Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Middle East on the Brink: Palestinians Claim to Have Fired Chemical Weapon at Israel

Israeli forces have conducted massive raids throughout the Palestinian territories arresting over 40 Hamas lawmakers including the Hamas Minister of Labor and the Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister. At this rate, it is entirely possible that most of political leadership of Hamas will be in custody or dead in the next 48 hours. For their part, the Palestinians announced that they have fired a Chemical weapon into Israel; the Israelis have yet to confirm this Palestinian claim, but it is telling that the Palestinians would take pride in announcing such a disturbing claim. Meanwhile: Israeli F-16’s buzzed the vacation home of Syrian President Bashir Assad while he was in the house. Flying at low altitude, the planes broke the sound barrier over the Syrian President’s head generating earth-shattering sonic booms. The message: We know where you are and if we wanted too, we could have flattened your house with you in it.

The Young man Who's Fate Could Trigger War
Palestinians: Israeli Hostage Put to Death
IAF chief: Scope of Gaza operation open
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Number of US visas to Saudis doubles!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Following Repeated Missile Attacks, Cross-Border Assault, Kidnapping and WMD Threat, IDF Prepares For Massive Assault on Gaza

IDF Forces Massing on Gaza Border Today

Donald Trump Announces Skyscraper in Tel Aviv
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Representative John Murtha has officially fallen off of the deep end by describing the United States as the primary threat to world peace today. This type of language is usually reserved for American’s real enemies, whacko Euro-“intellectuals” or San Francisco malcontents, not for a Pennsylvania Congressman.

New York Times Offers Lame Defense:

The following letter is from Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times explaining his decision to publish the details of a highly secret, national security program to trace international bank wire transfers for the purpose of tracking funding for terrorist cells and organizations.

The Neocon posts this letter in full to illustrate the arrogance and misguided logic that stood behind the NY Times decision to publish this sensitive information. I am confident that any clear-thinking reader with minimal logic skills will see right through this lame defense. The most egregious part of Mr. Keller’s defense, to me, comes at the very end where he proclaims that “nobody should think that we made this decision casually.” Exactly Mr. Keller, if you had published this information as something of an oversight, or as a result of just plain sloppy work, you may have been forgiven; people make mistakes. But the fact that you admit to having thought through this issue carefully and still then chose to publish this sensitive information exposes you as a contemptible character bent on harming the United States for the sake of a cheep scoop. Shame on you Mr. Keller

June 25, 2006
Letter From Bill Keller on The Times's Banking Records Report
The following is a letter Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, has sent to readers who have written to him about The Times's publication of information about the government's examination of international banking records:

I don't always have time to answer my mail as fully as etiquette demands, but our story about the government's surveillance of international banking records has generated some questions and concerns that I take very seriously. As the editor responsible for the difficult decision to publish that story, I'd like to offer a personal response.

Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government's anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that's the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.) Some comes from readers who have considered the story in question and wonder whether publishing such material is wise. And some comes from readers who are grateful for the information and think it is valuable to have a public debate about the lengths to which our government has gone in combatting the threat of terror.

It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish.

The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly. The responsibility of it weighs most heavily on us when an issue involves national security, and especially national security in times of war. I've only participated in a few such cases, but they are among the most agonizing decisions I've faced as an editor.

The press and the government generally start out from opposite corners in such cases. The government would like us to publish only the official line, and some of our elected leaders tend to view anything else as harmful to the national interest. For example, some members of the Administration have argued over the past three years that when our reporters describe sectarian violence and insurgency in Iraq, we risk demoralizing the nation and giving comfort to the enemy. Editors start from the premise that citizens can be entrusted with unpleasant and complicated news, and that the more they know the better they will be able to make their views known to their elected officials. Our default position — our job — is to publish information if we are convinced it is fair and accurate, and our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough. After The Times played down its advance knowledge of the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy reportedly said he wished we had published what we knew and perhaps prevented a fiasco. Some of the reporting in The Times and elsewhere prior to the war in Iraq was criticized for not being skeptical enough of the Administration's claims about the Iraqi threat. The question we start with as journalists is not "why publish?" but "why would we withhold information of significance?" We have sometimes done so, holding stories or editing out details that could serve those hostile to the U.S. But we need a compelling reason to do so.

Forgive me, I know this is pretty elementary stuff — but it's the kind of elementary context that sometimes gets lost in the heat of strong disagreements.

Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress. Most Americans seem to support extraordinary measures in defense against this extraordinary threat, but some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight. We believe The Times and others in the press have served the public interest by accurately reporting on these programs so that the public can have an informed view of them.

Our decision to publish the story of the Administration's penetration of the international banking system followed weeks of discussion between Administration officials and The Times, not only the reporters who wrote the story but senior editors, including me. We listened patiently and attentively. We discussed the matter extensively within the paper. We spoke to others — national security experts not serving in the Administration — for their counsel. It's worth mentioning that the reporters and editors responsible for this story live in two places — New York and the Washington area — that are tragically established targets for terrorist violence. The question of preventing terror is not abstract to us.

The Administration case for holding the story had two parts, roughly speaking: first that the program is good — that it is legal, that there are safeguards against abuse of privacy, and that it has been valuable in deterring and prosecuting terrorists. And, second, that exposing this program would put its usefulness at risk.

It's not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective, but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it.

We weighed most heavily the Administration's concern that describing this program would endanger it. The central argument we heard from officials at senior levels was that international bankers would stop cooperating, would resist, if this program saw the light of day. We don't know what the banking consortium will do, but we found this argument puzzling. First, the bankers provide this information under the authority of a subpoena, which imposes a legal obligation. Second, if, as the Administration says, the program is legal, highly effective, and well protected against invasion of privacy, the bankers should have little trouble defending it. The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere. And while it is too early to tell, the initial signs are that our article is not generating a banker backlash against the program.

By the way, we heard similar arguments against publishing last year's reporting on the NSA eavesdropping program. We were told then that our article would mean the death of that program. We were told that telecommunications companies would — if the public knew what they were doing — withdraw their cooperation. To the best of my knowledge, that has not happened. While our coverage has led to much public debate and new congressional oversight, to the best of our knowledge the eavesdropping program continues to operate much as it did before. Members of Congress have proposed to amend the law to put the eavesdropping program on a firm legal footing. And the man who presided over it and defended it was handily confirmed for promotion as the head of the CIA.

A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way. It has been widely reported — indeed, trumpeted by the Treasury Department — that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash.

I can appreciate that other conscientious people could have gone through the process I've outlined above and come to a different conclusion. But nobody should think that we made this decision casually, with any animus toward the current Administration, or without fully weighing the issues.

Thanks for writing.

Bill Keller

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Palestinian Terrorist Group Claims WMD's... and Publicly Threatens to Use Them!

If these published statements proves to be true, it will undoubtedly change the nature of the Middle East conflict and could lead to tragic results for Palestinian populations in the Gaza Strip. If indeed Palestinian WMD’s (chemical/biological) are fired by rocket into Israel as threatened, Israel may be left with no alternative but to clear out large Palestinian populations from Gaza into Egypt precipitating the largest crisis since 1967. The blatant Palestinian irresponsibility of threats to use WMD’s against Israel is truly mind-boggling, with potentially profound negative implications. Let's hope that this report in the Jerusalem Post and elsewhere is unfounded.

Why Did Bush Blink on Iran? (Ask Condi)
Khobar Towers: many stones left unturnd
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The New York Times at War With America
Saddam's WMD's
The Extremist Is Never Alone
Life in an Islamist US

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The New York Times: Working Hard for the Enemy

There was no reason for the New York Times to disclose government tracing of international bank-wire transfers for the purpose of tacking terror funding. The programs legality is not questioned; its purpose is clear and uncontroversial to the overwhelming majority of sane people. It was a national security priority and a legally protected secret for the protection of us all. There was absolutely no compelling public interest in this information being made public unless one is inclined to engage in disingenuous intellectual gymnastics. The only people to benefit from its publication are those who wish the United States harm. Yet, the New York Times chose to publish this information anyway despite repeated requests from our national security establishment to refrain from doing so. A small number of others did as well, but it is the New York Times that has established the track record of gross irresponsibility bordering on treason, having only a few months ago revealed the existence of a highly secret program to monitor patterns of incoming international calls to detect terror communications. The NY Times may not have technically violated the law, but this publication was an unforgivable violation of the public trust. The Reporter should be immediately hauled before a court and forced to reveal his source: the government leaker who did violate the law. Should the reporter refuse to reveal his source, he should be jailed and key should be thrown away. Good riddance. It is hard to image that the Times will generate much sympathy and wrapping themselves in the first amendment, in this case, will surely ring hallow.

UNDENIABLE: The New York Times is a national security threat
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The right not to know
"Danish Looking Reporter" Murdered by Muslims in Somalia
VDH: The short and long wars against radical Islam

Friday, June 23, 2006

Homegrown Muslim group sought to 'kill all the devils we can'

Hear we go again, another Muslim extremist group plotting to kill the infidel. Apparently, they had no plans to check with the ACLU or the Geneva Convention about the rules of war and civil rights before executing their scheme.

Iraq, Vietnam, the MSM & Dan Rather
Deluded America
And Now For the Bad News
A Taste of Left-Wing "Civility

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Danish Cartoons are Old News: The New Enemy? A Ghana Soccer Player

A few days ago, the Neocon posted a little item on a Ghana soccer player (John Pantsil) who displayed a small Israeli flag in celebration following a goal scored by Ghana in its victory over the Czech Republic at the World Cup. I thought it a cute little item. Understandably, this minor issue has received virtually no mention in the US press, but in the Middle East John Pantsil’s action has been blown into a monumental diplomatic incident with entire countries expressing outrage. Ghana has felt the need to go so far as to issue a formal apology to the entire Arab League following back-channel protests, and even in “moderate” Arab counties the press has bordered on Danish-cartoon-like hysteria with conspiracy theories and slurs. So far the only thing missing are full-blown anti-Ghana riots. This is another case study of how the world is so easily intimidated. I give you this article in Al-Aharam, Egypt’s largest daily newspaper, which is government owned and run, so that readers can judge for themselves, maybe it’s just me.

An Act of War, Not a Test
If Necessary, Strike and Destroy
Focus on terrorism may make it worse
Why the Democrats Won't Win
Barbaric acts against GIs have no equivalent
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Why I Love Australia

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"We Have Carried God's Verdict by Slaughtering the two Captured Crusaders"

The discovery of our soldier’s mutilated bodies in Iraq should be further evidence of the type of enemy we are facing. Unfortunately, When the ACLU, John Murtha, Dick Turban-Durban and the cut-and-run crowd go hunting for atrocities, it’s always about the bad food at Gitmo, or fraternity pranks at Abu Graib that generates their selective outrage. Will Turban-Durban deliver a speech from the Senate floor comparing the latest enemy atrocity to the Gestapo, as he did while describing our troops at Gitmo?
Don’t hold your breath. Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. We honor and solute you. RIP.

Why Liberals Fear Global Warming More Than Conservatives Do
VDH: How Oil Lubricates Our Enemies
Making Victory Rhyme with Defeat

Steyn: Democrats have become the ‘Defeaticrats’

Monday, June 19, 2006

US warns North Korea against 'provocative' missile launch

Whenever North Korea threatens some war-like action that could destabilize civilization as we know it, I am always reminded of this lovely photo of former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. This was the meeting that paved the way for North Korea to obtain nuclear bombs, by offering "incentives" to NK with no real mechanisim to varify compliance. Iran anyone? Really, what a lovely couple, don’t you think?

Condi: If Not America, Who?
Al-Qaeda Cell Planned Poison Gas Attack on NY
Anti-Americanism's Deep Roots
Bush: Stronger Than He Seems
Democrats keep betting on failure in Iraq.
Celebrating Juneteenth

In solidarity, Ghana soccer star John Paintsil pulled out an Israeli flag while celebrating his goal during Ghana's 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic at the World Cup. His action was critisized by a stuned Arab press, and a vast audience in the Arab world who were waching the match live. You gotta love this guy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Neocon Is back

The Neocon apologies to all readers for the long delay since the last post; travel and business have intervened and currently there is no Associate Editor to take over operations during necessary times of absence. I hope to post more frequently in the coming weeks.

Lots of good news during the gap; Zarkawi met his maker, Iraq appointed a full governing cabinet, including a defense minister and has initiated a full-blow offensive against the terror-insurgency based on crucial intelligence gathered. The roadmap to victory in Iraq is clearer than ever. Iran is gradually being boxed in on the nuclear issue. Polls indicate that Europe has experienced a fundamental public opinion shift towards Israel in its dispute with the radical Palestinian Hamas regime. An offensive against Taliban remnants and Al Qaida sympathizers in Afghanistan is under way… This is what we like to hear.

Bush Playing Like a Big Leaguer Again
Victimhood: The Palestinian Disease
Left vs. Right: The Great Divide