Friday, July 17, 2015

Time to Defund Planned Parenthood's Body Shop
July 17, 2015

If Kermit Gosnell and Margaret Sanger had a love child, it might be Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, who, in an undercover video released Tuesday, appears to be calmly brokering the sale of body parts as if she were negotiating over lawn furniture at a garage sale.

In one disturbing video and its appalling transcript, made by the non-profit group Center for Medical Progress, which describes itself as “dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances”, it is made clear that the alleged noble crusade against unwanted children is a fraud, and that Planned Parenthood’s interest in abortion is a financial one and that human life is just a commodity to be bought and sold on the open market.

The video shows Nucatola negotiating with two actors posing as agents of a fetal tissue procurement company and discussing the body parts of aborted babies as if she was a butcher at the local meat market, as reports:
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part,” Nucatola coldly explains. “I’m gonna basically crush [the unborn child] below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. … And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.” 
Nucatola also goes into great detail to explain how Planned Parenthood is able to use its loose affiliates as a way to protect the parent company from potential legal fallout.
The video goes a long way to explain Planned Parenthood’s eternal devotion to legalizing late-term and partial-birth abortion. 
Nucatola explains to the undercover reporters that the butchered body parts (hearts, livers, “lower extremities -- probably for the muscle”) sell for $30 to $100 apiece.
Moreover, the more fully-formed the baby body parts, the more valuable those parts are.
Indeed, immature or improperly dismembered baby parts could dramatically impact Planned Parenthood’s and the abortion industry’s bottom line. The use of aborted fetuses and their tissues is justified by abortionists as the key to medical research, as using embryos for stem cell research was and is. Planned Parenthood’s operation strays perilously close to the territory of Dr. Joseph Mengele, the Nazi “doctor” who justified his ghastly practices in the name of research.

Abortion supporters claim they want to make it “safe, legal, and rare”, but when you are selling dismembered baby parts, like any other business, volume is important in improving the profit margin. Presumably young mothers entering a Planned Parenthood clinic aren’t told about this part of the operation.

Kermit Gosnell was a Philadelphia doctor who was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder for killing seven babies who survived his abortions and a woman who died after a botched pain-killer injection. As Investor’s Business Daily noted, comparing what went on at Gosnell’s clinic to the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut:
Whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, there ought to be agreement that a squirming infant on a table outside the mother's womb is as worthy of protection from harm as children in classrooms in a school in Connecticut. 
If Dr. Gosnell had walked into a nursery and shot seven infants with an AR-15, it would be national news and the subject of presidential hand-wringing.
Life was also cheap in Gosnell’s view, and ending it profitable, as Planned Parenthood found out. When in the wake of the Gosnell scandal, the state of Florida considered legislation to protect infants born alive after an abortion, but Planned Parenthood objected:
Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion -- and to doctors like Kermit Gosnell.
As has been pointed out, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a supporter of Planned Parenthood and its founder, Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who believed that abortion could be used as tool to improve the human race by removing the undesirables, a view shared by Dr. Mengele.

Back in March of 2009, Hillary Clinton accepted Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award, an organization originally called the American Birth Control League. In accepting the award, the Weekly Standard noted, Hillary had high praise for the noted eugenicist:
Now, I have to tell you that it was a great privilege when I was told that I would receive this award. I admire Margaret Sanger enormously, her courage, her tenacity, her vision... And when I think about what she did all those years ago in Brooklyn, taking on archetypes, taking on attitudes and accusations flowing from all directions, I am really in awe of her.
Really? Rep. Chris Smith reminded Mrs. Clinton in a speech to Congress in 2009 of the nature of Sanger’s belief that eugenics, something the Nazis would put into horrifying practice, was Margaret Sanger’s solution to all our problems, particularly racial ones. As LifeSite News reported at the time:
Addressing Mrs. Clinton, Smith said, "Are you kidding? In ‘awe’’ of Margaret Sanger, who said in 1921, ‘Eugenics … is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political, and social problems’. And who also said in 1922, ‘The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it’?"…. 
Highlighting the racist nature of eugenics, Smith further quoted Sanger, who said in 1939, "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social service backgrounds and with engaging personalities... We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has called on Congress to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and its ghastly practices. Our Founding Fathers, after all, decided that among the inalienable rights bestowed on us by our Creator, life came first, even before liberty, and certainly before our secular age’s pursuit of happiness.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business DailyHuman Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

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Answering the Huffington Post's dishonest spin.

July 17, 2015
Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Getty Images)
Typical of the delusions being peddled about the Iran nuclear deal is this rundown by Charlotte Alfred, World News Fellow at The Huffington Post. She calls it a “historic accord” that “will roll back Iran’s nuclear work in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.”
In other words, a triumph, a win-win endeavor. If only there were any truth to that. 
Beginning with “Restrictions on [Iran’s] Nuclear Work,” Alfred notes that Iran is supposed to reduce its working centrifuges from 19,000 to 5,060, cut back its stockpile of 3%-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and defang its Fordo enrichment site and Arak heavy-water reactor.
Sounds nice until you look into the details. As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted (crowed is more like it) in reaction to the deal (quoted here): 
Our objective was to have the nuclear program and have sanctions lifted. At first they wanted us to have 100 centrifuges now we will have 6,000. They wanted restrictions of 25 years now its 8. First they said we could only have IR1 centrifuges, now we can have IR6, 7, and 8, advanced centrifuges. Heavy water plant at Arak had to be dismantled but now it will remain with heavy water under conditions. Fordo had to be closed now we will have 1000 centrifuges there.
In other words, all of the restrictions are partial—and apply only for a matter of years. The entire nuclear infrastructure remains in place. And meanwhile, as Rouhani proudly alludes to, the deal not only allows Iran to retain advanced centrifuges but to keep developing much more advanced ones that can eventually enrich much greater quantities of uranium.
Is this a good deal—where you kick the can down the road a few years and let an even more armed and dangerous Iran emerge for “folks” to have to confront in the future?
The deal’s next supposed achievement, in Alfred’s telling, is an increase in “breakout time”—the time in which Iran could produce a nuclear bomb—from two-to-three months to about a year. “[S]keptical lawmakers and Israeli officials,” she allows, 
will likely raise questions about what happens after the nuclear restrictions expire in 10 and 15 years. U.S. officials acknowledge that Iran could then expand its nuclear work and reduce its breakout time, but note that the program will continue to be monitored by the IAEA for longer than that.
Yes, and what about the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has already been “monitoring” Iran’s nuclear program for years, and Iran has played every possible contemptuous game with them short of outright spitting in their faces—meanwhile enriching uranium, building reactors and ballistic missiles, and developing detonators and other weaponizing technologies as if the IAEA didn’t exist? 
It’s hardly reassuring to think that, 10 or 15 years from now when Iran has a totally free hand, the IAEA will be watching over it.
Alfred turns next to the issue of “Verification,” saying that “IAEA inspectors will have increased access to Iran’s uranium enrichment sites for 25 years” and that while “Iran’s supreme leader had balked at the idea of allowing the inspectors into military facilities,…[u]nder a compromise solution, the final deal outlines a dispute-resolution mechanism if Iran turns down IAEA requests for access.”
That’s the same dispute-resolution mechanism that’s already recognized as one of the deal’s most glaring weaknesses. To see why, one does not have to turn to a bitter Israeli or conservative critic of the deal; this account on CBS News will suffice:
[I]f [Iran and the inspectors] can’t come to an agreement to satisfy the inspectors within 14 days of the original request for access, the issue goes to a joint commission that consists of representatives from the P5+1 powers (the U.S., China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany), Iran, and the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs. They have another seven days to reach an agreement that must be supported by at least five of the eight members. If they decide inspectors should get access, Iran has three days to provide it.
That means a total of 24 days could elapse between the time inspectors first request access to a suspicious site and the time they are allowed entry. The deal does not explicitly state what would happen if the Joint Committee deadlocks, four to four.
Obviously, you can hide or gloss over anything in 24 days. This galling absurdity is part of a “deal” reached by people entrusted with the security and future of civilization.
Turning next to “Arms Embargo, Missile Ban,” Alfred sums up:
The international arms embargo on Iran, which became a key sticking point in the final weeks of the negotiations, will be gradually rolled back. The U.N. ban on Iran trading in conventional weapons will be lifted after five years, followed by the ban on ballistic missile technology after eight years. Both of those timelines could be moved up if the IAEA concludes that the nuclear program is entirely peaceful….
Straightforward enough. Iran—which, much sooner than in five years, will already be rolling in hundreds of billions of dollars from sanctions relief, boosted oil sales, and lively commerce with all and sundry—will then be able to get all the conventional weapons and all the ballistic missile technology it wants. Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, Jordan, and Egypt all see this is as catastrophic. But these, after all, are merely Iran’s neighbors; what do they know, and why should anyone listen to them?
Aside from the points that Charlotte Alfred touches on and tries to spin into something positive, a great deal else is wrong with this deal—like the nuclear and conventional arms race it will spark in the region, the fact that its “snap-back mechanism” for ostensibly restoring sanctions is also absurd, the fact that it sets a precedent fir nuclear proliferation by letting Iran off scot-free for all past infractions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, UN Security Council resolutions, and so on, the fact that Iran could circumvent all of the deal’s restrictions by procuring technology and material from foreign sources—as it has already been doing for years; and much else as well. 
As the fight moves to Congress, it is now particularly up to some undecided Democratic senators to see if they can put America’s future and the world’s ahead of partisan political loyalty. If they can’t get themselves to do that, it’s likely to get bad.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Obama's Iran Nuke Deal Lies

The dirty details of the agreement that the president is trying to hide.

June 15, 2015

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, announcing the signing of the Iran-nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015. (White House photo)

The United States and its five negotiating partners (Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany) reached an agreement July 14th on the final terms of a deal with Iran, under which Iran would curb its nuclear program for a period of time in return for sanctions relief.
The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA for short), will go into effect on what is called “Adoption Day” -  the date 90 days after the endorsement of the JCPOA by the UN Security Council, or such earlier date as may be determined by mutual consent of the JCPOA participants. The Security Council is expected to act within days to endorse the deal. 
During his victory lap announcing that a final deal had been reached with Iran, President Obama warned that he would veto any congressional legislation blocking his legacy foreign policy achievement. The president declared that the agreement was "built on verification," not trust.  In this regard, Obama claimed that international inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear facilities to ensure Iran is fulfilling its commitments. “[Inspectors] will have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain – its uranium mines and mills, its conversion facility, and its centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities,” he said. “This ensures that Iran will not be able to divert materials from known facilities to covert ones.” 
A so-called “fact sheet” issued by the White House assures the public that “Iran won’t garner any new sanctions relief until the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] confirms that Iran has followed through with its end of the deal.” If Iran violates the deal, any lifted sanctions can be snapped “back in place,” according to the White House.
Looking down the road long after he has left office, Obama said that “I have no doubt 10 or 15 years from now the person who holds this office will be in a far stronger position with Iran further away from a weapon and with the inspections and transparency that allow us to monitor the Iranian program. For this reason I believe it would be irresponsible to walk away from this deal.” He added that "no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East." 
As is so often the case, President Obama is misleading the American people. The fact is there will be no 24/7 "anywhere, anytime" inspections allowed of undeclared suspicious sites. The fine print of the final JCPOA agreement provides Iran with the means to delay any inspections of undeclared suspected sites requested by the IAEA. Iran is empowered to raise objections to inspections of suspected sites, which would then have to be assessed by a commission that includes Iran itself as a member. Iran will thus have opportunities to exploit the mechanisms for international verification inspections, allowing it to rotate its covert nuclear arms activities from secret site to secret site during a protracted dispute resolution process:
If the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA cannot be verified after the implementation of the alternative arrangements agreed by Iran and the IAEA, or if the two sides are unable to reach satisfactory arrangements to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with the JCPOA at the specified locations within 14 days of the IAEA’s original request for access, Iran, in consultation with the members of the Joint Commission, would resolve the IAEA’s concerns through necessary means agreed between Iran and the IAEA. In the absence of an agreement, the members of the Joint Commission, by consensus or by a vote of 5 or more of its 8 members, would advise on the necessary means to resolve the IAEA's concerns. The process of consultation with, and any action by, the members of the Joint Commission would not exceed 7 days, and Iran would implement the necessary means within 3 additional days.
Russia and China (who are sympathetic to Iran’s positions on a number of issues, including sanctions relief) and Iran itself will be members of the Joint Commission, along with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union. Masters at deception, the Iranian regime will be able to play for time and conduct a shell game, while the inspectors struggle to catch up and the Joint Commission tries to reach some sort of resolution. Undisclosed underground sites can easily hide work on developing nuclear warhead technologies, for example.    
Sanctions relief will not be linked solely to verifiable proof of Iran’s compliance with each of its specific commitments, such as reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium, de-commissioning thousands of its centrifuges, and redesigning its Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor so it cannot produce any weapons-grade plutonium. An estimated $100 billion in frozen assets could be made available to Iran reasonably soon, with no restrictions on Iran’s spending to sponsor more global terrorism. The money can be used to buy conventional arms including missiles, since the JCPOA contemplates the removal of sanctions on the import and export of conventional arms. And again, one needs to look at the fine print. Buried in the JCPOA text is a provision that would appear to allow for the removal of certain sanctions 8 years after the JCPOA goes into effect (Adoption Day) or the date on which the Director General of the IAEA submits a report stating that the IAEA has reached the “Broader Conclusion” that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities, whichever is earlier. This means Iran can obtain sanctions relief even if it does not prove to the IAEA’s satisfaction that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful as Iran has claimed all along that it is. 
There is also some confusion as to whether sanctions will be lifted against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Maj. General Qasem Soleimani, who has American blood on his hands. The Obama administration is saying no at least as to non-nuclear related sanctions, but the Iranians are claiming that under the terms of the agreement “Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani will be taken off sanctions lists.”
In any event, once the unraveling of the sanctions regime begins to take place, it will be practically impossible to put the genie back into the bottle with some sort of “snap back.” Russia and China, eyeing lucrative arms deals, can be expected to take Iran’s side against any snap back. France, protecting its business interests in Iran developed after the lifting of sanctions, would most likely be reluctant to reverse course absent compelling evidence of widespread violations that present an imminent threat.
Longer term, the deal as presently structured will put our children and grandchildren under the threat of an Iranian nuclear mushroom cloud even if Iran were to abide by the temporary restrictions in place for the next decade or so. Iran will be able to reach a breakout time (the time it would take to amass enough nuclear material to produce a nuclear bomb) of near zero after the expiration of those restrictions, because its core nuclear enrichment infrastructure and research program to develop advanced centrifuges will not have been dismantled. Obama admitted last April that Iran could have near zero breakout time starting in Year 13 when Iran would have “advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly.” However, he said nothing about this overhang in his praise of the final deal. 
As for President Obama’s claim that "no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East," a bad deal will inevitably set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. And based on the details we know so far, the negotiated JCPOA is a bad deal that Congress should overwhelmingly reject. Despite Obama’s pro-forma calls of reassurance to the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia after the deal was announced, Obama has pivoted away from them towards a policy of rapprochement with the Iranian regime. He has done so against the drumbeat of continued cries by Iran’s leaders for "Death to America" and their holding of four Americans hostage.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Historical Ignorance

The real historical significance of the war between the states.

July 14, 2015

President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address
The victors of war write its history in order to cast themselves in the most favorable light. That explains the considerable historical ignorance about our war of 1861 and panic over the Confederate flag. To create better understanding, we have to start a bit before the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
The 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the 13 colonies "to be free, sovereign and independent states." These 13 sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact — secede.
During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, "A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound."
In fact, the ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty — in a word, secede.
On March 2, 1861, after seven states seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that read, "No state or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States." 
Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here's a question for the reader: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?
On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, "Any attempt to preserve the union between the states of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty." 
Both Northern Democratic and Republican Parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South's right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861." Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): "An attempt to subjugate the seceded states, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content." The New York Times (March 21, 1861): "There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go."
The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. We Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech: "It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense." Lincoln said the soldiers sacrificed their lives "to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." Mencken says: "It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves."
The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution's limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States have little or no response.
 Tags: Civil WarLincolnSouth

El Chapo's escape: No light at the end of his tunnel

By Don Winslow
July 13, 2015

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: $1 Billion
 El Chapo was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. He awaits trial in Mexico after being captured earlier this year. Photo: Bloomberg
(Photo by Bloomberg)

(CNN)Let's make sure we have this right.
The world's biggest drug lord strolls out of a maximum-security prison.
Forget all the caricatures you have about Mexican drug kingpins. Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman Loera, boss of the dominant Sinaloa Cartel, is a brilliant, ruthless billionaire businessman whose business happens to be drugs. He's a survivor -- he came up the hard way in the 1980s as a gunman for Federacion founder Miguel Angel Gallardo, he survived the Drug Enforcement Administration onslaught after its agent Enrique Camarena was murdered, he endured a bloody war against his rivals in Tijuana, and he came out of a brutal Mexican prison to become the most powerful drug lord in history.
Don Winslow
I've been tracking Chapo's career for over 15 years, first writing a fictional version of him in "The Power of the Dog," and most recently about his 2001 escape from prison in "The Cartel." The weekend's events have the feeling of fiction becoming reality.
The first time Chapo went into prison in 1993, he served almost eight years of a 20-year sentence before "escaping" -- supposedly in a laundry cart, more probably by car or helicopter -- after turning Puente Grande maximum-security prison into the Four Seasons, replete with movie nights, imported hookers, gourmet meals, fine wine and Christmas parties. This time, Chapo waited for a little over a year before "escaping," supposedly from a shower -- either in his cell or a "shower area" into a tunnel, and then onto a motorcycle custom-fit to run on rails.
    I have no doubt there was a tunnel, but I have real doubt that Chapo went out it. At least unassisted. If it was a shower area, what did he do -- stand in the spray, point and yell "Look over there!" to the guards, lift a grate and disappear while no one noticed that a convict who had once been the most wanted man in the world (after Osama bin Laden) was missing? Alternatively, what was an inmate in a maximum-security prison doing with a shower in his cell? (Then again, if it was like his previous institutional accommodations, it was a suite with a bedroom, a bathroom and a refrigerator truck full of gourmet food.)
    Are we expected to believe that a 1.5-kilometer tunnel with lighting, ventilation and tracks was dug under a maximum-security prison and no one saw or heard anything?
    Chapo's 2001 "escape" allegedly cost him $2.5 million, according to Malcolm Beith's book, "Last Narco." I imagine prices have gone up since then, but money is not Chapo's problem in life. He has billions of dollars, vast power and the ability to reach anyone.

    Not 'The Shawshank Redemption'

    This wasn't "The Count of Monte Cristo" or "The Shawshank Redemption." Don't think of Chapo patiently laboring for years with a pickaxe to dig his way out of Altiplano prison. If he went out that tunnel, it was with an armed escort, most likely a mix of prison guards and his own people, if the past is prologue. My bet is that he went out the front gate and the tunnel was a tissue-thin face-saving device for Mexican officials, the motorcycle a dramatic improvement over the laundry cart. Some informed speculation has him leaving in a helicopter, as I imagined in "The Cartel."
    If this departure was like the last one, Chapo didn't "escape." He checked out of the hotel and paid the bill with bribery, intimidation and blackmail. Chapo could tell some stories about deliveries of cash to high-ranking Mexican officials, men who would prefer him to be on the run in the mountains of Sinaloa or Durango rather than naming names to U.S. federal prosecutors.
    This is where the high-level corruption comes in.

    The drug lords' biggest fear

    What Mexican drug lords fear more than anything else is extradition to the United States, which indicts them under "kingpin statutes" and almost invariably succeeds in getting convictions with sentences of 15 years to life.
    They serve those sentences in real maximum-security prisons, grim cages from which they're taken out under heavy guard one hour a day for exercise and three times a week for a shower, sans tunnel privileges.
    While drug lords have often maintained control of their organizations from Mexican prisons, they can't do that once they're sent to American supermax facilities, from which they can't easily communicate and from which not a single major criminal has ever escaped.
    It's inconceivable.
    Which is why Mexican drug lords fight extradition to the death, because they know that once they cross that border in shackles, it's over. Chapo Guzman has been under U.S. indictment since 1987; imprisoned in Mexico twice, but never extradited.
    You know who does get extradited?
    Chapo's enemies.
    Like former Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas and the Tijuana Cartel's Benjamin Arellano Felix. They were on the fast track to cells in Texas and Colorado because U.S. prosecutors, the Mexican government and Chapo Guzman wanted them there.
    Who now controls the Gulf and Tijuana?
    Chapo Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel.
    Chapo has the power, connections and influence to get his rivals sent to purgatory in America while using that same leverage to keep himself in Mexico until he can "escape."
    He was going to cut a deal with someone -- either with Mexican officials to block or delay his extradition or, failing that, with American prosecutors to drop a dime on his former Mexican associates in the government.
    It now appears that he took Door No. 1.
    Mexico is a beautiful country with wonderful people who sadly have never had a government worthy of them. The systemic corruption on all levels is now so deep and wide that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the country has become a narco-state.

    The Sinaloa Cartel's dominance

    But there's another possible factor beyond just economic corruption behind the apparent ease of Chapo's most recent "escape."
    It has long been a theory among journalists who write about the cartels that the Mexican government favored the Sinaloa Cartel in the war between the various drug trafficking organizations. Not only were government and police officials believed to be in the cartel's pocket, but they have also long viewed Chapo and his partner, Ismael "Mayo" Zambada Garcia, as the most reasonable of the cartel leaders. Admittedly this is not a high bar to jump, but compared with the hyper-violent Zetas or the murderous Tijuana, Juarez and Gulf cartels, the government has seen the Sinaloans as the "least worst" of the given options. Chapo and his people have doubtless been guilty of mass killings, but they have also been known to cooperate with the government to shut down kidnapping, human trafficking and extortion.
    The theory goes that the Mexican government decided to "pick a winner," and it chose the Sinaloa Cartel. The small number of arrests and seizures of Sinaloans, compared with the other cartels, strongly supports that theory. The much-trumpeted capture of Chapo Guzman argues against it, but not if the fix was in for Chapo to depart after little more than year.
    The Sinaloans -- again, quite possibly with the help of the government -- have emerged victorious in the cartel wars, and a relative peace has settled onto Mexico after the hideous violence that took at least 100,000 lives.
    The Mexican government is understandably desperate to preserve this "Pax Narcotica Sinaloa," but drug-related killings are on the rise again in Tijuana, and a violent, relatively young organization, the New Generation Jalisco Cartel, is challenging for power. It's possible that Chapo Guzman, with his influence and prestige, is more useful to the government on the outside than behind bars.
    Whatever the case, Chapo is out.
    It's a shame, because this "escape" will only add to his reputation as a Robin Hood-like folk hero -- songs will be written and sung, kids will listen to them and aspire to be the next Chapo Guzman.
    The man is no Robin Hood -- he's a mass murderer.
    The last time that Chapo "escaped," his effort to put his empire back together touched off a decade-long war that caused untold suffering, left thousands of orphans, shattered communities and destroyed souls.
    There's no light at the end of that tunnel.
    In fact, there's no end to the tunnel at all.

    Don Winslow is the author of 19 books, including New York Times best-sellers and the recently published "The Cartel." He won the Raymond Chandler Award in 2012. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman tunnels out of prison

    Handout picture released by the Attorney General of Mexico (PGR) showing Mexican officials Attorney General looking at the alleged end of the tunnel through which Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman could have escaped from the Altiplano prison. at a house in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico, on Sunday. | AFP PHOTO

    His specialty has been building sophisticated tunnels to shuttle drugs across the border. The last tunnel he built apparently sprang Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to freedom over the weekend.
    This was his second escape from Mexico’s high maximum security in 15 years.
    A massive manhunt is underway for Guzman, whose powerful Sinaloa cartel has entry points into just about every region of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
    Guatemala’s Interior Ministry said a special task force of police and soldiers were watching its border with southern Mexico for any sign of the fugitive drug lord.
    To the north, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued a statement offering “any assistance that may help support his swift recapture.”
    The escape by Guzman, once considered the most important fugitive in the world after Osama bin Laden, was a slap in the face to U.S. and Mexican intelligence officials.
    The news terrorized a string of protected witnesses testifying against him and was an embarrassment for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was showered with worldwide praise after the drug trafficker was captured in February 2014.
    The arrest then was a testament to U.S.-Mexico cooperation as American agents were seen on the ground and in the air, tracking down the man known as “Shorty” through northwestern Mexico.
    Peña Nieto, traveling to Paris, interrupted his trip to address the latest setback, saying the escape was “an affront to the Mexican state” and vowing to use all federal resources to recapture Guzman.
    The escape sent both shock waves and “told you sos” from law enforcement on both sides of the border, many of whom had spent years trying to nab a man seen as both a ruthless killer and Robin Hood in poor communities across the Sinaloa and Durango mountains, pouring millions into schools and infrastructure projects.

    Extradition fought
    For years, U.S. law enforcement officers had privately urged the Mexican government to extradite Guzman and other top criminal bosses who have deep pockets and are too powerful for Mexico’s weak judicial institutions. The escape came as Guzman’s lawyers fought tooth and nail against extradition attempts.
    “Chapo knows too much, has too much information that would embarrass the Mexican government in general, and I suspect that’s one reason the Mexican government was reluctant to put him on a plane to face U.S. justice,” said Arturo Fontes, a former FBI agent and president of Fontes International Solutions, a consulting firm. He spent more than a decade tracking down Guzman.
    “His escape is a joke, travesty of justice and demoralizing,” he said. “Mexico lost another 10 years when it comes to building trust with the United States.”
    A U.S. undercover agent who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to reporters said: “This is like Osama bin Laden escaping prison. Shocking! Mind-boggling. Numbing. What does this say about Mexican corruption? Disgusting.”
    The government detailed Guzman’s escape at a news conference Sunday. He was last seen at approximately 8:52 p.m. Saturday in the shower area of his cell at the Altiplano prison, the only part of the maximum-security cell where no cameras were placed. When prison guards showed up to see what was taking so long, they found the area empty and discovered an elaborate 20-inch-by-20-inch escape hatch opening to a rectangular passage that led to a mile-long tunnel running underneath the prison, according to Mexico’s national security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido.
    Guzman was long a legendary mastermind of man-made tunnels built along the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly between California and Sonora, to funnel into the U.S. billions in illicit drugs. He wasted no time in building his latest tunnel. This one included a motorcycle on rails and opened just a few miles from the nearest airport, officials said.
    About 30 prison employees at Altiplano are being questioned, officials said.
    Guzman was sent to maximum security at Altiplano prison 56 miles wests of Mexico City after his capture in February 2014.
    Other star inmates
    The mile-long long tunnel was started almost immediately after he entered prison. He worked on it for over a year, Fontes said, “supposedly without knowledge of prison authorities?”
    Altiplano is considered the main and most secure of Mexico’s federal prisons and also houses Zetas drug cartel leader Miguel Ángel Treviño and Edgar Valdés Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” of the Beltrán Leyva cartel. U.S. law enforcement officials worry about a similar prison escape by them.
    The escape is likely to further damage Peña Nieto’s image, that of someone bringing stability and reining in a country run amok.
    Peña Nieto took office in 2012 vowing to change the narrative of the country from that of violence to a country ripe and ready for investors. He also promised to confront the cartels, which have killed or caused the disappearance of more than 120,000 people since 2006 and left regions across the country mirroring failed states.
    Before his election, politicians in Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party mocked their conservative rivals, specifically former President Vicente Fox, for letting Guzman escape in 2001 while they ran the country. They promised that would not happen again on their watch.
    Rafael Fernandez de Castro, a Jay and Debe Moskowitz Professor at Syracuse University, said the latest escape is a “terrible blow to the credibility of the federal government.”
    Some agents, both former and current, even questioned the government’s version of an elaborate escape plan, saying Guzman probably just cut a deal with corrupt officials and fled into the night.
    “Chapo Guzman did not escape,” said Phil Jordan, former regional director of the DEA in Dallas. “He was allowed to escape, because he paid the right price.”
    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
    Follow Alfredo Corchado on Twitter at @ajcorchado.