Sat 31 Jan 2009 13:49
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Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, is on TV explaining the (at this point the congregation shall fall to its knees and prostrate itself) "stimulus." "How," asks the lady from CBS, "does $335 million in STD prevention stimulate the economy?"
"I’ll tell you how," says Speaker Pelosi. "I’m a big believer in prevention. And we have, er… there is a part of the bill on the House side that is about prevention. It’s about it being less expensive to the states to do these measures."
Makes a lot of sense. If we have more STD prevention, it will be safer for loose women to go into bars and pick up feckless men, thus stimulating the critical beer and nuts and jukebox industries. To do this, we need trillion-dollar deficits, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay off, but, with sufficient investment in prevention measures, there won’t be any children or grandchildren, so there’s that problem solved.
The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing "syphilis" every time she says "stimulus." In late September, America was showing the first signs of "primary stimulus" – a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of "tertiary stimulus," with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity – until it seems entirely normal for the second in line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery.
The rules in this new "post-partisan" era are pretty simple: If the Democratic Party wants it, it’s "stimulus." If the Republican Party opposes it, it’s "politics" – as in headlines like this: "Obama Urges GOP To Keep Politics To A Minimum On Stimulus." These are serious times: As the president says, it’s the worst economic crisis since the Thirties. So politicians need to put politics behind them and immediately lavish $4.19 billion on his community-organizing pals at the highly inventive "voter registration" group ACORN for "neighborhood stabilization activities."
"Neighborhood stabilization activities." That sounds like a line item from the Baath Party budget when Saddam sends the lads in to gas the Kurds. What does it mean in a nontotalitarian sense? Do you need a federally subsidized condom to do it? If so, will a pathetic $4.19 billion be enough?
"Stimulus" comes from the verb "stimulare," which is Latin for "transfer massive sums of money from what remains of the dynamic sector of the economy to the special interests of the Democratic Party." No, hang on, my mistake. "Stimulare" means "to goad." And, on that front, the Democrats are doing an excellent job. They’ve managed to goad 58 percent of the American people into opposing the "stimulus" package. They’ve managed to goad all 117 Republicans in the House into unpacking their mothballed cojonesand voting against the bill. And they’ve managed to goad the rest of the world into ending the Obama honeymoon in nothing flat. Headline from the London Daily Telegraph:
"U.S.-EU Trade War Looms As Barack Obama Bill Urges ‘Buy American.’"
That would be the provision in the Senate bill prohibiting any foreign-made goods from being used in "stimulus" projects. So, if you own a rubber plantation in Malaysia, and you’re hoping for a piece of Nancy Pelosi’s condom action, forget it. The EU Trade Commissioner is outraged at the swaggering cowboy Obama shooting from the hip and unilaterally banning European goods from American soil. But so are American companies such as General Electric. Bill Lane, an executive honcho with Caterpillar (the 10th-biggest U.S. investor in the United Kingdom), says, "We are students of history. A major reason a very deep recession turned into the Great Depression was the fact that countries turned inward." Ah, yes. The Buy American Act of 1933. How’d that work out?
Even without Speaker Pelosi talking STDs on the evening news, there is danger here for the new administration. Setting aside the more messianic effusions ("We needed him. And out of that great need," gushed Maya Angelou, "Barack Obama came") as unbecoming to the freeborn citizens of a constitutional republic, it seems clear that large numbers of people voted for this president because they wanted something different, something other than "politics as usual." Not just something pseudo-different like the dreary maverickiness of John McCain "reaching across the aisle" (one of those dead phrases no one outside the Beltway gives a hoot about), but something really different. But the "stimulus" package is just politics as usual with a few extra zeros on the end. Will you notice anything? No. Don’t get your hopes up. If you’re broke now, you’ll be broke in October. The Congressional Budget Office estimates only 25 percent of it will be spent by early next year. The other 75 percent is as stimulating as the gal in the Nancy Pelosi Pussycat Lounge telling you she had such a good time she’s penciled in a second date for spring 2010. A third of all the spending won’t come until after 2011.
In a media age, politics is a battle of language, and "stimulus" is too good a word to cede to porked-up statist hacks. "Stimulus" has to stimulate – i.e., it’s short-term, like, say, an immediate cut in payroll taxes that will put real actual money in your pocket in next month’s paycheck. That way, you don’t need to wait for ACORN: You can start "stabilizing" your own "neighborhood" right now.
But, if this fraudulent "stimulus" does pass, it will, in fact, destimulate, and much more than the disastrous protectionist measures of the Thirties did: Back then, America was dealing with a far less globalized economy, and with far fewer competitors. "In the long run, we are all dead," Lord Keynes, the newly fashionable economist, famously said. But, if this bill passes, in the medium term we’re all dead. It’s a massive expansion of the state in the same direction that has brought sclerosis to Europe. A report issued last week in London found that government spending now accounts for 49 percent of the UK economy – and in the Celtic corners of the kingdom the state’s share of the economy is way higher, from 71.6 percent in Wales to 77.6 percent in Northern Ireland. In the Western world, countries that were once the crucible of freedom are slipping remorselessly into a thinly disguised serfdom in which an ever higher proportion of your assets are annexed by the state as superlandlord. Big government is where nations go to die – not in Keynes’ "long run," but sooner than you think.
Sat 31 Jan 2009 13:41
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By JONATHAN WEISMAN
Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of Health and Human Services, paid about $140,000 in back taxes and interest after questions surfaced during the vetting of his nomination, according to documents being prepared by the Senate Finance Committee. (See full Senate Finance Committee statement.)
Mr. Daschle made the payments to cover a luxury car and driver provided to him by an investment firm where he was an adviser after leaving the U.S. Senate in 2005, but which he didn’t report as income, people familiar with the report said. The payments also covered unreported consulting income and unwarranted charitable deductions. The tax period covered 2005 through 2007.
Mr. Daschle told committee staff that he had grown used to having a car and driver as Senate majority leader and didn’t think to report the perquisite on his taxes, according to staff members.
It isn’t clear whether the tax issue will affect the Senate confirmation prospects of the former South Dakota senator. Mr. Daschle is one of the few Obama cabinet choices who hasn’t yet completed his confirmation hearings. Most of Mr. Obama’s cabinet choices were confirmed shortly after he was inaugurated on Jan. 20.
"The president has confidence that Sen. Daschle is the right person to lead the fight for health-care reform," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in response to the revelations, adding: "We are confident the committee is going to schedule a hearing for him very soon and he will be confirmed."
Mr. Gibbs said, "In preparation for his nomination, Sen. Daschle and his accountant identified some tax issues and fixed them. They filed amended returns with the IRS and made payments with interest. Sen. Daschle brought these issues to the Finance Committee’s attention when he submitted his nomination forms."
Mr. Daschle is the second Obama cabinet choice to run into political turbulence over back taxes. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s confirmation was delayed a few days after revelations that he had failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes over several years while working for the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Geithner, like Mr. Daschle, paid the back taxes when questions were raised about his liabilities during the legal vetting of his nomination.
Mr. Geithner ultimately was confirmed by the full Senate in a 60-to-34 vote. But the number of negative votes was unusually high for a cabinet choice. Mr. Geithner also weathered the controversy in part because a number of senators argued that it was crucial, in dealing with the financial crisis, to have a Treasury secretary in place quickly.
Some senators have also raised concerns about two vacation trips Mr. Daschle took aboard a corporate jet belonging to nonprofit lender EduCap, which faces a separate probe by the Finance panel into its tax status.
The Wall Street Journal first reported in mid-January that Senate questions about Mr. Daschle’s finances had slowed his confirmation process.
The Finance Committee prepared a four-page staff memorandum for members after Republicans on the panel grew restive over the long confirmation delay. According to the memo, Mr. Daschle paid well $140,167 in back taxes and interest during the vetting process, amending tax returns from 2005 through 2007.
The years cover the period immediately following his defeat in his race for re-election as a senator from South Dakota in 2004. Shortly after leaving the Senate, Mr. Daschle began consulting work.
During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying the back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007. He filed the amended tax returns on Jan. 2.
The changes reflected unreported income from the use of the car service valued at $255,256 for those three years, according to the Finance Committee report. He also amended his returns to cover $83,333 in unreported consulting income for 2007. And he reduced his charitable contributions by $14,963.
The tax issue will dominate a meeting of the panel Monday, according to committee aides. Mr. Daschle’s confirmation has been held up for weeks as committee staffers pore over the tax records and business ties of Mr. Daschle.
Mr. Daschle was supplied a car and driver by InterMedia Advisors LLP, an investment firm specializing in buyouts and industry consolidation. Mr. Daschle served as chairman of the firm’s executive advisory board.
Sat 31 Jan 2009 06:47
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By Daily Mail Reporter
This is how you see off a love rival, gorilla-style.
With teeth bared and enormous arms swinging, the two huge apes hurl themselves towards each other.
This moment, just before they clashed in mid-air, was captured by a visitor to the Kent zoo where the western lowland gorillas live.
Kongs clash: The power is almost palpable as the two lowland gorillas square up in Nicholas Godsell’s photograph
The action photograph earned Nicholas Godsell the runner-up prize in an annual photography competition run by Port Lympne zoo near Folkestone, in conjunction with Howletts near Canterbury.
The 33-year-old, sales manager for a computer company, said: ‘I can’t believe I got a shot like that. I was watching these two gorillas getting more and more aggressive with each other.
‘And then suddenly they both just leapt at each other with mouths open – it looked really quite scary.
‘I just happened to have my finger on the shutter button and pushed at just the right time.
Proud: Photographer Nicholas Godsell and, above, a detail from his photo
‘This is the only shot I have with them like this. I can’t believe my luck.
‘It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. I have a degree in fine art, and really enjoy photography, so getting a picture like this was a big thrill.’
The contest was judged by professional photographer Vic Sharratt, who said: ‘Nicholas’s shot has captured movement and action with one animal in the air.’
Port Lympne’s director of fundraising projects, Robert Boutwood, said: ‘We didn’t realise how popular the competition would be. We urge everyone to keep on snapping.’
Adrian Harfield, the animal director at Port Lympne, near Ashford, said: ‘Troubles start when one gorilla tries to move in on another male’s mate and we have these flare-ups.
‘They appear to be nasty, but injuries are extremely rare. They bare their teeth and flap their arms around, but after giving each other a few slaps they basically run away from each other’.
Sat 31 Jan 2009 06:00
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Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez, right, showed a permit which allows him to stay in the U.S. Attorney Carlos Spector is at left. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
EL PASO — A Mexican newspaper reporter seeking political asylum in the U.S. because he feared for his life has been released after being held for seven months at an immigration detention center in El Paso.
"I could not believe it," Emilio Gutiérrez Soto said Friday after being unexpectedly released Thursday afternoon by immigration officials.
Several immigrant-rights groups and journalist associations, including the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, had asked that Gutiérrez be freed and that Mexican authorities investigate his claims.
"It was a shock," said Gutiérrez’s lawyer, Carlos Spector. "I can really attribute it to a change in politics. … The Obama administration’s advent, I think, really sent a message to the local bureaucrats."
Gutiérrez, 46, is considered a parolee. His immigration case is pending, Spector said, and a hearing is possibly set for June.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa said that it is ICE policy not to discuss individual immigration cases.
Gutiérrez, who wrote for El Diario del Noroeste in Ascension, Chihuahua, claims Mexican army officials targeted him after he wrote about allegations of crimes committed by soldiers in communities in the rural northwestern part of Chihuahua state.
Gutiérrez filed a complaint with Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights but said nothing was solved. On May 5, 2008, soldiers raided and searched his home after supposedly getting an anonymous tip that drugs and weapons were inside.
After being warned by a friend that the army was going to kill him, Gutiérrez fled to the U.S. with his 15-year-old son. He asked for asylum on June 16 at the border crossing at Antelope Wells, N.M.
Gutiérrez has been reunited with his son, who was released late last year from an immigration detention center for juveniles. His son had been staying with relatives in the El Paso region while Gutiérrez was detained.
"All journalists are having liberties curtailed in Mexico in part by organized crime and by government agencies that have stopped doing their job," Gutiérrez said in Spanish at news conference at his lawyer’s office.
Gutiérrez’s request for political asylum comes at a time of heightened drug-related violence across the state of Chihuahua and in other parts of Mexico.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Mexico as one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the Americas.
Gutiérrez on Friday wore a black ribbon on his polo-style shirt in memory of his friend Armando "El Choco" Rodríguez, a crime reporter for a Mexican newspaper. He was shot and killed Nov. 13 outside his Juárez home.
"Believe me, when I heard, when I read about Armando, I saw myself in that article," Gutiérrez said.
Rodríguez’s murder remains unsolved.
Sat 31 Jan 2009 05:29
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Sat 31 Jan 2009 05:25
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One group of Guantánamo detainees will prove especially difficult for the Obama administration
By Stephen F. Hayes & Thomas Joscelyn
On January 22, 2009, two days after Barack Obama took the oath of office, the new president issued an executive order requiring that the detainee facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, be closed in one year. With cameras capturing the president affixing his signature to the document, Obama said the change would return the United States to the "moral high ground" and "restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism." In a separate executive order, the new president established a task force to lead a broad review of U.S. detention policy and to provide him "with information in terms of how we are able to deal [with] the disposition of some of the detainees that may be currently in Guantánamo that we cannot transfer to other countries, who could pose a serious danger to the United States."
While Obama was deliberately vague about what would happen to the approximately 248 detainees currently held at Guantánamo Bay, his administration’s policy quickly began to take shape halfway around the world. Some one hundred of the remaining Guantánamo detainees are from Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden. And in comments published the day Obama issued his executive orders, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen said that he hoped a "majority" of the Yemeni detainees would be allowed to return home to "make a future for themselves here."
"Certainly we would like to be able to bring them back to Yemen and have them integrate themselves back into their own society with their families," Ambassador -Stephen Seche told America.gov, a State Department website. Although he acknowledged some "inherent risks" in returning the alleged terrorists to the general population, Seche suggested that only a few of the detainees present real problems. "Except in the case perhaps of some very hardcore elements, we believe that the majority of these detainees can be put productively into a . . . reintegration program with the goal over time of enabling them to find a way back into Yemeni society without posing a security risk."
Two days later, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh went further. In an appearance at a security conference in Sana’a, Saleh announced that Yemen had established a reintegration program and that virtually all of the Yemeni detainees would be sent home within three months. "Now, within 60-90 days, 94 Yemeni detainees will be here among us," he announced.
Is Saleh correct? Was Ambassador Seche speaking for the State Department and, more broadly, for the Obama administration? We put those questions to a spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The spokesman, who declined to be identified in print, cautioned that the Obama administration’s review of Guantánamo detainees was ongoing and that it was too early to know precisely what steps that process would recommend. Saleh’s announcement, he said, was premature. But the spokesman nonetheless indicated that Ambassador Seche’s comments reflect administration policy.
Ambassador Seche’s comments that you referred to lay out very well the U.S. government position on the situation of the Yemeni detainees at Guantánamo. . . . As he noted, the U.S. government has made clear its decision to close the Guantánamo Bay facility as soon as practicable but no later than one year from January 22, 2009.
The Bush administration spent years debating the best way to handle the Yemeni detainees. Reports vary as to precisely how many Yemenis are still at Guantánamo. The online database of detainees created by the New York Times indicates that there are 95 Yemenis currently being held, in addition to 9/11 conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh and senior al Qaeda operations planner Walid bin Attash. A handful of them–like Binalshibh and Attash–are high-value detainees and will not be released. At the other end of the spectrum are a small number of Yemeni detainees who were determined to be good candidates for transfer or release–detainees who are not believed to pose a future risk to the United States. The problem is in the middle. The vast majority of Yemenis in Guantánamo have strong ties to al Qaeda or a history of active involvement in terrorism. Some members of this group were candidates for a reintegration program in Saudi Arabia that U.S. officials point to as a success despite the fact that several graduates have returned to a life of terror. But Saleh said at the security conference that his government "refuse[d] the offer to release the Yemenis to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation." In any case, according to a senior Bush administration involved in detainee discussions, transferring a "majority" of the Yemeni detainees directly back to Yemen was "inconceivable."
One Bush administration official cautioned against reading too much into Seche’s comments, suggesting he was simply articulating the long-term solution to an exceedingly difficult problem and laying out an objective that was, to some extent, shared by the Bush administration. Others, though, were alarmed at what they regard as a significant policy shift and a dangerous retreat from counterterrorism policies that were indisputably effective.
The Bush administration worked hard to reduce the number of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay–from 750 to 248–and those that remain are dedicated jihadists. "The easiest cases have been dealt with a long time ago," notes Charles "Cully" Stimson, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs and now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "They were harder in 2005, and then harder in 2006 when I was in office. These are even harder–some of the hardest. There is no risk-free transfer from Gitmo, in my opinion."
Another top Bush administration official puts it more starkly. "Releasing hardcore terrorists back to the Yemenis will almost certainly guarantee that we will have to kill them or capture them all over again."
This is because there are two obvious problems with releasing the Yemeni detainees from Guantánamo: the detainees and Yemen.
Like Saudi Arabia, its neighbor to the north, Yemen is a hotbed of Islamic extremism and home to an entrenched terrorist network. Osama bin Laden has deep familial and tribal roots in Yemen, and Yemenis form the core of his personal bodyguard. Bin Laden’s guards swear an oath of personal loyalty similar to the one that the Prophet Mohammed required from his followers. More than a dozen of the Yemenis currently detained at Guantánamo are alleged to have been bodyguards for the world’s most infamous terrorist.
The factions bin Laden draws support from are not at the margin of Yemeni society. They are among President Saleh’s most powerful backers. One of Yemen’s leading clerics is Abdul Majid al-Zindani. The head of the Islah party, Zindani has backed President Saleh at crucial times during his career, and Saleh has consistently returned the favor by supporting some of the most radical elements of Yemeni society. Saleh has even defied U.S. pressure to contain or deport Zindani, who has been designated a terrorist supporter under Executive Order 13224.
Zindani received this designation because he is a longtime personal friend of Osama bin Laden. One current Yemeni detainee at Guantánamo, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh Naser, was allegedly recruited by Zindani to fight on behalf of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Several other Yemeni detainees are alleged to have ties to, or been members of, Zindani’s Islah party.
After the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush asked nations around the world to respond to a simple question: Are you with us or with the terrorists? Yemen’s answer seems to have been Yes. When the Bush administration requested help from President Saleh’s government, Yemen did provide some limited tactical assistance. But Saleh’s ties to jihadists are deep and longstanding.
Saleh’s government began working with veterans of the jihad against the Soviet Union after their return from Afghanistan in the early 1990s. His government even cooperates, at times, with al Qaeda against their common foes, including Shiite tribes and other forces who oppose Saleh’s government. This cooperation generally runs counter to U.S. interests. For example, press reports have consistently pointed to the role that Saleh and his extended family have played in supporting the Iraqi insurgency. "Saleh’s administration supports the Iraqi insurgency in public statements and other ways," Jane Novak, an expert on Yemen who runs the website Armiesofliberation.com, told us. Numerous Yemeni terrorists have turned up in Iraq.
When abroad, Saleh presents himself as doing what he can to fight terrorism. But the U.S. government–or important parts of it, at least–does not believe him. Unclassified documents released from Guantánamo note that his regime is not a true ally: "Yemen is not a nation supporting the Global War on Terrorism," states one report. While Saleh cooperates with or co-opts the jihadist forces he claims to be fighting, he is ever mindful that the extremists could turn against his regime. Saleh’s unstated policy towards the Islamists has been: Wage jihad, just not against my government. To this end, the Yemeni government has, tacitly or otherwise, facilitated the movement of jihadists around the globe. Consider the story of Abdul al Salam al Hilal, a Yemeni currently detained at Guantánamo.
Al Hilal worked for the Political Security Organization (PSO), which is an intelligence agency that reports directly to President Saleh. The PSO operated an official government "deportation" operation, in which veteran mujahedeen were relocated. The U.S. government says al Hilal has admitted that he was tasked with keeping tabs on al Qaeda operatives for Saleh’s government. The U.S. government also charges, however, that al Hilal was really an al Qaeda member who used his position of authority to assist his fellow terrorists.
According to the U.S. government, al Hilal facilitated the movement of terrorists around the globe and admits that he and the deputy chief of the PSO were paid "to release extremists held in Yemeni prisons." Some of the terrorists the U.S. government claims al Hilal worked to release are well-connected al Qaeda associates. One of them is Muhammad Shawqi al-Islambuli, a high-ranking member of the Egyptian al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya (IG) terrorist organization, which has long been affiliated with al Qaeda. (His brother Khalid assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981. The government’s files note that Muhammad al-Islambuli "has been involved in terrorist training in Afghanistan and Pakistan and served as [a] liaison between the IG and Osama bin Laden.")
During the summer of 2000, al Hilal visited the Islamic Cultural Institute in Milan. Following the September 11 attacks, Italy closed down the institute, primarily because it housed an al Qaeda facilitation network that provided forged passports and other assistance to al Qaeda operatives traveling to and from Afghanistan. Italian authorities had been watching the institute for some time. During one wiretap session, recorded before the 9/11 attacks, they captured a conversation between al Hilal and a senior Egyptian al Qaeda member. The contents are chilling.
Well, I am studying airplanes! If it is God’s will, I hope to bring you a window or a piece of a plane next time I see you. . . . We are focusing on the air alone. . . . It is something terrifying, something that moves from south to north and from east to west: the man who devised the program is a lunatic, but he is a genius. It will leave them stunned. . . . We can fight any force using candles and planes. They will not be able to halt us, not even with their heaviest weapons. We just have to strike at them, and hold our heads high. Remember, the danger at the airports. If it comes off, it will be reported in all the world’s papers. The Americans have come into Europe to weaken us, but our target is now the sky.
In 2002, al Hilal was lured to Egypt on the pretext of doing business and captured by the Egyptian authorities. He was eventually transferred to U.S. custody and Guantánamo.
It is not clear what the Obama administration will do with al Hilal. But his story exposes the fundamental duplicity that defines the Yemeni government’s behavior. On the one hand, al Hilal was working with Saleh’s government to make sure the jihadist forces that thrive in Yemen did not turn against the government. On the other hand, the U.S. government believes al Hilal was exporting terrorism around the globe and had foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks.
The Yemeni government apparently had a similar relationship with Jamal al-Badawi, one of the terrorists behind the USS Cole bombing in Aden. Saleh’s government freed al-Badawi from jail in October 2007. According to the New York Times, the Yemeni government hoped to use al-Badawi to expose the terror network’s designs. Al-Badawi was rearrested after the United States insisted that he still posed a threat, even if the Yemeni government thought it could track him. It is not clear whether al-Badawi remains in custody.
Sending detainees back to Yemen carries risks far greater than returning them to many other countries. And this is without even considering the character of the detainees themselves.
Last year, THE WEEKLY STANDARD performed a six-month study of the files released by the Department of Defense on 242 of the remaining Guantánamo detainees. (See "Clear and Present Danger" by Thomas Joscelyn, December 1, 2008.) We identified four red flags that the Obama administration should look for in assessing whether a detainee might be considered for release. Using the same tests, we have looked again directly at the 95 Yemenis listed in the New York Times online database of Guantánamo detainees.
The first red flag we suggested was evidence that a detainee had been recruited by a terror network. For the better part of three decades, sheikhs such as Zindani and other professional recruiters have indoctrinated impressionable Yemenis in the ways of jihad. Recruitment takes place at the radical mosques and schools that dot the Yemeni landscape. The Taliban and al Qaeda rely on the recruiting network to replenish their ranks. The recruiters frequently make travel arrangements, paying for recruits’ trips and suggesting common routes to Afghanistan (mostly through Pakistan and Iran) and elsewhere. Yemeni sheikhs, like their Saudi counterparts, support al Qaeda’s recruitment by giving fiery sermons and issuing fatwas calling for Muslims to support the jihad in Afghanistan and Iraq against the United States, just as they called earlier for jihad against the Soviets and then the Northern Alliance.
According to the U.S. government’s unclassified files, most of the Yemenis remaining at Guantánamo were sent to the war zones of Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and elsewhere by the Yemeni recruiting network. Of the 95 Yemenis identified by the Times as current detainees, the government alleges that 65 of them (68 percent) were connected to the jihadist recruiting network. This includes both recruiters and those recruited or inspired by the network to wage jihad. (It does not include detainees who decided on their own to wage jihad or were inspired by other means, including al Qaeda’s propaganda.)
Assuming that America could even trust the Yemeni government, any attempt to deprogram the former Guantánamo detainees will be exceedingly difficult. The Yemeni government has been operating a rehabilitation program, but it has proved largely ineffective. The Yemeni program "was not even a shadow" of the Saudi one, according to a counterterrorism official. In January 2008, Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Centre told the BBC News that some 70 percent of the Yemenis who had gone through the existing rehabilitation program had been rearrested on terrorism-related charges. Nor is it clear what happened to them after they were rearrested; many may have simply been put back into circulation elsewhere.
Once a man is corrupted by al Qaeda’s recruiters, it can be difficult for him to come back. Consider the case of Abd al Rahman al Zahri, a Yemeni currently detained at Guantánamo. During their hearings at Guantánamo, many detainees proclaim their innocence. (Because they are seeking freedom, they have every incentive to do so.) But some, like al Zahri, do not hide their agenda. Al Zahri seethed with anger against America and defiantly explained:
I didn’t come here to defend myself. I have no need for that because I didn’t commit any crime. I have the right to come. Regarding what the United States has said, I do pose a threat to the United States and its allies. I admit to you it is my honor to be an enemy of the United States. I’m a Muslim jihadist and I’m defending my religion and my family . . . against the infidel, the United States and its allies until all the property of the Muslims will come back to them. God praises the Muslim people and all the people of Islam. I will never return or come back from jihad.
While not all detainees may be as blunt as al Zahri, there are many signs to look for in evaluating the depth of their ideological commitment. Some drafted martyrdom letters. Others signed up for martyrdom missions. And some, like Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, swore an oath of loyalty that binds them until death.
The second red flag is an association with Islamist guesthouses. The word "guesthouse" sounds innocuous, but not just anyone can gain admittance. On their way to join the jihad, most Yemeni recruits would have stayed in guesthouses, whose operators usually required that a known al Qaeda or Taliban member vouch for anyone wishing to stay there. New residents are typically required to turn in their passports and other identification papers, sometimes receiving a new identity, before being shuttled off to a training facility or the front lines. The guesthouses provide rudimentary religious and weapons training and act as staging facilities where jihadist fighters regroup between missions.
Our review found that at least 70 of the 95 Yemeni detainees (74 percent) are alleged to have either operated or stayed in al Qaeda or Taliban guesthouses in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iran. This figure includes 15 Yemenis who were captured in the raids that netted senior al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi Binalshibh.
These raids generated a treasure trove of information. For example, at the time he was captured, Binalshibh was plotting an encore to the 9/11 attacks that included an attack on London’s Heathrow airport and other targets. The guesthouses where Binalshibh and his fellow Yemenis were holed up contained two computers loaded with details of his plans. They contained a "flight simulator and flight navigation maps," as well as specific information on "United States military facilities and the layout of the exterior and interior views of various United States Navy ships." In addition, the computers contained "several files that discussed kidnapping, hijacking, smuggling money, weapons, ammunition, and lectures and essays on terrorist training, executions, assassinations, [guerrilla] warfare and United States Special Operations Forces."
Our third red flag is whether a detainee received training in one of the Taliban’s or al Qaeda’s many Afghan camps. The principal reason Yemeni jihadists traveled to Afghanistan was to receive military-style training. The Taliban’s pre-9/11 Afghanistan was a hub for terrorist training, of course; its camps having turned out some 20,000 graduates in the 1990s. New recruits could learn everything from basic military skills to more advanced techniques, such as how to construct a truck bomb and evade detection by Western intelligence agencies.
Our review found that at least 70 of the 95 Yemenis (74 percent) identified by the Times as current detainees are alleged to be either trainers or trainees. (In a few instances, they took part in training outside of Afghanistan, in, for example, Bosnia, Chechnya, or Pakistan.) Al Qaeda used its training infrastructure to identify especially promising recruits, who would be tasked with the most sensitive missions, including attacks against the United States.
One such talented recruit is a Guantánamo detainee named Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah al Ansi. In Afghanistan he graduated from al Qaeda’s beginner course into its elite training program. An unnamed "senior al Qaeda operative" cited in the U.S. government’s unclassified files says that he then took al Ansi and others to Karachi two months before September 11, 2001, "to teach them English and American behaviors." The same senior al Qaeda operative identified al Ansi "as one of the martyrs who had been readied" for al Qaeda’s "Southeast Asia hijacking plan." That plan was devised by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and initially intended to coincide with the 9/11 attacks. Because al Qaeda’s senior leadership worried that the plot was becoming too complicated, the Southeast Asia hijacking plan was rescheduled as part of a second wave of attacks.
That second wave never happened in large part because the Bush administration and its allies captured the al Qaeda terrorists who were to be responsible for its execution, including high-value Guantánamo detainee Walid bin Attash. He made a trip to Malaysia in January 2000 to scope out airport security and to meet with some of the 9/11 plotters. Accompanying him on the trip, according to the U.S. government’s unclassified files, was a fellow jihadist named Zuhail Abdo Anam Said al Sharabi. Al Sharabi is another Yemeni currently detained at Guantánamo.
The final red flag we suggested to the new administration was any direct evidence of participation in hostilities in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The Yemeni terror network has sent willing jihadists around the globe to commit acts of terror. Yemenis have fought on behalf of al Qaeda and its allies in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, and elsewhere. Our new review found that at least 43 of the 95 Yemenis (45 percent) are alleged to have participated in these hostilities. The bulk of these fought on the frontlines in Afghanistan or directly supported those who did. But this count also includes detainees who were involved in terrorist attacks or were senior operational commanders in charge of deployed forces.
In sum, 94 of the 95 Yemeni detainees we studied in detail had at least one of the four red flags outlined above; 81 had two or more red flags. This methodology has its limits, of course, given the U.S. government’s interest in potentially prosecuting these individuals and because much of the information about them remains classified. There are a variety of other factors the Obama administration will consider as it determines the fate of these Yemenis.
But the reality is simple: The overwhelming majority of the Yemenis currently detained at Guantánamo Bay are very dangerous individuals. Sending a majority of them back to Yemen so that they might "make a future for themselves" involves significant risks.
"Maybe the new administration thinks it’s worth that risk in order to shut [Guantánamo] down and to defend our system of values," says one Bush administration counterterrorism official. "That’s fine. But let’s be honest about it."
And if we’re honest about it, we’ll understand that the risks of such an attack are not merely hypothetical. The U.S. embassy in Sana’a was bombed on September 17, 2008–ten civilians were killed, including one American. Al Qaeda in Yemen, now one of the strongest al Qaeda affiliates worldwide, executed the attack. The group’s chief deputy, a Saudi named Said Ali al -Shihri, passed through Guantánamo and Saudi Arabia’s jihad rehabilitation program–the one even hawkish U.S. officials point to as a success. Last week, al Shihri turned up in a jihadist Internet video, joined by three other terrorists. One of them, Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, was also released from detention at Guantánamo Bay and graduated from the Saudi reintegration program. In the video, the former detainees proudly proclaim that they are returning to the same jihad that landed them in the U.S. detention facility.
Senator Christopher Bond, ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, points to al -Shihri as an example of the difficulties of reintegration. While Bond goes out of his way to empathize with the "difficult governing position" of the Yemeni president, he is deeply skeptical of any plans to ship a majority of Yemeni detainees back "unless and until Yemen has a proven and reliable program for rehabilitation."
And since President Obama started the one-year countdown on January 22, that’s unlikely. "You’re not going to have a credible Yemeni reintegration program in a year," says the Bush counterterrorism official.
One of President Obama’s first official acts was to order Guantánamo closed. The executive order he signed called for his staff to find a way to close the facility in a manner that is "consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States." Repatriating large numbers of Yemenis to Saleh’s duplicitous regime, which seems to be the new administration’s position, is not consistent with that goal.
Fri 30 Jan 2009 19:37
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WASHINGTON – If you’re a criminal and you’re not entitled to be in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants you out of the country.
Napolitano wants what she calls "criminal aliens" off American streets. She is looking at existing immigration enforcement programs to see if taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.
"That sounds very simple, but it’s historically not been done," Napolitano said, speaking to reporters and senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Thursday.
About 113,000 criminals who were in the U.S. illegally were deported last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The agency estimates there are now as many as 450,000 criminals in federal, state and local detention centers who are in the country illegally.
Napolitano said she wants to improve data-sharing among local, state and federal facilities. So far, there are jails in 26 counties across the country with computer systems that can talk instantly with immigration systems.
The goal, Napolitano said, is for federal immigration officials to know whether an inmate is in the country illegally immediately after he is processed into a detention facility. After the criminal serves his or her sentence, immigration officials can be ready to deport that person right away.
ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said the agency plans to expand this connectivity to all state and local detention centers over the next four years.
Napolitano, whose job includes overseeing immigration laws, says she also will go after criminal fugitives who are in the country illegally.
Fact is, Napolitano, an open borders advocate, doesn’t consider illegal aliens criminals. Entering the U.S. illegally is not something Napolitano has a problem with, but because she has to do something to quell the anger of law abiding citizens (who by the way are the victims of these illegal aliens) she has made a pandering to the leftist fucks while appeasing the law abiding citizens announcement by saying that she will go after those illegal aliens (criminals) who commit further criminal acts.. (By the way, aiding and abetting an illegal alien is a felony) Look, the moment you enter the U.S. illegally, you cannot exist without committing further crimes. Going after the illegal alien after they have been convicted of committing another crime is national suicide. And that’s still no guarantee of deportation. It depends upon the severity of the crime and the motivation of the officials involved in the case. If the crime was committed in a sanctuary state…forgeddaboudit! Bottom line: ALL illegal aliens are welcomed to stay and kill us all. Well, alrighty then!
Fri 30 Jan 2009 12:58
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By Kirby Ferris
Advocates of victim disarmament in today’s American politics owe their tactics and techniques to a man whose name is becoming more and more familiar: Saul Alinsky. Hillary Clinton actually sat at his feet. Barack Hussein Obama was spoon fed his teachings. Bill Clinton was Saul’s ideological son. And you can bet that freshman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (Dem. NY) has been well versed in Alinskyism by her own mentor … Madam Hillary.
For decades gun owners have shaken their head in wonder as lie after lie from the gun grabbers results in more and more anti firearms ownership legislation. We can conservatively estimate that there are at least sixty five million gun owners in America today. That is an immense “interest group”. And yet, gun registration (and outright confiscation) schemes have never, in the entire history of our nation, loomed so ominously on the horizon.
How has this been done? The evolution of an America in the sixties, when kids took shotguns and rifles to school so they could go out hunting after classes, to a climate wherein today a kid draws a picture of a gun in class and gets hustled off to a shrink and likely suspended.
Lunacy reigns. But it didn’t happen accidentally. We’ve arrived at the endgame of a process, a process that Saul Alinsky, if he didn’t invent it, polished, packaged, and taught with unbelievable skill and cynicism.
Alinsky’s last book, published in 1971, a year before he died, is titled “Rules For Radicals”. These tactics are the “hidden weapon” of the more sophisticated “gun control” advocates.
Here are Alinsky’s thirteen basic rules. I’ve commented on each, and how they are used by the victim disarmament crowd. The old saw, “know thine enemy”, is ably served if you first understand what your enemy has been taught. The next time you see an anti gun politician or spokesperson spouting off about “responsible gun ownership”, or “keeping guns out of the hands of criminals”, or “the rights of hunters” understand that it is all deception based upon Alinsky’s tactics.
Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
Josh Sugarmann, Sarah Brady, Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and their ilk, are superlative grandstanders. Like verbally vomiting vultures, they immediately appear in front of the cameras whenever a Stockton, California or Columbine, Colorado shooting spree takes place. They actually seem pre-prepared, almost as if they knew something was going to happen. In the horror of the aftermath, they shamelessly silence pro gun advocates with a flood of emotionalized, illogical, irrational, and manipulative buzz phrases and clichés that a rabidly anti gun media presents to the American public with somber aplomb. Some of them, like that morally perverse harridan from New Jersey, Carolyn McCarthy, actually rise to power by irrationally and hysterically pandering their personal losses to the crowd. The queen of passive aggressiveness, Sarah Brady, used the same tactic.
Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.
Sadly, the gun grabbers are better organized than most pro gun groups. Alinsky taught his students moral relativism. The end justifies the means. Look at the political killer instinct demonstrated by the leadership and active base of the “guns are bad” sub culture. The NRA operates on schmooze, backslapping, and insidious ground losing compromise. Handgun Control Inc. runs on secrecy, back stabbing, and unwavering betrayal of agreement. They are winning. We are losing.
Twenty years ago, JPFO (unaware of Alinsky’s teachings, it might be added) was founded with the realization that it was time someone countered the lies of the gun grabbers using some of the enemy’s tactics. Thankfully, JPFO doesn’t have to lie … ever. Watch JPFO’s documentary “Innocents Betrayed”,(trailer – – store purchase of full DVD) the graphic and unnerving chronicle of disarmed citizens and genocides in history.
There is a crucial difference between JPFO and our adversaries: We don’t need moral relativism because we don’t have to lie.
Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.
This is easy for the Carolyn McCarthys, the Chuck Schumers, and the Dianne Feinsteins. They are liars. And gun owners are perhaps inculcated with a more fundamental, innate, honesty than any other easily definable social group. So when Feinstein or Schumer fights dirty, our side tends to cringe in disgust and confusion and disbelief. How many times have your heard a gun owner ask: “How can they lie like that?!” They lie because it is working!
Rule 4: Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”
The alleged pacifism of the Jewish and Christian faiths, is used relentlessly against gun owners, many whom have deep religious beliefs and “old fashioned” moral constructs. Have you ever noticed that there is always a pastor, priest, or rabbi at an anti gun ownership rally? Always. Their message to gun owners is subtle and corrosive: “Thou shalt not kill. How can you even think of owning a gun?” The underlying subliminal context? Self defense is a sin. This is an insane lie.
And, by the way, the accurate translation of the Sixth Commandment is “Thou shalt not murder. It is not “Thou shalt not kill”. Think on that. (see: “2A Today for the U.S.A.”, JPFO’s crystal clear explanation of the Second Amendment.).
Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counter-attack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
Gun owners are “hillbillys”, “rednecks”, “macho”, “gun nuts”, “extremists”, “paranoid”, and, if the gun owner is male “in fear of their sexual inadequacy”. Come on, admit it, how many times have you wanted to kick smirking Chuckie Schumer. Bingo! He won. You just lost.
Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
At the time Alinsky wrote this, the late 1960s, he was teaching mostly college age youths (most specifically Hillary Clinton, who he dearly wanted as his protégé) the secrets of “activism”. The leadership of our devious opposition has a flair for drama and theater. The true believers in Handgun Control Inc., the day in and day out worker bees, are mostly younger folks. They are energetic idealists with bagels for brains.
Meanwhile the staunch pro gun ownership activist is usually forty or older. Sadly, in the realm of pure energy, they’ve got us beat. This is why it is so important to get youngsters into shooting and gun safety and the moral issues involved with that most basic human right, the right to self defense. JPFO’s “Grampa Jack” series of educational comic books is the perfect way to introduce youngsters to our cause.
Rule 7: A tactic that drags on for too long becomes a drag. Commitment may become ritualistic as people turn to other issues.
Here is where we can beat them. The pro gun ownership activist knows, with grim certainty, what waits at the end of gun confiscation. This somber understanding keeps our shoulders to the plow. Our foundational tactics are: Truth and history. It is that plain and that simple.
Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose.
They never stop, do they? Every sordid event that involves a firearm draws them like flies. That is, unless the event is the morally righteous use of a firearm that leaves a violent criminal dead or crippled, and an innocent citizen alive, instead of dead. Then you don’t hear a peep from Chuckie or Sarah or Dianne, do you?
Rule 9: The threat is more terrifying than the thing itself.
Alinsky used to arrange civil obstructions that would be financially damaging to a city. He’d call for a “sit in” or demonstration and then shake down the city politicians and get them to fund his pet socialist projects. Watch for the gun grabbers to call in their pimp politicians like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when the “Big Threat”, the race card, needs to be played in a situation.
Rule 10: "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign."
Our adversaries never directly confront an issue. They can’t! Their entire premise is a lie! They outflank, snipe from cover, and retreat. They’ll push a cliché until it wears thin and then change pace, like a skilled quarterback switching back and forth from ground game to passing game.
Rule 11: "If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative."
This encapsulates Alinsky’s foundational cynicism and amorality. The victim disarmament crowd deep down believes that lying to achieve their goals is okay.
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Vladimir Lenin.
Rule 12: The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. Avoid being trapped by an opponent or an interviewer who says, “Okay, what would you do?”
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is where we can pin them between Heaven and Earth like wriggling worms. Because deep in the heart of every gun grabber is the dream of complete gun confiscation. They won’t admit it, but it is the truth. Many of these people are actually mentally ill. (see: Dr. Sarah Thomson’s article, “Raging Against Self Defense”. It is highly instructive.)
JPFO waves the lessons of history in the duplicitous faces of the victim disarmament advocates. JPFO is a solution oriented organization. It provides you with the intellectual ammunition to counter the lies of the gun grabbers. FACT: Repeatedly in the 20th Century, firearms registration preceded firearms confiscation preceded horrific mass murder by governments against their own people – see JPFO’s Genocide Chart). Sarah Brady and Chuckie and the rest of them, because they are venal liars, we can never let it go there. Never.
Rule 13: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
This is why Michael Moore targeted Charlton Heston in “Bowling for Columbine”. Moore’s use of Alinsky’s tactics (specifically ridicule) is insidiously brilliant. We should learn from him.
Yes, study Saul Alinsky. Because therein we can learn how to spot the tactic, arm ourselves with the counter-tactic, and then ruthlessly and effectively retaliate and neutralize. It’s time to take the gloves off. It is brass knuckles time, friends. The future of our freedom, and the freedom of our children and grandchildren, depends on it. We must fight fire with fire. Nothing else will work.
Fri 30 Jan 2009 12:45
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By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Accusing the Jewish state of "genocide," an anti-Israel Palestinian activist once commended by President Obama has predicted the end of Israel, which, he boasted, is "within reach, in our lifetimes."
In a piece earlier this month titled, "Why Israel won’t survive," Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian online publication, accused Israel of war crimes and gloated, "Now, the other pillar of Israeli power – Western support and complicity – is starting to crack. We must do all we can to push it over."
"It is Israel as a Zionist state, not Palestine or the Palestinian people, that cannot survive this attempted genocide. Its problem is legitimacy, or rather a profound and irreversible lack of it," wrote Abunimah.
Abunimah previously was described as close to Obama and has introduced the politician at pro-Palestinian events. Referring to a time period in the late 1990s, Abunimah said that "Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation."
Abunimah was quoted stating Obama was "quite frank that the U.S. needed to be more evenhanded, that it leaned too much toward Israel."
He noted Obama’s unusual stance toward Israel, commenting "these were the kind of statements I’d never heard from a U.S. politician who seemed like he was going somewhere, rather than at the end of his career."
In his piece this month, Abunimah blasted Israel’s three-week campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, accusing the Israel Defense Forces of "massacr[ing] civilians in the hope that the population would turn against those fighting the occupier."
"The death toll keeps rising as more bodies are pulled from carpet-bombed neighborhoods," Abunimah claimed.
Israel did not carpet-bomb any area in the Gaza Strip. It carried out surgical precision strikes against specific Hamas targets. The IDF regularly warned civilians of incoming attacks with phone calls or text messages. The IDF routinely employed what it terms "roof knocking" – just prior to a targeted bombing, the building in question would receive a telephone call in Arabic warning that the structure was going to be bombed.
Hamas, on the other hand, was widely condemned for utilizing civilians as human shields and storing weapons and military infrastructure in civilian zones, including apartment buildings.
But Abunimah asserted: "Israel simply cannot bomb its way to legitimacy. What choice will Israel make? In the absence of any political and moral legitimacy the only arguments it has left are bullets and bombs. Left to its own devices Israel will certainly keep trying – as it has for sixty years – to massacre Palestinians into submission."
He claimed "Israel’s real goals (in Gaza) were to restore its ‘deterrence’ fatally damaged after its 2006 defeat in Lebanon (translation: its ability to massacre and terrorize entire populations into submission) and to destroy any Palestinian resistance to total Israeli-Jewish control over historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."
Zionism, he asserted, is an ideology of "racial supremacy, extremism and hate, is a dying project, in retreat and failing to find new recruits. … It is within reach, in our lifetimes."
Obama, anti-Israel activist raised funds for Islamic causes
In the 1990s, Obama was a speaker at events in Chicago’s large Palestinian immigrant community to raise funds for U.N. camps for the so-called Palestinian refugees. Abunimah recalls introducing Obama at one such event, a 1999 fundraiser for the Deheisha Palestinian camp in the West Bank.
"I knew Barack Obama for many years as my state senator – when he used to attend events in the Palestinian community in Chicago all the time," stated Abuminah during an interview last year with Democracy Now!, a nationally syndicated radio and television political program.
"I remember personally introducing [Obama] onstage in 1999, when we had a major community fundraiser for the community center in Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And that’s just one example of how Barack Obama used to be very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation," Abunimah said.
Abunimah previously described meeting with Obama at a fundraiser at the home of Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, reportedly a former PLO activist.
"[Obama] came with his wife. That’s where I had a chance to really talk to him," Abunimah recalled. "It was an intimate setting. He convinced me he was very aware of the issues [and] critical of U.S. bias toward Israel and lack of sensitivity to Arabs. … He was very supportive of U.S. pressure on Israel.
According to quotes obtained by Gulf News, Abunimah recalled a 2004 meeting in a Chicago neighborhood while Obama was running for his Senate seat. Abunimah quoted Obama telling him "warmly" he was sorry that "I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race."
"I’m hoping when things calm down, I can be more up front," Abunimah reportedly quoted the senator as saying.
Abunimah said Obama urged him to "keep up the good work" at the Chicago Tribune, where Abunimah contributed guest columns that were highly critical of Israel.
Abunimah serves on the board of the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, a controversial Arab group founded by Khalidi’s wife that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform, including providing driver’s licenses and education to illegal aliens.
WND broke the story the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit on which Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist, provided $75,000 in grants to the AAAN.
‘Very active terror apparatus’
Obama’s 1999 fundraising for the Palestinian Deheisha camp raised the eyebrows of one senior Israeli security official who was contacted for comment on the issue. The official, who was not aware of Obama’s fundraising, noted Deheisha, which is located near the city of Bethlehem, had a "very active" Palestinian terror apparatus in 1999, carrying out scores of deadly shootings against Israeli civilians that year.
Two of the most deadly suicide bombings in 2002 also were planned from Deheisha, where the suicide bombers originated, said the security official. In one such bombing, in March of that year, 11 people were killed and over 50 injured, four critically when a Deheisha bomber detonated his explosives next to a group of Jewish women waiting with their baby carriages for their husbands to leave a nearby synagogue.
The question of so-called Palestinian refugees is a sensitive one for supporters of Israel. All Israeli prime ministers have stated a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot include the "return" of "refugees."
When Arab countries attacked the Jewish state after its creation in 1948, some 725,000 Arabs living within Israel’s borders fled or were flushed out when the Jewish state pushed back attacking Arab armies. Also at that time, about 820,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries or fled following rampant persecution.
While most Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel and other countries, the majority of Palestinian Arabs have been maintained in 59 U.N.-run camps that do not seek to settle the Arabs elsewhere.
There are currently about 4 million Arabs who claim Palestinian refugee status with the U.N., including children and grandchildren of the original fleeing Arabs; Arabs living full-time in Jordan; and Arabs who long ago emigrated throughout the Middle East and to the West.
Other cases of worldwide refugees aided by the U.N. are handled through the international body’s High Commission for Refugees, which seeks to settle the refugees quickly, usually in countries other than those from which they fled.
The U.N. created a special agency – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA – specifically to handle registered Palestinian refugees. It’s the only refugee case handled by the U.N. in which the declared refugees are housed and maintained in camps for generations instead of facilitating the refugees’ resettlement elsewhere.
The U.N. officially restricts the definition of refugee status worldwide for nationalities outside the Palestinian arena to those who fled a country of nationality or habitual residence due to persecution, who are unable to return to their place of residence and who have not yet been resettled. Future generations of original refugees are not included in the U.N.’s definition of refugees.
But the U.N. uses a different set of criteria only when defining a Palestinian refugee – allowing future generations to be considered refugees; terming as refugees Arabs who have been resettled in other countries, such as hundreds of thousands in Jordan; removing the clause requiring persecution; and removing the clause requiring a refugee to be fleeing his or her "country of nationality or habitual residence."
Palestinian leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, routinely refer to the "right of return," claiming it is mandated by the U.N. But the two U.N. resolutions dealing with the refugee issue recommend that Israel "achieve a just settlement" for the "refugee problem." The resolutions, which are not binding, do not speak of any "right of return" and leave open the possibility of monetary compensation or other kinds of settlements.
Fri 30 Jan 2009 12:28
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By leftist Eddie Wrenn
One of the most enduring moments of the dying days of George Bush’s presidency has now been immortalised as a giant monument.
Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi hurled his shoe at the former U.S. president during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Palace in Baghdad, shouting: ‘This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq’.
The moment was captured on camera and broadcast around the world, provoking cheers throughout the Middle East, chuckles throughout most of the West, and even an online computer game.
Putting the boot in: The tribute to journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at George Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq
Now fans of the irate journalist’s actions have shown their appreciation, erecting a giant shoe in Tikrit, the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, which lies 95 miles outside Baghdad.
The statue stands three metres high, sitting on top a giant pedestal, and a tree has been planted inside the heel, with a rose-bush growing alongside.
It stands in the gardens of an Iraqi foundation that cares for children whose parents have died since the U.S. invasion began in 2003.
Presidential duck: George Bush shows lightning-quick reactions as he dodges the first shoe during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
The statue stands three metres tall and stands outside an Iraqi orphan foundation
A member for the centre said: ‘This is a gift for the family of Muntazer al-Zaidi, a hero, whose act helped Iraqi people feel proud.’
Zaidi hurled his shoes during Bush’s farewell visit to Iraq on December 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.
The 29-year-old journalist for Al-Baghdadia television also shouted: ‘It is the farewell kiss, you dog’.
The surprisingly nimble Bush seemed to take an almost joyful glee in ducking the boots and laughed the episode off – while the journalist was instantly arrested and allegedly beaten up by bodyguards.
Girls walk past the shoe sculpture in Tikrit
His actions were hailed across the Arab world, and gave Zaidi instant fame as the moment was replayed over and over again on news channels and over the internet – becoming a popular meme with hundreds of tribute or spoof videos appearing on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.
The popularity of his actions throughout the Muslim world – especially in Iraq – threw the stated American purpose of liberating Iraq through the war into an uncomfortable light.
The journalist was arrested and charged with ‘aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit’, and he faces up to 15 years in jail if offended. He is believed to have requested political asylum in Switzerland.
The foundation’s president, Shaha al-Juburi, insisted that the sculpture was not backed by any political party or organisation.
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