Saturday, December 31, 2005

Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam

Abdurrahman Wahid wrote in OpinionJournal Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology

That is a good idea, but how do you do it?
News organizations report that Osama bin Laden has obtained a religious edict from a misguided Saudi cleric, justifying the use of nuclear weapons against America and the infliction of mass casualties.
Is that cleric saying that he would expect a counter attack to take out Mecca and Medina?
It requires great emotional strength to confront the potential ramifications of this fact. Yet can anyone doubt that those who joyfully incinerate the occupants of office buildings, commuter trains, hotels and nightclubs would leap at the chance to magnify their damage a thousandfold?....

All too many Muslims fail to grasp Islam, which teaches one to be lenient towards others and to understand their value systems, knowing that these are tolerated by Islam as a religion. The essence of Islam is encapsulated in the words of the Quran, "For you, your religion; for me, my religion." That is the essence of tolerance.
Does the Quran really tolerate other faiths, or are they allowed only as second class citizens who must pay a special tax for not following Islam?
Religious fanatics--either purposely or out of ignorance--pervert Islam into a dogma of intolerance, hatred and bloodshed. They justify their brutality with slogans such as "Islam is above everything else." They seek to intimidate and subdue anyone who does not share their extremist views, regardless of nationality or religion. While a few are quick to shed blood themselves, countless millions of others sympathize with their violent actions, or join in the complicity of silence.
Then you should stand up to them every time they speak and say this is not Islam.
This crisis of misunderstanding--of Islam by Muslims themselves--is compounded by the failure of governments, people of other faiths, and the majority of well-intentioned Muslims to resist, isolate and discredit this dangerous ideology. The crisis thus afflicts Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with tragic consequences. Failure to understand the true nature of Islam permits the continued radicalization of Muslims world-wide, while blinding the rest of humanity to a solution which hides in plain sight.

The most effective way to overcome Islamist extremism is to explain what Islam truly is to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Without that explanation, people will tend to accept the unrefuted extremist view--further radicalizing Muslims, and turning the rest of the world against Islam itself.

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No more Intel Inside

AP reported Intel Corp. is launching a new corporate and brand identity that will include a reworked company logo, a change in its ubiquitous "Intel Inside" stickers and a shift away from the Pentium name for its microprocessors.

The Pentium name was used because they found out they could not trademark numbers, like 286, 386, 486. But I guess the reason they want people to look for a new trademarked name, is that people did not upgrade as much, if their new machine was going to be a Pentium, since that is what their old one was.
The changes, which will be formally announced Tuesday, come as the world's largest chip maker tries to market itself less as a chip outfit and more as a provider of platforms, such as its Centrino technology for notebook computers or its upcoming Viiv for entertainment PCs.

"This evolution will allow Intel to be better recognized for our contributions, establish a stronger emotional connection with our audiences and strengthen our overall position in the marketplace," said Eric Kim, Intel's chief marketing officer.
I wonder why Intel Inside did not show that, and why Leap Ahead does.
In one move, the company is removing the familiar dropped "e" from its logo, which has been little changed since the company was founded in 1968 by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. And like the recently revamped AT&T Inc. logo, the letters that make up "Intel" appear in lower case. Intel also is simplifying the "Intel Inside" stickers that first appeared on PCs in 1991 under then CEO-Andy Grove. But the marketing program in which Intel subsidizes PC makers who use Intel chips and stickers will continue, Intel spokesman Bill Calder said.

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Blogs of the Year

Thespis Journal announces Blogs of the Year

  1. The Political Teen
  2. Junk Yard Blog
  3. Dr. Sanity
  4. Michelle Malkin
  5. The Mudville Gazette
  6. Stop the ACLU
  7. Powerline
  8. Captain's Quarters
  9. Outside the Beltway
  10. The Gateway Pundit


I find it interesting that I was once asked to Guest Blog at his first choice, The Political Teen. I would rank Michelle Malkin much higher than fourth. For me, it is a tie for first place between Michael and The Anchoress

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Assumptions about Katrina victims

KRT Wire reported Four months after Hurricane Katrina, analyses of data suggest that some widely reported assumptions about the storm's victims were incorrect.

There were many things that were reported that were not true.
For example, a comparison of locations where 874 bodies were recovered with U.S. Census tract data indicates that the victims weren't disproportionately poor. Another database, compiled by Knight Ridder of 486 Katrina victims from Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, suggests they also weren't disproportionately African-American.
But it made a better story (one that was designed to hurt the Bush administration) to pretend they were poor blacks.
Both sets of data are incomplete; Louisiana state officials have released no comprehensive list of the dead. Still, they provide the most comprehensive information available to date about who paid the ultimate price in the storm.

The one group that was disproportionately affected by the storm appears to have been older adults. People 60 and older account for only about 15 percent of the population in the New Orleans area, but the Knight Ridder database found that 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older. Nearly half were older than 75. Many of those were at nursing homes and hospitals, where nearly 20 percent of the victims were recovered.

Lack of transportation was assumed to be a key reason that many people stayed behind and died, but at many addresses where the dead were found, their cars remained in their driveways, flood-ruined symbols of fatal miscalculation.

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Justice Dept. Opens Domestic Spying Probe

BREITBART reports The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday. The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Convene a grand jury and call the NYT reporters and editors. Any that won't reveal their sources should be jailed.
The Times revealed the existence of the program two weeks ago in a front-page story that acknowledged the news had been withheld from publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm various aspects of the program.
But mainly because their reporter had not finished his book, and the Patriot Act was not yet up for renewal.

Michelle Malkin blogged Random thoughts:

1) Won't be long before we start hearing the Bush-haters at the Times and elsewhere moaning about how this probe is a waste of time/distraction from the important business of Congress/politically motivated(!).
But we need to stress how this leak has hurt our national security, unlike the Plame leak
2) Look for the Plamegate apologists to argue that the NSA leaks were "good" leaks, justified in the name of safeguarding civil liberties and the national interest, and should therefore be exempt from criminal prosecution.
They are traitors to their country, in a time of war, and should be prosecuted, and once found guilty, they should be shot.
By contrast, they argue that disclosures about Valerie Plame were "bad" leaks worthy of pulling out all prosecutorial stops--though no one has been charged with leaking classified info, and even if they did, the adverse effects on national security are infinitesimal compared to the damage done by the NYT/NSA leaks.
Absolutely.
The law, may I remind the Bush-bashers, does not grant an exception based on leakers' motives. See Scott Johnson's analysis of the statutory language here.

3) The chickens will be coming home to roost at the Times, which crusaded loudly for a special prosecutor in Plamegate. Any bets on how long it will take for Eric Lichtblau and James Risen to roll over? I'd guess a few weeks after Risen's book launch.
And in plenty of time for the 2006 elections.

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Islamic Clerics for Issuing Fatwas Authorizing Sexual Abuse of Infants

MEMRI reported The Shiites in Bahrain have marriages for the purpose of mut'ah [pleasure].... They have: 'Pleasure from sexual touching,' 'pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts.' 'Pleasure from a little girl.' Do you know what 'pleasure from a little girl' means? It means that they derive sexual pleasure from a girl aged two, three, or four." "Let me tell you what 'pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs' means..." "This is a violation of children's rights! This constitutes sexual assault of the girl. What does 'pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs' mean? It means deriving sexual pleasure from an infant. How old is an infant? One year, a year and a half, a few months?

Some claim that because the person being interviewed, Ghada Jamshir, is a Sunni, that she is just trying to cause trouble with the Shiite Clerics, but if there is any truth at all in what she claims, there is some very sick stuff going on in Bahrain.

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Islamic Clerics for Issuing Fatwas Authorizing Sexual Abuse of Infants

MEMRI reported The Shiites in Bahrain have marriages for the purpose of mut'ah [pleasure].... They have: 'Pleasure from sexual touching,' 'pleasure from sexual contact with her breasts.' 'Pleasure from a little girl.' Do you know what 'pleasure from a little girl' means? It means that they derive sexual pleasure from a girl aged two, three, or four." "Let me tell you what 'pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs' means..." "This is a violation of children's rights! This constitutes sexual assault of the girl. What does 'pleasure from sexual contact with her thighs' mean? It means deriving sexual pleasure from an infant. How old is an infant? One year, a year and a half, a few months?

Some claim that because the person being interviewed, Ghada Jamshir, is a Sunni, that she is just trying to cause trouble with the Shiite Clerics, but if there is any truth at all in what she claims, there is some very sick stuff going on in Bahrain.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

U.S. Says It Didn't Target Muslims

WaPo reported Faced with angry complaints, U.S. officials defended an anti-terrorism program yesterday that secretly tested radiation levels around the country -- including at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington area -- and insisted that no one was targeted because of his or her faith.

Why back down from it. I think it was an extremely smart thing to do, and I hope that you did not really stop in 2003, but that you are continuing to do it today.
One official knowledgeable about the program explained that Muslim sites were included because al Qaeda terrorists were considered likely to gravitate to Muslim neighborhoods or mosques while in the United States. "If you were looking [for] the needle in a haystack, that's the haystack you would look at," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the program is classified. "You'd look at the [likely] targets and the places the operators were."
That makes a lot of sense.
No indications of radiation were found at the businesses, homes, warehouses or mosques that were included in the program. The official said that radiation monitoring of the Muslim sites started after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and lasted through 2003.

The focus on the Muslim sites, which was first reported last week by U.S. News & World Report, has stunned and angered officials at mosques and Muslim and Arab-American organizations. Two such groups have filed Freedom of Information requests, known as FOIAs, in recent days to try to learn which sites were monitored.
Hopefully the locations will be blacked out. And if the Muslims don't like it, they can always move to any Muslim country.
They also have requested meetings with the FBI, which ran the program along with the Energy Department.

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The Gray Lady Toys with Treason

Yahoo! News runs a New York Post editorial "The Gray Lady Toys with Treason": Has The New York Times declared itself to be on the front line in the war against the War on Terror? The self-styled paper of record seems to be trying to reclaim the loyalty of those radical lefties who ludicrously accused it of uncritically reporting on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Yet the paper has done more than merely try to embarrass the Bush administration these last few months. It has published classified information — and thereby knowingly blown the covers of secret programs and agencies engaged in combating the terrorist threat.

A Grand Jury should immediately be called and every reporter that reported on any of the recent stories that the Times reported should be called to reveal their sources, and if they refuse, they should be jailed, just as in the trivial case where the CIA attempted a Coup against America, and had one of it's agent's "outed" even though she (Valerie Plame) was no longer a covert agent, but just a Dem pushing the CIA to send her husband to Niger to discredit sixteen words Bush said.
The most notorious example was the paper's disclosure some 10 days ago that, since 9/11, the Bush administration has "secretly" engaged in warrantless eavesdropping on U.S.-based international phone calls and e-mails. It's not secret anymore, of course — though the folks who reacted to the naming of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative aren't exactly shrieking for another grand jury investigation.
No, but I am.
On the contrary: Democrats and their news-media allies — particularly on CNN and CBS — are openly suggesting that the president committed an impeachable offense and could (read: should) be removed from office. In fact, the Times managed only to blow the lid off of what President Bush rightly calls "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists" — one that already has uncovered several terrorist plots.
They are upset at that, because they think that if there had been a second 9/11, it would have forced Bush to resign.
Is it legal? The administration insists so, and notes that congressional Democrats got repeated briefings on the program, with few objections. Sure, the legality can be debated — but the case against it is far from a slam-dunk. As for taking action without court-issued warrants, both the last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, used warrantless searches — and strongly defended them as fully justified under the authority granted the president by the Constitution. In fact, the Washington Times reports that Clinton expanded their use to purely domestic situations — such as violent public-housing projects.

The Times says it held the story for more than a year, provoking a predictable uproar on the left. So why did it finally go ahead? According to a Los Angeles Times report, New York Times editors knew that a book by the article's author was to be published in just a few weeks — and they feared losing their "exclusive" to their own reporter's outside work.
So they betrayed their country to promote a reporter's book?????
But the exact timing is highly suspect. The article appeared on the very day that the Senate was to vote on a Democratic filibuster against renewal of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act — a vote the Bush administration then lost. At least two previously undecided senators said they voted against the act precisely because of the Times piece.
Yes they don't like the Patriot Act because it has foiled a number of terrorist attacks as well.
BUT it's not just the National Security Agency story. Last May, the Times similarly "exposed" — in painstaking detail — the fact that the CIA uses its own airline service, posing as a private charter company, as "the discreet bus drivers of the battle against terrorism."
Those reporters should be called before the same grand jury.
In fact, as the Times itself reported, "the civilian planes can go places American military craft would not be welcome." In an unconventional war, like the one against terrorism, the ability to move personnel around quickly and inconspicuously — or to deliver captured terrorists to a third country — is indispensable. Thanks to the Times, that ability has been irrevocably compromised — costing Washington yet another vital tool in the War on Terror.

Then, not content to merely sabotage the federal government, the Times last week blew the whistle on the fact that the New York Police Department has been using plainclothes officers during protest demonstrations. In particular, the cops have been exercising their vigilance on the group called http://critical-mass.info/Critical Mass, which the Times refers to benignly as "a monthly bicycle ride." Not quite. Yes, it began as peaceful, law-abiding rides — orderly protests. But it deteriorated last year into mass disruptions of traffic. A federal judge unwisely refused the city's demand that the riders obtain a police permit in advance — but still admitted that the monthly protests were "spawning potential dangers." All along, the NYPD has not been trying to shut the Critical Mass protests down or abridge anyone's First Amendment rights. It has only insisted on safeguards — like permits — to guarantee that no laws are broken and traffic disruptions are held to a minimum. Unable to get the courts to agree, the cops instead used plainclothes cops "to prevent and respond to acts of violence and other unlawful activity." In other words, to protect the people of New York.
Apparently the NYT does not like protecting the people of New York. I wonder if the would have had a different opinion of on 9/11 the planes had crashed into the NYT building.
Now, the Times has "exposed" this police work — and not just in words, but by splashing the pictures of these undercover officers across the pages of the newspaper, without making even the slightest effort to protect their identities. And make no mistake: The result will be to compromise the ability of the NYPD to work undercover at a time of increasing danger to the city from back-pack-toting terrorists — a la Madrid and London. Does The New York Times consider it self a law unto itself — free to subversively undercut basic efforts by any government to protect and defend its citizens? The Times, it appears, is less concerned with promoting its dubious views on civil liberties than with undercutting the Bush administration. The end result of the paper's flagrant irresponsibility: Lives have been put in danger on the international, national and local levels.

The ability of the nation to perform the most fundamental mission of any government — protection of its citizens — has been pointlessly compromised. The Jayson Blair and Judith Miller fias coes were high-profile embarrass ments for The Times, but at the end of the day mostly damaged the newspaper alone. The NSA, CIA and NYPD stories are of a different order of magnitude — they place in unnecessary danger the lives of U.S. citizens. The New York Times — a once-great and still-powerful institution — is badly in need of adult supervision.


Michelle Malkin adds Preferably adults with subpoenas.

Rob blogged In doing so, the New York Times is advocating for the very enemies who have stated as their objective the destruction of America and the lives of her citizens. All for the simple hatred of President Bush. And they say we conservatives are the uncultured masses.

Phil blogged It would be nice if we could feel like we were on the same side, but the NYT and others in the MSM had rather lose the war on terror than to see George W succeed. It's obvious that they are willing to undermine our National Security for the sole purpose of embarrassing the President. It's pathetic and treasonous.

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Natinal Security Agency

Rasmussen Reports Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.

I wonder if that 23% would be willing to move to one of the blue states, and we could then ask the NSA to not intercept any calls from AlQaeda to that particular state. That way the terrorists could plan any attack they wanted in that blue state.
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Americans say they are following the NSA story somewhat or very closely. Just 26% believe President Bush is the first to authorize a program like the one currently in the news. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is not while 26% are not sure. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans believe the NSA should be allowed to listen in on conversations between terror suspects and people living in the United States.
I certainly agree with them, and believe that if someone in the US is heard talking to an AlQaeda member that call should be justification for a FISA warrent to tap any calls that person makes to others in the US.
That view is shared by 51% of Democrats
The percentage would be higher if the Dems held the White House.
and 57% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

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Amazon Hosting Author Blogs

Clickz reported Adding to its user-generated content, Amazon.com has launched a program to allow authors to blog on the Amazon.com site. The Amazon Connect program, in beta for the past month, aims to increase the engagement between readers and authors, and between readers and Amazon.com. It provides authors with a channel to market new products to consumers who bought their books in the past, and gives them a reason to visit Amazon.com.

The program just appears to be in beta, and I could not even find a list of authors doing it, but if they pick up on it when it goes full scale, it should be interesting.
"This is a very smart move by Amazon. By asking authors to blog, Amazon is encouraging a dialogue with customers without having to invest any extra effort themselves. It's the online equivalent of an author book signing," Andy Beal, president and CEO of search and blog marketing firm Fortune Interactive, told ClickZ News. So far, the program doesn't allow readers to comment on blog posts, or to subscribe to blogs via RSS feed.
I don't think a site that does not allow comments or trackbacks or which does not have an RSS feed, should be called a blog.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

God sees embryos as full and complete humans

Reuters reported God sees embryos as "full and complete" humans, Pope Benedict said on Wednesday in an address that firmly underlined the Roman Catholic Church's stance against abortion and scientific research on embryos.

I agree with the Pope/
"The loving eyes of God look on the human being, considered full and complete at its beginning," Benedict said in his weekly address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Quoting Psalm 139, Benedict said the Bible teaches that God already recognises the embryo as a complete human. That view is the basis for the Church teaching that aborting or manipulating these embryos amounts to murder. In Psalm 139, the psalmist says to God: "Thou didst see my limbs unformed in the womb, and in thy book they are all recorded." "It is extremely powerful, the idea in this psalm, that in this 'unformed' embryo God already sees the whole future," Benedict said. "In the Lord's book of life, the days that this creature will live and will fill with works during his time on earth are already written."
Imagine what He writes in that book for the millions of babies that are aborted because the mother does not want to go to the trouble to raise a child, or to have that child interfere with what the mother wants to do regarding lifestyle, career, etc.
Benedict has already weighed into an Italian debate on abortion ahead of a general election in April, publicly supporting a pro-life group that right-wing Health Minister Francesco Storace wants to have access to counselling centres advising women seeking to terminate pregnancy. The Pontiff also raised the theme in his Christmas Eve mass on Saturday, saying the love of God shines on each child, "even on those still unborn". As well as being against abortion in all cases, the Church opposes stem-cell research which extracts useful cells from unused embryos left over from fertility treatments.

The United States Congress is debating whether to expand federal funding for this kind of research, which scientists say could provide cures to many debilitating diseases.
Maybe the Congress should focus on finding cures from adult stem cells, cord blood, etc. that don't involve killing future babies.

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Telling it like it isn't

Robert Fisk wrote in Los Angeles Times I first realized the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said. One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers....

The article goes on to bemoan pressure not to call Benjamin Netanyahu as "right wing", or not being allowed to call Jewish settlements as colonies, or calling "occupied" Palestinian land as "disputed", and other examples of not being able to be as left wing as Robert Fisk apparently wants to be, but it makes me think of the number of times the press distorts what is happening in Iraq and elsewhere, to please a left wing editor.

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Secret surveillance up sharply since 9/11

Yahoo! News reports Federal applications for a special U.S. court to authorize secret surveillance rose sharply after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the panel required changes to the requests at an even greater rate, government documents show.

And people wonder why he did not use FISA all the time.
President George W. Bush acknowledged this month he had secretly ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the international phone conversations and e-mail of Americans suspected of links to terrorists without approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The domestic spying order has set off a furious debate over whether the war on terrorism gives Bush a blank check when it comes to civil liberties and whether the president, in fact, broke the law. The Justice Department's reports to the U.S. Congress on the surveillance court's activities show the Bush administration made 5,645 applications for electronic surveillance and physical searches from 2001 through 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available. In the previous four years, the court received a total of 3,436. The 11-judge panel modified 179 of the Bush administration's requests. By contrast, only one was modified in the preceding four years.
And how many potential terrorist acts might have been aided by those 179 modifications.
The court has reportedly handled almost 20,000 applications since it was set up and has rejected only a handful.

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Some Conservatives Return To Old Argument

WSJ reported The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had "extensive ties" to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those "willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions." The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush's handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren't paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest -- and most controversial -- voices in the Iraq debate.

I am happy that someone is standing up for the President, but I am not sure this is the best way. I wish they would have just bought a controlling interest in WaPo or the NYT
While even Mr. Bush now publicly acknowledges the mistakes his administration made in judging the threat posed by Mr. Hussein, the organization is taking to the airwaves to insist that the White House was right all along.

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Defense Lawyers Plan Challenges Over Spy Efforts

NYT reported Defense lawyers in some of the country's biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

This highlights the problem with attempting to use the US Courts to resolve these cases. We are in the middle of a war against IslamoTerrorists. They are not from a single country, and they are spread over a number of countries, including many of our allies, and even including our own country, but they have one objective, to kill as many westerners as they can, whereever they can. Our court system is not the place to deal with them.
The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out. The expected legal challenges, in cases from Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Virginia, add another dimension to the growing controversy over the agency's domestic surveillance program and could jeopardize some of the Bush administration's most important courtroom victories in terror cases, legal analysts say.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Fear destroys what bin Laden could not

Robert Steinback wrote in MiamiHerald One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

Things certainly changed on 9/11. Bush has said so many times.
If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
What you suggest did not happen. Bush did not violate the FISA law; he just did not use it. FISA does not say this is the only way to do something.
Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.
That is because you did not want us to go into Iraq at all, and pretend that WMD was the only justification, when several different reasons were stated at the time.
If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.
Just as I laugh at the idea of getting IslamoTerrorists to talk by saying "please" and threatening to withhold their desert if they do not talk.
If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic,
When the CIA was launching a coup against the American government
defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy
by foolishly calling for us to cut and run.
-- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy.

That's no America I know, I would have argued. We're too strong, and we've been through too much, to be led down such a twisted path. What is there to say now? All of these things have happened. And yet a large portion of this country appears more concerned that saying ''Happy Holidays'' could be a disguised attack on Christianity.
Not disguised; overt.
I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.

Never would I have expected this nation -- which emerged stronger from a civil war and a civil rights movement, won two world wars, endured the Depression, recovered from a disastrous campaign in Southeast Asia and still managed to lead the world in the principles of liberty -- would cower behind anyone just for promising to "protect us.''

President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.
He never said that; he just said that as commander-in-chief at at time of war, he has the right to gather intelligence on the enemy. Not collect evidence to prosecute them in a court, but information to stop attacks on this country, like the one that destroyed two buildings and 3000 lives.
Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack?
It it pretty damn important.
Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, "What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?''
Are you volunteering to be in the next building that is destroyed?
Bush would have us excuse his administration's excesses in deference to the ''war on terror'' -- a war, it should be pointed out, that can never end. Terrorism is a tactic, an eventuality, not an opposition army or rogue nation. If we caught every person guilty of a terrorist act, we still wouldn't know where tomorrow's first-time terrorist will strike. Fighting terrorism is a bit like fighting infection -- even when it's beaten, you must continue the fight or it will strike again.
Does this mean we should not fight the Islamoterrorists.
Are we agreeing, then, to give the king unfettered privilege to defy the law forever? It's time for every member of Congress to weigh in: Do they believe the president is above the law, or bound by it?

Bush stokes our fears, implying that the only alternative to doing things his extralegal way is to sit by fitfully waiting for terrorists to harm us. We are neither weak nor helpless. A proud, confident republic can hunt down its enemies without trampling legitimate human and constitutional rights.

Ultimately, our best defense against attack -- any attack, of any sort -- is holding fast and fearlessly to the ideals upon which this nation was built. Bush clearly doesn't understand or respect that. Do we?

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Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War

WaPo reported Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called "The Fourth Rail", to come cover the war from the front lines. He raised more than $30,000 from his online readers to pay for airfare, technical equipment and body armor. A few weeks later, he was posting dispatches from a remote outpost in western Anbar province, a hotbed of Iraq's insurgency.

It shows what a terrible job the MSM is doing in reporting this war if soldiers have to hire retired soldiers to come over to Iraq to blog about what is really happening.
"I was disenchanted with the reporting on the war in Iraq and the greater war on terror and felt there was much to the conflict that was missed," Roggio, who is currently stationed with Marines along the Syrian border, wrote in an e-mail response to written questions. "What is often seen as an attempt at balanced reporting results in underreporting of the military's success and strategy and an overemphasis on the strategically minor success of the jihadists or insurgents."
That is because the MSM wants to tear Bush down, and underreporting of the military's success and strategy and an overemphasis on the strategically minor success of the jihadists or insurgents is the only way they can do that.
Roggio's arrival in Iraq comes amid what military commanders and analysts say is an increasingly aggressive battle for control over information about the conflict. Scrutiny of what the Pentagon calls information operations heightened late last month, when news reports revealed that the U.S. military was paying Iraqi journalists and news organizations to publish favorable stories written by soldiers, sometimes without disclosing the military's role in producing them. "I am convinced that information operations from both sides are increasing and intensifying. I think both sides are beginning to understand that this struggle will be waged in both the kinetic and informational realms, but that the latter is the decisive area of operations," wrote Daniel Kuehl, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington who specializes in information operations. "The insurgents target several audiences, including the Islamic world and the American populace."
And the MSM is on the insurgent's side.
In addition, the military has paid money to try to place favorable coverage on television stations in three Iraqi cities, according to an Army spokesman, Maj. Dan Blanton. The military, said Blanton, has given one of the stations about $35,000 in equipment, is building a new facility for $300,000 and pays $600 a week for a weekly program that focuses positively on U.S. efforts in Iraq. The names of the city and the television station are being withheld because the producer of the show said he and his staff would be seen as collaborators and endangered if identified.

A local U.S. Army National Guard commander acknowledged that his officers "suggest" stories to the station and review the content of the program in a weekly meeting before it is aired. Though the commander, a lieutenant colonel whose name is being withheld because he is based in the same area, denied that payments were made to the station, the Iraqi television producer said his staff got $1,000 a month from the military. It does not disclose any financial relationship to viewers. There was no explanation of the discrepancy between that amount and the figure of $600 per week provided by Blanton. "The coalition forces support us," said the producer, who added that while the U.S. military reviews each program, "they don't change anything." But he also said military commanders suggest stories, often about U.S. reconstruction projects or community efforts by the military. He acknowledged that the program portrays American military projects in a positive light.
And what is wrong with that?
The commander said: "We want a free and independent press. We found this small little TV [station] and asked if they are able to work with us. Our only guide to them is to tell our story, good or bad." Military officials say they have stepped up their responses to insurgent groups' attempts to influence news coverage -- including attacks aimed at media organizations, such as a pair of recent bombings at Baghdad hotels where journalists stay, attacks that officers and analysts said were designed to generate large-scale coverage.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Shiites Decline Sunni Bid for More Iraq Parliament Seats

NYT reported Sunni Arab political leaders asked the main Shiite political block today to give them 10 Shiite seats in the new parliament in an early attempt to defuse tensions over the results of last week's election. The Shiites refused the request.


A small committee headed by two independent Sunnis - Noori Arawi, Iraq's outgoing culture minister, and Zuhair Chalabi, the minister of human rights - met with members of the Shiite group, the United Iraqi Alliance, and relayed the request on behalf of the Sunni parties, said Sami al-Askari, an alliance member who was briefed on the meeting. It was not clear that Iraqi election rules would permit such a seat donation. Sunni Arabs have expressed anger over what they say was widespread fraud in the election,
Then they should team up with the other minority parties (Kurds, Secular Shiite, etc) rather than begging for more seats from the largest group to win seats.
and the move by the Sunni block, the largest group of Sunni parties, which is known as the Iraqi Consensus Front, was an effort to prevent a looming deadlock that could lead to months of delays over forming a new government and fuel the insurgency.

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Bush Presses Editors on Security

Howard Kurtz wrote in WaPo President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security. The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics.

And how much the MSM hates Bush, that they would be willing to endanger national security to try to hurt his administration. I hope that the next terrorist attack is against the NYT or WaPo.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Officials Want to Expand Review of Domestic Spying

NYT reported Congressional officials said Saturday that they wanted to investigate the disclosure that the National Security Agency had gained access to some of the country's main telephone arteries to glean data on possible terrorists.

They are probably going to huff and puff about doing too much, but what they should be doing is authorizing everything that is currently being done, AND ask that more of it be done. For example if a US phone number appears in an AlQaeda cell phone, not only should they listen in on any internatiional calls to or from that number, but they should listen in on domestic calls to and from that number, until they are certain that it is not a terrorist cell.
"As far as Congressional investigations are concerned," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, "these new revelations can only multiply and intensify the growing list of questions and concerns about the warrantless surveillance of Americans." Members of the Judiciary Committee have already indicated that they intend to conduct oversight hearings into the president's legal authority to order domestic eavesdropping on terrorist suspects without a warrant.

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Democratic Blogger Can't Afford Blue State

Steve Bartin blogged Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga the man that runs the most successful [left wing] political blog in America can't afford the Blue state of California:

So I'm getting a little frustrated with the Bay Area real estate market, and for the first time in years I'm casting about the rest of the nation to see if there's anywhere else where I could possibly live.
How ironic, a guy who supports a party that promotes Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and-use restrictions, zoning, open space laws, and unions is unable to buy a house in the very Blue area of Northern California.
Just because liberals want to impose things like that on others, does not mean they want to suffer under them themselves.
All this from a guy who's got a law degree. What is it about Blue America that hates people that aren't rich??? Attention Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga: did it ever occur to many in Blue state America that Houston (that doesn't have zoning) is a lot more affordable than let's say Berkeley, California.
Don't send him to Texas, that is supposed to be a secret known only to conservatives.
Also, Houston residents don't have a state income tax that they are paying. It appears Kos can't afford the very values he promotes, which is regulation of markets which leads to artificially high real estate prices.

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Patriot Act Extension Is Reduced To a Month

WaPo reported The House balked yesterday at a Senate plan to extend the USA Patriot Act by six months to give Congress and President Bush more time to work out their differences, instead forcing the Senate and the administration to accept a one-month extension

That was a big mistake. It would have been much better to have Democrats voting to reduce our protections from terrorism in the middle of the campaign season for the 2006 elections.
...."The fact is that a six-month extension, in my opinion, would have simply allowed the Senate to duck the issue until the last week in June," said Sensenbrenner, who had largely prevailed in negotiations with the Senate on a new version of the anti-terrorism law, only to see the compromise blocked by a Senate filibuster. "Now they came pretty close to wrecking everybody's Christmas. I didn't want to put the entire Congress in the position of them wrecking everybody's Independence Day."

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Environmentalist Complain about Santa's Trip

Scotsman reports Reindeer-drawn sleds have been slammed as environmentally unfriendly, because the carrot-munching animals produce the greenhouse gas methane in their wind.

Who said there is not a War on Christmas. Now the envrionmentalists want to ground Santa
Now Santa has been urged to ditch his sleigh team and start travelling on public transport to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. It has been calculated that Santa's team of nine reindeer would emit methane with a global warming impact equivalent to more than 40,600 tonnes of greenhouse gases on the 122 million mile Christmas Eve dash to deliver presents around the world. That would make his marathon sleigh ride almost as environmentally damaging as an aircraft, which would produce approximately 41,500 tonnes of on the Christmas Eve trip.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

The 12 Days of Christmas



"From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England could not practice their faith openly, so they found other ways to pass along their beliefs. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" became a kind of code song in which each of the gift items represented some aspect of their belief. Thus, the song became a way for young Roman Catholics to learn about their religion and to witness to it.

On the _____ day of Christmas MY TRUE LOVE gave to ME: (The "true love" was, of course, God and the "me" who receives each of these gifts was the Christian.)

  1. The "partridge in the pear tree" was Christ who died on the tree as a gift from God.
  2. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments, also gifts.
  3. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love, the three abiding gifts of the spirit (1 Corinthians 13).
  4. The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which "sing" of salvation.
  5. The "five gold rings" were the first five books of the Bible.
  6. The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation.
  7. The "seven swans a-swimming" were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11).
  8. The "eight maids a-milking" were the eight beatitudes.
  9. The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  10. The "10 lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
  11. The "11 pipers piping" were the 11 faithful disciples.
  12. The "12 drummers drumming" were the points of the Apostles' Creed.

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Santa and Google Earth

Official Google Blog reports The Google Earth team has received a pretty interesting business development inquiry that we thought we'd share with you:

To: "Google Support"
From: claus@gmail.com
Subject: Naughty or Nice Layer

I love Google Earth and have been planning a big trip with it. Now I'm wondering if you've ever thought about licensing data layers for "nice" and "naughty." If interested, I've got a really good list -- I've checked it twice. Rooftop accurate data!

Let me know,
S. Claus


They did not take him up on the naughty/nice layers, but if you have Google Earth installed you can track Santa's progress via Santa Radar

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Friday, December 23, 2005

One in Five Blogs Is Spam

Ad Week reports While 80,000 blogs may be created every day, about one in five is spam, according to new research. Umbria Communications, a Boulder, Colo.-based consumer-generated media monitor, found that 2.7 million out of 20.3 million blogs are spam, or splogs as they are sometimes known. It estimates between 10 and 20 percent of blogs are spam. Spam blogs are sites created only for marketing purposes, often using stolen content via RSS feeds to trigger keyword-based ads from Google's AdSense and other contextual ad programs.

I certainly don't like Splogs, but I have also found that there are a lot of Spam Websites around (that are not created by blog software), but are just there to respond to key words people search for, and they display a few Google AdSense ads, hoping people will click on them, and then they have additional links to other pages with the same sort of stuff on them.
Splogs "could become a detractor to people using, enjoying and finding value in the blogosphere," said Howard Kaushansky, CEO of Umbria. Umbria examined results in October from three blog search engines—Technorati, IceRocket and BlogPulse—and found them rife with spam sites. On average, 44 of the top 100 results on the engines were spam. For instance, an Apple iPod search turned up splogs in 80 of the top 100 results on IceRocket, and 75 and 71 on BlogPulse and Technorati, respectively.

Research found the splog problem is getting worse. Kaushansky said while many splogs are usually created to boost search engine rankings for sites, they are more frequently created to make money from text ads or affiliate programs. The main culprit often fingered is Google, which has fed the splog problem through its Blogger tool, then made it profitable through AdSense.
I believe AdSense is more of a problem than Blogger.
Blogger's open API made it easier for computer programs to create splogs, Kaushansky said. "We noticed a very strong correlation between the date Blogger opened [its application program interface] and when we saw spam starting to explode," he said.

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Nuclear Monitoring of Muslims Done Without Search Warrants

USNews.com In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned.

Good for them. I hope they expand the program.

In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program. Some participants were threatened with loss of their jobs when they questioned the legality of the operation, according to these accounts. Federal officials familiar with the program maintain that warrants are unneeded for the kind of radiation sampling the operation entails, but some legal scholars disagree.
We need to get a list of those that disagree, and move them all to a nuclear waste dump and let them guard it.

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Power We Didn't Grant

Tom Daschle wrote in WaPo In the face of mounting questions about news stories saying that President Bush approved a program to wiretap American citizens without getting warrants, the White House argues that Congress granted it authority for such surveillance in the 2001 legislation authorizing the use of force against al Qaeda. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said the president "was granted authority by the Congress to use all means necessary to take on the terrorists, and that's what we've done."

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.

On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11.

It is interesting that you did not care about acts of terrorism against the US unless initiated by Al Qaeda.
With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words "in the United States and" after "appropriate force" in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens.
Even though every one of the people on the four planes boarded those planes in the USA.
I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.

The shock and rage we all felt in the hours after the attack were still fresh. America was reeling from the first attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor. We suspected thousands had been killed, and many who worked in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not yet accounted for. Even so, a strong bipartisan majority could not agree to the administration's request for an unprecedented grant of authority.
You just said that it was you that refused to add the words. Was it you, or a strong bipartisian majority that could not agree?

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Cheney's iPod Takes Top Priority on Extended Flight

ABC News After a four-day overseas trip that took him to four countries in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney really wanted to get his iPod charged for that long return flight to Washington. Since it is his plane, the vice president's iPod took priority and was plugged into one of the only working power outlets on Air Force Two, frustrating reporters who were trying to file stories.

Maybe next time the press will charge the batteries in their laptops before they leave home. Imagine the press thinking it was so important for them to file their stories that they begrudged the VP the use of a power outlet on Air Force II.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who said there was no war on Christmas?

Frank J is on his honeymoon on a Dinsney tour boat, and blogged .... Being the religious Christian types we are, Sarahk and I have been saying merry Christmas when people wish us happy holidays or season's greeting or whatever else. Some smile and nod, others have just sort of stared at us and froze up like we'd cast an 'Immobulus' spell on them. This was especially true of the Disney crew. We thought it was odd. Then, ths morning we find this that someone slid under the door of our stateroom.

Disney Cruise Guests

This is the joyous holiday season. We hope you are enjoying the season during your stay aboard. We would like to ensure all our guests are comfortable in every way during their time with us but even more so during the holidays.

We want everyone to enjoy this time in whatever way they observe or don't observe holidays during this time of the year. To this end, we have assembled a list of holiday greetings that are least likely to offend others. We request that you use them exclusively or none at all during your journey with us.

Happy Holidays!
Seasons Greetings!
Happy Hannukah!
Wonderful Winter Solstice!
Happy New Year!
Feliz Navidad! (if you are a native Spanish speaker)
What do these idiots think Feliz Navidad translates into in English
Have a Joyous Kwanzaa!
Happy Ramadan!

Thank you for your cooperation. Enjoy your cruise with us.
Your Cruise Director
Jamie Farr
Well, Happy Holicraptacular to you Disney! or Should I say DEM-sney. What kind of leftwing liberal PC muckadoo mindscramble is this? Telling us we can say EVERY possible holiday greeting imaginable EXCEPT for Merry Christmas?

What the freak?

You know what? We've wished everyone we've run into a very merry Christmas ever since we got this piece of trash under the door. See how you like them greetings, Chairman Mouse.

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Senate Votes to Extend Patriot Act for 6 Months

WaPo reported A much-debated domestic surveillance law won a reprieve last night when senators agreed to continue it for six months to allow House and Senate negotiators to resume efforts next year to rewrite it for the longer term.

The House and Senate passed different bills, and as is normally the case they had a conference committee to resolve the differences. The House gave the Senate most of what it wanted, and then they approved the compromise the committee came up with. The Senators Filibustering the bill were filibustering what their conference members agreed to; they were spoiled children just wanting everything to be exactly the way they wanted it.
Some top Democratic and Republican senators said they were confident the House would agree to the compromise to prevent major provisions of the USA Patriot Act from expiring on Dec. 31. The Senate approved the extension on a voice vote.

Critics say the proposed four-year renewal, which the House approved last week, is too slanted in the government's favor regarding national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI significant leeway in obtaining records. The targeted people should have a greater opportunity to challenge such subpoenas and the government should be required to show stronger evidence linking the items being sought to possible terrorism, they say.
In other words the Senate only wants to stop certain terrorists; they are willing to allow some get through and kill Americans. Let us just hope that they ones the let through decide to attack the Senate.
Now they have more time to press their case in the bill's rewrite.

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Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program

WaPo The presiding judge of a secret court that oversees government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases is arranging a classified briefing for her fellow judges to address their concerns about the legality of President Bush's domestic spying program, according to several intelligence and government sources.

That is fine, but if the information subsequently is printed in NYT or WaPo, I want the judges arrested, along with the reporters writing the story.
Several members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in interviews that they want to know why the administration believed secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails of U.S. citizens without court authorization was legal. Some of the judges said they are particularly concerned that information gleaned from the president's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to gain authorized wiretaps from their court.
This is probably a good reason to avoid the FICA court. They are more worried about making sure it is admissable in court than preventing terror attacks.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Satellite Spying on Americans

Michelle Malkin blogged My column today covers the civil liberties absolutists' hindsight hypocrisy and selective uproar over the NSA's surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives and their contacts. I note the silence of the New York Times and the privacy crusaders over a report last week that military spy satellites were used to monitor suspects after the Oklahoma City bombing:

Funny enough, another story about unprecedented domestic spying measures broke a week before the Times's stunt. But neither the Times, nor the ACLU, nor the Democrat Party leadership had a peep to say about the reported infringements on Americans' civil liberties.... According to the McCurtain Daily Gazette, in the days after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the U.S. government used a spy satellite to gather intelligence on a white separatist compound in Oklahoma.... The Left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists--­but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh. If you're on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you're home free.
Meanwhile, a sane Democrat lawyer who served in the Clinton administration supports President Bush's legal position on the post-9/11 electronic surveillance program.

John Hinderaker wants a reply from the NYTimes reporters.


What Bush did was authorize listening in on calls between Al Qaeda people in other countries and people in their cells here in the US. The white separatist compound in Oklahoma Clinton spied on is totally within the US (in fact it is close to the geographic center of the US).

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Jihad is 'Muslim obligation'

Scotsman reported A lawyer defending al Qaida-linked suspects standing trial for the 2003 suicide bombings in Istanbul told a court that jihad, or holy war, was an obligation for Muslims and his clients should not be prosecuted. "If you punish them for this, tomorrow, will you punish them for fasting or for praying?"

Fasting and Praying are two of the Five Pillars of Islam. Suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism are not included.
Osman Karahan -- a lawyer representing 14 of the 72 suspects -- asked during a nearly four-hour speech in which he read religious texts from an encyclopedia of Islam. The November 2003 blasts targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate and the local headquarters of the London-based HSBC bank, killing 58 people. The Arabic word jihad can mean holy war among extremists in addition to its definition as the Islamic concept of the struggle to do good.
Which is the meaning Allah intended for the word.
Karahan spoke for three hours at the court in Istanbul. "If non-Muslims go into Muslim lands, it is every Muslim's obligation to fight them," Karahan said.
And what about when Muslims go into Non-Muslim lands, like the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia, etc. Is it the non-Muslim's duty to fight them?
A panel of three judges for the fiercely secular Turkish Republic listened to Karahan patiently, without speaking, as the defence lawyer read from four thick file folders.

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Alaska oil drilling myths

Ben Lieberman wrote in Washington Times Drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) makes so much sense, it's no wonder opponents must twist the facts to make it controversial. Yesterday, at last, common sense prevailed when the House passed by 308-106 a bill to authorize development of ANWR.

Why couldn't they have just passed the budget reconciliation act where the Senate had already approved ANWR drilling?
We're talking about 10 billion barrels of domestic oil in an area where there has been a proven track record for environmentally responsible drilling. Yet a host of tall tales from environmental activists and like-minded journalists has made it a tough fight in Washington.
What they should have done is just insisted on the drillers using the environmentally sensitive techniques they have said they will use.
The current action in Congress involves adding ANWR drilling to the defense appropriations bill. Given continued high oil prices and political turmoil in many oil-producing nations, now seems to offer a good chance to get ANWR done. But this will finally occur only if the ANWR myths are exposed. Here are several:
  • ANWR drilling would harm the environment. Some perspective is helpful to understand the ecological insignificance of ANWR drilling. ANWR comprises 19 million acres in Northeast Alaska, 17.5 million of which are totally off-limits to drilling or any other kind of economic activity. This is why the news footage showing beautiful snowcapped mountains is misleading, because the drilling would not be allowed anywhere near those areas. Only the flat and featureless coastal plain would be affected, and even there only a small portion of its 1.5 million acres. The current version of the bill limits the surface disturbance to 2,000 acres, a small piece of a big coastal plain in a very big wildlife refuge in the biggest state in the Union.
    An area more like the size of a postage stamp on a huge sheet of paper.
  • Oil wells would despoil one of the few remaining pristine places. Again, the vast majority of ANWR will be completely unaffected by drilling. It would occur only on a small part of the coastal plain where there already is some human habitation. There are plenty of truly pristine places in Alaska worth preserving, but ANWR's coastal plain isn't one of them. As it is, Alaska has 141 million acres of protected lands, an area equal to the size of California and New York combined.
  • Drilling is incompatible with National Wildlife Refuges. Drilling critics have tried to confuse wildlife refuges with national parks, wilderness areas and other more highly protected categories of federal lands. But national wildlife refuges typically allow limited mining, logging, drilling, ranching or other activities. Indeed, the statute creating ANWR contemplated future oil production on the coastal plain, subject to congressional approval. It is worth noting that another wildlife refuge in Alaska, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, has had drilling onsite for decades. The oil production there rarely makes the news because it has not caused any problems, even though Kenai has far more wildlife than ANWR.
  • Oil development harms local wildlife. An extensive track record proves otherwise. In addition to Kenai, Alaska has oil drilling in the Prudhoe Bay field, only 55 miles west of ANWR. Prudhoe Bay has produced more than 10 billion barrels of oil since the 1970s, which has been transported through the Alaska pipeline to the domestic market in the Lower 48 states. Decades of studies show this oil production has affected the environment negligibly. Environmental opponents of drilling cannot cite a single species driven toward extinction or even a decline in numbers attributable to Prudhoe Bay. That drilling also was done with decades-old technology and methods far less environmentally sensitive than ANWR would require.
  • Caribou herds will be devastated. Environmentalists have been particularly excessive in predicting dire harm to the herd of caribou that migrate through ANWR. But the caribou migrating through Prudhoe Bay have increased from 3,000 to 23,000 since drilling began in 1977.
  • Alaskans oppose ANWR drilling. In fact, polls regularly show 75 percent or more of Alaskans support drilling. This includes the native Alaskans who live near the potential drilling site. But the few who oppose drilling get most of the media attention. Alaskans know firsthand that resource extraction can co-exist with environmental protection. They also know how silly are the environmental gloom-and-doom predictions: They have heard such nonsense for decades.
If the average American, and his or her representative in Congress, knew the facts as well as the average Alaskan, ANWR drilling wouldn't be controversial. Fortunately, it's not too late for the Senate to join the House's common-sense step and boost domestic oil supplies by allowing ANWR drilling.

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4 GOP Senators

Charles Babington wrote in WaPo 4 GOP Senators Hold Firm Against Patriot Act Renewal

This makes it sound like it is the Republicans who are blocking renewal. I certainly despise what Larry E. Craig (Idaho), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), John E. Sununu (N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) are doing, but don't forget, all but two Democrats are also responsible for the filibuster against the Patriot Act.

The Senate passed its version of the renewal of the Patriot Act, and the House passed its version. A conference committee met and agreed on a compromise, giving the Senate almost all it wanted. The House approved the conference report, and went home for Christmas. The Democrats in the Senate, helped by four traitors from the Republican side of the aisle, are blocking approval of the compromise the conference committee came up with.

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Our Domestic Intelligence Crisis

Richard A. Posner wrote in WaPo We've learned that the Defense Department is deeply involved in domestic intelligence (intelligence concerning threats to national security that unfold on U.S. soil). The department's National Security Agency has been conducting, outside the framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens within the United States.

WaPo fact checkers better start reading Mr. Posner's column a little closer. The National Security Agency is not a part of the Defense Department. Under the new reorganization many DoD intelligence functions were placed under the control of the NID, along with NSA and CIA and others, but NSA has never been a part of DoD.

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Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls

NYT reported A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

If that happened it is unfortunate, and I am happy to see it was apparently accidental. But I am very happy to see the NYT admit that the White House only authorized eavesdropping on International calls.
The officials say the National Security Agency's interception of a small number of communications between people within the United States was apparently accidental, and was caused by technical glitches at the National Security Agency in determining whether a communication was in fact "international." Telecommunications experts say the issue points up troubling logistical questions about the program. At a time when communications networks are increasingly globalized, it is sometimes difficult even for the N.S.A. to determine whether someone is inside or outside the United States when making a cellphone call or sending an e-mail message. As a result, people that the security agency may think are outside the United States are actually on American soil.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Senate moves toward vote

MarketWatch reported The Senate moved toward final votes Tuesday on two controversial measures to be addressed before it can leave town for the year. The first vote, which may happen later today, is on a package of $40 billion in spending cuts as part of a budget plan. A separate show down vote may take place Wednesday over allowing oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The votes are expected to be so close that Vice President Dick Cheney cut short a trip to the Middle East to return to Washington in case he's needed to break a tie.

The spending measure cuts funding for several entitlement programs. The measure was approved by the House early Monday by a vote of 212-206. The spending cuts would affect Medicare and funding for student loans. Republicans say the cuts are necessary to trim the budget that has been impacted by the costs of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Democrats argue that the cuts will disproportionately affect the poor and the elderly.

We need spending cuts, but we need a lot more than $40B over 5 years.
The budget cut package had been held up over opposition to a provision to allow oil exploration in Alaska. But Congressional Republicans last week moved the ANWR language to a defense spending bill.
That was a mistake. The Senate had already approved ANWR drilling in the budget bill.
Senate Democrats who oppose opening ANWR to drilling were enraged by the tactic and vow to attempt to defeat the measure. The House approved the $453 billion defense bill by a 308-106 vote. Moving the Alaska provision onto the defense bill was "absolutely wrong," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on the Senate floor Monday. Democrats believe putting the Alaska measure on the defense bill is a violation of Senate rules.
I don't know about it being a violation of the Senate rules, but I agree it was absolutely wrong. They should have left it on the budget bill the Senate had already approved.
"If this goes forward, it will be a dark day in the history of the Senate," he said.
Considering how some Senators are behaving, like fillibustering the Patriot Act, which had already been approved by a House/Senate committee, perhaps the Senate needs some dark days.
But getting the votes necessary to block the defense bill may be difficult. It includes popular provisions to help rebuild the hurricane damaged Gulf Coast region.

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Torture

Silke wote a post on Hooah Wife about McCain forcing Bush to accept his amendment making not just torture, but anything cruel, inhumand, or degrading illegal. A very interesting exchange between the two of has taken place, and I thought I would repeat some of it here, because the commenting system Greta uses does not support bold face vs italic, so it is hard do tsee who said what. Here Bold Face is what I said, italic is what Silke or someone else said.

Don said: Silke, the "Torture" ammendment never was about torture. We do not torture, and never have. McCain's torture ammendment expaned what we won't do to say we also won't do anything cruel, inhumane, or DEGRADING.

Muslims consider it degrading to see a woman in control. Does this mean we now cannot have women participating in questioning? Must all women they see be covered in burkas and must they all act in a subservent manner?

Also the fight never was that the military should conduct degrading interrogations, but must we also ban the CIA from doing something someone might find degrading?

Some say they find it degrading to be wished a Merry Christmas, and others say they find it degrading to be wished Happy Holidays and not be wished Merry Christmas. Since just about anyone can say they find just about anything degrading, do we really want to tie our integrators hands not to do anything degrading?


Silke's comment:
“We do not torture, and never have.”

I guess it all depends on your definition of torture. It appears the CIA has been authorized in its interrogations of non-POWs overseas, to take any steps short of a very narrow Department of Justice definition of “torture.” In addition, we know from the Army’s Schmidt report (which was commissioned in response to FBI allegations of abuses at Guantanamo) that some of the methods used to interrogate high-level Al Qaeda detainees include: keeping the detainee awake for 18-20 hours a day for over 50 consecutive days, forcing the detainee to crawl around on a dog leash to perform dog tricks, menacing the detainee with snarling dogs, and “waterboarding” which is a technique that involves pouring water over a person’s face to bring them to the point of drowning. If this isn’t torture, then it certainly could be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. And what about our rendition policy, basically allowing countries with known records of abuse and torture to interrogate detainees formerly in our custody?

“Also the fight never was that the military should conduct degrading interrogations, but must we also ban the CIA from doing something someone might find degrading?”

I don’t think your examples of degrading treatment apply. I suppose we could go back and forth and try to agree or disagree on a list of acceptable methods of interrogation, but that’s why the McCain Amendment is so important.

The problem with the McCain ammendment is precisely that it does not define what is degrading. This opens it to interpretation and may block things it should not.
It reduces the ambiguity and eliminates the loopholes that some agencies may have been operating under. It also reaffirms our commitment that we do not torture nor do we allow cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Since just about anyone can say they find just about anything degrading, do we really want to tie our integrators hands not to do anything degrading?”

I’m not in favor of impeding our interrogators, just giving them clearer guidelines then what they have now.
Which this law does not do.
Don said: keeping the detainee awake for 18-20 hours a day for over 50 consecutive days

I have no problem with sleep deprivation.

forcing the detainee to crawl around on a dog leash to perform dog tricks, menacing the detainee with snarling dogs,

Those are sadistic acts done by a very few on the night shift and they are now in prison themselves

and “waterboarding” which is a technique that involves pouring water over a person’s face to bring them to the point of drowning.

Actually it involves tying the victim to a board with the head lower than the feet so that he or she is unable to move. A piece of cloth is held tightly over the face, and water is poured onto the cloth. Breathing is extremely difficult and the victim will be in fear of imminent death by asphyxiation. However, it is relatively difficult to aspirate a large amount of water since the lungs are higher than the mouth, and the victim is unlikely actually to die if this is done by skilled practitioners.

I would not want our troops doing it, but I have no problem with the CIA doing it. It successfully broke 11 of 12 top al Qaeda, usually in 15 to 30 seconds, and 2 min at the most


If this isn’t torture, then it certainly could be considered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

It isn't torture. No physical damage is done, no organs are lost, no death occurs. And as I said I would not want our military to do it (even though they are subjected to it in their training). But I would rather have the CIA do it, and retain control of the prisoner, than having to have him turned over to interregators from another country.

And what about our rendition policy, basically allowing countries with known records of abuse and torture to interrogate detainees formerly in our custody?

I would rather retain control of the prisoners, and let the CIA do a few things, like water boarding, short of torture than turn them over for real torture.

brainhell's comment:
I would rather retain control of the prisoners [rather] than turn them over for real torture.

Don, you said before that we don't torture. Surely you're not saying we knowingly send prisoners to other countries to be tortured? How does that differ?

Don's comment:
Don, you said before that we don't torture.

We don't. Not just because it is wrong, but because it seldom gets reliable information, and our people don't want to do it.

But there are many techniques short of torture that do get results, and are much kinder than techniques used by some of our allies.


Surely you're not saying we knowingly send prisoners to other countries to be tortured?

No I am saying we sometimes send prisoners to our allies, and we cannot control what they do to them.

How does that differ?

Let us say a team of American and Pakastaini soldiers take someone prisoner. They ask "are you going to be able to get him to answer your questions." And we say "well we cant be cruel to him, or do anything he might find degrading, but we can say pretty please will you tell us what you plan",
I should have added, we can also threaten to withhold their desert if they won't tell us
and the Pakastaini says "why dont you just let us question him"


Silke's comment: Dogs were also used at Guantanamo, as documented in the Schmidt report.
They certainly have guard dogs, and Muslims dont like dogs, but I believe most of the abuses took place with the night crew in Iraq.
As for “waterboarding”, making someone feel like they are drowning sounds like torture to me, but at the very least it is definitely cruel and inhumane. And it doesn’t matter who does it, it’s wrong.
It is not torture, because it does not lead to death, just the fear of it, and it definitely gets results. I would not want our soldiers doing it (even though it is done to them during training), but I would rather let our CIA do it than have to send the prisoner to another country.
As for our rendition policy – it was specifically developed to circumvent our own laws against torture. You say we cannot control what our allies do to prisoners we send to them. That’s the whole point. But if we truly wanted to control it we just wouldn’t send them in the first place.
I agree. But we need the answers. Either we need to be able to use interrogation procedures that might be a bit cruel, or we need to let others do the interrogation using methods we cannot control. We have to have answers. These Muslims want to cut our heads off (which is a lot crueler than thinking you might drown when you are in no danger of doing so.
I was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army for six years. From my experience (limited thought it may be) these aggressive interrogation techniques don’t work.
Did you try waterbording? It worked 11 times out of 12.
After a certain point, detainees will tell you whatever you want to hear (whether it’s true or not). The trick is to determine which lawful approach (and there are quite a few) works for each individual and let human nature do the rest. I just cannot condone some of the practices that have been used.
I don't like some of them either.
The fact that we differ so much on our definitions of “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment just confirms the need for the McCain amendment.
Muslims say being interrogated by a female is degrading, because a female should not be in a position of power over a male. Thus when you worked as in intelligence officer you were doing something the prisoner thought was degrading. Should McCain prevent female integrators?

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FBI Papers Show Terror Inquiries Into PETA; Other Groups Tracked

WaPo reported FBI counterterrorism investigators are monitoring domestic U.S. advocacy groups engaged in antiwar, environmental, civil rights and other causes, the American Civil Liberties Union charged yesterday as it released new FBI records that it said detail the extent of the activity. The documents, disclosed as part of a lawsuit that challenges FBI treatment of groups that planned demonstrations at last year's political conventions, show the bureau has opened a preliminary terrorism investigation into People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the well-known animal rights group based in Norfolk.

Glad they are keeping an eye on them. Some labs have been broken into, animals released, and PETA was written on the walls.
The papers offer no proof of PETA's involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group's events for years, including an animal rights conference in Washington in July 2000, a community meeting at an Indiana college in spring 2003 and a planned August 2004 protest of a celebrity fur endorser. The documents show the FBI cultivated sources such as a "well insulated" PETA insider, who attended the 2000 meeting to gain credibility "within the animal rights/Ruckus movements."
So they "cultivated sources" inside the movement. Good for them. I hope they know insiders in other organizations as well.
The FBI also kept information on Greenpeace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the papers show.
Fantastic. I particularly hope they are cultivating contacts inside some of the Islamic organizations.
The disclosure comes amid recent revelations about the extent of domestic spying by the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Those disclosures include the expansion within the United States of military intelligence and databases covering, among others, peace activists; increased use of "national security letters" by the FBI to examine personal records of tens of thousands of citizens; and, most recently, warrantless eavesdropping of overseas telephone calls and e-mails by U.S. citizens suspected of ties to terrorists.

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Snoopgate

Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power.

Or at least Newsweak would have you think so. Newsweak is the magazine that ran the cover story on Bush in the Bubble, when the truth is shown by this
President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda
Which is true.
—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Who is one of the two most honored Presidents.
No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
They did not use FISA, but FISA clearly states that it is not the only way by which international calls may be monitered. It is simply one way that can be used.
I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president’s desperation.
If your imagination was true, wouldn't you think the NYT would have mentioned it when they ran their story?
The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations.
But they did not know he was. Osama probably knew they might be listening in to satellite phones, but he did not discontinue using it until WaPo exposed it in 1998.
Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so.
At least nothing that would persade a publication that has done as much, if not more, to hurt the President than the New York Times has (and that is really saying something).
And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.
Persidential Power Grabs occur when the president seeks power to help himself; in this situation he was using the power to do his job, i.e. protect the country from IslamoTerrorists seeking to communicate with their cells in the USA.
No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention.
So is Newsweak suggesting the NSA nees to be a part of the Department of Defense.
It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

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