Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of 2009: Daniel Hannan’s viral European parliament speech

Michelle Malkin names MP Daniel Hannan's speech of March 25 as the 'Best of 2009.'  I must concur.

Of course, Hannan's remarks were directed at U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but they are frightenly apropos for President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. 

Panetta confirms seven CIA employees killed in Afghanistan

Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta confirms that seven CIA employees were killed and six others injured in yesterday’s terrorist attack at a base in Afghanistan.  From Bloomberg:
The attack occurred at a forward operating base in Khost Province, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in a message to employees, according to the statement. The names and details of the employees’ work won’t be released “due to the sensitivity of their mission and other ongoing operations,” the agency said.

“Those who make a real difference often face real danger,” Panetta said.

U.S. military doctors and nurses saved the lives of those wounded in the attack, according to the statement. The Pentagon yesterday said eight civilians had been killed.
The President sent a letter to all CIA employees earlier today, saying in part:
I write to mark a sad occasion in the history of the CIA and our country. Yesterday, seven Americans in Afghanistan gave their lives in service to their country. Michelle and I have their families, friends and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers.

These brave Americans were part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life. The United States would not be able to maintain the freedom and security that we cherish without decades of service from the dedicated men and women of the CIA. You have helped us understand the world as it is, and taken great risks to protect our country. You have served in the shadows, and your sacrifices have sometimes been unknown to your fellow citizens, your friends, and even your families.
My heart goes out to the families of these brave patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Court freed Somali plane suspect

In November, a Somali man tried to board a commercial plane in Mogadishu with chemicals and a syringe, similar to those used by the would-be Christmas bomber from Nigeria.  Now we learn that a Somali court acquitted and released the man.  From AP:
A Somali court acquitted and released a suspect who tried to board a plane in Mogadishu in November with chemicals and a syringe — materials similar to those used in the attempted attack against a Detroit-bound airliner.

The news that Somali officials freed the suspect will hamper efforts by U.S. investigators to learn if the two attempted attacks were linked. Terrorism analysts had said the arrest in Somalia could prove highly valuable to the Detroit investigation.

Somali Police Commissioner Gen. Ali Hassan Loyan said the court released the suspect on Dec. 12 after ruling that officials hadn't demonstrated he intended to commit a crime. The man, whose name has not been released, said the chemicals were to process camera film.
CNN has a slightly different version of the story:
Somali authorities said Thursday that a man arrested last month trying to board a commercial airliner in the country's capital was not carrying chemicals that could have caused an explosion, as an African Union official said.

Somali Force Commissioner Gen. Ali Mohamed Hassan Loyan said that airport security forces took into custody a man carrying "a suspicious chemical substance and a liquid readied in a syringe" on November 6 at Aden Abdulle Osman Mogadishu International Airport.

However, a government explosives expert examined the chemical and liquid and determined that they did not constitute "bomb-making material," Loyan said in a written statement.

The man was still charged with possessing a suspicious substance and attempting to sneak it onto a commercial flight, but a court found no conclusive evidence against him, Loyan said.

"As a result, the man was released from jail," he said. The man had said the chemicals were for X-rays, Loyan said.
X-rays, camera film what's the difference?  Maybe there was an error in translation.  Or maybe the suspect couldn't keep his story straight.  Were the chemicals tested to determine if the smuggler was telling the truth or were they returned to him with his wallet and watch as they waved him out the door?

U.S. releases "dangerous" Iranian proxy behind the murder of U.S. troops

The Long War Journal is reporting that the U.S. has released an Iranian prisoner responsible for the murders of five U.S. soldiers in Karbala in 2007:
Qais Qazali, the leader of the Asaib al Haq or the League of the Righteous, was set free by the US military and transferred to Iraqi custody in exchange for the release of British hostage Peter Moore, US military officers and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The US military directly implicated Qais in the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007.

“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.”

The US military has maintained the release of members and leaders of the League of the Righteous is related to a reconciliation agreement between the terror group and the Iraqi government, but some US military officers disagree.

“The official line is the release of Qazali is about reconciliation, but in reality this was a prisoner swap,” a military intelligence official said.

Moore and four members of his personal bodyguard were kidnapped at the Finance Ministry in Baghdad in May 2007 by a group that calls itself the Islamic Shia Resistance, which is in fact a front for the League of the Righteous. The group had always insisted the release of Qais, his brother Laith, and other members of the Asaib al Haq be released in exchange for Moore and the others. Three of Moore’s bodyguards were executed while in custody, and the fourth is thought to have been murdered as well.

“This was a deal signed and sealed in British and American blood,” a US military officer told The Long War Journal. “We freed all of their leaders and operatives; they [the League of the Righteous] executed their hostages and sent them back in body bags. And we’re supposed to be happy about it.”
Andy McCarthy wrote about the negotiations for the release of these terrorist murders back in June of 2009 (H/T HotAir):
Prepare to be infuriated.

On Jan. 20, 2007, five American soldiers were killed and three seriously wounded in Iraq. As Bill Roggio relates at the Long War Journal, it was a daring operation: a twelve-man terrorist team disguised as U.S. servicemen attacked our troops as they held a previously arranged meeting with local officials in Karbala. Four of the soldiers were alive when they were abducted from the scene. They were handcuffed and murdered in a remote location when the coalition forces attempting to rescue them closed in.

Given the sophistication of the raid and the intelligence required to pull it off, it was a virtual certainty that the mullahs’ special forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, were behind it. More than a decade earlier, in concert with Hezbollah (Iran’s forward terrorist militia), the IRGC had bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 members of the United States Air Force. In Karbala, the IRGC had relied on what Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies aptly calls its “most lethal element,” the Quds (Jerusalem) Force, in combination with a burgeoning, Hezbollah-like network of local Shiite terrorists.

This was confirmed two months later when U.S. forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq, a high-ranking veteran of Hezbollah, in Basrah. As Roggio explains, Daqduq had been tasked by Iran to organize a network of terror cells to strike coalition forces in Iraq. The network would operate under the direction of Qais Qazali. Qazali and his brother, Laith Qazali, were captured along with Daqduq.

Unquestionably, Iran, acting through the Qazali network — which is better known as Asaib al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous — was responsible for the murder of our troops in Karbala. As Ledeen documents in his book The Iranian Time Bomb (reviewed here), Gen. David Petraeus made that clear at an April 2007 press conference. Petraeus detailed that the Qazali brothers were among “the key members” of a network of “extremist secret cells.” These groups, he said, 
were provided substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies as well as run-of-the-mill arms and ammunition, in some cases advice and in some cases even a degree of direction. When we captured these individuals . . . we discovered . . . a 22-page memorandum on a computer that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process, and conduct of the operation that resulted in five of our soldiers being killed in Karbala . . . . There are numerous documents which detailed a number of different attacks on coalition forces, and our sense is that these records were kept so that they could be handed in to whoever it is that is financing them. And there’s no question, again, that Iranian financing is taking place through the Quds Force of the Iranian Republican [sic] Guards Corps.
About two weeks ago, the Obama administration released Laith Qazali after extensive negotiations with the Asaib al-Haq terror network. That network has long been in negotiations with the fledgling Iraqi government, dangling the possibility of laying down its arms, renouncing violence, and integrating into Iraqi society, provided that its top members — particularly Qais and Laith Qazali, as well as Ali Mussa Daqduq — be released. Realizing, however, that these terrorists were responsible for kidnapping and killing American soldiers in gross violation of the laws of war, the Bush administration had declined to release them.

The Obama administration has not only released Laith Qazali, it has been in negotiations to release his brother, Qais Qazali, as well. The negotiations and release were carried out in flagrant disregard of the longstanding policy against exchanging prisoners for the release of hostages. Undermining that policy endangers all American troops and civilian personnel — as well as the troops and civilian personnel of our allies — by encouraging terrorists to kidnap them to use as bargaining chips.
Today seven CIA agents were killed by Taliban suicide bombers in Afghanistan.  Meanwhile Obama is releasing murderers of our troops, so they can live to kill another day.  Disgusting.

Justice Department moves Panther pursuer to S.C.

Here's an update on what happened to Christopher Coates, the veteran civil rights attorney who was removed as chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department:
The veteran Justice Department voting rights section chief who recommended going forward on a civil complaint against members of the New Black Panther Party after they disrupted a Pennsylvania polling place in last year's elections has been removed from his post and transferred to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina.

Justice Department officials confirmed Monday that Christopher Coates, who signed off on the complaint's filing in federal court in Philadelphia in January accusing the party and three of its members of civil rights violations, would begin his new assignment next month.

The complaint, which accused party members of intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place while wearing black berets, black combat boots, black dress shirts and black jackets with military-style markings, and wielding a nightstick, was later dismissed by Obama administration political appointees at the Justice Department.
Coates and another voting section attorney, J. Christian Adams were ordered not to cooperate with an investigation of the matter by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  Mr. Adam's lawyer, Jim Miles of Lexington, S.C., was surprised at the decision to transfer Coates. 
"As it has been explained to me, Mr. Coates was an attorney of great skill, and it is ironic he would be moved out of that position," Mr. Miles said. "But I assure you his quality of life will be substantially improved by moving to South Carolina out of the Washington Beltway area."
I'm confident that he's right about that.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Breaking: Rush Limbaugh hospitalized in Hawaii

Fox News is reporting that Rush Limbaugh has been taken to a hospital in Hawaii with chest pains:
Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was taken to a hospital with chest pains on Wednesday, a Honolulu television station reported.

Paramedics responded to a call at 2:41 p.m. from the Kahala Hotel and Resort where Limbaugh is vacationing, KITV reported. The station, citing unnamed sources, said the 58-year-old Limbaugh was taken to The Queens Medical Center in serious condition.

Queens spokeswoman N. Makana Shook says the hospital is unable to comment on the report.

Emergency Medical Services spokesman Bryan Cheplic said paramedics took a male of unknown age to an area hospital from the Kahala Hotel and Resort. He said he had no further information.

Limbaugh was seen golfing at Waialae Country Club earlier this week, KITV said. The country club is next to the Kahala hotel.

For privacy reasons, hotel spokeswoman Sheila Donnelly Theroux said she was unable to acknowledge that Limbaugh is a guest.
Please join me in saying a prayer for the gentle conservative giant.

President Obama breaks pork-barrel promise

In August President Obama promised to veto any defense bill that contained pork barrel projects.  Last week he broke that promise.  From Fox News:
President Obama pledged in August to cut all pork barrel projects from defense spending, threatening to veto any swollen bills that came across his desk -- a pledge shattered by nearly 2,000 pet projects that have made their way into the defense budget.

"If a project doesn't support our troops, we will not fund it," he said to a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix. "If a system doesn't perform, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with that kind of pork, I will veto it. "

Just last week, Obama broke his promise as he signed into law the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill -- a $636 billion behemoth loaded with $4.2 billion of pork.

"We should be concerned that we're getting ripped off," said Ryan Alexander, president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"The earmarking process is the beginning of figuring out whether or not we're getting ripped off. Absolutely dollars are being directed, not based on the best decision making process."

In all, Congress added in 1,720 pet projects, including:

∙$5 million for a visitors center in San Francisco
∙$23 million for indigent health care in Hawaii
∙$18 million for the Edward Kennedy Policy Institute in Massachusetts
∙$1.6 million to computerize hospital records in Oakland
∙$47 million for anti-drug training centers around the country
∙$20 million for the World War II Museum in Louisiana
∙$3.9 million grant to develop an energy-efficient solar film for buildings
∙$800,000 for minority prostate cancer research
∙$3.6 million for marijuana eradication in Kentucky
∙$2.4 million for handicap access and a sprinkler system at a community club in New York

Lawmakers also added $5 billion for two destroyers, 10 C-17 cargo planes and to develop a jet engine the Pentagon neither wants nor needs. Critics call it classic pork -- projects that may save jobs, but not money.

In terrorism terms, the defense bill is, ironically, a "soft target."  Our representatives know that it must be passed, so they cram everything they can get away with into it, and it passes.

President Obama declared in his speech in Prague that "words must mean something."  I guess it would have been instructive if he had clarified his meaning.  Like "Words must mean something.  Just not what you think."

A new world order

Matthew Omolesky at the American Spectator explores the international ramifications of a recent arrest warrant issued by a British Magistrate court for Israeli opposition leader, Tzipi Livni:
The City of Westminster Magistrate's Court, located in a nondescript brick building on Horseferry Road, between Vincent Square and the River Thames in central London, has long been proud of its central role in British jurisprudence. Given its geographical proximity to New Scotland Yard, the presence of the Chief Magistrate of England and Wales within its utterly characterless walls, and its jurisdiction over matters of terrorism and extradition, the Magistrate's Court seems to relish high-profile cases and their attendant publicity. It was unsurprising, then, to learn that it was this court that on December 12 issued the now-infamous arrest warrant for Israel's opposition leader Tzipi Livni, based on war crimes allegations stemming from the Israeli Defense Force's 2008-9 "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza.

Such an arrest warrant was far from unprecedented. As recently as September, pro-Palestinian lawyers sought to have Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested, while military and security officials like Doron Almog, Moshe Yaalon, and Avi Dichter have likewise been forced to contend with similar warrants. To date, these warrants have either been quashed due to grants of diplomatic immunity to serving cabinet ministers (as was the case with the Barak warrant), or are revoked when former officials catch wind of the legal gambit and call off their planned visit. The "Livni Affair" falls into the latter camp; the Kadima party leader was obliged to cancel her appearance at the Jewish National Fund's Vision 2010 conference in Hendon, and two days later the warrant was abrogated. The diplomatic fallout was inevitable, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "completely reject[ing] this absurdity taking place in Britain," while Livni herself insisted that "what needs to be put on trial here is the abuse of the British legal system." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband were quick to apologize to their Israeli counterparts (the judges having acted without the involvement of the attorney general), while certain British human rights groups and leftist newspapers could only lament that they had been denied the long-sought spectacle of a war crimes trial with an Israeli official in the defendant's chair. (snip)

Yet this storm could easily have been weathered, and the matter of the arrest warrant forgotten (just as the Barak and Almog warrants seem to have been), but for the revelation that the Islamist group Hamas had played a key role in the events that transpired in mid-December. On December 21, the Times of London reported that Diya al-Din Madhoun, a Hamas official, had been tasked with coordinating a legal campaign against Israeli ministers, with "all the political and military leaders of the occupation in our [Hamas'] sights." "We have provided a group of independent lawyers in Britain with documents, information and evidence concerning war crimes committed by Israeli political and military leaders, including Ms Livni," Madhoun helpfully elaborated. That "lawfare" is being waged on British soil came, we are told, entirely as a shock to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which immediately issued a statement that the British policymakers were "looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again."
Long but worth the time.  Read the whole thing.

So the British government issues an arrest warrant for a political leader of an ally country on the basis of a complaint by a terrorist organization?  It's a good thing for Livni that Israel hasn't granted INTERPOL unlimited immunity the way President Obama did on December 16.  As recently as March of this year Iran asked INTERPOL to arrest Israeli officials for war crimes committed in last year's Gaza response (or offensive, as the MSM has labeled it)  in retaliation for Hamas rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns, which killed 17 Israelis.  But Britain?

I wonder if President Obama will object when Belgium and Spain renew efforts to arrest George Bush, General Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes?  His recent expansion of the power of INTERPOL begs the question.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Iran to purchase 1,350 tons of puified uranium ore from Kazakhstan

The AP is reporting that Iran is nearing an agreement with a source in Kazakhstan to import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore:
Iran is close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Diplomats said the assessment was heightening international concern about Tehran's nuclear activities.

Such a deal would be significant because, according to an independent research group, Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.

The report was drawn up by a member nation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and provided to the AP on condition that the country not be identified because of the confidential nature of the information.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "the transfer of any uranium yellowcake ... to Iran would constitute a clear violation of UNSC sanctions."
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who denied through a spokesman media reports that he was planning to travel to Iran, has requested permission to visit Iran.  (He was against it before he was for it).  The White House has expressed support for a Kerry trip:
A White House official told WSJ that the administration would not oppose the senator’s effort. “This sounds like the kind of travel a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee would — and should — undertake,” the White House official said.
Yeah.  Except for the part about the United States severing diplomatic relations with Iran in 1979 after they breached our embassy and took 53 Americans hostage (with the exception of Madeline Albright's brief visit with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi at the UN in New York right before George W. Bush was elected President and exposed the fact that Iran was behind the bombing of American military housing in Khobar Towers in Dharhan, Saudi Arabia in June of 1996 murdering 19 U.S. airmen).

Kerry does not impress me as an effective or persuasive emissary for the U.S.  But I am certain Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will enjoy and make the most of his visit.  I am also certain that the Iranian protesters who have been putting their lives on the line in recent weeks will consider an Obama-sanctioned visit by Senator Kerry as the ultimate U.S. betrayal of their fight for freedom.

Chutzpah! U.S. demands Israel explain terrorists' deaths

Aaron Klein at World Net Daily reports that the Obama administration is demanding that Israel explain an IDF operation in which three terrorists were killed last weekend:
"This is sheer chutzpah and is an unprecedented and strange request," said an Israeli security official familiar with the U.S. request.

Over the weekend, three terrorist suspects, all members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, were killed in an Israeli raid intended to arrest the suspects upon information they killed an Israeli civilian last Thursday. The three Fatah terrorists were heavily armed and refused to surrender to the Israeli soldiers, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel had information that all three were responsible for the terrorist shooting of Meir Hai, a 40-year-old West Bank Jewish teacher and father of seven, who was murdered on a road near his home in an area where Israel had recently lifted a roadblock restricting Palestinian movement.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces told WND yesterday that ballistic tests carried out on a weapon found inside the terrorists' apartment later confirmed the gun was used in the shooting of Hai.
This unusual request by the Obama administration prompted an indignant Op-Ed piece by Dan Diker in the Jersusalem Post which suggests that it is the U.S. that should be doing the explaining:
As a rule, the US has not asked Israel for public clarifications on antiterror operations. Clearly, close communications are important. There are multiple security and intelligence channels between Israel and its closest ally that have been and should be used to handle these types of security queries. The Israeli Embassy in Washington, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, the US consulate in Jerusalem, military attaches and representatives of respective intelligence agencies are appropriate addresses.

But in this extraordinary case, the US demanded a public clarification on behalf of the PA. This clearly represents heightened US sensitivity to Palestinian protests over the IDF's "unjust" incursion into Area A of Judea and Samaria/the West Bank, where the PA has overall security responsibility, to net the Fatah-associated terror cell that resulted in its elimination.

THIS IS where it seems more appropriate that the US issue clarifications to Israel. At least one of the Aksa Brigades commanders - Annan Sabuh, who was found with two M16 automatic rifles and two other firearms - had been part of the amnesty program for former Fatah-affiliated terror group commanders and operatives that was predicated on turning in all weapons. The amnesty program was implemented in no small part at the behest of the United States and its security reform program, which began under Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in 2005.
Scott Johnson at Powerline seems to agree:
Diker reasonably argues that it is Washington, not Jerusalem, that has some 'splainin' to do. We understand that Diker's column is making a splash in Israeli government circles today. It should also be making a splash in our own government circles, especially in light of the staggering incompetence of our antiterror efforts.
This diplomatic slap at Israel comes on the heels of an incident in the West Bank in which an American consulate car tried to run over an Israeli security guard at a border crossing checkpoint.  Is this what Presidential candidate Senator Obama meant when as he described himself to AIPAC as "a true friend of Israel" and said, "Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable."

Obama surrenders U.S. sovereignty

In 1983 Ronald Reagan issued executive order 12425 designating the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) as a public international organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act.  In the order he deliberately excluded certain immunities for INTERPOL.  On December 16, President Obama amended EO12425 with EO 13524 and removed President Reagan's limitations. (h/t to my friend Dinah Spell)

Andy McCarthy at NRO explains:
You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.
Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?
Anthony G. Martin at the Examiner has more here.  You can read Ed Morrissey's thoughts at Hot Air here.

During the Bush years, the left railed against the Patriot Act, CIA renditions, Guantanamo detentions, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ostensibly because they were violations of the rule of law and the American conscience and undermined our Constitution.  Now with the stroke of a pen President Obama has given an international police force, i.e. a law enforcement agency, virtual immunity from American law.  What's next?

Bob Owens at Pajamas Media offers this unsettling analysis:
The consensus opinion among those commenting on this development is that the most radical president in American history seems to be intent on submitting American citizens to the whims of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Previous administrations have been very leery of signing onto agreements that would make citizens susceptible to the ICC, due to the possibility that U.S. servicemen could be dragged into show war crimes trials. Such events are obviously heavily politicized, and demands for war crimes arrests can come from any government, even those that sponsor terrorism or genocide themselves.

No finer point can be made about the endemic problems of the INTERPOL/ICC than that made by a recent diplomatic incident that erupted in Great Britain, where an Israeli government official had to cancel travel plans to England because of an arrest warrant issued by an English judge — because of Iranian charges of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. The brief but intense conflict was one Iran helped instigate, as the Persians supplied the terrorists in Gaza with the rockets they used against Israeli civilians, triggering an inevitable Israeli response.

If President Obama and his radical allies in the Democratic leadership have their way, American soldiers could presumably be brought up on charges as war criminals by enemy nations and marked for arrest and deportation by an international police force on American soil. They would face charges in a foreign land without the constitutional protections they fought and bled to protect. The White House seems to be on the bewildering path of giving al-Qaeda terrorists who murder innocent women and children more legal protection than the very soldiers that risk their lives trying to bring terrorists to justice. The asinine court-martial charges being brought against three Navy SEALs based upon the word of a terrorist they captured suddenly make a sickening kind of sense.
And what does the mainstream media have to say about this surrender of American sovereignty?  You guessed it.  Nothing

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tipping point in Iran?

Stanford Professor Abbas Milani believes that Iran has reached a tipping point in its history.  From his account in the Wall Street Journal:
When millions of peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of big Iranian cities in June to protest what was widely assumed to be a stolen election, many in the West wondered whether the movement had the will and vision to sustain itself.

Apologists for the regime here in America and in Iran dismissed the democratic protests as the angst of a small minority of Westernized yuppies or discontented academics. Clerics loyal to the regime used the incendiary language of class warfare. They dismissed the opposition as accomplices of the Great Satan and a small minority composed of wealthy urbanites fighting to reverse the gains the poor—mustazaf—have made around the country.

Over the past six months the regime has killed dozens of demonstrators, arrested hundreds of activists, and forced hundreds of others into exile. It took false comfort in the belief that it had defeated what it self-deludingly claimed had been nothing but an American-concocted velvet revolution.

This weekend's bloody protests during the holiday of Ashura culminate a pattern of persistence and perseverance on the part of the opposition. There can now be little doubt about the movement's staying power.
The Times of London announced its Person of the Year this week:
Neda Soltan was not political. She did not vote in the Iranian presidential election on June 12. The young student was appalled, however, by the way that the regime shamelessly rigged the result and reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ignoring the pleas of her family, she went with her music teacher eight days later to join a huge opposition demonstration in Tehran.

“Even if a bullet goes through my heart it’s not important,” she told Caspian Makan, her fiancĂ©. “What we’re fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world.”

Ms Soltan, 26, had no idea just how big a footprint she would leave. Hours after leaving home, she was indeed shot, by a government militiaman, as she and other demonstrators chanted: “Death to the dictator.”

Arash Hejazi, a doctor standing near by, remembers her looking down in surprise as blood gushed from her chest. She collapsed. More blood spewed from her mouth. As she lay dying on the pavement, her life ebbing out of her, “I felt she was trying to ask a question. Why?” said Dr Hejazi, who tried to save her life. Why had an election that generated so much excitement ended with a government that claims to champion the highest moral values, the finest Islamic principles, butchering its own youth?
Neda's sacrifice reminds me of the young American patriots who risked their lives by placing their names on the unanimous independence Declaration of 1776, pledging to each other their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor.

It is crystal clear to me that we owe our forefathers, who sacrificed everything,  the same pledge.

Al Qaeda's clear message

From tomorrow's Wall Street Journal:
Apparently the fellows in al Qaeda took as a personal insult Secretary of Homeland Anxiety Janet Napolitano's comment Sunday that their role in the foiled Detroit airliner bombing wasn't clear but would be investigated. Yesterday, al Qaeda's ascendant franchise in the Arabian peninsula saved Secretary Napolitano the trouble of plowing through all the layers of the national-security bureaucracy for an answer.

The terrorist organization put out a pointed statement not only claiming responsibility but also mocking the U.S.'s ability to stop them. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, they said, "dealt a huge blow to the myth of American and global intelligence services and showed how fragile its structure is."

What this means is that we have to think more broadly about jihad and the potential recruitment of terrorists anywhere in the world, including inside the United States. We and our European allies have to revisit the problem of fiery imams using mosques as recruitment depots for airline suicide bombers. The close call in the airspace over Detroit gives "probable cause" new meaning.

Al Qaeda has sent a message to the Obama Administration: You are in a war. Someone in our government needs to say clearly that they now understand the message.
Janet Napolitano's near simultaneous declarations of success then failure of our airline security systems do little to inspire confidence in the American people.  Unfortunately, they probably inspire boundless confidence and fervor in our sworn enemies.

Al Qaeda bombing planners were released from Guantanamo in 2007

ABC has reported that two of the Al Qaeda leaders responsible for the recent NWA 235 attempted bombing incident were released from Guantanamo in 2007  (photo by Reuters/U.S. Marshal's Service):
Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.
ABC's sourcing is a little vague, but if true, this should give President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder some serious (additional) pause about sending half of the Gitmo detainees back to Yemen.  From Fox News:
The Obama administration is under pressure to consider transferring the dozens of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay somewhere other than their home country, given Yemen's poor record of keeping terror suspects in prison and the country's growing prominence as a staging ground for attacks.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the attempted attack on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas. Sources said the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, traveled to Yemen before the attempt and may have been "vetted for the mission" and supplied with explosive material while there.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration needs to decide what to do with the remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay, nearly half of whom are from Yemen. Despite concerns, the administration just sent six detainees back to Yemen last week.
But one alternative to Yemen might be next-door Saudi Arabia, which Al Qaeda increasingly is threatening.

Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the Middle Eastern nation would have a natural "self-interest" in working with the United States on the issue and called the country a reliable partner.

"The Saudis have a pretty good system of sorting out who's who. It's not perfect, but it's going to be a lot more effective than allowing the Yemenis to do what they've done in the past, which is to cast a blind eye at the effectiveness of detention," Jordan said.
The Saudis have a pretty good system?  To be fair, Robert Jordan wasn't aware of the ABC report when he made this, now ludicrous, statement.   It seems like the Saudi "art therapy rehabilitation program" only makes these ruthless terrorists pine for the good old days of their recent radical jihadist "past."

David Frum: Wrong and insulting on the constitutionality of Obamacare

Hot Air recently headlined a condescending diatribe written by David Frum entitled,  Health reform: Unwise, not unconstitutional.  It begins with this premise:
Is the Obama-Reid health reform plan unconstitutional?

The answer to that should be obvious: the Reid-Obama plan may be unwise, unsound, and unaffordable ... but it is unquestionably constitutional.
I was amazed and angered at the weak arguments put forth by this self-described "conservative."  Today Drew M at Ace of Spades writes a skewering rebuttal that made me smile. Here's a snippet:
Via Hot Air's Headlines, David Frum provides me with a wonderful belated Christmas present...the chance to beat on him.

Our man Frum is back and arguing that objections to ObamaCare (specifically the individual mandate) on constitutional grounds shows what Neanderthals conservatives are. In doing so he demonstrates that he hasn't actually read the Constitution lately or just doesn't understand it. I'm not talking about interpretive differences upon which reasonable people disagree (there are those too) but one big glaring factual error.

Let's see if you can spot it!

DeMint's and Ensign's argument against the constitutionality of the Obama-Reid health reform rests upon the ancient theory of enumerated powers. Under this theory, Congress may do only what the Constitution specifically authorizes Congress to do. Since (for example) the Constitution speaks only of a Supreme Court, Congress has no power to create lower federal courts. Since the Constitution does not mention a national bank, Congress may not charter banks. 
No lower federal courts? How could the founders have been so stupid? Did those idiots think that we'd only need one court? No wonder Frum doesn't see any reason to pay attention to their outdated design. I mean they didn't even provide for lower, one might say 'inferior', courts!

Oh wait, they did. Yep, right there next to that Supreme Court Frum knows so much about. Hell, they even provided for the staffing of those non-existnat courts.

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.
Okay, enough of the gotcha stuff. Let's look at Frum's other arguments.
Read the whole thing.

A shocking dearth of common sense in the "intelligence" community

In the 1980's, I was privileged to work closely with a cardiac surgical resident in Houston, TX who was a citizen of Nigeria.  He was one of the most conscientious, kindest and competent people I have ever known, and our friendship left an abiding impression on me.  He had a spiritual, contemplative, introspective, other-worldly aura about him, and I often imagined that he could look straight into a person's soul.

Twenty-seven years later, my daughter chose as her first college roommate, a beautiful young woman whose parents were Nigerian Americans.  She came from a very close-knit family and had four sisters.  I know this because I met every one of them when we moved my daughter into her dorm that freshman year.  Her entire family came to help her move. They were so friendly to us and loving to each other, that I knew immediately (and as it turned out, correctly) that my daughter had chosen well.

With this backdrop of personal experience, I am compelled to believe that going to the American Embassy to report concerns about his radicalized son was the most difficult thing Umaru Abdul Mutallab had ever done.  But he did just that, in hopes of averting a terrorist act against innocent people.  It is inconceivable to me that the State Department didn't act more aggressively on the information he provided.  At the very least, they could have checked to see if he had a valid U.S. visa.  He did.  They could have added his name to the "exclusive" no-fly list.  Who would have complained?  Not his immediate (well-connected, wealthy, influential) family.

When a stranger, or a colleague, or an acquaintance lodges a global security concern about an individual, it is reasonable to question motive and substance.  But when a loving father with an impeccable reputation initiates such a communication, we would be wise to pay heed.

Justice Department Voter chief fired while under subpoena

Main Justice is reporting that Christopher Coates, chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has been fired.
Veteran Civil Rights Division attorney Christopher Coates is no longer chief of the Voting Section, according to the division’s Web site.

There was no official announcement of the personnel change in the long-troubled section, which most recently has been embroiled in the controversy over the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. Main Justice noticed the change on the Voting Section Web site.

Taking over for Coates in an acting role is Chris Herren, a deputy chief of the section, according to the Web site.

Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Civil Rights Division, wasn’t available for comment Sunday. Coates did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. It could not be learned whether Coates left the department entirely or transferred to another post.

Coates signed off on the controversial voter intimidation complaint against the New Black Panther Party and three of its members, filed in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration. The Obama DOJ’s decision to dismiss most of the charges in May has become a political controversy for the administration.
Last month after repeated requests for information from the Justice Department on the disposition of the Black Panther voter intimidation case, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued subpoenas to Coates and another Voting Section attorney, J. Christian Adams.  The Justice Department ordered them not to cooperate, citing "well-established" and "lawful" Justice Department guidelines.  David P. Blackwell, general counsel for the Commission clearly disagrees:
In your letter, you seem to contend that there is a question of the Commission’s authority to issue subpoenas to the Department or its employees. In this regard, your attention is directed to 42 U.S.C. §1975a(e)(2). This provision grants the Commission the authority to issue subpoenas forthe attendance of witnesses and the production of written documents or other materials. Thisprovision in no way prohibits or excludes requests directed to federal agencies or theiremployees.1 Indeed, you should be aware that, as recently as 2004, the Commission issued a subpoena, signed by then-Chair Mary Frances Berry, directed to R. Alex Acosta of the Civil Rights Division.2 In that instance, the Department met with staff from the Commission and fully cooperated in producing the requested information.

In the present case, beginning in June 2009, the Commission has consistently requested the voluntary production of information from the Department, without any success. It was only after the Department, by letter dated September 9, 2009, formally indicated that no information would be forthcoming (pending completion of an investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility), and subsequently ignored the Commission’s letter of September 30, 2009, that subpoenas were issued by the Commission. While your letter refers to an ongoing “dialogue” between the Department and the Commission, it is the dearth of cooperation on the part of the Department that has resulted in the Commission’s need to issue subpoenas.

There is particularly no justification for the ongoing delay in producing documents relating to past voter intimidation investigations. Despite DOJ's contention that there are few reported cases, the Commission has repeatedly explained its need for documents relating to all past investigations, filings, settlements, consent decrees, etc. in order to assess whether the DOJ's actions in the NBPP case constitute a change of policy.

In making the attached interrogatory and document requests, we are both mindful of the sensitivity of the subject matter involved and aware that, in response to similar requests, the Department has raised various concerns and matters of privilege. While such considerations carry weight, cooperation with Commission investigations is a mandatory statutory obligation. See 42 U.S.C. § 1975b(e) (“All federal agencies shall cooperate fully with the Commission to the end that it may effectively carry out its functions and duties.”). Moreover, due to the unique investigative role of the Commission – akin to that of a congressional committee3 – disclosure to the Commission of the information sought is both proper and required.
It is not known if Coates was terminated outright or reassigned within the Justice Department.  Either way, Eric Holder is standing firm on behalf of the Black Panthers.

Report: Mutullab boarded NWA 253 without a passport?

A Michigan man and his wife claim they witnessed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab trying to board the plane in Amsterdam without a passport.  From Michigan Live:
Kurt Haskell of Newport, Mich., who posted an earlier comment about his experience, talked exclusively with and confirmed he was on the flight by sending a picture of his boarding pass. He and his wife, Lori, were returning from a safari in Uganda when they boarded the NWA flight on Friday.

Kurt HaskellLori and Kurt HaskellHaskell said he and his wife were sitting on the ground near their boarding gate in Amsterdam, which is when they saw Mutallab approach the gate with an unidentified man.

Kurt and Lori Haskell are attorneys with Haskell Law Firm in Taylor. Their expertise includes bankruptcy, family law and estate planning.

While Mutallab was poorly dressed, his friend was dressed in an expensive suit, Haskell said. He says the suited man asked ticket agents whether Mutallab could board without a passport. “The guy said, 'He's from Sudan and we do this all the time.'”

Mutallab is Nigerian. Haskell believes the man may have been trying to garner sympathy for Mutallab's lack of documents by portraying him as a Sudanese refugee. (photo by Kurt Haskell)
This account has prompted an investigation by Dutch military police:
Dutch military police are investigating the possibility that an accomplice may have helped the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, a spokesman said on Monday.

A U.S. couple on the flight, Kurt and Lori Haskell, told Reuters and other news agencies that they saw a tall, well-dressed man aged about 50 with the suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Friday morning at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

The Haskells have claimed the man spoke for Abdulmutallab and attempted to get him aboard Northwest flight 253 without a passport.

"At this moment we have no information on whether there was another guy," the military police spokesman said. "We are checking all clues and information we get."

The spokesman added that the military police and the counter-terrorism agency NCTb were reviewing CCTV video and other evidence to see if the accomplice story bears out.

The military police have already said Abdulmutallab did not go through passport control at Schiphol when he arrived from Lagos.

But the spokesman said it would be unlikely the man could board the plane without showing his passport at some point in the boarding process.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air opines on these revelations and the curious reaction of the Department of Homeland Security:
Clearly, the security process at Schipol needs a lot of work. The US has warned about security in Lagos for years. Anyone coming from Lagos should be double-checked, not allowed to bypass passport controls. And anyone on a US watch list should have been screened more closely, not ignored.

An accomplice would put a new light on the attack. So far, Janet Napolitano has tried to argue that Abdulmutallab probably acted alone, and that the attack was not part of a wider conspiracy. If the Haskells are correct, then a conspiracy exists, which seems rather obvious to everyone except the Department of Homeland Security.

This prompts the question: why are they presuming the lack of a conspiracy rather than the existence of one? After all, the former would tend to force more action to secure future flights. The evidence will lead in the proper direction when it’s uncovered. But both are assumptions in the lack of any evidence — so why not make the fail-secure assumption first? Or at the very least, stop making the latter assumption.
Although Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has had explosive detection systems in place since 1998,  it is not clear that PETN would have been detected during routine screening procedures.  But I agee with Morrissey's observation that any passenger from Lagos and certainly one whose name appears on a terror watch list should have been searched thoroughly, and should not have been allowed on board a U.S.-bound jet without a passport.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

St. Louis SEIU assault victim's brother fired by the city two days before Christmas

In November, Kenneth Gladney spoke at the Tea Party Express gathering in downtown Atlanta.  Most of you will remember that Gladney was assaulted by SEIU thugs at a St. Louis townhall gathering in August, 2009.  Big Government has learned that Gladney's brother, Keith, was fired by the City of St. Louis on December 23, 48 hours before Christmas:
As bad as Ebenezer Scrooge was, at least he didn’t fire Bob Cratchit right before Christmas. I can’t say the same for the St. Louis Dept of Health. Animal Control Officer, Keith Gladney was fired on December 23rd, less than 48 hours before Christmas Day.

Regular readers of Big Government will recognize the sur name of this unfortunate soul who finds himself unemployed just as the holidays are upon us. Yes, Keith Gladney is the brother of Kenneth Gladney, the man who was assaulted by leaders of the St. Louis SEIU outside of Rep. Russ Carnahan’s Town Hall for Health Care on August 6, 2009.

Considering the fact that government work seems to be the only growth industry in this economy Keith probably thought he was in a stable job, serving diligently for the Animal Control agency, a division of the St. Louis Dept. of Health. And, considering he was just given a positive job performance rating as recently as October, it must have come as a heartbreaking shock to learn of this Dickensian turn of events just he was preparing for his Christmas.

So, what changed between September and today? What could have been the reason for Mr. Gladney’s termination?

Could it be that Mr. Gladney was outspoken in his support for his brother?

That he called on the County Prosecuting Attorney to bring justice to his family for the assault that had been captured on video and detailed in a 23-page police report?

Is it a coincidence that the same Prosecuting Attorney that Keith called out in his statement is also one of the highest ranking officials in the government structure that Keith worked for?
Perhaps it is time for Eric Holder to launch a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act investigation of the St. Louis chapter of the SEIU.  Yeah.  Like that is going to happen.  Remember this?

Breaking: Mousavi's nephew killed by Iranian authorities

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the nephew of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has been killed by Iranian authorities in Tehran.  (photograph AFP/Getty Images)
Clashes between opposition protesters and Iranian authorities erupted Sunday in Tehran, with unconfirmed reports that four protesters – including the nephew of Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi – were killed in fighting.

The clashes erupted despite a heavy deployment early in the day of police and other security forces around the capital, according to opposition Web sites. Authorities had braced for large-scale protests marking the culmination Sunday of an important Shiite Muslim commemoration.

The aide to Mr. Mousavi said the nephew, Ali Mousavi, died of wounds in a hospital on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of reprisals from the government. A reformist Web site,, also said Mr. Mousavi's nephew was killed..

Police had positioned themselves throughout central Tehran, concentrating around possible rallying points along a major central thoroughfare, Azadi St., between Imman Hossein and Enqelab Squares, according to opposition websites. The street and squares have been sites of big antigovernment demonstrations in the past.

Despite the heavy police presence, large groups of demonstrators managed to congregate in parts of the city, according to opposition Web sites.

The opposition Web site Rah-e-Sabz reported isolated clashes between protesters and security forces midday Sunday, including police firing warning shots in the air and beating protesters. The Web site -- which has reported protests reliably in the past -- also said three people were shot by security services' gunfire at an altercation at a bridge near Enqelab Square. It cited an eyewitness to the clash.

The Associated Press, citing opposition Web sites and eyewitnesses, also said security forces had opened fire on protesters. It was impossible to verify the accounts. Iranian authorities have forbidden press coverage of unauthorized demonstrations.
The New York Times reports that Ali Mousavi was 20 years old, but the BBC news video here states that he was 34.

Brave amateur videographers are risking their lives to record the protests throughout the country today.  A few examples, here, here and here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Iran protests continue as Iranian cleric predicts regime "collapse"

The Guardian (UK) covers Iran where the "Green revolution refuses to wither and die":

Iran today faces the prospect of a bloody Sunday after opposition supporters clashed violently with security forces yesterday at the start of a key religious ceremony that had been identified beforehand as a dangerous flashpoint.

Amid ominous signs that political tensions were reaching breaking point, reformist websites reported that special forces fired teargas and attacked crowds gathered in some of Tehran's main thoroughfares to begin two days of commemorations for one of Shia Islam's holiest figures. The opposition website Rah-e Sabz reported confrontations in Enghelab, Haft-e Tir and Imam Hossein Squares. Unconfirmed accounts told of disturbances breaking out between Ferdowsi Square and Valiasr crossroads and between Choobi Bridge and Shahmirzadi Hosseinieh.

Government forces were said to have smashed the windows of cars whose drivers honked their horns in support of the protest. Security forces chased protesters into the premises of the student news agency ISNA, off Enghelab Square, and beat them with chains and batons, Rah-e Sabz reported. The Iranian Human Rights Activists news agency said there had been at least 10 arrests.

Deutsche Welle's Farsi-language website carried reports of further clashes in Isfahan, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Ahvaz. Internet speeds in Tehran were said to have slowed to a crawl.

The reported disturbances came amid evidence that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered a crackdown on any challenges to his leadership during yesterday's Tasua ceremonies and Ashura, which is today.

The Observer has learned that the authorities have cancelled all leave for police and emergency services over the two days in anticipation of violence, while hospitals have been put on full alert to expect multiple casualties. The order is effective until midnight tonight.

"Cancelling leave means we are in for a very violent time," a paramedic said. "The authorities are very scared. They are prepared for everything and anything."
To the extent that these brave protesters can know of it, they must surely be energized to learn of an interview by Spiegel with Duke visiting professor Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar wherein he states that he is "convinced that the regime will collapse."

I hope his prediction comes true soon before more protesters are beaten to death or shot by Basiji snipers from the rooftops.

Treasury department pledges (your) unlimited assistance to Fannie and Freddie

After the Senate passed its bribery/extortion/porkulus health care bill on Christmas Eve morning, the Obama adminstration sneaked another piece of coal into the stocking of the American taxpayer.  The Washington Post informs us that while much of the country was snowed in trying to complete Christmas preparations, or execute frustrating and/or hazardous holiday travel plans, the Treasury department quietly and unilaterally lifted the cap on federal bailout funds for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
The Obama administration pledged Thursday to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an eleventh-hour move that allows the government to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress.

The Christmas Eve announcement by the Treasury Department means that it can continue to run the companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama's current term.

But even as the administration was making this open-ended financial commitment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disclosed that they had received approval from their federal regulator to pay $42 million in Wall Street-style compensation packages to 12 top executives for 2009.

The compensation packages, including up to $6 million each to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's chief executives, come amid an ongoing public debate about lavish payments to executives at banks and other financial firms that have received taxpayer aid. But while many firms on Wall Street have repaid the assistance, there is no prospect that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will do so.
Read the whole thing.

I am running out of adjectives here.   And I honestly can't decide which is more surreal.........the arrogance or the hyprocrisy.  One thing is crystal clear:  they do think we are stupid.

Dutch Officials: US approved flight 253 passenger list

Politico reports:
The United States charged a 23-year-old Nigerian man Saturday with attempting to destroy a Northwest Airlines aircraft on Cristmas Day during its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The criminal complaint said the device contained a "high-explosive" chemical, PETN, which has been used in several past terror plots. It’s what so-called “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid used in his December 2001 bid to blow up a Paris-to-Miami flight.

“FBI agents recovered what appear to be the remnants of the syringe from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab’s seat, believed to have been part of the device,” the release added.

The government said: “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian national, boarded Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam, Netherlands... and had a device attached to his body. As the flight was approaching Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device, which resulted in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion. Abdulmutallab was then subdued and restrained by the passengers and flight crew. The airplane landed shortly thereafter, and he was taken into custody by Customs and Border Patrol officers.”

A Justice Department official told POLITCO that Abdulmutallab made an initial appearance before a federal judge at the Ann Arbor hospital where he is being treated for third-degree burns at 4 p.m. Saturday. Two other people are also reportedly being treated for burns.
According to Newsweek, the passenger list for Northwest Airlines flight 253 was reviewed and approved by U.S. security officials before the flight departed Amsterdam:
Judith Sluyter, spokeswoman for the NCTB, the office of Holland's national counter-terrorism coordinator, said that before Flight 253 left Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the passenger list was transmitted in full to U.S. authorities for review. Under procedures negotiated between the United States and various foreign countries, U.S. agencies -- particularly an interagency "Terrorist Screening Center" run by the FBI with input from others including the Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community -- are supposed to run the names through American counter-terrorism databases to see if any would-be passengers present potential threat.

In the case of Flight 253, U.S. authorities informed the airline before the flight took off that the passenger list did not reveal any threats which would prevent the plane from taking off, according to Sluyter, and so the flight left Amsterdam for Detroit.
This is particularly disturbing in light of news that Abdulmutallab's father, a former Nigerian minister and bank president, reported his son's fanatical religious views to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria six months ago:
The father of the al Qaeda terrorist behind Friday’s attempted explosion aboard a Northwest flight bound for Detroit reported his son’s fanatical religious views to the U.S. Embassy six months ago, according to a Nigerian news outlet.

The young man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, is the son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a former Nigerian minister and bank chairman. He became wary of his son’s religious beliefs and reported his activities to the U.S. Embassy as well as Nigerian security services half a year ago, according to the Nigerian newspaper This Day.
The explosive PETN or pentaerythritol tetranitrate is one of the bomb making materials used by Richard Reid in his attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001.  One would expect that a modern airport such as Schiphol would have detected the PETN.  More from Newsweek:
Nigerian Airports historically have been known for their lax security but Amsterdam Schiphol is one of Europe's most modern airports with sophisticated security systems. However Sluyter said that different levels of screening are applied to passengers changing planes at the airport depending upon where the passengers have flown in from. Passengers changing planes which flew in from European destinations are subjected to less screening than passengers from destinations outside the European Union. Mudallad was subjected to some screening at Schiphol because he had flow in from outside Europe.
The enhanced screening that would have been applied to Mudallad in Amsterdam since his trip originated in Nigeria may suggest that he had assistance getting the explosive device on board the plane. In any case, this is very bad news for the Department of Homeland Security and the flying public.

Update:  Read Ed Morrissey's unsettling recap at HotAir.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nigerian man ignites explosives on Delta flight; Al Qaeda link reported

Fox News reports that a Nigerian man tried to ignite a "powdery substance" on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit today:
A male passenger reportedly linked to terrorist organization al-Qaeda ignited a powdery substance prior to landing on a Delta Airlines flight to Detroit Friday. The suspect is believed to be Nigerian, Fox News reported.

Several people were hurt and one person was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical Center at Ann Arbor, hospital spokeswoman Tracy Justice said. An emergency was declared aboard the flight, operated as Northwest flight 253, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson.

The suspect, who suffered second-degree burns, told federal investigators he was directed by al-Qaeda, though authorities are questioning the veracity of that statement, ABC reported. A federal situational awareness bulletin noted that the explosive was acquired in Yemen with instructions as to when it should be used, ABC said.

The FBI was on the scene, Detroit office spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold told NewsCore. Berchtold declined to comment on the reports of a terrorist connection.

All 278 passengers on the Airbus A330 wide-body jet, which landed at 11:53 a.m. local time, have since deplaned at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Delta spokesperson Susan Elliott said.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the plane was moved to a remote area where the plane and all baggage are currently being rescreened. A passenger is in custody and passengers are being interviewed," the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if the suspect was subdued by crew or passengers.

Airport spokesman Mike Conway referred all questions to the FBI.
MSNBC origially reported the incident as a possible hijacking attempt but quickly retracted and now reports this:
A 23-year-old Nigerian man tried to light a powdery substance aboard a Northwest Airlines flight before landing in Detroit on Friday, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News.

Two people noticed the attempt and a third person jumped on the man and subdued him, an airline official told NBC News.

The man is being treated at the burn unit of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, officials said.
The man told investigators that he wanted to set off a bomb over the United States and claimed to be tied to al-Qaida, counterterrorism officials said.

The man was subdued by the crew of Flight 253 from Amsterdam, one counterterrorism official said. The official said the man left Lagos, Nigeria, on Thursday, then boarded the Northwest flight in Amsterdam on Friday.

Flight 253 was an Airbus 330 carrying 278 passengers. The Transportation Security Administration reported that the plane was taken to a remote area of Detroit Metropolitan Airport and all passengers deplaned and were rescreened along with all the luggage on the flight. In addition, all passengers were interviewed, a TSA statement said.
Michelle Malkin points out the similarity to shoe bomber Richard Reid.