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« June 2006 | Main | August 2006 »

July 26, 2006

UNIFIL Tomfoolerey

Today, much ado has been made about the United Nation's Peacekeeping force in Lebanon suffering 257 fatalities over the last 20+years since UNIFIL was formed to patrol the Israeli/Lebanese border. This struck me as an attempt to bolster the image of the impotent UNIFIL as an entity that continually puts the life of its members on the line fighting for peace. And I have never heard of UNIFIL casualties caused by fighting for peace on the border, say attempting to prevent Hezbollah from setting up mines, shooting rockets, or digging bunkers. In fact the only reports I remember are reports of UNIFIL being complicit with the terrorists such as the time several years ago when they watched and filmed as Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and murdered by terrorists wearing UN uniforms, and then covered it up.

I decided to do a little digging. There's a United Nations website dedicated to fatalities suffered by UN forces in all of their missions over the years. And low and behold, the UNIFIL fatality figure doesn't show 257 deaths from the aggressive performance of their mission:

                Accident        Illness        Malicious Act           Other            Total
UNIFIL            108              51                 85                      13                257

I'd love to see a breakdown of the "Malicious Act" number, and find out who was responsible for what.

July 24, 2006

Michael Barone's Take on the Mideast

Looking at the war in the Mideast today, I can't help but think that it is an incredible opportunity for rapid change. The usual suspects on the Left and in the media (including many on Fox News) are longing for good old days of Bill Clinton, forgetting that he failed utterly and helped plunge the Mideast into the Second Intifada which was launched on his watch. And John Kerry just said that if he were President this wouldn't have happened - which has to rank as one of the stupider statements he has ever made.

This war was precipitated by Iran and Syria to get the West off of Iran's back regarding the nuclear weapons issue and to get the West off of Syria's back regarding Syria's involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harirri. It was co-ordinated with Hamas in Gaza as a way to turn the world against Israel and precipitate a war to push Israel into the sea while the West watches impotently. The left-wing and Democrat lies about Iraq and the 'broken' US military has been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by Iran and its proxies.

But Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Democrats, the Left, and the media have miscalculated once again. Appeasement and weakness are over, and of all people the Arabs in the region know it. Michael Barone has an important article over at Townhall this morning on how this Mideast Crisis is different from all of the others.

Will we see something positive and lasting coming from this? Too soon to tell, but there is a better chance of something positive happening under Bush leadership than under anything the other side has  offered. Time and time again I see diplomats and leftist pundits offering up appeasement, as if that has ever worked before. There is no negotiating with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, or Hamas. Their objective is clear, as must be our own. Here's Barone:

"The Iranian support for Hamas and Hezbollah has also prompted leaders of other Arab nations to respond differently than they have in Middle East crises in the past. Then, they were content to give verbal support to the likes of Arafat, to please the "Arab street" and the intellectuals in their own countries. Arafat and his ilk posed no real threat to them. But they have responded very differently to this crisis, which appears to be an attempt by the Iranian mullahs to project their influence throughout the region. Iran, with its missiles and its nuclear program, with its non-Arab ethnicity and militant Shiite Islam, is a threat to the rulers of countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Hence their denunciations of the Hezbollah attacks.

The guiding impulse of most leaders in Europe and of many in the United States is to seek some sort of negotiated compromise. That is what Bill Clinton did when Hezbollah attacked Israel 10 years ago, and he sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to negotiate with President Hafez Assad of Syria. But today, even the Europeans recognize that this approach is not only futile, but dangerous. Syria is a cat's-paw of Iran, and Iran, with its missiles and possible warheads, is an existential threat not only to others in the Middle East, but to Europe. Appeasement is possible when the attacker stands ready to be appeased, as Sadat and King Hussein were. It is dangerous where there is no such willingness, as seems to be the case for Iran's mullahs and its batty, Holocaust-denying president.

The question now is whether Israel has the capacity and the will to eliminate the aggressive capability of Hezbollah and Hamas. And whether the United States has the nerve to continue to back Israel in its determination to do so. The outcome is not clear. But at least there is no cry for the non-solution of land for peace."

July 20, 2006

The Real Definition of Proportionality

One of the things that bugs me most is when the pundits start talking about proportionality when a nation like Israel (or the United States) takes self-defensive actions. The ignorance of these people are astounding. They're comparing apples and oranges and know it. Andy McCarthy has a great post on The Corner that explains what proportionality really is:

"Disproportionate Idiocy [Andy McCarthy]

You have to watch the media like a hawk because you never know when the next perverse theme will come flying out of the sky and start becoming conventional wisdom.

I just heard on MSNBC the moronic observation that the Israelis had inflicted "disproportionate" civilian casualties because the number of Lebanese killed is much higher than the number of Israelis killed.

Comparative civilian casualties is not what the international law concept of "proportionality" is about.  Proportionality has to do with the number of civilian casualties considered against (a) the military value of the operation in which the casualties occur, and (b) the threat against civilians that would result from failure to act.

Ten civilian casualties can be ten too many if there is no military value in the target. (See, e.g., the typical terrorist suicide bombing.)  Hundreds (even thousands) of civilian casualties can be justified if they are fall-out from an appropriate military operation and/or if, in the long run, enduring them means fewer civilian casualties (e.g., strikes that destroy the capabilities of a terrorist organization that hides among civilians).

In either event, it is irrelevant to compare the numbers of civilians killed by competing sides.  Indeed, reports today were that Hezbollah was preventing Lebanese civilians from leaving areas Hezbollah well knows are military targets.  That's because a terrorist organization knows civilian casualties on BOTH sides serve its interests."

July 15, 2006

Ted Kennedy's Hatemonger Retires Beaten

An interesting tidbit by Bob Novak about James Flug, the Kennedy minion that had been so successful in slandering and libeling conservative judicial candidates (Bork) several decades ago, but failed absolutely in doing the same this time around after Kennedy brought him back from private life in 2003 specifically to stop President Bush's nominees for the Supreme Court:

"James Flug, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's longtime political gunslinger, last week finished his latest hitch on the senator's staff, reputed by friends to be discouraged by his failure to block President Bush's Supreme Court nominations.

Flug returned to Kennedy's staff in 2003 after 30 years in private practice, at age 64 taking a job normally held by somebody much younger. He led the unsuccessful effort to undermine the reputations of nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Kennedy helped cushion Flug's landing with a position at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He also will teach at the Harvard law school."

July 13, 2006

Plame Lawsuit

Here's the actual lawsuit, courtesy of NRO, in pdf form. The lawyers are for Plame and Wilson are Christopher Wolf and Charles Sims of Proskower Rose LLP. Of Counsel is Erwin Chemerinski of Duke University School of Law.

This should be fun.

Plame's Roadmap for the Lawsuit

Apparently back in 2005, Anthony J. Sebok, a Professor at the Brooklyn Law School and a Findlaw columnist, wrote about the possibility of essentially a personal injury lawsuit by Valerie Plame against Karl Rove in the event of no criminal charges being filed. The malodorous John Dean was also harping about it, if I recall. here's the the two columns Sebok wrote, first on 7/18/05 and the second on 7/26/05. He was encouraging Plame to sue immediately:

"However, even if no one in the White House committed a crime (or can be proven to have committed a crime), it is still possible that someone there wrongfully injured Plame, and that Plame can, therefore, still sue for damages in a civil lawsuit.

If all the White House did was to confirm what journalists already knew, then Plame's complaint is with those journalists and whoever outside the White House got them their information. But if the White House had a hand in providing Plame's identity to the media, then she might still want to consider suing the individual or individuals in the government who harmed her."

"...But even if Plame could sue now, should she wait? This first objection concerns me a great deal. Paula Jones' lawsuit against Bill Clinton was finally dismissed, but not before it caused great mischief.

Plame should bring a suit against whomever she believes has wronged her, but she should not do so just to begin a fishing expedition or to harass the Bush White House.

On the other hand, however, Plame should not be forced to wait until she has all the facts
, since without deposing certain key players under oath, she may never have all the facts. Nor should she be forced to wait until the Special Counsel makes his findings publicly available.

The Plame affair is about national security, among other things. But at its heart, it is about an individual whose interests in tort may have been violated. She should have the power to seek redress for herself if she wishes, without having to ask the permission of anyone."

Sebok seems to be comparing L'Affair Plame with the Paula Jones lawsuit. But the Jones lawsuit had to do with sexual harassment. That meant that the process, including discovery, had to be handled carefully. That didn't stop Carville and Begala and their minions in the media from savaging her publicly, of course. But this case, and its discovery, will be different. I say unleash the dogs of war on Plame, Wilson, and their enablers. Destroy them with facts before the court even hears a motion to dismiss. Then counter-sue them for legal fees and damages. Make an example out of them - they deserve it.

Joe Wilson & Valerie Plame - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Valerie Plame has given us the gift of 2006 - she has sued Vice-President Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and 10 other unnamed political operatives for putting her life in danger by blowing her cover. Discovery is going to be priceless. Thank you Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame:

"WASHINGTON  — The CIA officer whose identity was leaked to reporters sued Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide and presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq.

Several news organizations wrote about Plame after syndicated columnist Robert Novak named her in a column on July 14, 2003. Novak's column appeared eight days after Wilson alleged in an opinion piece in The New York Times that the administration had twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq to justify going to war.

The CIA had sent Wilson to Niger in early 2002 to determine whether there was any truth to reports that Saddam Hussein's government had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon. Wilson discounted the reports, but the allegation nevertheless wound up in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children's lives at risk by exposing Plame.

"This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of ... (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country," the Wilsons' lawyers said in the lawsuit.

Libby is the only administration official charged in connection with the leak investigation. He faces trial in January on perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges, accused of lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about when he learned Plame's identity and what he subsequently told reporters.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald told Rove's lawyer last month that he had decided not to seek criminal charges against Rove."

July 11, 2006

Bob Novak's Plame Role Revealed...

Here's Bob Novak's column on his role in the Valerie Plame investigation, which clarifies several things. First, it states clearly that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has known the sources of Plame's so-called 'outing' for years and has decided that no crime was committed by any source (including Karl Rove) and Novak himself - otherwise he would have prosecuted. Second, it confirms Joe Wilson to be an unrepentant liar. Third, the primary source has so far refused to allow his name to be released, although Karl Rove has. Novak states that his primary source (the one who refuses to identify himself) is no "political sharpshooter". Therefore, I assume it is not one of the usual right-wing suspects, and is probably someone who has been leaking against the Administration, an ally of the Left, joining Novak in his opposition to the Iraq War. Fourth, Valerie Plame was never 'outed' in the sense that it was intended to do harm to her or her husband, but rather it was done to rebut Wilson's lies published in the MSM. Fifth, everything the Left has published about Novak and his involvement in this case has been an intentional lie, probably fed by Wilson and his cronies themselves. And most importantly Sixth, this investigation was a liberal politically-motivated one from the start, and a total waste of time and taxpayer's dollars.

I still say Novak's original source was Richard Armitage.

"WASHINGTON -- Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed my attorneys that, after two and one-half years, his investigation of the CIA leak case concerning matters directly relating to me has been concluded. That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret.

I have cooperated in the investigation while trying to protect journalistic privileges under the First Amendment and shield sources who have not revealed themselves. I have been subpoenaed by and testified to a federal grand jury. Published reports that I took the Fifth Amendment, made a plea bargain with the prosecutors or was a prosecutorial target were all untrue.

For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew -- independent of me -- the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003. A federal investigation was triggered when I reported that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was employed by the CIA and helped initiate his 2002 mission to Niger. That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

Some journalists have badgered me to disclose my role in the case, even demanding I reveal my sources -- identified in the column as two senior Bush administration officials and an unspecified CIA source. I have promised to discuss my role in the investigation when permitted by the prosecution, and I do so now.

The news broke Sept. 26, 2003, that the Justice Department was investigating the CIA leak case. I contacted my longtime attorney, Lester Hyman, who brought his partner at Swidler Berlin, James Hamilton, into the case. Hamilton urged me not to comment publicly on the case, and I have followed that advice for the most part.

The FBI soon asked to interview me, prompting my first major decision. My attorneys advised me that I had no certain constitutional basis to refuse cooperation if subpoenaed by a grand jury. To do so would make me subject to imprisonment and inevitably result in court decisions that would diminish press freedom, all at heavy personal legal costs.

I was interrogated at the Swidler Berlin offices Oct. 7, 2003, by an FBI inspector and two agents. I had not identified my sources to my attorneys, and I told them I would not reveal them to the FBI. I did disclose how Valerie Wilson's role was reported to me, but the FBI did not press me to disclose my sources.

On Dec. 30, 2003, the Justice Department named Fitzgerald as special prosecutor. An appointment was made for Fitzgerald to interview me at Swidler Berlin on Jan. 14, 2004. The problem facing me was that the special prosecutor had obtained signed waivers from every official who might have given me information about Wilson's wife.

That created a dilemma. I did not believe blanket waivers in any way relieved me of my journalistic responsibility to protect a source. Hamilton told me that I was sure to lose a case in the courts at great expense. Nevertheless, I still felt I could not reveal their names.

However, on Jan. 12, two days before my meeting with Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor informed Hamilton that he would be bringing to the Swidler Berlin offices only two waivers. One was by my principal source in the Valerie Wilson column, a source whose name has not yet been revealed. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source's information. In other words, the special prosecutor knew the names of my sources.

When Fitzgerald arrived, he had a third waiver in hand -- from Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson's identity. I answered questions using the names of Rove, Harlow and my primary source.

I had a second session with Fitzgerald at Swidler Berlin on Feb. 5, 2004, after which I was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury. I testified there at the U.S. courthouse in Washington on Feb. 25.

In these four appearances with federal authorities, I declined to answer when the questioning touched on matters beyond the CIA leak case. Neither the FBI nor the special prosecutor pressed me.

I have revealed Rove's name because his attorney has divulged the substance of our conversation, though in a form different from my recollection. I have revealed Harlow's name because he has publicly disclosed his version of our conversation, which also differs from my recollection. My primary source has not come forward to identify himself.

When I testified before the grand jury, I was permitted to read a statement that I had written expressing my discomfort at disclosing confidential conversations with news sources. It should be remembered that the special prosecutor knew their identities and did not learn them from me.

In my sworn testimony, I said what I have contended in my columns and on television: Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger. After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.

Following my interview with the primary source, I sought out the second administration official and the CIA spokesman for confirmation. I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America."

I considered his wife's role in initiating Wilson's mission, later confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, to be a previously undisclosed part of an important news story. I reported it on that basis."




July 07, 2006

Palestinian Idiots

A remarkable post over at LGF about a report on the funeral of a young Palestinian who was killed as he followed a group of terrorists as they were engaging the Israeli Army:

"BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza (Reuters) - A dozen small boys, not yet teenagers, were among relatives gathered at a funeral in Gaza on Friday for a young man killed in clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops.

Asked if they would learn from the death of 19-year-old Mohammed Maher Shahine, killed while watching Thursday's fighting as Israel stepped up an offensive in the strip, the boys answered almost with one voice.

"No. We want to be martyrs too," they said, seemingly oblivious to the danger of following around bands of gunmen as they battle more powerful Israeli troops, who are backed by tanks and helicopters.


"What is there to learn?" asked Jamal Shahine, 42, a cousin of the deceased as dozens of relatives gathered under a mourning tent. "All these boys just want to fight."

The streets of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and other Gaza districts were filled with funerals on Friday as many of the 20 Palestinians killed on Thursday -- the biggest death toll from a day of violence in nearly two years -- were buried.

Militants from various factions, including Fatah, the ruling Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad, fired bullets into the air as the bodies of militants and civilians, wrapped in faction flags, were taken from morgues to mosques and on to burial.

The crowds watching the funerals said most of those killed on Thursday were civilians, but as the bodies were carried past, mourners also described many as fighters killed in battle.

"He was a Qassam launcher," explained one mourner as the body of Ahmed Abu Askar was born aloft through the crowd, saying he and two others had tried to fire a rocket at Israel.


Mohammed Maher Shahine wasn't a fighter. Instead he had left his job at a shop and jumped on his bicycle when he heard about clashes between militants and Israeli troops in Beit Lahiya.

"His father tried to tell him not to go, but he didn't listen," said Jamal Shahine, the cousin.

He said Mohammed was killed in an Israeli missile strike on a house that also killed three others and wounded seven. "They were all civilians in the street," he said.

Israel said the strike killed only militants hiding in the house. Its offensive, aimed at forcing gunmen to free a captured soldier and stop rocket fire, began last week.

During Thursday's clashes, which came as Israeli troops battled to build a buffer zone to prevent the rocket fire, small children followed Palestinian fighters at every turn, greatly increasing the risk of civilian casualties.

The boys at Mohammed's funeral, taking place under a green awning provided by Hamas, said they would like to go and watch the next clashes, if there were any.

The only one who was silent was the brother of Mohammed, 16-year-old Mahmoud.

"My brother is dead, what can I say," he said."

What The NYT Hath Wrought

Pretty amazing story in the New York Daily News about the foiling of a jihadist plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel. Makes sense that the tunnel would be a target - it was originally the target of a plot in 1993 (just like the World Trade Center) and the jihadists have shown that they will persist until they succeed. There's a follow-up to the story by the Washington Prowler at the American Spectator. It deals with the consequences of the New York Times publishing the top-secret S.W.I.F.T. program details:

"It is not clear whether this case was one of several our sources claim they discussed in general terms with the New York Times, and which Treasury and Justice told the Times would be endangered if it went public with the SWIFT program. It appears the arrest of the plotter in Lebanon took place before the SWIFT story was leaked.

But another DOJ source added something interesting to the mix: "If you go back and look at some of our more successful anti-terrorism cases, they have focused on taking down entire networks. How do we do that? From the inside, peeling off a lead actor, turning him and using him to keep the plot moving forward so we can trace everyone else, the money, the accounts, the weapons dealers, everyone. I'll just note that we weren't able to do that with this case and leave it at that. We could have, but we weren't able to. You'll have to do the math for the Times.""

And the Prowler notes the damage done after the NSA call monitoring story was leaked and published in the NYT:

"BTW: another DOJ source said that in the past year, counter-terrorism officials have noted a marked downturn in the use of cell phone and landline communications. There are a number of reasons for this, but they readily point to the N.Y. Times story on NSA overseas terror-call monitoring as one reason."

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