Morning Report: September 12, 2005

Katrina update. At the time of this posting, the known death toll from Hurricane Katrina is 426, according to media sources. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore predicted Sunday that the toll would be "a heck of a lot lower" than the 10,000 figure initially claimed by Mayor Nagin and repeated uncritically by the MSM. In the blogosphere, Nykola has some thoughts on the value of life. Judith at Kesher Talk notes the Democrats' continuing obsession with big government and cites one reason the President may have been reluctant to intervene in New Orleans: '… for those assuming Bush should have over-ruled the governor and declared an insurrection or riot and federalized the National Guard. If you take a look at your various home-owner’s, and I believe auto and flood insurance policies, most of them have disclaimer’s that allow the insurance companies to avoid paying damages in the case of riot or insurrection. So if a president does do this he is screwing alot of people out of money from their insurance companies.' (various)

Tal Afar offensive draws panicked threats from Zarqawi. Debka reports that Zarqawi's terrorist organization has threatened chemical attacks in response to an Iraqi-US offensive on an enemy stronghold in Tal Afar: 'US forces in Iraq and Baghdad threatened with a chemical attack unless they halt Tal Afar offensive in 24 hours. The threat was issued by the “Organization of the Victorious” linked to Abu Musab al Zarqawi. The chemical agent was described as self-produced by the group. The statement was released at the same moment as the Ground Zero ceremony was held in commemoration of the victims of al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington four years ago. The US military reports 141 terrorists killed in Tal Afar and 211 captured with arms caches since the offensive was launched by thousands of troops at the end of the August. They expect it to be over by Sept. 15.' The Belmont Club has this analysis of Tal Afar: 'What's different about the Tal-Afar operation is that the Iraqi government is taking the lead. *Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, announced the start of the offensive in a statement yesterday morning. "At 2am today, acting on my orders, Iraqi forces commenced an operation to remove all remaining terrorist elements from the city of Tel Afar," he said. "These forces are operating with support from the Multinational Force."* ... Apart from the military effect of the current operation, it sends the message to insurgents that these may be the first of the post-occupation crackdowns by the Iraqi government. Because the Iraqi government is dominated by Shi'ites and Kurds, not only for demographic reasons but because of the insurgency's policy of nonparticipation in the political process started by the US, there are fears that sectarian fighting in Iraq may degenerate into a civil war leading to the breakup of the country. Mounting Iraqi-led operations while there are still very large numbers of American forces in- country restrains sectarian elements from going on a rampage. It also has the advantage of putting the Syrians on notice that the new Iraqi government, which the Ba'athists are increasingly unlikely to recapture, is taking steps to maintain its territorial integrity. Given another year the new Iraqi government may come to regard the Syrian-supported infiltration as a cassus belli -- not necessarily, but the threat is there.' Read Wretchard's full post at the link. See also Iraq The Model on Tal Afar: 'Al-Arabiya TV has breaking news about the operations in Tal-Afar saying that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is threatening to use chemical weapons!! Al-Arabiya says that the announcement was posted on a website that belongs to a "militant group calling themselves the army of the victorious sect". The terrorists threatened to "use nonconventional and chemical weapons against Iraqi and American troops if they don't withdraw from Tal-Afar". It's worth mentioning that this terror group was mentioned in the news for the 1st time after they claimed responsibility for the mortar attacks on the shrine of Imam Kadhum on the same day of the tragic stampede on the Aima bridge in Baghdad.' (Debka, Belmont Club, ITM)

TMG: Terrorism for its own sake. Does a religious creed provide the primary motive for terrorists - or does it provide a mechanism of "absolution" for serial killers? Kat explores this question in this examination of the motives of terrorists and other serial killers: 'One aspect that has not been fully explored is the concept that some, if not many, terrorists' personal motivations for perpetrating terrorist acts are not motivated by lofty ideas or causes, but by the acts themselves: terrorism for the sake of terrorism. We have examples of this concept on the individual level. Serial killers and sexual predators have very similar motives for their pursuit of their idea of "pleasure". In fact, the study of serial killers and sexual predators in history may well lend to the ability to evaluate and predict certain actions on the part of terrorists. Serial killers and sexual predators always select the weakest to prey upon. This is usually because the predator personally feels weak, psychologically and sometimes physically. ... Power is it's own drug and the power of instilling fear has long term resonating impact on both the victim and the perpetrator. The final power is the power of life and death over the victim. Some have reported feeling god-like in the control of the act. For some terrorists, this is their motivation.' Kat goes on to examine the question of countering terrorism: 'While it is difficult to stop a serial killer, it is not impossible. By countering or mitigating their motivation, or over confidence or by the simple need for the killer to achieve ever greater psychological thrills and satisfaction from their acts, they eventually make mistakes that lead to their capture or death. Part of the motivation is also the game; the need for the killer to feel superior to his (sometimes "her") pursuer which leads to taunting through letters, videos and other media.' Read the full post at the link. (The Middle Ground)