Belmont Club

Notes from all Over, March 10 2009

  • Another one bites the dust. Chas Freeman withdraws his name from consideration. Power Line, quoting Fox, says, “Obama administration DNI Dennis Blair has announced that Charles W. (“Chas”) Freeman, Jr. has requested that his selection to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair says that he accepted Freeman’s decision with regret. In a sign of his then impending withdrawal, Freeman failed to appear as scheduled at today’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing.”
  • Vikram Pandit’s memo to the market saying that Citigroup turned a corner. Business Week says, “Strip away the billions of toxic assets and the billions more that the feds have pumped into Citigroup (C), and what you have is a dandy little bank that actually makes money. At least that was the upbeat takeaway from Citi’s beleaguered CEO Vikram Pandit, who distributed a memo to employees late on Mar. 9 about the bank’s bright prospects, despite the current $1-a-share price tag. “
  • Federal courts have just surrendered in the war against radical Islam by Andy McCarthy. “Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dealt a crushing blow to national defense. The three-judge panel’s ruling in al Odah v. United States has gotten scarce media attention. … Most significantly, the issuing court has declared an end to the war.”
  • Meanwhile, China tests the Obama administration by Tigerhawk. Just like Joe Biden said someone one would. But maybe he had something else in mind.
  • Galloway gives cars and cash to Hamas in Gaza, AFP. “We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of their contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine”. Does that include the West Bank?
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq strikes for third time in Baghdad area — Bill Roggio. Any theories why?

  • Private security guards manned British Northern Ireland military base checkpoint — The Guardian. A relative asks, “What on earth are the army doing using private security guards instead of their own soldiers to defend the base? The barracks should be where they are safest.” The Times Online says the British government used private guards with sidearms instead of sentries with automatic rifles with the following rationale in mind.

The NISGS was established in 1998 with the aim of creating a community-friendly force. The primary job of the guards at Massereene was “to deter terrorist infiltration of, and attack on, military establishments”, the ministry said.

Recruits were largely found from Northern Ireland and were often ex-servicemen. Like their counterparts on the mainland, they were trained to fire sidearms and nonautomatic carbines but to underline the softer image required to measure up to the political sensitivities of guarding bases in the Province, the civilian security officers of the NISGS were banned from wearing combat fatigues and were put into blue uniforms.

But somehow you may have guessed that already.

  • The Terror Wonk looks at the role of cell phone technology in terrorism and their possible role in counterterrorism.
  • The Revolt of the Democrats. The Washington Post writes:

As the Senate inches closer to approving a $410 billion spending bill, the internal revolt has served as a warning to party leaders pursuing Obama’s far-reaching plans for health-care, energy and education reform.

Those goals, spelled out in Obama’s 2010 budget blueprint, continue to enjoy broad Democratic support. But as the ideas develop into detailed legislation, they will transform from abstract objectives into a tangle of difficult trade-offs. Crop subsidies, the student loan program and Medicare radiology rules are all currently niche concerns, but any one could become the next crisis for party leaders, with the potential to derail a major agenda item. One major proposal, to limit itemized deductions for wealthy taxpayers, has already raised doubts among prominent Democrats in both chambers.

Open thread.