In the bleak National Intelligence Estimate, the government's top analysts concluded Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for jihadists, who are growing in number and geographic reach. If the trend continues, the analysts found, the risks to the U.S. interests at home and abroad will grow. ...
[Press secretary Tony] Snow said the report confirms the importance of the war in Iraq as a bulwark against terrorists. "Iraq has become, for them, the battleground," he said. "If they lose, they lose their bragging rights. They lose their ability to recruit."
The document has given both political parties new ammunition leading up to November's midterm elections.
For Republicans, the report provides more evidence that Iraq is central to the war on terrorism and can't be abandoned without giving jihadists a crucial victory.
For Democrats, the report furthers their argument that the 2003 Iraq invasion has inflamed anti-U.S. sentiments in the Muslim world and left the U.S. less safe.
I think they're both missing the bigger threat: Iran, the largest state sponsor of terrorism and a primary source for the ideology of Islamic totalitarianism. Iran has been waging a war against us for decades, from the 1979 taking of American hostages to today's support the insurgency in Iraq (see below). We can't simply make Iraq a "bulwark against terrorists," as the White House put it. We need more than defensive fortifications. We need to offensively take the war to the source.
Also from CNN: Military official: Iranian millions funding insurgency.
A Shiite Muslim militia involved in the warfare between Sunni and Shiites in Iraq has received "millions of dollars" and an assortment of weaponry from Iran, a senior U.S. military official says. ...
The official said that high-grade military explosives and specialized timers are among the "boutique military equipment" moving from Iran into Iraq.
Some of the equipment is of the same type that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, used against Israeli forces in Lebanon during the summer, the official said.
The origin of the weapons was easy to discern because of Iranian markings on it, he said. Because Iran maintains tight control over armaments, he said, shipment of the weapons into Iraq had to involve "elements associated with the Iranian government."
The official said Iran wants "control of surrogates" in Iraq, not an easy task because Iraqi Arab nationalist groups, not pro-Iranian groups, have more grass-roots support.
Iran has "only has a window of opportunity" before historic animosities between Arab Iraq and Persian Iran prevail, he said.
President George W. Bush jokes that he'll study the body language of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf at the dinner table on Wednesday to see how far their relationship has frayed.
Karzai respectfully calls Musharraf "my friend" and "my brother," yet the two are constantly at odds when it comes to how to deal with Islamic extremists. Over dinner, Bush will play referee.
For months, Karzai and Musharraf have been trading barbs and criticizing each other's efforts to fight terrorists along their long, remote, mountainous border.
Under Musharraf, Pakistan was a key supporter of Afghanistan's Taliban militia before it was ousted from power by a U.S. military campaign in late 2001 for harboring Al Qaeda. But it quickly distanced itself from the Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks and aided the Americans.
Afghan officials allege that Pakistan is letting Taliban militants hide out and launch attacks into Afghanistan. Pakistan bristles at such charges. Without the United States playing mediator, the relationship between the two U.S. allies would be tense at best. ...
Karzai said his government has not stopped the Taliban from committing acts of terrorism because of the country's police and military structures have been weakened from years of war. Afghanistan would be "heaven in less than a year" if it received the US$300 billion (euro236.31 billion) the United States had spent in Iraq, Karzai says.
In a veiled reference to Musharraf, Karzai said some people in the region are using extremists to maintain their own political power like "trying to train a snake against somebody else."
Hot Air has an interesting post: Video: Karzai responds to reporter’s question about terrorism. (via LGF)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Tuesday defended her husband in an ongoing war of words with conservatives over whether the administration did enough to fight terrorism.
The exchange started during a Sunday TV interview in which President Clinton defended his efforts to track down and kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"I think my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take these attacks," Sen. Clinton said.
"You know, and I'm certain that if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report entitled 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States' he would have taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current president and his national security team."
During his interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," President Clinton also said he came the closest to killing bin Laden and suggested that his administration took the threat of terrorism more seriously than the Bush administration did before the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Clinton also lashed out against "the right-wingers who are attacking me now," saying the same people had accused him of being "obsessed" with bin Laden.
"They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed," he told Wallace.
He added that he "left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" for the Bush administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has taken on former President Clinton, strongly rejecting that notion. (Your e-mail: The Clinton-Rice war of words)
"What we did in the eight months [between Bush's inauguration and 9/11] was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice told the New York Post in comments published Tuesday.
"The notion that somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false."
But Rice told the Post that "we were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda."
Hot Air has the video and more.
UPDATE -- Sept. 29: From NRO: Did Clinton Really Give Bush A “Comprehensive Anti-Terror Strategy?” The former president says he did. The record says he didn’t by Byron York. (via TIA Daily)
And from the Los Angeles Times: Clinton Doth Protest Too Much; The ex-president's tirade on Fox News reveals a politician insisting on a legacy he doesn't deserve. by Andrew Klavan.
To put it in his own terms, Clinton has never understood what the meaning of "is" is, the fact that some things happened and others didn't, that some things are true and others simply are not. He believes that his legacy will be created in the spin cycle of history rather than in the fitful but persistent human search for history's truth.
Of course he panics and rages like a child when the spin goes the wrong way, when he is given his portion of the blame for encouraging Bin Laden through his military retreat from Somalia or for allowing the terrorist to escape by refusing to put a kill order on him.
He thinks reality itself is being wrestled away from him, that he can wrestle it back and mold it into the shape he wants it to have.
But he's wrong. That's just "is" being is. That's just "truth" bearing away the victory.
President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan attempted to convince President Bush today that a deal he approved with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would result in driving Al Qaeda and Taliban forces out of the area, rather than give them more freedom to operate. Skip to next paragraph
Mr. Bush and his national security aides were clearly skeptical, according to administration officials, but at a press conference, Mr. Bush appeared to take Mr. Musharraf’s assurances at face value. Mr. Musharraf knew that there were enough questions in the air about what amounted to a face-saving retreat for the Pakistani Army that he felt compelled to explain, “This deal is not at all with the Taliban. As I said, this is against the Taliban, actually.’’
At the heart of the discussion in the Oval Office was a fear among American officials that Mr. Musharraf, whose political hold over sections of his own country is tenuous at best, is only episodically engaged in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. That has been an increasingly contentious issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with Afghan leaders complaining that many of the attacks launched against Afghan targets are originating from Pakistan’s side of the border.
The visit marked the fifth anniversary of the radical change in Washington’s relationship with Islamabad after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but the uneasiness of the alliance created out of those events was on full display today.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
Regular readers will be familiar with our weekly feature Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox. John has been working on his own caricature commissions, and two of them were just unveiled by the publishers.
American Compass, a conservative book club, commissioned John to create 12 caricatures and the cover for their 2007 desk calendar. The cover and one of the interior caricatures (Alexander Hamilton) are below. You can learn more about the calendar at the Compass Points blog.
Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan have a book due out soon titled Caucus of Corruption. John illustrated the front cover (see below) and the back. To learn more about the book, go to the Caucus of Corruption Web site.
Accusing the Islamic militant group Hamas of backtracking, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Saturday that his efforts to set up a national unity government that is acceptable to the West are "back to zero."
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he would not lead a coalition that recognizes Israel, dealing a blow Abbas' attempts to form a power-sharing government between his ousted Fatah group and Hamas.
On Saturday, Hamas officials suggested that Abbas had oversold the emerging coalition to the international community, portraying it as more conciliatory toward Israel than it was meant to be. Despite Abbas' pessimism, Hamas insisted a deal could still be struck.
Abbas is to meet with Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday.
The latest setback comes at a time of growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where some Fatah members have accused Hamas of involvement in the assassination of a Fatah-allied security chief last week. If the rival factions fail to reach agreement, more violent confrontations appear inevitable. ...
Hamas fears it will lose popular support if it softens its hardline positions too much and becomes indistinguishable from Fatah. Recent polls indicate that a majority of Palestinians don't want Hamas to recognize Israel, perhaps as a matter of pride, even though two-thirds also want Abbas to negotiate a peace deal with the Jewish state.
UPDATE -- Sept. 24: From FoxNews: Hamas, Fatah Talks on Forming Palestinian Unity Government Break Down.
Rivals Hamas and Fatah called off top-level talks Monday on forming a Palestinian unity government that might ease crippling international sanctions, the latest indication of difficulties in bridging their ideological differences.
From CNN: Chavez: Bush 'devil'; U.S. 'on the way down'.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tore into his U.S. counterpart and his U.N. hosts Wednesday, likening President Bush to the devil and telling the General Assembly that its system is "worthless."
"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said, referring to Bush, who addressed the world body during its annual meeting Tuesday. "And it smells of sulfur still today."
Chavez accused Bush of having spoken "as if he owned the world" and said a psychiatrist could be called to analyze the statement.
"As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.' " ...
John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed the speech, saying, "I think that [Chavez's] rhetoric today shows exactly what kind of man he is."
Bolton said: "We're not going to address that sort of comic-strip approach to international affairs.
"The real issue here is he knows he can exercise freedom of speech on that podium and, as I say, he could exercise it in Central Park, too. He's not giving the same freedom to the people of Venezuela."
From Front Page Magazine: Dancing with the Devil by Ben Johnson.
Internal repression and censorship have followed [other fascist developments]. A report released last month by Freedom House found: “Venezuela's scores have dropped across the board in all four indicators of good governance addressed in the study: accountability and public voice, civil liberties, rule of law, and anti-corruption and transparency. In fact, only Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria have experienced a greater net change for the worse.” [Venezuluelan President Hugo Chevez] has, in fact, cracked down on “disrespect for government authorities” (a crime expressed in language evoking another Western hero: Cartman from “South Park”) and has created a “blacklist of political opponents.”
From The Washington Post in March 2005:Chavez's Censorship; Where 'Disrespect' Can Land You in Jail by Jackson Diehl.
[On March 18, 2005] Chavez handed [Venezuela's minister of communication and information Andres] Izarra a still-bigger stick: a new penal code that criminalizes virtually any expression to which the government objects -- not only in public but also in private.
Start with Article 147: "Anyone who offends with his words or in writing or in any other way disrespects the President of the Republic or whomever is fulfilling his duties will be punished with prison of 6 to 30 months if the offense is serious and half of that if it is light." That sanction, the code implies, applies to those who "disrespect" the president or his functionaries in private; "the term will be increased by a third if the offense is made publicly."
There's more: Article 444 says that comments that "expose another person to contempt or public hatred" can bring a prison sentence of one to three years; Article 297a says that someone who "causes public panic or anxiety" with inaccurate reports can receive five years. Prosecutors are authorized to track down allegedly criminal inaccuracies not only in newspapers and electronic media, but also in e-mail and telephone communications.
This cover illustration was for the December 2003 edition of The Intellectual Activist magazine. We first posted it in January 2004; I'm reposting now because of the news item below.
From The Age:Muslim nations must have nukes: Mahathir.
Muslim nations in the Middle East should arm themselves with nuclear weapons to deter Western enemies from attacking them, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said.
"They should have tanks, warplanes, warships, guns and missiles," Mahathir said.
"Yes, they need to have nuclear weapons too, because only with the possession of such would their enemies be deterred from attacking them."
Mahathir, 81, who retired as prime minister in 2003, remains highly respected and influential throughout the Muslim world. ...
When asked whether Muslim nations in the Middle East should acquire nuclear weapons, Mahathir replied, "Well, if you allow Israel to have them, why should the others not have them too?"
In original "The Moderate Mahdis" cover story, Robert Tracinski wrote:
The Madhi [of Sudan in the 1880s] was a wild-eyed fanatic who, the encyclopedia notes, "moved from orthodox religious study to a mystical interpretation of Islam." But his vision was essentially the same as that offered by Mahathir: to strike back at the West and expel the "colonialist" infidels, restoring the original might of the Islamic empire.
Mahathir is, in effect, offering his vision for a new, modern, "moderate" Mahdi -- in the form of a business-suited autocrat seeking battleships, ballistic missiles, and nuclear bombs.
And that is precisely what makes Mahathir and his ilk all the more dangerous. The "extremists" like the Taliban doom themselves to insignificance by the very fact of their consistent adherence to their religious philosophy. But those who can make compromises with the demands of this world -- those who embrace the same moral and religious precepts, but implement them in a more reasonable, practical form -- are much more dangerous. They give their irrationalist philosophy some degree of power in the world.
But the biggest threat to the West is not the moderate Mahdis. It is the failure of our leaders to identify the malevolence of the Muslim "moderates" and see them as a threat.
From Bloomberg:Iran's President, in U.S., Calls Nuclear Issue 'Not Important' by Marc Wolfensberger.
Iran's nuclear program is "not an important subject," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said as he arrived in New York to attend the 61st United Nations General Assembly. ...
Iran ignored an Aug. 31 UN Security Council deadline for the Islamic Republic to suspend its uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear fuel or build a bomb, or face possible sanctions.
With Ahmadinejad back at the U.N., it's important to remember what happened last time: The Mystical Menace of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by Daniel Pipes.
When addressing the United Nations in September , Mr. Ahmadinejad flummoxed his audience of world political leaders by concluding his address with a prayer for the Mahdi's appearance: "O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace."
On returning to Iran from New York, Mr. Ahmadinejad recalled the effect of his U.N. speech:one of our group told me that when I started to say "In the name of God the almighty and merciful," he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. … And they were rapt. It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.
Maybe sparks will shoot out of the top of his head this time.
UPDATE: No sparks. Just the usual morally inverted view of reality. From CNN: Iranian president takes on U.S., Israel at U.N..
From AP: French leader proposes Iran compromise.
President Jacques Chirac proposed a compromise Monday to kickstart talks between Iran and the international community, suggesting the threat of U.N. sanctions be suspended in exchange for Tehran halting its uranium enrichment program.
"I don't believe in a solution without dialogue," Chirac said in an interview with Europe-1 radio. He suggested the international community suspend the threat of U.N. sanctions and that Iran, in turn, suspend enrichment while the two sides talk.
"I am not pessimistic," Chirac said. "I think that Iran is a great nation, an old culture, an old civilization, and that we can find solutions through dialogue."
Upbeat about the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, Chirac said in the wide-ranging radio interview that he was pessimistic about the outcomes in Iraq and Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region.
And from Little Green Footballs: Chirac Springs Into Action, Expresses Mild Disapproval of Hizballah.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From FoxNews: Pope Says He's 'Deeply Sorry' for Reaction to Islam Speech.
Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that did not reflect his personal opinion.
Despite the statement, protests and violence persisted across the Muslim world, with churches set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric saying the pope was united with President Bush to "repeat the Crusades."
An Italian nun also was gunned down in a Somali hospital where she worked, and the Vatican expressed concern that the attack was related to the outrage over the pope's remarks.
Benedict sparked the controversy when, in a speech Tuesday to university professors during a pilgrimage to his native Germany, he cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's founder, as "evil and inhuman."
On Sunday, he stressed the words "were in fact a quotation from a medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought."
Little Green Footballs has much more on the Muslim reaction...
Hamas Lectures Pope on Islam
This Just In: Muslims Furious
CAIR Blasts Pope, Invites Americans to Learn About Islam
Palestinians Attacking Christian Churches
Somali Cleric Calls for Pope's Death
Saudi Grand Mufti: "These Are All Lies"
London Arabic Paper: Pope = Bin Laden/Hitler
Misogynist Medieval Murderers Want Pope to Apologize
RoP's Iraq Branch Threatens Pope with Suicide Attack
The Pope's Non-Apology
WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.
The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.
Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.
Yes, our extremists and our culture.
Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.
UPDATE I -- Sept. 18: We regret misspelling "regretted" in the cartoon. It's now fixed. Thanks to Charles Johnson for the catch.
UPDATE II -- Sept. 19: Well, here's a Phil who really did suggest that Muslims protest against terrorism, not criticism: Stand With Pope Benedict XVI by Phil Orenstein.
But where is the Muslim outrage at the violence, the firebombing of churches, the cold-blooded murder of a Nun, the rampages in the name of Allah over the forthright words of the Pope? Where is the outrage at Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s statement to "wipe Israel off the map" or Nasrallah along with top clerics throughout the Middle East chanting the war cry "death to America?"
If so-called moderate Muslims living in America and the free world wish to appear as all good people of faith whose beliefs can civilly mesh with reason and moderation rather than violence and extremism, they must stand in solidarity with the Pope together with Jews and Christians, although they may dispute his statements. If they cannot mount a show of solidarity, strong enough to confront the radical instigators of Muslim wrath and vengeance toward those who express opinions which may not be to their liking, then theirs is not a faith but an ideology of hate and intolerance that must be condemned as an assault against American ideals and those of all free peoples. They must stand up and make that choice if they are to remain as participants in a civilization that protects the free speech and religious liberties of all.
The 9/11 conspiracy theorists (or "truthers") were out in force at Ground Zero on the 5th anniversary (see photos here, here and here). We touched on this issue in our Sept. 8th cartoon but decided to devote a cartoon to it, as well as compile more links (there are new links below plus the links from the previous post).
Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up To The Facts by David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, both editors at Popular Mechanics, is the must-read book on the subject.
The New York Post published an editorial by Popular Mechanics Editor-in-Chief James B. Meigs that sums up the book: Conspiracy Cranks.
The Glenn & Helen Show have a podcast interview with the book's authors.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a detailed report on their investigation of the collapse of the World Trade Center. The Web site not only has the report but photos and video of various fire experiments and computer simulations.
Democracy Now TV featured a debate between the authors of Debunking 9/11 Myths and the most prominent 9/11 conspiracy theorists, makers of the film "Loose Change." Hot Air posted the video (see final update with four videos).
Screw Loose Change by Mark Iradian is an excellent site dedicated to debunking the "Loose Change" film frame by frame.
This Web site details some of the contradictions in "Loose Change," but it also highlights the crass, sadistic manner in which the filmmaker blames victims for being in on a conspiracy (hat tip Tman in Tennessee). You can hear the comments in this video, also by Mark Iradian, which contrasts the recorded comments with photos that put things into perspective.
It's bad enough that these guys are defiling the very victims of the attacks by laying blame on them and their government. But they are also giving a pass to the Islamic fundamentalists who committed the murders and whose ideological brothers want to continue murdering us. These conspiracy "theories" find fertile ground in the Middle East as this video from MEMRI documents: The Arab and Iranian Reaction to 9/11 -- Five Years Later. One quote from the film: "I have a sneaking suspicion that George W. Bush was involved in the operations of September 11, as was Colin Powell."
And finally, Little Green Footballs posted a conspiracy theorist's personal account of his 9/11 "truth" protest at Ground Zero: The Mind of a Truther.
Some Jew looking dude in a suit came up to me and asked "where are you from?" I said "PA", and he said "you should go back to PA, asshole" and walked away. It took me by suprise, and I started laughing, I thought about saying "you should go back to Israel" but instead just shouted to him "you have a nice day too sir" and smiled.
UPDATE -- Sept. 15: More links:
Screw Loose Change blog has lots more information debunking the movie.
Other notable debunking sites:
Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy theories and Controlled Demolition Myths
9/11 Myths ... Reading Between The Lines
eSkeptic posted a report this week: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories: The 9/11 Truth Movement in Perspective by Phil Molé, who attended a "truther" meeting in Chicago. (hat tip David Tribble)
ImplosionWorld.com has posted an analysis (in pdf form): A Critical Analysis of the Collapse of WTC Towers 1, 2 & 7 from an Explosives and Conventional Demolition Industry Viewpoint by Brent Blanchard. (hat tip Tim Sumner who has additional commentary: Liars descend on 9/11)
Editing changes made by ABC to the first part of its miniseries "The Path to 9/11" were cosmetic and didn't change the meaning of scenes that had angered several former Clinton administration officials, a spokesman for the former president said Monday.
As for Clinton, he didn't bother watching the movie that angered so many people who once worked for him.
From Little Green Footballs: Clinton Hangs with Loony Left Bloggers.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
The White House quarreled with Democrats Tuesday over whether President Bush was trying to win political points by using a September 11 anniversary speech to defend the war in Iraq and his war on terror. ...
Democrats, in a campaign to win control of Congress from the president's Republican Party, charged that Bush was using a national day of mourning for partisan gain. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Tuesday that Bush was "more consumed by staying the course in Iraq and playing election-year politics." ...
In the speech broadcast in prime time on the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks, the president described a brutal enemy still determined to kill Americans, perhaps with weapons of mass destruction if they get the chance.
"If we do not defeat these enemies now, we will leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons," Bush said. "We are in a war that will set the course for this new century and determine the destiny of millions across the world." ...
With his party's control of Congress at stake in elections less than two months away, Bush suggested that political opponents who are calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would be giving victory to the terrorists.
"Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone," Bush said from the Oval Office ...
While Democrats have been using public opposition to the Iraq war to argue for a change of leadership in Congress, Bush's prime-time address showed how he has been able to use the power of incumbency to command public attention and make his points. Democrats objected to the tone.
"The president should be ashamed of using a national day of mourning to commandeer the airwaves to give a speech that was designed not to unite the country and commemorate the fallen but to seek support for a war in Iraq that he has admitted had nothing to do with 9/11," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said in a statement. "There will be time to debate this president's policies in Iraq. September 11th is not that time." ...
[Bush spokesman Tony] Snow noted that Emanuel, Kennedy and other Democrats attacked the speech shortly after the president was finished speaking, suggesting they were the ones who injected politics. "It appears that there had been a desire immediately after the speech to go ahead and make partisan points," he said. ...
Bush delivered a message to bin Laden and other terrorists who are still on the run. "No matter how long it takes, America will find you, and we will bring you to justice," Bush said.
Also from CNN: Bush's 9/11 speech sparks bitter partisan squabbles.
John's alternate title for this cartoon: "Snakes on a Train."
UDPATE I -- Sept. 13: From The Boston Herald: Letter across the divide by Jules Crittenden.
But enough about me.Some questions for you: Do you actually think our own president is a greater menace to world peace and stability than our opponents would be with nuclear weapons?Are we to accept the word of tyrants that they were well-intentioned and not engaged in weapons programs when all the evidence has convinced our leaders and intelligence agencies that they are?
UPDATE II -- Sept. 15: At least one Democrat has a plan for the War on Terrorism. John Kerry offered Five Priorities for Keeping America Secure, the first steps being to "redeploy from Iraq" and "re-commit to Afghaniston" (hat tip Antonio E. Gonzalez). Once, at the very end, Kerry manages to use the phrase "Islamic extremists," which is the only mention of Islam. Hamas gets a passing mention, but conspicuously absent is Iran. The expected multilateralism is there though:
*Work Through Global Institutions. Working through global institutions doesn't tie our hands – it invests in our aims with greater legitimacy and dampens the fear and resentment that our preponderant power sometimes inspires in others.
I certainly don't agree with that assessment, but Bush might.
According to Adnkronos International, the Taliban is now "calling the shots in North and South Waziristan." The Taliban and Pakistan have agreed on a truce that ensures the Pakistani Army "will not carry out operations against them" in North Waziristan. The tribal Jirga confirms this, and Pakistani troops have now withdrawn from North Waziristan.
These truces are fueling the resurgence of Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pak=
istan, and by default Afghanistan.
***Scroll down for video update.***
The statistics from September 11 only hint at what was taken from so many on that horrible morning. Making the death toll less abstract is the Web site 2,996: Honouring the Victims of 9/11 which has organized bloggers to post a tribute to the life of each victim. On this the fifth anniversary, let us remember.
INSERTED UDPATE: In Memoriam: Jim White (A special thanks to Denise Lewis for her tribute.)
Once he took a friend to the top of the Empire State Building. As they looked out across the skyline, Jimmy pointed out the Twin Towers. He said, “One day, I’m going to work there.” There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would.
In the book Never Forget, Steven Bienkowski gave his eye-witness account of the World Trade Center as viewed from a helicopter:
"It was pretty clear that people were trapped. There was nobody on the roof. About 80 percent of the roof was engulfed in black smoke. People were hanging out of the building, gasping for air. Some were jumping and others were accidentally being pushed by the people behind them who were just trying to get out of the smoke and get to the air. Everything I've seen in my seventeen years as a police officer became minuscule. The past became insignificant. It was just so much more horrible than anything your mind could have ever conjured up."
Vanity Fair published a story about Mike Rambousek, a father who sees his son, Luke, in the above photograph: The Man In The Window by David Friend.
The photo was a revelation -- even to the photographer. "I didn't know I had that picture until I blew it up on my computer," says Jeff Christensen, a freelancer for Reuters, who took the shot with a 300-mm. lens from six blocks away. "It's only about one-tenth of the original [frame]. In the whole image you can see where the plane went into the building." Christensen, whose shot ran in various publications before being largely relegated to the Internet, estimates that it was taken at a horrendous juncture: 15 minutes after the south tower fell and 15 minutes before Luke's building would do the same.
UPDATE -- Sept. 11: Joe Katzman at Winds of Change has a large compilation of 9/11 links: 9/11 Comprehensive Roundup 2006: Five Years In - And So It Begins...
UPDATE II: Here are a number of must-see 9/11 video links:
Charles Johnson posted a rare amateur video showing the World Trade Center burning and the fate of those inside, and he asks us to Bear Witness.
Hot Air compiled hightlights from CNN's coverage of that day and also posted an incredible amateur video shot close the WTC just after the first attack: Video: 9/11, as it happened.
And from James Lileks: September 11, 2001.
We've added a panel to this cartoon every year since 2002. Sadly this year could have been a repeat of last year, because not much has changed in regard to Iran -- Bush is still waging a war of words, and Ahamadinejad is coming to New York again. Instead, for the fifth anniversary, we're highlighting people who seem to prefer deflecting responsibility for 9/11 over identifying and confronting our enemies.
Little Green Footballs notes that the Council on American Islamic Relations is Pressuring Schools to Whitewash 9/11. Quoting an article from the The Sacramento Bee:
Some Muslims say the texts unfairly paint all people of their faith as terrorists. They say frequent references to “Arab terrorists,” “Muslim terrorists,” “Muslim extremists,” or “Islamic fundamentalists” give schoolchildren a negative impression of their religion.
“Because these terms are repeated so many times, it’s very alarming,” said Maren Shawesh, of the Sacramento chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “We don’t want these younger students to grow up with that perception of Islam and Muslims.”
The ABC miniseries movie The Path to 9/11 apparently puts some of the blame for that day on inaction by the Clinton administration. Democrats have complained about the fictionalizing of historical details, and now Variety reports: Pols pound 'Path'; Under fire, ABC mulls yanking mini. Dick Morris has responded to some of the complaints. And even The New York Times praised The Path to 9/11"
I can't comment on the movie, but if it's essentially accurate in the required summation and fictionalization of events, then the movie should stand whether the particulars match history or not. "Fake but accurate" is not an acceptable standard for journalism, but it is absolutely necessary for art. And this is a movie not a documentary.
And lastly, five years later there's no shortage of conspiracy theories about 9/11, one even from a Florida Democratic candidate. It shouldn't even be necessary, but some people are vigilantly debunking of the deniers:
Screw Loose Change by Mark Iradian is an excellent site dedicated to debunking a video known as "Loose Change" that propagates leftist 9/11 conspiracy theories.
MEMRI has just released a new online documentary: The Arab and Iranian Reaction to 9/11 -- Five Years Later. It uses footage from Middle East television and is narrated by actor Ron Silver. One quote from the film by an Middle East columnist: "I have a sneaking suspicion that George W. Bush was involved in the operations of September 11, as was Colin Powell." (See YouTube trailer here.)
UPDATE -- Sept. 11: Michelle Malkin has more on the conspiracy theorists or, as she more aptly calls them, the 9/11 tinfoil hat brigade.
UPDATE II: Hot Air has an excellent video debate between the "Loose Change" conspiracy nuts and the Popular Mechanics editors, who wrote the book Debunking 9/11 Myths. The value of this video is its demonstration of how conspiracy theorists operate, which is to take their subjective, ignorant assertions and cloak them in scientific jargon, all the while presenting no evidence to support their "theories" and completely evading contradictory evidence. In other words, a total disregard for reason.
UPDATE III -- Sept. 12: Watching the bonus video included in the Hot Air link above, I realized that describing the "Loose Change" guys as "nuts" was far too kind. An 11-year-old boy was killed on one of the 9/11 flights. Prior to the flight, the boy expressed a fear of flying, and his father reassured his son about death. Perfectly normal behavior, and utterly tragic in hindsight. Yet one of the "Loose Change" guys takes this as "evidence" that the father was in on some conspiracy. They mock the death of the boy, the grief of the father, and all those who died and lost loved ones that day. The word for that is not "nuts"; it's sadistic.
UPDATE IV -- Sept. 13: If you had any doubts that the "Bush Did It!" seniment existed, see this photo at LGF.
In every single case, we found that the very facts used by conspiracy theorists to support their fantasies are mistaken, misunderstood or deliberately falsified.
From The Boston Herald: Furor at Harvard: Khatami visit part of anti-Israel tilt? by Brett Arends.
A furious row has broken out at Harvard over the decision to invite Mohammad Khatami, the pro-Hezbollah former president of Iran, to speak on Sunday.
And it has revived growing questions about whether the university itself is falling under the sway of anti-Israel sentiment.
"I've been getting e-mails and calls from alumni and students from all parts of the world," university rabbi Hirschy Zrachi said yesterday. "People are shocked and offended. This man has no place speaking at a place like Harvard."
He added: "It is unfortunate that some people don't have the moral compass to condemn evil."
Students within the university are organizing a demonstration against Khatami for when he arrives.
Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature, noted: "The most preposterous part of the invitation is the subject on which he is allowed to speak." That subject: "The Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence."
The dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government yesterday defended the decision to invite Mohammad Khatami to speak on the eve of Sept. 11, saying the United States needs dialogue with its enemies.
From Front Page Magazine: Khatami's Academic Enablers by Joseph Puder.
Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government welcomed former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami last week. The current Iranian government led by its anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has sent Khatami on a “charm offensive” to neutralize America’s resolve to seek sanctions against Iran. ...
Cognizant of the deceptive “charm offensive” by Iran’s theocrats, U.S. Representative Brad Sherman, D-CA, appealed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to deny Khatami a visa to the U.S. In his letter to rice Sherman pointed out, “ A visit by the so-called reformist president would no doubt be utilized for maximum propaganda benefit by the Iranian government in the current standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.” Sherman added:
Khatami was president of a country labeled the number one state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department every year during his presidency…Khatami showed no interest in curtailing his country’s support for terrorism during his tenure as president, and certainly has not shown any now. He was and is a strong proponent of Iranian government material support for such terrorist organizations as Hezbollah, HAMAS, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Terrorist activity, including providing material support for terrorist organizations, is grounds for denying a visa.
From The American Thinker: Welcome to the Land of the Great Satan, Smiling Mullah by Amil Imani. (via Iran Press News)
1. Thousands of dissident students, intellectuals and journalists were systematically arrested, imprisoned and tortured for the sole crime of speaking up against the repressive rule of the mullahs. Many are still languishing in prisons, some have died, and some have simply vanished with no records of what happened to them.
2. During this turbaned fascist’s watch, many students’ lives were extinguished for daring to express their opposition to the stone-age regime. Shamelessly, during the 9 July of 1999 students demonstration, for instance, this man called the Tehran university students “A bunch of hooligans,” while his storm-trooper hooligans, with police support, brutally attacked students in their dormitories throwing some students out of the windows of the dorm’s third floor. Now, he is welcomed at Harvard University to lecture its “hooligans” and faculty on practicing tolerance.
3. Arrested dissidents were denied the due process of law. Those who were granted perfunctory hearings before receiving the guilty verdict were not allowed legal counsel. The few who were granted legal counsel saw even their attorneys imprisoned for defending them.
4. Prisoners of conscience were routinely tortured to extract confessions about the crimes they did not commit. Some of the victims were permanently incapacitated while others died under the brutal torture.
Meanwhile, what has Khatami had to say so far? From AP via The Register-Guard: Khatami uses visit to bash Bush.
As a backdrop to the new Brownback bill, former Iranian political prisoners and their relatives gave grisly testimony Thursday of torture under the regime of former president Mohammad Khatami, who is currently visiting the United States.
They were introduced by Reza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, who called the meeting "an unprecedented gathering" and applauded his compatriots for setting aside partisan political differences to work together to "liberate" their country from clerical rule.
He blasted Khatami "who for eight years personally forwarded the agenda of the regime that has inspired, funded, directed, and sponsored militancy internationally and suppression at home."
UPDATE II: Satire on Khatami vist The People's Cube: "If he's good enough for Chavez, he's good enough for Harvard!"
UPDATE III -- Sept. 9: From the Ayn Rand Institute: Khatami's Harvard Visit Is a Disgrace by Yaron Brook.
For [Kkhatami] to lecture Americans on ethics and non-violence is as obscene as a child molester instructing his victims on the importance of respecting individual rights.
Harvard defended Khatami’s visit, claiming we must have an “open dialogue” with Iran and allow for a “free exchange of ideas.” But there can be no “free exchange of ideas” between a killer and those he seeks to kill--or between a brutal dictatorship and the free nation it seeks to annihilate.
Let’s stop appeasing Iran and make it clear that those who threaten the United States will not receive an “open dialogue,” but swift destruction.
UPDATE IV: The Boston Globe prints letters to the editor where one can see the "let's have a dialouge with those who want to kill us" mentality. Fortunately you'll also see a letter from Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, who says in part:
ROMNEY'S COMMENTS about Khatami's visit to Massachusetts were entirely apt. It was outrageously offensive of the US State Department to extend an invitation to such a criminal against humanity. Apparently Foggy Bottom's appeasement of archaic religious zealots, while wronging a distinct majority of Iranians fighting for a secular and peaceful Iran, is its trendy version of democracy.
UPDATE V -- Sept. 10: On the occassion of Khatami's visit today to Boston, from The Boston Herald: Time to send message to Iran by Jules Crittenden.
UPDATE VI: From The Boston Herald: Former Iranian President denies all on feel-good tour by Jessica Fargen. (Hat tip Jules Crittenden)
President Bush on Wednesday for the first time acknowledged the use of secret CIA prisons outside U.S. borders to hold top suspects captured in the war on terrorism.
In a speech at the White House, Bush said captured terror suspects have been the best intelligence source in efforts to stop new attacks and listed attacks blocked because of this intelligence.
The CIA program has "saved innocent lives," the president said.
Bush said torture was not part of the program and he had not authorized any form of torture, saying American law forbids it.
Bush said locations of the prisons will remain secret.
"They are in our custody so they cannot murder our people," Bush said of the detainees.
The program "helped take potential mass murderers off the streets," Bush said.
Bush said that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is among 14 high-level detainees to be transferred from CIA to Pentagon custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where, with congressional approval of new military tribunals, they would face trial.
From the International Herald Tribune: Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for purge of liberal university teachers.
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from universities, in another sign of his determination to stamp a strong Islamic fundamentalist revival on the country. ...
Earlier this year, dozens of liberal university professors and teachers were sent into retirement, and last November, Ahmadinejad's administration for the first time named a cleric to head the country's oldest institution of higher education, Tehran University — drawing strong protests from students.
His administration also has launched crackdowns on independent journalists, web sites and bloggers.
Still, the latest call was another sign that Ahmadinejad is determined to remake Iran — which still has strong moderate factions — reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued in the 1980s under the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
"It's horrible. I did not expect at all that Ahmadinejad, who during his presidential campaign said he is also a university teacher, would try to deprive others from their jobs because of political differences," said Reza, a university graduate who did not wish to be identified further.
His call Tuesday for a purge was, in some ways, an eerie echo from the days of the revolution.
"Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with a group of students.
Ahmadinejad complained that reforms in the country's universities were difficult to accomplish and that the educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years. But, he added: "Such a change has begun."
It was not clear if Ahmadinejad intended to take immediate specific measures, or if he was just urging the students to rally.
Iranian propaganda, compliments of CNN: Ex-Iranian leader blames Bush policies for terrorism.
U.S. foreign policy is furthering terrorism in the Muslim world, and negotiations are the only way to resolve the impasse over Iran's nuclear ambitions, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told CNN while on a two-week visit to the United States.
The reformist leader is widely viewed as moderate compared with new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As president, Khatami favored stronger U.S. ties.
In an interview Sunday with CNN, Khatami said American policies have "only increased, and will only increase, extremism in our region."
In the interview, he also broke with his hard-line successor by saying he does not call for Israel's destruction.
But he defended Iran's support for Hezbollah, calling the Lebanon-based militant group a resistance organization. And though Hezbollah used Iranian weapons in its recent war with Israel, Khatami denied that Iran contributes to violence in the Middle East.
A "reformist" and "moderate" who doesn't support the destruction of Israel yet somehow does support Hezbollah whose purpose is the destruction of Israel? Yeah, right.
Here are some informative articles about Khatami. From The New York Sun editorial page: Khatemi at Harvard.
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, fresh from having established itself as a headwater of anti-Israel agitation, is choosing to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in an astounding way — by hosting Mohammed Khatemi, a former president of Iran, an enemy state levying a terrorist war against America. Mr. Khatemi has been invited to speak on, of all things, "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." The title insults the intelligence of all those who would attend. What in the world is a man who presided over the July 9, 1999, crackdown on Tehran University, where hundreds of students were arrested and tortured, doing speaking about "tolerance" at a university? ...
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN in January 1998, "The impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the United States are in fact made in Tel Aviv, and not in Washington." ...
• Mr. Khatemi told CNN, "I regret to say that the improper American policy of unbridled support for the aggression of a racist, terrorist regime does not serve the United States interest, nor does it even serve those of the Jewish people." ...
• Mr. Khatemi has spoken of "the criminal Zionist regime." ...
• In April 2001, the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Mr. Khatemi as saying, "As a parasite, Zionism is founded on the fallacious concepts of superiority and the transgression of human rights."
From Front Page Magazine: : Just Say No to Khatami by Ken Timmerman.
Just one year into his term, his intelligence service murdered in horribly brutal fashion Darioush and Parvaneh Forouhar, leaders of the Iran Nation’s Party, then the best-organized opposition in Iran. The following year, Khatami quashed the student rebellion that began at Tehran University among INP members and sympathizers including Marzeporgohar (Iranians for a Secular Republic) and quickly spread to 18 other cities across Iran.
That was just the beginning of a crackdown on domestic dissent that occurred on Khatami’s watch and on his orders. ...
In 1984, as minister of culture and Islamic propagation, he presided over the creation of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army of terrorists in Lebanon and elsewhere. He thought that was exactly what the Islamic Republic of Iran needed to do to expand its influence around the world.
As president, Khatami never opposed Iran’s development of nuclear weapons technology, or long-range ballistic missiles to deliver them. On the contrary, it was on Khatami’s watch that Iran accelerated its once-secret nuclear weapons development, and flouted its success to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The latter two links are via Iran Press News.
UPDATE -- Sept. 5: From MEMRI of a 2005 interview with Khatami: Iranian President Khatami: I Expect No Change in US-Iranian Relations; We Love Hizbullah; Chirac Told Us He He Never Called to Disarm Hizbullah. (via Iran Press News)
From ABC News: Iraqi group uses Michael Moore film to mock Bush.
An Iraqi militant group has produced an elaborate video of what it said were attacks on U.S. troops, in the latest example of the increasingly sophisticated propaganda war being waged by Iraqi insurgents.
"The Code of Silence" was posted on the Internet by the Rashedeen Army, thought to be a relatively small Sunni group which has produced videos in the past of attacks it claims to have carried out.
At almost an hour in length, it is the longest and most professionally made of recent postings by mainly Sunni militant and insurgent groups fighting the U.S.-backed government. ...
Lifting scenes from Michael Moore's anti-war film "Fahrenheit 9/11," Rashedeen's narrator taunts President Bush in softly spoken English over graphic images of Humvees being blown up by roadside bombs, and purportedly dead U.S. troops. ...
At one point, the documentary cuts to a scene from Moore's 2004 award-winning film where he lobbies on the steps of the U.S. Congress in Washington.
"After all, there are honest and influential guys in America and if Mr Moore can talk to you like that, so can I," the Rashedeen narrator says.