Scene above: Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
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MAY 8, 2011
LOOSE LIPS – AT 11:29 P.M. ET: During World War II we, as a nation, had a slogan: "Loose lips sink ships." At war plants, in military installations, Americans regularly passed posters, like the one with the woman with a finger on her lips, that stressed the need for secrecy.
Maybe we need posters like that today. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld believes, and I agree, that we've released entirely too much information related to the bin Laden raid. From Fox:
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Sunday questioned why the Obama administration is releasing so much information about the operation that resulted in the death of Usama bin Laden and the intelligence behind it.
While Rumsfeld praised President Obama for overseeing and green-lighting the daring raid last weekend, he suggested the White House could be taking a risk in sharing the details it has with the public.
"The more information that goes out about intelligence, the greater the risks to our people and the less likelihood we're going to be able to capture and/or kill some of the people who would result from the intelligence take here," Rumsfeld said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Rumsfeld noted that White House officials have had to correct the record after initially bungling the details of the raid in briefings with reporters. He said the Pentagon likely wants to keep the information private.
"I would have preferred a lot less discussion out of the White House about intelligence," Rumsfeld said.
COMMENT: Second the motion. We are at war, whether this administration wants to call it a war or not. The public has no particular need, or right, to know some of the operational details that have been released. We didn't have a full, public inquiry into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor until after Japan was defeated, although there were secret inquiries during World War II.
And I am appalled by the leaking of intelligence information that may have been gleaned from the documents and drives captured by the Navy Seals. Never tell your enemy what you know or how you know it. Let them go crazy wondering what has been captured. Let each member of Al Qaeda wonder whether his name, address, phone number, and favorite color are now known to the United States.
The Seals are professionals. Unfortunately, the amateurs are the ones in front of the microphones and TV cameras.
LESSON FROM UP NORTH – AT 11:55 A.M. ET: As we reported here last week, Canadian conservatives just won a clear-cut majority in Canada's parliament, something of a revolution in Canadian politics. Michael Barone sees lessons for American conservatives. One of them is that Canadian conservatives made a conscious effort to appeal to minorities and immigrant groups:
The Conservatives’ triumph offers a couple of lessons that may be relevant to U.S. Republicans. One is that smaller-government policies, far from being political poison, are actually vote winners.
The second is that a center-right party can win immigrant votes. Conservatives won 35 of 54 seats in metro Toronto, many heavy with immigrants. One tactic that seems to have worked was to circulate videos of Indian- and Chinese-Canadian Conservative candidates appealing for votes in their native tongues.
The simple message is that this is a party that likes and respects you. Republicans could do something similar, with Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, and Reps. Allen West, Tim Scott and Quico Canseco, all elected in 2010.
COMMENT: In the immortal eloquence of Gary Cooper: "Yup." Barone is right. If the GOP gets off the dime and starts running a modern campaign, it has a very good shot at the White House next year, and at dominating both houses of Congress.
But tired old candidates won't do the trick. We have advocating here for the party to skip a generation, throw the long ball, and bring forward new, young, dynamic candidates from a variety of backgrounds. Let the Dems try to handle that.
From London's Daily Mail: Prince Andrew’s daughters are to be stripped of their 24-hour police protection after a growing row over the £500,000 annual cost. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are the biggest losers of a Scotland Yard review of security for the Royal Family. The princesses, fifth and sixth in line to the throne, will be given protection only when they attend official events on behalf of the Royal Family.
Take a look at the picture and you'll see why Britain really wants the protection removed.
THE LUNATIC FRINGE – AT 10:51 A.M. ET: Whatever happened to San Francisco? It used to be such a pleasant place, and a great Navy town. Now it has become one of the centers of blind political correctness, flying the flag of gross irresponsibility whenever it can. From Fox:
San Francisco, one of the first sanctuary cities in the nation, plans to end its cooperation with federal immigration officials and start releasing illegal immigrants arrested for minor offenses before they can be picked up for deportation.
We learned the hard way in New York that perpetrators of minor offenses eventually become murderers and rapists if the minor crimes are not prosecuted. I guess the victims of those potential murders and rapes are of no consequence to the San Francisco philosophers.
The city's decision is the latest development in a tug of war between several communities and the federal government over its controversial national program that automatically checks the immigration status of arrestees.
Officials in jurisdictions including Providence, R.I., and Chicago have also challenged the program, which they say undermines trust that it has taken local law enforcement years to build in immigrant communities.
California and Illinois lawmakers are considering measures to let communities retreat from the so-called "Secure Communities" program, which links up the FBI's criminal database and the Department of Homeland Security's records so that every time someone is arrested their immigration status is automatically, electronically checked.
Washington state has deferred to local governments on whether they want to join program overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
But their efforts could be thwarted as federal officials argue that states have no control over what information is shared among federal agencies.
COMMENT: I'd love to see the reaction on the political left to what San Francisco is doing. Remember how the left roared in opposition to Arizona's law to check the immigration status of those stopped by the police? Why, that was a federal matter, the leftists said. I'll bet these same people remain awfully silent over this latest San Francisco treat.
TRAUMA IN EGYPT – AT 10:23 A.M. ET: We have a tendency, as we've pointed out here, to take our eye off a major story when another one comes along. Thus, we dropped everything when Navy Seals dropped bin Laden. And we had our week of the raid.
But there are other things happening, and they may have a profound effect on us and the war against Islamic extremism. Consider:
Cairo (CNN) -- Egypt's prime minister called for an emergency Cabinet meeting Sunday, a day after officials reported at least 12 people were killed in sectarian clashes outside a Cairo church.
Officials said the violence began over rumors that a Christian woman who converted to Islam was being held at the church against her will.
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf postponed a trip to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the church attack, according to EgyNews, Egypt's official news agency. Egyptian state TV said 10 people died and 232 were wounded in the violence Saturday. At least 190 were arrested.
Tensions between Egypt's Muslim majority and its Coptic Christian minority have been on the rise in recent months, with a number of violent clashes reported between the two groups.
During clashes on Saturday, witnesses said an armed group of Muslims marched on Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt.
Witnesses said Muslims and Christians exchanged gunfire, sending people running for cover.
"With my own eyes I saw three people killed and dozens injured," said Mina Adel, a Christian resident. "There's no security here. There's a big problem. People attacked us, and we have to protect ourselves."
This comes only weeks after Muslim extremists in one of Egypt's states demanded the removal of Christian officeholders. And it comes amidst almost daily reports of the growing power of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.
The United States is desperately trying to hold onto its relationship with Egypt, which was fine under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who now appears mild compared to some of those who might replace him:
The Obama administration has decided to provide about $1 billion in debt relief for Egypt, a senior official said Saturday, in the boldest U.S. effort yet to shore up a key Middle East ally as it attempts a democratic transition.
The aid would be part of a major economic aid package that also includes trade and investment incentives, officials said. It is intended to help stabilize Egypt after demonstrations forced out longtime President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.
While the Obama administration has been preoccupied of late with the war in Libya and protests in Syria, it sees Egypt as even more critical for U.S. interests. Washington has long regarded Egypt as a moderating influence in the Middle East. With one-quarter of the world’s Arabs, Egypt could emerge as a democratic model in the region — or, if its revolution fails, a locus of instability or extremism.
If it fails? I'm afraid it's already failing. The Arab world tends toward extremism. Its population has been propagandized for decades, its educational system geared toward conspiracy theories and a warped, medieval view of history. Egypt is already moving closer to Iran, another country which experienced a failed revolution, leading to the current thug regime.
We will have our hands full in the Mideast. And the Navy Seals may not be able to save Obama this time.
A SPAT IN TEHRAN – Another underreported story is that there is apparently a power struggle going on in Iran between the president and the supreme leader, two gems who compete for badness. The New York Times reports:
The unprecedented power struggle between the two most powerful leaders in Iran deepened Friday, spilling out into Tehran’s public prayers where the mullah leading the service indirectly criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while the crowd chanted “Death to opponents of the supreme leader!”
That's what I like about the Iranian mullahs. They take politics so seriously. "Death to opponents of the supreme leader!" No fooling around with demotions or throwing a guy out of the corner office.
The split started about two weeks ago after the president tried to dismiss the head of the intelligence ministry, the powerful government branch that exerts widespread control over domestic life. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, ordered that the minister, Heydar Moslehi, keep the post.
A real crisis of civilization.
Mr. Ahmadinejad then stayed home for 11 days, according to reports from Iran, engaging in a visible fit of pique that threatened to undermine the staunch alliance the two had forged since Mr. Ahmadinejad was first elected president in 2005.
Uh, would that be with pay or without pay?
Government opponents accuse the Intelligence Ministry of rigging the election that won Mr. Ahmadinejad a second term, a power Mr. Khamenei may not have wanted him to have again, analysts said. In another conjecture, the supreme leader’s son, Mujtabah Khamenei, who heads intelligence for the Revolutionary Guards, is said to have designs on the ministry.
The son also rises.
Whatever the reason, the supreme leader has made his wishes clear. This week, his office released pictures of a religious ceremony with Mr. Ahmadinejad conspicuously absent while Mr. Moslehi sat close by.
Well, we may soon not have Ahmadinejad to kick around any longer. But Khamenei is just as kickable, and just as deserving of a kick.
IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? – AT 10:49 A.M. ET: Rudy Giuliani is toying with the idea of making another run for the presidency, having failed to come close to getting the GOP nomination in 2008. But is it a good idea? From The Politico:
Rudy Giuliani called for a return to American exceptionalism Friday, telling a group of GOP lawyers gathered in the nation’s capital that Ronald Reagan fundamentally changed how Americans felt about themselves.
Before Reagan was elected, Giuliani said, much had been written about America’s decline and how it was a country of “limited possibilities” that had run its course.
“Sounds familiar, right? There are people who believe that today in America. In fact, some of them are running America,” Giuliani said in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, where he appeared to received the group’s highest honor, the Ed Meese Award.
“The idea that we’re either no better than anyone else, we’re just another country with our set of problems or our set of assets, or maybe we’re not even as good as others. Ronald Reagan found that to be totally wrong, not a correct view of this country and he changed in a very short period of times how we felt about ourselves.”
“That’s the most important thing a leader does,” he added.
Giuliani took only one question following his half-hour speech. Asked whether he had decided to launch a 2012 White House bid, he said “not yet,” but that it’s a possibility.
“I will sure think about it. … It’s too early and I want to see how it all develops,” he answered. “My major goal is to elect a Republican in 2012. If it turns out that I’m the best one to do that, I can probably be talked into doing it or convince myself to do it,” he said.
“If I thought somebody else had a better chance of doing it, I would be a very enthusiastic supporter of somebody else,” he added.
COMMENT: Rudy was one of the great mayors of New York. It may be an exaggeration to say that he saved the city, but not much of one. He confronted crime head-on and reduced it dramatically, with common sense and zero tolerance for political correctness.
The problem is that Rudy just didn't catch on in 2008, when he was out of power for about six years. Now it's more than nine years. He has about him the aura of a local leader, not a president. And the spectacular way in which he led New York through 9-11 is a fading memory. I just don't see a Giuliani candidacy doing any better in 2012 than in 2008, but, of course, I could be wrong.
SYRIAN MADNESS – AT 10:33 A.M. ET: Our media is not paying nearly enough attention to the rapidly deteroriating situation in Syria. The death toll mounts in this, one of the most important Arab countries, and Iran's best Arab ally:
(Reuters) - Syrian tanks stormed the mostly Sunni Muslim city of Banias on Saturday, a rights campaigner said, raising sectarian tension in a country swept by protests against the rule of authoritarian President Bashar al-Assad.
The attack came hours after the United States, reacting to the death of 27 protesters on Friday, threatened to take new steps against Syria's rulers, from the Alawite sect, unless they stopped killing and harassing their people.
I wonder what those new steps might happen to be. The old ones have certainly been effective.
Rights group Sawasiah said in statement that the number of civilians killed since pro-democracy demonstrations broke out seven weeks ago has reached 800. It added that there were cuts in landline, Internet and cellphone lines with Banias as army units backed by tanks swept into its districts.
Please note, for the record, the deep concern expressed by the American and European left, and by the profound scholars in so-called "Middle Eastern studies" departments of our universities. A truly distinguished professor wrote to Urgent Agenda earlier and said that the first thing he'd do to improve the quality of higher education in America would be to abolish all college departments with the name "studies" at the end. I'm inclined to agree.
Assad has asserted that the protesters are part of a foreign conspiracy to cause sectarian strife, something they deny too.
His father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled for 30 years until his death in 2000, brutally suppressed an armed Islamist uprising in 1982 in which around 30,000 people were killed.
COMMENT: When those 30,000 were killed, there was almost no reaction from "human rights" or "anti-war" activists in Europe or America. When will we finally learn that many of these people don't care at all for human rights or human beings, but only for their ideological agenda.
A government collapse in Syria would be a major convulsion in the Mideast, with unknown consequences. We need to shine a bigger spotlight on what's happening.
"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
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of The Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.
Part II was sent late last night.
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