You are not allowed to say what you think

Juan Williams, the African-American journalist who is often the token liberal on Fox News, was fired by National Public Radio for saying that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes make him nervous.  This was in the context of arguing with Bill O’Reilly that he should be careful about stereotyping all Muslims as extremists.  See Williams’ self-defense: FoxNews.com – JUAN WILLIAMS: I Was Fired for Telling the Truth.

Other public figures have been getting pilloried for saying that they do not approve of homosexuality or masturbation or evolution or whatever.  These are things that lots of people think, but it’s not socially acceptable to say so.  Is freedom of speech just something for the government to not infringe, or should it be a value that the culture as a whole upholds, if it is to actually be a free society?  That is to say, if people lose their jobs for stating their opinion, do we really have free speech?

Diplomatic negotiations

The Washington Post is publishing excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439172498?ie=UTF8&tag=cranach-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1439172498″>Obama’s Wars</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=cranach-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1439172498″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />.  It includes a fascinating account of some hard-ball diplomacy played by national security director General James Jones and CIA director Leon Panetta with the president of Pakistan.

If, God forbid, the SUV had blown up in Times Square, Jones told Zardari, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Should a future attempt be successful, Obama would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. “No one will be able to stop the response and consequences,” the security adviser said. “This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact.”

Jones did not give specifics about what he meant. The Obama administration had a “retribution” plan, one of the most sensitive and secretive of all military contingencies. The plan called for bombing about 150 identified terrorist camps in a brutal, punishing attack inside Pakistan.

Wait a second, Zardari responded. If we have a strategic partnership, why in the face of a crisis like the one you’re describing would we not draw closer together rather than have this divide us?

Zardari believed that he had already done a great deal to accommodate his strategic partner, at some political risk. He had allowed CIA drones to strike al-Qaeda and other terrorist camps in parts of Pakistan, prompting a public outcry about violations of Pakistani sovereignty. He had told CIA officials privately in late 2008 that any innocent deaths from the strikes were the cost of doing business against senior al-Qaeda leaders. “Kill the seniors,” Zardari had said. “Collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”

As part of the partnership, the Pakistani military was billing the United States more than $2 billion a year to combat extremists operating in the remote areas near the Afghan border. But that money had not prevented elements of the Pakistani intelligence service from backing the two leading Afghan Taliban groups responsible for killing American troops in Afghanistan.

“You can do something that costs you no money,” Jones said. “It may be politically difficult, but it’s the right thing to do if you really have the future of your country in mind. And that is to reject all forms of terrorism as a viable instrument of national policy inside your borders.”

“We rejected it,” Zardari responded.

Jones and Panetta had heard such declarations before. But whatever Pakistan was doing with the many terrorist groups operating inside its borders, it wasn’t good or effective enough. For the past year, that country’s main priority was taking on its homegrown branch of the Taliban, a network known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP.

Panetta pulled out a “link chart,” developed from FBI interviews and other intelligence, that showed how TTP had assisted the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad.

“Look, this is it,” Panetta told Zardari. “This is the network. Leads back here.” He traced it out with his finger. “And we’re continuing to pick up intelligence streams that indicate TTP is going to conduct other attacks in the United States.”

This was a matter of solid intelligence, Panetta said, not speculation.

Jones and Panetta then turned to the disturbing intelligence about Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group behind the horrific 2008 Mumbai attacks that had killed 175, including six Americans.

Pakistani authorities are holding the commander of the Mumbai attacks, Jones said, but he is not being adequately interrogated and “he continues to direct LeT operations from his detention center.” Intelligence shows that Lashkar-e-Taiba is threatening attacks in the United States and that the possibility “is rising each day.”

Zardari didn’t seem to get it.

“Mr. President,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was also at the meeting, “This is what they are saying. . . . They’re saying that if, in fact, there is a successful attack in the United States, they will take steps to deal with that here, and that we have a responsibility to now cooperate with the United States.”

“If something like that happens,” Zardari said defensively, “it doesn’t mean that somehow we’re suddenly bad people or something. We’re still partners.”

No, both Jones and Panetta said. There might be no way to save the strategic partnership. Underscoring Jones’s point, Panetta said, “If that happens, all bets are off.”

via Obama: ‘We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan’.

Is a major terrorist attack imminent?

Something seems to be brewing among jihadist terrorists, with officials in Europe and the United States on high alert.

US and European officials said Tuesday they have detected a plot to carry out a major, coordinated series of new terror attacks in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and possibly the United States.

A senior US official said that while there is a “credible” threat, no specific time or place is known. President Obama has been briefed about the threat, say senior US officials.

Intelligence and law enforcement authorities in the US and Europe said the threat information is based on the interrogation of a suspected German terrorist allegedly captured on his way to Europe in late summer and now being held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

US law enforcement officials say they have been told the terrorists were planning a series of “Mumbai-style” commando raids on what were termed “economic or soft” targets in the countries. . . .

The captured German reportedly said several teams of attackers, all with European passports, had been trained and dispatched from training camps in Waziristan and Pakistan. Officials say the German claimed the attack plan had been approved by Osama Bin Laden.

via ‘Credible But Not Specific’ Threat of New Terrorist Attack – ABC News.

But it may be that the plot has been disrupted to the point that the plans will not be carried out.  In the meantime, there are sure lots of nervous law enforcement officers, as we see in Georgia:  “A team of federal agents has been stopping tractor-trailers on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, inspecting each truck as it passed through a weigh station, and Channel 2 has learned its part of a counter-terrorism operation.”

Murders in Afghanistan

Five U.S. soldiers have been charged with killing  Afghan civilians for sport.  Shame, dishonor, and depravity rear their ugly heads:

In videotaped and written statements to Army investigators, Spec. Jeremy N. Morlock, 22, a member of the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, admitted his involvement in the killings, which took place in Kandahar province between January and May. Morlock sought to shift blame for the plot to his squad’s staff sergeant, Calvin R. Gibbs, who he said planted the idea with their unit of killing innocent Afghans for sport. . . .

Morlock, Gibbs and three other U.S. soldiers have been charged with murder in the deaths of the three Afghan civilians. In some of the grisliest allegations against American military personnel since the 2001 invasion of Iraq, they and other soldiers from their platoon also face charges of using hashish, dismembering and photographing corpses, and possessing human bones.

via Army soldier says staff sergeant plotted Afghans’ killings.

No, this is not just war.  No, it is not representative of our military or justified by the vocation of the soldier.  No, it can’t be justified by the fear of civilians wearing suicide vests.  According to everything I’ve read about it, this was active murder for its own sake.

Koran burning update

Well, the Florida preacher who threatened to burn the Koran decided not to.  But some other people took his idea and ran with it.  Iranian television has been broadcasting this information throughout the Muslim world.  Rioting has erupted.  Christian schools and churches are being attacked.  The death toll so far:  15.

Notice how burning the Koran, far from striking back at the jihadists, is actually playing right into their hands.

Iranian-backed TV broadcasts US Koran desecrations, inflames deadly Kashmir riots; 15 dead.

The Koran burning is off

The minister has cancelled plans to burn the Koran on Saturday, claiming a rather questionable quid pro quo:

The leader of a small Christian church in the U.S. state of Florida says he has canceled plans to burn Qurans on Saturday.  The minister’s intention to burn the holy book of Islam caused international outrage, including condemnation from President Barack Obama.

The Reverend Terry Jones said Thursday he has called off his planned protest because he has reached an agreement with Muslim leaders in New York to move a planned Islamic cultural center and mosque away from the area of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

“The Imam has agreed to move the mosque,” said Terry Jones. “We have agreed to cancel our event on Saturday, and on Saturday I will be flying up there to meet with him.”

However, a statement from the cleric in charge of the New York mosque project said there was no agreement to move the location.

via US Minister Cancels Burning of Qurans | USA | English.


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