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Mr. Fiore gives his thoughts on Barack Obama, and to say that he thinks highly of the man is going too far. His point is well made; a run for second best is about the best the freshman senator can hope for.
Mr. Adkins informs us about a new Chinese product soon to be on American streets thanks to a deal with Chrysler.
Another fellow guest columnist, John Lillpop also touches on the president's speech regarding his plans for the new surge in Iraq.
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Documents Uncovered In Iraq Show Iranian Involvement
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Earth to President Bush? Can we please state, on the record, that we are in a de facto state of war with Iran? Based on information coming out of Iraq, as reported by Eli Lake in the New York Sun, Iran seems to be at war with us, and with the semi-stable government of Iraq:
Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq. The news that American forces had captured Iranians in Iraq was widely reported last month, but less well known is that the Iranians were carrying documents that offered Americans insight into Iranian activities in Iraq.
An American intelligence official said the new material, which has been authenticated within the intelligence community, confirms "that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups." The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiit Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna. Another American official who has seen the summaries of the reporting affiliated with the arrests said it comprised a "smoking gun." "We found plans for attacks, phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys, a lot of things that filled in the blanks on what these guys are up to," the official said.
One of the documents captured in the raids, according to two American officials and one Iraqi official, is an assessment of the Iraq civil war and new strategy from the Quds Force. According to the Iraqi source, that assessment is the equivalent of " Iran's Iraq Study Group," a reference to the bipartisan American commission that released war strategy recommendations after the November 7 elections. The document concludes, according to these sources, that Iraq's Sunni neighbors will step up their efforts to aid insurgent groups and that it is imperative for Iran to redouble efforts to retain influence with them, as well as with Shiite militias.
OK, this is for all the so-called experts out there saying that Shi'ites and Sunnis don't work together, or won't work together. It seems the documents we have show exactly the opposite. It shows that they are quite willing to work with their religious opponents. This is a definitive turn in the war, and something that our side of the debate (the conservative side, that is) has been trying to emphasize. According to Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, Saddam had made overtures to al Qaeda in the late 90s, and they accepted those offers, in part. Osama didn't want to be a controlled arm of Saddam's forces, and eventually withdrew from the deal shortly after the calender turned in 2000. However, al-Zarqawi, who saw himself as a sort of rival to bin Laden at that point, accepted whatever help that Saddam was willing to offer. But this alliance that Iran has created shows that the ages old adage--The enemy of my enemy is my friend--is alive and well, and being utilized right now in Iraq.
Rough translations of the Iranian assessment and strategy, as well as a summary of the intelligence haul, have been widely distributed throughout the policy community and are likely to influence the Iraq speech President Bush is expected to deliver in the coming days regarding the way forward for the war, according to two Bush administration officials. The news that Iran's elite Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22, could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged in recent years with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war.
The top Quds Force commander — known as Chizari, according to a December 30 story in the Washington Post — was captured inside a compound belonging to Abdul Aziz Hakim, the Shiite leader President Bush last month pressed to help forge a new ruling coalition that excludes a firebrand Shiite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. According to one Iraqi official, the two Quds commanders were in Iraq at the behest of the Iraqi government, which had requested more senior Iranian points of contact when the government complained about Shiite death squad activity. The negotiations were part of an Iraqi effort to establish new rules of the road between Baghdad and Tehran. This arrangement was ironed out by Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, when he was in Tehran at the end of November. While Iran has openly supported Iraqi Shiite militias involved in attacks on American soldiers, the Quds Force connection to Sunni insurgents has been murkier. In 2003, coalition forces captured a playbook outlining Iranian intentions to support insurgents of both stripes, but its authenticity was disputed.
American intelligence reports have suggested that export/import operations run by Sunni terrorists in Fallujah in 2004 received goods from the revolutionary guard.
"We have seen bits and piece of things before, but it was highly compartmentalized suggesting the Iranian link to Sunni groups," a military official said.
A former Iran analyst for the Pentagon who also worked as an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority, Michael Rubin, said yesterday: "There has been lots of information suggesting that Iran has not limited its outreach just to the Shiites, but this has been disputed."
He added, "When documents like this are found, usually intelligence officials may confirm their authenticity but argue they prove nothing because they do not reflect a decision to operationalize things."
A former State Department senior analyst on Iraq and Iran who left government service in 2005, Wayne White, said he did not think it was likely the Quds Force was supporting Sunni terrorists who were targeting Shiite political leaders and civilians, but stressed he did not know.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that al-Quds forces are on the ground and active in Iraq," he said. "That's about it. I saw evidence that Moqtada al Sadr was in contact with Sunni Arab insurgents in western Iraq, but I never saw evidence of Iran in that loop."
Mr. White added, "One problem that we all have is that people consistently conduct analysis assuming that the actor is going to act predictably or rationally based on their overall mindset or ideology. Sometimes people don't."
One example of a mindset that may hinder analysis of Iranian involvement is the belief that Iran would never have any dealings with militant Sunni Arabs. But they allowed hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives to escape from Afghanistan across their territory in 2002," he said.
Even al-Sadr has extended a hand of friendship to the Sunnis, and he's a Shi'ite. They hate us there. They want us out of Iraq, or dead, or both. It's time we wake up and realize this. At this point, going after al-Sadr's militias isn't the solution. It's part of the overall solution to the problems in Iraq, but we've got to kill this alliance once and for all.
Iran is neck deep in the Iraq phase of this war, and it's about time we catch onto this fact. We've always had suspicions of this. The Pentagon--CENTCOM specifically--has stated that our troops have intercepted munitions, IEDs, and weapons going into Iraq from Iran. We know that Syria's Hezbollah wing has been training Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. To say that Iran has no hand in this war is idiotic. (Yes, the Hezbollah group operating out of Syria is involved, but Iran controls Hezbollah.)
And I hope that Jimmy Baker's paying attention. It was his pitiful group that stated we needed to include Iran in the Iraq phase of this war. Based on this, I'd say they're already involved, and it's not on the side of supporting a free and democratic Iraq. Their goal is to destroy that government. The ISG report is now proven to be utterly worthless in terms of assessments, and James Baker's been proven to be a nutter know-nothing.
It's time we step up and warn Iran to back off on Iraq, and back up that warning with a clear and concise threat. The next thing Iran migfht be witnessing is an airstrike on their nuclear facilities if they don't quit meddling. Will we issue such a threat, or carry through on it if we issue it? I don't know. I'd like to think so, but based on what we're seeing right now, I wouldn't hold my breath. However we can't deny Iran's involvement in Iraq, and we must do whatever it takes to end it.
Long before the national media spotlight began to shine on every twist and turn of his life's journey, Barack Obama had this to say about himself: "Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. . . . I got high [to] push questions of who I was out of my mind."
The Democratic senator from Illinois and likely presidential candidate offered the confession in a memoir written 11 years ago, not long after he graduated from law school and well before he contemplated life on the national stage. At the time, 20,000 copies were printed and the book seemed destined for the remainders stacks. Today, Obama, 45, is near the top of polls on potential Democratic presidential contenders, and "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" has regularly been on the bestseller lists, with 800,000 copies in print. Taken along with his latest bestseller, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," Obama has become a genuine publishing phenomenon.
Obama's revelations were not an issue during his Senate campaign two years ago. But now his open narrative of early, bad choices, including drug use starting in high school and ending in college, as well as his tortured search for racial identity, are sure to receive new scrutiny. I have long held the belief that those who make mistakes in the past, and take corrective measures for those mistakes should be given the benefit of the doubt. Senator Obama is no different. He said that this used to be who he was, and that he has made the changes in his life to make his life better. I will take him at his word that he is telling the truth.
I, like Captain Ed, have never tried drugs. I do not smoke. I dohave the occasional adult beverage, but even that is curtailed by my diabetes. (A glass of wine from time to time will not kill me.)As an athlete I try to keep my body in the best physical condition I can, and that still includes an hour long session in the pool almost everyday. And I would rather not look to mistakes committed years ago as an automatic disqualifier for someone in politics. If this were the case, then we would not have many in congress that we do now. (Although, in the case of Ted Kennedy, that could be a good thing, but I digress.)
Drugs have been a sore point of late when it comes to political figures and community leaders. The evangelical leader that admitted in late November that he had used crystal meth; President Bush admitting that he smoked marijuana; President Clinton stating that he did smoke marijuana as well, and the list goes on. To each their own, but if they say they kicked their habits, then the benefit of the doubt should be granted to them.
Mistakes made years ago hardly kill anyone's career. And it is not as though Senator Obama hid this from anyone. As the WaPo shows, it was a controversy in his election bid back in 2004. But just as the president's service during Vietnam was a moot point, and water under the bridge, so is Senator Obama's drug use. And if we are to condemn him for that--if we are to say that behavior such as this automatically disqualifies a person from holding higher office--then the only people who will ever achieve that goal will be people like myself, or Captain Ed. And for some, that could be a scary prospect, indeed.
We all remember Mr. Jordan, do we not? He was the Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who admitted that he and his colleagues covered up the atrocities of Saddam Hussein. When he addressed a crowd in Davos, Switzerland, he made accusations towards the US military in Iraq. Those accusations included the kidnapping, torturing, and coersion of journalists in Iraq by members of our military. When it was demanded that he present his evidence, or apologize, he refused to do either. After the pressure mounted on him and on CNN, the latter released him.
Now, Eason Jordan is back, and he has joined the blogosphere. His site, IraqSlogger, is currently working on the story regarding Jamil Hussein, and whether or not the man actually exists. Today, thanks to Charles @ Little Green Footballs, we get a glimpse of that irony. Ladies and gentlemen, Eason Jordan has called the AP out in a put up or shut up moment worth noting:
If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly. This controversy and the AP’s handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world’s biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.
The back story: On November 24, the AP quoted Iraqi Police Captain Jamil Hussein as the source of a sensational AP story that began this way:
“Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by.”
It was a horrific report that was an AP exclusive - a story picked up and reported by news outlets across the U.S. and the world.
The U.S. military and Iraqi officials were quick to call the story baseless, saying there was no evidence that six Sunnis were burned to death in Hurriya and that there was no record of an Iraqi police captain named Jamil Hussein. The U.S. military and the Iraqi government demanded the AP retract the story and explain itself.
The AP fired back with at least three strong statements defending the initial AP report and provided a follow-up report from Baghdad quoting anonymous witnesses as confirming the original immolation story.
In the absence of irrefutable evidence that Captain Hussein exists and that the original AP report was accurate, bloggers and a few mainstream media journalists kept plugging away in an effort to get to the truth about whether there is a Captain Hussein and whether six Sunnis were burned alive that day.
Five weeks after the disputed episode, key questions remain unanswered, but what is clear is the AP has botched its handling of this controversy - and it’s not going away until the AP deals with it forthrightly and transparently.
IraqSlogger’s probe into the case is inconclusive, with conflicting and unconfirmed information regarding whether there’s a Captain Hussein and whether the reported immolation happened. Inquiries by others point to there being no Captain Jamil Hussein, although there is no proof of that.
While proof might yet surface to substantiate the AP’s story - there is circumstantial but unreliable evidence in that regard - conclusive evidence has not yet materialized.
The AP has steadfastly refused to answer questions about this episode from IraqSlogger and other news outlets and bloggers.
In statements, the AP insists Captain Hussein is real, insists he has been known to the AP and others for years, and insists the immolation episode occurred based on multiple eyewitnesses.
But efforts by two governments, several news organizations, and bloggers have failed to produce such evidence or proof that there is a Captain Jamil Hussein.
The AP cannot or will not produce him or convincing evidence of his existence.
Many people would probably yawn at this story, and say "so what? A media outlet has been caught lying." As yet, as Mr. Jordan acknowledges, there is no evidence to substatiate a conclusion either way. What is the point of this investigation is to determine whether or not the AP is lying or not, and if Jamil Hussein exists. The information provided by the AP has not checked out. They have not disclosed where is supposedly stationed, and have flatly refused to provide him to others so he may be questioned.
As of this moment, Jamil Huseein is one of the most sought me in the Middle East, surpassed by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Adam Gadahn. And we still have no answers. I trust that Mr. Jordan is sincere in his efforts to locate Jamil Hussein. His intentions, as described by Michelle Malkin and Curt @ Flopping Aces, seem to be on the up and up.
The irony comes, of course, from the fact that Eason Jordan was handed the same ultimatum by bloggers, and he refused. Now, he has issued a similar challenge to the AP. Cosmic irony, or hath he learned his lesson?
U.S.-led forces are likely to launch a limited New Year offensive against Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, blamed for sectarian death squad killings, senior Iraqi officials say. The Pentagon, in a report last month, described Mehdi Army militias as the biggest threat to Iraq's security and diplomats say Washington is impatient to confront them.
Several officials in the Shi'ite political parties that dominate Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's unity government also say they are losing patience with Sadr's supporters and predict more raids like last week's joint U.S.-Iraqi operation in which a senior Sadr aide was killed.
This is the moment we have been waiting for. Iraq cannot be a fully-functioning, independent nation with this bloody militia running around causing problems. It must go, and hopefully al-Sadr goes with it. Allah @ Hot Air points out that al-Maliki has had a boost from the execution of Saddam Hussein, and has some "political capital" he can spend. Let us hope he spends it smartly in dealing with al-Sadr.
He must realize at this point that al-Sadr is far more dangerous than he may have initially believed, and as along as he is running the show with his Mahdi Army, Iraq will never be stable. Additionally, our troops recently took two Iranians into custody that seemed to be making an IED deal with elements of of the insurgency in Iraq. Despite overtures from the Iraqis, the US commanders have refused to release either individual. (This came from a FOX News report over the radio early this afternoon; I have yet to find a link for the story.)
We have thrown down the gauntlet, and not just to al-Sadr, but to al-Maliki as well. He must understand that we cannot leave until his country is secure, and his military is prepared to take over all aspects of internal and external security. We will not abandon them, but we will not wait indefinitely and patiently. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the president wants the troops home as much as the troops would like to be home. This move, we believe, will be the final stage for securing the country from the militias, and making it clear that the government is in charge of Iraq, not the terrorists and not al-Sadr's goons.
As always, this post will remain at the top of the page through tomorrow. Scroll down the page for updates and stories!
No. Not the one from this afternoon, but rather our regular column at Common Conservative. And this is an extra special issue of Common Conservative as Thomas Lindaman, Tom Adkins, and Patrick Shanahan give out the Common Conservative Awards. Subjects ranging from Democrats and Republicans to watch to underreported story of the year. Put on your tux, and take a front row seat to the cutting analysis of three of the best columnists on the site.
Feel free to peruse Carey Roberts' choices for the most politically incorrect writers of 2006. And I share in the revelry in political incorrectness. We are, after all, people with free will, and there some people in this world that simply are far too thin-skinned for my taste.
Paul Speaker discusses what it's like to be one of America's most abused and maligned minorities in America, and being this particular minority means there are no protections for you. The Constitution isn't there to bail you out, guaranteeing a specific right. But instead, you literally get a BIG RED target painted on your backside. Read his column, and see if you agree.