but these cartoons are offensive and unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before the burning of embassies and the signs calling for beheadings it was possible to make this argument, but no longer. The cartoons became necessary because they are offensive, and every newspaper in the US should have run them because they are a symbol of the difference between "shouldn't" and "can't."

Even repressive regimes allow non-offensive speech. But these regimes do not make a distinction between "shouldn't" and "can't." If Kim Jong-il or the mullahs in Iran decide you shouldn't say or do something, then they make it so you can't say or do it. What separates us is that we must tolerate -- cheerfully or not -- speech we don't like. Philosophically, there is no difference between banning anti-Ba'athist speech, banning anti-Stalinist speech, and banning anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic speech. No "ism" can be above disagreement or mockery, whether it's fascism or libertarianism, racism or egalitarianism, liberalism or conservatism, Catholicism or Judaism. As soon as one belief is elevated to a special status, the whole system is done. If I can't offend Muslims, then Christians can't offend Jews. But isn't asserting the divinity of Jesus offensive to some Jews? And isn't Jewish disbelief in that assertion offensive to some Christians? And isn't the non-acceptance of Mohammed as a prophet offensive to many Muslims? And isn't the baring of any skin by women offensive to many Muslims? There is no end. (And it's no accident that American liberals, who champion the banning of "hate speech," and European liberals, who have criminalized Holocaust denial, find themselves in an unholy alliance with right-wing theocrats such as Pat Buchanan on this issue. They all represent the "I'm all for free speech, but..." lobby.)

Unfortunately, we are learning more and more that Islam may be purely and simply incompatible with freedom and individual rights. I don't want to hear anymore that it's a "religion of peace," and that it's a small minority of extreme Muslims who are the problem: opinion polls among European Muslims don't back this up. I'm certainly not saying that all Muslims pose a danger to the West, but it's clearly more than a tiny number of extremists. There are those of us who have been saying this for quite some time, and we've been dismissed as dangerous and shallow and called bigots. But there is only one major religion that thinks blowing up people and buildings is an acceptable response to perceived offenses. Every day comes more evidence that "nuance" has no place in this debate, and every grotesque incident hammers home the fact that my tolerance for your culture must end the second you try to tell me I have to live my life according to your tenets.

I'm sympathetic to the position that Borders executives find themselves in: how do you weigh the safety of your employees against the principle of free expression? I think Borders should be held to a different standard than the NY Times, Washington Post, network and cable news, and any other news outlet. Those organizations have a responsibility to the public, a responsibility they are always ready to assert when it gains them special privileges, legal or otherwise. Their cowardly abstention from this battle is a disgrace to journalistic principles. Borders is a solely commercial company, in business to make money, and its execs have no obligation to put their employees in danger. Much as I wish they had decided to carry the magazine, I can't really fault them for making the decision they did.

PR Advice

Dear Immigration Reform Protesters,

As someone who's worked in the public relations field for many years, let me explain something to you. Marching with Mexican flags is not the best way to get the American citizenry behind your cause. In particular, flying the Mexican flag above the American flag (with the American flag hung upside down, no less) is a really bad way to make your point about deserving (and wanting) to stay in the US. You've got many good arguments on your side: you need to make them. Talking about "La Raza" isn't going to help you in the court of public opinion.

You're welcome.

Best,

The Cranky Insomniac

Inside Man

I saw it last weekend. Really good film, but it's either got some major plot holes or I'm an idiot. In most cases I'd say just go with the idiot notion, but I saw the film with The Cranky Insomniac's sister and her husband, two of the smartest people I know, and they can't answer my questions. If any of you have seen it, please chime in. (I love how I'm pretending people are actually reading this!)

Anyway, here are my main questions (warning: spoilers):

1. How did Owen know about the safety deposit box? I've heard speculation that the "rabbi" character set the whole thing up, and that Owen's character is his nephew. In an interrogation scene, Denzel asks the rabbi if he knows about diamonds and he says something like, "you should talk to my nephew." But even if that's true, how did the rabbi know? I would assume there's a Holocaust connection there, but how would he know about the safety deposit box? Also, could the title of the movie actually refer to whomever gave this information to Owen?

2. What the hell happened when Denzel barged in on the mayor and Jodie Foster having lunch? By giving Foster the business card with the War Crimes Commission phone number on it, was Denzel letting her know that while he knew Chase's secret, he was prepared to let it drop in return for something? Or was he giving it to her to give to the mayor so he (the mayor) could make the phone call and get the credit for bring Chase down, which would then mean the mayor owed him? Or something completely different?

3. Couldn't they have figured out which of the hostages were actually part of Owen's crew by returning everyone's clothing? The ones who didn't have any other clothes would be the ones who stormed the bank. Unless, of course, Owen thought of this and had everyone bring other clothes which would then be tossed in with the hostages' clothing. That would actually be cool, but I don't remember them showing that.

4.
Did the bank employee who didn't give up his cellphone at the beginning really get beaten up by Owen? Or was that guy in on it? Remember, they go in the other room and you never actually see him being beaten up. Given that many things in the film weren't what they appeared to be, and given the couple of scenes in which hostages "acting up" were actually part of Owen's crew, and given that from what we know of Owen it seems out of character for him to savagely beat someone up, I kinda think that guy was in on it. (This one's not actually annoying me. I just find it interesting.)

Sports Update

Knicks suck. Islanders suck. Raiders will probably suck. Jets will suck. Football Giants might be pretty good if Elisha gets his act together. Mets might actually be good, too.

Big race this weekend at the short, flat track of Martinsville. I haven't made my final fantasy picks yet, but I'll keep you posted. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are probably the favorites.

That is all.

CV

Briefly, and then never again:
  • A degree in political science from Columbia University
  • A three-year stint in the US Army.
  • Three years at NBC News in Washington
  • Publicist for the 69th Annual Academy Awards
  • Six years with the Directors Guild of America
Blah blah blah.

KYFHO

My political motto, coined by author F. Paul Wilson.

Update: Here's a basic tenet of KYFHO:
Never initiate force against another. That should be the underlying principle of your life. But should someone do violence to you, retaliate without hesitation, without reservation, without quarter, until you are sure that he will never wish to harm - or never be capable of harming - you or yours again.

- from THE SECOND BOOK OF KYFHO
(Revised Eastern Sect Edition)

Welcome to my nightmare

You know me.

I go by many names. I move in darkness and live in the shadows. I'm the niggling sensation that you left the front door unlocked. I'm that feeling you get that someone is watching you, when nobody's there. I'm the urge you get to jump out of your car and howl at the moon. I'm the cold sweat that suddenly comes over you for no apparent reason.

Okay, enough with the creepy stuff. I have no idea what any of that means. I'm clearly not well.

Here's the deal: I can't sleep at night. I'm up every night til about 6am. So I'm gonna do this blogging thing. If it turns out the way I think, it's gonna be a lot of political stuff, but it's also gonna be about music, movies, books, TV shows, sports and anything else I feel like writing about. I'm pretty sure there'll be a lot of attempts at humor mixed in with the serious stuff. Hopefully you'll be able to tell the difference. Oh, and I'll warn you right now that there will be many references to Seinfeld, Family Guy, Will Ferrell, Spinal Tap, Fletch, Caddyshack, etc. I'll try to make them appropriate.

So check in when you wake up and find out what's been going on while you were sleeping. And check in in the afternoon to see what time I got up. Comments are activated so let me know what's goin' on with you.

This is gonna be huge - can you dig it? I knew thatcha could.

Let's do this!