Monday, July 31, 2006

Demand proof!

Israel has claimed repeatedly that Hezbollah is waging war from within civilian areas, thereby jeopardizing innocents by, in effect, using them as human shields. The world responds by saying, “Prove it.”

As they say in Lebanon, “Voila!”

In these two pictures, we see Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launching pads for rockets and heavy-caliber weapons. The militiamen are dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear into the populace. The terrorists are seen carrying automatic assault rifles and ride on trucks mounted with cannon. The pictures appeared in Australia’s largest daily newspaper, the Herald Sun.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Defending Israel in the war against Hezbollah

Some may accuse me of bias in my reporting when it comes to Israel. I plead guilty. I am biased in favor of democracy. I am biased against terrorists. And I am sympathetic to a country that is the fulfillment of 2,000 years of Jewish yearning for a homeland, where Jews could defend themselves rather than depend on the kindness of those who regard them as strangers.

When I was a criminal defense attorney, I was often asked some permutation of the question, “How can you defend those people?” Today, on the heels of the Israeli attack on the UN observer post, and the disaster in Qana, I can expect the same question. How can I defend the Israelis?

Just watch me.

Let’s begin with the UN post. It has been widely publicized that a Scottish member of the UN force warned the Israelis that their fire was coming uncomfortably close. You would have to go to our neighbor to the north (or east, if you are in Alaska) to get a different take.

The Ottawa Citizen carried this story under the headline Hezbollah was using UN post as ‘shield’:
The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a “shield” to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.
My question is this: What were the UN observers observing? Were they there to assist in the enforcement of UN Resolution 1559, which calls for the withdrawal of Hezbollah militias from the Bakaa? I guess not.

But what about the tragedy in Qana? For those to whom the name Qana is not familiar, here’s how the NY Times described today’s events:
An Israeli air raid on the southern Lebanese town of Qana killed dozens of civilians on Sunday, many of them children, marking the bloodiest day of this conflict and putting enormous pressure on Israel and the United States to move rapidly toward a cease-fire.
How is Israel to respond to this pressure on a day when 115 Kaytusha rockets aimed at civilians landed in Northern Israel?

Well, first Israel expressed deep regret and remorse at the loss of civilian life. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gellerman put it this way on Meet the Press: "This is a horrible, devastating, bloody Sunday, and it’s a horrible morning, and we grieve the deaths of those civilians and children." Compare this to the Hezbollah, who regard the taking of civilian lives as a tactical objective and a victory to be celebrated.

Then, Israel unilaterally declared a 48 hour cease fire so that civilians could leave the areas infested with Hezbollah. Of course, we are talking about the civilians who did not evacuate when warned by the leaflets that the Israeli air force dropped.

Next, Israel announced that it would investigate the incident to learn the cause of so many civilian deaths. How is that investigation going?

What we know so far is that the Israeli attack was on an area from which the Hezbollah was firing rockets on Israeli civilians. The operation ended between midnight and one o’oclock in the morning according to Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters. The building collapsed seven or eight hours later.

Ambassador Gillerman said today, "We have a film which we will release very shortly which actually shows a missile which is being, being launched right from behind a three-story building there, very similar to the one that was hit.”

The building was allegedly empty, except for the basement, which was being used as a shelter. What we don’t know so far is whether or not the building was being used as a cache for Hezbollah rockets. Is it possible that secondary explosions caused the collapse of the building? What kind of people would store munitions in a building being used as a shelter for women and children? That would be Hezbollah.

In other news from Lebanon, UNICEF has begun to deliver relief to people displaced by the war against Hezbollah. You might think that this would be a matter of grave concern for the Israelis since UNICEF aid in the past has made it possible for the Palestineans to wage a war of attrition. How did Israel respond to the latest UNICEF action? By opening safe corridors for the delivery of relief to Lebanese civilians.

All of this was on my mind when I received an email from my friend Reb David. He enclosed this story:
    Cry to those Using Babies as Shields
By Naomi Ragen

My son is in the army. He is not the type at all, believe me. Quiet, studious, a writer, a lover of Jewish history,
Talmud, ethics. He spent two years in a pre-army program in the Galilee called Karmei Chayil. He made many good friends
there from all over the country, and now he and all hisfriends are in the army. One of them I know well. A bit chubby, with payot, [the long side curls worn by some religious Jews -- Big Mitch]and a great laugh. He and my son have become like brothers. While both of them tried out for the elite paratroopers unit, only he made it in. He and his unit are the ones in Lebanon. They were there over a week, fighting under horrific conditions, running out of food and water. Even though the Israeli air force dropped tons of leaflets warning civilians to flee because they were in terrorist territory and likely to be injured, they still encountered civilians. My son spoke to his friend yesterday, and this is how he described it:

The village looked empty, and then we heard noises coming from one of the houses, so we opened fire. But when we went inside, we found two women and a child huddled in the corner of the room.

We were so relieved we hadn't hurt them. We took up base in one of the empty houses. And then all of a sudden, we came under intense fire. Three rockets were fired at the house we were in. Only one managed to destroy a wall, which fell on one of us, covering him in white dust, but otherwise not hurting him. I spent the whole time feeding bullets to my friend who was shooting non-stop. We managed to killed 26 terrorists. Not one of us was hurt. Our commanding officer kept walking around, touching everybody on the shoulder, smiling and encouraging us: “We're are better than they are. Don't worry.” It calmed us all down. And really, we were much better then them. They are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages.
Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" of the Israeli bomb dropped on Kfar Cana, killing many civilians, a place from which Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr. Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned to leave. It is the responsibility of Hezbollah for firing rockets amidst civilians."

Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have done this entire war is target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel, is launched into populated towns filled with women and children.

Just today, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus. So don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals, and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.

Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters and girlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather be sitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choice but to risk their precious lives full of hope, goodness and endless potential, to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cells that threaten their people and all mankind. Make your choice, and save your tears.

That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more of our women and children is due to our army, God and prayers, not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part.

If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow, there may be an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to condemn Israel. After all, how could anyone defend those people?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Global War on Terrorism sets off alarms

When I first started practicing law, I received some advice that stuck with me. I was told to trust everyone, at least until they prove themselves untrustworthy. The advice served me well. The pains I suffered from misplaced trust never exceeded the benefits I obtained by heeding this advice. One benefit was that I developed a highly sensitive bullshit detector.

It is against this backdrop that I recall my reaction to King George the Incompetent’s declaration of a global war on terror. Imagine a fire truck screaming on a submarine as it is about to submerge, while a loudspeaker blares: “Emergency! Emergency! Deploy Haz-mat Protection Immediately.”

I said to my buddies, “If this is a global war on terrorism, then when are we going to attack the PLO?”

Of course, the PLO went mainstream, but in the end it was crushed by the weight of its own corruption. Arafat’s demise was a death-knell for the organization, since only the cult of personality built around him could distract Palestinians from the incredible ineffectiveness of the organization.

Bush never tried to get Arafat to be serious about solving the problems of the Palestinians or cleaning up his own act because Clinton had spent so much energy unsuccessfully in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I say ‘unsuccessfully’ although Clinton did accomplish this: He proved that, as the old saying goes, “The PLO never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Further, it could no longer be disputed that the PLO just couldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.

Bush’s inattention to international terrorism while waging a global war on international terrorism produced some anomalous results. For example, in the Gaza, the terrorist organization, Hamas, was elected to succeed the Palestinian Liberation Authority. This is toilet paper democracy: use it once and throw it away.

The case for ignoring Hezbollah is even harder to grasp. Hezbollah claims credit for bombing an American embassy and a US Marine barracks, which led to the precipitous withdrawal of Americans from Lebanon on Ronald Reagan’s watch. (Did someone say, “Cut and run?”)

Hezbollah claims that it was formed to expel Israel from southern Lebanon. The raison d’etre no longer exists: Israel has withdrawn from the Bakaa valley in southern Lebanon, and the United Nations has certified this.

The United Nations has also passed a resolution implementing the cease-fire agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War. It called for the dismantling of all militias in the Lebanon, but Hezbollah will have none of it.

The Cedar revolution began in Lebanon following the Feb. 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harriri. By the end of April, the demonstrations had accomplished their main goals: the withdrawal of the roughly 14,000 Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents from Lebanon, and the disbanding of the Pro-Syrian government.

Will the United States engage Hezbollah in the global war on terrorism? Don’t count on it. For one thing, our military resources are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our treasury has been emptied in order to fill the coffers of the super millionaires in our own country.

But there is another reason that the US is paralyzed. The administration clings to idea that it can be an enemy to terrorists and the countries that harbor them, a friend to democracy and in particular to Israel, and an even-handed intermediary between the warring parties in the region. It’s a tall order for a crowd that can’t walk and chew gun at the same time.

Today, we could see the President hard at work making the disparate threads of this difficult tapestry all pull together. Dubya entertained, Taylor Hicks, winner of “American Idol” to the White House, along with 9 runners-up.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Big Mitch has A Really Stupid Idea.

I was listening to Al Franken and Laurence O’Donnell talking about what a great Op-Ed piece Peter Galbraith had in today’s New York Times. They said that if you can only read one article explaining the situation in Iraq, this was the one to read. So, I read Our Corner of Iraq.

The basic premise is that the Shiite dominated government in Baghdad doesn’t govern in Iraq, and the idea of turning over the defense of Iraq to this government is a mirage. To the extent that it governs at all in the south, it is because the Shiite warlords in the south also participate in the government in the capital. “[T]he administration should encourage the formation of several provinces into a Sunni Arab region with its own army, as allowed by Iraq’s Constitution.”

Galbraith argues that the Americans should re-deploy troops to Kurdistan, in the north of Iraq. This area is effectively a separate country, anyway. From Kurdistan, the U.S. could re-engage, if necessary to assist the Sunnis in their efforts to repel al Qaeda and foreign jihadists. In this, the Americans would be aided by the peshmerga, “Iraq’s only reliable indigenous military force.”

The fly in the ointment is Baghdad. Galbraith writes,
Because it is Iraq’s most mixed city, Baghdad is the front line of Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite civil war. It is a tragedy for its people, most of whom do not share the sectarian hatred behind the killing. Iraqi forces cannot end the civil war because many of them are partisans of one side, and none [is] trusted by both communities.
Somehow, Baghdadis have to find a modus vivendi. Americans must accept that they cannot play a constructive role in this process.

Here’s my Really Stupid Idea: Why not have a divided city? We can call it an “international city.” Wouldn’t that be grand?

Before you list off the myriad of reasons why this idea is as dumb as a screen door on a submarine, remember this: Many of the bloviating pontificators who talk about the solution to the Arab-Israeli problems advocate making the eternal capital of Israel into a divided, international city. Next time you hear some maven say this, tell him it’s a Really Stupid Idea

… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Breaking News: Iran’s new regional ally is Iraq!

The war between Israel and Hezbollah rages on. Israel either for its own purposes, or because of necessity, or out of respect for world opinion has not launched a full scale invasion into southern Lebanon. For those living in the residential areas where Hezbollah prefers to hide, the distinction may be a bit too fine.

Today, 90 missiles fell in northern Israel. Israel estimates that the terrorists have lost up about half of their Iranian and Syrian made rockets. Mark Potter, reporting for NBC News, estimates that 2,000 Kaytushas rockets have been taken out, 1,200 have been fired, and 8-9000 are left in Hexbollah’s arsenal. (This is consistent with a pre-war statement of Sheik Nabil Qaouk, the commander of Hezbollah forces in the southern Lebanon,but Hezbollah has more motivation to overstate the number than Israel has to understate it.)

Last Friday, Ted Koppel wrote in the New York Times,
The United States is already at war with Iran; but for the time being the battle is being fought through surrogates.
Here are some specifics, as related by Koppel:
Over the past couple of months alone, [a senior Jordanian intelligence official] told me, Hamas has received more than $300 million in cash, provided by Iran and funneled through Syria. He told me what has now become self-evident to the residents of Haifa: namely, that Iran has made longer-range and more powerful rockets and missiles available to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
Obviously, the attack on Israel is an attack on the United States’ most faithful friend. But does America have any other friends in the area that can be counted on to provide balance against Iran and her proxies, Syria and Hesbollah? Well, there is one country where America has spent nearly $300 Billion to install a friendly government. How’s that going?

Funny you should ask. It just so happens that late this evening, Rep. William Delahunt D-Mass. (Quincy, Plymouth, Cape Cod) took to the floor of the House to give an update on the situation in Iraq.

It is not going well.

He quoted Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a member of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi Accordance Front who happens to be the Speaker of the new Iraqi parliament.
Some people say ‘we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor.’ These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew.

I can tell you about these Jewish, Israelis and Zionists who are using Iraqi money and oil to frustrate the Islamic movement in Iraq and come with the agent and cheap project.

No one deserves to rule Iraq other than Islamists.
This does not bode well for lovers of democracy, a group conspicuously absent in the current administration.

But wait! It gets worse. Here’s the news that Rep. Delahunt broke on the floor of the House this evening:
A special relationship now evolving between Iran and Iraq. There have been agreement after agreement concluded between Iran and Iraq.

The Iranian Foreign Minister has visited in Bahgdad and consulted with the new Iraqi government. Iran has agreed to construct a new airport in Iraq. They have extended loan credits in the amount of one billion dollars to Iraq.

And Mr. Speaker, I think this is especially important for the American people to know:They have concluded a bilateral military cooperation agreement. Yes, Iran and Iraq have concluded a military agreement.
Unless you were watching C-SPAN late this evening, you heard it here first.

… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Big Mitch takes the Dershowitz challenge

I trust that it is no longer necessary to argue that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Further, relevant UN resolutions make it criminal for Hezbollah to continue its armed existence in Lebanon.

Prof. Dershowitz asks, “What would the United States do?” When the United States was attacked, it declared war on the terrorists, “and those that harbor them.” Notwithstanding differences of opinion regarding the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, against al Quaida and the Taliban, seems to meet with near universal approval.

The problem in Lebanon derives from the fact that morality and international law stand firmly against the idea of collective punishment. Arab leaders, ever-eager to blame Israel, describe any and all actions against terrorists that have any untoward consequences for civilians as “collective punishment.”

Therefore, a first step would be to marshal the international community to condemn Hezbollah for jeopardizing civilians by hiding among them. It is already a war-crime to use human shields. If it is true that for the first time in recent memory world opinion is on the side of Israel, this should not be an impossible goal to obtain a UN Resolution.

Next, the people of southern Lebanon must be made to understand that Israel is trying to uproot Hezbollah from their midst. This is more difficult because Hezbollah has promoted itself as a provider of services, if not a protector of civilians. The UN resolution is crucial in this regard.

The next move is Israel’s. She must liberate “the human hostages.” To do this, Israel must be prepared to relocate and support 60,000+ Lebanese for the duration of this war. These people should be treated with the utmost of respect and cordiality. It is important to bear in mind that hospitality is a core value in mid-Eastern cultures. The site should be deep within Israel, so there can be no claim that Israel wants to create a permanent displaced persons problem. The Israelis should sub-out the care and protection of these people to the French or the Canadians, or to a NGO, perhaps even the Red Crescent or Oxfam.

Not to disparage the difficulty of achieving the foregoing, the next step is even more difficult. It requires Israel to set up a perimeter around Southern Lebanon. The Golan is the eastern border, the blue line is the southern border, and the Mediterranean is the western border. The northern border is a line far enough away from Israel, so that a less than complete expungement of Hezbollah is not an intolerable threat to the Galilee.

With the establishment of this line, Israel can allow refugees to escape Northward to Beirut. The Lebanese of the south who are not at French-run DP camps in the Negev, can seek shelter in Beirut or beyond. Equally important, the Lebanese army can be supported in a drive south against the Hezbollah militia.

With Hezbollah routed in Southern Lebanon, the process of rebuilding must begin. Israel and the Lebanese Government must work cooperatively in this. American Jews must be visible in their support of the rebuilding of Southern Lebanon.

As I am not a military expert, I cannot express a judgment about the feasibility of this plan from a logistical perspective. The devil is, as always, in the details. However, the main points of the plan can be a template of sorts. First, protect non-Hezbollah Lebanese. Second, actively align with and support the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon. Third, destroy the military arm of Hezbollah. Fourth, a program of rebuilding that does for the people of southern Lebanon, what the Marshal plan did for the people of Europe.

The 800-pound gorilla is Iran. How to keep her from throwing a monkey-wrench in the works? This will take the concerted efforts of the Sunni Islamic world, the Europeans and Russians and, of course, the U.S. Unfortunately, the U.S. is already engaged in a campaign to pressure Iran for unrelated reasons. (Indeed, some would say that the Hezbollah attack on Israel was in the service of diverting attention from world condemnation of Iran’s nuclear program.)

There is a chance that the Iranian man-on-the-street can come around to opposing the government in Tehran, but not if he sees the west as imposing hardship on it. Tehran buys their loyalty with subsidized fuel – gasoline is 10¢ a liter. Can the Saudis bring to bear pressure on Tehran by undercutting Iran’s price of export oil? Can Iraqis create a situation that distracts Iran from meddling in Lebanon? Somehow Iran must be neutralized, and I suspect that it will be in the realm of cloak and dagger operations.

If the several miracles necessary to make the plan succeed should all come to fruition, it may be possible to apply the template with appropriate modifications against Hamas in Gaza. After all, we are speaking of area renown for the miracles that have occurred there.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Axis of Terrorism

The next series of posts will be an attempt to outline situation in the mid-east. Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman has described an Axis of Terrorism consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. In this post, let’s meet Hesbollah.

Hezbollah was founded in 1982 by Iran to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. The European Union and the United States government consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization. In 1983, Hezbollah was responsible for bombing the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, and for a truck bomb which killed 241 U.S. Marines in their barracks, also in Beirut. After this, the United States pulled her forces from Lebanon.

In 1990, the Lebanese Civil war ended with the implementation of the Taif Agreement which called for the disbanding of all militias, including Hezbollah. Though the other militias did disband, Hezbollah refused to do so, claiming that continued Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon justified its defiance.

On May 24, 2000, Israel completed the withdrawal of its forces from southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. On June 16th 2001, the Security Council, endorsed the Secretary-General’s conclusion that, as of that date, Israel had fully complied with Security Council resolution 425. Unfortunately, throughout the Arab world, this was viewed as a victory for Hezbollah.

UN Security Council Resolution 1559, adopted on September 2nd 2004 re-iterated the Taif Agreement, and called “upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon” and "for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.” Syria withdrew, but Hezbollah refused to comply.

It would be a mistake to under-estimate the support that Hezbollah has among the Lebanese. Hezbollah provides social services in Lebanon, and 23 members of Hezbollah serve in the 128-member Lebanese parliament. As mentioned above, Hezbollah gets credit for forcing Israel out of southern Lebanon. On the other hand, Syria has withdrawn from Lebanon, and many, if not most, Lebanese resent the presence of a proxy for Syrian and Iran in their country.

Hezbollah has frequently launched cross-border operations against Israel, often to divert attention from criticism of its state sponsors, Iran and Syria. The present provocation – the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on July 12th – certainly has overshadowed the G8’s condemnation of Iran’s nuclear program, and the decision to go to the Security Counsel to seek sanctions. Also, Hezbollah acknowledges its support for Hamas, another terrorist organization that is based in the Gaza. Hizbollah’s aggressive acts serve to draw attention away from Hamas’s kidnapping of an IDF soldier earlier this month.

There is fear in Israel that the captured soldiers will be transferred to Iran. To protect against this, a blockade has been imposed, and the airport in Beirut has been bombed and rendered inoperative.

Naturally, the government of Lebanon objects most strenuously. It has issued a statement that it had no pre-knowledge of the Hezbollah aggression, and that it does not condone it.

Meanwhile, scores of Ketusha rockets, manufactured in Iran, have rained down upon Israel, launched from Lebanese territory. For this reason, Israel holds Lebanon responsible, though her reaction has been targeted at Hezbollah targets.

Future posts will examine the role of Hamas in precipitating the current crisis.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Who do you trust?

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was on Countdown last night, going on about Homeland Security. Here is some of what she said.
This Homeland Security Department, which brought us Katrina, is just unbelievable. And you really do feel like Alice in Wonderland sometimes when you see some of the things that they do.

[W]e know the Golden Gate Bridge is a target, we know our buildings are targets in Los Angeles. We know that Sacramento was also taken off the list. It‘s our capital. And by the way, has a water system which, if it‘s breached, 230,000 people will be buried in water.

So this is outrageous. And even the inspector general, their own inspector general in Homeland Security, chastised them.

But this doesn‘t matter, and it all gets me to the point that we need change here in Washington so badly. We need to change the Congress. We need to get better checks and balances on this administration.
That’s good as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough.

What we know so far is that we can’t trust the Republicans with national security. They are too incompetent, which we have known at least since Hurricane Katrina and the bungled aftermath. Now, the Republicans want to dismantle FEMA.

The Republicans are too crooked, and the hundreds of millions of dollars lost or missing in Iraq is just the latest evidence.

And they are too simpleminded, which is why they can’t tell the difference between a slogan and an exit strategy. National security is too important to leave to incompetent and crooked simpleminded Republicans. Here’s the question: Do you feel safer than you did six years ago?

You can’t trust Republicans with anything as important as National Security.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Somebody is fibbing

The administration's least favorite newspaper reported on July 3 as follows:
The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.
King George the Incompetent was asked about this at a press conference that he held in Chicago.
Q: You said some time ago that you wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. You later regretted the formulation, but maybe not the thought.

BUSH: I regretted the formulation because my wife got on me for talking that way.

Q: We suspected as much, sir. But the question I have is: It appears that the CIA has disbanded the unit that was hunting him down. Is it no longer important to track him down?

BUSH: It's just an incorrect story.

I mean, we got a lot of assets looking for Osama bin Laden. So whatever you want to read in the story, it's just not true, period.
It just so happens that Michael Scheuer was on Washington Journal this morning. He was a senior analyst at the CIA, until he retired in 2004. He left the agency because he felt that it had been scapegoated in the 9-11 Commission report. He described himself as a conservative Republican who voted for George W. Bush twice. Mr. Scheuer is now a CBS News Terrorism Analyst.

He was the head of the CIA unit that was charged with responsibility for Osama bin Laden from when he founded it in late December 1995, until mid-June 1999.
Brian Lamb: Is there any truth to the fact that it’s been disbanded?

Michael Scheuer: As I understand it, the agency has confirmed that. Yes, sir. After 10 years of what I think, at least, is the most successful United States counter-terrorism unit that has ever been formed.
It seems to me that someone is lying.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, July 07, 2006

Paul Krugman says it all

Once again, Paul Krugman nails it. In The Treason Card he says what’s on my mind. Here’s an example:
“Over the last few months a series of revelations have confirmed what should have been obvious a long time ago: the Bush administration and the movement it leads have been engaged in an authoritarian project …”
That’s why Krugman gets the big bucks.

A tyro like Big Mitch never learned to call a spade an implement for excavation. That’s why I call “an authoritarian project” the only word I know for it: “fascism.”

But there is one thing that Krugman and Big Mitch have in common. We seem to agree that the Bush administration and the movement it leads, must be resisted “for the sake of our country.”

Check it out…

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A canary in a coal-mine coughs

Faithful readers of this blog know that I fear for the country I love because I see it descending into fascism. If you haven’t already read the article I referenced in Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State, I encourage you to do so now.

Today, I find further evidence of this disturbing trend. Glenn Greewald writes about how “the thug and intimidation tactics of the Far Right go mainstream.” He tells of a disturbing, albeit Constitutionally protected, practice of publishing home addresses of people who offend the likes of Michelle Malkin. They are labeled “traitors” and the reader is encouraged sub rosa to commit acts of violence against them.

Greenwald recounts a story that I first saw on Crooks and Liars under the headline, The Stop the ACLU Coalition publishes Jewish family’s personal information: They are forced to move.

The tough-guy bullying of opponents is one hallmark of fascism. Embracing anti-Semitism is another.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Keeping Iraqis safe, winning hearts and minds.

Shamelessly copied from Jesus' General.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Aid and comfort to the enemy

Today, The National Journal reports that on June 24, 2004, King George the Incompetent was interviewed by federal prosecutors in the Oval Office. He admitted at that time that he had directed Cheney to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had outed the administration for lying about Iraq’s efforts to acquire yellowcake with which to make nuclear weapons.

As we know, Cheney’s assistant, Scooter Libby, leaked information to the Royal Stenographer, Dame Judith Miller, at The New York Times. The Times dutifully published it.

W's role in leaking classified inormation to the Times is surprising on a lot of different levels. The most obvious is that King George has just recently reacted to the publication (in the same New York Times) of an article revealing that the administration is tracking financial transactions in an effort to obtain intelligence for use in the war on terror.

He called the publication “disgraceful” and averred that it did “great harm” to the country. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, argues that The Times should be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act.

It is obvious that the Rovians are trying to make the Grey Lady into the next Willie Horton. Will it work?

It is still too early to tell, but I am pessimistic. The Times gets to make its case only to readers of the Times, whereas the president has a pulpit from which to be a bully. The key will be whether or not other newspapers recognize this assault on the First Amendment and respond appropriately. The early returns are not encouraging.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page revealed that the same story had been leaked to them by officials at the Treasury Department:
What Journal editors did know is that they had senior government officials providing news they didn't mind seeing in print. If this was a “leak,” it was entirely authorized.
The WSJ editors went on to say that they don’t believe that the NYT editors act in good faith when deciding whether or not to publish an article that may be embarrassing to the administration, and concluded that the editor of the Times “has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it.”

Luckily, most people know that the editorial page of the WSJ is a right-wing house organ for neo-con con-men. We await the weighing in of newspapers from the middle of America.

Hopefully, some of them will note that when the administration makes claims that national security demands secrecy, it suffers from a lack of credibility that is of its own making.

When the NYT published, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” by Joe Wilson, the administration committed treason to discredit Wilson, who, it should be noted, told the truth. The Bush-boys probably endangered the life of several CIA agents working in non-proliferation. The orders came from King George and Dead-eye Dick. Thus, if the editors at the NYT were skeptical of the administration, well, that’s what they get paid to be.

There’s a good chance – better than 50-50 – that the story will just die of its own accord in a day or two. Then what? Will other newspapers have felt the chilling effect of the onslaught against the Times? Will the Republican base have had a taste of red meat, so that come election day, they will arrive at the polls snarling and angry? Will others buy into the attack on the Times, so that when it reveals the next outrage, it will be that much easier for the neo-fascists to marginalize her?

In all of this, I find the most interesting part to be that the President claims that the publication of the article revealed secrets to “the enemy.” It is hard to imagine that, after the President himself had bragged that his administration was doing everything possible to track financial transactions of possible terrorists, that the terrorists have learned any “actionable” intelligence.

Perhaps the explanation is this: Diane Feinstein was on Stephanopoulos yesterday, and this is what she said:
Well, I’m on the Intelligence Committee. I can tell you when I was briefed and when the committee was briefed — and that was when it became apparent that the New York Times had the story and was going to run it. And that’s when and why they came to us and briefed us.
So, there you have it! The enemies who found out about the program are not the bastards in Al Qaeda. They are the Democrats in Congress.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Rudy Giuliani and his business partner

If you ignore vote-counting shenanigans, and accept the appalling notion that George W. Bush was elected twice to be President of the United States, you could look at it this way: He beat Gore by presenting himself as steady and not a flip-flopper, and he beat Kerry by presenting himself as more responsible and capable with respect to defending the homeland.

Here’s a story at the interstices between comedy and tragedy.

First, Bush flip-flopped on the Department of Homeland Security. He opposed the creation of the Department before he was in favor of it. Well, at least he didn’t say he invented the Internet.

But then it came time appoint a head of the new Secretary of Homeland Security. Who better than Bernie Kerick? He is the former New York City police commissioner, who pled guilty today to two misdemeanor charges of corruption. He was fined a mere $221,000.

Over on HuffPo, Kerik is described as a “former Giuliani official.” Actually, he was Giuliani’s business partner, after he was Giuliani’s police commissioner, which was after he was Giuliani’s driver and body-guard.

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, Rudolph Giuliani told the adoring audience that when he was standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center, he turned to Bernie Kerik and said, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our President.” That’s obvious poppy-cock.

(During a 2003 GOP fundraiser, Giuliani told a different version, minus Kerik: "I remember that day saying a little prayer of thank-you that George Bush was our president." Probably the grain of truth in the story is that on Sept. 14, 2001, as Giuliani reported two months later on Meet the Press, he remarked to Kerik, “Thank God he [Bush] is here. [i.e., in New York]”)

Here’s the comedy part: people are talking about Rudy Giuliani as a potential Republican Presidential candidate. This is a guy who in addition to being the business partner of a convicted crook, is a liberal from New York, who was kicked out of Gracie Mansion by a wife with a domestic relations restraining order, went to live with a gay couple, and informed his wife that he was divorcing her on the evening news.

You go, Rudy.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”