Defense Secretary Robert Gates tied Iran's government to large shipments of weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and said Wednesday that such quantities were unlikely without Tehran's knowledge.
Gates' comments, coming after accusations by a State Department official, were the strongest by a Cabinet secretary about Iran's support of the terrorist group in Afghanistan.
Basing his conclusions on new intelligence, Gates said "given the quantities (of weapons) that we're seeing, it is difficult to believe that it is associated with smuggling or the drug business or that it's taking place without the knowledge of the Iranian government."
He said that the latest information indicates a "fairly substantial flow of weapons" is crossing into Afghanistan. ...
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN on Wednesday that "there's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this."
"It's certainly coming from the government of Iran," he said. "It's coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard corps command, which is a basic unit of the Iranian government."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters "it certainly is hard to believe that the Iranian government isn't involved in some way, shape or form in this."
Gates and other defense officials would not go as far as Burns did. The Pentagon chief also said he was not as certain about the link to Iran's Quds Force, which is accused of arming and training Iraqi militants.
In April, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed that Iranian-made weapons intended for Taliban insurgents were intercepted by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Pace said at the time that it was not clear which Iranian entity was responsible for the arms, which included mortars and C-4 plastic explosives.
For a list of stories about Iran's war-making against us in Iraq, see the links in this post.
UPDATE I -- June 29: From CNN: Roadside bomb kills 5 U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.
UPDATE II -- July 1: From CNN: Officials: Captured Hezbollah agent helped plan deadly Karbala raid.
top special operations officer from Lebanon's Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah has been captured in Iraq, where U.S. officials say he played a key role in a January attack that killed five Americans.
A 2006 poster in Iraq shows Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, left, and Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Ali Mussa Daqduq, an explosives expert, was captured in March in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where he was helping train and lead Shiite militias fighting coalition troops, U.S. intelligence officials told CNN.
Daqduq pretended to be deaf and mute when captured, and his identity was not known for weeks, the officials said.
Once uncovered, however, they said he began to talk, and they now believe he played a crucial role in the January 20 attack in Karbala. ...
Intelligence officials say Daqduq is one of Hezbollah's top special operations commanders, an expert in the use of roadside bombs. The Americans say he, along with the Iraqi militia commanders he worked with, has admitted working with Iran's elite Quds Force special operations unit.
U.S. commanders have said for months that Iraqi militants have been receiving weapons and training from members of the Quds Force, an element of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Washington has demanded the Iranian government stop the flow of arms and militants across its border -- which, along with the diplomatic standoff over Iran's nuclear fuel program, has raised fears of a wider war in the region.
Iran, which has close ties to the Shiite parties that control Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government, has repeatedly denied the allegations. But U.S. intelligence officials said the Quds Force has been backing the creation of Shiite "special groups" modeled on Hezbollah, which holds sway over much of southern Lebanon.
This cartoon is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III.
We created this graphic for the 98th Maintenance Company, which is part of the Special Troops Battalion at Fort Richardson, Alaska. The company mascot is a wolverine. The project was directed by Georganna Cushing, who is a Family Readiness Group leader for the 98th and whose husband serves in the company. She used the design for t-shirts which were sold to raise money for the group, and she reports that the shirts were a success. Our thanks to the men and women of the 98th and its FRG!
Below is a very special "thank you" sent to us on Iraqi dinars from the 98th.:
Below are (left to right) SFC Gonzales, SFC Cushing and MSG Sharpe:
Below is one of four MST Teams in the 98th:
If you follow the link, you will be treated to some scenes from the strenuous life of a professional Muslim protester in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. Over the last few years, there have been innumerable opportunities for him to demonstrate his piety and his pissed-offness. And the cameras have been there for him every time. Is it a fatwah? Is it a copy of the Quran allegedly down the gurgler at Guantanamo? Is it some cartoon in Denmark? Time for Rage Boy to step in and for his visage to impress the rest of the world with the depth and strength of Islamist emotion.
Last week, there was another go-round of this now-formulaic story, when Salman Rushdie accepted a knighthood from her majesty the queen, and the whole cycle of hysteria started up again. Effigies and flags burned (is there some special factory in Karachi that churns out the flags of democratic countries for occasions like this?), wounded screams from religious nut bags, bounties raised to suborn murder, and solemn resolutions passed by notional bodies such as the Pakistani "parliament." A few months ago, it was the pope who was being threatened, and Christians in the Middle East and Muslim Asia who were actually being killed. Indeed, Rage Boy had a few yells and gibberings to offer on that occasion, too. ...
We may have to put up with the Rage Boys of the world, but we ought not to do their work for them, and we must not cry before we have been hurt. In front of me is a copy of this week's Economist, which states that Rushdie's 1989 death warrant was "punishment for the book's unflattering depiction of the Prophet Muhammad." There is no direct depiction of the prophet in this work of fiction, and the reverie about his many wives occurs in the dream of a madman. Nobody in Ayatollah Khomeini's circle could possibly have read the book for him before he issued a fatwah, which made it dangerous to possess. Yet on that occasion, the bookstore chains of America pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves, just as Borders shamefully pulled Free Inquiry (a magazine for which I write) after it reproduced the Danish cartoons. Rage Boy keenly looks forward to anger, while we worriedly anticipate trouble, and fret about etiquette, and prepare the next retreat. If taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean living at the pleasure of Rage Boy, and that I am not prepared to do.
The cartoon is a play on the famous quote from the 1953 Marlon Brando film The Wild Ones.
UPDATE: Also from LGF: Muslim Speaker at Church: 'Touch Mohammed and There Will Be Riots'.
From AP: Israel announces mass prisoner release.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday he will release 250 Fatah members from Israeli prisons in a goodwill gesture aimed at strengthening Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas' victory in Gaza.
Olmert announced the prisoner release at a summit with Abbas and the leaders of Egypt and Jordan that the Arabs and Palestinians are hoping can push forward the peace process and strengthen Abbas' hand.
"As a gesture of good will towards the Palestinians, I will bring before the Israeli Cabinet a proposal to free 250 Fatah prisoners who do not have blood on their hands, after they sign a commitment not to return to violence," Olmert told the gathering. ...
Olmert's Cabinet on Sunday approved the release of tax funds that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians but has withheld since Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006. Israel is holding $550 million in frozen funds, but the Cabinet decision did not say how much of the money would be released, or when.
The Israeli freeze on the money rendered past Palestinian governments unable to pay full salaries to government employees, causing hardship in the already impoverished territories.
By having the prisoners who supposedly "do not have blood on their hands" make a worthless, unenforceable oath not to return to violence, Olmert reveals two things: 1) that the prisoners were involved in violence, and 2) that there are Fatah members who do have blood on their hands. Try as he might, he can't hide the fact that he's dealing with a fundamentally violent organization. In the long run, it's Olmert who will have blood on his hands.
UPDATE -- July 2: From Reuters: Israel transfers $120 million to Abbas in first stage.
From AFP: Iran says Rushdie death fatwa still stands.
Iran said on Sunday that a fatwa ordering the death of British writer Salman Rushdie issued by its revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini still stands after his knighthood by the queen.
"The stance of the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to this issue has not changed from what was put forward by the Imam Khomeini," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.
The Indian-born Rushdie, 59, was forced to go into hiding for a decade after Khomeini issued the 1989 death sentence over his book "The Satanic Verses," saying it insulted Islam.
Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in January 2005 he still believed the British novelist was an apostate whose killing would be authorised by Islam.
To see more of John's caricatures, see his new blog John Cox Art.
Muslim anger flared Thursday after Britain defended Salman Rushdie's knighthood, with fresh protests against the novelist and Pakistani traders offering a big reward for his beheading.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Indian Kashmir and Pakistan, while Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, criticised the timing of the honour.
The Indian-born Rushdie was given the award on Saturday, 18 years after he was sentenced to death by Iran's hardline clerical regime for writing what it said was a blasphemous book, "The Satanic Verses".
"We will give 10 million rupees (165,000 dollars) to anyone who beheads Rushdie," Islamabad traders' association leader Ajmal Baluch told around 200 people in one of the Pakistani capital's main bazaars.
The crowd chanted, "Cut off the head of Salman Rushdie!" ...
Later Afzal Sahi -- the speaker of the Punjab province assembly and a member of the Pakistan Muslim League party that backs President Pervez Musharraf -- said in a debate that he would "definitely kill" Rushdie if he could.
During a protest against Musharraf by thousands of people in Lahore witnesses said a large part of the crowd briefly chanted, "Death to Britain! Death to Rushdie!"
From the BBC: Why Salman Rushdie was knighted.
His book, The Satanic Verses, was seen as so offensive to Muslims that he was forced into hiding, under threat of death.
The latest controversy over his knighthood appears to have shocked the people involved in nominating and selecting him.
Jonathan Heawood, director of the English branch of Pen, said: "We have argued for a long time that Salman Rushdie should be recognised by the government as a giant of world literature.
"I've been struggling for a form of words that does not sound naive but we were taken aback, everyone was taken aback, by the scale of the reaction."
We're happy to announce that Quent Cordair Fine Art is officially representing John's fine art paintings. QCFA, a San Francisco-based gallery, has been an advertiser here on the C&F site for a few years, so it's a collaboration that's not surprising. After seeing John's latest work on his new blog, Linda Cordair contacted John, and the rest, as they say, is history. Paintings are already being sold, so be sure to check out John's gallery page to see what's available. Our congratulations to them both!
Despite the new Democratic congressional leadership's promise of "openness and transparency" in the budget process, a CNN survey of the House found it nearly impossible to get information on lawmakers' pet projects.
Staffers for only 31 of the 435 members of the House contacted by CNN between Wednesday and Friday of last week supplied a list of their earmark requests for fiscal year 2008, which begins on October 1, or pointed callers to Web sites where those earmark requests were posted.
Of the remainder, 68 declined to provide CNN with a list, and 329 either didn't respond to requests or said they would get back to us, and didn't.
"As long as we are not required to release them, we're not going to," said Dan Turner, an aide to Rep. Jim McCrery, R-Louisiana.
Seven members of the House said they had no earmark requests.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, released a list of his earmark requests on Monday.
In 2006, Congress approved a record $29 billion in earmarks -- those spending requests derided as "pork" that fund everything from road construction and research grants to ski lifts and minor league baseball diamonds. Legislators view these projects as important proof that they are serving their constituents back home.
The 2006 total was 6.2 percent more than 2005's $27.3 billion.
When Democrats regained control of Congress last fall, they promised to create the most honest, open Congress in history.
"We will bring transparency and openness to the budget process and to the use of earmarks," Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi said in December 2006, "and we will give the American people the leadership they deserve."
Democrats said that Republicans had corrupted the earmark process while they controlled Congress.
Earlier this year, the House implemented rules changes that require greater disclosure of earmark requests, and the Senate passed a bill that would require lawmakers to post a list of their earmark requests on the Internet. The bill, however, has not passed the House.
The United States joined the European Union on Monday in announcing its willingness to resume hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the new Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
The commitment of financial and political support follows last week's gunbattles between rival Palestinian factions that led to Hamas routing Fatah forces in Gaza loyal to Abbas and the crumbling of a Fatah-Hamas unity government.
In response, Abbas declared a state of emergency and appointed a new Cabinet of political independents based in the West Bank.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she spoke by phone with newly appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday. "I told him that the United States would resume full assistance to the Palestinian government and normal government-to-government contacts," Rice said.
Rice added that the United States will give up to $86 million to help build the government infrastructure, such as improving roads and providing drinking water. ...
President Bush called Abbas on Monday and pledged his support to the president and "those Palestinian moderates who are working to better the lives of Palestinians and work toward a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
"Palestinian moderates"? It was Fatah's Abbas who refused to disarm Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas and the "armed wing" of his own party, even after continued terrorist attacks. It was Fatah terrorists who claimed joint responsibility with Hamas for the suicide-bombing mother who murdered four people. Abbas has called Israel the "Zionist enemy". It is Fatah whose name means "conquest" and whose logo still includes an AK-47 and a grenade.
There's so little difference between Hamas and Fatah that you can barely tell them apart: Fatah photo and Hamas photo. The only real difference is that Hamas is more open about its intent to destroy Isreal.
A little something from the mind of John. Lots going on over at his blog: John Cox Art. Be sure to check it out regularly.
Tens of thousands of mourners marched in a funeral procession Thursday for a prominent anti-Syrian legislator killed by a car bomb in a new blow to the stability of Lebanon.
Lawmaker Walid Eido was killed Wednesday as the government began putting together a U.N.-ordered international tribunal to try suspects in the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut two years ago _ a move strongly opposed by Syria and its allies in Lebanon.
Eido was a prominent supporter of the tribunal and a close friend of Hariri. He is the seventh anti-Syrian figure killed in Lebanon in the past two years, starting with the February 2005 death of Hariri in a suicide car bombing less than a mile from Wednesday's attack. Many Lebanese have accused Syria of being behind the slayings, a claim Damascus denies.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora called for an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers and the international community to assist in the investigation of Eido's assassination near a popular waterfront promenade in Beirut.
The slaying was likely to further inflame Lebanon's bitter power struggle between Saniora's Western-backed government and its Syrian-backed opponents, led by the Hezbollah militant group. ...
President Bush _ a major Saniora ally _ condemned the bombing and pledged "the United States will continue to stand up for Lebanon, its people, and its legitimate government as they face these attacks."
Bush noted the victims of the spate of attacks "have always been those who sought an end to Syrian President (Bashar) Assad's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs."
A few weeks back, before this latest assassination, Amir Taheri wrote about the UN's failures regarding the Hariri assassination: Lebanon is on the brink.
Talk to anyone familiar with the UN's investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and you will hear the same message: it is an open and shut case! And, yet some are stirring trouble, including the current fighting in northern Lebanon, to put the whole issue on the backburner.
Serge Brammertz, the European judge who heads the investigation, says he has more than enough evidence to initiate prosecution against those he has identified as suspects. ...
And yet, the UN Security Council, which ordered the investigation soon after Hariri's murder in February 2005, is still undecided whether or not to bring the perpetrators to justice.
UPDATE: Ouch! We made a dumb typo in the cartoon, which has now been fixed. We had "You're move" instead of "Your move." I struggled with this idea (not uncommon) and obviously dropped the ball on something simple. Thanks to everyone who caught the error and notified us, including Mark Eagleton, Barbara Hallahan, Payton Quackenbush, Tim, Jon A. Klein, and Aaron.
This cartoon was originally posted on June 20, 2006, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Today Little Green Footballs posted video of an actual Gaza weapons bazaar.
Meanwhile, as war rages between rival Palestinian terrorist groups, AFP reports: U.S. gives nod to easing Palestinian embargo.
With Bush administration backing, a 15-month-old economic embargo of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority is being eased with funds from Arab and European donors, Israeli and Western officials said on Monday.
Some Israeli officials have decried what they see as a shift in U.S. policy aimed at bolstering Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah faction joined a unity government led by Hamas three months ago, and currying Arab states' support.
"The Palestinian Authority's financial position is much better today than six months ago. We are losing," said a senior Israeli official involved in overseeing the economic embargo imposed after Islamist Hamas came to power in 2006.
In the one month since Washington said donors could send funds to Finance Minister Salam Fayyad through a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) account, the account has received at least $160 million. ...
Hamas continues to defy Western demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous interim peace deals.
Fighting between Palestinian factions is worse than ever and can produce no winner, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.
Saeb Erakat spoke as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held emergency meetings and weighed options, including pulling out of the unity government of Fatah and Hamas leaders.
Abbas on Tuesday urged both sides to adhere to an immediate truce, according to a statement from his office.
"In my capacity as head of the Palestinian Authority and supreme leader of all our security and military forces, I call for an immediate cease-fire and for ... talks to end all violence and infighting," the official WAFA news agency quoted Abbas as saying.
But around the same time, an announcement on Fatah radio called on fighters to confront Hamas militants.
Broadcasts from Hamas fighters urged their Fatah foes to abandon their posts or face death.
A short time later, hundreds of Hamas gunmen surrounded a Fatah base in northern Gaza near the Jabalya refugee camp and launched an attack, Palestinian security sources said.
The commander of the Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades was killed in the fighting, the sources said.
UPDATE -- June 13: From CNN: Hamas bombs, declares control over Fatah compound.
Hamas militants killed at least 11 members of the rival Fatah faction Wednesday after setting off explosives in a tunnel beneath a security compound in southern Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.
Fatah's Preventive Security headquarters in Khan Yunis is now under Hamas control, the sources said.
The blast came after Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, announced it had taken over northern Gaza and turned the region into a "closed military area."
Izzedine al-Qassam, which made its announcement late Tuesday over mosque loudspeakers across the region, called on residents to hand over their weapons to the militant group by 7 p.m. (noon ET) Friday.
The "closed military area" over which Hamas has asserted control includes all villages and towns north of Gaza City, including Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahya and the Jabalya refugee camp.
From New York Sun: Peace Corps Part of Edwards Terror Plan.
Senator Edwards is outlining a new national security strategy that includes the creation of a 10,000-person civilian peace corps to stem the tide of terrorism in weak and unstable countries. ...
The plan Mr. Edwards presented yesterday — which he dubbed "A Strategy to Shut Down Terrorists and Stop Terrorism Before It Starts" — calls for a 10,000-person "Marshall Corps" to deal with issues ranging from worldwide poverty and economic development to clean drinking water and micro-lending. He said investing in those areas would shore up weak nations and help ensure that terrorism does not take root there. That, he said, would allow the country to stop potential terrorists before they even join the ranks.
There are "thousands committed to violence" today, he said, and America needs to use all of its tools to go after them. But he said millions more people are "sitting on the fence" about whether to join those ranks. "We have to offer them a hand to our side instead of a shove to the other side of that fence," he said.
Mr. Edwards proposed creating a Cabinet-level position to oversee the initiative, which he said would require international allies.
The president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Clifford May, said he was "skeptical" of Mr. Edwards's proposal.
"Humanitarian aid is a good thing. I approve of that. But it doesn't really have much to do with the causes of terrorism," Mr. May said. "Mohamed Atta, the lead terrorist on 9/11, was based in Germany, was well-educated. The causes of terrorism are several, but poverty is not one of them."
Debra Burlingame comments:
Mr. Edwards wants to pull our troops out of there, leaving a power vacuum which al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri and his boss, Osama Bin Laden are eager to fill. Can you imagine Edwards’ Marshall Corps of idealistic grad students and professors-on-sabbatical showing up in the abandoned Green Zone with construction blueprints and copies of Khalil Gibran hoping to win over terrified fence-sitters hiding from death squads?
For those who don't recognize the setting or the speech, see this.
From Newsday: Bush meets with pope, Italian PM.
President George W. Bush, denounced by tens of thousands of anti-American protesters on the streets of Rome, defended his humanitarian record yesterday to Pope Benedict XVI, who expressed concern about "the worrisome situation in Iraq."
Bush also sought to shore up relations with Premier Romano Prodi, whose center-left government has been heavily critical of U.S. policies. While Prodi has withdrawn Italian forces from Iraq, Bush thanked him for Italy's leadership in supporting the fragile Western-backed government in Lebanon and its commitment of 2,000 troops for NATO's mission in Afghanistan.
Relations with Italy are "pretty darn solid," Bush said.
Prodi agreed. "We basically agree on how the future of the world should look, should be," the Italian leader said.
Be sure to visit John's new blog. He's put up ten new images in the last week on a wide range of subject matter. And that's not counting the work appearing here!
From ABC News: Document: Iran Caught Red-Handed Shipping Arms to Taliban.
NATO officials say they have caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces, in what the officials say is a dramatic escalation of Iran's proxy war against the United States and Great Britain.
"It is inconceivable that it is anyone other than the Iranian government that's doing it," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped short earlier this week of blaming Iran, saying the U.S. did not have evidence "of the involvement of the Iranian government in support of the Taliban."
But an analysis by a senior coalition official, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, concludes there is clear evidence of Iran's involvement.
"This is part of a considered policy," says the analysis, "rather than the result of low-level corruption and weapons smuggling."
Iran and the Taliban had been fierce enemies when the Taliban was in power in Afghanistan, and their apparent collaboration came as a surprise to some in the intelligence community.
"I think their goal is to make it very clear that Iran has the capability to make life worse for the United States on a variety of fronts," said Seth Jones of the Rand Institute, "even if they have to do some business with a group that has historically been their enemy."
The coalition analysis says munitions recovered in two Iranian convoys, on April 11 and May 3, had "clear indications that they originated in Iran. Some were identical to Iranian supplied goods previously discovered in Iraq."
UPDATE I -- June 10: From CNN: Iran confirms detention of fourth Iranian-American.
UPDATE II -- June 11: From CBS News: Lieberman: Bomb Iran If It Doesn't Stop.
The United States should launch military strikes against Iran if the government in Tehran does not stop supplying anti-American forces in Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday on Face The Nation.
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman told Bob Schieffer. "And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers." ...
He said that he has seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq.
"By some estimates, they have killed as many as 200 American soldiers," he said.
Unfortunately, like Bush, Lieberman also advocates continued diplomatic efforts with Iran, but he adds "we can't just talk to them."
"If they don't play by the rules, we've got to use our force, and to me that would include taking military action to stop them from doing what they're doing."
UPDATE III -- June 13: From CNN: Iran arming Taliban, U.S. claims.
The United States has "irrefutable evidence" that Tehran is transferring arms to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, a top U.S. diplomat told CNN Wednesday, noting that NATO forces have intercepted some of the arms shipments.
"There's irrefutable evidence the Iranians are now doing this and it's a pattern of activity," U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN.
"If you see the Iranians arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank and, of course, arming Shia militants inside Iraq itself. It's very violent and very unproductive activity by the Iranian government."
And one that puts Tehran contrary to the U.N. Security Council, Burns said.
"Iran is operating against the last Security Council Resolution 1747, passed on March 24, which said that Iran must not transfer arms outside of Iran, and here it is doing it in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, so Iran is in outright violation of its Security Council commitments," according to Burns.
In late May, U.S. and British officials simply said that weapons crossing the border from Iran to Afghanistan may be winding up in the hands of the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic militia that is battling U.S.- and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
This cartoon was originally posted on May 25, 2006, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Louisiana congressman William Jefferson on Tuesday requested temporary leave as a member of the House Small Business Committee, a day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on a raft of corruption charges.
Jefferson asked to step down, pending the "successful conclusion" of the "legal matter," in a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Nancy Pelosi of California.
"In doing so, I, of course, express no admission of guilt or culpability in that or any other matter that may be pending in any court or before the House of Representatives," Jefferson wrote.
"I have supported every ethics and lobbying reform measure that you and our Democratic Majority have authored, and I make this request for leave to support the letter and the spirit of your leadership in this area."
It is Jefferson's only committee assignment. His Democratic colleagues had appointed him to the Homeland Security Committee earlier in the year -- a move that outraged some GOP members -- but the nomination was never voted on by the full House of Representatives.
Federal prosecutors Monday alleged that Jefferson took more than $500,000 in bribes and sought millions more, using a network of family companies to conceal the money.
The 95-page, 16-count indictment came nearly two years after federal agents reported finding $90,000 in a freezer in Jefferson's Washington home. It accuses him of racketeering, money laundering, obstruction of justice and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
From FOX News: Charges Against Guantanamo Bay Detainees Dismissed.
Military judges dismissed charges Monday against a Guantanamo detainee who chauffeured Usama bin Laden and another who allegedly killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, marking a stunning setback to Washington's attempts to try detainees in military court.
In back-to-back arraignments for Canadian Omar Khadr and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, of Yemen, the U.S. military's cases against the alleged Al Qaeda figures dissolved because, the two judges said, the government had failed to establish jurisdiction.
They were the only two of the roughly 380 prisoners at Guantanamo charged with crimes, and the rulings stand to complicate efforts by the United States to try other suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban figures in military courts.
Hamdan's military judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said the detainee is "not subject to this commission" under legislation passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush last year. Hamdan is accused of chauffeuring bin Laden's and being the Al Qaeda chief's bodyguard.
The new Military Commissions Act, written to establish military trials after the U.S. Supreme Court last year rejected the previous system, is full of problems, defense attorneys argued. ...
A Pentagon spokesman said the issue was little more than semantics.
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon told The Associated Press said the entire Guantanamo system was set up to deal with people who act as "unlawful enemy combatants," operating outside any internationally recognized military, without uniforms, military ranks or other things that make them party to the Geneva Conventions.
"It is our belief that the concept was implicit that all the Guantanamo detainees who were designated as 'enemy combatants' ... were in fact unlawful," Gordon said.
Sullivan said that reclassifying detainees as "unlawful," will require a time-consuming overhaul of the whole system. But Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University, said nothing prevents the Defense Department from reconvening hearings for detainees headed to trial and declaring them to be "unlawful" combatants.
From CNN: Putin: Missiles may target Europe.
Moscow could aim nuclear weapons at targets in Europe as part of "retaliatory steps" if Washington proceeds with building a missile defense system on the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday.
Speaking to foreign reporters days before he travels to Germany for the annual summit with President Bush and the other Group of Eight leaders, Putin assailed the White House plan to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. Washington says the system is needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.
In an interview released Monday, Putin suggested that Russia may respond to the threat by aiming its nuclear weapons at Europe.
"If a part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States appears in Europe and, in the opinion of our military specialists, will threaten us, then we will have to take appropriate steps in response. What kind of steps? We will have to have new targets in Europe," Putin said, according to a transcript released by the Kremlin. These could be targeted with "ballistic or cruise missiles or maybe a completely new system" he said.
On Monday, Iran's top security official called the U.S. plans for the missile defense shield a "joke," saying Tehran's missiles do not have the capability to reach Europe.
"Claims by U.S. officials that installing a missile defense system in Europe is aimed at confronting Iranian missiles and protecting Europe against Iran is the joke of the year," Ali Larijani told the state-run IRNA news agency.
"The range of Iran's missiles doesn't reach Europe at all," IRNA quoted Larijani as saying in Iran's first public reaction to the plans. Larijani is secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the country's top security decision-making body.
Iran is known to possess a medium-range ballistic missile called the Shahab-3 that has a range of at least 800 miles, capable of striking Israel. In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shahab-3 to 1,200 miles.
UPDATE I -- June 5: From FOX News: Bush to Putin: The Cold War Is Over.
Memo to Vladimir Putin: The Cold War is over.
President Bush gave the Russian president a firm response Tuesday to his remarks that Moscow would take "retaliatory steps" if the U.S. went ahead with plans to build a missile defense system in Europe.
"Russia is not the enemy," Bush said after meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. "The Cold War is over. It ended."
UPDATE II -- June 6: Regarding Iranian missiles ... From DEBKAFile: Ahmadinijad’s bluster boosted by secret deal for North Korean Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles. (hat tip Dr. Gary Katz)
Iran and North Korea are in advanced negotiations for Tehran’s purchase of Taep’o-dong-2 ballistic missiles, whose estimate range is 3,500-4,000 km., DEBKAfile’s exclusive intelligence sources report. North Korea’s deputy foreign minister Kim Hyong brought the proposition to its final stages when he visited Tehran in the first week of May. Delivery was promised for late July or early August. US Vice President Richard Cheney informed Saudi King Abdullah of this development during his May visit to Riyadh, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly 300 first revealed on May 11.
Israeli military sources say that Iranian president Mahoud Ahmadinejad’s declarations are made more outrageous than ever by knowledge of the deal. Sunday he declared the countdown has begun for the demise of the Zionist state.
Today we're happy to announce the launch of John's new blog: John Cox Art. This is one of the projects we worked on during our recent hiatus.
John is far more multi-faceted than is revealed in Cox & Forkum editorial cartoons, and the purpose of his new blog is to showcase tons of excellent art that is not getting exposure elsewhere, from paintings, to caricatures, to illustrations, to cartoons (go click through his archives to see what I mean).
The site is also a means of hiring John's talent. Over the years he has been commissioned by bloggers, publishers, and individuals for a number of projects. If you or someone you know is interested in such work, John's site provides a convenient means of contacting him and reviewing his work.
The site will also be a venue for John to discuss his work and interact with readers. We've kept the C&F site pretty focused on political/editorial work, and you'll continue to see John's editorial cartoons here on the C&F site. But for a plethora of other John Cox artwork and a chance to see his latest creations, the new blog is the place to go. You'll see sketchbook pages, ideas he's toying with, works in progress, and ongoing commentary.
So bookmark John Cox Art right now. John's blog promises to be active and entertaining.