Showing posts with label al Qaida. Show all posts
Showing posts with label al Qaida. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nuke attack imminent. Story inside.

Apocalypse is now.

See Lee Benson, Utah section.

So -- wondering why the imminent death of millions and the end of the United States as we know it isn't worth the front page -- the curious reader turns to Benson's column in the Utah section of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

WHAT'S IN that column, an interview with "terrorism expert" Daniel J. Hill is enough to challenge one's continence:

The man who predicted 9/11 is worried that its sequel is imminent.

"Muslims that I talk to say things like, 'America thinks they're safe now. They've forgotten about 9/11. But watch, Daniel. Stay near your TV. It's going to be bigger than 9/11,' " he said.

Hill said the next terrorist attack will involve suitcase nuclear bombs that will be detonated in small, low-flying two-seater private airplanes manned by men hanging onto the belief that, like the 9/11 hijackers, they are about to die as martyrs and enter paradise.

He is not alone in suggesting such a scenario. A 2007 book, "The Day of Islam," spells out the details, as do any number of Internet sites about a plot called "American Hiroshima."

The nukes, he said, will be detonated over New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

I asked Hill, "Why now?"

"Eight years from 1993 to 2001, eight years from that 9/11 to this 9/11," he said. "Symbolism. They're big on symbolism."

"Ramadan started two weeks ago Saturday," he said, referring to the Muslim holy month of fasting. "It always hits around Ramadan."

Eight years ago, Hill predicted the attack would come on Oct. 16 — almost in the middle of that year's Ramadan (the timing of Ramadan varies from year to year). He was about a month off.

"I don't know the second, hour or day. I just know they have the means, will, motivation and desire to do it," he said, noting that it's believed that years ago the suitcase nukes, acquired from former USSR operatives, were smuggled into America across the Mexican border.
ANYWAY you cut it, what we have here is a staggering act not of terrorism, but instead of journalistic incompetence and irresponsibility. This goes double in an age when people are so gullible as to seriously believe Barack Obama is a card-carrying Muslim communist who isn't the real president because he really was born in Kenya, not Honolulu.

Let's look at this a second.

The Deseret News thinks it's sitting on a story, from a "credible" source, that a nuclear attack upon seven American cities may be days away, and it gets 17 column inches in a column in the freakin' Utah section? Really?

Not only that, the editors of the Deseret News, are going to go with a -- sorry -- "atom bomb" of a story about an imminent American apocalypse, and it's 17 single-sourced inches by your local columnist, who couldn't be bothered to spend a little Google time fact-checking the thing? Really?

THE EDITORS of the Deseret News are going to risk scaring the poo out of readers -- and especially the populations of New York, Washington, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami -- without even bothering to also interview a few terrorism and nuclear-weapons experts on the phone to see whether they've heard the same things? To see whether it would be possible for al Qaida to acquire "suitcase" nukes and smuggle them into the United States?


If you're a newspaper columnist or newspaper editor, you're going to herald the possible End of the World as We Know It -- or at least as New York, Washington, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami know it -- without even checking to see whether "suitcase" nukes even exist . . . especially ones that can fit into a two-seater Cessna?


The J-school grad in me looks at this kind of glow-in-the-dark yellow journalism and isn't surprised that the newspaper industry has about had it. Especially if one thinks the Deseret News is typical.

The cultural realist in me looks at the whole mess and wonders why the Deseret News isn't making more money.

And the Catholic in me is pretty sure he knows why Mormons don't drink. If this is what's turned out by stone-cold sober columnists for a newspaper published by a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lord knows what they'd come up with drunk as a skunk.

(Hey! I know what you're thinking. Don't go there.)

OF COURSE, Benson's missive on the predicted hell bombing of the United States isn't even original. It's just more regurgitated paranoia and fear-mongering from the depths of the lunatic right. World Net Daily, otherwise known as Birther Central, has been all over this for years. And all the Art Bell types republish it.

Sad, because it doesn't take much Internet effort to track down some thorough debunking of this stuff. Like this 2005 piece by Richard Miniter on Opinion

A month after September 11, senior Bush administration officials were told that an al Qaeda terrorist cell had control of a 10-kiloton atomic bomb from Russia and was plotting to detonate it in New York City. CIA director George Tenet told President Bush that the source, code-named "Dragonfire," had said the nuclear device was already on American soil. After anxious weeks of investigation, including surreptitious tests for radioactive material in New York and other major cities, Dragonfire's report was found to be false. New York's mayor and police chief would not learn of the threat for another year.

The specter of the nuclear suitcase bomb is particularly potent because it fuses two kinds of terror: the horrible images of Hiroshima and the suicide bomber, the unseen shark amid the swimmers. The fear of a suitcase nuke, like the bomb itself, packs a powerful punch in a small package. It also has a sense of inevitability. A December 2001 article in the Boston Globe speculated that terrorists would explode suitcase nukes in Chicago, Sydney and Jerusalem . . . in 2004.

Every version of the nuclear suitcase bomb scare relies on one or more strands of evidence, two from different Russians and one from a former assistant secretary of defense. The scare started, in its current form, with Russian general Alexander Lebed, who told a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Moscow in 1997--and, later that year, CBS's series "60 Minutes"--that a number of Soviet-era nuclear suitcase bombs were missing.

It was amplified when Stanislav Lunev, the highest-ranking Soviet military intelligence officer ever to defect to the United States, told a congressional panel that same year that Soviet special forces might have smuggled a number of portable nuclear bombs onto the U.S. mainland to be detonated if the Cold War ever got hot. The scare grew when Graham Allison, a Harvard professor who served as an assistant secretary of defense under President Clinton, wrote a book called "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe." In that slim volume, Mr. Allison worries about stolen warheads, self-made bombs and suitcase nukes. Published in 2004, the work has been widely cited by the press and across the blogosphere.

Let's walk back the cat, as they say in intelligence circles. The foundation of all main nuclear suitcase stories is a string of interviews given by Gen. Lebed in 1997. Lebed told a visiting congressional delegation in June 1997 that the Kremlin was concerned that its arsenal of 100 suitcase-size nuclear bombs would find their way to Chechen rebels or other Islamic terrorists. He said that he had tried to account for all 100 but could find only 48. That meant 52 were missing. He said the bombs would fit "in a 60-by-40-by-20 centimeter case"--in inches, roughly 24-by-16-by-8--and would be "an ideal weapon for nuclear terror. The warhead is activated by one person and easy to transport." It would later emerge that none of these statements were true.

Later that year, the Russian general sat down with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes." The exchange could hardly have been more alarming.

Kroft: Are you confident that all of these weapons are secure and accounted for?

Lebed: (through a translator) Not at all. Not at all.

Kroft: How easy would it be to steal one?

Lebed: It's suitcase-sized.

Kroft: You could put it in a suitcase and carry it off?

Lebed: It is made in the form of a suitcase. It is a suitcase, actually. You can carry it. You can put it into another suitcase if you want to.

Kroft: But it's already in a suitcase.

Lebed: Yes.

I could walk down the streets of Moscow or Washington or New York, and people would think I'm carrying a suitcase?

Lebed: Yes, indeed.

Kroft: How easy is it to detonate?

Lebed: It would take twenty, thirty minutes to prepare.

Kroft: But you don't need secret codes from the Kremlin or anything like that.


Kroft: You are saying that there are a significant number that are missing and unaccounted for?

Lebed: Yes, there is. More than one hundred.

Kroft: Where are they?

Lebed: Somewhere in Georgia, somewhere in Ukraine, somewhere in the Baltic countries. Perhaps some of them are even outside those countries. One person is capable of actuating this nuclear weapon--one person.

Kroft: So you're saying these weapons are no longer under the control of the Russian military.

Lebed: I'm saying that more than one hundred weapons out of the supposed number of 250 are not under the control of the armed forces of Russia. I don't know their location. I don't know whether they have been destroyed or whether they are stored or whether they've been sold or stolen. I don't know.

Nearly everything Lebed told visiting congressmen and "60 Minutes" was later contradicted, sometimes by Lebed himself. In subsequent news accounts, he said 41 bombs were missing, at other times he pegged the number at 52 or 62, 84 or even 100. When asked about this disparity, he told the Washington Post that he "did not have time to find out how many such weapons there were." If this sounds breezy or cavalier, that is because it is.

Indeed, Lebed never seemed to have made a serious investigation at all. A Russian official later pointed out that Lebed never visited the facility that houses all of Russia's nuclear weapons or met with its staff. And Lebed--who died in a plane crash in 2002--had a history of telling tall tales.

As for the small size of the weapons and the notion that they can be detonated by one person, those claims also been authoritatively dismissed. The only U.S. government official to publicly admit seeing a suitcase-sized nuclear device is Rose Gottemoeller. As a Defense Department official, she visited Russia and Ukraine to monitor compliance with disarmament treaties in the early 1990s. The Soviet-era weapon "actually required three footlockers and a team of several people to detonate," she said. "It was not something you could toss in your shoulder bag and carry on a plane or bus"

Lebed's onetime deputy, Vladimir Denisov, said he headed a special investigation in July 1996--almost a year before Lebed made his charges--and found that no army field units had portable nuclear weapons of any kind. All portable nuclear devices--which are much bigger than a suitcase--were stored at a central facility under heavy guard. Lt. Gen. Igor Valynkin, chief of the Russian Defense Ministry's 12th Main Directorate, which oversees all nuclear weapons, denied that any weapons were missing. "Nuclear suitcases . . . were never produced and are not produced," he said. While he acknowledged that they were technically possible to make, he said the weapon would have "a lifespan of only several months" and would therefore be too costly to maintain.

Gen. Valynkin is referring to the fact that radioactive weapons require a lot of shielding. To fit the radioactive material and the appropriate shielding into a suitcase would mean that a very small amount of material would have to be used. Radioactive material decays at a steady, certain rate, expressed as "half-life," or the length of time it takes for half of the material to decay into harmless elements. The half-life of the most likely materials in the infinitesimal weights necessary to fit in a suitcase is a few months. So as a matter of physics and engineering, the nuclear suitcase is an impractical weapon. It would have to be rebuilt with new radioactive elements every few months.

THE WORST PART of the Deseret News' irresponsible, unvetted fear-mongering is that it really might happen some day -- maybe even as soon as Daniel Hill thinks . . . though the "suitcase nuke" thing strains credibility to its breaking point. At least for now.

Because al Qaida really is still out to get us, the subject deserves a thorough, sober examination. One quite unlike the single-source bit of hackery from a credulous local columnist buried inside a middling newspaper in Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apocalyptic is the new normal

If this doesn't scare you spitless, you're an idiot.

"THIS" WOULD BE the following dispatch from The Wall Street Journal:

Pakistan's Taliban seized control of another district in the country's northwest just 70 miles from the capital after consolidating their hold on the Swat Valley, according to local government officials and residents.

The latest Taliban advance into the Buner district has spurred fears that a controversial peace accord, which allows the militants to enforce sharia law in Swat, has emboldened them to expand their influence.

Militants have been moving into Buner since the Swat peace deal was signed with the government in February. But starting Tuesday night they seized control of the entire district, which has a population of more than one million people, local government officials and residents said. Heavily armed militants, streaming in from neighboring Swat, occupied government offices and set up their own checkposts. Terrified residents fled their homes.

Dozens of hooded fighters carrying rocket launchers and machine guns ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in the district and took away their vehicles. Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage. The militants set up their headquarters in the town of Buner after driving out government officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the Taliban advance poses "an existential threat" to Pakistan and urged Pakistanis world-wide to oppose a government policy yielding to them. Pakistanis "need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents," Mrs. Clinton said in testimony before a House committee.
BEFORE YOU SHRUG and withdraw once more into your Wii cocoon, the significance of the Journal's report is found on The Daily Beast in a post by author Gerald Posner:
The Taliban advance should be causing high Richter-scale reactions inside the Obama White House. Counterterrorism officials have long warned that al Qaeda is desperate to obtain weapons WMD. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is in play if the Taliban insurgency should unseat the government of Asif Ali Zadari.

Pakistan has been a member of the nuclear club since in 1987. Intelligence estimates are that the country now has between 50 and 100 nuclear missiles that can travel 1,200 miles. That places much of India, Saudi Arabia and Eastern Iraq within range. With slight improvements in the rockets’ booster phase—not a difficult technological advance—Jerusalem could be hit.

Pakistan straddles a fault line between secularism and fundamentalism. Many Pakistani military and intelligence officers are markedly more radical than the centrist Zadari and openly supportive of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA is still enraged by the central government’s abandonment of both the Taliban and the Kashmiri Jihadis. Fundamentalist religious schools—of which Pakistan has more than any other country—churn out thousands of radical Islamists, and outlawed militant parties regularly resurface with new names.


A Pakistani government led by Sunni fundamentalists could launch a nuclear attack on Iran's Shia provinces, long-time foe India and definitely Israel. Economic upheaval in the West would be assured by nuking oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. You think the stock market looks bad over the last two years? Let a Taliban spokesman announce that Mullah Omar has his finger on the Islamic Bomb.
LET US FERVENTLY PRAY the world's big international players -- Britain, the United States, Russia and China -- are at this moment planning a joint military operation to seize, if need be, and destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Because if they aren't, and if Pakistan falls to the Taliban, we can be pretty sure -- one way or another -- this is The End of Everything. At least Everything as we have come to know it.

Actually, a complete Wall Street meltdown would be only the half of it . . . particularly if the Taliban were to nuke the Saudi oil fields.

If the Taliban take over Pakistan, and its nuclear arsenal is still there . . . al Qaida will have The Bomb, and America could someday lose a major city. What's far more likely than that is the prospect of nuclear war on the Indian subcontinent, because India and Israel can't (and won't) live with the imminent threat of annihilation at the hand of nutwagon Islamist goons.

Jesus, mercy. Mary, pray.

HAT TIP: Crunchy Con.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Divine Comedy (Central)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
We Don't Torture
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Again, what does it say about us that the most cogent, honest commentary in the American media comes from Comedy Central?

BE THAT AS IT MAY, I think there is one clear-cut, indisputable observation we can make about both those who run and those who observe United States of America: Torture Regime. The main thing American elites take away from their excellent educations at excellent schools is ever more witty, smooth and sophisticated ways of denying a fundamental thing their mamas told them when they were 4 or 5 -- that two wrongs don't make a right.

And what part, exactly, of
waterboarding Kalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in a month just screams "Mama would be so proud"?

Well, maybe if Mama were Eva Braun or
Ma Barker. . . .

The Good Book warns us "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Al Qaida isn't the only bunch who ought to be scared s***less on that count.

HAT TIP: Catholic and Enjoying It

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ye shall know them by their T-shirts

con·ser·va·tism \kən-ˈsər-və-ˌti-zəm\ n (1832) 1 capitalized a: the principles and policies of a Conservative party b: the Conservative party

2a: disposition in politics to preserve what is established b: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change; specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (as retirement income or health-care coverage)

3: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change

SUPPOSE A SPACE ALIEN landed somewhere in these United States tomorrow and began studying our culture, our media and our politics.

Considering what passes for "conservative thought" at the beginning of these new Dark Ages -- and assuming the existence of an English-to-Zorkonian version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary -- our visitor might end up making some very wrong assumptions about what America has been all about these past 232 years.

And he'd probably report back to the home planet that there's this embattled fellow in Chicago, name of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who is a prophet sent from God and suffering much the same fate as his Old Testament namesake from this earthling spiritual guidebook -- "The Bible," it is called.

He would relay that "conservatives" are a fierce and violent lot who apparently hate everyone and everything, seek to kill as many real or imagined "enemies" as possible and are prone to being tendentious braggarts. Also, the Zorkonians would learn -- to their utter horror -- that conservatives' artistic and cultural output resembles Klingon opera as much as anything

And these "conservatives" even may harbor a taste for gagh, not to mention bloodwine.

Likewise, the scout from Zorkon would report that the United States' "conservative" goverment apparently is dedicated to ceaseless war and employs torture against enemy prisoners, a practice widely celebrated by American conservatives.

Great. These earthling ideologues seem to harbor all the worst traits of the Klingons and the Cardassians.

Preliminary recommendation: A mandatory quarantine of Earth, with no outside contact permitted. Also, continue close observation; reserve the right to launch tactical photon-torpedo strikes against the "United States" region if the Americans develop warp-propulsion technology.

IF A SPACE ALIEN came down from the heavens tomorrow, could we -- would we -- blame him for thinking such about our country seven years into the Shameful Administration? Could the last two or three thoughtful conservatives blame a total outsider for equating their political philosophy with intellectual softness, rhetorical inconsistency and rank barbarism?

Can a movement whose proud members are apt to decry legal abortion while defending waterboarding while wearing a "Rope. Tree. Journalist" T-shirt be taken seriously . . . even a little bit?

I don't think so. Not unless one is a political and cultural anthropologist conducting a study on how modern conservatism got from William F. Buckley to Benito Mussolini (with a dash of Mao Zedong-style cultism thrown in) in 50 short years.

at this point, I could launch into multiple pull quotes from multiple outrageous columns by Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Jonah Goldberg or any number of lesser lights from the farm teams of "conservative" punditry.

Oh, what the hell. How about just a couple from WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah, who doesn't just tolerate waterboarding -- he hearts it:

It was used successfully to learn about terrorist operations planned by two of al-Qaida's top operatives – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, involved in the planning of the 9/11 attack, and Abu Zubaida, another leader of the terrorist organization.

Apparently both of these mass killers endured many hours of coercive interrogations without talking. But they sung like canaries after a few seconds of waterboarding.

In both cases, there is reason to believe planned terrorist attacks were foiled as a result of this technique.

Nevertheless, there is a growing chorus of opposition against any further use of waterboarding in similar or even more dire scenarios.

Let's use our heads for a minute.

Imagine American law enforcement or military authorities have captured a terrorist mastermind who has knowledge about an imminent nuclear detonation in an unknown American city. He knows the time, the location and the details about the warhead.

The bomb could be going off at any minute. It could kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Would you really want waterboarding to be banned under all circumstances? What alternatives would you suggest for quick results? Should we call in top negotiators from the State Department? Should we play loud rap music? Should we force the prisoner to listen to Hillary Rodham Clinton speeches?

While I also find those experiences unpleasant, I don't think they would produce the needed results in time to defuse the bomb.

Let's not tie the hands of future Jack Bauers who will need to do what they have to do to save lives.

I personally think Mohammed and Zubaida got off way too easy with waterboarding.

I would personally have performed far more unpleasant procedures on them without a twinge of guilt in my conscience. Real torture techniques would have been appropriate in both cases.
BUT ABORTION, on the other hand, is icky and an abrogation of God-given rights:
Tell me, where is due process for those unborn children sentenced to death while still in the womb?

Some abortion advocates have tried to suggest that Roe v. Wade – an arbitrary and capricious attempt by the Supreme Court to exceed its constitutional limitations and legislate – is itself the due process for unborn babies.

Once again, however, the Constitution trumps that poor excuse for an argument.

"Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed; which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

Roe v. Wade is, thus, a sham – a house of cards. It was an artificial attempt to make abortion a right by citing a "right of privacy" that is itself nowhere to be found in the Constitution. Roe v. Wade created rights where none existed and abrogated those that were enshrined as unalienable.

I rest my case.

But I will not rest entirely until this nation is awakened to abortion as both a national tragedy as well as a constitutional threat to all of our God-given rights – as well as an endangerment to the lives and liberties of our posterity.
OBVIOUSLY, Joseph Farah is just making this s*** up as he goes.

By what stretch of what dictionary-conservative (as opposed to "Do what thou wilt" fascistic "conservatism") definition does someone reason that God-given rights apply more to cute little fetuses than scum-sucking Islamic terrorists?

If the rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the U.S. Constitution emanated from a Creator -- as went the Founders' contention -- by what authority do today's addle-minded right-wingers proclaim that God-given rights and God-bestowed dignity is the birthright of unborn baby and me, but maybe not thee?

They proclaim it by their own authority, that's how. Run like hell when you see folks with hate in their eyes and blood on their hands trying to wrap the Almighty in an American flag.

Run, because there's no unbridgable difference between them and European fascists of old. Run, for while they love to decry hip-hop culture and ghetto thuggery, they emblazon a Caucasian version of "tha gangsta life" on their "conservative" apparel and try to rebrand a Mad Dog philosophy as Chardonnay and canapés.

Mordor and mammon: They go together like fire and brimstone. What a conservative concept.

HAT TIP: Catholic and Enjoying It

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maybe Mother McCain coulda fielded that one

Remember the pathetic spectacle of Ronald Reagan, in videotaped depositions, trying to keep straight exactly what the hell had gone on in the Iran-Contra affair?

Well, at least the poor old man knew that it involved a) the Iranians and b) the Contras in Nicaragua. This gives the late president a leg up on presidential wannabe Sen. John McCain, who has demonstrated he has absolutely, positively no idea what the hell is going on in our latest Middle Eastern mess.

The New York Times
reports on why we ought to be very, very afraid:

Senator John McCain’s trip overseas was supposed to highlight his foreign policy acumen, and his supporters hoped that it would showcase him in a series of statesmanlike meetings with world leaders throughout the Middle East and Europe while the Democratic candidates continued to squabble back home.

But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the main players in the Iraq war.

Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.

Mr. McCain said at a news conference in Amman that he continued to be concerned about Iranians “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” Asked about that statement, Mr. McCain said: “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

It was not until he got a quiet word of correction in his ear from Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who was traveling with Mr. McCain as part of a Congressional delegation on a nearly weeklong trip, that Mr. McCain corrected himself.

“I’m sorry,” Mr. McCain said, “the Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.”

Mr. McCain has based his campaign in large part on his assertion that he is the candidate best prepared to deal with Iraq, and the Democrats wasted little time in jumping on his misstatement to question his knowledge and judgment.
I KNOW THE GOP wants to be taken seriously -- despite its track record of corruption, cronyism, horndoggedness and staggering incompetence in governance.

Putting forth a presidential nominee that leaves thinking voters unsure of whether to start laughing hysterically or start thinking seriously about emigration is not the way to recover lost respect.