2007-09-07

Morning Report: September 7, 2007

A friend of the Democrats makes an unscheduled stop, terrorist acts are stopped in Europe, an opposition witness meets an untimely end in Egypt, and analysts discuss the future of two Middle Eastern neighbors.

Norman Hsu busted on train in Colorado. MSNBC: 'Disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was arrested in Colorado late Thursday after he failed to show up for a court appearance related to a felony theft conviction. FBI agents took Hsu into custody at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., said FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler. Hsu had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to turn over his passport and ask a judge to cut in half the $2 million bail he posted last week when he turned himself in after spending 15 years on the lam from a felony theft conviction.' Gateway Pundit has a roundup, and comments: 'Is anyone else out there surprised that Hsu was found?... Alive and in the US?' Here's the San Francisco Chronicle: '(09-06) 20:52 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Fugitive political fundraiser Norman Hsu, who skipped out on San Mateo County authorities this week rather than face sentencing for a 1992 fraud conviction, was apprehended Thursday night by federal and local lawmen in Grand Junction, Colo. Authorities said Hsu was taken into custody at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction at 7 p.m. local time. He had been on the lam for almost two days after failing to appear in a Redwood City courtroom Wednesday to surrender his passport.' SFGate goes on to say:
The size and scope of Hsu's contributions made him one of the party's largest individual contributors. While he gave $23,000 to Clinton and $7,000 to Obama, he also gave $62,000 to New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, $50,000 to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and $50,000 to the New York State Democratic Party.

His contributions also included $38,000 to the Tennessee Democratic Party, $750 to [SF Mayor Gavin] Newsom, $1,250 to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, and $3,500 to the 25th Ward Democratic Organization in Chicago.

In the 1991-92 grand theft case, Hsu was charged with bilking about 20 investors, including his ex-girlfriend, out of about $1 million in connection with a business that was supposed to provide latex gloves to another firm - only no gloves were ever bought or sold, prosecutors said.

"What Mr. Hsu was in the business of was running a Ponzi scheme," prosecutor Ron Smetana said at a preliminary hearing, according to the transcript. "He was taking money and spending part of it on himself and returning it as it was available. As with any Ponzi scheme, the first ones in and the first ones out always do quite well. Those (who) hope that their investment will continue and stay to the end tend to lose their shorts."


German authorities stop plot on Ramstein. National Review:
German authorities have arrested three Islamic terrorists, and are looking for at least ten others, in connection with a plot to strike multiple targets — most prominently, Ramstein Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport, critical hubs for American military operations and civilian travel, respectively.

Investigators believe the terrorists planned to execute their attacks soon. They would have been a high-profile way of commemorating the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Just as significant, the German parliament, like the American Congress, is about to consider questions bearing on whether and how to fight the West’s Islamist foes. On the table is whether Germany will extend the deployment of its NATO forces in Afghanistan, or pull out, as its antiwar Left urges.


FGM thwarted in Germany. Another terrorist plot was averted in Germany, AINA reports:
Police in Bremen, Germany, raided an apartment recently not to arrest any terrorists but rather to prevent two of its occupants from being terrorized by another form of barbarism: female genital mutilation. In what has been described as "a first" by a German women's organization, authorities in the northern, port city were able to intervene and thwart a planned, female circumcision of two girls aged one and four. The infants, taken into state care, were to have undergone the horrifying procedure in their 25-year-old mother's native country of Gambia at a female circumcision ritual.

However, the girls' German father discovered the mother's gruesome plan when he returned home one evening and found two packed bags and his daughters missing. Very fortunately for the girls, their father was vehemently opposed to the hideous ordeal his wife of five years, whom he had married "according to Muslim law", was planning for them. Already aware of the father's fierce opposition to her scheme, the mother had hidden the intended victims among countrymen at another apartment, from which at least the one-year-old was slated to leave the next day for the West African country.

An ensuing, loud argument between the two parents about the mother's scheme luckily drew a visit from the police, now keen on finding the two little girls. The mother, however, refused to help the authorities and was taken into custody for obstructing police. But other Gambian women indicated where the toddlers were hidden, leading to their timely rescue.

Those girls were luckier than some 30,000 (that's thirty thousand) women living in Germany, according to the article.

Iraqi SOF, US troops detain two Al-Qaeda. MNF-Iraq: 'Iraqi Special Operations Forces, with U.S. Special Forces acting as advisers, detained two al Qaeda in Iraq cell leaders during an operation Sept. 6 in Adahmiyah, Iraq. The Sunni extremists are responsible for conducting improvised explosive device and mortar attacks against civilians and Coalition Forces in the area. One of the detained cell leaders is allegedly an assistant al Qaeda in Iraq financier. The second suspect directs and carries out IED attacks against Coalition Forces. Intelligence indicates that on July 11, the cell detonated an IED on a U.S. convoy securing the Adhahmiyah area, and that on Aug. 2 the cell members again detonated an IED on another U.S. convoy in the Ras Al Hush area. A third suspicious individual was also detained for further questioning during the operation. ...'

Key witness in Ayman Nour case found hanged in cell. Via Sandmonkey: 'One of the key witnesses and defendants in the trial of Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nour was found hanged in his prison cell in central Cairo yesterday morning, security sources said. Ayman Esmail Hassan, who during Nour's trial retracted his testimony against the politician, hanged himself with a sheet in the prison where he was serving a five-year sentence on a charge of forging documents, they added. Hassan said he had made up his testimony under pressure from state security police, who had threatened members of his family.'

De bello Mesopotanico. Charles Krauthammer sees a second-best outcome in the likely partition of Iraq:
A weak, partitioned Iraq is not the best outcome. We had hoped for much more. Our original objective was a democratic and unified post-Saddam Iraq. But it has turned out to be a bridge too far. We tried to give the Iraqis a republic, but their leaders turned out to be, tragically, too driven by sectarian sentiment, by an absence of national identity and by the habits of suspicion and maneuver cultivated during decades in the underground of Saddam’s totalitarian state.

All this was exacerbated by post-invasion U.S. strategic errors (most importantly, eschewing a heavy footprint, not forcibly suppressing the early looting, and letting Moqtada al-Sadr escape with his life in August 2004) and by al-Qaeda’s barbarous bombing campaign designed explicitly to kindle sectarian strife.

Whatever the reasons, we now have to look for the second-best outcome. A democratic unified Iraq might someday emerge. Perhaps today’s ground-up reconciliation in the provinces will translate into tomorrow’s ground-up national reconciliation. Possible, but highly doubtful. What is far more certain is what we are getting now: ground-up partition. ...


Ledeen debates Fernandez on Iran. Michael Ledeen responds to Richard Fernandez at Pajamas Media:
On the prospects for democratic revolution in Iran, Richard generously says that “not everyone” will accept my conclusion that the country is in a pre-revolutionary state. Indeed, hardly anyone in Washington does. On the other hand, Amir Taheri agrees with me, and he’s very good. Richard’s objections remind me a lot of the debates in the latter years of the Soviet Empire. Some of us–very few–believed that the Soviet Empire was hollow, and would fall if given a good shove. Reagan shoved, and the Empire collapsed. But we were constantly told that we were nuts, that the Soviet Empire would last a long time (Professor Kennedy, very much in vogue in those years, forecast that the Soviets would outlast us), and that we should not be so confrontational.

And yet…it fell.

Read the rest at the link.

Commentary. I don't have much to add to today's reports, except that the "ground-up" process matters. In the Middle East, Europe, and America, real change will come from the people. I cannot possibly offer a judgment as to whether Ledeen or Fernandez is correct about the feasibility of Iranian regime change from within, but as we continue to learn to "think globally" - and more important, act locally and globally - we will find strength in solidarity with our democratic (small d) allies in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and the world.