Sunday, 25 January 2009

GUANTANAMO & THE WAR ON TERROR

Ken Berwitz

Like I said yesterday, it is a lot easier to sign a piece of paper that ends someone else's policy than it is to sign one that implements an alternative.

Monday-morning quarterbacking is easy.  Barack Obama did it for an entire campaign.  Well, now he's got the ball.  And god help us if he drops it, especially as it relates to the war on terror - the war that Mr. Obama seems to think is nonexistent.

Close Guantanamo, Mr. President?  Ok, you signed the piece of paper.  Congratulations.  Now read this, which comes from Agence France-Presse.  Especially the parts I've put in bold print:

Two ex-Guantanamo inmates appear in Al-Qaeda video

WASHINGTON (AFP) Two men released from the US "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have appeared in a video posted on a jihadist website, the SITE monitoring service reported.

One of the two former inmates, a Saudi man identified as Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, or prisoner number 372, has been elevated to the senior ranks of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, a US counter-terrorism official told AFP.

Three other men appear in the video, including Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, identified as an Al-Qaeda field commander. SITE later said he was prisoner No. 333.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, on Saturday declined to confirm the SITE information.

"We remain concerned about ex-Guantanamo detainees who have re-affiliated with terrorist organizations after their departure," said Gordon.

"We will continue to work with the international community to mitigate the threat they pose," he said.

On the video, al-Shihri is seen sitting with three other men before a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, the front for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

"By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri was quoted as saying.

Al-Shiri was transferred from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia in 2007, the US counter-terrorism official said.

The other men in the video are identified as Commander Abu Baseer al-Wahayshi and Abu Hureira Qasm al-Rimi (also known as Abu Hureira al-Sana'ani).

The Defense Department has said as many as 61 former Guantanamo detainees -- about 11 percent of 520 detainees transferred from the detention center and released -- are believed to have returned to the fight.

The latest case highlights the risk the new US administration faces as it moves to empty Guantanamo of its remaining 245 prisoners and close the controversial detention camp within a year.

President Obama:  Did you read that article?  In it, did you see any quote that gave you the impression these "people" were innocents who should not have been detained?  That all they want is to go back to their homes and families to resume their peaceful lives? 

Or did you see words that communicate "I'm a terrorist and now that I'm out I'm even more determined to be a terrorist"?

Well, you signed the executive order closing Guantanamo.  Just like you would sign a credit card slip after paying for lunch at TGI Friday's.  Easy as easy can be.

Now:  What the hell are you going to do to protect us?  Where are you going to send the hundreds of Guantanamo detainees you've just declared homeless?  

And who is going to advise you on it?  code pink?  moveon.org?  nancy pelosi?  al sharpton?

This is for real now, Mr. President.  Start acting like what you were elected to be.

Ken Berwitz Steve I hope that sack of excrement puts them up in his spare bedroom. (01/25/09)

steve schneider john murtha said he would take them in his district. i think he should be obliged. steve (01/25/09)


GAZA'S CHILDREN: WHERE DOES THE HATRED COME FROM?

Ken Berwitz

Following are excerpts from a stunningly tone-deaf Assocated Press article, which talks about the effect of Israel's attack on Gaza's children:

Israeli war against Hamas scars Gaza's children

Saja Abed Rabbo, 5, stands amid the rubble of her devastated neighborhood in AP  Saja Abed Rabbo, 5, stands amid the rubble of her devastated neighborhood in Jebaliya, northern gaza 

JEBALIYA, Gaza Strip Surrounded by mountains of rubble that were once their homes, two dozen children sat on a rainbow-colored blanket and drew with crayons.

They quickly filled the pages passed around by trauma counselors with pictures of Israeli tanks, dead bodies and Palestinians firing assault rifles scenes they saw when Israel's war on Hamas came into their neighborhood.

"We felt we will die soon," 11-year-old Sharif Abed Rabbo told the group, describing his family's escape. "And I am sad I lost my house."

Psychologists say Israel's three-week offensive inflicted more severe trauma than previous conflicts in Gaza because civilians in the crowded sliver of territory had no safe place to run. A wartime study among hundreds of Gaza children showed a rise in nightmares, bedwetting and other signs of trauma, said psychologist Fadel Abu Hein.

Counselors and aid workers fear that Gaza's children, who make up 56 percent of the 1.4 million people here, will grow up hating Israel and become easier prey for extremists.

"We are losing the next generation," said John Ging, the top U.N. aid official in Gaza. As a buffer against militancy, U.N. schools are launching human rights classes for their 200,000 students this week.

Children and teens were particularly vulnerable in Israel's military offensive, launched Dec. 27 to try to halt eight years of Hamas rocket fire on towns in southern Israel. The rocket attacks have frightened children there and frequently sent them running for cover.

Gaza's 221 U.N. schools are also trying to help the children cope. On Saturday, the first day of school, teachers asked students to share their stories.

The weekly human rights classes will include lessons about nonviolent ways of solving conflicts. Ging said the new program had been planned for awhile, but now has greater urgency.

"We have to stand with the mothers and fathers who want their children to grow up to be doctors, lawyers and civilized in their behavior and their thinking," Ging said. "But for sure, the circumstances here, day by day, are working against all of us who have that agenda."

For 14-year-old Zakariya Baroud, the trauma is still too real. He lost three classmates in an Israeli mortar attack that killed 42 people, most of them civilians, near a U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp. Israel said at the time that troops were firing at a Palestinian rocket squad in the area.

Zakariya said he saw bodies strewn across the main road, including that of his best friend, Bashar Deeb, with a deep gash in his throat.

His father, Baker, spent eight years in Israeli prisons for activities in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a violent group. He said he'd like Zakariya to attend university, but wouldn't talk him out of taking up arms.

"He is seeing suffering right now," he said of his son. "For 22 days, we were not able to sleep. He has witnessed the events by himself, so he, by himself, hates Israel."

Unbelievable. 

I initially read this story at www.freerepublic.com.  And in its "comments" section people posted these pictures, among others.  Take a good look and remember that they were taken long before Israel acted:


DEATH CULT

.

So when the UN aid guy cries crocodile tears over "losing" the children of Gaza to hatred, he might want to consider where they were in the first place.

And about those "human rights" classes that the UN promises to launch?  Where were they for the last 40 years, during which UN-run schools have been allowing textbooks which do not recognize the existence of any part of Israel, proclaim that it must be vaporized for Islam, tell the children how glorious it will be if they are shaheed (martyrs) for this cause, and assure them that Jewish children were born of monkeys and apes? 

Where was the UN when all the children's shows on Gaza TV during this entire period were telling children exactly the same thing? 

Did the AP writer happen to notice the thousands of attacks which, for years, have been launched into Israel?   Those don't count? 

When Gazan children see rockets launched from where they live for the purpose of killing other human beings, they're not traumatized?

And the trauma inflicted upon Israeli children in Sderot and other cities and villages which those thousands of Gazan bombs were aimed at is not relevant?

If the AP and/or the UN think that Israel's attacks caused Gaza's children to be traumatized and to hate Israel, as though the trauma and hatred weren't indelibly ingrained in them already by their own people, they are brain dead.


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: A NEW VIEW OF AFGHANISTAN

Ken Berwitz

What a difference a change of administration makes.

Here, from Steve Gilbert's invaluable web site, www.sweetness-light.com, is an Associated Press report on military action the US has taken in Afghanistan:

AP Now Notices Afghans Lie About Civilians

January 24th, 2009

From a suddenly tune-changing Associated Press:

Afghan villagers shout slogans against the U.S. and Afghan government during a demonstration following a U.S. operation on their village, in Mehterlam, capital of Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009.

US, Afghan villagers differ over 15 killed in raid

By JASON STRAZIUSO and RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan The American coalition in Afghanistan opened a joint U.S.-Afghan investigation Saturday into an overnight raid that American commanders say killed 15 armed militants but that two Afghan officials say killed 11 civilians

A detailed U.S. statement said multiple teams of militants fired on the coalition forces early Saturday during a raid against a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Laghman. The U.S. said a woman carrying a rocket-propelled grenade was among the 15 killed.

"We know the people who were killed were shooting at us," said Col. Greg Julian, the top U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan. "The people who were killed today were running around, maneuvering against our forces, and we killed them."

However, Sayed Ahmad Safi, the spokesman for Laghmans governor, said that government intelligence reports indicated 11 of the dead were civilians, including three children and two females. Two of the dead were militants, he said

Julian said he had no doubts about the U.S. version of the battle, but said a joint U.S.-Afghan investigation had been launched to put the reports of civilian deaths to rest

The issue also sparks strong emotions among average Afghans and threatens to turn civilians against the international military mission.

"Im ready to start jihad against the Americans," an unidentified Afghan man told a Kabul TV station during a protest Saturday in the capital of Laghman.

Earlier Saturday, Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, the head of the provincial council in Laghman, said village elders arrived at his office hours after the early morning operation to complain that the 15 killed were innocent civilians.

During a call from an Associated Press reporter, Rahmzai relayed questions to the village elders directly, who angrily shouted that they would swear on the Quran, the Muslim holy book, that all those killed were civilians. The elders claimed that women and children were among the dead.

The villagers told Rahmzai that they are shepherds and have no ties to militants.

Evaluating competing claims from the U.S. or NATO militaries and Afghan officials or villagers is extremely difficult. Journalists and human rights monitors usually cannot reach the site of a raid because the territory is too dangerous.

Afghan villagers have been known to exaggerate civilian death claims in order to receive more compensation from the U.S. military, and officials have said that insurgents sometimes force villagers to make false death claims

We would appreciate it if anyone could find the Associated Press ever making a similar admission in any of their reports over the last six years.

Suddenly, with the ascension of Mr. Obama, it turns out the locals might be lying about civilian deaths, after all. (Recall the APs breathless coverage of Haditha, for instance.)

But what a coincidence, huh?

Wow.  It's magic.  Barack Obama takes over and suddenly we're justified in attacking and killing "women and children". 

Hey, these people are LIARS.  They're using the women and children as HUMAN SHIELDS while they attack us.  We are JUSTIFIED in our actions.

I wonder how long it will take for the AP to see the light about Iraq too.

It better be fast:  Saint Barack is an impatient man.


THE PATERSON/KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG BATTLE CONTINUES

Ken Berwitz

From today's New York Post (which, pretty obviously, is relishing this catfight):

KENNEDYS LIVID AS GOV ASKED CAROLINE TO 'LIE'

By GINGER ADAMS OTIS and BRAD HAMILTON

Last updated: 4:20 am
January 25, 2009
Posted: 2:14 am
January 25, 2009

An "apoplectic" Kennedy family is seething over the rough treatment that heiress apparent Caroline got from Gov. Paterson's office and is spoiling for revenge, several sources close to the clan have told The Post.

"The governor's going to pay for this," said a well-placed Democrat. "Ted is furious. The family is furious. The Kennedys are now against the governor."

Among Paterson's offenses was a request that Caroline lie about her unexpected withdrawal for "personal" reasons, according to NY magazine.

"You can't withdraw. You've got to stay in this thing, and I'll just not pick you," Paterson reportedly told her over the phone late Wednesday.

Then a torrent of ugly rumors spilled from Paterson's office about Caroline's taxes, about her nanny, even about the state of her marriage - and Camelot's seeking payback, confidants said.

"I'm sure the family is going to protect her," one source said. "What did Caroline do to deserve getting dragged through the mud?"

Caroline emerged from her Park Avenue pad yesterday to say, "I have plans, lots of plans," when asked about her political future.

A confidant of hers said Caroline held "conversations with the governor in which he'd indicated she was the pick."

"His office was aware of every step she took," the confidant said. "He even called some upstate leaders to tell them to meet with her."

Yet a high-ranking state Democrat involved in the selection process insisted that Caroline's name was rarely mentioned.

Additional reporting by Susan Edelman, Maggie Haberman, Angela Montefinise, Stephen Nessen and Georgett Roberts

On the one side you have a dimwitted, incompetent joke of a "Governor" who is in office only because his predecessor thought he could get away with anything - and was wrong.

On the other side you have a media-anointed "Princess" with a horribly bruised ego, and her enormously powerful family that thinks it can get away with anything - and is usually right.

Somehow, I think I know which side is going to win.............


GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

The following global warming update comes to us from The National, an English-language publication of the United Arab Emirates.  Please read it for the latest insight regarding the scourge of global warming:

This is the frozen north ... of the UAE

Anna Zacharias

  • Last Updated: January 25. 2009 5:59PM UAE / January 25. 2009 1:59PM GMT

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Snow covered the Jebel Jais area for only the second time in recorded history yesterday.

So rare was the event that one lifelong resident said the local dialect had no word for it.

According to the RAK Government, temperatures on Jebel Jais dropped to -3C on Friday night. On Saturday, the area had reached 1C.

Major Saeed Rashid al Yamahi, a helicopter pilot and the manager of the Air Wing of RAK Police, said the snow covered an area of five kilometres and was 10cm deep.

The sight up there this morning was totally unbelievable, with the snow-capped mountain and the entire area covered with fresh, dazzling white snow, Major al Yamahi said.

The snowfall started at 3pm Friday, and heavy snowing began at 8pm and continued till midnight, covering the entire area in a thick blanket of snow. Much of the snow was still there even when we flew back from the mountain this afternoon. It is still freezing cold up there and there are chances that it might snow again tonight.

Aisha al Hebsy, a woman in her 50s who has lived in the mountains near Jebel Jais all her life, said snowfall in the area was so unheard of the local dialect does not even have a word for it. Hail is known as bared, which literally translates as cold. Twenty years ago we had lots of hail, said Ms al Hebsy. Last night was like this. At four in the morning we came out and the ground was white.

Jebel Jais was dusted in snow on Dec 28, 2004, the first snowfall in living memory for Ras al Khaimah residents.

I had flown there in 2004 when it snowed, but this time it was much bigger and the snowing lasted longer as well, said Major al Yamahi.

At the base of the mountains, residents also reported severe hail on Friday night. We had hail. Last night was very cold, but there can only be snow on Jebel Jais because its the tallest, said Fatima al Ali, 30, a resident of a village beneath the mountains.

In Ras al Khaimah City, 25km from Jebel Jais, sheet lightning and thunder shook houses.

Main roads from Qusaidat to Nakheel were still badly flooded on Saturday, while temperatures at the RAK International Airport fluctuated between 10 and 22C.

M Varghese, an observer at the RAK Airport Meteorological Office, told of the storms that hit the emirate on Friday night.

We had thunderstorms with rain for more than 12 hours and we had around 18mm rain, Mr Varghese said. The rain, along with the cold easterly winds and low-lying clouds, could have bought the temperatures further down on the mountains.

Giorgio Alessio, a meteorologist at the Dubai meteorology office, said: In thunderstorms, the rain comes down very rapidly from higher levels, and the rain that usually forms can reach the ground in some places as snow. In the next few days the weather regime is completely different and will return to normal for the season, with a maximum temperature of 23C or 24C.

The night might cool down in the desert below 10C. There is variability in the weather from year to year but it hasnt shown a trend in getting colder or getting warmer.

The RAK Government plans to transform the 1,740m Jebel Jais into the UAEs first outdoor ski resort, using Australian technology that will allow tourists to ski in temperatures up to 35C.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai also had heavy rain on Friday night.

If I could, I would send Al Gore to Jebel Jais wearing nothing but a speedo, and have him walk through a couple of villages selling sunblocker and carbon offsets. 

I would ask that he be joined by some of the (usually well-meaning) folks who have swallowed his BS whole, and no longer feel the need to think about whether facts on the ground show any of it to be true.

If ever a leader and his followers need a dose of cold reality, these are the ones.


OBAMA: I DEMAND TRANSPARENCY.....FOR THE REST OF YOU

Ken Berwitz

Following is a blog by Noel Sheppard of www.newsbusters.org. It talks about Campbell Brown's disgust with President Obama's hypocrisy regarding governmental transparency. 

Appreciate Ms. Brown's words; because you won't see much of this from the adoring cadres in mainstream media, who are still writing the Obama hagiography instead of reporting what he does:

Brown Bashes Obama: Don't Make Ethics Rules You Won't Follow

It only took a few hours for President Barack Obama to go back on his executive order concerning the imposition of stricter limits on lobbyists that wish to work for the White House, and CNN's Campbell Brown is quite displeased.

Not only did she begin Friday's "No Bias, No Bull" voicing her disgust about "the Obama administration now [wanting] a waiver to its own rule," but she also wrote a commentary about the matter which was published at CNN.com later that evening.

For what it's worth Campbell, I'm impressed (video and transcript below the fold, h/t NB reader Patrick, file photo):

CAMPBELL BROWN, HOST: But, first, tonight, "Cutting Through The Bull."

Just a couple of nights ago, we heaped praise on the new president for announcing what he called a new era of openness, where in his administration transparency would rule the day and the lobbyists that he was so critical of during the campaign, well, he told us they will now face even tougher new restrictions.

Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA,PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The executive order on ethics I will sign shortly represents a clean break from business as usual. As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any -- under any other administration in history.

If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on, or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years. When you leave government, you will not be able to lobby my administration for as long as I am president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now, that's what he said two days ago.

But, as we first told you last night -- and, sadly, we are learning more about this today -- President Obama already wants an exception to his own rule. You see, what happened is, there is this former lobbyist for a big defense contractor called Raytheon. His name is William Lynn. And President Obama wants him to be deputy defense secretary.

So, the Obama administration now wants a waiver to its own rule, which basically means it is saying, we will mostly put tough new restrictions on lobbyists, except when we won't.

Really? Is this how it's going to be? Please, please don't make us all any more cynical than we already are, Mr. President. If you have no intention of abiding by your new rules, then don't make new rules. That would be actual transparency.

Nicely done, Campbell. Keep it up.

"Do as I say, not as I do" is an old story.  But ignoring what was said the next day?  That's pretty special.  It demonstrates an integrity quotient that hovers right at ground level.

Good for Ms. Brown.  It is a pleasure - and hardly an expected one - to find a mainstream news person not so completely mesmerized by Barack Obama that she can't see what is in front of her eyes.

Please keep your eyes open.  Based on this sorry episode I have little doubt that there will be plenty more to see.


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