Tag Archives: Washington Times

And The Verdict Is… Open!

Eli Lake at The Washington Times:

President Obama on Monday lifted the ban he imposed two years ago on military trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison, ending his bid to move most terrorism trials to civilian courts and pushing his already busted deadline for shuttering the island prison indefinitely forward.

The reversal came as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited Afghanistan and indicated that he was willing to keep a presence of U.S. forces in the war-torn country beyond the Obama administration’s 2014 pullout goal, highlighting again the difficulty the president has had moving from the policies of President George W. Bush.

Mr. Obama announced the Guantanamo decision in an executive order that also sets forth a periodic review process for detainees who have not been charged or convicted but are still considered threats to the U.S.

White House aides stressed that Mr. Obama remains committed to closing the prison, which he has described as a key recruiting tool for terrorist groups, and pursuing some cases in civilian courts. Mr. Obama vowed during the campaign to close the prison by the end of 2009, his first year in office.

Massimo Calabresi at Swampland at Time:

All of this responds to Obama’s archives speech of May 2009, where he walked back his more progressive January 2009 position but tried to retain a bulwark of detention and prosecution principles for terrorism detainees. Since then, Congress has passed laws blocking the closure of Gitmo by preventing the transfer of detainees by the executive branch. House and Senate Republicans (McKeon and Graham) are expected to introduce bills further blocking detainee access to U.S. courts in the coming week.

On a conference call Monday, Obama senior advisors said the president remains committed to closing Gitmo by diminishing the number of detainees held there. But the moves announced today could have the opposite effect, admits a senior White House official. The Bush and Obama administrations have faced repeated habeas corpus challenges to their detention of alleged terrorists at Gitmo. Last I checked, detainees bringing habeas cases were winning by a 4-to-1 ratio. By increasing due process at Gitmo, the new measures make it more likely judges will defer to the executive branch and rule against detainees claiming they are being held unfairly at Gitmo. One administration official argued that judges would not be affected by the new procedures.

The habeas releases remain the only way that Gitmo’s numbers can decrease these days. The administration is still debating how to comply with the Congressional ban, but as long as it is in place even a detainee who uses his new due process rights to challenge his detention in military commissions and wins will stay in Gitmo forever… or until Congress changes its mind about closing it down.

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:

Who wins in this? Do we think that “American system of justice” means whatever it is Americans do, as long as some court-like trappings are present? The order acknowledges that the “privilege of the writ of habeas corpus” is available to inmates, but also sets up a routine for holding prisoners indefinitely without charges (what the order calls “the executive branch’s continued, discretionary exercise of existing detention authority”). In statements today, Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all mentioned how highly they thought of the federal court system. Gates said,

For years, our federal courts have proven to be a secure and effective means for bringing terrorists to justice. To completely foreclose this option is unwise and unnecessary.

So this order doesn’t “completely foreclose” on the rule of law—is a partial foreclosure supposed to count as a moral stand? Given all the nice things the Administration has to say about the federal court system, one would think that it might find it wise, and even necessary, to actually use it a bit more. Instead, the statements seem more concerned to note that the President is not giving up any options or powers—as if bringing accused murderers to court were a prerogative, rather than an obligation. No doubt, Republicans, and some Democrats, have made it hard for Obama to close Guantánamo. But it might be easier if he wanted to do it; the order today makes it sound like he considers it a somewhat useful place. It is not.

Speaking of questionable detention measures: Can someone in the Administration explain, slowly and clearly, why Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking the WikiLeaks cables, is required to stand naked in front of his cell in the morning and sleep naked, ostensibly for his own protection? The military’s explanations so far—that he could somehow harm himself with underwear (though he is not on suicide watch and is being monitored by video) so he can’t sleep in any, and then there is just no time for him to put underwear on in the morning before they get him out of the cell—are just not plausible. (By coincidence, a case about Americans being strip-searched after being arrested for minor offenses may be coming before the Supreme Court.) A naked man who hasn’t been convicted of a crime—that shouldn’t be what American justice looks like.

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy

Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

Only two years into his presidency, Barack Obama has learned that there are no easy answers to dealing with captured transnational terrorists. It’s easy to create sound bites decrying the evils of holding terrorists at Gitmo, and it’s easy to create sound bites about how awful it is to try them in military tribunals (even though that’s where illegal enemy combatants should rightfully be tried), but it’s very hard to change reality. So bowing to reality, Obama has authorized the re-start of military trials for captured terrorists.

John Yoo at Ricochet:

The Obama administration’s anti-war campaign rhetoric and naive first-year promises continue to collide with reality.  And happily, reality continues to prevail.  The Obama administration has finally admitted, I think, that the Bush administration’s decision to detain al Qaeda operatives and terrorists at Gitmo was sensible.  It wasn’t driven by some bizarre desire to mistreat terrorists, but instead was the best way to address security concerns without keeping them in Afghanistan or inside the United States.

It also turns out that the military commission trials too were a sensible decision.  Civilian trials threaten the revelation of valuable intelligence in a covert war where hostilities are still ongoing. Military commissions allow a fair trial to be held but one that does not blow our wartime advantages.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s track record has been poor — it was lucky to get the limited convictions that it has.  Obama folks owe an apology to the Bush administration for their unjust criticism of military trials.

It should also be noted that Obama did not come to this turnabout after reasoned consideration alone.  I think there are significant figures in the administration that would still love to close Gitmo tomorrow and give every terrorist the same exact trials reserved for Americans who commit garden-variety crimes.  Congress dragged the administration kicking and screaming to this destination by cutting off funds for the transfer of any detainees from Gitmo to the U.S.  This effectively used Congress’s sole power of the purse to prevent Obama from making a grievous national security mistake.  The new Congress should continue to keep the ban in its Defense spending bills to prevent Obama from another 180 degree turn.

Adam Serwer at Greg Sargent’s place:

Conservatives committed to burnishing Bush’s legacy were quick to claim vindication, arguing that the decision proved that the detention camp at Gitmo was a good idea all along. But Obama’s decision doesn’t prove this at all.

The administration also released an executive order outlining its new indefinite detention policy. Not much has changed from when I first wrote about it a few months ago — the new procedures formally adopt what Karen Greenberg referred to as “the heart of Bush policy” while making the process marginally fairer by allowing individuals detained indefinitely who have lost their habeas cases to be represented by counsel during periodic reviews every six months.

The president and the secretary of defense also reiterated the importance of trying terrorists in federal courts, but they might as well be shouting into the wind. The ban on funds for transfers of Gitmo detainees to federal court won’t be going away any time soon, but it’s worth remembering that ban actually ensures that fewer terrorists would be brought to justice than would be otherwise. Only six terrorists have ever been convicted in military commissions, compared to hundreds in federal court.

Failing to close Gitmo remains the most visible symbol of the president’s failure to reverse the trajectory of Bush-era national security policy, but the reality, as Glenn Greenwald notes this morning, is that most of the substantive decisions adopting Bush policies were made long ago. The new policies don’t amount to a “reversal” on the issue of whether Gitmo should be closed. Republicans are eager to portray Gitmo staying open as a “vindication” of the prison’s usefulness, but the fact that the indefinite detention order is limited to detainees currently at Gitmo means that the administration won’t be reopening the facility to new detainees, as Bush apologists have suggested doing.

Gitmo isn’t open because the administration doesn’t want to close it, although its efforts in this area are ripe for criticism. It’s still open because Republicans in Congress successfully frightened Democrats in Congress out of giving the administration the necessary funds to close it when they had control of Congress. In the process, they’ve managed to obscure the original reason detainees were brought to Gitmo — to keep them away from the scrutiny of the federal courts. Once the Supreme Court held that federal courts had jurisdiction and even habeas rights, the facility was useless for that purpose. Republicans are determined to keep it open not because we can’t safely imprison terrorists in the U.S., but because they feel its ongoing presence vindicates Bush in the eyes of history.

Glenn Greenwald

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How Much Lesbian Bondage Will Seven Million Dollars Buy?

Ralph Hallow at The Washington Times:

The Republican National Committee failed to report more than $7 million in debt to the Federal Election Commission in recent months – a move that made its bottom line appear healthier than it is heading into the midterm elections and that also raises the prospect of a hefty fine.

In a memo to RNC budget committee members, RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen on Tuesday accused Chairman Michael S. Steele and his chief of staff, Michael Leavitt, of trying to conceal the information from him by ordering staff not to communicate with the treasurer – a charge RNC officials deny.

Mr. Pullen told the members that he had discovered $3.3 million in debt from April and $3.8 million from May, which he said had led him to file erroneous reports with the FEC. He amended the FEC filings Tuesday.

Campaign-finance analysts said that simply misreporting fundraising numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and that criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.

“This is significant because the civil penalties could mean big fines that take a significant bite out of the RNC‘s finances close to the November congressional elections, when state parties need the RNC‘s financial help for their ‘victory’ programs,” said former FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky.

Ben Smith at Politico:

MEMORANDUM

To: Members of the Republican National Committee

From: Tom Josefiak, HoltzmanVogel PLLC Michael Toner, Bryan Cave LLP

Date: July 21, 2010

Re: Correction of Misinformation Regarding RNC Debt

As outside counsel to the Republican National Committee, we write this memorandum to address concerns raised by some RNC members based on media stories this morning claiming that the RNC has improperly failed to report $7 million of debt. These reports are extraordinarily misleading. As reflected on the monthly report the RNC filed yesterday, which covers the month of June, the RNC had approximately $2 million in unpaid invoices at the end of the month, which were completely paid in the first half of July. In other words, as reflected on that report, all of this debt – as well as the debt reflected on the amended reports for April and May – has been paid off. Contrary to the hyperbolic claims in the media reports, the RNC has not at any time carried $7 million of debt, and all the debts at issue have been paid.

The RNC seeks to scrupulously comply with all FEC reporting regulations, including those that govern the reporting of debts and obligations. With the arrival of a new Chief of Staff and Finance Director several months ago, the RNC began a thorough review of invoices and contracts to ensure the legitimacy of billings, the extent of services provided in connection with those billings, and the overall fiscal discipline of the Committee. Also at the direction of Chairman Steele, the RNC has conducted a thorough internal procedures review, which has included a careful review of invoices received and paid to further ensure that the RNC’s monthly FEC reports are as comprehensive and accurate as possible. As a result of these efforts, the RNC is confident that these protocols ensure not only that the invoices reflect services actually provided to the RNC but also that the information concerning payments by the RNC is timely and accurately reported.

It is unfortunate that misinformation concerning internal RNC procedures has been somehow disseminated to the media, as the spreading of these inaccuracies operates to the grave detriment of the RNC. Contrary to today’s media accounts, the RNC has been and will remain committed to accurate FEC reporting, transparency, and fiscal discipline with its donors’ money.

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Ed Morrissey:

How serious is the problem?  The RNC quickly retained former FEC chair Michael Toner as their attorney, a high-priced move that Hans von Spakowsky — another former FEC commissioner — called “unusual and significant,” according to the Washington Times.  The fines for failing to report debt on time can run into seven figures and could seriously impact the ability of the GOP to support candidates in the waning days of the midterm elections, if immediately imposed.

Perhaps even more disturbing is what prompted Pullen to double-check the books.  The fundraising numbers have fallen well below goals set by the RNC, but the cash on hand figures kept increasing past expectations.  Supposedly this came from better efficiency in operations and cost-cutting, but last month Pullen got suspicious and rechecked invoices, payment for which had slipped significantly.  Pullen claims that Steele attempted to block his access to the data and that Leavitt locked the invoices in his office; Steele denies that charge.

If Pullen’s claims turn out to be true, it’s a potential disaster for the RNC and Republican candidates, and not just because of the restricted cash flow.  The GOP has been arguing that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and reform.  The DNC will have a field day with this story.

Steve Benen:

Right. What makes this story serious is the fact that it has multiple angles, all of them bad news for the RNC. We have (1) the in-fighting among RNC officials, with the chairman going up against his own treasurer; (2) potentially illegal accounting tricks; (3) weak RNC fundraising in advance of a critical election season that necessitated the illegal accounting tricks; (4) another distracting scandal for Steele to deal with, just a few weeks after the last one; and (5) the fact that the controversy itself steps all over the Republican message of fiscal responsibility.

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s place:

Seven million dollars? Sounds like somebody made over 3,500 more trips to Voyeur West Hollywood.

My relationship with the RNC is a little like Al Pacino’s famous line in Godfather III, except in reverse: Just when I thought I was in, they push me back out.

There need to be changes at the top of the RNC chain, and fast. Hand out leather hoods, ball gags and whips as severence pay if need be, but clean house at the top and find somebody able to lead the RNC so the Republicans it supports don’t look stupid and hypocritical when they speak of “fiscal responsibility.”

In a year where the base is motivated and the RNC should be cash heavy heading into an election that will determine the future of the country, they’ve run up a debt and may have tried some bookkeeping sleight of hand to make things look not as bad as they are. Sounds like the kind of thing that has gotten America in deep trouble already, doesn’t it?

The RNC coffers should be overflowing more than the coin tray in the White House’s ice cream cone/cigarette/arugula vending machine, but they’re not. Explanations are in order.

A recent RNC internal report showed that the party’s major donors program was spending $1.09 for every $1 raised. What a great way to convince voters (and major donors for that matter) to give them the keys to DC so they can lead America out of its fiscal hole.

Wonkette:

Can we get Tom Vilsack to fire Michael Steele? Yeah, he doesn’t have any justification for firing Steele either, but this is just getting sad.

Just fire him, Republicans. If you are worried about the black thing, hire Alan Keyes. Certainly he is available. YES, he may be a bit crazy, but you have to at least try somebody else

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Almost A Year From Our Original Post, We Return To The Land Of Panthers And 60s Revivals

Ace Of Spades:

The 10 Minutes fight between Megyn Kelly and Kirsten Powers on FNC may be the greatest ten minutes of television, ever.

I mean it.

Somebody please send me this clip. Not only did Kelly reveal Powers to be a know-nothing mouthpiece for the left (something I’ve always asserted), but she further owned her for knowing next to zero about the New Black Panther case.

Now I know why Dylan named his album “Blonde on Blonde”. That’s shorthand for “so awesome it hurts”, isn’t it?

Robert Stacy McCain:

Megyn’s one-upsmanship – ”Have you read the testimony?” — is what sparks the fireworks. I’m sure King Samir Shabazz watched this and said to himself, “Crazy cracker bitches.”

Aaron Gardner at Redstate:

Earlier today, Megyn Kelly of Fox News had Kirsten Powers on to talk about the Justice Department’s handling of the Voter Intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party(NBPP). Specifically, Brad Sherman’s [Democrat representing CA-27], reaction to a constituent question on the subject.

For a bit a background, members of the NBPP committed voter intimidation, one of which is Samir Shabazz. This is not in doubt as injunctions had been put in place. Unfortunately, in a land where Law is no longer king, injunctions can be reversed at the whim of a bureaucrat working to affect his leaders style of change.

The injunctions were reduced or reversed by the direction of AG Holder and the case was put out to pasture. The people, seeking justice, come to their duly elected representative to ask questions and they are met with arrogance clothed in ignorance.

The scene is now set, prepare yourselves for 10 minutes of pure awesome …

Michelle Malkin:

I’ll let you provide all the commentary, with only one observation: Kirsten sank to her lowest and most ignorant low with her “scary black man” snark at Megyn — who showed amazing restraint in the face of being accused of racial demagoguery by a fellow Fox colleague who has no grasp of the basic facts and import of the DOJ’s corruption in the case and who demonstrated complete cluelessness about the poisonous, violence-promoting history of the NBPP.

Abigail Thernstrom at National Review:

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently. It happens all the time, especially when administrations change in the middle of litigation. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree on how best to enforce civil-rights statutes; this is not the first instance of a war between Left and Right within the Civil Rights Division.

The two Panthers have been described as “armed” — which suggests guns. One of them was carrying a billy club, and it is alleged that his repeated slapping of the club against his palm constituted brandishing it in a menacing way. They have also been described as wearing “jackboots,” but the boots were no different from a pair my husband owns.

A disaffected former Justice Department attorney has written: “We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere.” “Indications”? Again, evidence has yet to be offered.

Get a grip, folks. The New Black Panther Party is a lunatic fringe group that is clearly into racial theater of minor importance. It may dream of a large-scale effort to suppress voting — like the Socialist Workers Party dreams of a national campaign to demonstrate its position as the vanguard of the proletariat. But the Panthers have not realized their dream even on a small scale. This case is a one-off.

Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation — the charge — are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

Doug Mataconis:

Moreover, as others have pointed out, the district at which these two members of the NBPP were filmed was a majority black district that had gone overwhelmingly for John Kerry in 2004. If these two guys were really interested in intimidating white voters in the Philadelphia metro area rather than engaging in street theater, they would’ve shown up at a polling place in King of Prussia or Bensalem, not one in the inner-city at which, conveniently a guy with a video camera had shown up.

As I noted in an earlier post, there’s no evidence that any actual voters were intimidated by these two men, or even that their “protest” lasted longer than the amount of time that the camera crew was there filming them. In fact, judging from this video, it seems clear to me that these two guys were playing for the cameras

David Weigel at Andrew Sullivan’s:

I don’t really get a chance to watch TV in Unalaska, and the one thing I miss is Megyn Kelly of Fox News. The last week or so of her work — her one woman crusade against the New Black Panther Party — has been truly riveting television. Kelly widens her eyes in a way that bespeaks both horror and anger at the subject she’s reporting on. “Shocking new video,” she’ll say, introducing a clip of the Panthers acting like idiots and yelling about “crackers” at a Philadelphia street festival. “We have a DOJ whistleblower alleging there is a discriminatory policy at the DOJ voting rights section,” she’ll say, “and no one seems to give a darn.” It’s the “darn” that ties this together — she’s not just a journalist, she’s a concerned citizen who has to bring you this story before it’s. Too. Late.

The people who grab these videos for the web use the same cliches to title them. “Megyn Kelly DESTROYS Kirsten Powers on New Black Panther Case” says one of them; “Megyn Kelly schools lib pundit over New Black Panthers Party.” But why is she doing so many stories on the Panthers? It’s because Fox News uses the Panthers the way that Phil Donohue used to use the KKK or G.G. Allin. They’re good on TV. The difference between the Panthers and other freakish groups that look good on the air, of course, is that that they threaten white people.

How often does Fox bring on the Panthers, or talk about them? A Lexis-Nexis search finds 68 mentions of “Malik Zulu Shabazz,” a leader of the NBPP. The majority are appearances on Fox News, where Shabazz is repeatedly brought on to act as a foolish, anti-Semitic punching bag.

[…]

Kelly’s obsession with the current NBPP controversy is something else, though. No one disputes that two members of the Panthers lurked outside of a heavily black, Democratic polling place in Philadelphia on election day 2008, and no one thinks this was a smart or legal thing for them to do. Police were called to the scene to disperse them, and King Samir Shabazz, who was filmed holding (though not using) a nightstick, lost the right to be a poll-watcher for the next election cycle. It was the only recorded incident like this in the nation; nearly two years later, no voter has come forward and said he or she was prevented from voting by the Panthers. And in his publicity tour to attack the DOJ over the Panther case — a second-rate case against a fifth-rate hate group — J. Christian Adams has been unable to name any case in which the DOJ was presented with a crime committed by black people and chose not to prosecute it.

So why obsess over the Panthers? Is it turnabout for the way that liberals elevate the craziest tea party activists, or the way they call them racist? Because it’s obviously not a search for justice or a muckraking effort to discover reverse racism in the DOJ. If this is an effort to make sure that King Samir Shabazz is prosecuted for intimidating voters, why not try to find some voters he intimidated? Why, instead, as Kelly and Glenn Beck have opted to do, show video of the Shabazz yelling about “crackers” at a street fair before the election? No one disputes that he hates white people — just watch one of the tapes from the times Fox News invited his colleagues on to discuss how they hate white people.

One of the more jarring passages in Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland” is his recounting of a popular myth that went around Iowa in 1966, the year of the conservative backlash against the Great Society. The myth was that black gang members on motorcycles were going to head from Chicago to ransack Des Moines. Reading this in 2008, it sounded preposterous, the kind of thing that no one could believe in the country that was about to elect Barack Obama. But Kelly, under the guise of journalism, is working to create a rumor like this in 2010. Watch her broadcasts and you become convinced that the New Black Panthers are a powerful group that hate white people and operate under the protection of Eric Holder’s DOJ. That “Megyn Kelly DESTROYS Kirsten Powers” video that I mentioned begins with her introducing a clip of a town hall meeting with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Ca.) in which he gets an angry question about whether the DOJ has a policy of not prosecuting African-Americans.

“I am extremely sure that we do not have a policy at the Department of Justice of never prosecuting a black defendent.”

The crowd rises up. “Yes you do!” shouts one voter. When Sherman says he doesn’t know much about the Panther case, the crowd erupts in boos. They’ve been driven to fear and distrust of their DOJ by round-the-clock videos of one racist idiot brandishing a nightstick for a couple hours in 2008.

Congratulations, Megyn.

Jesse Walker at Reason:

The New Black Panther Party plays the same role for the right that Hutaree-style militants play for the left: They’re a tiny, uninfluential group whose importance is magnified to keep the base excited. Left and right wind up worrying more about each other than they care about the institutions that actually govern the country. It’s great if your goal is maintaining movement identity, but not if you’re more interested in changing policy than collecting scalps.

EARLIER:  Why Don’t Any Of These Sixties Revivals Include A Beatles Reunion? Oh. Yeah.

UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico

The Washington Times

Andrew Alexander at WaPo

Joan Walsh at Salon

Adam Serwer at The American Prospect

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: Andy McCarthy responds to Thernstrom

Thernstrom responds to McCarthy

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This Macaca Moment, So Different And So New

Connie Hair at Human Events:

In the ongoing Wall Street Reform Conference Committee meeting Wednesday to merge the House and Senate versions of the recently-passed finance bills, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Penn.) bemoaned the impact of the recession on his constituents.

“We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately.  But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people,” Kanjorski states.

Kerry Picket at The Washington Times:

Connie Hair at Human Events has posted this shocking video of Rep. Paul Kanjorski, Pennsylvania Democrat, at a Wednesday conference committee hearing to merge the House and Senate versions of the recently-passed financial regulation bills. Here he talks about the debilitating effects of the recession on his constituents. Unfortunately, Mr. Kanjorski may not have realized he offended those he was trying to impress

Stephen Spruiell at The Corner:

Wow

Stephen Gutowski:

Yea. I think its crystal clear that Kanjorski is directly saying that his definition of average, good American people does not include minorities. That is blatant racism no matter how you cut it.

I’m sure that the media will jump all over this indisputable video evidence of a rep with a D next to his name saying something racist. Just like they did when there was indisputable video evidence of a rep with a D next to his name assaulting someone on a public sidewalk. The media is always thorough and diligent when exposing corruption and disgrace within the Democratic party after all.

And I’m sure that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton will be demanding Kanjorski apologize for his racist remarks and resign. You know, like they did with Joe Biden and Harry Reid. Surely Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, being men of integrity and all, wont stand for a major political party in the United States to allow people who make dubious racial remarks stay in power.

Right?

Ed Morrissey:

This statement is a lot more concrete than George Allen’s “macaca moment,” and that got wall-to-wall coverage in the 2006 election cycle.  Kanjorski is running for re-election in his district, which makes this very similar to the “macaca” coverage.  Will the media provide the same level of exposure to a much more obvious (and deliberate) example of bigotry?

For that matter, the national media has clung to the Joe Barton apology to BP for days, even after almost every other Republican in Congress distanced themselves from it.  Doesn’t this seem a little more newsworthy?

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media:

If the name rings a bell, it’s because Paul Kanjorski, the leftwing Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman told his constituents in 2008 that:

“I’ll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we…the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn’t say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn’t true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts…and people ate it up.”

Just ask Moveon.org.

Also that year, Kanjorski was promising to dust off 70-year old antediluvian New Deal programs in May of 2008, when unemployment stood at about 5.5 percent, (it’s currently almost double at 9.70 percent), and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was still 2000 points higher than it is today.

Then there was this Oliver Stone-esque moment.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

Some small-town Republican mayor back in Pennsylvania who’s challenging Kanjorski this fall immediately called on him to apologize. This YouTube clip itself is from House minority whip Eric Cantor’s website. And conservative websites are (pretty tongue-in-cheekly) caling him a horrible racist monster from Hell. Get it, because Democrats are always calling Republicans racist, and now this! The truth must come out.

Kanjorski won’t apologize. And he shouldn’t, duh. Ever since the financial collapse, which Kanjorski and his fellow congressmen are at least half-trying to fix here, the Official Republican Explanation for it has been that the government forced banks to give loans to black and Hispanic people who couldn’t pay them back. All Kanjorski is doing is calling out this pigeonholing demagoguery that anti-regulation folks have been using for years to prevent the regulation we so desperately need of our private financial sector.

Don’t believe us? Here’s a clear example from a September, 2008 Neil Cavuto interview on Fox News with a Democratic congressman:

CAVUTO: All right, but let me ask you — but, Congressman, when — when you and many of your colleagues were pushing for more minority lending and more expanded lending to folks who heretofore couldn’t get mortgages, when you were pushing homeownership —

[…]

CAVUTO: — did you warn or express concern about any of the things that happened? I’m not saying that one or the other is beyond blame —

BECERRA: Oh, absolutely, we did. Absolutely.

CAVUTO: — I’m just saying, I don’t remember a clarion call that said, “Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.”

This argument is a shameless red herring that has not gone away, and Paul Kanjorski was telling people to stop it. (Mostly because it’s wrong.)

So Paul Kanjorski is not a racist. And perhaps some of you are thinking, “Oh well Gawker would jump all over this guy if he were a Republican,” but what can we say? Hopefully not? Because that would not be truthful? When it happens, let us know.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

I don’t see why words should be minced.  Or why Kanjorski needs to stay in the House past November; I’m fairly certain that Lou Barletta can be counted on to avoid insinuating that ‘minorities’ or ‘defectives’ don’t get to be ‘average, good American people.’

I mean, that’s just ignorant.

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Filed under Economics, Legislation Pending, Political Figures, The Crisis

The Lack Of Preparation And Focus On The Imminent Zombie Problem Is Disturbing

Max Fisher at The Atlantic with the round-up.

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy:

In unveiling his first formal National Security Strategy Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama called for “a strategy of national renewal and global leadership,” emphasizing U.S. economic strength as the foundation of American power and promising to deepen U.S. alliances and partnerships around the world.

The Cable has obtained the text of the 52-page document, which the White House is planning to roll out later today.

The NSS was the product of months of deliberation and consultation inside the administration. Its lead author is Ben Rhodes, the president’s lead foreign-policy speechwriter and a deputy national security advisor. It represents both a repudiation of some of the most controversial aspects of the Bush-era strategy and a continuation of many of its key elements.

The opening letter from President Obama begins with a call to arms:

“Time and again in our nation’s history, Americans have risen to meet — and to shape — moments of transition. This must be one of those moments,” it starts. “We live in a time of sweeping change. The success of free nations, open markets, an social progress in recent decades has accelerated globalization on an uprecedented scale.”

He then pivots sharply to the tense national security atmosphere and the war against Islamic extremism — though the word “Islamic” is no longer in the document, as the administration seeks to head off concerns that the United States is at war with the Muslim world:

“For nearly a decade, our nation has been at war with a far-reaching network of violence and hatred,” it reads. “Moreover, as we face multiple threats — from nations, non-state actors, and failed states — we will maintain the military superiority that has secured our country, and underpinned global security, for decades.”

Daniel Drezner:

Through the magic of the search function, here’s a short list of what’s hot and what’s not in the NSS:  Here are the number of mentions for the following words:

Russia:  12

China:  9

Europe:  7

Japan:  2

Brazil:  3

India:  7

Africa:  12

Israel:  9

Palestine:  1

Al Qa’ida:  21

North Korea:  3

Iran:  9

Iraq:  19

Afghanistan:  16

Pakistan:  11

nonproliferation: 13

terrorism:  14

pandemic:  7

volcano:  0

cyber:  11

Doha round:  1

zombies:  0

Peter Feaver at Foreign Policy:

The roll-out of President Obama’s National Security Strategy tries to frame the strategy as a repudiation of his predecessor’s. But the reality is that the new strategy is best characterized as “Bush Lite”, a slightly watered down but basically plausible remake of President Bush’s National Security Strategy. If you only read the Obama Team’s talking points, or only read the mainstream media coverage, which amounts to the same thing, this assessment may come as a big surprise. But if you actually read the Obama’s NSS released today, and President Bush’s most recent NSS released in 2006, the conclusion is pretty obvious.

  • President Bush’s NSS emphasized effective, action-oriented multilateralism to address the challenges of the day: to “strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends” and to “develop agendas for cooperative action with the other main centers of global power.” Obama’s NSS emphasizes “comprehensive engagement” built on the “cornerstone” of our traditional allies but expanding outwards to include “more effective partnerships with other key centers of influence.”
  • Bush’s NSS emphasized that our national security did not rest solely on material factors (eg., the balance of military forces) but also on the strength and appeal of our moral values, especially America’s commitment to defend and advance “human rights protected by democratic institutions.” Obama’s NSS makes the same point: “The United States rejects the false choice between the narrow pursuit of our interests and an endless campaign to impose our values.”
  • Bush’s NSS recognized that international institutions were flawed but essential and thus needed to be reformed. Obama’s NSS makes the exact same point: “we need to be clear-eyed about the strengths and shortcomings of international institutions that were developed to deal with the challenges of an earlier time and the shortage of political will that has at times stymied the enforcement of international norms. Yet it would be destructive to both American national security and global security if the United States used the emergence of new challenges and the shortcomings of the international system as a reason to walk away from it. Instead, we must focus American engagement on strengthening international institutions and galvanizing the collective action that can serve common interests…”
  • Bush’s NSS identified the most urgent threat to be the nexis of WMD proliferation (especially nuclear), terrorists, and state sponsors of terrorism. Obama’s NSS makes the same determination, “there is no greater threat to the American people than weapons of mass destruction, particularly the danger posed by the pursuit of nuclear weapons by violent extremists and their proliferation to additional states.”
  • Bush recognized that the war on terror would require all elements of national power, from military to law enforcement to soft power, and Obama’s NSS makes the same point.
  • Obama’s NSS even explicitly endorses America’s prerogatives to use military force well before it is a last resort — “While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust other options before war whenever we can (emphasis added)” — and unilaterally — “The United States must reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend our nation and our interests.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps the most striking continuity is in the recognition that America must lead. This was an important theme of Bush’s NSS. Effective action depended on American leadership – “the international community is most engaged in such action when the United States leads.

Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy:

It’s an impressive document, and goes a long way towards providing a coherent framework for American foreign policy and national security which makes sense of what the administration has been doing and offers a roadmap to where it wants to go. From my perspective, the most interesting — and strongest — part of the NSS deals with the administration’s new approach to al-Qaeda. The most problematic is the gap between its strong commitment to civil liberties and the rule of law and its practice thus far with regard to things like drone strikes.

The NSS lays out “a comprehensive strategy” in what it repeatedly calls a war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, one “that denies [al-Qaeda and its affiliates] safe haven, strengthens front-line partners, secures our homeland, pursues justice through durable legal approaches, and counters a bankrupt agenda of extremism and murder with an agenda of hope and opportunity.” It defines this in narrow terms: “this is not a global war against a tactic — terrorism or a religion — Islam. We are at war with a specific network, al-Qa’ida, and its terrorist affiliates.” It places this war within the perspective of broader foreign policy concerns, and warns against overreaction to terrorist provocations — pointing out, correctly, that al-Qaeda’s strategy hopes to trigger such American overreactions, leading to counterproductive political responses and interventions which drain our resources, alienate our friends, and radicalize Muslims around the world. Much of the NSS can be read as a multi-level, robust strategy to prevent such self-defeating responses, while doing everything actually necessary to disrupt and defeat the threat which actually exists.

Spencer Ackerman at Washington Independent:

There’s a certain caricature of Obama on the right that holds he only accepts American exceptionalism — the view that America has an outsize role to play in global affairs — in the sense that he finds America exceptionally blameworthy. The responsible exercise of U.S. foreign policy for Obama, goes this view, is to restrain it until it withers away. Charles Krauthammer offered that thesis. Mitt Romney put it in hardcover. Sarah Palin put it on Facebook. And it won’t go away with the National Security Strategy, because it was never tethered to reality. But the National Security Strategy demonstrates how it’s the exact opposite of what the Obama presidency is about.

Every single focus outlined in the National Security Strategy is about the maintenance of American power on the international stage in an era when the international order is less tethered to the traditional power of big alliances of states than ever, thanks to global financial destabilization, super-empowered individual extremists or proliferating nuclear weapons. American power, Obama argues, rests on insolvent foundations if it doesn’t invest in domestic priorities, principally “the long term growth of our economy and competitiveness of our citizens.” It won’t rally global actors to a common purpose if it doesn’t pursue “comprehensive engagement” with the world, predicated on the international institutions that represent and reflect the world’s forums for expression of consensus standards of behavior. And it won’t possess credibility if it violates “respect for universal values at home and around the world.”

That creates an interlocking series of obligations for implementing the strategy. “National security draws on the strength and resilience of our citizens, communities, and economy,” Obama argues, so that requires the maintenance and integration of not only military, diplomatic, development, intelligence and economic power, but also of domestic prosperity and justice. This is a blueprint for investing in health and education as much as it is a blueprint for investing in the military. When you think about it, how can you really separate the two? The military is worried about the security implications of the obesity epidemic, after all. This is a broad expansion of a military concept known as “interdependent capabilities,” where the assets within one service or branch or department can support and magnify those of others — applied across the government, and across governments.

Second, it requires a “a rules-based international system that can advance our own interests by serving mutual interests. International institutions must be more effective and representative of the diffusion of influence in the 21st century. Nations must have incentives to behave responsibly, or be isolated when they do not.” International power isn’t a “zero-sum game,” Obama argues — a central refutation of Bush’s insistence that the U.S. ought to never allow a new superpower to develop — with one major conceptual exception. Isolated nations and actors really do face zero-sum situations against an international community united around common norms. And that’s how Obama argues American leadership can marshal institutions for common objectives over the long term.

Eli Lake at The Washington Times, before the release, on John Brennan’s speech about the NSS:

The new strategy, according to Mr. Brennan, will continue the George W. Bush administration strategy of seeking to distinguish al Qaeda terrorism from the religion of Islam. Mr. Brennan specifically said the Obama administration would no longer use the terms “Islamist” and “jihadist” “because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.”

At the same time, the new strategy states that the United States remains on a war footing against al Qaeda and seeks to destroy the group and its affiliates, Mr. Brennan said. He further noted that the group behind the Sept. 11 attacks is different from other Muslim terrorist groups that might have local grievances.

The emphasis on homegrown radicals reflects the recent trend of attacks and attempted attacks in the United States by U.S. citizens or residents who were inspired to wage terrorism as a result of information posted on the Internet.

The latest such attempt was purportedly made by Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born naturalized American arrested in connection with an unsuccessful attempt to detonate a homemade car bomb in New York City’s Times Square.

Andrew Exum:

In summary, I would have liked to have seen a more ruthless prioritization of efforts. If I were a reporter working the national security beat and could ask Sec. Clinton just one question today, my question would be, “Madam Secretary, this strategy lays out some very ambitious goals for the United States. But if we could only do three of the things on the list of activities, what would they be? What, in other words, are this nation’s top priorities in national security — whereby if we get other stuff wrong but get these specific things right, we can sleep soundly at night?”

UPDATE: A couple of my friends have written some good dissenting opinions in reply to my comments. The first objection (written by my officemate, the GZA aka The Genius, and soon-to-be-posted in full on Tom’s blog) is basically, “Exum, as usual, you’re complaining too much. The NSS is not meant to match ends, ways and means. It is intended to outline the broader way in which the administration thinks about the contemporary security environment. The NSS can’t allot resources because we have this thing called the legislative branch — you may have heard of it? — which does that. The QDR and QDDR are the documents that should then identify ends, ways and means.”

My response to that is, uh, first off, the QDR preceded the NSS. Which, we can all agree, is as f***ed up as a football bat. Also, the QDR also punted on setting priorities, something that has frustrated both allies with whom I have spoken as well as key legislators. (See, Abe! I am aware of the Congress!) I will note my major complaint about all of this, though, after I cover the second objection.

The second objection is that these kinds of “strategies” are really just long political speeches focused on national security. There is a little in there for everyone, and everyone’s activities and opinions are at least acknowledged if not promoted. The document is, at the end of the day, intended more for external consumption than for internal use.

The problem with this is the internal leadership vacuum that results. Like it or not, people in the Departments of Defense, National Intelligence and State — not to mention USAID and the combatant commands — will refer back to this document to justify their programs and budget requests before both the administration and the Congress. And who can blame them? It’s an official document signed off on by POTUS himself. All of those good progressive voices who fret the military has too much power and is dictating strategy from below need to take note here: when you produce something-for-everyone documents like this NSS and the QDR which do not set firm priorities, you’re essentially asking departments and commanders below you in the food chain to set their own priorities. Or, at best, you are forcing them to constantly be seeking guidance as to what your true priorities are.

I may be asking for too much — I don’t know. But both the QDR and this NSS strike me as thoughtful, intelligent, comprehensive and … kinda empty. Because these documents do not establish clear priorities or recommendations, I am left studying the budget like everyone else for clues as to what the U.S. government’s real priorities are for national security.

UPDATE: More Drezner

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Eli Lake Gets The Scoop On The Soft

Eli Lake at Washington Times:

The Obama administration is pressing Congress to provide an exemption from Iran sanctions to companies based in “cooperating countries,” a move that likely would exempt Chinese and Russian concerns from penalties meant to discourage investment in Iran.

The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act is in a House-Senate conference committee and is expected to reach President Obama’s desk by Memorial Day.

“It’s incredible the administration is asking for exemptions, under the table and winking and nodding, before the legislation is signed into law,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and a conference committee member, said in an interview. A White House official confirmed Wednesday that the administration was pushing the conference committee to adopt the exemption of “cooperating countries” in the legislation.

Neither the House nor Senate version of the bill includes a “cooperating countries” provision even though the administration asked the leading sponsors of the Senate version of the bill nearly six months ago to include one.

Ben Smith at Politico:

A Middle East hand sends over an excerpt of Eli Lake’s story today on the White House working to soften congressional plans to sanction Iran on behalf of Chinese and Russian companies. My source says the following took place in the bicameral, bipartisan leadership meeting with Obama at the White House April 14:

One congressional staff member working on the bill told The Washington Times that Mr. Obama personally asked the House leadership this month to put off the sanctions bill until after the current work period. Shortly after that meeting, both the House and Senate named conferees for the legislation.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

What could possibly be the rationale for this? Why the Obami are working on an international agreement, of course, and we can’t let sanctions with bite get in the way of international sanctions without any. This is the substitution of the intermediary goal — international agreement — for the end goal (it is the end goal, right?): an effective sanctions regimen to thwart Iran’s nuclear program. It seems our real interest is to make China and Russia happy — and exempt them from public scrutiny for doing business with the mullahs

[…]

Apparently, the administration has given up on the end goal of effective sanctions and is now in the business of papering over its failure with an international agreement (that must be held together with bribes and favors to Russia and China). This is the equivalent of “engagement” — a time waster that allows the Iranian regime still more time to proceed with its nuclear plans.

Israel Matzav:

I first reported the story here, and noted that the original proposal was a blanket exception for the P 5+1, which, as you might imagine, angered other US allies like Japan and South Korea.

Well, you didn’t think Obama was going to drop it, did you?

My guess is that Democrats who are worried about their seats come November are not going to vote with Obama on this. Hopefully, that’s all of them.

Mark Hemingway at The Washington Examiner:

The article also notes that China recently broke ground on a factory in Iran “that will build the Nasr-1 anti-ship missile.”

Daniel Foster at The Corner

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

In foreign policy, the Obama administration is setting a new standard for fecklessness.

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The Tennis Player, The Keystone Cops, And The British Passports

David Batty at The Guardian:

Amid the mounting diplomatic row over Mossad’s alleged assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, the Israeli embassy has turned to Twitter to comment.

A tweet issued by the embassy today read: “@israeluk You heard it here first: Israeli tennis player carries out hit on #Dubai target http://ow.ly/18A79”. It links to a story about the Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer, who beat the top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki yesterday to reach the quarter-finals of the Dubai Championship.

But the tweet is open to interpretation. The Mossad hit squad accused of assassinating Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior figure from the militant group Hamas, at the Al-Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai were disguised as tennis players.

CCTV footage released by Dubai police shows the assassins dressed as tennis players following Mabhouh into the hotel lift as a member of staff showed him to his room.

Police said this was an attempt to note down his room number.

Amy Davidson at The New Yorker:

The post isn’t there now; it’s not clear when it was taken down (see the screen shot above). It’s better down, as it’s really not funny—or maybe just funny in the sense of strange. The reference was to the victory of Shahar Peer, an Israeli tennis player, over Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championship. Apart from what Haaretz referred to as “criticism on grounds of taste,” the tweet was unfair to Peer, who has had her career politicized quite enough. Last year, she was denied a visa to take part in the tournament, and she’s been walking around Dubai surrounded by security guards. And tennis and politics had already been mixed enough in this case: in security videos released by the Dubai police, some of the alleged assassins are carrying rackets, presumably as camouflage. (The Economist described them as “stout figures in tennis gear.”) They also had wigs and fake mustaches: one surveillance clip shows a man entering a bathroom bald, and emerging hairy. (See Close Read’s earlier post on the assassination for more details.)

This is where one sympathizes with the Israeli-embassy Twitterer: there is certainly material for comedy in this story, starting with the Dubai police’s press conference on Monday unveiling the pictures, names, and passport numbers of the suspects—six, as it seemed, from Britain; three from Ireland; one each from France and Germany—only to have it emerge that the identities were assumed, the passports faked (the German one didn’t even have the right number of digits in its serial number). Most of the people didn’t exist, although half a dozen British-Israelis had had their identities stolen, and they were not very amused by the prospect of having Interpol after them. Reuters reported that they have been offered brand-new passports, to reduce the risk, a spokesman at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv said, that they might be “inadvertently detained.” It was mildly engaging to learn that the technical term to describe a fake passport based on a real passport is “cloned.” (See Shahida Tulaganova’s brilliant BBC report on how easy it is to get a fake E.U. passport, even when you don’t have the resources of an intelligence agency.) Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency is now investigating. The Dubai police mentioned that al-Mabhouh had bought a pair of shoes, while the Israelis, according to the Economist, put out “leaks to the effect that the victim was buying arms from Iran.” That would be much less entertaining. But other details were not entirely unfunny, like the New York Post headline on reports that the assassins used American credit cards: “ ‘Plastic’ explosive.” And then there was the outrage that the assassins had used Western European passports, as opposed to someone else’s, as if the problem, primarily, was one of etiquette. (What is the right nationality to wear to an assassination?) Some pointed out that the last time something like this happened, in the botched Israeli assassination of Khaled Mishal in 1997, fake Canadian passports were used; perhaps that option was dismissed this time in the spirit of the Olympics. And that, of course, leads back to the most and least funny part of the story: the question of Israel’s role.

The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said that there was no evidence showing that the Mossad carried out the hit, although he added that “Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies.” Maybe it was someone else—do we know much of anything about the killers, other than that poor Melvyn Mildiner, like others whose identities were stolen, was not among the bewigged figures in Dubai? And yet in many quarters calling their nationality a mystery was laughable; the questions a number of British M.P.s were raising were less about whether the Israelis had done it than whether they had told Gordon Brown’s government first. (The Foreign Office denied that they had.) And it was the Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, whom the Foreign Office called in because, as Foreign Secretary David Miliband put it, “We wanted to give Israel every opportunity to share with us what it knows about this incident.” Prosor told reporters afterward that he was “unable to add additional information.” Then he smiled.

So let me see if I can wrap my head around this: Israel tracked a Hamas terrorist to Dubai and executed him at close range and by hand so as to avoid any collateral damage to civilian life. Shouldn’t we be celebrating this as the way war should be conducted instead of putting our noses up in the air and acting as though we’re so much better when we lob a missile at a terrorist from an airplane?

I mean, look, I’m all in favor of lobbing missiles at terrorists from airplanes; it’d be nice to capture them alive and get some info out of them via harsh interrogations, but a Tomahawk up the keister works just as well as far as I’m concerned. But then you get all the hemming and hawing about “Oh, we’re just creating more terrorists when we accidentally kill an innocent bystander.” Well, there’s none of that here, is there? The guy was traced to his hotel room, zapped with a stun gun, and smothered to death. Quick and easy. If only all terrorists could meet the same fate.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

Dubai police have released a video account painstakingly cataloging the sequence of events that led up to the January assassination — by smothering — of a Hamas terrorist and gunrunner in a swanky hotel.

The short version from DubaiTV is here:

[…]

The default assumption in such cases is Mossad involvement, though Israel’s elite clandestine service never confirms or denies such things. But now that 11 of the 17 suspects seen in the closed circuit tape have been “identified” — including three nonexistent Irish citizens, and six Britons and one German living in Israel who appear to be victims of identity theft — and the agents’ faces have been splashed across television screens, the hit is starting to look amateurish by Mossad standards. And it might just be the beginning of a major diplomatic incident.

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

Israel is receiving mounting criticism in connection with the murder in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The slaying is assumed to be work of Israel’s spy agency, Mossad.

Mabhouh was a founding member of Hamas’ military wing and was linked to the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers years ago. More recently, he has been involved in supplying arms and money to Hamas militants in Gaza.

In light of Mabhouh’s past, the criticism of Israel (at least as presented in this Washington Post report) does not focus on the slaying itself. Rather, the critics cite improprieties in how Mossad (or whomever) went about getting to the terrorist.

Great Britain is unhappy that six of the 11 individuals thought to be part of the Mossad (or whomever) team used fake British passports bearing the names of Israeli citizens. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sniffed that “the British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.” However, I’m confident that if the agents had possessed real British passports, they would have held them carefully.

The Post also reports that Israeli citizens whose names appeared on the fake passports were “shocked to find themselves mentioned in the material released by the Dubai police.” No doubt. Israel’s position, though, is that “if there is concern about identity theft, those involved should consult a lawyer.” Always good advice.

But passport fraud and identity theft hardly exhaust the ways in which the slaying of Mabhouh affronts modern sensibilities. For example, the photos of the 11 suspects raise questions about the diversity of the team Mossad (or whomever) assembled. It includes only one woman (an attractive blond,naturally) and looks to be short on people of color.

There is also no indication that the team advised Mabhouh of his rights or offered him a chance to exculpate himself before he was killed. Indeed, from all that appears, no lawyer was present.

Finally, what about the carbon footprint of the operation? Did the team travel to Dubai in an energy efficient way? And how much electricity did they use once they arrived? Some reports say they used electricity to stun Mabhouh before killing him. Couldn’t he have been executed in a more energy efficient way?

Scott Johnson at Powerline:

Paul’s concerns to the contrary notwithstanding, the operation may in fact have been admirably “diverse.” This “diversity” adds context to the operation. The Guardian has reported that a “key security operative of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas was under arrest in Syria tonight on suspicion of having helped an alleged Israeli hit squad identify Mahmoud al-Mabhouh before he was assassinated in Dubai[.]”

Our man in Damascus may not just have been a token. He appears to have been in good company. According to the Daily Mail, “[i]intelligence sources say al-Mabhouh was lured to a meeting in Dubai by two men who had worked with him in Hamas in Gaza.” Haaretz identifies the two Palestinians as Ahmad Hasnin, a Palestinian intelligence operative, and Anwar Shekhaiber, an employee of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The Daily Mail suggests that al-Mabhouh “did not realise they had defected to the more moderate Fatah, bitter enemies of Hamas, and were secretly working with the Israelis.”

The latest word from Dubai included more evidence of the operation’s tradecraft: “The director of the Dubai Police forensic medicine department revealed yesterday that finding the cause of al-Mabhouh’s death had been the most difficult post mortem he had ever done. British-trained Dr Fawzi Benomran said the killers had put his body in bed and covered it, to make it appear he had died in his sleep.”

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Dubai police said Wednesday that they hold retinal scans of the suspected assassins. Given the volume of evidence, the story may yet resolve itself together with the weirdly misplaced indignation that surrounds it. And yet, one senses, such a resolution will not be conducive to a happy ending.

Emptywheel at Firedoglake:

Those JSOC guys doing America’s assassinating better make sure they don’t get caught using British passports. Because if the Brits’ claimed anger at Israel for giving its Mossad killers UK passports is any indication, it would not help relations.

Britain fired the first shot last night in a potentially explosive diplomatic row with Israel by calling in the country’s ambassador to explain the use of fake British passports by a hit squad who targeted Mabhouh in Dubai last month.

The Israeli ambassador was at the Foreign Office this morning for a brief meeting to “share information” about the assassins’ use of identities stolen from six British citizens living in Israel, as part of the meticulously orchestrated assassination of Mabhouh.

“After receiving an invitation last night, I met with Sir Peter Ricketts, deputy-general of the British foreign minister,” Ron Prosor said after the meeting. “Despite my willingness to co-operate with his request, I could not shed new light on the said matters.”

Britain has stopped short of accusing Israel of involvement, but to signal its displeasure the Foreign Office ignored an Israeli plea to keep the summons secret. “Relations were in the freezer before this. They are in the deep freeze now,” an official told the Guardian.

Of course, the UK is pissed about the passports, not necessarily about the assassination of a top Hamas figure more generally. So maybe Britain is okay with our assassinations squads, too.

But the very public response to the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh killing, as well as certain details like the involvement of the Palestinian Authority, is sure to bring some interesting scrutiny on our own practices (as a number of you have pointed out in comments).

And WTF? Did the clowns who botched the Abu Omar rendition in Italy teach this Mossad squad tradecraft? Or did they just misjudge Dubai’s willingness to play host to assassinations?

UPDATE: Eli Lake in the Washington Times

Sonny Bunch at Doublethink

UPDATE #2: Robert Wright and Jim Pinkerton at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #3: Scott H. Payne at The League

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