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Monthly Archives: January 2009

More UFOs Crashing Into Iran

January 29th, 2009 - 7:23 pm

Maybe there’s a linkage to British Tory leader David Cameron’s promise to come clean about UFOs?  After all, most Iranians believe their country is manipulated by the Brits…or maybe it was a special American envoy trying to deliver Obama’s historic message to the supreme leader?  Who knows?  But there seem to be a lot of these crashes nowadays in the Islamic Republic…

In any case, it sounds pretty dramatic:

While other reports spoke of meteors, Nasrollahi said there were no conclusive witnesses in this regard but he did not dismiss the possibility that the crash has been caused by a meteor.

Eye-witnesses assure that the explosion has been caused as a result of the crash of a radiant unidentified flying object onto the ground.

Here’s the whole thing.

Roger Simon Call Your (London) Office

January 28th, 2009 - 11:43 am

I suppose it’s all part of the messianic era in which we now live, but it was certainly encouraging to see British Tory Leader Cameron promising to come clean on the UFO problem.  A citizen claimed that, according to a former American astronaut, the American Government has ongoing contacts with aliens, and the public has a right to know about such things.

Indeed.  And I wouldn’t mind seeing a medical report on Obama, while we’re at it.  And no, I don’t think there’s a connection…

The Doctors Plot Again, This Time in Tehran

January 28th, 2009 - 9:56 am

“Does this remind you of anything?”  I was talking to my old friend, the late James Jesus Angleton, legendary head of CIA counterintelligence back in the days when there really WAS counterintelligence.  I’d reached him through the only possible way, a totally unreliable and very staticky connection through my antique ouija board, and I had just read him an excerpt from a story on Iran’s FARS news agency wire:

“Since long ago, a comprehensive plot has been under discussion for the arrangement of the regional scene. This plan was gradually brought on the international stage and turned into a paradigm,” (Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali) Larijani said at a ceremony for honoring Gaza martyrs in the holy city of Qom in central Iran on Wednesday.

“This plot aimed at a type of solidarity among the US and certain western and Arab countries in the region and had been hatched to harness Iran through international participation,” he added.

Larijani was talking about the Israeli assault on Gaza, which he claimed had ended in defeat for Israel and the United States.  Angleton thought for a bit, and it seemed to me that I sensed cigarette smoke coming out of the ouija board, although of course he’d already complained about the new anti-smoking regulations on the far side of the great divide, and it might have been my imagination.

JJA: “Well of course it’s the usual paranoia, isn’t it?  You could find similar things from most any dictator.  ‘Uneasy lies a head that wears the crown,’ and all that.”  They see plots everywhere, and the Iranians are worse than most.”

ML: “Yeah, Henry IV, Part 2, right?”

JJA: “Exactly.  And there’s another bit in that play that also tells you a lot about the tyrant’s mentality.  Remember?

O God!  That one might read the book of fate,
And see the revolution of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent,–
Weary of solid firmness,–melt itself
into the sea!”

ML: “Great stuff.  But that rather sounds like the mullahs’ vision of their own imminent triumph, and the return of the 12th Imam.”

JJA: “Yes, that’s what they tell themselves.  At least in public.  But they have a lot of dread.  They’re not altogether certain that the child-Messiah is all that reliable.  Not one of them trusts any of the others, you know.”

ML: “I know, I know.  They see plots everywhere.  Just listen to another report from FARS, this one of January 9th, where they quote an unnamed person identified as “the director general of the counter-intelligence department of the Ministry of Intelligence.”  You might consider him a kindred spirit.

JJA: “Hah!  He’s got my job, the beturbaned bastard.”

ML: “Well, not exactly.  He’s not a CIA official, is he?”

JJA: “Not that I know of (chortle, with a bit of a wheeze).”

ML: “This guy’s telling his listeners about a really diabolical plot, run of course by the Satanic Americans, aimed at the overthrow of the regime.”

JJA: “You’re talking about the doctors’ plot, right?”

ML: “Yes.  Two brothers, usually credited with creating and managing the country’s AIDS program (which WHO rates one of the best in the world) were arrested last September.  They traveled a lot, especially to the United States, to stay on top of the latest developments.  Now this guy with your old job has accused them of being American spies.”

JJA: “Any evidence?”

ML: “Looks pretty flimsy.  As usual, the actual ‘evidence’ is not available.  They got tried in closed court, and not even their defense attorney has been able to see most of the government’s claims.”

JJA: “So what did the director general of the counter-intelligence department actually say about the reasons for their arrest and conviction?”

ML: “He said that they were working with the Americans to overthrow the regime.”

JJA: “Good grief.  How?  Were they going to give their patients sharp needles to throw against Khamenei?”

ML: “Don’t laugh.  They’re accused of working to accomplish the “soft toppling” of the regime, having been recruited by Americans during trips to the United States.  Here’s the description he gives of the process:

“During [their] trips the Americans tried to influence those people’s
thinking and to portray America as Iran’s only saviour so that after
returning to Iran they would put pressure on their officials and create a
rift between the people and the officials…

During that one-month period, they also asked the Iranians to provide an analysis of the situation inside Iran for them. In this way, they wished to collect information [intelligence] about Iran. they particularly asked them about certain issues, such as germs [not further described], non-active defence, [and] the condition of the infrastructure, and those individuals provided them with all the information that they had.”

JJA: “Seems innocent enough.  Anything about actual organizing activities inside Iran?  I mean, talking to American doctors about disease, and how things were going in Iran isn’t really much, even for paranoiacs like the mullahs.”

ML: “Yes, there are some specific charges:

…inciting social crises, organizing street demonstrations and
interfering in ethnic issues…For instance, in Azerbaijan Province,
they managed to trap a few individuals and to get their co-operation. By
raising the issue of ethnic prejudices [feelings], they were trying to
incite them and were encouraging them to engage in civil disobedience and
non-violent activities.”

JJA: “I see.  So the mullahs are blaming a handful of doctors for the ethnic riots in Azerbaijan.”

ML: “Exactly.  And there’s one other thing that might interest you.”

JJA: “What’s that?”

ML: “They compare it to an American plot against the Soviet Union years ago.”

JJA: “You’re kidding!”

ML: “Not at all.  Here’s the quote:

Pointing out that America wishes to carry out some plots against Iran
similar to the operations in Riga-Dubai, he said: “That plot
was carried out in the year 1359 [1980] by America against the Soviet Union
through Dubai. Now, once again, America has activated that plan in Dubai,
and she wishes to penetrate our social layers, the members of the elite and
experts and to establish contacts with them.”

JJA: “Aha!”

ML: “I thought you’d like it.”

JJA: “Like it?  It’s fascinating.  Have you asked yourself where they came up with that story?  Do you think the Iranians have a team studying Soviet history or something?”

ML: “So where did they get it?”

JJA: “One will get you three that they got it from the Russians, of course.”

ML: “Got any evidence?”

I probably shouldn’t have said that, because the ouija board started sparking as soon as the words came out.

JJA: “Oh please…they’re in cahoots across the board…nuclear…likely intelligence methods…operations…”

Well of course he’d think like that.  And yes, I’ll try to remember to follow it up.  Anyway, it does look a lot like the infamous doctors’ plot that Stalin used to justify one of his major purges.  There seems to be a similar purge under way now in Iran, what with Bahai’s and Christians suddenly rounded up. It’s not just the doctors.  As usual.   We’ll see.

I was up late, reading last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, and came across an article by one of my favorite reporters, Siobhan Gorman, with an enthusiastic headline: “Intelligence Agencies’ Databases Set to Be Linked.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123258232280204323.html The headline pretty much sums it up: after a lifetime of being able to access only a tiny fraction of the Intelligence Community’s data, analysts will now have an easier time of it.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has launched a sweeping technology program to knit together the thousands of databases across all 16 spy agencies. After years of bureaucratic snafus, intelligence analysts will be able to search through secret intelligence files the same way they can search public data on the Internet.

Mr. McConnell’s new technology program is also addressing a more basic problem: Spies often have trouble emailing colleagues in other U.S. intelligence agencies, because email addresses aren’t readily accessible, and messages sometimes get eaten by security filters. Mr. McConnell aims to solve that by uniting the agencies’ email systems into a single system with a full directory that links names, expertise and addresses.

So, Siobhan Gorman tells us, whereas today’s analyst might be able to search five percent of the lode, with the new “Google-like system” he’ll get into vastly more data.

Obviously, this sort of thing is way beyond my pay grade, so I grabbed the ouija board and dialed up my late friend, James Jesus Angleton, the long-time head of CIA Counterintelligence.  And I must say, the new era of transparency has done wonders for communication with the world beyond, because he came right on.

JJA: “Thanks for calling, I was getting bored.”

ML: “Bored?  How can you be bored THERE?”  I thought they kept you busy…”

JJA: “It’s the accursed anti-smoking campaign.  Down there, I could always smoke to break the monotony, but you can hardly smoke anywhere anymore.”

ML: “Seems stupid.  I mean, it’s not as if you have to worry about health problems, do you?”

JJA: “Hahahaha.  No, of course not, everybody’s dead already.”

ML: “So why?”

JJA: “Something about the new arrivals being hypersensitive to second-hand smoke.  I don’t get it.  Anyway, what’s on your mind today?”

ML: “There’s a new program for the Intelligence Community.  Everybody’s data base will be linked, so that research will be faster, easier, and more efficient.  I wondered what you thought.”

JJA: “Sounds like something the KGB dreamed up.”

ML: “Say what?”

JJA: “I said it sounds like an effing KGB scheme aimed at witless bureaucrats who don’t know the first thing about counterintelligence and think that machinery can fix problems created by stupid spies.”

ML: “You don’t like it, I can tell.”

JJA: “Look at it from the point of view of an enemy.  You want to penetrate America, right?  You want to know what we know about you, that’s one of the most precious things.  It’s what that bastard Philby did.”

He coughed, with that telltale hint of phlegm I always heard when he mentioned the British agent who tricked him during the Cold War.

JJA: “I was always very careful to compartmentalize the information, because my greatest nightmare was some enemy mole who could get into the whole system.  If that ever happened, we were cooked.”

ML: “Whereas, with compartmentalization, the worst that could happen was the loss of a discrete bundle of information, right?”

JJA: “Exactly.  But these dolts are creating a system that invites penetration, and maximizes the damage.”

ML: “Yeah, but Mike McConnell says that all kinds of security measures have been taken.”

JJA: “Well duuuuh!  What do you expect him to say?  Just listen to this, from that article you were reading: ‘By 2010, the intelligence agncies and the Pentagon would have a single email system.’  How handy!  All you have to do is get into the email system and you know everyone.”

ML: “You don’t believe the technology will be good enough to protect us, huh?”

JJA: “There’s never been a machine that could protect us against our own stupidity, or the cunning of a desperate enemy.”

ML: “Well I guess that’s right.  But McConnell’s trying to solve a serious problem: we didn’t connect the dots leading to al Qaeda before 9/11 in large part because the various agencies weren’t communicating with each other.”

JJA: “Oh, please!  Spare me that one.  Didn’t the Justice Department indict bin Laden and al Qaeda years before 9/11?”

ML: “Indeed.”

JJA: “So we knew.  Dots, schmots.  The failure was in the hands of the people who were supposed to track him down, it wasn’t the ‘system’ or a lack of technology.  Jeez.”

At which point there was a loud sound that I could swear sounded just like a thunderbolt.  A small grey cloud floated slowly out of my ouija board.  And he was gone.  Just like that.

Obama and the Mullahs

January 25th, 2009 - 8:55 pm

Iran’s always tyrannical and sometimes apocalyptic mullahs have certainly been busy of late.  They’ve been spinning faster than a champion dervish, trying to convince the gullible, at home and abroad, that their Hamas proxies in Gaza won a signal victory against Israel, and that Iran was the reason for their success.  Meanwhile, they’ve called for the assassination of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, and Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, and organized mass rallies against President Obama, complete with ritual burning of his photo.

Some of it shows the regime’s comedic skills at their highest pitch, such as the offer of a million dollars to anyone who killed Mubarak.  That is a generous reward the mullahs know they’ll never have to pay off, since anyone who actually murdered the Egyptian president would hardly be in a position to collect.  At the same time, Tehran provided us with one of their favorite bits of street theater: seventy thousand screaming citizens demanding to be sent to Gaza on suicide missions.  There, too, the offer was cost-free, since Iran doesn’t send its own citizens to blow themselves up.  They use the despised Arabs for such things.  Nobody’s seen an Iranian suicide bomber since the fall of the shah in 1979.

The battle of Gaza showed at least two important things about the Iranians:

–They are totally ready to fight to the last…Palestinian;

–When push comes to shove, not even the most faithful proxy can count on Tehran for assistance.

No sooner had the fighting started, than top Iranians flew to Damascus to tell Hamas’s “leaders” (who never left Damascus; no battlefield ribbons for them) that they had better not stop fighting.  No cease fire until the Israelis had been defeated.  This produced the entirely predictable result of increasing casualties in Gaza (both Hamas terrorists and innocent civilians), and a clear victory by the Israelis.

The mullahs obviously couldn’t permit that result to stand, and so they declared victory.  Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) delivered the official version:  “In Gaza, Israel for the first time succumbed to the resistance of the Palestinian people in its alleged territories and Gaza was actually liberated in this war…Gaza is the beginning of Israel’s serious downfall…”

To which one can only murmer, with such liberations, the Palestinian people is surely doomed.  And not only the Palestinians; their sponsors don’t look very good on the morning after, despite the mullahs’ predictable claim of victory.  Everybody in Gaza knew that this was the second Iran/Israel battle (the first was in Lebanon in 2006, involving Iran’s favorite proxy, Hezbollah), and that the mullahs, along with Iran’s favored troops had been smashed:

Palestinian sources reported Thursday that the “Iranian Unit” of Hamas, members of the group’s military wing trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, had been destroyed.

According to the sources, most of the unit’s members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood, where they had been deployed by the military leadership of Hamas.

The unit numbered approximately 100 men who had traveled to Iran and Hezbollah camps, mostly in the Beka’a Valley, where they were trained in infantry fighting tactics. The militants were also trained in the use of anti-tank missiles, the detonation of explosives, among other skills.

The “Iranian Unit” was only a small part of Iran’s massive investment in Hamas.  Iran  provides approximately $20 -$30 million to Hamas annually and also trains Hamas operatives in Iran and Syria. Iran gave Hamas a $50 million “success fee” after it beat Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the 2006 Palestinian elections.

In the months before Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, Iran conducted extensive military training for Hamas members.  Approximately 950 Hamas terrorists have been trained in building rockets and bombs, tactical warfare, weapons operation and sniper tactics by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a special division of Iran’s armed forces.

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Kristoff Channels Yeltsin, and He’s Right

January 23rd, 2009 - 8:15 pm

Nick Kristoff had a largely overlooked column at the NY Times back on the 14th, datelined Phnom Penh.  He called it “Where Sweatshops Are a Dream,” and it echoes one of the great moments in the fall of the Soviet Empire.  In the post-Gorbachev days, or maybe just before, Boris Yeltsin visited Manhattan, and greatly annoyed most of the journalists assigned to cover him, because Yeltsin kept on praising American accomplishments.  Finally, he went to visit one of the worst neighborhoods in the Bronx, and a journalist asked him “Well, Mr. Yeltsin, what do you think of our slums?”

Yeltsin replied, “Your slums are our dreams.”

Kristoff understands the message.

Before Barack Obama and his team act on their talk about “labor standards,” I’d like to offer them a tour of the vast garbage dump here in Phnom Penh.

This is a Dante-like vision of hell. It’s a mountain of festering refuse, a half-hour hike across, emitting clouds of smoke from subterranean fires.

The miasma of toxic stink leaves you gasping, breezes batter you with filth, and even the rats look forlorn. Then the smoke parts and you come across a child ambling barefoot, searching for old plastic cups that recyclers will buy for five cents a pound. Many families actually live in shacks on this smoking garbage.

Mr. Obama and the Democrats who favor labor standards in trade agreements mean well, for they intend to fight back at oppressive sweatshops abroad. But while it shocks Americans to hear it, the central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don’t exploit enough.

Talk to these families in the dump, and a job in a sweatshop is a cherished dream, an escalator out of poverty, the kind of gauzy if probably unrealistic ambition that parents everywhere often have for their children.

Our slums are their dreams.  And as we enter a phase in which we’re going to hear a lot of people decrying America as the cause of the world’s ills, do remember that very few people choose to leave America, while millions and millions will risk everything to get here.

Please, STOP ME before I kill myself

January 7th, 2009 - 9:02 am

Sometimes the mullahs really outdo themselves.  They have a great natural flair for slapstick (if only we had a secretary of state who wanted to poke fun at the Iranian regime, she could have her own prime time show), but this latest is a classic.  Remember the scene in the movie “Hook” where Captain Hook holds a flintlock pistol to hs head and says to the loyal Smee “don’t try to stop me, Smee”?  And Smee just stands there.  So Hook says, “don’t you dare try to stop me, Smee.”  And Smee just stands there.  And then Hook erupts, “Smee!  STOP ME!!”

Here’s the ayatollish version of that scene, from al-Reuters:

…an Iranian official told Iranian firms on Monday to suspend commercial links with international companies which might have ‘Zionist’ shareholders… Monday’s order suggested the government was going beyond the usual scope of Israeli companies and focusing on other international firms with Israel-linked investors, but did not name any particular firm.

This is tantamount to a total end of all commerce with the whole world.  Because the number of companies with ZERO Jewish shareholders is most probably ZERO.

Is Iran in Trouble?

January 4th, 2009 - 5:33 pm

After years of refusing to see Iran’s aggressive intentions, most sensible observers of things Middle Eastern now recognize that the most important terrorist organizations, from Islamic Jihad to Hezbollah and Hamas, are essentially Iranian proxies. Figaro this weekend carries a story bluntly headlined “Iran Behind Hamas’ Grad Missiles,” and flatly states that Hamas military commanders have been trained in Iran and Syria to use the deadliest missiles in their inventory.  The battle of Gaza is therefore the second between Israel and Iran in two and half years, the first being the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah (which, lest we forget, was kicked off when Hamas kidnaped three Israeli soldiers).

It follows that Iran could well lose this battle, and defeat is very dangerous to a regime like Tehran’s, which claims divine sanction for its actions and proclaims the imminent arrival of its messiah and of the triumph of global jihad.  If Allah is responsible for victory, what can be said about humiliating defeat?  The mullahs are well aware of the stakes, as we can see in their recent behavior.

For some time now, the regime in Tehran has shown signs of urgency, sometimes verging on panic.  Of late, the mullahs have organized raucus demonstrations in front of numerous embassies, including those of Egypt (with chants of “Death to Mubarak”), Jordan, Turkey, Great Britain, Germany and today (imagine!) France. These demonstrations were not mere gestures;  the regime’s seriousness was underlined on Sunday, the 4th, when it offered a million-dollar reward to anyone who killed Mubarak (the Iranians called it a “revolutionary execution”).  Significantly, the announcement came at a rally of the Basij, the most radical security force in the country, at which the Revolutionary Guards official Forooz Rejaii spoke.  The Egyptians take it seriously;  they have been on alert of late, looking for the possibility of a Mumbai-type operation in Cairo or elsewhere.

At the same time, the regime intensified its murderous assault against its own people, most notably hanging nine people on Christmas Eve, and assaulting the headquarters of Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi.

This intense tempo of activity bespeaks alarm in Tehran, which is fully justified by a number of setbacks.  First of all, the dramatic drop in oil prices is devastating to the mullahs, who had planned to be able to fund terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.  Suddenly their bottom line is tinged with red, and this carries over onto their domestic balance sheets, which were already demonstrably shaky (they were forced to cancel proposed new taxes when the merchant class staged nation-wide protests).  No wonder they seize on any international event to call for petroleum export reductions.  Just today they called for a drastic reduction of oil shipments to all countries that supported the Israeli military incursion into Gaza.

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Guest Blog: Steve Plaut

January 4th, 2009 - 8:51 am

Steve is an economist at the University of Haifa who sends out his daily thoughts via email.  He really should have a blog.

The jets bombed the bejeebers out of them. The ground forces
invaded.  They at long last suppressed the terrorists, who had conducted a
long campaign of suicide bombing and planting bombs, and put an end to any
notion that the terrorists and their sponsors would be granted their own
state.  Many civilians were killed and wounded, yet not a single protest
was made against the invasion anywhere.

I am of course referring to the conquest by the army of Sri Lanka over the
past few days of the last hold-out city of the Tamil independence rebels.
Kilinochchi was the last town held by the Tamil “Tiger” Rebels, considered
to be a terrorist group by the United States.  With it fell the last Tamil
hope of setting up an independent state or even of getting autonomy inside
Sri Lanka.  The Tamils have their own state inside India but were not
satisfied with that manifestation of “self-determination.”  Kilinochchi,
579 kilometers north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, was until recent
months the center of political power for the rebels.  Over the years,
65,000 people have been killed in the war with the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile not a single Solidarity-with-the-Tamil-Tigers protest has been
organized on a single Western campus or in a single downtown square.
Jewish leftist kapos have not taken to the streets to demand and end to
the war of aggression against the Tamils.  Leftist web sites have not
proclaimed every injury of a Tamil civilian to be a Nazi-like war crime
and an act of genocide.  Eurocrats have not pontificated about how the Sri
Lankan response to the terror was out of proportion.  The International
Solidarity Movement has not sent in protesters from the West to try to
defend the terrorists.  Communists and fellow travelers have not organized
flotillas of boats carrying aid to the terrorists.  Israeli politicians
have not lectured the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka about how the whole problem
is that they are insensitive to the needs of the “Other.”   Ehud Barak did
not demand that the Sri Lanka government enter talks with the Tigers and
provide them with guns and funding.  Israeli professors did not organize
petitions of solidarity with the Tamil suicide bombers.  Haaretz
columnists have not turned out column after column explaining that the
suicide bombings by the Tamils are all because they are under an inhumane
siege and hungry.  Writers David Grossman, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua have
not produced poems and essays demanding that the demands of the Tamil
Tigers be met.  Not a single Sri Lankan professor who had a family member
killed by the Tamil terrorists has come out in endorsement of the demands
of the terrorists.  No movement of self-hating Sinhalese favoring a
Holocaust of Sinhalese has emerged.  Not a single Sinhalese public figure
has proposed that Sri Lanka be dismembered and stripped of its Sinhalese
symbols.  None have proposed a change in the national anthem.  None has
proposed dividing Colombo and handing over half to the Tamils.  Virtually
no one knows that 65,000 civilians have died in the fighting and the media
have no interest in covering the story.

But then again, Sri Lanka is just not as advanced a country as is Israel..

Code Pink Tweaked by…the Marines

January 3rd, 2009 - 5:24 pm

It probably was some admirer of Cindy Sheehan, actually.  But the message is hilarious.  Just go to


And see what you get.  hoHO.