As everybody knows, a short video purporting to be the trailer for a film that was apparently never made, and which hardly anyone noticed for months, was publicly blamed by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House spokesman Jay Carney, for an outbreak of anti-US riots in Islamic countries, and for the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
The filmlet – puzzlingly titled “Innocence of Muslims” – mocks the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet Muhammad is a mythical construct (even if based on one or more obscure historical figures of the 7th century), made by his inventors in accordance with their own ideals as an intolerant mass-murdering lecher. And that’s how the filmlet depicts him.
For making it, a small-time hoodlum named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been put in prison. Ostensibly his criminal offense is breaking terms of parole in trivial harmless ways such as going on the internet, but in fact he is a political prisoner who used his Constitutionally granted freedom of speech to say something the regime that now rules the United States of America does not like.
(For more about the video, Nakoula, the riots and how the video was used to stoke them up, see our posts: Muslim evil rising, September 13, 2012; Islam explodes, and Obama lit the fuse, September 14, 2012; The pretext giver, September 15, 2012; To make a mocking movie, September 23, 2012; Muslims made the anti-Muhammad video?, September 26, 2012.)
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Liberal support for free speech has been waning for a long time, and at present it seems to be just about extinct. The latest evidence is a story in today’s New York Times about Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the video that was falsely blamed for the Benghazi attack, and has languished in jail for the last two months as a result. One might think that the Times would regard jailing a man for exercising his First Amendment rights as an outrage requiring daily denunciations, but no – the tone of the article, by Serge Kovaleski and Brooks Barnes, suggests that Nakoula deserved what he got.
Start with the article’s title: “From Man Who Insulted Muhammad, No Regret.” The Times finds it remarkable that Nakoula isn’t penitent:
“Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.”
So is America now a country where we imprison people so they can rethink the wisdom of making a video with the wrong political point of view? Apparently the Times thinks so; there is strong evidence that Barack Obama does, too.
“Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction. Not at all. In his first public comments since his incarceration soon after the video gained international attention in September, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called ‘the actual truth’ about Muhammad.”
Which raises an interesting point. I have never seen anyone comment on the historical accuracy of Nakoula’s film (assuming that anyone has actually seen it) or the YouTube trailer. Muhammad was, in fact, a “bloodthirsty, philandering thug.” You could say worse things about him than that without straying from the truth. But this question is not one that the Times, or any other media outlet I am aware of, has seen fit to explore.
The Times tries to keep alive the fiction that Nakoula’s video might have had something to do with the Benghazi attack:
“There is a dispute about how important the video was in provoking the terrorist assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans.”
Actually, I don’t think there is any dispute at all. To my knowledge, there is zero evidence that the Ansar al-Sharia terrorists who carried out the attack knew or cared about Nakoula’s video.
The main point of the Times article – the only point, really – is to establish that Nakoula is disreputable and untrustworthy. But this is an odd perspective to take on what appears to be an extraordinary violation of the First Amendment – jailing a man for political speech regarded as inconvenient by the Obama administration. …
The Obama administration doesn’t even pretend that Nakoula was imprisoned for any reason other than as punishment for his impermissible speech. Recall Charles Woods [father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Americans murdered in Benghazi] recounting how Hillary Clinton approached him at his son’s memorial and said, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And it is blindingly obvious that tossing a probationer in the slammer for using an alias and accessing the internet, notwithstanding that those actions violated the terms of his probation, is not standard practice.
The writer asks –
In the view of the New York Times, is the First Amendment reserved for the honest and the respectable?
And comments –
That certainly wasn’t the Left’s position when Communists were availing themselves of the bourgeois right of free speech.
Now, it seems, it may be reserved for those who submit to Obama and Islam.
In fact, the New York Times and American “liberals” in general have been against freedom as such for a long time now. Collectivists calling themselves liberal – in the manner described by George Orwell as Newspeak – is like Communist tyrannies commonly calling themselves People’s Democratic Republics. Or the main party of the Left in America calling itself the Democratic Party.
11/29/12. The real name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula may have finally emerged. Fox News reports:
An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world [ie had been used to spark riots]. … The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, is among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.
Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn survey an eventful day – yesterday, May 6, 2010 – and cover a lot of ground in their discussion of it. Here’s an extract, ending on a hopeful note as they look forward to the November elections:
HH: What a day, Mark Steyn. The markets went crazy. The Dow dropped at one point a thousand points. It finished off, you know, it was a bad day, but it wasn’t a horrific day. In reaction to what I think is a glimpse of our future, I think that the Greek debacle is simply, you know, the Christmas Future, showing … what’s going to happen to this country if we do not change. Your thoughts?
MS: Yes, I think what it illustrates, as I understand it, it might just have been as simple as one trader typing a B instead of an M for million, typing a B for billion, and it wipes off a thousand points off the stock market, as opposed to being a reaction to what’s happening in Greece, where real people are being killed in what are essentially riots over keeping unsustainable, featherbedded, government jobs. And in a way, what happened in Greece and what happened in New York, I think, both illustrate the kind of fragility of the global economy, and in a broader sense, of civilization …
HH: I think there will be defaults, a rolling series of defaults, … and that people had better look at Greece right now to see what’s coming. But Mark Steyn, that may not be the most important act of violence by a long shot. We had another successful terrorist penetration in the United States. But for their incompetence, a second massacre within four months of Detroit, the fourth under President Obama, counting the Arkansas and Fort Hood terrorist attacks, and still, it does not seem that they can get past the idea of when do we give them their Miranda rights.
MS: Yes, and this idea that it’s a criminal matter involving a few isolated extremists, or whatever the president said in reaction to the panty bomber at Christmas time. The most absurd commentary, I thought, was from the Washington Post, which speculated it was because the guy hadn’t been able to keep up payments on his home in Connecticut, so that this was in fact something to do with actually the Greek story, it’s to do with the global economy, it’s to do with subprime mortgages, that this is somehow an act of subprime terrorism and not Islamic terrorism. This is ridiculous. The guy spent five months in Pakistan, so clearly when a guy is spending five months in Pakistan, we don’t know what he was doing there, that’s the pretty obvious reason for why he isn’t able to keep up payments on his home in Connecticut. It’s because his job in Connecticut, and his house in Connecticut, are not what’s important to him, and are not what he sees as his primary identity. And the stupidity, the persistent stupidity in trying to look for anything other than what is really driving this activity is becoming beyond parody now.
HH: Mark Steyn, today’s profile of him in the New York Times, I don’t know if you had a chance to read it yet, but it’s very much the same. It’s the lonely, Mr. Lonely Hearts. He’s sitting on couches not drinking…and it makes it sounds like he’s depressed, so he became a jihadist.
MS: Yes, and that was the same thing that was said about the panty bomber just before Christmas time. In fact, they’re very similar, they’ve very similar types in a way. They’re not poor people. This idea that we heard after September 11th, poverty breeds terrorism, these are middle class people leading middle class lives. This guy had an MBA and some other super duper degree. He could be holding down a big time six figure salary anywhere on the planet. And instead, he decides that’s not what he wants to do, and instead he wants to blow up Times Square. And at some point, we have to confront the reality of that. And our unwillingness to, you know, when the enemy, which is what they are, by the way, when the enemy read the New York Times and the Washington Post, they draw their conclusions from that kind of coverage.
HH: Mark Steyn, the incompetence displayed in the Gulf after the explosion, and now the gaps in our security system, add the hat trick for the president. We’ve got ideological extremism, plus a hyper-partisan approach to politics, and now incompetence thrown in. That’s a heavy burden for Democrats. I think it’s why David Obey quit yesterday. Do you think the president can escape this, and his party can escape this by November?
MS: No, I think in a way, he’s lucky, he’s as lucky as he’s going to be, because if this had been a Republican in the White House, we would be getting the full Katrina on what’s going on in the Gulf. Instead, he’s got friends at these dying publications like Newsweek that are willing to protect him almost to absurd degrees. But the hyper-partisanship, with the perceived softness on national security, and the willingness to abase himself before thugs and dictators, plus, plus the incompetence issue in the Gulf, I think is just a lethal combination for Democrats this November.
We hope he’s right about November. They say “a week is a long time in politics”, so six months is an age. A lot more harm can be done to civilization by the Democrats in that stretch of time. And if the Republicans return to power in Congress in November, will they, can they, save civilization?
Arizona’s newly passed act enabling the police to enforce the law against illegal immigration has been condemned as ‘misguided’ by the president, and ‘racist’ by Hillary Clinton and a chorus of Democratic politicians.
How much more bizarre a scenario could be imagined than that the head of the executive branch of the federal government, members of his cabinet, and legislators, should object to the law of their country being enforced?
Conservative and atheist Heather Mac Donald , whose opinion is always well-informed and persuasive, writes in City Journal:
Supporters of Arizona’s new law strengthening immigration enforcement in the state should take heart from today’s New York Times editorial blasting it. “Stopping Arizona” contains so many blatant falsehoods that a reader can be fully confident that the law as actually written is a reasonable, lawful response to a pressing problem. Only by distorting the law’s provisions can the Times and the law’s many other critics make it out to be a racist assault on fundamental American rights.
The law, SB 1070, empowers local police officers to check the immigration status of individuals whom they have encountered during a “lawful contact,” if an officer reasonably suspects the person stopped of being in the country illegally, and if an inquiry into the person’s status is “practicable.” The officer may not base his suspicion of illegality “solely [on] race, color or national origin.” (Arizona lawmakers recently amended the law to change the term “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest” and deleted the word “solely” from the phrase regarding race, color, and national origin. The governor is expected to sign the amendments.) The law also requires aliens to carry their immigration documents, mirroring an identical federal requirement. Failure to comply with the federal law on carrying immigration papers becomes a state misdemeanor under the Arizona law.
Good luck finding any of these provisions in the Times’s editorial. Leave aside for the moment the sweeping conclusions with which the Times begins its screed—such gems as the charge that the law “turns all of the state’s Latinos, even legal immigrants and citizens, into criminal suspects” and is an act of “racial separation.” Instead, let’s see how the Times characterizes the specific legislative language, which is presumably the basis for its indictment.
The paper alleges that the “statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.” False. The law gives an officer the discretion, when practicable, to determine someone’s immigration status only after the officer has otherwise made a lawful stop, detention, or arrest. It does not allow, much less require, fishing expeditions for illegal aliens. But if, say, after having stopped someone for running a red light, an officer discovers that the driver does not have a driver’s license, does not speak English, and has no other government identification on him, the officer may, if practicable, send an inquiry to his dispatcher to check the driver’s status with a federal immigration clearinghouse.
The Times then alleges that the law “empower[s] police officers to stop anyone they choose and demand to see papers.” False again, for the reasons stated above. An officer must have a lawful, independent basis for a stop; he can only ask to see papers if he has “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the person is in the country illegally. “Reasonable suspicion” is a legal concept of long-standing validity, rooted in the Constitution’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It meaningfully constrains police activity; officers are trained in its contours, which have evolved through common-law precedents, as a matter of course. If the New York Times now thinks that the concept is insufficient as a check on police power, it will have to persuade every court and every law enforcement agency in the country to throw out the phrase—and the Constitution with it—and come up with something that suits the Times’s contempt for police power.
On broader legal issues, the Times is just as misleading. The paper alleges that the “Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot make their own immigration laws.” Actually, the law on preemption is almost impossibly murky. As the Times later notes in its editorial, the Justice Department ruled in 2002, after surveying the relevant Supreme Court and appellate precedents, that “state and local police had ‘inherent authority’ to make immigration arrests.” The paper does not like that conclusion, but it has not been revoked as official legal advice. If states have inherent authority to make immigration arrests, they can certainly do so under a state law that merely tracks the federal law requiring that immigrants carry documentation.
The Times tips its hand at the end of the editorial. It calls for the Obama administration to end a program that trains local law enforcement officials in relevant aspects of immigration law and that deputizes them to act as full-fledged immigration agents. The so-called 287(g) program acts as a “force multiplier,” as the Times points out, adding local resources to immigration law enforcement — just as Arizona’s SB 1070 does. At heart, this force-multiplier effect is what the hysteria over Arizona’s law is all about: SB 1070 ups the chances that an illegal alien will actually be detected and — horror of horrors — deported. The illegal-alien lobby, of which the New York Times is a charter member, does not believe that U.S. immigration laws should be enforced. (The Times’s other contribution today to the prevailing de facto amnesty for illegal aliens was to fail to disclose, in an article about a brutal 2007 schoolyard execution in Newark, that the suspected leader was an illegal alien and member of the predominantly illegal-alien gang Mara Salvatrucha.) Usually unwilling for political reasons to say so explicitly, the lobby comes up with smoke screens—such as the Times’s demagogic charges about SB 1070 as an act of “racial separation”—to divert attention from the underlying issue. Playing the race card is the tactic of those unwilling to make arguments on the merits.
The Arizona law is not about race; it’s not an attack on Latinos or legal immigrants. It’s about one thing and one thing only: making immigration enforcement a reality. …
(See our other posts quoting Heather Mac Donald: ‘Conservative Atheists’, November 18, 2009; Romancing the criminal, January 5, 2010; What the have-nots do not have, January 20, 2010.)
The Dubai police accused Israel of assassinating the Hamas monster, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in a Dubai hotel. Their “evidence” was some entertaining videos of “the assassins” going about the hotel and elsewhere. But they could be recordings of any ordinary vacationers going off to play tennis, or to shop, or whatever.
Nothing really links Israel to the assassination except some passports allegedly carrying names of people who have visited or are visiting Israel.
If Israeli Intelligence was behind the killing, would they have issued passports easily traceable to those people? Well, maybe in a double-bluff, thinking that just this question would be asked and that the answer would probably be “no”. Possible, but not convincing.
We cannot even be sure that the Hamas monster is dead. Perhaps he was kidnapped. Perhaps he himself set up the whole thing in collusion with the Dubai police in order to fake his own death, to escape the amazingly large number of enemies who want him dead (see below).
Now the Dubai police seem to be thinking that Hamas killed their own man.
Fatah also accuses Hamas.
Hamas accuses Fatah as well as Israel.
It is rumoured that some of the suspected ‘Israeli agents’ made their escape by sailing off to – of all unlikely places – Iran!
Yossi Melman takes note that the Dubai police now say that there were 15 more “Israeli agents” involved and reports in Haaretz:
The story just gets more and more complicated, which on its face at least leads us into territory that is more than amazing – wild even – which is hard to judge by rational and professional means.
Twenty-six agents, perhaps even 30, sent to assassinate one person? Granted if they could flee the scene by sea, how could one think that Mossad agents would take cover in Iran? I ask myself. Even if they have unprecedented self confidence the likes of which are unknown? …
There is no doubt that more than a little of the information that [the Dubai police chief] is disclosing or leaking to the media is part of a ploy in which bits of disinformation are planted. He’s throwing out a lure in the hope that someone in Israel will swallow the bait and respond by incriminating himself or disclosing confidential information. …
Now the world is being fed new, allegedly even more dramatic, information about 15 additional suspects, which was released by the Dubai Information Ministry and not the police.
The police chief, who attracted international coverage, apparently isn’t itching to advance the investigation. Last week he was out of the office for personal reasons and now it has been announced that he is on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
It is hard to believe that, if the Mossad intelligence agency carried out the operation, the planners were so irresponsible as to dispatch nearly 30 agents and to expose an entire select operational unit on one assassination operation. This is true even if we assume the planner thought the target should be hit no matter what, and even if hypothetically Mabhouh was on his way to Iran to arrange an arms deal that Israel had seen as changing the balance of power.
Either the new revelations are another salvo in Dubai’s psychological warfare or the police investigators are groping in the dark. It is doubtful we will ever know the truth. The evidence linking Israel to the affair is still weak, certainly for courtroom purposes but also in the diplomatic sphere. But the saga also sends a message of deterrence to Hamas that the long arm of whoever carried out the operation can hit another senior Hamas official.
Mel Frykberg reports at The JC.com that:
Hamas has closed ranks and is licking its wounds following the Jan. 20 assassination in Dubai of one of its top operatives, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. It is alleged that one of its own was responsible for providing the hit team with vital logistical information.
Dubai’s chief of police, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, on Sunday called on Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar to launch an “internal investigation” into the operation.
Tamim claims that an associate of al-Mabhouh, a high-ranking military leader, leaked information about the Hamas leader’s visit to Dubai and went as far as to refer to the associate as “the real murderer.” …
“The collective Hamas leadership has gone into damage control. Various sources approached by IPS refused to talk or even answer their phones. …
As more information about the subterfuge surrounding the assassination is made public knowledge, the more conspiracy theories circulate and the thicker the plot becomes.
Two former PA-affiliated Fatah members, and former PA intelligence officers in Gaza before Hamas overthrew the PA unity government in the June 2007 coup, have been named as chief suspects in the Dubai slaying.
Anwar Sheibar and Ahmed Hasnain were allegedly members of a death cell which carried out violent suppression of the PA’s political opponents, especially Hamas members, before they fled Gaza after the 2007 coup.
According to newspaper reports they were recently arrested in Jordan and then extradited to Dubai on request of the Dubai authorities.
The two are alleged to have rented hotel rooms and hired vehicles for the assassination squad…
Media reports allege both men are … on the PA payroll in Ramallah…
Tom Gross writes this at the National Post:
We all know that journalists (including some at highly-regarded newspapers) often makes things up, but rarely have we witnessed such a mix of misinformation, disinformation and innuendo passed off as fact, as we have in recent days in the reports dealing with the death of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mabhouh. (Some of this admittedly can be attributed to the complete failure of the Israeli government – whether or not Israel had anything to do with the matter – to provide an effective response to the media.)
For example, the story in the (London) Sunday Telegraph that British immigrants to Israel had their passports removed and copied at passport control at Tel Aviv airport, is highly implausible. Passports are not taken from immigrants at Tel Aviv airport…
The Telegraph story, written by a London-based correspondent, has all the signs of being planted by anti-Israel elements at the British Foreign Office (of which there are many) …
But other media lapped up the Telegraph story. For example, Sky News ran it all day on its ticker tape at the foot of the screen, probably doing great damage to future British tourism to Israel by falsely reporting that British passports would be removed and copied at Ben Gurion airport. …
Even worse was the story in the London Sunday Times by reporter Uzi Mahnaimi, claiming the paper had evidence that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had personally ordered the hit on Mabhouh, and even providing quotes attributed to Netanyahu when he supposedly gave such orders. The Sunday Times story was then splashed all day as the lead story on the websites of papers like Ha’aretz, which is so full of contempt for the elected government of Israel that it will publish almost anything to paint Netanyahu in a bad light.
A comparable motive is true in Britain in the case of The Daily Mail, who were determined to attack Gordon Brown’s government and thus on Friday published an anonymous story (without any author’s byline, or quoted persons in it) claiming the British government “knew in advance that Israel was going to use British passports”. The Daily Mail claimed in its story that they had been told this by a serving member of the Mossad. Again, this is virtually inconceivable since serving members of the Mossad do not speak to journalists but The Daily Mail’s report was treated seriously and rebroadcast around the world as lead item by major TV stations.
Even The New York Times and International Herald Tribune got in on the act on Friday, telling readers that Israel has engaged in 40 Dubai-type assassinations in recent years – again claims made without a shred of evidence, and highly unlikely to be true.
The French media have also regurgitated the stories of the British media, leading to French Prime Minister François Fillon, who was in Syria this weekend, to declare – in front of President Assad of all people! – “we are against this form of assassination; whoever orders them should be punished. Like the British and the Germans we have asked Israeli authorities to explain themselves.”
At the same time that they blamed Israel, these very same British and American media made very little of the fact that every day last week their own governments killed terrorists in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). …
Having milked all it could out of its reports in recent days that British citizens’ passports were used, The Times of London’s main online world news headline subsequently read “Dubai hit squad ‘used diplomatic passports’” – which is the opposite of what The Times was claiming last week.)
Mabhouh had five different passports with him in Dubai: there seems to be no media coverage or interest in which countries’ passports he was using.
Unlike the anti-Israel elements of the Western media that have rushed to blame Israel (creating a public furor and thereby forcing the hands of the British, Irish and French governments to summon their respective Israeli ambassadors), the Arab media are suggesting that the truth is far more complicated.
For example, the Arab world’s leading and arguably its most reliable newspaper, Al Sharq Alawsat, runs these stories:
* UAE Tipped Jordan of Palestinian Suspects whilst they were in the Air – Sources
* Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members – Palestinian Security Official…
Indeed it is not even clear that the photographs that the Dubai authorities have released to the media are actually real people. They have been shown repeatedly in news broadcasts and plastered on the front page of newspapers around the world in the last 72 hours, and not a single person has come forto say they recognize any of them.
Prominent international TV stations have also paid enormous attention to this story, blaming Israel without any concrete evidence. For example, the first four stories on the 8 am World News broadcast on CNN International yesterday concerned Mabhouh’s death (even though it occurred four weeks earlier). Only after those items did CNN report on the capture of the most senior Taliban commander since 2001, which many would argue is a far more important news story, both strategically in terms of international politics and specifically for the United States.
This morning CNN again led its news with a series of reports on the Dubai matter lasting 7 minutes, and BBC World led reports on the subject lasting almost 8 minutes. (The channels spent only a few seconds much later in their broadcasts mentioning the ongoing vicious fighting in Afghanistan involving U.S. and British troops, and failed to mention fresh Afghan civilian deaths there.)
Meanwhile, the former editor of the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, said “I’d be happy if someone used my passport to kill such a disgusting Hamas terrorist.”
I would make the following points, based on a series of discussions with persons with longstanding familiarity with intelligence matters.
* There seems a very real possibility that Israel is being set up. Airlines keep detailed passenger records these days and anyone could have got the flight manifestos of British and other passport holders who have flown to Israel in the past and then used these names in a deliberate attempt to point the finger of blame at Israel.
* The Dubai authorities have provided no forensic evidence that points to Israel, only a series of photos and videos of random hotel guests who may or may not all know each other. In any event, the persons shown in these photos and videos are not shown committing any crime. It would be very easy to frame Israel, using the identities of six randomly-chosen Israelis based on flight manifestos. This could have been done by anyone – and especially by persons who wanted to avoid being suspected of this action by blaming the Israelis and diverting attention from the real perpetrators.
* It is not necessarily a Middle Eastern actor that is behind what The Daily Telegraph called a “ruthlessly efficient assassination” and “a meticulously-planned operation.” In this atmosphere of hypertension, where governments are fighting battles with terror organizations (often clandestinely) in many locations around the world, the intelligence agencies of many countries have created data banks of identities using flight lists and other sources. Persons with longstanding familiarity with intelligence matters tell me that many governments – and not just the European ones – use European operatives to carry out their killings, including in the cases of other previous assassinations in Dubai.
* It would be uncharacteristically stupid of Mossad operatives if they had in fact so easily allowed themselves to be filmed, and Mossad operatives are not stupid.
* Mabhouh entered Dubai on a fake passport and it may have been difficult for the Mossad to follow his footsteps and synchronize any assassination with his travel schedule. But Hamas knew his whereabouts and plans at all times, and so did the Iranians and presumably the Syrians.
* Many governments wanted Mabhouh out of the way, not only Israel. Sources confirm to me that the missiles Mabhouh was procuring from the Iranians had the capability of hitting central Tel Aviv, and were Hamas to use such missiles later this year, the Israeli response might lead to a region-wide conflagration, which many Western and Arab governments want to avoid.
* If Israel was responsible – and that is a very big if – it would be an indication of how strongly Israel feels it is being left with few other options in protecting its citizens from deadly threats. All the governments that have supported the Goldstone report have in effect told Israel that it cannot defend itself when attacked by missiles from Gaza in future, missiles that put over five million people at risk, so it would not be surprising if Israel decided it has no choice but to try and prevent those missiles reaching Gaza at an earlier stage in the supply chain.
* Sources tell me that this was a particularly significant trip by Mabhouh (to Dubai, the regional arms hub, from his home in Damascus), in which he was en route to procure weapons of particular significance. His present activity was viewed as a turning point in the type of weaponry being smuggled, and it was considered very important to intervene at an early stage.
* The governments of Jordan and Egypt (where Mabhouh previously spent a year in prison in 2003) have sought Mabhouh for some time. Some Arab media have reported that the operation against Mabhouh may have been carried out by a rival Palestinian group and the photographed individuals have nothing to do with it.
* What is true is that someone is making increasing moves against operatives connected to the Iranian regime. In recent years, senior Iranian officials linked to the intelligence services or nuclear program have disappeared quietly, the latest one while on pilgrimage to Mecca. Perhaps the Saudis were responsible.
Or perhaps the Dubai police chief did it himself and invented everything else to demonstrate his technological prowess and proficiency as a detective.
The New York Times journalist David Rohde was captured and held by the Taliban for 7 months and 10 days, and finally escaped. He tells his story here.
Over those months, I came to a simple realization. After seven years of reporting in the region, I did not fully understand how extreme many of the Taliban had become. Before the kidnapping, I viewed the organization as a form of “Al Qaeda lite,” a religiously motivated movement primarily focused on controlling Afghanistan.
Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.
As Cliff May points out in a Townhall article discussing Rohde’s story here, ‘Though groups such as the Taliban — as well Hezbollah and Hamas — may fight locally, their leaders have always thought globally, viewing their struggles as part of a broader War Against the West.’ We would add, ‘and against the whole of the non-Muslim world’.
Rohde goes on:
I had written about the ties between Pakistan’s intelligence services and the Taliban while covering the region for The New York Times. I knew Pakistan turned a blind eye to many of their activities. But I was astonished by what I encountered firsthand: a Taliban mini-state that flourished openly and with impunity.
The Taliban government that had supposedly been eliminated by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was alive and thriving.
All along the main roads in North and South Waziristan, Pakistani government outposts had been abandoned, replaced by Taliban checkpoints where young militants detained anyone lacking a Kalashnikov rifle and the right Taliban password. We heard explosions echo across North Waziristan as my guards and other Taliban fighters learned how to make roadside bombs that killed American and NATO troops.
And I found the tribal areas — widely perceived as impoverished and isolated — to have superior roads, electricity and infrastructure compared with what exists in much of Afghanistan. …
As the months dragged on, I grew to detest our captors. I saw the Haqqanis as a criminal gang masquerading as a pious religious movement. They described themselves as the true followers of Islam but displayed an astounding capacity for dishonesty and greed.
Why did he not understand how extreme the Taliban ‘had become’ when millions of us who have never set foot in Afghanistan know how extreme they have always been?
That ‘but’ of his in the last sentence gives the answer – and may evoke sardonic laughter.
Remember, though, that this is a New York Times journalist we are talking about. There are many facts about the world we live in, well known to the rest of us, that must come as a surprise to NYT writers, editors, and loyal readers, if forcibly impressed on their consciousness at last by extraordinary circumstances.
The New York Times claims that President Bush turned down an Israeli request for bunker-busting bombs and permission to overfly Iraq so that the Israeli Air Force could disable or destroy Iran’s nuclear-bomb production.
The NYT cannot be trusted to report the truth, but in this instance it’s not easy to see how lying would be in the interests of that traitorous newspaper.
If the report is true, then Bush has imperiled the world. By letting Iran become a nuclear power, he becomes a co-author of the terror and destruction Iran will inflict on Israel and all of us.
We praise President Bush for eliminating the tyrant Saddam Hussein, for leading America to victory in Iraq, and for keeping Americans safe from more terrorist attacks after 9/11.
But if he is now tolerating Iran’s arming itself with nuclear bombs, he is undoing the good he has done. A nuclear armed Iran is a far greater threat to America than Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden ever were.
President Clinton had a number of opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden and each time made the bad judgment not to do so. If President Bush has really stopped Israel from destroying Iran’s bomb-producing sites, he has made a worse misjudgment. America will pay dearly for it.
All hope that the US itself will act effectively to stop Iran ends, we believe, with the Bush presidency. It seems to us most unlikely that Obama will do anything but make futile attempts to appease that evil regime.
… so Power Line asks, what do they really want?
We’re all enjoying, for now, the anguish experienced by many on the left over Barack Obama’s entirely predictable lunge towards the center, now that he has clinched the Democratic nomination. But few seem to be enjoying it more than our friend Tiger Hawk. He writes:
In this morning’s lead editorial ("New and Not Improved"), [the editors of the New York Times] detail and denounce many of Obama’s post-Hillary pivots to the center. As their irritation builds, I’m thinking that there are only three positions that could explain this editorial. First, that the editors genuinely believe that Obama could win the general election with his primary season policy ideas. It is believable that they think this because they live inside a Manhattan cocoon, but silly. Second, that the editors would rather that Obama lose than compromise his principles. This seems unlikely in the cold light of a November morning, however satisfying it might feel to spew such romantic drivel on the Fourth of July. Or, third, the editors know that Obama’s pivots will be much more believable to the swing voters if the Times denounces them. This theory holds that the editors are pretending to be outraged so as to further deceive the rubes who prefer the Flop to the Flip.
It is so hard to know which explanation to believe.
The first explanation seems like the most plausible of the three, but let’s consider two more. Fourth, the New York Times is just posturing. It wants Obama to win at all costs and recognizes that (though he might well win running from the left), his chances are better if he moderates. However, the editors want to preserve their purity and can do so at no cost by expressing disappointment with Obama. Fifth, the Times is thinking ahead. It understands that Obama maximizes his chances of winning by tacking towards the center and isn’t that bothered that he’s doing so. But it has its eyes on the Obama presidency and wants to make it plain to the candidate that, as president, he’ll need to return to his lefitst principles if he wants to stay on the Times’ good side.