Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fast and Furious Victims' Voices Live On Through Their Families

By Ann Kane

December 10, 2011

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata

Since the Obama administration took up residence in D.C., that world of law and order has slipped away. No other action by higher-ups has demonstrated this near-total breakdown of checks and balances more than Operation Fast and Furious.

Our representatives on Capitol Hill are so hopelessly flawed, our mainstream journalists so ethically challenged, and our citizens so desensitized to corruption that a government-initiated program transferring high-powered weapons to vicious Mexican drug cartels, who would in all likelihood use them to murder innocent human beings, seems like business as usual.

For months a hypnotized media has called the operation a "botched sting." When questioned about the scandal, a majority of Americans draw a blank. Only dedicated online alternative journalists and a few major outlets like Fox News keep on connecting the dots.

This tenacious bunch is determined not to let the story die along with the victims.

For them and most of us, it is the fierce and heroic goodness we see in the photos of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata that has left some mark on us.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was critically wounded in Tuscon only three weeks after Brian Terry's murder, wrote on December 15, 2010 of her own pain upon learning of Terry's death.

From Tuscon Weekly:
I am deeply saddened by the senseless murder of Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in the line of duty while protecting our nation's border.

This is a tragedy that deserves nothing less than the swiftest and strongest response. It is a stark reminder that our borders are not yet secure. The full efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are focused on bringing to justice all those involved.

I salute the resolute work of the brave men and women of the Border Patrol and the other agencies that work every day to protect our borders. And I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Terry family for their profound personal loss. Our commitment to them must be evident in our determination to bring to justice every person involved in this horrific crime.
A report released after Terry's death stated the agent was shot and killed after "encountering a group of suspects in a remote area of Peck Canyon northwest of Nogales, Arizona." Just weeks before the ambush, Tucson Weekly's Leo W. Banks chronicled the Peck Canyon corridor as a "smuggler's paradise." In the same article, Banks presciently asked, "What's going on? Can the violence be stopped before we have another borderlands tragedy involving an American citizen or a lawman?"

Banks had no way of knowing how much of a tragedy this would turn out to be. He could not know that Terry's murder might expose senior officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BAFTE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) as tacitly approving a potentially catastrophic operation. Two AK-47s linked to a U.S. government program known as Fast and Furious would be found at the scene of Terry's murder. E-mails and audio tapes also indicated that a third gun was recovered at the time and may have been tied to the gun-walking scandal.

Gabby Gifford's resolute determination "to bring to justice every person involved in this horrific crime" has prompted many outside the mainstream media to hold those at the center of Fast and Furious accountable. Terry's exemplary life of service demands it.

Michigan State Police Sergeant Dan Bowman eulogized 40-year-old Brian Terry at Terry's funeral in Detroit on December 23, 2010. He read from a note written by Terry when he was asked to describe himself during training.
If you seek to do battle with me this day, you'll receive the best I am capable of giving.
It may not be enough, but it will be everything I have to give...You may defeat me, but you will be lucky to escape with your life. You may kill me, but I'm willing to die if necessary.

I do not fear death, for I have been close enough to it on enough occasions that it no longer concerns me. What I do fear is the loss of my honor, and would rather die fighting than to have it said that I was without courage.
The tears and emotion at Terry's funeral were matched months later at the funeral mass for slain U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata in Brownsville, Texas.

On February 15, 2011, 32-year-old Zapata was killed in the line of duty in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Zapata was on assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City when his and fellow agent Victor Avila's SUV was ambushed by members of the Los Zetas drug cartel, according to Mexican and American authorities. Avila was wounded and Zapata killed after identifying themselves as U.S. diplomats. One of the guns used in the shooting was traced to the BAFTE gun-walking operation where weapons were bought in bulk and agents were told not to interdict them.

By all accounts, Zapata was an exceptional person, much like Brian Terry. An emotional John Morton, ICE director, expressed the feelings of over 1,000 mourners at the Brownsville Events Center on February 22.
I submit to you, however, that as dark as this moment is, Jaime's life is really all about light. Everyone in this room will eventually meet his or her Maker, and the real question on that day won't be how we died but how we lived. When it's my turn, I want to say that I lived like Jaime.
The past nine months have been a mixture of raw grief and frustration for Mary Zapata-Munoz and Amador Zapata, Jaime's parents. They initially wanted to know what he was doing in Northern Mexico hundreds of miles from the U.S. Embassy on only the ninth day of his assignment; each asked questions about the weapons used in the ambush. Authorities reported that a Romanian-made semi-automatic pistol had been traced back to a Dallas-area arms-trafficking ring. In late October, the family stated that officials had not yet told them if the weapons used by Los Zetas were part of Operation Fast and Furious, based in Phoenix.

In the beginning, Jaime's dad, Amador, a Vietnam War veteran, missed the daily telephone calls he received from his son. Mary missed her son firing up the barbecue at their home in Brownsville. Their sadness has since morphed into a primal need to know the facts behind their son's murder.
I feel like I'm not getting the truth. I know nothing will bring my son back. No truth. No nothing. But I want to make sure that no other person has to go through what we went through, what Jaime went through. Can you imagine those last moments, trying to save your life and your buddy's life? What it must have been like?...We don't just want answers...You can always get an answer, but it's not always necessarily the truth. We want the truth."
When it comes to Operation Fast and Furious the truth is hard to come by. American agents Zapata and Terry aren't the only victims, their families not the only ones demanding answers.

Whoever authorized the deadly program back in 2009 did not alert the Mexican government. Mexico Attorney General Marisela Morales said law enforcement officials were not told details of Fast and Furious until January 2011. More than 200 of the trafficked guns have shown up at crime scenes in Mexico. Morales called the secret gun-walking project an "attack on the safety of Mexicans."

One of those Mexican citizens was Mario González Rodríguez, an attorney and brother of Chihuahua's former attorney general, Patricia González Rodríguez. Rodríguez was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by hooded gunmen from the Sinaloa drug cartel, who posted a video online with the captive denouncing his sister. When his body was found in October 2010, two AK-47s with serial numbers traced back to the Arizona gun-smuggling operation were found.

When Carlos Canino, an ATF officer attached to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, told Patricia González about the weapons found at the murder scene, the grieving sister expressed disbelief.
The basic ineptitude of these officials caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims.
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich listed a few of the places in Mexico where Fast and Furious guns were retrieved in a September 9, 2011 letter to Congressman Darrell Issa and Senator Chuck Grassley.
One AK-47 type assault rifle purchased by a Fast and Furious suspect was recovered Nov. 14, 2009 in Atoyac de Alvarez, Mexico after the Mexican military rescued a kidnap victim.

On July 1, 2010, two AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by Fast and Furious suspects were recovered in Sonora, Mexico after a shootout between cartels. Two murders were reported in the incident using the weapons.

On July 26, 2010, a giant .50 caliber Barrett rifle purchased by a Fast and Furious suspect was recovered in Durango, Mexico after apparently having been fired. No further details of the incident were given.

On Aug. 13, 2010, two AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by a Fast and Furious target were recovered in Durango, Mexico after a confrontation between the Mexican military and an "armed group."

On May 27, 2011, three AK-47 type assault rifles purchased by Fast and Furious targets were recovered in Jalisco, Mexico after having been fired. No other details of the incident were provided,
One of Mexico's most revered poets , Javier Sicilia, grieving over the loss of his son, who was found murdered with six other people in a drug-related mêlée, organized a march in May declaring that he and the Mexican people are "hasta la madre" -- "fed up." One of the participants lamented, "Young people are no longer the country's future; we're this country's dead."

Sicilia echoed the Terry and Zapata families, saying, "I'm going to march ... because I don't want any other family to suffer the loss of a son as we are suffering due to a poorly planned, poorly executed, and poorly led war."

Sicilia blames politicians and criminals, who he believes are complicit in the violence. In a callous dismissal of empathy for victims and their family members, the Calderón administration stigmatized the casualties, arguing that "90% of drug war murder victims were linked to organized crime." According to activist organizations banding together in protest, "the murders weren't mourned, let alone investigated."

In a country that has lost 40,000 citizens since 2006 in a drug war, the addition of a couple of thousand "walked" weapons and hundreds of more victims might not elicit outrage in the United States. But Sicilia the poet, who was not content to let his son's murder become just a statistic, reminded the marchers of the sanctity of each individual life.
Many of the dead, maybe the majority of the dead, they have a story. They were innocent and they were killed stupidly for no reason ... They're human beings, and behind them there are families who are suffering very much.
The victims of Operation Fast and Furious are speaking from their graves, through honest journalists, grief-stricken parents, and awakened Americans who have had enough of the cover-up.

Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report.

‘Furious’ twisting

Eric Holder stonewalls on

By Michael A. Walsh
New York Post
December 9, 2011

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. testifies on "Fast and Furious" at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. (Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday was true.

That the answer to several questions about who ordered Fast and Furious — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “deeply flawed, reckless, misguided and inexcusable” (Holder’s words) gun-trafficking operation — is: “We don’t know yet.”

That concerns over the program’s death toll (one, probably two American agents, hundreds of Mexicans) and demands for accountability — including for Holder’s resignation and that of his deputy, Lanny Breuer — are “inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric to score political points.”

That the recently withdrawn letter from the Justice Department to Congress denying federal responsibility for the program was not a lie, “because it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie.”

That the push for something called “Demand Letter No. 3”— a new regulation to compel border-state gun dealers to report multiples sales of long guns to the ATF — had nothing to do with the fact that the feds had just allowed some 2,000 weapons to “walk” to Mexico and were using the blowback to justify more gun control.

That Holder doesn’t read the memos in his own in-box, instead relying on staffers to bring pertinent information to his attention.

And that, miraculously, of the thousands of pages of e-mails about F&F turned over to Congress last Friday night, not one is from or to Holder — that he was just an innocent bystander as the US Attorney’s office and ATF field headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz., cooked up the scheme.

Let’s believe all that; what are we left with? Let Holder sum it up:

“Although the department has taken steps to ensure that such tactics are never used again . . . we will continue to feel the effects of this flawed operation for years to come. Guns lost during this operation will continue to show up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.”

There you have it: One of the most incompetent (at best) and murderous operations ever undertaken in the name of the Justice Department, and all the attorney general can do is say they’ve closed the barn door now that the horses have fled, taking the guns and ammo with them.

Oh, and promise to get to the bottom of things . . . someday.

Watching Holder dodge, twist and weave under intense questioning by his nemesis, Rep. Darrell Issa (R- Calif.) and other Republicans yesterday was to observe a true turf-defending Washington apparatchik. Holder repeatedly hid behind the excuse that acting Inspector General Cynthia Schnedar is doing her own probe. “That,” said Holder, “will take time.”

And still heads have not rolled.

Sure, Dennis Burke, the former US Attorney in Arizona, has stepped down. Kenneth Melson, the former acting head of the ATF, on whose watch Fast and Furious got started, has been protectively shuffled off into a do-nothing job elsewhere.

But both Holder and Breuer remain behind their desks, finger-pointing down the chain of command.

No wonder Issa tried to get Holder declared a hostile witness and have him put under oath.

Issa says his committee has been “systematically lied to” by Holder & Co.

“We believe you’re withholding documents,” said Issa, threatening Holder with contempt of Congress as well as a subpoena for an appearance before his Oversight Committee in January and comparing him to disgraced Nixon AG, John Mitchell.

“Have you no shame?” retorted Holder, to which Issa replied: “Have you no shame?”

Holder angrily rejected the implication that Justice deliberately concocted Fast and Furious to justify the increased gun control that is a clear priority of the Obama administration. Committee Democrats, meanwhile, did their best to change the subject, cheer him on and support his irrelevant calls for tighter gun laws.

But just last week, we learned that the Drug Enforcement Administration, another Justice Department division involved in F&F, has laundered and smuggled millions of dollars in drug money, ostensibly to help the Mexican government track drug money and identify cartel leaders.

“I have no intention of resigning,” said a defiant Holder yesterday, nor, he said, should anyone else quit. But if the drip, drip, drip of revelations continues, that might soon change.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Today's Laugh Track: Great White North - Beer Nog

A future looted to bribe the present

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
December 9, 2011

The President of the United States came to Osawatomie, Kansas, last week to deliver a speech of such fascinating awfulness that archeologists of the future, sifting through the rubble of our civilization, will surely doubt whether it could really have been delivered by the chief executive of the global superpower in the year 2011.

"This isn't about class warfare," declared President Obama. Really? As his fellow Democrat Dale Bumpers testified at the Clinton impeachment trial, "When you hear somebody say, 'This is not about sex,' it's about sex." The president understands that "Wall Street," "banks," "fat cats," etc., remain the most inviting target, and he figures that he can ride the twin steeds of Resentment and Envy to re-election and four more years of even bigger Big Government. His opponents, he told us, "want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. ... And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. ... It doesn't work. It has never worked." He blamed our present fix on "this brand of 'you're on your own' economics."

This is a deliciously perverse analysis of the situation confronting America and a fin de civilisation West. In what area of life are Americans now "on their own"? By 2008, Fannie and Freddie had a piece of over half the mortgages in this country; the "subprime" mortgage was an invention of government. America's collective trillion dollars of college debt has been ramped up by government distortion of the student loan market. Likewise, health care, where Americans labor under the misapprehension that they have a "private" system rather than one whose inflationary pressures and byzantine bureaucracy are both driven largely by remorseless incremental government annexation. Americans are ever less "on their own" in housing, education, health, and most other areas of life – and the present moribund slough is the direct consequence.

It would be truer to say that the present situation reflects the total failure of "you're not on your own" economics – the delusion of statists that government can insulate millions of people from the vicissitudes of life. Europeans have assured their citizens of cradle-to-grave welfare since the end of the Second World War. This may or may not be an admirable notion, but, both economically and demographically, the bill has come due. Greece is being bailed out by Germany in order to save the eurozone but to do so requires the help of the IMF, which is principally funded by the United States. The entire Western world resembles the English parlor game "Pass the Parcel," in which a gift wrapped in multiple layers of gaudy paper is passed around until the music stops, and a lucky child removes the final wrapping from the shrunken gift to discover his small gift. Except that, in this case, underneath all the bulky layers, there is no there there: Broke nations are being bailed out by a broke transnational organization bankrolled by a broke superpower in order to save a broke currency. Good luck with that.

The political class looted the future to bribe the present, confident that tomorrow could be endlessly postponed. Hey, why not? "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day," says Macbeth. "To borrow, and to borrow, and to borrow," said the political class, like Macbeth with a heavy cold (to reprise a rare joke from Mrs. Thatcher). And they failed to anticipate that the petty pace would accelerate and overwhelm them. On Thursday, John Corzine, former U.S. senator, former governor of New Jersey, former Goldman Sachs golden boy and the man who embodies the malign nexus between Big Government and a financial services sector tap-dancing on derivatives of derivatives, came to Congress to try to explain how the now-bankrupt entity he ran, MF Global, had managed to misplace $1.2 billion. The man once tipped to be Obama's Treasury secretary and whom Vice President Joe Biden described as the fellow who's always "the smartest guy in the room," explained his affairs thus: "I simply do not know where the money is." Does that apply only to his private business or to his years in the Senate, too?

When Corzine took over the two-and-a-quarter-century-old firm, he moved it big-time into sovereign debt – because you can't lose with sovereign debt, right? Because a nation, even one that is, in any objective sense, bankrupt as Mediterranean Europe basically is, is not bankrupt in the sense that a homeowner or small business is: Corzine figured, reasonably enough, that no matter the balance sheets of Portugal, Spain, Italy and the rest, they'd somehow be propped up unto the end of time. As their credit ratings hit the express elevator to Sub-Basement Level Four, Corzine was taken down with them. The smart guy made a bet on government and lost. That's where the rest of us are headed: The "you're not on your own" societal model of Western Europe has run out of people to stick it to.

In Kansas, in his latest reincarnation, the president channeled Theodore Roosevelt in trust-busting mode. "He busted up monopolies," cooed Obama approvingly, "forcing those companies to compete for consumers with better services and better prices." But who wields monopoly power today? Washington dominates ever more areas of life, from government-backed mortgages to the government takeover of education loans to Obamacare's governmentalization of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. In my most recent book, which makes an attractive and thoughtful Christmas gift for the apocalyptically minded loved one in your family, I quote an old joke about the British equivalent of the U.S. anti-trust division: "Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?" This is a profound insight into the nature of statism: By definition, there can only be one government – which is why, when it's "monopolizing", it should do so only in very limited areas.

Yet, after hymning the virtues of "better services and better prices," the president went on to issue the latest brain-dead call for increased "investment" in education. America "invests" more per student than any other nation except Switzerland, and it has nothing to show for it other than a vast swamp of mediocrity presided over by a hideous educrat monopoly. Might this fetid maw not benefit from exposure to "better services and better prices"? Perish the thought! Instead, Obama is demanding increased "investment" in "education" in order to "give people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors."

I am not a trained economist, but it is not obvious to me that the United States of America is crying out for more wind turbines, and, if it is, I'm sure many of those colleges' tenured Race and Social Justice Studies professors could be redeployed to serve as such. In Europe, the political class is beginning to understand that the social democratic state created to guarantee permanent stability risks plunging the Continent into the worst instability since those happy-go-lucky days of the 1930s. By contrast, in Kansas, the president of the United States is still riding the tie-dyed wind turbine and promising to waft you to Oz. These are dangerous times – and, as many will discover, whatever assurances the statists give, in the end you'll be on your own.


Mumia: 30 Years Later

December 9, 2011

Daniel Faulkner and Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal​ shot Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner​ in the back and then shot the wounded cop in the face thirty years ago today. As an anniversary present, the former Black Panther learned this week that prosecutors will not seek to reinstate the death penalty imposed by a jury selected by the defendant.

Abu-Jamal wasn’t just guilty. He was late. It’s not that radicals had tired of violence by his 1981 arrest. Weatherman remnants had helped murder two policemen and a security guard in a Nanuet, New York robbery of a Brink’s truck a few weeks earlier, and subsequently bombed numerous locations in and around Washington, DC. But the public, as stiff sentences suggested, had clearly tired of violent radicals. Huey Newton​ could murder an Oakland policeman in 1967 and find freedom a few years later. When a former Black Panther tried that in Philadelphia in 1981, a jury sentenced him to death. Despite evading that sentence, Abu-Jamal did not get away with murder. He has been incarcerated every day for the past three decades. The sixties had a bad eighties.

The times, but not the tactics, had changed. Mumia Abu-Jamal showed himself to be the identikit radical defendant.

He initially acted as own lawyer. He refused to enter a plea, refused to rise at the outset of courtroom proceedings, and demanded, more than one-hundred times, the presence of incarcerated Philadelphia cult leader John Africa​, whom the defendant described as the best lawyer in the world. He called one judge a “bastard” and another a “black-robed conspirator.” Unsurprisingly, he found himself kicked out of courtrooms at least a half-dozen times during the duration of his trial. Following the determination of his guilt, he melodramatically proclaimed: “This decision today proves neither my guilt nor my innocence. It proves merely that the system is finished. Babylon is falling! Long live MOVE! Long live John Africa!” The jury sentenced him to death, anyhow. Welcome to 1982.

From that first trial, Mumia attracted a “cult” following, as in small but passionate. They protested outside the courthouse and partook in a fracas within it. The “cult” following took on different connotations, as in mindless, when the death-row inmate became a delayed cause célèbre upon hiring a media-savvy defense team led by the late Leonard Weinglass​ in the mid-1990s. The Mumiacs insisted the police had faked the death of one witness to prevent her from recanting and that a .44 caliber round, inconsistent with Abu-Jamal’s .38 caliber revolver, had really caused Faulkner’s death—despite the appellant’s own ballistics expert rebutting this conspiracy theory on the witness stand.

A mythology engulfed Abu-Jamal that projected a persona not resembling the person. The back-cover copy of his Live from Death Row​ bestowed upon him a Peabody Award that he had never won. A common yarn spun by his admirers holds that police framed Abu-Jamal because of his explosive journalism. But he worked as a cab driver when he was arrested, and his stringer work on the A.M. dial had all but dried up. If the government had really conspired to silence a man who had been fired from a series of radio reporting jobs, they might have left him alone in his taxi. Charging the down-and-out driver with murder provided a megaphone, not a muzzle.

The inmate’s leftist politics overrode the evidence. Numerous eyewitnesses identified Mumia as the killer. He was found at the scene with a return round from Faulkner’s service weapon in his chest and a gun registered in his name by his side. The five spent shell casings in his gun were of the same unique variant as the “Plus P” bullets that killed the officer. Witnesses reported a hospital boast: “I shot the mother—er and I hope the mother—er dies.” In 1999, prison outreach activist Phillip Bloch recounted a 1991 conversation in which Abu-Jamal had acknowledged killing Faulkner. On the other hand, the commentator/killer compared George W. Bush to Hitler and eulogized Howard Zinn​ as a “brilliant” “master historian.” This surely made him innocent, or at least entitled him to a “get out of jail free” card. Right?

Abu-Jamal’s fortunes improved in the 1990s. Pacifica Radio aired Abu-Jamal’s commentaries after National Public Radio rethought an earlier decision to do so. Evergreen State College and Antioch College, among others, hosted the convicted murderer as a commencement speaker via audiotape. A Law & Order episode namedropped Abu-Jamal, with a character noting that the “Philadelphia journalist” was “framed for murder.” Rage Against the Machine played an infamous benefit concert for him. The subject of numerous cable documentaries, and the author of books, spoken-word CDs, and a periodic Internet column, Mumia became a cottage, nay, a prison-cell industry.

Never outside of the ranks of hit men had murder been so beneficial to one’s career. But then a federal judge had to ruin it by vacating Abu-Jamal’s death sentence in 2001. Although the rallying cry had been “Free Mumia​,” the urgency of his followers stemmed from the threat that the state would “Fry Mumia.” But Pennsylvania, which employed lethal injection anyhow, had executed just three people in the last thirty-five years. Wednesday’s announcement by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams that he would forgo pursuing a reinstatement of the death sentence merely affirmed what all but the blindly passionate on both sides had already foreseen: Pennsylvania would never execute its most famous inmate.

A murderer facing life behind bars makes for a less compelling cause célèbre than one facing capital punishment. The throngs that had once shouted “Free Mumia” in Paris, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have long since reoriented their shouts toward other injustices.

The Mumiacs have moved on. Mumia remains in the same place.

- Daniel J. Flynn is the author of numerous books, including "Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America," forthcoming from ISI Books this fall. He writes a Monday column for and blogs at

Obama’s campaign for class resentment

The Washington Post
December 9, 2011

In the first month of his presidency, Barack Obama averred that if in three years he hadn’t alleviated the nation’s economic pain, he’d be a “one-term proposition.”

When three-quarters of Americans think the country is on the “wrong track” and even Bill Clinton calls the economy “lousy,” how then to run for a second term? Traveling Tuesday to Osawatomie, Kan., site of a famous 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech, Obama laid out the case.

It seems that he and his policies have nothing to do with the current state of things. Sure, presidents are ordinarily held accountable for economic growth, unemployment, national indebtedness (see Obama, above). But not this time. Responsibility, you see, lies with the rich.

Or, as the philosophers of Zuccotti Park call them, the 1 percent. For Obama, these rich are the ones holding back the 99 percent. The “breathtaking greed of a few” is crushing the middle class. If only the rich paid their “fair share,” the middle class would have a chance. Otherwise, government won’t have enough funds to “invest” in education and innovation, the golden path to the sunny uplands of economic growth and opportunity.

Where to begin? A country spending twice as much per capita on education as it did in 1970 with zero effect on test scores is not underinvesting in education. It’s mis-investing. As for federally directed spending on innovation — like Solyndra? Ethanol? The preposterously subsidized, flammable Chevy Volt?

Our current economic distress is attributable to myriad causes: globalization, expensive high-tech medicine, a huge debt burden, a burst housing bubble largely driven by precisely the egalitarian impulse that Obama is promoting (government aggressively pushing “affordable housing” that turned out to be disastrously unaffordable), an aging population straining the social safety net. Yes, growing inequality is a problem throughout the Western world. But Obama’s pretense that it is the root cause of this sick economy is ridiculous.

As is his solution, that old perennial: selective abolition of the Bush tax cuts. As if all that ails us, all that keeps the economy from humming and the middle class from advancing, is a 4.6-point hike in marginal tax rates for the rich.

This, in a country $15 trillion in debt with out-of-control entitlements systematically starving every other national need. This obsession with a sock-it-to-the-rich tax hike that, at most, would have reduced this year’s deficit from $1.30 trillion to $1.22 trillion is the classic reflex of reactionary liberalism — anything to avoid addressing the underlying structural problems, which would require modernizing the totemic programs of the New Deal and Great Society.

As for those structural problems, Obama has spent three years on signature policies that either ignore or aggravate them:

●A massive stimulus, a gigantic payoff to Democratic interest groups (such as teachers, public-sector unions) that will add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.

●A sweeping federally run reorganization of health care that (a) cost Congress a year, (b) created an entirely new entitlement in a nation hemorrhaging from unsustainable entitlements, (c) introduced new levels of uncertainty into an already stagnant economy.

●High-handed regulation, best exemplified by Obama’s failed cap-and-trade legislation, promptly followed by the Environmental Protection Agency trying to impose the same conventional-energy-killing agenda by administrative means.

Moreover, on the one issue that already enjoys a bipartisan consensus — the need for fundamental reform of a corrosive, corrupted tax code that misdirects capital and promotes unfairness — Obama did nothing, ignoring the recommendations of several bipartisan commissions, including his own.

In Kansas, Obama lamented that millions “are now forced to take their children to food banks.” You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection!

Why? Because, you see, he bears no responsibility for the current economic distress. It’s the rich. And, like Horatius at the bridge, Obama stands with the American masses against the soulless plutocrats.

This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez. But with high unemployment, economic stagnation and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?

He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.

What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?

Going 'One On One' With Sports' Greatest Stars

[Click on the article title to hear an interview with John Feinstein about his latest book. - jtf]
December 1, 2011

Some of the most talented and temperamental athletes and coaches in the world have opened up to John Feinstein.

The acclaimed sportswriter's latest book One on One: Behind the Scenes with the Greats of the Game details his conversations over the years with notoriously difficult coaches like Bobby Knight and star athletes like Tiger Woods and John McEnroe.

On today's Fresh Air, Feinstein talks about some of his favorite encounters with athletes throughout his career. He also explains how the business of sports journalism has changed over the 30 years he's spent covering the pros. Now, he says, teams are banning reporters from locker rooms and shuttling them to interview rooms — where athletes aren't likely to be as candid.

"If you think the answers in a locker room are rehearsed and canned and cliched ... it's 50 times worse in an interview room," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "At least in a locker room, if you have the time or the patience and outwait the hoards and get can get with a guy one-on-one, you might be able to get a better answer."

Feinstein says he does some of his best reporting without his notebook, when he's simply talking to athletes one-on-one.

"[I do better] when I ask about their family or about last night's ball game and then eventually work my way towards last night's ball game or a real question, rather than just walking up with a notebook or a tape recorder in my hands," he says. "You establish common ground and become a person and not just a reporter."

In 1985, Feinstein was given an all-access pass to the Indiana Hoosiers and their legendary coach Bob Knight. Feinstein's resulting book, A Season on the Brink, chronicled a rebuilding year for the Hoosiers and explained the methods behind Knight's madness.

"There were moments when I saw a side of him — because I was allowed to be up close — that you couldn't possibly see without having total access," says Feinstein.

In one instance, Knight berated his basketball team after two straight losses, telling them that they couldn't be good basketball players if they were selfish people, says Feinstein. But Knight wasn't simply talking about basketball. He looked at his players and asked if they had written thank-you notes to a family who had hosted them for Thanksgiving. No one had.

"Knight then repeated, 'You are selfish people and as long as you are selfish people you can't be good basketball players,'" says Feinstein. "That told me that he knew his team. He knew his players. It was one of the great teaching meetings that I've seen and it wasn't even about basketball. ... I remember one of the assistants looking at me and saying, 'Now that was coaching.' And that's a moment you can't see, you can't report, unless you have the type of access that I have."

Feinstein is a commentator on NPR's Morning Edition and a regular on ESPNs The Sports Reporters. He is also the author of Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember and A Good Walk Spoiled: Days & Nights on the PGA Tour.

He blogs at:

Save the blame game — it's just business

BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
December 9, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - FILE: FILE: Albert Pujols(notes) #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during Game Seven of the MLB World Series against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium on October 28, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. According to reports December 6, 2011, the Miami Marlins have made Pujols at 10-year contract offer. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Albert Pujols is an Angel now, and it doesn't make him the devil. Sorry, but I don't have it in me to rage and rant against Pujols, the Angels or the Cardinals.

I'm sure others are working up a good sweat while delivering angry sermons that vilify Pujols for being disloyal, ridicule the Cardinals for being cheap or savage the Angels for overpaying an aging star.

Have at it. Pick your preferred villain and foam at the mouth. I can't join you. I've been temporarily overtaken by common sense.

I'm genuinely saddened by Pujols' departure because I wanted to believe that he'd be different, that he would stay, that he would fully appreciate what he had here. Cardinals fans and Pujols simply adored each other for the last 11 years.

I sincerely wanted to trust Pujols when he offered this testimony during a 2009 interview: "Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course. People from other teams want to play in St. Louis, and they're jealous that we're in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 million or $4 more million a year? It's not about the money. I already got my money. It's about winning, and that's it."

In the end, Pujols went for the money.

Pujols got upset at the Cardinals for slow-playing the negotiations, for declining to give him Alex Rodriguez money, for refusing to make early offers that his agent could use as leverage in trying to lure other teams into the poker game.

We should have seen it coming, and not because Pujols is a bad guy. It's just the reality of the business. With most athletes, it's always about the money. And that's fine. We should have stopped taking this stuff personally a long time ago.

This was Pujols' opportunity of a lifetime, his one true golden shot at free agency. Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, didn't realize their ultimate goal of surpassing the A-Rod haul of 10 years and $275 million from the Yankees. But give them credit for coming close. The Angels made Pujols an offer he couldn't refuse.

Financially, Pujols is a winner. I think he's lost something special, the chance to retire as the second-greatest Cardinal of all time, just behind Stan Musial and slightly ahead of Bob Gibson. That's all gone now. And maybe that's the way it should be. Now that Pujols has gone to Cali, Musial will permanently own all of the important franchise records. Pujols can't touch them now.

Pujols willingly gave up his spot as one of history's inner circle Cardinals and will be viewed as just another athlete.

Angels fans will go crazy for Pujols, but he'll never be loved the way he was loved in St. Louis. When he gets old and breaks down, he'll never receive the level of empathy that would have come his way in St. Louis.

One day Pujols will realize this. (Not that it matters.) If the Angels wanted to give Pujols $254 million over 10 years, I can't blame Pujols for jumping. This is the second-richest player contract in MLB history, and he's earned that status as long as a team was willing to grant it.

Pujols can never be Musial, but he isn't LeBron James, either. Pujols gave this city, the franchise and the fans the best 11 years of his career. We were able to see Pujols in his peak form over 11 summers. He played a leading role in winning 40 postseason games, three NL pennants and two World Series. With Pujols as a Cardinal from 2001 through 2011, only the Yankees and Red Sox won more games than St. Louis.

It was an impressive, historical run. The Angels and their fans will witness the classic Pujols for a while, maybe get three to five years of the elite-level Pujols. But LA will also see the diminishing-returns phase of Pujols' career, and the Angels will pay the tab.

That's why I can't condemn the Cardinals for holding the line after going as far as they could. They stretched their budget beyond the set limits to offer Pujols a guaranteed 10-year contract worth $210 million.

I'll say it again: This franchise doesn't have to be ashamed of that offer. It wasn't the best, but it was generous. The Cardinals' offer was also insane.

Pujols will be 32 next month. His numbers are slipping. He has a partially torn ligament in his right (throwing) elbow. He limps on wheels that feel the strain of carrying an increasingly thicker body.

The decline phase is already under way. Unlike the Cardinals, the Angels have the luxury of easing Pujols into his downside years by using him as a designated hitter. But can he sustain his level of offensive production? For a while, yes. But it won't last.

Brian Kenny hosts "Clubhouse Confidential," an analysis-based show on the MLB Network. The program recently did a segment on Pujols' likely value over a long-term contract. And this was the conclusion, which is generally echoed by other sabermetric-minded evaluators:

"Albert Pujols is an all-time great, and we have him just below Lou Gehrig as the greatest first baseman of all time," Kenny said. "That's high praise. But if you study why big-money deals go bad, he fits the criteria of a deal that will be disappointing. A big slugger on the other side of 30 getting a long-term deal and his underlying components of production are trending down. You can say he'll be the exception, and maybe he will. But the evidence says something different."

The Angels are in better position to absorb the cost of paying Pujols for the inevitable downturn. The Angels already generate more cash than the Cardinals, have a higher payroll than St. Louis and are negotiating a new local TV contract that will lead to a huge spike in revenue.

The Angels are also poised to tap into a potentially lucrative demographic: the large Hispanic population in Southern California. At this stage, Pujols is a better investment for the Angels than he'd be for the Cardinals.

It made little sense for Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. to offer a 10-year contract to Pujols, but he did it anyway. If Pujols' true goal was to be a lifetime Cardinal, the franchise gave him that chance. He declined.

The Cardinals will be a lesser team for a while as they transition to life without Pujols. But they'll ultimately benefit from avoiding the repercussions created by the enormous bulk of Pujols' contract.

The Cardinals and their fans were privileged to get the best of Pujols. It truly was an honor. And now the Cardinals and their fans don't have to worry about paying for the worst of Pujols.

If that seems cynical, you shouldn't be shocked. As we learned again on Thursday morning, this is modern baseball. And it can be an awfully cold business.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pearl Harbor: A Day of Infamy

On Dec. 7, 1941, it wasn’t apparent that Japan had already lost the war.

By Jim Lacey
December 7, 2011

Just before 8:00 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, the first of two waves of attacking aircraft swept over Pearl Harbor. Barely 15 minutes later the most powerful battleships of the mighty U.S. Pacific Fleet were either sunk or burning wrecks. The California was half submerged, with her keel lying in the harbor’s mud. Nearby, the West Virginia had her port side torn open. Her twisted metal was burning, but for now she was still afloat. Two other ships, the Tennessee and the Maryland, were battered, but in better shape than their sisters. Beside them, the Oklahoma had been struck by a barrage of torpedoes and capsized. The U.S.S. Nevada was the only battleship to get underway that morning, but she was damaged and had run up onto the beach. The worst fate was suffered by the U.S.S. Arizona,which blew up and sank, taking over 1,000 of her crew with her.

The following day, President Roosevelt went before Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan. At the time, he could not have known that the attack on Pearl Harbor was only the beginning of a Japanese offensive that would conquer most of the Western Pacific. Wake Island fell two weeks later, after a truly heroic stand, and only five months after Pearl Harbor the half-starved “battling bastards of Bataan” also surrendered. Fortress Corregidor, in Manila Harbor, withstood a brutal siege for another month before it too fell, but only after the soldiers of the 4th Infantry Regiment fought off several attacks in hand-to-hand combat. By the time Corregidor was lost, 120,000 British soldiers had already surrendered Singapore to an inferior Japanese force. Furthermore, the British Army in Burma was in full retreat toward the Indian border. Capping this run of victories, the Japanese seized New Guinea and Indonesia and launched devastating air raids on northern Australia.

In those dark first months after the Pearl Harbor disaster, it was not apparent to many that Japan had already lost the war. For, despite sinking much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Japanese had missed a couple of crucial targets. Foremost among these were the huge oil-storage facilities on Oahu. Their loss would have delayed the American counterattack in the Pacific by as much as a year. One can only imagine how much more costly the conquests of Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa would have been had the Japanese had another year to fortify them. Just as important as the oil facilities were the American aircraft carriers, which were at sea when the Japanese attacked. The first of them to return, the Enterprise, sailed into Pearl Harbor the day after the attack. Surveying the wreckage from the bridge, Adm. William Halsey could not hide his dismay and anger. When asked later about how America would recover, Halsey replied, “When this war is over the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.” America had found the first of its fighting admirals.

In fact, even the Japanese naval genius who planned the Pearl Harbor attack, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, understood that Japan had made a horrible strategic mistake. Before the attack, he told the Japanese prime minister, “In the first six to twelve months of the war . . . I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success.” His words proved prophetic. Almost precisely six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American carriers that the Japanese strike had missed inflicted a crippling blow on the Japanese Imperial Fleet at Midway. In a gratifying turn of events for the Americans, the four Japanese carriers sunk at Midway — the Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Shokaku — were all part of the fleet that had struck Pearl Harbor. In the time it took the Japanese to replace these losses, American industry, which had turned its pitiless might to war, had rolled out of its dockyards over two dozen carriers. To paraphrase Admiral Yamamoto, Japan had awakened a giant it could not hope to defeat.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet did not rely solely on American industry to produce the ships needed to overwhelm the Japanese navy. All through 1942 and 1943, salvage crews and mechanics worked around the clock to raise and repair the battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor. Although the Arizona was a total loss, the others were ready for battle by 1944. Their first mission was to help make good on General MacArthur’s promise to return to the Philippines, as part of the Leyte invasion force. On Oct. 24, 1944, they were waiting in the Surigao Strait with orders to stop the southern pincer of a powerful Japanese counterattack intent on wiping out the vulnerable American beachhead on Leyte Island. By dawn the battleships had had their revenge. They did not just turn back the Japanese Fleet — they annihilated it. The ghosts of Pearl Harbor had arisen to exact a terrible vengeance on their enemy.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a devastating day in this nation’s history, though only the first of many hard days to come before final victory. But one marvels at the sheer level of miscalculation that went into the attack. That the Japanese leaders failed to appreciate the difference between the two nations’ industrial potential is bad enough, but how did they so badly misjudge the will of the American people? Of course they were not the first, nor will they be the last, to make this error. In fact, Osama bin Laden made the same mistake. The question that should give us pause is: How many other nations’ leaders are making that same miscalculation today?

— Jim Lacey is professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College. He is the author of the recently released The First Clash and Keep from All Thoughtful Men. The opinions in this article are entirely his own and do not represent those of the Department of Defense or any of its members.

Obama, Tax-Cutting Friend of Working Americans

By Peter Wilson

December 7, 2011

I'm trying to hold in one of those Howard Dean screams...aaaarrrgh! Sorry, couldn't help myself.

In the past week, the White House has been drawing a picture of a great battle to save the "middle class," in which Barack Obama the tax cutter is fighting hypocritical Republicans who want to raise taxes on "working Americans," so their millionaire and billionaire friends can keep the Dom Perignon flowing.

Yes, Obama, the biggest spender in the history of the planet, the guy who never met a Keynesian stimulus he didn't like, is peddling himself as the responsible supply side adult in the room. It is patently obvious that what he's really doing, however, is flogging the American Jobs Act (AJA) that he proposed in September. It's more of the "pass this bill, pass this bill now" rigmarole.

The $447 billion in the American Jobs Act was roughly half tax cuts ($240 billion, or $1,500 times 160 million Americans). The rest was more stimulus spending on Obama's familiar shopping list: "infrastructure spending,"; "additional funding to protect the jobs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters"; "creating additional regulations on businesses who discriminate against hiring those who are long-term unemployed." (summary on Wikipedia).

The Act was dead on arrival; not even Democrats wanted to go on record as falling for more stimulus spending claptrap, so recently Obama has zipped his lips about spending. Even the "American Jobs Act Overview" on has dropped references to spending, listing only tax cuts and "extending business expensing into 2012." Instead he bangs the payroll tax cut drum day and night and demonizes anyone who opposes him. A typical sample on the White House blog entry:
And Thursday night, after weeks of saying "no" to just about everything, Republicans in Congress chose to allow taxes to increase on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
The White House loves graphics that simplify the message to the electorate. The latest gimmick is a countdown clock, with ticking seconds, that now appears on every page of with the warning: "If Congress doesn't act, middle class taxes increase in 25 Days, etc."

According to the blog post, which bears the hypocrisy-filled title, "Republican Hypocrisy on the Payroll Tax Cut": "we all know it's a bad idea to raise taxes on 160 million working Americans."
"We all know"? Wait, wasn't Obama against extending the "Bush tax cuts" -- before he agreed to extend them under pressure? Haven't we just been through months of liberals pillorying Republican intransigence on tax hikes?

An email from David Plouffe, continues the supply side rhetoric: "This calculator illustrates for you what nearly every independent economist has said: letting this tax cut expire will be a blow to the economy."

Obama elaborated in Monday's press briefing:
Forgive me a little bit of confusion when I hear folks insisting that tax cuts be paid for...We all recognize that we've got to make progress on the deficit and I'm willing to work with Republicans to extend the tax cut in a responsible way, but what I'm not willing to do is to pay for the extension in a way that actually hurts the economy. As Americans are well aware, this summer I signed into law nearly one trillion dollars in cuts, with another trillion dollars of cuts in the pipeline, and it would be irresponsible to now make additional deep cuts in areas like education, or innovation or our basic safety net...we're not going to do that. Nor are going to undo the budget agreement that I signed just a few short months ago.
Trillion dollar cuts? What in the world is he talking about? What budget agreement? Didn't we just go through a breakdown in the debt ceiling talks and a failure of the Super Committee? Aren't we facing a looming $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts that the Washington weasels will find a way to make un-mandatory?

What Obama is saying is that Republicans are welcome to cut $240 billion from the budget, say from Defense, or they can pay for it in the ways specified in the AJA: "clos[ing] corporate tax loopholes" and "ask[ing] the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share." There's no way however that Obama's going to bend on the spending in the bill that benefits his union campaign contributors.

On Monday, Obama also mentioned another part of the AJA, the extension of unemployment benefits. If Congress fails to act, Obama warns:
Taking that money out of the economy now would do extraordinary harm to the economy, and if you believe that government should take money out of people's pockets I hope that members of Congress realize that it's even worse when you take it out of the pockets of people who are unemployed...Independent economists...agree that if we don't extend the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance, it will hurt our economy.
Obama is repeating Nancy Pelosi's idiotic argument that paying people not to work is the best possible economic stimulus. He picks up conservative language about government taking money out of taxpayers pockets and turns it upside down. Cutting off unemployment benefits (which come out of the pockets of taxpayers) now equals taking money out of the pockets of the unemployed. Keeping track of which pocket the money is in is like watching a game of three-card Monte.

The ticking clock graphic creates a sense of urgency, which dovetails nicely with Obama's "We Can't Wait" initiative: "But [cutting payroll taxes] will only happen if lawmakers end their dithering and get to work. We can't wait until taxes go up for Congress to do the right thing for the American people."
It's not the first time that the Executive Branch has tried to usurp the powers of the Legislature, but someone should tell the White House that you're not supposed to brag about your chicanery.

Some have argued that we shouldn't cut the payroll tax because it funds Social Security. This argument would hold more water if payroll taxes went into a lockbox, rather than directly into the General Fund. I'll stick with Milton Friedman, who said,
I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible. The...big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, "How do you hold down government spending?"

Film Review: 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

By Ann Hornaday
The Washington Post
Friday, Oct 28, 2011

"Martha Marcy May Marlene." Say it real fast for a challenge. But take it in slowly to behold one of the most smashing breakout performances of the year.

Elizabeth Olsen delivers an utterly transfixing turn as the title character of this chilling psychological thriller, in which a young woman named Martha joins a cult and is rechristened "Marcy May" by the group's dangerously charismatic leader, a reed-thin rake named Patrick.

As for "Marlene" - well, that persona is best revealed by writer-director Sean Durkin, who makes a filmmaking debut every bit as compelling and assured as his leading lady. Shot in long, quiet takes of bucolic idylls, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" sneaks up on viewers with a barely perceptible sense of oncoming dread.

Structured mostly in flashbacks while Martha seeks to reunite with her estranged sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), this is a story that's about a cult only in the most superficial sense. As Olsen's alternately recessive, spontaneous, blunt and vulnerable turn suggests, it's about a woman forging an identity in spite of the familial and pseudo-familial forces that never cease to exert their own destructive pulls.

Thankfully, Durkin doesn't resort to caricature in either world, whether it's Patrick's polygamous community of latter-day milkmaids or Lucy's bourgeois Connecticut lake house.

Portrayed by John Hawkes in a creepily seductive performance as a sexist schooled in New Age earnestness, Patrick can be as weirdly empowering as he is sadistic. "You're a teacher and a leader," he insists to Martha, playing on her insecurities with the expert touch of a master manipulator. Surrounding himself with adoring Aryan beauties, serenading them with his raw-boned warble, he's a kinder, gentler Charlie Manson, his pathology camouflaged behind communal nostrums. (Men eat before women in Patrick's community - but, hey, the produce is organic.)

If Durkin never quite explains Martha's story before she got to the farm, or her past relationship with Lucy, that barely matters in a film that's less a conventional narrative than a studied psychological portrait, whose probing rhythms and discreet observational style belie the seismic emotional activity under the serene surface.

In her subtle and nervily expressive turn as a woman coming undone, Olsen is a female analogue to Michael Shannon's disintegrating husband and father in the similarly disturbing "Take Shelter."

While she's conventionally beautiful (in case you haven't heard, she's Mary-Kate and Ashley's little sister), she possesses an open, unadorned face that allows feelings to emerge and recede with quicksilver mutability.

Just how Martha's reunion will play out with Lucy (and her impatient husband, played by Hugh Dancy) takes on the contours of a horror film in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," which, true to its art-house spirit, offers no easy answers to the audience it so skillfully hooks and reels in. If viewers aren't entirely certain how the story ends, they'll be haunted by Olsen's performance as an astonishingly accomplished beginning.

Contains disturbing violent and sexual content, nudity and profanity.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Today's Tune: Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?

by Patrick J. Buchanan

On Dec. 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt​ took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan.

A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Said ex-President Herbert Hoover​, Republican statesman of the day, "We have only one job to do now, and that is to defeat Japan."

But to friends, "the Chief" sent another message: "You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bit."

Today, 70 years after Pearl Harbor, a remarkable secret history, written from 1943 to 1963, has come to light. It is Hoover's explanation of what happened before, during and after the world war that may prove yet the death knell of the West.

Edited by historian George Nash, "Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath" is a searing indictment of FDR and the men around him as politicians who lied prodigiously about their desire to keep America out of war, even as they took one deliberate step after another to take us into war.

Yet the book is no polemic. The 50-page run-up to the war in the Pacific uses memoirs and documents from all sides to prove Hoover's indictment. And perhaps the best way to show the power of this book is the way Hoover does it – chronologically, painstakingly, week by week.

Consider Japan's situation in the summer of 1941. Bogged down in a four-year war in China she could neither win nor end, having moved into French Indochina, Japan saw herself as near the end of her tether.

Inside the government was a powerful faction led by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye that desperately did not want a war with the United States.

The "pro-Anglo-Saxon" camp included the navy, whose officers had fought alongside the U.S. and Royal navies in World War I​, while the war party was centered on the army, Gen. Hideki Tojo​ and Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, a bitter anti-American.

On July 18, 1941, Konoye ousted Matsuoka, replacing him with the "pro-Anglo-Saxon" Adm. Teijiro Toyoda​.

The U.S. response: On July 25, we froze all Japanese assets in the United States, ending all exports and imports, and denying Japan the oil upon which the nation and empire depended.

Stunned, Konoye still pursued his peace policy by winning secret support from the navy and army to meet FDR on the U.S. side of the Pacific to hear and respond to U.S. demands.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew implored Washington not to ignore Konoye's offer, that the prince had convinced him an agreement could be reached on Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and South and Central China. Out of fear of Mao's armies and Stalin's Russia, Tokyo wanted to hold a buffer in North China.

On Aug. 28, Japan's ambassador in Washington presented FDR a personal letter from Konoye imploring him to meet.

Tokyo begged us to keep Konoye's offer secret, as the revelation of a Japanese prime minister's offering to cross the Pacific to talk to an American president could imperil his government.

On Sept. 3, the Konoye letter was leaked to the Herald-Tribune.

On Sept. 6, Konoye met again at a three-hour dinner with Grew to tell him Japan now agreed with the four principles the Americans were demanding as the basis for peace. No response.

On Sept. 29, Grew sent what Hoover describes as a "prayer" to the president not to let this chance for peace pass by.

On Sept. 30, Grew wrote Washington, "Konoye's warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu, Alaska or anyplace designated by the president."

No response. On Oct. 16, Konoye's cabinet fell.

In November, the U.S. intercepted two new offers from Tokyo: a Plan A for an end to the China war and occupation of Indochina and, if that were rejected, a Plan B, a modus vivendi where neither side would make any new move. When presented, these, too, were rejected out of hand.

At a Nov. 25 meeting of FDR's war council, Secretary of War Henry Stimson's notes speak of the prevailing consensus: "The question was how we should maneuver them (the Japanese) into ... firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves."

"We can wipe the Japanese off the map in three months," wrote Navy Secretary Frank Knox.

As Grew had predicted, Japan, a "hara-kiri nation," proved more likely to fling herself into national suicide for honor than to allow herself to be humiliated.

Out of the war that arose from the refusal to meet Prince Konoye​ came scores of thousands of U.S. dead, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the fall of China to Mao Zedong, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the rise of a new arrogant China that shows little respect for the great superpower of yesterday.

If you would know the history that made our world, spend a week with Mr. Hoover's book.

- Patrick J. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, The Death of the West, The Great Betrayal, A Republic, Not an Empire,Where the Right Went Wrong, and most recently Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? 

Happy, sad Ron Santo finally gets Hall call

December 5, 2011

Ron Santo wanted this day for so long, and now that it’s finally here, he isn’t. The Hall of Fame call, the one he waited for and agonized over pretty much his entire adult life, came on Monday, but he’s no longer with us to answer the phone and hear this: “Ronnie, welcome to the Hall of Fame.” And that’s not right.

He was asked once, on one of the many days a new group of inductees was announced and he wasn’t among them, if he’d be OK getting a spot in Cooperstown, even if it came after he died. And, in that style that endeared him to generations of Cubs fans, he said “I don’t want to go in post-humorously.” Of course, he meant posthumously, but then an E-5 on words was part of what made Ron Santo.

I spent seven years in Chicago, covering the Cubs and White Sox, and to this day say the most interesting person I’ve ever covered was Ozzie Guillen. The most impressive was Ron Santo. And for so many people, Ron Santo didn’t belong in the Hall because he was one of the best third basemen of his generation. They didn’t want him in because of his 342 homers, 1,331 RBIs and 2,254 hits. I mean, those were good enough reasons. But so many of them wanted him in because he was Ron Santo.

I know it’s not the best baseball argument, and that writers who serve as gatekeepers to Cooperstown shouldn’t vote with their hearts with something as important as entry into the Hall of Fame. But all those people that wanted Ron Santo in for being simply Ron Santo, I get it. So no, this isn’t a piece about the numbers and the on-field credentials.

I admit that when I first arrived in Chicago, I didn’t understand what Ron Santo meant to the city, to these people, to Cubs fans and to those suffering from diabetes. To me, he was a shrieking, name-mispronouncing homer cluttering up a radio broadcast. Before his health rapidly declined, Santo took a few days off from Cubs broadcasts. In his absence, I wrote a column for the small suburban newspaper for which I worked, a piece saying what a break it would be for his partner, the classy Pat Hughes, to have a few days off from Ronnie’s malapropisms, from the recaps of his between-innings trips to the bathroom, from his butchering of the English language. I recalled some of his classic mistakes. (Note: Let’s get something straight, I wrote this before the leg amputations, before the bladder cancer, before the suffering reached the unimaginable levels it would in the years to come. I mean, even I’m not heartless enough to pick on someone fighting debilitating illnesses). People wanted me fired. Or shot. Or fired, and then shot. And you know, they had a point. All these years later, I regret nothing more in my professional life than that column. I was young and stupid. Mostly, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

No, these aren’t baseball arguments, but if you spent time around Ron Santo, you quickly realize you don’t think with your mind, you think with your heart. You don’t think the radio broadcast going off the rails is ridiculous; you think it fits, it’s perfect. (Here’s a brief, but oh-so-perfect sampling).

Ron Santo was the crazy grandfather who overlooked your flaws; seriously, how else could someone love some of those awful Cubs teams the way Ronnie did. He was the voice of a fight, raising millions upon millions for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). He was a stubborn patient, the one who wouldn’t let the disease -- actually, the diseases -- keep him from living his life. I saw no-hitters and 60-homer seasons in Chicago; I saw a team on the other side of town win a World Series. Yet, the achievement that stands above all else was watching Ron Santo, on two prostheses, work his way down that steep flight of stairs into the Cubs’ clubhouse, finally get to the bottom and smile. Not complain. Never complain. Smile. Walk through the clubhouse and say hello to reporters and players and clubhouse staff, asking “How you feeling today, big boy?”

Oh, I saw or heard about some funny ones, too. About the hairpiece catching on fire in the booth at Shea Stadium. The countless drinks he spilled on his notes or the fax machine in the broadcast booth. And, oh, the mess he made with words. OK, so the man could never remember my last name. And so, to see what kind of torture we could put him through, his partners handed him a piece of paper during a broadcast so he could wish me happy birthday on the air. He looked at the 15 letters and fought for 10 minutes -- live on radio -- that there’s no way that “Pietruszkiewicz” was a real last name. I still have the tape. Listening to everyone laughing in the background might be the best birthday wish I ever got.

In a city that loved people with one name -- Jordan … Ditka … Sweetness … Ernie … -- it’s not an exaggeration to say the name they loved the most was Ronnie.

And in his life, too short but incredibly well lived, he wanted two things more than anything -- a World Series title for his Cubs and to hear someone say, “Ronnie, welcome to the Hall of Fame.”

I wish we could all see him push himself out of his chair on that stage this summer, surrounded by Hall of Famers -- fellow Hall of Famers -- and fumble and mumble and shriek his way through a speech that wouldn’t leave a dry eye anywhere in Cooperstown.

Yes, this is a happy day. It’s a sad one, too.

Nick Pietruszkiewicz is an editor for Follow him on Twitter at npiet_ESPN.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Today's Tune: Brian Setzer - The Knife Feels Like Justice

The Xinjiang Procedure

Beijing’s ‘New Frontier’ is ground zero for the organ harvesting of political prisoners.

Ethan Gutmann
The Weekly Standard
December 5, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 12

Falun Gong practitioners hold activity in front of Australian Foreign Ministry and ask for an end to the persecution. (2006)

To figure out what is taking place today in a closed society such as northwest China, sometimes you have to go back a decade, sometimes more.

One clue might be found on a hilltop near southern Guangzhou, on a partly cloudy autumn day in 1991. A small medical team and a young doctor starting a practice in internal medicine had driven up from Sun Yat-sen Medical University in a van modified for surgery. Pulling in on bulldozed earth, they found a small fleet of similar vehicles—clean, white, with smoked glass windows and prominent red crosses on the side. The police had ordered the medical team to stay inside for their safety. Indeed, the view from the side window of lines of ditches—some filled in, others freshly dug—suggested that the hilltop had served as a killing ground for years.

Thirty-six scheduled executions would translate into 72 kidneys and corneas divided among the regional hospitals. Every van contained surgeons who could work fast: 15-30 minutes to extract. Drive back to the hospital. Transplant within six hours. Nothing fancy or experimental; execution would probably ruin the heart.

With the acceleration of Chinese medical expertise over the last decade, organs once considered scraps no longer went to waste. It wasn’t public knowledge exactly, but Chinese medical schools taught that many otherwise wicked criminals volunteered their organs as a final penance.

Right after the first shots the van door was thrust open and two men with white surgical coats thrown over their uniforms carried a body in, the head and feet still twitching slightly. The young doctor noted that the wound was on the right side of the chest as he had expected. When body #3 was laid down, he went to work.

Male, 40-ish, Han Chinese. While the other retail organs in the van were slated for the profitable foreigner market, the doctor had seen the paperwork indicating this kidney was tissue-matched for transplant into a 50-year-old Chinese man. Without the transplant, that man would die. With it, the same man would rise miraculously from his hospital bed and go on to have a normal life for 25 years or so. By 2016, given all the anti-tissue-rejection drug advances in China, they could theoretically replace the liver, lungs, or heart—maybe buy that man another 10 to 15 years.

Body #3 had no special characteristics save an angry purple line on the neck. The doctor recognized the forensics. Sometimes the police would twist a wire around a prisoner’s throat to prevent him from speaking up in court. The doctor thought it through methodically. Maybe the police didn’t want this prisoner to talk because he had been a deranged killer, a thug, or mentally unstable. After all, the Chinese penal system was a daily sausage grinder, executing hardcore criminals on a massive scale. Yes, the young doctor knew the harvesting was wrong. Whatever crime had been committed, it would be nice if the prisoner’s body were allowed to rest forever. Yet was his surgical task that different from an obstetrician’s? Harvesting was rebirth, harvesting was life, as revolutionary an advance as antibiotics or steroids. Or maybe, he thought, they didn’t want this man to talk because he was a political prisoner.

Nineteen years later, in a secure European location, the doctor laid out the puzzle. He asked that I keep his identity a secret. Chinese medical authorities admit that the lion’s share of transplant organs originate with executions, but no mainland Chinese doctors, even in exile, will normally speak of performing such surgery. To do so would remind international medical authorities of an issue they would rather avoid—not China’s soaring execution rate or the exploitation of criminal organs, but rather the systematic elimination of China’s religious and political prisoners. Yet even if this doctor feared consequences to his family and his career, he did not fear embarrassing China, for he was born into an indigenous minority group, the Uighurs.

Every Uighur witness I approached over the course of two years—police, medical, and security personnel scattered across two continents—related compartmentalized fragments of information to me, often through halting translation. They acknowledged the risk to their careers, their families, and, in several cases, their lives. Their testimony reveals not just a procedure evolving to meet the lucrative medical demand for living organs, but the genesis of a wider atrocity.

Behind closed doors, the Uighurs call their vast region in China’s northwest corner (bordering on India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia) East Turkestan. The Uighurs are ethnically Turkic, not East Asian. They are Muslims with a smattering of Christians, and their language is more readily understood in Tashkent than in Beijing. By contrast, Beijing’s name for the so-called Autonomous Region, Xinjiang, literally translates as “new frontier.” When Mao invaded in 1949, Han Chinese constituted only 7 percent of the regional population. Following the flood of Communist party administrators, soldiers, shopkeepers, and construction corps, Han Chinese now constitute the majority. The party calculates that Xinjiang will be its top oil and natural gas production center by the end of this century.

To protect this investment, Beijing traditionally depicted all Uighur nationalists—violent rebels and non-violent activists alike—as CIA proxies. Shortly after 9/11, that conspiracy theory was tossed down the memory hole. Suddenly China was, and always has been, at war with al Qaeda-led Uighur terrorists. No matter how transparently opportunistic the switch, the American intelligence community saw an opening for Chinese cooperation in the war on terror, and signaled their acquiescence by allowing Chinese state security personnel into Guantánamo to interrogate Uighur detainees.

While it is difficult to know the strength of the claims of the detainees’ actual connections to al Qaeda, the basic facts are these: During the 1990s, when the Chinese drove the Uighur rebel training camps from neighboring countries such as Kazakhstan and Pakistan, some Uighurs fled to Afghanistan where a portion became Taliban soldiers. And yet, if the Chinese government claims that the Uighurs constitute their own Islamic fundamentalist problem, the fact is that I’ve never met a Uighur woman who won’t shake hands or a man who won’t have a drink with me. Nor does my Jewish-sounding name appear to make anyone flinch. In one of those vino veritas sessions, I asked a local Uighur leader if he was able to get any sort of assistance from groups such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission (where, as I found during a brief visit to their London offices, veiled women flinch from an extended male hand, drinks are forbidden, and my Jewish surname is a very big deal indeed). “Useless!” he snorted, returning to the vodka bottle.

So if Washington’s goal is to promote a reformed China, then taking Beijing’s word for who is a terrorist is to play into the party’s hands.

Xinjiang has long served as the party’s illicit laboratory: from the atmospheric nuclear testing in Lop Nur in the mid-sixties (resulting in a significant rise in cancers in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital) to the more recent creation in the Tarim Desert of what could well be the world’s largest labor camp, estimated to hold 50,000 Uighurs, hardcore criminals, and practitioners of Falun Gong. And when it comes to the first organ harvesting of political prisoners, Xinjiang was ground zero.

In 1989, not long after Nijat Abdureyimu turned 20, he graduated from Xinjiang Police School and was assigned to a special police force, Regiment No. 1 of the Urumqi Public Security Bureau. As one of the first Uighurs in a Chinese unit that specialized in “social security”—essentially squelching threats to the party—Nijat was employed as the good cop in Uighur interrogations, particularly the high-profile cases. I first met Nijat—thin, depressed, and watchful—in a crowded refugee camp on the outskirts of Rome.

Nijat explained to me that he was well aware that his Chinese colleagues kept him under constant surveillance. But Nijat presented the image they liked: the little brother with the guileless smile. By 1994 he had penetrated all of the government’s secret bastions: the detention center, its interrogation rooms, and the killing grounds. Along the way, he had witnessed his fair share of torture, executions, even a rape. So his curiosity was in the nature of professional interest when he questioned one of the Chinese cops who came back from an execution shaking his head. According to his colleague, it had been a normal procedure—the unwanted bodies kicked into a trench, the useful corpses hoisted into the harvesting vans, but then he heard something coming from a van, like a man screaming.

“Like someone was still alive?” Nijat remembers asking. “What kind of screams?”

“Like from hell.”

Nijat shrugged. The regiment had more than enough sloppiness to go around.

A few months later, three death row prisoners were being transported from detention to execution. Nijat had become friendly with one in particular, a very young man. As Nijat walked alongside, the young man turned to Nijat with eyes like saucers: “Why did you inject me?”

Nijat hadn’t injected him; the medical director had. But the director and some legal officials were watching the exchange, so Nijat lied smoothly: “It’s so you won’t feel much pain when they shoot you.”

The young man smiled faintly, and Nijat, sensing that he would never quite forget that look, waited until the execution was over to ask the medical director: “Why did you inject him?”

“Nijat, if you can transfer to some other section, then go as soon as possible.”

“What do you mean? Doctor, exactly what kind of medicine did you inject him with?”

“Nijat, do you have any beliefs?”

“Yes. Do you?”

“It was an anticoagulant, Nijat. And maybe we are all going to hell.”

I first met Enver Tohti—a soft-spoken, husky, Buddha of a man—through the informal Uighur network of London. I confess that my first impression was that he was just another emigré living in public housing. But Enver had a secret.

His story began on a Tuesday in June 1995, when he was a general surgeon in an Urumqi hospital. Enver recalled an unusual conversation with his immediate superior, the chief surgeon: “Enver, we are going to do something exciting. Have you ever done an operation in the field?”

“Not really. What do you want me to do?”

“Get a mobile team together and request an ambulance. Have everyone out front at nine tomorrow.”

On a cloudless Wednesday morning, Enver led two assistants and an anaesthesiologist into an ambulance and followed the chief surgeon’s car out of Urumqi going west. The ambulance had a picnic atmosphere until they realized they were entering the Western Mountain police district, which specialized in executing political dissidents. On a dirt road by a steep hill the chief surgeon pulled off, and came back to talk to Enver: “When you hear a gunshot, drive around the hill.”

“Can you tell us why we are here?”

“Enver, if you don’t want to know, don’t ask.”

“I want to know.”

“No. You don’t want to know.”

The chief surgeon gave him a quick, hard look as he returned to the car. Enver saw that beyond the hill there appeared to be some sort of armed police facility. People were milling about—civilians. Enver half-satirically suggested to the team that perhaps they were family members waiting to collect the body and pay for the bullet, and the team responded with increasingly sick jokes to break the tension. Then they heard a gunshot, possibly a volley, and drove around to the execution field.

Focusing on not making any sudden moves as he followed the chief surgeon’s car, Enver never really did get a good look. He briefly registered that there were 10, maybe 20 bodies lying at the base of the hill, but the armed police saw the ambulance and waved him over.

“This one. It’s this one.”

Sprawled on the blood-soaked ground was a man, around 30, dressed in navy blue overalls. All convicts were shaved, but this one had long hair.

“That’s him. We’ll operate on him.”

“Why are we operating?” Enver protested, feeling for the artery in the man’s neck. “Come on. This man is dead.”

Enver stiffened and corrected himself. “No. He’s not dead.”

“Operate then. Remove the liver and the kidneys. Now! Quick! Be quick!”

Following the chief surgeon’s directive, the team loaded the body into the ambulance. Enver felt himself going numb: Just cut the clothes off. Just strap the limbs to the table. Just open the body. He kept making attempts to follow normal procedure—sterilize, minimal exposure, sketch the cut. Enver glanced questioningly at the chief surgeon. “No anaesthesia,” said the chief surgeon. “No life support.”

The anaesthesiologist just stood there, arms folded—like some sort of ignorant peasant, Enver thought. Enver barked at him. “Why don’t you do something?”

“What exactly should I do, Enver? He’s already unconscious. If you cut, he’s not going to respond.”

But there was a response. As Enver’s scalpel went in, the man’s chest heaved spasmodically and then curled back again. Enver, a little frantic now, turned to the chief surgeon. “How far in should I cut?”

“You cut as wide and deep as possible. We are working against time.”

Enver worked fast, not bothering with clamps, cutting with his right hand, moving muscle and soft tissue aside with his left, slowing down only to make sure he excised the kidneys and liver cleanly. Even as Enver stitched the man back up—not internally, there was no point to that anymore, just so the body might look presentable—he sensed the man was still alive. I am a killer, Enver screamed inwardly. He did not dare to look at the face again, just as he imagined a killer would avoid looking at his victim.

The team drove back to Urumqi in silence.

On Thursday, the chief surgeon confronted Enver: “So. Yesterday. Did anything happen? Yesterday was a usual, normal day. Yes?”

Enver said yes, and it took years for him to understand that live organs had lower rejection rates in the new host, or that the bullet to the chest had—other than that first sickening lurch—acted like some sort of magical anaesthesia. He had done what he could; he had stitched the body back neatly for the family. And 15 years would elapse before Enver revealed what had happened that Wednesday.

As for Nijat, it wasn’t until 1996 that he put it together.

It happened just about midnight, well after the cell block lights were turned off. Nijat found himself hanging out in the detention compound’s administrative office with the medical director. Following a pause in the conversation, the director, in an odd voice, asked Nijat if he thought the place was haunted.

“Maybe it feels a little weird at night,” Nijat answered. “Why do you think that?”

“Because too many people have been killed here. And for all the wrong reasons.”

Nijat finally understood. The anticoagulant. The expensive “execution meals” for the regiment following a trip to the killing ground. The plainclothes agents in the cells who persuaded the prisoners to sign statements donating their organs to the state. And now the medical director was confirming it all: Those statements were real. They just didn’t take account of the fact that the prisoners would still be alive when they were cut up.

“Nijat, we really are going to hell.”

Nijat nodded, pulled on his beer, and didn’t bother to smile.

On February 2, 1997, Bahtiyar Shemshidin began wondering whether he was a policeman in name only. Two years before, the Chinese Public Security Bureau of the Western city of Ghulja recruited Bahtiyar for the drug enforcement division. It was a natural fit because Bahtiyar was tall, good-looking, and exuded effortless Uighur authority. Bahtiyar would ultimately make his way to Canada and freedom, but he had no trouble recalling his initial idealism; back then, Bahtiyar did not see himself as a Chinese collaborator but as an emergency responder.

For several years, heroin addiction had been creeping through the neighborhoods of Ghulja, striking down young Uighurs like a medieval plague. Yet inside the force, Bahtiyar quickly grasped that the Chinese heroin cartel was quietly protected, if not encouraged, by the authorities. Even his recruitment was a bait-and-switch. Instead of sending him after drug dealers, his Chinese superiors ordered him to investigate the Meshrep—a traditional Muslim get-together promoting clean living, sports, and Uighur music and dance. If the Meshrep had flowered like a traditional herbal remedy against the opiate invader, the Chinese authorities read it as a disguised attack on the Chinese state.

In early January 1997, on the eve of Ramadan, the entire Ghulja police force—Uighurs and Chinese alike—were suddenly ordered to surrender their guns “for inspection.” Now, almost a month later, the weapons were being released. But Bahtiyar’s gun was held back. Bahtiyar went to the Chinese bureaucrat who controlled supplies and asked after it. “Your gun has a problem,” Bahtiyar was told.

“When will you fix the problem?”

The bureaucrat shrugged, glanced at his list, and looked up at Bahtiyar with an unblinking stare that said: It is time for you to go. By the end of the day, Bahtiyar got it: Every Chinese officer had a gun. Every Uighur officer’s gun had a problem.

Three days later, Bahtiyar understood why. On February 5, approximately 1,000 Uighurs gathered in the center of Ghulja. The day before, the Chinese authorities arrested (and, it was claimed, severely abused) six women, all Muslim teachers, all participants in the Meshrep. The young men came without their winter coats to show they were unarmed, but, planned or unplanned, the Chinese police fired on the demonstrators.

Casualty counts of what is known as the Ghulja incident remain shaky. Bahtiyar recalls internal police estimates of 400 dead, but he didn’t see it; all Uighur policemen had been sent to the local jail “to interrogate prisoners” and were locked in the compound throughout the crisis. However, Bahtiyar did see Uighurs herded into the compound and thrown naked onto the snow—some bleeding, others with internal injuries. Ghulja’s main Uighur clinic was effectively shut down when a squad of Chinese special police arrested 10 of the doctors and destroyed the clinic’s ambulance. As the arrests mounted by late April, the jail became hopelessly overcrowded, and Uighur political prisoners were selected for daily executions. On April 24, Bahtiyar’s colleagues witnessed the killing of eight political prisoners; what struck them was the presence of doctors in “special vans for harvesting organs.”

In Europe I spoke with a nurse who worked in a major Ghulja hospital following the incident. Nervously requesting that I provide no personal details, she told me that the hospitals were forbidden to treat Uighur protesters. A doctor who bandaged an arm received a 15-year sentence, while another got 20 years, and hospital staff were told, “If you treat someone, you will get the same result.” The separation between the Uighur and Chinese medical personnel deepened: Chinese doctors would stockpile prescriptions rather than allow Uighur medical staff a key to the pharmacy, while Uighur patients were receiving 50 percent of their usual doses. If a Uighur couple had a second child, even if the birth was legally sanctioned, Chinese maternity doctors, she observed, administered an injection (described as an antibiotic) to the infant. The nurse could not recall a single instance of the same injection given to a Chinese baby. Within three days the infant would turn blue and die. Chinese staffers offered a rote explanation to Uighur mothers: Your baby was too weak, your baby could not handle the drug.

Shortly after the Ghulja incident, a young Uighur protester’s body returned home from a military hospital. Perhaps the fact that the abdomen was stitched up was just evidence of an autopsy, but it sparked another round of riots. After that, the corpses were wrapped, buried at gunpoint, and Chinese soldiers patrolled the cemeteries (one is not far from the current Urumqi airport). By June, the nurse was pulled into a new case: A young Uighur protester had been arrested and beaten severely. His family paid for his release, only to discover that their son had kidney damage. The family was told to visit a Chinese military hospital in Urumqi where the hospital staff laid it out: One kidney, 30,000 RMB (roughly $4,700). The kidney will be healthy, they were assured, because the transplant was to come from a 21-year-old Uighur male—the same profile as their son. The nurse learned that the “donor” was, in fact, a protester.

In the early autumn of 1997, fresh out of a blood-work tour in rural Xinjiang, a young Uighur doctor—let’s call him Murat—was pursuing a promising medical career in a large Urumqi hospital. Two years later he was planning his escape to Europe, where I met him some years after.

One day Murat’s instructor quietly informed him that five Chinese government officials—big guys, party members—had checked into the hospital with organ problems. Now he had a job for Murat: “Go to the Urumqi prison. The political wing, not the criminal side. Take blood samples. Small ones. Just to map out the different blood types. That’s all you have to do.”

“What about tissue matching?”

“Don’t worry about any of that, Murat. We’ll handle that later. Just map out the blood types.”

Clutching the authorization, and accompanied by an assistant from the hospital, Murat, slight and bookish, found himself facing approximately 15 prisoners, mostly tough-guy Uighurs in their late twenties. As the first prisoner sat down and saw the needle, the pleading began.

“You are a Uighur like me. Why are you going to hurt me?”

“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just taking blood.”

At the word “blood,” everything collapsed. The men howled and stampeded, the guards screaming and shoving them back into line. The prisoner shrieked that he was innocent. The Chinese guards grabbed his neck and squeezed it hard.

“It’s just for your health,” Murat said evenly, suddenly aware the hospital functionary was probably watching to make sure that Murat wasn’t too sympathetic. “It’s just for your health,” Murat said again and again as he drew blood.

When Murat returned to the hospital, he asked the instructor, “Were all those prisoners sentenced to death?”

“That’s right, Murat, that’s right. Yes. Just don’t ask any more questions. They are bad people—enemies of the country.”

But Murat kept asking questions, and over time, he learned the drill. Once they found a matching blood type, they would move to tissue matching. Then the political prisoner would get a bullet to the right side of the chest. Murat’s instructor would visit the execution site to match up blood samples. The officials would get their organs, rise from their beds, and check out.

Six months later, around the first anniversary of Ghulja, five new officials checked in. The instructor told Murat to go back to the political wing for fresh blood. This time, Murat was told that harvesting political prisoners was normal. A growing export. High volume. The military hospitals are leading the way.

By early 1999, Murat stopped hearing about harvesting political prisoners. Perhaps it was over, he thought.

Yet the Xinjiang procedure spread. By the end of 1999, the Uighur crackdown would be eclipsed by Chinese security’s largest-scale action since Mao: the elimination of Falun Gong. By my estimate up to three million Falun Gong practitioners would pass through the Chinese corrections system. Approximately 65,000 would be harvested, hearts still beating, before the 2008 Olympics. An unspecified, significantly smaller, number of House Christians and Tibetans likely met the same fate.

By Holocaust standards these are piddling numbers, so let’s be clear: China is not the land of the final solution. But it is the land of the expedient solution. Some will point to recent statements from the Chinese medical establishment admitting the obvious—China’s medical environment is not fully ethical—and see progress. Foreign investors suspect that eventually the Chinese might someday—or perhaps have already—abandon organ harvesting in favor of the much more lucrative pharmaceutical and clinical testing industries. The problem with these soothing narratives is that reports, some as recent as one year ago, suggest that the Chinese have not abandoned the Xinjiang procedure.

In July 2009, Urumqi exploded in bloody street riots between Uighurs and Han Chinese. The authorities massed troops in the regional capital, kicked out the Western journalists, shut down the Internet, and, over the next six months, quietly, mostly at night, rounded up Uighur males by the thousands. According to information leaked by Uighurs held in captivity, some prisoners were given physical examinations aimed solely at assessing the health of their retail organs. The signals may be faint, but they are consistent, and the conclusion is inescapable: China, a state rapidly approaching superpower status, has not just committed human rights abuses—that’s old news—but has, for over a decade, perverted the most trusted area of human expertise into performing what is, in the legal parlance of human rights, targeted elimination of a specific group.

Yet Nijat sits in refugee limbo in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, waiting for a country to offer him asylum. He confessed to me. He confessed to others. But in a world eager not to offend China, no state wants his confession. Enver made his way to an obscure seminar hosted by the House of Commons on Chinese human rights. When the MPs opened the floor to questions, Enver found himself standing up and speaking, for the first time, of killing a man. I took notes, but no British MP or their staffers could be bothered to take Enver’s number.

The implications are clear enough. Nothing but self-determination for the Uighurs can suffice. The Uighurs, numbering 13 million, are few, but they are also desperate. They may fight. War may come. On that day, as diplomats across the globe call for dialogue with Beijing, may every nation look to its origins and its conscience. For my part, if my Jewish-sounding name tells me anything, it is this: The dead may never be fully avenged, but no people can accept being fatally exploited forever.

Ethan Gutmann, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wishes to thank Jaya Gibson for research assistance and the Peder Wallenberg family for research support.