Plame Resurfaces

Just when I was beginning to believe that the outing of an undercover CIA agent for political revenge was going to slip from memory without any heads rolling, apparently there are some who haven’t forgotten and are putting the pressure back onto the Administration. Senators Daschle and Levin, in no uncertain terms, are demanding an accounting of the progress made so far by the Justice Department on the investigation in their LETTER of December 22, 2003 to Ashcroft.

“On September 29, 2003, we wrote to you and to the President requesting the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of an undercover CIA officer. You rejected this request, stating that the Department of Justice would initiate a criminal investigation of this matter instead. However, based on what we have seen to date, it is far from clear that the Administration and your department are truly committed to taking the steps necessary to apprehend the person or persons responsible for this grave national security breach.

“More than five months have passed since the first press report disclosed the name of the CIA officer and more than two months since your investigation was initiated…Given your refusal to name a special prosecutor and the fact that you are a political appointee of the President, receiving briefings on an investigation of officials of this Administration creates, at a minimum, the appearance of a conflict of interest…

“We believe it is essential that you give our intelligence community personnel, the Congress, and the American people confidence that the Justice Department is thoroughly and aggressively pursuing all leads in this case without concern for its political ramifications. Recognizing that this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we request that you provide us with an overall status of the investigation, including the number of people the Justice Department has interviewed, the number of briefings you have received, the general types of information you are briefed on, what conditions you have placed on the scope of these briefings to ensure the independence of this investigation, and whether you have discussed this case with senior Administration officials outside the Justice Department…” (see rest of letter)

Destroying Their “Utopia” in Order to Save It

Light blogging this week—sorry—but this story was too good to pass up. I guess the Israeli government has run out of Peruvian Native Americans to import for demographic padding, because now they’re shipping in “lost tribes” from India.

“This is my land,” said Mr. [Sharon] Palian, a 45-year-old widower who left a lush rice farm and brought his three children with him from the Bnei Menashe community in northeastern India. “I am coming home.” Yet by making their home here, over the hill from the Palestinian city of Nablus, they have thrust themselves onto the front lines of the Middle East conflict.

Now, Israel’s immigration policy should be no one else’s business, but not when they stick the immigrants in Palestinian territory. The policy of moving new Israelis into settlements is particularly amusing in light of the controversy over Palestinian right of return. Of course, the dispossessed are not amused:

“Israel can bring lost tribes from India, Alaska or Mars, as long as they put them inside Israel,” said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator. “But to bring a lost person from India and have him find his land in Nablus is just outrageous.”

Why bother importing folks just to dump them in someone else’s yard?

[P]eace Now, an Israeli group that monitors settlements, says the recruitment of far-flung groups with questionable Jewish ancestry is part of an effort to raise the number of settlers and to increase the Jewish population relative to the Arabs.

But, gosh, why would poor folks want to move to the Sweden of the Middle East? Oh, what a mystery:

It is not clear what prompted the Bnei Menashe to begin practicing Judaism. In the 1950’s they were still Christians, but they began adopting Old Testament laws, like observing the Sabbath and Jewish dietary laws. By the 1970’s, they were practicing Judaism, Mr. Halkin said. There was no sign of any outside influence. The Bnei Menashe wrote letters to Israeli officials in the late 1970’s seeking more information on Judaism. Then Amishav contacted them, and the group began bringing the Beni Menashe to Israel in the early 1990’s.

Lest We Forget…

Has it really been more than two years since the anthrax attacks — and still no one arrested? Hard to believe! We’ve managed to bag Saddam, who never did anything to us. But Ashcroft, Ridge and untold billions of tax dollars later there are still no arrests, still no information on how anthrax from a government lab managed to get released. Note there is not a single word in the entire article mentioning the eternally on-going investigation. Where is the media to demand an accounting of the progress?

Anthrax Post Office to Open

WASHINGTON (AP) — The central mail-processing center where deadly anthrax-laced letters were discovered in the nation’s capital was set to open to the public Monday for the first time since it was closed 26 months ago. On Sunday, the former Brentwood facility was officially renamed in honor of two workers killed by anthrax-laced letters that were on their way to Capitol Hill…
… Their families were greeted with a standing ovation Sunday as they helped unveil one of two plaques, each about three feet square, that will be placed inside the building. The plaques’ bronze-on-black writing reads, “We are poorer for their loss but richer for having been touched by these dedicated, hard-working heroes”…

Not meaning in any way to belittle the memory of the unfortunate victims of this tragedy, I have not read of any heroic actions on their part in the event. At what point in time did the words “victim” and “hero” become synonymous? Getting run over by a city bus is not heroic, unless you were trying to save a child who had wandered into the street.

Egypt Reacts to a Dictator’s Fall

The mixed feelings on the Arab street to the capture of Saddam Hussein is the subject of this article by Kamel Labidi, a journalist in Cairo who wrote his observations for THE DAILY STAR, the English language newspaper of Lebanon.

Egypt and its varied reactions to a dictator’s fall
The capture of a fugitive tyrant would normally prompt widespread relief and celebration in a region that witnessed his brutal policies. But apparently not in the Arab world where dictators manage to retain some popularity, even after being toppled. Last Sunday’s arrest of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in a tomb-like hiding place provoked more Arab sadness than satisfaction…

A Posthumous Christmas

It is especially at the holidays that the casualties of war, all wars, lean so heavily on our hearts. After my father died in Korea, I don’t think we ever had a genuinely happy Christmas again. Sure the tree was decorated, the gifts tumbled in heaps under it, cookies baked in the oven, the hustle and bustle of shopping and visiting, Christmas carols played on the old Victrola. But there was always that empty spot never to be filled again.

Days after bomb-squad sergeant died in husband’s arms in Iraq, her gifts to family arrive
CARLISLE, Pa., Dec. 20 — In the days since Staff Sgt. Kimberly A. Voelz died in the arms of her soldier husband in Iraq, mementoes from her life have been arriving almost daily at her parent’s home. First, an e-mail she wrote a day before she died reached her parents’ inbox. Then her green military uniform arrived, bearing the ribbons of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor medals. On Friday, her Christmas present to her brother and sister-in-law came in the mail. The set of six inscribed holiday ornaments bear comforting messages that now seem almost eerie: ”Throughout the storm you do not walk alone”……

Who’s Carol?

As blog readers may have noticed, there is a new blogger in the ranks: Carol Watson. She has been an invaluable volunteer researcher for last six months. The Iraq Casualties page rarely misses an important story or statistic, and I give most of the credit for that to Carol. Here is her short autobiography:

I am a semi-retired researcher in the natural sciences who has now turned the focus of my research to aid the antiwar movement, a continuation of my involvement from during the Vietnam era. Having lived and worked for many years outside of the United States, I have acquired some insight into how the world sees us and our actions, and how we sometimes mistakenly view the rest of the world. A lifelong follower of libertarian principles, raised in New York City, I have spent my adult life in the deep South where I reside today.

We look forward to her keen insight and sharp eye for the web’s hard-to-find news stories.