For Obama, terrorism is a four-letter word: Bush

For Obama, terrorism is a four-letter word: Bush

January 5th, 2010

By BYRON YORK, The Washington Examiner

 Obama fears Bush more than terrorists

The attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was more than just al Qaeda’s latest attempt to bring death and destruction to American shores. It was also, in its still-unfolding political aftermath, a head-on collision between Barack Obama’s soaring rhetoric and the reality of terrorism.

Obama’s first response to the incident, or nonresponse, did not surprise anyone who followed his 2008 presidential campaign. As a candidate, Obama repeatedly accused the Bush administration of using terrorism to spread fear among the American public for political gain.

“Since 9/11, we’ve had a president who essentially fed us a politics of fear,” Obama said at a December 2007 Democratic debate in Iowa. “We have been governed by fear for the last six years,” he said two months earlier in Philadelphia. “We’re tired of fear,” he said still earlier at a debate in South Carolina.

Obama pledged a new, quieter approach. He would improve America’s image in the world, reach out to Muslims and dial back the fear.

Read More:

Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties

NOTE: The moral of the story is that no Moslem can be trusted to be loyal to us. A faithful Moslem must be loyal to Islam, first and foremost. Because of the tenets of Islam, a Moslem must be disloyal either to Islam or to us. Also, please note that the jihadist recruited new jihadists by quoting from the Koran. The role of the Koran in violent jihad must not be underestimated. It is crucial.



Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr., MARK MAZZETTI and SOUAD MEKHENNET
Published: January 4, 2010
This article is by Richard A. Oppel Jr., Mark Mazzetti and Souad Mekhennet.

Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era. Go to the Blog »

 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The suicide bomber who killed seven C.I.A. officers and a Jordanian spy last week was a double agent who was taken onto the base in Afghanistan because the Americans hoped he might be able to deliver top members of Al Qaeda’s network, according to Western government officials.

The bomber had been recruited by the Jordanian intelligence service and taken to Afghanistan to infiltrate Al Qaeda by posing as a foreign jihadi, the officials said.

But in a deadly turnabout, the supposed informant strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up at a meeting Wednesday at the C.I.A.’s Forward Operating Base Chapman in the southeastern province of Khost.

The attack at the C.I.A. base dealt a devastating blow to the spy agency’s operations against militants in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, eliminating an elite team using an informant with strong jihadi credentials. The attack further delayed hope of penetrating Al Qaeda’s upper ranks, and also seemed potent evidence of militants’ ability to strike back against their American pursuers.

It could also jeopardize relations between the C.I.A. and the Jordanian spy service, which officials said had vouched for the would-be informant.

The Jordanian service, called the General Intelligence Directorate, for years has been one of the C.I.A.’s closest and most useful allies in the Middle East.

In a telephone interview, a person associated with the Pakistani Taliban identified the bomber as Humam Khalil Mohammed, a Jordanian physician. Western officials said that Mr. Mohammed had been in a Jordanian prison and that he was recruited by the Jordanian spy service.

The bomber was not closely searched because of his perceived value as someone who could lead American forces to senior Qaeda leaders, and because the Jordanian intelligence officer had identified him as a potentially valuable informant, the Western officials said.  [NOTE: So, our brilliant CIA officers placed all their lives in mortal danger by trusting a Moslem!!!]

The Western officials and others who were interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

Current and former American officials said Monday that because of Mr. Mohammed’s medical background, he might have been recruited to find the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor who is Al Qaeda’s second in command.

Agency officers had traveled from Kabul, the Afghan capital, to Khost for a meeting with the informant, a sign that the C.I.A. had come to trust the informant and that it was eager to learn what he might have gleaned from operations in the field, according to a former C.I.A. official with experience in Afghanistan.

The former official said that the fact that militants could carry out a successful attack using a double agent showed their strength even after a steady barrage of missile strikes fired by C.I.A. drone aircraft.

“Double agent operations are really complex,” he said. “The fact that they can pull this off shows that they are not really on the run. They have the ability to kick back and think about these things.”

The death of the Jordanian intelligence officer, Capt. Sharif Ali bin Zeid, was reported in recent days by Jordanian officials, but they did not confirm exactly where he was killed or what he was doing in Afghanistan.

Jordanian intelligence officials were deeply embarrassed by the attacks because they had taken the informant to the Americans, said one American government official briefed on the events.

The official said that the Jordanians had such a good reputation with American intelligence officials that the informant was not screened before entering the compound. [NOTE: Only our intelligence officials' ignorance of the basics of Islam could allow them to be so careless.]

Jarret Brachman, author of “Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice” and a consultant to the United States government about terrorism, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Mohammed had used the online persona Abu Dujana al-Khorasani and was an influential jihadi voice on the Web.

“He’s one of the most revered authors on the jihadists’ forums,” Mr. Brachman said.

“He’s in the top five jihadists. He’s one of the biggest guns out there.”

In many of the posts under his online persona, Mr. Mohammed used elusive language filled with references to literature and the Koran to describe his support for violent opposition to the United States-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“When a fighter for God kills a U.S. soldier on the corner of a tank, the supporters of Jihad have killed tens of thousands of Americans through their connection” to the opposition, he wrote in one posting.

Mr. Brachman said that Al Fajr Media, which is Al Qaeda’s official media distribution network, conducted an interview with Abu Dujana al-Khorasani published in Al Qaeda’s online magazine, called Vanguards of Khorasan.

The name of the bomber was first reported by Al Jazeera, which identified him as Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi. The television network reported that Mr. Balawi was taken to Afghanistan to help track down Mr. Zawahri.

The attack was also embarrassing for Jordan’s government, which did not want the depths of its cooperation with the C.I.A. revealed to its own citizens or other Arabs in the region.

A statement by the official Jordanian news agency said Captain Zeid was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday “as he performed his humanitarian duty with the Jordanian contingent of the U.N. peacekeeping forces.”

The United States, and the C.I.A. in particular, are deeply unpopular in Jordan, where at least half the population is of Palestinian origin and where Washington’s support for Israel is roundly condemned.

King Abdullah II and his government, while working closely with Washington in counterterrorism operations and providing strategic support for operations in Iraq, try to keep that work secret.

The Pakistani Taliban had previously said the bomber was someone the C.I.A. had recruited to work with them, who then offered the militants his services as a double agent.

The General Intelligence Directorate has received millions of dollars from the C.I.A. since the American invasion of Iraq, where the Jordanian spy agency played a central role in the campaign against Iraqi insurgents.

In the past, Jordanian officials have privately criticized American intelligence services, saying they relied too heavily on technology and not enough on agents capable of infiltrating operations. In 2006, the Jordanians were credited with helping to locate and kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

The C.I.A. declined to comment about the circumstances of the bombing in Afghanistan.

Current and former American intelligence officials said the C.I.A. base in Khost was used to collect intelligence about militant networks in the border region.

The C.I.A. officers on the base used the information to plan strikes against Qaeda and Taliban leaders, along with top operatives of the Haqqani network.

United States officials have been applying pressure to the government of Pakistan to drive out the Haqqani network, whose fighters hold sway over parts of Afghanistan, including Paktika, Paktia and Khost Provinces, and are a serious threat to American forces.

A second former C.I.A. official said that Mr. Zeid’s presence on the Khost base was a sign that the Jordanian intelligence agency was using a spy to infiltrate militant networks in the region, and most likely to penetrate cells of Arab Qaeda militants.

“If the Jordanian intelligence officer had been vouching for this guy, the C.I.A. would definitely have wanted him on the base,” said the former officer.

The remains of the seven C.I.A. officers killed in the attack arrived in a military plane on Monday at Dover Air Force Base, where a private ceremony was held. The event was attended by Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, as well as by family members of the slain officers.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Souad Mekhennet reported from Islamabad, and Mark Mazzetti from Washington. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington, and Michael Slackman from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Nadia Taha contributed research from New York.

Death of a Theory The Left can’t give up its operating theory of terrorism, no matter how tattered.

Death of a Theory
The Left can’t give up its operating theory of terrorism, no matter how tattered.

By Rich Lowry

Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab couldn’t ignite the bomb in his underwear on Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

All he managed to blow up was a worldview.

His failed attempt put paid to the notion that terrorism is the byproduct of a few, specific U.S. policies and of our image abroad. This view dominates the Left and animates the Obama administration. It informs its drive to shutter Guantanamo Bay, to get out of Iraq, and to cater to “international opinion.” If we are only nice and likable enough, goes the theory, the Abdul Mutallabs of the world will never be tempted to violent mayhem.

Only the young Nigerian didn’t appear the least bit moved by Pres. Barack Obama’s commitment to close Gitmo in a year. He didn’t seem to care that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will get a civilian trial in New York. He didn’t appear to be fazed at all by Obama’s Cairo and U.N. speeches, or a year’s worth of international goodwill gestures. He just wanted to destroy an airliner.

It shouldn’t be hard to fathom why. Abdul Mutallab was in the grip of a violent ideology with an existential hatred of the United States at its core, an ideology promoted by a global terrorist conspiracy under the loose rubric of al-Qaeda. This is the essential fact that the Left tends to minimize or deny.

Obama called Abdul Mutallab an “isolated extremist” in his initial statement on the incident, and left the same impression about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the terrorist of Fort Hood. How coincidental that we are beset by isolated extremists believing the same things and inspired by the same people — in the cases of Abdul Mutallab and Hasan, the radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

A totalist rejection of the United States, this ideology will never lack for particular reasons to hate us. For years, we were told that the Iraq War was al-Qaeda’s best recruiting tool. Now, new recruiting tools are at hand. Hasan reportedly was disappointed that Obama stayed in Afghanistan. In taking responsibility for Abdul Mutallab’s attempted attack, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed it was in retaliation for a U.S.-sponsored strike against its leadership in Yemen.

If we pull our troops from Afghanistan, they’ll object to our missile strikes in Pakistan. If we stop the missile strikes, they’ll object to our training of foreign militaries. If we stop that, they’ll object that we have the temerity to maintain a blue-water navy. Nothing short of suicidal abdication will suffice.

The other great reputed recruiting tool was Gitmo. But what’s worse — holding terrorists in a facility condemned by the world’s scolds, or releasing them to re-invigorate al-Qaeda’s franchise operations? AQAP got a critical boost from one former Gitmo detainee who, according to the New York Times, is “the rising star of the local movement,” and another who is “the mufti, or theological guide.” The Wall Street Journal says eleven Gitmo returnees have joined the ranks of Yemeni militant groups, making the detention facility AQAP’s farm team.

No matter. Just before Christmas, the Obama administration returned six more Gitmo detainees to Yemen, home to about 90 of the 200 remaining prisoners. Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan pledges to keep sending them back, and insists that “several” or “many” of the six latest returnees are in Yemeni custody. Whatever that means. Yemeni government is not a model of Prussian precision. In February 2006, AQAP managed a mass break from a Yemeni high-security prison. The environment there is so treacherous that we were just forced to shut our embassy temporarily.

The administration is loath to admit that vacating Gitmo has itself proven a powerful tool for the terrorists.

It can’t give up its operating theory of terrorism, no matter how tattered. Instead of designating Abdul Mutallab an enemy combatant and interrogating him, we have granted him all the protections our justice system provides a civil defendant. Whatever comes of this foolish act of generosity, we can be sure that the next Abdul Mutallab will be singularly unimpressed.

 

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. © 2010 by King Features Syndicate


National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmI2ZDlhZWIyM2U0ZDRhMjUwYTY4NGQzZjczNjE5Nzg=

Massachusetts Earthquake Rumblings?

Massachusetts Earthquake Rumblings?

Clarice Feldman

I have been watching interest the campaign for the January 19th special election to fill former Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat with. Online, of course, as the major media seem to have just assumed Democrat Martha Coakley will walk away with it.

But the first Rasmussen poll is consistent with what on the ground reports there have been: there’s a great deal of interest in the Republican ,Scott Brown, and he may just pull off a win. If he does win, he says he’d vote against the health care bill.
Legal Insurrection has the story this morning:
Rasmussen is the first major polling organization to poll the Massachusetts Senate special election, and the “pre-released” poll numbers show Martha Coakley (D) with just a 9% lead over Scott Brown (R), which would be consistent with other polls. This post will be updated with further analysis once the official numbers are released. [See Update No. 2 below - official results released - Brown within 2% among people who definitely will vote and has a large lead among independents.]

This is better than I expected for Brown. Coakley has been a statewide figure for years, and has much better name recognition, SEIU and other union support, and the Massachusetts Democratic machine behind her. Obama won the state by over 20%, and Coakley should have had at least a mid-teens lead at this point.

But as I have noted, Coakley’s tactic of acting like the election already is over may be backfiring. While Brown was hitting the pavement the past three weeks, Coakley took a six day vacation. Wrong message. Coakley is ducking a one-on-one debate with Brown. Wrong message.

Thomas Lifson adds:
What goes around comes around, even in Massachusetts. One the oldest dirty tricks in Bay State politics is to run someone with the same name as a popular pol to siphon away votes from your opponent. It just so happens that a man named Joseph Kennedy is running on the Libertarian ticket in the Senate race, and could well draw brain dead Democrats away from Coakley. There certainly are enough of them in Massachusetts to make a difference in a race as close as this one is shaping up to be.
The often delightfully arch website Hillbuzz notes that Coakley is alarmed enough to change her position on a debate:
Until recently, Martha Coakley, the Democrat in the race, has been refusing to do any debates for the special election insisting, “I’ve already won this, there’s no point in wasting any time debating.  I’m on vacation.”
But, suddenly she had a change of heart – but only if Joe Kennedy was allowed to debate too.  She did not want to appear with just Scott Brown alone.  That tells us two things:
(1) Martha Coakley is a crazy person, because have you seen Scott Brown?  We’d spend time alone with him anytime, anyplace, twice on Sundays. That man is Hottie McAwesome in our book.
(2) Martha Coakley wants a chance to tell Massachusetts voters that Joe Kennedy is not one of “THE Kennedys”, the ones that cover up murders and rapes and treat Massachusetts as their personal fiefdom.
We think Coakley’s been quietly polling in secret and believes enough voters will be confused and muscle-memory vote KENNEDY on January 19th that she needs to come out and force Joe Kennedy to say on radio and television that he’s not a member of the “American royalty” Kennedys.
Given the malaise afflicting Democrats and the enthusiasm powering conservatives, it is barely possible that Brown could win. If that were to happen, it could rock American politics.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/01/massachusetts_earthquake_rumbl.html at January 05, 2010 – 11:40:42 AM EST

A Failed Anti-Terror Strategy

A Failed Anti-Terror Strategy – by Jamie Glazov

Posted By Jamie Glazov On January 4, 2010 @ 12:16 am In FrontPage | 19 Comments

 

nap

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch [1]. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) [2] and The Truth About Muhammad [3]. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran [4], is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

 

FP: Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

What do you see as the key lessons of the failed terror attempt on Northwest Flight 253?

 

Spencer: The chief lesson of the attempted jihad attack on Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day is that our entire anti-terror strategy is a huge and abject failure. Flight 253 revealed a massive failure not only of airline security procedures, but also of the larger strategy that America and the West has been pursuing against jihad terrorism.

As for airline security procedures, Abdulmutallab was able to get on the airplane without a passport, and with ingredients for an explosive that would have destroyed the plane and killed everyone in it.

TSA officials are busy tightening security procedures with new Abdulmutallab-inspired rules such as forcing passengers to stay in their seats for the last hour of the flight, but these new measures will do nothing to prevent another attack. One thing we have seen over the years since 9/11 is that airport security is always one step behind the jihadists: after jihadist Richard Reid attempted to set off a bomb hidden in his shoes, we all have to take off our shoes and send them through security scanners.

After a group of jihadists tried to sneak onto planes explosive chemicals hidden in drink bottles, we can’t carry drinks through airport security terminals. Because Abdulmutallab attempted his jihad attack just before the plane landed, now we can’t get up during the last hour of the flight.

The one thing that the TSA should have learned, but hasn’t, is that next time the jihadists will do something else, not just repeat what they did before. And even if every passenger were given a full body cavity search, they will find some way to get around it.

But attempt a new approach based on sensible profiling? The TSA would rather fold up shop altogether.  

 

FP: Liberals love to portray Islamic terror (this is when they are forced to even admit it exists) as the result of American capitalism and imperialism and how it has subjected poor people into misery. But Abdul Mutallab doesn’t fall into this narrative very neatly. Maybe it has something to do with some stuff he was reading while he was enjoying material wealth, personal comfort and relaxation thanks to capitalism?

Spencer: They constantly ignore the possibility that the jihadis might not always be reacting to things America has done, but may hate us for reasons of their own, independent of our actions. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a classic recipient of Western largesse designed to win over the loyalties of Muslims – he was educated at the British International School in Lome, Togo. Yet contact with solicitous and friendly non-Muslim Westerners obviously did nothing to quell his jihadist fervor. And the son of a rich man (who notified American authorities about his jihadist sentiments, to no avail), Abdulmutallab once again proves false the idea that poverty causes terrorism. The myriad aid programs that are based on this false assumption have done nothing to stop or even slow jihad terrorism, and they never will.

Abdulmutallab was, in all likelihood, “radicalized” not by Western oppression but by the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. All the concerted efforts by the State Department and DHS to ignore the jihad doctrine and reach out to people they deemed to be “moderate Muslims” have likewise not worked.

According to the Nigerian newspaper This Day, when Abdulmutallab was at the British International School, “he was known for preaching about Islam to his schoolmates and he was popularly called ‘Alfa,’ a local coinage for Islamic scholar.” This illustrates yet again that, contrary to the popular view, Islamic jihadists present themselves among their fellow Muslims as the exponents of authentic Islam, making their case from the Qur’an and Sunnah — and those Muslims who oppose jihadist violence and Islamic supremacism have never successfully refuted their arguments.

Outreach to moderate Muslims has not aided in this effort, and has deceived the general public into thinking that the influence of peaceful Muslims over jihadists is much larger than it actually is.

 

FP: Your thoughts on Obama and Napolitano in terms of how they are handling this this attempted terror attack?

 

Spencer: Napolitano’s initial statement that “the system worked” was incredible, and Obama’s slowness to respond and failure to break off his vacation inexcusable — as was his later reference to this apparent Al-Qaeda operative as an “isolated extremist.” Their abysmal failure to come to grips with the jihad doctrine has left us vulnerable to attacks from quarters they consider safe, as Abdulmutallab himself illustrates: as a rich man’s well educated son, he fits none of the conventional non-Islamic explanations for jihad violence that prevail among government and media analysts. He should be the cause of a wholesale reevaluation of our policies and procedures. But that isn’t going to happen.

 

FP: What we need is profiling, yes? And our culture won’t allow. Tell us the psychology here that leaves us tragically vulnerable.

 

Spencer: We have, as a culture, been sold a bill of goods by leftist ideologues who have convinced us that to make a realistic appraisal of the source of a threat and to react accordingly would constitute “racism” and “bigotry.”

Islamic terrorists are generally not grandmothers from middle America — why should everyone be subjected to increasingly annoying and futile airline security procedures when we know what group is committing these attacks, but just don’t want to admit it?

Profiling is flawed and will not be a perfect solution, as there is no common racial or any other characteristic that the jihadis share. But a sensibly educated TSA would be able to spot people who might constitute a greater risk, and respond accordingly.

Unfortunately, no matter how many young Muslim men blow things up or try to do so, we cannot even have this conversation as a nation, because the race wolf-criers have completely dominated the field.

 

FP: Concluding thoughts? What concerns you the most in what you see happening? What are the grave consequences if we don’t get it right?

 

Spencer: One thing is certain, Jamie: nothing we are doing now will make a recurrence of the Flight 253 incident any less likely. New security methods are needed, as are new strategies to combat the global jihad. But instead, we just keep reapplying the same old failed policies. And they will continue to fail, because of a continuing failure to evaluate realistically the situation we’re in.

FP: Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

Morning Bell: A Sham Of A Process For A Sham Of A Bill

Morning Bell: A Sham Of A Process For A Sham Of A Bill

Speaking at a town hall meeting on August 21, 2008, in Chester, Virginia, then-candidate Barack Obama promised the American people: “I’m going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We’ll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies … what we will do is, we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents … And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.” The participants around Obama’s fictional big table may have changed depending on where he was speaking, but throughout his campaign the essential promise was always there: “negotiations televised on C-SPAN.”

Of course, Obama already broke this promise to the American people months ago. According to PoliFact, the backroom deals Obama cut with drug companies and hospitals last July already violated this pledge. But those were just preliminary negotiations. Surely when it came time for the final health care bill passage in Congress, Obama and his allies would welcome some transparency into the process? No such luck.

Politico is reporting that President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will meet at the White House today (joined by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) via conference call) to set the parameters for reconciling the House and Senate versions of health care legislation. However, instead of proceeding with the usual public and open conference committee process, the White House is going to take a very active role in secret behind-closed-door meetings between the House and Senate. The Sunlight Foundation explains the implications for the American people: “Both House and Senate rules require that all conference committee meetings be open to the public unless a majority of conferees votes in open session to close the meetings. Senate rules require all conference committee reports be publicly available for at least 48 hours prior to a final vote. Without conference, there is no mechanism to provide for openness in the final discussions regarding the health care bill.”

And there is plenty of reason the American people should demand transparency in the final stages of the legislative process. We previously identified Six Key Differences between the House and Senate bills, all of which deserve their own public debate. But one issue in particular is in desperate need of the disinfectant powers of sunlight: Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) deal exempting Nebraska from the costs of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

Last week, after a group of 13 state attorneys general promised to file suit against Obamacare should the Nelson deal become law, Nelson called South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster to “call off the dogs.” According to McMaster’s office, Nelson said the deal was not his idea, was simply a “marker” placed in the bill, and that the issue would be fixed by extending the same Medicaid exemption to all states. Will the budget-busting Medicaid problem get “fixed” for all states? If so, how? The American people deserve to know.

There is more than one reason the American people have turned solidly against President Obama’s health plan. Americans believe Obama’s plan will increase their health care costs, decrease the quality of their health care, raise their taxes, and increase the deficit. And as former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has admitted, Obamacare is not real health care reform. No wonder President Obama wants as little public input as possible.

Quick Hits:

  • CSPAN has sent a letter to the House and Senate asking that they “open all important negotiations” to electronic media coverage.
  • Democrats in favor of amnesty have agreed to vote for President Barack Obama’s health care legislation in exchange for an Obama promise for amnesty legislation later this year.
  • California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to seek a federal bailout to help close the $21 billion deficit his state faces over the next 18 months.
  • The number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy rose by nearly a third in 2009.
  • According to the British government, MI5 told American intelligence agents more than a year ago that the Detroit bomber had links to extremists.

The Biggest Losers

The Biggest Losers

January 4th, 2010

Wall Street Journal

 A recipe for disaster: the treasury is loaning more to Fannie and Freddie

Happy New Year, readers, but before we get on with the debates of 2010, there’s still some ugly 2009 business to report: To wit, the Treasury’s Christmas Eve taxpayer massacre lifting the $400 billion cap on potential losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the limits on what the failed companies can borrow.

The Treasury is hoping no one notices, and no wonder. Taxpayers are continuing to buy senior preferred stock in the two firms to cover their growing losses—a combined $111 billion so far. When Treasury first bailed them out in September 2008, Congress put a $200 billion limit ($100 billion each) on federal assistance. Last year, the Treasury raised the potential commitment to $400 billion. Now the limit on taxpayer exposure is, well, who knows?

The firms have made clear that they may only be able to pay the preferred dividends they owe taxpayers by borrowing still more money . . . from taxpayers. Said Fannie Mae in its most recent quarterly report: “We expect that, for the foreseeable future, the earnings of the company, if any, will not be sufficient to pay the dividends on the senior preferred stock. As a result, future dividend payments will be effectively funded from equity drawn from the Treasury.”

Read More:

Who Is the Enemy?

Who Is the Enemy?

January 4th, 2010

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

 Does Obama even know?

I don’t think anyone knows quite what this administration’s anti-terrorism policy is. Last August, Obama’s counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, lambasted the Bush administration, citing “the inflammatory rhetoric, hyperbole and intellectual narrowness that has often characterized the debate over the president’s national security policies” and criticizing the conduct of counterterrorism during the eight years following 9/11.

But more than one-third of all terrorist plots since 9/11 transpired in 2009 — despite loud chest-thumping about rejecting the idea of a war on terror, reaching out to the Muslim world, and apologizing for purported American sins. A non-impoverished Major Hasan or Mr. Mutallab (or Mr. Atta or KSM) does not fit with the notion that our enemies act out of poverty or oppression or want.

In fact, what we are witnessing is a strange mishmash. On the one hand, after repeatedly trashing the Bush protocols in 2007–08, Obama has quietly adopted most of them — keeping the Patriot Act, intercepts, wiretaps, renditions, the concept of tribunals, Predator attacks, forward offensive strategies in Afghanistan, and the Bush-Petraeus timetable in Iraq.

Read more:

Freed Guantánamo inmates are heading for Yemen to join al-Qaeda fight

Freed Guantánamo inmates are heading for Yemen to join al-Qaeda fight

Said Ali al-Shihri, Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish (ID not confirmed); Abdullah Saleh Ali al Ajmi; and Abdullah Mahs

Tom Coghlan

At least a dozen former Guantánamo Bay inmates have rejoined al-Qaeda to fight in Yemen, The Times has learnt, amid growing concern over the ability of the country’s Government to accept almost 100 more former inmates from the detention centre.

The Obama Administration promised to close the Guantánamo facility by January 22, a deadline that it will be unable to meet. The 91 Yemeni prisoners in Guantánamo make up the largest national contingent among the 198 being held.

Six prisoners were returned to Yemen last month. After the Christmas Day bomb plot in Detroit, US officials are increasingly concerned that the country is becoming a hot-bed of terrorism. Eleven of the former inmates known to have rejoined al-Qaeda in Yemen were born in Saudi Arabia. The organisation merged its Saudi and Yemeni offshoots last year.

The country’s mountainous terrain, poverty and lawless tribal society make it, in the opinion of many analysts, a close match for Afghanistan as a new terrorist haven.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, voiced concern about the growing strength of al-Qaeda in Yemen. “Obviously, we see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by al-Qaeda in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region,” she said.

A Yemeni, Hani Abdo Shaalan, who was released from Guantánamo in 2007, was killed in an airstrike on December 17, the Yemeni Government reported last week. The deputy head of al-Qaeda in the country is Said Ali al-Shihri, 36, who was released in 2007. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, who was released in 2006, is a prominent ideologue featured on Yemeni al-Qaeda websites.

Geoff Morrell, the spokesman for the Pentagon, said: “This is a large question that goes beyond the issue of transferring detainees. The bulk of the remaining detainees are from Yemen and that has been the case for a long time. We are trying to work with the Yemeni Government on this.”

The US Government issued figures in May showing that 74 of the 530 detainees in Guantánamo were suspected or known to have returned to terrorist activity since their release. They included the commander of the Taleban in Helmand province, Mullah Zakir, whom the British Chief of the Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, called “a key and seemingly effective tactical leader”. Among others who returned to terrorism was Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti who killed six Iraqis in Mosul in 2008.

The number believed to have “returned to the fight” in the May 2009 estimate was double that of a US estimate from June 2008. US officials acknowledged that more detainees were known to have reoffended since, but the number has been classified.

“There is a historic trend and it continues. I will only say that we have said there is a trend, we are aware of it, there is no denying the trend and we are doing our best to deal with this reality,” Mr Morrell said.

Officials said that a higher proportion of those still being held were likely to return to terrorism because they were considered more of a security threat than those selected in the early stages of the release programme.

Chris Boucek, an expert on the region for the Carnegie Endowment think-tank, said that up-to-date figures for Saudi Arabia showed that 26 of the 120 Saudis released from Guantánamo were either in jail, wanted by the authorities or dead.

Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen expert at Princeton University, said evidence showed that al-Qaeda was seeking to use Yemen to mount a renewed campaign into Saudi Arabia. He cited a recent incident in which two Saudi militants, one the brother-in-law of alShihri, were killed while trying to cross the border in women’s clothing. Martyrdom videos were subsequently posted on militant websites.

The Saudi Government had boasted previously of a zero reoffence rate for Guantánamo detainees who were put through its widely praised rehabilitation programme for al-Qaeda members.

Robert Lacey, who writes about Saudi Arabia, made numerous visits to the Prince Mohammad bin Naif rehabilitation facility north of Riyadh.

“I know a number of young men from Guantánamo who were successfully reintegrated,” he told The Times. “The programme involves the whole family with a mixture of religious re-education, patriotism, guilt and co-opting in terms of being given a car, job and a nice wife.”

However, other analysts suggested that the claims for the Saudi programme were exaggerated. Mr Johnsen pointed out that an attack that nearly killed Prince Mohammad bin Naif, the Saudi head of counterterrorism, in August was mounted by a Yemen-based al-Qaeda terrorist who had offered to join the reintegration programme to get near his target.

“The Saudi programme is nothing but bureaucratised bribery. The ideologically committed terrorists simply won’t listen,” Mr Johnsen said.

The Yemen reintegration programme for terrorists was abandoned on December 10, 2005.

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