Saturday, October 15, 2005

Another historic day in Iraq

The much anticipated violence did not materialize on Saturday as Iraqis came out in force to vote on their new constitution. What an amazing time for these people:

The national referendum on Iraq's new constitution has drawn to a close after a day of apparently strong voter turnout and little violence.

Long lines of voters were reported across much of the country's 18 provinces as the nation's Shi'ite, Kurdish, Sunni Arab and other communities used the ballot boxes to voice their opinion of the proposed new national charter.

Voters were asked the single question: "Do you approve the draft constitution of Iraq?" to which they answered either "yes" or "no."

Tens of thousands of Iraqi security forces and police, as well as U.S.-led coalition troops, provided protection for the country's more than 15 million eligible voters as international and local monitors looked on. There were only a few isolated reports of violence.

A simple majority of voters is needed to pass the constitution. But it could fail if two-thirds of voters in at least three provinces reject it.

Final results are expected in about three days.

Friday, October 14, 2005

You be careful out there!

Now this is entertainment, folks. Just moments before the Today Show was to air a segment on the "staged" video conversation between President Bush and a group of soldiers in Iraq, the network got caught doing a little staging of it's own. Mark Finkelstein of NewsBusters has the story:

Today's timing couldn't have been worse. A preceding segment focused on the incessant rains and ensuing flooding in the northeast. For days now, beautiful, blonde - and one senses highly ambitious - young reporter Michelle Kosinski has been on the scene for Today in New Jersey, working the story. In an apparent effort to draw attention to herself, in yesterday's segment she turned up in hip waders, standing thigh-deep in the flood waters.

Taking her act one step further, this morning she appeared on a suburban street . . . paddling a canoe. There was one small problem. Just as the segment came on the air, two men waded in front of Kosinki . . . and the water barely covered their shoe tops! That's right, Kosinski's canoe was in no more than four to six inches of water!

To add to her embarrassment (and probably to save a little face themselves), hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer couldn't resist ribbing the reporter over her "shallow" stunt:

Matt: "Are these holy men, perhaps walking on top of the water?"

"Gee, is your oar hitting ground, Michelle?" inquired Katie, as she and Matt dissolved into laughter.

Absolutely classic!

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The spin starts here

Cybercast News Service has an eye-opening article today which takes a look the overwhelmingly negative coverage of the Iraq War by the evening network news broadcasts:

Network reporters are giving the public an inordinately gloomy portrait of the war while downplaying the positive accomplishments of U.S. soldiers and Iraq's new democratic leaders, the Media Research Center (MRC) reported. (The MRC, the parent organization of Cybercast News Service, documents liberal bias in the media.)

The conclusions in the report, which was released Thursday, are based on a survey of broadcast network news coverage of the Iraq war so far this year. MRC analysts reviewed all 1,388 Iraq stories broadcast on ABC's "World News Tonight," the "CBS Evening News" and "NBC Nightly News" from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30.

Among MRC's findings:

-- Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. More than half of all stories (848, or 61 percent) focused on negative topics or presented a pessimistic analysis of the situation, four times as many as featured U.S. or Iraqi achievements or offered an optimistic assessment (just 211 stories, or 15 percent).

-- News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about one-fifth of all network stories (21 percent) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation.

By August and September, positive stories had fallen to seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.

-- Terrorist attacks are the centerpiece of TV's war news. Two out of every five network evening news stories (564) featured car bombings, assassinations, kidnappings or other attacks launched by the terrorists against the Iraqi people or coalition forces, more than any other topic.

-- Even coverage of the Iraqi political process has been negative. More stories (124) focused on shortcomings in Iraq's political process -- the danger of bloodshed during the January elections, political infighting among politicians and fears that the new Iraqi constitution might spur more civil strife -- than found optimism in the Iraqi people's historic march to democracy (92 stories).

One-third of those optimistic stories (32) appeared on just two nights: January 30 and 31, just after Iraq's first successful elections.

-- Few stories focused on the heroism or generous actions of American soldiers. Just eight stories recounted episodes of heroism or valor by U.S. troops, and another nine stories featured instances when soldiers reached out to help the Iraqi people. In contrast, 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or outright misconduct on the part of U.S. military personnel.

-- It's not as if there was no "good news" to report. NBC's cameras found a bullish stock market and a hiring boom in Baghdad's business district, ABC showcased the coalition's successful effort to bring peace to a Baghdad thoroughfare once branded "Death Street," and CBS documented how the one-time battleground of Sadr City is now quiet and citizens are beginning to benefit from improved public services.


U.S. and Iraqi forces pulled one over on the terrorists yesterday:

BAQOUBA, Iraq -- Joint Iraqi and U.S. security forces foiled an attempt by terrorists to ambush a truck delivering ballots to the nearby city of Muqtadiya yesterday, one in a series of attacks ahead of tomorrow's vote on a permanent constitution.
A decoy convoy -- disguised to look like it was carrying ballots from the Iraqi Electoral Commission and heavily armed with Iraqi forces -- drew fire from terrorists hiding in a palm grove outside of Baqouba at midday.
Unknown to the enemy, three ordinary pickup trucks carrying the real ballots already were delivering the precious cargo to the city of Muqtadiya, an hour's drive away.
Thirty Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by a reporter-photographer for The Washington Times, were assigned to the dummy convoy. It was an all-Iraqi operation. No U.S. soldiers were present.
The Iraqis were ready for a fight.
"By the name of Allah, the most merciful," said Iraqi army Lt. Hayder, who, like other Iraqi soldiers, goes only by one name to protect his family from being targeted by terrorists.
"This mission is dangerous. Any civilian car moving between our cars should be seen as a threat," Lt. Hayder said before the mission got under way.
The attack began with the bone-jarring explosion of a roadside bomb followed by a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire.
Within seconds, Iraqi soldiers responded with a wall of automatic-weapons fire. The terrorists ran.


Later, U.S. Kiowa helicopters arrived to escort the convoy to Muqtadiya.
Back at Forward Operating Base Normandy in Muqtadiya, which U.S. Army Task Force 1-30 shares with an Iraqi unit nicknamed "Tiger Battalion." Lt. Col. Roger Cloutier reflected on the day's events.
"These [Iraqi soldiers] are ordinary guys that rose to the occasion. In their lifetime, they have never experienced freedom, and now they're defending it with their lives," said Col. Cloutier, commander of the task force.

Liberation will do that to a person. And just who is it that gave the Iraqi people that freedom... hmmmmm... let me see... Bill Clinton? No.... the U.N.? No... hmmmm... I'll have to keep pondering this...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Condi 2008?

National Review Online in their Q&A section talked to Dick Morris about his new book Condi vs. Hillary : The Next Great Presidential Race. According to Morris, Ms. Rice is the only candidate the Republicans could throw out there in 2008 that would stand a chance against Hillary. In, fact, Morris says, Condi would beat her handily. Why?

Because she would take away a third to a half of the black vote and would stop Hillary from gaining among white women. White men are a given. They will vote against Hillary by 2-1 as they voted against Gore and against Kerry. But blacks and white women are the moving pieces of this electoral puzzle.

Morris is not always right 100% of the time but he has a brilliant mind and is always interesting to listen to. Full interview here.

Frist's turn

The SEC wants to determine what Bill Frist knew and when he knew it in regard to his selling if HCA stock shortly before the company issued a profit warning. Today we learn that he has been subpoenaed for records related to the sale:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records in an investigation into possible insider trading, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued the subpoena within the past two weeks, the newspaper reported, citing sources familiar with the probe.

A spokesman for Frist, a Tennessee Republican, was not immediately available for comment.

Frist aides previously said he had been contacted by regulators but did not mention that he had received a formal request for documents, The Washington Post said.

Authorities are looking into Frist's recent sale of shares of hospital operator HCA Inc., co-founded by Frist's father and brother. The sales took place just days before HCA's stock price fell on a disappointing July 13 profit outlook.

The newspaper, citing sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Frist was expected to testify under oath about what he knew about HCA's financial standing in the weeks before the stock sales.

Frist, viewed widely as a potential 2008 presidential candidate, said last month he had no inside information about the coming profit forecast when he began taking steps in April that led to the stock sale, which was completed on July 8.

Strange happenings in Syria

A month after being questioned by U.N. investigators over the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Syria's interior minister Ghazi Kanaan has been found dead:

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 12 - Ghazi Kanaan, Syria's powerful interior minister and the Syrian government's key man in Lebanon for two decades, was found dead, apparently a suicide, in his Damascus office on Wednesday, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported.

The death of Mr. Kanaan, who was head of military intelligence in Lebanon until 2002, added an ominous twist to the continuing United Nations investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

Mr. Kanaan, 63, was one of several figures interrogated by a United Nations investigator last month about the killing of Mr. Hariri and 21 others in Beirut in February, deaths that many Lebanese, as well as members of the Bush administration, believe was the work of Syrian officials. A preliminary report of the investigation is due out this month.

Kanaan's last words were somewhat chilling:

"I want to make clear that our relation with our brothers in Lebanon was based on love and mutual respect," he said, his voice cracking at times. "We have served Lebanon's interest with honor and honesty."

Then, just before concluding, he added tersely, "I think this is the last statement I will give."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The narrow gate

James Dobson made some revealing comments today about his recent conversation with Karl Rove on how the list of Supreme Court nominees had been narrowed:

(CNSNews.com) - Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson said Wednesday President Bush had decided to nominate a woman to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, which shortened the list and then several candidates dropped out. Dobson revealed details of his conversation with White House adviser Karl Rove prior to the announcement of the Harriet Miers nomination. "What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it," Dobson said, according to the transcript.

This Jim Huber cartoon sums up my official take on the Miers nomination:

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None dare call it terrorism

Michelle Malkin has penned a great column today which takes a look at the almost non-existent coverage of the recent OU bombing in light of a litany of other "non-terrorist" happenings over the years. She points out what seems to be a troubling pattern of cover-up and shoddy reporting:

Oct. 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole. Seventeen American sailors were murdered in the attack. They were casualties of a war with radical Islamic terror that America hadn't yet declared and which the mainstream media still refuses to acknowledge today.

Too many of us were blind in 2000 -- unable or unwilling or simply too uninterested to connect such blood-stained dots as al Qaeda's 1993 World Trade Center bombing attack, the 1996 Khobar Tower bombings, the 1998 African embassy bombings, and the attack on the Cole. After Sept. 11, 2001, all of our eyes should have been pried wide open to the evils of Muslim extremism that exist among us in both organized and freelance form.

The watchdogs in the national press, however, insist on clouding our vision.

Since 9/11, I've reported on the media's reluctance to highlight the convicted Washington, D.C.-area snipers' Islamist proclivities and journalists' refusal to call Egyptian gunman Hesham Hadayet's acts of murder at the Israeli airline counter at Los Angeles International Airport on July 4, 2002, "terrorism."

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes noted how quickly the media sought to whitewash the bloody bus-hijacking by Croatian illegal alien Damir Igric a month after 9/11. Although the incident "echoed similar attacks by Palestinians on Israeli buses," Pipes observed, the "media attributed the violence to post-traumatic stress syndrome."

National Guardsman Ryan Anderson (a.k.a. Amir Talhah), a Muslim convert who allegedly attempted to pass sensitive military information to al Qaeda over the Internet, rated barely a blip on the media radar screen.

Similarly, press accounts have downplayed the disruption of terrorist cells on American soil: The Lackawanna Six were just nice Muslim boys led astray. The Virginia Jihad Network was just a group of weekend paintball enthusiasts. Those indicted imams in Lodi, Calif., are just misunderstood "moderates." Terror suspects deported on immigration charges are just victims of discrimination.

We had forgotten about a lot of these, hadn't we? Malkin then turns to the subject of the OU bombing and after briefly recounting the facts behind that case, she brings us a telling letter she recieved from OU student journalist Rachael Kahne:

"I've been working on this story since the night it happened, and have been stonewalled at every turn. . . . Minutes after the explosion, police busted into a student's apartment and arrested four Muslim students who were there for a small gathering (the president of the Muslim Student Association assures me this was in no way a "party"). Among those arrested [and later released] was Fazal Cheema, Joel Henry Hinrichs' Pakistani roommate. I was baffled when I heard this. I didn't know how police would be able to identify who Hinrichs was, where he lived, who his roommate was, and then find where his roommate was in a matter of minutes. Something isn't adding up, and I've been wracking my brain for the past week trying to figure out what happened here. OU isn't saying anything more than the typical PR spin, and the FBI won't talk."

Interesting observations from someone who was fairly close to the action.

Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News also published a column expressing his bewilderment over the lack of coverage. Like Malkin he suspects political correctness to be a primary culprit:

As for the terrorist angle, Mr. Hinrichs is now the subject of understandably intense scrutiny, virtually none of it from the mainstream media. You might think the story fizzled because there was, in fact, no death beyond the bomber. True enough, but I'd suggest that if a raid revealed some radical plan to bomb an abortion clinic anywhere in America, the suspects would be household names by nightfall without a single fuse lit.

Something about the nature of this event has swallowed almost whole the normal curiosity one would expect from the usual sources.

Is it political, because acknowledging a terror threat on our soil might bolster President Bush's war logic? Is it economic, out of fear of scaring people away from football games? Is it geographic snobbery because it didn't happen on either coast? Or is it a PC fear of seeming to lunge toward a jihadist angle?

Probably all of the above. But hopefully with pundits like Davis and Malkin continuing to beat the drum, this story will not be allowed to whither on the vine like so many have in times past.

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Be careful what you ask for

Those who are comparing the Iraq War to Vietnam and are calling for the immediate return of our troops will be comforted to know they have an important ally -- al Qaeda's number two man Ayman al-Zawahri:

WASHINGTON --In a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader said the United States "ran and left their agents" in Vietnam and the jihadists must have a plan ready to fill the void if the Americans suddenly leave Iraq.

"Things may develop faster than we imagine," Ayman al-Zawahri wrote in a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy. ... We must be ready starting now."

Senior U.S. military commanders have said that Iraqi security forces are improving significantly and some U.S. forces could return home early next year. Yet skeptics have raised concerns about whether such statements simply let the insurgency know how long they must wait for the U.S. to leave.

In a letter taking up 13 typed pages in its English translation, al-Zawahri also recommended a four-stage expansion of the war that would take the fighting to neighboring Muslim countries.

"It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established ... in the heart of the Islamic world," al-Zawahri wrote.

The letter laid out his long-term plan: expel the Americans from Iraq, establish an Islamic authority and take the war to Iraq's secular neighbors, including Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The final stage, al-Zawahri wrote, would be a clash with Israel, which he said was established to challenge "any new Islamic entity."

Whether a fragmented al Qaeda still has the means to carry out these lofty goals is unknown. But this letter underscores the importance of our mission in Iraq and how crucial it is for us to stay the course. We can't afford to cut and run and if we do the whole world will face the repercussions.

Al-Qaida No. 2: U.S. 'ran' from Vietnam

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Putting Earle on the hotseat

In the past, Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle has proudly procalimed his "mission from God" to bring down evil and corruption in high places. But the more we learn about his case against Tom DeLay, the more it appears that he is not above employing some unorthodox methods himself to get what he wants. Now DeLay's legal team has decided to take the fight to the enemy's turf:

Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay's defense team tried Tuesday to serve Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle with a subpoena, but Earle refused to accept it, DeLay lawyer Dick DeGuerin said.

Alleging misconduct with grand jurors, the defense team wants to compel Earle to explain his behavior.

A state campaign finance investigation conducted by Earle led to DeLay's indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges. DeLay, R-Texas, was obligated by House Republican rules to temporarily step aside as House majority leader.

DeGuerin said acceptance of the subpoena was voluntary Tuesday because it had not been stamped by a court official, but added the defense team would go through the court procedure Wednesday and redeliver it. He said Earle, district attorney for Travis County, would then be obligated to accept the subpoena, but could file a motion to have it dismissed.

The defense lawyer, who is trying to get the indictments dismissed, said an assistant district attorney also refused to accept her subpoena, but a second assistant accepted the subpoena delivered to him. Acceptance simply involves signing a paper acknowledging delivery.

The subpoenas asked that the prosecutor and the two assistants appear in court or submit to a deposition in which the defense lawyers would question them.

DeGuerin also asked that grand jurors be released from their secrecy oath so they could answer questions about the prosecutor's conduct.

Earle's office said in a written statement, "Because of laws protecting grand jury secrecy, there are limitations to what we can say at this time, but we fully expect to prevail in this matter."

DeGuerin wants Earle to answer 12 questions about conversations he had with grand jurors, including whether the prosecutor became angry when a grand jury decided against an indictment of DeLay and why that decision was not publicly released.

He also wants to know the details of Earle's conversation with William Gibson, foreman of a grand jury that indicted DeLay on conspiracy charges, whose term has since ended.

"If you did nothing improper, you should not be concerned about answering these questions," DeGuerin said in his letter to Earle.

I love that last line. The article goes on to provide the details of a defense motion filed last week alleging that Earle had manipulated and abused the grand jury process in his attempts to get more indictments:

In a motion filed last week, the defense team said that from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, Earle and his staff "unlawfully participated in grand jury deliberations and attempted to browbeat and coerce" the grand jury that refused to indict DeLay.

The motion said Earle then attempted to cover up and delay public disclosure of the refusal, and also "incited" the foreman of the first grand jury to violate grand jury secrecy by talking publicly about the case _ in an effort to influence grand jurors still sitting.

The foreman, William Gibson, gave media interviews after the grand jury finished its work but told The Associated Press that Earle did not ask him to discuss the case.

"That's a bunch of (expletive) there," Gibson said. "That man did not talk to me."

He said Earle advised him and other grand jurors to keep an open mind as they considered evidence and cautioned them, "What goes on behind closed doors is secret."

The lawyers said Earle then spoke about the case with members of the first grand jury, whose work was finished, to get their opinion of what they might have done if they had known their conspiracy indictment was flawed _ as defense attorneys alleged.

So Earle is pretty much admitting here that he had a turkey on his hands with indictment # 1.

Earle then submitted the grand jury opinions to the third grand jury to persuade it to hand down the money laundering indictment, the defense team contended.

The indictments against DeLay triggered a House Republican rule that forced him to step aside _ at least temporarily _ from his post as majority leader.

Both indictments of DeLay focused on an alleged scheme to move money around and conceal the use of corporate contributions to support Texas Republican legislative candidates. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to support or oppose state candidates, allowing the money to go only for administrative expenses.

DeGuerin is asking for all documents, notes, telephone records and other relevant materials from Earle's staff.

"I am determined to put on record the steps taken by you and your staff to obtain a replacement indictment against my client, Tom DeLay," DeGuerin said in a letter to the prosecutor.

There does seem to be a zeal on the part of the prosecutor to bag his trophy by whatever means possible. The fact is, what DeLay is accused of doing goes on all across Capital Hill on both sides of the aisle. That doesn't make it right but it does cast suspicion on Earle's motivation for focusing on the most powerful Republican in Congress.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Has the terror mastermind come to a crushing end?

As horrible as last weekend's earhquake in Pakistan was, there is speculation that some good may come out of the story:

WASHINGTON --Did Osama bin Laden's secret lair crumble in the earthquake that devastated northwest Pakistan? So far, U.S. government officials and terrorism experts caution against too much speculation about whether the al-Qaida chief may have been killed, injured or forced from hiding.

"There's a lot of people who know that that's an obvious question" was the most Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita would say Tuesday about U.S. thinking on bin Laden's fate.

Federal officials who track terrorism for a living said there's no evidence yet to suggest that bin Laden or his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, was injured or killed in the quake.

Yet the quake has caused many in and out of government to ask, "What if?"

Quake prompts questions on bin Laden

At long last

It looks as if there has finally been a breakthrough in the struggle over the Iraqi constitution:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 11 - Iraqi political leaders said they had agreed to an important last-minute change in the draft constitution this evening in exchange for a promise by some prominent Sunni Arab leaders to publicly support the document in the nationwide referendum on Saturday.

The change would create a panel in the next parliament with the power to propose broad new revisions to the constitution. In effect, the change could give the Sunnis - who were largely shut out of the constitution-writing process - a new chance to help redraft the document after the December elections.

The agreement was a major victory for American officials, who have spent weeks urging Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish leaders to make changes that could soften Sunni opposition to the charter and forge a broader consensus. The Americans had voiced fears that if the constitution passed over strong Sunni opposition, more would lose faith in the political process and turn toward violence.

Iraqi Leaders Reach Last-Minute Deal on Charter Revision

Getting "funny" down to a science

Nothing like a little global warming humor to tweak some noses:

OU bombing update

CNSNews tells us today that the FBI is denying reports circulating around the internet that OU bomber Joel Henry Hinrichs III may have had terrorist ties:

The head of the FBI investigation of a suicide bombing at an Oklahoma University football game said the investigation has yielded no information tying the bomber to terrorist activities, in spite of Internet reports to the contrary.

Oklahoma University police requested FBI assistance in the investigation due to the nature of the Oct. 1 bombing outside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, which killed the bomber, student Joel Henry Hinrichs III, but apparently injured no one else.

In the week since the bombing, Internet reports have suggested that Hinrichs, a 21-year old engineering major, had ties to terrorism, including visiting the same Norman, Okla., mosque that Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., attended. Moussaoui never boarded the planes. Instead, he was arrested, pleaded guilty to conspiring with the 19 terrorist hijackers and could eventually face the death penalty.

The Internet-based Northeast Intelligence Network (NIN) reports that "confidential sources" have reported that more bomb-making materials and "jihad materials" were found in Hinrichs' university apartment and that there is a "money trail" between Hinrichs and a radical Islamist terror cell in Norman.

Norman Police have confirmed that Hinrichs was briefly investigated days before the bombing when he tried to purchase ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Ammonium nitrate is the same chemical used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 people.

NIN Director Douglas Hagmann declined to comment on the identity of his sources, but told Cybercast News Service that he knows "who the confidential sources are and we have faith in them because of their proximity to the investigation."

He added that his group has "verified many of their statements through other channels." Hagmann said the sources approached his group but are less willing to talk after internal pressure has threatened those who leak information to the press.

News reports have said the material used in Hinrichs' bomb is known as triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and is the same material used in the July train bombings in London. It is also the same chemical used by Richard Reid in his foiled shoe-bombing attempt in 2001. Jihadists refer to the volatile chemical as "Mother of Satan."

Most of the above information is not new to those following this story. But this gets a little more interesting as we hear more from the head FBI agent:

FBI agent Gary Johnson, who is heading the investigation from the bureau's Oklahoma City office, declined to confirm or deny that TATP was used in the bombing or was found in the subsequent search of Hinrichs' apartment.

The search lasted at least 24 hours but no information has been released concerning what investigators actually discovered -- Hagmann's confidential sources report finding TATP and "jihad materials" on his computer - because the search warrant was sealed by the Department of Justice.

When asked if NIN's reports are consistent with the FBI investigation, Johnson said, "No," then added, Well okay the stuff that's found in his apartment, I can't comment on [be]cause it's part of a search warrant that's sealed.

That's a pretty revealing "no-comment" as it seems to suggest that something of interest was found in Hinrichs' apartment. What they actually discovered might not all jibe with what NIN is reporting but at the same time we can be pretty certain that whatever they carried out of there was interesting enough for the FBI to have the warrant sealed.

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Sound solution

WorldNetDaily details an economical plan for erecting a fence along the U.S./Mexican border. Works for me:

As discussion of erecting a security fence along U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada heats up, some analysts say it's possible Washington could economically erect thousands of miles of barrier to keep out illegal aliens, smugglers and terrorists, for about half of what the Pentagon is spending a month to fight the war on terror.

The idea, they say, is to erect a structure similar to barrier walls built along highways to reduce sound. They are sturdy, tall, not easily scaled and, most attractively, affordable.

Plus, analysts say, a wall would dramatically reduce outside threats.

Highway sound barriers as border fences?

Never enough

What would a deadly disaster be without the inevitable "Blame Bush" story? The Independent has taken the lead this time:

West's response condemned as slow and inadequate

NYT mum on Miller

The Editor and Publisher questions why Judith Miller has received such meager coverage from her own newspaper since the reporter was released from jail:

NEW YORK In the 11 days since Judith Miller left jail after agreeing to testify before a federal grand jury about her sources, many of the facts in the case have yet to come out. But one thing is clear: Her newspaper, The New York Times, has had very little to say about her role in the Plame/CIA leak case, and has been regularly scooped by other papers on the latest twists in her involvement.

The newspaper promised a full accounting by now, but then put it off after Miller was told she had to chat with the federal prosecutor again, on Tuesday. Executive Editor Bill Keller was quoted in an online Business Week article Monday suggesting that the complexities of the situation put the paper in the "uncomfortable" position of not being able to share important information Miller knows.

I'm not sure what is meant here by "chat with the federal prosecutor" but from my understanding of the grand jury process, there is nothing stopping Miller from disclosing to the public what was said during her testimony. Only the jurors themselves are bound to secrecy.

Comments from the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer seem to back this up:

"What bothers me is that they have been quiet about it since she got out of jail, not sharing with the readers anything," says Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. "Once she was out, they owed it to readers to share what she testified. She ought to have shared with readers what she shared with the grand jury."

Miller to Talk to Prosecutor Again Tuesday, As Some Editors Question 'NY Times' Coverage of Her Case

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Retroactive Ronnie

The Houston Chronicle has taken an in-depth look at the Texas law that Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle used for his indictment against Tom DeLay on conspiracy charges. The bill was first introduced by Rep. Steve Wolens as a means of combating voter fraud -- more specifically the practice of sending campaign workers to nursing homes to "help" them mark their ballots. The broad language of the bill -- making conspiracy to violate state election laws into a felony -- enabled Earle to get his first indictment against the congressman.

But there is one little problem... the activity in question had occurred in 2002 and yet the law didn't take effect until late 2003. How this could have escaped Earle's notice is a mystery. But the prosecutor's mad scramble to secure more indictments at the last hour seems to indicate that his blunder had finally begun to sink in:

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle may have become aware of potential problems with the original indictment shortly after it was returned Sept. 28, the last day of the grand jury's term.

On Sept. 30, he presented different charges to another grand jury, which issued a no-bill.

On Oct. 3, a newly sworn grand jury indicted DeLay and two associates on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money.

Not the mark of a man who has his ducks in a row.

Article link:

A look at a law being used against DeLay

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Monday, October 10, 2005

The Eye looks into the Hinrichs story

Vaughn Ververs of CBS News's self-appointed internal "watchblog" Public Eye has a new post which poses the question that has been asked by Michelle Malkin and many others in the blogosphere over the past several days: Why is the MSM not covering the Oct. 2 bombing in Oklahoma?

Many, Malkin included, have wondered where the MSM is on this story. As the Oklahoma Daily editorial notes, local television has covered it and a quick Google search turns up (sometimes conflicting) reports in local and regional newspapers but no major media outlets appear to have picked up the story yet. We asked CBS News national editor Bill Felling, who told us the network is looking into the story. Let’s hope so, it’s one worth airing, whatever the facts are.

I'm not sure what more they need to be "looking into" as there are already enough confirmed facts to make for a pretty intriguing story. Perhaps CBS is digging deeper in order to put together a killer report. Or perhaps, as I suspect, they are providing a pat answer to appease those who are pressing for action (kind of like when the company IT guy says "I'm right on it"). But either way it seems to me that they could just report what is known so far and continue to follow it as more information becomes available. That shouldn't be a novel concept for a news organization.

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How Clinton caved on Khobar

One of the more controversial passages in the new book by former FBI director Louis Freeh details the former President's "confrontation" with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in 1998 over the bombing of the Khobar Towers. According to Freeh, Clinton not only soft-pedaled the issue, he actually expressed sympathy for Saudi Arabia's position and then proceeded to ask for a donation to his future Presidential Library. NewsMax is now reporting that two more sources are validating the claims that Clinton sidestepped the Khobar issue, noting the President's pre-occupation with the Monica Lewinsky scandal:

According to two sources close to former Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, ex-president Bill Clinton was on the verge of tears over legal woes brought on by the Monica Lewinsky scandal during a Sept. 1998 meeting with Crown Prince Adbullah - and spent almost no time discussing the Khobar Towers bombing case.

The Saudi account backs claims by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who told CBS's "60 Minutes" last night that Clinton failed to press Abdullah during the meeting for cooperation in the Khobar case.

Interviewed by the New Yorker in May 2001, two Saudi officials noted that Prince Bandar was present during the meeting. And Bandar's version, according to those same Saudi sources, contradicts the claim by former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger that his old boss vigorously pursued Khobar during the meeting.

"Clinton, by many accounts, was almost crying," the New Yorker said, based on interviews with the Saudis.

Bandar "remembered the crown prince consoling Clinton about his legal troubles. At one point, the crown prince, who was wearing a black robe, said to Clinton, 'All those who attack you and are making such a big issue out of this' - the Lewinsky affair - 'should be like the lint on my robes. One should just throw them off.'"

Addullah promised Clinton that he would "talk to people on the Hill and tell them they should respect the Presidency and not wipe the floor with it" over the Lewinsky case.

The Saudi sources said that while Clinton did eventually mention Khobar, "It was along the line of 'Would you be kind enough to continue cooperation?' "

Abdullah was stunned that Clinton had demonstrated so little interest about a bombing that had killed 19 U.S. airmen.

Bandar had warned him to expect some "very important questions" about Khobar, but Clinton had not raised them.

"What's going on?" the bewildered Saudi leader asked his U.S. ambassador.

The effect of this meeting, Bandar's associates told the New Yorker, "was to persuade the crown prince that the [Khobar] case was no longer of great importance to the United States."

This rings true of a President who always put his own legacy above all other issues. Lewinsky was what was hurting him at the time, so that took top priority in his mind. Terrorism, on the other hand, was an issue that Clinton skirted whenever possible due to fear that a serious military offensive might bring down his poll numbers. He knew that bin Laden was was getting bolder but instead of acting he chose to ride out the last few years of his presidency with his fingers crossed hoping that the much anticipated "super attack" would not take place under his watch.

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Situation in Pakistan looking worse

The death toll has now reached the tens of thousands in what is being called the worst earthquake ever to hit Pakistan:

Quake toll soars above 30,000

Big changes in Germany... maybe

After a long and exhausting battle, conservative leader Angela Merkel will soon take the helm in Germany... but the victory didn't come without a price:

A deal to resolve an inconclusive national election in Germany calls for Angela Merkel to succeed Gerhard Schröder as chancellor.

The agreement will end Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's seven years at the helm of the government; but it appeared to give his Social Democratic Party a majority of cabinet posts, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The deal ends weeks of deadlock and will finally lead to formal coalition talks between the two parties, the outcome of which will determine how fast and how far reforms will take place in Germany over coming years.

Merkel's union of Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union won the most votes and, narrowly, the most seats in the Bundestag, or Parliament, in the Sept. 18 election that left both camps without a governing majority.

Details of which cabinet posts would go to which party were still being finalized early today, but officials said the Social Democrats were poised to get eight out of 14 ministries, including three of the most influential briefs: the foreign ministry, the finance ministry and the labor ministry.

Merkel's conservatives were likely to get the economy, interior and defense ministries.

Here are some of the reforms that had been proposed by Merkel:

She promised during the campaign to shake up Germany's welfare state, strip down its bureaucracy and repair relations with Washington, strained by Schroeder's vocal opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

I like it. However, it's going to be extremely diffucult to implement these changes with her party having to share power. Look at the U.S., for example. The Republican party over here is having a bear of a time sharing power with Democrats and what makes it all the more maddening is that they don't even HAVE to!

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Week (10/10/05)

Columbus Day honors Christopher Columbus' first voyage to America in 1492. Columbus Day became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1971. It is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Before 1971, a number of states celebrated Columbus Day on October 12. Cities and organizations sponsor parades and banquets on Columbus Day.

The first Columbus Day celebration was held in 1792, when New York City celebrated the 300th anniversary of the landing. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. Columbus Day has been celebrated annually since 1920.

Although the land Columbus reached was not named after him, many monuments honor him. The Republic of Colombia in South America and the District of Columbia in the United States bear his name. So do towns, rivers, streets, and public buildings. The name Columbia has also been used as a poetic personification of the United States . The Columbus Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., contains about 350,000 volumes on the American republics.

Excerpt from the World Book Encyclopedia