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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Sean LaFreniere
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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