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2006 February 02 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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I’ve been listening to the BBC World Service coverage of the Palestinian election. They have people on the scene who have been there for an extended period, speak the local language, have local media contacts, and no ax to grind.

An example of the kind of coverage they provide was their trip to Bethlehem to talk to Palestinian Christians about the impact of living under the rule of the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas. The American media don’t seem to understand about the fundamentalism of Hamas, and probably forgot about the native Christian community in the area.

The picture you get from the coverage is that most “pundits” missed the level of dissatisfaction with the corrupt rule of Fatah. Many people, who were expected to vote against Hamas, supported them in the belief that if the corruption weren’t brought under control, the Palestinian Authority would lose the international funding it needs to continue.

The current problem was exacerbated by the international community insisting on the transfer of authority from the President of the Authority to the Prime Minister. This was caused by the refusal of Sharon to deal with Arafat. Now there is a moderate President, Mahmoud Abbas, but the Prime Minister will come from Hamas, proving once again that you should be careful what you wish for.

The BBC has interviewed Hamas officials and they make some obvious points: Why should we recognize Israel when Israel refuses to recognize Palestine? More Palestinians have died as a result of Israeli raids, than Israelis have died as a result of Palestinian raids. When will Israel return to the 1967 borders as mandated by the UN Security Council?

Israel says that these things have to be negotiated, but before there are negotiations, Hamas must recognize Israel and denounce violence.

Most governments say they would not give money to a Hamas government because Hamas is designated as a terrorist group.

CNN has an interview with Jimmy Carter that covers some of his views, but he was much more eloquent in his BBC interview when he reminded people that Menachem Begin’s career ran from the King David Hotel to the Camp David Accords.

Menachem Begin was the leader of Irgun when they blew up the King David Hotel. Even the founding government of Israel considered many of the actions of Irgun to be terrorism. And, yet, he went to become a founding member of the Likud Party, a Prime Minister of Israel, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for joining Anwar Saddat at Camp David and taking the steps that resulted in peace between Egypt and Israel.

Carter believes that Hamas should be given to the chance to move along the path to becoming a political party, although he doesn’t recommend direct payments to them. Carter has a track record on bringing peace to the Middle East and he has credibility with both sides. He can, and does speak to people on both sides.

The reality is that the voters had Fatah and Hamas to choose from, and they rejected Fatah. If you refuse to deal with the winners of the election, you can’t really claim to support democracy.

February 2, 2006   Comments Off on Hamas

Looking For Intelligence

This just annoyed the hell out of me, reading this CBS article: CIA Head Bashes Wiretapping Disclosure.

The green are quotes from the article.

“The damage has been very severe to our capabilities to carry out our mission,” Goss told the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said a federal grand jury should be empanelled to determine “who is leaking this information.”

The only thing that was leaked by anyone other than the President was that wiretaps were taking place without warrants, which is a matter of law, not of security. If there had been warrants, nothing would have been revealed.

“This was not about domestic surveillance,” Negroponte said.

It is targeting people in the United States who are being monitored, ergo, it is domestic surveillance by definition.

“The president has not only confirmed the existence of the program, he has spoken at length about it repeatedly,” while keeping Congress in the dark, said Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the panel’s senior Democrat.

“The administration wants to have it both ways,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

See, even Senators can figure it out.

Goss complained that leaks to the news media about the surveillance program and activities such as reported CIA secret prisons abroad had damaged his own agency’s work.

They are illegal and in violation of multiple treaties and national laws. People get annoyed when they are kidnapped and hauled off to be tortured in foreign countries.

“I also believe that there has been an erosion of the culture of secrecy and we’re trying to reinstall that,” Goss said.

“I’ve called in the FBI, the Department of Justice. It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present, being asked to reveal who is leaking this information,” he said.

Rockefeller suggested that the “leaks” Goss talked about most likely “came from the executive branch” of the government.

That brought a terse response from FBI Director Robert Mueller, who said, “It’s not fair to point a finger as to the responsibility of the leak.”

Maybe it was a bad idea to reveal the name of a CIA NOC agent, Porter. Maybe you should settle that problem first. You lost your WMD net for Southwest Asia when the White House did that.

Yo, Bob, only nine people outside the Executive branch knew about the program, and Porter Goss was one of the nine. Those nine had to figure that they would have their phones and e-mails monitored, as probably happened, so the leaks probably came from the Justice Department, from a lawyer who knew it was unconstitutional, or from the White House which had already been known to leak.

February 2, 2006   Comments Off on Looking For Intelligence

Rim Shots

Proving that when you looking for new leadership while in trouble for corruption you should go with the guy who distributed checks from Big Tobacco to members on the floor of the House: Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is the new majority leader. Of course, being Republicans, they had to re-run the vote when they ended up with more ballots than voters at one point.

Speaking of rodents, the groundhog said six more weeks, which is interesting given the spotty nature of Winter so far.

Because he’s such an accommodating individual, the Culture Ghost takes requests, but he also locates oldies, but goodies. Go and enjoy.

February 2, 2006   Comments Off on Rim Shots