Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Perspective On Democratic Outrage Over Mark Foley

From Captain's Quarters:

The Republican leadership in the House has plenty for which to answer over their laissez-faire treatment of Mark Foley when allegations of improper contact with underage pages first came to their attention. Despite knowing of Foley's "inappropriate" behavior this spring, Majority Leader John Boehner did nothing about it, after hearing that the parents of the page wanted the matter dropped. Regardless, the actions of Foley reflected badly on the GOP and the House, and action should have been taken at the time to punish Foley. Surely, the Republicans could at least have removed him from the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.

However, Democratic protestations on this matter seem rather hypocritical, given the history of their party and page scandals:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced a privileged resolution friday night to require an ethics probe, criticized Republican leaders, who she said, "have known of the egregious behavior of Congressman Mark Foley, yet were prepared to adjourn tonight without an Ethics Committee investigation."

"The investigation must determine when Mr. Foley sent the inappropriate emails, who knew of them, whether there was a pattern of inappropriate activity by Mr. Foley with pages or former pages, when the Republican leadership was notified, and what corrective action was taken once officials learned of any improper activity," she added.

This is true, and Pelosi is right to demand an ethics probe, to which John Boehner immediately agreed and the House supported unanimously. However, let's please recall the case of Gerry Studds and his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old page in 1983. This didn't involve a few e-mails and explicit instant messaging; Studds started a sexual relationship with a minor, and then announced in a press conference that people should mind their own business about his private life. The House censured Studds (he turned his back on them as the censure was read), but the Democrats endorsed Studds for five subsequent elections. The only reason he no longer serves in the House is because he retired. He didn't even lose his chair on the House Merchant Marine and Fishing Committee until 1995, when the Republicans took over and abolished the committee.

I agree that the Republicans have some 'splaining to do. However, Democrats hardly covered themselves in glory when running the show for the last decade they controlled Congress in a situation that was objectively more serious than Foley's pathetic cyber-sex efforts.

NOTE: Daniel Crane (R-IL) also got censured at the same time for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page, and apologized to the House. He got defeated in his re-election bid.

Posted by Captain Ed at 09:03 AM Comments (24) TrackBack (0)

Jon Pareles: Inside the Museum, Dylan's Youth Goes on Display

Exhibition Review 'Bob Dylan’s American Journey'

The New York Times
Published: September 29, 2006

On Nov. 4, 1961, after working in Greenwich Village clubs, Bob Dylan made his New York City concert debut at Carnegie Chapter Hall (now the Kaplan Space, used for rehearsals). It held 225 people; fewer than 55 showed up. Less than two years later, he was the reigning star of the protest-song movement and the folk revival. Another two years, and a generation would be arguing over whether it was right for him to go electric — not that he would pay any attention.

“Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966,” an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum through Jan. 6, revisits Mr. Dylan’s headlong trajectory through the early 1960’s, giving visitors a close-up view of a writer and songwriter at work.

The exhibition, which originated at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, doesn’t challenge conventional wisdom. “Born into changing times, Bob Dylan shaped history in song,” it announces, and there’s no caviling or second-guessing through each phase, up to Mr. Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle accident and reclusion. For context, there are segments on the folk revival, McCarthyism and the civil rights movement.

It’s the same era covered by the Martin Scorsese documentary “No Direction Home,” with roughly the same perspective: that Mr. Dylan soaked up everything instantaneously, intersected briefly with the well-meaning folk revival, but was always on his own path. “People often say first time that this isn’t folkmusic,” he told Izzy Young from the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village for program notes at the Carnegie Chapter Hall concert. “My songs aren’t easy to listen to.”

Where “No Direction Home” echoed the tumult of the 1960’s, the museum show allows contemplation instead. There’s a listening station offering that 1961 concert, which has never been officially released; a self-effacing but clearly confident Mr. Dylan yodels gleefully through “Freight Train Blues.”

Listening stations also offer illuminating comparisons: Woody Guthrie’s “1913 Massacre” alongside the same melody in Mr. Dylan’s “Song for Woody,” and Mr. Dylan singing “No More Auction Block,” the melody he would extend for “Blowin’ in the Wind.” A video station has clips from “Don’t Look Back,” the documentary of Mr. Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, and from the rarer, unreleased “Eat the Document,” made a year later.

The exhibition includes staples of rock museumcraft: instruments, discs, posters. A map of Greenwich Village shows how six square blocks held the folk-revival universe. Pictures of Woody Guthrie and Arthur Rimbaud reveal the sources of iconic Dylan poses.

A few explanatory labels draw overreaching conclusions, including one about Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, a Woody Guthrie disciple like the young Mr. Dylan: “Elliott was so well established playing Guthrie songs that Dylan realized he would need to write his own songs to make an impression.” (Mr. Dylan might have become a songwriter anyway.) A Turkish tambourine owned by the New York studio musician Bruce Langhorne is cited as one inspiration for “Mr. Tambourine Man,” but it’s just a round drum, with nothing to jingle-jangle.

The exhibition’s most telling artifacts are the manuscripts: songs in progress, written or typed on whatever paper was at hand. They reveal how Mr. Dylan sharpened every line. “Gates of Eden,” crammed in small, neat lettering on the back of a sheet of Holiday Inn stationery, wasn’t finished yet: “All men are kings inside the gates of Eden,” it reads, later to be changed to the grimmer “There are no kings inside the gates of Eden.”

A page of “Like a Rolling Stone,” famously a torrent of words before it was distilled into the song, has only the phrase “How does it feel” from the eventual lyrics. An early version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was just called “It’s All Right,” and in its margins Mr. Dylan was trying to decide between “Allright” and “All Right.”

Like “No Direction Home,” the exhibition is full of reminders of how seriously music was treated at the time. For the folkies, each song was a manifesto, each change a matter of high stakes. An account of Mr. Dylan’s epochal 1965 Newport Folk Festival appearance in the folk music magazine Sing Out! was far from uncomprehending: “ ‘The people’ so loved by Pete Seeger are ‘the mob’ so hated by Dylan,” Jim Rooney wrote. The folkies, he continued, “seemed to understand that night for the first time what Dylan has been trying to say for over a year — that he is not theirs or anyone else’s.” He concluded: “He shook us. And that’s why we have poets and artists.”

The only one taking it lightly, or trying to, was Mr. Dylan himself. The exhibition’s postscript is a video outtake from “Eat the Document”: Mr. Dylan in a London alley, making Dadaist poetry out of a dog groomer’s advertising sign. Inspired and silly, a genius even when he’s goofing around, he cracks himself up.

“Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966” continues through Jan. 6 at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street; (212) 685-0008.

Janet Levy: "Compromised" Intelligence

Janet Levy
September 29, 2006

Although the White House reached an agreement last week with dissident GOP senators on interrogation procedures for terrorist detainees, the issue faces additional scrutiny and approval by the Senate and House of Representatives before Congress recesses at week’s end. The GOP compromise bill preserves CIA jurisdiction over interrogation programs and provides legal protections for agency workers, yet maintains the spirit of the Geneva Conventions by prohibiting “cruel and inhumane” treatment. More importantly, the proposed legislation gives the CIA the latitude to use aggressive interrogatory methods with terrorist combatants.

Human rights groups, which have mischaracterized coercive techniques as torture, remain largely dissatisfied with the compromise. They caution that the government has been given too much power and that the principle of “due process” is being jeopardized. They further maintain that the GOP bill could invite torture of our own soldiers and damage America’s reputation as a morally upstanding nation. One group is even calling for the elimination of coercive questioning techniques, including sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and forced standing for long periods.

Such a view is woefully misguided. Coercive techniques have yielded valuable information, saving American lives both on the battlefield and at home. The techniques employed are no harsher than those used daily by police departments across the United States. The idea to abandon such useful tactics would be to leave ourselves vulnerable to an enemy and its ad-hoc warriors who pay no heed to an equivalent sense of honor or justice with captured troops or civilians.

The value of coercive techniques has been repeatedly demonstrated by questioning of captured jihadists that yielded critical, national security information. Such techniques have been used to obtain valuable information that has prevented attacks and significantly impacted U.S. military actions in Iraq. For example, following his placement in a freezing room with blaring rock music, senior Al Qaeda planner Abu Zubayda provided critical information on Osama bin Laden’s operation, as well as on a planned terrorist attack inside the United States. In addition, Zubayda identified Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a key accomplice in the 9/11 attacks. Information provided by al-Shibh and Zubayda led to the capture of 9-11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Information from terrorists in CIA custody have helped avert planned strikes on military installations, identified the location of Al Qaeda training camps and foiled car bomb attacks aimed at Iraqi civilian populations.

Brian Ross of ABC News recently reported that 14 terrorists detained at CIA facilities gave up critical information about Al Qaeda operatives in the United States and Europe, plus disclosed over a dozen planned attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. This knowledge potentially saved thousands of lives.

Tactical interrogations conducted by soldiers in the battlefield provide life-and-death information about imminent threats, such as an impending suicide attack, ambush or IED (improvised explosive device), is a life-or-death matter. Battlefield captures often have critical information about planned attacks on American soldiers. Any intelligence gathered has a short shelf life as terrorists quickly change locations, plans, and communication methods.

Field intelligence officers don’t have the time to transport a captured terrorist detainee to an interrogation facility. They need information immediately to save the lives of their troops. Physical intimidation, such as shoving, may be critical to obtaining important information for the safety and welfare of their fellow soldiers. Yes, the actions of our troops in the heat of combat are being judged through the eyes of an unsympathetic, mostly anti-war media. While our soldiers are facing life-and-death decisions, they must also worry about their immediate actions being investigated after-the-fact or being brought up on formal charges much later. Such incidents as the arrest and incarceration of the Pendleton Eight and the harrowing experiences of now-exonerated, second lieutenant Ilario Pantano affect our troops ability to make split-second decisions. It can translate into the loss of lives.

Further, many of these aggressive interrogation methods that don’t cause bodily injury and sustainable aftereffects are routinely used by U.S. police departments across the country. They include good cop/bad cop, isolation/segregation, false flag (having an informant in the same cell pretending to be a fellow prisoner), intimidation related to sentencing and incarceration, granting of special privileges in exchange for cooperation and dietary or environmental manipulations. Often the discomfort and fear induced by these techniques sufficiently motivates suspects to offer helpful information that solves crimes and saves lives.

Yet, the enemy we face uses even harsher methods. Our troops know that if they are captured by Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or any other terrorist group, they can expect torture, disfigurement, and a painful death. They will certainly not be treated according to the Geneva Conventions, the Rules of Engagement or any internationally recognized military protocol. After the U.S. Army’s 507th Maintenance Company was captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Nasiriyah in 2003, nine troops were tortured and beheaded. As she lay in a hospital bed and peered out the window, Private Jessica Lynch, a member of that company, saw the shallow graves of her follow soldiers, buried in a soccer field nearby, stepped on in dishonor by the enemy. U.S. Army prisoners of war have been shot dead by Saddam loyalists as they surrendered with their hands up. Recently, the bodies of kidnapped American soldiers, Thomas Tucker and Christian Menchaca were so severely mutilated by Al Qaeda that DNA testing was required to determine the identity of the corpses.

Our ability to extract information from terrorists is our best tool for preventing future attacks in the United States and on the battlefield. It has already enabled us to gather critical information used to stop attacks that would have led to massive casualties. Without good and timely intelligence, we can’t win the war against Islamic terrorists nor protect the lives of our civilians and our troops.

Further, we have already seen that the way we treat terrorist detainees is inconsequential to the treatment of our own captured troops. Our humane methods are viewed as an exploitable weakness, as is our liberal media and overly cautious, criminal justice system. We know that our soldiers will always be faced with brutal torture or death at the hands of Islamic terrorists. Why should we broadcast to Al Qaeda and other terrorist entities that they have nothing to fear in U.S. custody? Why should we spare a brutal terrorist temporary discomfort and pain at the expense of American lives?

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Janet Levy is the founder of ESG Consulting, an organization that offers project management, fundraising, promotion, event organizing and planning services for conservative political causes and issues related to terrorism and national security.

Vasko Kohlmayer: The Case for Waterboarding

Vasko Kohlmayer
September 29, 2006

Discussing his recent compromise with the White House on detention and interrogation of captured terrorists, John McCain said on the Today show that ‘there will be no such thing as waterboarding…You will never see that again. We stood up and said that cannot be done.’

It is not easy to grasp the thinking of senator McCain and others who seek to ban this practice in the light of its immense value in our fight against terror. Take, for instance, the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed captured in Pakistan in March of 2003. One of the masterminds of 9/11 and al-Qaeda’s operational leader at the time, he possessed a wide-ranging knowledge of the network’s plans, logistics and personnel. Unwilling to share it voluntarily, he was subjected to forced interrogation. As resilient as he was and defiant, he held out until the interrogators decided to proceed with waterboarding. Two and a half minutes into the procedure, a broken Mohammed begged for relief. Stunned and shaken, his extensive confession amounted to nothing less than a treasure trove of priceless intelligence.

This case is unusual not in how quickly the waterboarding worked, but how long Mohammed was able to withstand it. Two and a half minutes is by all accounts a record of sorts, as most subjects usually break down inside a minute. CIA agents who undergo this procedure as part of their training rarely last more than 40 seconds. This despite the fact that they are in a friendly environment and know that death is not an option.

Although waterboarding is normally employed as the last resort and the frequency of its use kept secret, it has been made known that so far it has worked every time it has been tried. Thanks to its extraordinary efficacy, we have been able to obtain a great amount of critical intelligence that would have otherwise remained inaccessible. With the help of this information we have captured al-Qaeda operatives, stopped deadly plots, and saved many innocent lives. One of the fruits of Mohammed’s confession, to give one example, was the thwarting of a conspiracy to fly an airliner into the Library Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles.

Given these facts, it is almost incomprehensible that there are some people in this country who insist that we relinquish this life-saving tool. Resting their objections on ethical grounds, they try to convince us that the procedure is morally unacceptable. But theirs is a misguided stance, since careful consideration shows that waterboarding is in fact one of the least injurious among interrogation techniques.

To see why this is so, it is enough to contrast it with the most common approach which involves a combination of sleep deprivation and cold exposure. Frequently requiring days and even weeks to break the captive’s spirit, it carries a real possibility of long-term physical and psychological damage. Worse still, it often fails to achieve the desired effect with the result that the captive is subjected to prolonged hardships, but we still end up without the information we so urgently need.

Waterboarding, on the other hand, is fleeting in duration with the actual discomfort lasting seldom more than a couple of minutes. And since a man can be safely deprived of oxygen for at least twice as long, there is almost no risk of long-term harm. The possibility of injury is further reduced by the fact that the procedure calls for no direct physical contact between the subject and his interrogators. Not even as much as pushing or chest slapping is required at any time, making waterboarding one of the safest and least confrontational among interrogation methods. Involving the lowest risk of long-term harm and the least amount of cumulative discomfort, it is also the most humane. Most importantly, it is the most effective.

While other interrogation procedures employ raw force, intimidation or long-term duress, waterboarding brings the terrorist face to face with that which he himself seeks to inflict upon his victims – the horror of dying. Viewed in this light, waterboarding may well be the most just form of interrogation for this kind of criminal, because it gives him a taste of his own evil. The difference is that his anguish is stopped the moment he expresses a desire for it to be so. This, tragically, is something which his victims would never be granted. While the terrorist turns his prey into mangled corpses, waterboarding gives him a chance to see another day without being so much as scathed by his momentary ordeal. But even as he goes on living, we have in our possession crucial intelligence that will save innocent lives.

It is widely agreed that the horrors of 9/11 took place primarily because of our intelligence gathering failures. The fact that at the time we had in our custody the 20th hijacker makes this tragedy all the more painful. Even though we suspected that Zacarias Moussaoui knew something big was in the works, we did not interrogate him aggressively enough to extract this information from him. Had we done so, things could have turned out differently. One of the primary objectives of waterboarding is to bring forth the kind of intelligence that will prevent tragedies like 9/11 from occurring again.

Rather than depriving our interrogators of this tool for wresting intelligence from recalcitrant terrorists, we must ensure that it is available whenever the need arises. Our government officials would do well to remember what the stakes are and whose protection they have been entrusted with. Once they do so, they cannot but recognize that our government not only is fully justified in utilizing this invaluable technique, but has a moral obligation to use it to save lives.

And as far as opponents of waterboarding are concerned, I have these questions to ask: Are a few moments of a terrorist’s discomfort more important than the lives of the innocents he seeks to destroy? Are two minutes of Moussaoui’s anguish worth more than the three thousand lives lost on 9/11? Does his momentary pain override a lifetime of hurt of those left behind?

If you can’t answer in the affirmative then hold your peace.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Pat Buchanan: New Deal for U.S. Manufacturers
Friday, September 29, 2006

In July, our trade deficit hit yet another all-time record, $68 billion, an annual rate of $816 billion. Imports surged to $188 billion for the month, as our dependency on foreigners for the vital necessities of our national life ever deepens.

China's trade surplus with us was $19.6 billion for July alone, moving toward an all-time record of $235 billion for 2006 -- the largest trade deficit one country has ever run with another. Our deficit with Mexico is running at an annual rate of $60 billion. With Canada, it is $70 billion. So much for NAFTA. With the European Union, it is running at $160 billion.

America as the most self-sufficient republic in history is history. For decades, U.S. factories have been closing. Three million manufacturing jobs have disappeared since Bush arrived. Ford and GM are fighting for their lives.

Bushites boast of all the new jobs created, but Business Week tells the inconvenient truth: "Since 2001, 1.7 million new jobs have been created in the health care sector. ... Meanwhile, the number of private sector jobs outside of health care is no higher than it was five years ago."

"Perhaps most surprising," writes BW, "information technology, the great electronic promise of the 1990s, has turned into one of the biggest job-growth disappointments of all time. ... (B)usinesses at the core of the information economy -- software, semiconductors, telecom and the whole gamut of Web companies -- have lost more than 1.1 million jobs in the past five years. Those business employ fewer Americans than they did in 1998, when the Internet economy kicked into high gear."

Where did the high-tech go? China. Beijing's No. 1 export to the United States in 2005, $50 billion worth, was computers and electronics.

If Americans are the most efficient workers on earth and work longer hours than almost any other advanced nation, why are we getting our clocks cleaned? Answer: While American workers are world-class, our elites are mentally challenged. So rhapsodic are they about the Global Economy they have forgotten their own country. Europeans, Japanese, Canadians and Chinese sell us so much more than they buy from us, because they have rigged the rules of world trade.

While the United States has a corporate income tax, our trade rivals use a value-added tax. At each level of production, a tax is imposed on the value added to the product. Under the rules of global trade, nations may rebate VAT levies on exports, and impose the equivalent of a VAT on imports.

Assume a VAT that adds up to 15 percent of the cost of a new car in Japan. If Toyota ships 1 million cars to the United States valued at $20,000 each, $20 billion worth of Toyotas, they can claim a rebate of the VAT of $3,000 on each car, or $3 billion -- a powerful incentive to export. But each U.S. car arriving at the Yokohama docks will have 15 percent added to its sticker price to make up for Japan's VAT.

This amounts to a foreign subsidy on exports to the United States and a foreign tax on imports from America. Uncle Sam gets hit coming and going. It is as though, after firing a round of 66 in the Masters, Tiger Woods has five strokes added to his score for a 71, and five strokes are subtracted from the scores of his rivals. Even Tiger would bring home few trophies with those kind of ground rules.

The total tax disadvantage to U.S. producers -- of VAT rebates and VAT equivalents imposed on U.S. products -- is estimated at $294 billion.

Exported U.S services face the same double whammy. A VAT equivalent is imposed on them, while the exported services of foreign providers get the VAT rebate. Disadvantage to U.S. services: $85 billion annually.

Why do our politicians not level the playing field for U.S. companies?

First, ignorance of how world trade works. Second, ideology. These robotic free-traders recoil from any suggestion that they aid U.S. producers against unfair foreign tactics as interfering with Adam Smith's "invisible hand," which they equate with the hand of the Almighty.
Third, they are hauling water for transnational companies that want to move production overseas and shed their U.S. workers.

How could we level the playing field? Simple. Impose an "equalizing fee" on imports equal to the rebates. Take the billions raised, and cut taxes on U.S. companies, especially in production. Create a level playing field for U.S. goods and services in foreign markets, and increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies in our own home market by reducing their tax load.

U.S. trade deficits would shrivel overnight. And jobs and factories lately sent abroad would start coming home.

Isn't it time we put America first -- even ahead of China?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Robert Stacy McCain on Ann Coulter's "Godless"

Is Ann Coulter Among the Prophets?

by Robert Stacy McCain

“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”—Revelation 13:4

Signs and omens have been everywhere this year. Amid wars and rumors of wars, one occasionally glimpses evidence that truth is now being revealed in ways that might astonish even battle-scarred veterans of the culture wars.

I knew the Apocalypse was upon us when I picked up Phyllis Chesler’s The Death of Feminism and discovered that Chesler, bearing decades of liberal feminist credentials, had praised as “prophetic” Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints. What next? Will we see Cornel West invoking Robert E. Lee? Or George Will paying tribute to M.E. Bradford?

Let him that hath understanding consider the significance when the latest best-seller by Ann Coulter—Sean Hannity’s favorite TV guest—cites Joe Sobran. Like Raspail, Sobran is one of The Great Unmentionables, whose existence is not even to be acknowledged by respectable people in the conservative movement. Once you have been denounced as an Unpatriotic Conservative in the pages of National Review, your name disappears, with the resulting void serving as a warning to anyone else who might dare to offend the arbiters of conservative respectability.

And yet, there it was, on page 201 of Godless, where Coulter recognizes Darwinism as “the creation myth” of the Church of Liberalism and refers to evolutionary cultists as “the Darwiniacs”—adding, “as author and columnist Joe Sobran calls them.” Not content with that offense to the Straussian archons, Coulter thanks Sobran in her acknowledgements, numbering him among her “long-suffering, magnificent friends.” Coulter has even gone out of her way to call attention to her thoughtcrime. On the day her book was released—June 6, 2006, making use of the number of the beast as a publicity stunt—Coulter paid tribute to Sobran in an interview published by Human Events, calling him a “magnificent writer” who had given her “the greatest advice a writer could ever get.”

Coulter herself has survived banishment from National Review without suffering any discernible loss of popularity, and this survival evidently inspired in her an even-greater loathing of the pieties of political correctness. How else to explain her designation of Willie Horton as the “martyr” of the Church of Liberalism? She devotes a 17-page chapter to revisiting Horton’s crimes, the Massachusetts prison furlough program that turned Horton loose, and the way in which Horton’s furlough became an issue in the 1988 presidential election. Though Democratic-primary rival Al Gore was the first to use the Horton furlough against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, Democrats did not begin shouting “racism” until Republicans followed suit.

No serious student of the 1988 presidential campaign has ever expressed doubt that the South Carolina-born Lee Atwater, campaign boss for George H.W. Bush, knew exactly what he was doing when he summoned forth the dark specter of Willie Horton. A murderer serving life without parole, Horton was furloughed as part of a program staunchly defended by Dukakis and other Massachusetts liberals. He then kidnapped and tortured a Maryland couple—pistol-whipped, bound, gagged, and sadistically tortured the man, then forced him to listen to his fiancée’s screams as Horton repeatedly raped her. This incident would have been a scathing indictment of Dukakis’s commitment to public safety whatever Horton’s race, but because Horton was black, his crimes held a deeper symbolism.

The Willie Horton ads turned Dukakis’s boast of being a “card-carrying member of the ACLU” into a fatal campaign liability. In reaction, Democrats accused Republicans of having appealed to primal racial fears of the sort that once inspired lynch mobs and made D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation the original Hollywood blockbuster. Republicans have spent nearly two decades denying this, and Coulter is not about to give liberals any satisfaction:

Since none of their other defenses of Dukakis’s furlough program were working, the Democrats reverted to their default argument: they accused Republicans of racism. This was consistent with author Peter Brimelow’s definition of “racist” as “someone who is winning an argument with a liberal.”

(See? There she goes again, bringing up the name of yet another conservative banished from polite society.)

I only wish that Coulter had acknowledged the extent to which the liberal criticisms were fair. One need not be a liberal to say that a black rapist represents a symbolic fear to many Americans, nor is it racist to question whether this symbolism is strictly irrational. Is it racist to admit into evidence Eldridge Cleaver’s testimony about the implications of rape as “symbol” and “metaphor”? Yet Coulter, while boldly violating the Republican taboo against discussing the 1988 ads, still seems compelled to respect other taboos—or risk providing ammunition to those who regularly accuse her of fomenting hatred. Coulter clearly understands that, when liberals express a desire for honest, forthright “racial dialogue,” what they actually mean is: Shut up.

The initial indignation over Godless had nothing to do with Willie Horton, however, but with Coulter’s treatment of the “Jersey Girls”—the group of women widowed in the World Trade Center attacks who gained fame as prominent critics of the Bush administration. Coulter styles Kristen Breitweiser and her cohorts “the Witches of East Brunswick” and accuses them of deploying their grief for partisan gain after demanding over one million dollars in federal compensation for their loss:

These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. The whole nation was wounded, all of our lives reduced. But they believed the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing Bush was an important part of their closure process. These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.

Here, quite apart from partisan or ideological allegiances, can we all agree that Coulter has taken hyperbole entirely beyond defensible limits? As much as anyone might wish to criticize the publicity seeking and griefmongering of Breit­weiser et al., it is both cruel and false to say that they are “enjoying” the deaths of their spouses. In reading that offending sentence, I wondered how an editor could have failed to demand that it be recast, or why Coulter would have insisted it stand as written. Indefensible as argument, it makes sense only as a punch line. Its stark clarity is its only conceivable excuse, and I suspect that Coulter demanded that it be printed for the same reason that Lyndon Johnson once sought to accuse a Texas political foe of barnyard bestiality: “I just want to hear the S.O.B. deny it.”

The usual “respectable” Republican types have joined many genuine conservatives in lamenting Coulter’s penchant for such rhetorical abuses. Coulter is vulnerable to the charge of committing the same sins of which she accuses liberals. (Imagine her reaction if any liberal had accused Horton’s rape victim of “enjoying” it.) Even if turnabout is fair play or if two wrongs could make a right, even if one might enjoy Coulter’s high-wire act as a sort of showbiz spectacle, one might also wish that some friendly editor would take the time to talk her out of the most egregious of her excesses.

Yet that would spoil the fun of periodically turning on the television to see Coulter running rings around Matt Lauer or whatever other liberal spokesman has drawn the unenviable assignment of confronting her in a live interview. A lawyer by training, Coulter is quick-witted and tenacious, with a carefully honed knack for making liberal antagonists look foolish.

Thus with the “Jersey Girls.” Coulter’s attack on Breitweiser is part of a chapter in which she correctly points out that liberals have hit on an ingenious strategy: They would choose only messengers whom we’re not allowed to respond to. That’s why all Democratic spokesmen these days are sobbing, hysterical women. You can’t respond to them because that would be questioning the authenticity of their suffering.
She includes in this category various individuals (Valerie Plame, Rep. John Murtha, Cindy Sheehan) whom she treats as examples of a single phenomenon:

What crackpot argument can’t be immunized by the Left’s invocation of infallibility based on personal experience? . . . If these Democrat human shields have a point worth making, how about allowing it to be made by someone we’re allowed to respond to?

That Coulter was criticizing the Oprahfication of politics was a point lost in the immediate uproar over her “Witches of East Brunswick” line. Her point will be understood better by the thousands who buy her books, among whom are many College Republicans who will seek to emulate her defiance of liberal sensibilities. This is why liberals so hate Coulter: If she can get rich by sarcastically denouncing the myths and martyrs of the liberal faith, she will inspire others to similar impiety, and liberals must dread that nightmare future when cable TV news is fully stocked with Ann Coulter wannabes, as talk radio is now dominated by Rush Limbaugh clones.

Most genuine conservatives probably do not relish a future in which political debate is conducted in one-liners, even if liberalism is the butt of the joke. And Coulter’s enthusiasm for the war in Iraq will annoy those readers of Thucydides who understand that Nicias was right in opposing the Sicilian campaign, even if Alcibiades won the debate in Athens. Still, Godless has much to recommend it.

In her 20-page chapter on abortion—the “holiest sacrament” of the Church of Liberalism—Coulter is unrelenting. “No Republican is as crazily obsessed with any issue as the Democrats are with abortion,” she observes, labeling them the “Abortion Party.” Coulter anticipates that some will respond by pointing to pro-life Democrats and is ready to show that these commitments are routinely discarded by Democrats with national ambitions:

Showing the raw principle of the modern Democratic Party, among the Democrats who have abandoned pro-life positions to become pro-choice are former president Jimmy Carter, Senator Dick Durbin, former representative Richard Gephardt, Representative Dennis Kucinich, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and [former vice president] Al Gore. . . . It’s easy to imagine a person going from being pro-abortion to anti-abortion based on new information—ultrasounds, medical advances, pictures of babies smiling in the womb. But it’s hard to see how new information could produce the reverse conversion.

On abortion, Coulter thus takes her stand with one of the most influential, though least prestigious, of the Republican Party’s constituencies, the Religious Right. Here again, she invites censure from the GOP elite, who scarcely conceal their embarrassment at their party’s reliance on the votes of devout Catholics and hard-shell evangelical Protestants. And her proclivity for adding insult to injury is further evidenced when she concludes with three chapters (82 pages) attacking Darwinism.

Her critique of Darwinian evolution will offer few surprises to the reader who has followed the development of the Intelligence Design (ID) argument over the past two decades. Coulter acknowledges the assistance of ID’s leading theorists (Michael Behe, David Berlinksi, and William Dembski) and also mentions Berkeley law professor Phillip E. Johnson, who has explored the philosophical terrain staked out by evolutionists. And, in the end, she presents the same argument, really, that Johnson made a decade ago in his book, Reason in the Balance.
Johnson, however, is not a long-stemmed blonde with a caustic wit, nor does he have Sean Hannity’s private number on speed-dial. Coulter’s notoriety enables her to reach many thousands who would never read a Berkeley law professor’s book, let alone anything by Joe Sobran or Peter Brimelow.

Conservative intellectuals may disdain Coulter as a shallow popularizer, but, so long as she’s popularizing the right ideas, she is doing the Lord’s work. She goes where angels fear to tread and seems to have been blessed with some mystical protection against the conservative establishment’s desire to rid itself of inconvenient associations. The SPLC can scream all it wants about Coulter’s friendships—in May, she wrote a column about immigration that cited—and she’ll just toss her blonde mane and laugh.

This apparent immunity to rebuke is enviable, as was noted en passant by Samuel Francis a few years before his death. Coulter had just got herself banished from National Review Online and had responded by calling Jonah Goldberg and Rich Lowry “girly boys.” Noting a series of neocon attacks on Coulter in 2003, Francis dryly observed, “it may be that Miss Coulter kind of ODs on the hyperbole. I know the problem myself.” Don’t we all? But we cannot all be blue-eyed blondes, and, in the Age of Media, many must toil in thankless obscurity while a favored few reap fame and fortune.

Rather than succumb to envy, however, we the obscure ought to count our blessings and remain steadfast in faith. For the signs indicate that the day is coming when “the first shall be last.”

Robert Stacy McCain is coauthor, with Lynn Vincent, of Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party (Nelson Current).

This article first appeared in the September 2006 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

Ann Coulter: I Did Not Have Sex with that Nomad, Osama bin Laden

Ann Coulter
September 28, 2006

It's just like old times. Bill Clinton delivers an impassioned speech, and within 24 hours the Web is bristling with documentation establishing that nearly every sentence was a lie.

The glassy-eyed Clinton cultists are insisting their idol's on-air breakdown during a "Fox News Sunday" interview with Chris Wallace was a calculated performance, which is a bit like describing Hurricane Katrina as a "planned demolition." Like an Osama tape, they claim he was sending a signal to Democrats to show them how to treat Republicans. Listen up, Democrats: Let's energize the undecideds by throwing a hissy fit on national television!

The Clintonian plan for action apparently entails inventing lunatic conspiracy theories, telling lots of lies, shouting, sneering, interrupting and telling your interlocutor, "(Y)ou've got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever" – all for asking a simple question. To wit: "Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and al-Qaida out of business when you were president?" The only thing Clinton forgot to say to Wallace was, "You'd better put some ice on that."

Let me be the first to welcome Chris Wallace to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy! If the son of Mike Wallace is a member, can Chelsea be far behind?

According to Wallace, Clinton's aide, Jay Carson, demanded that the interview be stopped a few minutes into Clinton's tantrum – just before the part where he threw the lamp at Wallace. The last time Clinton got that red in the face, the encounter ended with a stained dress. Even Muslims thought Clinton overreacted. But the Clinton Kool-Aid drinkers tell us this was a masterfully planned set-piece by their leader.

I also think Jessica Savitch's slurred, incoherent broadcast on "NBC Nightly News" in October 1983 was intentional. Others say it was drug-addled breakdown that ended her career, but obviously Savitch intended to speak in garbled gibberish on air as a brilliantly executed prelude to her death in a ditch weeks later.

And when Stephen Colbert did a routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner that bombed, I think he planned it that way.

Then there was Capt. Joseph Hazelwood's meticulously planned off-loading of 11 million gallons of crude oil off the Exxon Valdez.

Clinton shouted so many lies during his televised meltdown, only the World Wide Web can capture them all. These are just a few.

Clinton yelled at Wallace: "What did I do? What did I do? I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since."

This is so crazy it's worthy of an Air America caller. Clinton has consistently misrepresented the presidential directive about political assassinations. Clinton did not order bin Laden assassinated. He did not even lift the ban on intelligence agencies attempting to assassinate bin Laden.

What he did was lift the ban on political assassinations – provided that assassinating bin Laden was not the purpose of the mission. So if U.S. forces were engaged in an operation to capture bin Laden, but accidentally killed him, they would not be court-martialed.

Clinton said, "All the right-wingers who now say I didn't do enough said I did too much – same people." As proof, he cites his humiliating withdrawal from Somalia, claiming, "They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in 'Black Hawk down,' and I refused to do it."

He added, as if it mattered, "There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with 'Black Hawk down.'"

In fact, what Republicans objected to was Clinton's transforming a U.N. mission in Somalia to prevent mass starvation into a much grander "nation building" exercise – something the Democrats now hysterically support in Darfur and oppose in Iraq.

Democrats long to see American mothers weeping for their sons lost in a foreign war, but only if the mission serves absolutely no national security objectives of the United States. If we are building a democracy in a country while also making America safer – such as in Iraq – Democrats oppose it with every fiber of their being.

When Clinton's "nation building" in Somalia led to the brutal killing of 18 Americans, some of whose corpses were then dragged through the streets, Clinton did what the Democrats are currently demanding we do in Iraq: He cut and ran.

Republicans didn't like that either, and it had nothing to do with whether it was al-Qaida we were running from. It could have been Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, al-Dawa or the Viet Cong. We ran, and the terrorists noticed.

Osama bin Laden told "ABC News" in 1998 that America's humiliating retreat from Somalia emboldened his jihadists: "The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."

If this is the message that Clinton is hoping to telegraph to the American people, I hope the voters are listening.

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Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is
Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Richard Miniter: What Clinton Didn't Do

What Clinton Didn't Do . . . . . . .and when he didn't do it.

The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Bill Clinton's outburst on Fox News was something of a public service, launching a debate about the antiterror policies of his administration. This is important because every George W. Bush policy that arouses the ire of Democrats--the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, detention without trial, pre-emptive war--is a departure from his predecessor. Where policies overlap--air attacks on infrastructure, secret presidential orders to kill terrorists, intelligence sharing with allies, freezing bank accounts, using police to arrest terror suspects--there is little friction. The question, then, is whether America should return to Mr. Clinton's policies or soldier on with Mr. Bush's.

It is vital that this debate be honest, but so far this has not been the case. Both Mr. Clinton's outrage at Chris Wallace's questioning and the ABC docudrama "The Path to 9/11" are attempts to polarize the nation's memory. While this divisiveness may be good for Mr. Clinton's reputation, it is ultimately unhealthy for the country. What we need, instead, is a cold-eyed look at what works against terrorists and what does not. The policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations ought to be put to the same iron test.


With that in mind, let us examine Mr. Clinton's war on terror. Some 38 days after he was sworn in, al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center. He did not visit the twin towers that year, even though four days after the attack he was just across the Hudson River in New Jersey, talking about job training. He made no attempt to rally the public against terrorism. His only public speech on the bombing was a few paragraphs inserted into a radio address mostly devoted an economic stimulus package. Those stray paragraphs were limited to reassuring the public and thanking the rescuers, the kinds of things governors say after hurricanes. He did not even vow to bring the bombers to justice. Instead, he turned the first terrorist attack on American soil over to the FBI.

In his Fox interview, Mr. Clinton said "no one knew that al Qaeda existed" in October 1993, during the tragic events in Somalia. But his national security adviser, Tony Lake, told me that he first learned of bin Laden "sometime in 1993," when he was thought of as a terror financier. U.S. Army Capt. James Francis Yacone, a black hawk squadron commander in Somalia, later testified that radio intercepts of enemy mortar crews firing at Americans were in Arabic, not Somali, suggesting the work of bin Laden's agents (who spoke Arabic), not warlord Farah Aideed's men (who did not). CIA and DIA reports also placed al Qaeda operatives in Somalia at the time.

By the end of Mr. Clinton's first year, al Qaeda had apparently attacked twice. The attacks would continue for every one of the Clinton years.

• In 1994, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (who would later plan the 9/11 attacks) launched "Operation Bojinka" to down 11 U.S. planes simultaneously over the Pacific. A sharp-eyed Filipina police officer foiled the plot. The sole American response: increased law-enforcement cooperation with the Philippines.

• In 1995, al Qaeda detonated a 220-pound car bomb outside the Office of Program Manager in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing five Americans and wounding 60 more. The FBI was sent in.
• In 1996, al Qaeda bombed the barracks of American pilots patrolling the "no-fly zones" over Iraq, killing 19. Again, the FBI responded.

• In 1997, al Qaeda consolidated its position in Afghanistan and bin Laden repeatedly declared war on the U.S. In February, bin Laden told an Arab TV network: "If someone can kill an American soldier, it is better than wasting time on other matters." No response from the Clinton administration.

• In 1998, al Qaeda simultaneously bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224, including 12 U.S. diplomats. Mr. Clinton ordered cruise-missile strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan in response. Here Mr. Clinton's critics are wrong: The president was right to retaliate when America was attacked, irrespective of the Monica Lewinsky case.

Still, "Operation Infinite Reach" was weakened by Clintonian compromise. The State Department feared that Pakistan might spot the American missiles in its air space and misinterpret it as an Indian attack. So Mr. Clinton told Gen. Joe Ralston, vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, to notify Pakistan's army minutes before the Tomahawks passed over Pakistan. Given Pakistan's links to jihadis at the time, it is not surprising that bin Laden was tipped off, fleeing some 45 minutes before the missiles arrived.

• In 1999, the Clinton administration disrupted al Qaeda's Millennium plots, a series of bombings stretching from Amman to Los Angeles. This shining success was mostly the work of Richard Clarke, a NSC senior director who forced agencies to work together. But the Millennium approach was shortlived. Over Mr. Clarke's objections, policy reverted to the status quo.

• In January 2000, al Qaeda tried and failed to attack the U.S.S. The Sullivans off Yemen. (Their boat sank before they could reach their target.) But in October 2000, an al Qaeda bomb ripped a hole in the hull of the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding another 39.

When Mr. Clarke presented a plan to launch a massive cruise missile strike on al Qaeda and Taliban facilities in Afghanistan, the Clinton cabinet voted against it. After the meeting, a State Department counterterrorism official, Michael Sheehan, sought out Mr. Clarke. Both told me that they were stunned. Mr. Sheehan asked Mr. Clarke: "What's it going to take to get them to hit al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon?"


There is much more to Mr. Clinton's record--how Predator drones, which spotted bin Laden three times in 1999 and 2000, were grounded by bureaucratic infighting; how a petty dispute with an Arizona senator stopped the CIA from hiring more Arabic translators. While it is easy to look back in hindsight and blame Bill Clinton, the full scale and nature of the terrorist threat was not widely appreciated until 9/11. Still: Bill Clinton did not fully grasp that he was at war. Nor did he intuit that war requires overcoming bureaucratic objections and a democracy's natural reluctance to use force. That is a hard lesson. But it is better to learn it from studying the Clinton years than reliving them.

Mr. Miniter, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, is author of "Disinformation: 22 Media Myths that Undermine the War on Terror" (Regnery, 2005).

Robert Spencer: Keith Ellison, CAIR and Hamas

Robert Spencer
September 27, 2006

Keith Ellison (D-MN) is shaping up to be the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, and the mainstream media is treating his candidacy as a huge human-interest story and a triumph of multiculturalism. The Christian Science Monitor gushed that “when Keith Ellison arrives at the Karmel Square, one of Minneapolis’s Somali malls, a rock star might as well be walking by the bustling stalls of bright fabrics, jewelry, phone cards, and videos.” It quoted Larry Jacobs of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota exulting: “You think of the stereotype of Minnesota -- Garrison Keillor and white Norwegian farmers. The first Muslim congressman coming from Minnesota? It says a lot about the changing face of the United States and Minnesota.”

Of course, not all is rosy: the Monitor notes that “conservative bloggers” and Ellison’s Republican opponent, Alan Fine, have raised questions about Ellison’s alleged ties to the Nation of Islam, as well as about a number of unpaid parking tickets that led to the suspension of his drivers’ license. But the Monitor doesn’t mention the most troubling aspect of Ellison’s record: the support he has received from the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Journalist Joel Mowbray has been virtually the only journalist who has pursued this connection, exploring in a recent column “Mr. Ellison’s seemingly tight connection with Nihad Awad, co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whom he met almost two decades ago at the University of Minnesota.” Mowbray reports that “Mr. Awad headlined a fundraiser last month that the campaign estimates netted $15,000 to $20,000, and in July, and it appears that CAIR’s co-founder bundled contributions totaling just over $10,000. (The campaign issued a terse denial on the latter point, though it refused to explain away overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)” Faced with this evidence, Ellison’s backers have “attempted to paint attacks on the candidate as overtly partisan or even bigoted. A Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist, for example, recently suggested that Mr. Ellison is under attack solely for being Muslim.”

What is so troubling about Ellison’s connection with Awad and CAIR? Mowbray quotes the assessments of two leading Democrats: Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has declared that CAIR “is unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its association with groups that are suspect.” New York Senator Charles Schumer, once said that CAIR “has ties to terrorism” and that Ellison’s supporter Awad has “intimate connections with Hamas.” Mowbray establishes the latter point from Awad’s own mouth, quoting his 1994 statement: “I’m in support of the Hamas movement.”

Awad himself responded to this in an AP story about Ellison’s candidacy: “I don’t support Hamas today,” he explained. “My position and CAIR’s position is extremely clear -- we condemn suicide bombings. We are mainstream American Muslims.” AP reporter Frederic Frommer added that a Republican charge that Ellison had received “financial support from a self-identified supporter of Hamas” was a “reference to Awad's 1994 statement that he preferred Hamas to the Palestinian Liberation Organization. In an interview, Awad said that was before the group engaged in suicide bombings and was designated a terrorist organization by the State Department.”

But of course, saying flatly that “I am in support of the Hamas movement” is not simply stating a preference for Hamas over the PLO. In any case, if Awad supported Hamas before 1994, it is useful to examine what that means. I have here preserved the old Hamas website’s “glory record” of attacks against Israelis – the terrorist organization’s own record of its murderous actions. Here are some of Hamas’ self-described exploits from before 1994:

3. Boureen Operation: The militant Hamdan Hussein Al:najar, a member of Hamas, killed the Israeli settler Ya’coub Berey using a big rock as his weapon. The militant was shot down as a martyr after he had ambushed an Israeli patrol using the dead settler’s weapon....

6. Bus No. 405 Operation: Militant Ahmed Hussein Shukry, a member of Hamas, was able to lead an Israeli soldier to a secluded place in Tel Aviv where the militant hit the soldier with a chisel and killed him on 8 September 1989. The following day, the militant got on bus No. 405 and stabbed the driver to take over the bus; however, the passengers were able to stop the militant....

12. Keryat Youval Operation: The militant Mohammed Mustafa Abu Jalala stabbed four Israelis and injured another at a bus station in Keryat Youval in Jerusalem before he was arrested by the Israeli forces.

13. Askalan Road Operation: While driving a taxi, the militant Jameel Ismail Al:baz, a member of Hamas, ran over a group of Israelis waiting on this road on 19 July 1991....

15. Shailou Operation: A military group belonging to Al Qassam Brigades attacked an Israeli bus carrying some settlers on their way to Tel Aviv to participate in demonstrations organized by the extremist party Likud against the peace process. The bus was completely destroyed; two Israelis were killed and five more were injured....

17. Eid Al-maskhara Operation: The militant Ra’ed Al:reefy attacked an Israeli crowd in Jaffa on 17 March 1992. He was able to kill 2 and injure 21 Israelis who gathered to celebrate Eid Al:maskhara, also known as Al:boureem.

18. Beit Lahya Operation: On the third anniversary of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's arrest, a group belonging to Al Qassam Brigades attacked an Israeli settler at Beit Lahya and shot him down then withdrew safely....

21. Carlo Factory Operation: Four militants belonging to Al Qassam Brigades broke into a citrus packing factory (Carlo) near Nahal Oaz at 2:30 p.m. on 25 June 1992. Three militants stabbed two Israelis while the other was guarding....

Suicide bombings? No. Terrorist attacks on civilians? Sure. And there are many, many more on the list dating from before 1994. So are we to understand that Awad supported such operations and only stopped supporting Hamas later, although these was no change in its ideology and no change in its taste for victimizing civilians?

When Awad says that he and CAIR do not support Hamas today, it should be recalled that in March 2004, when Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin was killed by Israel, CAIR condemned his killing -- without ever mentioning that Yassin was the mastermind and director of suicide killings for Hamas: “We condemn this violation of international law as an act of state terrorism by Ariel Sharon's out-of-control government. Israel’s extra-judicial killing of an Islamic religious leader can only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence throughout the region. The international community must now take concrete steps to help protect the Palestinian people against such wanton Israeli violence.”

When did CAIR stop supporting Hamas? On Monday I searched the CAIR website for “Hamas.” There are three possible searches: News Briefs, Action Alerts, and Press Releases. Only News Briefs turned up anything at all: an old article from Haaretz attacking Ariel Sharon.

So if CAIR now condemns Hamas, where is it saying so? Just in the lower paragraphs of articles about other subjects? We can’t even get one press release about it? Not one Action Alert calling on Muslims everywhere to condemn Hamas?

Before Minnesotans elect Keith Ellison to Congress, they need to know the answers to these questions.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of
Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book, The Truth About Muhammad, is coming October 9 from Regnery Publishing.

Daniel Pipes: Intimidating the West, from Rushdie to Benedict

Daniel Pipes
September 27, 2006

The violence by Muslims responding to comments by the pope fit a pattern that has been building and accelerating since 1989. Six times since then, Westerners did or said something that triggered death threats and violence in the Muslim world. Looking at them in the aggregate offers useful insights.

· 1989 Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses prompted Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a death edict against him and his publishers, on the grounds that the book "is against Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an." Subsequent rioting led to over 20 deaths, mostly in India.

· 1997 The U.S. Supreme Court refused to remove a 1930s frieze showing Muhammad as lawgiver that decorates the main court chamber; the Council on American-Islamic Relations made an issue of this, leading to riots and injuries in India.

· 2002 The American Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a "terrorist," leading to church burnings and at least 10 deaths in India.

· 2005 An incorrect story in Newsweek, reporting that American interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, "in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet," was picked up by the famous Pakistani cricketer, Imran Khan, and prompted protests around the Muslim world, leading to at least 15 deaths..

· February 2006 The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons of Muhammad, spurring a Palestinian imam in Copenhagen, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, to excite Muslim opinion against the Danish government. He succeeded so well, hundreds died, mostly in Nigeria.

· September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine emperor's views that what is new in Islam is "evil and inhuman," prompting the firebombing of churches and the murder of several Christians.

These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: 8 years between the first and second rounds, then 5, then 3, 1, and ½.

The first instance Khomeini's edict against Salman Rushdie came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. Seventeen years later, calls for the execution of the pope (including one at the Westminster Cathedral in London) had acquired a too-familiar quality. The outrageous had become routine, almost predictable. As Muslim sensibilities grew more excited, Western ones became more phlegmatic.

Incidents started in Europe (Rushdie, Danish cartoons, Pope Benedict) have grown much larger than those based in the United States (Supreme Court, Jerry Falwell, Koran flushing), reflecting the greater efficacy of Islamist aggression against Europeans than against Americans.
Islamists ignore subtleties. Rushdie's magical realism, the positive intent of the Supreme Court frieze, the falsehood of the Koran-flushing story (ever tried putting a book down the toilet?), the benign nature of the Danish cartoons, or the subtleties of Benedict's speech none of these mattered.

What rouses Muslim crowds and what does not is somewhat unpredictable. Rushdie's novel was not nearly as offensive to Muslim sensibilities as a host of other writings, medieval, modern, and contemporary. Other American Evangelists said worse things about Muhammad than did Falwell (Jerry Vines called the Muslim prophet "a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives," without violence ensuing). Why did Norwegian preacher Runar Søgaard's deeming Muhammad "a confused pedophile" remain a local dispute while the Danish cartoons went global?

One answer is, that Islamists having international reach (Khomeini, CAIR, Imran Khan, Abu Laban) usually play a key role in transforming a general sense of displeasure into an operational fury. If no Islamist agitates, the issue remains relatively quiet.

The extent of the violence is even more unpredictable one could not anticipate the cartoons causing the most fatalities and the pope's quote the fewest. And why so much violence in India?
These incidents also spotlight a total lack of reciprocity by Muslims. The Saudi government bans Bibles, crosses, and Stars of David, while Muslims routinely publish disgusting cartoons of Jews.

No conspiracy lies behind these six rounds of inflammation and aggression, but examined in retrospect, they coalesce and form a single, prolonged campaign of intimidation, with more sure to come. The basic message "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an, Islamic law rules you too" will return again and again until Westerners either do submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed.

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Did Clinton Really Give Bush a "Comprehensive Anti-Terror Strategy?"

The former president says he did. The record says he didn’t.

By Byron York
September 26, 2006

“The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office,” former president Bill Clinton told Fox News on Sunday. “I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy.”

“We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda,” says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a new interview with the New York Post. “The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn’t [fight al Qaeda] is just flatly false.”

Well, which is it? The argument over whether, in January 2001, the Clinton administration left the incoming Bush administration a blueprint to destroy Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda has been going on for years now.

Long before the Clinton Fox interview, it came to a boil in the late summer of 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks, when Time magazine published a 10,400-word story, “They Had A Plan,” blaming the Bush administration for not following the Clinton newly developed administration’s strategy.

The Clinton plan, Time reported, was drawn up after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. In the wake of that bombing, Time said, White House anti-terror chief Richard Clarke put together “an aggressive plan to take the fight to al-Qaeda.” Clarke reportedly wanted to break up al Qaeda cells, cut off their funding, destroy their sanctuaries, and give major support to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. In addition, Time reported, “the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan.” It was, in the words of a senior Bush administration official quoted by Time, “everything we’ve done since 9/11.”

Time said Clarke presented the “strategy paper” to national-security adviser Sandy Berger on December 20, 2000, but Berger decided not to act on it. “We would be handing [the Bush administration] a war when they took office,” Time quoted an unnamed former Clinton aide saying. “That wasn’t going to happen.” Instead, Berger — who is portrayed as a tough-talking hardliner on terrorism — urged Rice, the incoming national-security adviser, to take action. But the new administration didn’t follow that good advice. The Clinton proposals, Time reported, “became a victim of the transition process, turf wars and time spent on the pet policies of new top officials.”

The Time account was explosive. Or at least it seemed to be explosive — until we heard more of the story.

After the article appeared, National Review talked to Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, who was then a member of the House, chairing the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security. Chambliss was perplexed. “I’ve had Dick Clarke testify before our committee several times, and we’ve invited Samuel Berger several times,” Chambliss told NR, “and this is the first I’ve ever heard of that plan.” If it was such a big deal, Chambliss wondered, why didn’t anyone mention it?

Sources at the White House were just as baffled. At the time, they were carefully avoiding picking public fights with the previous administration over the terrorism issue. But privately, they told NR that the Time report was way off base. “There was no new plan to topple al Qaeda,” one source said flatly. “No new plan.” When asked if there was, perhaps, an old plan to topple al Qaeda, which might have been confused in the Time story, the source said simply, “No.”

Finally, Richard Clarke himself debunked the story in a background briefing with reporters. He said he presented two things to the incoming Bush administration: “One, what the existing strategy had been. And two, a series of issues — like aiding the Northern Alliance, changing Pakistan policy, changing Uzbek policy — that they had been unable to come to any new conclusions from ‘98 on.”

A reporter asked: “Were all of those issues part of an alleged plan that was late December and the Clinton team decided not to pursue because it was too close to — ”

“There was never a plan, Andrea,” Clarke answered. “What there was was these two things: One, a description of the existing strategy, which included a description of the threat. And two, those things which had been looked at over the course of two years, and which were still on the table.”

“So there was nothing that developed, no documents or no new plan of any sort?

“There was no new plan.”

“No new strategy? I mean, I mean, I don’t want to get into a semantics — "

“Plan, strategy — there was no, nothing new.”

“Had those issues evolved at all from October of ‘98 until December of 2000?”

“Had they evolved? Not appreciably.”

Amid all the controversy, some former Clinton-administration officials began to pull back on their story. One of them — who asked not to be named — told NR that Time didn’t have it quite right. “There were certainly ongoing efforts throughout the eight years of the Clinton administration to fight terrorism,” the official said. “It was certainly not a formal war plan. We wouldn’t have characterized it as a formal war plan. The Bush administration was briefed on the Clinton administration’s ongoing efforts and threat assessments.” That, of course, was pretty much what the Bush White House said had had happened all along.

But now, the story is back in the news. “At least I tried [to destroy al Qaeda],” Clinton told Fox. “That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy…” Perhaps the former president hoped to put an end to the questions about his record on terrorism. Instead, he just brought the issue back to public scrutiny.

— Byron York, NR’s White House correspondent, is the author of the book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President — and Why They’ll Try Even Harder Next Time.

Robert Kagan: More Leaks, Please

Questioning the Iraq Intelligence Report
Robert Kagan
The Washington Post
Tuesday, September 26, 2006; Page A21

It's too bad we won't get to see the full National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism" selectively leaked to The Post and the New York Times last week. The Times headline read "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat." But there were no quotations from the NIE itself, so all we have are journalists' characterizations of anonymous comments by government officials, whose motives and reliability we can't judge, about intelligence assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way of knowing or gauging. Based on the press coverage alone, the NIE's judgment seems both impressionistic and imprecise. On such an important topic, it would be nice to have answers to a few questions.

For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has worsened the "terrorism threat"? Presumably, the NIE's authors would admit that this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest otherwise. Before the Iraq war, the United States suffered a series of terrorist attacks: the bombing and destruction of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998, the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since the Iraq war started, there have not been any successful terrorist attacks against the United States. That doesn't mean the threat has diminished because of the Iraq war, but it does place the burden of proof on those who argue that it has increased.

Probably what the NIE's authors mean is not that the Iraq war has increased the actual threat. According to the Times, the report is agnostic on whether another terrorist attack is more or less likely. Rather, its authors claim that the war has increased the number of potential terrorists. Unfortunately, neither The Post nor the Times provides any figures to support this. Does the NIE? Or are its authors simply assuming that because Muslims have been angered by the war, some percentage of them must be joining the ranks of terrorists?

As a poor substitute for actual figures, The Post notes that, according to the NIE, members of terrorist cells post messages on their Web sites depicting the Iraq war as "a Western attempt to conquer Islam." No doubt they do. But to move from that observation to the conclusion that the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat requires answering a few additional questions: How many new terrorists are there? How many of the new terrorists became terrorists because they read the messages on the Web sites? And of those, how many were motivated by the Iraq war as opposed to, say, the war in Afghanistan, or the Danish cartoons, or the Israel-Palestine conflict, or their dislike for the Saudi royal family or Hosni Mubarak, or, more recently, the comments of the pope? Perhaps our intelligence agencies have discovered a way to examine, measure and then rank the motives that drive people to become terrorists, though I tend to doubt it. But any serious and useful assessment of the effect of the Iraq war would, at a minimum, try to isolate the effect of the war from everything else that is and has been going on to stir Muslim anger. Did the NIE attempt to make that calculation?

Such an assessment would also require some estimate of what the terrorist threat would look like today if the war had not happened. For instance, did the authors of the NIE calculate the effect of the Sept. 11 attacks on the recruitment of terrorists or the effect of the bombings in Madrid and London? It is certainly possible that these events produced an increase in would-be terrorists by showing the possibility of sensational success. So if there is an overall increase, how much of it was the result of Iraq or the Danish cartoons or other perceived Western offenses against Islam, and how much of it is a continuing response to al-Qaeda's own terrorist successes before, on and after Sept. 11?

Finally, a serious evaluation of the effect of the Iraq war would have to address the Bush administration's argument that it is better to fight terrorist recruits in Iraq than in the United States. This may or may not be true, although again the administration would seem to have the stronger claim at the moment. But a serious study would have to measure the numbers of terrorists engaged in Iraq, and the numbers who may have been killed in Iraq, against any increase in the numbers of active terrorists outside Iraq as a result of the war. Did the NIE make such a calculation?

There is, in addition to all this, a question of context. What should we do if we believe certain actions might inspire some people to become potential terrorists? Should we always refrain from taking those actions, or are there cases in which we may want to act anyway? We have pretty good reason to believe, for instance, that the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the continuing presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the war, was a big factor in the evolution of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. We are pretty sure that American support of the Afghan mujaheddin against the Soviet occupation forces in the late 1970s and early '80s also contributed to the growth of Islamic terrorism.

Knowing this, would we now say that we made a mistake in each of those cases? Would an NIE argue that we would be safer today if we had not helped drive the Soviets from Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein from Kuwait? The argument in both cases would be at least as sound as the argument about the most recent Iraq war.

In fact, the question of what actions make us safer cannot be answered simply by counting the number of new terrorist recruits those actions may inspire, even if we could make such a count with any confidence. I would worry about an American foreign policy driven only by fear of how our actions might inspire anger, radicalism and violence in others. As in the past, that should be only one calculation in our judgment of what does and does not make us, and the world, safer.

Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes a monthly column for The Post. His book "Dangerous Nation," a history of American foreign policy, will be published next month.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Noel Shepperd: Bill Clinton, Bin Laden, and Hysterical Revisions
September 25th, 2006

Last week, former president Bill Clinton took some time out of his busy dating schedule to have a not so friendly chat with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday. Given his rabidity, Mr. Clinton might consider taking a few milligrams of Valium the next time he allows himself to face “fair and balanced” questions, assuming once wasn’t enough that is.

This wasn’t Mr. Clinton’s finest hour. In fact, it could be by far the worst performance of his career, which is saying a lot given that his acting skills were typically much more apparent than his policy-making acumen when he was in office.

From the onset, Mr. Clinton seemed ill at ease. This is understandable, as he didn’t see the normally comforting initials of the “Clinton News Network” proudly displayed on the video cameras in front of him. But, this doesn’t absolve him of appearing before the American people as if he were Norman Bates just questioned about his mother.

On the other hand, maybe asking the former president anything of consequence these days will elicit such volatility, as the fireworks started as soon as Wallace brought up historically factual statements made in a new book, The Looming Tower. In it, author Lawrence Wright addressed how Osama bin Laden had indicated that when American troops pulled out of Somalia in 1993, he and his al Qaeda buddies saw this as an indication of American weakness.

Although this certainly couldn’t have been the first time he had heard this, it didn’t sit very well with Mr. Clinton, who lashed out in a fury akin to a president that had just been accused of having sexual relations with an intern:

I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much.

Republicans claimed that Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden? He did too much to try to capture the infamous terrorist leader?

Do the facts support such assertions, or is this the typical Clinton modus operandi: when questioned about your own mistakes, bring up Republicans, neocons, and conservatives – the liberal equivalent of lions and tigers and bears…oh my – and how it’s all some kind of a conspiracy the complexities of which only Oliver Stone fully grasps.

Historically this line of attack has worked quite well with an adoring interviewer that buys such drivel hook, line, and sinker. However, what Mr. Clinton and his ilk seem to forget regularly is a recent invention known as the Internet. It is indeed odd the former president is unaware of this, inasmuch as his vice president created it.

Regardless, this tool – with the assistance of search engines and services such as LexisNexis – allows folks to go back in the past to accurately identify the truth. Sadly, as has often been the case with the rantings of the Clintons, their grasp of the past is as hazy as their understanding of what the word “is” means. At least that is the charitable interpretation.

Nothing but GOP support for getting bin Laden

With that in mind, a thorough LexisNexis search identified absolutely no instances of high-ranking Republicans ever suggesting that Mr. Clinton was obsessed with bin Laden, or did too much to apprehend him prior to the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. Quite the contrary, Republicans were typically highly supportive of Clinton’s efforts in this regard.

As a little background, prior to the August 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, there is hardly any mention of bin Laden by President Clinton in American news transcripts. For the most part, the first real discussion of the terrorist leader by the former president – or by any U.S. politicians or pundits for that matter – began after these bombings, and escalated after the American retaliation in Afghanistan a few weeks later.

At the time, the former president was knee-deep in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so much so that the press was abuzz with the possibility that Clinton had performed these attacks to distract the American people from his extracurricular activities much as in the movie Wag the Dog.

Were there high-ranking Republicans that piled on this assertion? Hardly. As the Associated Press reported on the day of the attacks, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) said the following on August 20, 1998:

Well, I think the United States did exactly the right thing. We cannot allow a terrorist group to attack American embassies and do nothing. And I think we have to recognize that we are now committed to engaging this organization and breaking it apart and doing whatever we have to to suppress it, because we cannot afford to have people who think that they can kill Americans without any consequence. So this was the right thing to do.

Gingrich was not alone in his support. CNN’s Candy Crowley reported on August 21, 1998, the day after cruise missiles were sent into Afghanistan:

With law makers scattered to the four winds on August vacation, congressional offices revved up the faxes. From the Senate majority leader [Trent Lott], “Despite the current controversy, this Congress will vigorously support the president in full defense of America’s interests throughout the world.”

Crowley continued:

“The United States political leadership always has and always will stand united in the face of international terrorism,” said the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [Jesse Helms]. It was vintage rally around the flag, just as they did for Ronald Reagan when he bombed Libya, for George Bush when he sent armed forces to the Gulf.

The Atanta Journal-Constitution reported the same day:

“Our nation has taken action against very deadly terrorists opposed to the most basic principles of American freedom,” said Sen. Paul Coverdell, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This action should serve as a reminder that no one is beyond the reach of American justice.”

Former vice president Dan Quayle was quoted by CNN on August 23, 1998:

I don’t have a problem with the timing. You need to focus on the act itself. It was a correct act. Bill Clinton took—made a decisive decision to hit these terrorist camps. It’s probably long overdue.

Were there some Republican detractors? Certainly. Chief amongst them was Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana:

I think we fear that we may have a president that is desperately seeking to hold onto his job in the face of a firestorm of criticism and calls for him to step down.

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) also questioned the timing at first. However, other Republicans pleaded with dissenters on their side of the aisle to get on board the operation, chief amongst them, Gingrich himself. As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Speaker felt the “Wag the Dog” comparisons were “sick”:

“Anyone who saw the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, anyone who saw the coffins come home, would not ask such a question,” said the House speaker, referring to the 12 Americans killed in the embassy bombings.

In fact, Gingrich did everything within his power to head off Republican criticism of these attacks as reported by the Boston Globe on August 23, 1998:

Indeed, Gingrich even saw to it that one of his political associates, Rich Galen, sent a blast-Fax to conservative talk radio hosts urging them to lay off the president on the missile strikes, and making sure they knew of Gingrich’s strong support.

That’s the same Rich Galen, by the way, who is openly urging Republican congressional candidates to try to take political advantage of the president’s sex scandal in their television advertising this fall.

Sound like Republicans were complaining about President Clinton obsessing over bin Laden? Or, does it seem that Mr. Clinton pulled this concept out of his… hat in front of Chris Wallace, and ran 99 yards with the ball, albeit in the wrong direction?

Regardless, in the end, sanity prevailed, and both Specter and Coats got on board the operation:

After reviewing intelligence information collected on bin Laden, Specter said: “I think the president acted properly.”

As for “neocons,” one so-called high-ranking member, Richard Perle, wrote the following in an August 23, 1998, op-ed published in the Sunday Times:

For the first time since taking office in 1993, the Clinton administration has responded with some measure of seriousness to an act of terror against the United States. This has undoubtedly come as a surprise to Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi terrorist believed to have been behind the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and to the regimes in Afghanistan and Sudan who provide him with sanctuary and support.

Until now they, along with other terrorists and their state sponsors in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea, have manoeuvred, plotted, connived and killed with confidence that the United States would do little or nothing in retaliation.

So Thursday’s bombing is a small step in the right direction. More important, it reverses, at least for now, a weak and ineffective Clinton policy that has emboldened terrorists and confirmed that facilitating terror is without cost to the states that do it.

Does that sound like a “Bush neocon” claiming that Clinton was “obsessed with bin Laden” to you?

In reality, the only person that appears to have said that Clinton was fixated with the al Qaeda leader was Richard Clarke, who stated the following on CNN on March 24, 2004:

Bill Clinton was obsessed with getting bin Laden. Bill Clinton ordered bin Laden assassinated. He ordered not only bin Laden assassinated but all of his lieutenants.

Well, at least somebody felt Clinton was obsessed with Osama. But Clinton referred to Clarke quite favorably during his tirade.

Moving forward, conservative support for Clinton’s Afghanistan attacks didn’t end in the weeks that followed. On October 25, 1998, high-ranking Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said the following on CNN:

You’ve seen the great work of the FBI and the CIA in particular with regard to the Osama bin Laden matters.

Yet, maybe more curious than the delusion by Mr. Clinton that Republicans were claiming he was obsessed with bin Laden is the fact that he believes he was. After all, if Clinton had been so focused on this terrorist leader that Republicans would have thought it was over-kill, wouldn’t there be indications of this obsession in the record?

Quite the contrary, much as there is no evidence of any Republican expressing such an opinion, there is no evidence that anti-terrorism efforts were a huge focus of the Clinton administration. For instance, just five months after the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa, President Clinton gave a State of the Union address.

Think terrorism or the capture of bin Laden was a central focus to the supposedly obsessed former president? Hardly. In a one-hour, seventeen minute speech to the nation on January 19, 1999, this is all President Clinton had to say about such issues:

As we work for peace, we must also meet threats to our nation’s security, including increased danger from outlaw nations and terrorism. CLINTON: We will defend our security wherever we are threatened—as we did this summer when we struck at Osama bin Laden’s network of terror.
The bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania reminds us again of the risks faced every day by those who represent America to the world. So let’s give them the support they need, the safest possible workplaces, and the resources they must have so America can continue to lead.
We must work to keep terrorists from disrupting computer networks. We must work to prepare local communities for biological and chemical emergencies, to support research into vaccines and treatments.

Furthermore, twelve months later, even though he spoke for almost an hour and a half during his final State of the Union address on January 27, 2000, according to a Nexis-Lexis search, the name Osama bin Laden was never mentioned. This appears almost impossible to believe given revelations that very morning about a connection between the individual apprehended trying to cross the Canadian border with explosives in December and bin Laden.

So much for obsession.

Sadly, this entire incident speaks volumes about how the press have given Clinton a pass for his transgressions, and, maybe more important, the danger of such negligence. When one watches this interview, it is easy to see a man that is unused to challenging questions from the media. After all, this is the first time that Clinton agreed to be on Fox News Sunday, and, as a result, he’s become so accustomed to the softballs fed to him by folks like Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos that he feels it’s his right to not be challenged.

Just look at some of the disdain Clinton showed for his interviewer all because he was asked a question he didn’t want to answer:

You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion dollars plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

Or, how about this wonderful statement by a former president:

And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

Or this one:

So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me.

Just imagine President Bush speaking this way to a member of the media when he is being grilled either during a press conference, or in the middle of any of his interviews since he became president. Or getting in the face of his interviewer and tapping on the host’s notepad that’s sitting on his lap.

Would this be acceptable? Not a chance. However, such was the behavior of America’s 42nd president. And, as much as he and his troops appear to be aggressively defending his actions to preserve his legacy, they have failed to recognize that such displays in front of a well-regarded member of the press will defeat their purposes no matter how much they try to rationalize them.

In the end, it’s not clear which is more surprising: Mr. Clinton once again lying to the American people and disgracing himself so, or that he didn’t realize that in his self-absorbed desire to revise history for the benefit of posterity, he was actually doing himself more harm than good.

Noel Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He is also contributing editor to the Media Research Center’s, and a contributing writer to its Business & Media Institute. He weclomes feedback.