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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, November 19, 2008


By Eric Allie

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie




US forces detained a senior Iranian Qods Force officer as he attempted to flee Baghdad, according to a statement from the military.

The officer, who was not named, was captured today as he was attempting to leave Iraq. Security guards at Baghdad International Airport detained the Iranian agent as Coalition forces were in "pursuit."

The Qods Force officer is suspected of being involved "in facilitating Iranian weapons shipments into Iraq," according the Multinational Forces Iraq press release. US forces found "an unspecified amount of the illegal drug Cocaine" in his possession.

Qods Force uses an unnamed construction company to shield its activities, the US military said. "The suspect works for an organization within the IRGC-QF [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force] involved in the construction and repair of religious sites in Iraq," the statement said. "Intelligence assessments indicate that the IRGC-QF uses this organization as a cover to smuggle weapons in legitimate shipments of building materials."

Iraqi and US forces have killed one Qods Force operative and captured 10 since mid-October.

Background on Iran's backing of the Shia terror groups

Flash Presentation on the Ramazan Corps and the Iranian Ratlines into Iraq. Click the map to view. A Flash Player is required to view, click to download.

Qods Force has supported various Shia militias and terror groups inside Iraq, including the Mahdi Army, helping to build them along the same lines as Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran denies the charges, but captive Shia terrorists admit to being recruited by Iranian agents and then transported into Iran for training.

Iran established the Ramazan Corps immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime to direct operations inside Iraq. The US military says Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have helped establish, fund, train, and arm, and have provided operational support for Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades and the League of the Righteous. The US military refers to these groups as well as the Iranian-backed elements of the Mahdi Army as the "Special Groups." These groups train in camps inside Iran.

US and Iraqi forces have captured several high-level Qods Force officers inside Iraq since late 2006. Among those captured are Mahmud Farhadi, one of the three Iranian regional commanders in the Ramazan Corps; Ali Mussa Daqduq, a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative; Qais Qazali, the leader of the Qazali Network; and Azhar al Dulaimi, one of Qazali's senior tactical commanders. The US has imposed sanctions on Major General Ahmad Foruzandeh, the former Qods Force commander, and Abdul Reza Shahlai, a deputy commander in Iran's Qods Force, for backing Shia terror groups inside Iraq.

US military officers believe Iran is ramping up its operations inside Iraq after its surrogates suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Iraqi military during the spring and summer of 2008. Iraqi troops went on the offensive against the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backed terror groups in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq. More than 2,000 Mahdi Army members were killed and thousands more were wounded. The operation forced Muqtada al Sadr to agree to a cease-fire and disband the Mahdi Army.  Tuesday, November 18, 2008




By John Hinderaker

Last night I embedded a video by John Ziegler that showed some Obama voters being interviewed about their knowledge of the issues in the campaign. The video is funny, but also instructive. It was prepared in connection with a Zogby poll and the web site How Obama Got Elected.

Here are some highlights of Zogby's poll of Obama voters:

* 57 percent thought the Republicans still control Congress. Note that this is worse than a random result, since there are only two possible answers.

* Only 12 percent could identify Obama as the candidate who said that his energy policies would cause the cost of electricity to skyrocket.

The only issues on which the Obama voters were well-informed (or thought they were, anyway) had to do with Sarah Palin. Thus:

* 94 percent knew that Palin was the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter, the highest correct score recorded by the Obama voters.

* Likewise, 86 percent knew that Palin was the candidate whose party bought her a $150,000 wardrobe.

Those answers suggest that the mainstream media's emphasis in this election was not exactly on the nuances of public policy. To be fair, though, they probably also reflect where the interests of Democratic voters tend to lie. This one is interesting:

* 87 percent said that Sarah Palin was the candidate who said she could see Russia from her house. Actually, it was Tina Fey who said that. Once again, though, it shows that Palin seemed to be the candidate who made the biggest impression, for better or worse.

It's worth noting that the Obama voters in Zogby's sample were 97 percent high school graduates and--rather shockingly--55 percent college graduates. It's almost enough to make you wonder about the future of democracy.


By Scott Johnson

Norm Coleman will be certified the winner of the contest for Minnesota's Senate seat by the state Canvassing Board today. Yesterday the Franken campaign asked the board not to certify the result until certain rejected absentee ballots are included in the final count. The board rejected the Franken campaign's motion to include the rejected absentee ballots or to delay certification.

What was the thinking of the Franken campaign in bringing its motion to prevent certification of the result? The Franken campaign apparently wants to reduce the risk that any Minnesota newspaper will run a headline reporting that Senator Coleman won the election.

Coleman's margin of victory over Franken in the certification is expected to increase today by nine votes, from 206 to 215 votes. The Star Tribune reports that the nine additional votes derive from "a post-election audit conducted in a sampling of about 200 precincts to check the accuracy of voting machines."

There has as yet been no full accounting for the previous adjustments that resulted in the shrinking of Senator Coleman's margin from 725 votes on the morning of November 5 to the 206 votes that preceded any final adjustment. Some day perhaps the Minnesota media will get around to taking a look in the interest of a fullly informed citizenry. Until that time, we will probably have to rely on the work of outside observers such as John Lott and Ed Lasky.

Given Senator Coleman's narrow margin of victory, the result certified today will be subject to a mandatory recount. The recount begins tomorrow and will last for three weeks. The Secretary of State's office has established a page with recount information here. Tuesday, November 18, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

Strike another hope of the Left from the incoming Barack Obama administration.  Associated Press reports that Obama will not pursue criminal investigations into the interrogations of terrorist detainees once in office.  He plans instead a forward-looking panel to return recommendations for future policy rather than pursue a potentially divisive prosecutorial policy:

Barack Obama’s incoming administration is unlikely to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush presidency. Obama, who has criticized the use of torture, is being urged by some constitutional scholars and human rights groups to investigate possible war crimes by the Bush administration.

Two Obama advisers said there’s little — if any — chance that the incoming president’s Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage. …

Obama has committed to reviewing interrogations on al-Qaida and other terror suspects. After he takes office in January, Obama is expected to create a panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission to study interrogations, including those using waterboarding and other tactics that critics call torture. The panel’s findings would be used to ensure that future interrogations are undisputedly legal.

As the AP points out, Bush could pre-empt any investigation simply by issuing pardons to those involved in interrogations.  In fact, Bush is likely to do just that, and he may start soon.  Now that the elections have concluded (except in Georgia), the political risk is nil, and it would protect the people on whom he relied to keep the nation safe.  The only person Bush couldn’t pardon would be himself, and the spectacle of a President prosecuting his predecessor would explode partisan passions in Washington, bringing the capital to a halt for years.

As Patrick Leahy bluntly put it, that’s simply not going to happen. Obama needs to demonstrate that he can move forward with his own agenda.  He’ll be satisfied to generate a finding that gives Bush a historical black mark, if even that much.  The latest signals seem to indicate that Obama may not have that much interest in the issue and could relegate it to a low-profile, pro forma effort.

How would that play politically?  The MoveOn/Code Pink wing of his support will be outraged, but they live in perpetual outrage, and they’ll get over it … eventually.  Putting aside a divisive effort targeting the outgoing administration might win Obama some good will from the Republicans, at least in the initial months of his administration.  When George Bush leaves office, a great deal of the focus on him will also depart, which will make any attempt to prosecute intel agents who relied on Justice findings of legality both unwelcome and unwise.

I think a careful review of interrogation policy, with a non-partisan and credible panel using an open mind cognizant of the dangers we face, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea.  We do have a responsibility to set rational policies for national security, and that should involve periodic oversight of how those policies get implemented in the field.  I’m not certain that we can actually get a non-partisan panel with an open mind, but at the least we should support an attempt to do so.


By Ed Morrissey

Piracy in the Indian Ocean just took a significant turn for the worse.  A Saudi tanker holding the equivalent of 25% of the nation’s daily output got seized by pirates, presumably from Somalia, far out of the normal zone of risk.  The seizure raises questions about safety, ecology, and the security of energy transport:

Pirates operating off the coast of east Africa have hijacked a Saudi supertanker fully laden with an estimated 2m barrels of oil in an attack that marks a significant escalation in the scope of banditry in the region.

The pirates, believed to be from lawless Somalia, seized control of the Sirius Star, which is owned by Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south-east of the Kenyan Indian Ocean port of Mombasa.

It is estimated that the tanker was holding more than a quarter of the daily exports from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. The oil would have been worth about $100m (€79m, £66.5m) at Monday’s market price but is probably of little interest to the pirates.

The Financial Times speculates that the pirates will demand a ransom, the usual end result of piracy in the region.  They may have a difficult time getting to the cash, however.  The pirates usually seize cargo ships and not tankers, which are more difficult to captain and cannot use the normal docks frequented by the pirates.  The tankers ride low in the water, and the danger of grounding is very real, especially for inexperienced pilots.  The ecological destruction could surpass that of the Exxon Valdez, which had about half of the capacity of the Sirius Star.

That assumes, of course, that these pirates want this tanker for ransom.  It seems strange that the same pirates that target food aid closer to shore would go this far out of their way for an oil tanker.  The value is much higher, of course — one expert says they “hit the jackpot” — but crew safety rather than cargo value is the main driver for ransoms. They’d probably get the same amount of money, while taking a much higher risk with a ship they can’t maneuver as well.  Does that make any sense?

So for what other purpose could pirates use a massive oil tanker?  They could have seized it as a terror weapon.  Sailed into a harbor and detonated, a tanker this size could do massive damage, especially to an oil-exporting port — and it could send shock waves throughout the energy industry for months, if not years.  Just sinking it could block exports for weeks while salvage crews cleared the wreckage.

Hopefully, the US Navy or other forces can intercept the Sirius Star before the pirates attempt to navigate it anywhere close to a port and negotiate for the release of the crew and the ship.  With rumblings of al-Qaeda plots coming from Yemen, this particular act of piracy bears close watch.

Update: I should have made this more clear in the initial post.  The crude on board won’t explode — it has to be refined to make it flammable enough for that kind of power.  However, the pirates/terrorists could load it up with enough explosives to create havoc when it sails into a port, blocking access and damaging the facilities badly enough to make them unusable.  If they had that kind of operation planned, they would have brought enough explosives on board during the seizure of the ship to make it work.  Plus, the tanker itself would have fuel to use in that capacity as well.


By Ed Morrissey

Have you wondered what happened to Rep. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson?  The Louisiana Democrat remains in Congress despite the discovery of almost $100,000 cash in his freezer and evidence of bribery and corruption.  In fact, he faces a run-off election for his seat, one which he’s favored to win, in the same week that his federal trial finally begins:

Remember William Jefferson, the Louisiana congressman who was indicted last year on bribery, racketeering and money laundering charges?

Well, he’s still in Congress, and he’s likely to stay there for a while.

Technically, Jefferson still has to win a Dec. 6th runoff in Louisiana. But his opponent, little known Republican lawyer Anh “Joseph” Cao, stands little chance in Louisiana’s heavily Democratic second congressional district.

Ironically, Jefferson’s long-delayed federal trial is also likely to start that week — Dec. 2nd in Virginia.

Last week, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the trial to start — upholding his indictment by ruling that Jefferson’s rights weren’t violated when the grand jury received evidence that violated legislative immunity.

Well, isn’t that special?  Jefferson’s constituents will likely send back an indicted politician rather than elect a Republican.  (In Alaska, the voters apparently made a different choice in the Senate race, but Ted Stevens actually got convicted.)

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership that promised The Most Ethical Congress Evah still allows Dollar Bill Jefferson to retain his seat on the Homeland Security committee.  They may act to strip him of that in the next Congress, but by that time his trial will likely have concluded, one way or the other.  If convicted, he’ll get booted out of Congress, and if acquitted, the House Ethics Committee will likely only give him a slap on the hand for his corruption — and he may get his seat on Ways and Means back.

Maybe the GOP should spend some money in LA-02 the next couple of weeks.  Why not give New Orleans a real choice for representation in Washington?  Tuesday, November 18, 2008




By Nate Beeler

Political Cartoons by Nate Beeler




By Charles Johnson

Omri Ceren’s headline says it all: Obama’s Top NSA And CIA Picks: Harsh On Israel, Sympathetic To Iran And Hezbollah.

Well that was totally unpredictable wasn’t it?

General James L. Jones is widely rumored to be Obama’s preferred candidate to be White House National Security Adviser... Jones prepared a report on Israel’s policies in the territories... The World Tribune said it “blasted Israel’s role” for “hampering the movement of PA forces, blocking plans for weapons shipments and technology to the Palestinians and resisting coordination.” ... Obama said this about Jones: “Let me tell you who I associate with... If I’m interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar...or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.”

Totally, totally unpredictable:

John Brennan... is rumored to be Obama’s pick to head the CIA. Brennan published a long article on Iran in July 2008... "... U.S. national security would be best served if Washington publicly acknowledged and explored the roots of this shift in Iranian state support for terrorist activities ... the new U.S. administration must be willing to exercise strategic patience....It would not be foolhardy, however, for the United States to tolerate, and even to encourage, greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s political system.  Tuesday, November 18, 2008




By Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy




By Charles Johnson

Deutsche Welle reports on yet another incident of antisemitic cemetery desecration in Germany: Germany Condemns Swinish Acts of Antisemitic Vandalism. “Swinish.” There’s a word you don’t see much in US media; it definitely fits.

Authorities announced on Tuesday, November 18 that unknown persons had desecrated a pair of Jewish cemeteries near the Eastern German city of Erfurt. Unfortunately, some people never learn from history.

A pig’s head was found stuck to the entrance gate at a Jewish graveyard in the town of Gotha next to a section of cloth with the words “six million lies” written on it. Police said a blood-red liquid had also been thrown at the gate and that the ground was covered with broken glass — perhaps a reference to the Night of Broken Glass, the 1938 Nazi pogrom against German Jews.

In Erfurt itself, police said, a memorial plaque at the entrance to another Jewish cemetery was also covered with a blood-colored substance.

German politicians were quick to condemn the acts of desecration.  Tuesday, November 18, 2008


By Charles Johnson

Timothy Sandefur has an interesting post on the anti-intellectualism of the left.

Liberals have lately been making much of the purported anti-intellectualism of conservatives in the late election. No doubt they’re right. But I must say I find it laughable that this charge would come from liberals of all people. The left in this country has had a long and dismal history of embracing a wide variety of anti-intellectual credos.

Start with the most obvious: the left has long been the welcoming home of fashionable postmodern nonsense like deconstructivism and moral and cultural relativism. Under these doctrines there are supposed to be different kinds of “logics” (male logic, female logic, &.) and none is more valid than the other. All of them are simply clever masks for a brutal competition for wealth and power. This is a profoundly anti-intellectual strain of pseudo-thought which avoids the need to take any arguments seriously, because such ideas simply be accused of corruption. When Sandra Harding called Newton’s Principia a “rape manual,” she did so from the left, not from the right. And the cultural relativists who demand that we treat the dismal productions of barbaric cultures as the intellectual equivalents of Shakespeare and Homer—and tars as “racist” anyone who suggests that some cultures and their mores are better than others—are fundamentally, even proudly anti-intellectual.

These ideologies masquerade, unconvincingly, as intellectual movements, but they are simply attempts to ignore ideas, or to shoot them down with reactionary appeals to political dogmas. They treat the world of thought with the same contempt as a street thug, except that they phrase his appeal to violence in more clever terminology. In the end it is the same: power over thought, force over reason. Goebbels said that when he heard the word culture, he reached for his gun, but many of the so-called “radical” intellectuals of today avoid the challenge of thought altogether by interpreting it in terms of base politics—and not even a very sophisticated politics, but a politics centered entirely around the tribal: around racial and gender conflicts over land and money.

“Radical chic” is a leftist phenomenon, not a conservative one. It was, and is, liberals who accord street thugs and petty vandals the respectability of academic honors. The terrorist Bill Ayers? Or the terrorist Angela Davis, winner of the Lenin Peace Prize of the U.S.S.R.? She’s presidential chair at U.C. Santa Cruz. It was liberals who not only gave the anti-intellectual thug Norman Mailer pop icon status, but handed him the mantle of a respectable intellectual. The Jack Abbott case was a curiosity to them, and a source of gossip. When he stabbed his wife with a penknife at a dinner party, almost killing her in 1960, was that the end of his run as a leftist intellectual? Hardly. The left respects its anti-intellectual thugs.  Monday, November 17, 2008




By Richard Fernandez

Iraqi interpreters working for Americans can no longer conceal their identities. The Washington Post reports:

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military has barred Iraqi interpreters working with American troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to disguise themselves, prompting some to resign and others to bare their faces even though they fear it could get them killed.

Many interpreters employed by the U.S. government and Western companies in Iraq do everything they can to avoid being recognized on the job because extremists have tortured and killed Iraqis accused of collaborating with the enemy. …

“We are a professional Army and professional units don’t conceal their identity by wearing masks,” Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the U.S. military, wrote in an e-mail. He expressed appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the interpreters but said those dissatisfied with the new policy “can seek alternative employment.”

During years of active combat and widespread violence, interpreters have helped U.S. soldiers make sense of Iraq’s streets, politics and history. These guides have been killed by snipers on foot patrols, blasted to shreds in roadside bombings and vilified by extremists as traitors.

Is this a good or a bad thing? On the one hand, it prevents Iraqis from fearing they are being condemned by a man whose face they can’t even see. On the other hand, it has chilling effect on people who may be risking their lives in American service. My own guess is that some bad guys and some good guys will “seek alternative employment”. Whether there will be more of the former than the latter is the question. Open thread.  Monday, November 17, 2008


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