Thompson predicts immigration bill will fail

Thompson predicts immigration bill will fail

CHICAGO – The immigration reform bill worked out late last week by Senate Republicans and Democrats will likely fail, former senator and possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson said here Sunday.

Thompson, speaking at the National Restaurant Association annual show, said the bill will not win the support of the American people because they don’t trust senators’ promises to block illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

“Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of the lack of credibility our government has these days,” said Thompson, who was greeted with hoots and applause from the 2,300 convention attendees who filled a ballroom at the McCormick Place convention center.

Thompson also was harshly critical of China, saying the military and economic threat the country poses is among the critical issues – along with untamed growth in entitlement spending – that are not being dealt with while the U.S. is fixated on the war in Iraq.

“I call it ‘The Day After Iraq,’ ” Thompson said. “It’s not a pretty picture.”

He said China is “making deals with every bloodthirsty dictator they can” to feed its growing economy’s need for energy.

Thompson made the meatier comments during the question-and-answer session with audience members, which followed a 45-minute tale of his path from Tennessee lawyer to Watergate prosecutor, to actor and Republican senator.

Dressed in a black suit, the towering Thompson casually leaned into the lectern and wandered away from it as he spoke in a laid-back style that was almost inaudible at times. Other times his responses were somewhat jumbled. But the crowd of restaurant professionals ate it up, giving Thompson a standing ovation as he entered and another when his remarks ended.

Kevin Mundy, who works for a Maryland restaurant company, said he thought Thompson was “being real.”

“It’s just what the country is looking for – somebody who is going to cut through the political jargon and get to the point,” Mundy said.

Rebecca Eastham, a hotel management teacher at Oklahoma State University, found Thompson “genuine and down home.”

The crowd even cheered when Thompson admitted to a questioner that he didn’t know much about Indian gaming and “wasn’t going to soft-shoe” on the issue.

Among the loudest ovations came when the possibility of Thompson running for president was mentioned.

On that subject, Thompson remained coy, while saying he was not being coy. Current speculation has Thompson making a decision in mid-June, a timetable that he did not dispute when one of his questioners suggested it.

The idea that it was too late to get into the race that now has 10 Republican candidates is “baloney,” he said.

But he conceded that, to have a chance a candidate, he must enter the race “in a decent time.”

Thompson’s next speech is scheduled for June 3 at a Virginia Republican Party gala in Richmond, two days before the next GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire.

Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq

Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US

 out of Iraq

Simon Tisdall
Tuesday May 22, 2007
The Guardian

US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad
US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad. Photograph: Sean Smith
 

Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.”Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it’s a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces,” a senior US official in Baghdad warned. “They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government].”

Article continues



The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran’s Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. “We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus’s report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush’s controversial, six-month security “surge” of 30,000 troop reinforcements],” the official said.”Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that’s been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we’ve turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid,” the official said.

“It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Iran- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister.”

Iran has maintained close links to Iraq’s Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents.

US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban’s campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

Tehran’s strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.

“Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border,” the official said.

Any US decision to retaliate against Iran on its own territory could be taken only at the highest political level in Washington, the official said. But he indicated that American patience was wearing thin.

Warning that the US was “absolutely determined” to hit back hard wherever it was challenged by Iranian proxies or agents inside Iraq, he cited the case of five alleged members of the Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds force detained in Irbil in January. Despite strenuous protests from Tehran, which claims the men are diplomats, they have still not been released.

“Tehran is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They’re betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don’t trust,” a senior administration official in Washington said. “They don’t know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they’re hedging their bets.”

The administration official also claimed that notwithstanding recent US and British overtures, Syria was still collaborating closely with Iran’s strategy in Iraq.

“80% to 90%” of the foreign jihadis entering Iraq were doing so from Syrian territory, he said.

Despite recent diplomatic contacts, and an agreement to hold bilateral talks at ambassadorial level in Baghdad next week, US officials say there has been no let-up in hostile Iranian activities, including continuing support for violence, weapons smuggling and training.

“Iran is perpetuating the cycle of sectarian violence through support for extra-judicial killing and murder cells. They bring Iraqi militia members and insurgent groups into Iran for training and then help infiltrate them back into the country. We have plenty of evidence from a variety of sources. There’s no argument about that. That’s just a fact,” the senior official in Baghdad said.

In trying to force an American retreat, Iran’s hardline leadership also hoped to bring about a humiliating political and diplomatic defeat for the US that would reduce Washington’s regional influence while increasing Tehran’s own.

But if Iran succeeded in “prematurely” driving US and British forces out of Iraq, the likely result would be a “colossal humanitarian disaster” and possible regional war drawing in the Sunni Arab Gulf states, Syria and Turkey, he said.

Despite such concerns, or because of them, the US welcomed the chance to talk to Iran, the senior administration official said. “Our agenda starts with force protection in Iraq,” he said. But there were many other Iraq-related issues to be discussed. Recent pressure had shown that Iran’s behaviour could be modified, the official claimed: “Last winter they were literally getting away with murder.”

But tougher action by security forces in Iraq against Iranian agents and networks, the dispatch of an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf and UN security council resolutions imposing sanctions had given Tehran pause, he said.

Washington analysts and commentators predict that Gen Petraeus’s report to the White House and Congress in early September will be a pivotal moment in the history of the four-and-a-half-year war – and a decision to begin a troop drawdown or continue with the surge policy will hinge on the outcome. Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress believe Iraq is in the grip of a civil war and that there is little that a continuing military presence can achieve. “Political will has already failed. It’s over,” a former Bush administration official said.

A senior adviser to Gen Petraeus reported this month that the surge had reduced violence, especially sectarian killings, in the Baghdad area and Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the adviser admitted that much of the trouble had merely moved elsewhere, “resulting in spikes of activity in Diyala [to the north] and some areas to the south of the capital”. “Overall violence is at about the same level [as when the surge began in February].”

Iranian officials flatly deny US and British allegations of involvement in internal violence in Iraq or in attacks on coalition forces. Interviewed in Tehran recently, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs with primary responsibility for Iran’s policy in Iraq, said: “We believe it would be to the benefit of both the occupiers and the Iraqi people that they [the coalition forces] withdraw immediately.”

Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq

Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US

 out of Iraq

Simon Tisdall
Tuesday May 22, 2007
The Guardian

US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad
US soldiers visit an Iraqi army base in Amiriya, a Sunni neighbourhood in west Baghdad. Photograph: Sean Smith
 

Iran is secretly forging ties with al-Qaida elements and Sunni Arab militias in Iraq in preparation for a summer showdown with coalition forces intended to tip a wavering US Congress into voting for full military withdrawal, US officials say.”Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq and it’s a very dangerous course for them to be following. They are already committing daily acts of war against US and British forces,” a senior US official in Baghdad warned. “They [Iran] are behind a lot of high-profile attacks meant to undermine US will and British will, such as the rocket attacks on Basra palace and the Green Zone [in Baghdad]. The attacks are directed by the Revolutionary Guard who are connected right to the top [of the Iranian government].”

Article continues



The official said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran’s Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat. “We expect that al-Qaida and Iran will both attempt to increase the propaganda and increase the violence prior to Petraeus’s report in September [when the US commander General David Petraeus will report to Congress on President George Bush’s controversial, six-month security “surge” of 30,000 troop reinforcements],” the official said.”Certainly it [the violence] is going to pick up from their side. There is significant latent capability in Iraq, especially Iranian-sponsored capability. They can turn it up whenever they want. You can see that from the pre-positioning that’s been going on and the huge stockpiles of Iranian weapons that we’ve turned up in the last couple of months. The relationships between Iran and groups like al-Qaida are very fluid,” the official said.

“It often comes down to individuals, and people constantly move around. For instance, the Sunni Arab so-called resistance groups use Salafi jihadist ideology for their own purposes. But the whole Iran- al-Qaida linkup is very sinister.”

Iran has maintained close links to Iraq’s Shia political parties and militias but has previously eschewed collaboration with al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents.

US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban’s campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.

Tehran’s strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.

“Their strategy takes into account all these various parties. Iran is playing all these different factions to maximise its future control and maximise US and British difficulties. Their co-conspirator is Syria which is allowing the takfirists [fundamentalist Salafi jihadis] to come across the border,” the official said.

Any US decision to retaliate against Iran on its own territory could be taken only at the highest political level in Washington, the official said. But he indicated that American patience was wearing thin.

Warning that the US was “absolutely determined” to hit back hard wherever it was challenged by Iranian proxies or agents inside Iraq, he cited the case of five alleged members of the Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds force detained in Irbil in January. Despite strenuous protests from Tehran, which claims the men are diplomats, they have still not been released.

“Tehran is behaving like a racecourse gambler. They’re betting on all the horses in the race, even on people they fundamentally don’t trust,” a senior administration official in Washington said. “They don’t know what the outcome will be in Iraq. So they’re hedging their bets.”

The administration official also claimed that notwithstanding recent US and British overtures, Syria was still collaborating closely with Iran’s strategy in Iraq.

“80% to 90%” of the foreign jihadis entering Iraq were doing so from Syrian territory, he said.

Despite recent diplomatic contacts, and an agreement to hold bilateral talks at ambassadorial level in Baghdad next week, US officials say there has been no let-up in hostile Iranian activities, including continuing support for violence, weapons smuggling and training.

“Iran is perpetuating the cycle of sectarian violence through support for extra-judicial killing and murder cells. They bring Iraqi militia members and insurgent groups into Iran for training and then help infiltrate them back into the country. We have plenty of evidence from a variety of sources. There’s no argument about that. That’s just a fact,” the senior official in Baghdad said.

In trying to force an American retreat, Iran’s hardline leadership also hoped to bring about a humiliating political and diplomatic defeat for the US that would reduce Washington’s regional influence while increasing Tehran’s own.

But if Iran succeeded in “prematurely” driving US and British forces out of Iraq, the likely result would be a “colossal humanitarian disaster” and possible regional war drawing in the Sunni Arab Gulf states, Syria and Turkey, he said.

Despite such concerns, or because of them, the US welcomed the chance to talk to Iran, the senior administration official said. “Our agenda starts with force protection in Iraq,” he said. But there were many other Iraq-related issues to be discussed. Recent pressure had shown that Iran’s behaviour could be modified, the official claimed: “Last winter they were literally getting away with murder.”

But tougher action by security forces in Iraq against Iranian agents and networks, the dispatch of an additional aircraft carrier group to the Gulf and UN security council resolutions imposing sanctions had given Tehran pause, he said.

Washington analysts and commentators predict that Gen Petraeus’s report to the White House and Congress in early September will be a pivotal moment in the history of the four-and-a-half-year war – and a decision to begin a troop drawdown or continue with the surge policy will hinge on the outcome. Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress believe Iraq is in the grip of a civil war and that there is little that a continuing military presence can achieve. “Political will has already failed. It’s over,” a former Bush administration official said.

A senior adviser to Gen Petraeus reported this month that the surge had reduced violence, especially sectarian killings, in the Baghdad area and Sunni-dominated Anbar province. But the adviser admitted that much of the trouble had merely moved elsewhere, “resulting in spikes of activity in Diyala [to the north] and some areas to the south of the capital”. “Overall violence is at about the same level [as when the surge began in February].”

Iranian officials flatly deny US and British allegations of involvement in internal violence in Iraq or in attacks on coalition forces. Interviewed in Tehran recently, Mohammad Reza Bagheri, deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs with primary responsibility for Iran’s policy in Iraq, said: “We believe it would be to the benefit of both the occupiers and the Iraqi people that they [the coalition forces] withdraw immediately.”

Death toll mounts as Lebanon troops pound Islamists

Death toll mounts as Lebanon troops pound Islamists

Ramzi Haidar
AFP

May 21, 2007

NAHR AL BARED, Lebanon —  Lebanese troops bombarded Islamist militiamen with tank shells and heavy artillery Monday, the second day of the bloodiest internal fighting since the civil war that has now left 55 people dead and raised fears about Lebanon’s fragile security. Nine civilians were killed in heavy shelling of a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, besieged by soldiers in tanks who are battling militants from the shadowy Sunni group Fatah Al Islam, a camp medic said.

Huge plumes of thick black smoke billowed into the sky over the Nahr Al Bared camp, which has been turned into a war zone by ferocious gunbattles between soldiers and Fatah Al Islam, a group accused of links to Al Qaeda and Syrian intelligence services.

Fears were mounting of a humanitarian crisis in the camp, a coastal shantytown of narrow alleyways where rescue workers were struggling to evacuate the dead and wounded, and buildings were bombed out and power supplies cut.

The international community condemned the violence and voiced support for the Lebanese government’s efforts to restore order after 46 people were killed Sunday alone.

As warships patrolled nearby coastal waters, troops were locked in heavy exchanges of artillery and machinegun fire, and a military spokesman said the army had extended its control to all camp entrances.

But Fatah Al Islam threatened to extend attacks beyond Tripoli if the army continues to pound its positions.

“The army is not only opening fire on us. It is shelling blindly. If this continues, we will carry the battle outside the city of Tripoli,” spokesman Abu Salim Taha said.

Officials voiced fears about the plight of refugees trapped in the camp, where the Red Cross was able to evacuate about 17 people during a brief lull in the fighting.

“We are deeply concerned about the developing humanitarian crisis, particularly the danger to civilian lives,” UN Palestinian refugee agency director Richard Cook said.

Doctors described seeing bodies strewn on the streets of Nahr Al Bared, which, like all refugee camps in Lebanon, remains outside the control of the government and in the hands of Palestinian factions.

“The electricity has been cut, there is not much water and the camp’s bakeries are shut,” said Hajj Rifaat, an official from the mainstream Palestinian movement, Fatah.

It is the worst explosion of violence – excluding warfare with Israel – since the 1975 to 1990 civil war and has raised fears about the stability of multi-confessional Lebanon, already in the grip of an acute political crisis.

A 63-year-old woman was also killed and 10 people wounded in a bomb blast in a Christian area of Beirut Sunday.

Over the past two years, the country has been rocked by a string of attacks, many targeting critics of the regime in neighboring Syria, which still has political clout in Lebanon despite pulling out its troops in 2005.

The gunbattles erupted at dawn Sunday after Fatah Al Islam ambushed an army post outside the camp, and spread to Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli where troops were staging an assault on a building where fighters were holed up.

That day, 27 soldiers and 17 gunmen were reported killed, in addition to a civilian and a refugee in Nahr Al Bared, home to about 30,000 of Lebanon’s estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees.

A security official said government forces found the bodies of 10 Islamists, including Saddam Hajj Dib who was wanted over a plot to blow up trains in Germany last July, in the building stormed Sunday.

Another was identifed as Abu Yazan, Fatah Al Islam’s number three, accused of responsibility for bus bombings in February that killed three people.

Officials from the main Palestinian factions – which deny any links with Fatah Al Islam – offered to help crush the militiants in talks with Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.

“We hope to cooperate in order to eliminate the Fatah Al Islam phenomenon, on the condition innocent civilians do not pay a high price,” said Abbas Ziki, Lebanon representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Siniora, whose Western-backed government has been paralyzed for months by feuding between opponents of former power broker Damascus and pro-Syrian factions, said the government was determined to enforce law and order across all of Lebanon.

“We will not allow anyone to harm our unity,” he said Sunday.

The German presidency of the European Union condemned the bloodshed and called for the disarmament of militias in Lebanon while France voiced solidarity with the government.

“We call on all parties to avoid a further escalation of the conflict. We cannot allow Lebanon to be sucked into a spiral of violence again,” said German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger.

Saudi Arabia, Lebanon’s biggest foreign financier, also said it deplored the violence.

Lebanese authorities have accused Fatah Al Islam, inspired ideologically by Osama Bin Laden’s network, of working for the Syrian intelligence services, which Damascus has denied.

It is headed by Shaker Abssi, said to be linked to former Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who was killed in a US raid in 2006.

Thought For The Day

Thought For The Day

“One thing you can’t hide, is when you’re crippled inside.”
– John Lennon

Could that be why “wraithlike” is always the most appropriate term to describe how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid look in any photograph? And why Murtha also always looks fat but ghostlike, sorta dead maybe, with the added touches of dissolute, dissipated and, often, insane? I mean, come on. If photographs of people who were spritually bankrupt, empty, dead, were going to exist, tell me they wouldn’t look like these folks. Think about it. Photo after photo, same story…

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Posted by Pat Dollard 30 Comments

Israel Preparing for War

Israel Preparing for War

Israel’s failed government may be asleep at the switch, as we recently reported, but its military and intelligence agencies are preparing for the worst: escalating rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza and a fresh outbreak of provocative assaults from Iran’s Lebanese proxy army, Hezbollah, leading to all-out war with the two terrorist groups, their ally, Syria, and possibly also Iran itself, which is stirring the Middle East pot to divert attention from Tehran’s covert nuclear arms program.

As shown by last year’s disastrous Lebanese war, the stakes are extremely high. Coordinated missile barrages could level Israeli cities and towns; Syrian chemical and Iranian radioactive dirty bomb attacks could cripple the Jewish state. An Iranian nuclear strike could destroy Israel. Iran has probably not yet developed nuclear weapons; but the possibility that the Hitler-admiring (but Holocaust denying) Islamist regime may have acquired one or more atomic warheads can’t be ruled out.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to finish Hitler’s work. But Israel is not a defenseless community. Nor is Israel the United States, for that matter. Should its enemies attack, Israel will not again make the mistake of playing by unrealistic rules of engagement. Rather, the reborn Jewish state will move swiftly and decisively to end Iran’s monstrous mullahocracy and the regimes running Gazastan and Syria, regardless of the criticism from appeasement-advocating diplomats, journalists and academicians in the US and Europe. The Chamberlains and Quislings are in for a shock.

Dems Win, US Loses in Immigration Deal

Dems Win, US Loses in Immigration Deal
The Hill
Senate negotiators struck a long-awaited deal yesterday on a bipartisan immigration bill, but lawmakers’ elation may evaporate amid apparent stumbling blocks and dissension on both sides. Two senators engaged in the talks from the beginning, John Cornyn (R-TX) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), skipped the unveiling of the deal. Both have strong reservations about the compromise, according to staff sources. Even Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refrained from endorsing the bill, which presently tops 300 pages…Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), one of three Democratic and seven Republican negotiators who endorsed the deal in person, said the new pact should “get us beyond the motion to proceed.” “Changes may be made as it goes through the process, but overall, it’s a good beginning,” Salazar said. The bill contains a “trigger” that delays implementation of an earned path to citizenship for the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants until beefed-up border security is fully in place. A similar amendment that Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) had also offered to last year’s immigration bill fell far short, this time winning only six Democratic votes. Until the border security element is complete, illegal immigrants will receive a probationary document enabling them to remain in the country legally. After the border requirements are met, those immigrants can apply for four-year visas that are renewable — a significant win for Democrats…Another unfinished plank in the deal is “AgJobs,” the agricultural guest-worker program authored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Larry Craig (R-ID). Farm interests and unions support that language, but Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has not abandoned his push to add a prevailing-wage standard that immigrant-rights groups have fiercely opposed.
[read more]