Archive for June, 2007

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Taking a week off…

June 22, 2007

I’m posting this just in case anyone is wondering why I’m not responding to your comments.  I’ll be on vacation for a bit, and away from a computer. I’ll be back after a little fun in the sun.

Update 6/30:  OK I’m back.  Some tennis, volleyball, canoe, timber sports, and I saw a bear.  Time flies when you’re havin’ fun!

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The Story That Snuck Past Everyone: DEA Busts “Prince of Marbella”

June 22, 2007

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement claiming that the Spain arrested Monzer al-Kassar (aka “Prince of Marbella”) based on a year-long operation conducted by the DEA: International Arms Dealer Charged With Conspiracy to Kill Americans and Related Terrorism Violations

You’d think that with a headline like that, you’d see a little more traction from this story.  I mean, here we have a guy with a resume that resembles Nick Cage’s character in Lord of War, with the added attribute of having a penchant for killing Americans.  Add to that the fact that we’re supposedly in the middle of a ‘war on terror’, along with the little detail that he was #26 on Iraq’s ‘most wanted’ list for supplying weapons to the insurgency, and you’d think this would be bona fide news. 

But what do I know?

Anyway, here’s what he’s charged with:

  1. Count One: Conspiracy to provide material support or resources to adesignated foreign terrorist organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339B;
  2. Count Two: Conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b);
  3. Count Three: Conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1114 and 1117; and
  4. Count Four: Conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332g.

And here’s what he looks like:

alkassar.jpg

More from the article:

“Monzer al Kassar has long been one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world. He has supported terrorists and insurgents by providing them with high-powered weapons that have fueled the most violent conflicts of the last three decades,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia. “Today, Kassar and two of his criminal associates face charges for agreeing to arm a terrorist organization whose aim it was to kill American citizens.”

“Monzer al Kassar commands a global munitions empire, arming and funding insurgents and terrorists across the globe, particularly those who wish to harm Americans,” said DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy. “He operates in the shadows, the silent partner behind the business of death and terror. Kassar’s capture is a testament to DEA’s unique investigative skills and broad reach of its international intelligence network.”

Sounds like good news to me.  Amazing what slips past us when Paris Hilton decides to have a nervous breakdown, eh?

Update:  I did some more searching on Digg, and noticed that WaPo had a story on it, but it’s hard to find many others mentioning it.

Update:  It didn’t slip past Pat Dollard.

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His Royal Cheneyness

June 21, 2007

There’s already a consensus that Dick Cheney is the most powerful VP in our nation’s history, and it’s no secret that he has a long history of being a proponent of almost unlimited power for the executive branch, but this is getting pretty surreal: Vice President Exempts His Office from the Requirements for Protecting Classified Information

The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

As described in a letter from Chairman Waxman to the Vice President, the National Archives protested the Vice President’s position in letters written in June 2006 and August 2006. When these letters were ignored, the National Archives wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January 2007 to seek a resolution of the impasse. The Vice President’s staff responded by seeking to abolish the agency within the Archives that is responsible for implementing the President’s executive order.

For documentation purposes:   Fact Sheet on the Vice President’s Efforts to Avoid Oversight and Accountability (pdf)

In my quest to figure out what that really means, I spotted a great post from Scholars:

Having the Vice President, and a Republican at that, responsible for egregious breaches in national security sets a very poor example. After all, if the Vice President’s office can be exempt from secrecy requirements, then other offices could be as well. How long will it be before the entire Justice Department uses the identical argument (its duties are split between the executive and judicial branches, after all) to exempt itself from annual ISOO oversight?And what are the sanctions for breaking this particular EO?

Is “What the hell is he hiding?” a fair question?  Does it have anything to do with what happened to Scooter Libby?  

If you’re not part of the legislative, judicial, or executive, I suppose that leaves some sort of position of royalty.  How should we address thee?

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Right Wingers Find Their Inner “Truther”

June 21, 2007

I happened to stumble upon a blog post over at Right Wing Nut House concerning this story about the possibility that Osama himself chartered a flight for a couple handfuls of Saudis shortly after 9/11.  Check this out:

Another nagging question is what the 9/11 Commission staffers made of these memos when they read them? One would think that a mention of Osama Bin Laden in an FBI report on the Saudi flights would have raised every red flag possible and led to hauling Mueller, Clark, and the investigating agents before the Commission to explain themselves. The fact that Commission staffers either missed these reports or never acted upon them is just more evidence that the Commission itself had flawed investigative procedures.

Or they never saw the reports at all. This raises other, more troubling questions, about what else the FBI failed to give the Commission.

Looks like they’ve discovered some unresolved issues with the 9/11 commission report, doesn’t it?  Perhaps they should be added to the list?

Disclaimer:  I don’t consider myself part of the “9/11 truth movement”.  I pretty much put my curiosity about the event itself or any possibilities of a conspiracy to bed years ago.  I do, however, believe that we are all entitled (as Americans) to know the whole truth about that day and related events both before and after.  So I’m making this post to prove the point that it’s OK to have questions about 9/11.  While it’s irresponsible to put forth theories that have little basis in fact, the quest for truth is a good thing.   No one on the right or left should be afraid to ask questions about those events. 

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What’s With All The “Pundit” Bloggers?

June 20, 2007

…and why do they all seem to lean right?

I’ll admit, I noticed this early on when I started this blog.  In fact, I came across so many of them that I decided to give them their own section in my sidebar (see “Pundits Anyone?”).  Here’s the list:

Now, I know a few of those are more popular than others, and at least a couple of them seem to be defunct and have moved.  I think its pretty clear that there is sort of a “Pundit” phenomenon going on, however.  Can anyone explain why there doesn’t seem to be any leftys among them*?

Anyway, I guess I mention this because I stumbled upon another one today, AcePundit.com (who, for the record, claims to be an independent libertarian).  I’ll add more to the list as I discover them.

*If you spot a lefty “Pundit” blogger, or if there is one on that list that I missed, please let me know in the comments.  Actually, let me know if you spot any other “Pundit” blogger not on the list, drop a comment (I’ll give you and/or your blog a hat tip in the post).

Update:  Commentor Triguy76 points out that there is a free hosting service called punditpending.com (which I was completely unaware of).  I think we’re going to exclude those, unless there are particular bloggers that use the service whose handles or blogs are labeled as “______ pundit” or some similar variation.

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Bloomberg Goes Indy

June 19, 2007

Should this be a surprise?  Bloomberg Leaving Republican Party

Michael R. Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor of New York City in 2001, announced this evening that he is changing his party status and registering as an independent…

Is he running?  Just for the record, from Rasmussen: 27% Likely to Vote for Bloomberg as Third Party Candidate

This could get pretty interesting….

Update:  I just spotted a fellow WordPress blogger who has another take: Bloomberg in the Race

Update:  According to the NYT, he insists he’s not running.

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PBS FRONTLINE: “Endgame”

June 18, 2007

Since this seems to be related to my previous post, I thought I’d mention that I’ll be watching this program tomorrow night at 9pm (tptHD).  Here’s the summary:

Endgame

coming Jun. 19, 2007 at 9pm (check local listings)

(60 minutes) As the United States begins one final effort to secure victory through a “surge” of troops, FRONTLINE investigates how strategic and tactical mistakes brought Iraq to civil war. The film recounts how the early mandate to create the conditions for a quick exit of the American military led to chaos, failure, and sectarian strife. In Endgame, producer Michael Kirk (Rumsfeld’s War, The Torture Question, The Dark Side, and The Lost Year in Iraq) traces why the president decided to risk what military planners once warned could be the worst way to fight in Iraq — door-to-door — and assesses the likelihood of its success. Top administration figures, military commanders, and journalists offer inside details about the new strategy. (read the press release)

..and a short teaser vid posted on YouTube:


(Hat Tip: Hot Air)

I’ll post more here after I watch the program. Should be interesting. 

Update:  “The plan was, there was no plan” …wow

Update:  OK, I just finished watching it.  I gotta tell ya, it was sobering.  In a nutshell, we’ve been making our ‘plan’ up as went along. 

I think I’ve learned more about the Iraq conflict in this 60 minutes than I have in 4 years of watching media outlets like CNN and reading stories on the internet.  It was an excellent account of the behind-the-scenes events that have led us to our current situation.

My opinion?  I’m pretty sure that Shinseki would be vindicated.  In order for this to have worked, we would have needed several hundred thousand troops employing Col. McMaster’s ‘clear, hold, build’ blueprint from the very beginning.  If that had happened, we probably could have seen serious success within a year or two.  As it sits right now, however, it’s hard to be optimistic.  

If you want to view the full program online, or view extended interviews with key military players, strategists and journalists, go here

Update:  One more thing I figured out.  Bush hasn’t been straight with the American people about this war since the very beginning.  Not until his Jan. 11 address from this year did he decide that it was finally time to level with us (a little).  This is, of course, deplorable.

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