Thursday, December 31, 2009

O's day of reckoning

New York Post
December 31, 2009

It's showtime, folks! Today's the deadline President Obama imposed on Iran's leaders to give up their nuclear ambitions and be nice.

Not sure if the deadline expires at midnight in Tehran or on Washington time, but the mullahs and President Mahmoud "Mighty Mouse" Ahmadinejad aren't scrambling to give Obama a New Year's Eve smooch.

Rather than cave in to our president's mighty rhetoric, the Tehran tyrants took a break from killing protesters in the streets to attempt to import more than 1,300 tons of make-a-nuke uranium ore from Kazakhstan.

They've also increased their nuke-cooker centrifuge count, tested new long-range missiles and lied like Persian rugs about hidden nuke sites. In response, our president threatened to huff and puff and blow their house down.

Iran's retort? "Love the cool breeze, Barack."

This is another debacle of Obama's own making. It's a fundamental rule of playgrounds and security policy that you shouldn't make threats you can't or won't back up. But Obama's in love with the sound of his own voice. The fanatics in Tehran are more interested in the sound of a nuclear blast.

Desperate leftists in our country still compare Obama to Bush, insisting that, well, Obama's not doing so badly, not really, not if you really think about it.

Bush, for all his faults, worried our enemies. Obama amuses them.

Obama's primary threat against the Tehran thugs has been sanctions. OK, let's see if he can get internationally recognized sanctions that actually bite. I'm offering 100-to-1 odds in Tehran's favor.

China won't play. Beijing wants Iran's oil and values Tehran as a regional cat's paw.

Dubai won't halt its massive illicit trade with Iran. Local ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's desert playground is $80 billion in the hole. And smuggling's Dubai's only growth industry these days.

And Russia will cheat on any paper agreements. As will the 'stans of Central Asia. And Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait. Iraq, too. And Pakistan.

Obama's threatened sanctions get even more laughable, since they'd target only Iran's power elite. Insiders in any dictatorship are those best able to duck the pain of sanctions. So Ahmadinejad can't get a visa for a Vegas vacation. That'll teach him a lesson.

Only comprehensive sanctions backed by a military blockade have any chance of working. Otherwise, as we've seen in North Korea, the well-connected continue to feast while the commoners faint from hunger. And there won't be a blockade, folks.

If sanctions weren't enough of a joke, we also have Obama's all-too-obvious reluctance to back the millions of Iranians struggling for freedom and democracy. Our president's empty remarks this week checked the block for nervous American leftists, but provided no useful support to Iranians risking their lives for basic rights.

What should this inept administration do? Provide clandestine, covert and overt support to Iran's freedom crusaders. And funnel money and arms to Baluchi, Kurdish, Azeri and Arab separatists willing to take on the Revolutionary Guard jihadis.

Meanwhile, a paradox arises from those courageous demonstrations in Iran: They really do threaten the monstrous regime of the mullahs -- and that makes Iran's bully-boys even more likely to use nukes as soon as they get them.

If Ahmadinejad and the turbaned tyrants sense that time's running out, they'll launch any nukes they have against Israel in a frantic attempt to kick-start Armageddon and entice the Hidden Imam to return.

These are not rational actors by our standards. They're authentic fanatics. And the (shrinking) civilized world is racing against the clock to change the Tehran regime before the regime can change the world.

President Obama's answer? Make it harder for Iran's rulers to acquire foreign luxury goods. Guess Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah Khamenei won't be drinking Chateau Margaux or Cheval Blanc at their we-popped-a-nuke celebration.

While Obama dithers, Israel may have to act. The Gulf will explode. Oil will be a bargain at $400 a barrel. The global economy will freeze. And we'll be in the fight anyway.

And then? Obama will interrupt another vacation to explain that those wicked Israelis didn't give his sanctions time to work. And it'll be Bush's fault, too. And America's. And Islam will have nothing to do with religious madmen murdering their own people in the streets and begging Allah to help them nuke their neighbors.

Happy New Year!


By Ann Coulter
December 30, 2009

In response to a Nigerian Muslim trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the government will now prohibit international travelers from going to the bathroom in the last hour before the plane lands.

Terrorists who plan to bomb planes during the first seven hours of the eight-hour flight, however, should face no difficulties, provided they wait until after the complimentary beverage service has been concluded.

How do they know Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab didn't wait until the end of the flight to try to detonate explosives because he heard the stewardess announce that the food service was over and seats would have to be placed in their upright position? I can't finish my snack? This plane is going down!
Also prohibited in the last hour of international flights will be: blankets, pillows, computers and in-flight entertainment. Another triumph in Janet Napolitano's "Let's stay one step behind the terrorists" policy!

For the past eight years, approximately 2 million Americans a day have been subjected to humiliating searches at airport security checkpoints, forced to remove their shoes and jackets, to open their computers, and to remove all liquids from their carry-on bags, except minuscule amounts in marked 3-ounce containers placed in Ziploc plastic bags -- folding sandwich bags are verboten -- among other indignities.

This, allegedly, was the price we had to pay for safe airplanes. The one security precaution the government refused to consider was to require extra screening for passengers who looked like the last three-dozen terrorists to attack airplanes.

Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.

An alien from the planet "Not Politically Correct" would have surveyed the situation after 9/11 and said: "You are at war with an enemy without uniforms, without morals, without a country and without a leader -- but the one advantage you have is they all look alike. ... What? ... What did I say?"

The only advantage we have in a war with stateless terrorists was ruled out of order ab initio by political correctness.

And so, despite 5 trillion Americans opening laptops, surrendering lip gloss and drinking breast milk in airports day after day for the past eight years, the government still couldn't stop a Nigerian Muslim from nearly blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.

The "warning signs" exhibited by this particular passenger included the following:

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He's Nigerian.

He's a Muslim.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He boarded a plane in Lagos, Nigeria.

He paid nearly $3,000 in cash for his ticket.

He had no luggage.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Two months ago, his father warned the U.S. that he was a radical Muslim and possibly dangerous.

If our security procedures can't stop this guy, can't we just dispense with those procedures altogether? What's the point exactly?

(To be fair, the father's warning might have been taken more seriously if he had not simultaneously asked for the U.S. Embassy's Social Security number and bank routing number in order to convey a $28 million inheritance that was trapped in a Nigerian bank account.)

The warning from Abdulmutallab's father put his son on some list, but not the "no fly" list. Apparently, it's tougher to get on the "no fly" list than it was to get into Studio 54 in the '70s. Currently, the only people on the "no fly" list" are the Blind Sheik and Sean Penn.

The government is like the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost. Someone stops to help, and asks, "Is this where you lost them?" No, the drunk answers, but the light's better here.

The government refuses to perform the only possibly effective security check -- search Muslims -- so instead it harasses infinitely compliant Americans. Will that help avert a terrorist attack? No, but the Americans don't complain.

The only reason Abdulmutallab didn't succeed in bringing down an airplane with 278 passengers was that: (1) A brave Dutchman leapt from his seat and extinguished the smoldering Nigerian; and (2) the Nigerian apparently didn't have enough detonating fluid to cause a powerful explosion.

In addition to the no blanket, no computer, no bathroom rule, perhaps the airlines could add this to their preflight announcement about seat belts and emergency exits: "Should a passenger sitting near you attempt to detonate an explosive device, you may be called upon to render emergency assistance. Would you be willing to do so under those circumstances? If not we will assign you another seat ..."


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Muslim Guerilla Training in New York

30 December 2009

The Christian Action Network has been provided with two tapes never before seen by the public. The first shows female Muslim recruits receiving paramilitary training at a 70-acre isolated compound in New York called “Islamberg.” The second shows members of the Muslims of the Americas organization declaring the U.S. a Muslim state and avowing that they will fight the enemies targeting American-Muslims and pledging allegiance to their Pakistan-based leader. To watch a highlight of the footage, click here.

More Guns, Less Crime in '09

By Joe Gimenez
30 December 2009

Americans went on binges buying guns and ammunition in early 2009, worried that a radical leftist president and Democrat-dominated Congress would violate their Second-Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. The effects? Less murder, robbery, rape, and property crime, according to an FBI report released Monday. This gives the young president and Democrat Congress at least one proud but unintended accomplishment for which they'll never claim credit.

Indeed, gun buyers were out in droves in late 2008 and early 2009. While it's easy to infer that increased gun ownership figures align precisely with the drop in crime in the same calendar period, you won't see that headline in the New York Times, despite their penchant for such inferences about increases in crime coinciding with increasing "guns on the street."

The gun-buying started shortly before, and then took off after, Obama's election. The Toronto Star reported a 15% increase of 108,000 more FBI background checks in October 2008 than during the same month in 2007. People were already anticipating the dire consequences of an Obama victory. Then, in November 2008, the number of FBI background checks on applicants buying guns spiked 42% from the previous year. The FBI performed 12.7 million background checks in 2008, compared to 11.2 million in 2007, a 13% increase.

More evidence of rampant gun-buying loads up in the states. Through June 2009, the Texas Department of Public Safety received a monthly average of 12,700 applications for concealed handgun licenses, up 46% from the average in 2007. Even the New York Times noted how gun sales were up in 2009; in a June story, it focused on its less sophisticated neighbors in New Jersey. Even in liberal Massachusetts, gun permits surged 15% over the last two years (after falling several years before that).

While background checks and applications for concealed handgun licenses don't directly equate to the number of new guns on the street -- some applicants are refused, and applications can include multiple guns at the same time of purchase -- the numbers do indicate that more law-abiding Americans had new or enhanced arms in the first six months of 2009. Most criminals don't subject themselves to background checks.

(This is a good place to note that "new guns on the street" is just a liberal scare cliché we should not carelessly adopt. These statistics indicate the real dynamic: gun purchases and concealed licenses acquisitions are made predominantly by law-abiding citizens taking their guns home with them from the store, for self-defense, hunting, and target-shooting purposes.)
But shouldn't more guns equate to more murders and other violent crime?
Only if you live in liberal never-never land.

That certainly has not been the case in early 2009. Guns are purchased so that good people can protect themselves against bad people. And moreover, self-protection is a basic human right, despite the fact that our new wise Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor couldn't bring herself to acknowledge that this summer.

The newspapers west of the Hudson River are chock full of stories in which law-abiding citizens protected themselves by using guns. And these are just the incidents that are reported. The Armed Citizen blog does a great job of capturing these stories in their raw form, and every thinking American needs to make his own inferences about the value of guns in these situations: They prevent people from becoming statistics. Go through the news reports compiled on the Armed Citizen blog and make your own count of people who refused to become statistics.

For instance, in May, eleven students in Atlanta avoided becoming murder statistics thanks to the bravery of one among them who had a gun in his backpack. He used it to kill one robber and injure another. Chillingly, the news reports describe how the robbers were counting their bullets to make sure they had enough to kill their victims. One of the robbers was about to rape a woman as well. That's at least thirteen fewer violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery) that did not need to be included in the FBI's crime report for the first half of 2009.

As 2009 winds down, the Democratic Party deserves an off-handed "thank you" for inspiring more law-abiding citizens to purchase weapons and protect themselves from bad people, at least in the first half of the year.

But even while giving them that tribute, it's important to reflect that the only direct result of their gun control efforts in the past -- the Clinton administration's regulation forbidding U.S. military personnel from carrying personal firearms -- resulted in the deaths of thirteen people and an unborn infant in Fort Hood.

Sadly, those deaths will add to an increase in the second half of 2009's statistics -- and renewed calls for gun control legislation, to be sure.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why climate change is hot hot hot

Blame a combination of corrupted science, ersatz religion and Third World opportunism

by Mark Steyn on Thursday, December 24, 2009

According to the CIA’s analysis, “detrimental global climatic change” threatens “the stability of most nations.” And, alas, for a global phenomenon, Canada will be hardest hit. The entire Dominion from the Arctic to the 49th parallel will be under 150 feet of ice.

Oh, wait. That was the last “scientific consensus” on “climate change,” early seventies version, as reflected in a CIA report from August 1974, which the enterprising author Maurizio Morabito stumbled upon in the British Library the other day. If only the impending ice age had struck as scheduled and Scandinavia was now under a solid block of ice. Instead, the streets of Copenhagen are filled with “activists” protesting global warming, some of whom torch automobiles in the traditional manner of concerned idealists. As long as it’s not my car, I can just about live with these chaps, preferring on balance thuggish street politics to the spaced-out cultish stupor in which many of their confreres wander glassy-eyed from event to event. On the Internet, there is a telling clip of Christopher Monckton interacting with a young Norwegian from Greenpeace who has come along to protest the former’s “denialism.” Monckton is a viscount—i.e., a lord, like his fellow denialist, the former British chancellor Lord Lawson. Now that’s what I call peer review! (House of Lords joke.) Lord Monckton has the faintly parodic mien of many aristocrats, whereas the Greenpeace gal was a Nordic blond. If there were empty stools adjoining both parties at the Climate Conference bar, you’d head for hers before some carbon-credit travelling salesman swiped it. Big mistake. Monckton was the soul of affability, gently suggesting places where she could check out the data. She, by contrast, seemed barely sentient, clinging to rote emotionalism and impervious to reason, data, facts, inquiry.

As I always say, if you’re 30 there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you’re graduating high school after a lifetime of eco-brainwashing, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade. None. After the leaked data from East Anglia revealed that Dr. Phil Jones (privately) conceded this point, Tim Flannery, one of the A-list warm-mongers in Copenhagen, owned up to it on Aussie TV, too. Yet, when I reprised the line in this space a couple of weeks back, thinking it was now safe for polite society, I was besieged by the usual “YOU LIE!!!!!!!” emails angrily denouncing me for failing to explain that the cooling trend of the oughts is in fact merely a blip in the long-term warming trend of the nineties.

Well, maybe. Then again, perhaps the warming trend of the nineties is merely a blip in the long-term ice age trend of the early seventies. I doubt many of my caps-lock emailers are aware of the formerly imminent ice age. It was in Newsweek and the New York Times, and it produced the occasional bestseller. But, unlike today’s carbon panic, it wasn’t everywhere; it wasn’t, in every sense, the air that we breathe. Unlike Al Gore’s wretched movie, it wasn’t taught in schools. TV networks did not broadcast during children’s time apocalyptic public service announcements that in any other circumstance would constitute child abuse. Unlike today, where incoming mayors announce that as their first act in office they’re banning bottled water from council meetings, ostentatious displays of piety were not ubiquitous. It was not a universal pretext for recoiling from progress: back in the seventies, upscale municipalities that now obsess about emissions standards of hot-air dryers were busy banning garden clotheslines on aesthetic grounds. There were no fortunes to be made from government grants for bogus “renewable energy” projects. Unlike Al Gore, carbon billionaire, nobody got rich peddling ice offsets.

The man with the sandwich board announcing the end of the world on Jan. 7 is usually unfazed when he wakes up on the morning of Jan. 8. He realigns the runes, repaints the sign, and reschedules Armageddon for May 23. The rest of us, on the other hand, scoff.

But not with this crowd. First it was the new ice age. Then it became global warming. Now it’s “climate change.” If it’s hot, that’s climate change. If it’s cold, that’s climate change. If it’s 12° C and partly sunny with a 30 per cent chance of mild precipitation in the afternoon, you should probably pack emergency supplies and head for higher ground because global milding is rampaging out of control, and lack of climate change is, as every scientist knows, the defining proof of climate change.

Indeed, our response to climate change can itself cause climate change that manifests itself in lack of climate change. A couple of days back, the Guardian ran the following story:

“The hole in the earth’s ozone layer has shielded Antarctica from the worst effects of global warming until now.”

Remember the ozone layer? It was all the rage back in the old days. It was caused by spray-on deodorants, apparently. So we packed ’em in, and switched over to roll-on deodorants. And, because we forswore the sinful spraying of armpits, the hole began to heal. Which is tough on the Antarctic ice cap. Because the only reason it isn’t melting is because the ozone hole isn’t fully closed up. Once it is, more hot air will remain trapped and melt the ice. It may be time to start spraying your armpit hair again.

Why did “climate change” remain the boutique scare-story of a few specialists last time round, and gain global traction this time round? In the Spectator, Maurizio Morabito puts it this way:

“Is the problem with the general public, who cannot talk about climate except in doom-laden terms, and for whom the sky is the last animist god?”
That last part explains a lot. Forty years ago conventional religious belief was certainly in decline in what we once knew as Christendom, but the hole was not yet ozone-layer sized. Once the sea of faith had receded far from shore, the post-Christian West looked at what remained and found “Gaia.” Not long ago, in Burlington, Vt., I got into a somewhat heated discussion about global warming with a lady who accused me of ignoring “science.” She then drove away in a car with the bumper sticker “THE EARTH IS YOUR MOTHER.” In Quebec City for the Summit of the Americas in 2001, I sought a breather from the heady scent of Sûreté du Québec tear gas and idled away half an hour among a display of brassieres promoting “sustainable development.” One (a 54D, as I recall) read “THE EARTH IS MA MÈRE.” In flagrant breach of Quebec’s Bill 101, the francophone right cup was not twice the size of the anglophone left cup. If the earth is our mother, who are we to dictate to the goddess? As Lord Monckton pointed out to that Norwegian CO2-head, we’ve had climate change for four billion years. But now apparently there is an ideal state that Ma Mère has to be maintained in. A belief in a garden of Eden which man through sin has despoiled sounds familiar. But this time we get to pick. Not the Medieval Warm Period that causes the “scientific consensus” such problems, and not presumably the bucolic state the planet was in when Canada was 150 feet under, but some pristine condition somewhere in between.

When man was made in the image of God, he was fallen but redeemable. Gaia’s psychologically unhealthy progeny are merely irredeemable. Anti-humanism is everywhere, not least in the barely concealed admiration for China’s (demographically disastrous) “One Child” policy advanced by everyone from the National Post’s Diane Francis to Sir David Attenborough, the world’s leading telly naturalist but also a BBC exec who once long ago commissioned the great series The Ascent of Man. If Sir David’s any guide, the great thing about man’s ascent is it gives him a higher cliff to nosedive off.

Very few sciences could survive being embraced as a religion. Imagine the kind of engineering or math you’d get if it also had to function as a “faith tradition.” What’s also changed since the seventies is the nature of the UN and the transnational bureaucracies. Once it became obvious that “climate change” represents an almost boundless shakedown of functioning jurisdictions by dysfunctional basket cases, the die was cast. “Aid” is a discredited word these days and comes with too many strings attached. But eco-credits sluiced through an oil-for-food program on steroids offers splendid new opportunities for bulking up an ambitious dictator’s Swiss bank accounts.

And, because of this malign combination—corrupted science, ersatz religion, Third World opportunism—global warming took off in a way the old ice age never did. It would perhaps be too much to expect a generation of brainwashed schoolkids to shake off their brain-dead conformism. And so, between the anti-human left and an alliance of rapacious dictatorships, it now falls to a handful of economically expansive emerging nations—India, China, Brazil, a couple of others—to save the developed world from itself.

Lying to ourselves

Blindness to Islam ties helps terrorists

By Ralph Peters
New York Post
December 29, 2009

On Christmas Day, an Islamist fanatic tried to blow up an airplane whose passengers were mostly Christians. And we helped.

Our government gets no thanks for preventing a tragedy. Only the bomber's ineptitude preserved the lives of nearly 300 innocents.

How did we help Umar Abdulmutallab, a wealthy Muslim university graduate who decided that Allah wanted him to slaughter Christians on their most joyous holiday?

By continuing to lie to ourselves. Although willing -- at last -- to briefly use the word "terror," yesterday President Obama still refused to make a connection between the action, the date and Islam.

Abdulmuttalab: Chose Christmas for a reason.(AP)

Was it just a ticketing accident that led to a bombing attempt on Christmas?
Was it all about blackout dates and frequent-flyer miles?

It wasn't. You know it. And I know it. But our government refuses to know it. Despite vast databases crammed with evidence, our leaders -- of both parties -- still refuse to connect Islamist terrorism with Islam.

Our insistence that "Islam's a religion of peace" would have been cold comfort to the family members of those passengers had the bomb detonated as planned.

Abdulmutallab's own father warned our diplomats that his son had been infected by Islamist extremism. Our diplomats did nothing. Why? Because (despite a series of embassy bombings) the State Department dreads linking terrorism to Islam.

Contrast our political correctness with Abdulmutallab's choice of Christmas for his intended massacre. Our troops stand down on Muslim holidays. A captive terrorist merely has to claim that a soldier dog-eared a Koran, and it's courts-martial all around.

We proclaim that the terrorists "don't represent Islam." OK, whom do they represent? The Franciscans? We don't get to decide what's Islam and what isn't. Muslims do. And far too many of them approve of violent jihad.

It gets worse. Instead of focusing on the religious zeal and inspiration of our enemies and how such motivations change the game, our "terrorism experts" agonize over whether such beasts as Abdulmutallab or Maj. Hasan, the Fort Hood assassin for Allah, are really members of al Qaeda or not.

As a Sunday Post editorial pointed out, al Qaeda's far more than a formal organization; it's an idea, a cause. If a terrorist says he's al Qaeda, he is, even if he doesn't have a union card from Jihadi Local 632.

We're dealing with a global Muslim movement, not a Masons' lodge.

And that "global" aspect is especially worrying. Despite limited Special Operations strikes beyond our recognized combat zones, we still don't accept the nature of the threat from jet-set jihadis. Our leaders and our military are obsessed with holding ground in Afghanistan -- even though al Qaeda's growth areas are in Yemen and Africa.

We voluntarily tie ourselves down, while our enemies focus on mobility. Worse, we've convinced ourselves that development aid (the left's all-purpose medicine) is the key to defeating al Qaeda.

That's utter nonsense. Abdulmutallab's a rich kid. He didn't come from a deprived background, bearing the grievances of the slum. He's a graduate of a top English university. And Osama bin Laden's from a super-rich family. How does building a footbridge in Afghanistan deter them?

Most of our home-grown Islamist terrorists hail from middle-class families -- such monsters as Maj. Hasan or the Virginia virgin-chasers under arrest in Pakistan (where jail conditions are a lot worse than at Guantanamo -- can't we just leave 'em there?).

This isn't a revolt of the wretched of the earth. These terrorists are the Muslim-fanatic versions of Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, pampered kids unhappy with the world. Al Qaeda's big guns are re- belling against privilege. There's a lot of Freud in this fundamentalism.

Spoiled brats remade their god in their own vengeful image. And we have to kill them. This one really is a zero-sum game.

We're not just fighting men but a plague of faith. Until Washington accepts that, we'll continue to reap a low return on our investments of blood and treasure.

On Christmas Day, a Muslim fanatic attempted to butcher hundreds of Christians (dead Jews would've been a bonus). Our response? Have airport security analyze the contents of grandma's mini-bottle of shampoo -- we don't want to "discriminate."

With our lies, self-deception and self-flagellation, we're terror's little helpers.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "The War After Armageddon."

Chistmas Airliner Attack — the al Qaeda Connection

[Andy McCarthy]
December 28, 2009

Naturally, the hapless Janet Napolitano resorted to the now-standard pronouncement — before any meaningful investigation can be done — that there is no indication the terrorist who tried to bring down the flight is part of a larger terrorist plot. On this occasion, there was even less basis for this idiocy than usual: The Nigerian jihadist, Umar Farouk Abdul Mudallad, reportedly told the FBI he was trained by al Qaeda in Yemen. Even if he were ultimately proven to be lying about that, it is at least an indication of a larger plot — as is the similarity between this incident and Richard Reid's al Qaeda-backed attack in 2001.

Janet Napolitano admitted on Monday that America's aviation security system "did not work" in the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack Photo: AFP/GETTY

That is to say, indications of a larger plot abound. The prudent course is thus to say, "We are aggressively investigating all possibilities" and leave it at that. At this premature stage, no sensible person would be surprised to hear that; but saying it suggests we might be open to the possibility that there's a massive international Islamic terror conspiracy — can't have that.

In any event, ABC News is now reporting not only that al Qaeda has taken credit for the foiled attack (and is promising more of the same) but that former Gitmo detainees released in 2007 may be behind it. The ABC report is probably right in its conclusion, but it is flawed in some important details. For example, one of the former detainees it cites, Muhammad Attik al-Harbi, is probably not in Yemen right now — having recently surrendered to Saudi Arabia for re-immersion in its laughing-stock re-education program. But ABC fails to mention another Gitmo alum, Ibrahim Rubaish, who is a major al Qaeda player in Yemen, as is Said al-Shihri, who is mentioned in the ABC report — though they call him "Said Ali Shari." They may very well be complicit.

For a better sense of the potentially involved Yemeni players, check out this Tom Joscelyn post at the Standard's blog. Aside from the fact that Tom knows more than anyone in America about the Gitmo detainees (at least anyone who only has access to public information), the remarkable thing about his analysis is that it was done two days ago — when our Homeland Security Secretary was spouting her "no indication of a larger terrorist plot" nonsense while celebrating that "the system worked."

12/28 06:15 PM

Monday, December 28, 2009

By pulling Manning, Colts forsake chance at perfection

By Bob Kravitz
The Indianapolis Star
28 December 2009

They tossed perfection away like a Christmas leftover. They treated it with a casual shrug of the shoulders, disdain even, as if they were beyond such a trivial pursuit. Standing on the precipice of NFL history, the Indianapolis Colts' brain trust arrogantly, foolishly, treated Sunday's second half like a preseason game.

Peyton Manning and Jim Caldwell during yesterday's 29-15 loss to the New York Jets (Matt Dietrich/The Star)

The Colts rested many starters, particularly quarterback Peyton Manning, for most of the second half in Sunday's 29-15 loss to the New York Jets at Lucas Oil Stadium -- the Colts' first loss of the season after a 14-0 start.

What happens now? Does this guarantee the Colts will reach the Super Bowl? Is that how it works?

At least the New England Patriots (2007) and the New Orleans Saints ('09) tried to do something special and noble, tried to do something that had been done just once in NFL history. At least they tried to put a scare into the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who really should be sending a case of champagne up to Colts President Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell first thing this morning.

The Colts, though, couldn't have been bothered. They treated the second half as if it were gum on the bottom of a shoe. They sent in backup quarterback Curtis Painter to hold on to a 15-10 lead, and it was like having Mel's Detailing put the finishing touches on the Sistine Chapel.

It felt wrong. It was wrong. Cheap, really.

The players? They wanted this. At least a fair shot at it.

"Who wouldn't?" Reggie Wayne said. "I mean . . . who wouldn't? Doesn't everybody want to be a part of history? Not a season goes by that you don't hear about the '72 Dolphins."

He paused.

"I guess there's a bigger picture," Wayne said. "We all wanted to play, but the big dog (Caldwell) made a decision and we have to roll with that decision. We came out after halftime and felt like we were starting to roll and could score some points, but the manager took us off the mound."

On a day when the locker room cleared out more quickly than usual, virtually every Colt was parroting the company line, Manning included. And that's no surprise. This team doesn't do controversy, at least not in public. During most of the second half, Manning just stood silently and helplessly, watching as the perfect season circled the drain.

"We are followers of our head coach and the people in the organization to lead us and give us direction," Manning said. "That's the way we've always done around here. Our job is to take instructions from our superiors and follow those instructions."

At least in 2005, the San Diego Chargers came to the RCA Dome and took the perfect season away from the Colts' front-liners. This time, the Colts flat-out gave it away.

Perhaps they are above all of that. Maybe Polian and Caldwell are smarter than everybody else. Or maybe they're just too smart for their own good.

"The perfect season has never been one of our goals," Caldwell said after becoming the first 14-1 head coach ever booed by his team's fans. "It's never been anything we focused on or anything we talked about. Obviously, we were placed in this situation, but you still have to look at your objective and keep an eye on what's most important."

There was no grousing about the decisions to sit several players, all of whom were dealing with injuries of some sort. That's the luxury you enjoy when you clinch the top seed in 13 games.

Ultimately, this was about one player -- Manning. The moment poor Painter came into the game in the third quarter, you could sense the deflation, in the offense, in the defense and in the crowd. The Colts had waved the figurative white flag, and everybody knew it.

"Jim was going to make that call whenever he felt it was appropriate," Polian said. Asked about the fans' angry response -- and remember now, they're still 14-1 -- he said, "I understand that. . . . I can."

In the end, this doesn't make the Colts any more or less well-equipped to handle the coming postseason. The truth is, they could win the whole thing (in which case Polian and Caldwell will accept the mantle of genius) or they could lose their first playoff game (in which case, we will mention this game a couple thousand times). This wasn't about that, and really, nothing changes in terms of the team's Super Bowl aspirations.

What mattered -- or at least mattered to some of us, including the players -- was the chance to become one of football's forever teams. The Jets? At home? With that offense? And then a game at Buffalo next week? It was right there. Right there.

The Colts casually gave away this thing, spitting on football history along the way. Maybe an organization that has lost its first-round playoff game four times in seven years knows a better way, but we've seen what happens when this team stops trying to do its best to win. Saw it in 2005. Saw it in '07.

"Nobody said anything (to Caldwell)," Wayne said. "What could we say? This was his decision. We've got to live with it."

The Colts are no less a Super Bowl contender today than they were two days ago. But they had a chance, a rare opportunity to chase the ghosts of '72. And they acted like none of it mattered.

Someday, they will look back at this game, this moment in history, and decry the fact that they weren't allowed to chase the ultimate greatness.

What the Near-Tragedy in Detroit Revealed

By Daniel Pipes
28 December 2009

The near-success of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, to set off an explosive on Christmas Day should open the American public’s eyes to the sad state of counterterrorism eight years after 9/11.

The incident involved a Nigerian in Seat 19A – ideally placed over the fuel tanks, atop the wing, and next to the exterior of the aircraft – of Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. As summarized by the Wall Street Journal, it

happened as the Airbus 330-300 carrying 289 people was approaching Detroit. Mr. Abdulmutallab went to the plane’s restroom for about 20 minutes, and upon returning to his seat he stated that his stomach was upset, and he pulled a blanket over himself, according to the Justice Department complaint. As the flight was heading for a landing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport before noon, the complaint alleges, Mr. Abdulmutallab set off the device. Passengers heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odor, and some observed Mr. Abdulmutallab’s pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire.

Subsequent investigations learned that the plot was organized and launched by Al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen, who arranged for 80 grams of PETN (pentaerythritol) to be sewed into Abdulmutallab’s underwear. Investigators concluded that only a chance malfunction prevented the explosives from bringing down the Northwest plane.

Umar Farouk’s father, Umaru Abdulmutallab, former chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria and one of his country’s most prominent businessmen, recently went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja to warn about his son’s “radicalization and associations,” prompting American officialdom to place the son on a terror watch list of about 550,000 names, the Terrorist Screening Data Base. But they did not place him on the list of about 15,000 individuals who must go through additional screening, much less the list of about 4,000 people on the “no-fly” list, who are not allowed to fly to or in the United States. Nor did they revoke Abdulmutallab’s two-year, multi-entry tourist visa. Nor did an air marshal accompany his flight.

Despite these multiple failures, Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security secretary, astonishingly claimed that the system “worked really very, very smoothly” in Detroit. This myopia increases my worries about U.S. law enforcement. In fact, had the system worked, Abdulmutallab would never have entered the airplane, much less set off an explosive device.

Looking ahead, the Transportation Security Administration has issued an emergency order requiring travelers headed for the United States to undergo a “thorough pat-down” at the boarding gate, with a focus on the upper legs and torso and an inspection of carry-on baggage, with a focus on syringes. During the final hour on all U.S. flights, passengers must remain seated, may not access carry-on baggage or keep personal item in their laps.

More delights may follow, reports the New York Times: “Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item aboard the plane. … On one flight, from Newark Airport, flight attendants kept cabin lights on for the entire trip instead of dimming them for takeoff and landing. … All carry-on items would be screened at security checkpoints and again at boarding. … In effect, the restrictions mean that passengers on flights of 90 minutes or less would most likely not be able to leave their seats at all.”

As Phyllis Chesler plaintively asks, “Are we all going to be subjected to underwear checks before boarding our flights? If so, Al-Qaeda will soon secrete explosives in body cavities. Will we all be searched there as well?”

In other words, because U.S. security agencies refuse to take the sensible precaution of concentrating their resources on the small target pool of suspects, namely Muslims, about 1 percent of the population, hundreds of millions of passengers must bear the burden of extra cost, inconvenience, and loss of privacy.

The Detroit abruptly renders invalid several aphorisms I honed over recent years:

* Had U.S. law enforcement devoted the attention to the 9/11 plotters that it has since given to counterterrorism, 9/11 would never have taken place.

* While Sudden Jihad Syndrome by isolated individuals remains beyond the abilities of American institutions to stop (viz., the Ft. Hood shooter last month), terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda are well under surveillance.

* Government authorities have terrorism under control, so we private analysts can focus instead on the non-violent forms of radical Islam known variously as “stealth jihad,” “creeping Shari‘a,” “lawful Islamism,” or “Islamism 2.0.”

The Northwest incident takes me back to 9/11 itself, when I wrote a bitter analysis how the U.S. government had “grievously failed in its topmost duty to protect American citizens from harm.” That failure continues.

What size disaster must occur to inspire a serious approach to counterterrorism?

Flight 253 and Counterterror’s Epic Failure

By Robert Spencer
28 December 2009

An attempted jihad attack on Christmas Day has revealed that Americans are much more vulnerable to such attacks than most have believed – while government officials whistle in the dark. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 just before it landed in Detroit. In response, Barack Obama chose not to cut short his golfing vacation in Hawaii; the White House announced that he would “likely” have something to say about this latest attempted jihad attack on U.S. soil “in the next few days.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was ebullient, maintaining that “the system worked” and “everything happened that should have.”

Unless the “system” was consisted of relying on passengers to tackle jihadists (as Jasper Schuringa, the Dutch passenger on Flight 253, subdued Abdulmutallab), and trusting that jihadis’ detonators will malfunction (as did Abdulmutallab’s), Napolitano’s statement couldn’t possibly be farther from the truth. In reality, nothing worked. Nothing at all, both in terms of security procedures for individual air passengers, and in terms of the larger strategy for dealing with jihad terrorism.

All the stupid and humiliating airport security procedures, all the little baggies for toothpaste and shampoo, all the padding through the security scanner in stocking feet, didn’t work. Abdulmutallab was able to board the plane with the makings of a bomb that would have destroyed the aircraft and killed everyone in it. The Transportation Security Administration has scrambled since Christmas Day to stiffen security procedures, but its effort is foredoomed: jihadis study these procedures carefully, always searching for ways to circumvent them. And such ways exist, even if every passenger were subjected to a full body cavity search – bomb ingredients can be separated and combined mid-flight, or spirited onboard in ways as yet unimagined by the most visionary TSA official.

Abdulmutallib was also on a terror watch list, although that fact, and the fact that he had been known to anti-terror officials for several years, did not prevent him from boarding Flight 253 – showing that such lists and even official scrutiny are as useless as taking off your shoes in the airport security line. What’s more, the jihadi’s father warned American officials about his son, who was being watched already. And still nothing was done to keep him from boarding the plane.

Abdulmutallab likewise demonstrates the failure of long-term anti-terror strategies. Educated at the British International School in Lome, Togo, he was a classic recipient of Western largesse designed to win over the loyalties of Muslims. Yet his encounter with kindly non-Muslim Westerners spending their lives to educate him and his peers did not blunt the fervor of his jihadist fanaticism. And as a rich man’s son, he once again gives the lie to the firmly and widely held assumption that poverty causes terrorism. All the aid programs based on the assumption that poverty does cause terrorism and that money for schools and roads and hospitals would win over Muslim hearts and minds have not worked, and will not work.

All the concerted efforts by the State Department and DHS to ignore the jihad doctrine and reach out to people they deemed to be “moderate Muslims” have likewise not worked. According to the Nigerian newspaper This Day, when Abdulmutallab was at the British International School, “he was known for preaching about Islam to his schoolmates and he was popularly called ‘Alfa,’ a local coinage for Islamic scholar.” This illustrates yet again that, contrary to the popular view, Islamic jihadists present themselves among their fellow Muslims as the exponents of authentic Islam, making their case from the Qur’an and Sunnah — and those Muslims who oppose jihadist violence and Islamic supremacism have never successfully refuted their arguments. Outreach to moderate Muslims has not aided in this effort, and has deceived the general public into thinking that the influence of peaceful Muslims over jihadists is much larger than it actually is.

As far as the DHS and Janet Napolitano are concerned, the Flight 253 incident is a massive and unmitigated disaster, showing the complete and abject failure of their anti-terror policies across the board. The Flight 253 attempted jihad attack shows that the American response to jihad terrorism has failed not just in one detail or a single area. Rather, the failure is massive, comprehensive, all-encompassing. The anti-terror approach adopted since 9/11 is not working, and is never going to work. Until it is scrapped, there will be many, many more incidents like the one on Flight 253. But rather than have the decency to admit the truth, the DHS chief is putting on a brave face and pretending that up is down and down is up. And the President keeps golfing.

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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Officials: Only A Failed Detonator Saved Northwest Flight

Screening Machines May Need to Be Replaced; Al Qaeda Aware of 'Achilles heel'

Dec. 26, 2009 —

Officials now say tragedy was only averted on Northwest flight 253 because a makeshift detonator failed to work properly.

Bomb experts say there was more than enough explosive to bring down the Northwest jet, which had nearly 300 people aboard, had the detonator not failed, and the nation's outdated airport screening machines may need to be upgraded.

"We've known for a long time that this is possible," said Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar and ABC News consultant, "and that we really have to replace our scanning devices with more modern systems."

Clarke said full body scans were needed, "but they're expensive and they're intrusive. They invade people's privacy."

Al Qaeda, said Clarke, is aware of this vulnerability in the U.S. airport security system. "They know that this is a weakness and an Achilles' heel in our airport security system and this is the second time they've tried it."

In 2001, would-be "shoe bomber" Richard Reid failed in his attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight with a highly explosive chemical known as PETN. He attempted to light a fuse to his shoe on a December 22 American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami but was subdued by other passengers.

According to investigators, the bomb on Northwest flight 253, which was en route from Amsterdam to Detroit when suspect Umar farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly detonated it, contained more than 80 grams of PETN. The material was allegedly sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear, and was not detected by airport security.


The bomb was built and the plot organized, say U.S. officials, by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen, just north of the capital city of Sanaa.

Suspect Was On Terrorism Watch List

Sahara Reporters, a Nigerian news source, is reporting that this photo is of terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab while he was at at the British School of Lome, Togo, a prestigious school. (

Authorities say the 23-year-old suspect spent months in Yemen being trained for the Christmas Day suicide mission.

Investigators believe Abdulmutallab was connected to al Qaeda by the same radical imam, American-born Anwar Awlaki, who is linked to the American Army major accused of opening fire at Fort Hood in November.

According to investigators, the bomb used yesterday was built in Yemen by a top al Qaeda bomb maker.

Northwest Airlines flight 253 -- operated on a Delta airplane - was getting ready to land in Detroit just before noon Friday when "a passenger caused a disturbance," said Delta spokeswoman Susan Chana Elliott. The man, later identified as Abdulmutallab, was trying to ignite when was initially reported as firecrackers.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Abudlmutallab, he boarded KLM Flight 588 from Lagos, Nigeria and transferred to Northwest Flight 253 at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Prior to the incident, Abdulmutallab went to the bathroom for about 20 minutes. Upon returning to his seat, Abdulmutallab said he had an upset stomach, and pulled a blanket over himself.

Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers and smelled an odor. Some saw Abdulmutallab's pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire. Passengers and crew then subdued Abdulmutallab and used blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the flames.

A passenger apparently saw the suspect holding what a partially melted and smoking syringe. The passenger took the syringe, shook it to stop it from smoking and threw it to the floor. Dutch filmmaker Jasper Schuringa has been identified in the media as a passenger who subdued Mutallab.

Abdulmutallab, who flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam and then Detroit, was taken into custody at the Detroit airport and was interviewed by authorities there. He was then taken to an area hospital to be treated for burns.

Abdulmutallab was on a terrorism watch list, but not on a no-fly list. Said Clarke, "So once again, we have the U.S. government, as in the case of the Fort Hood attacks, knowing about someone, knowing that they were suspicious, but that information didn't get to the right people in time."

Matthew Cole, Joseph Rhee and Rhonda Schwartz contributed to this story

Copyright © 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures

Portrait of terror: Details of Detroit flight, suspect charged

World is left to wonder how man was allowed in U.S.

27 December 2009

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's 20-minute trip to the bathroom Friday was the first hint to passengers that Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was going to have an unexpected and terrifying conclusion.

He came back to seat 19A on the flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit just minutes before landing, complaining of a stomachache and asking for a blanket.

What no one knew at the time was the 23-year-old Nigerian had an explosive strapped to his body.

Suddenly, passengers heard a loud pop. Abdulmutallab had tried to detonate the device, filled with PETN -- also known as the highly explosive pentaerythritol -- and triggered flames and smoke, setting his pants and the airplane wall ablaze, federal agents say.

"I just jumped over the seats and jumped over the suspect," said passenger Jasper Schuringa in an interview with CNN on Saturday afternoon.

"The whole plane was screaming. The suspect didn't say a word. He was just ablaze. He was just entranced."

Schuringa, other passengers and the flight crew were able to subdue Abdulmutallab, believed to be the son of a prominent Nigerian banker, extinguish the fire and turn the terrorism suspect over to federal authorities before the attempt turned into a tragedy over the skies of Detroit.

Abdulmutallab, who has told federal authorities he was acting on orders from Al Qaeda, was arraigned Saturday at the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center on charges of trying to destroy an aircraft and place a destructive device on an aircraft, which carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $250,000.

The flight carried 279 passengers from all over the world, traveling home for the holidays, visiting friends abroad and trying as hard as they could to catch connecting flights once the Airbus 330 touched down at Detroit Metro Airport about noon.

As federal authorities dissect what they're calling a terrorist attack, the rest of the world is left wondering how Abdulmutallab got into the country in the first place.

And how, in light of 9/11 and other attempted and successful terrorist attacks, he got an explosive device on a flight.

Abdulmutallab has been known to federal authorities for at least two years and had been on a terror watch list compiled by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center.

His father had gone to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria in November to express concerns about his son's connection to both Al Qaeda and Yemen, a country connected to terrorist breeding.

But he didn't have specific information that would have put his son on a no-fly list, which would have prohibited him from getting on the flight.

The connections between Abdulmutallab and Al Qaeda are becoming more apparent, though, according to U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, a Holland Republican and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who talked with Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan on Friday.

"There are strong indications that he was in Yemen for a period of time," Hoekstra said Saturday. "And this guy had a little more coordination because he had to get his hands on this device."

He also apparently had communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born imam connected to last month's Ft. Hood, Texas, shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, Hoekstra said.

"There's a rather significant connection," he said. "But thank goodness Al Qaeda is still somewhat sloppy."

As for the device, it was made of plastic, which wouldn't be detected by airport metal detectors, and passengers saw Abdulmutallab holding a smoking syringe that also was used in trying to detonate the device.

"I don't know how close we came to really having a disaster in Detroit," Hoekstra said. "Were we one inch away from it or was this device never going to work in the first place? That's pretty scary."

Officials in the Netherlands said an initial investigation showed routine security procedures were followed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam with no irregularities. Abdulmutallab's name was on the passenger manifesto that was forwarded and approved by U.S. authorities before takeoff.

Experts doubted that Abdulmutallab's intended target was Detroit, but rather causing an explosion over any heavily populated U.S. city.

"He was just willing to catch any airliner that would take him anywhere in the United States, whether it's New York or Los Angeles or Detroit," said Gregory D. Lee, a criminal justice consultant in Pebble Beach, Calif., and retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent involved in the arrest of terrorist Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind on the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

"And he waited until the final approach, trying to make sure the plane crashed in a heavily populated area."

Naomi R. Patton and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Let's Roll 2

[Mark Steyn]
26 December 2009

This picture provided by J.P. Karas shows Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on the runway after arriving at Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Amsterdam on Friday, Dec. 25, 2009. A passenger aboard the plane set off firecrackers Friday, causing a commotion and some minor injuries, a Delta official said. Delta and Northwest have merged. (AP Photo/J.P. Karas) (J.P. Karas)

On September 11th 2001, the government's (1970s) security procedures all failed, and the only good news of the day came from self-reliant citizens (on Flight 93) using their own wits and a willingness to act.

On December 25th 2009, the government's (post-9/11) security procedures all failed, and the only good news came once again from alert individuals:

"Suddenly, we hear a bang. It sounded like a firecracker went off," said Jasper Schuringa, a film director who was traveling to the US to visit friends.

"When [it] went off, everybody panicked ... Then someone screamed, ‘Fire! Fire!’"

Schuringa, sitting in seat 20J, in the right-most section of the Airbus 330, looked to his left. "I saw smoke rising from a seat ... I didn’t hesitate. I just jumped," he said.

Schuringa dove over four passengers to reach Abdul Mutallab’s seat. The suspect had a blanket on his lap. "It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs."

"I searched on his body parts and he had his pants open. He had something strapped to his legs."

The unassuming hero ripped the flaming, molten object — which resembled a small, white shampoo bottle — off Abdul Mutallab’s left leg, near his crotch. He said he put out the fire with his bare hands.

Schuringa yelled for water, and members of the flight crew soon appeared with fire extinguishers. Then, he said, he hauled the suspect out of the seat.

If the facts remain broadly as outlined, this incident has serious implications for airline travel: A man is on the no-fly list but is allowed to board the plane. Everyone flying on an inbound long-haul flight to the United States is forced to hand over excessively large amounts of liquids and gels and put the small amounts permitted into separate plastic bags, yet the no-fly guy's material for bomb-making sails through undetected.

This time the last line of defense worked. Next time, the paradise-seeking jihadist might get lucky and find himself sitting next to, say, Charlie Sheen, too immersed in a lengthy treatise on how 9/11 was an inside job to notice the smoldering socks in the next seat; or to the same kind of nothing-to-see-here crowd who thought Major Hasan's e-mails were "consistent with his research interests".

As for the perpetrator:

The young man, who yesterday night attempted to ignite an explosive device aboard a Delta Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan in the United States has been identified as Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, former First Bank chairman. Mutallab, a former minister and prominent banker recently retired from the bank’s board...

The family home of the Mutallabs in Central London, is currently being searched by men of the Metropolitan Police. THISDAY checks reveal that the suspect, Abdulfarouk Umar Muttalab who is an engineering student at the University College, London had been noted for his extreme views on religion since his secondary school days at the British International School, Lome, Togo.

So once again we see the foolishness of complaceniks who drone the fatuous cliches about how "in this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs". The men eager to self-detonate on infidel airliners are not goatherds from the caves of Waziristan but educated middle-class Muslims who have had the most exposure to the western world and could be pulling down six-figure salaries almost anywhere on the planet. And don't look to "assimilation" to work its magic, either. We're witnessing a process of generational de-assimilation: In this family, yet again, the dad is an entirely assimilated member of the transnational elite. His son wants a global caliphate run on Wahhabist lines.

12/26 02:22 PM

Cross the river, burn the bridge

The Orange County Register
2009-12-25 01:59:13

Last week, during a bit of banter on Fox News, my colleague Jonah Goldberg reminded me of something I’d all but forgotten. Last September, during his address to Congress on health care, Barack Obama declared:“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

Dream on. The monstrous mountain of toxic pustules sprouting from greasy boils metastasizing from malign carbuncles that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve is not the last word in “health” “care” but the first. It ensures that this is all we’ll be talking about, now and forever.

Government can’t just annex “one-sixth of the US economy” (ie, the equivalent of annexing the entire British or French economy, or annexing the entire Indian economy twice over) and then just say: “Okay, what’s next? On to cap-and-trade…” Nations that governmentalize health care soon find themselves talking about little else.

In Canada, once the wait times for MRIs and hip surgery start creeping up over two years, the government distracts the citizenry with a Royal Commission appointed to study possible “reforms” which reports back a couple of years later usually with recommendations to “strengthen” the government’s “commitment” to every Canadian’s “right” to health care by renaming the Department of Health the Department of Health Services and abolishing the Agency of Health Administration and replacing it with a new Agency of Administrative Health Operations which would report to a reformed Council of Health Policy Administrative Coordination to be supervised by a streamlined Public Health Operations & Administration Assessment Bureau. This package of “reforms” would cost a mere 12.3 gazillion dollars and usually keeps the lid on the pot until the wait times for MRIs start creeping up over three years.

The other alternative is what the British did earlier this year: They created an exciting new “Patient’s Bill of Rights”, promising every Briton the “right” to hospital treatment within 18 weeks. Believe it or not, that distant deadline shimmering woozily in the languid desert haze can be oddly reassuring if you’ve ever visited a Scottish emergency room on a holiday weekend. And, if the four-and-a-half months go by and you still haven’t been treated, you get your (tax) money back? Ah, no. But there is a free helpline you can call which will give you continuously updated estimates on which month your operation has been rescheduled for.

I mention these not as a preview of the horrors to come, but because I’ve come to the bleak conclusion that U.S.-style “health” “reform” is going to be far worse. We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 per cent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 per cent shakedown.

On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it. Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

That’s why I believe America’s belated embrace of government health care is going to be far more expensive and disastrous than the Euro-Canadian models. Whatever one’s philosophical objection to the Canadian health system, it is, broadly, fair: Unless you’re a cabinet minister or a bigtime hockey player, you’ll enjoy the same equality of crappiness and universal lack of access that everybody else does. But, even before it’s up-and-running, Pelosi-Reid-Obamacare is an impenetrable thicket of contradictory boondoggles, shameless payoffs and arbitrary shakedowns.

That’s why Nebraska’s grotesque zombie senator Ben Nelson is the perfect poster boy for the new arrangements, and not just another so-called Blue Dog Democrat spayed into compliance by a massive cash injection. There is no reason on earth why Nebraska should be the only state in this Union to have every dime of its increased Medicare tab picked up by the 49 others.
So either that privilege will be extended to all, or to favored others, or its asymmetry will be balanced by other precisely targeted lollipops hither and yon. Whatever happens, it’s a dagger at the heart of American federalism, just as the bill’s magisterial proclamation that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board can only be abolished by a two-thirds vote of the Senate strikes at one of the most basic principles of a free society – that no parliament can bind its successors.

These details are obnoxious not merely in and of themselves but because they tell us the truth about where we’re headed: Think of the way almost every Big Government project bursts its bodice and winds up bigger and more bloated than its creators allegedly foresaw. In this instance, the stays come pre-loosened, and studded with loopholes. Because the Democrat operators – the Nancy Pelosis and Barney Franks – know that what matters is to get something, anything across the river, and then burn the bridge behind you. My Republican friends often seem to miss the point in this debate: The so-called “public option” is not Page 3,079, Section (f), Clause VII. The entire bill is a public option – because that’s where it leads, remorselessly. The so-called “death panel” is not Page 2,721, Paragraph 19, Sub-section (d), but again the entire bill – because it inserts the power of the state between you and your doctor, and in effect assumes jurisdiction over your body. As the savvier Dems have always known, once you’ve crossed the Rubicon, you can endlessly re-reform your health reform until the end of time, and all the stuff you didn’t get this go-round will fall into place, and very quickly.

As I’ve been saying for over a year now, “health care” is the fast-track to a permanent left-of-center political culture. The unlovely Democrats on public display in the week before Christmas may seem like just a bunch of jelly-spined opportunists, grubby wardheelers and rapacious kleptocrats, but the smarter ones are showing great strategic clarity. Alas for the rest of us, Euro-style government on a Harry Reid/Chris Dodd/Ben Nelson scale will lead to ruin.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

By Robert Spencer
25 December 2009

The Byzantine icon above is the work of the 16th-century iconographer Theophanes the Cretan. There are many things that are un-Islamic about it:
1. It is an image of human beings, which violates the traditional Islamic prohibition of images;

2. It depicts Jesus not as a Muslim prophet but as the incarnate Son of God (his halo reads ο ων, the One Who Is, a title of divinity derived from the name of God that God gives to Moses in Exodus 3:14), in violation of the oft-repeated Qur'anic injunction that Allah has no Son (4:171; 9:30; 25:2; 39:4; 72:3; etc. etc.);

3. In line with #2, it depicts what Muslims would consider to be idolatry, as the holy child's mother kneels and adores him;

4. In the beam or spear coming from heaven down to the child in the cradle, it depicts the activity of the Divine in the world, assuming the doctrine of the Trinity, which is rejected somewhat imprecisely in Qur'an 4:171 and 5:116;

5. The cradle resembles a casket, foreshadowing the redemptive death of Christ, which is denied in Qur'an 4:157.

Now, whether you are a Christian or not, whether or not you believe all or any of these things, the question that is before us this Christmas and every Christmas these days is whether or not people should be allowed to believe these things if they think they are true. Nowhere in the Islamic world today do people who believe these things enjoy full equality of rights with Muslims. In Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere Christians are frequently victimized because, as I have tried to show above, some of their core beliefs are considered blasphemous in authoritative Islam.

And that assumption of blasphemy, since Islam is a political program as well as a set of religious beliefs, does not allow for live-and-let live tolerance of those with whom one disagrees. The blasphemers and those who insult Islam must be subjugated under the rule of the Muslims. We see this agenda being articulated every day; we see Christians and others victimized by it every day; and we see the world largely yawning and indifferent as all this goes on.

This Christmas, remember that the Islamic supremacist program has you on its list. You may not be a Christian. You may not be a Jew. You may not be a Hindu. But the jihad is universal. You are on the list.

So this Christmas, may all of us whose conversion, subjugation, or death is envisioned by the adherents of Sharia stand together. Let us stand together as Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, secularists, what have you, and stand up against those who would kill us or subject us to institutionalized discrimination because they find our beliefs offensive.
For be assured: if we do not stand together, they will prevail. And if they do, and all the rich expressions of the human spirit, from Theophanes the Cretan to the fashioners of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, from Aristotle to Oriana, will be trampled into the mud, destroyed, exploded, ruined, effaced. We will all be the poorer. Our children will be the poorer.

Merry Christmas to all Christian Jihad Watchers who celebrate the Feast on this day.

Posted by Robert on December 25, 2009 1:15 AM 93 Comments

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Tale - 1944

by Hans A. von Spakovsky
24 December 2009

This year, many Americans may not be able to have as bountiful a Christmas as they would like. But I know from my family’s journey to prosperity in America that just having your family together and food on the table in this land of liberty is something to be grateful for. As I sit down with my family for Christmas dinner this year, we will give thanks for that as we remember the dark Christmas and uncertain future my grandmother and mother faced at the end of World War II.

In late 1944 my mother was a teenager living in Breslau, the capital of Silesia in eastern Germany. She had already experienced the trauma of five years of unrelenting war .My grandparents were viewed with suspicion by the authorities because they had a Jewish-sounding name and had refused to join the Nazi Party. My mother had friends and colleagues killed in bombing raids, including a direct hit on the opera house in another city where she had been working as a ballerina. She feared the constant bombings and had quit performing only the month before to return to Breslau to be with her mother and sisters.

Breslau, 1945

As Christmas approached, my mother had no idea whether her father was even alive. Although he was fortunately too old to have been drafted into the Germany army, he had been conscripted into a civilian corps that dug people out of bombed buildings in other cities. There was no longer regular mail or telephone service between Breslau and other cities in Germany, and he had been out of contact for quite some time.

Christmas was a depressing time. There was no tree, no gifts, almost no food, and my mother was overwhelmed with concern over her father and her family’s uncertain future. She remembers it as one of the worst times she ever experienced. And in a city whose civilian population was slowly starving to death as the Russian troops advanced, the Nazis wouldn’t let the civilians leave.

Shortly after Christmas, as my mother came home from her forced job in a factory, her mother told her that all civilians had been ordered out of Breslau. It was one of the bitterest and coldest winters on record. The temperature was only five degrees, and the streets were covered in snow and ice. But my grandmother gathered her elderly parents and her children and tried to get to the train station.

The station and all the streets leading up to it were mobbed. Panic set in as the crowds tried to desperately get onto the last trains leaving Breslau -- trains already packed with refugees from other cities and towns further east. To my grandmother’s consternation, she couldn’t even get close to the main station. It was just as well; the crowd panicked when it became clear there weren’t enough trains to evacuate everyone, and 60 to 70 children were crushed to death.

My grandmother feared what would happen when the Russians arrived (with good reason, as anyone knows of the mass rape, murder and pillaging committed by Russian troops wherever they went). My grandmother was extremely upset that she had been unable to get her family onto a train. Their future seemed even darker than it had at Christmas, and the empty, hungry holiday seemed even more forlorn.

Staying in the city was not the worst thing that could have happened, however, even as the Russian army approached. Many other families who could not evacuate by train tried to walk out of Breslau in the frigid January weather. My grandmother did not because her parents were too frail. Later that spring when the weather thawed, 90,000 corpses of men, women and children who had frozen to death were found in ditches along the roads leading out of Breslau.

Those on the trains weren’t much luckier. Many were evacuated to Dresden, where on Feb. 13, 1945, less than a month later, the city was bombed by British and American planes with incendiaries, starting a firestorm. Thousands of the refugees from Breslau were among the more than 50,000 people killed.

My mother and her family and 140,000 other desperate civilians remained trapped in Breslau during the Russian siege that started in February. The city finally surrendered on May 6, 1945, a week after Hitler committed suicide and four days after Berlin had fallen.

Two thirds of the city was destroyed and 10,000 civilians were killed in the house-to-house fighting. At one point, the children in the city, including my mother and her younger sister, were forced to dig trenches on the outskirts of the city under Russian artillery fire. My mother was even arrested by the Gestapo while she was trying to find her grandparents. Her crime? Being in a part of the city where civilians were prohibited. But she survived and escaped, as did her sisters, and one of the major reasons was because of my grandmother.

Oma was one of the most resourceful and optimistic women I have ever known. She never gave up hope, no matter how desperate the circumstances she found herself in. One of my aunts once told me that when she thought of my grandmother, she always saw her as she had seen her during the war – pacing back and forth in the kitchen thinking about how to save her family from whatever terrible circumstances they faced at the moment. Because of her determination, she and all her children escaped from Breslau to the west after another hard year and another austere Christmas.

My grandmother always enjoyed Christmas -- not because of the gifts, but because her family was together and safe. She had learned to enjoy the time you have with the people you love. She also knew that no matter what the future brings, you can find your way out of almost anything if you don’t give up hope. And she was confident that her grandchildren would never experience in America what her family had endured in Nazi Germany.

My grandmother taught me by her example that determination and optimism can take you almost anywhere, no matter what obstacles you face. Even what appears to be a terrible blow can sometimes turn out for the best. As we celebrate a holiday that is about the birth of hope and salvation, I remember that lesson and am thankful that my family came to America, a nation of new beginnings. It has been a refuge for more than 200 years for immigrants fleeing the tyranny and darkness that pervades so many other places around the world. Merry Christmas!

Book Review: 'American Babylon' by Richard John Neuhaus

Books in Review

Seeking the Welfare of the City of Our Exile

By from the December 2009-January 2010 issue of The American Spectator

American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile
By Richard John Neuhaus
(Basic Books, 270 pages, $26.50)

The death of Father Richard John Neuhaus last January coincided with the posthumous publication of his last book, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, a short, dense meditation on what it means to live "our awkward duality of citizenship," as both Christians and Americans, with integrity.

Father Neuhaus spent a lifetime passionately debating issues of politics and culture as both a patriot and a faithful Christian. He tirelessly sustained his arguments through books, articles, speeches, media appearances, and, most remarkably, his monthly column "The Public Square," reliably 12,000 words in length, which appeared at the back of his journal of opinion, First Things.

First Things is an ecumenical, nonpartisan publication of intelligent, faithful, orthodox opinion, featuring the writings of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. It is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, another Neuhaus enterprise, which served as a forum and incubator of ideas "to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society."
Father Neuhaus's "The Public Square" offered in-depth commentary on the passing cultural, religious, and political scene as well as reviews of whatever stimulating books, magazines, or journal articles he was reading at the time -- it was always a tour de force. He would debate issues, settle scores, and engage intellectual adversaries, many of whom were friends, with vigor and civility. He displayed a breadth and depth of opinion and conversation to rival that of Boswell's Dr. Johnson.

American Babylon can be read as a kind of valedictory or summation of many of the intellectual arguments that have preoccupied Father Neuhaus in his previous writings. In The Naked Public Square (1984), he expressed the view that, at the very founding of America, religion was viewed as an integral part of the American political system and not its antithesis. Church and state are separate and distinct spheres, but the latter does not work to the exclusion of the former in shaping public policy. No religion or denomination is given a privileged place in America, but neither is religion to be banished from the public square in which citizens debate how a democratic society ought to govern itself.

There is a strong emphasis on eschatology -- the ultimate, last or final things -- in American Babylon, no doubt reflecting the author's heightened sense of mortality at this late stage of his life. Its title, which makes Neuhaus "somewhat uneasy," is not meant to convey a salacious image of a decadent America. Rather, America is a Babylon "by comparison with that radically new order sought by all who know love's grief in refusing to settle for a community of less than truth and justice uncompromised." In other words, America is our beloved home but not a utopia on earth. It is not the Kingdom of God, and as Christians we are always in exile in this and every other country on earth.

Neuhaus cites the prophet Jeremiah, writing in the sixth century BC. Given that the God of Israel had sent his people into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, Jeremiah counseled the Jews to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." He also cites the First Letter of Peter, in which ancient Rome is viewed as the functional equivalent of Babylon, and Christians are described as "exiles of the Dispersion" and "aliens and exiles."

The Letter to the Hebrews also notes the tension between exile and citizenship: "For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."

Neuhaus embraces the tension or dialectic since, for Christians and other believers, "All time is time toward home, the time toward our true home in the New Jerusalem." This places upon them "the burden of pilgrimage," which also brings with it the grace to bear it.

While embracing Abraham Lincoln's observation that America is "the last, best, hope of man-kind," Father Neuhaus is quick to recognize the error in a certain "strong current of Christian patriotism" in which "God and country are sometimes conflated in a single allegiance that permits no tension, never mind conflict, between the two."

Neuhaus writes, "To say that we are a nation under God is to say, first and most importantly, that we are a nation under transcendent judgment." "Judgment and promise are inseparable...America is, too, a Babylon."

And again, "Exaggerated patriotism is checked and tempered by the awareness that, while this is a homeland, it is, at the same time, a foreign country."

FATHERE NEUHAUS EXPLORES the fault lines of American religious and political thought, introducing the reader to the Puritans, Transcendentalists, "American Gnosticism" (Harold Bloom's term), and relatively recent Supreme Court decisions that built a wall of separation between not just church and state, but the public square and religion generally. He describes this as "the enforced privatization of religion and religiously informed morality," a concept totally foreign to the likes of John Locke, James Madison, George Washington, and the Founders.

American Babylon includes several chapters of vintage Neuhaus writing: one examines of the idea of moral, as opposed to technological, progress; one expounds Jesus's teaching that salvation is from the Jews; and another demolishes the thought of the late American philosopher Richard Rorty, academic purveyor of "liberal irony," relativism, and post-modernism. While some of these chapters depart somewhat from the theme of the book, all are well worth reading as freestanding essays, excellent contributions to the canon of American letters.

A most illuminating chapter bears the provocative title "Can an Atheist Be a Good Citizen?" There are atheists and then there are atheists. Father Neuhaus distinguishes between those who are "without God" (per the Greek, a-theos), i.e., those intellectually honest people who simply cannot prove or come to apprehend the existence of the Deity, and the "new atheists, who exult in publicly assaulting the religiously grounded foundations and aspirations" of the American political order.

This question of atheism is not without political ramifications. John Locke, the philosopher revered by the Founders, certainly argued for religious toleration but not for irreligion. "Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist," said Locke in A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). "The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all."

James Madison, in his Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, opined that "It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society."

In a passage guaranteed to drive the ACLU over the edge, Madison pushes this point even further:

Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe; And if a member of Civil Society, who enters into any subordinate Association, must always do it with a reservation of his duty to the General Authority; much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign.

Neuhaus believes that "an atheist can be a citizen, but he cannot be a good citizen" since citizenship is more than simply abiding by the laws.

A good citizen is able to give an account, a morally compelling account, of the regime of which he is a part -- and to do so in continuity with the constituting moment and subsequent history of that regime. He is able to justify its defense against its enemies, and to convincingly recommend its virtues to citizens of the next generation so that they, in turn, can transmit the order of government to citizens yet unborn. This regime of liberal democracy, of republican self-governance, is not self-evidently good and just. An account must be given. Reasons must be given. They must be reasons that draw authority from that which is higher than ourselves, from that which transcends us, from that to which we are precedently [sic], ultimately, obliged.

Believers "are now the most persuasive defenders...of the good reasons for this regime of ordered liberty" because "it makes a sharply limited claim upon the loyalty of its citizens," argues Father Neuhaus. "The ultimate allegiance of the faithful is not to the regime or to its constituting texts, but to the City of God and the sacred texts that guide our path toward that destination. We are dual citizens in a regime that, as Madison and others underscored, was designed for such duality."

THE PARAMOUNT POLITICAL question of our day, the one that illustrates, most vividly, the tension of being a Christian, citizen, and exile in American Babylon, relates to "what it means to be a human being." These "life questions" raise the matter of who is "a bearer of rights that we, as a society, are obliged to respect." It is "the dignity of the human person," the individual human person, in a society that claims to be a community, which vexes Americans today.

Says Neuhaus: "...the dignity of the human person is affirmed not in the assertion of autonomy but in attending to our duties to protect those who lack autonomy, or whose autonomy is gravely limited." Viewed from this perspective, the 1973 Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, are "the most consequential political event of the past half-century in the United States." The key question is not about when human life begins. On that there is no dispute. "The crucial question is: At what point in its existence ought we, and for what reasons ought we, to recognize that a human life should be protected in law?"

Father Neuhaus believes the moral question of abortion and other life issues are unavoidably a political question: "If politics is deliberating how we ought to order our life together, there can hardly bea more basic question than this: Who belongs to the we?"

If a principle is established by which some indisputably human lives do not warrant the protections traditionally associated with the dignity of the human person -- because of their size, location, dependency, level of development, or burdensomeness to others -- it would seem that there are numerous candidates for the application of the principle, beginning with the radically handicapped, both physically and mentally, not to mention millions of aged and severely debilitated in our nation's nursing homes.

People of faith must continue to heed Jeremiah and "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." Father Neuhaus reminds us, consoles us, that we will only return from our exile in "the personal encounter and eternal dwelling with one who is no stranger, for we knew him in his humility and will then see him in his triumph."

G. Tracy Mehan, III served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the administrations of both Presidents Bush. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.