Sunday, July 31, 2005 

Tricky Dicky Waghorne

See here and here for what some of the Goys over at the Freedom Bloggers have been up to.

As I remarked in one of the above posts:
"In view of the above, the Free Stater blog wishes to announce that we are happy to accept the unconditional surrender of the Freedom Institute."

So, where to hold them? I'm personally considering Donegal - sufficiently far from the reach of the protections of our law and Constitution (or so I've heard), and they can pass the time in explaining A Few Bad Apples to the McBrearty family.

Anyone else have suggestions?



Your humble Editor regrets to note that he has a long-standing committment to devote his attentions elsewhere for the next three weeks, so blogging is going to taper off for a while. In the meantime, readers are recommended to check out Best of Both Worlds, Back Seat Drivers and other good reads from the blogroll.

(And don't forget to follow the homepage links of commentators to posts - there's always hidden nuggets of gold out there, as yet unlinked-to by the gatekeepers)

Stay safe.


Sectarian Scumbags, and Idiots to boot?

Andrew McCann over at A Tangled Bigot:

"Fr Alec Reid - the priest who decided to sup with the devil and act as the messenger boy for Provo killers. A man who, in the course of the interview, couldn't even give Ulster's clear majority the common courtesy of referring to the province by its correct name."

Ulster is the correct name of Northern Ireland? Why does anyone blogroll this pair of clowns?


On the real nature of modern 'think tanks'


"In his book, The Paradox of American Democracy, John Judis recounts numerous anecdotes about several of Washington's most prominent think tanks. He asserts that the convergence of think tanks, corporate dollars, rich individuals, and foundations has birthed a new breed of influence peddlers.

This breed is being rapidly cloned and it's adding a toxic element to important national policy debates. It's also changing the fundamental nature of the way think tanks operate.

It used to be that think tanks were funded to do independent basic research that upheld the organizations' missions but wasn't targeted at creating a specific effect. Increasingly, though, think tanks are being funded to do applied research aimed at created what's called an "advocacy impact," seducing legislators and administration officials to adopt their policy proposals or to heed their counsel on important policy questions.

If that sounds like lobbying to you, you should know that it does to a lot of people who are a part of the think tank world and are concerned about these changes. "

(See the rest of this important read here)

This is something that I've blogged about before. The viral nature of these so-called 'think-tanks' shouldn't be underestimated, nor the degree to which they can take in the media and the general public, having perfected their act even down to the creation of faux-academic credibility.

Unfortunately, there is as yet no comprehensive resource for keeping track of these astro-turf operations here in Ireland (and in the inevitable UK offshoots). Perhaps a chance for Indymedia Ireland to make themselves useful...?


This is not the cure you're looking for

The Freedom Bloggers (tireless defenders of the Bush Administration line) outdid themselves Friday with their twisting of a statement by John O'Shea to further their agenda (see the comments - if they last - for the dissection of the FI post by Jim of Our word is our weapon).

O'Shea's bona fides as a humanitarian concerned with the suffering in Africa are beyond dispute (unlike some others I could mention), and he frequently delivers a needed kick of reality to the backside of governments and well-intentioned (but naive) celebrities. The attempt to contort his words into an attack on the existence on the UN is reprehensible but, alas, entirely predictable, given the politics of those behind it.

The same goes for the claims of Bush apologists that John Bolton - soon to become a recess appointment to the UN by Bush - will bring reform. People should reflect on the reality that the very people in the US pushing this argument are the ones who have deliberately done most over the past decade or more to hobble the UN. It should be beyond dispute that a major US Republican Party goal is to emasculate this body of the international community.

This is not to say that the UN doesn't need reform; far from it. Among other things, there is an urgent requirement to reconstitute the UN Security Council, both to better reflect today's realities of the most powerful nations and to limit the veto, the abuse of which is a primary cause of the UN finding its hands tied.

Would fixing the veto - the most necessary reform of all - find support among certain (right-wing) elements of those professing to have the best interests of the UN at heart? I leave that as a question which answers itself.

Postscript: RTÉ have what looks like an interesting documentary series coming up, on the subject of Irish soldiers serving abroad on UN duties. It's called "Tales from the Frontline", and it begins at 10.35pm on Tuesday 2nd August on RTÉ One.


More on Jean Charles de Menezes

In a familiar turn of events (at least, to anyone paying attention to the antics of Irish security/crime/whatever correspondants for the past couple of decades), it is now becoming evident that lies were quickly spun out to journalists to cover for the police killing of the innocent Brazilian on the London Tube last week.

Tom Raftery (in a departure from his usual tech news) has the details, along with a pretty good reason as to why head-shots don't necessarily work.

PS I see Dick Waghorne has now downgraded de Menezes from
"an attempted suicide-bomber"

to being
"wrongly thought to have been one of the dozen or so suspects in the London bombing"

Really? Just which suspect was he "thought" to have been, then?

PPS THIS Old Brit has an intriguing post.


Smile for the tourists

There really isn't much to say on the recent PIRA statement that hasn't been said elsewhere (as at Slugger). It's too early to say what the consequences of this action will be, if any. The redundancy of the statement was pretty evident in the lack of on-the-streets reaction to the news - after all, wasn't this what PIRA conceded seven years ago at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement?

(Though the simultaneous release of the statement on DVD has produced a lot of amusement in various quarters, and the Zwanzig Kommandant has thoughtfully published a translation of Provo-ese)

Having said all that, we see that Best of Both Worlds has been covering Bush Administration (and hangers-on) use of the PIRA statement as a prop for (real) US policy concerns like Israel. See here and here, for highly recommended reading. (United Irelander also covers this territory)

BoBW also have more on the current vogue for wingnuts to opine on the Irish economic miracle.


Paging Madam Editor...

Kevin Myers has lost his perch as the resident sycophantic 'Paddy' in the UK's Daily Telegraph, according to a recent Phoenix Magazine article (Vol. 23, No. 13). For those thoroughly sickened by this cowardly, dancing-on-graves* bastard; Schadenfreude ahoy!

For foreign readers who don't know who Myers is, think of a West-Brit equivalent of Mark Steyn and you're hitting very close to the mark indeed. This profile on Steyn could be re-applied to Myers with just a few minor cosmetic changes.

Phoenix gives a reason for Myers being given his marching orders:
"The reality is that [new Telegraph editrix] Sands recognises, even if the Conservative Party does not, that modern Tory supporters want a little more than the values and culture of early 20 thcentury Britain. One of Sands’ three new columnists is Jeremy Paxman, who probably isn’t even a Tory but who is a journalists’ journalist. As well, intelligent British right-wingers recognise that ‘the war’ in Ireland is over (the Telegraph has always been more MI6 than Five) and Colonel Myers’ despatches from the front line may not carry the same sense of urgency in times of armistice."

The magazine further speculates on where Myers (whom it guesses owed at least half his income to the Torygraph) may decamp to next with his English public school boy ideologies:
"The really interesting question now for the Colonel is whether he decides he needs alternative sources of supplementary income. Myers nearly defected to The Sunday Times because The Irish Times would not give him the sort of remuneration he regarded as commensurate with his talents. A compromise was reached whereby Myers was allowed to write for the Telegraph,which has a small Irish market and does not, therefore, greatly threaten the IT.


Myers has been playing footsie with the Sunday Independent for some time now and in a fawning interview with Myers two years ago, Sindo editor, Anguish Fanning, described the Colonel as a “genius”. Myers, in response, praised Tony O’Reilly to the heavens, declaring that he was a “benevolent .... very successful .... honest .... unintrusive newspaper proprietor”."

Atholbooks reproduces more on the subject of Myers' wooing the Sindo (from Angela Clifford articles) here and here. A curious addition to this little drama is that Steyn has become a weekly op-ed contributor to the IT, which makes Myers more than a little redundant as the resident right-wing Anglophile.

Will the Colonel soon become a Soldier of Fortune?

(* Some will remember Myers' own contribution to this, which he published in the IT on the very day of the funeral of Captain James Kelly of Arms Trial fame)

Monday, July 25, 2005 

A Few Words from The Editor

Wow. 1,000 visitors, and that's only since I put in the hit counter. Many thanks to those who linked, those who read and those who commented. All appreciated, guys (and gals!). I have, in turn, done my best to un-mangle my bog-trotter grammar and chk my splling sum mre. In addition to (ahem) adapting a more legible Blogger template than the one the Free Stater blog started with.

I promised someone (a while ago) my own humble little thoughts on this whole 'blogging' business. Here they are: it's nowhere near as powerful as you think, and it's more influential than you think. How can that be?

Because most bloggers aren't read by anything more than a tiny slice of the Internet community, who in turn are a tiny slice of 'real' society. And yet in the States they've become a peculiarly effective tool at manipulating the gossipy, insider world of the 'real' media - who do set the public discourse. It'll take a good while longer in non-First Amendment countries, but as the arena sorts out the professional wheat from the amateur chaff you'll see the better-known bloggers start to get referenced as more than novelty pieces. (Of course, you could cheat)

Am I a blog evangelist, then? No. People should realise that blogging is just a tool, no better or worse than the brains behind it. Most of the top US political bloggers are 'someone' in their own right outside of this hypertexted medium, with either genuine expertise/talent, insider connections or that one great Idea. And for all the bragging on Powerline, they're reliant on the real media to provide them with nearly all of the content and controversy they chew over.

Blogging is a self-publishing medium with a low threshold (the costs of being able to use a computer connected to the Internet). That's it, that's all. It's up to people to create something interesting with it. Find your niche. Write to your strengths.

UPDATE: more reality-checking from Sigla.

Finally, a little treat for some of you out there to chuckle over. As the (former) regular commentator hands from the 'Freedom Institute' blog will recall, the impetus for this blog was my getting tired of the heavy censorship (and outright deletions) which have become the norm with the wilting flowers over there. Who can dish it out (under sock-puppet aliases) but, alas, can't seem to take it.

So, just imagine my guffaws at the sheer chutzpah on display when I fired up Safari and discovered the following FI announcement:

"Announcing Comment of the Week
There have been lots of really great contributions in the comments of late. As you'll know if you read them, they're a good mix - often critical, but usually constructive. Many are excellent and we're very grateful for them. We've decided that once a week or so we'll be posting the 'Comment of the Week' which is our way of recognizing top-drawer comments and to give them a second outing. There aren't any specific criteria we'll be doing this by, but likely contenders will be substantial, on-topic, constructive, and well-informed, adding value that wouldn't be there otherwise. Agreeing or disagreeing with the FI's position isn't a consideration [...]"



"a personal disaster"

For Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent Brazilian man shot seven times in the head by London police on Friday morning, it surely was.

"Outside Stockwell station, police claim that they challenged him and ordered him to stop. Instead, Menezes ran. Eyewitnesses reported that up to twenty police officers in plain clothes pursued Menezes into Stockwell station, where he jumped over the ticket barrier, ran down an escalator and tried to jump onto a train. He was pushed to the floor of the carriage. Two officers pinned him down, while a third shot him seven times in the head and once in the shoulder with a handgun. He died at the scene.[5]

There are conflicting reports as to whether the undercover police properly identified themselves, attempted to restrain the man on the floor, and if any verbal warning was given before the man was shot. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair later said, during a press conference, that a warning was issued prior to the shooting and that an air ambulance was called afterwards; however, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mark Whitby, a passenger on the train Menezes had run onto, said: "one of [the police officers] was carrying a black handgun—it looked like an automatic—He half tripped... they pushed him to the floor, bundled on top of him and unloaded five shots into him." Another passenger, Dan Copeland, said: "an officer jumped on the door to my left and screamed, 'Everybody out!' People just froze in their seats cowering for a few seconds and then leapt up. As I turned out the door onto the platform, I heard four dull bangs."[6] Police have since stated that eight shots were made into Menezes' head. Another witness, Lee Ruston, who was waiting on the platform, said the police made no efforts to identify themselves. Police policy toward suspected suicide bombers had been revised, instructing officers to fire directly toward the head. The claim had been that based on experience abroad, shooting at the chest would possibly explode a bomb belt.[7]

Menezes' cousin, Alex Pereira, who lived with him, asserted that Menezes had been shot from behind: "I pushed my way into the morgue. They wouldn't let me see him. His mouth was twisted by the wounds and it looked like he had been shot from the back of the neck.""

(From Wikipedia)

The glee on the right-wing after this killing was fairly predictable (Dick O'Brien has more). The facts are that an entirely innocent man was butchered by police. This was manslaughter. Perhaps some right-wingers are now thinking of covering their own asses (after spending all Friday gloating over his death) when they insist on the utter blamelessness of his executioners.

The header quote is from a commenter on the FI's blog. Who have, it must be said, fairly outdone themselves in joining in the scummery after this man was shot dead. From Friday:

"London police make the right call
This morning's shooting of an attempted suicide-bomber before he could detonate his explosives is a success for the London police. Already the criticism has begun, implicit in this Guardian report, an explicit, in criticism from Muslim groups.


Critics of the police actions are arguing, and there are no two ways about this, that the police at that point in time, amidst the uncertainty of the situation and the possibility of an explosion at any moment, should have given someone they presume to be attempting to commit an act of terrorism the benefit of the doubt. That is not a reasonable argument. If this wasn't a good time for the use of lethal force, there never is one.
posted by Richard Waghorne"

The FI douchebaggery continues in the comments to that post. One particular FI comment:

"I just think the answer to the question they asked was pretty self evident on this occasion - i.e. - Yes, the police were right to shoot the guy.
Keith Mallon"
Another is here:
"Oh, and I don't think every use of force requires an investigation. Not every car crash or every industrial accident requires an investigation. Where nobody raises good grounds for an inquiry, having one anyway is a waste of time and resources and gives the impression that there is something wrong when there been no reason to suspect so.
Richard Waghorne"

Our final FI Thought for the Day is a real gem:

"When journalists get the idea that all authority and all state action should be questioned regardless the rot sets in."

Viva la Freedom Blogger Revolution!



Via Atrios:

"The Justice Department blocked efforts by its prosecutors in Seattle in 2002 to bring criminal charges against Haroon Aswat, according to federal law-enforcement officials who were involved in the case.

British authorities suspect Aswat of taking part in the July 7 London bombings, which killed 56 and prompted an intense worldwide manhunt for him.

But long before he surfaced as a suspect there, federal prosecutors in Seattle wanted to seek a grand-jury indictment for his involvement in a failed attempt to set up a terrorist-training camp in Bly, Ore., in late 1999. In early 2000, Aswat lived for a couple of months in central Seattle at the Dar-us-Salaam mosque.

A federal indictment of Aswat in 2002 would have resulted in an arrest warrant and his possible detention in Britain for extradition to the United States.

"It was really frustrating," said a former Justice Department official involved in the case. "Guys like that, you just want to sweep them up off the street."


At the time, however, federal prosecutors chose not to indict Aswat for reasons that are not clear. Asked why Aswat wasn't indicted, a federal official in Seattle replied, "That's a great question.""

Can this US Administration get anything right? Honestly?

Or do they really just not care?

Thursday, July 21, 2005 

Welcome to Globalization Institute think-tank

The "Freedom Institute" have just brought to our attention the launch of Alex Singleton's Globalization* Institute in the UK.

We at DICK would like to extend our very warmest welcome to all this hip gang (watch out for Archbishops and those do-gooders at Our word is our weapon, Alex!)

As our fellow veteran Freedom Fighter Richard Waghorne remarks:
"Committed to fighting old-time statists and leftist commentators, Alex Singleton and the Globalization Institute are a vital and vigorous addition to the think-tank world. Congrats on their launch in London this week. Check out the photos and speeches."

Always willing to take our good friends in the FI at their word, we did. We are glad to see their broad political spread of links to sister organisations concerned with the well-being of the Third-World. Which fits right in with their stated motivation that:

"We believe that globalization is a force for good. Only by integrating the poorest into the world economy can we put an end to the poverty that still blights much of world today."

Cheers! (Keith, care to enlighten us as to whether this is a good vintage?)

* Why the Americanised spelling, guys?


Bush-lovers' naivete knows no bounds

The "Freedom Institute", today:

"Over-reaction to US-Ireland agreement
Much comment has been made regarding the agreement between the US and Ireland to facilitate extradition and associated procedures with a view to better fighting the War on Terror. Characterizations of the agreement as giving the CIA a free hand in Ireland, rampant on Irish blogs and beyond, are far off the mark. The facts of the matter are straightforward. The consent of the Irish government is needed to proceed with an investigation, as anyone who's read the document knows. It's right here. Skip to Article 7 if you're looking for the consent bit. The anti-American scare-stories of unchecked CIA agents operating without Irish consent have no basis in reality."

Scare-stories? I don't think so.

UPDATE: Dick O'Brien has more, as does Bernie Goldbach.


So, where's Michael Collins then?

Silly Young Blueshirts.

W.T. Cosgrave was never Taoiseach.


Rove: "I am a source, not a target"

Above photograph from Crooks and Liars, who caption it:

"In this photograph taken in June 2003, Karl Rove, senior advisor to President Bush and Robert Novak are pictured together at a party marking the 40th anniversary of Novak's newspaper column at the Army Navy Club in Washington DC. At the event a number of people wore buttons reading, "I'm a source, not a target." Rove is at the center of a controversy about the leaking of a CIA operative's identity which originally appeared in Novak's newspaper column. (AP Photo/Lauren Shay)"

Ambassador Wilson appeared (yesterday?) on the Al Franken Show. Listen to him here and here (thanks again to C&L).

Point-by-point rebuttals of the innumerable (and often very silly) GOP talking-points on Plame here.


Men of the South

(Above from the incomparable Phoenix Magazine)

Ken Loach has just finished filming on his Irish War of Independence film (due for release in 2006) "The Wind That Shakes The Barley". Based on a Paul Laverty script, this epic will follow two brothers played by Cillian Murphy and Liam Cunningham as they fight British forces in an IRA flying column.

The Daily Telegraph has a short diary piece from Loach here. Empire (a UK film magazine) says:

"The Wind That Shakes The Barley is set during the Irish War of Independence, when the Irish finally threw off the yoke of the English oppressors. Or revolted against their lawful government, depending on your point of view."

Now, there's an interesting poll to take of the "Irish Blogosphere" - which view would you take?

We know how the Sashes over at A Tangled Web would answer, but how would, say, our Anglophile friends at the Freedom Institute reply - without incurring the disapproval of their English Tory mates?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 

Was the Iraq War worth it?

The Irish Eagle (whom I admit I mistook at first for one of the Axis of Anglo-American Wingnuts, and now apologetically blogroll) writes:

"In 2002/2003 I believed that if the US opted not to invade that (a) Saddam's regime would continue until his death, (b) that one of his maniacal sons would take over and (c) when the regime eventually fell it would be in a Yugoslavia type blood-bath. That rationale convinced me that from the perspective of the average Iraqi, the prospect of years more of Saddam followed by a civil war was less preferable than the US invasion and occupation.

So far, I think that still holds, but if the civil war comes anyway, then the upside of the US invasion is much reduced. Stabilizing Iraq must remain priority number 1. Leaving a stable, free and prospering Iraq will be the greatest achievement for the Iraqi people and for the War on Terror, but we are still a long, long way from that goal."

I can't say that I have any personal problem with the notion of removing a dictator from power - if (and that's a big 'if') the price of war is cheaper to his people than the price of doing nothing. But this war wasn't begun on the premise of human-rights but on the claimed evidence of Saddam having WMD. Evidence we now know was fabricated, likely by US wingnuts unknown.

I had at the time (and continue to be depressingly proved right) absolutely no faith whatsoever in the Bushies not screwing the Iraqi people, either through deliberate Machiavellianism or by sheer ineptitude while blinded by neocon ideology. The Bush Administration isn't from Planet Reality, folks (I mean, does it inspire confidence that El Presidente bestowed these three with medals?).

And the unfortunate inhabitants of Iraq (like the Vietnamese of decades ago) are going to continue to suffer for wrong-headed American ideology.


Halos slipping for Aer Lingus management?

Aer Lingus (the Irish national airline) have embarressingly suffered the leak of a twelve-point memo outlining dirty tricks to push staff into taking redundancy. As RTÉ reports:

"The controversial discussion document indicated a range of options including the so called 'tap on the shoulder' approach to some supervisory staff that they had no future with the airline.

Another involved downgrading of cabin crew's traditional liveried uniform in favour of t-shirts and jumpsuits and tedious training programmes for pilots."

It is also reported that shifts were to be maliciously changed in order to put pressure on staff members with children. This is despicable behaviour, folks.

The hapless present Aer Lingus management insist that this plan was only a draft and was never put into action, but it provides a sharp reality check as to how the minds of at least some of these too-highly-paid gurriers - the unimpugnable saints of our time - think. Staff at the airline are furious, and who can blame them?

Regular Aer Lingus watchers will remember former wunderkind Willie Walsh (CEO at the time of this memo) and his two sidekicks departing the airline under a cloud earlier this year. This hurried exit came about after it emerged that they were already scheming to launch their own low-cost competitor (a management buy-out offer having been rebuffed by the Irish Government).

Mr. Walsh's eventual destination? He's now taken over at British Airways, where the UUP's David Burnside once did a roaring trade in dirty tricks at the behest of management. Ironic?


"Europe's Biggest Folk Festival"

Visit Res Publica for details. Next week - the Ku Klux Klan; merely a persecuted and misunderstood Southern Confederate heritage group?

(The appalling bigots over at A Tangled Web - predictably enough - reinforce Deaglun's point on a regular basis)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 

Irish Farming and the CAP

Richard Waghorne (not, it is to be presumed, from a farming background himself) writes:

"There is no need for the state to fund agriculture. If the appearance of the countryside is the issue, hire landscapers. It would cost of fraction of the current burden."

Look, there is more to our country and our society than just being an 'economy'. The disappearance of the CAP would devastate the small farmers who form the backbone of so many communities in rural Ireland. I don't think that any decent Irish people would look on that prospect as being a good thing, and no rural TD is going to commit electoral suicide by being stupid enough to support it.

The 'Freedom Institute' and other laissez-faire advocates like to drone on about the market this and the market that, but (as Galbraith might remark) the "market" itself is most certainly a fiction in this day of large corporations wielding extraordinary economic power. Even if it were not, the Government has a duty of care for the nation as a whole, not just big business.

The only meaningful alternative to the CAP would be to force the large supermarket chains to pay a fair price for produce, to reflect the value of the goods they're buying. And that's not very likely to happen, so the CAP goes on.

UPDATE: In comments, Kevin Breathnach brings up the point - isn't the CAP an injustice to African farmers?

I'll put my neck on the line here and say no. The trade issue with Africa has mostly to do with cash crops like tea and coffee, which the EU agricultural system has nothing to do with.

UPDATE II: More on this topic from Fine Gael today. Listen here at 37:35, and read here. People really want rid of the CAP? Fine, then take action to correct the market.


Brits getting out of the Iraqi quagmire?

Looks like it. They're also showing signs of exasperation with the Bush administration. From the same article - UK Defence Secretary, John Reid:

"If we had an open-ended presence there, and were never envisaging that the Iraqis could take control of their own country, we would be rightly criticised for long-term imperialist ambitions"

A couple of subtle digs at the Bush administration, perhaps?


Irish Times obituaries

...are always fascinating for what's left out.

Take Ted Heath, former (Tory) British Prime Minister, who died Sunday night. From his Monday 18th obit. in the IT, we learn such immaterial tidbits as his having been "a musician and a international class yachtsman".

But, nary a word about Bloody Sunday.

Which, you would think, could be assumed to loom rather large in his legacy from an Irish point of view. I know that we shouldn't expect much better from the Irish Times (cf. deceased Stickies, especially ones who wrote for the IT), but Madam Editor's audacity is nonetheless breath-taking.

It's left up to the Shinners to mention Derry, and Professor Ronan Fanning to remark (rather cryptically) that Heath's reputation had"nowhere to go but up" in relation to Ireland. Both are relegated to a side-panel tucked at the side of the main article.

So much for the 'Paper of Record'. Does the Irish Times have no shame?

UPDATE: More on this here

Friday, July 15, 2005 

DICK Steadily Rising

The Dublin Institute for Culture and Knowledge (DICK for short) continues to grow. We are currently recruiting for prospective Members, and, as our trusty Atlas Foundation start-up kit states:
"In interviewing potential employees, it's important to not only ask the usual and thoroughly expected questions (such as, "Why do you think you're a good fit for this job?"), but also to ask the questions that may come as a surprise. Meaningful questions a candidate may not have planned for can often give you a glimpse of the person's real character and capabilities, as well as insights into how they may handle impromptu situations. Get the person to think introspectively. If you find a person who just cannot be introspective (self-analytical and self-critical), than you have probably found someone so full of himself that he or she is not teachable"

Of course, there is also the vital "sex appeal" factor:
""Excite" status is a very subjective and it's based on gut feel. "Exciting candidates" raise comments such as: "This candidate is going to teach us a thing or two." "Wow, it will be very cool to have this person representing the Mackinac Center." "He's very impressive." "Other people on the staff will have no trouble looking up to, and liking, this guy.""

Bearing all that in mind, we have decided to admit we haven't a clue be original and ask potential recruits to suggest your own Portfolios and why you feel your résumé ideally suits you for this role.

(Or else include an interesting/funny/sexy personal photo. We're not fussy, and TV always loves good-looking spokespersons. And we are still guaranteed at least some amusement.)

Emails to freestater 1916 at hotmail dot com, please.

Also, P.O'Neill at Best of Both Worlds has expressed concerns about the finances of our organisation. I am pleased to reassure readers that someone at the Atlas Foundation has already endorsed the time-honoured Irish solution to this problem:
"Focus on New Ways to Leverage New Opportunities

In the US, we are living in an unprecedented time - there are currently more new dollars available at a faster rate than ever before, due to intergenerational transfers.

"This nation will witness an unprecedented transfer of wealth-to heirs, government, and charity-over the next 50 years," writes Boston College professor Paul Schervish in a Boston Globe op-ed. According to an economic model he and a colleague developed, at least $40.6 trillion will change hands from 1998 to 2052-and that's a very conservative estimate. If one instead assumes that the rate of saving will remain at the usual historical level and that the average real growth of the economy will equal the 3 percent annual average of the past two decades, then the actual transfer of wealth will total $73 trillion. And even that figure refers only to estates at death, ignoring the large gifts to family and charities that occur during Americans' lifetimes. Combining lifetime philanthropic giving and charitable bequests, Schervish estimates $10 trillion to $25 trillion of personal wealth will go into charities during the 50-year period. After interviews with over 200 high net worth individuals, Schervish concludes, "wealth-holders are eager to use their money wisely"; the new philanthropists seek "a new relationship between donors and charities." They "approach their philanthropy in the same entrepreneurial spirit with which they made their fortunes." (Philanthropy, May/June 2002, p. 5)

Our job is to channel as much of it as possible to our work. Find potential donors who share your values."

So there you have it - the Elderly Relative Strategy. Now if you'll excuse me, I've an important appointment in Kinsealy.

(And did we mention that we have just adopted - as a central policy plank - our opposition to an activist judiciary hounding retired Taoisigh?)


London Bombmaker Captured - BBC

Good news, if it turns out to be true.

Also, some more from AmericaBlog on the Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan epsisode that I've commented on previously. This is a scandal that has gone unremarked in the media over here. Are the press doing their job? Doesn't look like it, and don't hold your breath waiting for mention of it in the Anglo-American corner of the Irish blogging scene (pertinent example here).

From AmericaBlog (quoting AP):
"The disclosure to reporters of the arrest of an al-Qaida computer expert jeopardized Pakistani efforts to capture more members of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, government and security officials said Tuesday.

Two senior Pakistani officials said initial reports in "Western media" last week of the capture of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan had enabled other al-Qaida suspects to get away, but declined to say whether U.S. officials were to blame for the leak.

"Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaida suspects ran away," one of the officials said on condition of anonymity....

But the Pakistani officials said that after Khan's arrest, other al-Qaida suspects had abruptly changed their hide-outs and moved to unknown places."

Scandalous, but not very surprising. The Iraq aftermath has been a disaster of US Republican mismanagement based on policy of wringing the maximum (domestic) political and financial gain for Republicans and their supporters, usually at the expense of getting the job done.

Why weren't the US armed forces expanded, instead of the mind-boggling tax cuts to Bush donor constituencies? Why was there a policy of staffing the CPA with Republicans with little or no expertise for their tasks? Why does Adhmad Chalabi still have US patronage?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 

Honouring Sacrifice

Please go here (registration required) to David Horowitz' FrontPage magazine and add your voices to my praise of the brave stand made in the GWoT (Global War on Terror) by Richard Waghorne and his Freedom Fighters.

FrontPage columnist Steven Plaut says in the article:
"In contrast, a nice critique of the Indymedia anarcho-fascists was published by the Freedom Institute of the Republic of Ireland, denouncing the Indymedia pro-terrorists. These Irish freedom fighters denounce the "anarchists" for violent rioting in Scotland against the G8 leaders meeting there, forcing police to divert manpower from London area just when they were needed there: "The regulars at the Institute for Autonomy, where most of the Indymedia UK inner circle hang out, are almost certainly unharmed, as they were engaging in recreational public disorder hundreds of miles away in Scotland and successfully diverting police resources from the capital. Well done compadres!" "

Indeed. As I wrote in the comments there:

"Date: 7/13/2005 7:47:05 PM
Name: EWI
Subject: Freedom Institute, Freedom Fighters
Comment: Well, I say that these Patriots be honoured as the Irish Republican heroes that they are!

I want to be more like them, as do many other Irish people in this Islamofascist-loving Socialist dictatorship."

UPDATE: More here, here and here from the poison keyboard of Horowitz nemesis Michael Berubé. Truly, is there no end to Liberal Hate?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 

Good on Kos

Glad to see Markos is getting a grip on conspiracy nuts over at DailyKos (his community blog). If I had a euro for every "Bush was behind 9/11" theory I'd heard out on the 'internets', I'd be able to retire.

Indymedia Ireland, please take note? And I'm saying this as someone who's had to endure more than one SWP speech in my time. It's for your own good to weed out the crazies.

[UPDATE] In comments, some liberal apologist is trying to excuse loony left commenters by suggesting that Indymedia's open posting policy is to blame.

Nonsense, I say. I mean, do the forums of right-wing blogs look to you as if they think they have anything to hide?


The Blame Game

From the usual sources:
"The true culprit of terrorism
It has become common for the political commentators to spread misconceptions about the driving force of the modern-day terrorism [...] Behind the terrorist acts of al Qaeda lies nothing else but profound ideological incompatibility of the attackers with the libertarian set of values.

They want God, they want the Society or they want the Party to be responsible for their lives. Hence the praise and the understanding the Islamic extremists receive from the European left. They fight for the same cause and against the same enemy.
posted by Domenico"

I doubt al Qaeda's murdering Londoners just because of crackpot laissez-faire Libertarian policies. Please, get a sense of perspective - or at least decency.

Oh, and here's someone who wants "God [...] to be responsible for their lives". I believe the FI may know him.

And he (unlike the Leftist boogeymen so beloved of the FI) may have actually aided Bin Laden's attack on London through gross incompetence.

Monday, July 11, 2005 

A Shameful Anniversary

Ten years ago today, Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic entered the UN "safe haven" of Srebrenica triumphantly, with television cameras beaming the pictures to the world.

The Dutch battalion responsible for the protection of the enclave - vastly outnumbered and outgunned, unwilling to fight, and abandoned by UNPROFOR - essentially surrendered and allowed the expulsion of 23,000 Bosnian Muslims from the town in the following 30 hours. Around 8,000 captured Bosnian men and older boys were then systematically massacred by the Serbians over the next few days.

Too late, this bloodbath became the rallying-call to the international community to 'do something'. Both Ratko Mladic and his political master, Radovan Karadzic are now fugitives wanted for war crimes but remain at large, likely protected and hidden within Serbia itself.

The soul-searching official Dutch report into this episode was published as Dossier Srebrenica. I strongly suggest that students of international conflict read this sobering document, and note similarities to the American experience in Somalia. Also the record of an illuminating conversation between the top UN officials in Bosnia, as well as Bianca Jagger's article on the massacre here and concluded here.

As she says:
"Throughout the conflict and its aftermath, there are those who have advocated a policy of neutrality and inaction in Bosnia because they argue, it keeps the blood of our hands. The blood may not be on our hands, but it is already on our conscience. Dante wrote: "The darkest place in Hell is reserved for those who, in a period of crisis, claim neutrality." Bosnia has been a failure of our morality. It has also been an indictment of international law and order."

Darfur, anybody?

[post revised 12th July 2005, with added links and minor edits]

Sunday, July 10, 2005 

Tony O'Reilly's Chutzpah

From a prominent eircom advertisement on page 5 of the Money&Markets supplement in today's Sunday Business Post, Chairman Tony proclaims:

"Staying close to customers and responding to their needs will be the best guarantee to deliver solid returns

[...] the challenge for eircom going forward is to recognise that the customer is always right. I have commended it to management and I commend it to shareholders as a paradigm of the way to continue to build value in this great national enterprise"

Unfortunate, then, that on page 2 of the main section of the SBP reporter Pat Leahy writes in a piece entitled "Eircom to cut operator times on 999 calls":

"Eircom has ordered emergency 999 operators to spend less time on each call in an effort to cut costs.

Previously, 999 operators stayed on the line after the emergency call had been forwarded to fire, ambulance or gardai as they could often correct details such as the location of the call.

However, under new work practices, the operators have been ordered to end the call once they have taken some details and forwarded the call.

One staff member commented: “Last week I could be sacked for not staying on the line because it was considered necessary. Now I can be sacked if I do stay on the line.”

Internal company documents assert that the operators' involvement in the calls “is not as critical as used to be . . . the completion of call ticket information should not unduly delay the release of a call or the return to receiving the next call from the queue'‘.

Staff said the moves were part of a constant squeeze to secure more productivity and put pressure on the remaining civil servants employed by Eircom. “People are being asked: ‘Where have you been?’ when they return from toilet breaks,” said one staff member."


Further from the same piece of eircom advertising fluff in this Sunday's SBP:

"On regulation

"It remains beyond comprehension why a cable into a house is unregulated, a satellite service is unregulated but a copper wire is regulated to within an inch of its life."

"It is ironic that the main barrier to investment is the risk created not by the market but by the regulator. If the regulator is unable to do its best to ensure that there is an adequate incentive for investors, then they should at least practice forbearance in the face of unpredictable markets for new technologies""

A monopoly arguing against regulation? How shocking.


Shake'n'Bake Think Tank

So there I was, browsing for interesting Ann Coulter pics political websites and I came across this "Atlas Economic Research Foundation" outfit on the internets. So far, so what, says you.

Well, this Foundation (which seems to have been set up by the U.K.'s pioneering battery chicken farmer) turns out to be a leader in setting up 'local' Libertarian astroturf operations think tanks worldwide.

Apparently there's not too much involved in getting these things going. In fact, the Atlas Foundation even supply a helpful toolkit, which I hope lefties out there don't get hold of. My attention, needless to say, was immediately piqued. My very own think tank? Why not!

First, some necessary precautions.
"Political Affiliations
Because the work of an institute involves national and local policy issues, there is inevitable confusion as to whether the institute is 'political,' or whether its free market preferences automatically associate it with 'conservative' administrations. It is imperative to avoid reinforcing misperceptions by affiliations with political persons, i.e., on the board or among the authors. Potential donors are shy of sponsoring a party-oriented group. Our objective--to find and publish better solutions to problems in hopes of assisting policy decisions--is a totally nonpartisan approach. Many issues have not been adequately studied (i.e., money systems, educational systems, retirement systems, etc.), so no literature or body of opinion, whether left or right, supports any course of action whatsoever."
True. We wouldn't want to be recognised mistaken for being little more than a front organisation for radical right-wing political hacks.

I also learn about employees, whom I'm pleased to say are subject to cutthroat 'free-market' personnel management practice:
"Regarding the firing employees, here’s a parting comment that Brian Tracy, one of America's leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness, once shared. He asked the question "When is the best time to fire someone?" The answer he suggested: "The first time you think about it." Though it sounds terribly cold and impetuous, he explained how most methods of trying to work things out eventually lead to a firing anyway. By cutting losses immediately, everyone is spared the hurt and costs of a long drawn out process. Again, as Joe Lehman warned above, these ideas may not work for everyone, but they are certainly worth considering based on the experience of these management experts."
All good advice, I'm sure you'll agree.

Then we move on to areas of opportunity:
"Products, Publications, and Programs
Use Scarce Resources Wisely and Borrow Shamelessly

There is a host of low-cost, easily reproducible products that can help get your institute off the ground. Most institutes in the Atlas network will freely offer reprint and publication rights of their articles. If you see an article that addresses a topic that you would like to get involved in, check with the institute. Ask if you can publish their piece, perhaps with a new cover that would better reach out to your audience. Of course, clear credits to the home institute will be required, but that reinforces the message that you are part of a broader, cohesive network.


One of the cheapest and quickest ways of getting a book out is to grab some worthy academic on his way through your country and build a seminar around him; get all your supporters in for a dinner, then publish the findings. (Greg Lindsay, Centre for Independent Studies, Australia)

When we started up, we 'borrowed' the IEA book, Verdict on Rent Control. About half of our best selling book, Rent Control: Popular Paradox, was purchased from the IEA for $500. The other half we added for local interest. I recommend it as a tactic for smaller, newer institutes. They are welcome to any of Fraser Institute's back publications without charge, and I am sure the IEA would be willing to allow that as well. One crucial point, however, is that there must be a section of the book that relates the broader international experience to local circumstances or else the locals will miss the point! (Michael Walker, The Fraser Institute, Canada)
Blatant plagiarism is good? Perhaps I might want to set up a blog for our 'output', just in case I get called on it.

Next, we learn about the importance of networking with other activists independent think-tanks:
"Building Coalitions
Intellectual entrepreneurs frequently ask about building partnerships with other think tanks, institutes, and organizations. Two general rules will help guide you in making decisions about this: 1) stay true to your mission, and 2) draw from available resources to garner strength. Take advantageous of opportunities that enable you to achieve both. For some issues, you may find that you can come together with organizations that your institute is traditionally at odds with. This may offer an opportunity to show that you are wedded to guiding principles, and not political winds. Remember, coalitions, need not to be permanent, and in many cases, they should not be. Instead, they should be viewed as opportunities to marshal greater resources to achieve a specific objective.

In contrast to the temporary coalitions, several institutes in the Atlas network have had great success in building longer-term coalitions that meet regularly, following the Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform) idea. In this model, institutes invite different organizations to participate in monthly meetings. The idea is to offer a venue to invite local organizations – from taxpayers associations, to real estate people to bankers – to hear the ideas and join in support."
Grand, duly noted.

So, I now have my blog, but how to spread my propaganda analysis out to the general, non-blog reading public? Happily, I have a roadmap to bluffing my way on to the nation's airwaves:
Communicating Your Ideas - Develop Media Lists
(The comments below are excerpts from the article, "How Can Think Tanks Win Friends And Influence People In The Media?" by Brian Lee Crowley. The full text is available on the Atlas website)

Having sound ideas and doing the research to back them up are certainly a key aspect of your work, but it is only one half of your job. The other half is putting a lot of energy into strategic thinking about communications, and putting that strategy into effect.

The place to start is not with ideas, but with personal relationships. Journalists are moved much more by personal contact than by the best ideas in the world. One way that they economize on scarce time is by having a stable of people, experts in their field, in whom they can have confidence, knowing that if they are told something by these people, they can put a great deal of weight on it without running the risk of looking stupid or foolish.

Put your expertise to good use. Scour the newspapers and television for people who habitually report on issues that you are interested in. Begin to feed them information, on a piecemeal basis, through calls and letters. Be selective. Carefully cull information that they can immediately recognize as allowing them to write better stories on these themes - more hard-hitting, insightful, and controversial. Be very certain of your facts (remember, this is a confidence-building exercise) and document them with care. And (this is very important) don't be concerned at this stage about getting credit. Let the journalist look good thanks to your efforts. You will have accomplished two things. First, you will have established yourself in the journalist's mind as a credible source, and he or she will have a sense of being indebted to you. Then, and only then, can you really expect media people to take an interest in the things that you think are important. (Brian Crowley, Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, Canada)

Through our programs and publications, we "platform" people. Once they are on media lists as experts, they pop up for years, even decades, on radio and television - all because of one institute publication. It is very attractive and we do not pay much at all because the "research" is a sunk cost.! (John Blundell, Atlas and Institute of Economic Affairs, United Kingdom)"
Wow, I'm learning a lot.

Now I've come to the thorny issue of what to name the thing. Fear not, dear readers. The Atlas Foundation have thought of that too. They provide the following helpful advice:
"Select a Name
In choosing a name for the institute, there are several things to think about. Is there a readily apparent "nickname" or abbreviated name that flows easily? ("Atlas" from "Atlas Economic Research Foundation" works, but "Michigan" doesn't from the "Michigan Public Policy Institute") Is this nickname unique or do others also use it? Is it one you would like to be known as? Remember, press credits are difficult if an institute's name is too long. Does the acronym work, or does it spell anything odd?

Names such as "Freedom Institute" are not very descriptive. Then again, some institutes deliberately pick names that convey little information in the hopes that it will enable them to participate in a wider variety of opportunities. Think about the level of information you would like to convey in your name. Your decision may rest on the culture within which you work - if the name you choose is likely to generate hostilities because of misplaced assumptions associated with certain words, you might want to go with something less descriptive."
And very wise counsel that is too. After all, something as innocent-sounding as the given "Freedom Institute" example may turn out to be already taken by someone who perhaps failed to read the instructions properly. They go on:
"We started with another name, and then changed it to the Adam Smith Institute, something more recognizable. We try to cultivate an image of standing very high, because the higher you stand, the further your voice carries." (Eamonn Butler, Adam Smith Institute, United Kingdom)

Some institute entrepreneurs also caution against picking a name that has an "ideological" word like “freedom” in it.

In all that you do, make it difficult for the opposition to tear you down. If you put the word ‘freedom’ in you name, for example, you will be making it easier for your opposition to stigmatize you as ‘ideological" or more specifically, "right-wing." While there’s nothing wrong with being ideological (indeed, it’s usually a sign of consistent thinking), the opposition unfortunately has been largely successful at convincing the broad public that there's something wrong, narrow-minded or biased about people who have strong, clear conclusions that follow from solid premises. The work you put out will quickly convince the already-converted that you are indeed pro-freedom, so you don't need "Freedom" in the name to attract them. Generalize the name a little more and you can potentially attract the attention of others who are not yet completely on your side and engage them in a conversation about the ideas. Think of the CEOs of companies you want to attract to your board -- because they don't want to lose customers, they steer clear of things that seem to be tagged as strongly of one perspective or the other.” (Lawrence W. Reed, Mackinac Center for Public Policy Midland, MI)"
Of course, a major problem we're going to have with my our new think tank is that we're likely to have sniping by begrudging Irish smart-asses.

But of course, we at DICK (Dublin Institute for Culture and Knowledge) can reassure ourselves that it's down to jealousy by our intellectual inferiors. After all, the Institute is a ground breaking new initiative, designed to develop policies to make Ireland a better place for all of its citizens. Our principles can be described in four key points, namely pro-kittens, pro-happiness, anti-bad things and against dying.

The core activities of the Dublin Institute are simple. We bitch regularly to influence citizens to support our principles. Our staff are always available to discuss our position on any issue with the media, under the influence or sober. In addition, we propose to organise regular seminars throughout Ireland to spread our message, in a public house of your choice.

Membership is free to all, though buying a pint always gets you brownie points - and maybe a Senior Associate title, too, if we're in a good mood.

Saturday, July 09, 2005 

For those proclaiming the 'Triumph of the Blogs'

Please, now is not the time.

From Andrew Orlowski in the Register:

"For the technology evangelists, the glee is barely containable. The daily business of congratulating each other jumps to a whole new level with all the bloggers marveling in unison at their ability to detail real-time tragedy.

December's tsunami, which left over 100,000 dead in Asia, rapidly became an excuse to trumpet the superiority of those using this new technology. Although far more people read first hand reports from friends via email, it was the weblog evangelists who touted it as a breakthrough.

London's terror bombings left over 50 dead yesterday, but that was beside the point. The real significance of the attacks, burbled one blogger, "is yet another exemplary case study in using this electric medium as both a means and a space in which to communicate". Digging deep into her contacts book for an impartial expert, a reporter for The Guardian got as far as a colleague.

"Blogs excel as an arena for people to exchange first-hand experiences and many witnesses to the events in London told their tales online while bloggers from around the globe sent messages of support and condolences," we learned.


Yesterday, several veteran writers who use the weblog format urged others to put the event into perspective.

"Now is not the time to point to a ‘wiki’ setup to collect information about the bombs in London, and smugly say how much better it is at covering the news than the New York Times," wrote Shelley Powers. "Now is not the time to bring up the incriminations of why this happened and use it as fodder and ammunition in this stupid oneupmanship that characterizes too many of the popular web sites.

"Don’t use this event to promote weblogging."

Seth Finkelstein called it for what it is: "ambulance chasing".

I agree entirely. (And perhaps some print and TV personalities could limit their "ambulance-chasing" as well?)



Peter Nolan at the 'Freedom Institute' writes today in the course of a piece:

"The regulars at the Institute for Autonomy, where most of the Indymedia UK inner circle hang out, are almost certainly unharmed, as they were engaging in recreational public disorder hundreds of miles away in Scotland and successfully diverting police resources from the capital. Well done compadres!"

A lot of commentary is devoted over at the FI (as well as at their Indymedia Watch Ireland offshoot) about how dreadful Indymedia posters are, some of it unfortunately true.

But our US Republican Party-influenced friends at the Freedom Institute could do with taking a long, hard look in the mirror before casting stones at others.


A dose of Reality-Based commentary

Tim Simpson of the publictheologian blog mirrors some points I've recently been making here about the (metaphorical) "War on Terror":

"All the tanks, all the bombers, all the ships all the hundreds of thousands of soldiers about which the president likes to boast he has deployed in the war on terror did not save a single soul in London today. All we are doing in Iraq is creating a giant zone of recruitment and training ground for more America-haters. We aren't stopping anybody from anything, but are rather pouring gas on an already burning fire.

We have got to fight this war smarter, rather than harder. This will not be won with armies, but with accountants, translators, detectives, and informants-- namely the kinds of resources at which the president sneers. We must get out of Iraq as soon as possible, not as a capitulation to terrorism, but as the first positive step to defeating it. Once we're out, the giant recruiting zone and training ground for world terrorism that Iraq has become will immediately go out of business. The fledgling government will undoubtedly have difficulty maintaining some stability, so other countries in the world who have some credibility with the Iraqi people as countries not interested in world domination will have to step up and take a role."

The unilateralist approach (so beloved of the UN-hating constituencies in the GOP base) is in danger of failing in Iraq and in the "War on Terror" generally. It is difficult to fault the Spanish, Italians and others for wanting to get off this Bush train-wreck. It is an untenable situation for a sovereign government to place its' soldiers in a warzone subject to the over-riding whims of an incompetent US leadership.

While the political appointees of the Coalition Provisional Authority were busy creating a free-marketeering Utopia, Al Qaeda and others were infiltrating and organising. The ideologies governing the present US administration, though, trap US foreign policy to a losing course. Where is the broad international coalition we need to bring peace, security and prosperity?

UPDATE: More from publictheologian:

"We have fallen into the trap that has ensnared the Israelis--we are on someobody else's turf trying to control things inside the House of Islam and can't seem to bring ourselves to get off of it lest we be thought weak. The Israelis have been doing this same song and dance for nearly sixty years, but hopefully someone in our country will wake up and get us out this mess before we too are in it for that length of time."

The $200 billion cost so far of the Iraq war could have been invested in a lot of sucking up of Al Qaeda's recruiting pool worldwide. And American troops could be put to much better use elsewhere, like Afghanistan.

Time for the Bush administration to finally bite the bullet and ask the UN to take over in Iraq? Time, also, for the Arab League to step up to the plate?

Friday, July 08, 2005 

We are all Londoners

A cliché, but true going into this weekend. As of now, the number of dead has gone past 50 with more bodies likely to be recovered. British Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said that it "was a failure of intelligence in the sense that we didn't know this was coming." It most certainly was.

A Book of Condolences has now been opened at the British Embassy at No. 29 Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 (beside Bewleys). It will be open today, Monday and Tuesday.


Bombed London Neighbourhoods

Duncan Black (known to his fans as Atrios) has an interesting comment on the location of the Tube station bombs:

"Edgware Road

When I lived in London I lived about 6-8 minutes from Edgware Road tube station, one of the stations impacted by today's terrorist attack. It wasn't the station I normally used for my commute, but it was probably the closest one to me. The neighborhood is as Garance describes it - heavily Middle Eastern, and the center of wealthy Middle Eastern immigrants in London, the ethnic community having been formed when people were getting rich off high 1970s oil prices and buying London property with their petrodollars. While it's a bit much to try to divine the precise intent of thus unknown terrorists, and I can't say if Garance's analysis is precisely correct, it is true that the choice of subway lines/targets is quite interesting - it did follow a path, roughly, from one center of Middle Eastern London, the poor one, to the other center of Middle Eastern London, the rich one.

It certainly isn't the set of targets someone would choose if they were going out of their way to minimize the deaths of London's Muslim population."

While this could be taken as indicating the easiest targets for the (presumably) Middle Eastern agents of Al'Qaeda to hit, it certainly shows a definite lack of concern for causing British Muslim casualties yesterday - an Al'Qaeda trademark.

UPDATE: the always-excellent TAPPED has more.

p.s. via Atrios, Fox News editor Brit Hume on first hearing of the London bombings:

"I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."

Nice to know where US Republican thoughts were on a day like this.

Thursday, July 07, 2005 

Did American actions help Al Qaeda strike in London?

Did Bush Administration officials intentionally out a valuable double-agent, just before the British could roll up Al Qaeda cells? Did internal US political needs leave London vulnerable?

From Pakistan's Daily Times (via DailyKos):

"On 2 August, the Bush administration blew the cover of double agent Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan. A day earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge had announced a new alert against an Al Qaeda plan to attack financial institutions in New York and Washington. When the New York Times pressed certain administration officials for more information, they disclosed to the newspaper that the information regarding the Al Qaeda plot had come from a recently arrested man in Pakistan named "Khan." The New York Times published his name on Monday. The later editions spelt out the full name.

Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan's analysis is more daring, "The announcement of Khan's name forced the British to arrest 12 members of an al-Qaeda cell prematurely, before they had finished gathering the necessary evidence against them via Khan. Apparently they feared that the cell members would scatter as soon as they saw that Khan had been compromised. (They would have known he was a double agent, since they got emails from him Sunday and Monday!) One of the 12 has already had to be released for lack of evidence, a further fallout of the Bush SNAFU (situation normal all fouled up). It would be interesting to know if other cell members managed to flee. Why in the world would Bush administration officials out a double agent working for Pakistan and the US against Al-Qaeda?"

US Senator Charles E. Schumer asks:

"Last Sunday, one or more senior American officials leaked details of the capture of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, the 25-year-old Al Qaeda computer engineer, to the news media. Mr. Khan had been providing invaluable information to our allies, because he continued to maintain contact with Al Qaeda operatives even after his capture by our allies.

According to several media reports, British and Pakistani intelligence officials are furious that the Administration unmasked Mr. Khan and named other captured terrorist suspects. Yesterday’s editions of the Daily News in New York reported Pakistani Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat is dismayed that the trap they hoped would lead to the capture of other top Al Qaeda leaders, possibly even Osama Bin Laden, was sprung too soon. "The network is still not finished," Hayyat said. The Daily News also quoted a British security source saying this development "makes our job harder," and Reuters quoted British Home Secretary David Blunkett saying that there is ''a difference between alerting the public to a specific threat and alarming people unnecessarily by passing on information indiscriminately.''

and Professor Juan Cole finishes up:

"The announcement of Khan's name forced the British to arrest 12 members of an al-Qaeda cell prematurely, before they had finished gathering the necessary evidence against them via Khan. Apparently they feared that the cell members would scatter as soon as they saw that Khan had been compromised. (They would have known he was a double agent, since they got emails from him Sunday and Monday!) One of the twelve has already had to be released for lack of evidence, a further fall-out of the Bush SNAFU. It would be interesting to know if other cell members managed to flee.

Why in the world would Bush administration officials out a double agent working for Pakistan and the US against al-Qaeda? In a way, the motivation does not matter. If the Reuters story is true, this slip is a major screw-up that casts the gravest doubts on the competency of the administration to fight a war on terror. Either the motive was political calculation, or it was sheer stupidity. They don't deserve to be in power either way.

Reuters quotes British security expert Kevin Rosser speculating what might have been the political calculation if that was the motivation. He
' said such a disclosure was a risk that came with staging public alerts, but that authorities were meant to take special care not to ruin ongoing operations. "When these public announcements are made they have to be supported with some evidence, and in addition to creating public anxiety and fatigue you can risk revealing sources and methods of sensitive operations," he said. '

So one scenario goes like this. Bush gets the reports that Eisa al-Hindi had been casing the financial institutions, and there was an update as recently as January 2004 in the al-Qaeda file. So this could be a live operation. If Bush doesn't announce it, and al-Qaeda did strike the institutions, then the fact that he knew of the plot beforehand would sink him if it came out (and it would) before the election. So he has to announce the plot. But if he announces it, people are going to suspect that he is wagging the dog and trying to shore up his popularity by playing the terrorism card. So he has to be able to give a credible account of how he got the information. So when the press is skeptical and critical, he decides to give up Khan so as to strengthen his case. In this scenario, he or someone in his immediate circle decides that a mere double agent inside al-Qaeda can be sacrificed if it helps Bush get reelected in the short term.

On the other hand, sheer stupidity cannot be underestimated as an explanatory device in Washington politics."


Underestimating the Enemy

John McGuirk resuscitates the cadaver of the old Bush "they hate us because we're free" meme, going wildly OTT in the process:

"...What he, and others, have never been willing to debate, however, is why it is that they consider us to be "Infidels", worthy, in their own words, of "slaughter".

The answer is simple.

We are infidels because we view women as equals.
We are infidels because we view homosexuals as equals.
We are infidels because we grant all our citizenry an equal say in the election of a government.
We are infidels because we believe in religious freedom.
We are infidels because we tolerate Page 3 of the Sun Newspaper.
We are infidels because we allow the sale of Alcohol in our society.
We are infidels because we do not outlaw free speech.

The list goes on..."

This blind repetition of the standard GWB talking-point is a mistake, because it causes us to dismiss Al Qaeda as unsophisticated in both aims and means (and to underestimate their strategy). This is dangerously short of the truth. Bin Laden himself was a Westernised, educated playboy from a rich and influential Saudi family.

If we are going to beat Al Qaeda, then we need to fight them a lot smarter than we have to date. Falling back impotently on the so-called 'flypaper' strategy isn't working, and has left the West with a long-term war in Iraq that will be a major success to Al Qaeda if we don't commit every resource to it.

There needs to be an honest levelling by the American government with the West as to the nature of what we face, and the true costs involved if we're going to beat it. Simply fiddling the annual terrorism figures doesn't cut it any more.

As Professor Juan Cole notes today:

"[Michael Sheuer, retired CIA analyst of Bin Laden] said that "chickens were coming home to roost" for US and UK politicians who had obscured the nature of the al-Qaeda struggle by maintaining that the organization attacks the West because "they hate our values."

Scheuer believes that al-Qaeda is an insurgent ideology focused on destroying the United States and its allies, because its members believe that the US is trying to destroy them. Al-Qaeda members see the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, backed by the US; US support for military regimes like those of Pakistan and Egypt; and US military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of a US onslaught on Islam and Muslims aimed at reducing them to neo-colonial slavery. That is, specific Western policies are the focus of al-Qaeda response, not a generalized "hatred" of "values."

Scheuer opposes any attempt to configure the struggle against al-Qaeda as simple crime-fighting. He believes that they must be addressed through a thorough-going counter-insurgency effort."

ADDENDUM: The Free Stater blog endorses the common-sense of the Bull Moose!

UPDATE: Best of Both Worlds is keeping an eye on the twists and turns at the ever-fascinating (in a morbid sense) NRO's The Corner.

They also have a few (well-deserved) unkind words for Andrew Sullivan.


Denial is a river in Iraq

Richard Delevan has some thoughts on why the Bush administration are still losing the metaphorical War on Terror:
"They're winning.

And tomorrow, when the papers and RTE and the blogs and the Indymedia playpens are filled to capacity with the sadly predictable rhetoric blaming the victims for living in a 'crusader' capital, blaming Tony Blair, blaming George W Bush, blaming Western capitalism, blaming oil companies, blaming everyone -- except the people who actually set off the bombs killing, at last count, nearly 50 people; except the people who taught them to kill as an act of worship -- they will have won again.

Already the dominant metaphor is the goalkeeper. Some will inevitably get by, it's said. Nothing we can do about it. Bollocks.

There is an alternative. And it isn't finding out what it is they want us to do and doing it as quickly as possible.

It is what some are already doing, at great cost. Go where they come from. Stop them there. Persuade, cajole, bribe or if necessary force change in the societies that produce them. So that the clearest path to paradise doesn't run through twisted metal and mangled flesh.

But because the means to that end are not always pretty, or noble, we'll hear more tomorrow that those means "provoked" this attack.

They're winning.

Not through their force of arms. Through our lack of courage."

This is a load of rubbish. Blaming the Democrats pinko leftie traitor media is a GOP trick that passed its sell-by date around 1972 or so (it's unsurprising that the Freedom Institute's Richard Waghorne enthusiastically concurs with this nonsense in comments).

The bald fact is that Osama Bin Laden tonight is somewhere free and snug, laughing his ass off at all of us. Going into Afghanistan was the right thing to do; however the Bushies couldn't wait to fuck up, and promptly let Bin Laden and his lieutenants escape from Tora Bora to fight another day.

Afghanistan was then swiftly abandoned to re-encroaching Taliban by this US administration, eager to seize the moment to invade Iraq under a (knowingly?) false premise. And that's where we stand today, with a good portion of the US military marooned under virtual siege while Al Qaeda continue to thrive. I wonder how the Iraqis feel about being sacrificed as flypaper?

The US Congress and people were hoodwinked into Iraq, where neither the WMD or Al Qaeda were. Building a working democracy there out of the resulting Bush-driven clusterfuck - and we cannot afford to fail - will be a long haul of a decade or more, taking up a majority of US energy and attention. Advocating invading yet more Muslim countries is utter insanity.

Al Qaeda appear to be holding all the cards, now. And whose fault is that? Who is to be held accountable?

Not powerless fools like George Galloway, or Michael D. Higgins. Not Indymedia, or the Irish Times.

President George W. Bush and the ruling US Republican Party. No-one else. Just what happened to the Party of Personal Responsibility?

UPDATE: More on how the Bush administration is 'winning' the "War on Terror" here

UPDATE: Why is Fox News pleased to see innocent Londoners murdered today?

UPDATE: Talk about inappropriate comments. Fox News again, this time yesterday.

(Multiple hat-tips to Eschaton)

UPDATE: Best of Both Worlds blog has tracked down the genesis of the Flypaper theory.

UPDATE: Tuppenceworth agrees.


Getting our priorities right?

The Freedom Institute note:

"Thursday, July 07, 2005

Markets largely unaffected

After an initial large drop, no doubt attributable to uncertainty as the situation developed, markets have stabilized at a modest loss:

"One hedge fund manager speaking anonymously said, "It's hard to see how this is going to be a big deal for the US in the longer term. I think it's going to be a blip on the market's radar screen."

In late morning trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite were both down 0.7 per cent at 10,194.80 and 2,053.61, respectively. The S&P 500 index fell 0.7 per cent to 1,185.37." [FT, unlinked]

posted by Richard Waghorne at 6:37 PM"

p.s. one further point for the FI folks: it's "suicide bomber".

UPDATE: in response to comments to this post, I acknowledge that it's not just the FI who are giving consideration to the stock-market effects. But when this has become the rather callous norm, it shows badly on the state of Western society.


Ken Livingstone Statement

Mayor's Statement
7 July 2005

This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.

Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11th in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour. The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.

I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy. That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.


"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


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