Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fear the Reaper

The United States has been very actively striking Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan this year, especially since the end of July. As of today, there have been thirty-one strikes. Almost all of the strikes have been conducted using Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) firing Hellfire missiles.

Almost all of the strikes have been in the wild lawless areas along the border with Afghanistan called the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). While the NWFP is within the borders of Pakistan, the government of Pakistan has never controlled the area or truly exercised sovereignty over the area. The NWFP is made up of an number of areas, some of the largest being North Waziristan and South Waziristan. The Taliban use these areas as bases to plan attacks in Afghanistan. They cross over the mountainous and mostly uncontrolled border into Afghanistan freely and return to find safe haven in Pakistan. In addition, the NWFP is where the #1 and #2 leaders of Al Qaeda (Osama Bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri) are believed to hide.

Al Qaeda has been regrouping in that area lately. The US government is greatly concerned about the developing threat. In addition to the attacks by NWFP-based Taliban against NATO troops operating in Afghanistan, the US government is very worried that Al Qaeda will plan and launch its next big attack(s) on the West from the NWFP. Consequently, the United States has stepped-up its attacks in the area. The hope is that the attacks will kill some key leaders and disrupt the plans.

Pakistan complains publicly about the attacks. However, the remarkable precision and success of the attacks tells me that the Pakistani government actually supports the attacks and provides much of the intelligence for the strikes. There is no way that the US could have such precise success relying solely on our own intelligence information. The Pakistani complaints are simply designed to placate their population (after all they are essentially calling-in air strikes on their own territory).

Below are two documents that list the dates of the strikes (starting with the most recent), the location of the strikes, and the results of the strikes. Most of this information comes from the the Long War Journal (LWJ). LWJ is an invaluable source of information regarding the War on Terror. It is a not-for-profit website that is not affiliated with the main stream media. Its editor is a former US Army service person who left his business job several years after 9/11 to devote his efforts to writing about the war. He can always use donations from readers to help fund his good work. Donations are tax deductible.

Friday, July 06, 2007

DC Signs Off

DC ends his blog with some great advice. The best advice was this paragraph:

The best way to influence the world is focus on "small unit tactics", that is, start with your own family. Work out from there, into your community, and so on. But if you forget what is at home and fail to build from there, you are building your house on sand.

I'll miss his blog and the great discussions in the comments to his posts. Thank you for all the effort you put into blog DC. And thank you for providing a place for the great discussions with you, Rhod, Mark, Hoss, Gordon, etc.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dead Man Walking (on the right)

In case the feds are reading this: by "dead" I mean politically dead.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Victory II

The Comprehensive Immigration "Reform" bill has been killed (again). It was as I feared. George Bush and the grand bargainers in the Senate came back for more, with the same result as the last time.

For an excellent round-up of what just happened and what it all means check out this DailyPundit post.

Also, for those waffling Republicans who could not make up their minds on this bill and those other "Republicans" who supported the President in this boondoggle (Republicans In Name Only - or RINOs) see this DailyPundit post for an excellent graphic.

Friday, June 08, 2007


The Shamnesty (immigration "reform" bill) is dead. It is a victory for democracy in the US. Lets hope it holds. The left and the RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) are like jihadis. They will keep coming back at it again and again.

This whole event reminds me of Europe. Mark Steyn has written (as has Rhod - a commenter over at DaisyCutter and occasionally here) that in Europe there is aristocratic political class that removes certain subjects from public discussion and deigns to know better then their commoner subjects. Rhod has written about how he is seeing it here in the US. In the past, his references to this phenomenon in the US rang hollow to me. This Shamnesty bill threw the existence of the phenomenon into clear relief - even enough for me to see it. As I wrote in my post below this one, the government (the elite) is forcing the public to negotiate with it (at the cost of 15-20 million new subjects) in order for the government to perform one of its fundamental duties. They say its for our own good and call it leadership. It is not leadership to demand something in order to get you to do something you already have to do. It is no more leadership than it would be an act of "leadership" to eliminate the military during a war. It is the abdication of leadership.

So, we have the elitist phenomenon here in the US as well. Yesterday, however, it was cast aside. Millions of others like me have also seen the ugly phenomenon (many are Democrats). Whether or not they recognize the elitism that it represents (not having had the benefit of Rhod's insight and wisdom) they know its stink and will begin howling more quickly and more violently the next time they catch its scent.

(BTW, the European "commonfolk" also managed to beat down the aristocrats when the commonfolk rejected the EU constitution.)

McCain should give his money back to his donors - he is destroyed.

Another great side-effect is that Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will not survive this overreach. South Carolina will not allow an elitist, tear-stained (see Michelle Malkin’s coverage for a hint), woman-named, terrorist-protecting RINO to represent it after the next election.

And the President…well what can you say…nearly everyone loathes him now, and it’s a good thing. He needs to be stuffed in a very small box for the rest of his administration. He has lost his mind (makes me wonder if he ever had one).

There was great irony in all of the events last night. Harry Reid, after years of demonizing and belittling the President, is forced to beg the President for help on this bill. A President brought low by opposition (and his increasing ineptitude) is powerless to help …the opposition! Thank god for the Democrats! Thank god the President is inept at this point (he fired up the opposition to the bill more than any Democrat could have)!

Think about it…these bizarre events…isn’t this some of the best proof that someone is looking out for us?

Thank god for Michelle Malkin, National Review, Hugh Hewitt, Powerline, DailyPundit for all of their efforts to draw attention to the bill.

Shame on the editors of the Wall Street Journal for their support of the Bill.

There are no pictures of Ted Kennedy smiling today.

It is a great day.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Why have an immigration bill that contains a two step process consisting of: (1) increased immigration/border enforcement and probationary legal status for illegals; and, upon completing step one, (2) non-probationary residency and a path to citizenship for illegals? Why not just have one bill for immigration/border enforcement and then, when it has been executed, submit a bill for residency and a path to citizenship for illegals?

Why prelegislate the 2nd step? Here's why: the government wants to remove the decision from the public as to whether the first step has been completed. Normally the decision as to whether the first step had been met and whether it was time to move on to the second would be made by the public through the legislative process. Not here though.

Why remove the decision from the public? Here's why: to avoid the government having to do the first step.

What is remarkable is that the first step is a requirement for a sovereign nation. It is something that our government has to do already. However, in what is one of the most extraordinary perversions of "democratic" government that I have ever heard of, we (the majority of the people- by all public polls) are being forced to negotiate with our government (by offering it 12 million new citizens) to obtain the performance of one of its fundamental duties. Not only that, but we are, as a result of the prelegislation, being required to accept the government's sole determination as to whether it has satisfied the first step. This determination would be made by the same government that has failed for decades to enforce its immigration laws or its borders. Don't fall for it!

Also, don't be fooled into thinking that the new law would be reversible after it is enacted. The drafters have been very smart. After enactment, all illegals would immediately be entitled to come forward and obtain probationary legal status. Imagine how hard it will be to revert 12 million legal residents back into illegal status - if they themselves have done nothing wrong in the interim.

Be Very Afraid

Ted Kennedy is happy.

Immigration "reform" is here.

"When Ted Kennedy is having a good time - bad things happen"
-Mary Jo Kopechne (1940 – 1969)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Those Marines

I sent an Email to Andrew Stuttaford in response to his postings in the Corner at National Review Online defending the behavior of the British Marines held hostage by the Iranians.

In particular, he wrote:

"Derb, via the Yorkshire Post, here's SAS veteran Andy McNab on the behavior of those captured marines:

[He said he believed they were] "just doing their best to get by...They are intelligent people, they understand the situation, they understand they are caught in the middle on a political situation."

McNab himself was captured and tortured by the Iraqis. I suspect that he knows what the correct procedures are."

My email to Andrew was as follows (I also sent him the picture from the post immediately below this one):

Take a look at the men on the right side of this picture.

Were they violating the “rules” by looking (appropriately) dour
but not broken? Do the rules require the servicepersons to make it look like they are having a good time and to thank their captors?

If the men on the right could look dour but unbroken – couldn’t the others? Do any of the smiley ones have the sort of ashen/drawn look of persons who have been tortured (aside from their normal English pallor)?

Which group displays more honor, resolution, seriousness? Which group would you fear more to meet in combat?

Don’t go great lengths to defend the giddy ones Andrew – they are not worth it. You would be better off and retain more credibility if you pointed out that not all of the Brits acted dishonorably.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The UK's Shame (update)

Make that "the three men on the right have honor".

Also, note the interesting editing of the picture in the post below by the MSM (MSNBC in this case - though it may have obtained the picture from AP). The picture was edited to only highlight the happy hostages. It helps to only show the happy people if the tag line is "No ill will".

Is suspect that there already is some ill will between the three men on the right and the shameless hams on the left.

The UK's Shame

I've never witnessed such appalling behavior from military men and women before. Thoughout this hostage-taking the British Marines have happily participated in the humiliation of their nation. The only one with honor that I can see in the picture is the dour-looking fellow on the right. Mr. Blair, the British military has become a liability to the United States in Iraq. Please send them home now.

Update: I was too harsh on the British Military here. In retrospect, It seems that much of this bad bahavior may have been the result of poor leadership on the captured unit. Our British brothers are doing a hell of a job on the war judging by reports from the likes of Michael Yon.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Talk about Overstatement

I sent the following email to the authors of a Newsweek Online Article entitled "Straying From the Script: A U.S. briefer overstates Iran's meddling in Iraq, setting off a Washington tempest", by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball:

I think your subtitle to the article is an overstatement in itself. "A U.S. briefer overstates Iran's meddling in Iraq, setting off a Washington tempest."

After reading this article it became clear that the briefer did not overstate the "meddling" (I question whether such a cute term should be used in relation to the killing of our troops) by Iran in Iraq, just that he might have overstated whether there was proof that the "meddling" was expressly authorized by the highest authorities in Iran.

This story is not really newsworthy.

It is clear that the government is of one mind that the Iranian Quds Force is involved in the meddling. It is also well known that the Quds Force represents the elite special forces of the Iranian regime (like a mix of SEALs and CIA covert ops). If the government is correct about Quds Force involvement (your article casts no doubt on their assertion), then doesn't the burden shift to Iran to explain that its elite special forces were not acting on the orders of the highest levels of the government?

Isn't there a presumption (respondeat superior) that the acts of the Quds Force were authorized at the highest levels?

Even if you take the position that there is not a presumption of authorization - how rational is it to expect that we would ever be able to get hard proof of such authorization?

Read it for yourself and see what you think. I think the authors are gleefully setting a standard of proof that could never be met and should never have to be met.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coming for You?

Be careful Mr. Khameni. You don't want to draw these folks' attention.*

*I wish this were a credible threat. However, given recent congressional testimony by General Pace and Secretary of Defense Gates, and given public statements by the President and numerous other members of his administration, the threat of military action aginst Iran has been taken off of the table. As a result, our efforts to curtail their militant islamist activities and their development of nuclear weapons will not succeed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I predict that Bin Ladin or Zawahiri, or both, will be captured or killed within the next 6 months. Why? The general who ramped up the efforts to kill Zarqawi is on the hunt: Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McCrystal. My past posts "Task Force 145's Greatest Hits" and "the Big Hit" detail the extraordinarily aggressive raids by Gen. McChrystal's forces that led to the killing of Zarqawi in Iraq. This (This link is now dead. I think the article ran in the Washington Post. Another article on the subject is here) MSNBC report reveals this excellent development and further reveals that for High Value Targets, like Zawahiri and Bin Ladin, McChrystal's forces may strike in Pakistan. Both HVTs are believed to be in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Update: It is 2/13/07 and I am going to preemptively call myself wrong on this one. Given the peace agreements signed by the Pakistani government with the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan and the complete collapse of of the Bush administration's will to fight the war on militant Islam, there is no chance that this prediction will come true.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Send Rope!

Three Jihadis hung themselves at Gitmo. There are something like 500 remaining detainees. I'm thinking six feet of rope for each x 500 for a total of 3000 feet of rope.

The Discount Rope Store sells 600 feet of 1/4" yellow poly 3 strand rope for $17.50. We will need five spools. So, it'll cost $87.50 for the rope and, say, $13.50 for shipping.

Mr. President I know how to "deal" with Gitmo and it'll only cost U.S. taxpayers $100.00. If the money is the problem I’d be happy to foot the bill.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Big Hit

Today is a great day. Today the U.S. military, spearheaded by Task Force 145, killed the most dangerous terrorist we face. Give thanks to the President, Donald Rumsfeld, the aggressive leadership of Task Force 145, its unnamed warriors and to the entire U.S. military. Is there any doubt that had the skittish Democrats been in the White House this moment would never have come?

Below is a list of the latest TF 145 raids (taking up where my previous post left off), including the strike that killed Zarqawi and his deputy. Other high ranking Al Qaida in Iraq leaders may also have been killed in the strike or in follow-on raids (there are news reports of 17 simultaneous follow-on raids leading to a trove of intelligence). It is also possible that intelligence gathered from this strike and the follow-on raids could lead to Bin Ladin and/or Zawahiri. It is a long shot - but the next several weeks may be very interesting. Watch for more raids in Iraq and for predator (or Pakistani military) strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Here are the hits.

June 7. Coalition forces killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house.

June 2. Coalition forces killed wanted al-Qaida terrorist Hasayn Ali Muzabir and detained one other during a raid near Balad.

June 1. Iraqi forces conducted precision, near simultaneous raids on four separate targets in Baghdad early on June 1, killing an insurgent financier and capturing two cell leaders. The Iraqi Army forces, assisted by Coalition force advisers (I would guess that the advisors were elements of TF 145). One of the leaders also belonged to a kidnapping and assassination cell in the Doura region, and both were al-Qaida-trained operatives who fought against U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the past.

May 28. Coalition Forces killed three and wounded one terrorist as they transported and attempted to emplace improvised explosive devices in the vicinity of Ramadi. The individuals have been linked to a weapons cache Coalition Forces located and destroyed in the area just south of Lake Thar Thar previously the same day.

May 28. Coalition forces detained one wanted terrorist and two suspects at approximately in the vicinity of Taji

May 28. Coalition forces captured seven terrorists and various bomb making materials while conducting multiple assaults in southern Ramadi.

May 26. Coalition forces continued to degrade al-Qaida in Iraq and associated foreign terrorists operations in the al Anbar region when the troops disrupted a gathering and captured six detainees in southern Ramadi

May 24. Coalition Forces detained three terrorists in the vicinity of Samarra during a raid targeting a known al-Qaida associate. The operation led to the capture of the known terrorist and two other male associates, all of whom were intoxicated.

May 23. While conducting multiple assaults along Southern Lake Thar Thar, Coalition Forces captured 10 suspected terrorists and destroyed two vehicles and one tent that was used as a terrorist safe house.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Task Force 145’s Greatest Hits

Since late March Task Force 145 has been set loose on Al Qaida in Iraq. Task force 145 is made up of Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, U.S. Army Delta Force, British SAS commandoes and British "Rangers". The force is finally being used the way it should have been from the beginning of the fight in Iraq. They are conducting lightning raids based on good information and, very importantly, are immediately conducting follow-on raids based on what they have found. In addition, based on the high numbers of killed and wounded terrorists in the raids, they are being conducted with overwhelming firepower and loosened rules of engagement (the lawyers are not running the show).

Some of this is being made possible by better intelligence. I suspect that some Sunni Tribes are dropping the dime on the Jihadis now that some Sunnis are playing a larger role in Iraqi politics. It also could be that the U.S. military is just doing a better job of reporting the raids than they did in the past. However, it appears that much of the increased tempo and effectiveness is due to aggressive leadership, starting with Donald Rumsfeld. This link leads to very interesting Military Times article describing TF 145 and the aggressive leadership.

Set forth below are snippets about the results of the raids. All of this information can be found at the Official Website of the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNFI). Bill Roggio of the Counterterrorism Blog thinks that raids conducted by “Coalition Forces”, without more detailed description of the forces, are TF 145 raids. This position is supported by the fact that the TF 145 raids described in the Military Times article are described at MNFI as raids by “Coalition Forces.”

Lets hope the hits keep coming.

May 23. Coalition Forces killed four terrorists and detained two during operations east of Lake Thar Thar at approximately 5:30 p.m.

May 23. Coalition forces located and killed three al-Qaida associates in the vicinity of Yusifiyah at approximately 7:30 p.m.

May 17. Coalition Forces located and killed six terrorists, detained three and destroyed a safe house and multiple weapons caches in Ramadi during a search.

May 17. Acting on timely intelligence reports, Coalition Forces located and killed two al-Qaida in Baghdad.

May 14. Coalition Forces conducted a coordinated ground and air attack against an enemy safe haven in Yusifiyah, killing more than 25 terrorists, detaining four, destroying three safe houses and a vehicle loaded with weapons and ammunition.

May 13-14. Coalition Forces conducted a series of raids in the vicinity of Latifiyah, killing known terrorist Abu Mustafa and 15 other suspected al-Qaida associates and detaining eight suspects.

May 13. Coalition Forces initiated a raid at approximately 11 a.m. in the vicinity of Julaybah, killing three terrorists, detaining four and destroying enemy hide outs and weapons caches while in search of a wanted al-Qaida so-called Emir.

May 6. Ansar al-Islam member and chemical expert, Ali Wali, was killed at approximately 1 p.m. during a counterterrorist raid in the Mansur district of Baghdad.

May 5. Coalition forces detained five suspects and killed an unknown number of terrorists in a series of raids at approximately 6 p.m. in the vicinity of Samarra.

May 2. Coalition forces killed ten terrorists, three of them wearing suicide vests, and wounded one at approximately 1:30 a.m. at a safe house located approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Balad.

April 29. At approximately 6 p.m., Coalition forces killed two al-Qaida terrorists who were involved in foreign fighter facilitation in the vicinity of Taji.

April 28. Coalition forces killed the al-Qaida “Emir” of Samarra, Hamadi ‘Abd al-Tahki al-Nissani. Based on intelligence reports, they tracked the wanted terrorist and two others to a location north of Samarra. The ground troops also killed the other two armed terrorists inside the house.

April 25. Coalition forces killed 12 terrorists during a raid in Yusifiyah at a safe house associated with foreign terrorists.

April 16. At approximately 2:15 a.m. Coalition forces raided a safe house in Yusifiyah, killing five terrorists and detaining five while searching for a wanted al Qaeda associate.

April 13. Based on actionable intelligence, Coalition forces raided a house in Baghdad at approximately 10:00 p.m., killing one man and detaining three suspects during a search for al Qaeda terrorists.

April 13. Coalition Forces raided a safe house at 4:20 a.m., approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Balad, capturing two and killing two terrorists. One of the terrorists killed was wearing a suicide vest.

April 9. In search of locations for bomb making and storage, Coalition forces killed eight terrorists during a raid April 9 approximately 22 kilometers northwest of Baghdad in the vicinity of Hamaniyah.

April 5. Coalition Forces raided several buildings in Yusifiyah capturing nine terrorists and killing one in a location known for enemy activity and safe houses.

April 1. Three suspected terrorists were captured and three others killed during a Coalition Forces operation in Al Amiriyah, Al Anbar Province, today.

March 27. Coalition and Iraqi forces killed a wanted terrorist, Rafid Ibrahim Fattah aka Abu Umar al Kurdi, during an early morning raid in the vicinity of Abu Ghraib.

March 22. Four al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists were killed when they engaged Coalition Forces during a raid approximately eight miles south of Samarra.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fox News Failure

Here is the body of e-mail I sent to Fox News Sunday regarding their March 26, 2006 panel discussion on Immigration Reform. I thought the discussion was disappointing.

I was very disappointed by the panel discussion on immigration this Sunday. I suspect it was disappointing because Brit Hume was not there. He has a distinct skill for bringing structure to the discussion.

None of the panelists gave a clear and structured analysis of the issues. The discussion just devolved into the usual “some politicians are bad because they are against immigration and other politicians are courageous because they are standing up for immigration and immigrants” banter. None of the panelists explained that the issue here is controlled immigration v. uncontrolled immigration. After 9/11, is suspect most Americans are strongly in favor of controlling immigration more than we have in the past. It is reasonable to think that we should know who we are letting in this country.

That does not mean they are anti-immigration. We can erect a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and still allow the same number of immigrants. We would just have to change the immigration statute to raise the number of Mexicans allowed to immigrate into the U.S. That is a political debate that I think we should have.

It is actually absurd to create a program of amnesty for illegal immigrants before we control immigration. If we did, we would create an even greater incentive for immigrants to cross into the US illegally so that they can participate in the program thereby worsening uncontrolled immigration.

I challenge you to ask you panelists to defend uncontrolled immigration vs. controlled immigration. I suspect they cannot – because there is nothing we can get from uncontrolled immigration that we cannot get from controlled immigration - except perhaps a greater security threat.

Uncontrolled immigration also harms controlled immigration. We limit legal immigration too much because there is a perception by the public that there are already too many illegal immigrants in this country. As a result, we miss the opportunity to allow more of the best and brightest in the world to come here legally (from Mexico and other countries) so that we can allow “?” to sneak across the border and tarnish his/her first involvement in this country with a violation of this country’s laws.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another Checkpoint Charlie

Below is the body of an email I sent to the Afghan Embassy related to a case in Afghanistan where a man is at risk of being put to death for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Please lift all threats of death or other punishment by your courts against Mr. Abdul Rahman for converting to Christianity. At a state department briefing today we were told that the Afghan constitution provides freedom of religion. Freedom of religion must include a freedom to change beliefs – regardless of what Sharia Law provides.

It appears that the threatened punishment could be the result of a fundamentalist Judge who may be ignoring the constitution in favor of Sharia Law. In the U.S., a judge can be removed for refusing to uphold the supreme law of the land. I recommend the government remove this judge if he does not uphold the constitution.

Please realize how appalling this case is to the Christian majority in the United States. One of your courts is threatening to kill a man simply because he shares the same beliefs as the majority of Americans. Further, this case could become a blight on Islam, which is at risk of being perceived in this country as another totalitarian foe like the Soviet Union. We were sickened when the Soviet's puppet East German government shot its citizens who attempted to leave their country – now we are witnessing militant members of Islam seeking to kill those members who attempt to leave it.

Afghanistan has received the benevolence of the United States. I fear that will not last if Mr. Abdul Rahman is punished for his religious beliefs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tom Fox II

In an earlier post after Tom Fox was abducted I wrote that I had met him. On Saturday, I saw the news that he had been tortured and killed by his captors. The thought of someone torturing this kind, pacifist, soft-spoken (and naive) man makes me sick. Only someone inhuman could have done that to Mr. Fox. In some ways torturing and killing him was like torturing and killing a child (for a thoughtful discussion of his death and different ways of looking at its meaning see the Belmont Club post entitled "Crushed and Broken on the Virgin Soul" and the related comments). His torture and murder convinces me more than ever that the primary solution to our struggle with militant Islam is a military one. They must be hunted and killed to the last. Forgiveness for their immortal souls is something that can be applied after their death.

As an aside, I suspect the reason he has killed first was that he was American and he had been a Marine. He had been in the Marine Band for 20 years - if I recall correctly. He never served in a combat unit because he was a conscientious objector. I deliberately left that fact out of my earlier post because I had not seen it mentioned in any of the media coverage (prior to his murder) and I did not want to take the chance that his captors might learn of his service and kill him for it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Ports

I have not posted on this, in part because I have been busy at work and in part because I have been mulling it over. After much vacillating, I think that allowing the UAE-owned company to acquire the rights to run the ports is a mistake.

I have tried to distill the issue into as simple a question as possible. Does this deal enhance the security of the United States? Clearly, transferring the operation from a British company to an Arab-Muslim company in the middle of a war against militant Islam would not increase the security of the United States, all other things being equal. The administration’s whole argument is that it does not harm the security of the United States. I think that argument misses the point. Since 9/11 Americans have demanded greater security. The insecurity of our ports has been a recurring theme. This transfer goes directly against the wishes of the great majority of Americans.

The President urges us to trust him on this. I do trust this President most than I trust most politicians. But, that trust is not blind.

The President has been flippant about a number of important domestic security issues since 9/11. First, he has done nothing to try to eliminate illegal immigration. If AQ terrorists want to get into this country, they can simply walk across the border with Mexico. All of the government’s watch lists are rendered meaningless by this gaping hole on our southern border. Second, the President too often hidden behind the mantra that Islam is a “religion of peace” despite the overwhelming evidence that many adherents do not think it is a religion of peace or act like it (thus the concept of Jihad). Too much of that “ROP” talk makes one wonder if he really believes it. If he does, then his judgment cannot be trusted. Third, the President has left Norman Minetta in charge of the FAA, and has resisted discriminating on the basis of religion or country of origin for security purposes on airlines (IMHO it would be constitutional given that the government has a compelling interest in protecting the U.S. from terrorism, that most terrorism is perpetrated by Islamic militants, and that some countries of origin have a strong correlation with whether you are Muslim or not). The President might take some heat for such a policy and might have to get Congress to change some laws – but that is why we elected him: to do the tough things that are needed to increase our security – even if they violate political correctness. As its stands, the TSA has to treat an elderly white woman that same way it does a young man named Mohammed. That does not make sense.

The President has weakened my trust in him somewhat by avoiding tough action on some of the domestic security issues. I think he thinks that to deny the UAE would be another kind of politically incorrect discrimination. I do not trust him to make the right choice and discriminate against the UAE where our vital security is at issue.

The President also argues that the UAE is a good “ally” in the war on militant Islam, and we cannot deny this opportunity to an ally. But we are also told that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are allies in the war. Do we want one of their government-owned companies running our ports? How could we deny a Saudi company if we allow the UAE company? The fact that the administration failed to put a knife in this deal quietly and that a public denial would embarrass the UAE is not sufficient reason to take any risk with our security.

Finally, the President argues that we will not be able to win over other moderate Arab/Muslim allies if we deny UAE this port deal. I light of the Mohammed cartoon riots, and the endless Muslim violence against other religions around the world, I look at this from the other side. How are we ever going to convince the moderate Muslims to openly confront and suppress their militant co-religionists if they never pay any price for their tolerance (support?) of the militants? To put it another way, if they can get everything they want from us, regardless of how the militants behave – why on earth would they confront the militants?

Indeed, some of the militancy seems to be paying nice dividends for the “moderates”. The moderates are benefiting from the fact that their religion cannot be criticized in public media anymore. Further, the President of the United States is bending over backward to make sure a deal goes though for the UAE because he is concerned that moderate governments will help us in the fight against the militants if it does not go through. What ever happened to requiring them to fight the militants simply because they are militants, rather than doing it because it’s good for business? To put it another way, if there were no Islamic militants would Bush have been so concerned about scuttling this deal?

I believe many of the Muslim “moderates” are mostly more patient extremists. They have the same goals but believe in achieving them less openly (or at least waiting until they are stronger). In this sense, they are free loading on the militant’s behavior. They are taking all of the benefits of the fear created by the militants to incrementally achieve their goals. I think we need to get wise this tact and force them to fear the consequences of crossing us more than they fear confronting the militants. Denying the port deal would be one small step in the right direction and would not reduce our security.

Update: Troubling - Saudi company runs 9 U.S. ports. Those port deals should be terminated.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wannabe Jihadi

This weekend (2/4/06), I came across an interesting post (among many) at the Jawa Report. In it, one of the Jawa contributors provided the contents of an email he received from a person in Turkey. I'll call him Wannabe Jihadi. Wannabi Jihadi was mad about the whole Muhammed cartoon thing and wrote the following threatening email to the Jawa contributor:

I'd like to let you know a Turkish saying reads as "a dog which was destined to be dead soon, urinates on a wall of a mosque! You blasphemous Westerners all are very like that dog in the saying!

The Jawa Report contributor provided the email address so that Jawa readers could send loving responses to Wannabe. The threat made me angry. I wrote the following response to Wannabe.

I read your threatening message about a dog “urinating on the side of a mosque” at Hyscience.

I’m sure you find that these images of Mohammed are offensive. No one likes to see their religion denigrated. I certainly do not like seeing Christ being pissed on in “art” (as has happened here in the U.S.). I can certainly understand protesting it (though it may be unwise as it draws attention to the blasphemy that might otherwise go unnoticed) or boycotting the persons who produced it. But, to threaten to kill the persons who produce it and to threaten to kill all of their countrymen and all Europeans and all of the West – is plainly evil.

It is also pathetic. People who overreact to every perceived offence are not people who are confident of their position. They are people who are afraid the images will resonate because there is some truth to them.

In the West we do not bluster. We do not because a person who blusters and does not follow though is a person who will be ignored thereafter. In the Mideast (and apparently Turkey – despite its desires to join the West) this logical rule of society does not seem to apply. Al Qaida threatens imminent attack on the U.S. for years and does not produce – and yet you still put faith (an hope) in their pronouncements. Baghdad Bob says the Americans have not entered Baghdad and despite the American tanks in the background Arabs keep believing him until they see Saddam’s statue fall.

Your threats are bluster. You and your people are no more capable of killing all of the persons posting the images of Mohammed than I am of causing and eclipse of the sun at my command. On the other hand - the West (heck, the U.S. alone if you provoke us enough) is capable of almost effortlessly doing anything we want to you middle easterners any time we want and there is nothing you can do to stop it (except perhaps beg). So understand your enemy well enough to at least create some credibility by stopping the hollow threats.

I received a response that made little sense, but claimed that Islam is the only "total" religion (by which I think he intended to to boast that it was totalitarian - there you go Jihadi - way to lead with your strong point) and that the West was not civilized (and killing people for the slightest offense is Wannabi?).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And Like That (Poof!) - It is Gone

Europe could learn a valuable lesson from the Mohammed cartoon controversy. They have labored to maintain goodwill with the Muslim masses. They have distanced themselves from the Great Satan and poured scorn on the Little Satan (Israel). They have tiptoed lightly so as not to offend the sensitive sensibilities of the Muslims amongst them. All this was done so that the Muslims would like them. Then a few small private EU newspapers printed cartoons of Muhammad (see above) that offended the extraordinarily thin-skinned Muslims (who are conversely unfazed by the demonically murderous acts of their coreligionists) and in an instant the "like" evaporated. Muslims in the Middle East are now chanting "death to Denmark!" and "death to France!" In Briton, extreme Islamists have issued a fatwa calling for the murder of all persons publishing the likeness of Mohammed. Middle Eastern leaders are issuing statements that the publication of the pictures will result in more terrorism - a kind of pre-justification for the inevitable violence that will result if Europe does not snuff-out free speech with respect to Islam.

On the other hand, papers in the United States have published some of the images and many popular blogs have reprinted the images (and added new creations a great deal more offensive then the originals) yet the Muslim anger over the images is directed at the EU nations. Why? Because “like” doesn’t last. Its based on whimsy. Respect and fear last.

As I said in my post “Liked or Respected?” below:

“We should seek instead to be respected and, to some extent, feared. Respect (and fear) lasts; feelings of affinity don’t. For an example of how quickly “like” changes to “dislike” recall how quickly the world began to turn on the US when we invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, one action that no one can doubt was absolutely essential and justified.”

The United States is more respected and feared than the EU nations because we have shown a willingness to dole out pain to those who threaten us and to take casualties to see our will done.

The EU has invested all of its efforts in seeking the approval of very volatile people. Despite all their efforts, the Muslims have had another capricious mood swing. Now all their efforts to date are for naught. The Muslims have determined (correctly) that the European desire to appease is not based on a deep embrace of Islam – but instead based on a fear of Islam. They have turned on the weak ones they do not respect or fear.

And in all their efforts to appease the Europeans lost the respect of and weakened their relationship with a powerful friend (the U.S.).

The Europeans face a clear an unavoidable choice. Do they learn the lesson and seek to be respected (and perhaps somewhat feared) by the Muslim masses by, in the least, rejecting all pressure to muzzle criticism of Islam. Or, do they fail the test (again) and accommodate their new master’s wishes – and set the precedent for future failure to come. I wish them the best. They are on their own now.

The addition of the cartoons to this site is not intended to show support for the creation of offensive images. I can imagine that it does hurt a Muslim to see the images as it hurts Christians to see degrading images of Christ. The world could do with a lot less offense. But, it is important that people be able to criticise all religions (an all things) without fear of loss of liberty or life. It is even more important that no religion be protected from criticism more than any other. To allow such a thing would be to begin to establish a world religion. I think that is the goal of Islamists and it must be resisted.

Muslims must learn to tolerate the criticism if they wish to coexist with the western world. If they do not wish to coexist....

Thursday, January 26, 2006

And Now the Consequences...

Here is the body of an e-mail I wrote to the White House regarding Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections.

Please cut off all U.S. aid to the Palestinians and work with the EU to have them cut off their aid. Hamas is a terrorist organization and the United States should not provide any support to a government controlled by, or under significant influence by, a terrorist organization.

The Palestinian people have made their democratic decision for unending war with Israel (If they did not like Fatah’s corruption they could have voted for someone other than the representatives of Hamas). They must live with the consequences of their decision. For too long our government and other world governments have insulated the Palestinians from the direct consequences of their poor choices. If we ever hope for them to make wise choices they must pay for their poor ones.

I also request that we not criticize Israel if they respond very harshly to any violence emanating from the Hamas government. Hamas is now a state actor acting with the overwhelming support of the Palestinians. If the Hamas government supports or does not combat violence against Israel then the violence should be treated as an act of war by a state on a state. Israel should be free to respond as violently as we would if Cuba were to attempt to invade Florida.

I think that the election of Hamas is a good thing. I think that it finally reveals what the Palestinians really think. We have been told over and over by experts and governments and media that most Palestinians want Peace with Israel - despite many polls that showed that the majority support violence (including suicide bombings) against Israel. Now we know they do not want peace. Now the world cannot pretend otherwise.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

WW II (Warrantless Wiretaps II)

What follows is an exchange I had with a coworker over a series of emails related to the President’s authorization for warrantless wiretaps of international calls involving persons with connections to terrorism. My coworker and I had had a heated discussion several days before in which he asserted that the President had violated the law. I told him that I was pretty sure his actions were legal (and politically popular to boot). He stormed off before I could explain why. I think he was mostly stung because he did not like someone threatening to puncture the bubble of hopefulness he was nurturing that the President would be impeached. I just had to hear the bubble pop. I think you can hear it towards the end of the email string. Also, note the startling ignorance revealed in his responses (this from a person with a subscription to the Economist and the New Yorker). Enjoy...

Me: Attached is a Justice Department brief to the highest ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees explaining the President’s authority to perform warrant-less wiretaps for National Security.

Also, here is a link to an analysis of the law in question by an attorney.

What is most remarkable about all of this is that of all of the cases out there on this subject, none (use of that word very rarely occurs in interpretation of the law) even come close to establishing that the President was acting unconstitutionally or illegally. More still, those that are most recent (including a very recent Federal Appellate Court case by the FISA court itself) clearly provide that the President has exactly the rights he said he did.

It is remarkable that there prominent attorneys publicly opining otherwise. It think a large part of the explanation of this is that very few people (and very few attorneys) have ever dealt with law involving national security and they instead analyze the law according to their understanding of domestic criminal law. I would agree with them wholeheartedly that if the President did what he did in order to investigate domestic criminal activity he would be in deep trouble. That is not what this is all about, though.

The President has (at least) two hats he wears: the Chief Executive hat, and the Commander-in-Chief hat. When he is wearing his Chief Executive hat he shares many of his powers with Congress (and is often subservient to that branch of government). He has to execute and follow the laws that they pass. However, when he is wearing the Commander-in-Chief hat he is not subservient. Indeed, as his actions come closer and closer to how to prosecute a war he has superior powers to the Congress. In that context, they cannot pass laws that dictate his actions.

Congress cannot dictate how the President obtains intelligence on the enemy’s plans in a war. And if you doubt that there is a war – look no further than Congresses act authorizing the President to use “all available means” to combat AQ and its terrorist affiliates. Intelligence gathering is more central to this war than any other war in our history.

As an interesting side note – some claim that his actions violate the fourth amendment (the JD argument and the linked argument destroy that position). Even if that was the case (which it is not), the futility of the argument is made clear by the remedy. The only remedy for a violation of a person’s fourth amendment rights is that the information obtained cannot be used in to prosecute that person. It is extremely doubtful that the government would ever use the information that is being obtained in these wiretaps in Court – so the remedy is meaningless anyway.

One reason some of the high profile attorneys feel more comfortable claiming the President is acting illegally or unconstitutionally is that the Supreme Court has never addressed this issue head on. I think that those attorneys are expressing how they think (or hope) the Supreme Court would rule. The problem with that position is that the Supreme Court tends to follow the lower courts when there is not a dispute between the lower courts (one of the ways they do this is by refusing to take the case) and they tend to be deferential to past practice. There is not a dispute here between lower court opinions. Past practice also supports the legality and constitutionality of the President’s actions (Carter, Reagan, Clinton - all authorized warrant-less searches for National security purposes).

Him: So are they arguing that this is a war? Was that made official?

Me: Congress passed a law after 9/11 authorizing the President to wage war on A-Q and its affiliates. Yes, we are at war.

Him: I thought they only approved all necessary means. That a declaration of war was never made. I must be mistaken.

Me: Here is the authorization

The authorization

President signs the authorization

Me: An authorization for use of Force has the same effect as declaration of war – the Congress is telling him to put on his Commander-in-Chief hat.

For whatever reason – since World War II Congress has issued “Authorizations to use Force” rather than “Declarations of War”. I think they think it sounds less scary. Also, since WWII is has not been PC to declare war because it implies you are going after a country - rather than just a government – which is what were usually after in a war.

Him: So he can do as he pleases so long as this pseudo war is open ended? Come on….

Me: No.

First, it is not a Pseudo-war, unless you are repudiating all of the votes of all of the members of the Congress (including the overwhelming numbers of Democrats who voted for it).

Second, Congress can remove funding for the agency performing the eavesdropping.

They could revoke their authorization (although the President has inherent national defense powers even without the authorization - remember Clinton, Carter and Reagan’s authorizations for wiretaps were not shut down even though there was no war on – so he could still probably do it). The authorization just makes all that much more likely that the courts will not second guess his actions.

Congress can impeach the President in the event he does go too far

Finally, you can elect someone else into the government when the President’s term ends.

You should really be more concerned in this case that a number of Congressmen have so little regard for and knowledge about the separation of powers – the idea that no branch of government can usurp the powers of another (in this case Congress [attempting to] usurp Presidential powers).

Him: I’m more concerned with abuses. The funding argument is bunk. Nobody would defund the NSA (too many cool movies predicated on their power). It’s all about controls. There’s a means by which the wire taps can be had and they’re bypassing that. Why?

Bottom line, I don’t care if it’s Carter’s grandmother trying to do good, it’s abuse, in my mind. Where does it end? Torture? Rape? Murder? You need controls, especially when you’re living in a flat world and trying to win over the minds of young, potentially radical Islamic boys and girls. After the prison fiascos, we need to be more transparent, or, at the very least, presenting a the appearance of a government run with the necessary checks and balances to prevent abuse.

I’m a realist. I know shit will happen and in many cases needs to. They can always petition the special court up to 3 days after it happens. That ain’t going to be denied unless it was a bogus tap.

Have a lovely and safe Christmas.

Me: Have a lovely and safe Christmas as well.

Thanks to the President it is more likely to be lovely and safe (Sorry, I couldn’t help it).

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Warrantless Wiretaps

There are a lot of people analyzing the legality of the President's actions in authorizing eavesdropping without a search warrant on international calls (calls between the U.S. and other countries) where a party to the conversation has some connection to terrorism. One analysis was linked to at several popular sites: Jonathan Adler in the Corner, Belmont Club and Powerline Blog. The conclusion of the analysis is that the President's actions were constitutional but illegal.

The point (I think) was that the President acted within his constitutional power as the Commander-in-Chief but likely violated one or more laws passed by Congress that would appear to require a search warrant. I agree with the conclusion that the President's actions were constitutional. I disagree with the conclusion that his actions were illegal for the very reason that they were constitutional.

Essentially, I think the analysis linked to is much more complex than it needs to be. The basic flaw is that the analysis appears to assume that Congress, by enacting a law, could extinguish some of the powers of the President as Commander in Chief. It cannot, and any law that would purport to is unconstitutional to that extent.

Therefore, once it is determined that the President is acting within his constitutional powers as Commander-in-Chief, there is no need to analyze any further. No law passed by Congress can impede him in that capacity. To find otherwise would allow congress to take away the President's constitutional powers and duties, a clear threat to the separation of powers.

In other words, in this case, if his actions were constitutional they were also legal.

On the constitutionality issue

In the end, it is up to the Supreme Court whether the President’s actions were constitutional (although the President is also vested with power to interpret the Constitution). However, Congress has passed a law essentially authorizing the President to wage war on Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups. As the Commander-in-Chief, the President has broad power to prosecute the war. The Fourth Amendment (no unreasonable searches and seizures and requirement for warrant) still binds the President acting as Commander-in-Chief. However the Constitution is not a suicide pact. The President has the power to do what is necessary to defend it and the courts are deferential to his judgment about what is necessary. So, in the end, the scope of what is considered a reasonable search and seizure is broadened in the national security context and the requirement for a warrant seems not to exist. Examples of the deference the courts have given a President in a time of war include: (1) Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus for citizens (the right to be brought before a court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody) during the civil war; and (2) the detention of Americans of Japanese descent during WWII. I do not see how the U.S. Supreme Court could go from allowing those activities to denying the current President the very limited power to intercept conversations to and from telephone numbers that are found in laptop computers of captured suspects of an organization that has expressly vowed to kill as many Americans as it can.

I think that once again we are seeing the Democrats (and weak-kneed Republicans) attempt to frame the issue in terms of law enforcement. There is a good reason (from their perspective) to do this. It appears to give them control over his actions. In the law enforcement context, the President is simply acting as the chief executive where he is more subservient to the Congress. They enact the laws and he must execute them. Generally, he can only do what their laws allow him to do - which is exactly what the Democrats want. On the other hand, when he is acting as Commander-in-Chief and we are at war he is not subservient to Congress.

The tactic of treating this like a criminal search matter is compelling to the Public. The public is used to the President acting in his more subservient role as chief executive. They are also familiar with television and movies which show the police obtaining warrants before they conduct a criminal search. They think that they are always required. It will be somewhat difficult to explain to the public that a warrant may not be required to conduct a search in the national security context. The Democrats are counting on the public having a hard time adjusting.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tom Fox

I met one of the latest Iraq hostages, Tom Fox, on a plane flight from Dulles to O'Hare on about January 20, 2005. He was very reserved. It was very unlike me, but I initiated a conversation with him because he was looking at a publication that had pictures of Iraq. He had a buzz cut and a bearing that was slightly military. So, I asked him if he had been to Iraq. He said "yes" and he said he had recently been there with a Christian organization doing charitable work.

We talked for a long time. He told me that he had been a professional musician. He had only recently begun working for the charity. He said his children probably thought he was nuts for doing the work that he was doing. He knew it was dangerous. We talked about Margaret Hassan and he explained that most of the kidnappings were about money and that the vast majority of those kidnapped were Iraqis. He was guarded about his political views (perhaps because he was against the American intervention and he could sense that I supported it). He was not preachy. He appeared somewhat pessimistic about how things were going in Iraq - but, I could also sense that he thought we might succeed. He had that assured calm that comes only from deep religious faith or from contentment with a life well-lived, or both.

I pray for Tom Fox's safe return and for his family. However, having met him I think there are very few who could face his predicament better than he could.

Update: The more I read about Tom Fox's "charity", CPT, the less sympathetic I am about his plight. The organization appears to have gone to Iraq only to criticize U.S. actions. One of their goals was to push for the release of any prisoners in U.S. custody. Ironically (or coincidentally?) their kidnappers are threatening to behead them if all of the prisoners held by the U.S. and Iraq are not released. That will not happen. Accordingly, it may turn out that Tom Fox is beheaded by people who share his goals. Such a result would be yet another example of the remarkable naiveté of the Left regarding the nature of our enemies. They will slaughter any infidel that they can get their hands on, even the useful idiots of the Left. Unfortunately, the Left will learn nothing just as they learned nothing from Margaret Hassan's death.

If he and the other members are released unharmed, I will have to believe that some ransom was paid or that this was all a stunt designed to garner attention for CPT and their perverted motives.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Miers' Withdrawal/ Reconnecting With Conservatives

I am very pleased that Miers withdrew. I thought she was a mistake from the beginning. I did not post on it because I thought all of the problems with her nomination had been raised by others. She is a competent attorney but she was not of the quality that is required on the Supreme Court. As a result, I feared that she would be easily swayed by the dark side -- I mean the liberals -- on the Court. This risk was compounded by the fact that her positions were all over the map in the past and the fact that she tended to say whatever would please those around her. You cannot be a principled conservative and seek to be admired by everyone. Look at how Scalia, Thomas and Bork are reviled by liberals.

Now that Miers has withdrawn, I pray that Bush reconnects with his base by nominating a clearly conservative and articulate jurist.

If he does not, his presidency is effectively over and the benefits of his presidency to the country will be squandered.

If he does attempt to reconnect (and I think he is -- as I explain below) conservatives must rally to his side as never before. If his presidency founders the war will founder and conservative ideals will founder. The next president will, even if he is a Republican, flee from the President's policies (including the war) on the grounds that they are a proven political failure. But, they are not and should not be remembered that way. The next president will avoid doing any big things. The war on terror will devolve into a matter for the police, with the country responding with arrests only after each inevitable blow.

I think that the President is trying to reconnect with his base. Debkafile posted this week that Palestinian President Abbas left his meeting with the Bush with no assurances of help from the U.S. and with an admonishment from the President that he will not enable a Palestinian state during his the Bush administration because the Palestinians have done nothing to crack down on terrorism (this despite a seeming warm post meeting press conference by the leaders). While Debka credibility is very questionable - their accuracy tends to be much greater on matters related to Palestinians and Israel. If what they said is correct, the President has clearly abandoned the “peace process”, at least in private. That is a position that any conservative should support. The Palestinian’s are clearly one of our opponents in this war against militant Islamists. Israel (and the U.S.) should not seek peace until the Palestinians are forced to abandon militant Islam.

President Bush has also begun to take steps to woo back fiscal conservatives. This administration’s spending has been out of control and on all the wrong stuff (I suspect some increased spending would be acceptable to fiscal conservatives. For instance, I think they would happily support any expenditures required to enlarge the Army and Marines). This week he has made several public statements about getting spending under control. If he follows up on these with some real action by the administration his actions should be strongly supported by conservatives.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Just the other day I read an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “California Race Highlights Split On Immigration”, WSJ, Tuesday Oct. 18, 2005 Section B, Page 9. In that article I read the most astonishing survey results. The Republican polling firm Tarrance Group polled 800 Republican voters nationwide and found that only 16% want to stop the flow of illegal immigrants entirely. This is a truly remarkable statistic that highlights something disturbing that I have noticed over the years. We have become so accustomed to illegal immigration that when the words “illegal immigration” are spoken or printed, the vast majority of people only hear or see “immigration”. That is the only way this polling of Republicans came to this result. Are we really to believe that only 16% Republicans believe that the immigration laws of the United States should be enforced? No, the better bet is that only 16% of Republicans believe that immigration should be stopped entirely.

Some of the public confusion on this issue has been deliberately nurtured. There are strong forces supporting illegal immigration from businesses that need cheap labor to bleeding-heart liberals (who can’t think any further than that allowing people in seems nice) to Americans of Mexican decent who desire to see others from Mexico have an opportunity to live in the U.S. For years those groups have demonized anyone who was against illegal immigration as being anti immigrant or racist. Add to that the overwhelming fear of most people not to be deemed to be discriminating in any way and a lack of general understanding of when discrimination is prohibited and you have a public that does not feel free to think clearly on the subject. That suits those supporting illegal immigration just fine.

Well, its time for a bit of clarity on the subject.

Legal Immigration is generally good :-). Legal immigrants are people who are in this country with our permission. We get to choose which legal immigrants get to come here (fn. 1). We have an opportunity to know who they are and what they want to do. They provide a fresh supply of labor (for some of the jobs that generally more affluent Americans do not want to do). They add their vitality and character to the melting pot and pay taxes. In return, we grant them many of the rights we grant citizens.

Illegal immigration is bad :-(. There is no argument you can make in support of it if you are interested in the well-being of the United States. Illegal immigrants are people who have entered this country without our permission. We have no idea who they are, what they are doing or what they want to do. It only took 19 people, many of whom were illegals, to kill 3,000 Americans and topple the World Trade Center. It is estimated that there 11 million people in this country illegally. If even a tiny tiny fraction of the illegal immigrants have Al Qaeda-like ill intent that is the potential for a hell of a lot of dead Americans and leveled buildings.

Illegal Immigrants provide nothing that the U.S. could not obtain from legal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants can also be expensive. Illegal immigrants don’t pay income taxes but are entitled to many public services by the constitution (fn. 2).

Illegal immigration is bad for legal immigration. Rampant illegal immigration creates a stigma against legal immigration. Further, illegal immigrants take some of the jobs that legal immigrants would take – reducing the demand for legal immigration. In the end we lose the opportunity chose which immigrants enter this country.

What can we take away from this? Stop all illegal immigration entirely. Seal the borders the best we can. We obtain no benefit from open borders and expose ourselves to a great deal of risk. Then, lets engage in a public debate about legal immigration. Lets discuss who we want in and how many. In order to make the elimination of illegal immigration more palatable to those currently in favor of illegal immigration we should consider a very sizable increase in legal immigration (which is very limited compared to the number of people involved in illegal immigration).

This can be a win-win solution. Anyone in support of this approach is being pro immigration, pro security and pro business.

(fn. 1) Yes, we can choose who gets to immigrate to this country. We can discriminate based on race, religion, country of origin, sex… all we want. Why? We can discriminate against prospective immigrants because the protections of the constitution (including the prohibition on improper discrimination) do not apply to non-citizens who are not on U.S. soil. For instance, we could pass a federal immigration law that says that no more Muslims will be allowed to immigrate to (or even visit) this country (not something I am advocating - just an example of how targeted the law could be). Indeed, we do currently have quotas based on country of origin.

(fn. 2) Who gets the benefits of constitution protection? It protects the citizens of the United States and persons present in the United States. This explains why Camp Delta is located at Gitmo. If any of the battlefield detainees in the war were brought to the U.S. they would likely be entitled to constitutional protections. This also explains why Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested in the U.S., is getting the benefit of a federal trial (with all of the due process that entails) even though he is not a citizen. It also explains why John Walker Lindh was not kept at Gitmo. He is a citizen and is entitled to constitutional protections regardless of where he was captured.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Cure for Martyrdom

There is truth in the concern that if you kill an ideological opponent you risk creating a martyr: a symbol that could strengthen and unify your opponent. In this war against militant Islam the United States and Israel are often cautioned not to kill certain opponents lest we create a martyr. I don't think this concern makes sense in war. In war, the best way to negate the martyrdom phenomenon is to water it down. In a nutshell, you create so many martyrs that your enemy cannot keep track of them, much less revere them.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Upper Hand

Israel got the upper hand in its battle with the Palestinians in early 2004. The reduction in effective attacks against Israel was very abrupt, much more abrupt than I expected. I think that there were two reasons for the success, one that has been widely identified and another that has not. The one that has been widely identified is the wall. Israel began to wall-off itself from the Palestinians in the West Bank. The West Bank was the place from which almost all of the effective Palestinian terror attacks emanated (the other territory, Gaza was already walled-off). As the wall progressed, the Israelis had fewer and fewer infiltration points to monitor, resulting in closer monitoring of the remaining locations.

The monitoring worked. The Israelis were able to intercept more of the bombers and the Palestinians are trying less because of the increasing futility. There is no sneaking, negotiating, whining or cajoling your way around a wall.

This reminds me of an incident I had in raising my eldest son. He was about three or four years old and was just being moved to a bed from a crib. One of the first nights he realized that he could get out of the bed (unlike the crib) and leave his room, which he did, over and over again. My wife and I tried to keep him in the room and he kept coming out. He was bull-headed. We fought a running battle with him for most of that night. Parents grew more and more angry and more and more desperate. Yelling and threats of punishment were no use. We spent much of the night up, as did our other children. The next night the same thing happened.

The following day I installed a latch on his door (I still feel guilty about this) that would allow the door to open a bit but not enough for him to get out. The result was remarkable. That night he pulled at the door and shouted for ten minutes (the door would open a bit and he could see the latch). Then, he retreated to his bed and slept soundly the rest of the night. We never had another problem. I realized that before the latch he believed he could get a concession from is parents and the possibility of that made him continue his hopeless quest. When he was confronted with the latch he very quickly realized that it would grant no concessions and he abandoned his quest.

I think the wall is the latch for the Palestinians. I pray the Palestinian people exhibit the wisdom of a 3-year old by abandoning their counterproductive quest.

The other reason Israel has gained the upper hand is that they stopped respecting a Palestinian fiction. The Palestinian terror groups (especially Hamas) had long maintained that they had a military wing and a political wing. Since the first Intifada, Israel had respected that distinction, despite the fact that the political wings clearly supported the military wings. That all ended on March 22, 2004. On that day, Israel killed the leader of the Hamas political wing, Ahmed Yassin, with a missile strike. Several weeks later his overconfident replacement was also killed. After each killing, many Palestinians shrieked black vows of revenge and the media amplified them with apocalyptic predictions about the security of Israel. Yet, the threatened response never materialized. I think I can guess why. The political wing leaders do not want to be martyrs and they can control the military wings. You don’t spend years and years clawing your way to the top of an organization (can you imagine what kind of horrific struggle that would entail in a violent organizations like Hamas?) just to trade all of that effort for martyrdom. Political leaders crave power and power is only fun if you are alive to wield it. Start killing them and the remaining ambitious ones will seek accommodation even as they jockey to fill the vacant post.

Killing the military functionaries does not create a deterrent. These positions are filled with wanna-be martyrs. The sick Palestinian culture will always supply more brainwashed youths for these positions.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

When Giving is Taking (or The Danger of Privacy)

It seems counter intuitive, but Supreme Court cases dealing with abortion are not about whether abortion is right or wrong. Indeed, the case of Roe v. Wade was not decided on that basis. The main issue the court was wrestling with was whether the “Right of Privacy” that emanated from a prior Supreme Court decision would make any law limiting abortion unconstitutional.

The majority of the court concluded that a woman had a privacy right to make medical decisions about her body and that this meant that the government could not pass laws that would unreasonably interfere with her medical decisions related to abortion. The remainder of the decision related to what constituted an unreasonable interference with that right. That portion of the opinion consisted of a fascinating and ingenious balancing of the rights of the unborn child and the mother’s right to make decisions about her body. In the end, the Court concluded that the state’s rights to interfere with the mother’s decision increased over the length of the pregnancy as the viability of the unborn child increased.

As you can see, there is no place in this analysis for a discussion regarding the rightness or wrongness of abortion. That is why it is nearly irrelevant for any Senators to ask a Supreme Court nominee about whether he or she believes abortion is wrong. That issue will never be central to any Supreme Court case on abortion.

From all of this you may get the impression that I agree with Roe v. Wade. I do not. While the opinion of the court is an ingenious bit of analysis it is based on a false premise. It is like a beautiful building built on deep mud. What’s more, I think that it is dangerous.

The false premise is the “Right of Privacy”. Search the Constitution and you will not find a right of privacy anywhere. So, how did the Supreme Court find it? It inferred it from other express rights in the bill of rights. Excerpts from the following amendments are cited as the basis of the Right of Privacy:

4th. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

5th. nor [shall the people] be deprived [by the U.S. govt] of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

9th. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

14th. nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

The argument of the court regarding the right of privacy is seductive. It is true that there is a very strong indication of a concern for privacy in the 4th amendment. However, if the framers had wanted to create a broader privacy right why didn’t they. Why did they limit it to searches and seizures?

It is also seductive that the liberty rights secured in the 5th and 14th amendments would seem to allow a woman the liberty to have an abortion. However, this argument is deeply flawed. The liberty right referenced has almost always been interpreted to be limited to the freedom of movement (literally a ban on “imprisonment”) and only has relevance to a criminal or civil case against an individual (the reference to “due process” means the right to a fair hearing). It certainly cannot be deemed to have any bearing on a state’s legislative process in passing a law prohibiting abortion. To find otherwise would be an absurdity. If a state could be barred by the 14th amendment liberty right from passing a law banning abortion, how could so many states have managed to pass seatbelt laws or motorcycle helmet laws (limiting individual liberties where the state has no compelling interest)?

The last and most seductive argument for the privacy right found by the court (and, I think, the real reason that it was invented and has not been overturned) is: what is the downside? Certainly it seems great at first blush to secure an additional right for the people, doesn’t it? After all, what is the harm?

The harm is hidden but very real. Which gets me to the heart of this long meandering post. The framers wisely chose not to create any more rights in the constitution than they thought were necessary. They recognized that each right to which they granted constitutional protection effectively limited the peoples’ ability to order their society though the democratic process. By inventing a right of privacy, the Supreme Court, the least democratic branch of the government, has taken power from the legislative branch of government, the most democratic branch of the government.

Now, thanks to Roe v. Wade, the legislatures of the States and Congress cannot perform their democratic function of determining whether abortion is wrong (and should be banned), absent an amendment to the Constitution. Note: the legislatures are free under Roe v. Wade to conclude that abortion is ok and allowed.

Thanks to other cases interpreting the “Right of Privacy” legislatures are not able to define marriage in any way that does not include the marriage by people of the same sex. They are also not able to pass laws banning sodomy (or rather, laws prohibiting sodomy that have existed for ages are suddenly not binding anymore). There is no indication that the Court’s "Right of Privacy" will stop there.

The irony is that the Supreme Court’s invention of a “right” from a reference to liberty (in the 5th and 14th amendments) has taken away a true constitutionally-guaranteed liberty right of the people to make laws governing their society utilizing the democratic process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The proposed Flight 93 Memorial has gone terribly awry. Flight 93 was the 9/11 flight where passengers tried to retake the plane from the hijackers. The plane eventally crashed in a field in Pennsylvania during the struggle. The passengers' efforts spared our country from another devastating blow on that awful day.

The design for the memorial calls for a red crescent that Wretchard at the Belmont Club has calculated would point towards Mecca. You can do something about it though. Let the U.S. Park Service know that the design is unacceptable here.

My comment to the Park Service was as follows:
Please reject the "crescent of embrace" design for the memorial. The use of a crescent would come too close to making it a memorial to the Islamic militants who hijacked the plane and would, thereby, betray those brave passengers of Flight 93. Why not something based on "Lets Roll" instead?

My comments are much more tame than my true feeling on this.

Mark Steyn has weighed in.