Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.
He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?
“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”
An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.
Investigators call the tactic letting guns “walk.” In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States.
Dodson’s bosses say that never happened. Now, he’s risking his job to go public.
“I’m boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we’ve been doing it every day since I’ve been here,” he said. “Here I am. Tell me I didn’t do the things that I did. Tell me you didn’t order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn’t happen. Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn’t happen.”
Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.
According to Dodson, “They said, ‘Did you hear about the border patrol agent?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And they said ‘Well it was one of the Fast and Furious guns.’ There’s not really much you can say after that.”
Two assault rifles ATF had let go nearly a year before were found at Terry’s murder.
Dodson said, “I felt guilty. I mean it’s crushing. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Sen. Grassley began investigating after his office spoke to Dodson and a dozen other ATF sources — all telling the same story.
When Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by drug smugglers in Arizona last December, Tom Tancredo revealed that Terry’s BORTAC unit (the Border Patrol’s equivalent of a SWAT team) were armed with bean-bag rounds in their weapons:
Here’s the part Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Border Patrol management are trying to hide: Border Patrol Agent Terry and the BORTAC team were under standing orders to always use (“non-lethal”) bean-bag rounds first before using live ammunition. When the smugglers heard the first rounds, they returned fire with real bullets, and Agent Terry was killed in that exchange. Real bullets outperform bean bags every time.
“There was no order given to CBP law enforcement personnel – now or in the past – that dictates the use of less-than-lethal devices before using deadly force,” stated CBP’s Southwest Border Field Branch Office of Public Affairs.
Records show agents fired beanbags in fatal border gunfight
Brady McCombs Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 12:00 am
Border Patrol agents shot beanbags at a group of suspected bandits before the men returned fire during a confrontation in a remote canyon, killing agent Brian Terry with a single gunshot, records show.
And an illegal immigrant wounded in the gunbattle who is now the only person in custody linked to the slaying contends he never fired a shot, according to FBI search warrant requests filed in the U.S. District Court in Tucson.
The documents provide the most detailed version yet of what happened in the deadly gunbattle Dec. 14 in Peck Canyon, northwest of Nogales.
The documents say the group of illegal border entrants refused commands to drop their weapons after agents confronted them at about 11:15 p.m. Two agents fired beanbags at the migrants, who responded with gunfire. Two agents returned fire, one with a long gun and one with a pistol, but Terry was mortally wounded in the gunfight.
Border Patrol officials declined to answer questions about protocol for use of force, citing the ongoing investigation.
It seems highly unlikely that officers would choose to load beanbags instead of live rounds. That’s not the kind of thing field agents come up with. It’s a policy that’s so stupid it had to come from Washington.
And even worse than Washington’s policy stupidity: No one will be held to account for the killing of BP agent Brian Terry
Presented as an interesting case study in the way law enforcement actually thinks–not to say that it is an essential task of U.S. law enforcement to “keep guns out of Mexico.” Our real culpability in Mexican gun violence lies, of course, in our drug prohibition, as see Jacob Sullum from earlier today.
How were they tracing the guns across the border? Was this murder also the result of guns that the Obama administration deliberately allowed into Mexico?
Keep a close eye on this one.
Regardless of whether that is the case, it is clear that this was a stupid idea in any event. Who knows how much violence has increased due to the new availability of thousands of assault rifles and other powerful weapons?
A Milan judge on Tuesday ordered Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to stand trial in April on charges of prostitution and abuse of office, dealing the most serious blow to his leadership in the 17 years that he has dominated Italian politics.
In a brief statement the judge said the trial would start on April 6. Mr. Berlusconi faces charges that he paid for sex with an under-age nightclub dancer nicknamed Ruby Heart-Stealer, and abused his office to help release her from police custody when she was detained for theft. The scandal has dominated political debate in Italy for months.
Mr. Berlusconi denies wrongdoing and has said he has no intention of stepping down. But in an increasingly tense climate after large anti-Berlusconi demonstrations on Sunday, analysts said the judge’s ruling makes it nearly impossible for the prime minister to govern and all but guarantees early national elections.
“The situation is more political than judicial now,” said Stefano Folli, a political columnist for the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. He predicted that in the short term Mr. Berlusconi would hold on, but “in the middle-term it’s an unsustainable situation.”
EARLIER today a judge in Milan, Cristina Di Censo, indicted Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, on charges relating to his alleged use of prostitutes. She said he should be tried for paying an underage prostitute and then attempting to cover up the alleged offence by taking advantage of his official position, which is itself an offence in Italy.
But Ms Di Censo did more than just indict Mr Berlusconi. She accepted, in full, arguments put forward by the prosecution that have potentially devastating implications for Mr Berlusconi (who denies any wrongdoing). First, she agreed with them that, because of “the obviousness of the evidence” they had gathered against him, he should be put on trial without a preliminary hearing. The full trial is due to begin on April 6th, and by a twist of fate (or, as Mr Berlusconi’s followers will no doubt contend, malevolent design) all three judges at the trial will be women.
That development seemed particularly resonant against a background of protests by Italian women against Mr Berlusconi and the entrenched machismo his female critics see him as representing. On Sunday, several hundreds of thousands took to piazzas around Italy to demonstrate “for a country that respects women”.
Their protest was the latest challenge to a prime minister whose personal popularity has fallen significantly since the scandal broke last October. Mr Berlusconi also faces daily problems attempting to get legislation through parliament following a walk-out by some of his followers last year.
On Sunday thousands took to the streets in Italian cities and worldwide in coordinated demonstrations that organizers said were aimed at restoring the dignity of Italian women amid the latest sex scandal and after years in which Mr. Berlusconi has routinely appointed television showgirls to political office.
No misogyny there. And how about Berlusconi’s lawyer’s take?
Noting that Mr. Berlusconi would be tried before a panel of three women judges, he said: “Great. Women are always appreciated, sometimes even agreeable,” the center-left daily La Repubblica reported.
Makes me wish I understood Italian so I could follow every twist and turn being reported in the Italian media.
Despite the scandals, the angry women, and the splitting of his political coalition, Berlusconi has managed to hold onto power. Why? The Guardian’s Alexander Chancellor says it’s because he’s a master salesman. “When he was building his media empire,” Chancellor says, he demanded his sales team have “the sun in their pockets”–they had to be sunny, smiling, non-smoking, mustache-free. The rules made Berlusconi billions. And now, despite the bad headlines, “Berlusconi still has the sun in his pocket. Addressing political rallies, he always looks hopeful, confident, and in charge. … He may have fallen from grace among many women and Catholics, but most men, apart from those of the left, seem still to like him well enough. In Britain he would probably be resented for his wealth alone, but in Italy it works in his favour.”
Berlusconi is, after all, a guy who once called Rosy Bindi, the middle-aged woman who heads the opposition Democratic party, “increasingly more beautiful than you are intelligent.” Her response was to tell him “I am not one of the women at your disposal,” which prompted an “I’m not at your disposal” campaign in support of her. (Bindi’s rejoinder may have sounded more pithy in the original Italian.) Like that exchange, the insults in the so-called Rubygate scandal are fascinating for their degree of bile, if a little stilted in the translation.
A few days ago, before Berlusconi was indicted for allegedly hiring an underage prostitute, more than 100,000 people, mostly women, came out across the country to protest his dalliances with young women. (Not to mention his penchant for institutionalizing sexism by, among other things, putting skimpily clad showgirls on the networks he owns.) This prompted Berlusconi’s education minister, herself a woman, to label the protestors “the usual snob heroines of the left.” By American standards this is a fairly stunning thing for a high-ranking politician to say. Not to mention a great band name.
Moscow’s Domodedovo airport has been rocked by a bomb explosion that an airport spokesman says has killed 35 people.
More than 100 people were injured – 20 of them critically – by the blast, which reports suggest was the work of a suicide bomber.
Russia’s chief investigator said terrorists were behind the attack.
The airport – the busiest serving Russia’s capital – is 40km (25 miles) south-east of the city centre.
President Dmitry Medvedev vowed those behind the attack would be tracked down.
He ordered increased security across Russia’s capital, its airports and other transport hubs, and called an emergency meeting with top officials. He also postponed his planned departure for this week’s World Economic Forum at Davos.
BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said immediate suspicion about Monday’s attack would fall on militants from the Caucasus region.
Militant groups fighting in the Caucasus know how important the perception that the president and prime minister provide a secure society is, and to undermine that is a key aspect of their aims, adds our correspondent.
Last March the Russian capital’s underground system was rocked by two female suicide bombers from Russia’s volatile Dagestan region, who detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during rush hour, killing 40 people and injuring more than 80.
Update: Reuters also reports 10 dead, 20 injured, and that it was a suicide bomber:
At least 10 people were killed and 20 injured in a suicide bomb blast at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport Monday, Interfax news agency reported.
Update II: The AP was a little more cautious, saying that “no immediate word” on a cause had been given and not offering anything more specific than “at least 20 casualties.”
Update III: At the same link, the AP now says 23 are dead and are now including the likelihood of it being a suicide-bomber attack.
Update IV: The AP now puts the death toll to 31, with 130 injured. They also note that Domodedovo had a reputation for lax security:
Domodedovo is generally regarded as Moscow’s most up-to-date airport, but its security procedures have been called into question.
In 2004, two suicide bombers were able to board planes at Domodedovo by buying tickets illegally from airport personnel. The bombers blew themselves up in mid-air, killing all 90 people aboard the two flights.
At least according to today’s reports, it’s also the busiest airport in Moscow, which makes it an even bigger target.
The most obvious suspects here would seem to be the Chechens, who have shown an ability to carry out spectacular, and deadly, terrorist attacks throughout Russia and even in Moscow itself many times over the past decade.
b. Someone incited by Sarah Palin’s violent rhetoric
c. A Christian
d. all of the above
e. None of the above (it wouldn’t be PC to define it)
[Update] Death toll now at 31 35. Russian President has already called the attack an act of terrorism. (In the U.S., authorities would insist it had no terrorist link until right-wing bloggers discovered direct and indisputable evidence that it was.)
There are some reports around that this is a suicide bombing, which suggests a terrorist organization like al Qaeda is behind it. But to be blunt the last time we had a breaking news story like that, the Safeway Massacre, very little of what was believed at first turned out to be true. I mean Ms. Giffords can now use that familiar Twain joke “the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The fact that those rumors were published in major media outlets is correctly seen as an embarrassment.
So, take everything you are hearing as a “penciled in” report. All of it could be wrong. But hopefully as time goes on we will sort it out and I will try to update this post as details get clearer.
TO LITTLE pomp and widespread confusion, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former dictator of Haiti, returned to his country on January 16th, a quarter century after fleeing to exile on the French Riviera. Mr Duvalier arrived on an Air France flight a little before six in the evening, and a few hundred people greeted him outside the airport. A convoy of Haitian national police then accompanied him to a glitzy hotel in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Along with his Haitian companion, Veronique Roy, and a smattering of associates, he dined on a grilled conch and promised a press conference. But in the morning, about a hundred reporters waited in vain for Mr Duvalier to appear. A shabbily suited spokesperson cited “capacity problems” at the hotel and promised that the ex-dictator would talk tomorrow.
Little is known about the intentions of Mr Duvalier, who simply said upon arrival that he had “come to help”. His trip may well have been prompted by Haiti’s current political turmoil—its presidential run-off election, originally scheduled for yesterday, has been postponed indefinitely because of arguments over who should participate. But with both the Haitian government and the UN peacekeeping force keeping mum, speculation is running rampant over what he has in mind. One theory holds that the French sent him to pressure René Préval, the president, to accept the findings of a report by the Organisation of American States, which called for the government’s presidential candidate, Jude Celestin, to be dropped from the run-off. (The French embassy has denied any involvement). Another contends that Mr Préval himself cooked up the visit as a “Wag the Dog”-style ploy to distract the country. “Do you hear anyone talking about the election this morning?”, quipped Louis Henri Mars, an anti-violence campaigner. A less popular interpretation is that the stooped, haggard Mr Duvalier just wants to spend his last days at home.
It is also unclear why Mr Duvalier, a torturer, kidnapper and thief—although a less brutal ruler than his father and predecessor, François—has not been arrested. The Haitian government reiterated in 2008 that its criminal proceedings against him were ongoing, and he faces a $500m judgment in the United States. Haiti has no statute of limitations for misappropriation of public funds, and international law holds that crimes against humanity can always be prosecuted.
Baby Doc has said he returned to “help” Haiti as it recognizes the anniversary of last year’s calamitous earthquake, and will hold a press conference today. He hopes to remain in the country for three days, though while there he could be arrested and charged for atrocities committed during his rule.
Given how poor, pathetic, and desperate Haiti is the return of Duvalier to power isn’t entirely inconceivable, unless the United States and the rest of the OAS were to weigh in to make sure it doesn’t happen. Nonetheless there is absolutely good that can come from Duvalier’s return, and the one thing that is truly sad about this whole situation is that, in many ways, Haiti is no better off today than it was on the day the Baby Doc Duvalier was flown to France on a U.S. Air Force jet.
Duvalier, 19 years old when he officially took power and tossed out at age 34, wouldn’t leave his cushy exile in France merely to act on behalf of the OAS, or even to counter the OAS. It’s difficult to imagine any reason for Duvalier to be in Haiti except to seize power once again. It’s about the most propitious time for a power grab; we have a disputed and almost certainly corrupt election, starvation, epidemics, and the ravages of natural disasters still plaguing the nation. That kind of chaos breeds dictators more often than not, and the return of a ready-made dictator might make it even easier to seize control.
How can Canada improve the situation, a year after the earthquake and the return of Baby Doc Duvalier?
The answer: Nothing. More devastation ahead.
In Haiti, some 95% of the rubble resulting from the quake has still to be removed. Without moving the rubble, how can reconstruction begin?
The answer: It can’t, and won’t.
A million are living in tent cities a year later. About the only significant change is a surge in pregnancies after the quake – two-thirds of them unexpected, or unplanned. And a plunge in the age of these mothers.
Some predicted this as soon as word of the catastrophic quake got out. No amount of humanitarian aid will change things. Haiti seems one of those corrupt, basket economies that defies improvement.
Worse, now, that Baby Doc is back.
Aside from blaming Nepalese troops on UN duty for the cholera outbreak, there’s very little evidence of accountability in Haiti.
Regardless of how cholera started, lack of clean water is an invitation for cholera and other water-born diseases.
Haitian police led ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier out of his hotel and took him to court Tuesday without saying whether he was being charged with crimes committed under his brutal regime.
A contingent of police led the former dictator known as “Baby Doc” through the hotel and to a waiting SUV. He was not wearing handcuffs.
Duvalier, 59, was calm and did not say anything. Asked by journalists if he was being arrested, his longtime companion Veronique Roy, laughed but said nothing. Outside the hotel, he was jeered by some people and cheered by others.
The SUV drove in a convoy of police vehicles to a courthouse, even as dozens of Duvalier supporters blocked streets with overturned trash bins and rocks to try to prevent the former dictator from going to prison.
The courthouse was thronged with spectators and journalists trying to get in to view the proceedings. It was not immediately clear whether the session would be open to the public — or what, if any, charges had been filed against him.
His removal from the hotel came after he met in private with senior Haitian judicial officials met inside his hotel room amid calls by human rights groups and other for his arrest.
The country’s top prosecutor and a judge were among those meeting with the former leader in the high-end hotel where he has been ensconced since his surprise return to Haiti on Sunday.
STOCKHOLM — Two explosions shook central Stockholm on Saturday, killing one person and injuring two, rescue officials said.Police spokeswoman Petra Sjolander said a car exploded near Drottninggatan, a busy shopping street in the center of the city. Shortly afterward, a second explosion was heard higher up on the same street, and a man was found injured on the ground. He was later pronounced dead.
…”I saw some people crying, perhaps from the chock,” he said. “There was a man lying on the ground with blood coming out in the area of his belly, and with his personal belongings scattered around him.”
Gabiro said the blast was “quite loud” and he saw smoke coming from the area where the man was lying.
Few details except one familiar item. The vehicle was stuffed with gas canisters, which I take as propane cylinders and gasoline. Gee I wonder if anyone has tried that before?And it appears they wanted to blow up Christmas, excuse me, Cross Worshiping Shoppers.
Must have been those pesky Lutherans protesting the commercialization of Christmas?
They’re at it again. Cartoon jihadists hit Stockholm yesterday in a suicide bombing. Two innocent bystanders were injured; the jihadist died of stomach wounds. All for the pretextual crime of “insulting” Islam.
Swedish police confirmed that the owner of the car used in the bombing has been identified as Taimour Abdulwahab, born Dec. 12, 1981; today would be his 29th birthday, according to Swedish journalist Per Gudmundson. The car was purchased as late as November of this year.
There was an R.I.P. page on Facebook for Abdulwahab, created earlier today, noting he “died an heros dead in Stockholm” on Dec. 11. Abdulwahab’s own Facebook page, which appeared under the nom de guerre “Taimour Al-Abdaly,” is replete with references to militant Islam and videos from Iraq and Chechnya, and listed “favorites” include “Islamic Caliphate State” and Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the radical Jordanian cleric and mentor of Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Within the past few hours, both Facebook pages have been taken down.
One of the links on Abdulwahab’s Facebook page shows photos of him in what appears to be Jordan.
The warning emailed to Swedish authorities shortly before the bombing yesterday contained a request for forgiveness from the plotter’s family for deluding them about a recent trip to the Middle East; the trip was made for terrorist training purposes.
“I never went to the Middle East to work or earn money. I went there for Jihad,” he stated.
Suspected Swedish bomber Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly used the Muslim dating site Muslima.com in his search for a second wife. (Daily Mail) The Swedish suicide bomber was a trained jihadist who was recently looking for a second wife.
He was a father of two young children.
In an interview with the BBC, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he is “not sure” if e-mail threats sent minutes before two bombs exploded in downtown Stockholm are connected to yesterday’s bombing which killed the attacker and injured two civilians.
The threat stated in part, “Our actions will speak for themselves, as long as you do not stop your stupid war against Islam.”
While Prime Minister Reinfeldt (the leader of Sweden’s ostensibly conservative Moderate Party) might not be sure if the e-mail threat and subsequent bombings are connected, an Islamist website is very sure. The website, Shumukh al-Islam, identified the bomber as Taimour Abdulwahib Al-Abdaly. The jihadist forum referred to Al-Abdaly as “our brother” and indicated that Al-Abdaly had “carried out the martyrdom operation in Stockholm.”
The Daily Mail reports that Al-Abdaly was born in Iraq, had moved to Sweden nearly twenty years ago and had attended university in England. The British daily also indicated that Al-Abdaly had a history of expressing jihadist sympathies posting videos concerning the War in Iraq, Chechnya and Guantanamo Bay.
How in the hell do you detonate a huge car bomb, and a suicide bomb, in the middle of a busy shopping area a couple of weeks before Christmas without killing anyone but yourself? I’m sure we’ll learn every little detail about the person who did this, and maybe there are more attacks to follow, but at the moment this looks like more confirmation of DougJ’s thesis that terrorism is for losers.
We’ve been lucky in two respects. First, most of the terrorist attacks in the West since the 9/11 attacks — now more than nine years ago — have been spectacularly inept. Second, we’ve thus far been spared by the classical suicide bombers of the type that have plagued Israel for something like a quarter century.
Given that the security measures needed to defend against the latter are so onerous that they’re intolerable in a free society — indeed, a society which would tolerate them for more than the occasional high value target could not reasonably be described as “free” — it’s only a matter of time.
As is obvious, people are out to kill Swedes and they don’t much care who it is that’s unlucky enough to be around the next bombing attempt (of course, the probability of being killed in a terror attack in the West is probably akin to the probability of being struck by lightning as it is – but it still scares people excessively.).
So … they can roll over, give up their liberty and freedom and someday see their children grow up in an oppressive culture that doesn’t value anything the Swedes value today. Or Sweden can take a deep breath, hitch up its courage, declare real war on radical Islam and the killers it creates and sweep them from their country. By doing so they can also serve notice that the dominant culture – Swedish culture – will remain as such and that those who’ve immigrated from other lands and other cultures can adapt to that culture or leave. Here’s a basic truth that needs to be heeded: You cannot be tolerant with the intolerant.
When those who would kill you declare war on you as these killers have, you have two choices – fight the war or surrender. You can’t decide not to participate. It doesn’t work that way. Hopefully Sweden will understand that and choose the former over the latter.
Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.
Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program’s top expert on computer codes and cyber war.
The last few days we have seen quite a few interesting stories about the Stuxnet virus/malware currently wreaking havoc in Iran’s nuclear program. First was this very interesting Fox news reportage on the program:
Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they’ve all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department’s acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”
The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.
Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.
I mean that passage is so “holy sh-t” I wonder if the correct name for this thing should be “Skynet.” Of course I urge you to read the whole thing.
But then there was a moment this morning that I liken to the second plane striking the WTC. Now let me be clear. I am not about to compare this thing to the evil of the 9-11 attacks, or anything like that. But like a lot of you, I remember hearing about the first plane striking, and thinking it was an accident, or maybe just one lone crazy pilot. And then I heard about the second plane and I knew this was an attack, and it had to be more than just one nut. That was the feeling I had learning the next few facts.
I suppose that some dissident Iranian faction could have pulled this off but the money bet has to be the Israelis. (Hmm, might the Russians be on the board? They could be playing both sides, publicsly sorta-supporting Irana while privately getting worried about a nuclear crazy on their border.)
Ahmadinejad et al, of course, blame Israel and the West, and no doubt this “blame” is deserved. How it should be apportioned may be forever a mystery, but it is unlikely we will find out via WikiLeaks, which have thus far done little more than ratify the obvious and make the Obama administration look foolish for its ludicrously ineffective security. Intelligence work evidently has two levels – a completely incompetent one that produces WikiLeaks and a brilliant one that produces Stuxnet.
Speaking of Stuxnet, some recent reports have added Russia to the list of nations (in this case with the US and Germany, not Israel) who have conspired to construct the malware. Now that’s interesting – and undoubtedly crazy-making to the Iranians.
The Iranians are blaming Israel, of course… despite the fact that this would be precisely the sort of cinematic attack that generally stays in cinemas*. That would be because you don’t start a war to kill two scientists; and if Mossad had done this, it would have been an act of war.
On the other hand: between this situation and the Stuxnet worm, this entire Iranian nuke situation is starting to get an action-movie feel to it. Which is not actually a good thing, given a). the number of extras that typically die in action movies and b). the amount of real estate that typically gets blown up…
Earlier this year, I wrote about a clandestine CIA program to delay or perhaps even derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions by convincing high-level Iranian nuclear scientists to defect to the United States. The program, called Brain Drain and put in place by the Bush administration as early as 2005, came under intense scrutiny after the botched defection of a 30-year-old junior staff member of Iran’s Atomic Agency named Shahram Amiri, who was picked up by U.S. intelligence agents in Saudi Arabia last summer but who later asked to be returned to Iran.
Part of the CIA’s clandestine efforts apparently include selling faulty nuclear components to Iran, some of which have been booby-trapped to explode and destroy the machinery altogether. There have been scattered reports of explosions at various enrichment facilities, including one that destroyed 50 centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz plant. And, just recently, we learned of the so-called Stuxnet computer virus, which seems to have been developed (likely by the U.S. and/or Israel) specifically to target Iran’s centrifuges. The virus reportedly shut down thousands of centrifuges at Iran’s controversial Natanz enrichment facility.
I reported then about the possibility that these covert activities, which seem to have been successful in slowing Iran’s nuclear program, may also include targeted assassinations of high-level nuclear scientists and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In 2007, the intelligence website STRATFOR claimed that Mossad agents had used “radioactive poison” to kill a nuclear physicist named Ardashir Hosseinpour who was suspected of being involved in Iran’s secret nuclear program. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was also mysteriously assassinated by a car bomb in January 2010. Add to this a number of high-profile “disappearances,” like that of a former defense minister and general in the Revolutionary Guard, Ali-Reza Asgari, who vanished while on a trip to Turkey, and a distinct pattern starts to emerge.
Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst at STRATFOR, puts it plainly. “With cooperation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear program and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain.”
If that is true and Monday’s assassination attempt of Iranian nationals signals a shift in U.S. or Israeli strategy toward Iran (perhaps emboldened by what the recent WikiLeaks dump shows is growing Arab government support for a harder line toward Iran’s nuclear program), then we may be entering a new and extremely dangerous phase in the nuclear standoff with Iran—one that could quickly get out of hand. The head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, sounded a dire warning to the U.S. and Israel. “Don’t play with fire,” he said. “The patience of the Iranian people has its limits. If our patience runs out, you will suffer the consequences.”
Of course, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever really know who’s behind this, which is of course the point of a covert operation. However, it seems pretty clear that there is an ongoing effort, perhaps international in origin, to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. That in and of itself is a fascinating story.
The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as “homoerotic.”
The exhibit, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.
“This is an exhibition that displays masterpieces of American portraiture and we wanted to illustrate how questions of biography and identity went into the making of images that are canonical,” David C. Ward, a National Portrait Gallery (NGP) historian who is also co-curator of the exhibit, told CNSNews.com.
A plaque fixed to the wall at the entrance to the exhibit says that the National Portrait Gallery is “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity. As America’s museum of national biography, the NPG is also vitally interested in the art of portrayal and how portraiture reflects our ideas about ourselves and others.
An ant-covered Jesus/crucifix in “A Fire in My Belly” video, part of the ‘Hide/Seek’ exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
Its title is coyly encrypted in postmodern bipolarity: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” And the exhibition apparently is full of Mapplethorpe-inspired gay-related imagery and offers us an image of Jesus being swarmed over by ants. Clever, brave, bold, shocking. Or in the words of the overseers of the federally-subsidized National Portrait Gallery, such artistic courage proves how the gallery is now “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”
But once more all that verbiage turns out to be just Sixties-ish lingo for about the same old, same old:
Abject cowardice—since if a theme were really religious intolerance, why not portray Mohammed in lieu of Christ, inasmuch as contemporary Islam is far more intolerant of gays and liberated women than the so-called Christian West. Such a video might better exhibit just how “committed” these federal artistic bureaucrats were to “equality, inclusion, and social justice.”
Mediocrity—dressing up talentless soft-core pornographic expression with federal catch-phrases and subsidies ensures a venue for junk art that most otherwise would neither pay to see nor ever exhibit.
Politics—all this is supposedly sort of revolutionary, full of neat phrases like “committed”, “struggle for justice”, “full inheritance”, “equality”, “inclusion”, and “social dignity”, and all the empty vocabulary that mostly upscale white nerds like a Bill Ayers employ when they want to tweak and embarrass the gullible liberals who support and pay for their nonsense.
If these “artists” really wanted to be daring and controversial, they’d create an ant-covered Quran exhibit. But the cowards take the path of least resistance and then applaud their own courage in the face of minuscule risk.
Another turn in this story, again via CNS News, and in my opinion a hollow threat from John Boehner and Eric Cantor:
House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-Ohio) is telling the Smithsonian Institution to pull an exhibit that features images of an ant-covered Jesus or else face tough scrutiny when the new Republican majority takes control of the House in January. House Majority Leader-to-be Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), meanwhile, is calling on the Smithsonian to pull the exhibit and warning the federally funded institution that it will face serious questions when Congress considers the next budget.
CNSNews.com had asked both congressional leaders if the exhibit should continue or be cancelled and both indicated it should be cancelled. …
“Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington,” Smith said.
When asked to clarify what exactly Boehner meant by calling on the Smithsonian to “correct” their mistake with the exhibit, Smith said Boehner wanted the exhibit “cancelled.”
Cantor, meanwhile, said the exhibit should be “pulled.”
I’m sure some on the Left will scream censorship, but this is what happens when an institution takes money from the government, or anyone else. If the Smithsonian depended on big private donors to fund this junk, those big private donors would likely demand a say in what their money’s used for. Same with Congress, and not just in the arts. Whether you’re on welfare or a big corporation receiving subsidies, all taxpayer money comes with certain conditions.
The problem is that there’s no teeth behind this threat. The time to end the grossly immoral practice of funding the arts (and PBS) in every shape, manner and form was sometime between 2002 and 2006 when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Pardon my cynicism, but if the Republicans didn’t have the sand to do it then, they sure don’t now with even less power; so you can bet the Smithsonian isn’t exactly shaking in their boots.
That didn’t take too long. The ant-covered Jesus is now gone. From TBD.com:
The National Portrait Gallery has removed a work of art from a GLBT-themed exhibition after it attracted conservative and religious ire for its images of homosexuality and Christianity. Director Martin Sullivan announced the removal of A Fire in My Belly by artist David Wojnarowicz after conservative news service CNS wrote yesterday that the “Christmas-season exhibit,” which opened in October, used taxpayer money to indirectly fund an exhibition that includes imagery of genitalia, homoerotic situations, and Christ covered in ants.
Two men taken off a Chicago-to-Amsterdam United Airlines flight in the Netherlands have been charged by Dutch police with “preparation of a terrorist attack,” U.S. law enforcement officials tell ABC News.
U.S. officials said the two appeared to be travelling with what were termed “mock bombs” in their luggage. “This was almost certainly a dry run, a test,” said one senior law enforcement official.
A spokesman for the Dutch public prosecutor, Ernst Koelman, confirmed the two men were arrested this morning and said “the investigation is ongoing.” He said the arrests were made “at the request of American authorities.”
NPR’s Carrie Johnson has a bit more information from law enforcement officials on the detention of the two men in Amsterdam from a United Airlines flight from Chicago:
“One of the men is from Yemen. Another man who joined him lives in the Detroit area.
Officials say the Yemeni man taped cell phones, watches and other items together in his suitcase. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he had a dangerous intent.
Under Dutch law, the men can be detained while the investigation continues.
She also passes along the following statement from U.S. law enforcement:
“Suspicious items were located in checked luggage associated with two passengers on United Flight 908 from Chicago O’Hare to Amsterdam last night. The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves, and as we share information with our international partners, Dutch authorities were notified of the suspicious items. This matter continues to be under investigation.”
The test involved traveling separately to Chicago’s O’Hare airport with a fake bomb or two in a suitcase (not to mention a box cutter and three large knives). The suitcase was then checked onto a flight to Dulles, with connecting flights to Dubai, and finally Yemen. The two suspects having met up at O’Hare, boarded a flight to Amsterdam instead. The luggage with the fake bombs was recovered at Dulles when it was realized that the suspect who checked it had not actually boarded the flight from Chicago to Dulles. The Chicago to Amsterdam flight being rather long, there was at least time to notify the Dutch who were happy to arrest the men upon landing. I assume the fly team has already been dispatched to Schiphol to collect these gentlemen and return them to the USA. The fake bombs were first discovered at the airport in Birmingham, where al-Soofi boarded his flight to O’Hare. He was allowed to proceed, suggesting either incompetence or brilliance on the part of federal officials – I’m not sure which. In addition to the objects in his luggage he was carrying $7,000 in cash and arrived at the airport wearing bulky clothing out of season…
What’s shocking about this is that before he even got to Chicago he was stopped in Alabama for “further screening” because of “bulky clothing” and then upon further investigation of his checked baggage, they found all sorts of shady things including 7 grand in cash, a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives.
When they saw the cell phone taped to the Pepto Bismol bottle, did they … run a test to make sure it was Pepto in there or did they just wave it through? And if they were so concerned about the contents that him checking his luggage on one flight and boarding another in Chicago triggered a panic response, why on earth did they let him fly with that bag at all? It’s not like a jihadi would refuse to remotely detonate a suitcase in the cargo hold just because he’s aboard the same plane.
Basically, it sounds like this guy wanted to see just how many red flags he could send up and still be allowed to board an intercontinental flight. Answer: Quite a few, as it turns out. Which was also true of Flight 253, of course, another attempted terror attack that involved a bomber trained in … Yemen, the new number-one hot spot of international terrorism. Stay tuned.
Earlier this week, three alleged terrorists were arrested in Canada. As investigators looked into their history, a truly bizarre piece of information surfaced. One of them, Khurram Sher, had appeared on Canadian Idol, a show which is exactly like American Idol except for having super polite judges. We’ve got the clip of his appearance in which he sings a song by fellow public menace Avril Lavigne and (SPOILER AND HORRIBLE PUN WARNING) bombs horribly.
Three possibilities: (1) He was auditioning as a goof and figured his new persona would make it extra goofy, (2) he gambled that a “humble immigrant” trying his darnedest would have a better shot at advancing to the next round than a tone-deaf physician, or (3) he was already a jihadi sympathizer at the time and operating under deep, deep — deep — cover. To paraphrase Mediaite, the last place you’d look for an Al Qaeda plot is a guy on a talent show “doing the robot while singing a song written for teen girls.” And a moonwalk. Don’t forget the moonwalk.
Three men are charged in a plot to build IEDs and funnel money to terror groups in Afghanistan. Assuming that the charges are true, this clip is stark evidence of how quickly radicalization can happen.
We might find out if she ends up as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” the second biggest show on television behind “American Idol.”
Bristol, 19, the oldest daughter of Sarah Palin, may be tangoing on season 11 of the dance competition. She could be appearing along with David Hasselhoff, Audrina Patridge, The Situation and Brandy in the upcoming season, which premieres Sept. 20. ABC would not confirm any guest stars for the season. The official lineup will be announced Monday.
Earlier this summer, Bristol and her on-again, off-again fiancé, Levi Johnston, were rumored to be shopping for a reality television show. Johnston and Bristol are the parents of Tripp, who was born in Dec. 2008. Bristol is reportedly taking her Tripp with her to Los Angeles where “Dancing With the Stars” is filmed.
All true according to sources! Phew. It is going to be a banner year. Maybe this is Bristol’s revenge on Levi for his philandering — the two were rumored to be starring together in their own reality show, up until they split and it became a Levi solo project. One thing I can say with assurance is that Steve Krakauer will be excited, ideally this line-up will result in Levi getting into a jealous feud with The Situation over Bristol.
Meanwhile, can you just imagine the liberal heads exploding if Bristol does well on the show? Oh, boy. I hope she’s ready for the vitriol that’s sure to be aimed her way. On the other hand… it’ll be worth watching just for the hateful “ZOMG BRISTOL IS WINNING ITS A CONSPIRACY!!!!1!!11!!” commentary alone.
The media frenzy to destroy good, decent Americans who oppose a 15-story mega-mosque on Ground Zero is rabid. Even for them. Despite red flags everywhere and the nationwide grief caused by this grotesque act of Islamic supremacism, why isn’t the media doing its job, investigative journalism?
Instead, the morally ill media is in full-on operational smear machine mode in the raging war of ideas, the information battle space, the objective of which is to erect the Ground Zero mega mosque. Tolerance is a crime when applied to evil (Thomas Mann). Whilst the NY Times front page spins interfaith yarns into PR gold faster than Rumpelstiltskin and accords godlike status to Imam Feisal Rauf, new audio surfaces. Here are a couple of soundbites of tolerance:
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: “We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. No mention of the recent slaughter by Muslims of Christians, Hindus, Jews, non-believers in Indonesia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, China……………. no candor, no criticism of Islam.
At Atlas Shrugs, Pamela Geller has uncovered audio of imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the Ground Zero mosque, making public statements in which he opines that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”
There’s more . . . and it’s here. YouTube video link is here.
Once again, this is not evidence that Rauf is an extremist wolf in moderate sheep’s clothing. For Muslims, the idea that US foreign policy is hostile to Muslims and that Americans don’t care about the deaths of innocents is widely held. By definition, this makes Rauf’s opinion mainstream in most majority Muslim countries.
On other issues, Rauf would be considered quite liberal in the Muslim community.
But to equivocate between the intentional killing of civilians by al Qaeda and the unintended killing of civilians by the US is worse than wrong — it is evil.
Yes, we kill civilians sometimes. That is truly one of the many sad realities of warfare.
When al Qaeda kills civilians they not only do it intentionally, but they also celebrate it.
No one in the West praises the Predator drone operator who accidentally blows up a wedding party. We think of such acts as the regrettable but inevitable outcome of war.
But in many parts of the Muslim world “The Magnificient 19” — the men who carried out the 9/11 attacks — are praised as heroes and martyrs.
I heard someone on the radio today (Hannity or Rush?) make a good point about this. He mentioned that Rauf’s equivocation seemed very much in line with Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s theory of America. Which may be why Obama’s State Department has no problem with paying for this guy to go on a goodwill mission to the Muslim world. If these are the kinds of speeches he has been delivering, then of course they will like what he is saying!
Let me add that the SOB still has a right to build a mosque wherever the hell he wants. Even the Nazis have that right.
If someone wants to argue that the sanctions regime on Iraq was counterproductive, because Saddam’s regime simply seized the resources they needed and let the Iraqi people suffer and starve, that’s a fair point. Madeline Albright’s comment that containing Saddam was “worth it” — i.e., the death of Iraqi children — was idiotic. But to suggest that the indirect effects of a U.S. sanctions regime is remotely morally comparable to al-Qaeda’s deliberate mass murder — much less to suggest that they are morally worse — is to eviscerate one’s claim to be moderate, pro-American, or sensible. He says it is a “difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences.” Does he ever wonder why?
From this audio, we can conclude that Rauf has a gentle tone of voice. But that does not mean that his words are gentle.
[…] Rauf uses the word “innocent” only in the part about non-Muslim blood. But I doubt he would have drawn the comparison unless he believed that the U.S. is culpable in something like the same way as al Qaeda for wrongful killing.
Indeed, the Muslim blood Rauf refers to is that of “innocents”; specifically Iraqi children he says died as a result of American sanctions. Rauf not only fails to mention that the sanctions were designed to undermine one of the most unjust and bloodthirsty regimes of modern times, he proceeds to take the U.S. to task for “its contribution to injustice in the Arab world.” By overlooking the injustice of Saddam Hussein, and failing to acknowledge our efforts against that tyrant, Rauf reveals himself to be an anti-American ideologue, an apologist for al Qaeda, and a charlatan.
I continue to be impressed by how thin the case against Faisal Abdul Rauf is. You’d have thought that by now the staunch defenders of liberty crazies would have found either a smoking gun or a ticking bomb. To be fair, Pamela Geller* certainly thinks she has found evidence that he’s just as bad as his critics would have us believe. Or maybe even – and this may make your (my!) weak dhimmi-flesh creep – worse…
But, actually, all she has unearthed from a 2005 talk Rauf gave to, of all places, the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, is evidence that Faisal Abdul Rauf could be considered a neoconservative. That is, he shares a central neoconservative insight:
How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority – at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, “What have they done.” Now, I don’t know, you don’t know Arabic but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?
Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It’s hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?
Emphasis added. This is a core tenet of neoconservative foreign policy thought (and, in my view, a salient point too). Condi Rice made a famous speech making exactly this point and acknowledging that there was a terrible disconnect between proclaiming the universality of human rights, self-determination and freedom of expression and yet also propping-up ghastly, coercive, dictatorial regimes across the middle east for fear something worse might succeed them were those great American ideals and principles given free expression.There were – and are – good, or to put it differently, expedient, reasons for US policy and true too the evangelism of the Bush administration might have been both too optimistic (or naive) and, in the end, awful precisely because in the end it accepted that the bastards we know, for all their bastardy, may be better than the bastard nutters that might follow them.
Nevertheless, Imam Rauf shares at least some of the Bush administration’s diagnosis of the pathologies afflicting much f the middle east.
So how does Pamela Geller characterise this statement? “And the Imam is conspiracy theorist – 911 was an inside job.” I don’t actually understand how you get from watching Fahrenheit 9/11 (for all its many faults) to here. Then again, Geller does seem to have a curious interpretation of these matters. So when Rauf says:
“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
Well, you or I or any other ordinary person might think this a statement of the, alas, bleeding obvious, Geller thinks it needs to be glossed, thus: No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. Never mind that it’s obvious that Rauf is talking about the post-9/11 world, not the 750 years before the United States even existed.Needless to say Andy McCarthy thiks this means Rauf is saying US Worse than al-Qaeda when, clearly, he’s not saying that at all. It is, I think, incontestable that the United States and its allies have killed more Muslim civilians than al-Qaeda have killed non-muslims since 9/11. Noting this has precisely zero impact on one’s views of the wars or their righteousness.
Rauf, in fact, seems to have some understanding that empathy – which is not the same thing as either agreement or, for that matter, “appeasement” – is a useful quality when it comes to foreign policy:
The West needs to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world, and when you do you will see the predicament that exists within the Muslim community.
This, quite evidently, does not mean that the west need agree with the arab world and nor is it a call for “surrender” or any such nonsense. Nor is it any kind of endorsement – if this needs to be pointed out – of the Wahhabist worldview.I suspect that I’d disagree with Faisal Abdul Rauf on a good number of issues. But his opponents – who have had ample opportunity to discover all that’s bad about him – have, to my mind, singularly failed to produce any real and damning evidence against him. Surely they can do better than this and if, in time, they do then I’ll be happy to change my mind even if my understanding of the First Amendment would require me to support his plan even if I were more strongly disapproving of it.