How My Neighbourhood Was Lost to the Multiculture

How My Neighbourhood Was Lost to the Multiculture

By Peter Whittle
The London Times
January 22, 2006

Much like everywhere else in the country, the local parade of 40-odd shops in my part of suburban southeast London long ago lost its traditional butcher, baker and fishmonger to the onward march of the big food boys. But one thing it never seemed to have much need for was a shop offering international money transfers.However, walking through this tatty but reliable street on my way to Woolwich Arsenal station recently, I noticed that among the fast food outlets, specialist barbers and newish halal butchers, there are now three such outlets. Three in just 40 shops? There must be an awful lot of demand.

It’s a very different place from what Rod Liddle dubbed in The Spectator last week London’s “golden crescent”. Just 10 miles north of Woolwich this arc of influence (not to mention affluence) stretches from Ealing in the west, through Notting Hill and Hampstead, to Islington in the east. It is home to the UK’s media, academic and political cognoscenti who decide how we should feel about multiculturalism but have a warped experience of how it works.

The official line in Liddle’s affluent crescent is that diversity is to be celebrated, which is an easy conclusion if — regardless of skin tone and birth country — your ethnically diverse neighbours are wealthy and likeminded. And whatever private misgivings individuals may have, the group-think which operates around those north London dinner tables assumes you’re on message.

Anthony Browne’s recent excellent pamphlet on political correctness, The Retreat of Reason, describes how, however frequent the feeble calls for “a full and frank discussion”, any real debate in Europe about multiculturalism and immigration has for years been effectively put beyond the pale — sometimes, as in the Netherlands, with disastrous results.

The effect of sidelining the more negative aspects of multiculturalism and dismissing them as loony racism, not to be uttered in polite society, is finally beginning to unravel. Like much of London, Woolwich — once home to a strong military presence — and its neighbour Plumstead, have seen an influx of immigrants and asylum-seekers in recent years, in particular thousands of Somalis. What was once a largely white working-class area with a well-integrated ethnic population (accepted without a second thought) has become thoroughly multiracial.

This part of southeast London has never been affluent. It’s what used to be called rough and ready; our idea of a big event was the opening of the UK’s first McDonald’s on the high street back in the early 1970s. But it had something that amounted to a collective identity.

Now, it appears to me fragmented, with different ethnic communities existing side-by-side, sometimes uneasily, sometimes violently and always with a sense of nothingness in the air.

It’s hard not to feel that the booming money transfer industry is just one element adding to an air of increasing transience. Sometimes now, in streets I’ve used since my Sixties boyhood, I’m struck by the sense that this place no longer provides my identifiable roots, that now I am simply one of many who happen to live here, with no greater claim to it sentimentally or historically than the next man.

Such anonymity might be what people are looking for when they choose to live in the teaming metropolitan centre, but in a suburb that has shaped much of your life it’s a hard feeling to negotiate.

But so what, you might ask. Isn’t this nostalgia of the most reactionary sort? It’s likely that if you live in middle-class north London your knee is already jerking fiercely. This is not the picture you want to present. It’s just a deplorable attack on multiculturalism, a bigoted refusal to join the universal acclaim for the all-smiling rainbow coalition that is the capital. Pure Powellism.

Well, no, actually. As the old saying goes, the definition of a racist is anybody who’s winning an argument with a liberal — one who is, after all, used to setting all the guidelines for what passes for national debate, is insulated from the effects of his opinions, and doesn’t much care for being challenged.

But despite increasing worries on both the left and right about the effects of mass immigration and multiculturalism, the golden elite who run the country still don’t hold much with the idea that there might be millions throughout the country who are tolerant in their approach to these issues and detest extremism, but who are deeply concerned about the way in which their neighbourhoods might be affected by such far-reaching social and cultural changes, over which they have next to no control.

Multiculturalism may seem like a great idea in Islington, but such peaceful coexistence is far from the norm in our northern cities, and in poorer parts of London the cracks in the multicultural varnish are becoming more noticeable.

Appalling murders such as that of the young solicitor Thomas ap Rhys Pryce make middle-class whites flinch inwardly from an unsayable fear, that the fracturing of social life in our cities doesn’t accord with the relentlessly upbeat official version.

Furthermore, the iron-clad politically correct view that all racial conflict results from white prejudice visited on other ethnicities is belied by the tensions that can exist between various non-white groups.

Indeed Woolwich was host a couple of years back to the black commentator Darcus Howe, who came here to film a Channel 4 documentary and found suspicion, abuse and sometimes outright violence between West Indians and Somalis.

Depressed, Howe — hardly a man of the hard right — went on to find similar problems between Pakistani and West Indian youths in Walsall, outside Birmingham.

The truth is, if you celebrate difference enough, eventually nobody will feel the same about anything. London, for example, is home now to more than 150 different languages — a fact evidenced on my regular crowded train journey home.

While for some this might flatter a sense of cosmopolitanism, is it not possible that for others, in an everyday context, it can lead to an unconscious alienation? You can no longer make assumptions about your neighbours, and with that goes any sense of anything but the most basic of shared practical experience. You will also be less certain about the reactions of others — and, at an extreme level, maybe much less likely to intervene if you see somebody being stabbed on top of a bus for protesting at the antisocial behaviour of another, as happened in London last year.

We may congratulate ourselves endlessly on the creation of a melting pot, but we should be careful that it’s not achieved by the estrangement of many.

Losing Civilization

Losing Civilization
Are we going to tolerate the downfall of Western ideals?
The great wealth and leisure created by modern technology have confused some in the modern age into thinking that history is linear. We expect that each generation will inevitably improve upon the last, as if we, the blessed of the 21st century, would never chase out Anaxagoras or execute Socrates — or allow others to do so — in our modern polis.

Often such material and moral advancement proves true — look at the status of brain surgery now and 100 years ago, or the notion of equality under the law in 1860 and in 2006.

But just as often civilization can regress. Indeed, it can be nearly lost in a generation, especially so now, with technology acting as an afterburner of sorts which warps the rate of change, both good and bad.

Who would have thought, after the Enlightenment and the advance of humanism, that a 20th-century Holocaust would redefine the 500-year-old Inquisition as minor in comparison?

Did we envision that, little more than 60 years after Dachau, a head-of-state would boast openly about wiping out the remaining Jews? Or did we ever believe in the time of the United Nations and religious tolerance that radical Muslims would still be seriously promising to undo the Reconquista of the 15th century?

Did any sane observer dream, in the era of UNESCO and sophisticated global cultural heritage preservation, that the primitive Taliban would blow up and destroy, with impunity, the iconic Buddhist statues chiseled into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan that had survived 1,700 years of war, earthquakes, conquests, and weather?
Surely those who damned the inadvertent laxity of the Americans in not stopping others from looting the Baghdad museum should have expressed far greater outrage at the far greater, and intentional, destruction inflicted by the Taliban. Unless, that is, the issue of artistic freedom and preservation was never really the principle after all, but only the realistic calculation that, while George Bush’s immensely powerful military would not touch a finger of its loudest critic, a motley bunch of radical Islamic fascists might well blow someone up or lop off his head for a tasteless caricature in far off Denmark.

The latest Islamic outrage over the Danish cartoons represents an erosion in the very notion of Western tolerance. Years ago, the death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie was the dead canary in the mine. It should have warned us that the Western idea of free and unbridled expression, so difficultly won, can be so easily lost.

While listening to the obfuscations of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw about the Danish cartoons, I thought that next he was going to call for a bowdlerization of Dante’s Inferno, where Dante and Virgil in the eighth rung of Hell gaze on the mutilated specters of Mahomet and his son Ali, along with the other Sowers of Discord. I grew up reading the text with the gruesome illustrations of Gustave Doré. Can Straw now damn that artist’s judgment as well, when the next imam threatens global jihad, more terrorism, an oil cut-off, or to make things worse for Anglo-American troops who are trying to bring democracy to Iraq?

Surely he can apologize that the cross of the Union Jack offends British Muslims? Or perhaps the memory of what Lord Kitchener did in 1898 to the tomb of the Great Mahdi needs contemporary atonement — once one starts down the road of self-censorship, there is never an end to it.

Since Bill Clinton mentioned nothing about free speech and expression or the rights of a newspaper to be offensive and tasteless, but lectured only about cultural insensitivity and the responsibility of the media not to be mean to Muslims, why did he stop with the Danish cartoonists? Surely someone who has apologized for everyone from General Sherman to the Shah could have lamented the work of every Western artist, from Rodin to Dali, who has rendered the Prophet in a bad light.

Like the appeasement of the 1930s, we are in the great age now of ethical retrenchment. So much has been lost even since 1960; then the very idea that a Dutch cartoonist whose work had offended radical Muslims would be in hiding for fear of his life would have been dismissed as fanciful.

Insidiously, the censorship only accelerates. It is dressed up in multicultural gobbledygook about hurtfulness and insensitivity, when the real issue is whether we in the West are going to be blown up or beheaded if we dare come out and support the right of an artist or newspaper to be occasionally crass.

In the post-Osama bin Laden and suicide-belt world of our own, we shudder at these fanatical riots, convincing ourselves that perhaps the Salman Rushdies, Theo Van Goghs, and Danish cartoonists of the world had it coming. All the while, we think to ourselves about the fact that we do not threaten to kill Muslims when they promulgate daily streams of hate and racism in sermons and papers, and much less would we go about promising death to the creator of “Piss Christ” or the Da Vinci Code. How ironic that we now find politically-correct Westerners — those who formerly claimed they would defend to the last the right of an Andres Serrano or Dan Brown to offend Christians — turning on the far milder artists who rile Muslims.

The radical Islamists are our generation’s book burners who search for secular Galileos and Newtons. They are the new Nazi censors who sniff out anything favorable to the Jews. These fundamentalists are akin to the Soviet commissars who once decreed all art must serve political struggle — or else.

If we give in to these 8th-century clerics, shortly we will be living in an 8th century ourselves, where we may say, hear, and do nothing that might offend a fundamentalist Muslim — and, to assuage our treachery to freedom and liberalism, we’ll always be equipped with the new rationale of multiculturalism and cultural equivalence which so poorly cloaks our abject fear.

There are three final considerations. First, millions of brave reformers in the Muslim world are trying each day to create a tolerant culture and a consensual society. What those in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt want from us is not appeasement that emboldens the radicals in their midst, but patient, careful, and firm explanations that freedom is precious and worth the struggle — even though its use can sometimes bother us. Surely the lesson from Eastern Europe applies: the oppressed there did not appreciate the realpolitik and appeasement of many in the West, but most often preferred a stalwart Reagan to an equivocating Carter.

Second, we, not the Islamists, are secure; our dependency on oil has masked a greater reality: that the Muslim Middle East, as in the days of the Ottomans, is parasitic on the West for advancements of all sorts, from heart surgery to computers. Most of the hatred expressed over the cartoons was beamed on television, through the Internet, or communicated over cell phones that would not exist in Pakistan, Syria, or Iran without imported technology.

The Islamists are also sad bullies, who hunt out causes for offense in the most obscure places, but would recoil at the first sign of Western defiance. Turkey may say little to the Islamists now, but they would say lots if the European Union decided to pass on its inclusion into the union. Local imams sound fiery, but if the West is too debauched a place for any pure Muslim to endure, why then do they not lead, Moses-like, an exodus of the devout away from the rising flood of decadence, and back to the paradise of a purer Syria or Algeria?

Third, the bogus notion of multiculturalism has blinded us to a simple truth: we in the West can live according to our own values and should not allow those radicals who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other unmentionables to threaten our citizens within our own countries.

The deluded here might believe that the divide is a moral one, between a supposedly decadent secular West and a pious Middle East, rather than an existential one that is fueled by envy, jealousy, self-pity, and victimization. But to believe the cartoons represent the genuine anguish of an aggrieved puritanical society tainted by Western decadence, one would have to ignore that Turkey is the global nexus for the sex-slave market, that Afghanistan is the world’s opium farm, that the Saudi Royals have redefined casino junketeering, and that the repository of Hitlerian imagery is in the West Bank and Iran.

The entire controversy over the cartoons is ludicrous, but often in history the trivial and ludicrous can wake a people up before the significant and tragic follow.

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

Crime & the Illegal Alien

Crime & the Illegal Alien
The Fallout from Crippled Immigration Enforcement

June 2004

By Heather Mac Donald

Download the .pdf version

Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens. Yet in cities where crime from these lawbreakers is highest, the police cannot use the most obvious tool to apprehend them: their immigration status. In Los Angeles, for example, dozens of gang members from a ruthless Salvadoran prison gang have snuck back into town after having been deported for such crimes as murder, shootings, and drug trafficking. Police officers know who they are and know that their mere presence in the country is a felony. Yet should an LAPD officer arrest an illegal gangbanger for felonious reentry, it is the officer who will be treated as a criminal by his own department — for violating the LAPD’s rule against enforcing immigration law.

The LAPD’s ban on immigration enforcement is replicated in immigrant-heavy localities across the country — in New York, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, and Houston, for example. These so-called “sanctuary policies” generally prohibit a city’s employees, including the police, from reporting immigration violations to federal authorities.

Sanctuary laws are a testament to the political power of immigrant lobbies. So powerful is this demographic clout that police officials shrink from even mentioning the illegal alien crime wave. “We can’t even talk about it,” says a frustrated LAPD captain. “People are afraid of a backlash from Hispanics.” Another LAPD commander in a predominantly Hispanic, gang-infested district sighs: “I would get a firestorm of criticism if I talked about [enforcing the immigration law against illegals].” Neither captain would speak for attribution.

But however pernicious in themselves, sanctuary rules are a symptom of a much broader disease: the near total loss of control over immigration policy. Fifty years ago, immigration policy may have driven immigration numbers, but today the numbers drive policy. The non-stop increase of legal and illegal aliens is reshaping the language and the law to dissolve any distinction between legal and illegal immigration and, ultimately, the very idea of national borders.

It is a measure of how topsy-turvy the immigration environment has become that to ask police officials about the illegal crime problem feels like a gross social faux pas, something simply not done in polite company. And a police official, asked to violate this powerful taboo against discussing criminal aliens, will respond with a strangled response—sometimes, as in the case of a New York deputy commissioner with whom I spoke, disappearing from communication altogether. At the same time, millions of illegal aliens work, shop, travel, and commit crimes in plain view, utterly confident in their de facto immunity from the immigration law.

I asked the Miami Police Department’s spokesman, Detective Delrish Moss, about his employer’s policy on illegal law-breakers. In September 2003, the force had arrested a Honduran visa violator for seven terrifying rapes. The previous year, Miami officers had had the suspect, Reynaldo Elias Rapalo, in custody for lewd and lascivious molestation, without checking his immigration status. Had they done so, they would have discovered his visa overstay, a deportable offense. “We have shied away from unnecessary involvement dealing with immigration issues,” explains Detective Moss, choosing his words carefully, “because of our large immigration population.”

Police commanders may not want to discuss, much less respond to, the illegal alien crisis, but its magnitude for law enforcement is startling. Some examples:


• In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.


• A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the bloody 18th Street Gang in California is illegal (estimated membership: 20,000); police officers say the proportion is undoubtedly much greater. The gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complicated drug distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and is responsible for an assault or robbery every day in Los Angeles County. The gang has dramatically expanded its numbers over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, a vast proportion
illegal, from Central America and Mexico.


• The leadership of the Columbia Li’l Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002, says former Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis Li. Frank “Pancho Villa” Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.


Good luck finding any reference to such facts in official crime analysis. The LAPD and the Los Angeles City Attorney recently requested a judicial injunction against drug trafficking in Hollywood. The injunction targets the 18th Street Gang and, as the press release puts it, the “non-gang members” who sell drugs in Hollywood on behalf of the gang. Those “non-gang members” are virtually all illegal Mexicans, smuggled into the country by a trafficking ring organized by 18th Street bigs. The illegal Mexicans pay off their transportation debt to the gang by selling drugs; many soon realize how lucrative that line of work is and stay in the business.

The immigration status of these non-gang “Hollywood dealers,” as the City Attorney calls them, is universally known among officers and gang prosecutors. But the gang injunction is silent on the matter. And if a Hollywood officer were to arrest an illegal dealer (known on the street as a “border brother”) for his immigration status, or even notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),* he would be severely disciplined for violation of Special Order 40, the city’s sanctuary policy.

[ * In 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was broken up into three bureaus in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This Backgrounder focuses on ICE, which is responsible for, among other things, enforcement of federal immigration laws in the interior of the United States.]


A Safe Haven
The ordinarily tough-as-nails former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates enacted Special Order 40 in 1979 — in response to the city’s burgeoning population of illegal aliens — showing that even the most unapologetic law-and-order cop is no match for immigration demographics. The order prohibits officers from “initiating police action where the objective is to discover the alien status of a person.” In practice, this means that the police may not even ask someone they have arrested about his immigration status until after criminal charges have been entered. They may not arrest someone for immigration violations. Officers certainly may not check a suspect’s immigration status prior to arrest, nor may they notify ICE about an illegal alien picked up for minor violations. Only if an illegal alien has already been booked for a felony or multiple misdemeanors may they inquire into his status or report him to immigration authorities. The bottom line: a cordon sanitaire between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities that creates a safe haven for illegal criminals.

Los Angeles’ sanctuary law, and all others like it, contradicts everything that has been learned about public safety in the 1990s. A key policing discovery of the last decade was the “great chain of being” in criminal behavior. Pick up a law-violator for a “minor” crime, and you’ll likely prevent a major crime. Enforcing graffiti and turnstile-jumping laws nabs you murderers and robbers. Enforcing known immigration violations, such as reentry following deportation, against known felons would be even more productive. LAPD officers recognize illegal deported gang members all the time — flashing gang signs at court hearings for rival gangbangers, hanging out on the corner, or casing a target. These illegal returnees are, simply by being in the country after deportation, committing a felony. “But if I see a deportee from the Mara Salvatrucha [Salvadoran prison] gang crossing the street, I know I can’t touch him,” laments a Los Angeles gang officer. Only if the deported felon has given the officer some other reason to stop him — such as an observed narcotics sale — can the officer accost him, and only for that non-immigration-related reason. The officer cannot arrest him for the immigration felony.

Such a policy is extraordinarily inefficient and puts the community at risk for as long as these vicious immigration-law-breakers remain free. The department’s top brass brush off such concerns. No big deal if you’re seeing deported gangbangers back on the streets, they say. Just put them under surveillance for “real” crimes and arrest them for those. But surveillance is very manpower-intensive. Where there is an immediate ground for arresting a violent felon, it is absurd to demand that the woefully understaffed LAPD ignore it.


The Impact of Sanctuary Policies
The stated reason for sanctuary policies is to encourage illegal alien crime victims and witnesses to cooperate with the police without fear of deportation and to encourage all illegal aliens to take advantage of city services like health care and education (to whose maintenance illegals contribute little). There has never been any empirical verification whether sanctuary laws actually increase cooperation with the police or other city agencies. And no one has ever suggested not enforcing drug laws, say, for fear of intimidating drug-using crime victims. But in any case, the official rationale for sanctuary rules could be honored by limiting police utilization of immigration laws to some subset of immigration violators: deported felons, say, or repeat criminal offenders whose immigration status is already known to the police.

The real reason why cities prohibit their police officers and other employees from immigration reporting and enforcement is, like nearly everything else in immigration policy, the numbers. The population of illegal aliens and their legal brethren has grown so large that public officials are terrified of alienating them, even at the expense of annulling the law and tolerating avoidable violence. In 1996, a breathtaking Los Angeles Times expose on the 18th Street Gang, which included descriptions of innocent bystanders being murdered by laughing cholos [gang members], disclosed for the first time the rate of illegal alien membership in the gang. In response to the public outcry, the Los Angeles City Council ordered the police to reexamine Special Order 40. You would have thought they had suggested violating some shocking social taboo. A police commander warned the council: “This is going to open a significant, heated debate.” City councilwoman Laura Chick put on a brave front: “We mustn’t be afraid,” she said firmly.

But immigrant pandering, of course, trumped public safety. Law-abiding residents of gang-infested neighborhoods may live in terror of the tattooed gangbangers dealing drugs, spraying graffiti, and shooting up rivals outside their homes, but such distress cannot compare to a politician’s fear of offending Hispanics. At the start of the reexamination process, LAPD Deputy Chief John White had argued that allowing the department to work more closely with the INS would give officers another means to get gang members off the streets. Trying to build a case for homicide, say, against an illegal gang member is often futile, he explained, since witnesses fear deadly retaliation if they cooperate with the police. Enforcing an immigration violation would allow the cops to lock up the murderer right now, without putting a witness’ life at risk.

Six months later Deputy Chief White had changed his tune: “Any broadening of the policy gets us into the immigration business. It’s a federal law enforcement issue, not a local law enforcement issue.” Interim Police Chief Bayan Lewis told the Los Angeles Police Commission: “It is not the time. It is not the day to look at Special Order 40.”

Nor will it ever be the time to reexamine sanctuary policies, as long as immigration numbers continue to grow. After the brief window of opportunity in 1996 to strengthen the department’s weapons against gangs, Los Angeles politicians have only grown more adamant in their defense of Special Order 40. After learning that police officers in the scandal-plagued Rampart Division had cooperated with the INS to try to remove murderous gangbangers from the community, local politicians threw a fit. They criticized district commanders for even allowing INS agents into their station houses. The offending officers were seriously disciplined by the department.

Immigration politics have had the same deleterious effect in New York. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sued all the way up to the Supreme Court to defend the city’s sanctuary policy against Congressional override. A 1996 federal law declared that cities could not prohibit their employees from cooperating with the INS. Oh yeah? said Giuliani; just watch me. He sued to declare the 1996 federal ban on sanctuary policies unconstitutional, and though he lost in court, he remained defiant to the end. On September 5, 2001, his hand-picked charter revision committee ruled that New York may still require that its employees keep immigration information confidential to preserve trust between immigrants and government. Six days later, several former visa-overstayers conducted the most devastating attack on the city and the country in history.

The 1996 federal ban on sanctuary laws was conveniently forgotten in New York until a gang of five Mexicans — four of them illegal — abducted and brutally raped a 42-year-old mother of two near some railroad tracks in Queens. Three of the illegal aliens had already been arrested numerous times by the NYPD for such crimes as assault, attempted robbery in the second degree, criminal trespass, illegal gun possession, and drug offenses. The department had never notified the INS.

Unfortunately, big city police chiefs are by now just as determined to defend sanctuary policies as the politicians who appoint them. They repudiate any interest in access to immigration law, even though doing so contradicts the universally respected theory of broken windows policing. (Sentiment is quite otherwise among the rank-and-file, who see daily the benefit that an immigration tool would bring.)

Overwhelmed by Numbers
But the same reality that drives cities to enact sanctuary policies — the growing numbers of legal and illegal immigrants — also cripples federal authorities’ own ability to enforce the immigration law against criminals. Even if immigrant-saturated cities were to discard their sanctuary policies and start enforcing immigration violations where public safety demands it, it is hard to believe that ICE could handle the additional workload. Perennially starved for resources by Congress and the executive branch, ICE lacks the detention space to house the massive criminal alien population and the manpower to manage it. In fact, little the INS and its successors have done over the last 30 years — above all its numerous displays of managerial incompetence — can be understood outside of the sheer overmatch between the agency and the size of the population it theoretically oversees.

In theory, ICE is supposed to find and deport all aliens who have entered the country illegally through stealth or fraudulent documents. (Illegal entry could in theory also be prosecuted as a misdemeanor by a U.S. Attorney prior to the alien’s deportation, but such low-level prosecutions virtually never occur.) In fact, immigration authorities have not gone after mere status violators for years. The chronic shortage of manpower to oversee, and detention space to house, aliens as they await their deportation hearings (or, following an order of removal from an immigration judge, their actual deportation) has forced the agency to practice a constant triage. The bar for persuading managers to detain someone has risen ever higher.

Even in the days when the INS and the police could cooperate, the lack of detention space defeated their efforts. Former INS criminal investigator Mike Cutler worked with the NYPD catching Brooklyn drug dealers in the 1970s. “If you arrested someone who you wanted to detain, you’d go to your boss and start a bidding war,” Cutler recalls. “He’d say: ‘Whaddya got?’ You’d say: ‘My guy ran three blocks, threw a couple of punches, and had six pieces of ID.’ The boss would turn to another agent: ‘Next! Whaddid your guy do?’ ‘He ran 18 blocks, pushed over an old lady, and had a gun.’” But such one-upmanship was usually unavailing. “Without the jail space,” explains Cutler, “it was like the Fish and Wildlife Service — you’d tag their ear and let them go.”

Triage. Currently, the only types of aliens who run any risk of catching the attention of immigration authorities are, in ascending order of interest: illegal aliens who have been convicted of a crime; illegal aliens who have reentered the country following deportation without explicit approval of the attorney general (a felony punishable by up to two years in jail); illegal aliens who have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” — a term of art to refer to particularly egregious crimes; and illegal aliens who have been deported following conviction for an aggravated felony and who have reentered. (Aggravated felons become inadmissible for life, whereas mere deported aliens may apply for a visa after 10 years). A deported aggravated felon who has reentered may be sentenced for up to 20 years. The deported Mara Salvatrucha gang members that LAPD officers are seeing back on the streets fall into the latter category: they are aggravated felons who have reentered, and hence are punishable with 20 years in jail.

To other law enforcement agencies, triage by immigration authorities often looks like complete indifference to immigration violations. An illegal alien who has merely been arrested 14 times for robbery, say, without a conviction will draw only a yawn from an ICE district director. In practice, the only real sources of interest for immigration authorities are aggravated felons and returned deported aggravated felons.

“Run Letters.” Lack of resources also derails the conclusion of the deportation process. If a judge has issued a final order of deportation (usually after years of litigation and appeals), ICE in theory can put the alien right on a bus or plane and take him across the border. It rarely has the manpower to do so, however. Second alternative: put the alien in detention pending actual removal. Again, no space and no staff in proportion to demand. In the early 1990s, for example, 15 INS officers were responsible for the deportation of approximately 85,000 aliens (not all of them criminals) in New York City. The agency’s actual response to final orders of removal is what is known in the business as a “run letter” — a notice that immigration authorities send to a deportable alien requesting that he kindly show up in a month or two to be deported, when maybe the agency would have some officers and equipment to take custody of him. The results are foreordained: in 2001, 87 percent of deportable aliens who received “run letters” disappeared, a number that was even higher — 94 percent — if the alien was from a terror-sponsoring country.

John Mullaly, a former homicide detective with the NYPD, shakes his head remembering the INS’s futile task in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, where Mullaly estimates that 70 percent of the drug dealers and other criminals were illegal. “It’s so overwhelming, you can’t believe it,” he explains. “The INS’s workload was astronomical, beyond belief. Usually, they could do nothing.” Were Mullaly to threaten a thug in custody that his next stop would be El Salvador unless he cooperated, the criminal just laughed, knowing that immigration authorities would never show up. The message sent to the drug lord and to the community could not be more clear: this is a culture that can’t enforce its most basic law of entry. And if policing’s broken windows theory is correct, the suspension of one set of rules breeds more universal contempt for the law.

ICE’s capacity deficit gives an easy out to police departments when a known immigration violator commits a terrible crime. Testifying before Congress about the Queens rape by the illegal Mexicans, New York’s criminal justice coordinator, John Feinblatt, peevishly defended the city’s failure to notify the INS after the rapists’ previous arrests on the ground that the agency wouldn’t have responded anyway. “We have time and time again been unable to reach INS on the phone,” Feinblatt told the House immigration subcommittee in February 2003. “When we reach them on the phone, they require that we write a letter. When we write a letter, they require that it be by a superior.”

No Answer. However inadmirable his failure to take responsibility, Feinblatt nevertheless was describing a sad fact of life: Even when police agencies do contact immigration authorities about illegal aliens, they rarely get a response. Federal probation authorities in Brooklyn, who currently have 148 illegal alien felons on their active caseload, have given up trying to coordinate with ICE on deportation. “Our thinking is: these guys should be removed ASAP,” says a probation supervisor. “Should the taxpayer be paying for our services to monitor, investigate, and provide services for individuals who are not citizens and should not be here at all?” But the supervisor’s sense of urgency is not answered at the other end of the line. “You send the paperwork over to the INS, and you never hear back,” explains the federal probation official. “We used to have a person assigned to us from the agency, who told us to not even bother sending over forms.”

Immigration numbers stymied a program to ensure that criminal aliens were in fact deported after serving time in federal and state prisons. The Institutional Hearing Program, begun in 1988, was supposed to allow the INS to complete deportation hearings while a criminal was still in state or federal prison, so that upon his release, he could be immediately deported without taking up precious detention space. But the process immediately bogged down due to the magnitude of the problem — in 2000, for example, nearly 30 percent of federal prisoners were foreign-born. The agency couldn’t find enough pro bono attorneys to represent criminal aliens (who have extensive due process rights in contesting deportation), and so would have to request continuance after continuance for the deportation hearings. Securing immigration judges was a difficulty as well. In 1997, the INS simply had no record of a whopping 36 percent of foreign-born inmates who had been released from federal and four state prisons without any review of their deportability. They included 1,198 aggravated felons, 80 of whom were rearrested for new crimes in short order.

Conflicting Missions
Resource-starvation is not the only reason immigration authorities fail to act against criminal aliens, however. The INS and its successor agencies are creatures of immigration politics, no less than immigrant-saturated cities and states. Until it was broken up, the agency had two conflicting missions: handing out immigration “benefits” such as permanent residency, citizenship, and work permits, on the one hand, and enforcing the immigration laws against border trespassers, illegal workers, counterfeiters, and felons, on the other. Local politicians are usually only concerned about the benefits mission: the more green cards issued in their districts, the happier the ethnic voters. So INS district directors were traditionally under enormous pressures to divert enforcement resources into benefit distribution and away from criminal or other investigations. In the late 1980s, for example, the INS refused to participate in an FBI task force against Haitian drug trafficking in Miami, for fear it would be criticized for engaging in “Haitian-bashing.” In 1997, the Border Patrol announced it would no longer accompany Simi Valley, Calif., probation officers on home searches of illegal-alien-dominated gangs. The change in policy followed protests from Hispanic activists, after a highly-publicized raid netted nearly two dozen illegals. Crowed an attorney with the Ventura County Mexican-American Bar Association: The Border Patrol’s reversal showed that it “can be at times responsive to the desires of all segments of a community.”

The disastrous Citizenship USA project of 1996 was a classic instance of the politically-driven sacrifice of enforcement responsibilities to benefit distribution. Citizenship applications from resident aliens had skyrocketed in the first half of the 1990s, due in part to the increasingly likely prospect of welfare reform. Most welfare reform proposals promised to disqualify non-citizens from the dole. In response, welfare-consuming immigrants were applying for citizenship in record numbers to preserve their eligibility for a monthly government check. The Clinton Administration sensed a potential political windfall from hundreds of thousands of newly-naturalized, permanently-welfare-qualified citizens, and ordered that the naturalization process be radically expedited. Due likely to relentless administration pressure, a 1996 audit showed that 99 percent of applications in New York contained processing errors while 90 percent contained errors in Los Angeles. As a result, tens of thousands of aliens with criminal records, including for murder and armed robbery, were naturalized.


Extended Stay
Immigration numbers also lie behind the daunting array of due process weapons that criminal aliens deploy to defeat their deportation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is a powerful force on Capitol Hill. It has won an elaborate set of trial rights for criminal aliens that savvy attorneys can use to keep them in the country indefinitely. Federal probation authorities in Brooklyn have two illegal aliens on their caseload — a Jordanian and an Egyptian with Saudi citizenship — who look “ready to blow up the Statue of Liberty,” according to a probation official, but, at the time of this writing, the department couldn’t get rid of them. The Jordanian had been caught fencing stolen government checks, such as Social Security checks and tax refunds; now he sells phone cards, which he uses himself to make untraceable calls. The Saudi’s offense consisted in using a fraudulent Social Security number to get employment — a puzzlingly unnecessary scam, since he receives large sums of money from the Middle East, including from millionaire relatives. But intelligence links him to terrorism, so presumably he worked in order not to draw attention to himself. Ordinarily such a minor offense would not be prosecuted, but the government used whatever it had. Currently, the Saudi changes his cell phone every month.

Probation overseers desperately want to see the men deported, but the two Middle Easterners have hired lawyers and are staging lengthy deportation fights. “Due process allows you to stay for years without an adjudication,” says a probation officer in frustration. “A regular immigration attorney can keep you in the country for three years, a high-priced one for ten.” In the meantime, Brooklyn probation executives are watching the bridges.


No Fear of Enforcement. Finally, the overmatch between the immigration authorities and the numbers of illegal immigrants mars what should be the happy end of the criminal alien saga: their deportation. Even where the ICE successfully nabs and deports criminal aliens, the reality, says a former federal gang prosecutor, is that “they all come back. They can’t make it in Mexico.” The tens of thousands of illegal farm workers and restaurant dish-washers who overpower U.S border control every year carry in their wake hundreds or thousands of brutal assailants and terrorists who use the same smuggling industry as the “good” illegal aliens, and who benefit from the same irresistible odds: there’s so many more of them than the Border Patrol.

The government’s inability to keep out criminal aliens is part and parcel of its inability to patrol the border, period. The reasons are the same in both cases: numbers-driven politics and acute institutional incapacity. As a result, for decades, the INS had as much effect on the migration of millions of illegal aliens into the country as a can tied to the tail of a tiger. And the immigrants themselves, despite the boilerplate image in the press of hapless aliens living fearfully in the shadows, seem to regard immigration authorities with all the concern of an elephant for a flea.

Fear of immigration enforcement is not in ready evidence among the hundreds of illegal day laborers who hang out on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, in front of money wire services, travel agencies, immigration attorney offices, and phone arcades, all catering to the local Hispanic population (as well as to drug dealers and terrorists). “There is no chance of getting caught,” cheerfully explains Rafael, an Ecuadorian. Like the dozen Ecuadorians and Mexicans on his particular corner, Rafael is hoping that an SUV seeking carpenters for a $100 a day will show up soon. “We don’t worry, because we’re not doing anything wrong. I know it’s illegal, I need the papers, but here, nobody asks you for papers.”

Even the newly fortified Mexican border, the only spot in the country where the government devotes significant resources to preventing illegal immigration, is regarded as a minor inconvenience by the day laborers. The odds, they realize, are overwhelmingly in their favor. Miguel, a reserved young Mexican with a 12-year-old son back in Mexico, crossed the border at Tijuana three years ago with 15 other people hidden in a truck. Border Patrol spotted the truck, but the outcome was predetermined. There were six officers to 16 illegals. Five were caught; the rest, including Miguel, got away. “But even if you’re caught,” he reflects, “they don’t do nothing. You only get one night in jail.”

In illegal border crossings, you get what you pay for, according to Miguel. “If you want your family to come safely, you pay money. If you want to go over the mountain, pay little.” Miguel’s wife was flying in from Los Angeles that very day, but he was blasé about it, not even knowing at which airport she was arriving. “Because I pay, I don’t worry.” (The bill was $2,200 this time.) If you try to shave on the fee, however, the coyotes will abandon you at the first problem. But hasn’t security gotten tighter at the border recently? I ask him. “You can always find another way,” he shrugs. “Everything’s possible. Para nosotros, es facil.”


Jobs Magnet
The only way to dampen illegal immigration and its attendant train of criminals and terrorists, short of revolution in the sending countries or an impregnably militarized border, is to remove the jobs magnet. As long as migrants believe they can easily get work, they will find ways to evade border controls. But the enforcement of laws against illegal labor is at the absolute bottom of the government’s priorities. In 2001, only 124 agents in the entire country were trying to find and prosecute the hundreds of thousands of employers and millions of illegal aliens who violate the employment laws, the Associated Press reports. Interior enforcement generally, whose mandate includes not just the worksite, but also document fraud, alien smuggling, and criminals, has always been laughably underfunded compared to border operations, a situation that has been likened to a football team’s placing its entire defense on the line of scrimmage. Currently less than 2 percent of immigration resources go for interior enforcement, and a mere 2,000 agents police the entire country beyond the borders — responsible for deporting some 10 million illegal aliens, eradicating thousands of counterfeiters, finding hundreds of thousands of scofflaw employers, and breaking up smuggling rings.

Lack of Legal Tools. But even were ICE to allocate resources to worksite investigations commensurate to the magnitude of the violations, not much would change, because its legal tools are so weak. That’s no accident. Though it is against the law to hire illegal aliens, a coalition of libertarians, business lobbies, and left-wing advocates has consistently blocked the prerequisite to making that ban enforceable: a fraud-proof form of work authorization. Libertarians have erupted in hysteria at such proposals as a toll-free number that would allow employers to confirm Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration, hurling out comparisons to concentration camp tattoos and godless Communism. Hispanics warn just as stridently that giving employers a means to verify work authorization would result in invidious discrimination against Hispanics — implicitly conceding the point that there are vast numbers of Hispanics working illegally.

The result? Hiring practices in illegal-immigrant-saturated industries are a form of play-acting: Millions of illegal workers pretend to present valid documents, and thousands of employers pretend to believe them. The law imposes no obligation on the employer to verify that a worker is actually qualified to work, and as long as the proffered documents are not patently phony, the employer will nearly always be insulated from liability merely by having eyeballed them. To find an employer guilty of violating the ban on hiring illegal aliens, immigration authorities must prove that he knew he was getting fake papers — an almost insurmountable burden. Meanwhile, the market for counterfeit documents has exploded. Fraud now pervades every aspect of the immigration system. In one month alone in 1998, the INS seized nearly two million counterfeit documents in Los Angeles, destined for workers, welfare seekers, criminals, and terrorists.

For illegal workers and employers, there is no downside to the employment charade. If immigration authorities ever do conduct an industry-wide investigation, which will at least net the illegal employees, if not the employers, local congressmen from the affected areas will almost certainly call it off. An INS inquiry into the Vidalia onion industry in Georgia in the late 1990s was not only aborted by Georgia’s Washington delegation, it actually resulted in a local amnesty for the growers’ illegal workforce. The downside to complying with the spirit of the employment law, on the other hand, is considerable. Ethnic advocacy groups are ready to picket employers who dismiss illegal workers, and employers understandably fear being undercut by less scrupulous competitors.

In 1999, the sheer numbers of illegal aliens again dictated immigration policy, rather than vice versa. The INS announced a “major shift” of strategy away from worksite enforcement to alien smuggling, alien absconders, and document fraud. The agency was merely rationalizing the real: An official told The Washington Post that the new priorities reflected an “inability within current resources to deal with the undocumented population in the U.S.” And the revised strategy was little more than window-dressing: as long as the worksite remains wide open, alien smuggling, document fraud, and the attendant influx of criminal absconders will continue at record rates.


Blurring the Line
The continuing surge of illegal and legal migrants is changing American politics, demographics, and culture in ways that have yet to be grasped. But one of the most profound changes is already visible: the breakdown of the distinction between legal and illegal entry. Everywhere illegal aliens receive free public education and free medical care at taxpayer expense. In 13 states, they can get drivers licenses, according to Mexican officials. States everywhere are being pushed to grant in-state college tuition and scholarships to illegal aliens; many accede. One hundred banks, over 800 law enforcement agencies, and dozens of cities accept an identification card created by Mexico to credential illegal Mexican aliens in the United States. The Bush Administration has given its blessing to this “matricula consular” card, over the strenuous protest of the FBI. The massive security loopholes in the card, warns the FBI, make it a natural for money launderers, immigrant smugglers, and terrorists. Border authorities have already caught an Iranian man sneaking across the border with a Mexican matricula card, as well as an alien smuggler with seven cards, each with his picture and a different name.

But the rhetoric of contemporary immigration is as startling as its legal attributes. Hispanic advocates have successfully pushed the idea that to distinguish between a legal and illegal resident is an act of irrational bigotry, not a consequence of the law. “These are hate, wedge issues,” cried Dolores Huerta, a regent of the University of California, as the California State Senate repealed a recently-enacted law giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens. In signing the ill-fated law, former California governor Gray Davis had explicitly renounced any distinction between illegal and legal immigrants. (An eruption of populist rage against the measure catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into the governor’s mansion, but ethnic advocates are having the last laugh, since Schwarzenegger, having repealed the bill, has already promised a revised version.) Arrests of illegal aliens inside the border are now inevitably accompanied by protests, often led by the Mexican government, and those protests will inevitably feature signs calling for No mas racismo. It is the government that is constantly on the defensive now for enforcing the law, not those who break it.

The editor of Los Angeles’s biggest Spanish-language daily, La Opinion, reflected recently that the Virgin Mary would never have imagined that her followers would find themselves discriminated against not for the color of their skin, but for their lack of documents. But it is not “discrimination” to
experience the legal consequences of breaking the immigration laws; it is to encounter the inevitable results of one’s freely-chosen actions.

Immigrant advocates now use the nebulous language of “human rights” to trump such trivia as citizenship laws. The apprehension of some illegal aliens in San Diego and San Juan Capistrano, Calif., last summer triggered a huge outcry, well-summed up by Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee: The arrests showed that “the current administration wants nothing to do with human rights,” he said. “They are simply establishing a state of repression in Latino communities and other immigrant communities across this nation.” In other words, no law enforcement agency has any legitimacy in enforcing the fundamental laws of entry.


“No Person is Illegal.” The term “amnesty” is under attack, since it implicitly acknowledges the validity of borders even as it dissolves them. “Amnesty — there’s an implication that somehow you did something wrong and you need to be forgiven,” grouses Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D- Ill.). It’s the border that is illegal, not the crossing of it without permission. “No person is illegal,” Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney told parishioners on a day of protests in California against the repeal of the driver’s license bill. That same day, a march for amnesty arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, under the banner: “Messengers for the dignity of a people divided by a border” (“mensajeros por la dignidad de un pueblo dividido por la frontera”). New York’s Monsignor Josu Iriondo greeted the marchers, and repeated their call for the elimination of the border between Mexico and the United States.

As with every contemporary protest movement, the push for open borders is replete with the language of entitlement and plaintive calls for respect and dignity. Illegal aliens and their advocates speak loudly about what they think the United States owes them, not vice versa. “I believe they have a right . . . to work, to drive their kids to school,” said California Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes after the license bill repeal. The organizer of an economic boycott in California against the repeal, Nativo Lopez of the Mexican-American Political Association, says that the action is about “justice, dignity, and respect.” An immigration agent says that people he’s stopped in the past “got in your face about their rights, because our failure to enforce the law emboldens them.”

Expect the push to dissolve any distinction between citizens, legal aliens, and illegal aliens to accelerate. Joaquin Avila, a UCLA Chicano Studies professor and former legal advisor to the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), argues that to deny non-citizens the vote, especially in the many California cities where they constitute the majority, is a form of apartheid. Voting laws allow an ethnic minority (presumably white Californians) to impose their will on the majority, he says.

Taken to its logical conclusion, this movement against the law of borders and citizenship points towards the dissolution of national sovereignty itself. Sen. Alan Simpson observed in the early 1980s that Americans “are fed up with efforts to make them feel that [they] do not have that fundamental right of any people — to decide who will join them and help form the future country in which they and their posterity will live.”


The most striking political constant in the last four decades of immigration policy is the overwhelming popular desire to rein in immigration, and the utter pulverization of that desire by special interests. No poll has ever shown that Americans want ever-more open borders, yet that is exactly what the elites deliver year after year. If the idea of giving voting rights to non-citizen majorities catches on — and don’t be surprised if it does — Americans could be faced with the ultimate absurdity of people outside the social compact making rules for those inside it.

But the push to annul the laws of immigration does not even help its purported beneficiaries. Sanctuary policies contribute to the terrorization of immigrant communities. By stripping the police of what on occasion may be their only immediate tool to remove a psychopathic gangster from the streets, sanctuary policies leave law-abiding immigrants defenseless against the social and financial devastation of crime and handicapped in the march up the economic ladder. Anyone who cares about their future success should want every possible law enforcement means deployed to protect them. And immigration optimists, who argue that assimilation into American ideals is proceeding just fine and dandily, should take another look: In many immigrant communities, assimilation into gangs seems to be outstripping assimilation into civic culture. Toddlers are being taught to flash gang signals and to hate the police, reports the Los Angeles Times. In New York City, “every high school has its Mexican gang,” and most 12 to 14-year-olds have already joined, claims Ernesto Vega, an illegal 18-year-old Mexican who works at a New York association for Mexican empowerment. Such pathologies are only exacerbated when the first lesson of American law learned by immigrants is that Americans don’t bother to enforce it. “Institutionalizing illegal immigration creates a mindset in people that anything goes in the U.S.,” observes Patrick Ortega, the News and Public Affairs Director of “Radio Nueva Vida” in Southern California. “It creates a new subculture, with a sequelae of social ills.”

Taking immigration law seriously may make a start in combating these worrisome trends. The police should be given the option of reporting and acting on immigration violations, where doing so would contribute to public safety. The decision about when to use immigration rules will be a matter of discretion, but discretion is at the heart of all wise policing. The CLEAR Act, now before Congress, would help by clarifying the authority of local law enforcement to cooperate with immigration authorities. The police should have access to federal databases of immigration violators, an idea that the administration is slowly acting upon, against great opposition from the usual suspects.

And then the successor agencies of the INS should be given the resources they need. More detention space should be built, or contracted through private providers, so that deportable aliens are not released back to the streets. The missing link in workforce law — a fraud-proof work ID — must be created, and then employers must be held responsible for demanding it.

Advocates for amnesty argue that it is the only solution to the illegal alien crisis, because enforcement clearly has not worked. They are wrong in their key assumption: Enforcement has never been tried. Amnesty, however, has been tried — in both an industrial-strength version in 1986, and in more limited doses ever since — and it was a clear failure. Before we proceed again to the ultimate suspension of the nation’s self-definition, it is long past time to make immigration law a reality, not a charade.

 Heather Mac Donald is a John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to City Journal. This Backgrounder is adapted from Ms. Mac Donald’s article, “The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave” in the Winter 2004 edition of City Journal.

America’s Back Door to Terror

America’s Back Door to Terror
By Oliver North
The Washington Times | October 23, 2006

Since September 11, 2001, Americans living along the U.S.-Mexican border have been warning that our porous frontier is a back door for terrorist entry into this country. Local, state and federal law enforcement officers, overwhelmed by the flow of human traffic across the border, have acknowledged the threat — and have been widely ignored by the mainstream media and “official” Washington.Last year, in little noticed congressional testimony, FBI Director Robert Mueller Jr. revealed that “individuals from countries with known al Qaeda connections have attempted to enter the United States illegally using alien smuggling rings and assuming Hispanic appearances.”

Now, thanks to the investigative reporting of Fox News correspondent William Lajeunesse, the monarchs of the media and the potentates on the Potomac can no longer ignore reality. Mr. Lajeunesse took the time to carefully digest a new staff report prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security. It ought to be required reading for every reporter and official in Washington, D.C.

Titled, “A Line in the Sand — Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border,” the just-released report confirms what many have long suspected: Our border is a sieve, not a barrier, for radical Islamic terrorists transiting into the United States. The Investigations Subcommittee charges that from September 11, 2001, to the present, hundreds of illegal aliens from countries “such as Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan… and Afghanistan” were apprehended crossing into the United States.

But that’s not all the bad news. Investigators also found:

In June 2006, seven Iraqis were caught in Brownsville, Texas.

In August, an Afghan man was caught crossing the Rio Grande into Texas.

FBI Director Mueller has testified that a Hezbollah cell had been “dismantled” after discovering that the terror organization was smuggling operatives across the U.S.-Mexico border to carry out terror attacks inside the United States.

Individuals from countries with known al Qaeda connections have changed their Islamic surnames and adopted false Hispanic identities to escape detection and blend into American society.

Radical Islamic groups that support Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamiya Al Gamat are all active in Latin America.

All that is bad enough. But the bombshell — as reported by Mr. Lajeunesse and confirmed in the congressional report — is the role played by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. It’s well known the oil-rich Marxist in Caracas has been busy spreading his anti-American “Bolivarian Revolution” throughout the Southern Hemisphere. But this investigation now concludes that Mr. Chavez’ nefarious deeds go well beyond a weapons-buying spree and efforts to manipulate elections in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

According to the congressional report, “Venezuela is providing support — including identity documents — that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups…. The Venezuelan government has issued thousands of cedulas, the equivalent of Social Security cards, to people from places such as Cuba, Colombia, and Middle Eastern nations that host foreign terrorist organizations.”

These documents can be used to obtain Venezuelan passports and American visas, which in turn allow the holder to elude immigration checks and enter the United States.Nothing in the report surprises Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican. His new book, “In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security,” is full of anecdotal information that substantiates the charges made by the House Homeland Security Committee staff. Mr. Tancredo notes that some Pakistanis recently were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border with fraudulent Venezuelan documents.

Somehow, most of this has eluded the crack journalists who purport to write and report “news” for our so-called mainstream media. Even Agence France Presse took notice that al Qaeda had established a “clandestine travel service,” south of the border, to help move operatives into the United States. Though American pundits have been quick to accuse citizen organizations like the Minutemen of being “vigilantes” or worse, the poison pens have paid scant attention to the realities in this report — most of which was already in the public domain.

Doubters who cannot accept how essential it is to plug the holes in our southern frontier should read this report and wake up to a clear and present danger.

For those who still have trouble understanding, the concluding lines of Section III on Page 32 should suffice: “Given the ever-present threat posed by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations — a threat that has been underscored by the recent events in London and the vulnerability of our borders — the need for immediate action to enforce our borders could not be more apparent.”

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel Sundays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

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The Legend of Arizona

The Legend of Arizona

By The Editors

We have many disagreements with our friends on the open-borders Right, but we have to give them credit for sheer doggedness. There is not an election that is immune from their inventive interpretations. Every one, it turns out, is a mandate for more immigration, for “earned citizenship” and the like. If a pro-immigration Republican just barely hangs on in a primary against an underfunded, single-issue restrictionist; if a restrictionist loses an election at the same time everyone else in his party, regardless of his position on immigration, is losing; if a restrictionist Republican wins his own reelection but cannot get an open-borders Republican to win the following election; if voters try their hardest to kill official bilingualism: In each and every case, the voters have shown that they favor mass immigration.

For years, the immigration lobby has pointed to California as an example of the supposed dangers of Republicans’ standing in the way of the immigration-driven transformation of the country. This tale depends on a series of obvious misreadings of the recent political history of California. Last week, our friends acquired a new myth. The 2006 elections were, on their telling, a decisive rejection of immigration control.

The myth is being spread by veteran pro-immigration conservatives such as Fred Barnes, Michael Barone, Linda Chavez, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, along with Tamar Jacoby and Arlen Specter. The White House, an easy sell for this kind of thing, appears to have bought it, judging from clues in the news coverage of the appointment of Sen. Mel Martinez as general chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The centerpiece of this myth is Arizona, where enforcement hardliner J. D. Hayworth lost his reelection bid and the likeminded Randy Graf lost his campaign to succeed a Republican congressman. Sometimes the spinners throw in Rick O’Donnell’s loss of a marginal Republican seat in Colorado.

Time for a reality check. This year’s anti-Republican wave was indiscriminate, washing away such immigration hawks as John Hostettler and Charles Taylor, but also such amnesty supporters as Mike DeWine and Lincoln Chafee. In other places, Republicans were able to withstand the wave in part because they opposed amnesty: Chris Shays was the only Republican congressman to survive in Connecticut, and Pete King kept his seat in New York.

Some of the victorious Democrats favored enforcement first. James Webb, whose victory tipped the Senate, is one of them. Another is Hostettler’s opponent, Brad Ellsworth. Harold Ford, who stunned everyone by nearly winning a Senate seat from Tennessee, opposed amnesty.

Even in Arizona, Sen. Jon Kyl, who voted against the open-borders bill, beat a Democratic candidate who supported it. Arizona voters also approved, by wide margins, three ballot measures cracking down on illegal immigration, plus one declaring English the state’s official language. The Journal noted only the last of these, writing that it “suggests to us that what Americans want isn’t so much restricted immigration as it is a culture of assimilation.” We continue to find the Journal’s breezy confidence that continuous mass immigration, much of it from a single source, can coexist with a “culture of assimilation.” But the state’s voters were clearly also saying that they want tougher policies against illegal immigration.

A final piece of mythology concerns the Hispanic vote. Exit polling found that 30 percent of Hispanics voted for Republican House candidates, down from 38 percent in the 2002 midterms. To see the significance of this drop, it has to be put in context. The percentage of white voters who picked Republicans fell from 58 to 51 percent over the same period. Hispanics just followed the national trend.

It is probably true that Graf’s monomaniacal focus on immigration contributed to his defeat; unlike some others, we are willing to acknowledge facts inconvenient to our political desires. But the balance of the evidence suggests that restrictionism can be a politically valuable element of a conservative platform.

Senator Martinez was a lead sponsor of the amnesty bill that the Senate approved earlier this year, without the votes of most Republicans. His immigration views appear to be part of the rationale for his selection. A Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the bill, extrapolating from the experience of the 1986 amnesty, conservatively estimated that more than 14 million people would gain legal status and move toward citizenship because of the measure’s various amnesty provisions —— and this estimate didn’t even take into account the bill’s huge increases in future legal immigration.

So the White House’s answer to last week’s losses appears to be to pass a bill that most Republicans dislike, in the service of a policy that will import more Democratic voters to the country. Get ready for a long spell in the minority.

Minimum Wage Muddle

Minimum Wage Muddle
By Steve Sailer | November 21, 2006

So, what was the midterm election all about anyway? Other than voters being profoundly sick of George W. Bush and the Republican Party? And Iraq?One consistent theme was voter backlash against the high cost of cheap labor.

Many of the new winners were what Jacob Weisberg in Slate calls ” Lou Dobbs Democrats” and “economic nationalists.” The most striking addition to the Senate, Virginia’s Jim Webb, war hero and intellectual, author of Fields Of Fire, which Tom Wolfe considers the finest Vietnam War novel, pointed out:

“In the age of globalization and outsourcing, and with a vast underground labor pool from illegal immigration, the average American worker is seeing a different life and a troubling future.” [Class Struggle | American workers have a chance to be heard,,  November 15, 2006]

In six states, initiatives were on the ballot to raise the minimum wage. They all passed, by an average margin of 65-35.

Back in April, a Pew Research Center poll found that 83 percent of the public favors raising the minimum to $7.15.

Nancy Pelosi has said she’ll try to push through a minimum wage boost during her “first 100 hours” as the new Speaker of the House. President Bush doesn’t appear to have any objections.

If you’ve taken Econ 101, you probably heard that minimum wage laws are a dumb idea.

Their impact on consumer prices, however, isn’t an important objection to minimum wage laws. For instance, the Open Borders lobby has long put out scare propaganda about how higher wages for stoop laborers will make broccoli cost $5 per head, in reality, unskilled labor makes up a trivial part of the $13 trillion dollar American economy. Even in industries addicted to illegal alien labor, the cost savings to consumers are minimal: doubling the pay of strawberry pickers, for example, would raise the supermarket price by six pennies per pint.

No, the worst thing about minimum wage laws is their impact on the people they are supposed to benefit. The Law of Supply and Demand says that if the government enforces a minimum above the market wage, some workers will indeed get paid more, but others won’t have jobs.

The late Milton Friedman observed many years ago:

“Many well-meaning people favor legal minimum wage rates in the mistaken belief that they help the poor. It has always been a mystery to me why a youngster is better off unemployed at $4.75 an hour than employed at $4.25.”

Yet, if you are a politician, minimum wage laws make lots of sense.

First, in many states, the market rate is now well above the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour, which hasn’t changed since 1997. In Pelosi’s ultra-expensive home district in San Francisco, for example, raising the federal minimum will be one of those purely symbolic gestures that politicians love.

Second, while lifting the minimum can cost you campaign contributions from business owners, you don’t have to worry about losing many votes from people who are out of work because of it. They are simply unlikely to figure out the causal relationship between your vote in Congress and their lack of a job.

Say a business employs two workers at $5.15 an hour. The minimum wage goes up to $7.25 per hour, so the owner gives the smarter worker a $2.10 raise and lays off the dumber one. The smarter guy might remember to vote for his Congressman in gratitude. But is the guy who got fired because he wasn’t worth the new minimum wage (remember, he probably didn’t major in econ at the U. of Chicago) going to understand he’s out on the street because Congress lifted the minimum? Is he going to look up how his Congressman voted? Is he going to remember to vote against his Representative the following year? Is he even going to remember that the first Tuesday in November is Election Day?

Then, consider all the businesses that would have hired new workers at the old minimum wage, but now can’t afford it. How likely is the unemployed guy who would have been hired in the alternative universe where the minimum stayed $5.15 per hour even going to notice that he’s still out of work due to the higher minimum?

Yet, misguided as it may be, raising the minimum wage is at least some kind of response to the genuine problem of employers of cheap labor privatizing profits while socializing costs. Americans don’t let other residents of America live on $5.15 per hour. Instead, we massively subsidize them. We pay to educate their children in public schools, give them free medical care at emergency rooms, and police their neighborhoods.

A minimum wage above the market wage treats the symptom, not the underlying problem, which is that the balance of supply and demand doesn’t provide a high enough market wage. While treating the symptom will help the more productive, it will keep the less productive (who are often young and black and likely to cause trouble when they aren’t honestly employed) from finding jobs at all.

Of course, the reason the market wage is so low these days is the enormous supply of illegal aliens.

Moreover, raising the minimum above the market encourages employers to cheat by paying an illegally low wage. And which kind of workers are most likely to keep their mouths shut about making less than the minimum? Illegal aliens.

Raising the minimum without cracking down on illegal immigration is pointless.

Ironically, the same liberals who claim that the immigration laws can’t be enforced simply assume that the minimum wage laws could be enforced. Even if all the current illegal aliens were “put on the path to citizenship,” a high minimum wage would just attract new ones who would work for less than the legal limit.

The far more practical solution is to drive up the market wage by rectifying the balance of supply and demand for unskilled labor. How? By closing the borders.

I’m always amused that so many free market economists think that Neal Stephenson’s 1992 dystopian sci-fi novel Snow Crash (which was heavily influenced by Jean Raspail’s Camp Of The Saints) about a globalized America where “the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani bricklayer would consider to be prosperity” is actually a utopian book.

Simplistic Libertarians need to realize that their beloved Open Borders inevitably lead to a political backlash in favor of laws, like Nancy Pelosi’s minimum wage boost, that meddle with the economy. Why? Because American voters won’t put up with a completely globalized labor market. The simplest way to make libertarian economics more politically feasible in America is to insulate our labor market through better border controls. “Libertarianism in one country” is possible but there is staggeringly too much inequality in the world for America’s love affair with capitalism to survive importing massive amounts of it.

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‘Hi, my name is Ahmed and I want to be a suicide bomber’

‘Hi, my name is Ahmed and I want to be a suicide bomber’

WND speaks to a 23-year-old member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “‘Hi, my name is Ahmed and I want to be a suicide bomber’: Recruited attacker for terror group talks to WND about ‘serving Allah by blasting unbelievers to hell,'” by Aaron Klein:

WND: Tell me about your life and what you do with your free time.BOMBER: I study at a West Bank university and I have great hopes of getting married within the next couple of months. My life is very normal. I watch television, particularly news, and historical and religious programs. From time to time I play soccer and lift weights.

WND: Is your family poor?

BOMBER: No. We are regular but far from being wealthy. I share my bedroom with my brothers but now there is less pressure because last summer one of my brothers was married and moved to live outside.

WND: Why do you want to become a suicide bomber?

BOMBER: I originally decided to become a martyr after I saw what the Israeli army did in the refugee camp of Jenin in the big military campaign of April, 2002.

But this idea became stronger when I understood what status I will have in heaven if I scarify [sic; probably “sacrifice” is meant — RS] myself for Allah. Every time somebody else dies as a martyr in a suicide bomb attack, I pray for him but I feel jealous. I want to be where he is now and I pray that Allah will one day offer me this occasion and this honor.

[Editor’s note: The potential bomber was referring to an Israeli anti-terror raid in his hometown of Jenin in 2002 in which Palestinian leaders accused the Jewish state of a “massacre,” claiming the Israeli Defense Forces killed over 500 Palestinian civilians, including many women and children.

It was later determined 56 Palestinians, mostly gunmen, were killed in the raid, which followed a series of deadly suicide attacks inside Israel that were reportedly planned and directed from the terror infrastructure in Jenin. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers died in the Jenin battle, in which IDF troops conducted house-to-house searches to minimize civilian casualties by avoiding air attacks.]

WND: Is your main motivation for becoming a bomber is to serve Allah?

BOMBER: Yes, of course. Allah gave Muslims the possibility to gain their prize and payment in different ways. There are those (Muslims) who pray and fast only and respect Allah’s commandments, and there are those who wish a higher prize. And the highest prize is given to those who scarify themselves, their lives, their bodies and everything in this world.

WND: What you are saying is interesting because a lot of academics in the United States and many of my colleagues in the media claim Palestinians become suicide bombers because they are poor and desperate and because of so-called Israeli occupation. Are you telling me these are not the reasons you want to blow yourself up amongst Israelis?

BOMBER: The will to scarify myself for Allah is the first and most major reason. It is true that the Zionists are occupying our lands and that it is our religious duty to fight them, including through suicide attacks. The goal is not the killing of the Jews, but that this is the way to reach Allah.

The goal is satisfying Allah and his instructions. No money interests, nothing. No brainwash, no pressure; it is my decision. All the other lies are pathetic Israeli propaganda.

I pray that Allah gives me the honor to be dead in an operation. This is the supreme and the noblest way to ascend to Allah.

These martyrs have special status in the next world and have bigger chances to watch Allah’s face and enjoy the magnificent pleasures he offers us.

WND: Did I hear you say your goal is not to kill Jews? Isn’t that exactly what you will do as a suicide bomber?

BOMBER: Maybe the fact that I was born here has sharpened my religious conscience, but I believe that even if I was in Chechnya, in Iraq, Afghanistan on anywhere else I would want to be a martyr.

It is Allah’s satisfaction that is important to me no matter where I live. But as we live in this part of the world the way to reach Allah for me is through fighting the Zionist enemy. It is the jihad, the sacrificing that is important.

Read it all. And then ask yourself, what is CAIR doing, what is MPAC doing, what are all the self-proclaimed moderate Muslims doing to counter among Muslims the idea that killing Jews will bring them to Paradise?

Column One: The Gemayel warning

Column One: The Gemayel warning

Tuesday saw another nail driven into the coffin of US President George W. Bush’s vision of a free and democratic Middle East. The Syrians aren’t even trying to hide their involvement in the assassination of Lebanon’s Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.

Hours after Gemayel was murdered, his killers issued a communiqu calling themselves the “Fighters for the Unity and Liberty of Greater Syria.” They said that they killed Gemayel because he was “one of those who unceasingly spouted their venom against Syria and against [Hizbullah], shamelessly and without any trepidation.” Gemayel, they threatened, would be the first of many victims. As they put it, “Sooner or later we will pay the rest of the agents their due…”

The hit this week was not a bolt from the blue. For the past several weeks Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah and his bosses in Syria and Iran have made it brutally clear that they intend to bring down the anti-Syrian government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and replace it with a pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian coalition led by Hizbullah.

Although their intentions are clear, a casual observer of events could be forgiven for finding the timing of Gemayel’s murder somewhat mystifying. After all, the UN Security Council is preparing the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the February 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Why would Syrian President Bashar Assad wish to make people mad at him now by killing yet another anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon? What a casual observer misses is the simple fact that events in Lebanon do not stand on their own. Like Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon is a front in a regional war being waged against the US, Israel and their allies by Iran and Syria. Iraq is another front in this war and Gemayel’s murder is intimately tied to developments in Iraq.

The Democratic Party’s victory in the November 7 Congressional elections convinced Iran and Syria that they are on the verge of a great victory against the US in Iraq. Iranian and Syrian jubilation is well founded in light of the Democratic leadership’s near unanimous calls for the US to withdraw its forces in Iraq; Bush’s firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his appointment of his father’s CIA director Robert Gates to replace him; and Bush’s praise for the Congressionally mandated Iraq Study Group charged with revisiting US strategy in Iraq, which is being co-chaired by his father’s secretary of state James Baker III.

Although his committee has yet to formally submit its recommendations, Baker made clear that he will recommend that the administration negotiate a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq with Iran and Syria. That is, he is putting together a strategy not for victory, but for defeat.

Baker fervently believes that US foreign policy should revolve around being bad to its friends and good to its enemies. Consequently he thinks that the US can avoid the humiliation of the defeat he proposes by buying off Syria and Iran, the forces behind most of the violence, instability, subversion and terror in Iraq. If the US accepts their conditions, they will temporarily cease their attacks to enable a US retreat that will look only mildly humiliating to the television viewers back home.

This week Bush said he has yet to decide how to move ahead in Iraq. But Baker is moving ahead without him. While Bush also said that he opposes negotiating with Iran and Syria, last Friday The New York Times reported that Baker and his group held talks recently with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. And, as truth would have it, for the past year or so, the US Ambassador to Baghdad Zalmay Khalizad has been conducting negotiations with the Iranians. Administration sources say that Bush is expected to make a decision on the course of operations in Iraq by mid-December.

But as far as Iran and Syria are concerned, the game has already been called. They are wasting no time collecting their winnings. As Gemayel was being murdered Tuesday in Lebanon, Muallem paid a visit to Baghdad. There he established full diplomatic relations between his country and Iraq. Monday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced his intention to host a three-way summit with his Iraqi and Syrian counterparts. Responding to Ahmadinejad’s invitation, Iraqi President Jalal Talibani is scheduled to visit Iran and Syria next week.

Just as Israelis and American Jews both bitterly recall Baker’s acrimonious and degrading treatment during his tenure as secretary of state, so the Syrians and Iranians take comfort from his record. They remember Baker as the man who accepted the 1989 Taif Accord that ended the Syrian-sponsored Lebanese civil war by sacrificing Lebanese sovereignty to Assadian fascist occupation in the name of regional stability.

Then too, Baker is remembered as the man who abandoned Iraq’s Shi’ites to their fate at the hands of Saddam after the US failed to assist them in their post-Gulf War rebellion which the US itself had encouraged. Finally, no doubt they noticed that Baker’s law firm Baker-Botts is representing the Saudi government in the 9/11 victims’ lawsuit against the kingdom.

BAKER’S CURRENT dealings with Iran and Syria parallel closely Israel’s talks with the Palestinians in the lead-up to its withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria last year. As Baker does today, at the time Israel appealed to the Palestinians to restrain themselves temporarily to enable an orderly Israeli surrender of the territories.

Last year the Palestinians demanded that Israel hand over the international border between Gaza and the Sinai in exchange for their cooperation. By forcing the IDF to withdraw from the Philadelphi Corridor, the Palestinian Authority transformed a tactical and symbolic victory for jihad into a strategic victory for jihad. Without Israel controlling the border, Gaza was rapidly transformed into a major base for global terrorists.

Today, the Iranian and Syrian price tags for cooperation are similarly high. The Iranians demand international acceptance of their nuclear weapons program replete with European abandonment of Israel. Their demands have apparently been met.

There is no end in sight for the UN Security Council deliberations over the relatively insignificant European sanctions proposal. And between British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s speeches calling for Israeli capitulation on all fronts; French threats to shoot down IAF jets in Lebanon; the Spanish-French-Italian “peace plan;” and France’s Arab League-like treatment of Israel in the UN, it is self-evident that the Europeans have abandoned Israel to Ahmadinejad’s tender mercies.

Syria set its price for cooperating with the US in Iraq when it murdered Gemayel. That is, in addition to pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights, the US will be expected to accept the reassertion of Syrian/Iranian control over all of Lebanon through a new government controlled by Hizbullah and its allies which will replace the Saniora government. The fall of the Saniora government will also spell the demise of the Hariri murder tribunal. Iran and Syria also demand that the US abandon its policy of regime change in both countries.

Another similarity between Israel’s retreat from Gaza and northern Samaria last year, its withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, and the proposed US retreat from Iraq today are the obvious consequences of such a retreat for the US, the region and the world. Far from bringing peace and stability, as the champions of the withdrawal policy mindlessly claim, a retreat will cause more war, more instability and more suffering in Iraq, in the region and throughout the world.

In the wake of a US (and Coalition) withdrawal from Iraq, the country would become an Iranian-Syrian-controlled base for global jihad. Battle-tested, heavily armed terrorists, cocky after their victory over the Great Satan, would use Iraq as a stepping-off point for attacks throughout the region and world. Israel and Jordan, as allies of the defeated great power, would be first on the list of targets.

Moreover, as was the case with soldiers and officers of the South Lebanon Army after the Israeli withdrawal, and with Palestinians who assisted Israel in counter-terror operations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Iraqis who worked with Coalition forces will likely be killed, arrested and tortured by their new mafia-like terror masters.

Israel will find itself beset by an emboldened, nuclear weapons building Iran, an exhilarated Assad and by Iranian proxies from Gaza to Ramallah to Beirut.

BOTH ISRAEL’S decision to vacate Gaza, northern Samaria and south Lebanon and the current push in the US to leave Iraq are informed by the same strategic confusion. In choosing the strategy of retreat, Israel and the US have ignored the regional and indeed global nature of the war being waged against them. In such a war, it is impossible to view conflicts as discrete campaigns. Everything is related.

Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 inspired the Palestinian jihad. Its withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria caused the two-front war this summer with Iran and Syria in Gaza and Lebanon. That war in turn inspired the current chaos on Lebanon, the Iranian-Syrian brinkmanship in Iraq, and Iran’s emboldened sprint to the nuclear finish-line.

The fact that both Israel and the US continue to ignore the nature of the war was made clear this summer when they accepted UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which while setting the terms for a cease-fire in Lebanon made no mention of Syria and Iran – the main parties to the war. Then too, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s stated interest in giving Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, and the US hope to retreat from Iraq, show that both countries continue to deny reality.

The most pressing question today then is whether Bush will give in to Baker and the Democrats and agree to capitulate to Iran and Syria in Iraq, Lebanon and indeed throughout the world. Unfortunately, things look bleak given that Bush relies most heavily on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice has been blocking US action against Syria and Iran for the past two years. She was the primary architect of UN Resolution 1701 this summer, has been pushing for dangerous Israeli concessions to the Palestinians and is known for her good relations with Baker.

Although a great blow to Bush’s vision of democracy in the Middle East, Gemayel’s murder can still serve as an opportunity for the reinvigoration of that vision. If Bush sees this murder as the warning sign it is of what awaits Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and indeed the entire world if the US removes its forces from Iraq or is perceived as moving in that direction; if he finally recognizes that Iraq is not a separate war, but a great battle in a larger struggle, then Bush will be able to formulate a new strategy for victory.

Such a strategy, founded on an understanding of the regional and global nature of the war, will change the emphasis of US operations in Iraq in a manner than weakens, rather than strengthens Iran and Syria.

Such a strategy is the only way to ensure the continued functioning of the Saniora government and indeed the survival of Lebanon as an independent nation.

Most importantly, such a strategy will be the only way to ensure that a policy will be formed and adopted by the US and Israel that will prevent Israel’s annihilation at the hands of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

ran cleric calls for the murder of Azeri journalist

24 November, 2006
Iran cleric calls for the murder of Azeri journalist
by Dariush Mirzai
The journalist is accused of insulting Muhammad. With a Muslim name and presumably a Muslim himself the journalist is considered an apostate.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – The fatwa pronounced against Salman Rushdie is not the only example of how Iran’s Shia clergy claims the right to exert extra-territorial jurisdiction. A few days ago an Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Morteza Bani Fazl, said that Rafik Taghi, a journalist in Azerbaijan, should be killed and as an encouragement he has offered a house he has inherited from his father as a reward. Mr Taghi is accused of insulting Muhammad in an article published by Azeri paper Sanat, under the influence of “Western powers”.

The ayatollah has also demanded that Azerbaijian apologises to the world’s Muslims and take repressive measures against the paper and the writer.

Azerbaijian might not react to such calls, but they are bound to have unpredictable consequences in Iranian Azerbaijan, already shaken by popular unrest in May 2006 after the publication of an anti-Azeri racist cartoon in a Farsi-language newspaper.

It is quite interesting to see how Bani-Fazl motivated his death sentence. One of the two reasons invoked was “peace and interfaith dialogue”. Since “Islam is the religion of friendship and brotherhood”, the guilty article can only perturb the quietness and peace amongst neighbouring countries and in the world and cause discord between Christians and Muslims.

The second reason is based on traditional Islamic jurisprudence as interpreted by Islamist circles. Since the journalist’s name, Rafik Taghi, is very likely Muslim, i.e. passed on by Muslim parents, the Azeri journalist must be considered guilty of apostasy, hence guilty of a capital crime and death is the normal sentence.

So far Iranian authorities have remained silent, neither approving nor disapproving the action taken by the ayatollah. However, the fatwa does show how easily Iran’s ruling circles can be stirred by any criticism of Islam and Muhammad anywhere around the world.

It also fits very well with the Islamist regime’s policy of intimidation against journalists at home and abroad.

Is Iran sending a message to its northern neighbour? Probably not. Needlessly irritating Iran’s own national minorities runs the risk of destabilising the Iranian government itself.

Turkish converts to Christianity stand trial for insulting ‘Turkishness’

Turkish converts to Christianity stand trial for insulting ‘Turkishness’

Canadian Press

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) – Two Turkish men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting “Turkishness,” and of inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The trial opened just days before a visit to Turkey by Roman Catholic Pope Benedict, during which the pontiff was expected to discuss improved religious rights for the country’s tiny Christian minority who complain of discrimination.

Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity.

The men were charged under Turkey’s notorious Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals – including Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk.

The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded that Turkey change the law as part of its bid to join the European Union.

Prosecutors accused the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was “a primitive and fabricated” religion and that Turks would remain “barbarians” as long they remained Muslims, Anatolia reported.

The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country’s compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.

Tastan and Topal, who could face up to nine years in prison, denied the accusations in court.

“I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don’t accept the accusations of insulting ‘Turkishness,’ ” Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. “I am a Christian, that’s true. I explain the Bible … to people who want to learn. I am innocent.”

“I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen, it is impossible for me to insult ‘Turkishness,”‘ echoed Topal, according to Anatolia.