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Just For The Record
Thursday, June 24, 2003
This is going to come up a lot in the next few weeks. Here are excerpts from two documents that you might want to keep handy.
The first is from the 9/11 Commission:
National air space was closed on September 11. Fearing reprisals against Saudi nationals, the Saudi government asked for help in getting some of its citizens out of the country. We have not yet identified who they contacted for help. But we have found that the request came to the attention of Richard Clarke and that each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.
No commercial planes, including chartered flights, were permitted to fly into, out of, or within the United States until September 13, 2001. After the airspace reopened, six chartered flights with 142 people, mostly Saudi Arabian nationals, departed from the United States between September 14 and 24. One flight, the so-called Bin Ladin flight, departed the United States on September 20 with 26 passengers, most of them relatives of Usama Bin Ladin. We have found no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace.
The Saudi flights were screened by law enforcement officials, primarily the FBI, to ensure that people on these flights did not pose a threat to national security, and that nobody of interest to the FBI with regard to the 9/11 investigation was allowed to leave the country. Thirty of the 142 people on these flights were interviewed by the FBI, including 22 of the 26 people (23 passengers and 3 private security guards) on the Bin Ladin flight. Many were asked detailed questions. None of the passengers stated that they had any recent contact with Usama Bin Ladin or knew anything about terrorist activity.
The FBI checked a variety of databases for information on the Bin Ladin flight passengers and searched the aircraft. It is unclear whether the TIPOFF terrorist watchlist was checked. At our request, the Terrorist Screening Center has rechecked the names of individuals on the flight manifests of these six Saudi flights against the current TIPOFF watchlist. There are no matches.
The FBI has concluded that nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks, or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks. To date, we have uncovered no evidence to contradict this conclusion.
The second is from the Washington newspaper The Hill:
Richard Clarke, who served as President Bush's chief of counterterrorism, has claimed sole responsibility for approving flights of Saudi Arabian citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden's family, from the United States immediately after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"This is a tempest in a teapot," he said, adding that, since the attacks, the FBI has never said that any of the passengers aboard the flight shouldn't have been allowed to leave or were wanted for further investigation.
Drive A Stake Into It
Thursday, June 24, 2003
There is a frequent and amusing irony in the history of the great First Amendment battles - almost invariably, the forces of good have made their greatest gains while defending the lowliest scum of the earth. The irony is that these lowlifes are later forgotten by history, and are remembered only the good that they unintentionally helped create.
I'm a big fan of the First Amendment. Although it often does not really mean what many people think it means, one thing is guarantees above all is the right to free political speech. There is no stronger right, nothing more important to the basic fabric of our republic, than the right to speak out on political matters.
Needless to say, I find this appalling:
Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.
[...] In a draft advisory opinion placed on the FEC's agenda for today's meeting, the agency's general counsel states that political documentary filmmakers may not air television or radio ads referring to federal candidates within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election.
The proscription is broadly defined. Section 100.29 of the federal election regulations defines restricted corporate-funded ads as those that identify a candidate by his "name, nickname, photograph or drawing" or make it "otherwise apparent through an unambiguous reference."
Let me rephrase that; I'm not appalled, I'm furious. I can't believe we are even discussing this. We have six men sitting in an office somewhere, deciding if they should censor a movie because it's too political!
Let's review, shall we?
That's not so hard, is it? It's quite easy, actually... you simply don't make laws abridging the freedom of speech! What the fuck is the matter with these people?
More importantly, what is the matter with us?
Senators McCain and Feingold ought to be ceaselessly attacked for this; each of us must complain, long and loud, to each of our representatives, and make it clear that we will have their political heads tangling from the ends of pikes if we do not repeal this monstrosity.
Because if we tolerate this, it will grow, and then we will lose everything.
Freedom isn't something that other people give to you. Don't fucking forget that.
I phoned each of my representatives, opening with "Hi, I'd like to ask the Senator/Representative about their position on an issue that's come to my attention". In each case, I was transferred to their Washington office.
My staff of my congressional representative, Republican Sherwood Boehlert, was sympathetic, and told me that they personally agreed with my position. They took my name and address and promised an official response soon.
Democratic Senator Schumer's staff played cute with me. "Yeah, we haven't issued a statement yet. Call back later". Not surprising, considering how SCHUMER APPLAUDS SENATE PASSAGE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.
Senator Clinton? I got an answering machine.
This is how rights are lost. Not torn away by revolution, but whittled away by the small-minded and the unwatched.
I Don't Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
Tuesday, June 22, 2003
James Piereson hits one out of the park today. How perfect is this?
According to this doctrine, America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement. White Americans had enslaved blacks and committed genocide against Native Americans. They had oppressed women and tyrannized minority groups, such as the Japanese who had been interned in camps during World War II. They had been harsh and unfeeling toward the poor. By our greed, we had despoiled the environment and were consuming a disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources. We had coddled dictators abroad and violated human rights out of our irrational fear of communism.
He refers to this school of thought as "Punitive Liberalism"
Given this bill of indictment, the Punitive Liberals held that Americans had no right at all to feel pride in their country's history or optimism about its future. Those who expressed such pride were written off as ignorant patriots who could not face up to the sins of the past; and those who looked ahead to a brighter future were dismissed as naive "Pollyannas" who did not understand that the brief American century was now over. The Punitive Liberals felt that the purpose of national policy was to punish the nation for its crimes rather than to build a stronger America and a brighter future for all.
Punitive liberals are often defensive about their patriotism--understandably enough, since their relentless complaining about America often is hard to distinguish from out-and-out anti-Americanism. Their defense is that "true" patriotism consists in acknowledging your own country's faults and exhorting it to improve.
Certainly there's nothing unpatriotic about criticizing your government or its policies. And since love of country is a matter of the heart, it's presumptuous to question anyone's patriotism. But imagine a man who treats his wife the way the punitive liberals treat America: constantly belittling her, pointing out her faults and never showing her any kindness. He may love her, but most people would agree he has a twisted way of expressing it.
In fairness, we have our share of Punitive Conservatives, too. Was it Jerry Falwell who suggested that the 9/11 attacks were god's punishment on America for tolerating gays?
I had a minor insight while reading Piereson's piece that made everything come together. It occurred to me that a defining characteristic of these folks is that their concept of patriotism demands nothing more of them than a willingness to criticize. It does not require sacrifice, duty, or even cooperation. Just criticism.
When these people say that are patriots, they really mean it. They express what they believe is their patriotism by attacking and opposing everything that they see as wrong with America. They do not see a need to balance these attacks with support for, or even acknowledgement of, the things that we have done right.
Taranto's example of a marriage as a metaphor for patriotism is a good one. No sane person enters a marriage with the idea that they will be submissive in the face of injustice, or that they will meet every challenge by chanting "My spouse, right or wrong"! Criticism is essential in marriage; it must be safe to criticize, and your concerns must be heard. You have to take responsibility for fixing the things that are broken.
Nonetheless, anyone who seeks to base a marriage primarily on criticism deserves exactly the sort of hell they are preparing for themselves.
Like marriage, people approach patriotism in different ways. There is not one right answer, no standard by which we may judge the patriotism of others. However, if the word is to have any meaning at all, it implies at least an appreciation for your country. If you are a patriot, then you generally like America, and you wish it well. Being called an "American" is more of a complement than an insult. It means you can name more things that you like about your country than things you dislike about it.
More importantly, there has to be at least a tiny part of your life where a conflict between your self-interest and your nation's interest is resolved, by your choice, in your nation's favor. Maybe it's a willingness to accept something you don't like; maybe it's a willingness to perform some dangerous or unpleasant job; maybe it's just showing a little self-restraint at an appropriate time, or extending some trust when you are uncertain. Somehow, somewhere in your life, you have to give something, make some small sacrifice, in order to call yourself a patriot. It doesn't have to be much, but you have to be willing to offer something when times are tough. Something other than a complaint.
Now, if you're the sort of American who tries to pass as Canadian while traveling, who dislikes more than they like about their country, and who reacts angrily to the idea of even a small personal sacrifice, then face it; you're not a patriot, and we'll all be happier once you accept this. There is little to gain by wrapping yourself in somebody else's flag.
For everyone else, a gentle reminder; it dosen't hurt to show a little appreciation for the things you love. Try to remember that, now and again.
John Kerry, On Iraq
Sunday, June 20, 2003
This is really quite good:
[...] We must recognize that there is no indication that Saddam Hussein has any intention of relenting. So we have an obligation of enormous consequence, an obligation to guarantee that Saddam Hussein cannot ignore the United Nations. He cannot be permitted to go unobserved and unimpeded toward his horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a matter about which there should be any debate whatsoever in the Security Council, or, certainly, in this Nation. If he remains obdurate, I believe that the United Nations must take, and should authorize immediately, whatever steps are necessary to force him to relent--and that the United States should support and participate in those steps.
[...] In my judgment, the Security Council should authorize a strong U.N. military response that will materially damage, if not totally destroy, as much as possible of the suspected infrastructure for developing and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, as well as key military command and control nodes. Saddam Hussein should pay a grave price, in a currency that he understands and values, for his unacceptable behavior.
This should not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed symbolic value. But how long this military action might continue and how it may escalate should Saddam remain intransigent and how extensive would be its reach are for the Security Council and our allies to know and for Saddam Hussein ultimately to find out.
[..] While our actions should be thoughtfully and carefully determined and structured, while we should always seek to use peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve serious problems before resorting to force, and while we should always seek to take significant international actions on a multilateral rather than a unilateral basis whenever that is possible, if in the final analysis we face what we truly believe to be a grave threat to the well-being of our Nation or the entire world and it cannot be removed peacefully, we must have the courage to do what we believe is right and wise.
November 9, 1997.
I think the conclusions here are obvious:
1) Clinton lied about the WMD, and intentionally misled the nation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Saddam was a "grave threat" to the United States? Give me a break.
2) Kerry is a reckless cowboy who would have squandered the goodwill of our allies. You can't just go off on some imperialist military adventure, you need the backing of the UN for this sort of thing.
3) It's all about oil.
I hope we've got that straightened out.
I Never Thought I'd Say This
Wednesday, June 16, 2003
I've used Internet Explorer for years. I like Internet Explorer. And if you are using it, I think it's time to stop.
Everybody knows that IE has some security problems. What many people don't realize is how numerous and severe these problems are, and how sophisticated the bad guys have become.
Have a look at this recent CERT advisory. These things are only issued occasionally, and only for the most dangerous vulnerabilities:
By convincing a victim to view an HTML document (web page, HTML email), an attacker could execute script in a different security domain than the one containing the attacker's document. By causing script to be run in the Local Machine Zone, the attacker could execute arbitrary code with the privileges of the user running IE.
Allow me to translate that for you. Basically, it means that if you so much as look at a bad web page, your computer belongs to somebody else. You don't have to download anything, or click on anything. Your antivirus software will never make a peep.
You can also get infected just by reading an email. You don't have to open an attachment or do anything else. Just look at it.
The phrase "execute arbitrary code" means that the bad guy can do anything he wants. He can trash your computer, or rummage through it, or use it to launch other attacks. He can use it to send an infected email to all of your friends, under your name. He can put a keyboard logger on it and wait until you visit Amazon or eBay or anyplace else where you have an account with a credit card, and then he can log in as you and do whatever he wants.
The phrase "publicly available exploit code" means that somebody has put together a a working example of this, and has published it on the internet where anybody can copy it. "This vulnerability is being actively exploited" means that people are actually getting clobbered by it, right now.
And here's the best part: there's no fix for it yet. The best you can do for now is to disable Active Scripting and ActiveX, which means that a lot of the web pages you visit won't work any more. Oh, and you can also avoid following "unsolicited links". Just stop surfing, and stop reading your mail. That'll do it.
For me, the straw that really broke the camel's back was this analysis of the 'Witty Worm', a recent internet worm that most people paid little attention to. It didn't get a lot of press because it only targeted machines running a certain kind of software. That's good, because if it had targeted the rest of us, it would have been a catastrophe. This thing was incredibly effective:
[...] It spread by sending itself to random IP addresses with random destination ports, a trick that made it easier to sneak through firewalls. It was -- and this is a very big deal -- bug free. This strongly implies that the worm was tested before release.
Witty was exceptionally nasty. It was the first widespread worm that destroyed the hosts it infected. And it did so cleverly. Its malicious payload, erasing data on random accessible drives in random 64K chunks, caused immediate damage without significantly slowing the worm's spread.
[...] Witty represents a new chapter in malware. If it had used common Windows vulnerabilities to spread, it would have been the most damaging worm we have seen yet. Worm writers learn from each other, and we have to assume that other worm writers have seen the disassembled code and will reuse it in future worms. Even worse, Witty's author is still unknown and at large -- and we have to assume that he's going to do this kind of thing again.
The bad guys aren't just dumb kids anymore.
IE is a hazard. Ditching it is not going to solve all your security problems, but it is certainly going to prevent many of them.
Happily, we have a good alternative.
Firefox is free, it works very well, and it actually has some nice features that IE doesn't have. I'm using it right now. I tried a previous version a while back and didn't really have any opinion of it, good or bad. This new version is really quite nice.
One feature I really like is the ability to open an entire folder's worth of bookmarks with one click. My morning blog reading just got much easier. The tool for organizing your bookmarks is much better than the one available in IE, too.
I was also very pleased to find that a google toolbar is available, and that my link gadgets (like one-click blogrolling and dictionary lookup) still work. They also have a built-in popup blocker that, so far, is working better than the google version I used to use.
It's not quite perfect. This is version 0.9, and while it is stable and safe, there are some small rough edges here and there. Nothing too annoying, but you'll notice it. Overall, however, it's an excellent product.
And it sure beats giving your computer to some guy on the internet.
If you are using a PC, you'll need to keep IE around so you can still get Windows Updates. Also, if you are using Outlook or Outlook Express, you remain vulnerable if you view your email as HTML, which is the default.
My plan is to do the following:
1) Use Firefox for browsing.
I welcome further advice on this topic.
Scott Granneman agrees.
The Three Castles Dilemma Solved!
Saturday, June 12, 2003
The inconvenience imposed by the tragic loss of my favorite brand of cigarette rolling tobacco has been resolved. My dilemma - the twin horns of my problem, each driving home an unpleasant point - was that I could smoke an inferior brand, or simply stop smoking altogether.
Instead, I found a substitute, an expensive, inconvenient substitute, yet a goddamn good substitute nonetheless. It's not Bali Shag, the easy-to-find brand that many folks suggested. (In fact, it's so not Bali Shag that I have three unopened packages of the stuff available to whoever asks for them first).
Nope, my substitute is a special house blend assembled by my new friends at McGahey The Tobacconist in England, and called, oddly enough, Three Castles. It's their best shot at a replacement for this beloved commercial brand.
It's not exactly the same, but it doesn't have to be. It's superb, all on its own.
If you'd like to order some, remember that you are not dealing with a gang of common ruffians at the corner market, no sir; you select what you'd like on their web site, and then you send them an email requesting a quote. A day or so later they will get back to you, offering their current price, valid for 14 days only. Their shipping was prompt and the quality of their product is unmatched.
It's about 10 times as expensive as the cheap stuff, but even then, it's only about 10th the price of good dope. As we all come to learn, it always pays to smoke the best you can find.
Update: If you do place an order...
They also offer a commercial brand called Golden Virginia which looks promising, but I haven't tried it yet. When I get around to cracking it open I'll let you know if it's any good.
Wednesday, June 9, 2003
Abortion, whether you support it or not, is legal in the United States. Even if Roe vs. Wade were to be rolled back tomorrow, perhaps half the states would continue to allow the procedure. Any hope of a constitutional ban on such abortions is simply outside the realm of possibly for the foreseeable future.
Legal abortion is a reality now, and it's not going to go away any time soon.
Roughly half a million abortions performed here every year. Even if we somehow cut that number in half, we would still looking at a rate of several hundred per day. I think we can agree that no imaginable movement in the political landscape is going to materially change this.
We think we also agree that the tissue from these aborted fetuses may be of incredible human value - not value measured in dollars, but value measured in lifesaving medical advances for tens of millions of people. Nonetheless, many people oppose this research because they consider it unethical to use aborted human tissue in this way.
These opponents know full well that diseases like Alzheimer's are hardly uncommon, and that they are no joke. They willingly acknowledge the human cost if we turn away from the hope of such a cure.
I find the ethics of this position not only baffling, but obscene. At even just an ounce apiece, we are currently discarding over a ton of fetal material a month. Any claim that the miniscule demand for new stem cell lines would measurably impact this supply is absurd.
Yes, we might well discover that research with these cells might not deliver on this promise. We may find that adult cells could work just as well, with far less political cost. If this turns out to be the case, then the argument is over; similarly, until we know for certain what the real value of this material is, we cannot discount the potential that it holds.
It is an ugly perversion of ethics to insist that this potentially lifesaving material be incinerated simply because we find the source of it to be personally objectionable, but that's exactly what this has come down to. There is no practical gain - none - in prohibiting this research. This is a battle of symbolism, not substance.
It is simply not ethical to allow human suffering on this scale because of a symbolic or political objection. People have symbolic and political disagreements all the time. We don't torture and kill others over of these disagreements because we are civilized. We are ethical. We know the relative value of such things.
In twenty years people are not going to be able to believe that we actually disputed this. This will be remembered the way we remember the late-60s arguments against organ transplants.
Myria corrects a misassumption on my part; in-vitro fertilization (IVF), not products of abortion, are the source for the tissue in question.
Update: Excerpt from a media interview with First Lady Laura Bush:
Q I want to ask you about something relating to Nancy Reagan. First of all, your mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, publicly disagreed with her husband, President Bush, on the issue of abortion. Nancy Reagan has come out recently and said that she supports stem cell research in order to try to find a cure for Alzheimer's. You mentioned that your father also had Alzheimer's. What is your personal view on stem cell research?
MRS. BUSH: Well, everyone supports stem cell research, and so did the President. And there are lines, embryonic lines of stem cell for research. It's a very delicate balance between what we want to do for science and for research and for what is ethically and morally right to do.
There's adult stem cell research that's available for people. There are lines of embryonic stem cells that are available for research. And we all want a cure for Alzheimer's. And I know there are many, many researchers who are working with stem cell but also with other medicines and other possibilities of prevention and vaccines for Alzheimer's.
That's it. The interview goes into other topics after that.
So let's get this straight... stem cell research is valuable, and the Feds should support it. The only hold-up here is the "moral and ethical part" of creating new stem cell lines.
I'll offer another interpretation.
Ethics has nothing to do with it. Politics, and the strong objections of a religious minority, are the real issues.
Ethics, if it means anything, means being accountable for the consequences of your actions. The consequences here are real, and are not outweighed by anything more than symbolism.
We use IVF every day to help infertile women conceive. We probably discard or destroy thousands of embryos in the process. This is not a crisis. It's not even a problem. It's just a symbol, and right now, it's a symbol that potentially carries a terrible human cost.
The ethics here are quite clear, and so is the politics.
A Beautiful Day
Tuesday, June 8, 2003
It's two o'clock in the afternoon. I have a bunch of stuff I should be doing, but instead I'm sitting on my deck, under a big umbrella, blogging and smoking a fresh cigarette. Life is good.
My crappy old computer (a $200 emergency replacement for my original machine) has been successfully reconfigured, after an absurd amount of work, into a wireless internet connection server. My sweet new computer, a Dell portable, is quite happy with this arraignment, and I am now free to wander the house while staying in perfect touch with the world. In real dollars, the new system costs far less than my original system did, and it works a hundred times better.
Progress. I love it, I really do.
I had a nice anti-Reagan rant all ready to go, but it made me feel cheap and mean-spirited every time I sat down to actually write it. What the hell... yeah, so the guy brought us the savings and loan crisis, the war on drugs, massive debts and the Iran/Contra scandal (which was a real scandal, despite what some revisionists now claim) but he was also a decent man who did a lot of good, too. I don't hate him like I used to. Let it go.
Instead, I have that wonderful, playing-hooky-on-a-lovely-summer-day feeling going on, and I like that a lot better. I hear birds, I see lazy cats lounging around, I feel a cool breeze, and my lungs are full of Virginia tobacco. This is what living is for, and only a fool would screw with it.
I was thinking about how my feelings about Reagan had changed over the years and it occurred to me that my values haven't really changed a bit since I was a teenager, even as my allegiances have almost completely realigned. I still want the same things, but I see different ways of getting them. I now know the bad things that my old allies were up to, and the good things that my old enemies managed to achieve. Somehow, they managed to build a wonderful world over all this time. Wealth and peace and knowledge and growing freedom are the order of the day, the rule rather than the exception. Even in the midst of war, right now, I look around and feel threatened by nothing. Perhaps it's just the sunshine and smoke, but hey, only a fool would screw with it. Only a fool would overlook the great good fortune we enjoy.
My dad wanted to fly a B-17. I never got the whole story out of him, but he was blessed to be a little too young; his Army Air Corps pilot class disbanded as the fighting drew to a close, and he missed his chance to serve with a unit that took 30% losses during the war.
The guy was a teenager, and he was going to drop bombs on Germany and France. Our aircrew we getting killed so fast back then, we had trouble keeping warm bodies in the seats.
Years later, my mom was pregnant with me during the Cuban Missile crisis, and she says that she wondered whether is was right to bring a baby into the world at that time. Don't worry, Ma, it turned out OK. The whole world turned out OK.
We won't see another World War Two. We almost certainly will never see another Vietnam, not any of us, anyway. That sort of killing is part of history now, at least for our corner of the world. Another few decades and it might be part of history for everybody else, too. It's a real possibility, and an honest miracle, when you think about it.
Two generations ago tyranny swept the world. That's no exaggeration; real, honest-to-god tyranny really did sweep over much of the earth. A generation ago we feared a nuclear holocaust. Now, we fear truck bombs and hijackings. We are in the cleanup phase of the great struggle for civilization, and civilization has won.
We have found the recipe; wealth and trade and freedom. All the big players are either on board now, or grudgingly getting with the program. China remains a vicious place, but it is growing softer with age, threatened less by war then by prosperity growing out of control. Russia now begs to join the EU. Socialism, like some human disease, weakens all that it touches and will gently extinguish itself in our children's lifetime as the free world leaves it further behind.
Technology was awkward at first. We initially misused this new toy, made messes with it, misapplied it, were disappointed by its immaturity. It's not awkward anymore. People think that we are in the midst of a technology boom, but they could not be further from the truth; we are at the early dawn of a great technology revolution that will make today's world look like the land of buggywhips and milk churns before the next decade is out. We use old tools to build new tools, and to train new toolmakers; the tools we have even now will be the basis of increasing wonders for years to come.
Precious medicines from ordinary plants? Crops to feed everyone, grown without poisons? Clean air, clean water, the world's knowledge free for the taking? The bounties of our imagined Eden are becoming real in the heart of the very civilization that once threatened to drown the world in plastic, pollution, and war. Our new Eden is not artificial, it is authentic and real, and we are building it now. The United States is one of the cleanest nations in the planet, with one of the richest abundance of wildlife and the lowest rates of extinction. The poorer corners of the world are desolate in comparison. Prosperity is the environmentalists' friend, the humanist's friend, the partner of liberalism and the child of freedom, and prosperity is on the rise.
Jesus, I have to blog out here more often. This is the most optimistic thing I've ever written in my life.
I'm right, though. And that's what counts.
Friday, May 28, 2003
My favorite brand of cigarette rolling tobacco has been laid to rest. Can't get it anymore, even from Europe.
Goddamn it. I really liked that stuff.
Rumsfeld Claims WMD Find
This is the first I've heard of this:
I was with the Polish minister of defense this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey at the NATO Summit. And in the course of that, he pointed out that his troops in Iraq had recently come across - I've forgotten the number, but something like 16 or 17 - warheads that contained sarin and mustard gas.
Now these are weapons that we always knew Saddam Hussein had that he had not declared and they have tested them and I have not seen them and I have not tested them, but they believe that they are correct that these, in fact, were undeclared chemical weapons -- sarin and mustard gas -- quite lethal and that is a discovery that just occurred within the last period of days.
Maybe these are old munitions from the Iran/Iraq war. Maybe not. I guess we'll find out soon enough...
Update: They were old:
Warheads believed to contain the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin that were found by Polish troops in Iraq date back to Saddam Hussein's war with Iran in the 1980s, authorities said Friday. "Beyond any doubt, the warheads date back to 1980-88 and were used against the Kurds and in the Iraqi-Iranian war," said a statement from the Polish command.
The Courts Made A [Pretty] Good Call
Basically, I think they got it right. I've pretty much decided that I was OK with all the extraordinary stuff we were doing now, so long as there was judicial review. That's basically what the court decided, too.
I am less happy with the decision that non-citizen combatants in Gitmo have standing in US courts. That part is going to turn around and bite us, I think...
Eugene Volokh nicely describes the problem with the Gitmo ruling.
This Hasn't Recieved Much Attention
I remember when this got a lot of attention, back when it was going up from $1.97 to $2.10...
Another Myth Put To rest
A quick, merciful euthanasia, performed skillfully via Bastard Sword. The bottom line?
Funny you don't see this sort of thing in the papers.
Take It Right To The Supreme Court
One of my pet peeves - my many pet peeves - is the notion that the press have some special rights that ordinary people do not.
I run a blog. Does that make me special? How about if I print a thousand copies and sell them - suddenly I get special rights that you don't? It's horseshit, of course, but you'd be surprised how often the press tries to get away with it.
This small but commonly-believed misassumption has become a genuine problem now that campaign finance reform has become law. Here, The Corner quotes James Taranto getting right to the heart of the issue:
"In a direct challenge to federal limits on political advocacy, the National Rifle Association plans to begin broadcasting a daily radio program on Thursday to provide news and pro-gun commentary to 400,000 listeners," the New York Times reports."
Let's take this right to the Supreme Court and drive a stake into its fucking heart. This law is an abomination.
From The Horse's Mouth
A terrorists-eye-view of the recent attack in Saudi Arabia:
The four of us entered the company together. We met the Arab clerks, and greeted them. We asked them: 'Where are the Americans?' [...] We entered and in front of us stood many people. We asked them their religion, and for identification documents. We used this time for Da'wa [preaching Islam], and for enlightening the people about our goal. We spoke with many of them.
At the same time, we found a Swedish infidel. Brother Nimr cut off his head, and put it at the gate [of the building] so that it would be seen by all those entering and exiting. We continued in the search for the infidels, and we slit the throats of those we found among them. [...] We found Filipino Christians. We cut their throats and dedicated them to our brothers the Mujahideen in the Philippines. [Likewise], we found Hindu engineers and we cut their throats too, Allah be praised. [...]
Afterwards, we turned to the hotel. We entered and found a restaurant, where we ate breakfast and rested a while. Then we went up to the next floor, found several Hindu dogs, and cut their throats. I told the brothers to leave them on the stairs so the troops of the Taghut would see them when they burst in...
I'm sorry, kids, but that whole Give Peace A Chance thing is just not going to cut it with these people.
Chemical Attack In US?
The Italians recently nailed most of the remaining terrorists responsible for the Madrid train bombing. This little gem was part of the intelligence haul:
An Italian prosecutor said Wednesday he had provided U.S. authorities with transcripts of phone calls between terror suspects, including one that reportedly refers to a woman ready to carry out a chemical attack in the United States.
This was a very active, dangerous group, not a bunch of Jihad wannabes. I don't doubt the legitimacy of this warning at all.
Quote Of The Day
Ray Bradbury, on Michael Moore:
During the Battle of Britain, a British fighter pilot in the skies over London spots a German bomber heading dead-on towards Buckingham Palace. The fighter pilot knows that he is the only one near enough to stop the attack.
He's also fresh out of bullets.
The young pilot makes a desperate decision. He sets off on a collision course, hoping to clip off the bomber's vertical stabilizer with his wing - if he hits it exactly right, the damage to his own plane might just be survivable. Incredibly, he misses the stabilizer and slices the entire tail off the doomed bomber, yet he still manages to bail out of his crippled craft and eventually survive the war. His fighter crashed within sight of the palace.
Flash forward 60 years. They just found the remaining wreckage of the British pilot's plane, and he was there to watch them dig it up.