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FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 21, 2008


By Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez




Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Hajji Hammadi, killed by US forces on Nov. 11, 2008.

US forces killed another senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader during counterterrorism raids in Iraq. Hajji Hammadi, an al Qaeda leader in eastern Anbar province, is the fourth senior al Qaeda leader killed in Iraq and neighboring Syria over the past six weeks.

Hammadi was killed by the hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88 on Nov. 11. The special operations forces killed Hammadi and an associate after a firefight broke out during an operation to capture him in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood.

Hammadi, who was also known as Hammadi Awdah Abd Farhan and Abd al Salam Ahmad Abdallah al Janabi, was an Iraqi who was involved with al Qaeda in Iraq since its formation. He had "connections with the country’s legacy al Qaeda leadership," including Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Abu Ayyub al Masri, according to Multinational Forces Iraq.

Zarqawi appointed Hammadi the emir, or leader, of Karmah in eastern Anbar province and Abu Ghraib, an al Qaeda haven just west of Baghdad. Hammadi led an al Qaeda unit during the second battle of Fallujah, where more than 2,000 al Qaeda in Iraq and allied insurgents were killed during the US effort to clear the city.

He was detained in 2006, escaped from prison in 2007, and then resumed his duty as the emir of Karmah and Abu Ghraib, Multinational Forces Iraq told The Long War Journal in an email inquiry.

As an emir in eastern Anbar, Hammadi was "responsible for planning and conducting multiple attacks on Coalition forces, Iraqi Police, Iraqi government officials and Iraqi citizens," the US military stated. "These attacks were carried out as suicide and car bombings, kidnappings, executions and assassinations."

His most recent high profile attack was the June 26, 2008 suicide strike at a tribal meeting in Karmah. Twenty Iraqis, including the town mayor and several sheikhs, and three US Marines, including Lieutenant Colonel Max Galeai, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines were killed in the deadly attack. An al Qaeda operative disguised himself as a policeman and penetrated security for the event.

Hammadi has also been behind the assassinations of several leaders and members of the Sons of Iraq, the local tribal fighters that organized to oppose al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as the kidnapping and murder of US Army Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin in 2004.

The Karmah region was one of the last areas in Anbar province that was tamed by US and Iraqi forces in conjunction with the Anbar Awakening. Karmah and Abu Ghraib were part of al Qaeda's western Baghdad "belt," one of four regions surrounding the capital. Al Qaeda used these belts to control access to Baghdad and funnel money, weapons, car bombs, and fighters into the city. Al Qaeda also attempted to strangle the US helicopter air lanes to western Anbar by emplacing anti-aircraft cells along known routes.

Taking down al Qaeda's leadership team in Iraq

Hammadi is the fourth senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader killed since Oct. 5. The targeting of al Qaeda's senior leadership has further degraded the terror group's ability to conduct successful, high profile attacks, the US military said.

US special operations forces killed Abu Qaswarah al Skani (the Swede), al Qaeda's second in command, during a raid in Mosul. Qaswarah, whose real name is Mohamed Moumou, was born in Morocco and held citizenship in Sweden. Originally a member of Ansar al Sunnah, he trained in al Qaeda camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1990s and had close connections with Zarqawi. He commanded al Qaeda forces in northern Iraq before being appointed al Qaeda in Iraq's second in command.

The second major kill by US forces took place outside of Iraq's borders, in eastern Syria, on Oct. 27. Task Force 88 conducted a daring daylight raid in an attempt to capture Abu Ghadiya, al Qaeda senior facilitator and logistics coordinator for foreign fighters entering Iraq. He, along with several members of his staff, were killed in the ensuing firefight. Ghadiya, whose real name is Badran Turki Hishan Al Mazidih, was an Iraqi from the northern city of Mosul. Zarqawi appointed Ghadiya as al Qaeda's senior facilitator in Syria in 2005. After Zarqawi's death, he took orders directly from Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda's current leader.

Iraqi soldiers and the Sons of Iraq scored the third major kill during an operation in Tarmiyah on Nov. 7. Abu Ghazwan, whose real name is Saad Ismael Abdul Salah al Hiyali, was a senior al Qaeda leader in the regions north of Baghdad in Salahadin and northern Baghdad province. He was a direct associate of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri. In 2006 and 2007, Ghazwan led al Qaeda's efforts to take control of Baghdad. He commanded the northern Baghdad belt region.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

During the primaries, Barack Obama derived energy from the anti-war Left of MoveOn and Code Pink, criticizing the Iraq War and defending his inexperience as secondary to the poor judgment shown by those who voted to authorize it.  The issue dropped off the radar screen in the general election due to the financial crisis and the success of the surge in Iraq.  Now, however, the same hard-Left supporters who boosted Obama over early favorite Hillary Clinton for the nomination wonder whether Obama may be a hawk in sheep’s clothing:

Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama’s national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war. …

Aside from Clinton and Gates, the roster of possible Cabinet secretaries has included Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who both voted in 2002 for the resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq, though Lugar has since said he regretted it.

“It’s astonishing that not one of the 23 senators or 133 House members who voted against the war is in the mix,” said Sam Husseini of the liberal group Institute for Public Accuracy.

I’m not sure why they find this so surprising.  Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate, a man who also voted to authorize the Iraq War, and until the primaries had continued to argue for it.  That selection should have sent a pretty strong signal that Obama either wanted to take his administration in a conventional, inside-the-Beltway direction, or that he needed a court jester to keep himself amused on slow days.

The best takeaway quote reported by Paul Richter comes from Kevin Martin of the left-wing activist group Peace Action.  He’s not quite willing to blast Obama:

“There’s so much Obama hero worship, we’re having to walk this line where we can’t directly criticize him,” he said. “But we are expressing concern.”

We’ll give Martin a Petard Award for that not-quite-revelation about the silliness he and his allies on the Left created over Obama.  The “hero worship” that keeps him silent exists because fools like Martin inflated Obama into something more than what he is — an untested, inexperienced politicians whose physical attractiveness and undeniablly excellent oratory substituted for substance.

I wonder what Jodie Evans thinks of all this?  The Code Pink founder bundled cash for Obama and helped harness the energy of her organization for his election.  Richter didn’t interview Evans for this story, which is a shame; it would have been very entertaining indeed to hear her spin Obama’s reliance on pro-war Democrats in the incoming administration.  I’d say that her Code Pink associates may have a few questions for Evans in the coming days.

Meanwhile, welcome to Washington, where it’s almost always a case of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  Obama needed to impress the Left to get the nomination, and now he needs to shed himself of the albatross in order to govern.


By Ed Morrissey

One of the major stumbling blocks to offering Hillary Clinton a Cabinet post, especially State, has been the unanswered question of who donates to Bill Clinton’s foundation.  Ever since establishing it after leaving the White House, the former president has refused to disclose his donors, leading many to question whether any influence-peddling figured into the final days of the Clinton administration.  Now Clinton has agreed to open the books in what looks like a final step for Hillary’s appointment:

Bill Clinton has agreed to a series of concessions requested by officials representing Barack Obama’s presidential transition team, moving his wife one step closer to potentially becoming the next secretary of state.

Aides to both Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said that a formal job offer had not been made, but the former president’s decision to disclose the identities of donors to his charitable foundation and to vet his future speeches and overseas activities with members of the Obama administration appears to have removed some of the biggest hurdles to her nomination.

Obama aides said yesterday that it would be difficult for Sen. Clinton to walk away from the secretary of state post. Obama’s staff has thoroughly vetted both Clintons with the understanding that, if he should make an official job offer, she would accept.

Chalk this one up to the “He’s really serious” category.  After years of refusals, even involving his wife’s bid for the presidency, Clinton has to really want his wife at Foggy Bottom in order to agree to this.  It’s either that or a Supreme Court bid, but Clinton wouldn’t make this agreement without an opening already at hand.

Of course Bill wants to see Hillary land on the Cabinet, especially in the plum role at State; that allows him more relevance and a chance to recover his reputation after a bruising primary left him (unfairly) in the role of race-baiter.  The more pressing question is why Obama wants Hillary at State so badly.  One opinion often expressed is that Obama wants to be seen as a Lincoln of his time, and wants to assemble a Team of Rivals for managing policy.  Whether that policy actually helped Lincoln or burdened him would be debatable; Lincoln’s genius and historical impact doesn’t spring from his Cabinet selections, and the most memorable accomplishment of any of them was “Seward’s Folly” — the purchase of Alaska.

Bringing political rivals onto a team brings obvious conflicts of interest, and one might expect the Clintons to have more Machiavellian impulses than most in that regard.  Why should Obama go out of his way to bring her closer to him?  It’s not as if she’s the most qualified selection.  Bill Richardson, who angered the Clintons by endorsing Obama, has real diplomatic experience, and yet it appears he will get passed over in favor of the Tuzla Dash veteran.

What exactly does Obama gain from adding Hillary?  Is this an LBJ selection of having people in the tent urinating outward rather than the reverse?  Or does he need the Clintons on board so badly to maintain a coalition that can actually govern?  Given the number of Clintonistas appearing in the new administration, I suspect it’s the latter more than the former.

Either way, the fact that Bill’s opening the books makes it clear that Hillary will play a major role in this administration, and that Obama wants to corral Bill as much as possible in advance.  The donor list should make for some interesting blog posts down the road.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Blake Dvorak

That's the argument Marin Cogan makes in her New Republic piece. Specifically, says Cogan, the supposed effort by Democrats to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine is a "manufactured controversy." She writes:

To figure out who was causing such agitation, I went searching for the proponents of the fairness doctrine. I looked at Obama's position–and it turns out that he doesn't want the policy reinstated. Then I called the array of Democratic congressmen who had been tagged by conservatives as doctrine proponents. But they all denied any intention to push for its reinstatement.

Speaking to Sen. Dick Durbin's office, Cogan got the reply:

"This is a completely made- up issue." Senator Durbin's press secretary says that Durbin has "no plans, no language, no nothing. He was asked in a hallway last year, he gave his personal view"--that the American people were served well under the doctrine--"and it's all been blown out of proportion."

Really? The Hill, that hotbed of conservative rabble-rousing, quoted Durbin in June 2007 thus:

“It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they're in a better position to make a decision.”

Durbin might have changed his tune since last year, but it's not like conservatives were clinging to straw men.

Cogan also cites a Human Events article from June of this year, in which Speaker Pelosi expressed support for the doctrine. Yet, writes Cogan:

Shortly after the Human Events piece surfaced, a Democratic leadership staffer called Pelosi's office to ask if the mention indicated that the speaker had plans to move on new legislation promoting the doctrine. Pelosi's staff, according to that aide, confirmed that she did not. And, even if Pelosi were to allow the legislation to move forward, another staffer says, she would not have the Democratic support to get it passed.

Which might be true. But here's what John Gizzi actually reported in Human Events:

“Do you personally support revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine?'” I asked.

“Yes,” the speaker replied, without hesitation.

Again, that doesn't mean Pelosi will move legislation on it, but unless Gizzi misquoted her, that's a pretty firm confirmation of her views. Were conservatives supposed to ignore it?

But let's go back to that Hill piece by Alexander Bolton:

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she planned to “look at the legal and constitutional aspects of” reviving the Fairness Doctrine.

“I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit,” she said. “But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Feinstein said she is not yet ready to submit a formal proposal.

Democrats on the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee have also begun to focus on what they regard as a lack of diversity in talk radio, and may hold hearings later this year.

It's true that Obama has said he does not support reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. And, to be sure, it would be a sign of sheer overreach were Democrats to try to force it through Congress. But a "manufactured controversy"? Hardly.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Michelle Malkin


The Ohio inspector general has finally concludes the obvious. The question now is: Whose heads will roll? Who will be prosecuted? When will the governor apologize for whitewashing this civil liberties scandal?

The report:

A state agency director had no legitimate reasons to check state computer systems for confidential information on “Joe the Plumber,” according to a report released this afternoon by Ohio’s inspector general.

Helen Jones-Kelley, the suspended director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, “had no legitimate agency function or purpose to support her decision” to check on the newly minted political figure, the report states.

The investigation by the office of Inspector General Thomas P. Charles found that the reasons that Jones-Kelley offered for the checks “were not credible and they included contradictions, ambiguity, and inconsistencies.”

The report reached no conclusion on whether Jones-Kelley’s approval of the checks were politically motivated.

“However, the circumstances surrounding the unauthorized searches are exacerbated in light of the director’s sending and receiving e-mail related to a political activity through state resources,” the report said.


Also named as improper snoopers: Assistant agency director Fred Williams and Doug Thompson, a deputy child-support director.

Charles said his report would be sent to the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien for review.

Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland placed Jones-Kelley on paid leave Nov. 7 after e-mails requested by The Dispatch revealed she used her state e-mail account to help raise campaign funds for President-Elect Barack Obama.

The inspector general’s report found that the e-mails violated Strickland’s policy on political activity and constituted a “wrongful act” as an inappropriate use of state resources.

No more running and hiding.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Gary Varvel

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel




By Ed Morrissey

Signs abound that Barack Obama will keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense for a significant period of time in his administration.  Negotiations have reportedly reached the point where they’ve begun reviewing org charts for potential replacements and retentions.  Meanwhile, anticipating the shrieks from the Left when Change doesn’t include the DoD, Harry Reid began telling people that Gates isn’t a Republican:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was supportive of the idea when asked about it Sunday by substitute anchor John King on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“I think we need a good transition there,” Reid said. “You know, it’s interesting: My conversation with Secretary Gates, he’s not even a Republican. Why wouldn’t we want to keep him? He’s never been a registered Republican.”

Perhaps not, but that won’t fly with most partisans.  Gates may not be a registered Republican, but he’s served two Republican presidents as political appointees.  He also served Bush 41, first as a deputy national-security adviser and then as CIA director from 1991-3.  His actual voter registration will be secondary to those who wanted the entire Bush hierarchy excised, especially on defense and national security.

Fortunately, that’s a small minority in Obama’s coalition.  Keeping Gates is a wise choice, and sends some important signals to the DoD and to our military allies.  Rather than expecting wholesale Change, they can expect continuity in important areas, especially strategically in the current war theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Politico notes that keeping Gates may help keep David Petraeus happy and on the job — critical to Obama in the first few months of his administration as he gets up to speed on military matters.

The conventional wisdom holds that Gates can provide cover for Obama’s intended troop withdrawals from Iraq, but the new status of forces agreement already does that, assuming the Iraqi National Assembly passes it before the end of the year.  The choice of Gates and the courtship of Petraeus suggests something different entirely — that Obama has already begun rethinking the timetable for withdrawal in the new reality of Iraq.  I’d be only mildly (and pleasantly) surprised if Obama adheres to the 32-month timetable in the SOFA and attempts to negotiate a longer-term presence along those same principles in 2010 or 2011, after the Congressional elections.  By that time, Iraq might decide that having American air power nearby would be a good idea.

Let’s hope all of this courtship results in a marriage, soon.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Paul Mirengoff

One by one, beginning with Joe Biden, Barack Obama is filling key positions in his administration with old Washington hands. Jim Geraghty provides the details.

Why, after promising "change" and deriding (as Geraghty notes) the notion that you can get improved results with "the same Washington players," is Obama taking this approach? One theory is that Obama doesn't have much of a palace guard of Washington outsiders, as a governor would. (Obama plucked Samantha Power from relative obscurity, but her erratic behavior during the campaign may have relegated her to a purely unofficial role in the administration for now).

But there's a deeper reason, I think, It's the need for the appearance of competence.

At one point, competence looked like it was going to be the defining issue in 2008. Opinion polls and focus groups suggested as much, which made sense given the perception that President Bush's alleged lack of competence had led the nation into a ditch. Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani were considered front-runners at various times largely because they projected "competence."

Eventually, an inexperienced but impressive outsider managed to catch lightening in a bottle. But that outsider, ahead of the curve as usual, realized that his best bet in a running mate was a figure who oozed Washington experience instead of, say, an outsider like Tim Kaine.

Now, with the economy in such dire condition and a panic mentality setting in, the case for appointees with familiar names, or at least a solid Washington pedigree, seems more compelling than ever.


By John Hinderaker

An hour ago, Minnesota's Secretary of State posted the latest data on the Senate recount. Candidly, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. The Secretary of State's numbers indicate that 51 percent of precincts and 42 percent of total ballots have been recounted. The Secretary shows that Norm Coleman's total votes have gone from 534,687 counted on November 4 to 534,475, while Al Franken's votes have declined from 494,930 to 494,804. The result, based on those numbers, is a net gain of 86 votes for Franken.

This doesn't make sense to me for two reasons. First, news accounts have suggested that the candidates are gaining votes, not losing votes. Second, I had thought that most of the early returns were from urban centers where Franken is strong, whereas these numbers obviously imply that more Coleman precincts have been recounted so far.

I'm not sure how to reconcile that, but if I understand the numbers correctly Coleman's lead now stands at 129 votes. [For reasons I haven't figured out yet, the Minneapolis Star Tribune calculates Coleman's lead at 136 votes.] In short, we are heading for a photo finish.

The Coleman campaign says publicly that they are happy with how the recount is going so far:

The Coleman Campaign is very pleased that on a day when Al Franken's advantage in the recount process should have been two or three times what it was, they fell far short of what their clear expectations for success were going to be.

In the northern part of the state, where old "Eagle" ballot machines are located, the Franken Campaign must be extremely disappointed that the results were not what they had calculated - we believe that the vote advantage they expected that didn't materialize has created a serious dilemma for their campaign as they attempt to find ways to add more votes to the recount process.

In other words, the "big" Democrat advantage the Franken Campaign was looking for at in the first 48 hours of this recount is not the big Democrat advantage they have been telling their supporters around the country they were going to see.  Thursday, November 20, 2008




By Wayne Stayskal

Political Cartoons by Wayne Stayskal


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