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MONDAY, JANUARY 4, 2009
MORE ON THE AIRLINE BOMBER – AT 9:30 P.M. ET: Apparently, we knew more about him than Janet "the system worked" Napolitano is willing to admit. From London's Telegraph:
Britain told American intelligence agents more than a year ago that the Detroit bomber had links to extremists, Downing Street has announced.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was named in a file of people based in Britain who had made contact with radical Muslim preachers. The file was sent to the US authorities in 2008.
The disclosure will embarrass President Barack Obama, who is already under pressure after failures by US intelligence to identify the bomber.
I'm not so sure he's capable of being embarrassed. He'll simply pass the buck to someone else.
It will also add to concern over the state of the “special relationship” between Downing Street and the White House following last year’s dispute over the early release of the Lockerbie bomber.
It is extremely unusual for the Prime Minister’s office to comment on intelligence matters. The move could be seen as an attempt to rebuff criticism from senior American figures who claimed that Britain had nurtured Islamic extremism.
COMMENT: There should be a Congressional investigation of the entire matter. But Congress is controlled by the Democrats, and they might just crush any inquiry. After all, it's time to "move on." Isn't that the standard war cry of the left? Excuse me, peace cry.
DAMNED GLOBAL WARMING! – AT 7:58 P.M. ET: Reader Michael Smith alerts us to this weather report from Reuters:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States experienced its coldest winter in nine years in December as snow storms swept across the country, private weather forecaster Planalytics said on Monday.
Every region in the United States trended colder than normal, Planalytics said, which helped boost energy prices as consumers nationwide turned up their heating.
"Following the warmest November since 2001, the month of December 2009 ended the coldest since 2000," Planalytics said on Monday.
COMMENT: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, about the time of Obama's inauguration, that you should never waste a crisis. He was referring to the financial crisis, and the Obamans used it as a springboard for all kinds of legislation that the people of America never asked for or favored.
Okay, let's follow Rahm's advice. Let's take the extraordinary weather we're experiencing and use it as a springboard to demand a full inquiry, by the best and most trusted scientific panels, into the subject of global warming. Let us determine how much "science" there is in the global warming issue, and how much "political science."
Oh, by the way, we learned today that former Secretary of State Condi Rice is on the board of a company that stands to profit from cap and trade legislation, which is being pushed by the Democrats in response to "global warming." Just thought you'd like to have that. Follow the money and you may learn more about "global warming" than the Al Gore battalions would like you to know.
MORE SWEET INNOCENTS – AT 7:33 P.M. ET: It is remarkable to witness what we are expected to believe. From the Washington Post:
Five Northern Virginia men arrested in Pakistan indicated Monday that they plan to fight terrorism charges that Pakistani police are recommending by using a strategy seen in U.S. courtrooms: that they were preparing for jihad but not planning any terror attacks.
The men told a Pakistani court that they had neither sought nor established contact with extremist groups, and traveled to the region only "to help the helpless Muslims," according to their Pakistani attorney. As they entered the courtroom, one of the men, Ramy Zamzam, told reporters: "We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism."
Oh sure. They showed up in Pakistan "to help the helpless Muslims." I'm sure their help meant a great deal.
By the way, has any reporter ever asked where five young guys got the money to make these flights to Pakistan? We're talking thousands of dollars. Why do I think they weren't helped by the United Way?
The men, all from the Alexandria area, left the United States shortly after Thanksgiving without telling their parents, who alerted the FBI.
Good for the parents. Give them credit. But why would they go to Pakistan and not tell their parents if they were on some kind of humanitarian mission? Hmm.
Of course, the airline bomber's father also alerted American authorities, but we didn't take it seriously, as we all now know.
Pakistani police say the men were in contact with a Taliban recruiter, were seeking to join al-Qaeda and came to Pakistan to carry out terrorist acts.
That's probably more like it.
The FBI is also investigating the men, and officials have said the Justice Department is likely to consider charges in the United States.
Of course, they'll be read their Miranda rights. It's the least we can do.
HILLARY CLINTON FOUND! – AT 7:09 P.M. ET: Hillary Clinton, whose face was about to be put on organic milk cartons, has been found.
She showed up at the State Department today to speak out on Iran and Yemen. The New York Times reports her profound comments:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the Obama administration remains open to negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, despite intransigence from Tehran.
That will really inspire the democracy demonstrators in Tehran. It must be fun for Hillary to be working for Jimmah Carter.
Clinton said the administration is consulting with other nations about new sanctions, but she stressed that this does not mean the administration is abandoning its effort to start a dialogue with Iran.
There is no hard-and-fast deadline for Iran to respond, she said.
That is disgraceful. A deadline of December 31st had been set. Is she now telling us it was all a joke?
''We've avoided using the term `deadline' ourselves,'' she said. ''That's not a term we have used because we want to keep the door to dialogue open. But we've also made it clear we can't continue to wait and we cannot continue to stand by when the Iranians themselves talk about increasing their production of highly enriched uranium'' and taking other steps toward possible production of nuclear weapons.
It's pretty clear that we can't get China and Russia to agree to meaningful sanctions. We have wasted a year. Iran has not wasted a year.
''I can't appropriately comment on the details of those discussions now, except to say that our goal is to pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guard elements, without contributing to the suffering of the ordinary Iraqis, who deserve better than what they currently are receiving.''
Iraqis? I believe the discussion was about Iran.
''We are deeply disturbed by the mounting signs of ruthless repression that they are exercising against those who assemble and express viewpoints that are at variance with what the leadership of Iran wants to hear,'' Clinton said.
Take that, mullahs! I'm sure they're deeply disturbed because we're deeply disturbed.
This is no way to begin the new year. Apparently, the boss of bosses, just returning from a happy Hawaiian vacation, is going back to his old ways.
NO APPLAUSE FOR EITHER PARTY – AT 9:35 A.M. ET: Rasmussen reports that Democratic Party affiliation has sunk to its lowest level since Ras started polling, but the news is really no better for the GOP:
In December, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to the lowest level recorded in more than seven years of monthly tracking by Rasmussen Reports.
Currently, 35.5% of American adults view themselves as Democrats. That’s down from 36.0 a month ago and from 37.8% in October. Prior to December, the lowest total ever recorded for Democrats was 35.9%, a figure that was reached twice in 2005. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.
The number of Republicans inched up by a point in December to 34.0%. That’s the highest total for Republicans since December 2007, just before the 2008 presidential campaign season began.
However, the number of Republicans in the country is essentially no different today than it was in November 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president.
The change since Obama’s election is that the number of Democrats has fallen by six percentage points and the number of voters not affiliated with either major party has grown by six. The number of adults not affiliated with either party is currently at 30.6%, up from 24.7% in November 2008.
COMMENT: So Republicans have a chance, but they haven't sealed the deal. The GOP remains unpopular, and must turn that around unless it simply wants to be the party of "no."
PENTAGON PUSHBACK – AT 8:41 A.M. ET: It was only a matter of time before elements of the Pentagon would start to push back against Obama's dicey nuclear disarmament dreams. From the Los Angeles Times:
Pentagon officials have pushed back against the president's goals to shrink the U.S. stockpile and reduce the role of such weapons in foreign policy, sources say.
I would certainly hope so. Reagan, ironically, was an arms controller. The difference, of course, is that Reagan's theme, derived from a Russian proverb, was "trust, but verify." I'm not so sure the Obama crowd caught the last two words.
President Obama's ambitious plan to begin phasing out nuclear weapons has run up against powerful resistance from officials in the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies, posing a threat to one of his most important foreign policy initiatives.
Obama laid out his vision of a nuclear-free world in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, last April, pledging that the U.S. would take dramatic steps to lead the way. Nine months later, the administration is locked in internal debate over a top-secret policy blueprint for shrinking the U.S. nuclear arsenal and reducing the role of such weapons in America's military strategy and foreign policy.
Officials in the Pentagon and elsewhere have pushed back against Obama administration proposals to cut the number of weapons and narrow their mission, according to U.S. officials and outsiders who have been briefed on the process.
COMMENT: The first step in any arms reduction program would be for the president to authorize the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, which would replace our current arsenal with modern, more reliable nuclear warheads. We are the only nuclear power, according to press reports, that has not recently modernized its arsenal. Congress has been the impediment, and Obama has no enthusiasm for the program.
Once we have a modernized, reliable arsenal, we can consider some mutual reductions, as Reagan did, with verification every step of the way. We could also work to reduce or eliminate entirely the chance of a nuclear war starting by accident, through a technical error or misunderstanding.
But the bottom line is that no arms control agreement will be worth much if rogue nations, like Iran, get the bomb. Even if they signed some kind of reduction agreement, it's unlikely that they'd abide by it. It is proliferation that is our greatest threat. Iran is a test case. If we can't stop Iran, there'll be a massive nuclear arms race in the Middle East, a region where rationality doesn't always rule the day.
QUOTE OF THE DAY – ONCE AGAIN THE BRITS NAIL IT – AT 8:29 A.M. ET: The current, urgent discussion about the increase in terror attacks will no doubt soon draw in the trendies from the universities, with their bag of "root causes." But British columnistMatthew d’Ancona, in London's Telegraph, cuts through the haze:
More than eight years after the destruction of the World Trade Centre, there are two competing narratives in the West. The first is frightening, difficult and poses a host of deeply unwelcome questions. According to this version of events, we face a global struggle against a new mutation of militant Islamism ready to use all and any means at its disposal, bonded by anti-semitism, hatred of America and a desire to enforce sharia law and to restore the Caliphate. This network plots globally and kills locally. The merit of this is that it happens to be true.
The second narrative dismisses the whole notion of the "war on terror" as an aberration of the Bush-Blair era. According to this version of events, Islamist terror is mostly the consequence of "Western foreign policy" (for example, the Iraq War was directly responsible for 7/7). With Bush and Blair gone, and al-Qaeda supposedly scattered to the winds, it follows that the winding up of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will bring the whole sorry chapter to an end, and we can all get on with life as normal. The only flaw in this comforting narrative is that it happens to be complete nonsense.
COMMENT: On the button. Does the White House know? Someone please send a note. You can make it anonymous.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON – AT 8:10 A.M. ET: The terror attack launched against that Danish cartoonist who dared to draw a sketch of the prophet Muhammad gets a new angle this morning. From The Christian Science Monitor:
Now a Danish newspaper is reporting that Denmark's security and intelligence agency, PET, knew that the young Somali man who on Friday tried to kill a Danish cartoonist was held in Kenya in September for allegedly helping to plot an attack against US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Mrs. Clinton stopped in Kenya during an 11-day-tour of Africa in August.)
The man who burst into Kurt Westergaard's house on New Year's Day wielding an axe and a knife and shouting "revenge" for Mr. Westergaard's controversial 2005 depiction of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban was released earlier this fall by Kenyan authorities due to lack of evidence, reports the Politiken.
And apparently, as was the case with the airline bomber, there were no alerts sent out about this dedicated chap.
Denmark's ambassador to Kenya told the news agency Ritzau, however, that the Somali man was arrested in Kenya for incomplete travel documents, adding that Kenyan authorities never told the embassy that he was suspected in a terror plot.
Still, the PET did admit in a statement that Westergaard's attacker - who cannot be named due to Danish privacy laws – has "close ties to the Somali terror organization Al Shabab as well as to Al Qaeda leaders in East Africa."
COMMENT: The cartoonist survived only because he'd planned for the possibility of an attack. As soon as his home was broken into, he and his five-year-old granddaughter rushed to a "panic room" that had been prepared. An alarm summoned the police.
Once again, it was quick action by a citizen that foiled an attack. But, like the airline bombing over Detroit, the plot should never have gone that far.
THE YEAR AHEAD – AT 7:31 A.M. ET: This is the first business day of the new year. By definition, the year will be momentous.
The midterm elections alone will make it so. These will be the most significant midterms of our time, determining whether the buyer's remorse that voters seem to be expressing in polls will last until November, giving Republicans a clear shot at cutting into Democratic majorities, or even taking control of the House.
There are no guarantees. Already we see that the Dems, who now draw a good chunk of their financing from the wealthiest classes of Americans, are well ahead in fundraising. If that is not reversed, the Republican effort may simply run out of resources. And while there's been some thoughtful criticism of Obama and the Democratic Congress in the mainstream media, by November the press will probably be back in full 2008 mode, making it doubly hard for the GOP to get out its message.
The midterms are only part of the story. Iran will move closer to a bomb. Pakistan may become destabilized, putting its nuclear arsenal at risk of being dispersed to some of the lovelies around the world. China, whose brazen behavior at the Copenhagen let's-cool-the-world conference shocked many diplomats, can easily become increasingly hostile. And terror groups, who increased their attacks dramatically in 2009, are certainly not going on vacation, even if the president of the United States goes on many.
At the center of the news is that very president, a man who seems overwhelmed by his job, and at times not that interested in it. Has he handled anything particularly well? Has this most inspirational of candidates inspired anyone as president?
I was thinking last night of the difference between a giant in the White House, and Barack Obama. You may recall that the space shuttle Challenger went down the day, in 1986, that Ronald Reagan was scheduled to deliver his State of the Union message. The question was whether he would give the speech, put it off, or do something else. I remember someone quite close to me, a lifelong New Deal Democrat, saying, "He knows what to do."
Those five words encapsulate something that is beyond precious to a president: the people's trust. People trusted Reagan, when the national interest was involved, to do the right thing. They would have trusted John McCain. But have you ever heard those words spoken, even by a liberal Democrat, about Barack Obama? Obama has simply failed to win the public's trust. If he cannot reverse that catastrophe, he will be known as the nation's first African-American president, and little more.
Jack Kennedy's first year in office was also a major disappointment - the Bay of Pigs, a humiliating summit with Nikita Khrushchev, the defiant building of the Berlin Wall, a Congress indifferent to Kennedy's legislative program. But Kennedy understood what had gone wrong, and worked to correct it in his second year, culminating in his successful handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Does Mr. Obama know there's a problem? If so, can he solve it?
He'd better solve it. The airline bomber told the FBI after his arrest that there were many like him in Yemen. They're heading our way. And the man at the top is responsible for stopping them.
WHAT? REFORM IN ACADEMIA? NO, TELL ME NO – AT 7:05 P.M. ET: This story is potentially quite important as Harvard, for better or worse, influences the rest of the academic world. This reform was long in coming. From The New York Times:
The owner of two research hospitals affiliated with the Harvard Medical School has imposed restrictions on outside pay for two dozen senior officials who also sit on the boards of pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. The limits come in the wake of growing criticism of the ties between industry and academia.
Medical experts say they believe the conflict-of-interest rules at the institution, Partners HealthCare, go further than those of any other academic medical center in restricting outside pay from drug companies. The rules, which became effective on Friday, impose limits specifically on outside directors who guide some of the nation’s biggest companies.
Senior officials at the two hospitals, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals in Boston, must limit their pay for serving as outside directors to what the policy calls “a level befitting an academic role” — no more than $5,000 a day for actual work for the board. Some had been receiving more than $200,000 a year. Also, they may no longer accept stock.
This is just the beginning. President Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation in 1961, warned about the corrupting effect of federal grants on science - with scientists working more to satisfy grant givers than to pursue discovery. There is also a corrupting effect of any kind of outside money, and the new Harvard rules begin to address that.
Partners HealthCare is also forbidding speaker’s fees from drug companies for any employee, including nearly 8,000 with Harvard faculty appointments. Some other medical schools have taken similar actions in prohibiting faculty members from being paid by drug companies to speak about their products.
But no other academic medical centers have so restricted participation in boards of directors.
COMMENT: Now it's time to expand the concern over corruption in the academic world. What about professorships in Middle East studies that are financed by such noble democracies as Saudi Arabia? What about restrictions on what students and faculty may or may not say, based on the demands of pressure groups? There's a long list of reforms that are needed, but this step by Harvard is a very good one.
DEFENDING RASMUSSEN – AT 6:25 P.M. ET: Bill Kristol, in the Weekly Standard, comes to the defense of pollster Scott Rasmussen, who's under attack by liberal because his polls tend to show Obama at a lower point than do other surveys:
Generally, because Rasmussen has a likely voter universe and polls so much, he seems to catch trends earlier -- and other polls eventually move toward him. If you assume likely voters pay more attention to politics and tend to move first, paying attention to them will allow you to see trends early. That’s certainly been the case on Obama’s job approval, where Rasmussen saw the downturn before everyone else. Rasmussen still has Obama’s approval about 5 percentage points lower than other surveys, and that’s due to his universe consisting only of likely voters. And while it’s legitimate to say that it’s as useful to know the approval rating of the president among all Americans as among likely voters, if you’re interested in the 2010 results, history would suggest the likely voter numbers are more likely to be helpful.
And that’s why serious people in Washington pay attention to Rasmussen’s polls.
COMMENT: Eventually liberals may get the message. But their response, if history informs us, may be irresponsible. If the issue is "likely voters," they may reason, "we have to turn more of our stay-at-home supporters in to voters." They may attempt a number of tricks, not all of which may be ethical, as we've seen from ACORN's "work" in large cities. And remember that Chicago politicians are running the White House. In Chicago, Democratic voters never die. They just reside in cemeteries and vote on election day.
IRAN VETOES KERRY VISIT, WORLD IN FLAMES – AT 5:47 P.M. P.M. ET: From The Hill:
Iranian legislators on Sunday decided to not allow a visit from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), according to Iranian media.
"Members of the Iranian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee (a subcommittee of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission) voiced opposition to the request after studying the issue," Hassan Ebrahimi, head of the committee, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Kerry had been denying, to the American press, that he had plans to visit Iran. If true, the action by Iran's parliament is preemptive. However, please note this:
"Members of the Iranian parliament's Foreign Relations Committee (a subcommittee of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission) voiced opposition to the request after studying the issue," Hassan Ebrahimi, head of the committee, told the semi-official Fars News Agency.
The request? Kerry should come clean and tell us whether he did make a formal request to visit.
The whole thing is embarrassing anyway. The idea of a former presidential candidate visiting a country that is currently murdering its own citizens in the streets is sickening. It has echoes of George McGovern saying, during the Vietnam War, that he'd gladly visit North Vietnam and beg for peace. McGovern, of course, didn't have to beg. We simply withdrew from Vietnam and, in 1975, cut off aid to our South Vietnamese allies, courtesy of Congress, handing the south to the Communists.
Iran is the first great test for Obama in 2010. The suggestion, and we can't nail down the facts on this precisely, that he may have permitted a trip to Tehran by Kerry is not encouraging.
THE DISGRACE – AT 12:17 P.M. ET: The controversy is building over the decision to treat the airline bomber as an ordinary criminal defendant, rather than a prisoner of war.
One of the first things that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up the Delta/Northwest flight over Detroit, said upon being apprehended was that there were many more like him in Yemen. The first instinct of the president of the United States should have been to say, "I want to know all about that. Get everything you can."
But, no. This administration is run by left-wing lawyers who think like left-wing lawyers. And the terrorist, who engaged in an act of war against us, isn't being treated like a prisoner of war, but like a shoplifter. He's now all lawyered up, and isn't talking. As a prisoner of war, he would have been subject to constant interrogation. This man has information critical to the saving of American lives, but we aren't getting it. His "rights," which aren't his rights at all, since he isn't an American citizen, are more important than our lives.
Senator Kit Bond of Missouri is on Fox News Sunday today, advancing the Republican position on the issue.
Bond strongly disagrees with the President's decision to charge the accused terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a criminal defendant. He believes we should have held him as an enemy combatant and tried him under the military commissions.
"We had the ability in the previous administration to interrogate detainees following the laws and the Constitution, not torturing them, but getting information from them. This man, Abdulmutallab, probably has more insight into possible other recruits that Al Qaeda would be sending into the United States," Bond said.
Bond warned, "This is war and its time we reacted to the war tactics."
COMMENT: The president has taken to talking toughly in recent days, undoubtedly to make up for the earlier impression that he's a marshmallow, but so far his actions have not matched his words. Instead, he has his troops out there criticizing the GOP for "partisanship" on this issue.
Partisanship is just fine. That's why we have a democracy. The Obamans have a pre 9-11 mentality. Like most modern liberals (as opposed to traditional liberals) they're reactionaries, wanting to go back to a previous, more comfortable time. It's entirely proper for Republicans to point this out, and take their case to the people.
FINE REPORTING – AT 11:12 A.M. ET: The Politico does some first-rate sleuthing to uncover the contradictions and hypocrisy in this administration's anti-terror policy. This is good reading:
"The senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive security matters, said the government was gaining confidence in Yemen’s willingness to handle returning detainees after months of 'intense' talks under the Obama administration..."
– The New York Times, 12/20/09
"A senior administration official said Thursday that Mr. Obama’s interagency team had already decided quietly several weeks ago that the security situation in Yemen was too volatile to transfer any more detainees beyond six who were sent home in December..."
– The New York Times, 1/1/2010
Josh Gerstein, in The Politico, asks:
Hmmm. Is "quietly" a euphemism for "despite telling us more or less the opposite ten days ago"?
Joined with John Brennan's remarks (just below), we feel an even greater loss of confidence than we've felt before.
It's...curious that the fact that no more detainees would be sent to Yemen was being touted to reporters as a finding or result of the post-Christmas bombing intelligence review, if indeed such repatriations were halted "quietly several weeks ago."
A lot of things are curious about this administration.
OH, CUT IT OUT ALREADY – AT 10:39 A.M. ET: It's time for the Obama administration to take some of its ground troops aside and give them some advice on keeping the mouth shut. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. intelligence agencies did not miss a ''smoking gun'' that could have prevented an alleged attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser said Sunday.
White House aide John Brennan cited ''lapses'' and errors in the sharing of intelligence and clues about the Nigerian man accused in the foiled attempt.
''There is no smoking gun,'' Brennan said. ''There was no single piece of intelligence that said, 'this guy is going to get on a plane.'''
Oh, come on, Johnny. The man's father walked into the US Embassy in Nigeria twice to warn us about his son. He bought a ticket in cash. He wasn't carrying luggage. What more do you need? Okay, so he wasn't wearing a sign saying, "I am a terrorist. Stop me before I blow up this plane." Maybe he didn't have a crayon.
And get this:
Brennan is leading a White House review of the incident.
He is? Then why is he already drawing conclusions? Shouldn't that wait until the review is concluded? Do you get the feeling that the purpose of the "review" is to exonerate the administration?
Brennan cited ''a number of streams of information'' -- the 23-year-old suspect's name was known to intelligence officials, his father had passed along his concern about the son's increasing radicalization -- and ''little snippets'' from intelligence channels. ''But there was nothing that brought it all together.''
Oh dear, what can one say?
''In this one instance, the system didn't work. There were some human errors. There were some lapses. We need to strengthen it. But day in and day out, the successes are there.''
U.S., BRITAIN, SHUT YEMEN EMBASSIES – AT 10:12 A.M. ET: From AP:
Both the US and Britain have closed their embassies in Yemen, with American officials citing threats by the al-Qaida group linked to the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day.
In London, Britain's Foreign Office said the embassy in Yemen was closed Sunday for security reasons. A spokeswoman said officials would decide later whether to reopen it on Monday.
The confrontation with the terrorist group's branch in Yemen has gained new urgency since the 23-year-old Nigerian accused in the attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, told US investigators he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. President Barack Obama said Saturday that al-Qaida's branch in Yemen was behind the attempt.
A message on the US Embassy Web site read, "The US Embassy in San'a is closed today, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ... to attack American interests in Yemen."
COMMENT: Welcome to 2010. A real improvement over 2009 so far, isn't it?
The closing of the embassy, which may be temporary, raises serious questions: Why now? Have the threats escalated, or were we a bit blind to them before the airline incident? And where, in all this, is the secretary of state, who isn't even mentioned in the story?
We recall that, after the USS Cole was attacked in a harbor in Yemen in 2000, with the loss of 17 American sailors, the FBI was sent to the country to investigate. There were reports that the United States ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, was less than cooperative with the probe, trying to protect the US-Yemeni relationship. Often, diplomats develop what is known as "localitis," a bias toward the country to which they're sent. Are we seeing that now, in what, on the surface, appears to have been a laxness toward the Al Qaeda threat in Yemen?
When he was secretary of state in the Reagan administration, George Shultz would invite an American diplomat into his office, walk him or her to a map and ask, "Which is your country?" Inevitably, the envoy would point to the country where he was posted. "No," said Shultz, himself pointing to the United States on the map, "this is your country." Sometimes diplomats forget that.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
- Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
of The New York Times.
"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism." - Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, to his son, Douglas.
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.
Part II was sent late Friday night.
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