2006-06-30

Morning Report: June 30, 2006

Perspectives on Gaza. Analysts discuss what Israel must do in Gaza and beyond.

Aaron Lerner: Cease-fire means harder future. Aaron Lerner, via IMRA: 'Prime Minister Olmert claims that there were periods before the retreat in which the incidents of Qassams were worse than since the retreat. But the reason that there was so much activity wasn't because the IDF couldn't stop the rockets at the time. It was because the politicians didn't let them. Besides halting Defensive Shield, the politicians kept dropping ongoing security measures. Roadblocks with vehicle inspection at key points on the road traversing the Gaza Strip were supposed to play a critical role in controlling the flow of rockets and weapons in the Strip, for example, but the politicians consistently pulled the inspections within days of an attack - only to "close the barn door" after another attack. Since the retreat the entire Gaza Strip the situation is even worse as it has become essentially one big terror training camp.' Lerner argues that the enemy's ability to engage Israel in a costly war of attrition has been growing, and that the time to act decisively is now. (IMRA)

Jed Babbin: Regional problems, regional solutions. Jed Babbin in RealClearPolitics: 'Israel can never settle the Palestinian problem by dealing only with the Palestinians just as we cannot ever settle Iraq's problems by dealing only with Iraqis. Because Israel's neighbors, and Iraq's, are the sources of their problems, so they must be the focus of the solutions. They are regional problems. If they are not solved throughout the region, they will not be solved at all.' This is precisely what Dreams Into Lightning has been saying all along. Babbin further argues that the Gaza withdrawal might have been workable under Sharon, but "Olmert is no Sharon" and Gaza became Hamastan - an incubator for terrorism. Read the whole thing at the link. (RealClearPolitics)

Yossi Klein Halevi: Tactical weakness, strategic strength. Israpundit reprints Yossi Klein Halevi: 'Our obsession with hostages is a tactical weakness but a strategic strength. It allows terrorists a stunning psychological advantage: With a single random kidnapping, they hold an entire society emotionally hostage. Strategically, though, hostage-taking only strengthens Israeli resolve. And resolve is precisely what the public now expects of its government.' Halevi notes that 'Hamas’s adoption of the tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq comes as no surprise' given Hamas' openly pro-al-Qaeda stance, although the 'international media missed the significance of that moment.' (Why are we not surprised?) Watch for the media to get all excited over a "prisoners' document" - a blueprint for the destruction of Israel. Full article at the link. (Israpundit)

Gaza strikes hit Hamas targets. Debka: 'Israel warplanes pound southern Gaza Strip Friday after more than 20 overnight strikes across the territory. Missiles hit the office of Hamas interior minister Sayid Siyam and Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades building, as well as munitions stores and roads and spaces used to launch Qassam rockets against Israel.' (Debka)

Commentary. Israel must act decisively in Gaza; but that is not all that must be done. As long as Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories remains a military necessity, Israel's enemies abroad will use the territories to drain Israel's strenght and launch attacks on the Jewish state. Yesterday's flyover of Bashar Assad's residence was a reminder to all concerned of what Israel could do, if it chose to. As Michael Totten put it, 'He only continues to breathe because Israel feels like letting him continue to breathe.'

Israel and its allies - that'd be the United States - need to make some choices about taking the battle to the enemy. We need to start asking ourselves questions about who gets to continue to breathe.

"We do not want to see them get married."

Via Neo, Reginald Bohannon explains a key element of conservative beliefs and principles:
... even if you're going to remain a Democrat, do not give up on your conservative beliefs and principles. Just like with gay marriage -- blacks know gays, we have them in our families -- we love gays, but by and large, we do not want to see them get married.

Reginald Bohannon loves me! I'm all giddy. He loves me so much, he doesn't want to see me get married. Reggie, sugar, I am touched by your jealous streak. But really ... I am SO not your type.

Now of course, a lot of gay couples I know are already married. Not that the State recognizes it, necessarily, but they had a solemn commitment ceremony in a house of worship - a.k.a., a marriage - and they've gone about the whole business of loving and supporting and being faithful. Something must be done!

Fortunately, Reginald Bohannon has his "conservative beliefs and principles". (After all, he's "come out of the closet" as a conservative, and yes, Reginald, I'm just tickled to death that you borrowed that metaphor.) So if he "doesn't want to see gays get married", what are his options?

Well, he could try keeping his eyes closed, but I suspect that's not what he has in mind. I think he actually wants to stop gay folks from marrying each other. So, let's pass a law!

First, we've got to make domestic partnerships illegal. So, according to Reginald Bohannon's conservative beliefs and principles, the government must pass laws forbidding certain kinds of contracts between citizens. Then we've got to outlaw these "commitment ceremonies" in gay-friendly churches, because, who do these people think they're kidding? They're trying to get married, and we can't have that. So Congress needs to pass some laws respecting establishments of religion.

Oh, but maybe this is all a bit extreme. Perhaps we can allow those people to have something, just as long as it isn't called "marriage" and is not the equal of marriage. Because we love gay people, heck, some of our best friends are gay. They just need to remember their place. And we don't want to see them get married.

Thanks, Reginald Bohannon, for your concern, your caring, and most especially for your love. I'm very imprressed that you didn't waste your time talking about what conservatives might do to strengthen heterosexual marriage, or any of that wishy-washy stuff. No, it's all about queer folks.

Me, I'm just one of those live-and-let-live liberal types. I say, if Reginald Bohannon doesn't want to recognize my marriage, or the next-door neighbor's, that's really fine with me. It's his business, and I really wouldn't want the Government forcing that on anyone. Because what makes a marriage a marriage - what makes it sacred - is, by definition, entirely out of the Government's sphere.

What I would like from the State - and, in fact, what I will insist on - is full and equal protection in the material sphere. This includes the right to share the burdens and responsibilities of domestic life - in short, partnership. And I think everyone should have these rights.

You know, it's funny - I can remember (and it wasn't that long ago) when the conservative complaint against gays was that they were too promiscuous. I remember reading Norman Podhoretz' eloquent warning against the perils of an AIDS vaccine, which might allow gay men to "bugger each other by the hundreds with medical impunity." And now? Now the threat from gay folks is that they might start living like responsible adults.

Me, I'm easy. As far as I'm concerned, people should be free to practice in their private lives whatever perverse behaviors they want to indulge in ... even getting married.

2006-06-29

Afternoon Roundup

Stratfor (subscription) updates:
2142 GMT - Israel intends to try the Hamas activists, government ministers and parliament members captured during an early-morning incursion into the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces said June 29. The Palestinians will be tried for involvement with terrorist activities.

2020 GMT - Militants sponsored by Iran could increasingly pose a threat to British interests if progress is not made regarding Iran's nuclear program, Britain's Intelligence Security Committee (ISC) reported June 29. The ISC comprises lawmakers from both houses of Parliament, and has access to highly classified material. ...

2016 GMT - If no progress is made on the nuclear dispute, Iranian state-sponsored terrorism could pose a greater threat to British interests, the British Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee said June 29.


Debka: Olmert/Peretz dispute stalls Summer Rain.
Israel’s Gaza Operation is put on hold Thursday – according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources by a deadlocked dispute between prime minister Olmert and defense minister Peretz. The armored forces and tanks which rolled into southern Gaza Tuesday night have been stationary for 24 hours, only directing desultory artillery fire at empty ground in the north. Amir Peretz is blocking a swift and expeditious offensive urged by the prime minister’ Ehud Olmert and the IDF high command to rescue Gilead Shalit, the Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas Sunday, June 25, and eradicate the Qassam missile infrastructure. Yet the prime minister is hesitating to pull rank and pass orders to the army over the defense minister’s head Peretz is clinging to a policy of “restraint and diplomacy,” despite the complete breakdown of mediated negotiations in the early hours of the abduction. The prime minister’s office and general command report that no serious diplomatic bid to negotiate the soldier’s release has been floated for 48 hours. None of the intermediaries report progress, even the live wire, Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman. PMO officials and top commanders are furious with the defense minister and take strong exception to his assertion Thursday: “We stand at one of the most significant moments for setting new game rules between us and terrorist elements in the Palestinian Authority.” Terrorism is not a game, they say. Frustration with the defense minister was sensed in the speech delivered by the army chief Lt. Gen Dan Halutz at the passing out ceremony of fighter pilots. “Israeli citizens must never be hostages to rockets and the kidnappings of civilians and soldiers,” he said. “We dare not wait for casualties to justify a defensive operation. When someone wants to kill you, you must kill him first.”


"Israel has declared war on the Palestinian Authority." How dare they?
Hamas says Israel has declared war on the Palestinian Authority, after more than 60 senior Hamas figures, including many members of the PA government, were arrested overnight.


The precisely-coordinated operations were executed in Ramallah, Jenin, Jerusalem, Shechem, Kalkilyeh, Bethlehem, Hevron and other towns throughout Judea and Samaria, starting shortly after midnight.

Among those captured in simultaneous operations in many PA cities are members of the PA government and parliament, and senior Hamas movement leaders.

Israel emphasized that the arrests were not in order to obtain "trading cards" in exchange for the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, but were rather routine police arrests of criminals suspected of membership in a terrorist organization. "Anyone who is found to be innocent will be released," Israeli sources said.


How many Pakistanin prisoners does it take to ... ? Oh, never mind. Just go read the article at the link.

Lavender Alert

Pentagon: Homosexuality not a disorder. Imagine our relief. Well, it's a step in the right direction, anyway. Edge NYC: 'The Pentagon is revising a document that calls homosexuality a mental disorder, officials said Wednesday. Lawmakers, medical professionals and others had pressed for the change in a document outlining procedures for dealing with disabled service members. "Homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder in an appendix of a procedural instruction,’’ Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, a Defense Department spokesman, said Wednesday. "A clarification will be issued over the next few days.’’ "Notwithstanding its inclusion, we find no practical impact since that appendix simply listed factors that do not constitute a physical disability, and homosexuality of course does not,’’ he said in a statement.' (Article by Pauline Jelinek, Associated Press.) Gay.com: 'Pentagon officials said Wednesday that the Department of Defense no longer classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, but the change has no effect on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gay personnel. In a 1996 document recertified as "current" three years ago, the Pentagon categorized homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders. The document was uncovered this month by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, a think tank at the University of California at Santa Barbara.'

Eric Rofes dies. 247Gay: 'Eric Rofes, a longtime leader in the movement for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality, died unexpectedly Monday in Provincetown, Mass. He was 51-years-old and, according to family and friends, suffered from a heart attack. ... Rofes started his activism in the 1970s in Boston where he worked on the GLBT pubication Gay Community News . He was a founder of Boston's first group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teachers, two of the first LGBT youth groups in the country and the first Boston-based group focused on organizing gay and lesbian voters (Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance).' Rofes was the author of Reviving the Tribe: Regenerating Gay Men's Sexuality, Culture in an Ongoing Epidemic (Haworth, 1996) and Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures (Haworth, 1998). Just Out: 'The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force mourns the death of Eric Rofes, a leader, activist, visionary, former board member and dear friend to the Task Force. He died yesterday as the result of a heart attack.' Read about Eric Rofes at the link.

Arkansas supreme court backs gay foster parents. Gay.com: 'Arkansas cannot ban gay men and lesbians from becoming foster parents because there is no link between their sexual orientation and a child's well-being, the state's high court ruled Thursday. The court also said testimony in the case showed that the ban was based on one group's view of morality. The state's child welfare board instituted the ban in 1999, saying children should be in traditional two-parent homes because they would be more likely to thrive.'

Fred Phelps sets sights on Oregon funerals. Basic Rights Oregon: 'Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers will be coming to Oregon on Thursday, July 29 and Saturday, July 1st, to protest at the memorial services of Spc. Robert Jones of Milwaukie and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras. Jones was in his second tour of Iraq when he was hit with mortar and died instantly in Baghdad on Friday, July 16. His memorial will be held at the New Hope Community Church in Clackamas. Tucker was one of two American soldiers kidnapped by militiamen in Iraq on June 16. His body, along with the body of fellow soldier Kristian Menchaca, was found on June 20. The soldiers had been tortured, mutilated, and booby-trapped. Private Tucker's memorial will be held at Deschutes County Fairgrounds Expo Center in Redmond.' Your humble blogger was there for Specialist Jones' service, along with the Plus + Ultra team ... and a large number of Patriot Guard Riders! The memorial service passed without incident.

Morning Report: June 29, 2006

Spawned in some train station in Antwerp? Israel continues its operation in Gaza, while Europe comes to grips with a grisly murder in its midst.

Israel/Gaza: Summer Rain bulletins. Via Stratfor (subscription service):
1309 GMT - An Israeli airstrike against the car of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant in Gaza City only wounded the intended target, Reuters reported June 29, citing unnamed Palestinian security sources. The sources gave no details about the militant's identity.

1307 GMT - Israeli troops took 64 Hamas officials into custody during early morning raids in the Palestinian territories June 29. The detainees include seven members of the Hamas government's Cabinet, as well as 20 parliamentarians. Israeli officials said the detainees will be questioned and eventually indicted on charges stemming from the abduction of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shlit in Gaza on June 25.

1306 GMT - Palestinian gunmen blew a 13-foot-wide hole in the border wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt on June 29, following Israeli incursions into Gaza to free a kidnapped Israeli soldier.


Aluf Benn: Summer Rain's two goals. Aluf Benn in Ha'Aretz on the newly uninhibited Olmert's strategy: 'Nine and a half months after completion of the pullout from the Gaza Strip, the IDF reoccupied it. The horror scenario of those who objected to the pullout has come true. Israel discovered that it could not just leave and throw away the key, that the Green Line in Gaza did not deter the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians ignored Israeli threats of harsh retaliation. ...' Benn's analysis concludes that the Israeli operation might work toward two possible goals:
Two possible goals come to mind: one is an internationally backed cease-fire, similar to the Grapes of Wrath understandings achieved in Lebanon in the 1990s. The Summer Rains understandings may include the curtailing of the assassinations in exchange for the cessation of Qassam fire. The question is whether there is a responsible body in Gaza with which to make such a deal, as was the case with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The second, more ambitious target, would be toppling the Hamas government and reinstating Fatah. This would be vindicated in the world as a move against a criminal terror government and creating a partner for future negotiations over the West Bank. The question is whether Israel has enough power to overthrow the Palestinian government.

Read the full article at the link. (Ha'Aretz)

Israel arrests Palestinian officials. Ha'Aretz: 'Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser a-Shaer, who evaded capture by Israel Defense Forces troops during the mass arrest of Hamas officials before dawn Thursday, has gone into hiding in the West Bank. A-Shaer has disconnected all his cellular telephones out of fear Israeli security services would again attempt to track him down and arrest him. The detentions of senior Hamas officials were part of Israel's expanded military operation against the Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Authority.' (Ha'Aretz)

Asheri was shot in head immediately after kidnapping. Jerusalem Post: 'The IDF confirmed early Thursday a report the Popular Resistance Committees issued from Gaza that it had executed Eliyahu Asheri, 18, of Itamar, who was kidnapped earlier this week in the West Bank. Asheri's family has been notified.' (JPost)

Train conductor kicked to death in Antwerp. Brussels Journal:
The Belgian state is no longer able to guarantee the security of its citizens. On Saturday afternoon Guido Demoor, a 54-year old Flemish train conductor on his way to work, was kicked to death by six “youths” on a crowded bus near Antwerp’s Central Station. The incident recalls the rush-hour murder ten weeks ago of Joe Van Holsbeeck, 17 years of age, in a crowded Brussels Central Station on 12 April.

Guido Demoor, a father of two, intervened when six “youths” got on bus 23 in Antwerp and began to intimidate passengers. There were some forty people on the bus. Demoor asked the “youths” to calm down, whereupon they turned on him, savagely beating and kicking the man. At the next stop thirty passengers fled the bus. The thugs kept beating Demoor. They then pulled the emergency brake and jumped from the bus leaving their victim to die.

Three Moroccans, two of whom are minors, were arrested today. The website of the Dutch paper De Stentor reports tonight that a fourth suspect, believed to be the ringleader, fled into a shop as the police were poised to arrest him. He managed to escape from the shop when dozens of “youths” came to his rescue. ...

Jonah's military guys 'wonder what, besides anguished hand-wringing and pompous bloviating, will result?' (Brussels Journal via Arrgggh)

Zaman: Iranian spies in Basra. Iran Focus: 'Agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are fomenting unrest in Iraq’s southern city of Basra, the Iraqi daily az-Zaman reported on Thursday. Az-Zaman quoted Iraqi counter-intelligence sources as saying that fighters were being trained in Lebanon under MOIS supervision and sent via the Iranian border to infiltrate Basra. Some of the fighters were being incorporated into the al-Hussein Battalion which has been responsible for numerous targeted killings and assassinations in Basra.' (Iran Focus)

Briefly noted. Sandmonkey confides to a chat pal that "the Jews aren't like us", while Big Pharaoh observes that the Middle East isn't Norway.

Commentary. The other day, Wretchard at The Belmont Club was reminded of an earlier moment in history. And yet there's a certain inversion here: unlike the world of the 1930s and 1940s, today's world sees a Jewish facing a national and external struggle; while Europe, ostensibly evolving toward a single, über-state, deals with an internal, existential crisis.

2006-06-28

Robert L. Jones

Robert L. Jones, United States Army
Army Spc. Robert L. Jones

22, of Milwaukie, Ore.; assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, Baumholder, Germany; killed June 17 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Reyes Ramirez.

See also here.
The Patriot Guard Riders plan to be there. So do I.

Next stop: Chelm.

Via Regime Change Iran, here's Azarmehr:
A fair person has to, at times, take his hat off to his adversary's skills. I consider myself a fair person; in sports for example, I am always happy to admire my opponent's skills and strengths and commend him on his outstanding abilities. I also have to admire the Islamic Republic at times. Most of all, for their ability to manipulate the Western media, and particularly the "experts" or the "Iran Analysts". ...

Go to the link to read the rest.

Body of Eliyahu Asheri Found

Debka: 'The body of 18-year old Eliahu Asheri from Itamar is found buried in a field in a-Tira in Ramallah ...'

Ben Westlund Update

From the Ben Westlund for Governor campaign, via e-mail:
Mid-Willamette Valley Regional Office Up and Running

Thursday morning, June 15th, the Mid-Willamette Valley Team was pleased to open its campaign headquarters in downtown Eugene. With signature gatherers swarming statewide and buzz building, Courtney and Jonathan now have a mid-valley place to call home.

Feel free to swing by the new office any time. Courtney and Jonathan could always use more hands, minds and cookies. They're located at 360 E 11th Ave in downtown Eugene.

Willamette Valley regional pages.

Update

I've got a date with the Westboro Baptist thugs tomorrow. The Phelps gang is planning to protest at the funerals of two Oregon soldiers, and I will be present at one of these. Should be interesting. Watch Plus + Ultra for more.

Suspect Arrested in Attack in Polish Chief Rabbi

AP via Yahoo:
WARSAW, Poland - Police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected of attacking Poland's chief rabbi in late May, describing him as a 33-year-old tied to neo-Nazi groups who confessed to assaulting the Jewish leader.

The arrest comes nearly five weeks after Michael Schudrich, a New Yorker who became the nation's chief rabbi in 2004, was punched and attacked with what appeared to be pepper spray on a street in central Warsaw on May 27. Schudrich was not injured in the attack.

The suspect, identified only as Karol G. in keeping with Polish privacy laws, was arrested Wednesday morning outside his Warsaw home, and identified shortly after that by Schudrich in a police lineup, national police chief Marek Bienkowski said at a news conference.

"He confessed to the attack and was recognized by the victim," Bienkowski said. ...

Middle East Roundup

Washington Post: Kuwaiti elections.
June 28 -- Kuwaiti women will be able to take part in parliamentary elections as candidates and voters for the first time on Thursday. Following are some key facts about the vote:

A total of 253 candidates, including 28 women, are contesting Kuwait's 25 constituencies. Two parliament seats are up for grabs in each constituency.

Parliament passed a law in May 2005 giving women the right to vote and stand as candidates in elections for the 50-seat National Assembly.

Kuwait tolerates some informal groups but does not allow parties; security forces are not eligible to vote. Read the whole thing at the link.

Body of Eliyahu Asheri believed found; terrorist leaders arrested.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli forces rounded up dozens of Palestinian Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from Hamas, increasing pressure on the Islamic militants to release a captured Israeli soldier, and witnesses said tanks moved into northern Gaza, widening Israel's largest military operation in the year since Israel pulled out of the seaside territory.

Adding to the tension, a Palestinian militant group said it executed an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped in the West Bank. Palestinian security officials said they believed the body of Eliahu Asheri had been found in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Hamas officials said more than 30 lawmakers have been arrested in the West Bank.


Amarji: Syrian government crackdown bodes ill.
Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, my dear colleague and good friend and one of the main figures behind the Damascus Declaration and the more recent Damascus-Beirut Declaration has recently been slapped with a travel ban on account of his continuous involvement in civil society activities around the region and the world.

Indeed, and over the lat two months alone, Radwan came to the US twice to take part in various meetings and seminars. He also gave a few of lectures in Washington D.C., Chicago, and elsewhere.

The move comes as part of the Assads regime’s ongoing crackdown against activists and opposition figures in the country, a development destined to witness further escalations in the days and weeks ahead, as the regime continues its reversion to old-style totalitarian rule. ...


"Find and destroy."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered special services to "find and destroy" the killers of four Russian diplomats taken hostage in Iraq. The head of Russia's security services immediately pledged to see Putin's order carried out. The Russian government confirmed the four men's deaths this week, after an insurgent group released a video showing two of them being killed. ...


Olmert briefs Annan, Mubarak.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke on Wednesday evening with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who telephoned in order to receieve updates on the
situation in the Gaza Strip. ...

Olmert said the PA was doing nothing to either bring about the release of Shalit or to halt the firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli communities.

Olmert also spoke today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and thanked him for Egypt's assistance in the efforts to lower tensions and to
bring about the release of Shalit.


B'Ivrit.
When a reporter in London asked me if I could define the difference between the two Israeli blogospheres, I told him that Anglo bloggers are mostly concerned with "explaining" Israel to the outside world, whereas Hebrew bloggers rarely write about politics - preferring to concentrate on personal issues and tech issues. The reporter found that hard to believe: Isn't Israel a highly politicized society? he asked. Yes, I answered. In a way, it is. But it is also a society that is exhausted by politics. In fact, I almost never discuss the subject with my native-born Israeli friends. We talk about everything but - and that is not a conscience decision. ...

Amongst the Hebrew bloggers who have written about Gaza, some are against the IDF invasion, others are in favour and still others are indifferent. I haven't found anybody who is concerned about what the rest of the world thinks - whether they be mainstream media, Arab bloggers or other. Below are some translated excerpts of posts about Gaza that I read today. ...


Iran: Almost 500 anti-regime protests in past month.
London, Jun. 28 – There have been some 480 anti-government protests in Iran since in the Iranian calendar month ending June 21, according to a tally provided to Iran Focus by Iranian dissidents.

Students were the most politically active group in the past month, having organised at least 136 demonstrations, sit-ins, gatherings, and strikes.

Workers took part in some 60 protests.

Among the month’s major protests was a 100,000-strong anti-government rally by ethnic Azeris in the city of Tabriz against the publication of an insulting cartoon in the official daily Iran.


Interrogations of Iranian women continue.
Activists of the women’s movement in Iran have been under interrogations by security agents since their last rally in Tehran on June 12. According to a Rooz reporter from Tehran, two of the activists who are also founders of the Women’s Cultural Center Nooshin Ahmadi Khorasani and Parvin Ardalan received their arrest warrants after participating in the June 12th demonstration. They appeared at the designated security center and were interrogated. At the same time former member of Parliament and former member of Daftar-e Tahkim Vahdat student organization Mousavi Khoeini who was arrested during the rally continues to be in detention.

Nasrin Sotoodeh and Zohreh Arzani who are the defense attorneys for Ardalan and Ahmadi Khorasani told Rooz that they would like to not respond to press questions before they have received the questions from security authorities. These attorneys have already been denied access to their clients. Both Khorasani and Ardalan have appeared everyday at a security center to answer questions posed by security officials.

Iraq: Amnesty clarified, Task Force 145 continues the mission.

Counterterrorism Blog:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has provided clarity to the controversial provision of amnesty for insurgents who killed U.S. and Coalition soldiers. "Any amnesty for insurgents will exclude fighters who killed Iraqis or soldiers of the multinational forces because these troops came to Iraq according to international agreements and they are contributing in making the political process successful... Those who commit such crimes will stand trial because the aim of killing Iraqis or foreign soldiers is to frustrate democracy and the political process." said al-Maliki, according to the Associated Press. ...

Task Force 145 struck in Yusifiyah two days ago, and captured fourteen terrorists during multiple raids. Included in the catch were "known leaders of the Tawhid Wa'al Jihad and Jaysh al-Islamit" terrorist groups. Yusifiyah has been another al-Qaeda stronghold, and multiple raids have been carried out in this city. The full version of Zarqawi's last videotape was recovered in Yusifiyah, and Zarqawi was believed to have narrowly evaded capture during a Coalition assault on al-Qaeda safe houses in April. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

Afternoon Roundup

Stop! Hey! What's that sound? Syria's Bashar Assad probably thought he needed to get his eyeglasses prescription checked, but his ears were surely telling him something was up ... Israeli fighter planes, to be exact. Carl in Israel Matzav:
Dave at Israel At Level Ground is quoting a Channel 10 (cable) news report that four Israeli F-16 jets overflew Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's palace near Latakiya while he was in the building.

Syrian television did not report the event, although al-Jazeerra did run a scroller shortly after the Israeli announcement, according to reporter Shai Yeheskeli.

Carl's follow-up:
The JPost has more details of this morning's flyover of Syrian leader Bashar Assad's Presidential palace that I reported on earlier.

The Post reports that the IDF said that the flyover was carried out by four planes flying in a low-altitude pattern, and was a part of an operation aimed at pressuring the Syrian leadership to expel Hamas Politburo chief Khaled Mashaal from Damascus. I don't understand why the IDF cannot go get Meshaal in Damascus, as I suggested yesterday.

According to Israel, Meshaal orchestrated the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and has been calling the shots for the kidnappers.

State-run Syrian television said two Israeli planes flew near Syria's Mediterranean coast early Wednesday but did not mention Israel's announcement that the planes swooped low over the summer residence of Assad.

Debka has this:
In new crisis, Syria says its air defenses opened fire on intruding Israeli air force jets. Unofficial Israel sources confirm that 4 Israeli F16 fighters buzzed the Syrian presidential summer palace in Latakia early Wednesday, June 28, as pressure on Bashar Assad to bring about Hamas’ release of kidnapped Israeli corporal Gilead Shalit. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal whom Syria harbors is accused of orchestrating Hamas attacks and hostage-taking. Syria accuses Israel of “a hostile and provocative act” and says its air defenses opened fire and forced the Israeli warplanes to flee. The Syrian president was at home at the time of the incident. DEBKAfile reports: One Israeli official after another struck out against Meshaal and the Syrian president during the day after the Olmert government and his security and intelligence chiefs concluded that the missing soldier’s recovery alive depends on military pressure being applied to the Syrian ruler and through him on Meshaal. It is no secret that Assad gives Hamas and its political leadership headed by Meshaal free rein to run the Hamas military arm in Gaza from Damascus. Our intelligence sources disclose that, straight after the Israeli buzzing early Wednesday, Assad returned to Damascus and soon after, met Jordanian prime minister Maaruf Bahait (former ambassador to Israel), who had come over to discuss the Palestinian reconciliation document and the crisis in Gaza. According to our sources, Assad kept on complaining agitatedly about the Israeli over flights.

Here's Yuval Yoaz in Ha'Aretz: 'Israel Air Force warplanes predawn Wednesday carried out a low-altitude flight over the palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria. Channel 2 TV reported that the aircrafts caused sonic booms when passing over the palace. Assad is believed to have been staying in the palace at the time of the flyover.'

Via IRIS: There are no Israelis in the airport!

Via Ocean Guy, liveblogging from Vital Perspective and Israellycool. Latest from Vital Perspective:
UPDATE 06/28 @ 13:18: BREAKING NEWS... Four Israel Air Force F-16 aircrafts carried out an aerial flight over Syrian President Bashar Assad's palace, near the city of Latakia on Tuesday. Israel views the Syrian leadership as the main sponsor of terror groups headed by Hamas. Air Force planes flew around the palace while Assad was in it. The IDF took a similar step in the past, about three years ago, after a terror attack in a Haifa restaurant. This is considered a symbolic but significant move, mainly in light of recent declarations voiced by senior Israeli officials on Khaled Meshaal's link to what is taking place in Israel.

UPDATE 06/28 @ 14:20: Channel Two in Israel is reporting that Fatah terrorists have pledged to attack Israeli embassies overseas if there are civilian casualties in Gaza.

UPDATE 06/28 @ 15:12: Kofi Annan spoke with PM Olmert a short while ago, and told him that he spoke with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and urged them to assist with the release of the kidnapped soldier. Annan said that he was concerned about the situation in the Palestinian Authority and asked that Israel show restraint. Olmert told Annan that the government was doing nothing to help with the hostage's release or to put a stop to the Qassam fire. Bear in mind that not too long ago, Annan wasn't even aware that there were rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza.

Latest from Israellycool:
9.45AM: The Jerusalem Post are running with the alarming headline:

Report: Israeli body found in Ramallah

But when you click on the link, there is no news of Eliyahu having been killed.

9.40AM: The PRC are threatening to kill the other kidnapped Israeli teenager, Eliyahu Asheri, unless the IDF leaves Gaza. Since this is not likely, unless Gilad Shalit is released, I am extremely worried about Eliyahu's chances of survival.

Cinnamon Stillwell on Free Speech

There isn't much I can add to Cinnamon Stillwell's excellent column on free speech and "hate speech". Last year, I posted on an incident in South Windsor, Connecticut, where some high school students were sent home because of the political message on their T-shirts.

Go read Cinnamon's article.

Morning Report: June 28, 2006

Striking back. Israel raids Gaza with the double purpose of finding two hostages and breaking the terrorist machine; while Americans deal with a security threat on their own soil.

Israel: "Summer Rain" comes to Gaza. Debka: 'The rescue of Israeli hostage Gilead Shalit is the overriding mission of the Israeli ground thrust into Gaza, but the Qassam threat to southern Israel is also targeted for root treatment. Fourteen hours after the “Summer Rain” offensive was launched Tuesday night, OC Southern Command Maj-Gen Yoav Galant told reporters Wednesday that “many more unseen operations are in progress in addition to the overt push." He affirmed that the 19-year-old corporal kidnapped by Hamas on Sunday is in the Gaza Strip. Regarding negotiations for Shalit’s release, Galant stressed: “We don’t negotiate with terrorist groups,” adding that foreign elements are still trying their luck at getting him out. The general said the next stages of the Israeli offensive would be affected by Palestinian responses. As he spoke, a Qassam missile was fired at Mefalsim in the Negev, hurting no one. It followed an air bombardment of empty land in the North.' Also: 'Popular Resistance Committees hold press conference in Gaza, display identity card to prove they are holding Israeli civilian Eliahu Asheri, 18, from Itamar on the West Bank. PRC spokesman Muhammad al-Al displayed the ID against the background of his group’s emblems and flags, but posed no terms for any further information or the hostage’s release. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources add that the display of the Israeli boy’s ID does not prove the PRC is holding him, any more than Corp. Gilead Shalit in Gaza. The kidnappers may be subcontracting the PRC as their front. Earlier, the Palestinian umbrella group threatened to execute Eliahu Asheri if Israel does not halt its Gaza air-and-ground offensive launched Tuesday night. Asheri, a student at the Neveh Tsuf pre-military academy was last seen Sunday at the French Hill intersection in northern Jerusalem after visiting a friend in Beitar Illit. Israeli special forces are on standby to rescue him as soon as leads are found to his whereabouts.' Current bulletin: 'Wednesday, June 28, Palestinian anti-tank rocket fire was directed at the IDF force seizing the disused airport of Dahaniya NW of Rafah where a forward command post was set up. Palestinian security forces pulled out of Dahaniya as the Israeli force entered. It is in this area that Israel believes Corp. Gilead Shalit is held by Hamas. Israeli troops have also recaptured the Philadelphi border strip.' IRIS has a news roundup, and photographs. The Intelligence Summit has a report:
ISN SECURITY WATCH (Wednesday, 28 June 2006: 13.43 CET) – Israeli forces entered the southern Gaza Strip before dawn on Wednesday morning in an operation designed to pressure the Palestinian government to work for the release of an Israeli soldier captured in a militant raid on Sunday.

Israel has deployed tanks and armored personnel carriers in open areas east of the border town of Rafah in the raid, dubbed "Summer Rain," penetrating one kilometer into the Gaza Strip in the first phase of a staged operation.

A second Israeli force is poised to enter the Gaza Strip from the north in response to Qassam rocket fire from militant groups.

CNN reports that there have been no clashes as yet between Palestinian gunmen, who patrolled the streets in cities and towns across the West Bank on Wednesday night, and the Israeli force.

The Israeli Air Force launched missile strikes against three bridges and a power station in central Gaza ahead of the ground force incursion in what military officials said was an effort to prevent militants from moving the kidnapped soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

According to Ha'aretz, Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert approved the ground force incursion on Tuesday night, after consultations with defense officials, in order to strike at the "terrorist infrastructure." ...

And in breaking news, Jerusalem Post reports a disturbing development that may be related to Eliyahu Asheri. (various)

Moroccan hackers strike Israeli sites. Lior Haner in Ha'Aretz: 'A group of Moroccan hackers attacked hundreds of Israeli websites on Wednesday. Some reports say that as many as 750 websites with the suffix co.il have come under attack. The website attacks started after Israel Defense Forces began preparing for the retaliatory "Summer Rain" operation in Gaza, in response to the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit on Sunday. The hacker group, which calls itself 'Team Evil', replaces the home page of the target websites with the following text: "Hacked By Team-Evil Arab hackers u KIll palestin people we Kill Israel servers" (sic).' (Ha'Aretz)

Russians hunt killers in Iraq. AP via Jerusalem Post: 'President Valdimir Putin has ordered Russian special services to hunt down the killers of four Russian hostages in Iraq, news agencies reported Wednesday.' (JPost)

Samarra bombers arrested. Iraq the Model: 'In a news conference currently being broadcast on TV, Iraq's national security advisor Muwaffak al-Rubaie says Iraqi security forces arrested Abu Qudama al-Tunisi in a raid in the suburb of al-Dhuloiya north of Baghdad. 15 other foreign terrorists were killed in the raid according to al-Rubaie. The terrorist of Tunisian origin confessed that he was responsible for the attack that destroyed the Askari Shrine in Samarra back in February 22 of this year. Muwaffak al-Rubaie said the security forces are still searching for Haitham al-Badri who is believed to be the field commander under whom Abu Qudama was operating.' The Belmont Club: 'If Rubaie has got the right perps then this is a tremendous intelligence victory for the Coalition. Whatever cell was in charge of investigating the Golden Mosque incident never let this trail go until it finally led to this Baghdadi safehouse. Again it shows that the primary weapon of the Coalition isn't what is visible to the eye but rather that which goes unremarked. Intelligence operations followed by targeted raids. For that reason the war against intel unremittingly waged by institutions like the New York Times has its price.' (ITM, Belmont Club)

Making the Times pay. Tammy Bruce: 'Certain Republican House members are moving to revoke the Congressional press credentials of the New York Times. This after the "newspaper" has revealed several secret government War on Terror programs, arguably compromising national security.' Tammy says this is a good start, but not nearly enough; she argues that the NYT's crimes against America may have even outstripped the Rosenbergs' betrayal in terms of the concrete damage done to America's security. Thomas Holsinger at Winds of Change suggests civil liability: 'ongress can deter news organizations, and others, from publishing classified documents by making them strictly liable for civil tort damages caused by foreign terrorists, i.e., the New York Times should pay for the next 9/11 because its repeated publications of classified information have aided terrorists and put all Americans at risk. This would put the Times out of business, and that is a good thing. Such legislation would pass Constitutional scrutiny because civil liability would not be subject to the strict protections applicable to criminal liability.' Read it all at the links. (Tammy Bruce, WoC)

Iran: State vs. White House. Or is it, "State vs. America"? Richard Perle writing in the Washington Post says that 'Condoleezza Rice has moved from the White House to Foggy Bottom, a mere mile or so away' but worlds apart ideologically. Yet 'Rice's influence on the president is undiminished', and that's the problem: rather than bringing bold White House reforms to the State Department, she has instead transmitted State's pernicious influence to the White House. None of this is good news for America or for the Iranian people. (WP)

Commentary. Today's entry is long - it's been a busy 24 hours - but one or two things do stand out. Wretchard's comment "the war against intel unremittingly waged by institutions like the New York Times has its price" seems a good place to begin. I'll put forth the following proposition: When citizens feel their government "belongs to them", they will see a common interest between themselves and their government. That is, while they may be wary of "big government" meddling in their lives, they nevertheless see their nation's government as fundamentally a friend and not an enemy because they have a personal stake in it.

The Times may have believed it could rally massive public support with its latest stunt; if so, it miscalculated. Even Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post admits that 'What we're seeing is a there-they-go-again reaction on the right that is the culmination of building frustrations against the MSM in general and the Times in particular over the disclosure of classified information' while he's seen 'very few liberal bloggers defending the Times'. (This Oregon blogger notes that even Murtha opposed the Times' move.) Instead, citizens are calling on their Government to punish the paper - one way or another.

Meanwhile, Israelis await the fate of two young men. Judith Apter Klinghoffer writes: 'The Israeli MSM, like the US one, is busy in self criticism. The Israeli MSM is to the left of the American one. So, they report that the Israeli right is praising the Gaza operation. In a democracy, politics is ever present. But the people, the people ignore the background noise and focus on the father who asked his son to try to survive.'

Citizens are beginning to realize they do not have to put up with the MSM's "background noise." There are more important things to be done. Like surviving.

Steve Duin of "The Oregonian" Gets an Earful on Iraq

Last week, Oregonian columnist Steve Duin published this piece, charmingly titled Mutilated Beyond Recognition:
Another lowered flag, another bale of yellow ribbon, another moment -- or two -- of silence. That just about covers it. Except for the lonely, angry prayer, that's the depth of our response to the deaths of two more local boys, Army Pfc. Tom Tucker of Madras and Spc. Robert Jones of Milwaukie, in Iraq.

The moments of silence tend to blend together, don't they? And almost three years -- and more than 2,300 U.S. military fatalities -- after President challenged insurgents and terrorists who might attack American troops by saying, "Bring them on," the silence is eerie.

Hush, now. Close your eyes. Be still. Never you mind. Move along.

Three days after Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston were overpowered and kidnapped at a remote checkpoint near Yusufiya, their bodies were discovered inside a circle of booby traps and bombs, scarred by torture, mutilated beyond recognition.

Mutilated beyond recognition: That sums up this country's ongoing mission in Iraq. ...

And on and on with more of this drivel. Steve Duin is obviously a big fan of John Murtha and devotes several paragraphs to the Pennsylvania Democrat.

One person on an e-mail list penned the following response:
Mr. Duin:

The title of your piece yesterday in the Oregonian [Mutilated Beyond
Recognition] could also be said to describe your powers of logic.

You dishonor these two fallen soldiers by using their demise as fodder for
your ridiculous idea of leaving an important job unfinished as its chances
for success continually increase. If within a couple of years, Iraq is a
reasonably functioning democratic society, and the other Arab/Muslim nations
that have started their march (yes, sometimes crawl) to democracy have
continued on that path (including Kuwait...or did you not notice they're
having first-ever elections that include women both on the ballot and in the
booth?), will you ever concede that the war and sacrifice were worth it? If
you don't think that the progress in the other non-democratic nations of the
region are due in large part to the aggressive approach taken by the U.S. in
Iraq, then I refer you, again to the first sentence above. Or invite you to
explain why not.

Perhaps you just think this whole Muslim extremist/terroist thing will go
away by a combination of appeasement and wishful thinking? Remember
Chamberlain. There is no peace to be made with this enemy; and you should
be thankful that someone at the helm had the guts to realize that and take
the fight to them.

Every killed soldier is a tragedy that permanently scars many lives, but if
in the end 4000 forces are lost, never in the history of warfare will have
so few been lost for the freedom of so many.

A fellow veteran of my old unit had this to say:
Mr. Duin,
I am writing to you and your editors to express my displeasure and offense to the premises espoused in your June 22, 2006, column.

Let’s begin with the constant promotion by the main stream media of how many Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Guardsmen have died in combat operations over the past three years. In the past three years of major and light combat in hostile theaters of operation we have only lost just over 2,500 service members. That may seem like a lot to the average Joe on the street, but that is an amazingly low number of casualties. Not bad considering that in the battles for the south Pacific in the early forties there are several battles where twice that number of Marines was lost in just a matter of hours.

The other issue overlooked by you media types is every one of the 2,500 plus KIA in both Afghanistan and Iraq are volunteers. Must of whom have either enlisted or reenlisted at some point in the past three years. What that really means is that they had a choice not to participate in any combat operations, but, chose to fight for your country as well as his or hers.

You bring up John Murtha and spew his political opinions as if they were written in the gospel. Yes, Rep. Murtha served in the Marine Corps, and I assume he was even Honorably Discharged. Today he is not speaking as a retired Marine officer, but as a politician seeking to keep his job. That very plainly means that he is going to do whatever it takes to cover his own “6” (Marine speak for your backside), and not his buddies.

You also attempt to discredit the opinions of Karl Rove because he never put on a uniform and John Murtha has. Well, what about guys like Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid? Does it mean that the country should not listen to these politicians because they never served in the military? Or is it more that you are going to take up the battle to promote their thoughts because they agree with your own?

Oh, and by the way, did you ever put on a uniform and spend any time in a fighting hole? If not why should your voice be heard? What gives you the right to criticize anything to with the military or the missions the undertake?

Most importantly, and more to the point, the media and those who lean politically to the left express more outrage, by the way a right protected by the military, toward our Commander-in-Chief than towards those who deserve it most, the terrorist we are fighting. You don’t see any protesting at the local Mosques, because of the way those two young, brave, honorable soldiers were tortured before they were killed. Where is the call to stamp out fanatic Islamist in our own country? Oh, wait we cannot paint Muslims with such a broad brush. We can however paint our military with one.

Steve Duin's follow-up column reveals that he got a strong response to his column:
The return fire on Thursday's column concerning the death of two Oregon soldiers and the war in Iraq was predictably intense. And before the next day had passed, intensely unpredictable.

Some of the feedback was wistful; much of it was partisan and bitter. I'd received numerous suggestions that Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., is a traitor and that I am conspiring with al-Qaida when this e-mail arrived:

I have a son in the Marines and I served in the Marines in Vietnam. So tell me, what do you really think?

You are no different than Kerry or Fonda of my day, and that probably makes you proud. ...

The author of the message, one Darrell Smith, eventually ended up in a 45-minute heart-to-heart phone conversation with Duin, and wrote passionately of his mixed feelings about his son's service:
As you can imagine, in my family saying I love you was a non-thing to do when I was growing up. You know, saying you love your son and knowing he may be going into harm's way is tearful. I tried not to miss a day without telling my children that I love them. It has made a remarkable difference in my life.

I wanted to be with him for one more summer before he left but it was not to be. . . . I wanted to go hiking, tubing and just sit and BS with him. He has taken a road that few have followed, and there will be this huge change, especially if he takes another person's life, be it in defense of his brethren or for other reasons. My son will never be the same. . . . My experience says that life will never be the same for him. It will either make him stronger or it will not. . . .

All I was hoping for was a little more time before he truly loses his innocence.

I appreciate Steve Duin's conciliatory attitude, and his willingness to speak openly with a military family member. And I am especially pleased that he took the time to let that father speak to Duin's readers in his own words.

But this doesn't fix the larger problem, which is that Steve Duin, like the overwhelming majority of the establishment, does not want to admit that our campaign in the Middle East may succeed, and for that reason does not want it to succeed. Here is my response to Duin's first column and its follow-up:
Steve, thank you for today's column.

I am 43 years old, a Portland resident since 2000, and a combat veteran of Desert Storm. I served with the 1st Light Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Marine Division, from 1989 to 1993. We were among the first to cross the border from Saudi Arabia into Kuwait, and we took the first combat casualties of the ground war. (It was a double fratricide incident near Khafji on the night of January 29, 1991; two of our vehicles were destroyed by friendly missiles. We lost seven men.)

Whatever the stereotype of the "typical Marine" may be, it's probably safe to say I'm not it. (In truth, very few Marines are.) I was raised in an intellectual, liberal, Democratic family, and to this day I consider myself a "liberal" although I vote Republican now. I was among the 52% who voted for President Bush in 2004, and I guess I am among the 29%, or whatever figure the polls are giving, who still support him now. I was poised to write a poison-pixel email in response to your last column, but instead followed my better instincts as a blogger and waited until some of the anger had subsided and I could write a little more calmly.

Your column from last Thursday, concerning the brutal killings of Tucker and Menchaca, at least implicitly acknowledges some value in the "military objective in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein", which is more than can be said for many of your journalistic colleagues; this, however, is all that can be said in its defense.

First, there is the general premise of your column, summed up in your lurid conclusion that "the weight of the coffins and the gravestones and the dead flowers would crush the cynical and sentimental notion that this war will end well." By this logic, every war that ever brought with it coffins and gravestones and dead flowers, which is to say every war ever fought, must end badly. Do you really believe this? If so, then you must believe that the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Second World War all ended badly. Are you prepared to justify that conclusion? If you are a strict pacifist, that's your business, but please be plain about it.

Your emotional reasoning depends for its impact upon treating our soldiers as objects - objects of pity, objects of speculation, but in any event, objects. No serious attempt is made to understand why the soldiers do what they do, or why (as is so often the case) they truly believe in what they are doing. This is typical of the condescension that we servicemen and veterans often receive from the so-called "educated", so-called "liberal" parts of society. I myself have experienced this more times than I care to recall. And yet, suddenly there's this outpouring of respect for a "Vietnam vet and a career officer in the Marines" named John Murtha.

Notice, too, that the bereaved families are also treated as objects. Only when they express anti-war sentiments ("Wes Tucker wondered aloud Wednesday if his son's gruesome death was retaliation for the U.S. military's conduct at such places as Abu Ghraib and Haditha") are they worthy of being treated as individuals with thoughts of their own. Cindy Sheehan gets incessant coverage and adulation from the press.

But if (as you media folks are forever reminding us) there have been 2,500+ American deaths in Iraq, then where are all the other grieving mothers? Could it be that, even for all of their own personal anguish, they are not protesting the war because they understand that their sons and daughters died in the service of a noble cause? It could be - but we'll never hear that from the press. Nor will we get to hear from Stephen Vincent's widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, who continues to champion the cause her husband gave his life for. (I had the honor of meeting Lisa at a bloggers' convention last November.)

My mother could easily have been among those who lost a child in a war with Iraq. Only fate spared me from being in the wrong place at the wrong time on the eve of my twenty-eighth birthday. Do you know what a TOW missile is? One of them will destroy a main battle tank. The Light Armored Vehicle is not a main battle tank, but basically a thick-skinned Winnebago. And one of them can carry fourteen TOW missiles. Can you guess what happens to the crew when one of these vehicles is hit by a missile? "Mutilated beyond recognition" doesn't even begin to describe it. There was nothing left of the bodies to recognize; the biggest piece of the vehicle they found was a strut from the undercarriage about the size of a man's forearm.

But Mom stood behind me. In the tortured cliché, she "supported" me. How? By respecting my ability to make my own choices and take my own risks; by taking the effort to understand the value of what we were doing in Kuwait; and most of all, by recognizing that my sacrifices - even the risk of my life - were for a worthwhile cause.

I knew enough about Iraq to know that Saddam was an evil sadist who had to be stopped, and, if possible, removed. As we all know, Saddam was not deposed, and the Iraqi people's uprising was cruelly betrayed in the spring of 1991. I won't dwell on it here, but the humiliating end of that war left a bad taste in my mouth for twelve years.

In the early weeks after 9/11, I was skeptical of the junior President Bush's motives in the Middle East. (I was involved in the Green Party at the time, so it wasn't like I was exactly being deluged with pro-Bush propaganda.) But it soon became clear that Bush was determined to succeed - strategically and morally - where his father had failed. When he declared that "we will not simply replace one dictatorship with another", I was won over.

George H. W. Bush must have believed, as you still do, that "shoving democracy down the throats of rival religious factions is a fool's errand." This odious statement sums up all that was wrong with American policy in the past, a cynical and degrading dogma that was rightly rejected by the Government only to be embraced by the left.

Some forty-two years ago, three pro-democracy activists named James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwermer, and Andrew Goodman were shot dead in Mississippi by a domestic terrorist group known as the Ku Klux Klan. If they met their deaths quickly, perhaps they were luckier than many activists who were lynched or otherwise tortured to death under the Jim Crow regime. Were they on a "fool's errand"? Was it madness to "shove democracy down the throats" of southern Blacks?

I don't believe democracy in Iraq is a "fool's errand". Nor do I believe America is losing the war in Iraq. I read Iraqi websites daily, and I read reports from the soldiers who are actually over there. I read analysis by people who actually know what is going on, and I find it both more credible and more informative than the media's propaganda.

We will not win this war quickly or easily, but we will win. I thank you for taking the time to get to know the real live military people who are fighting this war, and the real live families who are sharing its sacrifices - even the ones who aren't John Murthas or Cindy Sheehans. And yes, I believe you and I would probably find we share a lot in terms of basic beliefs.

If you are interested, you may read the short essay I wrote on Iraq.

Another commenter on the list was less forgiving:
Isn't it precious that Duin thinks that all this exchange with an emotional serviceman's parent exonerates him? That his cartoon was less hateful and less hurtful? It is at least disingenuous that he exploits this father's distress to find justification for what he did.

Steve Duin has lots of noble sentiments on Iraq. Too bad those sentiments don't include respect for the Iraqi people, or respect for the Americans who risk and sometimes sacrifice their lives to protect us and the freedom we hold dear.

2006-06-27

Night Flashes

Israel begins its op in Gaza ... IRIS roundup says Israeli body found in Ramallah, planes hit 3 bridges, and a second Israeli is reported abducted ... AP via JPost reports the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC) threatens to kill a hostage if Israel doesn't halt its raids ... the JPost has this: 'The IDF received reports on Tuesday night than an Israeli body was found in Ramallah. The security forces were investigating the credibility of the reports, Army Radio reported. Meanwhile, the security establishment has assessed on Tuesday that 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri from Itamar was in fact kidnapped. The assessment was made based on circumstantial evidence, without concrete proof.' ... Aluf Benn at Ha'Aretz says this means Olmert's convergence plan is on hold, in the face of increasing opposition from an Israeli public seeing Qassam attacks and an out-of-touch Prime Minister ... Israpundit quotes A7 reporting that 'The Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, stated early this morning that if Gilad Shalit is released and is safe and well, Israel will halt its current military operation in the Gaza Strip.' Israpundit isn't happy with that ...

Finally, Debka's latest update: 'First Israeli tank columns roll into southern Gaza Strip Tuesday night after Israeli air strike knocks out a main transformer station south of Gaza City. Palestinian sources say the Israeli force is taking up positions around Rafah where captured Israeli soldier Gideon [sic] Shalit is believed held by Hamas captors. Much of the territory has gone dark. Israeli artillery also opened up from the tank emplacements at Nahalf Oz, Kisufim and Sufa to prevent the Palestinians shooting Qassam missiles . The Israeli incursion followed breakdown of diplomatic efforts to negotiate the Israeli corporal’s release. Palestinians have been setting up sand barriers sown with explosives and mining routes in the path of Israeli tanks and armor and building concealed firing positions.' The captured soldier's name is reported elsewhere as Gilad Shalit; the civilian abducted two days later is Eliyahu Asheri.

Guadalcanal!

Regular readers of the Blogger site will already be familiar with my father's World War II memoir, which I am publishing online as Pacific Memories. Chapter 11 is now complete and we are entering Chapter 12 - and the fabled Guadalcanal:
Guadalcanal seemed the essence of jungle warfare as Americans at home and overseas came to know it. Its malevolent dense growth assailed one both physically and spiritually ...

Read the rest here.

Military Roundup

Jason on the Two-Timers. Jason van Steenwyck of Countercolumn rebuts Jay Rosen's soft talk on the duplicitous New York Times and Los Angeles Times:
Watch this: Rosen is going to admit that what the paper did is against the law, that it potentially harmed national security, and further stipulate that newspapers are "not above the law." And yet it's "too far" to talk about prosecuting the paper.

is there some chance that the story could have aided terrorists? I suppose I would say that there probably is some chance of that, yeah. And the Times is not exempt from the laws of the country, no.

Wow. Breathtaking.

What's it going to take, Jay? I mean, any of the rest of us would go to jail for divulging such details in a heartbeat. Sandy Berger got in heap big trouble for doing next to no damage to national security, other than perhaps tampering with records. I'd be sitting in Leavenworth right now if I posted about the SWIFT program on the web. Why? Because I'm not above the law, that's why.

If the Times is not above the law, as you say, then it is by definition not too early to talk about prosecuting them. The only way it is too early to talk about prosecuting them is if you do believe that they are, in fact, above the law that governs the rest of us. Sauce for the goose.

And Jason is just warming up. Go read it all at the link.

Good news from Yemen. By way of Jonah's Military Guys:
Task Force Rebuilds School, Clinic in Yemen
By U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Palomares

Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa

ADEN , Yemen , June 20, 2006 — The quiet, yet steady, humanitarian efforts of U.S. and coalition forces continue to foster stability in the region.

Thomas Krajeski, the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen , and U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Johnson, the chief of staff for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa , were on hand to officially dedicate the Zenab Girls’ Secondary School and the Al Mansura Clinic here on June 6.

"We believe the school will inspire young women to learn and we are confident that it will provide educational opportunities for future leaders. This work represents another step towards peace and prosperity throughout the region", U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Johnson.

“I am happy to be here with you all today to dedicate - or rather, to rededicate - the Zenab Girls’ School,” Krajeski said.

“This project is for you,” he said to the young women who will study at the school. ...

Which is not to say that all the news from Yemen is good ... be sure to stay on top of Yemen events with Jane at Armies of Liberation.

Michael Yon says: Reach out and care. Michael Yon profiles Brad Blauser:
1. How do you describe what you do with your project?

Through emails and networking, I help raise funds for donations to ROCWheels.org in Montana. ROC Wheels, among other projects, provides pediatric wheelchairs to soldiers in Iraq shipped via the Denton Program for distribution to disabled Iraqi children.
2. What inspired you to undertake this work?

In Summer of 2005, I asked friends and family on my email list to send over pediatric wheelchairs for disabled Iraqi children. One of my friends at Chapel, then MAJ David Brown (now LTC) with ‘Deuce Four’ (1-24 Infantry Strykers) told me of kids he meets while out on Medical Missions in the city who were disabled from Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida and various other maladies. I offered to send an email home to ask friends and family to coordinate the donation and shipping of twelve pediatric wheelchairs for these kids, and David accepted the offer. Within four weeks, 31 chairs were on location ready to be distributed. In the weeks that followed, CPT Matthew Fargo and medics of the 1-17 Strykers from Alaska were able to give a special gift of a different type of freedom to 31 Iraqi families. ...

Go visit the ROC Wheels site, and donate if you possibly can. I can personally attest that their online donation form works.

Morning Report: June 27, 2006

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Behind the media's smokescreen, Iraq makes progress as insurgent groups start to come around. New gestures between Baghdad and Tehran leave room for speculation, but there's no doubt that Israel means business on its western corner. And further south, a hideout becomes a last stand for three suspected terrorists.

A step in the right direction. The Belmont Club comments on Mohammed's post at Iraq the Model reporting that seven insurgent groups have expressed interest in joining the political process. ITM: 'So far, everybody in Iraq feels good about Maliki's plan and expressed their hopes for it to meet success and ease the suffering of the Iraqi people; everybody except for the Sadrists and the association of Muslim scholars who both criticized the plan and said it wasn't acceptable and expected it to fail. The question is do they are expecting it to fail only because they think it is not framed in a workable way or because they wish for it to fail? I'm afraid the latter is the likely answer.' They're not the only ones. The Belmont Club: 'The BBC will probably note that the initial intake will consist of groups peripheral to the real fighting, the weaker insurgent groups, the half-hearted Jihadis, and they will be right. However, Maliki is probably trying to get momentum going and the only way to do that is to work on the weakest links of the insurgency first.' (ITM, Belmont Club)

Iraq: The real world vs. the media's world. Strategy Page: 'One of the more interesting types of stories exchanged by Iraq veterans is how their embedded reporters get screwed by their editors. The basic problem is that reporters tend to get close to the troops they are embedded with, and the troops form a good sense of what kind of story is being written. But then, when the story appears, it often has no connection with what actually happened, other than the names of the reporter and the soldiers or marines. The troops get curious about how this can be. ... The answer to all these queries is simple. The reality of Iraq is too positive for the editors back home.' Full article at the link. (Strategy Page)

Ahmadinejad to visit Iraq. Marze Por Gohar: 'Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Iraq soon, the Tehran-based Fars news agency reported on Monday. The president will visit Baghdad in the coming weeks to meet Iraqi president Jalal Talabani and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, and then travel to Najaf where he will hold talks with Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Fars reports.' Meanwhile, Iran Focus reports that 'Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrived in Tehran on Monday to hold talks with Iranian officials, the government-run news agency Fars reported.' It's not clear what is behind these overtures. Could it have anything to do with an attempt by the IRI to intervene on behalf of Russians abducted in Iraq? Some items via Regime Change Iran. (MPG, Iran Focus, RIA Novosti)

Gaza: Rebuilding Israeli deterrence. Following a Hamas attack on an Israeli post that left two Israeli soldiers dead and a third captive, Israel is gearing up for a no-nonsense response. Debka: 'Steely lines of hundreds of tanks, thousands of armored infantry and commandos menaced the Gaza Strip as of Monday night, June 26, from three jumping-off points: the Nahal Oz base opposite Gaza City, Kissufim opposite Deir al Balah and Khan Younes in the south and Sufa opposite Rafah. Made up of the Golani and Givaty armored brigades and special operations units including the elite Sayeret Matkal, they presented a picture of armored might not seen for many years on the world’s television screens, even in US military sieges of Karbala and Falujja, in Iraq.' The Israeli site notes that the campaign is designed to rebuild the credibility of Israel's deterrent force in the Gaza area, while addressing numerous security concerns including the incursion of al-Qaeda into Gaza, the Palestinian takeover of the Philadelphi border crossing, and the continuing threat of Qassam attacks from the Gaza region. In assessing the likely course of the campaign, Debka concludes: 'A large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip must aim not only at rescuing Gilead Shalit but also replacing the bankrupt Sharon security strategy with a doctrine that arms Israel with the tools to repel and win the current round of the Palestinian war. This is a tall order for Israel’s top military tacticians. They must come up with a winning card when the Palestinians hold an ace, the hostage Gilead Shalit. ... DEBKAfile’s military experts do not expect the Palestinians to show massive resistance in the first stage of this operation, except for directing scattered Qassam, mortar and rocket fire against f the invading Israeli force. The real crunch will begin when Israeli troops strike into populated districts. But that will only happen if they fail to find the missing soldier in Rafah.' Go to the link for the full analysis. (Debka)

Three bombing suspects killed in Egypt. AP via Jerusalem Post: 'Security forces on Tuesday killed three people wanted for the bombings in a Sinai resort that killed 21 people two months ago, police said. The police shot dead Ibrahim Hameed Freg, his brother Sami and Ibrahim's wife Fawziya Musleh at a hide-out in a farm in the desert near El Arish, said the chief detective of North Sinai police, Gen. Adel Fawzi.' (JPost)

Who is Michael J. Totten? Fifty-one things you probably didn't know about Portland's citizen of the world here. (MJT)

Commentary. A month ago, an item on Marze Por Gohar headlined Iran-Iraq to Seal Border Against Insurgents attracted little attention. The report stated that
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran, on the second day of his visit to Iraq, said on Saturday that the two countries had agreed to form a joint commission to oversee border issues and that its primary task would be to "block saboteurs" crossing the 700-mile border.

"We plan to form a joint commission between Iran and Iraq to control our borders and block the way to saboteurs whose aim is to destabilize the security of the two countries," he said in Najaf after talks with Iraq's most powerful Shiite religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Mr. Mottaki, whose visit was only the second by an official Iranian government delegation since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, said improved border controls would be part of a wide effort to build close ties between the countries, including $1 billion in Iranian economic assistance to Shiite and Kurdish areas of Iraq.

It's hard to guess what is going on behind the scenes in the Washington/Baghdad/Tehran triangle, and Morning Report will refrain from speculating. But DebkaNet Weekly (subscription service) reports that Iraq's highest-ranking Kurdish leaders, President Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani, are not pleased with the possibility of a backing-down on Washington's part. Whether President Bush will hold the line against the Iranian mullahs remains to be seen.



2006-06-26

Morning Report: June 26, 2006

Friends and enemies. The New York Times may have bitten off more than it could chew this time, while governments learn the hard way that you can't please everyone.

NYT uproar continues. Outrage over the New York Times' decision to publish classified information shows no signs of abating. Gateway Pundit has a roundup. Hugh Hewitt has a rebuttal to NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller's attempts to justify the paper's actions. Michelle Malkin has a roundup and some motivational artwork. (various)

Russian hostages murdered. Debka bulletin: 'A video tape posted by an al Qaeda-led group Sunday showed three men called Russian hostages being killed. Four Russian diplomats were kidnapped earlier this month against Moscow’s withdrawal from Chechnya and release of Muslim prisoners. Two masked militants are shown beheading one man and shooting another. The beheaded body of a third appears on the tape. The fate of a fourth hostage was not clear. The murders are claimed by the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq.' The Belmont Club is reminded of a well-known fable: 'Aesop's fable about the The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey is meant to bring home the point that it's impossible to please everyone -- and that it is useless to try. That ancient story anticipates the difficulty of trying to win friends in the Jihad. ...' Read the article at the link. (Debka, Belmont Club)

2006-06-24

Ann Coulter, Deadhead

From James Hudnall by way of Pajamas Media, Ann Coulter is revealed to be a Grateful Dead fan.

(PS - The interview is worth reading in any case, but especially for the image of Ann Coulter covered in purple Crisco.)

This is funny, because I was just thinking about the Grateful Dead this evening. I always enjoyed their music, and I managed to catch a few concerts back in the day. What I loved about the music was that it was spiritual, deeply joyful, and always fresh and new. And, yeah, Jerry Garcia was simply an amazing guitar player.

I think Ann Coulter is on to something when she says "true Deadheads are what liberals claim to be but aren't: unique, free-thinking, open, kind, and interested in different ideas". That was always my impression too.

Would it be trite to say that I wish I'd spent more time listening to the Grateful Dead? It's true. And I think their music captured something precious and beautiful, something that's in danger of being lost in today's world. I'm glad I had the chance to get a glimpse of it in their music.

2006-06-23

Morning Report: June 23, 2006

Middle Eastern women move forward. Women see progress in Turkey, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, while a "home-grown" terror cell is busted in Florida.

Kuwaiti women vote, run for office. Amir Taheri:
Next week, Kuwaitis will go to the polls to elect a new National Assembly which will, in turn, approve a new prime minister and cabinet.

The Kuwaitis will be making history for a number of reasons. This is the first election in which women are allowed to vote, which means the size of the electorate has more than doubled. More importantly, and much to the chagrin of Islamists who insist that women are unfit to play any role in politics, a number of women are standing, often on a platform of radial social and economic reform.

With a native population of one million, Kuwait is one of the smallest states that form the Arab League. Nevertheless, its general election is important for the impact it is certain to have on broader Arab politics.

One reason is that the exercise will help consolidate the idea of holding elections as a means of securing access to power, something new and still fragile in most Arab states. Days before the Kuwaitis were due to go to the polls, the United Arab Emirates announced that it, too, would opt for a parliamentary system based on elections. This means all but five of the Arab states are now committed to holding reasonably clean elections at the municipal and/or national level.

SOME OF this new interest in holding elections is due to the impact of Iraq on the broader Arab imagination. Many within the Arab ruling elites saw, with a mixture of admiration and terror, how Saddam Hussein's regime, regarded as the strongest of the Arab despotic structures in recent memory, collapsed within three weeks.

The message was clear: An Arab regime without some mandate from the people is never more than a house of cards. ...

Read the rest at the link. Hat tip: Cinnamon Stillwell, via e-mail. (JPost)

More progress for Muslim women. Himadree at The Muslim Woman brings us several encouraging items. Turkey: 'here is a large-scale misunderstanding thrown by the ballad-like tradition among the Turkish community, that the Prophet had advocated the discrimination of women. Muhammad Ghourmiz, the Deputy Head of the Turkish Religious Affairs Administration says that such a statement do not hold any validity, and is purely a misconception put forward by the Muslims, to disguise their inappropriate way of maltreating the women folks. The religious administration has, in the wake of this stinking practice, asked all the religious clerics to redo all the text, thereby ordering 35 religious experts to compile a book, putting forth the directions laid by the great prophet, for the contemporary world on the role of equality.' In Bamiyan province in Afghanistan, large numbers of girls are enrolling in school: 'With the number of girl students increasing daily in the school, even school officials are quite optimistic that the day is not far away when the stigma of uneducated Bamyan girls will be washed away. According to the director of the Education Department, Haji Mohammad Ali Wasiq, this year, nearly 9,000 girls took admission. Moreover, out of the total students number of 78,534 almost 30,437 are girls.' Also from Afghanistan, some 1,500 Afghan women will receive police training from German instructors at a facility in India. (TMW)

Florida terror suspects indicted. CNN: 'A federal indictment against seven men revealed Friday details of what the government said was a terrorists' plan to "kill all the devils we can," including blowing up Chicago's Sears Tower. The "jihad" was intended to be "as good or greater than 9/11," beginning with destruction of the 110-story tower and FBI buildings, according to court documents obtained Friday by CNN. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in a news conference Friday, described the men as examples of "homegrown terrorists" who "may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda" and who have come "to view their home country as the enemy." Named in the grand jury indictment is Narseal Batiste ...' Full article at the link. (CNN)

Briefly noted. Gateway Pundit has a round-up of reaction to the New York Times' latest outrage.

Commentary. Today's items show, once again, that the battlefield is worldwide. Nor is any phase of the Long War confined to a single geographical region: terrorists can operate in the Middle East or in Florida, and the "information war" is by no means confined to the industrialized West.

2006-06-22

Stacy Bias in Curve

Congratulations to Portland's Stacy Bias for making the hallowed pages of Curve this month! (Hallowed page number twelve, to be exact.) Stacy is the brains behind Technodyke and the architect of Cupcake, an all-genders, all-sizes event in Portland. Stacy is a big figure in queer and fat acceptance activism. Here's her homepage.

You go girl!

2006-06-14

Interview with Ghazal Omid

Dreams Into Lightning exclusive: Interview with Iranian activist and author Ghazal Omid.

She is the author of "Living in Hell: A Young Woman's Life in Revolutionary Iran". You can read her columns here. I've previously posted on Ghazal Omid here and here. Now I'm pleased to be able to bring you an interview with her. I spoke with Ghazal by phone for about 45 minutes this evening. What follows is not a verbatim transcript, because I was taking notes by hand, but it does represent the essential points of our conversation.

(Please tell us your thoughts on the recent terrorist arrests in Canada.)
I've been telling the Canadian government about terrorism for a couple of years. Canadian laws are designed to protect everyone; the terrorists understand this and use it to their advantage. [Terror suspect Abdul] Kahar was from a family of terrorists - his father was an officer of Osama bin Laden, and was killed in Afghanistan. We could have had another 9/11 on our hands. Canada is a backdoor for terrorism because of lousy laws. We need to be more careful. When somebody is proven guilty, why are we keeping them in this country?

(On Muslim identity and government incompetence.)
I receive hate mail and phone calls every day, from Muslim fanatics. And yet, I was detained at the border for 45 minutes after I returned from Dubai. Another example: When I took [copies of threatning messages] to the police, they said, "you choose your actions, you receive your reactions." The police showed no enthusiasm and shrugged their shoulders. This is ludicrous. The government needs to know who the good guys and the bad guys are. I believe it's my Muslim duty, and my human duty, to stand up to terrorism. I'm with you - what are you going to do to protect me?

(Tell me about your upcoming three books.)
The first book is called "Poverty in Paradise". It's inspired by my trip to Dubai. In many countries like Dubai, they have a misrepresented image of the United States. It's a corrupted image. They think everyone is like Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. When I asked male acquaintances in Arab countries what they thought about America, they thought of women running around in bikinis. The image that's presented abroad, via satellite programming, is even more distorted than the portrayals on domestic television. Working-class North Americans aren't portrayed. Yes, the United States holds a large share of the world's wealth, but most people in America work very hard, long hours. They're not rich. I want to make people in other countries feel we all belong to the same family. My second book is called "Islam 101" and it's an introduction to Islam. The religious section is separate from the political section, because I feel these things should be kept separate. The third book is about Iran's future. It's essential to educate women and children if you're going to stop terrorism. You don't want to get to them when they're 20; you want to get to them when they're 3. This book will be a message of humanity and education about Islam and other things.

(You've brought up the subject of wealth and poverty, and the fact that many people in other countries have a false - and harmful - belief that "all Americans are rich and decadent". As you were speaking, I was reminded of the section early in your book "Living in Hell" where you describe the paradox of growing up being rich and poor at the same time. Can you tell me a little more about how this experience influenced your thinking?)
When I was 12 years old, my father would bring home money in potato sacks. When I asked him why, he said, "People give me money so I can hide it." They trusted him more than they trusted the banks. My mother would have me count the money by hand. She wanted me to hold it in my hand so I would get used to the feel of it and not yearn for it. But although Father didn't take care of us - how many days did I live on bread and milk? - we never took his money. He could leave it in his coat pocket and we would never touch it. I have my pride - I'm not gonna beg! But I want to educate people about what they can say and what they can't [so that they can speak out on injustice in a productive way]. I need to respect me before I respect anybody else; I need to love me before I can love anybody else.

(Tell me why, as a religious Muslim, you feel it's important to end the Mullahs' dictatorship in Iran.)
The Mullahs are parasites - they're charlatans. They are distorting the image of Islam; they're no better than bin Laden.

Apart from getting rid of the regime, what changes do you think are necessary for Iranian society?
Education is critical, especially for women. And cultural education. The practice of marrying young girls has nothing to do with the current government, they only increased the problem that was already there. Educating a young girl is like painting a masterpiece - it takes time. We need to raise a generation of strong women.

Do you think you might seek political office in a future, democratic Iranian government?
Yes. I will change the pace of society and work for women's rights. There will be a new sheriff in town!

(Other comments.)

Shirin Ebadi is an opportunist; millions of dollars are funneled to her organization.

When you have a charity in Iran, you have to have someone in the government [who's getting paid off]. When you give money to that charity, your money goes to the government.

Voice of America is using its funding the wrong way; it's actually helping the regime. The Iranian government shows the same images of wealthy, decadent Americans and says to the people, "look, do you want to be like that?" There have been some positive changes at VOA, but it needs to change more.

The US Government is wasting a lot of its money for Iran. Many of the grantees are crooks. The Iranian people need to see tangible efforts, not just TV broadcasts.

A couple of years ago, I saw how people in Washington State took up a collection from their own money to help Iranians after the earthquake. The US needs to do a better job of publicizing efforts like this - sometimes it's OK to let people know when you're doing something good.

I would have loved to help the US Government, if they would listen. I would like to immigrate to the United States, but it could take 15 years unless I can find a way to speed up the process. They did it for Pamala Anderson. Look, Pamela Anderson got into the US because of her breasts ... I should be able to get in because of my brain.

We can help children understand that they are not different from one another because of nationality. We can touch the hearts of children with things they can relate to. Things that touched me as a child: bedtime stories, and listening to radio programs. We love our history. If people in Iran knew how much other people around the world care, they would throw this regime out. If Americans and Iranians really understood one another, they would fall in love with each other.