2006-06-08

Morning Report: June 8, 2006

He's dead, Jim. Al-Qaeda's head man in Iraq gets his virgins, thanks to a US air attack. Meanwhile, a proposed constitutional amendment dies a quick death in Washington.

Zarqawi killed in US attack. Debka: 'DEBKAfile Exclusive: Al Qaeda has already named Abdallah Bin Rashid al Baghdadi, head of its shura council in Iraq, as Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s successor. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reveal Western intelligence agencies dealing with terrorists in the region know nothing about the new man. Al Qaeda has already vowed to fight on after Zarqawi’s death in a statement on its web site. DEBKAfile discloses: Zarqawi’s death leaves Wariya Arbili as the most senior al Qaeda player in Iraq. He is chief of al Qaeda’s second largest affiliate in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna, an organization which controls large tracts of the country - especially in parts of Kurdistan - with a foothold in Kirkuk and Mosul as well as Tal Afar to the north and sections of the Sunni triangle. Earlier, DEBKAfile disclosed: Zarqawi’s death leaves Wariya Arbili as the most senior al Qaeda player in Iraq. He is chief of al Qaeda’s second largest affiliate in Iraq, Ansar al-Sunna, an organization which controls large tracts of the country - especially in parts of Kurdistan - with a foothold in Kirkuk and Mosul as well as Tal Afar to the north and sections of the Sunni triangle. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources reveal that a quarrel which flared recently between Arbili and Zarqawi led to Osama bin Laden naming a new worldwide operations chief with authority over both. He is an Iraqi from the north, known only by his nom de guerre, Abdulhadi al-Iraqi, and he replaces Abu Farj al-Libi who was captured by Pakistani forces. Bin Laden’s choice of an indigenous Iraqi ops chief pointed to the high importance the al Qaeda leader attaches to the Iraq warfront for the future of his organization. Abdulhadi now faces the urgent task of bringing order to al Qaeda’s ranks, which are packed with foreign adherents, and Iraqi affiliates to avert a bloody power struggle among commanders.' Pajamas Media has the definitive round-up, including Richard Fernandez' interview with Omar of Iraq the Model. (Debka, PJM)

US Senate makes short work of anti-gay marriage amendment. The anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment recently backed by President Bush would have had to earn 67 of the Senate's 100 votes just to clear that first hurdle; in fact, it couldn't even muster a simple majority when the Senate voted on it this week. Log Cabin Republicans:
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected an anti-family constitutional amendment for the second time in two years. "The U.S. Senate gave a resounding defeat to the voices of intolerance who are trying to use the Constitution as a political tool," said Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero. "Momentum is on our side as a growing conservative force stands up in defense of the core American values of equality, liberty, and federalism."

"This vote shows growing momentum to defend our U.S. Constitution," said Guerriero. "Supporters of this amendment couldn't even get 50 Senators supporting the procedural vote. It's laughable to say this amendment is gaining support. It takes 67 votes to pass this amendment and more than half of the Senate has said they couldn't support this on an up or down vote."

As many as a dozen Republican Senators voiced reservations about the amendment. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) led the Republican voices speaking out against this proposal. Quoting former GOP Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), a staunch defender of federalism, Specter said, "Government ought to be kept off our backs, out of our pocketbooks and out of our bedrooms." Specter said, "This is a matter which ought to be left to the states."

Republicans voting against the amendment were:
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Sen. John Sununu (R-NH)
Basic Rights Oregon notes that 'as expected, Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR] voted against it, while Sen. Gordon Smith [R-OR] voted for this discriminatory measure.' (LCR, BRO)

Commentary. Morning Report turns the analysis over to Tammy Bruce: 'Now you can add a very good reason to eat chocolate ice cream today...'