July 3, 2006
July 2, 2006
Hugh Hewitt writes about the pounding that New York Times editor Bill Keller and Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet are absorbing in the public discourse (emphasis mine):
If it was a fight, they’d stop it. The pummeling the not-so-dynamic duo are taking may reveal a reason for the reckless “print everything” strategy: In the old days, the newspapers owned the commentary business. They had no competitors, and the weeklies and monthlies could never catch up with even the most egregious misrepresentations. The papers were beyond reach. No matter what they did, no one could effectively criticize them (i.e. mobilize public opinion against them.)
Now the newspapers –even their biggest guns, the editors-in-chief!– cannot withstand even a half news cycle before their preposterous posturings are shredded.
It erodes a “news” organization’s credibility to be so outclassed so often.
All that newspapers can do to retain a claim for market share is publish secrets that no one else would publish. But this niche of a niche disgusts more than it attracts.
The instant availability of expertise is what has doomed “journalists.” They can’t defend the indefensible when trios like Althouse/Bainbridge/Macguire saunter up to the keyboard and destroy their pretensions in a few minutes.
If the two editors didn’t so richly deserve the scorn, I’d feel bad for them.
June 28, 2006
Patterico has your complete, one-stop shop rebuttal.
June 27, 2006
The NY Times comes out in favor for campaign contribution limits, applauding the Supreme Courts decison to leave intact Vermont’s tiny thresholds intact: Campaign Finance Reform Survives.
The Supreme Court struck down Vermont’s reform-oriented campaign finance system yesterday. But more important was what it did not do. The court, ruling on the issue for the first time since the arrival of two new justices, declined to overturn 30 years of precedents upholding limits on campaign contributions. That makes the decision a setback for the anti-reform forces who want to open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics.
Open the spigots for corporate and special-interest money to flood into American politics?
You’d think these guys have never heard of 527s, MoveOn.org or George Soros.
The decision striking down Vermont’s system was not unexpected. Vermont’s limits were the lowest in the nation — an individual could give just $400 to a candidate for governor or $200 to a candidate for state representative. Even some strong supporters of campaign finance laws worry that such low limits stack the deck in favor of well-known incumbents.
Hah. McCain-Feingold does that now, which is why I have long called it The Incumbency Protection Act.
Another part of Vermont’s law restricted how much candidates could spend, an approach that had already been struck down in Buckley.
Big-money interests that are challenging campaign contribution limits may be heartened by the fact that one state’s attempt to reform its campaign finance system has been rejected. But taken as a whole, the ruling is a strong reaffirmation of the principle that the Constitution permits reasonable limits designed to prevent what the court has called “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”
Actually, there is a far simpler way to handle “corruption and the appearance of corruption” in political donations. First, do away with all limits on contributions; anybody can give as much as they want, with this caveat: all donations recieved must be made public. All candidates for any office throughout the land must reveal the identity of the donor and the amount of cash involved. Everyone would know who gave what to whom, and voters could easily see any campaign awash in “corruption and the appearance of corruption.”
June 26, 2006
June 24, 2006
WASHINGTON, June 24 — The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007.
Ace has been proven absolutely right with this statement:
The left continues to undermine national security in the most despicable, cynical way. I'm quite sure the reasonable liberals at the NYT and WaPo know full well that programs like this are absolutely vital, and their secrecy is likewise vital. However, they have made the most anti-American and evil sort of decision: While tools like this are vital for saving American lives, they will not permit any Republican President to use them. Only Democratic Presidents are permitted to employ the full panoply of powers for protecting American lives.It's blackmail, pure and simple. Either let a Democrat into the White House, or we will continue to sabotage American security and, in effect, kill Americans. We will keep secrets when a Democrat is in office, but not a Republican. So we offer the American people a choice: Let the politicians we favor run the country, or we will help Al Qaeda murder you.
Update: Captain Ed has a different take. I hope he's right.
Update II: The lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin reminds us:
Ed Morrissey thinks it's a controlled leak. But the law, as I've noted before, does not distinguish between "good" and "bad" leaks, "controlled" or "uncontrolled" ones. As Ed rightly notes, whatever the case, "the New York Times has once again specialized in publishing classified material on a story with only marginal news value."
Also, The Anti-Blabbermouth Army of Photoshoppers continues to supply Michelle with plenty of 21st century updates.
King Banaian at SCSU Scholars has a must-read piece: What is a S.W.I.F.T. Transaction? The MSM who participated in exposing our methods to catch terrorists via wire transactions really had the "public interest" in mind. Oh yeah, Big Brother snooping on everyone's checking account:
A SWIFT consists of a one-page document containing the name and code of the originating bank, the date and time, the address and code of the receiving bank, the name and internal code of the officer initiating the transmission, the names and numbers of the accounts involved in the transfer, a description of the asset being transferred, the MT category of the transmission, and acceptable, standardized phrases as described above.
SWIFT transactions are typically large size because the cost of using the system is substantial. When I lived in Ukraine I only used SWIFT for receiving sums of about $10000, typically quarterly, for payment of expenses. The information on the slip that I would receive had codes for the banks, the accounts being transferred from and to (in both those cases, mine — I could not get dollars without a Ukrainian bank account) and the amount to be transferred.
How many people do you know participate in $10,000 international transactions every other day? All exposing this did is give aid and comfort to the enemy that want to kill us.
The NY Times, LA Times, WaPo and others who exposed the banking transactions have only one "public interest" in mind: winning Pulitzers.
***Scroll for updates*****
The Slimes defends its aiding and abetting the enemy by exposing terrorist-tracking techniques: Following the Money, and the Rules.
When government agencies are involved in continuing investigations that might infringe on Americans' privacy, it is important that some outside entity is keeping track of what is going on. That principle is particularly true now, when the United States is trying to learn how to live in a perpetual war on terror.Investigators will probably need to monitor the flow of money to and from suspected terrorists and listen in on their phone conversations for decades to come. No one wants that to stop, but if America is going to continue to be America, these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts.
So the Slimes is more interested in oversight than in preventing say, the Sears Tower from a sudden unplanned implosion?
How many more people have to die horribly on American soil for the Slimes to realize this is a war? Will a US city end up a smoking crater because of their concern for "oversight?"
Scott Johnson at Powerline refutes the entire editorial in a single paragraph:
In its editorial on the subject today, the New York Times offers no shred of an argument concerning the possible illegality or overbreadth of the program. It cites no instance of abuse. Rather, the Times argues "these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts." The Times purports to invoke the rule of law where no law has been broken, and where the Times itself has both broken the law and damaged American national security.
Update: Forgot to add the link to Powerline in the original post. All fixed!
Once again, major newspapers, led by The New York Times, have spilled secrets that will make Americans less safe and the war on terror harder to win. No doubt, Pulitzers are in order. We hope they're proud.
The decision by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to print details of the government's secret program to monitor terrorists' finances couldn't come at a worse time.
The same day that program was revealed, seven men were arrested in Florida, part of a plot to create a terrorist "Islamic Army" and blow up Chicago's 110-story Sears Tower. The group hoped to hook up with al-Qaida, and even swore oaths to it.
Scary. If nothing else, this underscores the threat we're under — and why those who aid and abet our enemies must be watched.
Which is exactly what the program to watch terrorists' bank accounts did. It looked at bank transfers in the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, system to track the financial activities of terrorists and their friends.
It is a key part of our effort to dismantle the global terrorist threat and to render al-Qaida and its allies financially impotent. It worked — so well, in fact, that both Republicans and Democrats asked newspapers not to print the story.
The money paragraphs:
We're left to wonder: Is this criminal behavior? The newspapers will claim they have the right under the First Amendment to publish government secrets if they see fit. But that's rubbish. Since World War II, Congress and a series of legal decisions have made it clear the media aren't exempt from the Espionage Act — which forbids giving secrets to the enemy.
While the legality of printing secrets may be debatable, it's clear there's a crisis among media elites that have allowed hatred of the president and his party to taint their reporting. In the process, they've destroyed whatever claims to objectivity and fairness they might have once had. Far worse, they've given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war — and that is simply inexcusable.
Update III: The Washinton Times has weighed in: The Right Not to Know.
Once more the spoiler. Despite the earnest persuasion of the White House to preserve a useful weapon in the war against the terrorists, the New York Times has revealed the workings of a covert surveillance program, indisputably within the law, to use administrative subpoenas to examine, through a Belgian financial consortium known by the acronym SWIFT, the financing of international terrorism.
Once the story was out, the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal covered it as well. Now the program is damaged, perhaps severely so, and the financing of terror is harder to track. This is another unnecessary leak, six months after the New York Times revealed a secret National Security Agency terrorist surveillance program.
In its earlier scoop, the New York Times could reasonably argue legal uncertainty. Not this time.
The Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Miller in 1976 that no right to privacy attaches to the type of third-party financial-transaction information SWIFT has provided to the Treasury Department. The Right to Financial Privacy Act, enacted by Congress in 1978 in the wake of United States v. Miller, allows just the administrative subpoenas Treasury has been using. So does the Patriot Act.
The SWIFT transactions that Treasury has been examining are international in nature. The searches are specifically targeted at suspected or known terrorists, a "sharp harpoon aimed at the heart of terrorist activity," as Treasury Secretary John Snow puts it.
The claim that the rights of American citizens are infringed is irrational, unduly partisan, or both.
Read it all…
Check out the 21st Century updates to these WWII War posters that the lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin has posted from her readers responding to the NY Times
revealing terrorist monitoring and catching methods public interest story. These people are far more clever than I am.
Update: Beth is a Photoshop Army of One:
My personal favorites are the Uncle Sam and the Dummies book cover.
You go, girl!
June 23, 2006
Great. Just f*****g great. Just what I wanted to wake up to.
Patterico won't, but I will say it: Ann Coulter was right about where Timothy McVeigh should have gone with his truck bomb.
Also see A Salute to the Greatest Generation.
Update: Patterico imagines what today's journalists would have done the week before D-Day:
We have listened closely to President Roosevelt’s arguments for withholding publication of the full details of the Allies’ plans for next week’s invasion of Europe in Northern France. We weighed these arguments carefully, and gave them the most serious and respectful consideration.
However, we have determined that it was in the public interest to publish these plans.
We believe that the government’s use of deception in attempting to mislead our enemy concerning the exact location of our invasion raises serious questions about governmental honesty — questions that merit a public airing and debate.
Additionally, the plans we have published anticipate severe casualties on the part of Allied forces. Publishing the details of such a plan is part of the continuing national debate over the aggressive measures employed by the government in attempting to win the so-called “war on Nazism and fascism.”
Patterico links to others with similar observations:
Well, I guess it’s just that obvious, isn’t it? Are you proud, Dean and Bill, that many people are having this exact reaction?
Update II: Captain Ed weighs in:
The administration has told us on many occasions that one of the main fronts in the war on terror would be the financial systems. We have seen plenty of coverage on how the US has pressured various banking systems into revealing their records in order for us to freeze terrorist assets. If anyone wondered whether our efforts had any effect, all they needed to read was the stories of Hamas officials having to smuggle cash in valises in order to get spot funding for the Palestinian Authority. Their neighboring Arab nations pledged upwards of $150 million in direct aid, which banks would not transfer lest the US discover the transactions and lock them out of the global banking system.
Did no one read that and understand that the US has an extensive surveillance system on financial transactions around the world? Perhaps Keller, Lichtblau, and Risen need facts spelled out for them using crayon and words of two syllables and less, but the thinking world already understood that American intelligence had thoroughly penetrated global finance — exactly like we said we would do in the wake of 9/11.
This story is only good for one thing, and that is an attempt to blow the program and stop our ability to follow the money. The New York Times apparently wants to stage itself as a publication written by traitors for an audience of idiots.
Update III: The lovely and articulate Michelle Malkin chronicles the backlash.
June 20, 2006
June 17, 2006
MOVE OVER, RECKLESS CONSUMERS. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has outdone your irresponsible spending by racking up a debit card bill so outrageous it could have been created using Mad Libs. Sex-change operations, vacations to the Dominican Republic and wild nights at strip clubs were all bought on the government's dime by both con artists and legitimate victims of Hurricane Katrina. But try to keep that knee from jerking — although FEMA's oversight was lacking, wasted money is an inevitable byproduct of providing rapid emergency assistance.
Here's the final paragraph:
It's easy, and necessary, to criticize FEMA's across-the-board incompetence in responding to the largest displacement of Americans since the Civil War. But obsessing about the spending habits of refugees comes perilously close to blaming the victim.
So they would give practicers of fraud and con artists a free pass? Just because someone survived a hurricane does not give that person free reign to commit crimes. We're not blaming the victim, we're condemning the crooks, LA Times Editorial Board.
With this editorial, the Slimes is coming awfully close to endorsing criminal activity.
June 10, 2006
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Three Guantanamo Bay detainees hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes, the commander of the detention center said Saturday.
They were the first reported deaths among the hundreds of men held at the base in Cuba – some of them for up to 4 1/2 years and without charge.
Article 87 of the Geneva Convention says:
Prisoners of war may not be sentenced by the military authorities and courts of the Detaining Power to any penalties except those provided for in respect of members of the armed forces of the said Power who have committed the same acts.
When fixing the penalty, the courts or authorities of the Detaining Power shall take into consideration, to the widest extent possible, the fact that the accused, not being a national of the Detaining Power, is not bound to it by any duty of allegiance, and that he is in its power as the result of circumstances independent of his own will. The said courts or authorities shall be at liberty to reduce the penalty provided for the violation of which the prisoner of war is accused, and shall therefore not be bound to apply the minimum penalty prescribed.
So there won’t ever be any charges coming. This is a war! They’re enemy combatatnts!
I also don’t recall these detainees being accused of following the Geneva Convention uniform rules:
Are members of al-Qaida entitled to Geneva Convention protections for POWs? Are Taliban fighters and Iraqi insurgents entitled to those protections, by which soldiers are to give name, rank and serial number, but never to be abused to force them to reveal military secrets?
As Alberto Gonzales is discovering, these are not just legal issues. The Geneva Conventions are international law. They are rules for the conduct of war, agreed to by civilized nations, that assumed wars would be fought between armies whose soldiers would respect these rules.
Under the Geneva Conventions, however, soldiers who fight out of uniform or commit atrocities – i.e., murder prisoners or target and kill noncombatants – may be sent before firing squads.
Wehrmacht soldiers who penetrated American lines in the Battle of the Bulge by wearing U.S. Army uniforms hastily shed them to fight in German uniforms – or else they could have been shot when captured. OSS agents, dropped behind enemy lines to kill German pilots and Nazi collaborators, knew they were not entitled to the same protections as 82nd Airborne troops dropped behind German lines on D-Day.
Would Ms. Loven rather we lined up and shot the detainees?
Back to the story:
Two men from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen were found “unresponsive and not breathing in their cells” early Saturday, according to a statement from the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, which has jurisdiction over the prison. Attempts were made to revive the prisoners, but they failed.
“They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets,” Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris told reporters in a conference call from the U.S. base in southeastern Cuba.
Pentagon officials said the three men were in Camp 1, the highest maximum security prison at Guantanamo, and that none of them had tried to commit suicide before.
That camp was also the location where two detainees tried to commit suicide in mid-May, when a riot broke out at the facility. The two men, who took overdoses of an anti-anxiety medication they hoarded, were found and received medical treatment and were recovering.
The Amnesty International “pointing out the splinter in the US eye while ignoring the stacks of planks stuck in eyes around the world” response is here.
May 28, 2006
Scroll for updates…
John Kerry won't give it up: Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss.
Three decades after the Vietnam War and nearly two years after Mr. Kerry's failed presidential bid, most Americans have probably forgotten why it ever mattered whether he went to Cambodia or that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth accused him of making it all up, saying he was dishonest and lacked patriotism.But among those who were on the front lines of the 2004 campaign, the battle over Mr. Kerry's wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly — because unlike then, Mr. Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Mr. Kerry's side, however, have gathered new evidence to support their case.
Mr. Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard."They lied and lied and lied about everything," Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. "How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?"
His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group's charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Mr. Kerry's valor in combat. While it would be easy to see this as part of Mr. Kerry's exploration of another presidential run, his friends say the Swift boat charges struck at an experience so central to his identity that he would want to correct the record even if he were retiring from public life.
Oh really? Then why is this paragraph in the story:
Mr. Kerry portrays himself as a wary participant in his own defense, insisting in the two-hour interview that he does not want to dwell on the accusations or the mistakes of his 2004 campaign. "I'm moving on," he says several times.
Which is quickly followed by…
But he can also barely resist prosecuting a case against the group that his friends now refer to as "the bad guys."
John Kerry. He was for moving on before he was against it.
Update: Patterico's response to the "gathered new evidence" line is devastating.
Update II: Captain Ed also responds:
If Kerry really wants to open the topic for debate again, there are plenty of questions contained within the category that have never been answered. Here are just a few:
2. Why did Kerry allow David Alston to appear at numerous campaign events and misrepresent himself as an eyewitness to Kerry's Silver Star engagement?
3. Why did Alston disappear from the campaign after this became public, and why didn't the Kerry campaign explain his absence?
4. If Kerry came under fire on the December 2, 1968 incident for which he requested and eventually received his first Purple Heart, why then did Kerry write in his journal on December 11 that he had not yet been shot at?
If he can explain all this with new evidence, I'll be glad to post it. Until then, this looks like the same bluster that his supporters have used all along — to claim that the Swift Boat veterans have been thoroughly debunked and that Kerry had been vindicated without producing a single piece of supporting evidence for either conclusion. It also proves that Kerry will never get past Viet Nam, and as long as he occupies a leadership position in the Democratic Party, neither will the Democrats.
Well, Rasmussen decided to re-run the 2004 election and discovered two things. First, Kerry wins this time by seven points. And second, he’s still a terrible candidate:
President Bush is still trusted by a few more voters than Kerry on the National Security issue. However, the President’s advantage is much smaller than it was during the election season–44% now trust the President more while 41% opt for Kerry…
On immigration, 43% trust the President more while 40% prefer Kerry.
You don’t need a poll to tell you how terrible he is, though. Some of the righty blogosphere’s heaviest hitters are reacting this morning to news that Kerry wants a rematch with the Swift Vets.
Kerry better come up with some compelling evidence and answers to the myriad of questions about his service, which I'll be happy to post provided it's detailed and accurate. But there is so many holes that I doubt he can plug a few of them, let alone all.
Update IV: Here's excerpts from the book Kerry suppressed about his testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 22, 1971: The New Soldier.
May 27, 2006
Kim Gamel of the AP has a story about Islamic Extremism: Iraqi Athletes Killed for Wearing Shorts.
Here’s the first paragraph:
An Iraqi tennis coach and two of his players were shot to death this week in Baghdad because they were wearing shorts, authorities said Saturday, reporting the latest in a series of recent attacks attributed to Islamic extremists.
Which is quickly followed by…the second paragraph:
A U.S. Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter, meanwhile, crashed Saturday and its two crew members were missing in Anbar province, a volatile area west of the capital where insurgents are active. Hostile fire was not suspected as the cause of the crash, the U.S. military said.
So what, exactly, does a probable military helicopter accidental crash in Anbar have to do with a Iraqi tennis team being targeted for wearing shorts in Baghdad?
Gamel also throws in several other subjects, including the obligatory “Body Count Mantra”:
The U.S. military also reported that a Marine was killed Friday by “enemy action” in Anbar province. The death raised to at least 2,466 the number of U.S. military personnel who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The islamic extremist killings is a big enough story in itself. Why garnish it with all these other unrelated stories?