Monday, 04 January 2010

A TIMELY CONDEMNATION

Ken Berwitz

In June, when Iranian protesters were marching through the streets of Tehran, the Obama administration collectively stuck its fingers in its years and screamed LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA so it didn't have to hear.

Afterwards, after countless protesters had been beaten and/or tried and convicted in kangaroo courts and/or executed?  More LALALALALALALALALALALALA.

But now, a half year later, we have this from our intrepid Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  According to Agence France Presse:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday slammed what she called the "ruthless repression" of demonstrators against the Iranian regime.

"We have deep concerns about their behaviour, we have concerns about their intentions and we are deeply disturbed by the mounting signs of ruthless repression that they are exercising against those who assemble and express viewpoints that are at variance with what the leadership of Iran wants to hear," Clinton said.

I'm sure that this half-year-late statement will be very reassuring to the protesters who are in jail, and the relatives of the ones who were either killed in the streets or executed for daring to demand free elections and a true democracy.


THE BEST QUOTES OF 2009

Ken Berwitz

Since I showed a bunch of the worst quotes from 2009, I thought I'd show a few of the best.

I don't know that you can definitively say any one quote is the single best.  But these three are definitely in the running:

When government sets simple rules that everyone understands and then gets out of the way, free people create jobs:  John Stossel

 

"President Obama can ban the phrase "war on terror" but he cannot ban the terrorists' war on us. That war continues, so there is no reason to turn terrorists loose before it ends. They chose to make it that kind of war. We don't need to risk American lives to prove that we are nicer than they are":  Thomas Sowell

 

If we have another 2,000 people killed, I want Nancy Pelosi and George Soros, John Conyers and Pat Leahy to go to the funeral and say, 'Your son was vaporized because we didn't want to dump some guy's head under water for 30 seconds.' :  Peter King

.If you have any other entries, I'd like to know what they are.


YEMEN: A TERRORISM ASSESSMENT

Ken Berwitz

David Eshel is an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) veteran and prolific writer about military matters.  He has encapsulated the current situation in Yemen - which appears to be our new focal point for fighting terrorism (provided, of course, that President Obama intends to make this fight).

Mr. Eshel has some very important information about this ugly, largely lawless country.  Here it is:

Yemen's al Qaeda Power Base Alarms the World

David Eshel

The Al Qaeda wing in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing last week of a Northwest Airlines flight. The group, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the latest reincarnation of Islamist militant cells that have been active in Yemen for years. With an estimated 2,000 militants and sympathizers exploiting the country's economic and political chaos AQAP has created a powerful training and operations base, for jihad activities at the edge of the Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

The growth of Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen and its selection of high-profile targets are partly the result of militants regrouping in the Arab world's poorest country as the U.S. military has put pressure on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, as the United States steps up the hunt for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, some of the terrorist networks veteran operatives are leaving the region and flocking to Yemen, where an escalating civil war is turning the nearly lawless Arab nation into an attractive alternative operational base.

Yemen's unrest, including a secessionist movement in the south and a civil war in the north, has given Al Qaeda an ideal hub, especially in rugged rural and tribal regions where the government reach is limited. For five years, Shia fighters from the powerful Houthi clan have led an armed rebellion against the Sunni government in Sana'a. Dug into mountain bases, the rebels, estimated at between 5,000 to 10,000, have waged guerrilla insurgency in a conflict which has killed thousands and displaced more than 175,000. The so-called, Tehran sponsored " Houtis war" has not only turned the already mostly lawless nation into an economic chaos, but also created an inter-religious clash between Iranian Shiites against Sunni Yemen, even drawing Saudi Arabia, the self-proclaimed "Guardian of Sunna" into the turmoil. Analysts warn that the Houti War in Yemen could become the prelude of Shia-Sunni conflict over Iraq, once President Obama's strategy to withdraw US forces will leave that country in bloodshed.

But there is more at stake. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has already transformed itself from a regional threat into what western intelligence see as the network's most active affiliate outside Pakistan and Afghanistan with global ambitions. The botched attack on the Detroit bound Northwest Airline, could signal the start of a new offensive by al Qaeda.

An imminent danger is building up at one of the most strategic waterways in the Middle East. Yemen, at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, straddles a strategic maritime crossroads at the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the Bab el Mandeb strait - the access point to the Suez Canal. Across the gulf is lawless Somalia, an even more tumultuous nation where the United States has said al-Qaeda militants have been increasing their activity.

A rather strange development has actually helped to build al Qaeda's power base in Yemen. Following President Obama's orders to dismantle the Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba some of the world's most notorious terrorist leaders were set on free foot. Several of these did not waste time and flew to the new safe haven in Yemen, joining their comrades, having escaped the NATO hunters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Several of the leading Al Qaeda figures now in Yemen were released from Guantanamo. An example is Ibrahaim Suleiman Al Rubaish (seen in the image on the left), one of the groups leading religious ideologues, who is affectionately known as the poet of Guantanamo. Rubaish was captured by the Pakistanis in 2001 and transferred to the Americans.

He was detained in Guantanamo for five years, until December 2006, when he was retured to Saudi Arabia for a ' rehabilitation for Jihadists' program. As could be expected, Rubaish escaped and fled to Yemen where he is now operates. Another Guantanamo detainee, Said Ali al Shihri, is now the deputy of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Shihiri is seen in the photo below)

Yemens location next to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where Al Qaeda has been trying to overthrow a government it sees as illegitimate protectors of Islams holiest sites, is also a central attraction for jihadists.

Since then, the organization has joined extremists situated in Yemen and Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Nassir Abdel-Karim Wahishi (photo on the left), a Yemeni with close ties to Osama bin Laden. Wahishi's second in command is Saeed Ali Shehri, a Saudi national who, who upon his release from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007, already went through a rehabilitation program in the kingdom.

As for the Northwest Airlines flight incident. This foreshadowed the jetliner plot by revealing al Qaeda's focus on using concealed explosives to circumvent security measures. In a little publicized incident, that happened last August, the group used an elaborate ruse, with an extremist cell plotting to assassinate Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's security chief.

But then, the Pentagon should not have been surprised. Yemen's Al Qaeda wing had already startled Washington back in 2000 when a motorboat packed with explosives slammed into the U.S. destroyer Cole in the port of Aden, killing 17 sailors. Al-Qaeda has attempted to use PTEN compounds to blow-up airplane for several years. This type of explosive material was used in 2001 by Al-Qaeda member Richard Ried, in an attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. Ried concealed the explosive device in his shoes. More recently this compound was integrated into a new device known as the 'underwear bomb', where explosives and primers are sewn into pockets concealled inside the bomber's intimate areas. It was first used by a Saudi militant, who flew from Yemen to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, for a meeting with the prince. The assassin got through airport and palace security with the device undetected. Some reports claimed the explosive device was inserted into his body, similar to drugs being smuggled through airports. The explosive was triggered by a telephone call from Yemen as he was meeting his target, killing him but only wounding the prince. PTEN was also the material that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria is accused of concealing in his underwear in the plot to destroy the Detroit-bound Northwest plane.

Yemen's government, meanwhile, appears to be mounting a serious and aggressive campaign against al-Qaeda after years of treading carefully with the militants. Last week's attack targeted a meeting of Yemeni and foreign al-Qaeda operatives believed to include the top leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, and his deputy, Said al-Shihri. Although reports indicated that several top al Qaeda leaders were among the victims, among them al-Wahishi and al-Shihri, however, their demise has yet to be confirmed. While al-Qaeda's planning and operations epicenter still remains the Afghanistan-Pakistan mountain borderlands. But the hard truth, that western counter-terrorist agencies will have to face, is that the fight against Islamic extremism will have to be waged on multiple fronts.

Asking again:  Will President Obama get serious about fighting terrorism?  Or will he continue to play word games (i.e. calling terrorism "man-caused disasters") and send terrorists who have key information into our civil court system, where they have every right to keep that information to themselves?

Based on the treatment afforded umar farouk abdulmutallab, the "undie bomber" (i.e. dumped right into our civil court system), the prognosis for Barack Obama waging a serious war against terrorism is dire. 

Let's hope he wakes up at some point between now and 2012.  The sooner the better.

Zeke ... ... Blame the neocons for ignoring the dangers of Global Warming ... ... Them Jee-Hadd-Ists get hot under the collar and blow things up. (01/04/10)

Zeke ... ... The US strategy is incredibly short sighted: ... al Q'aeda is going from one lawless nation to the next ... Most countries in sub-Sahara Africa fits that description, either for the whole nation or for huge areas within. ... ... ... ... We can't even contain pirates preying on international shipping off Somolia. ... ... Conclusion: The world is too big for the US to be Town Marshall in every country.... ... Our military is stretched to the breaking point fighting in two third world conflicts... ... (01/04/10)


IS NIGERIA RIGHT?

Ken Berwitz

Please read the following story from ABC News, Australia.  Then think about it and decide whether Nigeria has a point.  (I'll tell you my opinion at the bottom of this blog):

Nigeria slams 'discriminatory' flight checks

Nigeria has criticised new security measures for passengers flying to and from the United States as unfair and said they amounted to discrimination against 150 million people.

The US government has announced that travellers from 14 countries, including Nigeria, are to be subjected to extra checks including body pat-downs, after a young Nigerian was accused of trying to blow up a US jet on Christmas Day.

But Nigeria Information Minister Dora Akunyili said that Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, did not have a history of terrorism and such a move could not be justified.

"It is unfair to include Nigeria on the US list for tighter screening because Nigerians do not have terrorist tendencies," Ms Akunyili said.

"It is unfair to discriminate against over 150 million people because of the behaviour of one person."

A 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been accused of trying to trigger an explosion on the Northwest Airlines plane with chemicals which had been stitched into his underwear.

"Abdulmutallab's behaviour is not reflective of Nigerians and should therefore not be used as a yardstick to judge all Nigerians," Ms Akunyili said.

"He was not influenced in Nigeria. He was not recruited or trained in Nigeria. He was not supported whatsoever in Nigeria."

Prosecutors say that Abdulmutallab tried to carry out the attack after undergoing training by Yemen-based militants who have said they were behind the plot.

So?  What do you think? 

In my opinion, there are two reasonable sides here. 

-On the one hand, if Nigeria has seriously competent screening in place - screening that is technologically advanced and effective in our estimation - the Information Minister's point is very well taken.

-On the other hand, however, "...abdulmutallab's behaviour is not reflective of... "  ANY country's people.  There is not one place in the world where terrorists comprise anywhere near a majority of airplane travelers.  So, using that logic there is never a reason to employ advanced, or even basic, security to any flight.

Is this a tough one?  Yes it is. 

But, personally, I have to land on the side of safety.  Sorry if anyone's sensibilities are offended.


FREYA VON MOLTKE R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

"To object and then to stand for what you believe in is one of the most important human activities to this day.":  Freya von Moltke

Freya von Moltke, 98 years of age, died last Friday in Vermont.  The cause was a viral infection.

Most people do not have any idea of who Ms. von Moltke was.  And that is a tragedy.

She, along with her husband Helmut were members of the Kreisau Circle, a group of high-profile Germans who, with incredible bravery, stood up to hitler and the third reich.  In 1944 they attempted to assassinate hitler. Sadly, the attempt did not succeed

Her husband Helmut, who headed the circle, was executed for treason in 1945.  That year she escaped Germany with her children and settled in South Africa.  She came back to Germany in the mid 1950's, stayed for several years, and then immigrated to the United States.  She had lived in Vermont since 1960.

Ms. von Moltke was a true profile in courage.  One of the greatest.

May she rest in peace.


THE LOOPINESS OF MIKE LUPICA

Ken Berwitz

I remember when Mike Lupica was a pretty good sports writer.

Maybe he should go back to what he does well. 

Here is the first part of Mr. Lupica's latest column for the New York Daily News:

The new year begins even worse than the last one ended. Only this time it isn't a debate about health care showing how lousy and mean partisan politics have become in America, it is the debate over the war on terrorism.

As usual it starts with a has-been like Dick Cheney acting as if that war is some party issue, as if the country is somehow more vulnerable to fanatics because Democrats have the White House and the Congress, as if all those who hate America and want to kill Americans see this tremendous opening to do that because Barack Obama is in charge now.

The idea is dumber than that television show about the Jersey Shore.

Still there was Cheney - who once was able to hide almost as well as Osama Bin Laden - out in front after a failed attempt to blow up a Northwest airplane on its way into Detroit on Christmas Day, like he wanted to be the first Obama hater to take his swings.

Only Cheney looks at a near tragedy on Christmas and sees opportunity. When he does, he doesn't just sound like some old crank in the park. He sounds like a bum.

But then partisan attacks like this are the real national pastime now in American politics, why we seem unable to get out of our own way even on the big things, why the constant war of words between the left and the right can somehow trivialize the most crucial issues of a world that becomes less safe by the day.

It is why politics in this country are as low as they have been since the Civil War. Why this has become an Un-Civil War America, wasting too much time being at war with itself.

I have two favorite parts from this remarkable hissy-fit:

-Dick Cheney is a has-been?  The last time I checked, a has-been is someone who, while still trying to stay on top, is falling and/or has fallen from that status. But Dick Cheney has been a presidential assistant, then Presidential Chief of Staff, then 6 term congressperson, then Secretary of Defense, then CEO of Halliburton, then two time Vice President, after which he retired from politics.  That's some helluva has-been.

-According to Mr. Lupica, mean partisan attacks are "...why politics in this country are as low as they have been since the Civil War".  He makes this statement after calling Dick Cheney a has-been, dumb, a hater and someone who sounds like a crank in the park and a bum.  Evidently Mr. Lupica feels Mr. Cheney would be a better man if he held to Lupica's paradigm of civil discourse.

You can read the rest of the column by clicking on the link I've supplied.  But I can't post it here, because I'm too busy laughing.


OBAMA AIDE: "NO SMOKING GUN"

Ken Berwitz

Here, from an incredulous Steve Gilbert at www.sweetness-light.com, is a statement from Obama aide John Brennan that there wasn't any smoking gun - that is, no specific reason - to pay special attention to umar farouk abdulmutallab, the "undie bomber":

Read it and be ready to hurl (the bold print is Steve's, not mine): 

Obama Terror Adviser: No Smoking Gun

January 3rd, 2010

From an eager to forgive and forget Associated Press:

Obama adviser: No smoking gun in airline bomb plot

By Anne Gearan, AP National Security Writer

January 3, 2010

WASHINGTON U.S. intelligence agencies did not miss a "smoking gun" that could have prevented an alleged attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, President Barack Obamas top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday.

White House aide John Brennan cited "lapses" and errors in the sharing of intelligence and clues about the Nigerian man accused in the foiled attempt.

"There is no smoking gun," Brennan said. "There was no single piece of intelligence that said, this guy is going to get on a plane."

Brennan is leading a White House review of the incident

Brennan cited "a number of streams of information" the 23-year-old suspects name was known to intelligence officials, his father had passed along his concern about the sons increasing radicalization and "little snippets" from intelligence channels. "But there was nothing that brought it all together."

"In this one instance, the system didnt work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there."

"What we need to do as an intelligence community, as a government, is be able to bring those disparate bits and pieces of information together so we prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab from getting on the plane."

How often will a father, a prominent man, come forward to warn the authorities about the extremism of his own son?

This should have been enough to land Mr. Abdulmutallab on the USs no fly list. It was good enough for the British.

Add to that the fact that the CIA was monitoring this miscreant, and there is no way he should have been allowed on a plane to the US.

That is certainly a smoking gun by normal (pre-Obama) standards.

By the way, the brilliant Mr. Brennan also told Fox News that the Obama administration will continue to send Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. Guantanamo must be closed, Brennan said. It has served as a propaganda tool for al Qaeda.

Which begs the questions: shouldnt we close Hollywood, too? Also the fashion industry, and the pop music culture since they are recruiting tools for al Qaeda, as well.

I do not share Mr. Gilbert's intense dislike of the Associated Press.  But, other than that, does he have a point?  You bet he does.

So what are we doing about it?  We're making life hell for all US travelers with a new layer of idiotic travel rules and restrictions that wouldn't have prevented abdulmutallab's actions anyway. 

We better get serious about our no-fly list.  And sharing information from one agency to the other.  And profiling - that's right, profiling - based on history and probability.  Or we won't be as lucky next time.

Ken Berwitz zeke - think of it as two pea-brains in a pod (01/04/10)

Zeke ... ... But, there was a smoking leg, when his briefs exploded ... ... and, just how much brains does it take to give a thorough search to someone who : 1) had his own very prominent father rat him out as a fanatic jihadist ... 2) Bought the ticket last minute for cash ... 3) had no checked baggage on a long international flight ... 4) had no visa or passport ... ... ... ... Sounds like Mr Brennan is talking out of his smoking anal orifice. ... ... ... ... Is this a contest between Brennan and Janet Napolitano, to see who can make the most disingenuous statement? (01/04/10)


THE SAD CASE OF BOBBY DELAUGHTER

Ken Berwitz

Did you see the movie "Ghosts of Mississippi"?  It is about Bobby DeLaughter, a crusading prosecutor who resurrected a decades-old case that had been stymied by racism - the murder of Civil rights leader Medgar Evers - and brought Evers' disgustingly subhuman murderer, byron de la beckwith, to justice.

The cast was great.  One terrific actor after another, including Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, James Woods, William H. Macy, Brock Peters, Wayne Rogers, the prolific, all-too-often-overlooked character actor Bill Cobbs, and others.

Well, there is very sad news about prosecutor (then state judge), Bobby DeLaughter.  He is going to jail for obstruction of justice.

Here are the particulars, via excerpts from a CNN story written by Wayne Drash:

Civil rights hero caught in corruption probe to begin serving sentence

By Wayne Drash

 

(CNN) -- Bobby DeLaughter -- the prosecutor who secured the conviction in the infamous Medgar Evers Mississippi murder case -- is himself now headed to prison.

 

It was DeLaughter's dogged 1994 prosecution and the subsequent conviction of Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith that helped trigger the reopening of dozens of civil rights cold cases.

 

DeLaughter would go on to become a state judge in 2002. His years in the robe came to an end in 2009, when DeLaughter pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to an FBI agent in a far-reaching corruption probe that has rocked Mississippi's judicial system.

When he was sentenced in November, Byron De La Beckwith's son sat in the chamber wearing a Confederate flag pin on his red blazer. His father had also worn a Confederate pin during the 1994 trial.

 

DeLaughter is to begin serving his 18-month prison sentence today at a facility in Kentucky.

 

"The man has now been destroyed, politically and economically. It's that serious," said Charles Evers, the brother of Medgar Evers.

 

He said he is trying to raise money to help pay DeLaughter's expenses while he's in prison. "What can we do but fight for a man who fought for us?" he said. "I want DeLaughter to know I'm behind him 100 percent."

 

Over the last month, CNN spoke with more than a dozen lawyers in Mississippi about DeLaughter's fall from grace. They paint a picture of an ambitious man with a brilliant legal mind who ran afoul of the law -- of friends betraying friends and of big-time money corrupting the system. Some take delight in his downfall; others call it a tragedy that has stained the legal community.

 

In the end, the lawyers said, DeLaughter trusted one man too much: His mentor, Ed Peters, who exploited their friendship and then turned on DeLaughter to avoid prison.

 

At the heart of the case is Dickie Scruggs, a high-powered lawyer who made tens of millions of dollars in tobacco and asbestos litigation. Scruggs is the brother-in-law of former Sen. Trent Lott and is now serving seven years in prison for trying to influence Mississippi judges, including DeLaughter.

 

According to prosecutors, Scruggs wanted to get to DeLaughter through his mentor, Peters, to try to influence DeLaughter's ruling in a high stakes case, potentially worth $15 million. Peters received $1 million in illicit payments as compensation for his actions, prosecutors say. Peters was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation.

 

DeLaughter has denied taking any money in the case or that he was improperly influenced.

 

In his guilty plea, he admits to only obstruction of justice; the more serious charges of involvement in a bribery scheme and mail fraud conspiracy were dismissed as part of the deal.

 

"To me, he is a tragic figure because he had a good career and he threw it away," said attorney Bill Kirksey. "He became an embarrassment to the legal community, to the judicial community and, I would hope, to himself."

 

Kirksey has an axe to grind with DeLaughter. He was one of the attorneys representing the client who stood to gain millions in the case at hand.

 

Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, represented Myrlie Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers -- the NAACP leader who was gunned down in his driveway on June 12, 1963.

He says only one man had the guts to seek prosecution in the case when two previous trials years before ended without convictions.

 

"If Bobby DeLaughter hadn't been around, it would never have happened. I can guarantee you that," Dees said. "It was the first modern-day prosecution of one of these old civil rights-era murders, and it resulted in the prosecution and convictions of a large number later."

 

Charles Evers said he will continue fighting for the man who fought so valiantly for his brother. "We will do whatever's necessary to help him get over his dilemma, and I'll say that over and over again."

 

Evers blasted prosecutors for offering immunity to Ed Peters, DeLaughter's mentor who avoided jail time even though he was the one accepting illicit payments. "The man who squealed on him should be going to jail," Evers said.

 

"I hope that some day justice will be fair and equal. ... It's not fair and equal in this case."

What a sorry lot - or, given dickie scruggs' brother in law, maybe I should call it a sorry Lott.

Too bad that DeLaughter got involved in this.  But it doesn't change the fact that, albeit way too belatedly, he exacted justice upon medgar evers' cold-blooded murderer. 

And what happened to byron de la beckwith, whose son found it so important to sit in on the DeLaughter sentencing wearing a confederate pin?  Daddy Disgustingest died a jailbird in 2001. 

The official cause of death was heart disease - which I consider a misdagnosis, on the grounds that he didn't have one.


THE NEW VALUE OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Ken Berwitz

I think it is a pretty good bet that this sign would not have been put up if President Obama had not been given the nobel peace prize.

What do you think?

 

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OUR BEEFED-UP AIRPORT SECURITY

Ken Berwitz

Here, a week after the "undie bomber" tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane with 280 people aboard, is how well homeland security is working.  It comes to us from the Associated Press, via Fox News:

Man Skirts Newark Airport Security; Flights Delayed

 

NEWARK, N.J.   A man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of a terminal at one of the nation's busiest airports on Sunday night, and flights were grounded for hours and passengers had to be re-screened while air safety officials searched for him.

Airline passengers were allowed to begin boarding their planes at Newark Liberty International Airport about six hours after the man was seen bypassing security.

The man walked down an exit lane at Terminal C about 5:30 p.m., Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Ann Davis said, and screening was halted while authorities looked at surveillance tapes to try to identify him.

Passengers were then moved from the secure side of the terminal, which is used primarily by Continental Airlines Inc., to the open side to go through screening again, Davis said in a statement. Passengers waited in check-in areas.

The terminal was searched thoroughly to make sure no dangerous objects were in it before the security checkpoints reopened around 11:45 p.m., the TSA said. The man wasn't found, but the TSA said its re-screening effort ensured every passenger was fully screened.

Security officers instructed the passengers, who expressed frustration over the situation.

Alison Day, of York, England, was supposed to leave for Manchester, England, at 7:30 p.m. She was traveling with a party of seven including an 18-month-old and a 5-year-old.

"I'm not angry that this is happening, but I'm angry that there was a lack of organization," she said.

She said her party, headed home after a Caribbean cruise, was escorted out of Continental's lounge but given no further instructions.

Continental spokeswoman Susannah Thurston said it was an airport security issue not involving the Houston-based airline.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs area airports, assisted the TSA following the possible security breach.

Also Sunday, the TSA said passengers flying into the United States from nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism and countries of interest will be subject to enhanced screening techniques, such as body scans and pat-downs.

Starting Monday, all passengers on U.S.-bound international flights are subject to random screening.

The Department of State lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. The other countries whose passengers will face enhanced screening include Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

A Nigerian man accused of trying to set off an explosive device aboard a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day has told investigators he received training and instructions from Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

Feel safe yet?

Maybe it will help if Janet Napolitano tells you that the system worked.....


THE MOST OBNOXIOUS QUOTES OF 2009

Ken Berwitz

What are the most obnoxious quotes of 2009?  Well, www.rightwingnews.com (which obviously has a partisan take on this) put together a list of 40.

I won't post them all.  Much too much for one blog.  If you want to see all 40, just click here. 

But I will post 20 of them.  (and if I can find a 20 most obnoxious or similar from a left wing web site, you can bet I'll post them too).  So grit your teeth and hold on tight --- here they are:

But it is really not easy to make fun of the Obamas, because theyre really theyre kind of really perfect, arent they?" -- Joy Behar

 

...the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it. -- Keith Olbermann

 

If I'm corrupt, it's because I take care of my district. -- John Murtha

 

Do you remember tea baggers? It was just so much easier when we could just call them racists. I just don't know why we can't call them racists, or functionally retarded adults. The functionally retarded adults, the racists - with their cries of, I want my country back. You know what they're really saying is, I want my white guy back.' They apparently had no problem at all for the last eight years of habeas corpus being suspended, the Constitution being [expletive] on, illegal surveillance, lied to on a war or two, two stolen elections - yes, the John Kerry one was stolen too. That's not tin-foil hat time. That's just..." -- Janeane Garofalo

 

Frankly, if there is repression in Cuba we didnt see it. -- Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

 

But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking. -- Barack Obama

 

You can't call yourself a black man and vote against the healthcare bill. -- Jesse Jackson

 

The climate right now is that Republicans use everything they can to undermine and delegitimize this president. And its actually un-American. Its traitorous, in my opinion. Do you want to give aid and comfort to our enemies? Continue to treat this president like he wasnt elected and he doesnt know what hes doing! He knows what he did. He knows what hes doing. Im proud of him. I believe that he has the stalwart, resolute nature to get this done. -- Joan Walsh

 

Fox News and their Republican collaborators are the enemy of America. They're the enemy of anybody who cares about health care, the enemy of anybody who cares about educating their children, the enemy of anybody who wants energy independence or anything good for this country. And certainly the enemy of peace, there's no doubt about that. -- Alan Grayson

 

You guys see Live and Let Die, the great Bond film with Yaphet Kotto as the bad guy, Mr. Big? In the end they jam a big CO2 pellet in his face and he blew up. I have to tell you, Rush Limbaugh is looking more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebodys going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and hes going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet. But well be there to watch. I think hes Mr. Big, I think Yaphet Kotto. Are you watching, Rush? -- Chris Matthews

 

The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. . . . What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in their country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and thats just a fact. President Obama on Gates arrest. (NOTE:  In the same statement Mr. Obama admitted not knowing any of the facts of the case)

 

The real internal terrorists are the Republicans, I mean, isn't that clear? Rush Limbaugh is a bigger threat to this country than Osama bin Laden. He's a bigger threat than anybody that the CIA can invent. He's a bigger threat than any terrorist that ever leveled its sights against the United States, Limbaugh is, so why isn't he arrested and sentenced for treason?... -- Mike Malloy

 

If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly. That's right. The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick. -- Alan Grayson

 

The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! Theyd rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they dont have anything for her. -- Ed Schultz

 

Them Jews aren't going to let (Obama) talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office. ...They will not let him to talk to somebody who calls a spade what it is. -- Jeremiah Wright

 

We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome.

Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.

Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it. -- Melissa Lafsky

 

(Rush Limbaugh) just wants the country to fail. To me that's treason. He's not saying anything different than what Osama Bin Laden is saying. You might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight. ... Rush Limbaugh, I hope the country fails, I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? -- Wanda Sykes

 

(I) really don't give a f*ck (about Polanski's rape of a 13 year old). Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?"-- Gore Vidal

 

The recent shootings at Ft. Hood and the resignation of top Foreign Service officer Matthew Hoh demonstrate how even our military officers are opposed to US strategy in Afghanistan. -- Code Pink

 

I have a good news to report; Glen Beck appears closer to suicide - I'm hoping that he does it on camera; suicide is rampant in his family, and given his alcoholism and his tendencies towards self-destruction, I am only hoping that when Glen Beck does put a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, that it will be on television, because somebody will capture it on YouTube and it will be the most popular video for months. -- Mike Malloy

BOBW HOW ABOUT OUR HOMELAND SECRETARY--"THE SYSTEM WORKED" THAT HAS TO RANK UP THERE WITH THE STUPIDEST OF THEM ALL (01/05/10)

Zeke ... ... The Left believes that only THEY are entitled to be treated as human beings .... .... all others are denied any consideration .... if you are in the way of their anointed, then any crime committed by the Blessed-Ones is .... well, they get a free pass ... murder, rape, drunk driving, child molestation, date rape, drugging 13 year olds .... .... morals don't count when you are sufficiently progressive. ... ... ... ... One set of laws for them and a different set for me ... ... ... ... HYPOCRITES ! ! ! LIARS ! ! ! (01/04/10)


PRESIDENT OBAMA'S IDEA OF A WAR ON TERROR

Ken Berwitz

How myopic is President Obama when it comes to fighting a war against terror? 

Paul Mirengoff of www.powerlineblog.com explains - and does a superb job of it:

The limits of self-reference

January 3, 2010 Posted by Paul at 10:13 PM

President Obama responded yesterday to former Vice President Cheney's claim that he doesn't consider the fight against terrorism to be a war by quoting from his inaugural address. "On that day," Obama reminded us, "I made it very clear that our naton is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred, and that we will do whatever it takes to defeat them, and make no mistake that's exactly what we've been doing."

So there you have it: if Obama's rhetoric has, at one time or another, employed the word "war" in connection with words having some relationship to terrorism, then he must be waging war on terrorism.

Immanuel Kant posited a noumenal world and a phenomenal world -- the latter consisting of what appears to the senses; the former consisting of "things in themselves." For Obama, there is a third world -- call it the oratoromenal world -- consisting of the world as Obama has described it in speeches.

Does Obama really consider the fight against terrorism (or against the "network of violence and hatred") to be a war? Limited as I am to understanding the world through what appears to the senses, my answer is: only up to a point.

There is no doubt that some of Obama's actions as president are consistent with treating the fight against terrorism as a war. However, handling a captured foreign terrorist who has tried to blow up an airliner as an ordinary criminal defendant, so that we provide him with a lawyer and he stops providing us with information, is not consistent with treating the fight against terrorism as a war. Setting an arbitrary date on which we will begin pulling out of what Obama stipulates is the central battlefield against terrorism is not consistent with treating the fight against terrorism as a war for very long.

Sending terrorist detainees back to an emerging center of terrorist activity even after we have seen other detainees returned there emerge as key leaders in terrorist activity is not consistent with treating the fight against terrorism as a war. Expressing a desire to negotiate with regimes that are key participants in the "network of violence and hatred," and failing wholeheartedly to back those who would overthrow the most dangerous of these regimes, is not treating the fight against terrorism as a war.

If Obama wants to convince an increasingly skeptical public that he takes the fight against terrorism seriously, he needs to change both his posture and his policies. Referring to past speeches won't do the trick.

Falling back on his teleprompter-aided oratorical skills does not make Barack Obama a fighter of terrorism.  It takes a lot more than that.

We have just endured a year in which he wordsmithed the term "terrorism" out of his administration, bowed to leaders of terrorist-supporting countries and became a laughingstock to the people we are supposed to be defending ourselves against.

For those reasons, we have to face the reality that our President probably does not have what it takes to fight terrorism -- and, even if he does, he probably will not use it.

What a great comfort to our enemies.


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