Sean LaFreniere

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Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:



Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.



Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.


Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.



Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.



Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.


The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.


The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.


Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income



Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market



Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.



Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.


Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.



Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.



Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.


Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President



Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Department Of Too Little Too Late

France Ready for Postwar Role in Iraq
06:54 PM EDT / 2:54 AM Iraq
From the Guardian via the Command Post

France is ready to join the reconstruction of Iraq and help ensure self-rule is quickly restored despite U.S. resistance to a prominent French role, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

"France wants to be present at the side of the Iraqi people,'' Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said, adding the reconstruction effort should be supervised by the United Nations.

A French diplomat, whom de Villepin did not identify, is in Baghdad to begin discussions with the various political and religious factions vying for power there, he said.

Yeah, sure Jacky, pull up a chair. Would you like Regular or Unleaded?

Sean: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 [+] |
Clearly A Suprior Post By An Adult

James Kuntsler posts a well spoken entry on the future of Iraq, its oil, and you.

Ironically, a substantial fraction of the American public misunderstands our intentions in Iraq, too. The Progressive / Anti-war / Leftist residue of my generation (the hippies) believes that the war was fought for the benefit of Exxon & Friends. While there's no doubt that America wants that Iraqi oil getting into the global market, there is no need for it to get there via American companies. There would also be not a prayer of protecting the oil extraction infrastucture from sabotage if it was owned and operated by American companies. So there was never any question that oil production would be left to the Iraqis themselves. Whether they can get their shit together to resume production is [another] question.

You might not agree with everything James writes, but at least he isnt blowing sunshine up your skirt nor doom-mongering for the sake of politics. I respect that.

Due to the phenomenon of the global oil peak having been passed around the year 2001, the US economy is unlikely to enjoy "growth" rates of between 2 and 5 percent that have been considered both normative and necessary for the past 100 years of oil-based industrialism. What's more, the United States is not much of an industrialized nation anymore, since we outsourced the making of things to other countries. What is sometimes referred to as "post-industrialism" is really a skeezy blend of suburban sprawl creation, "service" jobs, mindless motoring, and a massive financial fraud revolving around credit, much of it in the form of mortgages attached to the aforementioned suburban sprawl. The American people themselves show no sign whatsoever of apprehending the trouble we are in at home, and show every intention of trying to keep the racket going. The big questions are: How long will circumstances permit this illusion to be sustained? How much pain will Americans feel when the credit train wreck occurs? And what kind of extreme social, economic, and political behavior will be generated at game's end?

Here is another dose of anti-sunshine.

And, of course, be prepared for another terrorist atrocity because despite the clownishness of the color-coded alert system, the danger is real. This is still a free country, easy to move around in, and the world is full of dangerous small arms, explosives, contraband poisons and germs, and an inexhaustible number of lunatics aching to use them.

Doom and gloom? Or Reality?

Sean: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 [+] |
Ex-Pat, John "Its My Head, Its My Head!" Malkovich, Speaks Out Against Crazy Foreign Policy Of His New Homeland (France)

"Why should America listen to what France now has to say?"

"The French say that everybody else has a self-interest [in Iraq]. But none is more obvious than theirs. And they're absolutely blind to it."

"Sometimes ignoring other countries is the right response, I don't really care what Arab countries think. I don't trust them."

"My father was a soldier. My uncle was a soldier. And the reason - and one can't say this enough - that our parents fought and died for things is so that people can get up and shoot off their mouths about things they don't know f---all about."

"I don't really care what a lot of European countries say. I've lived in Europe for years. I have a lot of dear friends there. But if you talk about politics, I want to say, if they're so smart, why Franco? Why totalitarianism? Why fascism? Where is your humility? I just think they should be curious about their own regimes."

Amen brother. Now get back on your side of The Pond!

Sean: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Iraq's First Poll

Andrew Sullivan links to the first post-war poll inside Iraq, conducted by NDTV from India.

54 per cent of the respondents believed that America did the right thing by invading Iraq while 32 per cent felt it was wrong.

52 per cent wanted the US troops to return immediately while 43 per cent felt the they should stay on.

I was going to say more about this, but I see that Michael Totten beat me to it. Go there, read this.

Sean: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] |
Down With BBC

I always have a little time to be disgusted by BBC coverage of the Middle East. Today the Beeb reported that the new Palestinian PM and his cabinent have now been fully vetted by Lord Arafat. It was then noted that this new PM would disavow all terrorism (something Arafat never got around too?).

Then the announcer took a nice long breath and continued "There has been an explosion in the Israeli coastal town of Tel Aviv." Nice use of passive voice there Beeb. They might as well have reported: "There has been an unusualy sunny day today in Marseille." As if this has NOTHING to do with the previous story. Does the BBC think its listeners are stupid?

The print version, by tonight, is much better. Still...

Police say a Palestinian suicide bomber, who is among the dead, detonated the bomb at the cafe entrance, after failing to get past a security guard.

No, you dont say? What would happen if the suicide bomber didn't die? Would they call him a failure? Would they have to call him simply a homicide bomber? Does his death make this a more moral assault? Why?

In his first policy speech, ahead of Tuesday's vote approving the cabinet, Mr Abbas denounced violence and pledged to control militant groups and illegal weapons. But his stance was rejected by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which said it would not disarm.

What is the point of this diplomatic makeover when this organization has zero control or affect on the situation?

Before the blast, diplomatic sources in Washington said the new peace plan would be presented to Israel and the Palestinians, probably on Wednesday.

You might recall that just before this second Intefadah Israel agreed to hand over 90% of the West Bank in exhange for peace. All the while Arafat was buying new weapons from Iran and planning a year of massive attacks to commence on Nakba Day, May 15th, the anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. Why is it that the Palestinians always follow diplomatic overtures and concessions from Israel with MORE violence and not less?

Can you imagine the farce of a day when the State of Palestine takes its rotation as head of the UN Security Council while suidice bombers are killing Jewish kids on a school bus? Are there no other stateless people who have a better track record of respecting international norms, UN rules, and general human decency? We could have a state for the Kurds, Tibet, Chechnya, or Quebec. Any of these states could reasonanbly be expected to honor treaties and not threaten their neighbors. Why Palestine, why now?

Sean: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] |
Stop The Insanity, Not In My Name, Think Of The Children, All We Are Saying...

On April 16th, 2003 Argentine model, Lara Bernasconi, sat in a pool of simulated blood in Buenos Aires' lovely Bosques de Palermo neighborhood park. Bernasconi posed for the shoot as her way to protest against the war in Iraq.

What?! Have people run out of issues to latch onto, causes to define them, moral soapboxes to validate themselves? Cant this model go fight aids or speak out on eating disorders? This has gone beyond the absurd.

Not so long ago the blood on this woman's legs wouldn't be simulated and her demure posture would have been ordered at the point of a gun. As it is, her nation has moved from Iraq's past to California's future.

Now that her dictator is gone and her police defanged, she thinks it is appropriate to protest the removal of a dictator elsewhere by her display here and now? Is there no sense, somewhere in her head, of the inappropriateness of her actions?

And how come every third photo on the French or French Canadian "most viewed" Yahoo list is Ossama Bin Farking Laden, but India's is a naked chick? I thought France was the "capitol of love"? Fark Paris, my next anniversary is gunna be in Bombay.

Sean: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] |
Judicial Review

I do not know why more people haven’t followed Senator Santorum and the latest Supreme Court case involving a Texas anti-sodomy law. The end of the road for Mr. Santorum, and laws like the one in Texas, is to allow the majority to criminalize the thoughts, feelings, and private actions of any disliked minority. This might not feel like everyone’s fight right now, but it easily could be tomorrow.

At the heart of this issue is the Constitution of the United States. Some people claim that the majority has the right to pass laws criminalizing any behavior that they don’t like, especially in accord with their own religious rules and moral opinions. Some people claim that the Supreme Court has no right to judge these laws. And some people claim that rolling back the sodomy law in question, or upholding a “right to privacy”, would open Pandora’s box and make it impossible for states to regulate many other (more) nasty human actions and pastimes.

In fact, of course, Judicial Review was established as a right and duty of the Supreme Court as early as the birth of this nation. The US Constitution declares in Article 3 Section 1: ”The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court…” and in Section 2: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, arising under this Constitution, [and] the Laws of the United States [and its member states]… the Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact…”

Alexander Hamilton, a trained and practicing lawyer in the Colonies, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, a Senator, and the Secretary of the US Treasury, wrote in Federalist Paper number 78 in 1788: ''The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between two, the constitution ought to be preferred to the statute….'' And if there was any further confusion Congress made Judicial Review an explicit function of the Court in 1789.

Chief Justice Marshal wrote in Marbury vs Madison (1803) ''It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is… If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. So if a law be in opposition to the Constitution; if both the law and the Constitution apply to a particular case… the court must determine which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of judicial duty. The constitution is superior to any ordinary act of the legislature, the Constitution, and not such ordinary act, must govern the case to which they both apply.'' To declare otherwise, Chief Justice Marshall said, would be to permit a legislative body to pass at pleasure the limits imposed on its powers by the Constitution.

So we have established that the Supremes DO in fact have the right to toss out a State law that violates our Constitution. Now, does an anti-Sodomy law violate the Constitution? Yes.

The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Amendments, part of the Bill of Rights, state our personal rights and liberties under the Constitution. They make explicit that a person has the right to pursue their own ends, especially in matters of faith and conviction, and most especially on their own property.

Chief Justice Morrison Waite, concluded in 1789, the government was only allowed to pass laws restricting the rights of citizens when such actions threaten public order or safety.

And under the 5th and 9th Amendments Congress is barred from passing laws that restrict constitutional rights. And Article 3 orders the Supreme Court to disallow any such legislation..

And under the rules of Judicial Notice the burden of proving that a State law is in compliance with the Constitution falls upon the State. Texas has to show that their Sodomy law curtails no one’s rights and liberties. Or they have to prove that allowing gay people the freedom to be gay in the seclusion of their own property causes an eminent threat to the life and liberty of other Texans. I ould say that both options are just about impossible.

The 14th Amendment in this case, and in many others isn’t very useful. It was added after the Civil War as a way to resolve the dispute about the “personhood” of freed slaves and their impact on the Southern States’ representation in the House. The opening passage was supposed to restate and guarantee the rights of all citizens. But the addition of the term “due process” has only confused the entire issue. Some have read this to give the Supreme Court the right to review all State laws, which we already saw was long established. Others took it as open license to challenge all rulings of State and Appellate Courts. Oddly, few have used it to challenge Federal laws, but it would apply there too. But still others see it as opening the door to States to revoke the rights and liberties of citizens if they jump through enough hoops. This amendment needs to be edited and cleaned up. I think this entire first section can be dropped as it just restates Amendments 4 and 5.

So, if we accept that the Supremes do have the right to review a State Statuete and overturn it if it contradicts the Constitution... and if we accept that a law forbiding gay sex that occurs in private cannot pass muster as being necessitated by public saftey... then it MUST be tossed out.

Does this make it impossible to police ANY actions that occur "in private", such as in the bedroom? No, don't get hysterical, reread the above info. If a person's private actions are in any way physically dangerous or threaten the civil rights of others then the government is fully authorized to intervene and the Supremes are bound to uphold such policing. So, if you engage in non-consensual sex; or if you kidnap, bind, or harm another person; if you murder them; then you are violating their civil rights. But a gay person being gay when I dont have to watch it, or even pay it any attention, is not a case for Legislative intervention. Now, sex in a public toiolet, by anyone, gay or not, there ought to be a law!

I wrote more on this issue here.

Sean: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] |
From Andrew Sillivan: A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "What rankles Frenchmen is the decline of France relative to other European countries. France wants to be not a world power but the foremost European nation. If the present fuel debacle brings about a decline of Western Europe, France wants to make sure that it ends up sitting on top of the heap. To solve the fuel problem by force would result in a situation in which France could not play a paramount role. Hence France will urge submission to Arab dictates. It will also be for the abandonment of Israel and the cold-shouldering of the United States." - Eric Hoffer, "Before the Sabbath," written in 1975. Give the guy the reverse of the von Hoffman award.

Sean: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 [+] |
Monday, April 28, 2003
Tom Comes Clean... the Allies did the right thing in taking out Saddam

Finally we have the man on record. Tom Friedman tells us that finding WMD would be nice, but gazing upon the skull of a political prisoner left over in one of Saddam's mass graves should be enough.

Whether you were for or against this war, whether you preferred that the war be done with the U.N.'s approval or without it, you have to feel good that right has triumphed over wrong. America [Great Britain, and the other Coalition forces] did the right thing here. It toppled one of the most evil regimes on the face of the earth, and I don't think we know even a fraction of how deep that evil went. Fair-minded people have to acknowledge that. Who cares if we now find some buried barrels of poison? Do they carry more moral weight than those buried skulls? No way.

I have to agree... all the talk about sanctions was fine, it is correct that Saddam was thumbing his nose at the world body and something had to be done. All the talk about democracy is nice, they do deserve a chance and it would be nice to see a real Arab democracy in the Middle East. And the mention of increasing humanitarian aide agencies and the access of good NGO's on the ground, right on both accounts. But the only justification a person needs for this war is to look at the face of an Iraqi who lost someone to Saddam for NO GOOD REASON and realize that that man is no longer able to play that game in that place anymore. End of argument.

Sean: Monday, April 28, 2003 [+] |
Sunday, April 27, 2003
An Anglosphere Primer

A while back Andrew Sulivan turned me on to the term Anglosphere. I use it all the time now. So, here, let me explain... or rather, let James..

James C. Bennett
at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

"Over the past several years, a new term, Anglosphere, has crept into political and social discussion in the English-speaking world. This term, which can be defined briefly as the set of English-speaking, Common Law nations, implies far more than merely the sum of all persons who employ English as a first or second language. To be part of the Anglosphere requires adherence to the fundamental customs and values that form the core of English-speaking cultures. These include individualism, rule of law, honoring contracts and covenants, and the elevation of freedom to the first rank of political and cultural values.

Nations comprising the Anglosphere share a common historical narrative in which the Magna Carta, the English and American Bills of Rights, and such Common Law principles as trial by jury, presumption of innocence, "a man's home is his castle", and "a man's word is his bond" are taken for granted. Thus persons or communities who happen to communicate or do business in English are not necessarily part of the Anglosphere, unless their cultural values have also been shaped by those values of the historical English-speaking civilization.

The Anglosphere, as a network civilization without a corresponding political form, has necessarily imprecise boundaries. Geographically, the densest nodes of the Anglosphere are found in the United States and the United Kingdom, while Anglophone regions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa are powerful and populous outliers. The educated English-speaking populations of the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa and India constitute the Anglosphere's frontiers....

The Anglospherist school of thought asserts that the English-speaking nations have not only formed a distinct branch of Western civilization for most of history, they are now becoming a distinct civilization in their own right. Western in origin but no longer entirely Western in composition and nature, this civilization is marked by a particularly strong civil society, which is the source of its long record of successful constitutional government and economic prosperity. The Anglosphere's continuous leadership of the Scientific-Technological Revolution from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century stems from these characteristics and is thus likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Finally, beginning in World War I and continuing into the post-Cold War world, Anglosphere nations have developed mutual cooperative institutions. The Anglosphere potential is to expand these close collaborations into deeper ties in trade, defense, free movement of peoples, and scientific cooperation, all bound together by our common language, culture, and values."

At this point in time I am on board with the Anglosphere. I think it makes much more sense then the "diplomat's club" of the UN which represents more despots than democracies. It makes more sense then even the charade of NATO. The Anglosphere, for so long with out a name or public identity, has managed MUCH more successfully, and consistantly, to pull together in the pinch, to protect themselves, and to uphold their values.

So, if this people, this civilization, this supra-nation, is to finally say its name, (or have it said for it by the French) and show its face, can it now show its colors? What do I mean? I mean a flag, a standard, a banner.

Whoa, hold on a minute, you say? How would we ever be able to settle on something like that? You can't combine multiple flags and making a new one would be a nightmare. Oh yeah? Let me explain the Union Jack to you...

This shows the Cross of St. George, the English Flag, on the top left. In the left in the middle is the Cross of St. Andrew, Scotland's flag. When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne, thereby becoming James I of England, the national flags of England and Scotland on land continued to be, respectively, the red St George's cross and the white St Andrew's cross. Confusion arose, however, as to what flag would be appropriate at sea. Thus the two flags were joined around 1600 (and the Navy later chose to darken the blue field perhaps as a response to fading during wear). When Ireland was forcibly annexed, around 1800, a new saint's flag was created, shown at the bottom left, St. Patrick's Cross, and was added to the Union flag. But the Welsh got left out of the game. When Edward defeated Llewelyn in 1278 he merged the two kingdoms and made his son the Prince of Wales (a tradition continued to this day, the heir to the throne is always made "Prince of Wales"). So no Welsh emblem is included in the Jack. But on the bottom right, in black and gold, is St. David's Cross, a traditional flag of Wales. I chose to render it in red and white and pretend that it was added in the final version of the Union Jack.

My contribution to all this is adding the American Stars to the blue background... thus the flag of "Les Anglo-Saxons" as the French call the US and UK Allies.

One could go really overboard, adding emblems from most of the Anglosphere. The version below shows the Welsh Lion, the Irish Harp, the Australian Star, and the Canadian Maple Leaf in the cross bars. And the Indian Wheel and the New Zealand Star in the very center.

One could keep adding symbols for a long time. For elegence I prefer the Jack and Stars, myself. Feel free to copy it and use it wherever you wish. Cheers.

Sean: Sunday, April 27, 2003 [+] |
The World On Its Head

The author of Harry Potter is now richer than the Queen!?

J. K. Rowling has over 280 million pounds and is listed as 122nd richest person, while the Queen is only 133rd with a "mere" 250 million pounds.

I bet everyone is wondering who is number one?

"For the third year running, Britain's richest person is the Duke of Westminster, whose property empire, including vast swathes of central London real estate, adds up to a total fortune of £4.9 billion."

Hey, I would settle for being as well off as the Queen's jewler, dress maker, or cobbler! (I suffer from abnormally low aspirations).

Sean: Sunday, April 27, 2003 [+] |
Saturday, April 26, 2003
The Quagmire Of Democracy

“On the heels of our Second Great Victory against the Tyrant let us ponder the future of the Liberated. These people have lived under Monarchs and Despots for generations. Their first Revolution slipped directly into Terror and War. When the Allies defeated the Tyrant the first time, nothing changed for the People, Rebellion against the Tyrant was bloodily suppressed, and a new War was soon inevitable. Now that the Tyrant has finaly been banished do we expect Freedom and Liberty to take hold in the streets? The People have no experience of Liberal self rule, of Democracy. There are Priests waiting to fill any power vacuum. And the Neighbors send Agents to destabilize the new Government within Days of the Tyrants Fall. How can this end in anything but a “Quagmire” for the Allies?”

[This could easily have been] - Wellington in London in 1814 talking about France after the defeat of Napoleon I.

French history doesn't make a good model for any new democracy. Roughly 1000 years of monarchy was ended by a bloody Revolution, followed not by a few days of looting, but by years of beheadings in The Terror. The First Republic that followed lasted only a few years and was warped by an artillery officer into a "cult of personality" Empire. The militarily expansionist ruler turned on his allies, propped up petty tyrants, and made international insitutions a family affair. This regime required the English and her German allies to contain and defeat it. The Restoration of the monarchy was followed by the Second Republic, which gave way to the Second Empire, before settling into the Third Republic. But, this collapsed in a Fascist collaboration with Germany and its Third Empire. Again international military intervention from the Allies was required to bring France a Provisional Government and finally a Fourth Republic. But this was revamped by another military leader into the Fifth Republic, whose ruler has turned on his democratic allies and befriended dictators, while working to wrap Europe in a Fifth Empire, and to twist international institutions into his personal tools. Leaving the Coalition allies to wonder if there is any future in French Democracy, or is it nothing but a quagmire?

Sean: Saturday, April 26, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, April 24, 2003
What is the problem with Mr. Rick Santorum?

Mr Santorum is a Roman Catholic from Pennsylvania. He got his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh in 1981 and his JD from Dickinson University in 1986. He was elected in 1994 and won reelection in 2000 by a little more than half the vote. He voted in favor of Bush’s budget (with tax cuts), voted to compliment the President and the Armed Forces, voted in favor of Bush's energy policy (including drilling in ANWR), and voted to ban "partial birth" abortions. What’s not to love?

Well Senator Rick Santorum is now third in command of the national Republican Party. That actually puts him in line to inherit the Presidency if the terrorists get REAL lucky. And Mr. Santorum doesn’t seem to understand the US Constitution, which he should have studied in Law School and has sworn to uphold as a member of Congress. He also doesn’t appear to have much respect for his fellow citizens. And he appears to be a bigoted and prejudicial homophobe. Other than that, I think he's a stand up guy. At least his votes are consistent.

Santorum gave his enemies a mile of ammunition with this interview with The Gate:

Santorum on socialist child bearing (and bestiality): “Society is based on one thing: Children. [And children come from] monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.”

[Santorum seems woefully unaware of most of human history. In many cases monogamy was simply not economically practical. Maybe he should just check his Old Testament and note the number of wives of most characters. That's not to mention the slaves and sisters involved in a lot of sex acts and child bearing. Marriage was an institution that most people could not afford. It was reserved for men of property or rulers, to whom it was important to make sure the public knew which woman was going to bear his heirs (because there were so many illegitimate bastards coming from sex outside of marriage). In many cases homosexual sex for these men was preferred by society as a means of limiting illegitimate offspring and the often bloody wars that could result. - Oh, and equating gay sex with animal sex, that was brilliant Rick]

Santorum in a gay bedroom: “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. [They] undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family.”

[Wait, a blow job undermines society? That is SOME hummer! So its ok to be gay, its just not ok to BE GAY? Right, I think I have it now. Its not Democracts that I have a problem with, its people who vote for Democrats. Dont ask, dont tell? Be, just dont BE. Got it.]

Santorum in YOUR bedroom: “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

[Um, no. What are you smoking Rick? First, incest has no reasonable cause to be illegal, that is another issue that should hit the courts. Adultery and polygamy are essentially "property crimes", which should make a lot of feminists hot under the collar. But let us still keep in mind that murder, rape, and molestation are still crimes. And crimes of violence against others, crimes that strip the rights of others, are prohibited, even in your own home, by the Constitution and the Supreme Court. So there is no slippery slope here, (except in Rick's head). There is just the question of whether gay people should be allowed to have sex in their homes. And in several states whether a wife can give her husband a hummer and if he can use her backdoor. Tell me again how this puts society at risk? Maybe Rick is afraid that people will stay home from work for exciting sex?]

Santorum on the rights of the state: “The idea… that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that.”

[Well Rick, you can disagree all you want, it wont change the Constitution. The State does NOT have rights. Rights belong to people and the State is not a person. Citizens have rights, the state only has responsibilities and limited powers to protect those rights. For instance, if the the Persuit of Hapiness of one citizen is is imminently dangerous to other citizens nearby, like hobby bazooka enthusiasts. Again, I don’t think a hummer constitutes an imminent danger to people passing outside your home (unless you are REALLY loud).]

Santorum on your rights: “I've been very clear about that… I think there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.”

[Yes, Freedom and Liberty could burst out unfettered everywhere! There could be rampant Pursuit of Happiness in the streets. Oh horrors, call the Mullahs!]

Santorum on privacy: “If you make the case that if you can do whatever you want to do, as long as it's in the privacy of your own home, this "right to privacy," then why be surprised that people are doing things that are deviant within their own home. This right to privacy doesn't exist, in my opinion, in the United States Constitution. This right was created in Griswold. And now we're just extending it out [to the bedroom]. You say, well, it's my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that's antithetical to strong, healthy families. Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, whether it's sodomy... “

[HOW people have sex has little bearing on the overall future viability of human society. We haven’t hit a negative birth rate yet in this country. If we did, I am sure that we could induce people to procreate more. I bet some gay men would even donate sperm if you asked them real nice and handed them a Cher poster. Meanwhile, privacy is not a right that is itself listed in the Constitution, it is the outcome of rights that are. Liberty requires freedom, freedom leads to the pursuit of happiness, and when this occurs on private property the government has NO constitutional right to interfere, and that’s privacy. The only reason to allow the government to become involved is if the acts you are committing violate the rights of others. Again, I can’t see how my spanking my wife interferes with your pursuit of happiness. Unless... did you want to watch Rick?]

Santorum on the role of the Supreme Court in American jurisprudence: “I would make the argument that with President, or Senator or Congressman or whoever. I would put it back to where it is, the democratic process. If New York doesn't want sodomy laws, if the people of New York want abortion, fine. I mean, I wouldn't agree with it, but that's their right. But I don't agree with the Supreme Court coming in.”

[Santorum doesn’t appear to grasp how our legal system works, which seems strange for a lawyer, (or does it?). The Supreme Court works on precedent and interpretation. It is specifically authorized by the Constitution to keep our legislature from passing laws that trample on our rights and liberties.

[editor's note, the following section was mangled by Blogger and has been imperfectly corrected... sorry]

Rick implies that the SC “created” the right to privacy in Griswold Vs. Connecticut 1965. In fact, the judges cited previous cases to clearly explain that privacy is an outcome of our Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties.

Marbury v. Madison 1803, Chief Justice Marshall concluded that the First Amendment absolutely prohibits government efforts to restrict beliefs and only allows the state to interfere with practices when these acts threaten public order or safety.

Cantwell v. Connecticut 1940, Justice Roberts noted that right of belief, is more than the right to claim a belief, it includes the right to act (or not act) upon this belief.

Board of Education v. Barnette 1943, Justice Jackson concluded that the State could not force either blief or action.

NAACP v. Alabama. 1958, Justice Douglas explained that citizens had the "freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations." And the disclosure of membership lists “entailed the likelihood of a substantial restraint upon the exercise… of their right to freedom of association."

The court held that freedom of association is a form of expression of opinion; and while it is not expressly included in the First Amendment its existence is necessary in making the express guarantees fully meaningful. In other words, the First Amendment has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion.

The judges wrote:
The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various guarantees create zones of privacy.

The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen.

The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy.

The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."

The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment.

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were described... as protection against all governmental invasions "of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life."

The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

We have had many controversies over these penumbral rights of "privacy and repose." These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition here is a legitimate one.

I found the concuring opinions of Goldberg and Brennan went straight to the point of enumeration and personal rights:

"The Court stated many years ago that the Due Process Clause protects those liberties that are "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental. The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Amendment is almost entirely the work of James Madison. It was introduced in Congress by him and passed the House and Senate with little or no debate and virtually no change in language. It was proffered to quiet expressed fears that a bill of specifically enumerated rights could not be sufficiently broad to cover all essential rights and that the specific mention of certain rights would be interpreted as a denial that others were protected. "

Listen, the right to privacy is not listed in the US Constitution because the US Constitution cannot possibly list all the things that a citizen has the right to do, the Right to Sleep, the Right to Yawn, the right of Pro Basketball Players to “rearrange their package” before a free-throw, the list would be endless.

Instead the constitution grants us all vast personal freedom, this is called Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and gives us a place where we are sovereign, not the government, this is called Property.

The Constitution allows Congress to raise an army, declare war, levy taxes, negotiate trade pacts and treaties, mediate interstate trade disputes, and pass a few laws to maintain peace, safety, and order.

But the constitution does not allow Congress, by whatever majority, to legislate the private sex acts, literally Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, of citizens within their Property.

It doesn’t matter what Senator Rick Santorum thinks about the purpose of society being solely the squeezing out of pups. It doesn’t matter if Rick is afraid that gay people enjoying private pleasures might encourage other gay men to skip trying to fake a traditional nuclear family and simply be gay. It doesn’t matter if Rick thinks of gay sex and sex with dogs as the same thing.]

Now Rick went and opened his mouth again regarding a pending Supreme Court case, Lawrence Vs. Texas. In this case two gay men were caught having sex in their own bedroom after the neighbors phoned in a false weapons charges - to make sure the police would barge right on in (yes they did get cited for making false accusations) and catch them.

Texas is one of the few states (mostly Southern, like Alabama, where a woman has to drive across the state line to purchase a "back massage device") which has yet to repeal sodomy laws ("sodomy" usually includes oral and anal sex between same sex couples, but many laws are written to cover any act that isnt penis into vagina intercourse, even a wife patting her husband on the bum).

Rick warned us that allowing people to have sex as they please in their own homes leads to social chaos. He argued that none of us have the right to privacy and giving gay people this right will lead to other criminal acts. Now gay people, and people who don’t necessarily hate gay people, want Santorum tossed out on his ear.

Now that Rick has deviated from public opinion on privacy, sex, and the right of gay people to be gay, I bet he will soon be wanting his privacy back [smirk].


Minnesota Recognizes Right of Privacy (February 2003)
John W. Provo of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand, LLP: In a landmark decision expected to have far-reaching consequences for businesses that collect and use personal information about their customers, patients, employees or consumers, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled recently that Minnesota should join a vast majority of states that recognize a civil cause of action for "invasion of privacy." The Minnesota Supreme Court stated that "The heart of our liberty is choosing which parts of our lives shall become public and which parts we shall hold close."

Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974 (September 1998) Department of Justice: A discussion of the Privacy Act's disclosure prohibition, its access and amendment provisions, and its agency record keeping requirements. Prepared by the Office of Information and Privacy in coordination with the office of management and budget. States that the government must protect the privacy of information submitted by persons applying for school, loans, or other government programs.

Etymology: from Latin de- + via way
Date: circa 1633
intransitive senses
1 : to stray especially from a standard, principle, or topic
2 : to depart from an established course or norm

from Latin privates not in front of
Date: 15th century
1 a : the quality or state of being apart from company or observation, freedom from unauthorized intrusion (one's right to privacy)
2 :archaic : a place of seclusion

US Constitution

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No Person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment XIV
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Sean: Thursday, April 24, 2003 [+] |
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Sean: Thursday, April 24, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Packaging Peace

I guess there is some sort of competition for anti-war sloganeering going on out there. Haven't they got the message that the war already happened? Didn't they see the footage of Iraqi's thanking US Marines and only complaining that it took them so long? Didn't they read about CHILDREN being released from Saddam's prisons? What, these folks want the US Army to put them BACK?!

Oh well, have a gander...

Missing Your Own Point, Part 98

The T-shirt reads "Did you know that 50% of Iraqis are under 15?" These people seem unable to even ask the question... "WHY?"

Answer: Saddam killed off all the adults in wars with Iran, in wars with the US, in bloody putdowns of popular uprisings, in ethnic cleansing, in simple political murders! DUH!

Who's Your Daddy?

Sometimes I have to ask what planet some "aPeaceniks" live on. Did the maker of this one think these children lived in a place like Iowa before the war? Did they believed that the kids were "in possesion" of the country before the US Army came? Do they really believe that Saddam loved all the children? Oh yeah? Read the Human Rights Watch paper here and the US State Department report here.

The Commercialization Of Peace?

I kept looking for the Eddie Bower logo on this one. Does Ghandi have his own line of jeans? Isnt this the label design for Jones Soda? What are they selling? Oh, right, "peace". I find it disquiting to see Ghandi in such a SLICK poster, makes me shiver.

Chose Peace, And/Or Die

This one kindly reminds us all that peace is simply a choice, like Pepis over Coke. Choose peace and a smile. Well, sometimes peace looks like mass grave just outside the capitol (pick your country, Tibet, Chechnya, Sierre Leon, Kosovo, Nigeria, Iraq....).

What, you mean if you decide that you like peace it will just come to you. Right. "Listen Alexander, I know you dont agree with Stalin puttin you in the gulag, but I've chosen peace see, so I cant help".

I have been known to purchase a few adbuster magazines myself... I'd like to think that I am in tune to the point these people are trying to make.

What bothers me here is that we have a confusion of medium and message. When "anti-war" becomes merely another commodity, that can be packaged in a slick poster and sold to a poseur-set of Lefties, hasn’t the message been rather undermined? How much commodification can anti-establishmentarianism stand before it becomes worthless? Don't these anti-ads also train people to purchase mindsets in the same manner as a burger and fries?

The peace movement needs a serious reevaluation. Peace is NOT a simple choice, it is not a brand name, it is not a black and white moral picture postcard. Sometimes justice is more important than peace, and some times it isn’t. Sometimes a war that you feel is "just for oil" turns out to ALSO free thousands of children from dank prisons, reunite husbands and wives, and give parents answers to old mysteries of pain.

We should be teaching the children of the West to make SERIOUS moral choices, to weigh issues, to look for unintended consequences. Instead the so-called "peace movement" has reduced all political issues to sound bites and turned civil disobedience into an extreme sport. I detest this.

Sean: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 [+] |
Sunday, April 20, 2003
The Battle Of The Librarians

The Philidelphia Inquirer reports that librarians around the nation want to protect your privacy, lawyers for the ACLU want you to know how your government has been attacking your Constitutional rights, and some people in Congress want to fix things.

"Librarians in Santa Cruz, Calif., have begun shredding records daily. In Killington, Vt., and Skokie, Ill., they're posting warning signs. In Calais, Maine, they're passing out leaflets. In Pennsylvania, five Philadelphia-area library systems [are moving] into collaboration. Next month, they will team up for a workshop on protecting patron privacy... "We're going to be taking a look at information we should be shredding on a daily basis..." said Bucks County's O'Rourke, one of the organizers."

What's gotten the librarians so freaked out? The so-called "USA Patriot Act".

Actually titled "UNITING AND STRENGTHENING AMERICA BY PROVIDING APPROPRIATE TOOLS REQUIRED TO INTERCEPT AND OBSTRUCT TERRORISM ACT," the bill was passed just weeks after the Sept 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in N.Y. and D.C.

The Patriot Act gives the government broad powers to access private and business records and to conduct secret surveillance as part of any foreign-intelligence investigation.

Under the Patriot Act, federal law-enforcement officials seeking to seize library records or trace e-mail no longer have to go to open court and show probable cause. They may now go to a secret court to get a judge's order. And they need only certify that what they are requesting is "relevant".

The librarians are calling this a constitutional assault.

"It's important to appreciate the core values this country is built on, like freedom of information," said Jan O'Rourke, adult-services coordinator at the Bucks County Library. "And I think the library is at the forefront of protecting those values - especially in difficult times." The American Library Association passed a resolution calling sections of the Patriot Act "a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users”.

Want to know how this act is being used? Sorry, the Act protects itself from just such inquiry.

"The American Civil Liberties Union was rebuffed when it tried, under the Freedom of Information Act, to get statistics on how many times the FBI has used the new surveillance powers. The ACLU has filed suit against the Justice Department to try to get those numbers.

"Once agents show up at their door, libraries are subject to a strict gag order. Other than the library's lawyer, said Emily Sheketoff, director of the ALA's Washington office, "they [the libraries] can't tell anyone they even got this court order. They can't tell the mayor or city council -or even their library board - or they'll go to jail."

However, the Act is finally getting renewed attention in Congress.

"This is very sweeping language," Rep. Bernard Sanders (Ind., Vermont) said of the law. Sanders, who voted against it, said there was almost no deliberation on the bill before it was passed. "Not a lot of members of Congress read it," he said.

To amend what he sees as some of the law's excesses, Sanders is sponsoring the Freedom to Read Protection Act, which would bar library- and bookstore-record searches unless there was evidence of a crime. His bill, which has 68 cosponsors, would also lift the gag order.

But the government is stonewalling.

”F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R., Wis.), the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Justice Department, told the Associated Press in an interview this week that the Justice Department was sharing so little information, he could not assess how the Patriot Act was working.

The Justice Department's Corallo said the law bars the Justice Department from releasing data on how the Patriot Act is being used. He dismissed concerns about the secrecy of the FISA court. "They always have to have a bogeyman," Corallo said of the critics. "They say: 'Oh, it's a secret court.' But these are all federal judges who are sworn to uphold the law."

Corallo's words don't assure ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer. From 1978 to 2001, when the Patriot Act went into effect, he said, the FISA court heard about 15,000 requests for surveillance and did not turn down one. "These provisions can be used to go on a fishing expedition. They can say, 'We want to know which people borrowed books on buildings, bridges, or radical Islam,' " Jaffer said."

I don't care how nice a guy the judge is, or what boy scout oath he swore, this nation's government is SUPPOSED to be built on mutual lines of cross accountability. With out it our government is not immune to the corruption of power. They WILL go overboard with the spying, they will even think they are doing it for your own good.

”The Free Library of Philadelphia's director, Elliot Shelkrot: "[Of course,] Libraries don't want to be safe havens for terrorists. But our history is much too replete with actions being taken against people, [like] intimidation and incarceration."

Shelkrot pointed to the civil rights era and the FBI's role in investigating activists, among them the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "A lot of people were being accused of being anti-American and fomenting uprising. But they were talking about righting wrongs in society.”

Shelkrot said he was worried about the law's effect on intellectual pursuit. “People expect that what they use at the library is nobody else's business. If they can all of a sudden have their records examined because of some allegation, it presents a situation where Big Brother is watching you.”

Well, I agree with the librarians. I find much of the "Interception Act" is in fact, unpatriotic and unconstitutional. And it needs to be challenged everywhere it goes.

The Act was railroaded into place by the executive branch via a frightened and politically greedy Congress. As Representative Sanders noted, most Congressmen didn't even read the bill. Voting for this bill was akin to running out and saying the pledge after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. They did it for the photo-op and ready-made political brownie points - no matter that the judge was technically, legally, and constitutionally correct.

Under the cover of your own patriotism these politicians damaged the Constitution itself. Some did this on purpose, as the convenient acronym (USAPATRIOT Act) for the bill implies. And they don't have to pay for the damage done to our democracy because the electorate they represent is largely asleep at the television, scared silly, or isn't voting anyway.

Jefferson said: "I would rather have a Free Press and no government than a government and no Free Press". Part of Jefferson's assumption was that the Press would have free access to information on the government and be able to report this to participating voters. The "Interception Act" destroys free access and accountability, giving only the government free access on YOU and making only YOU accountable to the government.

In a nation, run "of, by, and for" the police and not the citizens, it is the system that is being protected rather than you. Anytime a police agency only has to prove that spying on you would be "relevant" to their investigations and that it would be "interesting" to know about your private habits and thoughts, then you live in a police state. When a “secret court” is hearing evidence against you, then you live in a corrupt police state. And when the statistics on such methods are kept secret, for your own good, then you live in a totalitarian corrupt police state.

I don't mind READING a Kurt Vonegut novel, but I don’t want to LIVE in one!

(hat tip to Mark Dobie)

Sean: Sunday, April 20, 2003 [+] |
Friday, April 18, 2003
How Iraq Saved The US Army

VDH reminds us that the US Army is as vital as ever and gives evidence that the "rumsfeldian revolution" of the US armed forces may be well on its way:

"It was not just that we had air superiority and 70 percent of the ordnance dropped was "smart." Rather the bombs were "brilliant" in that they were so accurate that they could target individual headquarters, houses, even artillery pieces, tanks, buses, and trucks. Most Republican Guard divisions were not 50 percent disabled by air attacks, but more likely reduced to only 20 percent of their original combat efficiency. When 1,000 Coalition planes were in the sky, coupled with Army Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, and thousands of munitions often directed to precise locations by ground spotters, infantry obtained the auxiliary power of several traditional armored divisions.

But it would be a mistake to suggest that the army is somehow passé. Indeed, Iraqi Freedom has done more than anything in recent memory to enhance the reputation of land forces — 101st and 82nd Airborne, special forces, 3rd Mechanized Infantry — as they organized an entire front, parachuted in the darkness, fought house-to-house, and rolled like Patton to Baghdad. Thus it was precisely the liberation of the Army from its traditional roles that has made it even more vital to our national defense.

More importantly still, the old idea of separate branches of the military is itself becoming obsolete. It is not just that there are Army, Marine, and Navy pilots or that Seals and Air Force controllers fight on land. Rather there is such instantaneous integration between land, air, and sea forces that it is hard to sort out who is doing what when enemy tanks explode out of nowhere, GPS-guided bombs go into the windows of Baathists, and special — forces hit teams take out generals before they can order counterassaults.

But the lethality of the military is not just organizational or a dividend of high-technology. Moral and group cohesion explain more still. The general critique of the 1990s was that we had raised a generation with peroxide hair and tongue rings, general illiterates who lounged at malls, occasionally muttering "like" and "you know" in Sean Penn or Valley Girl cadences. But somehow the military has married the familiarity and dynamism of crass popular culture to 19th-century notions of heroism, self-sacrifice, patriotism, and audacity.

The result is that the energy of our soldiers arises from the ranks rather than is imposed from above. What, after all, is the world to make of Marines shooting their way into Baathist houses with Ray-Bans, or shaggy special forces who look like they are strolling in Greenwich Village with M-16s, or tankers with music blaring and logos like "Bad Moon Rising?" The troops look sometimes like cynical American teenagers but they fight and die like Leathernecks on Okinawa. The Arab street may put on shows of goose-stepping suicide bombers, noisy pajama-clad killers, and shrill, masked assassins, but in real battle against gum-chewing American adolescents with sunglasses these street toughs prove to be little more than toy soldiers.

By the same token, officers talk and act like a mixture of college professors and professional boxers. Ram-road straight they brave fire alongside their troops — seconds later to give brief interviews about the intricacies of tactics and the psychology of civilian onlookers. Somehow the military inculcated among its officer corps the truth that education and learning were not antithetical to risking one's life at the front; a strange sight was an interview with a young officer offering greetings to his fellow alumni — of Harvard Business School. So besides a new organization and new technologies, there is a new soldier of sorts as well."

Hansen also offers several critiques and a moral warning about this new military... go read it!

Sean: Friday, April 18, 2003 [+] |
What Happened To Sahaf?

From The Guardian:

It may well be the ultimate in spin from the Iraqi minister of information, but this afternoon there are reports circulating that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf has committed suicide.

Two Iranian newspapers today published reports of the minister's demise, which came from Iraqi refugees who took shelter at Iraq's borders near the Iranian town of Dehloran over the past week.

The Iranian newspaper Mardomsalari and Iran's Arabic newspaper, Al Wifaq, both carried claims that al-Sahaf hung himself a few hours before Baghdad fell to US forces on April 9.

However, the refugees did not provide any source to confirm the claim.

But White House press secretary Ari Fleischer yesterday said the US government believed former Iraqi leaders, including deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz and al-Sahaf, may be hiding in Syria.

This would be very sad. The world will be a poorer place for the loss of this man’s dramatic gifts. Sahaf should have gotten his own late night TV show. He could have sworn every night that “There are no actors in Hollywood. None. They have all committed suicide at the city gates.” That would have been partially true, of course. And kept people driving around the city looking for them gates. Seriously though, this IS kinda sad, know what I mean?

Sean: Friday, April 18, 2003 [+] |
What Is Wrong With France?

The news from France is "more and more Muslims".

The French government has reached a formal agreement over representation with the five-million-strong Muslim community.

The Conseil Français du Culte Musulman will hold its first elections on 6th and 13th April. In theory it will limit its activities to religious matters. In practice it is hoped that its influence will be much wider. It is 23 years since Prime Minister Raymond Barre first proposed the idea.

Danger of a breakdown in negotiations came from fears among Muslims themselves of too big a say being given to the fundamentalists of the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France - UOIF. The pressure for agreement came from a French government increasingly anxious to integrate Muslims with the rest of French society.

Islam is now the second religion of France, ahead of the 800,000 Protestants, 700,000 Jews and 400,000 Buddhists. The number of practising Muslims is reckoned to be around a million. As official statistics regarding religious beliefs are forbidden in France the numbers are a little vague.

The Muslim religion first established itself with the massive wave of immigrant workers from the Maghreb, West Africa and Turkey in the 1960s. They were joined by their families in the 1970s. About half of these immigrants now have French nationality, as do a high proportion of their children, born and brought up in France.

The Haut Conseil à l’Intégration published a report in December 2000 in which they calculated that there were 2,900,000 Muslims from North Africa of which 1,550,000 were from Algeria, 1,000,000 from Morocco and 350,000 from Tunisia. In addition they estimated 315,000 from Turkey, 250,000 from West Africa, 100,000 from the Middle East, 100,000 Asiatics and 100,000 others. To which must be added 40,000 converts and 350,000 seeking asylum from Muslim countries.

The Ministry of the Interior states that there are 900 Imams and 1,500 mosques financed mostly from abroad by Algeria, Morocco and the Gulf States.

There are about 50 million people in France today. 5 million are immigrant Muslims. This community... like all impoverished peoples around the world... has a very high birth rate. Meanwhile, ethnic Gauls are dying off, with a flat or negative birth rate... like all wealthy peoples... and an aging population. Soon France will be less and less French and more and more Muslim.

Talk about a "fifth column"? In France it is more like columns one through eight! Is it any wonder then that France cant pick a side in the War On Terror?

Sean: Friday, April 18, 2003 [+] |
Water flowing in all the Taps in Baghdad
So says the Red Cross. From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Red Cross spokesman Roland Huguenin-Benjamin says most areas now have some sort of water supply.

He says he expects this to improve in coming days.

"As of today there is water flowing in all the taps in Baghdad," he said.

Sean: Friday, April 18, 2003 [+] |
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Dissedent Frogmen Naval Gazing

Europundits translates Le Monde and finds its Le Merde... Nelson's comments:

"The second Gulf War has been a wonderfully revealing incident. An outbreak of anti-Semitism and ethnic hatred, an economic and social crisis, the desecration of a British military cemetery, the beating up of Jews and Iraqi opposition during the great “peace” marches, an alliance…with the unsavory Vladimir Putin, butcher of Chechnyans, the reception of the African despot Robert Mugabe in Paris, public insults directed to Eastern European countries who committed the sin of not slavishly obeying us—our great nation is not in the process of writing its most glorious page in the Book of History."

Sean: Thursday, April 17, 2003 [+] |
The Command Post has had a major makeover

What are you waiting for? Get over there!

Sean: Thursday, April 17, 2003 [+] |
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Our (Saddam's) Friends The Russians

The Telegraph reports that Russia happily did Saddam's dirty work even days away from war with the West.

Top secret documents obtained by The Telegraph in Baghdad show that Russia provided Saddam Hussein's regime with wide-ranging assistance in the months leading up to the war, including intelligence on private conversations between Tony Blair and other Western leaders. Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.

Come on W, tell me about Putie's soul!

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Is Syria Next?

Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, will we see these portraits burning next?

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Iraq's Political Reality

The old regime workers now work for US, is this good or bad?

US Marines and Baghdad police officers on joint patrols.

Now everyone works for the press at the Palestine hotel... everyone.

Meet Bob, your new dictator.

Evidently Saddam hated EVERYONE... anti Semitic literature looks an awful lot like a bad sketch of an Asian… no?

Iraqi cleric calls for separation of mosque and state.

People might have wondered why some soldiers, apparently US Marines, wore ski masks when searching the Palestine Hotel for snipers... the answer... they were probably like this man... a Free Iraqi Force soldier... masked to avoid being targeted later for working with the US. Make up your own mind on this one.

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Back To Reality America!

James Kunstler reminds us all that we are STILL gunna run out of oil sooner or later and our economy has been gutted and put on an oil iv drip. We have very little left in the way of major manufacturing... the world's largest dry dock was removed from Portland, OR and shipped lock stock and barrel to Bermuda, our major steel foundries were shipped to Korea, our auto plants are out dated (and owned by the Germans), and most of us work (if at all) at Mcdonalds. Meanwhile our major industry in America is building the suburban environs of culdesacs and strip malls which all REQUIRE oil to operate. Stabilizing the Mid East, if we have/will do this, will only stave off the inevitable for a short while. Read down a few links, its worth it.

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Iraqi Sports



Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Our (Saddam's) Friend The French

MSNBC Reports: France, Russia, and Germany have been violating UN sanctions with illegal arms sales up to this last year. That is right, sanctions they approved. Sanctions impossed by their beloved UN. The UN is a joke, as are these countries.

"LT. GREG HOLMES, a tactical intelligence officer with the Third Infantry Division, told NEWSWEEK that U.S. forces discovered 51 Roland-2 missiles, made by a partnership of French and German arms manufacturers, in two military compounds at Baghdad International Airport. One of the missiles he examined was labeled 05-11 KND 2002, which he took to mean that the missile was manufactured last year. The charred remains of a more modern Roland-3 launcher was found just down the road from the arms cache. According to a mortar specialist with the same unit, radios used by many Iraqi military trucks brandished MADE IN FRANCE labels and looked brand new. RPG night sights stamped with the number 2002 and French labels also turned up. And a new Nissan pickup truck driven by a surrendering Iraqi officer was manufactured in France as well.

U.S. soldiers who moved into one of Saddam’s sumptuous palaces found a treasure house of less-deadly French goodies. Sets of Baath Party-logo silverware were marked MADE IN FRANCE on the back. And the palace was littered with the French cigarette brands Gauloise and Gitane. There were even packages of white French underwear.

Political conservatives on Capitol Hill are already fuming at this new evidence of possible French perfidy, though French officials deny wrongdoing. A French Embassy spokeswoman insists that the Roland-2 missile was an old model which the manufacturer stopped making years ago, though she admits the Roland-3 is a newer model. She says the Chirac government’s position is that new goods from France found in Iraq were probably illegal deliveries that Saddam purchased."

But This Kind Of Perfidy Catches Up With You Eventually

The Age reports that Australian PM wants to revoke France's permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Wants to substitute Japan and India. I agree with him. I also think we need a S American nation as well. And the general requirement for perm Sec Council seats should be DEMOCRACY... DUH!!! Oh, and also yank China's seat and do a revue of Russia while you are at it.

"Prime Minister John Howard wants to reform the United Nations, saying the presence of France as a permanent member of the Security Council "distorts" the council.

He wants Japan, a South American country and India to be represented on the Security Council. France was there only because it was a global power at the end of World War II, he said.

Asking France or any other permanent member of the Security Council to voluntarily surrender their seat was "a major undertaking", he conceded.

His comments risk the ire of France before the first visit to Australia by President Jacques Chirac, who is due in the country in July.

France angered the war coalition nations with its strong opposition to a second UN resolution backing military action. Once the troops went into Iraq, President Chirac was a vocal opponent of the war.

Mr Howard offered a compromise, which he said would make the UN more representative of the modern world - three levels of Security Council members, the permanent members, the rotating members and a new group of permanent members that had no veto. It would be "a far better expression of world opinion", he said."

Thanks to Lil Green Footballs...

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
How The Tyrant Lives

A Baathist Bedroom

Saddam's tacky bedroom

Saddam's private zoo (yes, that is him, gloved to pet a tiget cub).

Saddam's Mac Daddy Weaponry

Saddam's private Iraq, not for citizens, dictators only.

How The People Live

Iraqi hospital room

Iraqi woman enjoy the highest fashion scene.

Getting drinking water from a foul ditch.

Clamoring for food.

This poor boy would be playing soccer if Saddam had "done the honorable thing" and left the country he abused to death.

Sean: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 [+] |
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
I Think We Got Our Turkey Back

Poor Man notes:

"While what the fall of Baghdad means for the world is being discussed across the Middle East and the West, it seems that, in at least two places, the meaning is quite clear."


Iran's former president offered Saturday to help restore ties with the United States, throwing his weight behind the idea of a referendum for the first time as hard-liners in the country nervously watch U.S.-led forces take control of neighboring Iraq. Hashemi Rafsanjani was quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency as saying that the question of restoring ties could be resolved through a referendum or by sending the question to the powerful advisory body he heads.

And North Korea:

In a policy shift, North Korea said today that it would negotiate its nuclear program without sticking "to any particular dialogue format" if the United States changed its stance on the issue.

The new policy signals an end to a six-month insistence on two-way talks with the United States, and comes days after the fall of Iraq's government, a part, along with Iran and North Korea, of what President Bush has called an "axis of evil."

Add to that Syria agreed to police its border with Iraq and SWEARS it aint got no WMD, nor no daggan Saddam neitha.

Fine, fine, just so long as you read us loud and clear.

Sean: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 [+] |
Monday, April 14, 2003
Utopian Media

Victor Davis Hansen once again cuts through all the media BS to find a message amongst the news.

"There is something profoundly amoral about this. A newsman who interviewed a state killer at his convenience later revisits a now liberated city and complains of the disorder there. A journalist who paid bribe money to fascists and whose dispatches aired from Baghdad in wartime only because the Baathist party felt that they served their own terrorist purposes is disturbed about the chaos of liberation. Now is the time for CNN, NPR, and other news organizations to state publicly what their relationships were in ensuring their reporters’ presence in wartime Iraq — and to explain their policies about bribing state officials, allowing censorship of their news releases, and keeping quiet about atrocities to ensure access."

Check him out here.

Sean: Monday, April 14, 2003 [+] |
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Connecting The Dots

This article tells us about extreme PLO hit man Abu Nidal who was sheltered by Saddam in Baghdad until recently. Abu Nidal was murdered on the orders of Saddam Hussein after refusing to train al-Qa'eda fighters based in Iraq as the US was closing in on Saddam.

"According to reports received from Iraqi opposition groups, Abu Nidal had been in Baghdad for months as Saddam's personal guest, and was being treated for a mild form of skin cancer.

While in Baghdad, Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Banna, came under pressure from Saddam to help train groups of al-Qa'eda fighters who moved to northern Iraq after fleeing Afghanistan. Saddam also wanted Abu Nidal to carry out attacks against the US and its allies.

When Abu Nidal refused, Saddam ordered his intelligence chiefs to assassinate him. He was shot dead last weekend when Iraqi security forces burst into his apartment in central Baghdad. The body was taken to the hospital where he had had cancer treatment.

Iraqi officials claimed that Nidal shot HIMSELF four times in the head.

The Iraqi authorities later claimed that Abu Nidal had killed himself when confronted with evidence that he was involved in a plot to overthrow Saddam.

"There is no doubt that Abu Nidal was murdered on Saddam's orders," said a US official who has studied the reports. "He paid the price for not co-operating with Saddam's wishes."

Last week, American intelligence officials revealed that several high-ranking al-Qa'eda members had moved to northern Iraq where they had linked up with Iraqi intelligence officials.

It now transpires that Saddam was hoping to take advantage of Abu Nidal's presence in Baghdad to persuade him to use his considerable expertise in terrorist techniques to train al-Qa'eda fighters.

Abu Nidal worked closely with Saddam during the late 1970s and early 1980s to carry out a number of terrorist outrages in the Middle East and Europe, including the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to London in 1982.

In recent years, Abu Nidal, who has been ill for many years, had scaled down his terror operations.

With the prospect increasing of the US launching a military campaign to overthrow Saddam, however, the Iraqi dictator was keen to combine Abu Nidal's expertise with the enthusiasm of al-Qa'eda's fanatical fighters to launch a fresh wave of terror attacks. In this way, Saddam hoped to disrupt Washington's plans to overthrow him."

This article, and this one, have the scoop on an Al Queda leader, Abu Mussab Zarqawi, who opperated out of Baghdad until sometime this year.

"After al Qaeda and the Taliban were ousted from Afghanistan, Zarqawi, a Jordanian national, established a camp in northeastern Iraq to train terrorists in using explosives and poisons, Powell said.

The camp is in the northern Kurdish area of the country, outside the control of the Iraqi regime, but Iraq has kept track of events there by infiltrating Ansar al-Islam, a radical Islamic group that controls the area, Powell said.

Zarqawi also has been sighted in Baghdad, Powell said. He traveled to Baghdad for medical treatment last May, staying there for two months "while he recuperated to fight another day," Powell said.

Al Queda's manin Baghdad, Abu Mussab Zarqawi.

During Zarqawi's stay in Baghdad, nearly two dozen of his associates set up a base of operations in the capital to move people, money and supplies throughout the country, said Powell. "They've now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months," Powell said.

The United States, using another international intelligence service as an intermediary, twice gave the Iraqi government information it could have used to apprehend Zarqawi and break the Baghdad cell, but "Zarqawi still remains at large to come and go," he said. "From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zarqawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond."

Zarqawi, also known as Ahmed al-Khalayleh, is connected with Ansar al-Islam, a group that operates in northern Iraq outside the control of Baghdad. Ansar al-Islam came together as a group in September 2001, but its constituent factions have existed for several years.

Zarqawi reportedly arrived in Afghanistan in 1990 and fought his first battle against the Soviets in 1991 outside Khost. When the Taliban took power, Zarqawi stayed and formed a close-knit group of Jordanians called the Muslim Brotherhood.

Zarqawi caught the attention of intelligence agencies in 1999, when he was linked to an al-Qaeda attempt to bomb the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan. He was convicted in absentia by a Jordanian court and placed on that country's most-wanted list.

Zarqawi's group is linked to a number of recent terrorist operations, Powell said."

Among them:

• In October, Lawrence Foley, an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, was gunned down in Amman, Jordan. "The captured assassin says his cell received money and weapons from Zarqawi for that murder, " Powell said. An associate of the gunman escaped to Iraq, he added.

• Last month, British police uncovered a terrorist plot to produce ricin, a deadly toxin, and Powell said the thwarted attack was linked to Zarqawi's group. Several Western intelligence agencies have said the planned attack has been tied to training provided by Zarqawi.

• At least 116 operatives connected to Zarqawi's network have been arrested in France, Britain, Spain and Italy. The network was also planning attacks in Germany and Russia, Powell said.

• At least nine North African extremists traveled to Europe in 2001 to conduct explosive and poison attacks, an al Qaeda detainee who trained under Zarqawi has told intelligence agents.

• Last year, two suspected al Qaeda operatives linked to associates of Zarqawi's Baghdad cell, including one who was trained in the use of cyanide, were arrested as they crossed the border from Iraq into Saudi Arabia.

"Members of al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence "have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s," Powell said. In 1996, bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Sudan, and later that year had a meeting with the director of Iraq's intelligence service, he said.

Powell also said a senior al Qaeda member has reported that Saddam was more willing to assist al Qaeda after the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and was impressed by the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.

According to Powell, a senior al Qaeda operative, now being detained, said that a terrorist operative was sent to Iraq several times between 1997 and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and chemical weapons. He was dispatched after bin Laden concluded that al Qaeda labs in Afghanistan were not capable of manufacturing such materials, Powell said.

Also, said Powell, a senior Iraqi defector, one of Saddam's former European intelligence chiefs, said Iraqi agents were sent to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s to train al Qaeda members in document forgery.

Zarqawi was wounded sometime in the fall of 2001 while fighting against the U.S. and Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan. He reportedly fled Afghanistan via Iran and made his way to Lebanon. He also spent time in Syria, Turkey and Pakistan. His leg was amputated in August in Baghdad, but when Jordan asked Iraq to turn him over, Zarqawi reportedly left the city.

Last month, British officials linked Zarqawi to a group of suspected Algerian terrorists arrested in London. In the homes of those individuals, investigators found traces of ricin. He has also been linked to terrorist plots in Spain, France and a scheme to poison food at a British military base, officials said.

This article notes that although Saddam and Osama have been at odds in the past, and up till Ultimatum Day denied any connections, since the invasion of Iraq became obviously inevitable, they have gone to great lengths to create the appearance of an alliance of convenience, one that even existed all along.

Osama hitched his cart to Baghdad

This article notes that the assassination of top Kurdish leadership just before the Iraq War started echoed the assassination of Northern Alliance leader Shaw Massoud.

This article has Powel admitting that the evidence linking Iraq and Al Qeada may not be as firm and incontrovertible as many might like, but the obvious affinity between a state that manufactures terror weapons but has no means of delivery and a terrorist group with a means of delivery but no state produced weapons is a rather obvious “no-brainer”… made all the more obvious by Bin Laden’s tapes referencing Iraq and Iraq’s diplomatic statements implying approval for Bin Laden’s attacks.

This article notes how Russian authorities recently reported finding an Al Qaeda training manual that describes the manufacture of ricin at a rebel base in Chechnya. They said the discovery was linked to a similar discovery in Georgia, as well as the apartment in Manchester.

This cached article from Asia references an article by Jeff Goldberg in the New Yorker which discusses in detail Iraq’s secret police training Al Queda operatives.

From the Goldberg article:

"When I saw Tenet, I asked if he now considered Saddam to be a primary sponsor of Al Qaeda. "Well, read my letter to Senator Graham," Tenet replied.

In October of 2002, when Bob Graham was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tenet wrote to him, explaining the C.I.A.'s understanding of the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection. It is a curious letter, which begins with a statement that "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW"—chemical and biological weapons—"against the United States." At the same time, Tenet said, Iraq has "provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs." Tenet added, "Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression," and he suggested that, even without an American attack on Iraq, "Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase."

The evolution of Tenet's beliefs has made those opposed to an invasion of Iraq uneasy. Senator Graham thinks that the C.I.A.'s "evolved" understanding of the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection is the result of pressure from Rumsfeld. "Maybe the C.I.A. has been coöpted in this whole thing," Graham told me. "I'm not personalizing it to George, but institutionally the C.I.A. is being challenged by a very aggressive Defense Department."

Others who have watched Tenet, however, say that he does not trim his opinions for political reasons. "I find him to be a straightforward person on analysis," Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, who until recently was the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, told me. Pelosi added that she considers Iran a greater terrorist threat than Iraq.

According to several intelligence officials I spoke to, the relationship between bin Laden and Saddam's regime was brokered in the early nineteen-nineties by the then de-facto leader of Sudan, the pan-Islamist radical Hassan al-Tourabi. Tourabi, sources say, persuaded the ostensibly secular Saddam to add to the Iraqi flag the words "Allahu Akbar," as a concession to Muslim radicals.

In interviews with senior officials, the following picture emerged: American intelligence believes that Al Qaeda and Saddam reached a non-aggression agreement in 1993, and that the relationship deepened further in the mid-nineteen-nineties, when an Al Qaeda operative—a native-born Iraqi who goes by the name Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi—was dispatched by bin Laden to ask the Iraqis for help in poison-gas training. Al-Iraqi's mission was successful, and an unknown number of trainers from an Iraqi secret-police organization called Unit 999 were dispatched to camps in Afghanistan to instruct Al Qaeda terrorists. (Training in hijacking techniques was also provided to foreign Islamist radicals inside Iraq, according to two Iraqi defectors quoted in a report in the Times in November of 2001.) Another Al Qaeda operative, the Iraqi-born Mamdouh Salim, who goes by the name Abu Hajer al-Iraqi, also served as a liaison in the mid-nineteen-nineties to Iraqi intelligence. Salim, according to a recent book, "The Age of Sacred Terror," by the former N.S.C. officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, was bin Laden's chief procurer of weapons of mass destruction, and was involved in the early nineties in chemical-weapons development in Sudan. Salim was arrested in Germany in 1998 and was extradited to the United States. He is awaiting trial in New York on charges related to the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings; he was convicted last April of stabbing a Manhattan prison guard in the eye with a sharpened comb.

Intelligence officials told me that the agency also takes seriously reports that an Iraqi known as Abu Wa'el, whose real name is Saadoun Mahmoud Abdulatif al-Ani, is the liaison of Saddam's intelligence service to a radical Muslim group called Ansar al-Islam, which controls a small enclave in northern Iraq; the group is believed by American and Kurdish intelligence officials to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. I learned of another possible connection early last year, while I was interviewing Al Qaeda operatives in a Kurdish prison in Sulaimaniya. There, a man whom Kurdish intelligence officials identified as a captured Iraqi agent told me that in 1992 he served as a bodyguard to Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, when Zawahiri secretly visited Baghdad.

Al Queda recruits training in the hills of Kurdistan

Ansar al-Islam was created on September 1, 2001, when two Kurdish radical groups merged forces. According to Barham Salih, the Prime Minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the group seized a chain of villages in the mountainous region outside the city of Halabja, and made a safe haven for Al Qaeda fighters. "Our intelligence information confirmed that the group was declared on September 1st at the behest of bin Laden and Al Qaeda," Prime Minister Salih told me last week, in a telephone conversation from Davos, Switzerland. "It was meant to be an alternative base of operations, since they were apparently anticipating that Afghanistan was going to become a denied area to them."

Salih also said that a month before the September 11th attacks a senior Al Qaeda operative called Abdulrahman al-Shami was dispatched from Afghanistan to the Kurdish mountain town of Biyara, to organize the Ansar al-Islam enclave. Shami was killed in November, 2001, in a battle with the pro-American forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

The Ansar al-Islam enclave, according to Salih and American intelligence officials, soon became the base of operations of an Al Qaeda subgroup called Jund al-Shams, or Soldiers of the Levant, which operates mainly in Jordan and Syria. Jund al-Shams is controlled by a man named Mussa'ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian extraction. Zarqawi is believed by European intelligence agencies to be Al Qaeda's main specialist in chemical and biological terrorism. Zarqawi is also believed to be behind the assassination, on October 28th, of an American A.I.D. official in Jordan, and also two unsuccessful assassination attempts: last February 20th, Ali Bourjaq, a Jordanian secret-police official, escaped injury when a bomb detonated near his home; and on April 2nd gunmen opened fire on Prime Minister Salih's home in Sulaimaniya. Salih was unhurt, but five of his bodyguards were killed; two bystanders were killed in the Bourjaq assassination attempt.

The Administration believes that Zarqawi made his way to Baghdad after the United States' invasion of Afghanistan, when he was wounded. According to American sources, Zarqawi was treated in a Baghdad hospital but disappeared from Baghdad shortly after the Jordanian government asked Iraq to extradite him. American intelligence officials believe that Zarqawi was also among an unknown number of Al Qaeda terrorists who have sought refuge in the Ansar al-Islam over the past seventeen months."

This article states: "Southeast of Baghdad, Marines seized one of Saddam's palaces, poked through remnants of a Republican Guard headquarters and searched a suspected terrorist training camp, finding the shell of a passenger jet believed to be used for hijacking practice."

This article states: "The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force attacked the camp after learning of its location from captured pro-Iraq fighters from other countries including Egypt and Sudan. U.S. officials believe the camp, which included the shell of a Boeing 707 apparently used to practice for hijackings, was used by Saddam to train foreign terrorists."

This article has more details on the terrorist training camp.

The UK's Telegraph reports:

Saddam Hussein's regime was linked to an African Islamist terrorist group, according to intelligence papers seen by The Telegraph. The documents provide the first hard evidence of ties between Iraq and religious terrorism.

Secret dossiers detailing the group's discussions with the Iraqi Intelligence Service were found in the spies' Baghdad headquarters, among the detritus of shredding.

The papers show how Iraq's charge d'affaires in Nairobi, Fallah Hassan Al Rubdie, was in discussion with the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan guerrilla group with ties to other anti-western Islamist organizations.

In a letter to the head of the Iraqi spy agency, a senior ADF operative outlined his group's efforts to set up an "international mujahideen team".

Its mission, he said, "will be to smuggle arms on a global scale to holy warriors fighting against US, British and Israeli influences in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Far East".

The letter, dated April 2001, was signed: "Your Brother, Bekkah Abdul Nassir, Chief of Diplomacy ADF Forces".

Nassir offered to "vet, recruit and send youth to train for the jihad" at a center in Baghdad, which he described as a "headquarters for international holy warrior network".

And now that the US has caught Abul Abbas CBS notes that a veritible treasure hunt of terrorists is under way in Iraq, from top PLO men to Iraqi security opperatives to Al Queda go-betweens (more on Abbas).

Now tell me Skippy, do you still believe that there is "no connection" between Iraq, Al Queda, and "The War On Terror"?

UPDATE: The Telegraph connects the dots too.

UPDATE: And so does The Weekly Standard.

Sean: Saturday, April 12, 2003 [+] |

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere


Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere