Here’s what looks to be a big intelligence coup in Mosul.
This is damning:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. military intelligence team identified four Sept. 11 hijackers, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, as likely members of an al Qaeda cell in the United States over a year before the 2001 attacks, a former team member and a Republican congressman said on Tuesday.
The classified eight-member team, code-named “Able Danger,” produced a chart with photographs of Atta and three other hijackers in 2000 and unsuccessfully sought to pass the information on to the FBI.
Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who is vice chairman of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, said the information was provided to the staff of the Sept. 11 commission but some commissioners were never briefed on the material.
“Asleep at the wheel” doesn’t even begin to describe our pre-9/11 FBI and CIA.
Dick Morris thinks Hillary Clinton might face a real fight for reelection next year:
While Hillary would have no problem dispatching an opponent like Nixon son-in-law Edward Cox or Yonkers Mayor John Spencer (the two other possible GOP contenders), Pirro presents a real problem.
Jeanine Pirro is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-affirmative action, pro-gay-civil unions and pro-immigration. And, of course, she’s a woman.
In a sense, Hillary will have to end up running against someone who is quite like herself in her public positions: Except, of course, Pirro is a good old-fashioned anti-tax, anti-crime, tough-on-terror Republican from the suburbs.
Of course, Morris has a long track record of being exactly wrong where Hillary is concerned.
I’m afraid it’s an idea whose time has come. Sigh.
Philip Caputo’s Acts of Faith. It’s so good, it’s keeping me from blogging.
Question: Why have several large American cities not already announced that they are going to become sister cities with Baghdad and help raise money and awareness to aid [Baghdad mayor] Dr. Tamimi? When I put this question to a number of serious anti-war friends, their answer was to the effect that it’s the job of the administration to allocate the money, so that there’s little room or need for civic action. I find this difficult to credit: For day after day last month I could not escape the news of the gigantic “Live 8″ enterprise, which urged governments to do more along existing lines by way of debt relief and aid for Africa. Isn’t there a single drop of solidarity and compassion left over for the people of Iraq, after three decades of tyranny, war, and sanctions and now an assault from the vilest movement on the face of the planet? Unless someone gives me a persuasive reason to think otherwise, my provisional conclusion is that the human rights and charitable “communities” have taken a pass on Iraq for political reasons that are not very creditable. And so we watch with detached curiosity, from dry land, to see whether the Iraqis will sink or swim. For shame.
It’s one thing to question the wisdom of getting involved in Iraq in the first place. It’s quite another to act as if victory (and human misery) there doesn’t matter. “For shame,” indeed.
NOTE: The headline refers to a famous George Orwell essay.
Charles Simmins answers the New York Times’ question, “Where are the war heroes?”
It’s a recurring feature, so check back often.
Back on Monday morning.
UPDATE: Is this a slow news day, or what?
ANOTHER UPDATE: At least we have a new Screed.
It is guaranteed to raise a cheer among those who enjoy a tipple: moderate drinkers are better thinkers than teetotallers or those who overindulge.
Research by the Australian National University in Canberra suggests drinking in moderation boost your brainpower. But none at all, or too much, can make you a dullard.
A study of 7,000 people in their early 20s, 40s and 60s found that those who drank within safe limits had better verbal skills, memory and speed of thinking than those at the extremes of the drinking spectrum. The safe consumption level was considered to be 14 to 28 standard drinks a week for a man and seven to 14 for a woman.
I can speak from experience here, and the study is absolutely correct.
When do I do my best writing? In the evening, after dinner.
When do I have cocktails? In the evening, after dinner.
How many cocktails do I have in the evening after dinner? Rarely more than two.
How many cocktails does that work out to in a week? 14 to 28.
What the study leaves out – because it wasn’t germaine – is that different types of alcohol effect writing differently. Hard alcohol (vodka, scotch, and gin being my preferred poisons) can actually help the writing process. Wine, even in trivial amounts, seems to hurt it. And moderate beer drinking has no effect at all.
Also note that three cocktails and good writing goes out the window. However, cocktail #3 is usually when my pool game is elevated to “better than mediocre.” So it should come as no surprise that I never write about pool.
All of which leaves out the question: How do different types of drinks effect activities other than writing?
Pick one: Beer, wine, or liquor, and tell me which activity one or two drinks seems to help you or hurt you. Leaves your responses in the Comments section.
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadians can put away those extra welcome mats — it seems Americans unhappy about the result of last November’s presidential election have decided to stay at home after all.
Well, duh. Hollywood types only move to Canada for a couple months at a time, to shoot movies using cheap labor.
Here’s more on the arrest of a Maryland man on terror charges.
Slate’s Dana Stevens finds Al Gore TV to be just so… ’90s:
Like the memory of Al Gore’s presence on the political scene, his just-launched new cable venture, Current TV, feels strangely stranded in the ’90s. It’s as ’90s as a Tracy Chapman ballad, as ’90s as the debate over political correctness, as ’90s as an asymmetrical bob. Watching the network for hours at a stretch, as I’ve been doing the past few days to research this piece, you start to get an odd, airless feeling. To quote a song that’s being advertised in endless rotation on the network (by the very ’90s-esque Canadian band Hot Hot Heat) you’re “Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere.”
Read the whole thing.
Although I moved away a decade ago, I was born and raised in Alabama. My family (on both sides) has lived there for many generations. Even so, I honestly can’t think of a single time when I could say that I was proud of the state’s government and/or elected officials.
Alabama yesterday became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country.
Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature, which would prohibit governments from using their eminent-domain authority to take privately owned properties for the purpose of turning them over to retail, industrial, office or residential developers.
Calling the high court’s June 23 ruling “misguided” and a “threat to all property owners,” Mr. Riley said, “A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it.”
Bravo, ladies and gentlemen.
Show that much good sense with the rest of your work, and there’ll be a lot fewer wisecracks about our home state. I quite literally have never been prouder of you.
A teenage Israeli soldier shot dead four people in a blazing row over the country’s imminent withdrawal from Gaza before being lynched by furious residents of an Arab-Israeli town.
The shooting, the first deadly incident connected to Israel’s controversial plan to uproot all troops and settlers from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, heightened fears about possible violence during the historic pullout.
The 19-year-old religiously observant Jew, dressed in army fatigues, unleashed a volley of fire inside a bus in the northern Galilee town of Shfaram in an argument over the pullout, police said.
Four Israeli Arab passengers died in the hail of bullets. The gunman was lynched by a furious crowd as hundreds flocked to the blood-smeared bus in a Druze neighbourhood of Shfaram shortly after the attack, police and witnesses said.
Israel has three strageic options. They can pull out of Gaza and (most of) the West Bank, expell every Arab from those lands, or become an apartheid state. As this story shows, even the least bad of the three options is still… well, nothing better than “the least bad.”
And things will get worse before they get better.
As you’ve probably already read, China and Russia will hold their first-ever joint military exercise later this month. So what’s it mean? That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. Let’s think out loud for a few hundred words and see what we can discover.
Here’s what we do know. Countries who don’t practice together can’t really fight together. Combat is chaotic, even when everybody on one side speaks the same language. So much so, that even interservice rivalries can produce disaster. For 25 years now, the Pentagon has focused on “jointness”
Germany won’t be getting a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – thanks to China?
There’s a whole lot I’d like to say about this Joan Collins column, but it’s too late and I’m too tired.
So for now, let’s just say that I agree with damn near everything Joan Collins wrote.
Let’s also say that, having written that last sentence, I owe somebody at least a hundred bucks, Hell has apparently frozen over, and monkeys have indeed flown out of my ass.
Last year, I gave you my recipe for the Perfect Martini
The best English teacher I ever had was David “Don’t Call Me ‘Dave’” Cantwell, my first semester at Mizzou. David was “merely” a Teaching Assistant, getting his Master’s in part by teaching well-meaning freshmen how to write decent essays. One semester, one journal, five essays. Two of them even now don’t make me sick to re-read
I really, really wanted to write something scathing about President Bush’s Monkey Trial support for teaching “Intelligent Design” in American classrooms. Then I decided having a drink was far more sensible. Hell, lining up multiple shots of tequila and Scarface-worthy lines of cocaine in front of a recovering alcoholic makes more sense than ID “theory.”
While I carve another twist for another martini, why don’t you click on over to Protein Wisdom and read what Jeff Goldstein has to say?
Jon Baliles emailed me… uh… this.
I won’t tell you what it is, other than to tell you Jon was right when he told me I’d laugh my ass off.
It’s the big one:
Iran on Tuesday said that nothing would stop it resuming ultra-sensitive nuclear activities in defiance of the European Union and the United States despite warnings of UN Security Council action and a grave international crisis.
UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei has warned that Iran’s resuming converting uranium ore into a gas, a first step in enriching uranium into what can be fuel for reactors or the explosive core of atom bombs, could undermine its talks with the European Union and his International Atomic Energy Agency’s verification work in Iran as well, AFP said.
What to do about Iran? That takes some explaining.
First off, an invasion is (and always was) out of the question. Anyone who can read a map could tell you that. Iran’s terrain is much like Serbia’s – a place we decided to bomb into submission, rather than invade. Heavy tanks and weak bridges don’t mix. And our light forces are too few – and too light – to make up the difference. Could an invasion succeed? Yes, eventually, and at a price in blood we might not want to pay. Besides, an invasion would spoil the goodwill we already enjoy with the Iranian people, a topic we talked about here two years ago.
Well, what about bunker-busting bombs? Fuggidaboudit. To guarantee success, we’d have to use nukes. The Iranians (like almost everyone else) learned the lessons of the 1991 Kuwait War, and buried their stuff deep. As I’ve made plain many times before, I don’t hold with the “nuke’em all and don’t even let God sort’em out” crowd, and I won’t this time, either. You simply don’t go dropping nukes on people because their leaders might someday develop The Bomb.
(I don’t mean to say the Cuba Option is off the table. In 1962, President Kennedy declared that any nukes launched from Cuba, he would consider launched by and from the USSR – and that he would retaliate appropriately. We can make the same statement regarding Iran and terrorist nukes.)
Do we set the Israelis loose on Iran, ala their Osirik strike against Iraq in 1981? Firstly, an Israeli strike would have even less promise of total success than an American attack. The IAF has shorter “legs,” and their elint probably isn’t as good. Besides, the Israelis might not want the job, given the current political climate.
So what is to be done? Well, letting the Europeans keep talking with Tehran certainly can’t do much harm. Of course, it won’t do much good, either. Making our own threats is more likely to turn off Iranian nationalists (as opposed to Iranian fundamentalists) who are as pro-American as almost any opponent of the Mullah’s Regime. Which leaves us with just one decent choice: The Cuba Option.
Anyone have a better (and sane!) suggestion?
UPDATE: Of course, I could be wrong. In the comments, Frank Martin says, “You cannot seriously consider leaving Tehran to live like the Cubans without considering the hell we consigned the Cuban people to live in.”
Meant to link to this yesterday, but ran out of time. Consider it the Saudi Succession Edition of Required Reading:
Yet this successor government will almost certainly be a brief one. Abdullah is over 80. Sultan is in his late 70′s. Thus the potential crisis comes not with the post-Fahd succession, but upon Abdullah’s death. The prospect of a crippling tribal feud within the House of Saud, or of a nationwide movement of discontent among average Saudis who are left out of the royals’ enormous circle of influence and wealth, are real possibilities.
The good news is, CAFTA passed Congress and President Bush signed the pact into law. Now the bad news:
Only 15 Democrats voted for the pact in the House, a break from the bipartisan support major trade legislation has received in the past in both Republican and Democratic administrations. The pact was approved in the Senate, which is more favorable to trade agreements, 54-45 on June 30.
The closeness of the 217-215 House vote raised questions about other free trade agreements the Bush administration is negotiating, including ones with Bahrain, Thailand and the Andean countries of South America. It also cast a cloud over the fate of U.S.-backed trade talks being undertaken by the World Trade Organization to reduce global trade barriers, known as the Doha round.
Republicans, or at least the one now in the White House, tend to be fair-weather free-traders at best. To get stuff done, the True Beleivers need help on both sides of the aisle. The future doesn’t look so bright on the left side of the aisle – at least not with a Republican President in office.
What a shame that partisan politics seem to be getting in the way of smart policies – the same ones enshrined by Bill Clinton.
Time to program a new keyword into your TiVo:
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be shown on live television, Iraq’s national security adviser said yesterday.
The trial will show the Arab and Muslim world “that this is going to be a fair, just trial with a defence counsel in there, with a proper prosecuting counsel as well there,” Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq Rubaie told CNN. “And everybody will watch this trial live on television.”
Personally, I don’t watch televised trials. But the fact that the Iraqi government is willing to broadcast this one speaks well of its confidence and strength.