Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giving gifts, and getting no thanks for the effort

See that image above? Look familiar? That's Uncle Sam fighting our enemies under Barry's "leadership." We're figthing with one hand tied behind our back, with true justice out of sight, and in some cases we're fighting one another as we continue this war. John Yoo pens an editorial today explaining the gift he handed the current administration when it comes to prosecuting this war:

Barack Obama may not realize it, but I may have just helped save his presidency. How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe.

He sure didn't make it easy. When Mr. Obama took office a year ago, receiving help from one of the lawyers involved in the development of George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies was the furthest thing from his mind. Having won a great electoral victory, the new president promised a quick about-face. He rejected "as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" and moved to restore the law-enforcement system as the first line of defense against a hardened enemy devoted to killing Americans.

In office only one day, Mr. Obama ordered the shuttering of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, followed later by the announcement that he would bring terrorists to an Illinois prison. He terminated the Central Intelligence Agency's ability to use "enhanced interrogations techniques" to question al Qaeda operatives. He stayed the military trial, approved by Congress, of al Qaeda leaders. He ultimately decided to transfer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks, to a civilian court in New York City, and automatically treated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day, as a criminal suspect (not an illegal enemy combatant). Nothing better could have symbolized the new president's determination to take us back to a Sept. 10, 2001, approach to terrorism.

Part of Mr. Obama's plan included hounding those who developed, approved or carried out Bush policies, despite the enormous pressures of time and circumstance in the months immediately after the September 11 attacks. Although career prosecutors had previously reviewed the evidence and determined that no charges are warranted, last year Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a new prosecutor to re-investigate the CIA's detention and interrogation of al Qaeda leaders.

In my case, he let loose the ethics investigators of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to smear my reputation and that of Jay Bybee, who now sits as a federal judge on the court of appeals in San Francisco. Our crime? While serving in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the weeks and months after 9/11, we answered in the form of memoranda extremely difficult questions from the leaders of the CIA, the National Security Council and the White House on when interrogation methods crossed the line into prohibited acts of torture.

Rank bias and sheer incompetence infused OPR's investigation. OPR attorneys, for example, omitted a number of precedents that squarely supported the approach in the memoranda and undermined OPR's preferred outcome. They declared that no Americans have a right of self-defense against a criminal prosecution, not even when they or their government agents attempt to stop terrorist attacks on the United States. OPR claimed that Congress enjoyed full authority over wartime strategy and tactics, despite decades of Justice Department opinions and practice defending the president's commander-in-chief power. They accused us of violating ethical standards without ever defining them. They concocted bizarre conspiracy theories about which they never asked us, and for which they had no evidence, even though we both patiently—and with no legal obligation to do so—sat through days of questioning.

OPR's investigation was so biased, so flawed, and so beneath the Justice Department's own standards that last week the department's ranking civil servant and senior ethicist, David Margolis, completely rejected its recommendations.

Attorney General Holder could have stopped this sorry mess earlier, just as his predecessor had tried to do. OPR slow-rolled Attorney General Michael Mukasey by refusing to deliver a draft of its report until the 2008 Christmas and New Year holidays. OPR informed Mr. Mukasey of its intention to release the report on Jan. 12, 2009, without giving me or Judge Bybee the chance to see it—as was our right and as we'd been promised.

Mr. Mukasey and Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip found so many errors in the report that they told OPR that the entire enterprise should be abandoned. OPR decided to run out the clock and push the investigation into the lap of the Obama administration. It would have been easy for Mr. Holder to concur with his predecessors—in fact, it was critical that he do so to preserve the Justice Department's impartiality. Instead the new attorney general let OPR's investigators run wild. Only Mr. Margolis's rejection of the OPR report last week forced the Obama administration to drop its ethics charges against Bush legal advisers.

Why bother fighting off an administration hell-bent on finding scapegoats for its policy disagreements with the last president? I could have easily decided to hide out, as others have. Instead, I wrote numerous articles (several published in this newspaper) and three books explaining and defending presidential control of national security policy. I gave dozens of speeches and media appearances, where I confronted critics of the administration's terrorism policies. And, most importantly, I was lucky to receive the outstanding legal counsel of Miguel Estrada, one of the nation's finest defense attorneys, to attack head-on and without reservation, each and every one of OPR's mistakes, misdeeds and acts of malfeasance.

I did not do this to win any popularity contests, least of all those held in the faculty lounge. I did it to help our president—President Obama, not Bush. Mr. Obama is fighting three wars simultaneously in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against al Qaeda. He will call upon the men and women serving under his command to make choices as hard as the ones we faced. They cannot meet those challenges with clear minds if they believe that a bevy of prosecutors, congressional committees and media critics await them when they return from the battlefield.

This is no idle worry. In 2005, a Navy Seal team dropped into Afghanistan encountered goat herders who clearly intended to inform the Taliban of their whereabouts. The team leader ordered them released, against his better military judgment, because of his worries about the media and political attacks that would follow.

In less than an hour, more than 80 Taliban fighters attacked and killed all but one member of the Seal team and 16 Americans on a helicopter rescue mission. If a president cannot, or will not, protect the men and women who fight our nation's wars, they will follow the same risk-averse attitudes that invited the 9/11 attacks in the first place. [Publius II -- The story of Marcus Luttrell, and the men of SEAL Team Ten is recounted in Mr. Luttrell's excellent book "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10." This is the incident Mr. Yoo is referencing.]

Without a vigorous commander-in-chief power at his disposal, Mr. Obama will struggle to win any of these victories. But that is where OPR, playing a junior varsity CIA, wanted to lead us. Ending the Justice Department's ethics witch hunt not only brought an unjust persecution to an end, but it protects the president's constitutional ability to fight the enemies that threaten our nation today.

This is a problem we've been harping on for weeks. Since the release of Marc Thiessen's outstanding book "Courting Disaster" my wife and I done three columns on this subject at Common Conservative. Readers have wondered why we are focusing so much time, effort, and energy into this argument. Forgive us, but we take this issue seriously, and we're not too fond of the Left attacking the Bush administration for the efforts they put forward to protect this nation that were legal. As Mr. Thiessen and Mr. Yoo point out, these methods were thoroughly vetted, and approved by numerous attorneys in the Justice Department. Justice signed off that what the CIA interrogators did wasn't torture. Barry's Justice Department has concurred with that in clearing Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee of any wrongdoing or breach of legal ethics.

Barry was given a great deal of tools to use in this war. Anyone seen the movie "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis? Remember the scene where he and his crew are pouring over the Armadillo vehicle that they'll use on the asteroid, tearing pieces from it, and wondering why there's so much junk on the thing? That's how Barry treated these tools. He's stripping them off the policies, and tossing them aside like unneeded crap. In fact, these tools are absolutely necessary in this war.

We're not dealing with bank robbers or petty crooks. We're dealing with men who have murderous intent, and a lust to destroy this nation. They're not going to cooperate, willingly, in many cases, and in the case of high-ranking al Qaeda people, the chances of them cooperating at all are slim and none. These methods were established to break those particular terrorists. Not everyone undergoes enhanced interrogation techniques, and to date only three people -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri -- have ever endured waterboarding, which is the most extreme application of these techniques. (Again, I remind readers that Zubaydah gave the CIA the golden revelation that al Qaeda members placed under interrogation, be it enhanced or lesser methods, will break eventually, and it lifts a moral burden from them. In fact, he thanked his interrogators and told them "You must do this for all the brothers." [Page 90 of "Courting Disaster."])

The simple fact is that these techniques worked, and did so effectively. Mr. Yoo, Mr. Bybee, and others at Justice did their jobs in vetting these methods. They had numerous questions and raised eyebrows about what was being posited, and they didn't pull any punches with the CIA or the DoD. Their job was to ensure that what was being offered in terms of interrogation techniques wasn't torture. They examined the methods thoroughly, and signed off that none of them constituted torture. For the Obama administration to order and pursue this witch-hunt was not only wrong, but it showed just how petty its thinking was on this issue. They were given tools to best prosecute this war, and they decided to grind a political ax to appease their liberal base.

That isn't how any president should act. If there was a real crime committed (a la Abu Ghraib) then those responsible should be held accountable (and in the case of Abu Ghraib, those soldiers were.) But there are repercussions in witch-hunts, and it comes in the form of professionals that won't do their job to the best of their ability out of concern that they'll become the target of a political lynch mob.

Publius II

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Holder: Dancing with Dorothy in Oz

Eric Holder is busy patting himself on the back. See, he thinks that because the DoJ got a guilty plea out of Najibullah Zazi in civilian court that Justice was right to take this route as opposed to declaring him an enemy combatant, and handing him over to the military for prosecution:

The Obama administration is portraying guilty pleas entered Monday by an Al Qaeda operative as evidence of how the criminal justice system can be used to combat terrorism.

“It could have been devastating,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference in Washington Monday. “This attempted attack on our homeland was real. It was in motion. And it would have been deadly.”

At a court hearing in Brooklyn Monday, Najibullah Zazi, 25, admitted that he traveled from Denver to New York to take part in a “martyrdom operation” aimed at avenging civilian deaths due to U.S. operations in Afghanistan. He also admitted to traveling to Pakistan to train for Al-Qaeda led suicide attacks.

“We are at war against a very dangerous, intelligent and adaptable enemy and we must use every weapon available to us in order to win that war. In this case as in so many other ones, the criminal justice system has proved to be an invaluable tool,” Holder said. “We will continue to use it.”

Holder faulted Republicans for undervaluing the role of the civilian courts in pursuing terrorism cases and extracting useful intelligence from defendants through the use of plea agreements.

Plea agreements? Are you kidding me? In one breath he declares our enemy is dangerous, and in the next he claims that using a plea agreement got this guy to flap his gums? Did I just venture into the Twilight Zone, or is it Oz? If Zazi was as hardened as KSM, he would've laughed at FBI interrogators. When first confronted by CIA interrogators KSM laughed at them when they asked what he knew about impending operations. He was defiant. "Soon, you will know." That was his answer to them. [Page 6, "Courting Disaster"] KSM started talking when CIA officers started to employ enhanced interrogation techniques.

But we're supposed to believe that, through FBI interrogators and Justice Department officials, Najibullah Zazi decided it was in his best interest to begin talking. It sounds a lot like the boast from Justice that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab started singing when they brought his family to America. On the heels of both stories of two terrorists it almost sounds as if the administration is trying to downplay this war, our enemy, and the implications of their actions. Yet, Eric Holder admits that we're dealing with a dangerous enemy.

How "dangerous" can they be if they can crack under FBI interrogation? Chances are both aren't the high-level guys they initially claimed when taken into custody. They're frontline martyrs, and if we'll recall what I have reported before about interrogations of detainees. I cited Mr. Thiessen from his book "Courting Disaster" regarding Abu Zubaydah's revelation to interrogators:

He confirmed to interrogators that "brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." Mr. Thiessen also notes that after being waterboarded, Zubaydah thanked his interrogators and told them "You must do this to all the brothers." The techniques lifted a moral burden from the shoulders of the terrorists. That revelation was an important discovery for CIA interrogators. [Pages 89-90, "Courting Disaster"]

If these two were hardened like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah they wouldn't have cracked as easily as the administration claims they did. They're low-level guys, and while the civilian court system might work for them (I personally don't think a single one of these animals should be put into our civilian court system) it won't work for people like Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, Adam Gadahn, or any other higher level al Qaeda terrorist. Today, Dana Perrino and Bill Burck pen a retort to Holder at National Review's The Corner:

Najibullah Zazi’s guilty plea — via which he admitted he is an al-Qaeda agent and planned to commit terrorist attacks against the United States — is cause for congratulations to the FBI agents, intelligence professionals, and prosecutors who worked to bring him to justice. Also, it is encouraging that Zazi reportedly may cooperate with authorities as part of his plea agreement.

This is all happening in the civilian court system. But the jury’s still out on whether this was the best course of action — and of course, Zazi’s guilty plea does not show that the civilian system is the best place to deal with all captured terrorists. Zazi is not Khalid Sheikh Muhammad or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He is a legal resident of the United States, entitled to many of the protections of a U.S. citizen, unlike KSM or Abdulmutallab; he was not caught in the act, unlike Abdulmutallab; and he was captured on U.S. soil, unlike KSM.

When he was apprehended last summer, even Zazi could have been designated as an enemy combatant — and, because he is not a U.S. citizen, eventually tried by a military commission. He reportedly gave the FBI some information before he was arrested, but eventually stopped cooperating and demanded a lawyer. Supreme Court and federal-court-of-appeals precedent would have permitted authorities to hold him, at least temporarily, as an enemy combatant with no right to remain silent and no right to an attorney while being interrogated. Zazi would have had a right, however, to have an attorney challenge the factual basis of his detention as an enemy combatant.

The authorities chose to put Zazi in the civilian system. This may have been due to questions about the strength of the evidence against him. Unlike Abdulmutallab, who was caught red-handed in the act of committing terror, Zazi was part of a disrupted plot that had not yet reached fruition. More significantly, the FBI’s investigation of Zazi was prematurely blown because of miscommunication between federal and local law enforcement, according to press accounts.

This shows the significant differences between terrorists. KSM had zero rights under US law, and was immediately declared an enemy combatant. The same is true for Abu Zubaydah. Abdulmutallab was caught red-handed, like Richard Reid, and was arrested and charged, based on Justice protocol, within the civilian system because he was caught on US soil. Zazi is a legal US citizen, and is afforded his constitutional protections. BUT, had Zazi possessed immediate, significant intelligence, and he had proven stubborn to interrogators, he could have been charged as an enemy combatant and transferred to the military to face a military tribunal.

That is all moot right now because, as I stated above, it appears that Justice and the administration are cherry-picking these terrorists without paying a damn bit of attention to the intelligence that's been handed to them. Intelligence officials trotted up to Capitol Hill back at the beginning of this month to warn Congress of an imminent attack coming in the next three to six months. They revealed that al Qaeda was focusing their attack efforts on homegrown and low-level terrorists that have little, if any connection, to the organization. In other words, we're not dealing with two, staunch, stubborn al Qaeda operatives. We're dealing with a couple of low-level schmucks that got caught due to their incompetence and ineptitude.

Does that mean that they're not dangerous? Hell no. Turn your back on these two and I can virtually guarantee that they'd jump you. They hate us. They're zealots to the core, but they're not as determined as the higher level guys are. Their breaking point is significantly shorter than others. But for Eric Holder to declare that the civilian system is the best place for these two, based on these two examples alone, is not only naive, but dangerous as well. Justice really shouldn't be trying to fit all terrorists captured into a one-size-fits-all view.

They're not, and the naivete on display from Justice serves to undermine our efforts to defeat our enemy.

Publius II

"Sir! Target acquired!" "All right corporal, call the lawyers, and get the green light."

OK, the title is a tad dramatic, but it's not that far from the truth as Michael Phillips reports for the Wall Street Journal: (HT to Patterico at Hot Air)

As Capt. Anthony Zinni monitored a live video feed from a Predator drone circling overhead, he spotted four men planting a booby trap in the middle of the road here.

For Capt. Zinni, one of the officers responsible for approving airstrikes in the nine-day-old battle for Marjah, it seemed like an easy call: The men were digging a hole alongside a road where a Marine supply convoy was scheduled to pass within hours. But just as he was about to give the order to strike, Capt. Zinni spotted even-smaller white figures on the video running along the path south of the canal.

Children. Maybe 50 feet from the men planting the booby trap. "It's not a good shot," Capt. Zinni said, ordering the Predator drone to delay the strike. "It's not a good shot."

The 45 minutes that followed help illustrate why it is taking coalition forces so long to secure this hotly contested part of Afghanistan.

As the biggest coalition offensive since the Taliban government fell in 2001 enters its second week, allied officials on Sunday said it could take at least a month to secure Marjah and Helmand province as troops here meet pockets of unusually stiff resistance. U.S. and Afghan troops were converging Sunday on a western quarter of Marjah, officials said, where a group of remaining Taliban had concentrated and were apparently making a stand. ...

Such civilian casualties have been a constant source of tension between the Afghans and the international forces. On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged coalition troops to redouble their efforts to avoid killing innocents in Marjah, where at least 19 civilians have reportedly died in clashes between insurgents and combined U.S.-Afghan force.

Last year, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, issued a directive restricting air attacks on homes, making the strategic call that it's better to let a few insurgents escape than alienate the Afghan public by inflicting civilian casualties.

First, let me state that I respect General McChrystal. that said, I believe it's a fool's errand to let terrorists escape to avoid civilian casualties. Yes, we should take every possible step to avoid injuring or killing civilians. However, we learned this lesson in Iraq. Haditha was a prime example of what terrorists were willing to do to prevent our soldiers from doing their job. And while that incident provoked a firestorm of accusations and finger-pointing, the Marines involved in that incident have been cleared of any serious crime. The murder charges were dismissed. And while we respect President Karzai's call to limit engagements, it'd be helpful of him to get his populace to work with us more. That means contacting our soldiers when these terrorists are in the area, then clearing the area so we can deal with said terrorists. And what if the terrorists are using people as human shields? Casualties happen, folks. Our soldiers will do their best not to kill those civilians.

The point is we shouldn't be consulting with lawyers before we engage the enemy. That's an aspect of micro-management our soldiers shouldn't have to deal with. We're in a war, not a courtroom. This sort of red tape is no different than someone in DC, other than the president, giving their two cents on what our soldiers should do, and what extent they make act.

The US military takes every possible precaution to limit civilian casualties. Sometimes that may not be possible. Our soldiers shouldn't have to look over their shoulder about possible prosecution for doing their job provided they do that job as outlined by the mission parameters, and the field manuals that apply to each branch of the service. Later in the story is a suggestion to send an attack helicopter in to scatter the kids and the terrorists, and even that was nixed.

We can't keep fighting this front in Afghanistan with one hand tied behind our back, and a lawyer standing behind them ready to charge them for doing their job. If that continues, this mission is lost no matter how many troops we put on the ground.

Publius II

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary, America. How's that hope and change working out for you?

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the signing, and implementation, of the economic stimulus plan, AKA Pork-A-Palloza. Today Barry marked the anniversary with another ((sigh)) speech about his "greatness/awesomeness" in addressing this "crisis" (to use Rahm Emanuel's own words) to stave off another "depression. The problem is that Americans aren't seeing a whole helluva lot of recovery, and most don't see any change in the unemployment numbers. As of 5 February, the real unemployment numbers were between 15% and 18%. But don't let that stop our Narcissist-in-Chief. He thinks that everything is all crimson and clover:

President Obama hailed the success of his controversial $787 billion stimulus legislation on Wednesday, saying the one-year-old law has created or saved 2 million jobs and helped prevent a second Great Depression.

Obama's remarks capped an extensive push from the administration and its Democratic allies to rehabilitate the public perception of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which critics say has been costly and ineffective.

"No large expenditure is ever that popular, particularly at a time when we are also facing a massive deficit," the president said. "Our work is far from over, but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis. The American people are rebuilding a better future. We will continue to support their efforts."

And who has contributed the most to the deficit? Oh yeah, Barry and his Democrat cronies in Congress spending money the nation doesn't have. And his economic package has rescued squat. Unemployment is still higher than we've seen since the early 1980s (when Reagan took over from Carter's inept leadership), and businesses don't have the capital to hire new employees. (Don't let the president fool you. The "tax credits" to small businesses to help ease the unemployment numbers is nothing more than a shell-game.) His stimulus has done nothing for this nation other than pay back cronies for getting him elected. That's all this slush fund was designed to do, and congressional Democrats knew it.

The president ridiculed Republican members of Congress who voted against the legislation last year but have been eager to accept stimulus spending on behalf of their own constituents. He accused them of playing politics by calling the bill a failure "even as many of them show up at ribbon cuttings at projects in their district."

And he made fun of GOP lawmakers who he said were unsure whether to clap last month when, during his State of the Union speech, Obama recounted the tax cuts in the act. "They were all kind of squirming in their seats," he said.

The president's remarks followed an op-ed in USA Today by Vice President Biden and an aggressive effort by the Democratic National Committee to paint GOP members of Congress as hypocrites.

Tax cuts? Are you freaking kidding me? Tax cuts? He's letting the Bush tax cuts expire, which helped this nation out of a recession that Bush "inherited" from Clinton (of which Bush never laid blame at Clinton's feet), and out of a deepened recession thanks to 9-11. Also, how can one say there were any tax cuts on the heels of the passage, and signing, of the S-CHIP bill which slapped an even higher tax on those who use tobacco. The S-CHIP program significantly raises the taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year. Statistics show that the majority of tobacco users fall far below the $250,000 mark that the president made. So much for his promise (which can be seen right here on YouTube).

There have been no tax cuts. There have been "promises" of tax credits, but we all know that any promise Barry makes has an expiration date. Those promises don't last long, and only expire when they become a liability; when political expediency takes precedent over one's own word. The stimulus plan has been a failure to all except those that supported Barry and his merry band of pirates, raiding the wealth of the nation's coffers.

Had he been serious about addressing the economic recession that the nation was facing -- the worst since the early 1980s -- he would have done three simple things. 1) Cut taxes ACROSS THE BOARD on every level. Tax cuts work. President Kennedy proved it. President Reagan proved it. President George W. Bush proved it. Tax cuts gives the people more of the money they earned which they "invest" in the economy by buying goods and purchasing services thereby fueling industry. Hello? Is anyone paying attention here? Bueller?

2) SUSPEND the capital gains tax for at least a year, if not eradicating it completely. The markets took a dive in 2008 that shocked the nation right out of its hopey-changey stupor. Instead of bailing out any financial institution we should have allowed the free market to correct itself on its own. The best thing the government could have done then was suspend the capital gains tax. Investors would have stampeded their way to the firms still surviving, and in those who bought up the companies failing. Again, I'm talking about recovery, and that would have lended a great deal to a real recovery program. Bailing out these institutions did nothing except make these companies beholden to an already over-inflated federal government.

3) SUSPEND all non-essential government spending. If it's not needed then we don't spend the money on it. But we watched as Congress spent $787 billion (actual CBO numbers puts the stimulus money at $862 billion but it's not like Congress knows how to balance a checkbook, right?) of taxpayer's money, and we have nothing to show for it. We still have stifling unemployment, and a deficit that we can't afford, our kids can't afford, and our grandkids can't afford. When economic hard times hit Congress shouldn't be spending money like it's going out of style. And the stimulus isn't the only spending that hurt this nation. Need I remind readers of the $410 billion Omnibus bill that included 8,570 earmarks for personal little pork projects? That bill included a $300,000 earmark for a Montana World Trade Center from GOP Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana, and a $1.8 million pig odor and manure management program from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Michelle Malkin has more on that bill and more links to instances of gross negligence conducted by the Congress on pi$$ing away our hard-earned money.

My plan, and this plan is endorsed by many conservatives, would have stimulated the US economy in more ways than Barry's ideas did. Unemployment would be down (probably below 8% right now, which is the percent the president was trying to avoid with the stimulus bill) and the nation would be much better off. But, I'm a conservative. What do I know, right? Obviously I know more than the Left cares to recognize.

Publius II

A tale of two idiots

Normally I wouldn't give these two any attention at all. They're both a couple of numb-from-the-brain-down , fever-swamp liberal hacks that couldn't find their ass with both hands and a flashlight. But I heard this exchange this morning and I was floored. Rosie “I do believe that it’s the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel." O'Donnell and Janeane "Larry Elder kicked my sorry butt in 2004 at the DNC" Garofalo were yacking with one another on O'Donnell's Sirius Radio show (she must've paid some big bucks for that show because she clearly lacks the talent to make it in the real world of broadcasting) and had a rather revealing exchange.

The Left accuses conservatives of drinking the kool-aid yet they seem to excuse this sort of stupidity from two of their own:

JANEANE GAROFALO: I don't know what makes one a Rush Limbaugh fan. [...]

ROSIE O' DONNELL: And how is it that he's able to be a junkie, literally, and sort of still have reverence, respect, and be heralded as the leader of these, you know...

GAROFALO: Well, look at who he's talking to.

O'DONNELL: I know.

GAROFALO: Look at who he's talking to.

O'DONNELL: Those are the kind of people who if it was a junkie, right? What, because he buys the Oxycontin from a doctor?

GAROFALO: Sure, bought it's very elastic, isn't it? It's always a double standard. When it comes to rightwingers, whatever works for them works. [...]

GAROFALO: But here's another thing with the type of mindset, like, like, I keep saying rightwinger, I don't know what else to call it. A person that lacks empathy...Karl Rove, Frank Luntz, the guy who comes up with the talking points at these meetings. Grover Norquist. They have no shame. You can't embarrass them. They have no problem, and they know that they, who they're lying to. The base if you will. It need not be given facts, need not be fair-minded or open-minded to anything. And you, when you talk that way to people, the way Rush talks to people, the way he lies to people, you can't have respect for him. You couldn't possibly respect who's listening to you if you lied to them the way that they do. They use these people as a blunt instrument.

O'DONNELL: Do you think that they believe it? Rush or Glenn Beck or those people?

GAROFALO: It depends. Sometimes, like, when you meet Sean Hannity, you think, "Oh, he doesn't know he's lying." Some people like the "Fox & Friends" morning douchebags, on "Fox & Friends," real, really limited. You can just see it when you go on the show. Don't make that mistake, don't do that...Brian Kilmeade, they just, you get the sense they don't know they're lying. And they don't care. Then, Greta Van Susteren, Brit Hume, they do know they're lying.

First off, anyone notice that when liberals attack Rush Limbaugh that their first line of attack is his addiction to prescription drugs? No offense, but Holly-weird "intellectuals" have a serious habit of abusing painkillers. Prescription drug abuse isn't uncommon. Prescription painkillers, some doctors will state, are more addictive or as addictive as many illicit drugs. It's not hard to get hooked on the things. I've had friends that have gone through that, and it's just one of many reasons why I refuse to take them. But I think it's lowbrow and asinine to take that sort of stance on a man who, while on those prescription drugs, was still fully in command of his mental faculties, and was still driving the Left nuts.

As for double standards, Garofalo's accusation holds no water. Patrick Kennedy, retiring Democrat from the House of Representatives, has had an addiction to cocaine, an addiction to OxyContin (surprise, surprise, the same drug Mr. Limbaugh was addicted to), and has had bouts with alcoholism (just like his father, former US Senator Edward Kennedy). But in all instances of his problems we were told this was a "family matter" and "privacy" and "respect" were demanded of the Left. (A web search shows that drug and alcohol abuse isn't skipping politicians, be they liberal or conservative.) So yeah, I'm a tad offended at Janeane Garofalo's opening shot at a prominent pundit.

Now, onto the "lying" argument. This has gone on long enough. The Left accuses ANYONE on the conservative side of an argument of lying. We're all liars. They claim Bush lied us into a war in Iraq, and when they do so they completely ignore the arguments made for going into Iraq. No WMDs? Not true says the BBC. And just five days later the BBC they ran another story about US soldiers discovering a WMD program. Was it in the amounts that were touted before the UN? No, but they were there. In fact, then- Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined several reasons for invading Iraq, and they didn't all hinge on WMDs. But that never stopped the Left of lying about the reasons for the invasion of Iraq, from "getting back at Saddam Hussein for what he did to Bush's daddy" (nevermind the fact that his father kicked Saddam's @$$ in 1991), to a "war for oil" that made little sense on its face, the Left continuously lied about why we went into Iraq. No reasons were ever given, but the reason was as plain as the nose on your face when you let them talk about it, and spewed literal vitriol about a president they didn't like.

Janeane Garofalo and Rosie O'Donnell would love nothing more if people believed their insane screed that anyone on the conservative side of a debate or argument is lying. I'll tell you right now that I don't lie when I report what I see right here on this site. I don't lie. I don't manipulate the facts. I don't cherry-pick facts. I report and analyze. Guess what? So do the pundits and commentators on FOX News. MEMO TO THESE TWO IDIOTS: That's what we do! This crap that the people are being lied to just simply doesn't hold any water.

MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann have been lying to the public about how the Obama administration has been performing. These two dolts keep claiming that all is well in Obama's America despite an unemployment rate of almost 18% (REAL unemployment numbers, thank you very much), the fact that our dollar doesn't have the value it had even three years ago, and we're looking at a federal budget deficit of almost $12 trillion dollars at the end of Barry's first term in office. These two fools have been wearing the rose-colored glasses, and skipping down the path of crimson and clover for so long that they wouldn't know the truth if it came up and shook their hand. Hell, Olbermann would probably label "Truth" as the worst person in the world if he thought he could save his virtually non-existent ratings.

What's the point here? These two shrews don't have an audience that represents mainstream America. They honestly think people give a rat's @$$ about what their opinions are. No one cares. Hell, the only reason I even bring it up here is today is a slow news day, and these two fools happened to come across my crosshairs. I'd actually like to challenge these two nitwits to a live debate. I know I was warned by family members to never argue facts with an unarmed individual, but they seem to think they have a bevy of facts on their side. Let them come. If more people challenged idiots like these two, the idiots might shut the Hell up and let adults discuss issues that challenge this nation.

Publius II

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why was there even a debate on how to handle Abdulmutallab?

More CYA from the White House, no doubt, as the WaPo reveals that there was a debate over how to handle Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. And I'm forced to ask "Why was there even a debate?"

Should Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day, have been considered an enemy combatant under the law of war and placed in military detention? The same question raised by senior Republicans last week was considered during a Jan. 6 National Security Council meeting led by President Obama in the White House Situation Room.

Stop. I know that in cases of law a person charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty, but Abdulmutallab was caught, red-handed, trying to detonate an explosive device on the plane, and was subdued by passengers and the air crew. Can we please drop the "alleged" part of this terrorist's description?

The issue arose when Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. brought up the decision to continue the process to
formally charge Abdulmutallab with attempted murder and attempted destruction of an aircraft under the U.S. criminal code.

"The attorney general said, 'I'm going to charge him tomorrow,' " and "there were questions raised about whether or not he should in fact go to law of war detention status," according to the transcript of a White House background briefing for reporters last Tuesday by two senior administration officials.

Not only should he have been treated as an illegal/unlawful enemy combatant (he was determined to blow up a civilian transportation medium) but he should have been handed over to CIA interrogators.

At that NSC meeting were Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, CIA Director Leon Panetta, NSA Director Keith B. Alexander, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was not disclosed who raised the question.

Secretary Gates and Director Panetta were present at the meeting, as well as Admiral Mullen. why didn't they step up and remind AG Holder he was out of his jurisdiction in this case? The man was a terrorist. Regardless of being caught on US soil, he should have been handed over to the CIA and military for a full interrogation.

In the discussion, it was pointed out that the FBI was working the case, that it had interrogators ready and that two counterterrorism agents were already in Nigeria, beginning a background investigation of Abdulmutallab and his large family.

Two men arrested on U.S. soil were previously deemed enemy combatants -- Jose Padilla and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. Both spent years in a military brig in South Carolina, and neither ever cooperated with interrogators.

Stop. As I noted yesterday in a lengthy post refuting John Brennan's assertions Jose Padilla was arrested and charged for attempted acts of terrorism. He was read Miranda rights. Why? Because he WAS A US CITIZEN! He's entitled to that right. He wasn't transferred until after Khalid sheikh Mohammed fingered him in a plot that al Qaeda had hatched to blow up apartment buildings in Chicago, sowing fear and panic -- the ultimate goal of a terrorist in addition to a body count.

Al-Mari (correct spelling, BTW) went through a similar means of arrest. He was charged, initially, with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. But again, the information obtained in KSM's interrogation lead investigators to transfer him to military custody, and he was moved to Gitmo. I really wish the Left would quit making the comparison of Abdulmutallab to that of Padilla and al-Mari. Neither of their situations come close to what Abdulmutallab did.

One factor pointed out during the NSC discussion was that when a person is held in military detention and questioned, it inevitably involves people who wear military uniforms. Those present were told that "it was the professional, considered judgment of the individuals who had access to Abdulmutallab that putting him in front of somebody with a military uniform would have made him even more opposed to any type of cooperation," the senior administration official said at last week's briefing.

That is the most asinine thing I've ever heard. Granted, how we handle terrorists today bears little resemblance to how we handled them under President Bush. But as I noted yesterday, Abd al-Hadi (Page 59 of Marc Thiessen's book "Courting Disaster" had no problem talking to interrogators right off the bat because of the rumors he had heard about how we conducted interrogations. Fear is a surprising motivator for those who use fear as a tactic. Also, the first 24 hours of incarceration for a terrorist are key to interrogators. As I've stated, repeatedly, for the last couple of weeks during that time interrogators can determine whether or not a detainee is cooperative or combative. If they're cooperative, that's great. If they're combative, interrogators will move onto the enhanced interrogation techniques that, for the most part, the Obama administration still has in place from the bush administration. (Clarification: 80% of what we used to do has been banned, but there are still techniques we can utilize that are considered "enhanced" that could break down a terrorist's resistance.)

"Given what we can do in a military commission and what we can do in the criminal justice system, there was full unanimity on the part of the seniors [President Obama and other NSC members at the meeting] that this was the right way to go," reporters were told last week.

During last week's public debate over the handling of Abdulmutallab, administration spokesmen did not refer to their internal discussions. They also have said little about the keys to getting the 23-year-old to resume talking after his first 50-minute interview Christmas night.

"They also have said little?" Are you kidding me? They practically bragged about bringing his family here to the US to loosen his lips in the wake of the criticism the White House was facing in the face of how they handled him initially. The WaPo goes into a bit of detail about that in this piece, but in doing so they're pushing a CYA agenda for the White House.

The White House tried to work with him, and they brought his family here to get what they needed. FBI interrogators claim that the intelligence they got from him wasn't "stale" intelligence. The problem is that with the White House running out to assuage critics that they were still getting information from him, despite being mirandized and obtaining a lawyer, we basically sent a signal to his comrades to go into hiding. they're gone. They're ghosts.

That's the risk in tipping our hand. Our enemy watches our media outlets. they glean information from us that most would overlook or find mundane. When they see that a fellow confederate in our custody is talking, shortly after being caught, it sends a message to them to go to ground, and tweak their plans to avoid detection or capture. The administration is unprepared to handle the threat of our enemy, and they apparently never paid attention to how the Bush administration handled sensitive and actionable intelligence they got from interrogations.

The bush administration didn't go running to the press to tell them that A) We had obtained actionable intelligence, B) That we knew of an impending attack, and C) That a former terrorist was singing like a canary. NEVER. It tips our hand. We control how we conduct operations when we control information. Barry and his cohorts didn't do that. They played the Beltway/DC cover your @$$ game because they knew they screwed up. And they have a willing media to help them.

There should never have been a debate. The president should have issued orders on how to handle Abdulmutallab (and chances are he did), and he should've been handed over to the appropriate interrogators. There should have been a gag on what they obtained, and they sure as Hell shouldn't have told anyone they were getting more intelligence. But, what can you expect from a rookie and his supporters that just don't get how important victory in this war is.

Publius II

Michael Barone deconstructs the Obama administration

You have to respect Michael Barone. The man has spent much of his life focused on politics, especially on the national stage. His political almanac is a a part of our vast library of books, and must for any political junkie. Mr. Barone knows his stuff, and knows it cold, so when it comes to political analysis he is one of the first people we turn to. Today he pens a piece for the Washington Examiner which explains that with absolute power, Barry and his administration has simply become more stupid:

How could such smart people do so many stupid things? That question, or variations on it, is being asked in Washington and around the country about the Obama administration.

The same people who directed the campaign that defeated Hillary Clinton and routed John McCain, a campaign that raised far more money and attracted far more volunteers than any before it, have within a year come up with a legislative program that is crashing in ruins and that, to judge from recent polls, has left the Democratic party weaker than I have seen it in almost 50 years of closely following politics.

The 2008 campaign was an impressive achievement. So, in a negative way, is the 2009 legislative program that has left the Democrats in such woeful shape in 2010.

I can answer these two initial questions. First, while we'll admit that Barry and his team were smart, it was all intellectual and not real world. In other words, they had the book smarts, but they lacked the street smarts. Couple it with charisma and a weariness of Republican control for the bulk of eight years, and you had a prescription for Barry's success and the Democrats continued rout of the GOP in Congress. The answer is rather simple and elementary, but it's the correct answer to those two questions.

Some in Washington say that the problem is that Barack Obama has chosen to rely on his campaign staff rather than the wise old heads in Washington. But Obama and his team have had the benefit of advice from those wise old heads and from the smartest political strategist the Democratic party has produced in the past half-century, Bill Clinton.

A truly wise Washington analyst, National Journal's Jonathan Rauch, says the problem is one-party government. Presidents lead better, he argues, when they are constrained by the need to get bipartisan support.

There's something to that. Obama's three predecessors all had bipartisan initiatives: the 1990 tax package for George Bush 41, North American Free Trade Agreement approval for Clinton, the 2001 education bill and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit for George Bush 43. Obama has had no bipartisan initiatives of his own.

Barry, despite his campaign rhetoric, never had the goal of bipartisanship. He needed the partisan stranglehold on Congress to enact the change he believed the nation needed. Since his inauguration, since Congress began this significant lurch to the Left, the nation has suffered for its perceived idea that Barry would be a much different president. Here's a hint to those out there that get suckered by this puerile idea: Politicians lie. And Barry has done a bang-up job of doing exactly that. Recall, if you will, the initial health care debate. He kept telling people that "If you like your health insurance and you like your doctor, you can keep them." But Congress had other ideas that were contrary to that, and no one can say he didn't know that Congress was constructing legislation that would make him out to be a liar that he would gladly sign without reservation.

The fact that Democrats, from last July until last week, had a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate to go along with Nancy Pelosi's strong majority in the House seems to have tempted Team Obama to go the all-Democratic route on health care, cap and trade and fiscal policy. But even strong temptations should sometimes be resisted.

I think the problem is more basic and helps to explain why the people who put together a successful campaign have not, so far at least, provided successful governance.

Obama campaigned as someone who would rise above partisan divisions. He first attracted national attention in 2004, when our politics was a kind of culture war, by stressing what red-state America and blue-state America had in common. He campaigned in a similar vein in 2007 and 2008.

But when he came to office in 2009, the cultural issues that had occupied so much of the political landscape for a dozen years had been eclipsed in importance by the financial crisis and the deepening recession.

So Obama was faced with a fundamental choice. He could either chart a bipartisan course in response to the economic emergency, or he could try to expand government to Western European magnitude as Democratic congressional leaders, elected for years in monopartisan districts, had long wished to do.

The former community organizer and Chicago pol chose the latter course.

He chose the route of partisanship, and it's burning him and his party badly. Democrats are lashing out at each other over proposed legislation, such as the health insurance reform, and cap and trade. Even Senate Democrats are basically saying cap and trade is dead, for now. The health insurance reform looks like it's on life support (pun intended) because the GOP simply refuses to budge on the issue. Minority Leader John Boehner is willing to work with the president on a compromise bill, but he stresses the entire bill, as it stands now, should be scrapped and that Congress should start over. He's right, of course, but the Democrats whine that his request is unreasonable. The reason for the hubris of the Democrats? They wield the power, and feel they shouldn't have to negotiate. The problem is that they don't want to pass legislation that is controversial because they don't want to own it outright. They want to use the GOP as a scapegoat.

To the surprise of many who watched previous presidents present specific administration policies to Congress, he allowed Democratic leaders to design the stimulus package they rushed into law in six weeks.

One-third of the money went to state and local governments -- an obvious payoff to the public employee unions that contributed so much money to Democrats -- and much of it went to permanently increase the baseline spending of discretionary programs, a longtime goal of Democratic congressional leaders.

Federal spending was raised from about 20 percent to about 24 percent of gross domestic product, putting the United States on a trajectory to double the national debt as a percentage of GDP in less than 10 years.

Team Obama overestimated the stimulative effect of the stimulus package and underestimated the strength of the spontaneous Tea Party movement that flared up in protest of this expansion of government.

They underestimated as well the opposition to expanding government control over health care and, through the cap-and-trade bill, to the energy sector. And the disgust over conspicuous vote-buying on health care -- the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, the Labor Loophole.

Team Obama failed to realize they were no longer running in Chicago or in the Democratic primaries or facing an electorate fed up with Republicans. And, more important, they failed to realize that vastly expanding government goes deeply against the American grain -- and against the basic appeal of their successful campaign.

That is the lesson of these mistakes. The Democrats, lead by Barry, overreached in ways this nation hasn't seen since the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. It is partisan arrogance that has brought them to this point in history. They thought the political winds had shifted, based on Barry's successful election, and that the nation was ready to embrace the socialist policies and liberalism of Europe.

That's why Barry made it a point in his campaign to focus on health insurance reform, and everyone knew what he meant. Michael Barone noted a video by Verum Serum where Barry is openly advocating the same sort of health insurance system similar to Canada and the UK. In fact, if we look at much of the legislative agenda the Democrats are pushing, with Barry cheerleading them from the White House, is akin to Western European socialism. (It's a soft sort of socialism, and was planned to be incremental, hence the health insurance reform that wouldn't begin to go into effect until 2013 despite the fact the tax increases to pay for it would begin immediately.)

Instead of playing the centrist, as President Clinton urged, Barry and Company went hard left right off the bat. That was foolish. But the continued mistakes made by this administration -- from the threats of prosecuting CIA interrogators to the mishandling of terrorist incidents since his inauguration; dawdling over the troop request from General Stanley McChrystal; apologizing to the world for America's greatness, and stalwart support of freedom and democracy -- have all, literally, been stupid. They're rookie mistakes made by a man who thought he was ready to lead.

He's not leading. He's attacking, demonizing, and demeaning the American public. No wonder why his approval numbers are sitting around 48% via Real Clear Politics average. People aren't happy with him. He hasn't delivered on virtually any promise he made on the campaign trail. The unemployment rate has stabilized, for now, at around 9.7% (real unemployment numbers are closer to 18%). the stock market tried to turn around, but has seemingly stagnated at around 10,000, give or take a couple hundred points depending on what happens in the world daily; that's still down 4000 points from 2008 when this recession began.

The nation is still suffering under the weight of this recession. Hell, the world is, too. (That's how it goes, folks. When we have economic hard times, so does the world.) But the president isn't paying attention to any of it with a serious eye. He pays the nation lip service in sound bites that the sycophantic press dutifully repeats. But that won't solve our problems. To quote the president, he, Democrats, and his administration have "acted stupidly"when it came to leading America; a job they were elected to do. The curtain has been pulled back, and the public knows that the emperor has no clothes.

Publius II

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fisking the clueless, partisan John Brennan

Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security John Brennan seems to be the president's choice as an attack dog for any and all criticism regarding how the administration handled the Christmas Day bomber. He went on "Meet the Press" this past Sunday to denounce Republicans that are chastising the administration for how they proceeded in handling Abdulmutallab. He stated on the record that he personally called Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and Minority Leader John Boehner in the House, and Sen. Kit Bond and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate to inform them that Abdulmutallab was in custody. All four admit that they were informed that Abdulmutallab was in custody, but that Brennan had neglected to tell them he had been mirandized or that FBI agents were allowed only fifty minutes to question him before he was mirandized.

John Brennan took to the USA Today blog to, again, denounce critics, and make the claim that they're emboldening our enemies: (HT to Captain Ed)

Politics should never get in the way of national security. But too many in Washington are now misrepresenting the facts to score political points, instead of coming together to keep us safe.

No one is "misrepresenting" anything in this case. The Obama administration decided to treat Abdulmutallab like a common criminal instead of a terrorist. He's not, and you sure as Hell need more than fifty minutes to interrogate a terrorist who tried to blow himself up, and a plane load of innocent civilians along with him, on Christmas Day.

Immediately after the failed Christmas Day attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was thoroughly interrogated and provided important information. Senior counterterrorism officials from the White House, the intelligence community and the military were all actively discussing this case before he was Mirandized and supported the decision to charge him in criminal court.

Thoroughly interrogated? Fifty bloody minutes is a "thorough" interrogation. For the love of Pete, that's completely asinine, and utterly inept. And I'll call BS to the assertion that top intelligence and counterterrorism officials had been notified. If that were the case why did Dennis Blair (DNI), Janet Napolitano (DHS Secretary), and Michael Leiter (Director, NCTC) all testify before the Senate Select Intelligence committee that they weren't notified of Abdulmutallab's arrest? Those three people should have been notified immediately, and unless they lied to the SSIC, John Brennan is lying about who was notified. ("Lying" might be too strong a word. Maybe it slipped his mind who was notified, but he can't spin what those three told the SSIC about the Abdulmutallab case.)

The most important breakthrough occurred after Abdulmutallab was read his rights, which the FBI made standard policy under Michael Mukasey, President Bush's attorney general. The critics who want the FBI to ignore this long-established practice also ignore the lessons we have learned in waging this war: Terrorists such as Jose Padilla and Saleh al-Mari did not cooperate when transferred to military custody, which can harden one's determination to resist cooperation.

Let's start with the obvious. Jose Padilla was a US citizen who was entitled to Miranda rights. He was later deemed an unlawful enemy combatant, and moved to Gitmo. Saleh al-Mari, while not a US citizen, was captured on US soil attempting to execute a terrorist attack. The initial reaction was to mirandize him, but once Khalid Sheikh Mohammed started to explain his role in an imminent attack, he was also declared an unlawful combatant, and transferred to Gitmo. BOTH men, according to Marc Thiessen's book "Courting Disaster", did start cooperating with interrogators once they were transferred. So, again, Mr. Brennan is either uneducated about the facts, or he's lying his @$$ off.

It's naive to think that transferring Abdulmutallab to military custody would have caused an outpouring of information. There is little difference between military and civilian custody, other than an interrogator with a uniform. The suspect gets access to a lawyer, and interrogation rules are nearly identical.

Incorrect again, Mr. Brennan. While interrogation methods are similar in some respects between law enforcement professionals and intelligence officers, the interrogation conducted by military and CIA officers differ in many respects from what the FBI does. It wasn't until after the landmark Supreme Court cases of Rasul, Hamdan, and Padilla were terrorists granted more access to lawyers. Before then, their access to legal representation relied solely on lawyers from the military's JAG corps. Again, this fact is backed up by Marc Thiessen in his book. (For those wondering why I continue to cite Mr. Thiessen's book, it is the most comprehensive digest on what we actually did and allowed in interrogating terrorists, and Mr. Brennan is clearly ignorant of the facts involved.)

Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid was read his Miranda rights five minutes after being taken off a plane he tried to blow up. The same people who criticize the president today were silent back then.

Was Richard Reid initially charged with committing an act of terrorism? No he wasn't. He was charged with "interfering with the performance of duties of flight crew members by assault or intimidation". The attack was to happen on 22 December 2001, but prosecutors -- only after FBI forensic personnel testified about the explosive in his shoes -- didn't seek a grand jury indictment on terrorism charges immediately. On 16 January 2002, a grand jury handed down an eight-count indictment of Reid on terrorism charges. The terrorism charges were secondary, and it's disingenuous of Mr. Brennan to claim that he was mirandized and charged as a terrorist "five minutes after being taken off a plane ..." He wasn't. Those charges weren't filed until almost a month after his initial arrest.

Cries to try terrorists only in military courts lack foundation. There have been three convictions of terrorists in the military tribunal system since 9/11, and hundreds in the criminal justice system — including high-profile terrorists such as Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarius Moussaoui.

How can this lack foundation? The president attempted to run military commissions, and the Supreme Court said he didn't have the authority. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled that military commissions had to be specifically created by Congress, and that previous legislation hadn't created such inferior courts. (They were correct.) So the Military Commissions Act of 2006 created those tribunals, and President Bush ordered that trials begin immediately so that the 9-11 families saw justice. Those involved in the 9-11 attacks were the first to be brought before those tribunals. But thanks to their lawyers, the process was slowed to a trickle. Had their lawyers not continued to demand constitutional rights for those that didn't deserve them, we might have seen more prosecuted. And as for the "hundreds in the criminal justice system," again, that didn't happen until after the Supreme Court overstepped its boundaries in ordering that these terrorists be allowed to challenge their detainment in civilian courts. They should NEVER have been allowed acces to our court system. And, as explained above, Reid was initially charged with a non-terrorist crime. Moussaoui was initially arrested on an immigration violation on 16 August 2001. It wasn't until 11 December 2001 that Moussaoui was charged with any acts of terrorism. It's helpful to know the facts about the initial arrests, but Mr. Brennan appears to be playing fast and loose with the facts.

This administration's efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.

Only the most partisan will claim this administration hasn't taken the fight to the terrorists. Obama has done a decent job of using technology to take out high-ranking al Qaeda/Taliban members using Predator drones. To that there should be no argument. But we can't win this fight on technology alone. We need HUMINT (human intelligence) on the ground to really take this fight to our enemies, and he seems to have the same idea that President Clinton had with regard to such measures. Technology is better because it takes away the risk of casualties. (I won't go into how the RoEs -- rules of engagement -- are doing more to harm our efforts in Afghanistan than help.) As for capturing these people, where are they? Gitmo, right? And who's interrogating them? That's right, CIA and military officers. And we're getting intelligence from those people because they're being interrogated. But their interrogations last a helluva lot longer than fifty minutes, and I sincerely doubt that their lawyers are present when those interrogations take place. (Don't think for a moment that the majority of those incarcerated at Gitmo are receiveing EITs. They're not. Those are reserved for extremely high-value targets like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.)

Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda. Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill. They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community. And the notion that America's counterterrorism professionals and America's system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.

There is no fear-mongering in our criticism, nor are we fearful of our enemies. We're afraid that this administration isn't taking this war seriously, and brother does it show. Our counterterrorism officials could do this job a lot better if the Obama administration would implement the same programs that the Bush administration put in place post-9-11, but they systematically dismantled those protocols. Our civilian system of justice is wholly inadequate to handle terrorists, plain and simple. It showed in the Moussaoui trial where the man should have been sentenced to death, not life in prison. And as for our intelligence services, they'd be breathe a sigh of relief if they didn't have to watch over their shoulder for a federal prosecutor to charge them with a crime that isn't a crime.

As Marc Thiessen lays out in his book, every method utilized by the Bush administration met the legal parameters of what is and isn't torture. We didn't torture those we had in custody. We used enhanced interrogation techniques on three people -- those three were deemed unwilling to cooperate with interrogators. Once employed, they literally opened up about what they knew. We're not asking that for ALL terrorists. Abd al-Hadi (Page 59 of "Courting Disaster") was 'scared to death' of what awaited him in our custody because of the rumors he had heard of what we would do to him. He was rather cooperative based solely on those rumors. Sometimes rumors are all we need to make the terrorist cooperative and compliant.

But we didn't get a chance to use any of the lesser techniques on Abdulmutallab. The Justice Department didn't even let us start that. Fifty minutes -- FIFTY MINUTES -- with FBI interrogators is all we got. That's not a lot of time, and it's hardly enough to glean any relevant intelligence from him. but the administration claims that in weeks after his capture and arrest, they've gotten quite a bit of information from him. Why? Because they brought his family here, and supposedly they're encouraging him to talk. And how do we know this? Because the administration is bragging about it.

Great. Way to go, guys. Now his confederates are in hiding, amending their plot, and they're planning to strike us utilizing intelligence we're not privy to because a narcissistic administration would rather enjoy the accolades of their brilliance instead of rolling up a cell determined to hit us. The Bush administration never discussed, publicly, what we had learned from the terrorists in our custody, and rightly so. They knew how our enemy thought and operated. They knew that to tip their hand meant ceding the field and the information in our possession.

While Mr. Brennan's political heart is in the right place defending his boss, his brain is apparently what he sits on daily otherwise even he'd admit some mistakes were made with regard to Abdulmutallab.

For more on this op-ed that John Brennan assembled, he gets a thorough fisking from Byron York and Scott Johnson of PowerLine. Also the USA Today has an editorial that rejects Mr. Brennan's arguments.

Publius II

Monday, February 8, 2010

R.I.P. Representative John Murtha

No, we haven't had a change of heart on the man. We still think he's a worthless POS, and a man who enjoyed spending our money on wasteful projects in Pennsylvania. But the press is reporting that Representative John Murtha has passed away:

A spokesman says Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a retired Marine Corps officer who became an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, has died. He was 77.

He had been suffering complications from gallbladder surgery.

In 1974, Murtha became the first combat veteran of the Vietnam War elected to Congress. He wielded considerable clout for two decades as a leader of the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending. But frustration over the Iraq war led him to call for an immediate pullout of U.S. troops in 2005.

Murtha's congressional career was clouded by questions about his ethics — from the Abscam corruption probe in 1980 to more recent investigations into the special-interest spending known as earmarks and the raising of cash for election campaigns.

As I stated above, there is no love loss when it comes to Murtha. We didn't like him at all. In fact, we despised the man. It wasn't just his spending of money that wasn't his, but a lot of our disdain came fromt he fact he smeared his fellow Marines in the Haditha incident, despite the fact that every Marine involved had been found not guilty of the charges they were facing. This is a man that, if I had been a Marine, I would've spit on him for the dishonor he showed the Marine Corps in attacking his fellow brothers. As far as we're concerned this nation is better that he's gone.

That said, our condolences go out to his family for their loss. To them, he was probably a very good man that put his family before his own ambitions. They have a lot to deal with right now, and despite the public record of John Murtha, the family still deserves respect in their time of mourning, and they need our prayers.

Publius II

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Imminent attack, Democrat hypocrisy, and the Christmas Day bomber is talking?

I know, I know. It looks like a lot for one post, and I'll apologize ahead of time for the potential lack of brevity in this piece, but all three items are connected. Separate posts might be wiser, but I don't like spreading all of this out in three posts, so buckle up, folks.

Yesterday, intelligence officials took to Capitol Hill to let Congress know that based on recent information they had obtained (read: chatter) that an al Qaeda attack is imminent within the next three to six months:

Al Qaeda can be expected to attempt an attack on the United States in the next three to six months, senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday.

The terrorist organization is deploying operatives to the United States to carry out new attacks from inside the country, including "clean" recruits with a negligible trail of terrorist contacts, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. Al Qaeda is also inspiring homegrown extremists to trigger violence on their own, Panetta added.

The annual assessment of the nation's terror threats provided no startling new terror trends, but amplified growing concerns since the Christmas Day airline attack in Detroit that militants are growing harder to detect and moving more quickly in their plots.

"The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that Al Qaeda is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect," Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Al Qaeda is increasingly relying on new recruits with minimal training and simple devices to carry out attacks, the CIA chief said as part of the annual assessment of national threats provided to Congress by the top five U.S. intelligence officials.

Panetta also warned of the danger of extremists acting alone: "It's the lone-wolf strategy that I think we have to pay attention to as the main threat to this country," he said.

Does this come as a surprise? Not at all. In fact, I expected this change in strategy to focus on those that are a real pain in the @$$ to trace. I'd even say it's a wonder why al Qaeda has taken so long to adapt itself. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that al Qaeda has been incompetent up to this point; engaging in guerilla tactics against US and coalition forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the globe. But we need to remember that their ultimate goal is to hit the US, and it's Western allies, again; as often and as devastating as possible.

The fact that they're looking to either homegrown terrorists, like Nidal Hassan (the Ft. Hood terrorist) or those that lack any significant ties to al Qaeda shows that they are adapting their tactics. Using smaller devices (a la Jose Padilla) and random targets makes the ability to track these people is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. But the fact remains that al Qaeda is looking at ways to hit us again, and it could be within the next few months. It won't be a 9-11-like attack, that they're aware of, but it will be one that will do exactly what they want to do: utilize fear and terror to strike at America.

But before the Congress received this report, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate to accuse Republicans of "undermining national security":

Far from embracing calls for bipartisanship now that Republicans have a 41st senator, Harry Reid is acting as though he has nothing to lose and is taking down Republicans at every turn.

The majority leader opened the Senate on Tuesday with a caustic floor speech accusing Republicans of undermining national security because they had filibustered a series of high-level national security nominations. Reid — who is trailing badly in polls at home and appears to be losing control of his chamber — charged the GOP with playing “games” with homeland security.

His tirade, in which he blamed Republicans for blocking homeland security nominations while terrorists plotted domestic attacks, came a day after he told a Las Vegas talk show host that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has to “get over” his 2008 presidential loss.

“Republicans have repeatedly asked fearful families to put their concerns on hold while they score political points and play partisan games,” Reid said Tuesday. “Why? Because Republican senators refuse to let this body hold a vote on the highly capable people the president has asked to serve in those roles.”

Harry Reid's got some nerve. This is a man who claimed that the operations in the theater of Iraq were "lost," and that the surge intitiated by President Bush was a "failure" before all the troops were even in place. That sort of rhetoric undermines a mission and tears down the morale of the men and women in theater. If anyone is undermining national security, the Democrats have an eight year-plus track record of doing it.

Addiotionally, it wasn't the Republicans who decided that Nidal Hassan wasn't a terrorists (hence the "don't-jump-to-conclusions" soundbite from the president in the wake of that attack). It wasn't Republicans who demanded Abdulmutallab be mirandized and charged in civilian, criminal court. And it sure as Hell wasn't Republicans who started dismantling the interrogation program that was instituted by the Bush administration. It was the Democrats. They're the ones who decided that the interrogation program wasn't needed any longer, and the legal enhanced interrogation techniques were more of a burden than a boon to the United States. If Harry Reid wants to point fingers as to which party is undermining national security he'd better start pointing at a mirror.

Finally, Umar Abdulmutallab is supposedly talking to interrogators even after being mirandized. (I say "supposedly" because the leak comes from an anonymous source, which always raises an eyebrow.):

The Nigerian man accused of trying to use a bomb hidden in his underwear to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas has been cooperating with investigators since last week and has provided fresh intelligence in multiple terrorism investigations, officials said Tuesday. ...

In the days following the failed bombing, a pair of FBI agents flew to Nigeria and persuaded Abdulmutallab's family to help them. When the agents returned to the U.S., Abdulmutallab's family came, too, according to a senior administration official briefed on the case. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

FBI officials continue to question Abdulmutallab, working in collaboration with CIA and other intelligence authorities, the official said. Obama has received regular updates on the interrogation, according to the official.

While the interrogation continued, White House and intelligence officials quietly seethed as political rivals accused them of putting lives at risk. That criticism peaked last weekend when Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, in the weekly Republican address, accused the administration of having "a blind spot when it comes to the war on terrorism."

Collins said the administration "undoubtedly prevented the collection of valuable intelligence about future terrorist threats to our country."

Authorities had hoped to keep Abdulmutallab's cooperation secret while they continued to investigate his leads, but details began to trickle out during testimony on Capitol Hill, where FBI Director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair confirmed authorities continued to get intelligence in Abdulmutallab's case.

"It is also my understanding that Mr. Abdulmutallab has provided valuable information. Is that correct?" Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein asked.

"Yes," Mueller replied.

Mueller then confirmed that the interrogation has continued despite the fact that the suspect had been advised of his right to have a lawyer and remain silent.

Could this be true? Again, it's a possibility. In reading Marc Thiessen's new book "Courting Disaster" I've learned that several detainees started singing like canaries when they were in our custody, without the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, simply because they knew what they faved if they didn't talk. In fact, Mr. Thiessen noted that several detainees were tough nuts to crack until they were finally cracked; that is, when they reached the point they could no longer hold out, they revealed what they knew and were relived to do so. Why? Because they had been told that, to honor Allah, they were to hold out as long as possible, then instructed to tell all they knew. Consider it a sort of reaching Allah with a clear conscience, if you will. Our interrogators learned this with the questioning of Abu Zubaydah.

He confirmed to interrogators that "brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." Mr. Thiessen also notes that after being waterboarded, Zubaydah thanked his interrogators and told them "You must do this to all the brothers." The techniques lifted a moral burden from the shoulders of the terrorists. That revelation was an important discovery for CIA interrogators.

If Abdulmutallab is being cooperative, that's great. If anything he's revealed was included in the assessment given to Congress yesterday by intelligence officials, that's even better. But we'd still be happier if Abdulmutallab were at Gitmo being interrogated by the CIA as opposed to the FBI. That's not to say that the FBI can't handle it, but the CIA is better at this. (Don't believe me? Get Mr. Thiessen's book and read it thoroughly. 99% of the terrorists at Gitmo never experienced the enhanced interrogation techniques used on KSM and Zubaydah. They talked willingly just from the fear of facing those techniques, or were broken down by interrogators in a minimal amount of incarceration.)

It's time the Obama administration started to get back on offense against our enemies, and the CIA interrogation program would do exactly that. We'd be in the know, and we'd get the intelligence we need to roll up these cells and plans before they got off the ground.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: Sorry to add more to this post, but there are some relevant observations made by some people today. First, Byron York isn't buying the change in story coming from the administration:

The Washington Post, citing "Obama administration sources," reports Abdulmutallab "has been providing FBI interrogators with useful intelligence about his training and contacts since last week." The Politico quotes a "law enforcement source" saying Abdulmutallab has provided "useful, current intelligence." And ABC News, citing a "senior administration official," reports that the intelligence "has been disseminated throughout the intelligence community."

The reports represent a striking turnaround in the administration's position. Ever since the public learned that authorities had just 50 minutes to question Abdulmutallab before he was read his Miranda rights and refused to answer any further questions, the Obama administration has claimed that it had, during that brief interrogation, gotten all the information that was possible to be gained from Abdulmutallab. On Fox News Sunday January 24, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs
said that "FBI interrogators believe they got valuable intelligence and were able to get all that they could out of him." When host Chris Wallace asked, "All they could?" Gibbs answered, "Yeah."

On January 31, top White House adviser David Axelrod told Meet the Press that Abdulmutallab "has given very valuable information to the government about activities in Yemen and some of his experiences there." To emphasize the point, Axelrod said, "We have not lost anything as a result of how his case has been handled."

So just a few days ago the Obama administration claimed that Abdulmutallab had given up everything he knows. Now, they claim he is giving them fresh, useful intelligence.

The administration's new position seems to be a direct response to
bipartisan criticism of the handling of Abdulmutallab. Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill were appalled to learn that he had been questioned for just 50 minutes before being advised of his right to remain silent. The criticism started among Republicans but spread to some Democrats and threatened to spread further unless the administration addressed the issue in some way. So now comes the news that Abdulmutallab is talking again.

The news is being reported in a frankly political context. "The revelation could deflate recent Republican attacks against the Obama administration’s decision to read Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights," reports the Politico. The "senior administration official" who spoke to ABC News denounced "people with no experience and apparently less knowledge about the case and the issues involved" who "have made it a cause celebre." Other news organizations are reporting administration pushback stories as well, including reports that Abdulmutallab's treatment closely resembled that given by the Bush administration to shoe bomber Richard Reid. (Politico reports that that news "further undermined" GOP criticisms.)

And obviously administration officials that have been telling critics to shut up about this know even less about this issue, or the issue of gaining as much intelligence from captured terrorists as possible. Allow me to explain ...

The first 24 hours in our custody is the most important time for any captured terrorist. In that amount of time we learn whether or not the terrorist is open to being cooperative. Some times they are, as in the case of Abd al Hadi. When al Hadi was captured and handed over to CIA interrogators, he sang like a stool pigeon. Why? Because he had heard about what was done to detainees, and he was literally afraid of what he might endure. Twenty-four hours also gives the interrogators plenty of time to corroborate what the terrorist might admit to, and determine if he's lying or not with carefully chosen questions. At the end of the day, interrogators would know, one way or another, if they needed to continue with the less coercive methods or resort to enhanced interrogation techniques. Fifty minutes of questioning isn't even going to scratch the surface of whether a terrorist is trustworthy to give us relevant and important intelligence.

This is the number one reason why I agree with Byron York's skepticism. The administration's admission of this is suspicious, and does seem to smack of political opportunism to deflect any further criticism.

As I said earlier, he's not the only one who is skeptical of this revelation from the administration. Dana Perrino and Bill Burck have also sounded off on this admission and they are cynical to say the least:

We had to do a double take last night when we saw the news stories about the Christmas Day terrorist, Abdulmutallab. Let us make sure we’ve got this straight: The administration last week admitted that the none of the intelligence services was consulted when Abdulmutallab was Mirandized after 50 minutes of questioning and then charged as a criminal defendant. Some in the administration even claimed that those 50 minutes were enough time to get everything he knew out of him. (Yeah, right. Former CIA director Michael Hayden demolished this ridiculous idea in his Sunday op-ed in the Washington Post.)

Now the administration has begun systematically leaking to the press that he started talking again last week after FBI agents prevailed upon his family in Nigeria to convince him to cooperate.

Last week?! So, first of all: How many of his fellow terrorists have rolled up operations since Christmas Day and headed for the hills? They’ve skedaddled for sure. It’s a classic al-Qaeda tactic: hold out for as long as you can so your fellow terrorists can go underground.

But even worse is that someone in the administration is leaking this at all. How does it further our national-security interests to tell Abdulmutallab’s fellow terrorists overseas that he is informing on them? What would you do if you were one of those fellow terrorists? If you hadn’t already gone to ground, you sure would do so now.

If the administration believed it was important to reassure Congress that Abdulmutallab was cooperating, they should have done so in private in closed session with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. This kind of sensitive information is shared all the time in that way. It is bad practice to tell the world that a terrorist has agreed to spill the beans on his fellow terrorists who are still walking around free overseas. That is, of course, unless the principal motivation is to try to save political hides at home, even at the expense of actually finding the terrorists Abdulmutallab worked with.

It will be interesting to find out what kind of deal Abdulmutallab has received in exchange for his “cooperation.” Less prison time? A room with a view? Who knows?

The CIA interrogation program disbanded by President Obama produced an enormous amount of intelligence from people like KSM, according to former CIA Director Hayden. KSM most assuredly did not get a deal for his cooperation.

Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

The entire fiasco surrounding Abdulmutallab shows signs of amatuerish and inept decision-making on the part of the administration. What makes this even more suspect now is the admission from Attorney General Eric Holder that the decision to mirandize and charge Abdulmutallab was his decision alone. Pretty convenient of him to fall on his sword for the president after the president and his aides have been doing their best for the last 24 hours to spin Abdulmutallab's sudden cooperation.

My guess is that Abdulmutallab hasn't given us anything of significance. Given the fact that they're using the FBI to interrogate him instead of the CIA -- the guys actually trained to deal with tarrorist interrogations -- whatever he is giving us is outdated, at best. At worst, it's crap that won't help us in the long run. Unlike the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which gave us actionable intelligence to roll up several plots, cells, and operations, what Abdulmutallab is giving us likely equates to a wild goose chase.

Justice seems intent to save face on this, and I'm afraid they're probably out of their league. These fools would guarantee him any deal to get any information to save face despite the fact that intelligence isn't worth squat. I think it's time the white House comes clean, admits they made a mistake, and fire Eric Holder before that schmuck screws anything else up in the prosecution of this war.

Publius II