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My headline would be: Dude, can you take notes for me? The members of the 9/11 Commission have now proven what many have suspected all along:
Kerrey and fellow Democrat Lee Hamilton bugged out early from the three-hour sitdown - each pleading "a prior engagement" - while Bush and Vice President Cheney sat calmly and answered the commission's questions.
The Democrats have been clamoring for months about having the President testify. Apparently, they didn't consider his testimony to be very important. So, the only other reason would be to score political points. That's been the agenda of the commission from the start. Many Americans have seen it as a complete waste of time. Kerrey and Hamilton seem to agree.
The headline is: U.N. Oil Papers Vanish.
The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday.
The General Accounting Office report, presented at a congressional hearing into the scandal-plagued program, determined that 80 percent of U.N. records had not been turned over.
Anyone who says that these documents simply "mysteriously vanished" cannot be deemed as credible. This was not an act of prestidigitation--it was a calculated effort to obstruct an investigation. Duh! The ones obstructing are the very ones who gained the most from the Oil-for-Food program: the U.N. They are utterly corrupt. They are not only obstructing, but also obfuscating:
But the GAO report also found that a database the U.N. transferred to the authority was "unreliable because it contained mathematical and currency errors in calculation of contract costs," the report found.
Kofi Annan presents this strong defense:
"If you read the reports, it looks as if the Saddam regime had nothing to do with it. They did nothing wrong - it was all the U.N.," Annan said.
This sounds like the defense of a six year old--look, Johnny did it too! Well, of course the Saddam regime was evil and corrupt, Kofi. No surprise there. Everyone already knows and acknowledges this fact. It was not, however, widely believed that the U.N. was also evil and corrupt. Fortunately, this has now come to light. I agree with you Kofi. The U.N. acted in the same manner as an evil dictatorship. The Saddam regime no longer exists. I hope the U.N. has the same fate.
Scrappleface (always good for a chuckle) expounds on Baghdad Jim McDermott's explanation as to why he ommitted the "Under God" clause while leading Congress in the Pledge of Allegiance:
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-WA, explained yesterday that he had omitted the words "under God" while leading House colleagues in the Pledge of Allegiance because he had learned the Pledge before 1954 when the phrase was inserted by an act of Congress.
Later, a spokesman confirmed that Mr. McDermott also often forgets about the 1964 Civil Rights Act , because when he was in grade school it was still legal to discriminate on the basis of race.
"The Congressman also needs repeated reminders that Alaska and Hawaii are states, since they weren't when he was a child," the unnamed source said. "Which also explains why he visited Iraq and praised its leadership before the war. Rep. McDermott learned about Iraq before it fell under Ba'athist control, and he just forgot that it was ruled by a ruthless, bloodthirsty dictator for decades."
After reading the above-the-fold article about Kerry's butler in the NYT, Howie Carr gets a bit snarky:
Before he tracked down his second heiress in 1995, Kerry had a '91 Jetta. In other words, 10 years ago his car was worth less than his bicycle is today. And some people say being a gigolo doesn't pay?
Kerry still owns his old '85 Dodge convertible. The excellent New York Times story on his butler Wednesday said that Kerry's man Jeeves had ``inherited'' the car, but guess what - Kerry just re-registered the Dodge. Its plate is Purple Heart 3, which means he didn't have to pay for the registration.
Granted, he has every right to do that. But still, couldn't he have volunteered to pay the extra $75 . . . for the children? Then there's the 2002 Chrysler 300 sedan. Its current plate is USS 2.
You've got to hand it to Rev. Al. For someone who has no visible means of support, he sure lives well.
Is it surprising that the media hasn't played up this:
In a confession aired on Jordanian state TV, al-Jayousi, the head of the Jordanian cell of al Qaeda, admitted he was schooled in explosives and poisons in Afghanistan, then plotted in Iraq with Jordanian militant Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, a close associate of Osama bin Laden.
These terrorists had 20 tons of chemicals, including blister agents and nerve agents. Estimates are that this plot could have killed 80,000 people. Now, I'm not a chemist, but these sound like WMD's to me. This shows a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. This also shows a link between Iraq and WMD's. This was part of the justification for going to war with Iraq. I guess that the war-for-oil crowd just can't see it.
Sometimes you just have to trust your sources and have faith. It can take years of searching, all the while your naysayers and detractors assail you, your intelligence, your motives, your integrity and honesty. When you produce credible evidence and documentation, they seem not to care:
Satellite photos of Mount Aratat, Turkey taken by commercial imaging satellite company Digital Globe released today are said to contain proof of the existence of the biblical Noah's Ark.
“These new photos unequivocally show a man made object,” McGivern is quoted as saying. “I am convinced that the excavation of the object and the results of tests run on any collected samples will prove that it is Noah’s Ark.”
The field manager for the excavation will be Dr. Ahmet Ali Arslan, a native of Turkey who has traveled up Mount Ararat 50 times in 40 years and formerly worked in the Turkey Prime Minister’s office. According to the release, Arslan plans to discuss the details of the excavation with the Prime Minister next week.
Now for something completely different. Sometimes you just have to trust your sources and have faith. It can take years of searching, all the while your naysayers and detractors assail you, your intelligence, your motives, your integrity and honesty. When you produce credible evidence and documentation, they seem not to care:
At Karbala, U.S. troops stumbled upon 55-gallon drums of pesticides at what appeared to be a very large "agricultural supply" area, Hanson says. Some of the drums were stored in a "camouflaged bunker complex" that was shown to reporters - with unpleasant results. "More than a dozen soldiers, a Knight-Ridder reporter, a CNN cameraman, and two Iraqi POWs came down with symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent," Hanson says. "But later ISG tests resulted in a proclamation of negative, end of story, nothing to see here, etc., and the earlier findings and injuries dissolved into nonexistence. Left unexplained is the small matter of the obvious pains taken to disguise the cache of ostensibly legitimate pesticides. One wonders about the advantage an agricultural-commodities business gains by securing drums of pesticide in camouflaged bunkers 6 feet underground. The 'agricultural site' was also colocated with a military ammunition dump - evidently nothing more than a coincidence in the eyes of the ISG."
That wasn't the only significant find by coalition troops of probable CW stockpiles, Hanson believes. Near the northern Iraqi town of Bai'ji, where Saddam had built a chemical-weapons plant known to the United States from nearly 12 years of inspections, elements of the 4th Infantry Division found 55-gallon drums containing a substance identified through mass spectrometry analysis as cyclosarin - a nerve agent. Nearby were surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, gas masks and a mobile laboratory that could have been used to mix chemicals at the site. "Of course, later tests by the experts revealed that these were only the ubiquitous pesticides that everybody was turning up," Hanson says. "It seems Iraqi soldiers were obsessed with keeping ammo dumps insect-free, according to the reading of the evidence now enshrined by the conventional wisdom that 'no WMD stockpiles have been discovered.'"
At Taji - an Iraqi weapons complex as large as the District of Columbia - U.S. combat units discovered more "pesticides" stockpiled in specially built containers, smaller in diameter but much longer than the standard 55-gallon drum. Hanson says he still recalls the military sending digital images of the canisters to his office, where his boss at the Ministry of Science and Technology translated the Arabic-language markings. "They were labeled as pesticides," he says. "Gee, you sure have got a lot of pesticides stored in ammo dumps."
Again, this January, Danish forces found 120-millimeter mortar shells filled with a mysterious liquid that initially tested positive for blister agents. But subsequent tests by the United States disputed that finding. "If it wasn't a chemical agent, what was it?" Hanson asks. "More pesticides? Dish-washing detergent? From this old soldier's perspective, I gain nothing from putting a liquid in my mortar rounds unless that stuff will do bad things to the enemy."
The discoveries Hanson describes are not dramatic. And that's the problem: Finding real stockpiles in grubby ammo dumps doesn't fit the image the media and the president's critics carefully have fed to the public of what Iraq's weapons ought to look like.
Here's a report on the North Korean train wreck from Reuters:
North Korea urgently needs medical aid to treat victims of its huge train blast, U.N. officials said Monday after aid workers described children with blackened faces stitched with twine writhing in pain. But the secretive and impoverished communist state appeared to shut down one route to quick relief when North Korean officials told South Korea they did not want direct overland shipments, Yonhap news agency said. They asked for more talks.
"Impoverished", "secretive", "communist", boy those dastardly North Koreans really hate those characterizations. Maybe it's because the communists are very secretive about being impoverished. Here's the scoop from inside the DPRK:
What a meal they made of the disaster in Pyongyang last Thursday, when two goods trains laden with chemicals and oil exploded after coming into contact with power lines, blasting everything within 200 meters of the railway lines, including a school, into vapor.
The vocabulary was all there - "secretive", "regime", "closed", "communist" ,"bankrupt" as were the references to the perilous state of the economy in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and to the inadequate state of the hospitals.
The first point is, how prepared is any provincial hospital anywhere for a large-scale incident which kills 160 people and leaves 1,300 injured? The second point is that the DPR Korea has had to live with sanctions, directed by Washington, which place a stranglehold on its economy and deprive large areas of the country of electricity.
I'm sure the fine folks at the National Lawyers Guild would agree: it's all America's fault.