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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 26, 2008


By Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson




By John Hinderaker

In a well-publicized retreat, the Democrats in Congress gave in to pressure from Republicans and the public and agreed to let the statutory ban on drilling for oil in the Outer Continental Shelf and developing shale oil in the Rocky Mountains lapse. Today, however, Senator Jim DeMint warned that Harry Reid is surreptitiously trying to resurrect the ban on shale oil:

We've just been alerted that despite House Democrats relenting on extending bans on offshore drilling and oil shale in the continuing resolution (CR) appropriations bill, Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid has decided to sneak an extension of the oil shale ban through as Congress fights over the financial bailout. ...

Here is the text of Reid's proposed new ban on oil shale, that he is trying to add as an amendment to the CR or move seperately as a "stimulus" package, or we should say an anti-stimulus package if this is included.

Sec 1602 continues ban on oil shale. The language follows:

SEC. 1602. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including section 152 of division A of H.R. 2638 (110th Congress), the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, the terms and conditions contained in section 433 of division F of Public Law 110–161 shall remain in effect for the 19 fiscal year ending September 30, 2009.

The U.S. has more shale oil, by far, than Saudi Arabia has petroleum. If the Democrats succeed in blocking development of this resource, the long-term damage to our economy may dwarf anything now being debated in connection with the mortgage bailout.  Thursday, September 25, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

CBS News reports that John McCain suspended his campaign as a response to a call from Henry Paulson to rescue the bailout plan, which would have headed for defeat without his leadership. Bob Schieffer reported this morning that McCain flew back to Washington to help reach a compromise that would allow Republicans to support a form of bailout, and that without his help, efforts to resolve the crisis would have collapsed:

I am told, Maggie, that the way McCain got involved in this in the first place, the Treasury Secretary was briefing Republicans in the House yesterday, the Republican conference, asked how many were ready to support the bailout plan. Only four of them held up their hands. Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you’ve got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you’ve got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don’t do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that’s how, McCain, apparently, became involved.

He has gotten what he wants, he’s going to have this meeting, kind of a summit today with the president and Barack Obama. I’m told that the leaders of both parties are getting close to having some kind of a bill. The question, though, is whether rank-and-file Republicans, especially, are going to vote for this.

This makes quite a bit of sense for those of us who have followed the trek of this bill on Capitol Hill. Republicans had rebelled against the idea of a bailout, mainly on principle, not wanting to use taxpayer money to subsidize market stupidity. McCain, being the party leader now, needed to provide leadership and also to work a bill into something that would be more palatable for Republicans in Congress to support, even with reluctance.

It also puts an interesting light on his offer to Barack Obama to return with him to Washington. Having been told of Paulson’s request, McCain decided to return — but then offered to have Obama return with him in order to make it an election-neutral decision.  McCain even offered to suspend the campaign.  Obama refused, and McCain went back by himself. Bush then summoned Obama back to keep Democrats from backing away from a bill they have supported over the last few days.  If McCain can succeed in getting changes in the bill with the points he has been making from the campaign trail, he can put his own stamp on this bill and have yet another example of his work as a crisis manager and bipartisan reformer.

This is a case of life imitating art, if one can describe campaign ads as such.  Hillary Clinton’s campaign put out an ad stating that Obama wasn’t ready to answer a 3 AM call during a crisis.  This call may not have literally come at 3 AM, but clearly Obama wasn’t ready to lead.  McCain, on the other hand, understood the nature of the call and responded appropriately.


By Allahpundit

Down goes Frazier. I missed the report on Fox earlier but Ace says it sounds like the Dems are trying to shift the blame for it from the House GOP to Maverick. Fair or no? Let’s see. Dodd lands the first blow:

Republican presidential nominee John McCain was blamed for de-railing negotiations by blindsiding lawmakers with his support for an alternative plan.

The ‘very contentious’ meeting broke up after Republican leaders said they had to go back to their rank-and-file to discuss the new proposal…

After the hour-long White House meeting, [Dodd] said: ‘What has happened here is that we have spent seven straight days to find a rescue plan for the economy.

‘What this looked like was a rescue plan for John McCain. To be distracted for two to three hours by political theatre doesn’t help.’

Democrats said the Republicans were on board with the deal until Mr McCain intervened an injected presidential politics into the situation.

The only problem? According to Marc Ambinder, citing four independent sources, McCain didn’t say much of anything during the White House meeting let alone float any alternative plans. Boehner, apparently, brought up some of the House GOP’s ideas; the Dems claim they got the impression that McCain supported those ideas, but “they concede that he did not raise them directly.” Even Reid, ever sneering, admits McCain played no major role.

Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t, in fact, support the House GOP. Quoth The Hill from an article published earlier this afternoon:

[A] key Republican lawmaker stated that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants to explore new ideas, like loaning money to financial institutions or insuring the companies, rather than buying their toxic debt…

Rep. Spencer Bachus (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, attended the meeting at which some say a deal was reached. But he later issued a statement saying he wasn’t authorized to negotiate or approve any deals for House Republicans…

He added that McCain is interested in using loans or insurance rather than having the government purchase the toxic debts of Wall Street institutions.

“We would prefer a loan or supplying insurance,” Bachus told reporters. “These are the ideas Sen. McCain tried to maximize. He feels strongly we have to design a program where taxpayers won’t lose.”

Bachus, wearing a “McCain-Palin” lapel pin, said he’d talked to McCain on Wednesday night and had breakfast with McCain’s advisers Wednesday morning.

The insurance angle is at the core of the House GOP’s alternative plan. See here for the particulars. In essence, they want to scrap a taxpayer bailout, expand the feds’ power to insure mortgage-backed securities, and lift regulations to encourage private investment and rescue the financial industry that way. As for McCain, it sounds like he’s being coy because he’s not sure yet which way to break on this politically. Better hurry up: If that Hill article I linked is correct, they’re nowhere near the 100 Republican votes Pelosi wants before she’ll send the bill to the Senate and the markets, shall we say, won’t like that. Exit question: If they can’t get a deal done to save the farking economy, will next week bring us Congress’s first ever zero percent approval rating?  Thursday, September 25, 2008




By Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok




By Charles Johnson

There’s something very rotten at Reuters, and this headline is a glaring symptom: Accused of anti-Semitism, Ahmadinejad meets Jews.

Reuters’ headline is clearly designed to imply that Ahmadinejad reached out to Jews after being accused of antisemitism, but the reality is the exact opposite.

The “Jews” they’re talking about belong to the lunatic fringe group called Neturei Karta, whose total world membership is about 10. Despite the fact that Neturei Karta have no influence on anyone, and exist only to be used for propaganda by antisemites, the Associated Press and Reuters make sure to photograph and write about them every single time they surface at an anti-Israel event. And they’re at every high profile anti-Israel event.

The article itself doesn’t try to hide what went on at this meeting, but anyone who reads the headline alone is going to get an insidiously false impression.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A day after being accused of making anti-Semitic comments at the United Nations, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met a fringe group of ultra-religious Jews who seek the dismantling of the state of Israel.

“Zionism has greatly weakened and, God willing, it will be destroyed soon and then all Jews, Muslims and Christians can live peacefully with one another,” Ahmadinejad told nearly a dozen rabbis from Neturei Karta International on Wednesday.

The group is a small anti-Zionist organization that says it adheres strictly to the Torah, the Jewish holy book, which it says forbids the establishment of a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah. It supports Palestinian sovereignty over the Holy Land and financial restitution for past losses. Its views are considered marginal by mainstream Jews who condemned Ahmadinejad’s speech on Tuesday as anti-Semitic, as did several world leaders, human rights groups and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Marty Irom, spokesman for the non-profit group the Israel Project, which promotes security and peace in Israel, said Neturei Karta was a “very tiny fringe group that represents only themselves.” He said such meetings gave Ahmadinejad an “air of legitimacy which he should not have.”  Thursday, September 25, 2008




By Ed Gamble

Political Cartoons by Ed Gamble




By Allahpundit 

Dick Morris thought it was a great idea and now Zogby thinks it was a great idea.

Ironclad proof that it was a terrible idea.

Among men, McCain leads by a 53% to 35% margin, up 15 points from the weekend survey. Among women, Obama leads by a 52% to 39% margin, up 5 points from the weekend survey.

The survey, half conducted before McCain’s announcement Wednesday that he would suspend his campaign to concentrate on the financial crisis and half conducted after the announcement, shows movement in McCain’s favor after his announcement. Before the announcement - which included about half of the total polling sample - Obama led by one point. But McCain led by 5 points in polling completed after his statement about the suspension of his campaign.

If you believe that men would swing 15 points in three days and that Obama has the support of 88 percent of Democrats when virtually every poll shows at least 20 percent bolting for McCain, then I guess you’ll believe that a 46.8/43.4 deficit over the weekend is now a 45.8/43.8 Maverick lead. There is one confidence-building detail, though: Zogby notes the same shift among independents towards McCain that a bunch of other polls are seeing. Clearly something’s happening to make centrists favor the GOP right now — possibly jitters over Obama’s inexperience as the financial crisis deepens — although I don’t know how that squares with the fact that (a) Obama leads McCain on the economy in most polls, (b) most battleground polls show Obama’s lead expanding post-crisis, not shrinking, and (c) that Pew poll I linked earlier indicates a break away from McCain among independents just in the last 72 hours or so. Zogby’s data contradicts that entirely.


By Ed Morrissey

Conventional wisdom held that Barack Obama would benefit from an economic crisis, but at least according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll, it’s put a dent in Obama’s momentum.  He lost his three-point lead abruptly and has dropped back into a tie at 46% with John McCain among likely voters.  That contrasts sharply with the polls from the Washington Post/ABC and Fox, which showed Obama gaining some momentum:

John McCain has gained ground and is now tied with Barack Obama among registered voters in the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update for Sept. 22-24, with each candidate getting 46% support.

This update covers interviewing conducted Monday through Wednesday, and as such includes one night after McCain’s announcement that he was suspending election campaigning and flying to Washington to help seek a bipartisan solution to the financial crisis. A night by night analysis of interviewing results, however, does not suggest that McCain had a dramatically better night against Obama on Wednesday. Instead, the data show that McCain has been doing slightly better for the last three days than he had in the previous week, and with some strong Obama days falling off of the rolling average, the race has moved to its current tied position. This is the first report since Sept. 13-15, in which Obama did not have at least a one percentage point edge.

Rasmussen, however, shows Obama still ahead by three, and says the exact opposite of Gallup:

Tracking poll results are based upon nightly telephone interviews and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. The overwhelming majority of the interviews for today’s report were completed before the President’s speech last night. However, it is worth noting that results for the past two individual nights of polling were quite a bit weaker for McCain.

So what does this mean?  It shows that the race is still a margin-of-error event, not the wide gaps shown in polls with commensurate wide gaps in voter identification.  Until we get past the debates, we’re unlikely to see massive movement in overall numbers.  Thursday, September 25, 2008




By Scott Johnson

In "Founding brothers," Stanley Kurtz continues his investigation of Barack Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers in connection with Obama's selection to serve as chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in 1995. The question of how a young and inexperienced lawyer like Obama was chosen to head a foundation created by Bill Ayers in 1995 remains open. Steve Diamond provides background that is useful to a full understanding of the roadblocks faced by Kurtz in getting access to the CAC records.

I deduce from Kurtz's column that former CAC principals Ken Rolling, Warren Chapman, Anne Hallett, Barack Obama and Bill Ayers know the answer and have no desire to illuminate it fully. Kurtz is careful not to draw unwarranted inferences from the record he has assembled. Peter Kirsanow glosses the record as follows:

It appears that Ayers took a keen interest in Obama at a time when Obama was nothing more than, as Stanley puts it, "a young and inexperienced lawyer." Why? There are tens of thousands of young and inexperienced lawyers in Chicago. What did Ayers see in (or hear from) Obama that caused the former to take such an interest in him?

Stanley shows that there's a reasonable probability that Ayers plucked Obama from obscurity to chair the Chicago Annenberg Challenge ("CAC"). Then, after working together on the CAC and directing millions to radical organizations, Ayers hosted Obama's political coming out party. That certainly looks more like a mentor-protégé relationship than a tenuous relationship between two guys who happen to live in the same neighborhood.

The story of a why an unrepentant terrorist has such a close relationship with a presidential candidate should have reporters swarming over the Obama campaign demanding answers.

One doesn't have to read too much between the lines to infer the existence of what Kirsanow describes as "an attempt to cover-up the extent of Sen. Obama's ties to William Ayers[.]" The problem is that those who know the answer to the question Kurtz explores apparently have no motive to disclose it.  Thursday, September 25, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Here we go

Afghanistan is now officially the bad war.  ABC News reports that the situation in Afghanistan is "grim." The assessment may be correct but the thing to watch for is what actions the pre-leaked NIE findings will be used to justify. It’s a safe bet the still to be completed NIE will have as many political uses as strategic ones, but maybe politics and strategy are all the same thing.

“US intelligence analysts are putting the final touches on a secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan that reportedly describes the situation as ‘grim’, but there are ‘no plans to declassify’ any of it before the election, according to one US official familiar with the process. … According to people who have been briefed, the NIE will paint a ‘grim’ picture of the situation in Afghanistan, seven years after the US invaded in an effort to dismantle the al Qaeda network and its Taliban protectors.”  Thursday, September 25, 2008





Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi who is thought to be behind the Marriott bombings. Photo from AKI

Two senior al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Pakistani terrorists are suspected of being behind the Sept. 20 bombing at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The deadly attack killed more than 50 Pakistanis and foreigners and wounded more than 270, and destroyed the once-popular hotel.

In recent press reports, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Qari Mohammad Zafar, a leader of the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, have both been implicated as being the mastermind of the Marriott bombing. Both men have extensive ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and have been in Pakistani custody until recently.

Akhtar is believed to be behind the attacks because "the method of the bombing and the nature of explosives resemble four previous vehicle bomb attacks, carried out by suicide bombers [from the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami] in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi" earlier this year, The News reported. Several of the bombing are thought to have been conducted to secure the release of Akhtar, who was in Pakistani custody at the time.

Zafar has been implicated by Pakistani intelligence after some of his operatives were detained in Punjab and interrogated. The connection to Zafar was established from phone numbers found on the mobiles of some of those arrested in Punjab,” Adnkronos International reported. "Zafar is behind the planning, arrangement of transportation and procurement of explosives for the attack against the Marriott Hotel on 20 September," an anonymous security official told the news service.

US intelligence believes both Akhtar and Zafar are involved in the operation. "Akhtar is the operational leader while Zafar is the tactical commander," a senior US military intelligence source told The Long War Journal on the condition of anonymity. "We believe Akhtar chose the target and provided the expertise for the bomb, while Zafar provided the muscle" to carry out the operation. US intelligence considers both men to be dangerous and effective leaders.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other Pakistani terror groups have used the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi to execute operations inside Pakistan for years, the source stated. "Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and other Pakistani terror groups merged with al Qaeda years ago," the source stated.

Qari Saifullah Akhtar, and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami

Qari Saifullah Akhtar and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI or the Movement of Islamic Holy War) have worked with the Taliban and al Qaeda for more than a decade. In 2002, The Friday Times described the HUJI as "the biggest militia we know nothing about."

HUJI was formed Islamist extremists inside Pakistan’s Punjab province the early 1980s to help battle the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, HUJI turned its focus on fighting the Indian Army inside Jammu and Kashmir. The group maintained camps throughout Pakistan. The largest, in Kotli in Azad Kashmir, had "a capacity for training 800 warriors." As of 2002, more than 650 HUJI fighters were killed fighting the Indian Army.

Like many Pakistani-based jihadi groups fighting in Kashmir, the HUJI received support from Pakistan’s military and the Inter-Services Intelligence. The group has officed in more than 40 locations inside Pakistan and maintained "organized seminaries in Karachi, and Chechnya, [Xinxiang], Uzbekistan and Tajikistan." Its members have participated in attacks and fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The Bangladeshi branch of HUJI was one of the original signatories of Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa against the West. This fatwa, or religious ruling established the International Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders and officially incorporated various Islamic terror groups such as Ayman al Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

Akhtar took control of the HUJI after the group's leader was killed fighting the Soviets in 1985. He expanded HUJI's infrastructure throughout Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Akhtar largely stayed off the radar until he emerged as being part of a plot to overthrow the Pakistani government in 1995, when he was implicated along with Major General Zahirul Islam Abbasi and three other senior officers in an attempt to assassinate senior military leaders during a Corps Commanders Conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Charges against Akhtar were dismissed after he testified against his conspirators. Abbasi was released from detention after President Musharraf took power in a coup in 1999.

The Pakistani government released Akhtar in 1996 and promptly fled to Afghanistan, where he became a close confidant and adviser to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Three members in the Taliban's cabinet and 22 judges were members of HUJI. The group was affectionately called the "Punjabi Taliban." Akhtar is also described as a "crucial figure" in the efforts to unite Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden.

HUJI established training camps in Kandahar, Kabul, and Khost. Taliban military and police forces were also trained at HUJI camps. HUJI became a critical force in the Taliban’s efforts to consolidate power in Afghanistan in the 1990s. More than 300 HUJI fighters were killed fighting against the Northern Alliance. HUJI also used its bases in Afghanistan to conduct operations in Chechnya, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

Akhtar accompanied Mullah Omar as he fled the US onslaught during Operation Enduring Freedom after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Akhtar took shelter in South Waziristan, where he was born, and established links with Baitullah Mehsud. Omar moved his operations to Quetta in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

After being implicated in two assassination attempts of Pervez Musharraf in December 2003, Akhtar fled to Saudi Arabia and then finally took refuge in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE arrested Akhtar in August 2004 and deported him to Pakistan, where he was held for more than two years without trial. The Pakistani security services released Akhtar in May 2007 after the Supreme Court began inquiring on a number of missing persons.

Pakistani security forces detained Akhtar once again in February 2008 after he was implicated in several bombings, the most prominent being the October suicide attack in Karachi that aimed to assassinate former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as she returned from exile to begin her political campaign.

Bhutto, who was later assassinated in an attack in Rawalpindi in December 2007, implicated Akhtar in her posthumously released book. "I was informed of a meeting that had taken place in Lahore where the bomb blasts were planned. However, a bomb maker was needed for the bombs," Bhutto wrote. "Enter Qari Saifullah Akhtar, a wanted jihadi terrorist who had tried to overthrow my second government in the 1990s. He had been extradited by the United Arab Emirates and was languishing in the Karachi central jail. According to my sources, the officials in Lahore had turned to Qari for help. His liaison with elements in the government was a radical who was asked to make the bombs and he himself asked for a fatwa making it legitimate to oblige. He got one."

The Pakistani government released Akhtar from jail on bail in June 2008 after claiming insufficient evidence existed to link him to recent attacks.

Qari Mohammad Zafar and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ or Army of Jhangvi) was formed in 1996 after splitting with the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a radical Sunni group behind sectarian attacks against Shia throughout Pakistan. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi expanded its activity to include terror attacks against the Pakistani state. After Sept. 11, 2001, LeJ was one of two Pakistani terror groups banned by the Musharraf regime.

The size of the LeJ is unknown, but it is believed to have hundreds of members dispersed in small cells throughout Pakistan. The group maintains camps in South Waziristan, under the protection of Baitullah Mehsud.

Pakistani police began to openly admit the LeJ began forging close ties with al Qaeda and the Taliban after a string of attacks during the winter and spring of 2006. The most high-profile attack was the March 3 bombing outside the US Consulate in Karachi. A US diplomat was killed in the suicide car bombing.

LeJ foot soldiers carried out the attack, while the bomb was assembled in Abdullah Mehsud's territory near Wana in South Waziristan. "Police have come to the conclusion that terrorist groups with different priorities have ganged up," Daily Times wrote in 2006. "They are specifically worried about the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Al Qaeda and the Abdullah Mehsud-led group of Afghanistan." Abdullah Mehsud was a Waziri tribesman who was based in South Waziristan and killed by Pakistani forces in Zhob in 2007.

Baitullah Mehsud, Abdullah's cousin and the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is known to have absorbed elements of the LeJ in Karachi and placed them under the command of a leader named Raheemullah.

Qari Mohammad Zafar is wanted by the US government for the Karachi Consulate bombing. "Zafar is suspected of being a key figure involved with this attack," the Rewards for Justice website states. A $5 million reward has been offered for information leading the capture of Zafar.

Zafar escaped from Pakistani custody in 2007 and is known to shelter in South Waziristan. Thursday, September 25, 2008


Was Harkatul Jehadul Islami responsible?
The case of the "missing" Qari
HUJI chief still at large
Profile: Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI)
The biggest militia we know nothing about
Suspected Marriott bombing 'mastermind' emerges
Profile: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
Rewards for Justice: Qari Mohammad Zafar
Qaeda-LJ link in terror attacks
Baitullah Mehsud, LJ join hands in Karachi


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