From FoxNews: U.S. Confirms Zarqawi's Voice on New Tape:
On "FOX News Sunday," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff conceded killing or capturing al-Zarqawi would be a milestone in fighting the insurgency.
“As the Al Qaeda leader and the foreign fighter leader, the jihad leader, in Iraq, ... he's an important target but even getting him, the movement will continue,” said Gen. Richard Myers. “Al Qaeda has a way of continuing to put people in those leadership positions.”
But Myers added that U.S. forces continued to put “24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week pressure on Zarqawi” and his organization. U.S. forces have rounded up about 600 of al-Zarqawi’s foot soldiers and at least a dozen of his closest aides.
Al-Zarqawi made the audio address to Usama bin Laden on Monday to assure the Al Qaeda leader that he was in good health after being wounded in a gunbattle with U.S. troops.
"I am sure you have heard through the media that I was wounded and treated in a Ramadi hospital. I would like to assure you and the Muslim nation that these were pure allegations. It was a light wound, thank God. We are back fighting them in the land of the two rivers."
Al-Zarqawi addressed the message as "a letter from a soldier on the firing line to his commander."
He addressed bin Laden as his "emir," or commander, and asked bin Laden for guidance on conducting the insurgency. He said he sent bin Laden a war plan and asked for comments or approval.
Caroline Glick from the Jerusalem Post offers is an overall good critique of Bush's appeasing policies toward Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority: Is America abandoning the fight? (free registration required):
On Thursday the US allowed Iran to begin negotiations toward joining the World Trade Organization. This concession was made apparently as a quid pro quo in exchange for an Iranian promise to suspend uranium enrichment activities until the end of July. In so acting, the US gave an irrevocable payoff to the Iranians in exchange for a temporary and – given Iran's past penchant for breaking its commitments – suspect concession. The rationale apparently is that the US doesn't want to press the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons program until after next month's Iranian presidential elections. The frontrunner in those elections, after nearly all of the candidates were rejected by the mullahs, is former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Speaking of what awaits the world under a repeat Rafsanjani presidency last Friday Hojatolislam Gholam Hasani, a representative of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told worshipers at a mosque: "You need to vote for Rafsanjani. This way we will finally be able to have for ourselves the atomic bomb to fairly stand up to Israeli weapons." According to a report by Adnkronos news agency, Hasani continued, "Freedom, democracy and stupidities of this type cannot be carried over to any part, and these concepts are out of sync with the principles of Islam. Islam always spoke with the sword in the hand, and I don't see why now we should change attitudes and talk with other civilizations."
Last week too, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ratcheted up US rhetoric against Iran, promising US backing for Iranian democracy activists and saying on two separate occasions that the US and the world cannot abide by a nuclear-armed Iran. And yet, by agreeing to allow the mullahs to negotiate entrance into the WTO, the fact of the matter is that the US's actions tend to dispel the credibility of her statements.
Robert Tracinski at TIA Daily reposted a May 2002 editorial titled "Freedom's Defenders":
Memorial Day is always a solemn occasion, but especially so this year, because we have so recently experienced this day's meaning first-hand. We have seen it in two different ways: we have seen the courage of our troops on the battlefields of Afghanistan -- and we have realized, in the days following September 11, how much depends on that courage.
For most of my friends and acquaintances, normal life and normal work came to a sudden halt on September 11 -- and stayed on hold for a solid month. Projects we had begun beforehand, long-term goals that were still relevant and important, were dropped. Everyone I know had the same reaction: what we were doing before September 11 seemed trivial, unimportant, meaningless. How can you go about your normal business, when thousands of other Americans just like you, going about --their_ normal business, have just been murdered without reason or warning?
Then there came a day, in early to mid-October, when I noticed a change almost equally abrupt. I was greeted one morning by a small flood of phonemcalls and e-mails from authors and business associates following up on the projects that had been forgotten a month before. I noticed, with some surprise, that this was the same day I had already planned to call them. We didn't talk about it at the time, but it was clear we all felt the same way. It was as if a weight had been lifted, we now knew it was safe to live again, and we were ready to get back to work.
I was struck by the fact that so many of my friends and colleagues seemed to feel the same way at exactly the same time. But then I realized what caused it: a few days earlier, President Bush had announced the first air strikes against Afghanistan.
This underscored for me, unforgettably, how much we owe to our soldiers, sailors, and airmen. We cannot do our work unless we know they are doing theirs. We do not have the freedom to live our lives, unless they are there risking their lives to protect that freedom.
In the sloppy terminology so typical of today, it is common to attribute the courage of our soldiers to "self-sacrifice." But this misses the enormous difference between our soldiers and the malevolent fanatics on the other side, who declare that they want to die because they "love death." American soldiers do not go into battle because they love death. They go into battle because they love freedom. They love the liberties we enjoy and the prosperous and benevolent society that these liberties make possible. And they realize that someone has to fight to defend all of this.
Our soldiers do not want to die, and they do not expect to die; they know they are far better trained and better armed than their adversaries. But they know that some of them will die, and they believe that freedom is worth that risk. Here is how the family of Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, the first American soldier to die in Operation Anaconda, expressed it: "He made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that everyone who calls himself or herself an American truly has all the privileges of living in the greatest country in the world."
The more personal motives of American soldiers can be seen in the kinship they feel with the firefighters and policeman who died at the World Trade Center -- as seen in the helicopter pilots who pasted the insignia of the New York police and fire departments onto the sides of their ships. I have observed that soldiers, police, and firemen all share a fierce kind of pride in the knowledge that when disaster strikes, they do not have to hope that someone else will come to the rescue -- because they are the ones who have the skills, the training, and the courage to deal with any threat. Shortly before his death, anticipating the risks he was about to face, Neil Roberts wrote to his wife: "I loved being a SEAL. If died doing something for the Teams, then I died doing what made me happy. Very few people have the luxury of that."
And very few nations have the privilege of having soldiers like this to defend them. Let's take the time this Memorial Day to express our gratitude to the soldiers who have died -- and to those who are still fighting to protect our freedom.
From The New York Times: House Approves a Stem Cell Research Bill Opposed by Bush:
The House passed a bill on Tuesday to expand federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, defying a veto threat from President Bush, who appeared at the White House with babies and toddlers born of test-tube embryos and warned the measure "would take us across a critical ethical line." ...
The House vote followed an impassioned lobbying campaign by advocates for patients, including Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan, who became a strong backer of stem cell research as her husband struggled with Alzheimer's disease, telephoned fellow Republicans this week urging a yes vote, [said the bill's chief Republican backer, Representative Michael N. Castle of Delaware.] ...
The White House event, on what conservative Christians and the president call an important "culture of life" issue, demonstrated just how far Mr. Bush is willing to assert himself on policy that goes to what he considers the moral heart of his presidency. ...
[T]he embryonic stem cell debate ... inflamed the passions of the House, sounding at various times like a lesson in cell biology, a theological discourse and a personal confessional. Lawmaker after lawmaker came to the House well to recount struggles with conscience and searing personal experiences with death and disease.
Representative Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, rolled to the microphone in his motorized wheelchair to speak of his spinal cord injury, which he said could be helped by the research. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, Republican of Missouri, told of a young man named Cody, who had been paralyzed in a car accident at age 16 and asked her to rethink her opposition to embryonic stem cell studies.
"I later wrote a note to Cody's family telling them that even after hearing his story, I couldn't do as he asked," Ms. Emerson said, "and I have regretted writing that letter ever since."
UPDATE -- May 29: An excellent editorial on this issue from the Ayn Rand Institue: The Anti-Life Opposition to Embryonic Stem Cell Research by David Holcberg and Alex Epstein.
[T]to attribute rights to embryos is to call for the violation of actual rights. Since the purpose of rights is to enable individuals to secure their well-being, a crucial right, inherent in the right to liberty and property, is the right to do scientific research in pursuit of new medical treatments. To deprive scientists of the freedom to use clusters of cells to do such research is to violate their rights--as well as the rights of all who would contribute to, invest in, or benefit from this research.
From The New York Times: Text of Senate Compromise on Nominations of Judges:
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the advice and consent clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.
Above is the first of a new feature here at Cox & Forkum: caricatures by John Cox.
Rarely do our editorial cartoons provide enough room to fully display John's caricaturing talent. And our pen-and-ink style has it's own limitations, not offering the potential subtleties of graphite.
Because we had such a positive reaction to the caricature sketches from BlogNashville, we decided to make them a regular feature. This will give John a chance to draw large, graphite caricatures of people in the news (not limited to politics), and it will give readers and clients an added feature. Though the caricatures will have all of John's exaggeration and style, they will not be loaded with our usual editorial comment (the post, however, will contain relevant news and commentary links like the one below).
We hope that everyone enjoys the addition.
From FoxNews: Bush Again Urges Votes on Judges:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Democrats that unless they allow an up or down vote on the seven stalled nominees, he will invoke the so-called "nuclear" or "constitutional" option, by which filibusters on nominees will be banned for good.
UPDATE -- May 24: From CNN: Senators compromise on filibusters.
Frist was less enthusiastic [about the compromise than Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid], saying the agreement "falls short" of the principle that all judicial nominees should receive a vote on the Senate floor. But he said he was "very pleased" the nominations of three Bush appointees will finally come to a vote.
"It has some good news, and it has some disappointing news, and it will require careful monitoring," Frist said.
From The Telegraph: White farmers reject Mugabe plea to return (hat tip Tom Pechinski):
White farmers evicted by Robert Mugabe's government have reacted with contempt to an offer that they should return to Zimbabwe to take part in "joint ventures" with those who brutalised them and stole their land.
Gideon Gono, the governor of the country's central bank, suggested the idea last Thursday as a possible solution to Zimbabwe's economic crisis. ...
During the evictions, some white farmers were murdered and many others were beaten and their families abused. The evictions prompted the collapse of the agriculture sector, the traditional engine of the economy.
Those who took over the farms had no specialist knowledge - and most farmland now lies uncultivated. The machinery has been stolen, buildings have been plundered and the former workers are starving. ...
One tobacco and cattle farmer, who was forced off his property by armed squatters in 2000, said: "He can't be serious. My house has been burnt down, my fields destroyed and he wants to invite me back?
"There has to be a proper return to respect for property rights. We need facts, not words and a legal framework. No one's going to go back on the basis of this."
UPDATE I -- May 24: Gateway Pundit has more.
UPDATE II -- May 25: This cartoon appears in today's National Post.
UPDATE III -- June 2: From The New York Times: Zimbabwe Takes Harsh Steps to Counter Unrest.
Facing rising unrest over a collapsing economy, Zimbabwe's authoritarian government has apparently adopted a scorched-earth policy toward potential enemies, detaining thousands of people, burning homes and street kiosks and routing large numbers of people from makeshift homes in major cities.
The scope of the operation, which began in mid-May, is unknown, in part because a nationwide gasoline shortage has prevented some of those following events in Zimbabwe from monitoring the impact firsthand. But reports in the local press and from witnesses indicate that the police have detained or arrested as many as 30,000 residents in big cities and evicted hundreds of thousands more from shantytowns on the fringes of most cities.
In commenting on a National Review article by Paul Marshall, Robert Spencer reminds us what the Newsweek Koran desecration story is really about (hat tip Tom Pechinski):
There is no excusing Newsweek's irresponsibility in publishing an explosive story that was false. But establishment conservatives like Marshall are fighting the last war if they think this is a story that is solely about media bias. Of course the media is biased, and it's getting worse, but people are waking up to that.
The bigger story here, and the gorilla in the living room that no one wants to notice, is that flushing a Qur'an down the toilet should not be grounds to commit murder. Note the total absence of moral judgment in Marshall's piece, except that which he directs toward Newsweek. His argument is this: Newsweek should have known that this story would lead to deaths. Therefore, they shouldn't have printed it. But he says nothing whatsoever about a culture that condones -- celebrates -- wanton murder of innocent people, mayhem, and destruction in response to the alleged and unproven destruction of a book.
And as Robert Tracinski at TIA Daily noted earlier this week:
The real story is the West's attempt to appease the Islamic fanatics by accepting their demand that the Koran be treated as an untouchable "holy book" -- leading the absurd climax of Newsweek reporting damage to a *book* in an article about the alleged abuse of *humans*.
UPDATE I -- May 19: More thoughts on the topic from Gus Van Horn.
UPDATE II -- May 20: Two noteworthy editorials: Why Islam is disrespected by Jeff Jacoby.
... [W]hat "Muslims in America and throughout the world" most need to hear is not pandering sweet-talk. What they need is a blunt reminder that the real desecration of Islam is not what some interrogator in Guantanamo might have done to the Koran. It is what totalitarian Muslim zealots have been doing to innocent human beings in the name of Islam. It is 9/11 and Beslan and Bali and Daniel Pearl and the USS Cole. It is trains in Madrid and schoolbuses in Israel and an "insurgency" in Iraq that slaughters Muslims as they pray and vote and line up for work. It is Hamas and Al Qaeda and sermons filled with infidel-hatred and exhortations to "martyrdom."
And History and Mystery: Why does the New York Times insist on calling jihadists "insurgents"? by Christopher Hitchens.
In my ears, "insurgent" is a bit like "rebel" or even "revolutionary." There's nothing axiomatically pejorative about it, and some passages of history have made it a term of honor. At a minimum, though, it must mean "rising up." These fascists and hirelings are not rising up, they are stamping back down. It's time for respectable outlets to drop the word, to call things by their right names (Baathist or Bin Ladenist or jihadist would all do in this case), and to stop inventing mysteries where none exist.
CNN reported on May 13 that Uzbek troops clashed with protesters.
Clashes between security forces and protesters in eastern Uzbekistan have left several people dead after supporters of people jailed on charges of Islamic extremism stormed a prison and freed inmates, reports say. ...
Later, more confrontations were reported by Galima Bukharbaeva, country director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Uzbekistan, and the Russian news agency Interfax when Uzbek forces moved on people demonstrating in a public square. ...
Thousands had been demonstrating in Andijan, calling for the resignation of Uzbek President Islam Karimov and his government, who are allies of the United States. The president's office described them as criminals and extremists. ...
Radical Islamic militants have fought with Uzbek soldiers in the area for several years, but Bukharbaeva said the mostly young protesters, who have spoken over loudspeakers in the city center, denied they are connected to that rebel movement.
"They say they are not Islamic extremists. They are just ordinary people who are tired of unemployment, who are tired of injustice and they just want better living conditions," Bukharbaeva told CNN.
Today, The New York Times reports that Uzbeks Say Troops Shot Recklessly at Civilians.
Even as Uzbekistan's government maintained that it had acted cautiously and minimized the use of force in putting down a prison break and demonstration late last week, survivors said Monday that government security forces had fired indiscriminately at unarmed civilians and struck women and children. ...
Details of the crackdown and the violence that has intermittently occurred in its aftermath have been sketchy and contradictory, and movement through the areas where the most intense violence occurred has largely been restricted. Telephone and Internet service have been inconsistent or not operating.
The Uzbek government has blamed those who stormed the prison for the violence, and described the heavy response as necessary. But unverified accounts have said hundreds have been killed in several outbreaks of violence, mostly instigated by government action. ...
Mr. Karimov placed blame for the unrest on Islamic extremist groups, a label that he has used to describe political opponents in recent years and that his critics say is used as a pretext for maintaining a repressive state.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Uzbek authorities deny troops killed civilians.
"Not a single civilian was killed by government forces there," Prosecutor-General Rashid Kadyrov told reporters in the capital Tashkent. "There are absolutely absurd statements that troops opened fire on peaceful demonstrators. A number of news organisations focused on the shooting and used made-up facts on the number of casualties such as the number 500 (of dead)."
He branded the people who took part in the rebellion "terrorists" and said almost all of those killed either had guns in their hands or were nearby. "Only bandits were killed," he said.
Gateway Pundit has been following the story closely and has many links, photos and videos (see here, here, here, here, here, here), including these IWPR reports: No Requiem for the Dead and Andijan Survivors Speak of Ambush. From the latter:
“We listened to the statements for a long time. No one wanted to leave the demonstration. There were no police forces to be seen. But at around 4 pm everything changed. Suddenly armoured troop carriers appeared in the central square and started shooting randomly at people.
“There were a lot of children and youngsters near the demonstrators, and many of them were the first to be hit. Panic broke out, people started running in different directions to escape the bullets.
While exactly what has transpired over the last few days in Uzbekistan is murky, it's clear that Karimov has used his ally-status in the war on terror as a justification for his repression. Robert Tracinski at TIA Daily recently pointed to two good editorials. The first from The Daily Telegraph (free registration required): America must ditch the tyrant of Tashkent.
Uzbekistan is different. Other post-Soviet dictators could see when the game was up. The autocrats of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan were unwilling to plunge their countries into full-scale civil war; faced with populations in open revolt, they surrendered. But Islam Karimov, the tyrant of Tashkent, shows no sign of going quietly. ...
Living standards have collapsed since the days of the USSR, while restrictions on travel have been imposed to prevent the population from picking up dangerous ideas. Karimov's men have already massacred dozens of protesters, and are evidently ready to carry on shooting.
The president's implacability is partly explained by the attitude of the US State Department. The Americans sponsored opposition movements in Georgia and Ukraine, and Congress recently voted a $40 million grant for pro-democracy activists in Belarus. But when it comes to Uzbekistan, Washington is shamefully equivocal. The Administration is calling for restraint on both sides, even though there is ample evidence that the security forces have been firing into unarmed crowds.
Uzbekistan sits oddly with the rest of George W. Bush's foreign policy. Elsewhere, his Administration has taken the view that the best way to advance American interests is by spreading freedom. Yet Karimov is indulged in an old-fashioned, Cold War sort of way: "He's a son-of-a-bitch, but he's our son-of-a-bitch".
The second editorial is from The Weekly Standard: Getting Uzbekistan Wrong.
The bottom line in Uzbekistan is simple and obvious. The people of the Ferghana Valley have Kyrgyzstan next door, just as Wahhabi-ruled Saudi Arabia has newly liberated Iraq next door, and just as 25 years ago, the Soviet Union had Poland next door. Uzbekistan is the most populous and developed of the former-Soviet Central Asian republics. Of all these states, it has the most in common with Ukraine and Georgia, even more than Kyrgyzstan had. The appeal of radical Islam in Uzbekistan is highly overrated; the resentment of local bazaar merchants against unjust taxation and other abuses in the Ferghana Valley is not. It's time for the Uzbeks to definitively join the democracy movement and leave the Soviet era, with its bloodshed and lies, behind.
And yesterday The New York Times had more about Uzbek President Islam Karimov: Uzbekistan Shaken by Unrest, Violence and Uncertainty.
Mr. Karimov, an inaccessible and aloof autocrat, has long been criticized for persecution of opponents, intolerance of freedom of religion and expression, and the use of the police and torture, including the sexual assault and boiling of suspects.
His control had been almost absolute. He was last re-elected in 2000, with 91.7 percent of the vote, an election generally regarded as fixed.
His style has also fueled worries about the government's conduct. The reported violence over the past three days, emerging from a near information vacuum, has been chilling in part because Mr. Karimov has long made clear that in maintaining order, he has a high tolerance for blood.
"I am prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic," he told reporters in 1999, after a bus hijacking ended with a shootout that left nine people dead. "If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head."
Mr. Karimov also has strengthened his relationship with the United States, as the interests of two nations have increasingly intertwined.
Hardened elements of his opposition, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, collaborated with Al Qaeda and trained in camps in Afghanistan. After the attacks in the United States in 2001, the Karimov government presented itself as a Bush administration partner in counterterrorism efforts, and the Pentagon opened a base in southern Uzbekistan. ...
Nonetheless, signs of strain in the relationship have emerged since 2003, as uprisings have toppled corrupt post-Soviet governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, isolating the Uzbek president.
Mr. Karimov, speaking at a news conference on Saturday as journalists reported seeing blood-stained streets and full morgues, made an oblique but unmistakable reference to American interference.
"Attempts by some countries to plant democracy in Central Asia can be used by a third force," he said, according to RIA Novosti. He added, "This force is radical Islam."
Finally, Glenn Reynolds has more information and commentary.
UPDATE I -- May 18: Gateway Pundit has the latest: Death Toll Climbs in Andijan Massacre.
UPDATE II: From The New York Times: Under Pressure, Uzbek President Raises Death Toll From Clashes.
Uzbekistan acknowledged Tuesday that its crackdown last week on an antigovernment demonstration and a prison break had been far more violent than it previously described, saying 169 people had been killed, including 32 government troops. ...
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration had raised its concerns about the crackdown on dissidents with the Uzbek government.
"Nobody is asking any government to deal with terrorists," she said Tuesday evening at a news conference in Washington. "That's not the issue. The issue, though, is that it is a society that needs openness, it needs to reform, and again, I think if you look at the record, we have raised that with the government of Karimov for quite some time." ...
Mr. Karimov has said the violence and public actions were planned by Islamic extremists and coordinated from outside Uzbekistan, a characterization that survivors have said is an argument of convenience to justify the crackdown.
The two sides ultimately clashed on Friday, witnesses said, when troops moved on the central square in Andijon to disperse the crowds, and a battle began. There were then reports that Uzbek refugees had been shot at as they moved northward to the border with Kyrgyzstan on Saturday.
Hundreds of Uzbeks fleeing the violence have sought shelter in Kyrgyzstan. A United Nations official said 490 refugees had registered for asylum so far. ...
"There is not one world leader who would shoot at an unarmed populace," he said. "I consider this a tragedy for Uzbekistan. Our people have died."
He said that he felt pain no less than that of parents who had lost children, but that he was also very proud that stability was returning to Andijon. "In Andijon today there is full order," he said.
UPDATE III -- May 19: From The New York Times: Tales of Uzbek Violence Suggest Larger Tragedy.
One by one the women gave their tally. Chased by gunfire, Mokhidilla Muladzhanova left behind three children, ages 15, 8 and 6. Noila Jumabayeva left behind two, ages 2 and 1. Rano Redzhapova left behind five, including 12-year-old twins.
Perhaps the most agonizing bit of ill fortune befell Zulkhumar Muminova and Nasibullo, her 3-year-old boy. He almost made it.
Ms. Muminova said she and the child survived hours of violence last Friday when the government of Uzbekistan used gunfire to disperse a prison break and antigovernment rally in the city of Andijon. And she said she managed to keep together with the boy and her four other children during an all-night trek toward the Kyrgyz border.
But just short of safety, she and several witnesses said, the Uzbek authorities fired on them anew. "All the people ran in different directions," she said. "And I lost him, my son. I have not seen him again."
UPDATE IV -- May 23: The latest accounting, from The New York Times: Toe Tags Offer Clues to Uzbeks' Uprising.
The few hours of defiance culminated, the survivors say, in a desperate push by hundreds and perhaps thousands of Uzbek citizens, marching and crawling before the firing soldiers, some chanting "freedom" as people died around them.
From Reuters (Via YahooNews): Newsweek says erred in Koran desecration report.
Newsweek magazine on Sunday said it erred in a May 9 report that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article. ...
[Editor Mark] Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Koran down the toilet.
The report sparked angry and violent protests across the Muslim world from Afghanistan, where 16 were killed and more than 100 injured, to Pakistan to Indonesia to Gaza.
Link via Glenn Reynolds who comments:
Two points: (1) If they had wrongly reported the race of a criminal and produced a lynching, they'd feel much worse -- which is why they generally don't report such things, a degree of sensitivity they don't extend to reporting on, you know, minor topics like wars; and (2) If a blogger had made a similar mistake, with similar consequences, we'd be hearing about Big Media's superior fact-checking and layers of editors.
People died, and U.S. military and diplomatic efforts were damaged, because -- let's be clear here -- Newsweek was too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush Administration and the military look bad.
Meanwhile, Reuters also reports (via YahooNews): Afghan clerics threaten Muslim holy war over Koran (Hat tip Little Green Footballs)
A group of Afghan Muslim clerics threatened on Sunday to call for a holy war against the United States in three days unless it hands over military interrogators reported to have desecrated the Koran. ...
The clerics in the northeastern province of Badakhshan said they wanted President Bush to handle the matter honestly "and hand the culprits over to an Islamic country for punishment."
"If that does not happen within three days, we will launch a jihad against America," said a statement issued by about 300 clerics, referring to Muslim holy war, after meeting in the main mosque in the provincial capital, Faizabad.
Many bloggers are commenting on the Newsweek story, and Michelle Malkin has lots of relevant links.
Newsweek magazine backed away Sunday from a report that U.S. interrogators desecrated copies of the Quran while questioning prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base -- an account blamed for sparking violent riots in Afghanistan. ...
[Newsweek reporter Michael] Isikoff found two other references to Qurans being tossed into toilets or latrines, the magazine reported.
U.S. military officials said such claims are standard terrorist tactics.
"If you read the al Qaeda training manual, they are trained to make allegations against the infidels," Army Col. Brad Blackner told Newsweek.
UPDATE II -- May 16: The Newsweek debacle is everywhere. Here are a few samples (bloggers' links below typically contain more links to other relevant information and commentary):
The Washington Post: Newsweek Apologizes: The item was principally reported by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek's veteran investigative reporter. "Obviously we all feel horrible about what flowed from this, but it's important to remember there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here," he said. "We relied on sources we had every reason to trust and gave the Pentagon ample opportunity to comment. . . . We're going to continue to investigate what remains a very murky situation."
The New York Times: Newsweek Apologizes for Report of Koran Insult: "We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst," Mark Whitaker, Newsweek's editor, wrote in the issue of the magazine that goes on sale at newsstands today. ... But Whitaker said in an interview later: "We're not retracting anything. We don't know what the ultimate facts are."
Roger L. Simon: More on Newsweek's Bloody Shirt: BTW, I may seem to be taking this lightly, but there is a strong argument to be made that this is more serious than Rathergate. This is journalism at its most insidious and dangerous.
Michelle Malkin: Who Was Newsweek's Source?
Charles Johnson: Daily Kos Takes the Jihadi Line (featuring a link to the Al Qaeda training manual referenced above): Those Kooky Kos Kidz are convinced that the “rightwing machine” is unjustly smearing Newsweek magazine, and they come out strongly in favor of taking the word of released jihadis whenever they complain of mistreatment.
UPDATE III: CNN's top story online (5pm CST): Newsweek retracts Quran story.
Newsweek magazine issued a retraction Monday of a May 9 report on the alleged desecration of the Quran at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The White House earlier in the day expressed puzzlement over why Newsweek did not fully retract the story in its current issue, released Sunday.
UPDATE V -- May 17: From FoxNews: Newsweek: Mistakes Made in 'Good Faith'.
One day after retracting a story that said U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran (search), a top Newsweek editor acknowledged the magazine made "serious mistakes" but suggested to FOX News that no one would be fired over the incident.
Also from FoxNews: Questions Remain After Newsweek Admission.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said American embassies in the Middle East would be tasked with spreading word of Newsweek's admission in an effort to convince Muslims that the report was wrong.
Still, "the electrons are out there," Boucher said. Some officials worried that the Newsweek article, even after the news agency's retraction, would nonetheless continue to fuel the view in the Middle East that the United States has little to no regard for Muslims and Arabs.
UPDATE VI: This cartoon appears in today's Investor's Business Daily.
From FoxNews: Senate Panel Clears Bolton's Nomination.
John Bolton's nomination for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was sent out of committee Thursday, albeit with a glaring asterisk.
The Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-8 in favor of sending Bolton's nomination forward to a full floor vote, but without a recommendation.
Committees that are unsure about a nominee may send a vote to the floor without an endorsement, to allow the full Senate to decide. Bolton should have an easier time there, where Republicans hold a 55-45 majority.
UPDATE I: Coincidentally, the following story replaced Bolton as the main story on the FoxNews Web page: 'Star Wars' Set to Premiere in 10 Cities.
UPDATE II -- May 13: From CNN: Democrats play for time to block Bolton nomination.
President Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton to be U.N. ambassador has been shaken again by a Republican senator's surprise opposition to the embattled nominee, and Democrats hope to seize the opportunity and defeat him in the Senate.
At a minimum, they will play for delay, make the White House squirm and renew accusations that Bolton was overly aggressive as the State Department's top arms-control official, pushing his views and trying to damage the careers of officials who disagreed with him.
UPDATE III -- May 15: Mark Steyn explains why Bolton is being demonized: Bolton’s sin is telling truth about system. (Hat tip to Tom Pechinski)
John Bolton’s sin is to have spoken the truth about the international system rather than the myths to which photo-oppers like the Canadian prime minister defer. As a consequence, he’s being treated like a container of Western aid being processed by Indonesian customs. Customs Inspector Joe Biden and Junior Clerk Voinovich spent two months trying to come up with reasons why Bolton’s paperwork is inadequate and demanding to know why he hasn’t filled out his RU1-2. An RU1-2 is the official international bureaucrat’s form reassuring the global community that he’ll continue to peddle all the polite fictions, no matter how self-evidently risible they are. John Bolton isn’t one, too. That’s why we need him.
Steyn also details how tsunami aid has been stalled in a bureaucratic quagmire.
From FoxNews: Hans Blix: U.S. Not Committed to Nuke Treaty.
Nuclear "have-nots" complain that the Bush administration, in particular, has acted contrary to those commitments, by rejecting the nuclear test-ban treaty, for example.
Washington, for its part, wants the conference to focus on what it alleges are Iran's plans to build nuclear arms in violation of the treaty, and on North Korea's withdrawal from the treaty and claim to have nuclear bombs.
Blix told reporters there is "a great deal of concern" about North Korea and Iran among states without nuclear weapons.
But "that feeling of concern is somewhat muted by the feeling that the United States in particular, and perhaps some other nuclear weapons states, are not taking the common bargain as seriously as they had committed themselves to do in the past," he said.
UPDATE -- May 11: FoxNews reports today: North Korea Claims Step Toward Nukes.
North Korea said Wednesday it had completed removing spent nuclear fuel rods from a reactor at its main nuclear complex -- a move that could allow it to harvest more weapons-grade plutonium -- in the communist state's latest provocation amid a deadlock in disarmament talks.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said the country had "successfully completed" removing 8,000 fuel rods from the reactor at Yongbyon-, according to a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
This cartoon first appeared a year ago on May 11, 2004, when the video of Nick Berg's murder was released and much of the media were, and remained in, full Abu Ghraib mode.
This Associated Press report (via ABCNews) appears to be the only major news marking the anniversary of when Islamic terrorists in Iraq began targeting American civilians for video taped beheadings (following that of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan): Family of Beheaded American Seeks Solace.
Michael Berg [Nick's father] holds President Bush chiefly responsible for his son's death, blaming what he sees as Bush's abuse of power.
Sara Berg [Nick's sister] neither holds Bush responsible nor considers Nick's death a result of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Instead, she considers it the premeditated work of terrorists.
"Somebody who gets killed in war, that is not murder, legally. That is a killing," she said. "By calling (Nick's death) an act of war, it gives a certain legitimacy to it that I don't choose to give."
Meanwhile, a year later, we're getting stories like this one from The New York Times: 'Great Crime' at Abu Ghraib Enrages and Inspires an Artist.
From The New York Times (via The Ledger): U.S. to Spend Billions More to Alter Security Systems.
In its effort to create a virtual shield around America, the Department of Homeland Security now plans to spend billions of dollars more. Although some changes are being made because of technology that has emerged in the past couple of years, many of them are planned because the devices currently in use have done little to improve the nation’s security, according to a review of agency documents and interviews with federal officials and outside experts.
"Everyone was standing in line with their silver bullets to make us more secure after Sept. 11," said Randall Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and former government adviser on scientific issues. "We bought a lot of stuff off the shelf that wasn’t effective." ...
“After 9/11, we had to show how committed we were by spending hugely greater amounts of money than ever before, as rapidly as possible,” said Representative Christopher Cox, a California Republican who is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. “That brought us what we might expect, which is some expensive mistakes. This has been the difficult learning curve of the new discipline known as homeland security.”
(Lots of "update" material below, so be sure to scroll down.)
BlogNashville is over, and John and I had an excellent time. It was a pleasure to meet so many bloggers in person (see below). We were interviewed for Andrew Marcus's documentary:BLOG along with many other participants. Andrew filmed John sketching his caricatures (which we may post more of later), so perhaps one or two will end up in the film. Also video taped was an encounter John (and others) had with Dave Winer during a discussion called, ironically, "A Respectful Disagreement." I wasn't a witness, but below is John's sketch of it. For other accounts, see Dave Winer, Glenn Reynolds, Les Jones and Scared Monkeys.
Some of the bloggers and participants we met (as best as I can remember -- I apologize if we left you out!):
Robin Burk of Random Probabilities
Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail
Tim Schmoyer of Sisyphean Musings
Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping
Steve (USMC_Vet) of The Word Unheard
Greg Gray of Toe In Water
Linda Seebach of Rocky Mountain News
Todd Anderson of PopShot.net
Chris Muir of Day by Day cartoons
Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit
Bill Hobbs of HobbsOnline
Tom and Red of Scared Monkeys
Chris Wage of My Quiet Life
Mathew Sheffield of Dialogue Media
Rex Hammond of RexBlog
Jason Clarke of Moore Lies
Mark Tapscott and Kirk Johnson of The Heritage Foundation
Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum.com
Eric Janssen of Quixtar Blog
Mark Dunn of Business Wire
Bob Cox of The National Debate
Stan Brown of Two Minute Offense
Sean Hackbarth of The American Mind
Tom Biro of The Media Drop
Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit
Don Mooradian of The Nashville City Paper
Barbara Iverson of Columbia College Chicago
Andrew Marcus and Tori Marlan of documentary:BLOG
UPDATE II: More drawings from John's sketchbook:
UPDATE III: You can see another sketch here.
UPDATE V: Glenn Reynolds has a excellent review of BlogNashville as well as video interviews with participants, including me and John, Chris Muir and others: Are Blogs Busting Loose? (the video link is at the end of article). And the documentary:BLOG guys have posted photos from the convention here (a pic of me and John is in the fourth row down, last picture, right by a vertical picture of Chris Muir).
UPDATE VI -- May 11: Glenn Reynolds has another encounter with Dave Winer, and it's a perfect illustration of why Dave was the wrong person to conduct a "respectful disagreement" session, to put it lightly. Scared Monkeys has more links: GLENN 2, DAVE 0.
John and I are attending BlogNashville this weekend, and we're really enjoying meeting bloggers we've only known over the Internet. For instance, fellow blog cartoonist Chris Muir allowed us to hang out with him today and pick his brain about the business. And we finally met the Blogfather, Glenn Reynolds (who has posted photos here and here). During the panel discussion about blogging and journalism, John did some quick caricature sketches of the two. Is there a such thing as "live cartoon blogging"?
CNN reported yesterday that al Qaeda's No.3 man had been arrested.
The alleged number three man in al Qaeda -- believed responsible for the terror group's global operations -- has been captured in Pakistan's frontier province with Afghanistan, Pakistani and U.S. officials have confirmed.
Today FoxNews reports: 64 Rebels, 10 Police Killed in Afghan Fighting
Fierce battles between U.S. and government forces and Taliban-led militants have left about 64 rebels dead, the U.S. military said Thursday, the bloodiest fighting in Afghanistan in nine months. Nine Afghan troops and a policeman were also killed.
And an IWPR article from last month reported: Female Footballers Overcome Obstacles.
They practice on concrete rather than on grass, and their kit is far from uniform, but Afghanistan's premier women’s football team is looking forward to making history this summer when it plays its first international match.
The latter article comes from an extensive report by Arthur Chrenkoff covering Afghanistan news from the last month: Good news from Afghanistan, Part 12.
This cartoon was originally posted on May 25, 2004, and can be found in our book Black & White World II. A year later and Abu Ghraib prison abuse is still making headlines. Sen. Ted Kennedy even highlighted the one-year anniversary of the Abu Ghraib story with a long statement (via LGF). Do you think he, or the media, will give similar treatment to the anniversary of Nick Berg's murder?
From FoxNews: U.S.: Possible letter to al-Zarqawi cites low morale.
The U.S. military said Tuesday it has seized a letter from Iraqi insurgents believed to be intended for Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi complaining about low morale among followers and weakening support for the insurgency.
UPDATE I -- May 4: The Islamofascists strike again against a free Iraq. CNN reports today: Suicide bomber kills at least 47 in Iraq.
A suicide bomber on Wednesday attacked a crowd of recruits seeking jobs with the Kurdish police force in Erbil, killing at least 47 people and wounding about 100 others, officials said. ...
Army of Ansar al-Sunna -- which has acknowledged past attacks -- claimed responsibility for the Erbil bombing on its Web site.
"This is also an answer to the infidels ... who gave their loyalty to the crusaders and have raised their thorn against the Muslims when they fought alongside the Americans against our people in Falluja, Mosul, Baghdad and other Muslim lands," the statement said. "We promise you that we are preparing more for you. Expect more sooner or later."
CNN also reports: Pakistan seizes 'al Qaeda No. 3'.
The alleged number three man in al Qaeda -- believed responsible for the terror group's global operations -- has been captured in Pakistan's frontier province with Afghanistan, Pakistani and U.S. officials have confirmed.
U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday immediately hailed the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libbi, and that of 10 other suspected al Qaeda members, as a "critical victory in the war on terror."
Iraq remained the center of the war on terror, with most of the attacks being directed at Iraqis. This turned the population, including many Sunni Arabs, against the terrorists. While there were still plenty of volunteers for suicide bombings, and plenty of cash and explosives handy to pay for it, the al Qaeda campaign in Iraq had become a losing proposition. Even outside of Iraq, many Sunni Arabs were getting disenchanted with al Qaeda terrorism. In a war of symbols, blowing up Moslem women and children is not a winning tactic.
From The Seattle Times: Iran plans to resume uranium activities.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said yesterday [April 30] it is likely to resume uranium enrichment-related activities within a week, a process it halted last year to build confidence in talks with European countries and avoid referral to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Tehran's announcement came a day after talks in London with European negotiators yielded no results. France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, are seeking guarantees from Iran that it will not use its nuclear program to make weapons, as Washington suspects.
UPDATE II -- May 4: From The New York Times: Iran to Resume Nuclear Plans, Official States at U.N. Conference.
Iran declared Tuesday that it would soon resume some of the nuclear activities it had suspended during negotiations with Europe, and it used a conference here to accuse the United States and other nations of using the fear of nuclear weapons proliferation to deny peaceful nuclear technology to developing nations. ...
In October in Paris, Iran agreed with France, Britain and Germany to freeze all enrichment of uranium and "related activities" while negotiations went forward. But Iran has complained that those talks have not included any substantive incentives, and its announcement on Tuesday seemed part of a strategy to press Europe and, by extension, the Bush administration.
The U.N.'s supposed nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, is in full appeasement mode, saying:
"I think in diplomacy if you offer more, you get more," he said during a visit to the editorial board of The New York Times. "Iran is no exception. If you offer trade, technology and security, you ought to be able to get good assurances on the nuclear issue."
Dr. ElBaradei urged the United States, which has declined to negotiate with Iran, to act much more forcefully. "I firmly believe that any grand bargain will have to involve the United States," he said, "because on the security side, only the U.S. can do the heavy lifting."
Only in U.N. doublespeak could someone urge the U.S. to "act much more forcefully" against an enemy but actually mean "give in more to their blackmail."