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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, February 16, 2005


CBS PRODUCER HOWARD THREATENS WRONGFUL TERMINATION LAWSUIT

Josh Howard, the executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" during Memogate and the only CBS employee who had the guts to suggest that the network admit to wrongdoing before Memogate became a mess is threatening CBS with a lawsuit if it does not sufficiently retract its explanation of the scandal and fully come clean about the role of upper management in the network's stonewall defense.

In a blockbuster story in tomorrow's New York Observer, TV reporter Joe Hagan reveals that Howard and two other CBS News executives, Betsy West and Mary Murphy, are refusing to go, insisting that they were made into scapegoats by an "independent" commission designed to protect the corporate brass from damage.

Howard is threatening to sue the network for wrongful termination and is said to be willing to testify under oath and subpoena secret internal documents and emails from his former employers.

CBS disputes these assertions and claims that Howard's assertions "have no basis in fact" and that he did not raise sufficient questions about the Sept. 8 report which was narrated by Dan Rather and produced by Mary Mapes.

UPDATE: From page 162 of the Thornburgh Report:

By early on Friday, September 10, it was clear that the controversy over the Segment had not abated but had increased. Not only had ABC News continued to cover the story but The Washington Post (page A1) and The New York Times (page A17) ran lengthy stories on the controversy on September 10.94 Thus, as of early on September 10, CBS News needed to decide how it should respond to the controversy.

Howard had developed concerns about the September 8 Segment on September 9, and acknowledged that the bloggers and other matters, such as the differences in the superscript “th” in the official Bush records as opposed to the Killian documents and the ABC News Nightline report that he found “credible,” had shaken his confidence. Indeed, when asked by the Panel if he found the events of September 9 unsettling, Howard stated: “Yes, that is an understatement.”

Thus, in an e-mail sent at 4:53 a.m. on September 10 to West, Howard proposed a media strategy that would acknowledge the possibility that 60 Minutes Wednesday had been the victim of a hoax:

I wonder if it’s time for us to take the offensive and say, look, we think we’re on solid ground, but we’re not just sitting on our hands. We’re continuing to investigate, and if we were the victims of an elaborate hoax, no one would be more anxious to get to the bottom of it than CBS News.

A statement might say:

There have been allegations that the documents on which we reported were either forgeries or re-creations. Nothing we have learned over the past 48 hours leads us to believe that. We remain enormously confident in the thoroughness and accuracy of our reporting.

If indeed one or more of the documents is not authentic, it would mean that CBS News was the victim of an elaborate hoax. We have no evidence that that was the case. But we are continuing to aggressively investigate, and should we find that anyone - the Kerry campaign, the Bush campaign, or anyone else – – was responsible for circulating fraudulent documents and orchestrating a hoax, no one would be more anxious to break that story than CBS News.

The point would be to shift the conversation from CBS did something wrong, to something wrong was done to us and we’re mad as hell.

West rejected Howard’s suggestion via a return e-mail at 8:39 a.m.:

I think we need to defend ourselves specifically [and] not even concede that we think it could be a hoax.

Later on September 10, Howard would again express concerns to West, Mapes and Heyward about the Segment after speaking with Peter Tytell, an individual with extensive typewriter experience. At that time, Howard’s concerns again were not acted upon and thereafter Howard did not have a major role in the Aftermath, with West apparently taking the management lead and Mapes taking the production lead on follow-up stories that defended the Segment.

UPDATE: Story is now online hereTuesday, February 15, 2005

http://ratherbiased.com

*

IRAQI SUNNIS FINALLY GET THE HINT

The British newspaper The Guardian reported earlier today that the Sunni hardliners who called for a boycott of the January elections have now admitted the move was a mistake. Rory Carroll confirms that Sunni leaders now want to support the new democratic processes and hope that the new government will reach out to them as a result:

Iraq's Arab Sunnis will do a U-turn and join the political process despite their lack of representation in the newly elected national assembly, Sunni leaders said yesterday. ...

All three blocs have promised to reach out to the Sunnis, who comprise a fifth of the population but won just a handful of seats because of low turnouts in their areas. This will soon be tested as parties forge alliances and tussle for government posts, including that of prime minister and president.

Secular Sunni leaders yesterday accepted the victors' invitation to participate, potentially draining support from the insurgency.

"We can't say it was wise or logical to not participate; it was an emotional decision," said Mr Samaray. "Now the Sunni community faces the fact that it made a big mistake and that it would have been far better to participate."

His party, the main Sunni group since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, was in talks with Kurds and Shias. He added: "The Sunni community will accept to share this country with others. They do not need to dominate."

Guardian readers might find themselves astounded by this turn of events, as the newspaper had often railed against American/UK policy of holding the elections, even under the threat of violence. The Guardian followed the lead of many American media outlets, chiefly the New York Times, in predicting disaster and civil war as a result fof supposedly forcing elections down the throats of people who did not want or need democracy. At first the leftists sneered at the notion that democracy solves anything, and then declared that the concept was too alien to Arab sensitivities to catch on.

As the new reaction from the Sunni groups show, however, democracy transforms societies in ways that nothing else can. The sight of so many Iraqis celebrating their chance to select their own leadership moved the entire world, and those who listened to bitter leaders of sectarian oppression have now realized that they missed their chance to do the same. These leaders -- even without their participation in the elections -- now are being held accountable for their idiotic decision to boycott. Their followers likely have demanded better leadership, and that means either they improve Sunni standing by getting behind the new democracy or face replacement with others who will.

Fortunately for everyone, the other factions in Iraq want Sunni participation just as much as the Sunnis now do, and will grant reasonable concessions in order to get it. As the Guardian explicitly observes, such developments will take the steam out of an insurgency which so far hasn't gotten the message that they lost on January 30th -- not just a battle, but the whole war. They can still kill people, but they have lost any legitimacy they may have had with the Iraqi people.

And that's how democracy transforms, and why it stamps out terror.  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/

*

WHAT'S GOOGLE UP TO?

The robots.txt file is supposed to be a tool for keeping search engines away from directories on your web site you don't want spidered or indexed. The major search engines all claim they obey them, but warn that there may be a delay between when a robots.txt file is changed and the spider reads, and follows it. All nice and good in print, but the reality is scary.

To cut down on bandwidth use I recently listed two directories containing seldom used message boards in my robots.txt as disallowed. Almost immediately Google began hitting those directories with the fervor of a teen-age hacker.  The index page alone of one received 692 hits in one day from GoogleBots.

Now add that bit of info to the recent story from Reuters about hackers discovering a “wealth” of information regarding things most people don't want on the internet -- at Google.com. (I mentioned it here.) Could Google be using the robots.txt files to intentionally harvest data people want hidden?

Not scary enough for you? Well, add to that the problems Michelle Malkin, Charles Johnson and other bloggers have had getting their blogs listed on Google News. Apparently Google refused to add Conservative blogs, but has no problem adding Liberal blogs such as Wonkette or the Democrat Underground.

Then it should come as no surprise that as I reported earlier today about the political contributions of Google employees.

Let's add it up: Google a blatantly Liberal entity, is found to have tons of sensitive data archived on its site, and seems to be using the robots.txt files to sniff out where that sensitive information is hidden. Why would they want it, and what do they plan to do with it? The last election was pretty dirty and stuff was being dug up left and right. Could Google be building a “dirt chest” of secrets to unload during the next election?  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

http://jacklewis.net/weblog

*

IRAQIS DISCUSS THEIR CONSTITUTION 

A very important event is taking place in Amman without much fanfare and publicity. So far only the newswire agency UPI has reported on it, and only the "Washington Times" and "World Peace Herald" have picked up the story.

What's all the non-fuss is about? Top Iraqi politicians are gathered in the Jordanian capital right now together with foreign experts to try to iron out the general shape of the new Iraqi constitution:
"Whether or not to include 'sharia,' or religious law, in the constitution is expected to be a part of the discussion, said Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi, an adviser to Ibrahim Jafaari, an interim vice president and a moderate Shiite Muslim now considered to be the top candidate for the post of prime minister.

"Jafaari is No. 2 on the United Iraqi Alliance list of politicians which took an estimated 47 percent of the vote in a Jan. 30 election to seat a new 275-member assembly. The constitutional conference was largely kept under wraps because of security concerns, but it includes foreign constitutional and legal experts, al-Kadhimi said.

" 'Where do religion and civil law intersect?' al-Kadhimi said Sunday. 'Foreign countries are worrying to see the outcome, but we don't see that religion will play a big part in this constitution.'

"Most Iraqis feel they should not impose their personal religious beliefs on others, al-Kadhimi said. In addition, the new assembly's mandated 25 percent female members will serve as a moderating force, Jafaari said. Six interim ministers are women, Jafaari pointed out -- a higher percentage of the 30 ministers than any other public job in Iraqi society...

"Sunni Muslims who boycotted the election but now want to join in writing the constitution should be invited to help, Jafaari said.

"In fact, Jafaari's message of inclusiveness and reconciliation is similar to that of other top prime minister candidates, from Adel Abdul Mehdi, a key member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, currently interim finance minister and No. 6 on the Alliance list to and Ahmed Chalabi, a Shiite Muslim who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years and is No. 5 on the list.

"When explaining the role religion should play in the new constitution, Mehdi uses the example of a religious doctor whose beliefs have nothing to do with his job other than making sure he does it well. Mehdi was said to have withdrawn from furious negotiations surrounding the post Tuesday after receiving major concessions from other politicians."
The Constitutional Convention it might not quite be, but it certainly sounds promising. Pity that the media doesn't seem to be paying much attention.

My best wishes for Iraq's Alexander Hamiltons, Benjamin Franklins and James Madisons.
  Wednesday, February 16, 2004

www.chrenkoff.blogspot.com

*

PAJAMAS AT THE GATE

05.02.15PajamasGates-X.gif

www.coxandforkum.com

*

WASHINGTON TIMES: SALIVATING MORONS TRUMP MEDIA ELITES--AGAIN

The Washington Times runs two opinion pieces in today's edition on the media reaction to Eason's Fables and the bloggers who pushed the story to the surface. First, in its unsigned editorial, the Times scolds the Wall Street Journal for its reaction to bloggers and their role:

Add "salivating morons" to the mainstream media's growing canon of stupid things to say about the ever-vigilant bloggers. Steve Lovelady, managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, the self-styled flagship of journalism, said this in the fallout of CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan's resignation on Friday: "The salivating morons who make up the lynch mob prevail." Add also, as loath as we are to do so, the Wall Street Journal's editorial comment from yesterday that professional journalism, of which it proclaims membership, is much better than "the enthusiasms and vendettas of amateurs." ...

Throughout the "kerfuffle," we have attempted to keep our readers informed about what Mr. Jordan said and why it mattered. To do so, we relied heavily on the fine reporting done by the blogosphere: Jim Geraghty of National Review Online, Edward Morrissey of Captain's Quarters, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson of Power Line, Michelle Malkin and numerous others. A few mainstream folks jumped on board as well, including the New York Post, the New York Sun, Investor's Business Daily, Michael Barone of U.S. News & World Report and Lawrence Kudlow. Even the Examiner, Washington's newest daily, ran an editorial yesterday.

The meme among those outlets that didn't provide coverage is that the bloggers were on a headhunting spree, when in fact very few called for Mr. Jordan's immediate resignation. If any underlying theme could be found, it is called truth-hunting — and CNN had an obligation to get it. When influential members of the media defame our troops, they should answer for it. If that's moronic, sign us up.

The Times was among the first mainstream media organs to publish anything about Eason's Fables, if not the first. Not only does the Times rely on bloggers to signal a breaking story, as the editorial states, they have no reluctance to name us as their sources. This is not the first time I've seen my name and blogsite on the pages of the Washington Times, and that demonstrates an integrity that others in their circle have a difficult time matching. The Times appears to be far ahead of its rivals in creating a new synthesis of old and new media, and as they move in that direction, bloggers and their readers will follow.

Douglas MacKinnon also notes the role that the rest of the media played in Eason's Fables, that of the silent chorus:

I have a number of friends at CNN whom I know to be honest, ethical and hard working. I have to believe that they are horrified and ashamed that their own network ignored a major story about their own news president. It is for that reason that the death knell for the liberal mainstream press has been sounded. CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and the major left-leaning newspapers — such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA TODAY and many others — made a conscious decision to keep a major news story away from the American people.

Fortunately, the bloggers have once again pulled the curtain back to reveal that the feeble old man controlling the make-believe world of "unbiased" media is a fraud, and a dangerous one at that.

The rap on the bloggers so far after Jordan's resignation is that we conducted a witch hunt, and Jordan was nothing more than a victim. The dreaded term "McCarthyism" has been thrown at us as well. However, a witch hunt demands innocence of its victim, and Jordan was anything but. He had made repeated, slanderous allegations against the US military in foreign venues, ensuring access for CNN in places where anti-Americanism sells best. We demanded to see the videotape that the World Economic Forum made and from which they quoted the participants, only to be told the forum was "off the record". CNN and Jordan never stood up for the truth and demanded the release of the videotape, despite their later protestations of misinterpretation and the WSJ's accusations of "vendettas".

So remind me again -- who was working for the truth, and now who wants to argue for stonewalling? The Times knows, and gets it right. This "lynch mob" meme will suffer the same fate as the media blackout which preceded it, and the mainstream media will lose that final fig leaf, standing exposed for all to see. (hat tip: CQ reader John M.)  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/

*

REFERENDUM IN IRAN - A PROPOSAL FOR BLOGGERS

My friend Michael is telling us that the Battle of Fallujah was more important than we have been led to believe by the media.

Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign. As captured terrorists have told the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and infidels. But when they got to Iraq - and discovered that the terrorist leaders immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape their terrible destiny - they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter - of which Fallujah was the inescapable proof - was that of the jihadists at the hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces.

Thirdly, the brilliant maneuvers of the Army and Marine forces in Fallujah produced strategic surprise. The terrorists expected an attack from the south, and when we suddenly smashed into the heart of the city from the north, they panicked and ran, leaving behind a treasure trove of information, subsequently augmented by newly cooperative would-be martyrs. Above all, the intelligence from Fallujah - and I have this from military people recently returned from the city - documented in enormous detail the massive involvement of the governments of Syria and Iran in the terror war in Iraq. And the high proportion of Saudi "recruits" among the jihadists leaves little doubt that the folks in Riyadh are, at a minimum, not doing much to stop the flow of fanatical Wahhabis from the south.

Thus, the great force of the democratic revolution is now in collision with the firmly rooted tyrannical objects in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. In one of history's fine little ironies, the "Arab street," long considered our mortal enemy, now threatens Muslim tyrants, and yearns for support from us. That is our immediate task.

What Brother Ledeen calls for in this article is a national referendum in Iran that asks a simple question: "Do you want an Islamic republic?" Fair enough. But how can such a thing be accomplished? Michael makes the following suggestions:

Send Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel to supervise the vote. Let the contending parties compete openly and freely, let newspapers publish, let radios and televisions broadcast, fully supported by the free nations. If the mullahs accept this gauntlet, I have every confidence that Iran will be on the path to freedom within months. If, fearing a massive rejection from their own people, the tyrants of Tehran reject a free referendum and reassert their repression, then the free nations will know it is time to deploy the full panoply of pressure to enable the Iranians to gain their freedom.

I will add one of my own. I think the blogosphere should devote itself to this, make the call for a democratic referendum in Iran one of our top priorities. We have been accused of late (falsely, I believe) of being a destructive force, of tearing things down like a mob. Surely, the call for a referendum in Iran is not that. It is the promotion of democracy at its purest. Bloggers on all sides of our political spectrum should be able to get behind that. I'm in.  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

www.rogerlsimon.com

*

THE CASE FOR MARINE LIEUTENANT PANTANO

The Story

Many of you have emailed me the WND story of Lt Pantano who killed two Iraqis suspected of being insurgents on April 15th, 2004.  According to the report, he shouted in Arabic for the two suspects to stop running at him, and, when they didn't obey, he killed them. 

Apparently, Lt Pantano reported the incident.  I believe that the Marine Corps initially investigated the incident and found no wrong doing. 

Then, months later, a Marine labeled as "disgruntled" made a charge that Lieutenant Pantano murdered the two suspects.  The US Marine Corps opened an Article 32 investigation and formally charged Lt Pantano on February 1st, 2005.  Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Lt Pantano may now face the Death Penalty if convicted of murder.

I was contacted by Lt Pantano's mother, who happens to be a literary agent in New York.  She started a web site - Defend the Defenders (which has been down all day due to high traffic)  - to garner support for her son.

Rosemary of My Newz 'n Ideas has more info on what you can do - phone numbers for your Congressmen and Senators and the Pentagon.

External Pressure?

If the details of this story don't change (meaning that we know everything at this point), the charges will be beaten, but that doesn't mean that Lt Pantano doesn't need your support.  He absolutely does.  And, while this story is making the rounds on every single cable news channel, it's time to cover this Marine's six.  Please bear with me for a moment:

The main problem with this story is the effect that the legal wrangling will have on combat - this will cause Marines to either second guess their options/hesitate around suspects or to not get engaged in the area of operations at all.  Why would you take a risk if you knew that you might be charged for making a legitimate mistake? 

How can the Marine Corps make a case without Criminal Intent?  Premeditated murder in a combat zone? 

Either some details are missing in the media or there is pressure coming from the civilian side about this.  The fact that Pantano was also charged with Destruction of (private) Property for shooting out the tires of the vehicle and having the Iraqi suspects tear out the seats of their vehicle to search for a bomb indicates external pressure.  Seriously, it's a ridiculous charge.  So be sure to visit Rosemary's blog and call your representatives.  If there is undue pressure from the civilian side of the DOD, you can help offset it.

Unfortunately, one thing here is most likely true:  When this is over, I doubt that Lieutenant Pantano, as much as a Patriot as he is, will have much stomach for being a Marine.  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

www.blackfive.net

*

EATING BANANAS IS RACIST? HOW STUPID CAN YOU GET?

I heard this story on Neal Boortz's show on the way in this morning, and couldn't believe it. Not only that, The Talkmaster said that you could take a look at the original story if you didn't believe him (and he wouldn't be surprised if you didn't).

Unfortunately, the newspaper in question, the Columbus (GA) Ledger-Enquirer, demands you pay a buck or three for stories more than a week old. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology (and Google's cache), we've got the entire original story from the Columbus paper, and lo and behold if'n it ain't completely true!

On January 15, there was a Civil Rights march in commemoration of Martin Luther King's birthday. As you would expect, there were members of the local constabulary present to maintain the decorum of the crowds -- not unlike any other march or parade.

Enter one unidentified black woman who came to town for the march. She was shocked and appalled at what she found, and wrote a scathing letter to the mayor about the conduct of one particular police officer.

Did the officer say anything untoward? Nope. Didn't utter a word.

Did he brutalize anyone? Nope. Didn't touch a soul.

Not only that, Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff received glowing remarks about the helpfulness of the local constabulary during the march.

So what, pray tell, did this member of Columbus' Finest do to tick off the letter-writer?

He ate a banana.

And no, before you go there, he wasn't doing an imitation of the Spice Channel or the Playboy Channel, he was eating the banana the way anyone would: Peel it, take a bite, chew, swallow. Lather, rinse and repeat.

So what ticked her off about a banana-eating cop?

Well, it seems that in the context of the march, she took the officer's banana eating to imply an analogous racial slur relating black people to apes.

Such a comparison would not be uncommon in the parlance of racist propaganda, particularly in the old days. But these days that kind of talk is pretty rare -- and pretty obvious, too, when someone really means it.

So as racial slurs go, simply eating a banana now has to be considered rather subtle, for this particular area.

The mayor looked into it, and sure enough found that the police officers had been given snacks from a snack van sent around by the department as refreshment for the officers. Sounds reasonable enough -- a banana would be a good choice; after all, bananas are an excellent source of postassium and quick energy. That's one reason that you will see bananas being handed out to distance runners and riders to eat during races.

So the mayor reported back to the letter-writer that simple fact. And then he did something that I wouldn't have done to someone as idiotic as that.

He apologized.

The screeching lunatic demanded the apology in writing. So the mayor did.

Dated Jan. 22, it says: "As I said in our telephone conversation, I am sorry you found Columbus police officers eating bananas on the street when you arrived in Columbus for the protest. Let me assure you there was no intent to offend. The officers needed some nutrition after standing long hours on the street and they particularly needed the potassium available in bananas and some other fruits."

Later the mayor writes: "There was no thought of insulting or offending anyone and perhaps this was thoughtless on our part. In any case, let me offer my sincere apology for anything our officers may have done that gave offense to you or anyone else."

Did that placate the screeching idiot?

No one knows. She hasn't seen fit to contact anyone back who has inquired.

But between you, me and the gatepost? Go ahead. Enjoy your banana. And if you catch me at home on the right day, I might even treat you to some bananas from our fruit basket. Or maybe even, at the risk of earning her ire, eat one myself.  Monday, February 14, 2005

http://mhking.mu.nu

*

THE ANTI-ISRAEL ACADEMY

One of the speakers scheduled to lecture a group of New York teachers on how to teach Mideast politics to US schoolchildren is Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi—who has refused to condemn Palestinian attacks on Israelis, and has called Israel a “racist” and “apartheid” state: Khalidi Is Tapped To Teach Teachers About Middle East.

A Columbia University professor who has called Israel a “racist” state with an “apartheid system,” and who has supported attacks by Palestinian-Arabs on Israelis, is scheduled to lecture a group of New York City public school teachers on how to teach Mideast politics to schoolchildren.

The professor, Rashid Khalidi, is director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. His professorship is named in memory of Edward Said, a divisive scholar, and is paid for in part with a donation from the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Khalidi is one of more than a dozen Columbia professors expected to give city public-school teachers an overview of the history and culture of the Middle East, as part of a professional-development course offered by the city’s Department of Education.

A course description in a booklet published by the education department and bearing the name of the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, says kindergarten teachers, high-school teachers, and everyone in between is eligible for the Middle East course. Its topics include religion, history, government, language, art, the economy, the status of women, foreign relations, and literature.

Before the course started early this month, regional education officials contacted principals throughout the city, informing them about the class. An e-mail message told principals that the course would be most helpful to social studies teachers, but that it was open to all educators from all disciplines.

“The course on The Middle East will be about that region’s cultural patterns and complex history,” the message, obtained by The New York Sun, said. “It will be given in conjunction with and under the sponsorship of The Middle East Institute of Columbia University.”

The class, which meets in a public school on the Upper West Side, started early this month.

The education department is offering the course with Columbia despite a scandal that has been unfolding in recent months at the university, stemming from students’ complaints that some professors in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture treated pupils who are sympathetic toward Israel with hostility.

When The New York Sun told some public officials about the course, many were outraged.

“I think it’s an abomination,” a member of the City Council from Brooklyn, Simcha Felder, said. “I am certain that once the administration is made aware of this, they will make sure that a person who has a record of being racist and anti-Semite is not a person who is educating educators who are educating our children.”

He said the inclusion of some other lecturers in the course who have pro-Israel stances doesn’t excuse the city department’s subjecting public-school teachers to Mr. Khalidi’s opinions.

One of the Democrats running for mayor, Rep. Anthony Weiner, said: “It’s pretty outrageous that this guy is still teaching college students. For my money, this guy shouldn’t even be teaching at Columbia, let alone being recruited to train our Board of Ed teachers. Anyone who refers to Israel as a racist and an apartheid state and claims that America has been brainwashed by Israel ... should not be on the city payroll.”  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog

*

LIVINGSTON'S TRUE COLORS

London Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone seems to have completely lost the plot. Under pressure from all sides to apologise for comparing a Jewish Evening Standard journalist to a concentration camp guard and then refusing to do so -- to the astonishment and consternation of London Assembly members -- he has now renewed his attack on the Daily Mail, sister paper to the Evening Standard (and for which I happen to write). According to the online Guardian, he said today that the Mail would have been '"at the front of the queue of collaborators" had the Nazis won the war and branding its papers among "the most reprehensibly edited" organs in the world' ".

He was referring to the fact that in the 1930s, the Mail supported Oswald Mosley's fascists. Now, he implied, the Mail was continuing in that tradition:

'He said the Mail had continued to discriminate against minorities since the war, demonising first Irish immigrants and now asylum seekers'.

The claim that those who are concerned that Britain has lost control of its borders are therefore fascists is not just a smear which seeks to demonise a perfectly legitimate concern. Imputing to it a prejudice of the same type as anti-Jewish hatred grossly belittles that hatred, and implies a profound contempt for all who hasve suffered from it. Similarly, by absurdly calling such concerned citizens -- who probably comprise the majority of the population -- 'fascists' reveals a refusal to acknowledge the true reality of fascism.

This is therefore all of a piece with the Holocaust denial implicit in Livingstone's deeply offensive comparison between the Standard journalist Oliver Finegold and a concentration camp guard. But it leaves open the question of why Livingstone should have alighted upon such a comparison at all, when confronted with an inoffensive journalist door-stepping the Mayor's party to celebrate the anniversary of Labour MP Chris Smith's coming-out as gay. Why exactly has London's uber-pc Mayor so completely lost it?

I think it all goes back to Livingstone's embrace of Sheikh Qaradawi, the Islamic jurist who has expressed poisonous and even murderous prejudice against Jews and gays (an embrace of somewhat more urgent concern than the political agenda 70 years ago of a newspaper magnate who has long been dead). That incident achieved the extraordinary feat of uniting against the mayor a coalition of orthodox Jews, gays, Sikhs, lesbians, Hindus, extreme feminists and others who were appalled by Qaradawi, and who produced a dossier laying out Qaradawi's agrenda in his own words.

Ken hit the roof at this, and no wonder. For among those now ranged against him -- and accusing him, no less, of condoning the most violent prejudice, the pc crime of crimes -- were the very constituencies on which he had constructed his entire political platform. The rainbow coalition of minorities had now turned against their erstwhile patron.

Without these minorities, Livingstone has no power base. That is surely why he threw the party for Chris Smith, to mend his fences with the all-important gay rights lobby (who, incidentally, seemed happy to ignore his support for Qaradawi) -- the party which was door-stepped by Oliver Finegold, at whom the Mayor famously blew his fuse.

But there is one other factor. As I have already remarked in an earlier post, Livingstone's counter-dossier about Qaradawi contained some demented language -- about his accusers being Mossad agents, for example -- of the kind routinely used by Islamists. The Mayor is said to be very close to precisely such Islamists.

And this illustrates an issue far wider than Livingstone -- that the left, of which he is such a shining ornament, has got into bed with radical Islamism and, subscribing to its twisted narrative of 'oppression', routinely libels the Jews of Israel as 'the new Nazis' has breathed life into Muslim Jew-hatred (which itself borrows deeply from Nazi propaganda), and prompted a terrifying increase in anti-Jewish feeling ranging from muttered social prejudice through public accusations of the 'global Jewish conspiracy' to rising physical attacks on Jews, synagogues and cemeteries.

In other words, it's open season on the Jews. Given all these pressures and influences, it therefore surely becomes far more explicable that, when Livingstone saw the Standard journalist come to (as he probably thought) make mischief over his gay festivity, he not only suggested the journalist had been a German war criminal but merely dug himself even further into the hole after being told that the Finegold was Jewish. Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish offensiveness is in the political air that Livingstone breathes.

The Qaradawi affair proved it; now this ouburst reinforces it. The Mayor of London is not fit for public office.  Tuesday, February 15, 2005

www.melaniephillips.com/diary

*

THE CURTAIN RISES

The US has recalled its ambassador to Syria to indicate its anger at Damascus over the assasination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. CNN reports:

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States has "made it clear" it wants Syria, which maintains some 16,000 troops in Lebanon, to use its influence to prevent such attacks. ... "I have been very careful to say we really don't know who committed this murder at this point, but we do know what effect the Syrian presence in Lebanon has," Boucher said. "And we do know that it doesn't bring security for Lebanese." Ambassador Margaret Scobey was returning to Washington for "urgent consultations," Boucher said, because of "deep concern, as well as our profound outrage, over this heinous act of terrorism."

The diplo-blog New Sisyphus explains the convention behind the diplomatic signal of 'recalling the ambassador'.

In a move that traditionally signals extreme displeasure with the host nation, the U.S. today recalled its ambassador to Syria to Washington for urgent consultations. ... This development is significant in two respects. First, it is a sign that worsening relations between Syria and the United States have left the "behind-the-scenes" stage and have moved squarely into the "active confrontation" stage. Second, it appears to us that USG believes that Syria was directly involved in the bombing, either as actor or facilitator.

The Great Ophthalmologist has been gambling for months that he can bleed the U.S. in Iraq at little cost. To date, that gamble has paid off. With the Bush Administration facing domestic and international opposition to the Iraq War, Syria's government has apparently drawn the not entirely unreasonable conclusion that the U.S. either cannot or will not make Syria pay a cost for its more or less open support for terrorism in Iraq or for its occupation of Lebanon. (Note to the Left: there is an unjust, illegal "occupation" of land in the Middle East, and the name of that land is Lebanon).

We trust that the patience of President Bush is running to an end. No other act, except maybe for strikes on Iran, would signal our seriousness at changing the chess board in the Middle East than military strikes aimed at Syria's command and control infrastructure. The illusion of Syrian invulnerability must be broken if Syria is ever to have incentive to change its ways.

If as the New Sisyphus argues, Assad has been "gambling for months that he can bleed the U.S. in Iraq at little cost" and that it has been waging "war more-or-less openly on the U.S. in Iraq", the question is what has changed? It is hard to imagine how the assasination of a Lebanese politician could provoke a more drastic response than months of Syrian-supported attacks on US troops in Iraq and harder still to imagine how Washington could have taken the ultimate diplomatic step without implicitly being prepared to go further. Yet it has. Unless Washington is playing a hollow hand, where the conclusion has changed the premises must be re-examined -- the principal one being that America was too hamstrung by Iraq to take anything else on -- not Syria, Iran or North Korea.

The aggressive posture taken by America against North Korea, Iran and now Syria suggests the bonds that held it down in Iraq, if ever they did, may be loosening. Dan Darling's survey of the Iraqi election results at Winds of Change may provide a clue to what is happening. It discusses whether the recently concluded election has delivered Iraq into the hands of Teheran. He concludes that it has not, at least, not obviously.

I suspect that much of the regional assumptions about the new Iraqi government being an Iranian pawn have to do with fears, even fears held by reasonable people like King Abdullah of Jordan, that the Iraqi Shi'ites will try and support their co-religionists in other parts of the Arab world, destabilizing the existing post-colonial order and plunging a number of neighboring states into chaos. I don't think that this fear is all that plausible because it conceives of Shi'ites as a monolithic force throughout the region based in large part on what happened to them in Lebanon and led to the formation of Hezbollah during the 1980s.

The underlying reason is straightforward: a unitary Iraq, the only context in which the elections have legitimacy, cannot be totally dominated by any single group without precipitating civil war. In short, the reason Iraq cannot be delivered in a ribboned box to Teheran -- even assuming some Shi'ite candidates wanted to -- is because of the Kurds, and ironically enough, the Sunnis. Hence, having engineered a Mexican standoff at worst and a functioning democracy at best in Iraq, it may be possible that the Iraqi campaign is strategically over. If this proves true it may have been inherent in conception. Whether consciously or not, the choice of Iraq as a beachead into the mainland of Middle Eastern terror was a blow directed at a faultline in the Islamic world, just as generals of the previous century directed attacks at the command boundaries of enemy armies. If that strategy proved profitable, so would its sequel: Lebanon lies along another such faultline.

If this speculation is true, the evidence will not be long in coming. The indicators will be a gradual quieting of Iraq as a military theater and a corresponding shift of emphasis onto Iran and perhaps, Lebanon. Assuming the confirming developments are observed, the question will be 'to what end'. There have been rumors about a 'second front' against Syria for some time. In January, 2004 Janes reported a plan to use US Special Forces in the Bekaa Valley.

According to JID's intelligence sources, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is considering plans to expand the global war on terrorism with multi-pronged attacks against suspected militant bases in countries such as Lebanon and Somalia. In a week in which Israel launched airstrikes against Hizbullah positions, our regional correspondent reports from Beirut. ... However, sending US special forces into Lebanon - and in particular an area like the Bekaa Valey (which is virtually Syrian territory) and where the bulk of Damascus' military forces in Lebanon are deployed - would be an entirely different matter. Deployment of US forces in the area would almost certainly involve a confrontation with Syrian troops. ... The US administration has long considered Damascus as a prime candidate for 'regime-change' (along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and possibly even Saudi Arabia). Syria, once a powerhouse of Arab radicalism that could not be ignored, has been seriously weakened, both militarily and politically. Washington may feel that the time is coming to oust Bashir Al-Assad and the ruling generals. Targeting Syria via Lebanon, the only concrete political influence Damascus has to show following decades of radical diplomacy, could prove to be a means to that end.

The same information snippet was reported in a Washington Post article of about the same date in the context of a supposed debate on the employment of Special Forces in the GWOT. Such plans, perhaps one of thousands of planning contingencies in what has become a global war, may have been put on hold pending developments. It is early days yet. All that can be done is to lay down a few analytical markers against which to measure the march of events.  Wednesday, February 16, 2005

http://belmontclub.blogspot.com

*

IN WAR, THE AGGRESSOR SETS THE RULES



St. Paul's Cathedral in London, surrounded by flame and smoke from German Bombs


Today in the news we read about Germans whining about the fire bombing of Dresden, and of course we are used to hearing of how horrible it was for the US to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, you hear so much talk of how horrible the Allies were that one might think that the Allies were the ones that started the war, or were the first to target civilians. It just ain't so.



Sept. 7, 1940 - the beginning of the
London Blitz




Children sit among the rubble of their home September 1940




A German Buzz-Bomb in flight, headed for London


If more German Civilians ended up being killed by British and American bombs than British Civilians being killed by German bombs, it was not because the Germans wouldn't have done it, had they been able... it was only because they were prevented from doing it.

But we should not forget the large number of Russians killed by the Germans during the war:



About 30 Million Russians were killed in World War II


And as for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, one could point out that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor first:



The USS West Virginia


But we should not forget that the Japanese killed more civilians in the course of the Rape of Nanking than were killed in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.



"Over the six weeks of the massacre, in addition to the murder of about 300,000 civilians, the Japanese troops raped over 20,000 women, most of whom were murdered thereafter. In recognition of these horrifying acts, the massacre is also commonly referred to as 'the rape of Nanking."




Women raped and murderd along with their children were left in the streets




Mass Graves at Nanking


Of course the death of any civilian is a shame, but those who make war on civilians without any provocation should not complain when they get back what they so freely dished out to others.

What the Allies did, they had no choice but to do. The aggressors set the rules, which included attacking population centers. It was kill or be killed on a grand scale, and the fact of the matter is lives were saved by the dropping of the bomb on Japan -- not just American lives, but Japanese lives that would have been lost if they had gone through with their plan to fight to the bitter end.

One might question whether the fire bombing of Dresden was justified, but the bombing campaign against Germany sped up the end of the war. German lives were probably saved by this, but certainly the lives that were being extinguished by the hour at the hands of the Nazis were mounting by the day, until the day that the Germans raised the white flag. The Germans were also working on their own atomic bomb, and had they developed it in time to use it, you can be sure they would have, and the world would have been a far darker place for it.  Sunday, February 13, 2005

http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com




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