As If Nothing Happened
Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened--- Churchill

Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

With news of Uday & Qusay's demise along with this article in the Washington Post, perhaps the worm is beginning to turn.

U.S. Lowered Its Sights in Iraq Search
Information on Fugitives Poured In After Military Turned Focus to Mid-Level Operatives

After weeks of difficult searching for the top targets on the U.S. government's list of most-wanted Iraqi fugitives, U.S. military commanders two weeks ago switched the emphasis of their operations, focusing on capturing and gathering intelligence from low-level members of former president Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who had been attacking American forces, according to military officials.

That shift produced a flood of new information about the location of the Iraqi fugitives, which came just before the attack in which Hussein's two sons were killed by U.S. forces in the northern city of Mosul, the officials said.

"We shifted our focus from very high-level personalities to the people that are causing us damage," Gen. John P. Abizaid, the new commander of the U.S. military in the Middle East, said in an interview last weekend. Later, he told reporters in Baghdad: "In the past two weeks, we have been getting the mid-level leadership in a way that is effective."

The captured Baathists provided much new detail about their organization and contacts, officials here said. Some gave information about their financing and their means of communication, they added. Others identified members of their networks. Some described the routes and contacts that fugitive leaders were using. Threats to ship the recalcitrant captives to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay on the eastern end of Cuba were especially helpful in encouraging them to talk, officials said.

"You get a tip, you pull a couple of guys in, they start to talk," a Central Command official said. Then, based on that information, he continued, "you do a raid, you confiscate some documents, you start building the tree" of contacts and "you start doing signals intercepts. And then you're into the network."

"The people are now coming to us with information," Maj. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, told Abizaid in a briefing this week at Odierno's headquarters in Tikrit, Hussein's home town. "Every time we do an operation, more people come in."

The 4th Infantry, operating in a region dominated by Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which was a major base of Hussein's support, conducted an average of 18 raids a day in recent weeks, he added.

The number and breadth of those follow-up raids also encouraged Iraqis who had been fearful of Baathist retaliation to speak up, officials here said.

Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said at a Baghdad news conference at which he confirmed the deaths of Hussein's sons that the Mosul raid resulted from "a walk-in" Monday night who "gave us the information that those two individuals were in that residence."

Until early June, when the Army launched the first of three major offensives in the an area known as the Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, U.S. officials didn't fully grasp the extent of Baathist resistance in the area, one Army official said.

The first offensive, dubbed Peninsula Strike, wasn't aimed so much at Baathists as at hostile remnants of the Iraqi military that remained active in the Sunni town of Thuluya, on the Tigris River between Baghdad and Tikrit. Yet when captives from that operation, from June 8 to 15, were interrogated, they began shedding unexpected light on the role that Baath Party operatives were playing in the region in supplying weapons, recruiting fighters and financing attacks on U.S. troops and bases, officials said.

Later in June, the next offensive, Desert Scorpion, began with scores of simultaneous raids aimed at, among other things, shutting down escape routes available to the former Iraqi leaders. It also went after the secret hoards of cash and jewelry that were financing their operations, and it sought to gather more information about the size and structure of Baathist resistance in the Sunni triangle.

That series of raids yielded information on what analysts said was a surprisingly large network of Hussein loyalists. "We call it the gang of 9,000," said a senior Army official, adding that that figure was just an estimate of the number of Baath Party operatives, former intelligence functionaries and their allies active in the Sunni region and in Baghdad.

As a result, U.S. commanders changed their minds about sending the entire 3rd Infantry Division home, as they had hoped to do by the end of last month. "As we began to see the extent of Baathist pockets in the Sunni triangle, it became clear that we couldn't draw down forces as quickly as we liked," said a senior Central Command official.

The raids also led to a sharp increase in U.S. casualties in June, with a soldier dying nearly every day. This official estimated that close to 60 percent of U.S. casualties came in the course of offensive operations by the U.S. troops or Baathist responses to those attacks.

The third offensive, Soda Mountain, conducted this month, was the first aimed at capturing and interrogating the resistance leaders -- the mid-level Baathists who U.S. officials had come to believe were behind most of the attacks on American forces. That operation began with a smaller series of raids by the 4th Division, called Ivy Serpent.

The mid-level operatives who were captured turned out to be knowledgeable about how the top targets on the U.S. list were evading capture. "There was a snowball effect," a senior Army official said .

Put together, the information helped breach the wall of protection around Hussein and his sons, a U.S. official said this week. He said the information the United States now has is far more solid than that which led to last month's Special Operations raid near the Syrian border. U.S. officials initially thought that raid might have hit Hussein or people close to him, but it appears only to have damaged the smuggling network that was being used by fugitives to travel in and out of Iraq.

Despite their recent success, U.S. military officials here caution that the fighting is far from over, and they predict that the nature of the attacks could worsen. They worry that the more they succeed, the more desperate Baathist remnants will become. So, they fear, the next phase of attacks might rely more on car bombs and other terrorist methods than on direct attacks on U.S. forces. Two officials here this week, for example, expressed concern about the possibility of an Oklahoma City-like bomb attack on U.S. officials and Iraqis working with them in the capital.

posted by Renee | 11:27 PM

Friday, July 18, 2003  

At last!
White House Releases CIA Info on Iraq

An intelligence assessment by the CIA last October cites "compelling evidence" that Saddam Hussein was attempting to reconstitute a nuclear-weapons program, according to documents released Friday by the White House...

The report asserts that Baghdad "if left unchecked...probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."

It also cites unsubstantiated reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from three African countries: Niger, Somalia and "possibly" Congo.

posted by Renee | 2:35 PM

Stay for our sakes: black council plea to PM
The Age

A major indigenous community has lobbied John Howard to stay on indefinitely as Prime Minister, dismissing the left of politics as "clueless" and calling for a new alliance between Aborigines and conservatives.

In a letter written to Mr Howard on the day before he announced his intention to fight the next election, influential Cape York Land Council chairman Richie Ah Mat begged him not to retire.

"Many people in media and politics promote a set of attitudes that are supposed to be 'moderate' and 'progressive': republicanism, harm minimisation, the elusive ideal of reconciliation and so on," Mr Ah Mat wrote.

"We fear that if you go, there will be a shift in public discussion.

"Otherwise the whole project will regress back to progressivist platitudes about symbolic reconciliation and walking bridges...

From Tim Blair

posted by Renee | 2:30 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2003  

French secret service 'kept CIA in the dark over Iraq and uranium'
The French secret service is believed to have refused to allow MI6 to give the Americans "credible" intelligence showing that Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger, US intelligence sources said yesterday.

MI6 had more than one "different and credible" piece of intelligence to show that Iraq was attempting to buy the ore, known as yellowcake, British officials insisted. But it was given to them by at least one and possibly two intelligence services and, under the rules governing cooperation, it could not be shared with anyone else without the originator's permission.

US intelligence sources believe that the most likely source of the MI6 intelligence was the French secret service, the DGSE. Niger is a former French colony and its uranium mines are run by a French company that comes under the control of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

posted by Renee | 8:48 PM

Republicans draw Hispanic voters from Democrats

Hispanic leaders are telling Democratic officials that Hispanics are no longer part of the party's political base because President Bush and the Republicans have made inroads into the nation's largest minority voting bloc.
In closed-door Democratic strategy meetings to plan for the elections next year, Hispanic leaders and pollsters have painted a picture of declining Hispanic support for the Democrats, warning party officials that if they do not reach out more aggressively to this pivotal group, Republicans likely will make further gains in the 2004 elections.

If we are to win the culture war, it will depend a great deal on Hispanics and immigrants from cultures which still hold basic traditional values and their ability to pass them along to the next generation, so this is much more than simply a matter of gaining votes.

posted by Renee | 7:14 PM

'France and Italy gave information on Saddam'

Two foreign governments, thought to be France and Italy, supplied Britain with the intelligence for its claim that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had sought uranium from Africa.

The Financial Times has learnt from senior Whitehall sources that the information came from two west European countries, and not from now discredited documents that proved to be forgeries.

This information, which does not appear to have been passed on to the US, would suggest why the government felt confident enough to put it in a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction last September.

posted by Renee | 7:08 PM

This is interesting:
Alleged Qaeda Group Says Behind Iraq Attacks-TV

posted by Renee | 6:53 PM

Mob attacks researchers who found few Palestinians want their old homes now in Israel

A mob of about 100 Palestinian refugees stormed the office of a Ramallah polling organisation yesterday to stop it publishing a survey showing that five times as many refugees would prefer to settle permanently in a Palestinian state than return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The protesters pelted Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, with eggs, smashed computers and assaulted the nine staff members on duty. A female worker was treated in hospital for her injuries. "This is a message for everyone not to tamper with our rights," one of the rioters said...

The poll, conducted among 4,500 refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan, was the first to ask where they would want to live if Israel recognised a right of return.

Only 10 per cent of the refugees chose Israel, even if they were allowed to live there with Palestinian citizenship; 54 per cent opted for the Palestinian state; 17 per cent for Jordan or Lebanon, and 2 per cent for other countries. Another 13 per cent rejected all these options, preferring to sit it out and wait for Israel to disappear, while 2 per cent didn't know

posted by Renee | 6:38 PM

Transcript: Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday
[T]here are two things about this, Tony. First of all, it is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa. This was a part of a very broad case that the president laid out in the State of the Union and other places.

But the statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that. Not only was the statement accurate, there were statements of this kind in the National Intelligence Estimate. And the British themselves stand by that statement to this very day, saying that they had sources other than sources that have now been called into question to back up that claim. We have no reason not to believe them.

posted by Renee | 6:36 PM

Saturday, July 12, 2003  

White Student Won't Apologize for Flap at University Multicultural Center

posted by Renee | 2:34 PM

New hope for WMD evidence

Scandal!: Bush’s enemies aren't telling the truth about what he said.

A core lunacy to Dems' foreign policy

Friendship Develops With Iraqis, Troops
Toddler Hiyam Kadhem couldn't contain her excitement when she spotted Robert Garcia entering the compound. Flashing a big smile, the 18-month-old Iraqi girl ran to the Marine officer and threw herself into his arms.

Safe in his embrace and with a disarming laugh, she playfully removed his camouflage hat and placed it on her own tiny head.

Hiyam, her five siblings and parents have found themselves in a peculiar situation. Their apartment in an abandoned school sits in the middle of a U.S. Marine base...

Straw stands behind UK's inelligence about Iraq's nuc program that made it's way into Bush's State of Union address

Here's Uncle Zeus, Aunt Hera, the Twins ...

t was about 20 years ago when Jon O. Newman, a federal appeals court judge in Manhattan, walked up to a staff member in the New York Public Library and asked, "Do you have a book anywhere in this library that has a complete genealogical chart of Greek mythology?" They didn't.

"O.K., second question," Judge Newman said. "If there were such a book, would you buy it?"

"We'd have to," the librarian replied...

Something unexpected is happening on distant Pluto - the outermost planet.
Although it is receding from the Sun, its atmosphere is getting thicker, puzzling astronomers who expect it to "freeze-out" and contract in about 10 years.

The recent changes were noted as a result of a rare cosmic alignment last year. Pluto passed in front of two faint stars whose light was dimmed by its atmosphere before being cut-off by its disc.

Data from these events indicate that Pluto's tenuous atmosphere has become swelled in the past 14 years since the last time such an occultation was observed.

Bush Bid for Jews' Votes Zeroes In on Gen X
Many observers insist that the president faces an uphill task building a solid base among Jews. New polling data indicates that most Jewish voters around the country continue to identify themselves as Democrats and are more ready to criticize the president than other ethnic or religious groups. (See sidebar, Page 4.) Analysts say the GOP's dilemma is compounded by the president's new drive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which risks alienating the conservatives who form the president's most solid support in the Jewish community.

The emergence of an enthusiastic new support base consisting of movers and shakers in their 30s and 40s appears to fly in the face of those analyses, however. While its numbers are not yet large, it has taken on an oversized role in Republican strategy and fundraising in New York and a few other locations, and activists are already talking about mobilizing Jews as a swing vote that can deliver some key Democratic states to the GOP column in 2004...

posted by Renee | 2:06 PM

Thursday, July 10, 2003  

George & Laura treated to elephant porn.

posted by Renee | 10:43 PM

True Heroes:
Police find robbery suspect naked and bound with duct tape

posted by Renee | 10:33 PM

Why does the media report the recent casualties as unprovoked attacks

Franks: 10-25 Attacks a Day on U.S. Troops in Iraq

U.S. troops in Iraq face 10 to 25 attacks a day, partly because they are hunting for Baathists, "jihadists" and fighters crossing the border from Syria, Gen. Tommy Franks, who ran the war against Baghdad, said on Thursday...

Also, while U.S. forces were seeing "increasing sophistication," including the use of mortars in attacks, there did not appear to be coordinated efforts under a command, Franks said. "It doesn't fit my own personal definition."

posted by Renee | 10:01 PM

Among Democrats, The Energy Seems To Be on the Left
Washington Post

They do not call themselves "liberals" anymore; the preferred term today is "progressives." But in other ways, they are much the same slice of the electorate that dominated the Democratic Party from 1972 to the late 1980s: antiwar, pro-environment, suspicious of corporations and supportive of federal social services.

I've recently taken to co-opting the term 'progressive' for such radical Republican ideas as welfare reform, school vouchers, and a color-blind society. It really drives the leftists nuts, and considering that their still stuck in the 1970s, I think "fossilized liberals" may be a better discriptor of them.

posted by Renee | 12:04 AM

Wednesday, July 09, 2003  

July 9th in Iran

Pejmanesque has it covered.

Tehran Online is suspicious of the timing of the separation operation of the Iranian co-joined twins.

Ken Wheaton hits the nail on the head with his observation of the Iranian protest in NYC.
Noticeably absent from the demonstration signs saying "Bush=Hitler," "It's all about oil," "War is not the answer," "End Imperialism" or any of that ilk.

More noticeably absent? The 20,000 or so American college students who typically carry such signs in New York protests. Sure, they couldn't pass up an opportunity to show up in 20 degree weather to howl about how evil their country was and how suspect the President's motives were in regards to Iraq. And like it or not, whether they knew it or not (and interviews with a number of them showed they didn't know much beyond the particular slogan they'd decided to carry or shout), they ultimately were arguing for Saddam Hussein to remain in place.

Sure, with Iraq, there was the issue of war. Many of the February/March protesters said they were morally opposed to war. No, they couldn't offer an alternative solution, but they were opposed to war, and, on the surface of it, that's a noble position to hold. As many politicians know, it's always easier to claim the moral high ground and talk about being noble than to take action, to solve a problem.

Still, I find it morally reprehensible that the youth of America, muddle-headed as they may be, can run out into the streets to scold their country, yet here we have a demonstration for democracy in Iran, for a non-interventionist and peaceful solution to a horrible human-rights issue, the ousting of a fundamentalist religious regime and not a single one of them shows up. There are college students in Iran at this very moment who are in jail, probably being tortured, for doing nothing more than shouting their own slogans in the street or for running a Web site or for having a satellite dish. They're looking for secularization and democracy and women's rights. And not a peep out of their colleagues here. No rock musicians crying out. No public forums on MTV. No concerned actors biting at the ankles of politicians.

It's not just hypocritical, it's disgusting and depressing.


posted by Renee | 11:44 PM

A student group at Rutgers University, no slouch in the destroy-Israel department, has snagged the third annual National Student Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, to be held Oct. 10-12.

The event, which organizers expect to draw at least 500 Israel foes from the world over, is to include classes designed to teach kids how to pressure their universities to stop investing in companies that do business with Israel. Expect workshops in nonviolent resistance. Or so we hope.

Organizer Charlotte Kates told me peaceful resistance is the fest's guiding principle. Yet she noted that she, as well as the sponsoring organization, the New Jersey Solidarity Movement - an offshoot of International Solidarity - supports Palestinian homicide bombers.

"Palestinian resistance in all its forms has been a very powerful tool of justice," said Kates, 23, a Rutgers law student. "All forms, from armed struggle to mass protest."

And does Israel have a right to exist?

"Israel is an apartheid, colonial settler state. I do not believe apartheid, colonial settler states have a right to exist."

At the two previous conferences, at Berkeley, Calif., and the University of Michigan, pro-Palestinian rhetoric "crossed into virulent anti-Semitism," said Shai Goldstein, director of the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League chapter.

The university said the show will go on, despite 230 letters of protest. As a state school, Rutgers bestows public funding to Solidarity, said a spokeswoman.

They have now received 231 protest letters, and if you would like to send one, you can reach Richard L. McCormick at

posted by Renee | 10:18 PM

Here's a story you just have to snicker over.

posted by Renee | 9:13 PM

Body of Disabled N.Y. Girl Found in Trash
An autopsy was being conducted to determine the cause of death for Stephanie Ramos. Police said she was physically underdeveloped, weighed only 28 pounds, and could not see, speak or walk.

Her foster mother originally reported Stephanie missing on Tuesday, but changed her account after being questioned, police spokesman Sgt. Michael Wysokowski said.

posted by Renee | 9:08 PM

Halliburton: The Bush/Iraq Scandal that Wasn’t
National Review

posted by Renee | 8:31 PM

The BBC is left hanging in the wind:

MoD official who met Gilligan 'denies 45-minute claim'

BBC's faulty service

No, no bias here
Andrew Sullivan compares how different news outlets cover the findings of the intelligence investigation, and the BBC comes up wanting again:

"UK Parliament Clears Govt of Misleading on Iraq" - Reuters/Washington Post.

"Campbell cleared by MPs over Iraq dossier" - Daily Telegraph.

"Dossier report clears Campbell" - The Guardian.

"Iraq weapons claims criticised" - BBC headline today.

posted by Renee | 8:29 PM

As if the Supreme Court hasn't become worrisome enough:
Supreme Court citing more foreign cases Scalia: Only U.S. views are relevant
USA Today

Writing for the majority in a landmark decision supporting gay civil rights, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the European Court of Human Rights and other foreign courts have affirmed the ''rights of homosexual adults to engage in intimate, consensual conduct.''

Never before had the Supreme Court's majority cited a foreign legal precedent in such a big case. Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence vs. Texas, which was signed by four other justices, has ignited a debate among analysts over whether it was a signal that the justices will adopt foreign courts' views of individual liberties.

In theory, that could mean the currently conservative court someday might be influenced by other countries' opposition to the death penalty, their emphasis on foreign prisoners' rights and even their acceptance of same-sex marriages...

''It surprised me to see it in a majority opinion because there has been a debate among the justices over whether foreign law is relevant'' to rulings on U.S. law, says Yale law professor Drew Days, a former U.S. solicitor general.

Days is among those who saw the reference as a step forward. ''The justices are gaining the benefit of very sophisticated thinking by other foreign courts about privacy and equality,'' he says. ''Those terms are not unique to our Constitution and our society.''

Last year, Justice John Paul Stevens cited foreign law in a footnote when the majority banned executions of mentally retarded convicts. Stevens noted that ''within the world community, the . . . death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders is overwhelmingly disapproved.''

That drew a rebuke from Scalia, who said, ''The views of other nations, however enlightened the justices of this court may think them to be, cannot be imposed upon Americans through the Constitution.'' Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas joined Scalia in his dissent.

In the Texas case, Scalia -- joined once again by Rehnquist and Thomas -- wrote that ''the court's discussion of these foreign views (ignoring, of course, the many countries that have retained criminal prohibitions on sodomy) is ... meaningless dicta. Dangerous dicta, however, since this court should not impose foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans.''

posted by Renee | 7:59 PM

Tuesday, July 08, 2003  

Dissertation Could Be Security Threat: Student's Maps Illustrate Concerns About Public Information
Washington Post

Sean Gorman's professor called his dissertation "tedious and unimportant." Gorman didn't talk about it when he went on dates because "it was so boring they'd start staring up at the ceiling." But since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Gorman's work has become so compelling that companies want to seize it, government officials want to suppress it, and al Qaeda operatives -- if they could get their hands on it -- would find a terrorist treasure map.

posted by Renee | 1:12 PM

Democrats and Fat Cats
Washington Times
"The Nine Dwarfs" pursuing the Democratic Party presidential nomination have been relentlessly asserting that the Republican Party is beholden to the wealthy. It turns out, however, that it is the Democratic Party that has been addicted to the million-dollar contributions from the nation's fat cats. A recent study by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a nonpartisan campaign-finance research organization, reveals that the Democratic Party gobbled up an astounding 92 percent of all individual contributions totaling $1 million or more during the 2001-02 election cycle...

[O]nly in the truly fat-cat segments ($100,000-$999,999 and $1-million-and-above) did the self-described "party of the people" outraise the GOP. From individuals who contributed $1 million or more, Democrats collected $48 million, or 1,100 percent more than the Republicans' $4 million. Moreover, Democrats enjoyed a monopoly among individual contributors who donated $2 million or more.

posted by Renee | 12:31 PM

It’s Alive!: Why the Constitution should remain dead.
Jonah Goldberg
As Charles Krauthammer and others have noted, Sandy Baby (as John Riggins once dubbed her) is the Constitution of the United States of America. If she wants the text to mean free speech for everybody, then free speech for everybody it is. If she wants it to mean censorship for everybody, well shut my mouth!

A Constitution which changes with the times will inevitably mean that the Constitution only means whatever a handful of "robed masters" say it means at any given time. Not only is this dangerous, for all the obvious reasons, it's not even honest. Indeed, the fundamental deception of the liberal campaign to breathe new life into the Constitution with every generation is the implied suggestion that these changes are democratic in some vague way. The idea seems to be that if the text changes with the generations it must reflect the attitudes of those generations. Unfortunately, that's not really true. The fact is that the Court rarely reflects popular opinion so much as elite opinion. And it almost never reflects popular opinion when the pro-"living Constitution" crowd calls the justices "heroic."

And, once you realize that the Court is not changing with the generations so much as changing with whatever is fashionable in elite society in Washington and New York, it becomes clear that the people who celebrate the idea of a "living Constitution" don't really want the Court to follow the people, they want it to lead or, if need be, command the people. As Judge Robert Bork noted in The Tempting of America, "The abandonment of original understanding in modern times means the transportation into the Constitution of the principles of a liberal culture that cannot achieve those results democratically."

Amending the Constitution is hard because the Founders rightly wanted it that way. Making it a slow and difficult process — often taking years or even generations — not only guaranteed that only the most important changes would be considered as binding precommitments for future generations. It ensured that any proposed changes would be debated and argued over by just about everyone over a sufficient period of time so as to make certain that everyone thought about the lasting repercussions for generations to come. In other words, the Founders designed the amendment process to make us all wear the hat of a Founding Father. But when the Court simply redefines the existing words to mean whatever the majority wants, the Constitution is not longer about precommitting future generations to agreed-upon rules, it's about rank power in the here and now. You may not weep over the fact that this nullifies our ancestors efforts to set the rules of the game. But I hope it bothers you that the rules of the game are still being changed and you have almost no say in what kind of Constitution your descendents will live under. That is unless your name is Sandra Day O'Connor.

posted by Renee | 12:03 PM
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As If Nothing Happened