daily archive: 08/12/2005
Chuckleheads and Labradoodles
The new Oxford Dictionary of English features some words that appear for the first time
in its latest edition. Some of them I hadn't heard before (chugger?) but I was surprised to learn that "potty-mouthed" and "demographic" were just now included.
no comments yet
Escaping North Korea
South Korea's Human Rights Commission published a report based on interviews and information collected from North Koreans who escaped to the south: Human rights violations in North Korea: death sentences, forced abortions, death by starvation
The report presents a grim picture. At least 75 of those interviewed said they had witnessed public executions. Death sentences are handed down for crimes ranging from theft of a cow to the sale of pornographic material. One refugee who tried to escape more than once, first to China and then to South Korea, testified that a nurse in a hospital had forced a woman to abort by hitting her repeatedly on the abdomen, justifying herself by saying that “we don’t have adequate medicines in hospital".
Some witnesses told of hunger suffered by a large part of the population, saying the bodies of people who starved to death were strewn in the streets, side by side with rice vendors. One said: “Between 1995 and 1998 the food shortage was terrible. Everyday, on the way to work, I would see the bodies of people who starved to death in the streets."
According to international organizations, at least two million people have died of hunger in North Korea in recent years. The food crisis is down to a series of natural disasters (flooding and drought) and to mistaken agricultural policies of the military dictatorship.
All these problems prompt hundreds of North Koreans to try to escape to China or to the south. China tends to return fugitives to North Korea in a bid to prevent a large influx of refugees. They are also subject to violations of human rights.
Fugitives who are repatriated from China are taken to concentration camps in Musan and Chongjin and to Office 927 in Hysan. “The first thing you are ordered to do is to strip naked and to stand up and sit down at least 50 times," one defector testified. “This is to see whether there is money hidden up your anus." He said when women give birth in the camps, the babies are placed face-down on the ground. “Mothers break down seeing their baby cry and squirm, and are told by officials, ‘Think about your baby crying and don't go to China again,’" he said.
no comments yet
The Wall of Separation
A disclaimer: I am not, not have I ever been, part of ABLE DANGER. I have no personal knowledge of their specific program and I have never met anyone who claimed to be or was part of this unit. I assume this analytical element was staffed with dedicated professionals from the Intelligence Community (IC) who are interested in defending their country as effectively as the law allows them to.
The 9-11 Commission’s investigation centers around why we failed to predict the attack on our country. Anyone at the fusion of the IC and law enforcement (LE) communities can tell you. We are and have been extremely handicapped in our efforts by a “Wall of Separation�? between LE and the IC. This restriction, instituted in 1995, dictates that intel information is NOT releaseable to the LE community. It does not prevent sharing in the other direction (although ironically, a culture of secrecy in the LE community is responsible for that). Simply put, the Clinton administration, in the persona of Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick (who now perversely sits on the very committee investigating her Wall) personally stopped ABLE DANGER from reporting their intelligence to anyone in the LE community who could use this information. We need look no further then the table at which the commissioners sit for the answer to our intelligence failure. Gorelick shouldn’t be at that table, she should be sitting in a prison cell for institution the policies which allowed America to be attacked.
Ostensibly the Wall exists to protect “privacy�?. The LE community is extremely restricted in collecting information, and rightly so. LE can’t use wiretaps without Title III warrants (which are nearly impossible to get), is very limited in the use of informants, can’t conduct real interrogations (must allow suspects to assert 5th Amendment Rights), is very limited in technical surveillance (getting visual and audio surveillance permissions are two difficult, separate processes), and has a tremendous handicap when conducting searches (warrants etc). LE, due to it’s very nature is restricted by often ridiculous court precident (see 9th ciruit on ANYTHING). LE assumes your goal is to legally put someone in jail, not to collect information. Individual cases are protected by privacy rights of the accused etc. In fact, there is no system to share case information across LE agencies and there are thousands of LE agencies, spread across different local, state, a nd federal jurisdictions). Additionally, cops don’t institutionally share information well. “It’s my case, what the hell do you care about it?�? is a pretty typical attitude. Cops are collectors and analysts. They judge what is plausible and what isn’t.
Intel is the opposite. The nature of intel collectors and analysts dictates they share info, otherwise it’s worthless. Token agency issues come nowhere near the problems that plague the entire LE community. There is a classified internet (InteLink) which exists solely to share intelligence across the different intel agencies. Overseas intel is virtually unrestricted in how they gather information, but collectors are separate from analysts. Collectors gather as much intel as they can, analysts sift through it and get what they can out of it. None of the LE restrictions apply to them. Imagine the NSA getting a warrant to tap Osama’s cell phone; yet an LE agency would need one! Imagine the CIA capturing Osama and reading him his rights before asking him about where a nuclear bomb is hidden; yet the FBI would have to do that! The goal of intel is to find out information to guess what the enemy will do and “put bombs on target�?.
Gorelick’s wall didn’t give LE the flexibility of Intel. Instead it effectively gave Intel the restrictions of LE. Because of her policies, Americans died. She should be called to account for that.
no comments yet
Guns are a necessary evil, shovels are the real thing
This fantastic piece by Judith Klinghoffer
lays to rest a lot of fictition about the dark early hours of Israel's existence, and myths about Jewish state terrorism. Required reading.
Ben Gurion abhorred terror. On December 18, 1946, in a closed meeting of the political committee of the Zionist Congress, Ben Gurion argued brilliantly against colleagues advocating terror. His words could not be more relevant today. He began by saying, "One thing is prohibited under any circumstances - murder. Murder - means spilling of innocent blood. Murder - No. I have to tell you that a soldier is a volunteer. I know what it means to be a soldier. The role of the soldier is to kill and be killed for a just cause. . . . But there is something else that is called murder. And there is not one of us who may permit it, and we may not give anyone permission to permit it, especially when it is done in our name."
He then delineated the practical meaning of the decision to fight terror: "We have to seriously think, not here and not in the Congressional assembly, because this means not only words and declarations . . . If Congress takes a stand against murder we will have to make sure that within our ranks there will no be one who would want to help with money, speech making or providing moral justification to murder in any shape or form...We are still based . . . on a moral principle. We may not undermine it.it..." President Bush could not have said it better.
Terror boomerangs regardless of the perpetrators, Ben Gurion warned. "The murder [that was done by the Arabs] in 1936 was first directed against the Jews...But eventually it became directed against the Arabs themselves. In the last period of the organized murder by the Mufti, 300 Jews were killed. According to our information - and we do not have all the information - 1,000 Arabs were killed by murderers sent by the Mufti. Do not say that this happened with the Arabs but will not happen with us. It must happen with us and it has already happened with us. With us it would be even worse than with them. In the case of the Arabs, the perpetrators were separate gangs organized by the Mufti. He had money and capabilities, but the Arab masses were helpless. . . . With Jews, it would be entirely different. It would be worse," he cautioned.
He called on those who provide moral justification for terror to cease and desist: "Groups which gave their blessing - at least that is the way I understood their speeches in the Congress - to murderous propaganda, must clarify their stands in this question. I want to tell them: We are Jews. When somebody tries to play chess - he knows how to play chess, and when they try to confuse Jews with certain formulas - they understand the formulas...What is at stake here is the moral basis of our movement and the physical existence of the Yishuv." Ben Gurion insisted that eschewing responsibility by pretending not to see was not a viable option for practical as well as moral reasons. "We cannot tolerate the existence of organized groups wishing to conduct war in the name of the people in the manner, place and time of their choosing. That cannot be tolerated even without reference to the question of murder. That means that there must be strict national discipline. Discipline - is not a popular or comfortable word, especially for Jews, because of positive instincts. Jews - are free people who do not like boot camp type order. Our movement is one of the freest movements and it should stay so. However, when we go to war, there must be iron discipline even within the freest, most democratic and liberal nation," he stated.
Ben Gurion believed that terror is self-destructive, especially to the youth engaged in it. "We may not permit within our ranks the demoralizing education of 'only thus,' only with the gun, as it undermines the foundation of our movement," he asserted. It is also wrong to underestimate the people's ability to combine building with self-defense: "As to the question, raised in the Congress at the end of the political debate by one of our best men: "How can we combine these things? - I must answer that we were forced to combine them in reality...I went to plow with a rifle on my shoulder in Segera." Indeed, the alternative would result in the emergence of a generation which would lack the ability to handle peace: "Imagine: A miracle would happen tomorrow and we would receive a state on both sides of the Jordan, and all the earthly kings would ship Jews to the Land of Israel, and there will no longer be a basis for terror. I know that a few hundred or a few thousand Jewish boys and girls would be the most miserable. They have no other interest in life except to shoot people. They have not been educated for anything else. They will have no meaning to their lives. As this was all their purpose, dream, pathos and song." Isn't this precisely what happened to Bin Laden and his men in Afganistan? Isn't this what may happen to the Palestinians? "If you tell the youth, especially the Eastern one, that the only thing to do is to shoot, it could no longer do anything else. It would be the worse exploitation of our brothers and sisters...who after 70 years of work in the land of Israel there are still poor neighborhoods to take their children, who do not have enough to eat, street children, and ...make into murderous bands with the help of the theory 'Only Thus!' (with a gun)."
Please read the whole thing.
no comments yet
In case of emergency, nuke Iran
It's Pat Buchanan's isolationist loony-right rag, so I don't know how much stock to put in this.
In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.
The writer is a former CIA officer.
no comments yet
The next time my husband complains about me not being empathetic enough, I think I’ll point him to this story...
“See honey? If those wives hadn’t been so darn concerned, none of this would have happened!�? Somehow, I don’t think he’ll buy it. Anyway…
Bigamist undone as 3 wives attend his sickbed.
“British police confirmed Thursday that after Melvyn Reed woke from his triple bypass heart operation earlier this year, his complicated marital affairs took a turn for a worse. All three of his spouses had turned up at the same time, despite his efforts to stagger their visits. Upon realizing that something was amiss, the wives held a meeting in the parking lot and learned they were all married to the same man, the British news media reported.�?
Any takers on describing the scene on the basis of the hysterically British understatement of “Upon realizing that something was amiss…�? and/or the “…meeting in the parking lot�??
Personally, I’m curious about what the multiple mrs. may have in mind for Mr. Reed – what would you do?
no comments yet