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The Right of the People to be Secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers, and Effects,
Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures,
Shall Not Be Violated

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Madeleine Peyroux
Blue Alert

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CIA Director: 7 CIA Workers Killed in Afghanistan

Newsmax:

Thursday, 31 Dec 2009 02:19 PM

The Taliban claimed responsibility Thursday for infiltrating a CIA post with a suicide bomber who set off an explosion that killed seven American intelligence staffers and wounded six others in an attack believed one of the worst in the agency's history.

In Washington, CIA director Leon Panetta said the seven killed in Wednesday's attack "were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism."

The attack was a blow to the CIA, which has lost only four operatives in this country since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It also was the deadliest for Americans since eight soldiers were killed Oct. 3 when insurgents attacked a remote base, also in eastern Afghanistan.

Among those killed was the chief of the CIA's operation at Camp Chapman in the Khost province of eastern Afghanistan, The Associated Press has learned. Former CIA officials said the base chief, a mother of three, would have directed and coordinated CIA operations and intelligence gathering in the province, a hotbed of Taliban and insurgent activity because of its proximity to Pakistan's lawless tribal region.

"There's still a lot to be learned about what happened," said CIA spokesman George Little. "The key lesson is that counterterrorism work is dangerous. Our fallen and wounded colleagues were on the front lines, conducting essential operations to protect our country."

A U.S. intelligence official said the attack will be avenged through successful, aggressive counterterrorism operations, and said the climate at CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va. is "determined."

Earlier, a U.S. official who was briefed on the blast said eight U.S. civilians and an Afghan were killed.

Harold E. Brown Jr., of Fairfax, Va., was among the dead, according to his father, Harold E. Brown Sr. The elder Brown said Thursday that his 37-year-old son, who grew up in Bolton, Mass., served in the Army and worked for the State Department. He is survived by a wife and three children ages 12, 10 and 2.

The attack, which wounded six according to Panetta, came on a bloody day for NATO forces. A roadside bombing, also claimed by the Taliban, killed four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist in southern Afghanistan. Elsewhere, police said militants beheaded six Afghans on Thursday for cooperating with government authorities.

Also Thursday, the United Nations said a preliminary investigation showed that a raid last weekend by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight students. The attack sparked protests by Afghans against foreign troops. Meanwhile, France's Foreign Ministry said two French journalists and their local guides were missing in Afghanistan.

It was unclear how the suicide bomber was able to circumvent security at the U.S. base.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that an Afghan National Army officer wearing a suicide vest entered the base and blew himself up inside the gym. The U.S. official said it took place in the gym.

There was no independent confirmation that the bomber in the attack on the U.S. base was a member of the Afghan military. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said no Afghan National Army soldiers are at the base.

But an Afghan official in Khost said the U.S. has hired about 200 Afghans to help with security at the base. They are usually deployed on the outer ring of its walls, although some work inside, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"It's not the first time that Afghan forces have conducted such an attack to kill Americans or foreigners," the Taliban statement said, citing the alleged killing of an American soldier and the wounding of two Italians this week in Badghis province. NATO has provided no details of that incident, but Afghan Gen. Jalander Shah Bahnam said an Afghan soldier opened fire on a base in the province's Bala Murghab district.

An online message posted by the Afghan Taliban said 20 CIA staff were killed and 25 other people were wounded, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based terrorist tracking organization. The Taliban routinely exaggerate claims of enemy casualties.

Afghan officials said no members of the Afghan National Army or Afghan National Police worked at the base.

Only four known CIA operatives had been killed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. CIA officer Micheal "Mike" Spann was killed in a prison uprising in November 2001. An agency officer died in a training exercise in 2003, and two contractors operating out of a CIA base in Shkin district of Paktika province were killed the same year.

Forward Operating Base Chapman used to be a military base, but was later turned into a CIA base, according to a U.S. official. Some military men and women work there on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, one of several joint civilian-military units that secure and develop areas of Afghanistan. A NATO spokesman said "other personnel" operate from Chapman as well, but he said he could not elaborate.

All the U.S. officials and former CIA officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Chapman is not the only U.S. base in Khost city. Also there is a major U.S. military base known as Camp Salerno, which includes a large Soviet-built airfield.

Camp Salerno and its outlying fire bases have been the focus of repeated militant suicide, artillery and sniper attacks over the past several years. One of the most brazen of the war occurred in August 2008 when a group of about 100 Taliban fighters broke through the perimeter of the base, which houses about 2,000 allied troops. After a two-hour firefight, the guerrillas were forced to retreat by attacking helicopter gunships.

In Wednesday's other attack, NATO said the four Canadian soldiers and the reporter embedded in their unit died when their armored vehicle hit a bomb while on an afternoon patrol south of Kandahar city.

Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old health reporter with the Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan. She arrived in the country just two weeks ago. Lang "was one of those journalists who always wanted to get to the bottom of every story so this was an important trip for her," said a Calgary Herald colleague, Colette Derworiz.

The Canadian military identified the four soldiers as Sgt. George Miok, Sgt. Kirk Taylor and Cpl. Zachery McCormack.

According to figures compiled by The Associated Press, 32 Canadian troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year; in all, 138 have died in the war.

===================================

MSNBC:

AP: Bomber in CIA attack was not searched
Intelligence official says the man was being courted as possible informant
msnbc.com news services
updated 3:17 p.m. ET, Thurs., Dec . 31, 2009
KABUL - The suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees at a remote outpost in southeastern Afghanistan had been invited onto the base and was not searched, the Associated Press has learned.

A former senior intelligence official said the man was being courted as an informant and that it was the first time he had been brought inside the camp.

The official said a senior and experienced CIA debriefer came from Kabul for the meeting, suggesting that the purpose of the meeting was to gain intelligence.

The former senior intelligence official and another former official with knowledge of the attack spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The CIA has declined to comment. Separately, the Associated Press reported, citing former agents, that the base chief, a mother of three, was among those killed in Wednesday's attack.

In a statement to agency employees, CIA director Leon Panetta said those killed "were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism."

"We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives — a safer America," Panetta said.

A U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News that the "brazen attack" on the base will be avenged, adding that "we will continue to pursue the enemy aggressively using all means at our disposal."

An Afghan civilian also was killed in the attack, a U.S. official told Reuters.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing at a Forward Operating Base, which is considered the center for counterterrorism operations. It is believed to be one of the worst attacks against the CIA in the agency's history.

Prior to Wednesday, the agency had previously lost only four operatives in this country since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The attack came on a bloody day for NATO forces. A roadside bombing, also claimed by the Taliban, killed four Canadian troops and a Canadian journalist in southern Afghanistan. Elsewhere, police said militants beheaded six Afghans on Thursday for cooperating with government authorities.

France also reported two French journalists and their local guides missing in Afghanistan. Halim Ayar, a spokesman for the governor of Afghanistan's Kapisa province, says the French journalists, their driver and a guard were kidnapped while going to Kapisa from the Surobi district of Kabul province.

France-3 television said only that no contact has been established with the two journalists and their three guides since Wednesday.

Meantime, the United Nations said a preliminary investigation showed that a raid last weekend by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight students. The attack sparked protests by Afghans against foreign troops.

Deadly gym strike
It was unclear how the suicide bomber was able to circumvent security at the U.S. base. Khost is the capital of Khost province, which borders Pakistan and is a Taliban stronghold.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that an Afghan National Army officer wearing a suicide vest entered the base and blew himself up inside the gym. A U.S. official who was briefed on Wednesday's blast also said it took place in the gym.

There was no independent confirmation that the bomber was a member of the Afghan military. Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, said no Afghan National Army soldiers are at the base.

But an Afghan official in Khost said the U.S. has hired about 200 Afghans to help with security at the base. They are usually deployed on the outer ring of its walls, although some work inside, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"It's not the first time that Afghan forces have conducted such an attack to kill Americans or foreigners," the Taliban statement said, citing the alleged killing of an American soldier and the wounding of two Italians this week in Badghis province. NATO has provided no details of that incident, but Afghan Gen. Jalander Shah Bahnam said an Afghan soldier opened fire on a base in the province's Bala Murghab district.

An online message posted by the Afghan Taliban said 20 CIA staff were killed and 25 other people were wounded, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based terrorist tracking organization. The Taliban routinely exaggerate claims of enemy casualties.

Harold E. Brown Jr., a State Department employee of Fairfax, Va., died in the attack, his father, Harold E. Brown Sr., told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The younger Brown, 37, who grew up in Bolton, Mass., served in the Army and remained a major in the reserves. He is survived by a wife and three children ages 12, 10 and 2.


Only four known CIA operatives have been killed in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. CIA officer Micheal "Mike" Spann was killed in a prison uprising in November 2001. An agency officer died in a training exercise in 2003, and two contractors operating out of a CIA base in Shkin district of Paktika province were killed the same year.


Fatal mission
Forward Operating Base Chapman used to be a military base, but was later turned into a CIA base, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. So

me military men and women work there on a Provincial Reconstruction Team, one of several joint civilian-military units that secure and develop areas of Afghanistan. A NATO spokesman said "other personnel" operate from Chapman as well, but he said he could not elaborate.

Chapman is not the only U.S. base in Khost city. Also there is a major U.S. military base known as Camp Salerno, which includes a large Soviet-built airfield.

Camp Salerno and its outlying fire bases have been the focus of repeated militant suicide, artillery and sniper attacks over the past several years. One of the most brazen of the war occurred in August 2008 when a group of about 100 Taliban fighters broke through the perimeter of the base, which houses about 2,000 allied troops. After a two-hour firefight, the guerrillas were forced to retreat by attacking helicopter gunships.

In Wednesday's other attack, NATO said the four Canadian troops and the reporter embedded in their unit died when their armored vehicle hit a bomb while on an afternoon patrol south of Kandahar city.

Canadian casualties
Michelle Lang, a 34-year-old health reporter with the Calgary Herald, was the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan. She arrived in the country just two weeks ago. Lang "was one of those journalists who always wanted to get to the bottom of every story so this was an important trip for her," said a Calgary Herald colleague, Colette Derworiz.

The military has not disclosed the names of the Canadian troops because relatives have not all been notified.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard, commander of coalition forces in Kandahar, said the soldiers were conducting a community security patrol.

According to figures compiled by The Associated Press, 32 Canadian troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year; in all, 138 have died in the war.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement of condolence to Americans and Canadians, saying "your children sacrificed their lives for the people of Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism. The Afghans will not forget your sacrifice."

Karzai has been critical of NATO forces, though, for attacks that have killed civilians. Claims of civilians killed by foreign forces are a highly emotional issue among Afghans and feed strong resentment of international soldiers.

Top NATO commander Stanley McChrystal has made avoiding such deaths a critical part of his strategy.

The attack last weekend in Kunar province has been a bone of contention between the Afghan government, which said 10 civilians were killed, and NATO, which said there was no evidence to substantiate that claim.


On Thursday, U.N. special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement that although insurgents were in the area at the time, eight of the 10 killed in the nighttime attack were students in local schools.

Separately, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province in the south said an airstrike by international forces killed and wounded civilians. Dawud Ahmadi said he did not know how many were killed Wednesday in Babajid district. He said the attack took place after an international forces patrol came under fire.

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Yemeni Forces Raid Al-Qaida Hideout, Clashes Erupt

Newsmax:

Wednesday, 30 Dec 2009 07:09 PM

Yemeni forces raided an al-Qaida hideout and set off a gunbattle Wednesday as the government vowed to eliminate the group that claimed it was behind the Christmas bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner.

The fighting took place in an al-Qaida stronghold in western Yemen, haven for a group that attacked the U.S. Embassy here in 2008, killing 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians. A government statement said at least one suspected militant was arrested during the clashes.

"The (Interior) Ministry will continue tracking down al-Qaida terrorists and will continue its strikes against the group until it is totally eliminated," Deputy Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Saleh al-Zawari told senior military officials at a meeting in Mareb, another province believed to shelter al-Qaida fighters.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's group, claimed it was behind the attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old passenger, was arrested Friday after he allegedly tried to bring down the Northwest Airlines flight, carrying 289 people.

U.S. investigators said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. Yemen's government has said Abdulmutallab spent two periods in the country, from 2004-2005 and from August to December of this year, just before the attempted attack.

Abdulmutallab's Yemen connection has drawn attention to al-Qaida's growing presence in the impoverished and lawless country, which is located on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia.

Wednesday's clashes took place in Hudaydah province, an al-Qaida stronghold along the Red Sea coast. A security official said the target was a house owned by an al-Qaida sympathizer. The official said the owner was arrested, a suspected al-Qaida member was injured and several militants who fled were being pursued. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Before Wednesday's clashes, Yemeni forces backed by U.S. intelligence carried out two major strikes against al-Qaida hideouts this month, reportedly killing more than 60 militants.

The U.S. has increasingly provided intelligence, surveillance and training to Yemeni forces during the past year, and has provided some firepower, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said Yemen received $67 million in training and support under the Pentagon's counterterrorism program last year, second only to some $112 million spent in Pakistan.

He said the program was not a new one.

"We are going to work with allies and partners to seek out terrorist activity, al-Qaida, wherever they operate, plan their operations, seek safe harbor," he said. "This is an effort that is years old now."

In Holland, the Dutch government issued a preliminary report Wednesday calling the airliner plot professional, but describing the execution as "amateurish."

Dutch Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst told a news conference Abdulmutallab apparently assembled the explosive device, including 80 grams of PETN, in the aircraft toilet, then planned to detonate it with a syringe of chemicals. She said the explosives appeared to have been professionally prepared and then given to Abdulmutallab.

President Barack Obama has demanded a preliminary report by Thursday on what went wrong in the Detroit case. Obama said the intelligence community should have been able to piece together information that would have raised "red flags" and possibly prevented Abdulmutallab from boarding the airliner.

Abdulmutallab had been placed in one broad database, but he never made it onto more restrictive lists, despite his father's warnings to U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria last month.

Meanwhile, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a man tried to board a commercial airliner in the Somali capital of Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid and a syringe in a case bearing chilling similarities to the Detroit airliner plot.

The Somali man — whose name has not yet been released — was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before the Nov. 13 Daallo Airlines flight took off. It had been scheduled to travel from Mogadishu to the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then to Djibouti and Dubai.

The aborted attack in Detroit was launched almost a year after al-Qaida's operations in Yemen and Saudi Arabia united to form Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, making Yemen its base.

Shortly after Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was formed, Saudi Arabia announced a list of 85 most wanted militants outside its borders. It said 11 of them were former Guantanamo detainees who had gone through its rehabilitation program. Three were confirmed to have gone to Yemen. They included Abu al-Hareth Muhammad al-Oufi, who later surrendered in Yemen and was handed over to Saudis, Said al-Shihri, the group's No. 2 and Youssef al-Shihri, who was killed in a clash with Saudis in southern Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni roots of the attack threaten to complicate U.S. efforts to empty the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, where nearly half the remaining detainees are from Yemen.

Finding a home for them is key to Obama's pledge to close the prison, but emerging details of the plot are renewing concerns about Yemen's capacity to contain militants and growing al-Qaida safe havens.

Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., noted that of the 90 men remaining at Guantanamo, more than 60 have been identified as dangerous by the Pentagon.

"Yet, in the past few weeks, the Obama Administration has overseen the repatriation of six Yemenis from Guantanamo back to their home country," he said. "As we learn more about Abdulmutallab's ties to Yemen and AQAP, it is increasingly clear that the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo is a flawed process demanding immediate review."

Abdulmutallab spent about five months in Yemen leading up to the airliner attack and a year before that in 2004-2005, Yemeni officials said.

Administrators at the San'a Institute for the Arabic Language said he was enrolled at the school during both periods to study Arabic. But staff and students said he spent at most one month at the school starting in late August. His time through December is unaccounted for.

Acquaintances described the strict Islamic life he led, rejecting music, TV and mixing with women. All of them expressed surprise that the quiet man they knew would even consider to carry out such an act.

"I saw him once tenderly kiss a baby," said Ahmed Mohammed, a teacher at the institute. "Today, he's turned into a monster who would have killed children if the operation had succeeded."

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U.S. Embassy: Bali Governor Warns of Possible Attack

Newsmax:

Thursday, 31 Dec 2009 06:41 AM

The U.S. Embassy warned Thursday of a possible New Year's Eve terrorist attack on Indonesia's Bali island, based on information from the popular resort's governor, but security officials said they were unaware of a threat.

An embassy e-mail to U.S. citizens quoted the governor as saying, "There is an indication of an attack to Bali tonight."

Indonesian police spokesman Col. Gde Sugianyar said the department had no information about a specific threat on Bali and that security was in place to ensure festivities would be safe.

The embassy said U.S. citizens should monitor local media and be aware of possible threats in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

"While Indonesia's counterterrorism efforts have been ongoing and partly successful, violent elements have demonstrated a willingness and ability to carry out deadly attacks with little or no warning," the e-mail said.

Embassy spokeswoman Corina Sanders said the warning had been widely distributed to restaurants and cafes by the Bali Tourism Board.

But Bali Tourism Board head Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya said he "never issued such a statement or letter regarding the threat of terrorist attacks."

"Our understanding is that it was sent by the governor of Bali, whom we consider an official source," Sanders said, adding that the message had been relayed verbatim because of its potential importance.

The governor could not immediately be reached for comment, but Putu Suardika, a spokesman for Bali's provincial government, said "Until now I have not yet (had) any notification from the governor."

The warning came six months after suicide blasts by a group claiming to be Southeast Asia's arm of al-Qaida killed seven people and injured more than 50 others at the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in the capital, Jakarta.

Bali has been hit hard by Islamic militants, with more than 220 deaths in suicide bombings in 2002 and 2005 targeting Westerners. Those attacks were carried out at restaurants and clubs frequented by foreigners.

Gov. Mangku Pastika called on people not to panic but to be alert, and gave no details about a specific threat, the embassy statement said.

Indonesia's counterterrorism unit said it had received the warning but could not independently verify its accuracy.

Brig. Gen. Tito Karnavian said the information "still needs to be examined. We are still cross-checking."

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The Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

From this post over at My Daily Trek:
The Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress includes a slew of offensive items:

[...]

7. Limiting free speech. The omnibus bill drops a ban on federal funds being used to enforce or implement the "Fairness Doctrine." This policy would have the effect of shutting down conservative talk radio programs.
Anybody here heard about this?

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Humpday Blues

North Mississippi Allstars
Stompin' My Foot

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dem Congress Campaign Committee - Obama more agressive than Bush on terror

From THE HILL:

DCCC: Obama 'more aggressive in fighting al Qaeda' than Bushhorse_laughing.jpg

By Tony Romm - 12/30/09 01:37 PM ET

Democratic strategists Wednesday asserted President Barack Obama "has been far more aggressive in fighting al Qaeda" than the previous administration .

In an e-mail this afternoon to supporters -- which incidentally excoriated Republicans for politicizing the attempted bombing of Flight 253 -- the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) stressed it was President George W. Bush, not his successor, who relegated the fight against the terrorist network to the back burner by turning "its focus from al Qaeda to Iraq."

Yes because if we had only concentrated THERE there would be no problems in Pakistan, the horn of Africa, with AQIM or in Yemen as well. And our own people would never have flown off to Pakistan to get arrested trying to join up with Haqqani or ANYONE, or scouting out Mumbai, and Nidal Hasan would at this moment be a valued regular guest on Dr. Phil.

These people are SECOND RATE SIMPLETONS and believe that's what WE ARE AS WELL

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Christians on The Arabian Peninsula


WaPo:

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- The Vatican's top cleric in the heart of Muslim Arabia tends to a flock of 2 million Christians spread around six desert nations. But he has to do it quietly: Most of them must still pray in secret and are forbidden to display crosses and other symbols of their faith.

From his base in the emirate of Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf, Archbishop Paul Hinder travels the Arabian Peninsula, even slipping in and out of Saudi Arabia - the birthplace of Islam, where restrictions on Christians are the toughest.

"We are tolerated, but not popular here," Hinder said in an interview in the archbishop's living quarters inside a Christian compound in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

He spoke wearing the traditional hooded robe of his Capuchin order. The white garb blends in just fine with the Arab robes worn by men in the region, so he wears it in public - but without a cross around his neck or the belt of three knots that also mark the order.

"People here know who I am, although I never wear a cross when I go outside out of respect for local conditions," said Hinter, a Swiss citizen.

Still, he says, there are signs of slow change, even in Saudi Arabia, where small groups who in the past would have been punished or deported if caught practicing the Christian services are now left in peace to pray privately.

The UAE and the neighboring Gulf nations of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman have taken greater steps. They have allowed churches to be built on land donated by the countries' rulers, though there are no outward signs that the buildings are houses of worship.

On Thursday night, Hinder led a midnight Christmas Eve Mass for several thousand the faithful at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. Reflecting the diversity of the community, more than a dozen Christmas Day services will be held for 10,000 worshippers in at least eight different languages.

The cathedral is in a downtown compound that's also home to Anglican, Greek Orthodox and Egyptian Coptic churches. Crucifixes, icons, rosaries and other religious symbols are allowed within the walled compound. But the buildings' exteriors are spare and flat-roofed, avoiding any church-like architecture.

Besides Saudi Arabia, Hinder also oversees the needs of Catholics in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, and Qatar. The vast majority of the region's Christians are migrants from the Philippines, India and other Asian nations, many of whom work as maids, civil servants or in lower management positions at banks and businesses.

Yemen is the only country under his purview that had indigenous Christians. Except for two priests, however, all of Yemen's 10,000 Christians, most of whom lived around the southern port city of Aden, were driven out during communist rule in South Yemen in the 1960s.

Four old churches are slowly being restored there, though it is not clear how many indigenous Christians have returned, if any.

The first Catholic church in the Gulf was opened in Bahrain's capital, Manama, in 1939. Now there are seven in the UAE, four in Oman, three in Kuwait and one in Qatar, where five churches of other Christian denominations are under construction.

With no indigenous Christians, Gulf nations have long been the toughest in the Middle East in restricting Christian and other non-Muslim religious practices, though they rarely cross the line into outright persecution. In other Arab nations, Christians practice openly - though in Egypt, with the largest Christian minority, they often complain of discrimination at the hands of the Muslim majority.

Hinter said he is careful not to do anything that could be construed as proselytizing or seeking conversions - a major taboo in Islam.

Hinter, who has been in his post for seven years, says members of his flock are tested in areas beyond religion, particularly exploitation by their employers and fear of losing their jobs in the recession. Some are not allowed to attend a church service at all by their employers, who often strictly control the lives of their maids, gardeners, cooks, drivers and nannies.

"Their struggles are enormous," Hinder said. "They are often exploited and sometimes treated as human beings of second class."

The biggest congregation - about 1.4 million Christians - live and work in Saudi Arabia, which is home of Islam's holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, and is ruled under the strict version of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. Hard-core Wahhabis vehemently resist any practice of Christianity or other religions in what they see as the heartland of Islam.

Hinder travels there several times a year, but only as a private citizen, not as an archbishop.

Bibles and crucifixes - and all non-Muslim religious symbols - are illegal and are confiscated at the border. The low-key Christian services that do take place cannot be led by ordained priests, so Catholics cannot attend a Mass or confess their sins.

Still, Hinter said conditions improved somewhat after Saudi King Abdullah visited the Vatican in 2007 and met with Pope Benedict XVI.

Christians now can gather in private houses in small groups for prayer, led by an unordained "community leader," he said.

"The climate is changing, but that does not mean there will be churches in Saudi Arabia tomorrow," he said.

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Tehran Sunday

No wonder Khameini's thinking of hot footing it to Moscow. Hope they nail him and the others and give them the Mussolini treatment first.

God bless and help the protestors.

h/t Jawa


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Cheney the Pit Bull

Weasel Zippers:

Cheney Blasts Obama: "He's Trying to Pretend We're Not at War" With Jihadists, "Why Won't He Admit it?"...

Cheney is just one ass-kicking mother f'er....

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of “trying to pretend we are not at war” with terrorists, pointing to the White House response to the attempted sky bombing as reflecting a pattern that includes banishing the term “war on terror” and attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

“[W]e are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe,” Cheney said in a statement to POLITICO. “Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation—the restructuring of American society.”

Cheney was joining a chorus of Republicans who have criticized Obama following the Christmas Day attack, in which a Nigerian suspect is accused of trying to blow up a loaded airliner with a bomb stitched into his underwear.

Rest here>>>

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Egads

Shades of John Lennon

Hot Air:

Danish magazine: Obama’s greater than Jesus
posted at 4:10 pm on December 29, 2009 by Allahpundit

Think about it. Jesus? The miracle of the loaves and fishes. The One? The miracle of jobs “created or saved.” Jesus? Water into wine. The One? Money from thin air. Jesus? Capable of being everywhere all at once. The One? Ditto. And of course, people have been known to pray to both.

In fairness, to a left-wing atheist, I’d imagine this is a toughie.


Despite all the compromises, it has finally been possible to ensure something so fundamental, as the right of every American not to be financially shipwrecked when their health fails them. Add to that the biggest ever financial support package in America’s history, a major disarmament agreement and the quickest-ever re-establishment of American reputation.

On the other hand, we have Jesus’ miracles that everyone still remembers, but which only benefitted a few. At the same time, we have the wonderful parables about his life and deeds that we know from the New Testament, but which have been interpreted so differently over the past 2000 years that it is impossible to give an unequivocal result of his work.

Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus – if we have to play that absurd Christmas game. But it is probably more meaningful to insist that with today’s domestic triumph, that he has already assured himself a place in the history books – a space he has good chances of expanding considerably in coming years.


Not the first time this comparison’s been made, needless to say. Exit question one: Are they for real or is this just the, er, Danish sense of humor at work? Exit question two: If they are for real, does this mean FDR is greater than Yahweh? Exit question three: On the “greater than” scale, where does this leave The One vis-a-vis the Beatles?


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Somali Arrested at Airport With Chemicals, Syringe

Newsmax:

Wednesday, 30 Dec 2009 08:40 AM

A man tried to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month carrying powdered chemicals, liquid and a syringe that could have caused an explosion in a case bearing chilling similarities to the terrorist plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Somali man — whose name has not yet been released — was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops before the Nov. 13 Daallo Airlines flight took off. It had been scheduled to travel from Mogadishu to the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then to Djibouti and Dubai. A Somali police spokesman, Abdulahi Hassan Barise, said the suspect is in Somali custody.

"We don't know whether he's linked with al-Qaida or other foreign organizations, but his actions were the acts of a terrorist. We caught him red-handed," said Barise.

A Nairobi-based diplomat said the incident in Somalia is similar to the attempted attack on the Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in that the Somali man had a syringe, a bag of powdered chemicals and liquid — tools similar to those used in the Detroit attack. The diplomat spoke on condition he not be identified because he isn't authorized to release the information.

Barigye Bahoku, the spokesman for the African Union military force in Mogadishu, said the chemicals from the Somali suspect could have caused an explosion that would have caused air decompression inside the plane. However, Bahoku said he doesn't believe an explosion would have brought the plane down.

A second international official familiar with the incident, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he isn't authorized to discuss the case, confirmed that the substances carried by the Somali passenger could have been used as an explosive device.

In the Detroit case, alleged attacker Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab hid explosive PETN in a condom or condom-like bag just below his torso when he traveled from Amsterdam to Detroit. Like the captured Somali, Abdulmutallab also had a syringe filled with liquid. The substances seized from the Somali passenger are being tested.

The November incident garnered little attention before the Dec. 25 attack aboard a flight on final approach to Detroit. U.S. officials have now learned of the Somali case and are hastening to investigate any possible links between it and the Detroit attack, though no officials would speak on the record about the probe.

U.S. investigators said Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen — which lies across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. Similarly, large swaths of Somalia are controlled by an insurgent group, al-Shabab, which has ties to al-Qaida.

Western officials say many of the hundreds of foreign jihadi fighters in Somalia come in small boats across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. The officials also say that examination of equipment used in some Somali suicide attacks leads them to believe it was originally assembled in Yemen.

Law enforcement officials believe the suspect in the Detroit incident tried to ignite a two-part concoction of the high explosive PETN and possibly a glycol-based liquid explosive, setting off popping, smoke and some fire but no deadly detonation. Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian national, is charged with trying to destroy an aircraft.

A Somali security official involved in the capture of the suspect in Mogadishu said he had a 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) package of chemical powder and a container of liquid chemicals. The security official said the suspect was the last passenger to try to board.

Once security officials detected the powder chemicals and syringe, the suspect tried to bribe the security team that detained him, the Somali security official said. The security official said the suspect had a white shampoo bottle with a black acid-like substance in it. He also had a clear plastic bag with a light green chalky substance and a syringe containing a green liquid. The security official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

The powdered material had the strong scent of ammonia, Bahoku said, and samples have been sent to London for testing.

The Somali security officials said the Daallo Airlines flight was scheduled to go from Mogadishu to Hargeisa, to Djibouti and then to Dubai.

A spokeswoman for Daallo Airlines said that company officials weren't aware of the incident and would have to seek more information before commenting. Daallo Airlines is based in Dubai and has offices in Djibouti and France.

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PRETEND

THE DICK:

"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core Al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."
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Krauthammer Excoriates Obama

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Sonny Rollins
St. Thomas

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT

The Bad Plus.


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FLIGHT 253: DESCRIPTION OF CHRISTMAS DAY BALL-BOMBER

This young man is articulate in a way our leaders need to be.




"The scariest part of the whole experience was looking into the eyes of the person I had thought, at that time, had just sealed my death warrant and to see no emotion, not even anger or fear, just a blank expression, a blank stare, in the face of this unbelievable evil that he was attempting to commit against all these innocent people."
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Tuesday Nooner!

Cassandra Wilson
Easy Rider Blues

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DING DONG! THE WITCH IS ALMOST DEAD


From Gateway:

A letter published on the Iranian websites claims that Ayatollah Khamenei is planning a possible escape to Russia.

There were rumors floating around yesterday that Ayatollah Khamenei was preparing to flee Iran.
Today Planet Iran posted a letter written on the official Islamic Regime letterhead that discusses Khamenei’s possible to escape to Russia.

Iran Global website has exposed a document that discloses information on Khamenei and various authorities of the regime’s possible escape to Russia.

The document is on the National Security Agency of the Islamic regime’s letterhead addressed from the office of the High Assembly of the Islamic Republic’s National Security official [name is redacted] to an individual [name redacted] in the revolutionary guards. The letter is dated 6th of Dey (December 27th).

It reads:

Re: Response to a letter number [redacted] written on the 5th of Dey (December 26th).

Salam Aleykom

With respect, we would like to inform you of the inspection, check up and preparation of the aircraft, destination Russia, for the purpose of transporting the Supreme Leader, his esteemed family and various officials of the Revolutionary Guards. Should the commanding forces lose control, direct your attention to the attached permit, number [redacted] of the National Security Agency and the Bureau of Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Security in order for the necessary steps to be taken.

Va al-salam

Office of the high assembly of the Islamic Republic’s national security

Commander, Brigadier-General, Revolutionary Guard

Stamped by Secretary General of the High Assembly of the Islamic Republic’s National Security

Stamped by Dr. Saeed Jalili

CC: [redacted]

In related news, regime critic Ayatollah Mohsen Kadivar, currently a visiting research professor at America’s Duke University, says he is convinced the regime will fall.



Meanwhile, our President DITHERS:

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The Art Therapy Didn't Work, Huh?

From this article at ABC News:
Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.

Former Guantanamo Prisoners Believed Behind Northwest Airlines Bomb Plot; Sent to Saudi Arabia in 2007

By BRIAN ROSS, JOSEPH RHEE and REHAB EL-BURI

Dec. 28, 2009 —

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials....

Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.

Both Saudi nationals have since emerged in leadership roles in Yemen, according to U.S. officials and the men's own statements on al Qaeda propaganda tapes.

Both of the former Guantanamo detainees are described as military commanders and appear on a January, 2009 video along with the man described as the top leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, Abu Basir Naser al-Wahishi, formerly Osama bin Laden's personal secretary....
What the hell did they do in art rehab? Design special underwear for jihadists?

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WHITEWASHING THE BLACK PANTHERS: OBAMA AND HOLDER FIRE THE DOJ SECTION HEAD WHO BROUGHT THE CASE AGAINST THE BLACK PANTHERS

From Reliapundit, the Astute Blogger:
THEY DROPPED THE BLACK PANTHER CASE IN JUNE.
NOW, THEY'VE "TRANSFERRED" THE DOJ SECTION CHIEF WHO BROUGHT THE CHARGES!

UNBELIEVABLE. IMPEACHABLE. HOLDER THAT IS. AND THEN BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA.

AND TO TOP IT OFF, IT WAS ONLY REPORTED BY 6 MEDIA OUTLETS.

NOT A SINGLE ONE A MAJOR MSM PLAYER:

Justice transfers Panthers pursuer out of DC office

Washington Times - Jerry Seper - ‎49 minutes ago‎
The veteran Justice Department voting rights section chief who recommended going forward on a civil complaint against ...

Obama Black Panther coverup goes further with dismissal of career attorney

Examiner.com - Eric Holder - ‎11 hours ago‎
AP Wire Photo Veteran Civil Rights Division attorney Christopher Coates is no longer chief of the Voting Section, according to the division's Web site. ...

Justice Department Subpoenaed In New Black Panther Voter Intimidation Case

Personal Liberty Digest - ‎20 hours ago‎
The US Civil Rights Commission recently subpoenaed the Justice Department in an effort to understand why they dropped charges in May against three members ...


He added, "I have written Attorney General [Eric] Holder on six occasions asking for an explanation for the dismissal of this case. To date, I have received no response from him."
more by Frank Wolf - 20 hours ago - Personal Liberty Digest (5 occurrences)


Black Panther case: Has a head rolled?

Washington Examiner (blog) - David Freddoso - ‎22 hours ago‎
Main Justice reports that Christopher Coates, head of the Justice Department's voting rights division, has been removed from his post and replaced. ...

Voting Section Chief Out Amid Controversy

Main Justice - Ryan J. Reilly - ‎Dec 27, 2009‎
Veteran Civil Rights Division attorney Christopher Coates is no longer chief of the Voting Section, according to the ...

Blogs

DOJ Voting rights chief fired. Prosecuted New Black Panthers

American Thinker (blog) - Clarice Feldman - ‎13 hours ago‎
Main Justice.com reports there's been an unceremonial removal from office of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights Section chief, Christopher Coates. ...
ACE:

He wasn't fired outright; just transferred due to "controversies" he caused. And frictions with the leadership of this unit, which apparently didn't like having the voter intimidation division investigating actual voter intimidation.

Good Lord. They don't even care. They don't even care.

I guess you can afford not to care when the media's biggest FAQ is "how might I better pleasure you, Master?"

REFRESHER:

FNC's O'Reilly Interviews Liberal Attorney Who Witnessed Black Panther Voter Intimidation

On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, host Bill O’Reilly interviewed liberal civil rights attorney Bartle Bull about the Justice Department’s recent decision to drop charges against Black Panther members who engaged in voter intimidation in Philadelphia polling place last November. Bull – who worked for both Robert F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter – was an eyewitness to some of the intimidation, and charged that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision not to pursue the case was "100 percent politically motivated."

VIDEO:


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Iran hacks Predator feeds? Pentagon rxn? "Every capability comes with its ... disadvantages"

More on this UTTER, COMPLETE, TOTAL FIASCO first brought public by DANGER ROOM:

U.S. learns Iran has been intercepting Predator feeds for past year

WASHINGTON -- U.S. military officials said Iran has acquired or developed systems that could hack the software on advanced U.S. UAVs, including the Predator.

They said Iranian operatives used off-the-shelf software to intercept Predator UAV feeds, which allowed Teheran to monitor U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

A U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile sets off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in November. AFP/Bonny Schoonakker

"Those kinds of things are subject to listening and exploitation," U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula said.

"Not if they are encrypted", said local putz and know nothing Epaminondas

Deptula, head of the air force's UAV program, said the MQ-1 Predator and other advanced unmanned platforms were employing payloads deemed vulnerable to hackers. He cited a new reconnaissance payload, "Gorgon Stare," designed to enable a UAV to simultaneously relay 10 video feeds.

The Iranian interception of U.S. UAV feeds has taken place for more than a year, officials said. In late 2008, U.S. troops captured an Iranian-backed Shi'ite operative in Iraq whose laptop computer contained files of Predator UAV videos.

Officials said Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has supplied systems to its operatives in Iraq to monitor U.S. UAVs. They said the Iranian-backed operatives, from Hizbullah, Mahdi Army, Special Groups and other Shi'ite militias, were employing the SkyGrabber program to intercept Predator video relays. SkyGrabber, designed in Russia, has been advertised on the Internet for less than $30.

"There is evidence that the same software could be used to intercept communications from our fighter-jets," an official said.

The U.S. military has not ruled out that Iran could relay the same software and techniques to Islamist insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan. Officials have acknowledged that Iran was providing support to Taliban, which has become significantly more effective against NATO forces over the last 18 months.

"I'm especially angry that people at the Pentagon knew this was a vulnerability going back to the 1990s and they didn't do anything," Rep. Jim Langevin, a Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said.

"They didn't think our adversaries would figure it out. So, you've got people from Third World countries who've figured out a way to hack into our systems. That greatly disturbs me."

Officials said the Defense Department ordered the air force and army to examine the vulnerability of UAV reconnaissance payloads to hackers. But they said the development of effective encryption counter-measures could take up to five years

Local know nothing Epaminondas retorted that for several hundred dollars per drone the video feeds could have been made unreadable in about 3 months with effort.

"Every capability comes with its advantages, disadvantages, benefits as well as potential weaknesses," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.


We're doomed. These people are simply INEFFECTIVE SECOND RATERS WHO WILL ACCEPT FAILURE AND EXCUSE IT


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And then I read "WHO IS JOHN GALT?" in sharpie on the dollar bill

From the TIMES UK article on resistance and rioting in Iran:

There's the currency campaign, for starters. Thousands of rial notes have been stamped with a simple green "V" for victory. Others bear handwritten slogans that echo the public chants denouncing the regime. Some have even been reprinted with pictures: one is a cartoon of President Ahmadinejad with "people's enemy" written underneath. Another carries a picture from the mobile phone images of Neda Agha Soltan as she lay dying on the street from a sniper's bullet. Underneath is written "death to the dictator" -- a common public chant against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The currency campaign even denounces the regime's foreign policy. "Khamenei the non-believer is the servant of [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin," declares one slogan, written in green, on a 20,000-rial note. Another chastises: "They stole money and give it to [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez." Some messages simply appeal for others to join the campaign to write anti-regime messages on one billion banknotes. The Government reportedly tried to take the marked notes out of circulation, but found there were too many to replace.

READ THIS WHOLE ARTICLE

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Only CAPTION THIS can make you laugh when you can't

one-more-gulag-shot.jpg

The first group of Americans who refuse to purchase health care insurance
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Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.

Brian Ross ABC:
Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.
mushroom-clown-ps3.jpg

All man caused disaster attempters and those who don't understand the Quran is a document of peace please report for assignment of a US Supreme Court Justice as personal legal adviser, and to pick out your menus for your brief stay with us.
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WaPo Slams the Obama Administration's "Disturbingly Defensive" Reaction to Flight 253 Bomb Plot...

OUR PRESIDENT SAID THIS:

“In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans … have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging ... I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”


This is what you'd call "bipartisan support" for Obama's asshattery....

THE THWARTED Christmas Day airplane bombing raises three causes for alarm. First, it illustrates a screening system that remains porous enough to let a suspect board with the same explosive shoe-bomber Richard Reid attempted to use in 2001. Second, it exposes a terrorism bureaucracy too clumsy to catapult the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, at least to a higher level of preflight scrutiny after his father came forward with warnings that he might pose a danger. Third, if it is true that the suspect received explosives training from al-Qaeda in Yemen, the incident underscores the emergence of that troubled nation as a training ground for terrorists. To that initial list, we would add a fourth: the disturbingly defensive reaction of the Obama administration.

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Miles Davis
Joshua

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First There Was Hanoi Jane now There's Tehran Johnny

Of Course, the difference is, he has Obamal Blessing:

Hot Air:

Kerry to go to Iran
posted at 10:55 am on December 24, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Iranian people have gone into the streets once again to protest against the tyranny of the mullahs after the death of dissident cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri. The Iranian government fears the reaction enough to ban any more memorials for Montazeri after protests erupted in Qom. Will the Obama administration finally show some support for Iranian opposition and refuse to grant any legitimacy to the mullahcracy, which has also defied global calls for an end to its nuclear-weapons program?

Nope:

Sen. John Kerry has suggested becoming the first high-level U.S. emissary to make a public visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, a move White House officials say they won’t oppose.
The offer comes as mass protests against Iran’s regime are resurfacing and a U.S.-imposed deadline nears to broach international sanctions against Iran.

“This sounds like the kind of travel a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee would — and should — undertake,” said a White House official, adding it would be at Sen. Kerry’s own behest. …

The Obama administration hasn’t decided whether to make Sen. Kerry its official representative if he goes, but as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Kerry can visit if the White House and Tehran both approve.


How do opposition leaders view this visit? As a betrayal, and as an endorsement for tyrants:

Many opponents of Tehran’s regime oppose such a visit, fearing it would lend
legitimacy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a time when his government is
under continuing pressure from protests and opposition figures. Hundreds of
thousands of demonstrators took to the streets again this week to voice their
opposition to the government following the death of a reformist cleric.

Well, what do they know? Let’s ask the peace activists, the ones who believe that talking always solves problems. Surely this idea will get them excited, especially coming from the Hope and Change administration, right? Right?

“We’ve eschewed high-level visits to Iran for the last 30 years. I think now — when the Iranian regime’s fate is less certain than ever — is not the best time to begin,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“The wrong message would be sent to the Iranian people by such a high-level visit: The U.S. loves dictatorial regimes,” said Hossein Askari, a professor at George Washington University and former adviser to Iranian governments.

In other words, everyone outside of the White House and Magic Hat Land agree that this would be a bad idea.

The truth is that we don’t have any good options on Iran and its nuclear-weapon program. Sanctions won’t work, because the Russians and the Chinese conduct too much trade with Iran. The Chinese won’t agree to them, and the Russians will cheat to get around them. Military strikes sound good, but Iran has significant military capabilities of its own that can hit us in Iraq, the Straits of Hormuz, and throughout the Persian Gulf — and Iran has dispersed its nuclear program to avoid having it destroyed by airstrikes. Invasion would be almost impossible, thanks to the terrain and the 72 million Iranians that would resist it.

The best option we have in dealing with the Iranian nuclear and terrorist threats is regime change. Replacing the radical mullahs with almost anything else would improve the situation,
and a popular uprising that replaced the theocracy with a secular republic

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"That old pump gun loaded with buckshot stashed in the back of a coat closet"

Human Events:

The Duty of Self-Defense
by Jed Babbin
Posted 12/28/2009 ET

Handguns and concealed carry permits. Mace. Tasers. Faithful watch dogs. That old pump gun loaded with buckshot stashed in the back of a coat closet. These are the things conservatives invest in to defend our families, our homes, and ourselves.

But they are merely tools. Self-defense -- as the passengers of Delta-Northwest Flight 253 proved on Christmas Day -- starts with situational awareness and the willingness to act. And, as they also proved, it’s not just a right: it’s a duty.

Situational awareness is a term I learned from the fly-guys. When you’re hurtling along at 1000 miles an hour, knowing where you are (and where you need to be) in relationship to the ground and every other aircraft isn’t a matter of passing interest, it’s a matter of life and death. It’s the same thing for drivers, especially those who are talking on the cell phone while smoking a cigar and driving a car with a six-speed manual transmission.

Being on an airliner or a train is pretty much the opposite, especially at the end of a long trip. On a long transatlantic flight -- even in business class -- all you want to do is get off the doggone plane, get through customs and home to that waiting hot shower. You’re not thinking about someone seated a few rows in front of you who has a bomb concealed in his underwear.

That’s not your problem, right? They screen everyone, the highly-trained Federal Air Marshals are on board -- undercover -- and ready to spring into action.

But what if they’re not? What if you’re departing from a high-risk airport such as Amsterdam’s Schipol, with a young Nigerian man aboard whose explosives go undetected? And what if there are no watchful FAMs aboard? It’s not only your problem: it’s the problem of every person on that aircraft.

For all the inconveniences we go through -- for all the blue-haired Norwegian grannies who are practically strip-searched regularly at the airports -- our security people seem to be unable to stop even the crude kind of attack attempted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
on Christmas Day.

No sentient being could have been comforted by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s ABC TV appearance on Sunday morning. No matter the question, she stuck to her mantra of how the system reacted perfectly to the attack, impervious to the question of why the system didn’t interdict it. She said in-flight aircraft were warned, the crew of Flight 253 reacted well and so forth. But she evaded every substantive question Jake Tapper asked.

Tapper asked questions -- ranging from why Abdulmutallab wasn’t prevented from getting on the flight to why DHS has spent billions on new technologies but hasn’t yet fielded one of them -- and Napolitano ducked every one.

Congressional Republicans should be asking Napolitano some pointy-type questions right now. Such as:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father apparently reported him to the embassy in Lagos, saying he'd turned radical. Who shared that information and with whom? Was there any follow-up?

2. What is the function of the so-called “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment,” which listed Abdulmatullab, other than to keep DHS bureaucrats employed?

3. What does it take to be promoted from the “TIDE” list to the “no-fly” list?

4. Abdulmutallab has apparently claimed that Yemeni al-Queda planned the attack and provided him with the means. Are those claims true?

5. What preventive actions are being taken while Abdulmutallab’s claims are being investigated?

6. In light of Abdulmutallab’s claims, will the administration delay or cancel plans to release some Gitmo inmates to Yemen?

7. The flight reportedly had no Federal Air Marshals aboard. Why? Schipol is notoriously lax in security.

8. How much has Homeland Security spent on new passenger and baggage-screening technologies? What do we have to show for it?

Which brings us back to our personal dilemma: we can either stop flying -- which we mustn’t do -- or we can take personally our duty to defend ourselves and our fellow passengers in the air.

TSA shouldn’t panic: no one is advocating sneaking weapons aboard or punching every suspicious person in the gut. But what I am saying is that our right of self defense is also a duty and it has to be undertaken seriously.

We have to be aware, and we have to be willing. How many of us would have reacted as did Jasper Schuringa, the brave Dutch filmmaker who jumped over other passengers to subdue Abdulmutallab and put the underwear fire out? Too few, I’d guess.

And think about this: but for the reported facts that the terrorist apparently had too little of the explosive on him to do much more than hurt himself (about 80 grams, some two-tenths of a pound) and that a detonator failed, Schuringa’s leap might have just taken him through a big hole in the fuselage. Had Abdulmutallab and his commanders not been incompetent, the attack could easily have succeeded. The question now, as always, is when do you act?

It is always thus for those willing to defend themselves. You cannot just punch someone in the nose because they look odd, or even if they have odd mannerisms. Who among us hasn’t muttered something entirely impolite at someone bashing into him with an oversized carry on, or at another uninformative delay announcement? I readily confess to both.

But there are big differences between the ever-increasing indignities of air travel and a real threat to your life. Someone putting too much milk in his coffee isn’t a danger: someone spreading the contents of a little shampoo bottle over that cast on his arm probably is. And anyone who's trying to set himself on fire needs to be doused and restrained enthusiastically. (Don't forget that situational awareness thing. While you're dealing with Perp #1, do encourage your rowmates to look for others).

In the end, you have to decide for yourself. Being alert to your fellow passengers -- and willing to react with physical force -- is part of your common-law right of self-defense. And in the air, it’s not just our right: it’s our duty.

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Taken With Calling the Ambassadors Home, Barak May be Hinting At Something

Newsmax:

Israeli Defense Chief: Iran Can Build Bomb by 2011
Monday, 28 Dec 2009 07:55

Israel Radio reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Iran will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb early next year and will be able to produce one in 2011.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered this assessment before the Israeli parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee.

The Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report, and a Barak spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

Israel rejects Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not bombs. It has lobbied for tough sanctions against Iran and has not ruled out a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran is under pressure from its domestic opposition and the West to suspend key parts of its nuclear program.

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Napolitano Concedes Airline Security System Failed

Nappy dithering now, too. Guess the system didn' quite work as it was supposed to.

Newsmax:

Monday, 28 Dec 2009 08:53

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano conceded Monday that the aviation security system failed when a young man on a watch list with a U.S. visa in his pocket and a powerful explosive hidden on his body was allowed to board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

The Obama administration has ordered investigations into the two areas of aviation security — how travelers are placed on watch lists and how passengers are screened — as critics questioned how the 23-year-old Nigerian man charged in the airliner attack was allowed to board the Dec. 25 flight.

A day after saying the system worked, Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context.

"Our system did not work in this instance," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

The White House press office, traveling with President Barack Obama in Hawaii, said early Monday that the president would make a statement from the Kaneoho Marine Base in the morning. White House spokesman Bill Burton did not elaborate.

Billions of dollars have been spent on aviation security since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when commercial airliners were hijacked and used as weapons. Much of that money has gone toward training and equipment that some security experts say could have detected the explosive device that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is accused of hiding on his body on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Abdulmutallab is accused of trying to detonate the device as the plane approached Detroit. The device burst into flames instead, and passengers subdued him, authorities said. The plane landed safely.

Abdulmutallab paid cash on Dec. 16 for the $2,831 round-trip ticket from Lagos, Nigeria, to Detroit via Amsterdam, said Harold Demuren, the head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Abdulmutallab's ticket came from a KLM office in Accra, Ghana, he said.

Abdulmutallab checked into his flight with only a small carryon bag, Demuren said .

On Sunday, Napolitano said, "One thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked." On Monday, she said she was referring to the system of notifying other flights as well as law enforcement on the ground about the incident soon after it happened.

The top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee took issue with Napolitano's initial assessment.

Airport security "failed in every respect," Rep. Peter King of New York said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's not reassuring when the secretary of Homeland Security says the system worked."

Investigators are piecing together Abdulmutallab's brazen attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Dec. 25. He tucked below his waist a small bag holding his potentially deadly concoction of liquid and powder explosive material, law enforcement officials say.

Abdulmutallab had been placed in a U.S. database of people suspected of terrorist ties in November, but there was not enough information about his activity that would place him on a watch list that could have kept him from flying.

However, British officials placed Abdulmutallab's name on a U.K. watch list after he was refused a student visa in May.

British police and security services are looking at whether Abdulmutallab was radicalized in Britain, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said.

Abdulmutallab received a degree in engineering and business finance from University College London last year and later applied to re-enter Britain to study at another institution. He was refused entry because officials suspected the school was not genuine, so they put his name on the list, Johnson said Monday.

People on the list can transit through the U.K. but cannot enter the country, he said.

Officials said he came to the attention of U.S. intelligence last month when his father, Alhaji Umar Mutallab, a prominent Nigerian banker, reported to the American Embassy in Nigeria about his son's increasingly extremist religious views.

In a statement released Monday morning, Abdulmutallab's family in Nigeria said that, after his "disappearance and stoppage of communications while schooling abroad," his father reached out to Nigerian security agencies two months ago. The statement says the father then approached foreign security agencies for "their assistance to find and return him home."

"It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day," the family statement said.

The statement did not offer any specifics on where Abdulmutallab had been.

Abdulmutallab's success in smuggling and partially igniting the material on Friday's flight prompted the Obama administration to promise a sweeping review of aviation security, even as the Homeland Security secretary defended the system.

The government will investigate its systems for placing suspicious travelers on watch lists and for detecting explosives before passengers board flights, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Both lines of defense were breached in an improbable series of events Christmas Day that spanned three continents and culminated in a struggle and fire aboard a Northwest jet shortly before its safe landing in Detroit. Law enforcement officials believed the suspect tried to ignite a two-part concoction of the high explosive PETN and possibly a glycol-based liquid explosive, setting off popping, smoke and some fire but no deadly detonation.

An apparent malfunction the detonation device appears to have been all that saved the 278 passengers and the crew aboard Northwest Flight 253. No undercover air marshal was on board, and passengers and crew subdued the suspect when he tried to set off the explosion. He succeeded only in starting a fire on himself.

Airport "puffer" machines that blow air on a passenger to collect and analyze residues probably would have detected the powder, as would bomb-sniffing dogs or a hands-on search using a swab, security experts said. Most passengers in airports go through only magnetometers, which detect metal rather than explosives.

Abdulmutallab was treated for burns and was released Sunday to a prison 50 miles outside of Detroit.

Stiffer boarding measures have met passengers at gates since Friday, and authorities warned travelers to expect extra delays returning home from holidays.

Adding to the airborne jitters, authorities detained a man, also from Nigeria, who locked himself in the bathroom on Sunday's Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam as it was about to land in Detroit. Investigators concluded he posed no threat.

Despite the government's decision after the attempted Friday attack to mobilize more air marshals, none was on the Sunday flight from Amsterdam, according to a government report obtained by The Associated Press.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Northwest 253 Passenger Says Flight Was Videotaped

A passenger on Northwest (Delta) flight #253 Christmas Day is claiming that the entire flight was videotaped by an unidentified man seated several rows behind the would-be bomber.

Oconomowoc Family Survives Terrorist Attempt
By Jay Sorgi
Story Created: Dec 28, 2009

(Story Updated: Dec 28, 2009 )

MILWAUKEE - "I would just like to know how to get to Ethiopia by boat."

Patricia "Scotty" Keepman still has a sense of humor after the harrowing experience she, her husband, daughter and two new adopted children from Ethiopia had as a man tried to detonate an explosive device while their plane was getting ready to land in Detroit on Christmas Day.

[...]

They were sitting about 20 rows behind Abdulmutallab, in a center aisle with her husband and daughter a row ahead of her and their two new adopted children, a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy.

Her daughter said that ahead of them was a man who videotaped the entire flight, including the attempted detonation.

"He sat up and videotaped the entire thing, very calmly," said Patricia. "We do know that the FBI is looking for him intensely. Since then, we've heard nothing about it."


"We heard what sounded like an electrical pop to me. Everybody looked above their seats, kind of like startled, panicked. Shortly thereafter, we heard the screams. We could not see what was going on. We were too far back. We heard shouting, and you could hear the mayhem happening.

At that point, two flight attendants ran at full speed to get fire extinguishers.




There's lots more but the money quote is highlighted in red.

Only sketchy coverage of this story appears to be available at this point, so neither the credibility of this witness or whether this is actually being investigated by the FBI is confirmed at this point.

However, if the story is accurate, one can think of several reasons for a passenger "calmly" videotaping an entire transatlantic flight, including a violent confrontation involving fire breaking out on the aircraft, such as having nothing better to do and not understanding the situation. The most disturbing question is why would the accomplice of a suicide bomber bother to videotape a flight that is supposed to end in detonation of a bomb?

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