Perverse Libby trial was revealing
March 11, 2007
A couple of days ago, Shane Gibson, the Bahamian immigration minister, resigned. The Tribune in Nassau had published front-page pictures of him in bed with Anna Nicole Smith. Could happen to anyone. Riding high in February, shot down in March. And, in fairness to the minister, both parties were fully clothed. Indeed, Anna Nicole was more fully clothed than she usually was out of bed.
My point here is that this is a classic scandal in the Westminster parliamentary tradition: On Monday, you’re blandly denying vague rumors; on Tuesday, they’re all over the front page; on Wednesday, you’re photographed alongside your long-suffering wife vowing to fight this outrageous slur; on Thursday, you’re resigning to spend more time with your family and the prime minister issues a statement saying the nation will always be grateful to you for your long years of public service culminating in the passage of the Municipal Airports (Parking Lot Signage) Bill, and on Friday your successor is seated behind your desk already working on his own career-detonating scandal.
Washington doesn’t seem to do things that way. In a Beltway political scandal, you appoint a special prosecutor who investigates it for years and the scandal metastasizes and morphs in bizarre fantastic ways. I’m not being especially partisan here. I thought Bill Clinton should have resigned when the blue dress showed up. But the months pass and instead he’s testifying to the grand jury about his definition of non-sexual relations — if the party of the first part is apart from the parts of the party of the second part while the party of the second part is partaking of the parts of the party of the first part, etc. — and once you’re arguing on that basis the very process is a mockery.
What’s just happened to Scooter Libby is, I think, worse. In his closing remarks, Patrick Fitzgerald invited the jury to view a narrow perjury case as something epic: ”What is this case about?” the special counsel mused. ”Is it about something bigger?” Fortunately, he was musing rhetorically, and he had the answer on hand: ”There is a cloud over the vice president. . . . There is a cloud over the White House.”
Indeed. And what exactly is the cloud? Is it that the name of a covert agent was intentionally leaked in breach of the relevant law on non-disclosure?
No. On the alleged violation of Valerie Plame’s identity, Fitzgerald was unable to produce not only a perpetrator but any crime.
Is the cloud then a more general murk? A politically motivated attempt to damage the white knight Joe Wilson as he sallied forth against the Bush dragon?
No. The man who leaked Valerie Plame’s name was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s deputy at the State Department and a man who dislikes Rove, Cheney and all their neocon warmongering works. The journalist he leaked it to — Bob Novak — was also opposed to the Iraq war. Neither Armitage nor Novak had any animus against Joe Wilson. On the contrary, they broadly share Wilson’s skepticism on the threat posed by Saddam. There was no conspiracy, just Armitage gossiping like the gravelly voiced schoolgirl he’s been for years.
When a prosecutor speaks about ”a cloud over the vice president’s office” and ”a cloud over the White House,” he is speaking politically. There is no law about the amount of cumulus permitted over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The prosecutor is speculating on political capital — reputation, credibility, the currency of politics. Once damaged, they’re hard to recover. So, even if it’s not within the purview of the jury, his question is relevant to the wider world: How did this cloud get there and stay there even though it had no meaningful rainfall?
Answer: Patrick Fitzgerald.
The prosecutor knew from the beginning that (a) leaking Valerie Plame’s name was not a crime and (b) the guy who did it was Richard Armitage. In other words, he was aware that the public and media perception of this ”case” was entirely wrong: There was no conspiracy by Bush ideologues to damage a whistleblower, only an anti-war official making an offhand remark to an anti-war reporter. Even the usual appeals to prosecutorial discretion (Libby was a peripheral figure with only he said/she said evidence in an investigation with no underlying crime) don’t convey the scale of Fitzgerald’s perversity: He knew, in fact, that there was no cloud, that under all the dark scudding about Rove and Cheney there was only sunny Richard Armitage blabbing away accidentally. Yet he chose to let the entirely false impression of his ”case” sit out there month in, month out, year after year, glowering over the White House, doing great damage to the presidency on the critical issue of the day.
So much of the current degraded discourse on the war — ”Bush lied” — comes from the false perceptions of the Joe Wilson Niger story. Britain’s MI-6, the French, the Italians and most other functioning intelligence services believe Saddam was trying to procure uranium from Africa. Lord Butler’s special investigation supports it. So does the Senate Intelligence Committee. So Wilson’s original charge is if not false then at the very least unproven, and the conspiracy arising therefrom entirely nonexistent. But the damage inflicted by the cloud is real and lasting.
As for Scooter Libby, he faces up to 25 years in jail for the crime of failing to remember when he first heard the name of Valerie Plame — whether by accident or intent no one can ever say for sure. But we also know that Joe Wilson failed to remember that his original briefing to the CIA after getting back from Niger was significantly different from the way he characterized it in his op-ed in the New York Times. We do know that the contemptible Armitage failed to come forward and clear the air as his colleagues were smeared for months on end. We do know that his boss Colin Powell sat by as the very character of the administration was corroded.
And we know that Patrick Fitzgerald knew all this and more as he frittered away the years, and the ”political blood lust” (as National Review’s Rich Lowry calls it) grew ever more disconnected from humdrum reality. The cloud over the White House is Fitzgerald’s, and his closing remarks to the jury were highly revealing. If he dislikes Bush and Cheney and the Iraq war, whoopee: Run against them, or donate to the Democrats, or get a talk-radio show. Instead, he chose in full knowledge of the truth to maintain artificially a three-year cloud over the White House while the anti-Bush left frantically mistook its salivating for the first drops of a downpour. The result is the disgrace of Scooter Libby. Big deal. Patrick Fitzgerald’s disgrace is the greater, and a huge victory not for justice or the law but for the criminalization of politics.
© Mark Steyn 2007
Now it’s Iran’s turn in the spotlight, with, apparently, a growing wave of pro-democracy fervour.
Particularly exciting to the online community is the emergence of numerous English-language blogs and other websites from Iranians, both within and outside their country.
I presume it all has to be good for the country’s tiny, beleaguered Christian community. Unfortunately, right now the Christians of Iran don’t seem to be on the radar screens. I can’t learn much at all about their present plight.
According to the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report:
The Government estimates the Christian community to number approximately 115,000 to 120,000 persons; however, the U.N. Special Representative (UNSR) used the figure of 300,000 in a 2001 report. The majority of the Christian population are ethnic Armenians and Assyro-Chaldeans. There also are Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches. The UNSR reported that Christians are emigrating at an estimated rate of 15,000 to 20,000 per year.
Here are some of the websites I’ve been checking. I’d be happy to learn of more.
Iranian Christians International seems to be one of the main sources of information. Its article, “Iranian Christians – Who Are They?” is an authoritative overview:
By 2002, ICI estimated the number of [Evangelical] Iranian Christians worldwide to be over 60,000, half being Muslim converts and the other half from various religious minorities….Of course, the Muslim clergy in Iran were already aware of this phenomenal growth. Accordingly, they increased their persecution of the Church in 1983 when they imprisoned Rev Mehdi Dibaj, a Muslim convert….The depth of Iranian Christians’ commitment to Christ came to the forefront when both the secular and Christian news media published Rev. Mehdi Dubai’s written defence in early 1994. Christian leaders have since recognized it as one of the most important documents ever produced by the Church. Then during the same year, Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, Rev. Mehdi Dibaj and Rev. Tateos Mikaelian were martyred in Iran.
The Center for Religious Freedom has more on Iran’s Christian martyrs.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has an extensive fact sheet on Iran:
It is not always easy to track the persecution of the Christian minority in Iran. Most Christians are afraid to report persecution. Only the most severe incidents are recounted to church leaders or to the outside world and some are reported months or years after they occurred, often by refugees who have fled Iran.
There’s more. But Iranian Christian English-language bloggers? I can’t find them.
From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
The “flying imams’ ” federal lawsuit, filed this week in Minneapolis, has made headlines around the country. The imams are demanding unspecified damages from US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, both with deep pockets. But their suit includes other defendants, as yet unnamed. These people, unaffiliated with the airline industry or government, are among the imams’ most vulnerable targets.
Recall the November 2006 incident that gave rise to the suit. The imams engaged in a variety of suspicious behaviors while boarding a US Airways flight, according to the airport police report. Some prayed loudly in the gate area, spoke angrily about the United States and Saddam, switched seats and sat in the 9/11 hijackers’ configuration, and unnecessarily requested seatbelt extenders that could be used as weapons, according to witness reports and US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader.
After extensive consultations, the pilot asked authorities to remove the imams for questioning, which they did, releasing them later that day.
“The pilot did what he had to do,” passenger Rita Snelson of Maplewood told the Star Tribune. “I told the airline afterward, ‘Thank you for watching over us.’ ”
The imams’ lawsuit, however, asserts that US Airways and the MAC acted solely out of religious and ethnic discrimination. It includes 17 separate counts.
It also rehearses a catalogue of harms allegedly suffered by the imams, including fear, depression, mental pain and financial injury. They have not only endured exhaustion, humiliation and ridicule, but also have lost sleep and developed anxiety about flying.
Their lawsuit appears to be the latest component in a national campaign to intimidate airlines and government agencies from acting prudently to ensure passenger safety. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is advising the imams, is also calling for congressional hearings and promoting federal legislation to “end racial profiling” in air travel. If the legislation passes, airport personnel who disproportionately question passengers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern origin could be subject to sanctions.
But the most alarming aspect of the imams’ suit is buried in paragraph 21 of their complaint. It describes “John Doe” defendants whose identity the imams’ attorneys are still investigating. It reads: “Defendants ‘John Does’ were passengers … who contacted U.S. Airways to report the alleged ’suspicious’ behavior of Plaintiffs’ performing their prayer at the airport terminal.”
Paragraph 22 adds: “Plaintiffs will seek leave to amend this Complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting [these defendants’] liability … at such time as Plaintiffs ascertain the same.”
In plain English, the imams plan to sue the “John Does,” too.
Who are these unnamed culprits? The complaint describes them as “an older couple who was sitting [near the imams] and purposely turn[ed] around to watch” as they prayed. “The gentleman (’John Doe’) in the couple … picked up his cellular phone and made a phone call while watching the Plaintiffs pray,” then “moved to a corner” and “kept talking into his cellular phone.”
In retribution for this action, the unnamed couple probably will be dragged into court soon and face the prospect of hiring a lawyer, enduring hostile questioning and paying huge legal bills. The same fate could await other as-yet-unnamed passengers on the US Airways flight who came forward as witnesses.
The imams’ attempt to bully ordinary passengers marks an alarming new front in the war on airline security. Average folks, “John Does” like you and me, initially observed and reported the imams’ suspicious behavior on Nov. 20. Such people are our “first responders” against terrorism. But the imams’ suit may frighten such individuals into silence, as they seek to avoid the nightmare of being labeled bigots and named as defendants.
Ironically, on the day the imams filed their suit, a troubling internal memo came to light at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The memo revealed that our airport is at particular risk of terrorist attack because of its proximity to the Mall of America, its employment of relatively few security officers and other factors. The memo advised heightened vigilance to counter “this very real and deliberate threat.”
The imams may not be the only ones losing sleep and growing more afraid of flying.
So far, the airline is sticking to its guns. I haven’t seen the complaint, and I don’t know on what basis the imams presume to be claiming anything against the individual passengers. I am optimistic it will never survive dismissal.
Nor do I think passengers suspecting theyr flying with terrorists will choose death in a flying missile out of fear of lawsuits or being called bigots. If anything, passenger behavior since 9/11 has been a refreshing–if tragically necessary–exception to the trend of people avoiding doing the right thing because of fear of lawsuits.
From the desk of Marij Uijt den Bogaard on Tue, 2007-03-13 22:14
From 2003 to 2006 I worked as a civil servant in the Berchem borough of Antwerp, Flanders. Berchem is a multicultural neighbourhood with many immigrants of Turkish and Moroccan origin. My job was to promote the integration of these people and foster good relations between the different ethnic groups living in Berchem. Prior to 2003 I worked in Antwerp North, another neighbourhood with many immigrants.During the past years I noted how radical Islamists groups began to take over the immigrant neighbourhoods. I warned for this danger in my reports to the city authorities. The latter made it clear to me that they did not like my reports. They said my reports read like “Vlaams Belang tracts.” The VB is the local anti-immigration party. When I kept reporting about what I saw happening around me I was fired.
After my dismissal I wrote to the Antwerp city council:
“You employ workers to improve social cohesion in the city’s neighborhoods. But if you do not want to know what is damaging social cohesion, then you need not bother sending those workers!
“It is alarming that not a single politician in Antwerp is interested in the structural radicalization, the absence of women’s rights, the prevalence of domestic violence, the real reasons why Antwerp citizens of Turkish and Moroccan descent lag behind in education and employment.
“The notion that there could be a connection between religion and the social and economic situation of your ‘difficult to reach target groups’ is a complete taboo!
“You have no interest whatever in ascertaining the causes of street crime, which constitutes an environment where radical Islamist groups recruit followers. Worse, employees who are confronted with this problem and investigate are silently removed, losing their income and their reputation. That is censorship in the fashion of political dictatorships. As a former member of your services I am shocked to find myself in this position and to discover after years of service that you have no policy whatever, either political or with regard to your personnel.”
Recently I began to post articles about my experiences on the Dutch-language section of The Brussels Journal. Since then I have received threats from Islamists, warning me to stop. I will not stop because it is important that people know what is going on. I have many Muslims friends who are also opposed to the radicals. They keep me informed about what is going on, but cannot say this in public for fear of reprisals. As Theodore Dalrymple said: “On a micro-level people are now living in a totalitarian climate. In our Western societies. Within our Western societies there is a micro-totalitarian climate.” This is something we should not tolerate. If we do, we, too, will soon be living in a totalitarian society.
Europe is being confronted with a new challenge: Islam and its influence on political, social and economic policy. Muslims give different interpretations of what Islam means. Islam as a fixed doctrine does not exist. This makes dialogue with the Islamic community extremely difficult. To be sure, there are a certain number of tendencies which – depending on schools and traditions – claim to be interpretations of an Islamitic doctrine. But the very absence of a well defined doctrine makes Islam a Trojan horse. You have to wait to see what is inside, and the latter could be a big surprise. Unfortunately, a radical version of Islam is becoming dominant in Europe. It is the so-called “European Islam,” promoted by modern Islamic philosophers like Tariq Ramadan.
Extremist Muslim groups, such as the Salafists, find in Ramadan a defender of their range of thought. Considering the man’s background this is hardly strange. Ramadan’s maternal grandfather is Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and a source of inspiration for the distribution of Islam as a strict teaching. The Muslim Brotherhood is a worldwide organisation that puts the Quran above the law, with violence if need be. The organisation is forbidden in Egypt – all the more reason for a critical look at Ramadan’s message.
Ramadan describes his vision in a book called “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam”. The first sentence in this book is: “One day we shall go back to the source!” That sounds promising, but who are “we”? All Muslims or all humanity? This question is fascinating, because certain Muslims are convinced that this return to the “source,” obviously meaning the Islam, most certainly applies to all humanity and – depending on interpretation – must be achieved with gentle coercion or with straightforward violence.
An opinion that is alive worldwide among Muslims says that first there was Judaism, then Christianity and finally Islam. They claim that religion means evolution and that, hence, Islam is the final point, past Judaism and Christianity. Is this the return to the “source” to which Mr Ramadan refers? Like the Salafists, Ramadan sees a link between tradition and science. He claims to start from the Quran and Sunnah to arrive via the methodology of Islamic scientists at an enlightened version of Islam, based on a strict adherence to the sources and values of interpretation.
The Quran, however, is not a harmless book for people who are not Muslims. It says that people who do not convert to Islam deserve death and oppression. Does Ramadan’s allegiance to the sources extend to these verses as well? In his book Ramadan explains what Islam will mean for Europe socially, politically and economically. He dissects how Europe can adjust itself to Islam. Indeed, Islam is essentially a doctrine consisting of political, economic and social structures. Europeans think it is a religion, but it claims to be more. I agree with Ramadan that inside Europe we are witnessing to a revolution of youngsters and intellectuals who are looking for the means to live in harmony with their faith, while they also live in our society.
In 2004 a new organisation, called Youth for Islam (YfI), established itself in Berchem, the neighbourhood where I worked. YfI is a Salafist organisation. This means that they put Salaf, or the following of the road of Muhammed’s companions, at the centre of their lives. In other words, they return to the source, by letting their lives as much as possible be a reflection of the life of the prophet. In this the literal interpretation of the Quran is essential. Through attending summer camps, where they are instructed in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Sharia (Islamic law), youngsters are encouraged not to accept the laws of the Western country where they live, but the Quran.
What the Salafists teach cannot be reconciled with European values: the stoning of women, flogging, the repudiation of children whose fathers are not Muslims, etc., is in contradiction with European law. Those who ask young people living in Europe to follow the rules laid down in a 7th century manual are asking for problems and promote conflict. European law or culture is not compatible with Tariq Ramadan’s doctrine about Islam’s future in Europe.
Organisations like YfI in Antwerp, and similar groups in other European cities – and they are in the process of being established everywhere – have plenty of money. They are sponsored by billionaires in Jordan and Saudi-Arabia. Because they do not get – nor ask – subsidies from European authorities there is no control on their activities. As the YfI chairman told me, his organization does not ask for subsidies because it does not want to be controlled.
In Ramadan’s orthodox Salafist opinion, Europe’s Muslim youths must refuse to come into contact with non-Islamic environments. They have to isolate themselves from Western influences. This is exactly what YfI does. Once they had rented the Berchem conference hall for a lecture and there happened to be a simultaneous exhibition of photography in the entrance hall. I saw how they turned all the “indecent” pictures round and how the great hall where the lecture was held was divided into two sections by curtains: the women had to sit behind the curtains, not visible for the men.
Mr. Ramadan will say that this is exactly how it should be because of Quran regulations. Such conduct however, is not correct according to our European principles. Ramadan’s “European Islam” has not in the least been influenced by European values. I am not a philosopher nor a scientist, as Ramadan, who currently lectures at Rotterdam University, pretends to be. I wonder, however, whether the West should allow Islamists the right to undermine our legal system by advocating the primacy of Islamic law and the imposition of the Sharia in Europe. Why do we have to allow separate swimming hours for Muslim women in public swimming pools? Why do we allow it? Why has Ramadan been given a lectureship at Rotterdam university?
I know many of the Berchem youths who have been hooked by YfI. I know their parents, their families. Like other youths, these youths are searching for an identity. Caught between the traditions and beliefs of their culture and the expectations of Western society, they have problems integrating and do badly economically as well as socially. Can Mr Ramadan’s vision ameliorate their situation? Or is he isolating them even more?
According to the Salafists non-Muslims are lesser people. By saying this they justify the behaviour of young Muslim criminals who target the non-Muslims whilst they never touch fellow Muslims. They told me that drug trafficking is perfectly acceptable as long as one only sells to non-Muslims. They told me that stealing from non-Muslims is allowed as long as one does not harm fellow Muslims. One day our office was burgled and our computers were stolen. All except the two computers belonging to our two Muslim colleagues. You don’t steal from brothers or sisters! The culprits were YfI-members.
Many victims of burglaries in houses and cars, of steaming and other forms of violence, can testify that aggression by Muslims is not directed against brothers and sisters, but against whoever is a kafir, a non-believer. Young Muslims justify their behaviour towards women who do not wear the headscarf, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, by referring to the Salafist teaching which says that these women are whores and should be treated as such. They told me this. I wrote it down in my reports, but the authorities refuse to hear it.
Of course Mr Ramadan disapproves of the young criminals’ behaviour. Of course the YfI leadership disapproves too. But I am convinced they are double-faced. In public, when talking to Westerners, such as the media and the authorities, they condemn the criminals, but they continue to spread the ideas which the criminals use to justify their acts.
Ramadan and the Salafists promote segregation. They tell Muslim women to turn down jobs where they are not allowed to wear the headscarf. They tell young men and women not to go and work in banks, restaurants, hospitals, because the Quran prohibits lending money against interest, forbids alcohol, and instructs people not to touch human beings of the opposite sex. Increasingly the Shariah dictates how a growing number of European citizens lives. It is also beginning to dictate how we have to behave, what cartoons we are allowed to draw, what food we are allowed to eat, what operas we are allowed to see.
Muslims radicals object to a play because the head of a Muhammed puppet is cut off, but at the same time they approve the beheading of journalists in Iraq. Organisations like YfI claim the former is a Western provocation, while the latter is in accordance with the divine right of Dar al harb, the “house of war.” Ramadan and the Salafists teach the Muslim youths that they have the right to demand that our society will adjust to them, but they are unwilling to respect us.
In my opinion Muslims are welcome to live in Europe, but only if they show respect for our culture and history. Mr Ramadan’s philosophy does not offer us anything of value. Just look at the sorrowful conditions of many Muslims in Islamic states. These people flee their own countries and come to the West, where they demand that their way of life be introduced here. Indeed, Tariq Ramadan’s book “Western Muslims and the future of Islam” would never have been written if Muslims had not en masse left their own countries searching for a better life in Europe than in the countries where Islam dictates the political, economic and social structures. We must be aware that Ramadan’s “European Islam” is a Trojan horse in our midst. If Western authorities remain blind to this, it may soon be too late.
Room with a View: Al-Qaeda Thanks Rosie
March 16, 2007 01:00 PM EST
Rosie O’Donnell has done a lot for the hen-house gals over at The View: she got their ratings to jump when she feigned a comb-over with her splint ended bull dyke hair and the world waited with baited breath to see how Barbara Walters would react when Donald Trump revealed that Walters was embarrassed by O’Donnell’s behavior. The best thing to happen for ABC, though, had to happen when Rosie brought in the latest group of View supporters: GITMO prisoners and as the television show of choice for al-Qaeda safe houses around the world.
How happy ABC must be that the woman they’ve decided to sit at the adult (or thinning – you decide) end of the table is the one that would be most likely to come to the defense of the mastermind of the attack that killed thousands of people just miles from the studio. If The View being made the morning program of choice for the death to America crowd isn’t enough – there is not much else that can be done to let ABC know that having an America hating hen at the table is unacceptable to rational people.
On Saturday Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to a litany of terrorist events – some happened and some didn’t. One event that surely was successful was September 11, 2001 for which Mohammed told a military tribunal, “I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z.” His confession was not enough for ABC’s O’Donnell who is unconvinced.
O’Donnell dismisses Mohammed’s outlined specifics about the acts of war against America that ranged from the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan to attacks that never came to fruitarian because of either good law enforcement or dumb luck by talking bad about America. her complaint is (what else) torture, oh and that Mohammed had a bad picture. Note to law enforcement – bad pictures may be enough to sway a hen even after a terrorist makes a confession.
Admitting to 31 actual or would be terrorist attacks is not enough for O’Donnell because shortly after the show began and the gals began their roundtable clucking of banter Rosie decided to defend a terrorist. “I think the man has been under custody in secret CIA torture prisons and Guantanamo Bay where torture is accepted and allowed – and he finally is the guy who admits to doing everything.”
Leave it to Rosie, who cannot use malnutrition or an eating disorder as an excuse for poor thinking or an inability to speak in a coherent manner, to come to the defense of a killer; someone that we know is a killer, Bill Clinton knew was a killer and who even the Pakistanis agree is a killer.
I suppose it is easy when you have a couple of chins not to worry about having your throat cut, but I hope Rosie is aware that the next time terrorists come calling to New York – al-Qaeda is not going to chopper her to a secret location in advance. These people are dead set on killing us and have been doing it for decades – Rosie becoming their spokes model will not change that.
Terrorists are not going to remember the day that Rosie came to the defense of one of their own on ABC just down the street from their most successful death to America rallying points. Rosie will die right along with everyone else.
The people who will and should remember the day Rosie sided with al-Qaeda are the American people who see first hand what ABC’s morning show has to offer. With the possible exception of Elisabeth Hasselbeck (a more rational member of the clucking foursome) ABC’s morning line-up includes a group of women who sit around and chat with coffee cups; it was cute when they did it and made fun of Donald Trump because nobody really cares about him; I do care when they cluck about terrorists and pretend that America is the bad guy.
Unfortunately ABC allowed O’Donnell to begin her morning diatribe against America by pretending that Mohammed is just a guy that turned up on a police raid instead of someone that was sought for years for his role in killing Americans and that the Clinton administration helped indict six years before the Towers fell in 2001. What O’Donnell lacks in intelligence and finesse (and probably mothering skills and obviously grammar) she more than makes up for in stupid inferences that America is somehow to blame for the evil that reeks in Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The best part of The View, something I was compelled to watch because of the mixed company in the auto dealership I happened to be in having my tires rotated (I should have called Rosie, I hear lesbians are good with their hands), was not listening in to conversations that didn’t include me (I’m Jewish – nosey by nature). It was when I realized that women in the room just sat at the edges of their seat listening to O’Donnell blame America for how Mohammed looked shaking their heads.
“And look, this is the picture they release of him. Doesn’t he look healthy?” If looking healthy means looking like you weigh as much as Rosie on the day of your arrest then yeah, I guess he looks healthy since all that is shown is his arrest photo.
The point is that ABC has in Rosie O’Donnell a woman who is not satisfied talking about Donald Trump; she has decided that her ire should be placed on the United States and her sympathy should go to the man who was once in the leadership of the people who would nuke us if they had the chance. As long as ABC signs her paycheck and as long as Americans keep watching she will just keep on saying the nutty anti-American things she does with little challenge.
I make my living in the First Amendment business and I thank G-d for it everyday, but the message should be sent to ABC that when you’re going to have a bunch of women sitting around as a captive audience to hear what Rosie will say next – you should hope that you distance yourself when she shows compassion not for the widows of 9-11 or their children, but the man who helped make it happen.
To be a terrorist is to be a coward. Deliberately targeting unarmed civilians is the most craven of crimes. But when the objective is the bloody death of our offspring, itis even worse. There can surely be no viler plot. Will anyone ever forget those stark September 2004 images of Russian school children butchered by low-life Chechen terrorists in Beslan? I won’t.
Yesterday, the Associated Press begrudgedly brought that horror potentially closer to home when it reported that:
“Members of extremist groups have signed up as school bus drivers in the United States, counterterror officials said Friday, in a cautionary bulletin to police.”
In classic cowardly AP fashion, the article concludes that it’s not “immediately clear” what the extremists “intended to do” with the school buses.
The editor of the Rome Sentinel in upstate New York has done a fine three part analysis of the Plame matter. Isn’t it something to realize that as our major media do such a terrible job on this story, and one small paper can put them all to shame?
Webs of incompetence, deceit and politics
The Wilson/Plame/Libby episode may seem distant, but local readers should learn about it because it exposes low-level abuse as poisonous as the graffiti and petty crime that corrupted New York City in the early 1990s until people became fed up enough to do something about it. What you tolerate is what you live with. Three successive editorials will expose misbehavior: 1) the web of incompetence, 2) the web of deceit, and 3) the web of politics. The abuse will continue so long as you tolerate it.
“The US Department of Justice’s civil rights division filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the New York Department of Correctional Services alleging the city’s prisons discriminated against Muslim officers by barring them from wearing visible symbols of their faith on the job.The suit was filed Thursday in Manhattan on behalf of Abdus Samad N. Haqq, a prison guard from Brooklyn who was ordered in 2005 to stop wearing a kufi – a knitted skullcap that carries religious significance for many Muslim men – while at work.
‘Americans are not required to abandon their religious beliefs when they report for work,’ said Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim in a statement announcing the lawsuit.” — from this article
The right to “free exercise” of religion is not absolute. But the first question might be the one that the Supreme Court has never dared to discuss: what constitutes a “religion” for First Amendment purposes? Islam is a belief-system with many followers — far more than David Koresh had, or that Koolaid man who had so many of his truest believers killed in their Guyana redoubt. Does that mean it is not a “cult”? Does it exhibit any of the features of a “cult”? For example, does a belief-system that punishes by death those who wish to leave it constitute a “cult”? In other words, is a belief-system a “cult” if it does not allow for the free exercise of religion or of conscience, either by those who through no fault of their own were born into it or by those who, perhaps out of a colossal misunderstanding or Serial Search for Meaning Bus that happened to make a stop at “Islam” where someone hastily got off, then found he (or she) was not allowed to get back on that bus the next time it happened to be passing through?
This belief-system is not merely about the worship of some deity, single or plural. It also contains an entire and comprehensive system for the Regulation of Life, and for the Explanation of the Universe. Those may be unpleasant, but they are not necessarily direct threats to Unbelievers. It also contains a geopolitical system which is based on the perceived and inculcated division of the world between Believers and Infidels (that is, all non-Muslims), between the lands controlled by the former, Dar al-Islam, and the lands still controlled by the Infidels, Dar al-Harb (the House of War). That war is made necessary by the failure of those Infidels to allow the “Peace” of Islam to descend, as it ultimately must, over all the world. This belief-system mandates as a duty participation in the Jihad (struggle) to remove all obstacles everywhere, put up by Infidels, to the natural spread of Islam — until everywhere Islam dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere. Muhammad said it for all time: “Islam is to dominate, and is not to be dominated.”
When the First Amendment became essentially part of the Constitution, along with the rest of what is often referred to as the Bill of Rights, back in 1791, the Framers never contemplated Islam as a presence in this country. It made no sense. Muslims could not themselves endure living under the rule of non-Muslims. It was unthinkable that agents or adherents of Islam, ever since its birth the historic enemy of Western Christendom and in its own essence a belief-system unalterably opposed to the essence of Western Civilization, with its emphasis on the individual, and the rights of that individual, and on mental freedom, and free artistic expression, and on so much else that is inimical to Islam, would come here in large numbers. Few could have imagined Muslims in this country, attempting to undermine, as they do everywhere in what they call the Bilad al-kufr, the Land of Unbelief or Lands of the Infidels, the legal and political and moral foundations and institutions that embody them.
The generally accepted view of Islam — the one that not only was to be found in the established churches, but in the newer ones, and not only in the churches but in the views of the deists and freethinkers — by Spinoza, Hume, John Wesley, as later by Mill, and Tocqueville, was best articulated by that great statesman, the learned man, John Quincy Adams. Google “John Quincy Adams” and “Islam” for his analysis. What strikes one is that there was a keen understanding of Islam in the earliest days of the American Republic, but since the 1920s, more or less, there has been a steady falling off — possibly as the result of a decline in the level of intelligence in our political class and the abdication of responsibility by a cultural elite that has itself now been forcibly disbanded by the levelling influences that, for some reason, do noting about growing banana-republic levels of economic inequality that stagger and dismay, but channel all the levelling impulses into the area where they should never have a place — in the fields of education, art, and culture. The current crew of “taking-a-leadership-role” leaders exhibit all this, as does Bush with his shallow and ignorant messianism — bringing “freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” all over the Middle East, with the thermostat finally turned down from hot to temperature levels a little more acceptably laodicean in Tarbaby Iraq.
But even if we are forced for American Constitutional purposes to accept the notion that the belief-system of Islam is a “religion,” even as we never let up in challenging the basis for that characterization, we need not conclude that the Free Exercise clause is absolute and that it can permit Muslims to refuse to abide by all sorts of rules that are deemed necessary.
A series of cases has upheld as constitutional various infringements on the Free Exercise of religion. In Goldman v. Weinberger, for example, the ban in the Air Force on pilots wearing certain headgear — in this case, a yarmulke or kippah — was upheld, for the Air Force rule was demonstrated to make sense in furtherance of an important state interest. In Employment Division v. Smith, the claim that the smoking of peyote was part of a religious ritual, and could not be subject to the law, was denied because the law itself met a new test — the “rule of general applicability.”
There have been more recent statutes, passed by those who wish to limit the scope of what they see as government infringement on Free Exercise, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and something known as RLUIPA, the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” — but here I don’t have the time to investigate and find out the current tests employed. But surely, in prisons, the state has a large claim to be able to regulate, for security reasons, all kinds of things.
But the statement by Wan J. Kim that “Americans are not required to abandon their religious beliefs when they report to work” is a false statement of the case. No guard is being required to “abandon” his beliefs. Unlike in Islam, in this country there really is “no compulsion in religion.” But when the Air Force says that a kippah may not be worn, or for that matter a Sikh turban, it is not requiring Jewish or Sikh pilots to “abandon their religious beliefs.” We know perfectly well that beliefs can be maintained, but that certain practices — for example, any religion that had sacrifice of children, or vestal virgins deliberately divested, or any variant on the burnt-offering problem, would not be permitted to continue, even though those who believe in them would not, in being forced to end such practices, have been forced to “abandon their religious beliefs.”
The remark by Wan Kim was silly and dangerous. There are places, above all others, where the state can justify its putting limits, not on beliefs, but on certain practices including outward and visible signs of one’s adherence to this or that belief-system: in the military and in prisons, certainly.
The obvious self-identification of a guard as a Muslim might intimidate or worry non-Muslim prisoners. Similarly, it might be a signal to Muslim prisoners that they may be favored by this fellow member of the umma al-islamiyya, who has been taught that his loyalty is owed entirely to fellow members of that umma, and not to the Infidel nation-state. But American prisons cannot have guards who signal such loyalties to the prisoners. Furthermore, in prisons there is a well-financed and carefully targetted campaign of Da’wa. The evidence for this is overwhelming: this Da’wa is an instrument of Jihad. Such campaigns are taking place in prisons all over North America and Western Europe. There is a special effort made to recruit those deemed, as members of racial or certain ethnic minorities, particularly susceptible to the idea of Islam as the current vehicle of protest, or of alienation, or of hatred, of the “System.”
If guards were allowed to parade their adherence to Islam, it is possible that some of the prisoners, considering whether to convert to Islam, might think that would be a way to please those guards or to win favors that they are unlikely to win from non-Muslim guards, who show no special loyalty to “Christian” or other prisoners, but are just doing their job. It is this aspect that is perhaps most worrisome: the outward display by guards of their belonging to the umma may support those campaigns of Da’wa in prisons –and this must not be permitted.