The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Thursday, November 30, 2006
The Supreme Court Slaps Down NYT; Patriotic Blogosphere Exults
Breathe a sigh of relief: NYT loses in SCOTUS again on reporters' privilege
Of this very brief order yesterday from the United States Supreme Court, the losing lawyer, eminent First Amendment specialist Floyd Abrams, was paraphrased by his client as having said "the decision was a battle lost in a larger war." But on this occasion, Mr. Abrams is absolutely, positively wrong.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2006
ORDER IN PENDING CASE
06A525 THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY V. GONZALES, ATT’Y GEN., ET AL.
The application for stay of mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit pending the filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari, presented to Justice Ginsburg and by her referred to the Court, is denied.
This decision was a battle won for the United States on the home front in the global war on terrorism. And it's another fine example of how the mainstream media, led by the New York Times, is absolutely willing to let you be blown to bits by terrorists in order to protect your "right to know."
Let's boil this down. Here, in two thorough paragraphs, is how the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit explained the background and the issues:
Here it is in two sentences: The FBI was prevented from freezing terrorists' assets and catching terrorists because somebody leaked what they were about to do to the New York Times, and the NYT proceeded to warn the terrorists themselves! Now the NYT says that because it was just promoting the "public's right to know" and the First Amendment, its phone company should be immune from having to give evidence to permit a grand jury to decide whether any crimes were committed as part of this debacle.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the federal government launched or intensified investigations into the funding of terrorist activities by organizations raising money in the United States. In the course of those investigations, the government developed a plan to freeze the assets and/or search the premises of two foundations. Two New York Times reporters [Philip Shenon and Judith Miller] learned of these plans, and, on the eve of each of the government's actions, called each foundation for comment on the upcoming government freeze and/or searches.
The government, believing that the reporters' calls endangered the agents executing the searches and alerted the targets, allowing them to take steps mitigating the effect of the freeze and searches, began a grand jury investigation into the disclosure of its plans regarding the foundations. It sought the cooperation of the Times and its reporters, including access to the Times ' phone records. Cooperation was refused, and the government threatened to obtain the phone records from third party providers of phone services. The Times then brought the present action seeking a declaratory judgment that phone records of its reporters in the hands of third party telephone providers are shielded from a grand jury subpoena by reporter's privileges protecting the identity of confidential sources arising out of both the common law and the First Amendment.
And here it is in a mere ten words: Someone committed treason, and the NYT is okay with that.
The Second Circuit, fortunately, wasn't okay with that. Even though the Supreme Court has never recognized one, the Second Circuit played along with the notion that there might be some sort of federal common-law privilege for reporters to conceal their "confidential sources." But like every other court (state or federal) to ever consider the question, it pointed out that the privilege is not absolute, but only "qualified" — meaning that sometimes it can be overcome. And it was here:
There is therefore a clear showing of a compelling governmental interest in the investigation, a clear showing of relevant and unique information in the reporters' knowledge, and a clear showing of need. No grand jury can make an informed decision to pursue the investigation further, much less to indict or not indict, without the reporters' evidence. It is therefore not privileged.In other words, even if there might be special rules that let reporters refuse to obey lawful subpoenas sometimes, this ain't one of those times.
Yesterday's SCOTUS ruling comes in an odd procedural context that neither the NYT's own news story nor the WaPo's comparable report explained very well — so I'll try.
The Second Circuit's decision was rendered on August 1st, but the NYT of course wanted to keep going up the appellate chain, and took the steps needed to continue that process. The NYT asked that in the meantime, Mr. Fitzgerald and the grand jury hold their damned horses, and that the effect of the Second Circuit's ruling be postponed — the technical legal terminology being to "stay the Second Circuit's mandate." The Second Circuit wouldn't do that itself, so the NYT went to the "Circuit Justice" — that is, the member of the U.S. Supreme Court with emergency supervisory authority over the Second Circuit in particular, which is Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — and asked her to stay the Second Circuit's mandate.
Mr. Fitzgerald, however, was pretty insistent that he not be required to continue holding his horses:
The Justice Department told the Supreme Court on Friday [in response to the NYT's motion to stay the Second Circuit's mandate] that Mr. Fitzgerald was under enormous time pressure. "The statute of limitations," the government said, "will imminently expire on Dec. 3 and 13, 2006, on certain substantive offenses that the grand jury is investigating."Now, if the NYT could ever hope to find a friend on the SCOTUS, it's Justice Ruth Bader "ACLU" Ginsburg. My conservative non-lawyer friends sometimes ask me how I can respect Justice Ginsburg even though I almost never agree with her legal opinions, and this is a good example of why that's so: Whatever her personal inclinations may have been, in this case she obviously recognized that it just wouldn't be appropriate for her to make this ruling alone — even though she had the nominal power to do so. Instead, as yesterday's order recites, she referred the NYT's request to stay the Second Circuit's mandate to the full Supreme Court. And the full Supreme Court refused that request, without any dissents. So the Second Circuit's mandate will promptly issue (or may already have, as of yesterday), and Mr. Fitzgerald's FBI agents will be poring over those phone records toot sweet.
The case isn't over. The NYT will still ask the Supreme Court to review the merits of the Second Circuit's decision through a petition for a writ of certiorari. The Supreme Court might agree to hear the case — although that would surprise me very much. And yesterday's ruling doesn't necessarily mean that neither Justice Ginsburg nor any other member of the Supreme Court would vote to overturn the Second Circuit's ruling if cert were granted and the Supreme Court thereby agreed to review the Second Circuit's decision on its merits. In fact, if I had to guess, I'd guess that she and Justice Stevens almost certainly would. That there were no dissents yesterday — not even from Justices Ginsburg or Stevens — may only mean that there aren't five Justices who are dad-gummed eager to use this particular case to create a new federal common-law privilege for reporters to shield their confidential sources. But maybe four Justices can be persuaded to vote to grant certiorari, and maybe five can be persuaded to create a privilege that Congress has so far refused to. Or so Mr. Abrams and the NYT will hope.
And in due course, Mr. Abrams will write another fine petition for a writ of certiorari toward that end. But whatever he says for his client or other MSM outlets to reprint, I'll bet he's not going to be holding his breath waiting for cert to be granted. Not in this case, not on these facts. Not to protect whoever it was who broke the law to protect terrorists. Someone rabidly pro-media could at least argue with a semi-straight face that chasing down whoever supposedly "outed" Valerie Plame wasn't such a really big deal, and that the "public's need to know" (as purportedly protected by reporters' promises to keep sources confidential) ought to trump that search for evidence.
But not many people or entities besides the New York Times have the unmitigated chutzpah — combined with a breathtaking, and breathtakingly dangerous, childlike naïvety — to argue that someone inside the government ought to be able to tip off the NYT before an FBI raid, and that the NYT's reporters ought to be able to tip off the terrorists, and then that those criminally stupid tipsters, like the terrorists, should just be able to get away with it.
"I'll bet this will make Bush look bad," the tipsters probably thought. And that, in their eyes, is a goal that can justify anything, including another 9/11 or worse.
Imams' Airline "Tactics" Increase Pressure on Passengers
Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious "profiling."
Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats.
"The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight," said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. "If [crew and passengers] are afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks."
Faked AP "News" (continued)
Many people have emailed me with an update on the Iraqi press conference. I received the same email as Michelle Malkin did but she was able to get a more complete transcript. First here is the email from Centcom:
Please note that the AP was at the briefing. I, along with the military and Iraqi’s, will now await a retraction…..think we will have to wait long? I’m sure of it.
From CPATT PAO:
BG Abdul-Kareem, the Ministry of Interior Spokesman, went on the record today stating that Capt. Jamil Hussein is not a police officer. He explained the coordinations among MOI, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defense in attempting to track down these bodies and their joint conclusion was that this was unsubstantiated
He went on to name several other false sources that have been used recently and appealed to the media to document their news before reporting. He went into some detail about the impact of the press carrying propaganda for the enemies of Iraq and thanked “the friends” who have brought this to their attention.
AP did attend the press conference.
Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer
Now the more complete transcript via Michelle Malkin, who I have to add has done wonderful work helping to get this story out into the world:
So there you have it. Jamil Hussein has been confirmed as a fraud.
Ministry of Interior Weekly Press Conference
Thursday, November 30, 2006
By Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf Al-Kenani
Ministry of Interior spokesman
Press conference synopsis:
1. Media, especially satellite news channels, must adhere to responsible practices:
a. MOI is monitoring coverage, and will insist on corrections to false reports.
b. Unnamed sources should not be used. Two recently named sources do not work for MOI. Contact MOI PAO for official information.
c. Rumors are rampant, and media should be careful to check with official sources about information to avoid spreading false rumors.
2. MOI succeeded in a number of operations against terrorists in Baghdad.
a. The Baghdad Sniper was apprehended, and information gained from him led to the arrest of 30 others in his organization.
b. Two unauthorized “courts” that had issued death fatwas were broken up.
c. A kidnapping cell, including one that raped a young girl, was arrested.
This press conference will cover MOI operations from Nov. 23 to 29, 2006. Before we start the weekly briefing, I have some points to highlight and to remind the brothers that work in the media, especially the Satellite television Channels. We meant by this note to stress the ministry of interior’s intention that we believe in free press and truthful press, in order not to confuse what the free press presents and the misleading media show, where the latter’s intention is to make the situation in Iraq worse than what it is.
The press release issued by the ministry of interior has three main points:
First, a warning to the satellite TV. Channels continue broadcasting false news, and based on that we have formed a special observation room to monitor these TV stations; the purpose of this unit is to determine the fabricated and false news that hurts and gives the Iraqis a wrong picture that the security situation is very bad, when the facts are totally different.
After the monitoring process, we will contact those TV stations by presenting them with the mistakes and errors they committed by broadcasting such false news, hoping they will correct these false reports on their main news programs. But if they do not change those lying, false stories, then we will seek legal action against them.
For example, we have some of the respected news outlets that deal with news fast and have a relation with many TV channels and the media in general, who distributed a story quoting a person called Jamil Hussein. Afterward, we searched our sources in our staff for anyone by this name– maybe he wore an MOI uniform and gave a different name to the reporter for money. And the second name used is Lt. Maythem.
However, all of you know that the ministry of interior has a large public affairs office and its official spokesman, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have. Therefore, you should contact MOI PAO for all your needs to get real, true news. Based on that, we strongly deny any relation with those two names. In order to serve you better and strengthen the relationship with MOI, do not take statements that have no meaning and do not represent any official. We would like this note to be helpful to you and any statement made by those persons to be ignored.
The second subject is rumors. The ministry received in a week more than 12 cases of claims, one stating 50 killed were there, 200 kidnapped here, 30 corpses found there etc. And when we dispatched our forces and investigators to the locations, we found nothing.
On this note, I would like to thank some of the brothers in the media who are cautious and take the extra step to make sure the news he gets is correct or not, by contacting the ministry to verify any news through us that they hear or receive. Not only (do we reply), but we also give them more detail than they expected, and we hope others will follow suit. Also, we ask our people, please do not take any news or give it credibility, except from a well-known source with a name and an address that is part of the security ministries, etc., such as a minister or police station commander. Or if it is from the MOD or MOI, the name of the officer, his rank, his unit, etc. It is not enough to say “a source from the ministry of interior.”
Doing otherwise, you will end up helping the spread of the rumors and make them reality, even thought it was a false rumor. This rumor business — if a large issue, it will take a long time to cover it, but the purpose of the rumors is to disrupt life and make the security apparatus busy with other things than its main tasks. We will end up following rumors instead of hunting terrorists and criminals.
The third subject is, this week the strikes we made against the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Baghdad were many and very strong in Baghdad. Before my arrival to this press conference, I was informed that one of the three who were just captured or detained is Mazer Al-Jubouri, aka the Baghdad Sniper, and his group. He admitted many things that are very important and very dangerous and our forces used this information about his network and conducted raids in the past 24 hours and detained 30 terrorists.
Those terrorists executed several explosions in Palestine and Beirut streets, and the New Baghdad area. He also admitted that their base is in Diyala province, which supplied them with money, weapons and explosives. They are now under investigation and we think this cell or network has been dismantled.
This week also, we dismantled what are called “courts” in northern and southern Baghdad, and detained the two persons who issued fatwas to kill the people. Our force dismantled what is called the Omar network, this criminal network that used to exercise its criminal activities in southern Baghdad. And they admitted many things about other terrorist networks and our forces are pursuing them now, as well as other networks for kidnapping.
One of them, we regret, kidnapped a girl and used narcotics on her and raped this little innocent young girl. We captured those criminals and the little girl is receiving medical attention. This is not Iraqis’ culture. Just look how far down in debasement they have traveled. With regret, I told you that, because MOI activity does not hold in the media the position it deserves, and also to show the great sacrifice by MOI this week.
How many more of these “sources” are frauds? I would be willing to bet most of them are. The AP and the MSM will buy into anything as long as it produces a feeling of chaos and destruction.
Rusty from The Jawa Report also reports thats buried in this press briefing was this nugget:
The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior announced that it has captured the Baghdad sniper known as Ali Nazar al Jubori. The name sounds eerily familiar. al Jubori….could this be the original Juba sniper? That is the claim being made. Let me remind my readers that the “Juba the Baghdad sniper” does not exist. He’s a myth. A piece of fictional propaganda produced by terrorists. A heroic superman for the al Qaeda supporters of the world. This is not to say that there never was an al Qaeda linked sniper in Iraq who got the nickname “Juba”, only that the popular videos showing “his” work are really compilations of not only different snipers, but also of different terror organizations. We know this because the “Juba top 10 video” shows previously released material from several different known terror groups and that at least one of the snipers who’s work is shown in the video was later arrested.
But like many heroes, there may actually be a man behind the myth. Al Jubori may actually be the original “Juba”. In fact, a recent video proported to show the real “Juba” and included interviews with the Baghdad sniper. We’ll see. If it is “Juba”, then this is an important moral victory for the US and anti-terrorist forces in Iraq. Juba is a real hero to many in the Salafi terrror supporting community.
So ends the saga of Jamil Hussein…but I am sure more Jamil’s will pop up. The paper you read today will probably be full of them.
UPDATE 0925hrs PST
The New York Times has picked up on it, sorta:
No chaos, bloodshed, and anarchy in that first paragraph huh?
Against the backdrop of the civil war, occupation, Baathist insurgency, sectarian conflict, and struggle against terrorists in Iraq, to borrow a few descriptors, in addition to the historic meeting between President Bush and Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki today, another battle is brewing. This one pits conservative bloggers and the military’s communications machine against the Associated Press — and the media at large.
At the center of things is one police Capt. Jamil Hussein. Mr. Hussein was the primary source in an Associated Press wire-dispatch last Friday reporting that Shiite militiamen had “grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene.”
Meanwhile we all have to remember this statement from the AP:
Conservative bloggers — principally Flopping Aces — had already been questioning the AP’s story, and Mr. Hussein in particular, and with this, it was off to the races.
By Monday, Navy Lt. Michael B. Dean, a military spokesman for the joint operations in Iraq, had sent an e-mail to the Associated Press (which somehow made it onto the conservative blog circuit in a flash), essentially saying Mr. Hussein was neither a police officer nor an employee of the Iraq interior ministry (MOI), and therefore, not an approved source.
The attempt to question the existence of the known police officer who spoke to the AP is frankly ludicrous and hints at a certain level of desperation to dispute or suppress the facts of the incident in question.And take a look at the official Iraqi government statement.
Who appears to be desperate now?
I have contacted the AP for their response and will update as soon as I get it. I was assured it is forthcoming.
Meanwhile the news that the Baghdad sniper has been captured is just about the best news we have received in awhile. He was a huge source of pride and propaganda for the enemy but now he isn’t the superhero anymore.
UPDATE 1000hrs PST
And the AP responds:
Typically they ignore the bigger point here. There is absolutely NO proof that this incident occured. They first told the world that four mosques were burnt to the ground and six men were burned alive. Then when they discovered (via Centcom and us bloggers) that four mosques were not burned, only one was and that one slightly, they changed the original story. They relied 3 sources who will not go on record, two that will. One of those has retracted his statement and the other (Jamil Hussein) has been shown to have lied about his employment.
From Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, The Associated Press
We are satisfied with our reporting on this incident. If Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen choose to disregard AP’s on-the-ground reporting, that is certainly their choice to make, but it is a puzzling one given the facts.
AP journalists have repeatedly been to the Hurriyah neighborhood, a small Sunni enclave within a larger Shiia area of Baghdad. Residents there have told us in detail about the attack on the mosque and that six people were burned alive during it. Images taken later that day and again this week show a burned mosque and graffiti that says “blood wanted,” similar to that found on the homes of Iraqis driven out of neighborhoods where they are a minority. We have also spoken repeatedly to a police captain who is known to AP and has been a reliable source of accurate information in the past and he has confirmed the attack.
By contrast, the U.S. military and Iraqi government spokesmen attack our reporting because that captain’s name is not on their list of authorized spokespeople. Their implication that we may have given money to the captain is false. The AP does not pay for information. Period.
Further, the Iraqi spokesman said today that reporting on the such atrocities “shows that the security situation is worse than it really is.” He is speaking from a capital city where dozens of bodies are discovered every day showing signs of terrible torture. Where people are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.
At the end of the day, we have AP journalists with reporting and images from the actual neighborhood versus official spokesmen saying the story cannot be true because it is damaging and because one of the sources is not on a list of people approved to talk to the press. Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.
We stand behind our reporting.
The AP has no other evidence that this event occured.
How about the recent case where they reported 11 civilians were shot by US forces based on “eyewitness” accounts once again. Un-named “witnesses” of course.
You may recall Centcom’s response:
Separately, police and witnesses said U.S. soldiers shot and killed 11 civilians and wounded five on Sunday night in the Baghdad suburb of Husseiniya. The U.S. military said it had no record of any American military operation in the area.
“We were sitting inside our house when the Americans showed up and started firing at homes. They killed many people and burned some houses,” said one of the witnesses, a man with bandages on his head who was being treated at Imam Ali Hospital in the Shiite slum of Sadr City. The police and witnesses spoke with Associated Press Television News on condition of anonymity to protect their own security.
So what we have to rely on from the AP is unnamed “witnesses” and the ones who are named turn out to be frauds.
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Reference the clarification requested on the story by AP below. Anti-Iraqi Forces opened fire, targeting civilians in the al-Husseiniya area. 10 civilians were killed and six wounded at 11 p.m. Nov. 26. The incident was reported by the Iraqi Police through the Joint National Operations Center (a civilian matter relayed to the Coalition for tracking purposes). There was no Coalition involvement.
Capt. J. Elaine Hunnicutt (USAF)
Multi-National Corps - Iraq
Joint Operations Center PAO OIC Nights
And this is the response we get from the AP?
Basically a “you believe what you want and we will believe what we want” kind of statement don’t you think? They are unwilling to prove to Centcom that this source of theirs is a real police officer. I mean all you have to do is produce the damn guy. Have him rebut his supposed “bosses”.
But no… we get this joke of a response.
The Belmont Club
In The Bullpen
Little Green Footballs
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Democrat Definition of "Responsibility"
Who REALLY Cares...and who Pretends to Care
More frightening than any particular beliefs or policies is an utter lack of any sense of a need to test those beliefs and policies against hard evidence. Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision.
One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. It is liberals who advocate "forgiveness" of loans to third-world countries, a "living wage" for the poor and a "safety net" for all.
But these are all government policies — not individual acts of compassion — and the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them. Depending on what those consequences are, there may be good reasons to oppose them, so being for or against these policies may tell us nothing about who is compassionate or caring and who is not.
A new book, titled Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks examines the actual behavior of liberals and conservatives when it comes to donating their own time, money, or blood for the benefit of others. It is remarkable that beliefs on this subject should have become conventional, if not set in concrete, for decades before anyone bothered to check these beliefs against facts.
What are those facts?
People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.
It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.
You may recall a flap during the 2000 election campaign when the fact came out that Al Gore donated a smaller percentage of his income to charity than the national average. That was perfectly consistent with his liberalism.
So is the fact that most of the states that voted for John Kerry during the 2004 election donated a lower percentage of their incomes to charity than the states that voted for George W. Bush.
Conservatives not only donate more money to charity than liberals do, conservatives volunteer more time as well. More conservatives than liberals also donate blood.
According to Professor Brooks: "If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply of the United States would jump about 45 percent."
Professor Brooks admits that the facts he uncovered were the opposite of what he expected to find — so much so that he went back and checked these facts again, to make sure there was no mistake.
What is the reason why some people are liberals and others are conservatives, if it is not that liberals are more compassionate?
Fundamental differences in ideology go back to fundamental assumptions about human nature. Based on one set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a liberal. Based on a different set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a conservative.
The two visions are not completely symmetrical, however. For at least two centuries, the vision of the left has included a belief that those with that vision are morally superior, more caring and more compassionate.
While both sides argue that their opponents are mistaken, those on the left have declared their opponents to be not merely in error but morally flawed as well. So the idea that liberals are more caring and compassionate goes with the territory, whether or not it fits the facts.
Those on the left proclaimed their moral superiority in the 18th century and they continue to proclaim it in the 21st century. What is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test — and how completely it failed that test.
The two visions are different in another way. The vision of the left exalts the young especially as idealists while the more conservative vision warns against the narrowness and shallowness of the inexperienced. This study found young liberals to make the least charitable contributions of all, whether in money, time or blood. Idealism in words is not idealism in deeds.
Breaking "News" from the Middle East
Food for Thought: Saudis Threaten to move IN if US moves Out
He calls himself an “adviser to the Saudi government,” but take a gander at this piece he somehow got published in NRO nine months after 9/11. May I quote?
The Saudi government does not fund terrorism. Why? Because it would be the first target of such terrorism. It would be like the NAACP giving money to the Ku Klux Klan.Yeah, that’s exactly what it would be like.
So he’s a Saudi mouthpiece. And here’s what the Saudi mouthpiece has to say:
He’s talking proxy war, in other words, possibly involving an as-yet-uncreated Sunni version of Hezbollah. And while the prospect of Wahhabists and radical Shiites slamming away at each other is simply delightful, the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis being caught in the middle is not.
Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance — funding, arms and logistical support — that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.
Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias. Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today’s high prices.
I like the predatory pricing idea, though.
So what happens to the Saudis if the U.S. doesn’t pull out? They’re moving in anyway, albeit in a less bellicose form:
That’s from the Times’s story on the memo written by Stephen Hadley complaining about Maliki’s failure to go after the militias, incidentally. The memo was circulated among Bush’s inner circle and the upper crust of the National Security Council and was given to the Times by “an administration official,” which makes it likely almost to the point of certainty that it was leaked with Bush’s knowledge. It’s his way of turning up public pressure on Maliki to do something about al-Sadr. Which will the prime topic of discussion at tomorrow’s meeting, especially now that the fat man has (temporarily) severed his ties with the government.
The memo also lists steps the United States can take to strengthen Mr. Maliki’s position. They include efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia to use its influence with the Sunnis in Iraq and encourage them to turn away from the insurgency and to seek a political accommodation.
Addressing Mr. Bush, the memo said one option was for the president to “direct your cabinet to begin an intensive press on Saudi Arabia to play a leadership role on Iraq, connecting this role with other areas in which Saudi Arabia wants to see U.S. action.”
Finally, to follow up on yesterday’s post, Peter Pace was asked about the possible pullout from Anbar at his presser today. His response was plain and pointed.
No Academy Awards to be presented for Imams' Staged Victimhood
AJ Strata smelled this stratagem out more than a week ago. The fact is, there are so many discrepancies between what the Imams (and CAIR) are saying what happened on the plane and what passengers, ground personnel, security people, and gate employees are saying that one wonders how the Imams and CAIR thought they could get away with lying through their teeth so brazenly.
So either a couple of dozen people who weren’t able to meet in order to get their stories straight on the incident or the six Imams and CAIR are lying.
According to witnesses, police reports and aviation security officials, the imams displayed other suspicious behavior.
Three of the men asked for seat-belt extenders, although two flight attendants told police the men were not oversized. One flight attendant told police she “found this unsettling, as crew knew about the six [passengers] on board and where they were sitting.” Rather than attach the extensions, the men placed the straps and buckles on the cabin floor, the flight attendant said.
The imams said they were not discussing politics and only spoke in English, but witnesses told law enforcement that the men spoke in Arabic and English, criticizing the war in Iraq and President Bush, and talking about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
The imams who claimed two first-class seats said their tickets were upgraded. The gate agent told police that when the imams asked to be upgraded, they were told no such seats were available. Nevertheless, the two men were seated in first class when removed.
A flight attendant said one of the men made two trips to the rear of the plane to talk to the imam during boarding, and again when the flight was delayed because of their behavior. Aviation officials, including air marshals and pilots, said these actions alone would not warrant a second look, but the combination is suspicious.
“That’s like shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. You just can’t do that anymore,” said Robert MacLean, a former air marshal. “They should have been denied boarding and been investigated,” Mr. MacLean said. “It looks like they are trying to create public sympathy or maybe setting someone up for a lawsuit.”
But why? This quote says it all:
Mr. Bray’s colorful characterization aside, he has a point. But not in this context. The fact that so many agree that the imams were being deliberately provocative in order to be booted off the plane could only mean that the “protest” at the ticket counter was a planned event as well, designed to milk the incident with the media for all it was worth.
But the imams who were escorted off the flight in handcuffs say they were merely praying before the 6:30 p.m. flight on Nov. 20, and yesterday led a protest by prayer with other religious leaders at the airline’s ticket counter at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, called removing the imams an act of Islamophobia and compared it to racism against blacks.
“It’s a shame that as an African-American and a Muslim I have the double whammy of having to worry about driving while black and flying while Muslim,” Mr. Bray said. The protesters also called on Congress to pass legislation to outlaw passenger profiling.
If the imams were simply praying as they claim, then the actions of the authorities would indeed have to be considered outrageous and ignorant.
But this cheap bit of vaudeville by CAIR and their supporters to try and attach “victimhood” status to their religion in order to get Congress to take the dangerous and unnecessary step of banning the “profiling” of Muslims approaches the absurd. TSA authorities already bend over backwards to give everyone from old, grey grannies to middle aged whites like me the same kind of attention given to Muslim men. The fact that CAIR’s co-religionists are much more likely to blow a plane out of the sky than little old me seems to be lost on our Muslim brethren. Is CAIR actually saying that a middle aged white man is as likely to hijack a plane as a male Muslim who acts suspiciously like the 9/11 hijackers?
Ethnic minorities whose motherland is fighting Americans do not fare well in this country during a time of war. Just ask the Japanese. Or the Germans for that matter. To ask people to suspend their vigilance in the name of “fairness” is suicidal. No one has suggested rounding up Muslims and penning them in concentration camps. So it would seem a logical course of action (and simple, common sense) to pay closer attention to those whose ethnicity is the same as those who are trying their hardest to kill us.
Does this mean that other ethnic groups – including white middle aged males – aren’t a danger? Of course not. If you want to shut down the air transportation system in this country, you would view everyone with the same amount of scrutiny as we do Muslim males. That simply isn’t going to happen.
I suspect that if we ever do get to the point where Muslim males are not singled out for scrutiny when boarding an aircraft, civil aviation will die. The American people could care less about the sensibilities of Muslims as it relates to keeping hijackers off of airplanes that they want to fly on. They don’t care to commit suicide in the name of some nebulous kind of political correctness that flies in the face of logic and common sense. And as long as Muslims continue to threaten us, the profiling of Muslim males will continue – and the American people will thank the government for doing it.
Either we are at war with those who use Islam as an excuse to murder us or we are not at war and CAIR is correct. You cannot have it both ways and have a viable air transport industry and an American public willing to fly.
The professional victimologists at CAIR think that they can put on this idiotic production and rally the American people to their cause. They have, as usual, miscalculated badly. And if this Muslim “civil rights” organization spent 1/10 the time it spends on weeping about “Islamaphobia” as it could on denouncing without reservation or qualification the madmen who seek to destroy us, people would probably listen more closely to what they had to say.
UPDATE Jay at STACLU reports that CAIR is filing a complaint “with the relevant authorities” over the treatment of the imams:
Six actors in search of a play.
Three of them stood and said their normal evening prayers together on the plane, as 1.7 billion Muslims around the world do every day, Shahin said. He attributed any concerns by passengers or crew to ignorance about Islam.
“I never felt bad in my life like that,” he said. “I never. Six imams. Six leaders in this country. Six scholars in handcuffs. It’s terrible.”
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
"Faking" a "Civil War"
Iran: Our Past, Present, and Future Enemy
But these things are not what we are going to talk about tonight.
Tonight we are going to talk about the fact that Iran RIGHT NOW is: a) funding Moktada al-Sadr's Shi'ite Mahdi Army and its murder of American troops, innocent Iraqi women and children, and Sunnis; that b) Hezbollah (another wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) has been actively training al Sadr's Mahdi Army--to kill Americans; and that c) we have now learned that Iran has legions of brigades of suicde bombers trained to carry out attacks on civilian targets throughout Europe, the Middle East, and (possibly) the US, should hostilities break out between the US (or its allies) and Iran. Or perhaps it would be better to say when hostilities finally break out in the open.
First let's get into a bit more detail on the Hezbollah-al Sadr connection. Courtesy of Captain Ed:
For those who see the situations in Lebanon and Iraq as a continuum of the same Islamist efforts for regional control, it will come as no shock to learn that Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army receives training from Hassan Hasrallah's Hezbollah. It might come as more of a shock that the New York Times actually reports it, as well as the role Iran plays as a facilitator between the two:
So what have the Hezbollah "trainers" taught the Mahdis? The usual: "weapons, bomb-making, intelligence, assassinations, the gambit of skill sets," all of the basics for creating the kind of stable, secure Iraq that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised Nouri al-Maliki on his trip to Teheran yesterday.
A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.
The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.
Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.
Quite obviously, Iran and Syria (who also figures prominently in the Hezbollah-Mahdi arrangements) do not have any interest in moderation and democracy in the region. The Syrians want to control the Mediterranean side of Southwest Asia, and the Iranians want to promote radical Islamist fervor -- preferably of the Shi'ite flavor, rather than the Wahhabi al-Qaeda strain. Their every step indicates that they want to see the nascent democracy in Iraq undermined for the same reasons we want it to flourish: a successful democracy in Iraq will mortally destabilize their own regimes and their grip on power.
That is why notions of engagement with these two notorious terrorist-supporting states should be a non-starter. Nothing they have done indicates that they see the Middle East in terms other than completely hostile to our interests or the interests of liberty and self-determination, even where one might make an argument that the two diverge. The only items that Iran and Syria want to discuss with us regarding Iraqi democracy are the terms of our surrender and retreat. So-called "realists" want to endorse diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria but fail to acknowledge that reality in any manner, making them even more Utopian than the so-called neocons who want to work towards the ultimate goal of ending Iranian and Syrian hegemony through terrorism.
At one time, we decided to fight the war on terrorists and their state sponsors in order to end the use of terrorism as a technique for extortion. Now many want to acquiesce to Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored terrorists in order to more quickly surrender.
If that isn't outrageous enough, now let's talk about "Brigades of Suicide Bombers". (This is serious business...) From Ali Alfoneh at the Middle East Quarterly (please go to the actual site for footnotes and annotations):
More than five years after President George W. Bush's declaration of a global war against terrorism, the Iranian regime continues to embrace suicide terrorism as an important component of its military doctrine. In order to promote suicide bombing and other terrorism, the regime's theoreticians have utilized religion both to recruit suicide bombers and to justify their actions. But as some factions within the Islamic Republic support the development of these so-called martyrdom brigades, their structure and activities suggest their purpose is not only to serve as a strategic asset in either deterring or striking at the West, but also to derail domestic attempts to dilute the Islamic Republic's revolutionary legacy.
Such strategy is apparent in the work of the Doctrinal Analysis Center for Security without Borders (Markaz-e barresiha-ye doktrinyal-e amniyat bedun marz), an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps think tank. Its director, Hassan Abbasi, has embraced the utility of suicide terrorism. On February 19, 2006, he keynoted a Khajeh-Nasir University seminar celebrating the anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa (religious edict) calling for the murder of British author Salman Rushdie. As Khomeini often did, Abbasi began his lecture with literary criticism. He analyzed a U.S. publication from 2004 that, according to Abbasi, "depicts the prophet of Islam as the prophet of blood and violence." Rhetorically, he asked, "Will the Western man be able to understand martyrdom with such prejudice? [Can he] interpret Islam as anything but terrorism?" The West sees suicide bombings as terrorism but, to Abbasi, they are a noble expression of Islam.
So what is terrorism if not suicide bombing? To Abbasi, terrorism includes any speech and expression he deems insulting to Islam. According to press coverage of his lecture, Abbasi noted that "[German chancellor] Merkel and [U.S. president] Bush's support of the Danish newspaper, which insults Islam's prophet, has damaged their reputation in the Islamic world and has raised the question of whether Christianity, rather than Islam, is of terrorist nature." From the Iranian leadership's perspective, therefore, Jyllands-Posten's cartoons are evidence of Christian terrorism.
By Abbasi's definition, Iran may not sponsor terrorism, but it does not hesitate to promote suicide attacks. He announced that approximately 40,000 Iranian estesh-hadiyun (martyrdom-seekers) were ready to carry out suicide operations against "twenty-nine identified Western targets" should the U.S. military strike Iranian nuclear installations.
Such threats are not new. According to an interview with Iran's Fars News Agency released on Abbasi's weblog, he has propagated haras-e moghaddas (sacred terror) at least since 2004. "The front of unbelief," Abbasi wrote, "is the front of the enemies of God and Muslims. Any deed which might instigate terror and horror among them is sacred and honorable." On June 5, 2004, he spoke of how suicide operations could overcome superior military force: "In ‘deo-centric' thought, there is no need for military parity to face the enemy … Deo-centric man prepares himself for martyrdom while humanist man struggles to kill."
Abbasi's rise to prominence in the state-controlled Iranian media coincides with the growth of a number of organizations that have constrained those prone to moderation within the Islamic Republic. Take, for example, the Headquarters Commemorating the Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement (Setad-e Pasdasht-e Shohada-ye Nehzat-e Eslami), an organization founded in 2004 as a protest against President Mohammad Khatami's attempts at improving Iran's relations with Egypt.
The organization's prominence continued to grow throughout the year. On June 5, 2004, the reformist daily Shargh granted Mohammad-Ali Samadi, Headquarters' spokesman, a front page interview. Samadi has a pedigree of hard-line revolutionary credentials. He is a member of the editorial boards of Shalamche and Bahar magazines, affiliated with the hard-line Ansar-e Hezbollah (Followers of the Party of God) vigilante group, as well as the newspaper Jomhouri-ye Eslami, considered the voice of the intelligence ministry. Samadi said he had registered 2,000 volunteers for suicide operations at a seminar the previous day. Copies of the registration forms (see Figure 1) show that the "martyrdom-seekers" could volunteer for suicide operations against three targets: operations against U.S. forces in the Shi‘ite holy cities in Iraq; against Israelis in Jerusalem; and against Rushdie. The registration forms also quote Khomeini's declaration that "[I]f the enemy assaults the lands of the Muslims and its frontiers, it is mandatory for all Muslims to defend it by all means possible [be it by] offering life or property," and current supreme leader Ali Khamene'i's remarks that "[m]artyrdom-seeking operations mark the highest point of the greatness of a nation and the peak of [its] epic. A man, a youth, a boy, and a girl who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the interests of the nation and their religion is the [symbol of the] greatest pride, courage, and bravery." According to press reports, a number of senior regime officials have attended the Headquarters' seminars.
The Iranian officials appeared true to their word. During a September 2004 speech in Bushehr, home of Iran's declared nuclear reactor, Samadi announced the formation of a "martyrdom-seeking" unit from Bushehr while Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the official daily Keyhan, called the United States military "our hostage in Iraq," and bragged that "martyrdom-operations constitute a tactical capability in the world of Islam."
Then, on November 23, 2004, in response to the U.S. campaign against Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah, Samadi announced the formation of the first suicide unit. Named after the chief bomb-maker of Hamas, Yahya Ayyash, also known as Al-Muhandis (The Engineer) assassinated on January 5, 1996, it consisted of three teams of unknown size: the Rim Saleh ar-Riyashi team, named after Hamas's first female suicide bomber; the Mustafa Mahmud Mazeh team, named after a 21-year-old Lebanese who met his death in a Paddington hotel room on August 3, 1989, priming a book bomb likely aimed at Salman Rushdie; and the Ahmad Qasir team, named after a 15-year-old Lebanese Hezbollah suicide bomber whose operation demolished an eight-story building housing Israeli forces in Tyre, southern Lebanon, on November 11, 1982. Samadi said there would be an additional call for volunteers at Tehran's largest Iran-Iraq war cemetery, the Behesht-e Zahra, the following week, and even promised to consider establishing special elementary schools to train for suicide operations.
He kept his word. On December 2, 2004, the Headquarters gathered a crowd in the Martyr's Section of Behesht-e Zahra, where those who conducted suicide operations are honored. According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency, the organization unveiled a memorial stone commemorating the "martyrs" killed in the 1983 Hezbollah attacks on the U.S. Marine and French peacekeepers' barracks in Beirut. They set the stone next to one commemorating Anwar Sadat's assassin. Samadi concluded the ceremony with a raging speech, declaring, "The operation against the Marines was a hard blow in the mouth of the Americans and demonstrated that despite their hollow prestige and imagined strength … they [have] many vulnerable points and weaknesses. We consider this operation a good model. The cemeteries in which their dead are buried provide an interesting view and cool the hearts of those Muslims who have been stepped upon under the boots of the Yankees while they were ignored by the international community."
The suicide corps continued to expand even though there is no evidence that their patrons have made them operational. In April 2005, the semi-official daily Iran announced convocation of a unit of female suicide bombers nicknamed the Olive Daughters. The Baztab news website, which is associated with Mohsen Rezai, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from 1981 to 1997 and since secretary of the Expediency Council, cited one Firouz Rajai-Far, who said, "The martyrdom-seeking Iranian women and girls … are ready to walk in the footsteps of the holy female Palestinian warriors, realizing the most terrifying nightmares of Zionists." Rajai-Far, a former hostage taker at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, holds the license for Do-Kouhe (Two Mountains, referring to one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the Iran-Iraq war) magazine, which is affiliated with the vigilante organization Ansar-e Hezbollah.
Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani bestowed theological legitimacy upon such suicide terror operations in a written message to the gathering. Attendance at the rally indicates some endorsement and a support network for suicide operations. Attending the rally were Palestinian Hamas representative Abu Osama al-Muata; Muhammad Hasan Rahimian, the supreme leader's personal representative to the powerful Bonyad-e Shahid (The Martyr Foundation); Mehdi Kuchakzadeh, an Iranian parliamentarian; Mustafa Rahmandust, general secretary of the Association for Support to the People of Palestine; and model female fighter Marziyeh Hadideh Dabbagh.
More vocal expressions of solidarity are limited, however. The Mehr News Agency reports only a single declaration of solidarity from the spokesman of the University Basij at the Tehran branch of Islamic Azad University, who compared contemporary suicide operations with the "revolutionary deeds" of Mirza-Reza Kermani, the assassin of Nasser al-Din Shah, a nineteenth-century king vilified by the Islamic Republic, and with Navvab Safavi, founder of the Fadayian-e Islam and famous for assassinating the liberal nationalist author and historian Ahmad Kasravi. Still, that a group at the Islamic Azad University endorsed the organization is significant. Founded to broaden the reach of education after the Islamic Revolution, the university has several dozen satellite campuses across the country and today is the largest higher education system in Iran.
On May 13, 2005, officials declared the second suicide terror unit, the so-called "Martyr Shahada unit," consisting of 300 martyrdom-seekers, to be ready. Some months later, there was a gathering of the "martyrdom-seekers" at Shahrud University. While the invited Hamas representative did not attend, they watched Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech from the "World without Zionism" conference on screen. While the status of the third and fourth suicide brigades remains unclear, new suicide units continue to declare their readiness. In May 2006, a fifth "martyrdom-seeking" unit, named after Commander Nader Mahdavi, who died in a 1988 suicide mission against the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf, declared itself ready to defend Iran. The Headquarters even claims to have recruited "thirty-five foreign Jews" for suicide attacks.
Lebanese Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006, provided another press opportunity for Iranian suicide brigades. On July 17, 2006, Arya News Agency reported an expedition of two "martyrdom-units," one consisting of eighteen and the second consisting of nine "martyrdom-seekers," to Lebanon. At demonstrations in Tehran and Tabriz ten days later, sixty Iranian volunteers declared their readiness for holy war. There was also a rally in Rasht, capital of the Caspian province of Gilan, on July 29. But despite the bravado, Iranian police stopped a caravan of self-described "martyrdom-seekers" at the Turkish border. A leftist weblog quoted the governor of the West Azerbaijan province in which the border crossings with Turkey lie as saying he received a telephone call from Ahmadinejad asking him to stop the suicide units.
Training and Command
While the Iranian government seeks propaganda value out of announcements of new suicide units, it remains in doubt just how committed recruits are. When an Iranian youth magazine interviewed Rajai-Far, an organizer of the Olive Daughters, she remained elusive about how serious her recruits were about suicide.
Despite its rhetoric and the occasional rally, there is little evidence that the Iranian government has established camps to train suicide terrorists. While the Revolutionary Guards operate a network of bases inside Iran, there is little coverage—at least in open source newspapers and Iranian media—of actual training of those recruited by the Headquarters. There have been two mentions of a military exercise for the suicide brigades around the Karaj Dam. Muhammad-Reza Ja'afari, commander of the Gharar-gah-e Asheghan-e Shahadat (Congregation of the Lovers of Martyrdom) training camp, referred to one exercise as the "Labeik Ya Khamene'i" (We are responding to your call, Khamene'i). With the exception of the representation of Hamas in the early development of the Iranian "martyrdom-seekers," there is little proof of organizational links to external terrorist organizations.
Nor does the training of any unit mean that the Iranian government is prepared to deploy such forces. In June 2004, Samadi explained that the "activities of the Headquarters will remain theoretical as long as there is no official authorization, and martyrdom-seeking operations will not commence unless the leader [Khamene'i] orders them to do so."
But command and control remain vague. Hussein Allah Karam, a well-known figure from Ansar-e Hezbollah without formal ties to the "martyrdom-seekers," stresses that Khamene'i need not grant permission for any exercises since the trainees are not armed. Evading the question of what need there is to create "martyrdom-seeking" units parallel with the Basij, Karam responded, "Martyrdom-seeking groups are nongovernmental organizations," not part of Iranian officialdom.
The Basij, a paramilitary militia of irregulars loosely charged with defending the revolution, has not been happy with the competition. Basij Commander Mohammad Hejazi condemned the Headquarters' declaration that it sought to dispatch suicide units to Lebanon. "Such actions have absolutely no link to [Iran's] official apparatus and only serve propaganda aims," he declared. In an indirect critique of the suicide units' leadership, he added: "Some seemingly independent groups are trying to attract … the youth with no coordination with official institutions and without the approval of the command structure for propaganda purposes. Their goals might be noble, but their means are not correct." Government spokesman Gholam-Hussein Elham underlined this argument.
The nongovernmental status of the Headquarters and the "martyrdom-seekers" was reinforced in comments of an anonymous Revolutionary Guards commander to Shargh. He explained, "Since the Headquarters … is a nongovernmental organization, the organization does not look for orders from the military in case they should take action. Their operations are to be compared with the martyrdom-operations of the Palestinians which are not related to the government of Iran." The foreign ministry, which under Khatami was more reformist than the hard-line Revolutionary Guards, referred to the Headquarters members as "irresponsible elements" who did "not reflect the line of government," and, on August 3, 2006, Iranian parliamentarian Mehdi Kuchekzadeh called the Headquarters an NGO during a rally at Behesht-e Zahra.
Baztab reacted angrily to the publication of advertisements for "martyrdom operations" in Partov, the hard-line monthly of the Imam Khomeini Research Institute in Qom, accusing the publication, the Headquarters, and the director of the institute, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi—perhaps the most radical of the Islamic Republic's religious theoreticians—of enabling outsiders more easily to label Iran as a terror sponsor. Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi expressed similar sentiments. "Martyrdom-operations against the interests of other states must remain secret … The public exposure of such gatherings is the very proof that they are not going to do anything," he wrote. Abtahi accuses Yazdi of harming the national interests of Iran, and more seriously, of attempting to create parallel institutions in the Islamic Republic in order to eliminate internal opposition to his political interests. Such attacks called member of the parliament Shokrollah Attarzadeh to the defense of Mesbah Yazdi. Attarzadeh said that volunteers without connection to the ayatollah organized the "martyrdom operations," which he claimed, at any rate, to be purely defensive.
An Instrument for Power Struggles
Baztab's hostility toward Mesbah Yazdi is significant. The Islamic Republic of Iran has long sanctioned widespread use of terror and vigilante justice to keep its citizens in line. Perhaps the most prominent example was the 1997-99 serial killings in which the Iranian secret services systematically liquidated Iranian intellectuals with the aim of intimidating dissidents. This case has been subject to extensive debate, causing a considerable uproar among the Iranian public. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and National Security claims that the murders were committed by rogue cells in the ministry. However, Iran's most famous journalist and political dissident, Akbar Ganji, accuses the former minister of intelligence, Ali Fallahian, and Khamene'i of responsibility for the killings.
During the 2005 presidential campaign, the reformist daily Rooz warned of the formation of a new Forghan, a radical Islamist group from the early days of the Islamic Revolution. Ali Yunesi, minister of intelligence, and Abtahi both seconded such concerns. Baqir Nobakht, spokesman for ‘Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's election campaign, criticized Yazdi by suggesting that he sought to use the "army of martyrdom-seekers" for operations against his political enemies inside Iran.
For more than a century, hard-line officials have turned to vigilante groups during periods of political upheaval. Their political influence is noticeable. The 1979 Islamic revolution only strengthened such tendencies, and there is no doubt that the patrons of the "martyrdom-seekers" have used the Headquarters as a tool to maintain revolutionary values against those that might ameliorate them.
Here, the crisis regarding the change in Iran's policy towards Egypt is instructive. From almost the start of the Islamic Republic, there has been considerable tension between Tehran and Cairo. Ayatollah Khomeini objected to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's recognition of and peace treaty with Israel. After Sadat's assassination, Iranian authorities named a street after his assassin, Khaled Islambouli. For years after, this action has been an irritant in Egyptian-Iranian relations. But in January 2004, toward the end of Muhammad Khatami's presidency, the Mehr News Agency reported that the Iranian government had asked Tehran's city council to change the street name. The city council acquiesced, renaming it "Intifada Street." Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi attributed the decision to improving Egyptian-Iranian relations.
The Headquarters protested, sending a letter to then-mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad defended the decision in the name of promoting unity among Muslim countries "in order to face the global Zionist front." The Headquarters responded with a press release, and a demonstration against the decision. Mehdi Chamran, the Tehran city council chairman and brother of the late commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mostafa Chamran, said that the foreign ministry had imposed the decision but that he preferred to honor Islambouli. In an Iranian-style compromise, the street was finally called Mohammad al-Durrah Street after a 12-year old boy who was caught in crossfire and killed in the opening days of the second intifada. But the Headquarters was successful in scuttling rapprochement with the largest Arab state to make peace with Israel. On January 28, 2004, the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat announced that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak would not visit Iran due to the presence of a picture of Khaled Islambouli on public display in Tehran.
Those associated with the Headquarters appear willing to use irregular forces against enemies not only foreign but also domestic. Groups connected to Mesbah Yazdi roughed up Rafsanjani on June 5, 2006, in Qom. In the past, vigilantes directed such attacks against reformers or free thinkers, but now the first generation of the Iranian revolutionaries such as Rafsanjani receive the same treatment.
And as in the past, the violence is connected to the same groupings in Iranian politics: the Keyhan editor Shariatmadari, now close to the Headquarters, as the intellectual proponent of violence against liberal elements, and Hussein Allah Karam of Ansar-e Hezbollah, now also linked to the "martyrdom-seekers" and, more directly, with Ansar-e Hezbollah itself, which publishes advertisements for the Headquarters and interviews with their spokesmen.
Since 9-11, the increased focus on international terror has amplified fear of terrorism. By forming suicide terrorists units, Tehran can, at a minimum, exploit such fear. Already, Western policymakers warn that any strike against Iran could spark a resurgence of Iranian-backed terror. That the Islamic Republic has already formed suicide bomber brigades underscores that point. But the fact that the Iranian leadership must embrace such nonconventional deterrents may suggest that Tehran recognizes that the Iranian military is weaker than Iranian figures admit.
However, the suicide units may serve a dual function. They are, in effect, the most radical factions' guns-for-hire, unquestioning loyalists who are willing to die to preserve revolutionary values. As such, Iranian hard-liners can use them to saber-rattle as well as to keep reformers and liberals at bay. This may pose the more immediate threat since the willingness of Iranian hard-liners to use violence against their internal political opponents, could pose an almost insurmountable impediment to those who might seek to liberalize the Islamic Republic from within.OK, those are the facts. And this is a fact, too, although it has not happened yet: we ARE going to have to fight Iran. Our choice is whether a) to fight them now, before they get nukes and the delivery systems to plant them in any city in North America, and while we still have about 200,000 troops and a slew of ships and carriers in the immediate vicinity; or b) to fight them later, on their terms--after they have nukes, after our will to win at home has been sapped even further by the defeatest, collaborationalist elite media; and after they have a stranglehold on over half of the planet's oil supply. Pretty simple. A or B? I don't think it is much of a choice, but that is just me talking. What say you?
UPDATE: I almost neglected to post this link which indicates what happens to dissidents INSIDE Iran who disagree with the mullahs. (Warning, the video is HIGHLY disturbing--for the squeamish, the accompanying article will tell you what happens in the video so you do not have to watch it... I linked to it because people risked their lives to get the video out of Iran. Hint: Don't expect it to show up on CBS or CNN or MSNBC anytime soon...).
If you read that and saw that, there is nothing more I need say: Iran is evil incarnate. We will have to fight them. We stand a better chance of winning if we do it sooner rather than later. Faster, please.
Straight Talk: "Iraq FAQs"
This is straight from the hip and very refreshing. We could stand a lot more of the same from our "news" media:
1) So where does Iraq stand now? Should we take seriously NBC’s “courageous” move in “bucking the White House” and calling it a civil war.
NBC and Matt Lauer are risibly self-important. If Lauer and his minions really wanted to do some “courageous bucking,” they could become newsmen in Riyadh and report on the numerous depredations committed by the House of Saud. It’s really hard to imagine the mind that credits NBC with being “courageous” here. Does Matt Lauer fear imprisonment at the hands of the Bushitler storm troopers? Somehow, I doubt it.
2) Nice rant. But you really didn’t answer the substance of the question. How are things in Iraq and is “civil war” an apt term?
Things in Iraq are obviously tough, except in the Kurdish regions in regards to which our media seem to have a strange reticence. I have no interest in squabbling over semantics. Call it a civil war if you like. Call it sectarian violence. Call it a Hobbesian state of nature rife with IED's. Makes no nevermind to me.
3) And yet you seem annoyed at NBC and Matt Lauer.
Elements of the media have been doing everything in their power to dispirit the American people regarding this vital endeavor for three years now. That’s okay – we have a free press here and a dollop of competent rhetoric from the White House would be more than adequate in offsetting the tsunami of negativity and distortions that come from the media. But when multi-millionaire airhead members of the media like Matt Lauer deem their own pronouncements huge news, it’s a bit much for me to take.
4) But there’s a kernel of truth in what they’re saying. Iraq’s in rough shape.
No doubt. But the issue I have is that what’s going on in Iraq is never put in any larger context. To wit, this is one battle in the war against Radical Islam. It’s an important battle, and it will set the paradigm for future battles so we better win it. But intellectually, members of both the left and the right treat Iraq as if it’s some kind of island. It isn’t. It’s a relatively small part of a much bigger struggle.
5) What? That’s awful. This thing in Iraq has already lasted longer than World War II. Now you’re telling us that this is just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg? I’m going to go read the Daily Kos.
Go ahead. You probably got that idiotic “lasted longer than World War II” talking point from there.
6) What makes it idiotic? Is it not a salient point that FDR and Truman were able to subdue the Axis Powers in less time than it’s taken Bush to do whatever he’s done in Iraq?
No, it is not a salient point. If the goal were to defeat Iraq and the Iraqis as we defeated the Nazis and Imperial Japan, it could be accomplished pretty readily. For instance, if we gave Baghdad the Dresden treatment, I have a feeling incidents of sectarian violence would undergo a sudden, dramatic and marked decline. But we don’t want to do that, rightfully so, because it wouldn’t be nice. Lots of innocents dead, an outraged Kofi Annan – it would just generally leave a mess.
7) So what did we want to accomplish in Iraq? Or what do we still hope to accomplish?
The goal in Iraq was to trigger a reformation of the entire region. (For you Congressmen who don’t read books, this would be a good time to begin paying attention.) Historically, Sunni sects have been bent on world domination or at the very least the establishment of a caliphate. They don’t believe that any political realm trumps Sharia and the Koran. Shiites, on the other hand, were historically non-political. That changed in the late 1970’s with the rise of the Khomenists in Iran. Suddenly one of the regions two most populous Shiite states had a philosophy similar to the Sunni Wahabists and Salafists.
The hope in Shiite Iraq was that given the hostility leftover for Iran after their savage eight year war, we would be able to establish a secular and peaceful Muslim bulwark in the region. Given the humane actions of Ayatollah Sistani over the last few years, this wasn’t pie-in-the-sky thinking.
But a necessary prerequisite to this happening was defeating those parties who were inherently against such a state. Iraq’s Sunni dead-enders and Khommenist Shiites like Moqtada Al-Sadr had to die. Because the administration never summoned the will to accomplish either one of these things, we have a mess on our hands.
8) But if we could have done it three years ago, why can’t we do it today?
We can. But dealing with Al-Sadr will require us to deal with Iran. And dealing with the Sunni dead-enders will require us to deal with Syria. Both of these countries will have to be dealt with sooner or later, and strategically the only “benefit” in waiting is that we allow our enemies to gain better technology, probably handed to them by our good friends in the Putin dictatorship.
9) But would the American public tolerate “dealing with” Iran and Syria right now?
Sadly, no. This is the one area where the administration has really blown it. Most Americans have no idea of the kind of danger we’re in, largely because the administration and the media have framed this as a “war on terror” when in fact it is not a war against a tactic, but a war against some specific and very identifiable enemies.
10) Okay, the American people don’t understand this, but do our leaders?
On that score, I’m not very hopeful. As the New York Times reported a month ago, most of our leaders, and not only those in Congress but ranking members from our intelligence agencies, don’t know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, the Republican leaders in the House don’t read books. What’s more, their actions certainly haven’t betrayed any awareness of the consequential nature of the era.
11) How about the Democrats?
Ha! Good one. You know, I saw some Democratic spokesperson on Scarborough Country last night responding to the inquiry of what the Democrats’ plan is for Iraq and she said, “We’re going to wait to hear what the Baker Commission says.”
What leadership!! And the really bad news is that “plan” beats the hell out of the Democrats’ and paleo-cons’ other option, which is to leave the region and let the chips fall where they may.
12) You sound negative, much more so than usual. What gives?
President Bush has at times been a great leader in the “war on terror.” At other times, he’s been intellectually absent. We need leadership now. Someone needs to explain the stakes to the American people and what this fight is all about. Someone needs to explain that there will be a lot of death and suffering ahead, and unfortunately it won’t be just the enemy doing the dying and suffering. The President has two years left and no further campaigns to concern himself with. This would be an ideal, albeit belated, time to explain to the American people what’s going on, and how our real enemy is a lot more numerous and dangerous than the cave dwelling loons in Waziristan.
Yet since the midterms the President has been totally missing except when offering some annoying pabulum about raising the minimum wage.
13) So what are our choices?
Win in Iraq, Syria, Iran and the rest of the region now, or wait until we suffer grievously before getting serious about doing so.
14) What will victory look like?
Victory will see many of the enemy dead, and the rest dispirited enough that they realize that Jihad is a dead end. In other words, it will look a lot like victory did over the equally rabid enemy in Imperial Japan.
15) Will it have to be that bloody?
I don’t know, but I do know the longer we delay and the more irresolute our behavior, the higher the ultimate Butcher’s Bill will be. Count on it.