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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 08, 2008


By Ed Morrissey

A federal judge has ordered the release of 17 Chinese Uighers detained at Guantanamo Bay, and specifically into the US.  Judge Ricardo Urbina demanded that the federal government produce them in his courtroom by Friday, and refused to stay his order for an appeal.  He also warned immigration officials not to do their jobs by detaining these suspected terrorists:

A federal judge today ordered that 17 Chinese Muslims held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison be released into the United States by Friday, agreeing with the detainees’ attorneys that the Constitution bars holding the men indefinitely without cause. …

Justice Department lawyer John O’Quinn asked Urbina to stay the order for a week, giving the government time to evaluate its options and file an appeal. Urbina rejected that request and ordered the Uighurs to appear in his courtroom for a hearing on Friday. He said he would then release them into the custody of 17 Uighur families living in the Washington area.

O’Quinn said the legal ramifications from the order are complex and that he wants time to consult with officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Under existing U.S. law, immigration authorities may be forced to take the Uighurs into custody shortly after they arrive in the United States, O’Quinn said. The Justice Department alleges they have ties to a group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the government.

Urbina chastised O’Quinn for suggesting that the government might take the Uighurs into custody for a second time.

The seventeen men were captured in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan during the 2001-2 campaign to topple the Taliban and fight al-Qaeda.  The judge said that the government had unreliable evidence to show them as a threat to the United States.  If living in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan doesn’t provide prima facie evidence of just that kind of threat, it’s difficult to know what Urbina needs.

Now, unless the 4th District overrules Urbina in the next 72 hours, we will knowingly transport 17 Uighers who lived in terrorist training camps to our nation’s capital, and release them on their own recognizance.  Why?  Because we can’t send them to China, who might mistreat them.  Every other country in the world has more sense than to agree to take these Uigher separatists, who like many of their compatriots, have allied themselves with al-Qaeda.  Every other country, that is, except the US, or at least one of its judges.

This is what we can expect when the judiciary decides to usurp the role of the executive branch in waging war.  Urbina ruled that the detention of the Uighers violates the Constitution with their indefinite detention, but that doesn’t apply to unlawful combatants of any war, and never has.  We would be within our rights to hold prisoners of war until an end to hostilities, and Urbina has now given these terrorists a better deal than POWs get.

To paraphrase a great line from the late Paul Newman in The Verdict: I wouldn’t mind Urbina waging the war if he wasn’t so determined to lose it.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008




By John Cole

Political Cartoon by John Cole




By Paul Mirengoff

I thought that Barack Obama won the “visuals” of tonight’s debate. He looked younger and more vigorous, of course, but, in addition, John McCain did too much moving around. He seemed focused on addressing a “town hall,” as he has done so well over the years. But in reality, as Obama seemed quicker to appreciate, the audience tonight was in the television land. To them, McCain’s movement must have seemed a bit aimless.

On substance, I thought the debate was fairly even. McCain came across better on economic issues than he has in the past, but still struggled at times for the fluency (or perhaps glibness) with which Obama is able to address these matters. In any event, I suspect that, whatever the quality of McCain's debate performance, he’s going to take the fall for the economy.

Obama was pretty much gaffe-free (though not lie-free). He was a little arrogant at times, including in his obvious disregard for the rules of the debate, but not to the point where it’s likely to cost him in this environment.

A win on the visuals and at least a draw on substance (if that’s a fair assessment) is a win for Obama at this point. So tonight he moves a little closer to the presidency. I continue to believe that voters will subject him to one more round of serious scrutiny when the debates are over. Tonight’s performance marginally enhances his chance of surviving that scrutiny, which was already pretty good.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

You’ll want to double-check the logo at the bottom left corner during this report.  It really is CNN and Anderson Cooper fact-checking Barack Obama’s claims to have barely known William Ayers — and calling it dishonest.  Stanley Kurtz even gets to make an appearance on a network other than Fox for this report (via Dirty Harry’s Place):

Drew Griffin runs down most of the salient points raised by people like Kurtz, David Freddoso, Jerome Corsi, and others. Obama’s admission in a debate that he briefly served on “a board” with Ayers with little contact gets shot down. CNN followed up on Kurtz’ work with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and debunks that notion. They also — amazingly — report on the nature of the grants made by the CAC while Obama ran it to Ayers’ favored schools with radical agendas.

Griffin also tells a somewhat nonplussed Cooper that Obama has lied about his “coming out party” at the home of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn in 1995. Obama has said that Alice Palmer arranged the fundraiser and the venue, but Griffin spoke to two people who attended the event, who claim Obama lied. Palmer had nothing to do with that event outside of being invited to it. Obama and Ayers planned the event themselves.

Obama has lied repeatedly about his relationship with the unrepentant domestic terrorist. He spent years working for Ayers, promoting Ayers’ causes. Even CNN won’t buy the Obama line any longer. Expect John McCain to raise this point tonight in the debate.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008



Mullah Omar.

The Taliban have not broken ranks with al Qaeda, senior US military and intelligence sources told The Long War Journal. The idea that the Taliban has severed relations is promoted by European countries who wish to back out of Afghanistan after years of bloody fighting, the sources, who wish to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject, said.

The reports of a split between al Qaeda and the Taliban originated with CNN after sources claimed senior Taliban leaders were in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah and several members of the Afghan government.

But sources familiar with al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region told The Long War Journal there is no evidence of a split, and the members of the so-called Taliban delegation have no influence with the senior Taliban leadership.

"There are no indications that Mullah Omar or anyone part of the Taliban's Shura Majlis (or executive council) cut their ties with Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda," one senior source said. "If there is a denunciation or discussion of a break with al Qaeda, I do not see it."

Several members of the Afghan Taliban still serve on al Qaeda's executive leadership council, and there are no indications anyone has been expelled.

"Omar sacrificed his country and his throne to protect Osama" by opposing the US in the run-up to the US invasion in 2001, a source said. "Why, after the Taliban is in ascendancy in Afghanistan in Pakistan, would they abandon al Qaeda now?"

Negotiators are Taliban outsiders

The press reports have focused on the members of the so-called Taliban peace negotiators, but have failed to review at who exactly is participating in the talks. A look at the Afghans involved shows these are men who have fallen out of favor with the Taliban high command.

"There were no senior leaders of the Taliban present in Saudi Arabia," one senior source told The Long War Journal. "Not one member of the Taliban Shura Majlis. Not even one senior Taliban official in good standing with the leadership."

"They are all outsiders," the source reiterated.

Included in the Taliban negotiating team are Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, and Mullah Mohamed Tayeb Agha, according to a report in Asharq al Awsat.


Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil.

Mutawakil, who served as the Taliban's foreign minister in 2001, has long fallen out of favor with the Taliban, according to sources as well as reports in the press. "He has no authority among the Taliban leaders who matter," said one senior source.

The BBC describes Mutawakil as "the more respectable face of the Taliban" as he is considered as "articulate and relatively moderate." He is "several rungs of power removed from the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar." and broke ranks after Omar refused to hand over Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2002 he claimed he was sent to warn the US of the Sept. 11 attacks but was ignored.

Mutawakil surrendered to the US in February 2002 without seeking approval from the senior Taliban leadership. He was detained by the US and then placed under house arrest in Kabul. The Taliban ejected Mutawakil from the movement in 2003, saying he "does not represent our will". Mutawakil contested the elections in 2005.

Mutawakil has been behind numerous failed attempts to promote reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban. "He is probably sincere but just completely powerless," a source told The Long War Journal.

Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, another purported representative of the Taliban in the Saudi Arabia negotiations, served as the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan. He was detained by the Pakistani security services in 2002 and sent to the Guantanamo Detention Facility in Cuba before he was released in 2006.

Zaeef is also seen as a "moderate" Taliban and was considered a candidate to join the interim Afghan government. "Zaeef has no standing with the current Taliban leadership," a source said.

Mullah Mohamed Tayeb Agha was also in attendance in Saudi Arabia. While Agha is described as "the spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar," he hasn't held this role for a decade. "That was back in the 1990s," a source familiar with the Taliban leadership said.

The Taliban reject peace talks

Mullah Omar and the Taliban have openly rejected the idea their followers are in negotiations with the Afghan government. Omar and the Taliban issued two press releases since Sept. 28 to quell the rumors.

The first statement, issued by the Taliban on Sept 28, rejected any idea of a peace agreement. "The Shura Council of the Islamic Emriate of Afghanistan considers such baseless rumors as part of the failed efforts by our enemies to create distrust and doubts among Afghans, other nations, and the mujahideed," the statement read. "No official member of the Taliban--now or in the past--has ever negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government."

The Taliban then went out of its way to denounce those negotiating under its banner, and clearly referred to Mutawakil, Zaeef, and Agha. "A handful of former Taliban officials who are under house arrest or who have surrendered do not represent the Islamic Emirate."

The Taliban then clearly lay out their strategy to retake power in Afghanistan. The statement is clear they do not seek accommodation, but the removal of NATO troops and the ouster of the Karzai regime. "If out fight was for control of ministries and other prominent positions in the puppet administration, then such negotiations would make sense--but this is not the case," the statement read. "Our struggle is to implement the rules of Allah in Afghanistan by eradicating the enemies of Islam... Our struggle will continue until the departure of all foreign troops."

In a statement signed by Mullah Omar on Sept. 30, he was clear that he believed the Taliban was close to victory and offered the US harsh terms for peace. "If you demonstrate an intention of withdrawing your forces, we once again will demonstrate our principles by giving you the right of safe passage, in order to show that we never harm anyone maliciously," Omar said. He also went out of his way to praise the mujahideen, both Afghan and foreign, in their willingness to take the fight to the West.

Europe looking for an out

The eagerness to promote reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government stems from European governments looking to extract themselves from the Afghan conflict, senior sources tell The Long War Journal.

The reports of the Saudi Arabian negotiations arose after a senior British general said victory in Afghanistan was impossible and the West should dumb down expectations on the outcome of the conflict. A British and a UN diplomat described Afghanistan as "lost." Other European officials have been keen on opening direct negotiations with the Taliban.

US intelligence and military officials are furious over the latest attempts to conduct “misguided” negotiations. "These are the people that brought you Musa Qala and the debacle in Basrah," one senior source said angrily. The source was referring to the Brit's turning over of the district of Musa Qala in Helmand province to the Taliban in 2006 and the Brit's ceding the Iraqi city of Basrah to the Mahdi Army while claiming victory in 2007. The Brits claimed Basrah was a success story and began withdrawing troops as the city fell under the spell of Iranian-backed militias.

Musa Qala had to be retaken in a bloody offensive a year later in 2007. The Iraqi Army launched an offensive six months later to retake Basrah from the Mahdi Army in the spring of 2008.

"These two events were debacles," the source said. Why should we trust them with current peace talks, particularly when they have no idea who they are negotiating with?"

"We had to clean up their mess twice," another source said, again referring to Musa Qala and Basrah and fearing the negotiations would be taken seriously by Washington. "At this point, it would be better if they left Afghanistan," the source said, frustrated with the lack of unity of command in Afghanistan and the failure of the West to present a unified front against the Taliban and allied groups.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Last weekend the Bush administration quietly abandoned plans to send diplomats to Iran.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has shelved plans to set up a diplomatic outpost in Iran, in part over fears it could affect the U.S. presidential race or be interpreted as political meddling, The Associated Press has learned.

The proposal to send U.S. diplomats to Tehran for the first time in three decades attracted great attention when it was first floated seriously over the summer but has now been placed on indefinite hold as November’s election nears and Iran continues to defy demands to halt suspect nuclear activities, officials told the AP.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008




By Chip Bok

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok




By Ed Morrissey

Democrats have begun a search for the culprit in the financial collapse in a manner somewhat akin to the OJ Simpson search for Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s murderer. The Hill reports that Henry Waxman’s Oversight Committee hearing grilled Lehman Brothers executives over CEO pay and “deregulation”, but never mentioned the names Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Republicans found that more than a little strange:

Democrats aimed their harshest attacks at deregulation and CEO pay, using former Lehman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld as an example during a recess hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) also released internal documents showing Lehman’s compensation committee recommended $20 million in “special payments” to three departing executives on Sept. 11, four days before the firm filed for bankruptcy.

Republicans, for their part, launched a campaign to pin the financial meltdown on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and attacked Waxman for not holding a hearing to dig into the now-nationalized mortgage giants.

“Any hearing on oversight that does not begin with Fannie and Freddie and [former Fannie Mae CEO] Franklin Raines will be a sham,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.). “This is like investigating a train robbery and only talking to the dining car stewards.”

Christopher Shays ripped the Oversight Committee for its refusal to investigate Congress itself:

“The reason we haven’t scheduled hearings on these two institutions and haven’t requested documents from either is because their demise isn’t someone else’s fault — it’s ours, and we don’t want to own up to it.”

Shays then destroys the notion that Congress got caught unaware by the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He requests the records of many hearings held over the last six years on this very topic, including a Bush administration effort to overhaul GSE regulation in 2003. The list of hearings demonstrates Congressional culpability in the Fannie and Freddie collapse, and as Shays notes, provides the reason why Waxman has kept the actual proximate cause of the financial crisis out of the hearings that are supposed to investigate the reasons why American taxpayers have to bail out Wall Street.

Note that Waxman wants to save “taxpayer money” by keeping those records out of the committee hearing, instead providing links to the records for those who want to pursue the trail of bread crumbs highlighted by Shays. Too bad Congressional Democrats didn’t have more concern for our money when they blocked tougher rules for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and accused OFHEO regulators of being racists for doing their jobs. That was their excuse the last time Congress got pressed to take some responsibility for overseeing the GSEs, and to no one’s great surprise, that’s their reaction this time as well.  Tuesday, October 7, 2008




By Lisa Benson

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson


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