By Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/27/2008
“If being used means that we’re highlighting the suffering of Iraqi children, or any children, then yes, we don’t mind being used.” – Rep. James McDermott, D-WA, on his 2002 trip to Iraq, financed by Saddam Hussein.
We’ve long contended the terrorists could not buy better representation than the Democratic Left gives them for free. We never knew how right we were.
The media revealed last night that Saddam Hussein personally funded the trip of three Democratic Congressmen to Iraq on the eve of the war that led to his ouster. Saddam’s Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) reportedly bribed an American Muslim activist with two million barrels of oil to arrange the fall 2002 trip for left-wing Congressmen Jim McDermott, D-WA; David Bonior, D-MI; and Mike Thompson, D-CA.
David Horowitz and I thoroughly chronicled the event in our new book, Party of Defeat. On September 29, 2002, the ignominious trio appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, via satellite hookup from foreign soil, to extol the truthfulness of Saddam Hussein, decry the already weakened sanctions imposed by the United Nations, and call President Bush a liar bent on war. David Bonior – who long served as House Democratic Whip, the second-highest ranking post in the House of Representatives – laid the blame squarely on the United States of America. Bonior denounced the regimen of multilateral sanctions, already weakened by the Oil for Food program, as “barbaric” and “horrific.” He backed this up with anecdotal evidence gleaned from the group’s well-supervised tour of Iraqi hospitals. Worse, the U.S. had been “trying to push and dictate” Iraq, namely by requiring its dictator verify his compliance with the cease-fire that ended the first Gulf War and the 17 UN resolutions he was currently defying. Although Saddam Hussein had frustrated all previous weapons inspections, Bonior blithely announced that he would now allow inspectors the “unrestricted” autonomy “to look anywhere.” (Of course, the inspectors’ job was not to play hide-and-seek with Iraq’s prewar WMD cache; it was to verify that he had destroyed all WMDs, as he had agreed to do as a precondition of peace in 1991.) Rep. James McDermott echoed that none of the arms imbroglio was the Iraqi regime’s fault, anyway, as “Iraq did not drive the inspectors out; we took them out.” Again, the United States was blaming the victim and punishing innocent children for her own misdeeds. When pressed about believing the promises of a murderous international pariah, McDermott said, “I think you have to take the Iraqis at their face value,” but he offered no such quarter to the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. “I think the president would mislead the American people,” he declared.
On the eve of the war, three sitting U.S. Congressmen treated Saddam Hussein as President Bush’s moral superior.
The Iraqi media multiplied the propaganda value of their visit. The Iraq Satellite Channel reported that the three were scheduled to “visit hospitals to see the suffering caused by the unjust embargo.” Yet the three expressed no regrets for acting as Saddam’s stooges. Jim McDermott told CNN’s Jane Arraf, “If being used means that we’re highlighting the suffering of Iraqi children, or any children, then yes, we don’t mind being used.”
Unholy Alliance, Meet the Party of Defeat
We now know they were indeed being used by a hostile leader with an anti-American agenda. They were also doing the bidding of a domestic fifth column inside the U.S. Islamist movement. The Associated Press has reported that federal officials have indicted Michigan Muslim activist Muthanna al-Hanooti for “conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, illegally purchasing Iraqi oil, and lying to authorities.” For seven years, Al-Hanooti worked for the Detroit-area Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development. Investigators say for the first three of those years, he moonlighted for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). According to the Detroit Free Press, al-Hanooti is also, coincidentally, “former head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations.” He is current president of Focus on American and Arab Interests and Relations. After his stint with Saddam, al-Hanooti went on to become a paid lobbyist for the Iraqi Islamic Party, whose “philosophy is based on the Islamic Shari’a”and which has praised the “heroic Iraqi resistance.” That such a man could operate smoothly in the U.S. Islamist movement speaks volumes about its radicalism.
The feds assert that al-Hanooti earned his money compiling lists of Congressmen favorable to lifting the sanctions against the Hussein regime. This confirms Charles Duelfer’s finding that Saddam Hussein plotted to get UN sanctions lifted, so that he could resume his relentless pursuit of WMDs. To underscore the ineffectiveness of those sanctions, Saddam paid al-Hanooti two million barrels of oil diverted from the Oil for Food program, which he serially abused for his personal aggrandizement and to influence foreign policymakers.
Useful Idiots from Central Casting
What is remarkable about Bonior, McDermott, and Thompson is that apparently no bribe was necessary to procure their services; their ideology placed them at odds with their own nation’s security.
The three had acted on this ideology before and after the 2002 junket to Baghdad. Following the first attack on the World Trace Center, Vermont Representative, and self-professed socialist, Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to cut a minimum of 10 percent of the funding of each intelligence agency ten times. David Bonior then Democratic Whip, voted for the Sanders amendment all 10 times. Bonior did all he could to end a 1990 FBI program to cultivate intelligence sources within the Muslim community…the kind of sources that could have prevented 9/11, or informed on al-Hanooti earlier. As a reward, Bonior received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Sami al-Arian.
Bonior left the Congress shortly thereafter, but “Baghdad Jim” stayed to carry on the good fight against his own country during the ensuing war. When U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, McDermott accused his miliary of complicity in a Republican war sham, saying they could have nabbed the Tikriti tyrant “a long time ago if the wanted.” After the New York Times and The Washington Post published articles disclosing the existence of classified anti-terrorism programs – the warrantless wiretapping of al-Qaeda partisans and the rendition of those captured, respectively – McDermott hailed the security breaches for “breaking through the administration’s secrecy.” Again, he blamed his own commander-in-chief, accusing President Bush of trying to impose “censorship”…of classified war techniques.
The Irrelevant Fallout
The history and ideological mania of the principals has long been known; only the official Iraqi sponsorship remained a mystery. Last night’s revelation leads to two conclusions:
First, the Democratic Party and its apologists will emphasize that the three Congressmen had no idea Saddam Hussein had financed their trip. They will point out it had been cleared by the appropriate offices of the U.S. government, shifting the blame to Bush administration bureaucracy. McDermott’s office has maintained the Washington State Democrat “thought the trip was put on by a Seattle church,”and a spokesman said the Congressman went only to observe “the plight of Iraqi children.” Rep. Thompson’s office has echoed that he had no knowledge of improprieties in the underwriting of his subversive sojourn.
It is almost certainly true that the three had no such knowledge. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd has stated that investigators “have no information whatsoever” to that effect. However, the government must make an exhaustive investigation to ascertain that this is the case.
Second, what the Left will obscure is the irrefutable fact that their prior knowledge is immaterial. The three knew beforehand that they were traveling to the capital of a nation, which had for years regularly fired on U.S. aircraft, as part of a tightly controlled tour of a dictatorship on the brink of defying its way into full-blown war with their constituents. And they shilled for the man who authorized the torture of rape of his children as though he had only their best interests at heart and as though he were prevented from expressing his immense love for his people only by heartless Republicans. After all, they deny health care to Americans; why wouldn’t they deny it to Iraqis?
In other words, when Third World dictators need someone to run interference, they know who to contact: leftist Democrats. Bonior, McDermott, and Thompson received nothing for their troubles, but al-Hanooti’s more than earned his bounty – yet as we note in Party of Defeat, “moderate” voices of the Democratic Party spoke not a word of condemnation. Democratic Minority Leader and 2004 presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt remarked merely that “every member has to reach…their own conclusion.” [sic.] When asked if he would condemn McDermott’s statements, conservative Texas Democrat and then-Congressman Martin Frost replied with a terse “No.”
When North Korean extremists need to stall for time to develop weapons for nuclear blackmail, they call Jimmy Carter. By 2004, the Axis of Evil nations endorsed John Kerry. On election eve, Osama bin Laden released a tape strongly influenced by Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, and his rhetoric since then has hewed closely to the Left’s party line – earning him an increasingly positive assessment from its membership.
Today, even as American troops are succeeding militarily via the surge strategy proposed by John McCain, the Democratic Left’s leadership demands unilateral withdrawal that would not merely maintain a thuggish and repressive, if stabilizing, status quo; it would vacate the battlefield, create a failed state, and give the perpetrators of 9/11 a new national base of operations.
But now, just as six years ago, certain leftists “don’t mind being used” by those with a thirst for massive bloodletting.
The Middle East’s Gathering Storm
By P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/26/2008
U.S. vice-president Richard Cheney and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert met twice in Jerusalem this week in talks described as “shrouded in mystery.” The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office didn’t even issue a statement; Olmert’s spokesman only said that Cheney and Olmert “discussed a range of issues, including the peace process, terrorism and threats to regional security.”
“Threats to regional security”—sounds a lot like Iran. One hopes the two leaders’ talks had enough seriousness to offset Cheney’s standard inanities in his joint Ramallah press conference with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday.
At that event Cheney said that terrorism and rockets kill not only innocent civilians but also “the legitimate hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people,” that the U.S. remained “strongly committed” to creating a Palestinian state that was “long overdue,” and that this would require “painful concessions on both sides.”
It was disappointing to hear Cheney imply that terrorism and rockets are malign foreign entities that somehow invade the Palestinian people and frustrate their hopes, and that the upshot of the Palestinians’ record particularly over the past 15 years—the latest installment being 84% of Palestinians approving the recent massacre of mostly teenage boys in a Jerusalem yeshiva—is not only unwavering U.S. commitment to sovereignty for this society but even impatience for this “long overdue” outcome.
It was also unclear what further “painful concessions” might be appropriate for Israel apart from the sacrifice of strategic land already leading to drastically increased terrorism and threats in what remains of its territory.
But if, as a loyal member of the administration of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, Cheney arguably had no choice but to spout the requisite nonsense in the Palestinian sphere, there is good reason to think his behind-closed-doors parleys with Olmert were more reality-oriented.
It wasn’t only Gen. David Petraeus saying on Monday that Iran was behind the rocket-and-mortar barrage on Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday. Also on Monday Israel ’s ynet publicized what it called “A secret report recently distributed among [Israeli] government ministries and local municipalities detail[ing] various wartime scenarios”—including how bad these could be even if Iran took part only by firing conventional missiles.
The report, according to ynet, envisages a war lasting about a month in which Israel would be bombarded from all sides— Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, plus Iran firing “a limited number of missiles rather than non-conventional weapons.” That would leave about 100-230 civilians dead and 1900-3200 wounded, along with “constantly bombed roads, nationwide power outages that last for long hours, and whole regions’ water supply being cut off.”
If, though, Israel was hit with chemical weapons as well, the estimated results would be a lot worse with 16,000 civilians killed and wounded, the state having to evacuate as many as 227,000 from their homes, and about 100,000 people asking to leave the country.
The report indicates that the Israeli authorities are at last waking up to the implications of years of territorial withdrawal and, mainly, passivity—strongly encouraged by U.S. administrations with their bipartisan obsession with the “peace process” and downsizing Israel —in the face of Israel’s growing encirclement by the Iranian-led axis that also includes Syria, Lebanon-based Hezbollah, and Gaza-based Hamas. The report also reflects how dangerous the situation has become even without Iranian nuclearization.
But that process is continuing whether or not it is included in a theoretical report, and yet another ramification is Egypt and Russia ’s imminent signing of a nuclear cooperation agreement.
Russia, which has almost finished building Iran ’s first nuclear plant in Bushehr, is eager to keep extending its influence in the Middle East and the Russian daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta says “Moscow particularly hopes that Cairo will return to buying Russian arms.” Egypt, for its part, joins fellow Arab countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, and Jordan in having expressed interest in nuclearization over the past year as part of a chain reaction set off by Iran’s march toward the bomb.
A renewed Iranian-backed escalation in Iraq, Israeli preparation for grim war scenarios, and the beginnings of all-out Middle Eastern nuclearization are just the latest offshoots of the unchecked advance of Iranian power. The question is whether, as the hour grows late, a lame-duck Bush administration and a feckless Olmert government—as well as other Western actors supposedly in the same camp—can still muster the will to do something about it.
|Obama as C-in-C?
Posted 03/24/2008 ET
The third week of March was not a good one for Barack Obama. The news cycle was dominated by tapes of the racist tirades of Jeremiah Wright, and by Obama’s efforts to distance himself from his long-time pastor and counselor.
Had the Wright tapes not emerged at that time, the news cycle might have been dominated by a speech that Obama delivered on March 19, 2008, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In it, he offered voters a sketch of what American foreign policy might look like under President Barack Obama.
Although Obama’s view of the world is not as twisted as his pastor’s view, it is every bit as troubling. And that view informs his foreign policy prescriptions. In the speech, Obama revealed several disturbing elements that would define his foreign policy.
The first is Obama’s view that Islamist Terrorism is caused by poverty and inequality. Obama initially expressed this idea when he was an Illinois State Senator who aspired to be a U.S. senator. Speaking to an anti-war rally in October 2002, Obama explained why he was opposed to going to war in Iraq. He now wears this speech on his sleeve as proof that he was always opposed to the war.
It certainly did reveal his opposition to the war, but it also revealed a shockingly naïve view of Islamist terrorism. He said: “Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East … stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.” According to Obama, the desire to carry out suicide attacks in the name of Islam stems from “poverty and despair.”
Never mind that many of Al Qaeda’s recruits have come from privileged backgrounds. And never mind that indoctrination in well-funded Wahabbi madrassa schools — not the lack of education — has produced thousands of jihadist fighters for al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Obama’s supposition that terrorists just want their governments to stop “oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent,” is even more nonsensical. His equation of Islamist terrorists to western freedom fighters betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the enemy. A President Obama would attempt to solve the problem by cajoling moderate Middle-Eastern government into allowing freer speech, broadening civil rights, and launching American-style anti-poverty programs.
This is, to quote Jeremy Bentham, “nonsense on stilts.” Islamist terrorists are not fighting for open, western-style democracies. They are fighting to impose Sharia law and silence all dissent. If anything, moderate Middle-Eastern governments are too open and too permissive, according to the Islamofacist worldview. Just ask the Iranians.
Three years in the senate have not cured Obama of his naivete. He continues to repeat this notion. On March 19, he insisted that America must invest “in education and opportunity” to defeat radical Islamism. It is as if Obama thinks that young men in Saudi Arabia join al Qaeda for the same reasons that young men in Chicago join a street gang. Scholarships and jobs won’t solve the problem.
The second element of Obama’s foreign policy flows from the first: his desire to send extraordinary amounts of economic assistance around the world to make Islamist terrorism go away. On March 19, he promised that he would double our economic assistance to foreign countries. He would also double the size of the Peace Corps. His view of international problems is a simplistic one: more American money means more American friends.
Obama opined with respect to Pakistan, “That is why we should dramatically increase our support for the Pakistani people — for education, economic development, and democratic institutions. That child in Pakistan must know that we want a better life for him, that America is on his side, and that his interest in opportunity is our interest as well.”
In Obama’s world, it’s that simple. Expose the kid in Pakistan to the audacity of hope, and he’ll reject militant Islamism forever. Obama failed to offer any examples of countries in which this strategy has succeeded. But why let experience get in the way “change we can believe in?”
The third element is one that we are all familiar with — Obama’s pledge to get our soldiers out of Iraq as soon as possible. On March 19, he not only promised to end the war immediately, he also laid out a specific timetable: “I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them in 16 months.”
I’m sure Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent organizations appreciate Obama’s willingness to provide a precise timetable for withdrawal. If they are lucky, he’ll soon explain which brigades will leave first and which operations in Iraq will be immediately halted.
It is the height of irresponsibility for any presidential candidate to publicly lay out such a detailed timetable. This facilitates terrorist planning and allows them to determine when to launch their next waves of attacks. It also offers hope to those insurgents who may be on the verge of surrender. Why give up now, when in January 2009, a precipitous U.S. withdrawal will begin?
So much for listening to the advice of our military commanders in Iraq. Obama has a schedule to keep. Just when things are going our way and the surge is working, Obama would impose his naïve, brigade-a-month timetable. If he succeeds, we may just snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Chaos and genocide would surely follow.
And what will Obama do to ensure stability in Iraq when the troops are gone? “We will engage with every country in the region—and the UN—to support the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq.” In other words, we will ask Iran and Syria to play nice. And by merely “engaging” with them, we will convince them to support a free, open and stable Iraq.
Apparently, Obama is so impressed by the power of his own words to charm swooning Democratic voters, he thinks that a few choice phrases will melt the hearts of Iranian and Syrian leaders.
The fourth element of Obama’s foreign policy will be to apologize to the rest of the world for American unilateralism and seek greater popularity in the international community. As Obama explained on March 19, “[O]ur alliances around the world have been strained.”
He didn’t offer any evidence for that assertion. Nor did he address recent developments to the contrary. French and German voters have elected the most pro-American governments in decades. Seven years of bombings by Islamist terrorists throughout Europe have hardened European leaders to the threat they face and have increased their cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism programs.
Ignoring such evidence, Obama constantly complains that America needs to change its image in the world. He seems to believe that America must tailor it foreign policy to win the approval of the champagne-swilling, globalist crowd at Davos.
How do we win greater popularity in the world? According to Obama, “This means closing Guantanamo, restoring habeas corpus, and respecting civil liberties.” Translation: bring Taliban fighters and other terrorists captured in Afghanistan to prisons inside United States, try them like garden-variety criminals in U.S. courts, and dramatically scale back U.S. surveillance of terrorist organizations. All of this, even though no court has found that anyone’s civil liberties have been violated.
The last President who saw it as his central mission to curry favor with the rest of the world was Jimmy Carter. It was during his presidency that Islamist extremism began to spread like a wildfire throughout the Middle East. Despite Carter’s winning smile, it became fashionable in the region to burn American flags. As the Iranian hostage crisis demonstrated, not only did certain nations still not like us, they didn’t respect us either.
The fifth and final theme in Obama’s foreign policy is perhaps the most troubling. He twice told the audience in Fayetteville that America must adopt a new ideology. He said he was “running for President because it’s time to turn the page on a failed ideology.”
He later offered the following cryptic words: “An ideology that does not fit the shape of the times cannot shape events in foreign countries.”
One wonders what aspects of American ideology a President Obama would attempt to jettison. Would it be our commitment to democracy and self determination? Would it be our belief in free markets? Would it be our willingness to risk American lives so that other people may be freed from tyranny? Or would it be our rejection of Islamist extremism?
American ideology is, and always has been, a force for good in the world. And despite what Obama’s advisers are telling him, American voters aren’t looking for a leader who will apologize to the world on our behalf. Indeed, our allies aren’t looking for that either.
American leadership in the war against Islamist terrorism is precisely what our allies can least afford to lose. If America does not lead with resolve and force, it will be doubly difficult for our allies to defend themselves.
Obama’s prescription of offering billions of dollars in foreign aid along with a doubling of the number of Peace Corps volunteers will do nothing to stop the advance of militant Islamism in the world.
In sum, Obama’s recent statements reveal a shocking naivety about the world, as well as a radical change of course that he would undertake in American foreign policy. This is one “change” that none of us can afford to believe in.
First there was Jeremiah Wright. Is Emil Jones next?
The press had a field day with Obama’s religious mentor and friend. But the story behind Obama’s political mentor also contains some disturbing elements.
Emil Jones, the Democratic leader of the Illinois State Senate is the man who is credited with propelling the little known state senator to the political heights in Washington.
“You have the power to elect a US senator,” Obama told Emil Jones, Democratic leader of the Illinois state senate. Jones looked at the ambitious young man smiling before him and asked, teasingly: “Do you know anybody I could make a US senator?”
According to Jones, Obama replied: “Me.” It was his first, audacious step in a spectacular rise from the murky political backwaters of Springfield, the Illinois capital.
At one point during Obama’s 2003 Senate campaign, Jones set out to woo two African-American politicians miffed by Obama’s presumption and ambition. One of them, Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon, a state senator, had scoffed that Obama was so ambitious he would run for “king of the world” if the position were vacant.
When Jones secured the two men’s support, Obama asked his mentor how he had pulled it off. “I made them an offer,” Jones said in mock-mafioso style. “And you don’t want to know.”
Jones is now at the centre of a long row over his attempt to block proposed laws cracking down on his state’s “pay-to-play” tradition – whereby companies hoping to win government contracts have to contribute to the campaign funds of officials.
Jones staff say he blocked the bill because he intends to produce something tougher. No proposals have appeared.
Jones helped Obama prior to his run for the US senate by assigning high profile legislation to the candidate thus filling out his fairly pathetic record as a state senator. Most of Obama’s “accomplshments” in Springfield were the result of Jones allowing Obama a prominent role in getting legislation through the senate – legislation that in many cases had been introduced and championed over the years by other lawmakers.
Again, no one is accusing Obama of doing anything illegal. But as the evidence grows that he is just another politician and someone whose mentors are anything but paragons of virtue and probity, whatever otherworldly sheen that surrounded him begins to fall off and we can see him for what he truly is; a shrewd, politically gifted, far left politician.
HT: Ed Lasky
Americans apparently have to look to Australia for truthful accounts of climate research conducted by our own space agency. Christopher Pearson’ March 22 article in THE AUSTRALIAN concerns an interview of “Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.” When asked about “Global Warming”, Marohasy stated:
“…actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you’d expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years.“The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it.”
“The satellite was only launched in 2002 and it enabled the collection of data, not just on temperature but also on cloud formation and water vapour. What all the climate models suggest is that, when you’ve got warming from additional carbon dioxide, this will result in increased water vapour, so you’re going to get a positive feedback. That’s what the models have been indicating. What this great data from the NASA Aqua satellite … (is) actually showing is just the opposite, that with a little bit of warming, weather processes are compensating, so they’re actually limiting the greenhouse effect and you’re getting a negative rather than a positive feedback.” (Ellipses in original)
“The policy implications are enormous. The meteorological community at the moment is really just coming to terms with the output from this NASA Aqua satellite and (climate scientist) Roy Spencer’s interpretation of them. His work is published, his work is accepted, but I think people are still in shock at this point.”
“A great many founts of authority, from the Royal Society to the UN, most heads of government along with countless captains of industry, learned professors, commentators and journalists will be profoundly embarrassed. Let us hope it is a prolonged and chastening experience.”