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Thursday July 1, 2004

Claudia Rosett is on the Oil-for-Food scandal and has the goods on just one small transaction. What is really instructive the the cavalier attitude of the UN:

As detailed in a fax dated Oct. 2, 2002, which Luguev sent to Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) and copied to the U.N. oil overseers in Sevan's New York office, Luguev had been asked by the Iraqi regime to pay a "deposit" of $60,000 into a secret bank account in the Jordan National Bank in order to procure an oil-for-food shipment of underpriced Iraqi oil. Any such payment was in gross violation of both U.N. sanctions against Iraq and oil-for-food rules, which spelled out that all Iraq's oil-related revenues would flow strictly into a U.N.-held escrow account.

According to Luguev's fax, Lakia had paid the $60,000 to Baghdad in advance (which was by several accounts standard practice for such kickbacks on oil shipments, which were widely rumored to be commonplace). But this time, Iraq did not deliver any oil. So Luguev, in his fax to the Iraqi authorities and to Sevan's office, demanded Iraq refund to Lakia its deposit "or we will be obliged to take all necessary legal steps and apply to all concerned organizations to get our money back."

Mark Goldblatt poisits in The American Spectator that Kerry can’t distance himself from the fringe of the Democratic Party (“fringe” being of the late 60’s variety that comprises nearly half the garment). And this:

These are perilous times -- and not only because loosely-knit fraternities of jihadists are dreaming up new suicidal schemes designed to kill thousands of Americans. For generations, the decision to vote Democratic or Republican has hinged on the relatively benign question of whether you favor bigger government or smaller government. But that choice no longer works for the Democrats -- who just can't win elections anymore by proposing big government solutions. Their fallback strategy now seems to consist of appealing to voters' worst emotions, tapping into their delusions, their fears, their passions and prejudices, accusing their Republican opposition not merely of being wrong on the issues but of thwarting democracy and engaging in genocide for profit.

I agree that the finge left, in large part, has defined the Democratic Party as of late. However, it is a sad fact that their relative comparison to the Republicans on issues of “big government” is negligible.

Wednesday June 30, 2004

Punditchick has it right:

It's clear to me that the Western media is going to give Mr. Allawi a tough time. Cops are pistol whipping evil doers on the streets of Baghdad again, and I'm not exactly horrified--I'm ecstatic. Mr. Allawi has no choice but to get tough with the killers. I know the Left thinks sending Officer Chris Justice to Fallujah will get the terrorists to say 'No mas" to terror, but in the real world, Allawi and his men are going to have to crack some eggs.

The same Lefties who think horse whispering can seamlessly be applied to terrorists live in gated communities and aren't likely to give up Rodeo for the Crenshaw Swap Meet anytime soon...

...Iraq has one thing going for it-- it doesn't have Soccer Moms or Hollywood actresses. It will be suburban white women who decide the American election, and, generally speaking, the last war they really got up for was the one to ban dodge ball (thankfully, they were routed.)

This former Marine details the shoddy performance of the Baghdad Bureau Chief for the Washington Post:

Chandrasekaran's crew generates a relentlessly negative stream of articles from Iraq – and if there are no events to report, they resort to man-on-the-street interviews and cobble together a story from that. Last week, there was a front-page, above-the-fold article about Iraqis jeering U.S. troops, which amounted to a pastiche of quotations from hostile Iraqis. It was hardly unique. Given the expense of maintaining an Iraq bureau with a dozen staffers, they have to write something to justify themselves, even if the product is shoddy...

...Before major combat operations were over, Chandrasekaran was already quoting Iraqis proclaiming the American operation a failure. Reading his dispatches from April 2003 you can already see his meta-narrative take shape: basically, that the Americans are clumsy fools who don’t know what they’re doing, and Iraqis hate them. This meta-narrative informs his coverage and the coverage of the reporters he supervises, who rotate in and out of Iraq.

Here's a simple example:

"The Untouchable 'Mayor' of Kut," his article's headline blared the next day. It described a local, Iranian-backed troublemaker named Abbas Fadhil, who was squatting in the provincial government headquarters. He had gathered a mob of people with nothing better to do, told them to camp out in the headquarters compound, and there they sat, defying the Marines of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Chandrasekaran was very impressed with the little usurper: "'We thank the Americans for getting rid of Saddam's regime, but now Iraq must be run by Iraqis,' Fadhil thundered during a meeting today with his supporters in the building's spacious conference room. 'We cannot allow the Americans to rule us from this office'....Fadhil has set up shop in an official building and appears to have rallied support across this city of 300,000 people.

"The refusal of Marine commanders to recognize Fadhil's new title has fueled particularly intense anti-American sentiments here," Chandrasekeran continued. "In scenes not seen in other Iraqi cities, U.S. convoys have been loudly jeered. Waving Marines have been greeted with angry glares and thumbs-down signs."

Readers must have concluded that Kut was on the verge of exploding. The entire city was ready to throw out the despised American infidel invaders and install their new "mayor" as their beloved leader.

What utter rubbish. In our headquarters, we had a small red splotch on a large map of Kut, representing the neighborhood that supported Abbas Fadhil. When asked about him, most citizens of Kut rolled their eyes. His followers were mainly poor, semi-literate, and not particularly well-liked. They were marginal in every sense of the word, and they mattered very little in the day-to-day life of a city that was struggling to get back on its feet.

We knew the local sentiment intimately, because as civil affairs Marines, our job was to help restore the province's water, electricity, medical care, and other essentials of life. Our detachment had teams constantly coming and going throughout the city, and Chandrasekeran could have easily accompanied at least one of them.

Since he didn't, he couldn’t see how the Iraqis outside of the red splotch reacted to us. People of every age waved and smiled as we rumbled past (except male youths, who, like their American counterparts, were too cool for that kind of thing.) Our major security problem was keeping friendly crowds of people away from us so we could spot bad guys.

This is the kind of attentiveness that we will need if we are to really prevent terrorism on our shores:

The five men, four from Bangladesh and another of Pakistani descent, were reportedly seen at the Delaware Water Gap rest area along Interstate 80 around 8:20 a.m. They were also spotted in Bloomsburg, Columbia County.

State police said they were asking directions to the river near the plant because they wanted to go fishing. Their minivan was pulled over by state police in Shickshinny around 11 a.m. on U.S. Route 11 in Salem Township, four miles south of the Susquehanna Steam and Electric Power Plant.According to federal and state authorities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified. Because of visa issues, two of the five men were detained by immigration authorities.

"We did stop and detain five individuals, who were believed to be of Middle Eastern descent, because of suspicious activity," FBI special agent Jerri Williams said. Their van was searched Tuesday and authorities did not find anything illegal.

Unfortunately, not enough follow-through:

All five men were released Tuesday evening. Williams said Tuesday that there was no cause for alarm, as authorities did not find any links to terrorist activity.

Color me unconvinced.

Check out these Confessions of a Rich Businessman.

Tuesday June 29, 2004

I'm sure it occurs on both sides, but I think it is more prevalent on the left. What's that you say? Intellectual dishonesty, as is displayed prominently in this Newsday article by Jimmy Breslin:

The American torture of Iraqi prisoners was not especially helpful to Army Spc. Keith M. Maupin, who was shot dead by "the Sharp Sword against the Enemies of God and his Prophet." Torture is a two-way street. Nor does it seem so helpful today to U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun. He has been missing since June 21 and now he is being shown on Arab television with a sword over his head. Voices say they will cut off his head. This is simultaneously impossible to contemplate and yet so familiar that you flinch at the mention...

... He cannot possibly win this election. But in these last months, Bush and his people get others killed and think torture is fine as long as we do it. Anything we do is in the cause of freedom. If the other side does anything to our men, they are heartless thug killers.

Really? The abuse (not torture) of the Iraqi prisoners is equivalent to the recent beheadings. Can Breslin credibly argue that these are anything other than heartless thug killers? Besides, to believe that the recent beheadings are the result of the Abu Ghraib scandal is to be completely naive. Perhaps if he had done just a wee bit of research, he might have found this, or maybe even this. But, I guess if he were to acknowledge actual facts, it might get in the way of that whole "it's Bush's fault" meme.

Michael Moore, call your office...

Senior investigators and analysts in the U.S. government have concluded that Iraq acted as a state sponsor of terrorism against Americans and logistically supported the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States – confirming news reports that until now have emerged only in bits and pieces. A senior government official responsible for investigating terrorism tells Insight that while Saddam Hussein may not have had details of the Sept. 11 attacks in advance, he "gave assistance for whatever al-Qaida came up with." That assistance, confirmed independently, came in a variety of ways, including financial support spun out through a complex web of financial institutions in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy and elsewhere. Long suspected of having terrorist ties to al-Qaida, they now have been linked to Iraq as well.

Speaking of Michael Moore, The Smoking Gun nails him here.