Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Wish I Had A River

Once in a while
I do confess
I feel a sudden
and powerful urge
to lace 'em up
and just take off

Happy New Year

Here's Joni
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Warmonger John Scarlett Knighted

Here's evidence that the USA is not the only country which makes heroes of its war criminals.

Scarlett, author of the Iraq war dossier, is knighted
John Scarlett, who took responsibility for the error-ridden dossier that justified the war in Iraq, is knighted in today's New Year's Honours list. The award will enrage peace campaigners, who have accused the veteran spymaster of saving Tony Blair's skin over the flawed case for the invasion.
Sir John, the head of MI6, played a key role in the Hutton Inquiry hearings into the death of the weapons expert David Kelly, three years ago. He steadfastly defended the dossier, which contained the notorious claim that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. And he dismissed accusations he had bowed to pressure to "sex up" the document's conclusions.

As chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, he told the inquiry he had "overall charge and responsibility" for the dossier.

Sir John allowed last-minute changes that had the effect of strengthening its conclusions, leading Lord Hutton to suggest that he could have been "subconsciously influenced" by his political masters.

One crucial alteration was to cut the observation that Saddam Hussein was more likely to use chemical and biological weapons defensively than offensively - a change was made after Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, said the passage could pose "a problem" that could be seized on by anti-war critics.
Nor am I the only one who thinks this action is despicable.

'Dodgy dossier' knighthood attacked
The award of a knighthood to John Scarlett was described as "utterly astonishing" by MPs yesterday.

Sir John, who oversaw the production of the so-called "dodgy dossier" which claimed that Saddam Hussein could launch a missile attack in 45 minutes, is made a Knight Commander of the Order of St George in the New Year honours.

But Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan An Iar, said Tony Blair had shown "breathtaking arrogance" in approving the award.

"John Scarlett has been awarded an honour for services to diplomacy. Services to creative writing might have been more appropriate," he said.
and so on...

Is the entire British royalty now complicit in wanton mass-murder, as accomplices-after-the-fact?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gwynne Dyer: "America’s moment in the Middle East is coming to an end"

I was struck by two paragaphs from Gwynne Dyer's recent column, Shape of the future is clearer
It is now clear that America’s moment in the Middle East is coming to an end. It has been a rather long moment — the United States has called most of the shots in the region since the 1960s — but recently it has turned into a classic case of imperial over-stretch. So we will soon find out if a strong American presence really was vital for all of those years to keep the oil flowing, keep the crazies from seizing power, and keep Israel safe.

All the speculation early this year about American military action against Iran to destroy its alleged nuclear weapons program now sounds preposterous; Iran will be the new great power in the Gulf, and there is nothing that the U.S. can do about it. Syria will do what it wants in Lebanon, confident that neither the United States nor Israel will intervene to stop it. The U.S. Navy will still hang around the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf and Israel will still get lots of American money and weapons, but six months after President Bush leaves office in early 2009 there will probably be no American boots on the ground between Morocco and Oman.
It's tempting to ask what Gwynne Dyer has been drinking, or even to assume we know what he's been drinking and to ask how long before New Year's Eve he got started. But let's not forget that Dyer is a military historian of considerable experience, a veteran of two navies, an observer who tends to take the high ground because of the long view it offers, and a man who likes to keep his powder dry.

Gwynne Dyer won't panic until and unless panic is absolutely necessary. And he could very well be right this time. But somehow I doubt it.

What do you think?

The Biggest Iceberg In 25 Years

A piece of ice larger than Manhattan has broken off the Arctic ice shelf at the northern edge of Ellesmere Island (the very northernmost part of Canada, next to Greenland). (zoom in a bit)

This is significant not only as a sign of global warming but also because if it ever gets out into open water it could cause serious trouble. BBC has the details: Huge Arctic ice break discovered
Scientists have discovered that an enormous ice shelf broke off an island in the Canadian Arctic last year, in what could be sign of global warming.

It is said to be the largest break in 25 years, casting an ice floe with an area of 66 sq km (25 square miles).

It occurred in August 2005 but was only recently detected on satellite images.

The chunk of ice bigger than Manhattan could wreak havoc if it moves into oil drilling regions and shipping lanes next summer, scientists warned.
Why next summer? It's too cold at the moment; our ice is caught in a jam.
"The Arctic is all frozen up for the winter and it's stuck in the sea ice about 50km (30 miles) off the coast," said Luke Copland, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.

"The risk is that next summer, as that sea ice melts, this large ice island can then move itself around off the coast and one potential path for it is to make its way westward toward the Beaufort Sea where there is lots of oil and gas exploration, oil rigs and shipping."
No offshore oil rig is a match for this iceberg. Nor is any shipping I know of.
The ice break was initially undetected due to the remoteness of the northern coast of Ellesmere island, which is about 800km (500 miles) from the North Pole.

Satellite images showed the 15km (9mile) crack, then the ice floating about 1km (0.6 miles) from the coast within about an hour, said Mr Copland, a specialist in glaciers and ice masses.

"You could stand at one edge and not see the other side, and for something that large to move that quickly is quite amazing," he said.
A piece of ice larger than Manhattan moving a kilometer in an hour? Quite amazing indeed!!

This page from the BBC has more details, including an interactive graphic showing the extent of Arctic Sea ice in recent winters.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam Hussein Is Dead. Now Can We Get The F Out Of Iraq?

Raw Story carries the headline Saddam Hussein has been executed and the most delicious typo -- if that's what it is:
Condemned Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been executed by hanging, CNN International is Iraqi state television.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tom Toles: ANOTHER New Way Forward!

Tom Toles Rocks!

I'll have more on a number of issues, as soon as I can.

In the meantime, please enjoy this open thread.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Millions of Dollars, Innumerable Headaches, No Terrorist Screening Facilities, and No Deadline

Even Fox News couldn't keep this one in the queue forever:
Post-Sept. 11 Air Security Programs Fail to Take Flight

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | Sunday, December 24, 2006

WASHINGTON — Five years, millions of dollars and innumerable headaches later, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still has not put in place the sophisticated terrorist screening facilities it promised to install at the nation's airports and ports after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

TSA officials have confirmed to that Secure Flight, the terrorist screening program that would check passengers against a massive federal terror watch list, won't be up and running until the database is complete, and no deadline has been set for completion.
and so on...

I suppose if you're Fox News and you absolutely have to report this, you may as well report it on Christmas Eve. Who pays attention to stuff like this on Christmas Eve?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Oh War / Merry Christmas 2006

Some days -- especially holidays -- especially holy days -- I just cannot get past the utter depravity of it all. We've got cold-blooded mass murder (denied), routine torture (denied but retroactively legalized), delpeted uranium madness (ignored), the continual shredding of the Constitutional rights bequeathed to us by sweat-and-blood All-American heroes, and that's ok too because we also have this blind, blinded, blinding patriotism, a media-inspired madness that has self-described Christians clamoring for all manner of grotesque and inhuman cruelty. Merry Christmas to all.

It gets worse: We're supposed to believe all this horror is justified by the so-called president's claim that God speaks through him. Oh really? What kind of God would tell anyone to do this? What kind of America would allow it?

Words fail me. Listen to Pye Dubois, writing for Max Webster:

Oh War

Oh war, it's been done before
that's what they say
I wasn't there, they say there's one today
I don't care, I'm not there today

'cause I'd say "fuck you" instead of "thank you"
your choice under your breath
oh say go to hell
I'll go American express

Oh war, history says you're in it
your sister's boyfriend's in it
so so long, soldier, wash your socks and guns
and just remember
if you don't see a profit, sell your stocks and run

'cause I'd say "fuck you" instead of "thank you"
your choice under your breath
oh say no to hell
I'll go American express

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Tis The Season

Tis The Season

To Be Jolly

Merry Christmas

"Steeple during Blizzard" by Bruce R. Dean; Alaskan glacier photo courtesy NPS dot Gov.

A Packet of Fear for Christmas: Channel Tunnel Threat 'Far Graver' Than WWII

Jason Burke, writing for The Observer, has all the scary details.
The Channel tunnel has been targeted by a group of Islamic militant terrorists aiming to cause maximum carnage during the holiday season, according to French and American secret services.

The plan, which the French DGSE foreign intelligence service became aware of earlier this year, is revealed in a secret report to the French government on threat levels. The report, dated December 19, indicates that the tip-off came from the American CIA.
Remember this.
British and French intelligence agencies have run a series of checks of the security system protecting the 31-mile tunnel but the threat level, the DGSE warns, remains high. British security services remain on high alert throughout the holiday period.

According to the French sources, the plan was put together in Pakistan and is being directed from there.
Remember this, too.
The plotters are believed to be Western Europeans, possibly Britons of Pakistani descent. The DGSE say that levels of 'chatter', the constant communication that takes place between militants, has not been so high since 2001. Last week Sir Ian Blair, the head of the Metropolitan Police, described 'the threat of another terrorist attempt' as 'ever present' adding that 'Christmas is a period when that might happen'.
Of course it is. The threat of another terrorist attempt is always and we must always and everywhere remember this.
It is a far graver threat in terms of civilians than either the Cold War or the Second World War,' he said.
Right. It's a far graver threat than the Second World War.

It's an enormous horrible exceedingly vile terrible awfil threat, this threat to the Channel tunnel; far graver than a worldwide conflict which took the lives of 80 million people, left whole cities in ruins, created hundreds of millions of refugees, and so on, and on and on ... this is far graver than that? Sure it is, sure it is.

Ian Blair has the same disease as all the rest of them. They don't think we can tell when they're exaggerating.
'It's a much graver threat than that posed by Irish Republican terrorism.'
Sure it is. By the way, Ian, can you recall a single IRA blast that was not directly related to British "security" forces?

Didn't think so. Carry on, sir.
American security sources told The Observer that the threat was 'sky high'.
Sky high, indeed. To infinity, and beyond!

Well at least they're not running pan-European war-games and multiple simultaneous Channel tunnel security drills.

Be very afraid.
Be very very very very afraid.
Now enjoy your holidays.
This is a recording.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Where's Bin Laden? Cartoon Book Is Surprise Christmas Hit

Fans of the dead terrorist rock star Osama bin Laden, late of Osama And The Nineteen Patsies, will be pleased to learn their hero is the subject of a cartoon book which is doing very well in the stores this holiday season.

As reported in today's Guardian, Find Bin Laden: cartoon book is surprise Christmas hit
It is either funny or tasteless, or perhaps it is both. One thing is certain, it is popular. A book in which the reader has to find a cartoon Osama bin Laden on crowded illustrated pages is emerging as a Christmas bestseller.

The book chain Borders said yesterday that Where's Bin Laden was the best selling humour book of the year, with stocks selling out in record time.

It is based on the series of children's books Where's Wally, in which you have to find the bookish looking hero in various scenes, always involving hundreds of tiny characters.

In this version, published by New Holland, you have to find the al-Qaida leader and his henchmen. Sometimes there are weapons to find, such as a scimitar or a bundle of dynamite.
How about a few trillion dollars? Can we try to find some of the money that went missing on 9/11? Or would that be too much fun?

How about the plane that hit the Pentagon? Nobody's found that yet.

Black boxes from the planes? Apparently they were found but never entered the stream of evidence. Whatever that means.

Or maybe it would be better to find reports of Osama bin Laden's funeral.

Wait! Wait! I've got one right here:

In English:
A prominent official in the Afghan Taleban movement announced yesterday the death of Osama bin Laden, the chief of al-Qae'da organization, stating that bin Laden suffered serious complications in the lungs and died a natural and quiet death.
Whoa! Enough of this painful reality. Let's get back to the sellers of cartoon literature.
Borders said satirical books were outselling that other Christmas staple, the celebrity biography of which there seem to be more than ever.

Borders also has no qualms about stocking a book some might see as being in dubious taste. Alistair Spalding, ITS marketing executive, said: "We believe in the basic right of our customers to choose what they want to read, listen to and buy. Our customers are intelligent, curious people who enjoy exploring all types of books, films, and music.

"Some of the thousands of books and music selections we carry and events we hold could be considered controversial or objectionable depending on individual political views, tastes and interests. However, Borders stands by its commitment to let customers make the choice."

Amy Tipper, fiction buyer, said: "We've already exceeded our original stock order of this book by 300% and by Christmas we expect that to have more than doubled. This has been our biggest humour book of the year."
I wish I knew what made this book so funny. Are the readers, like your nearly frozen blogger, "laughing just to keep from crying", or have we lost our collective minds?

Note that these options are not mutually exclusive.

Then click on the photo for a larger version. Where is he? Where is he?

Boo! Did I scare you??

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tom Toles: Cheney Takes The Stand

Open Thread

Trial Of Rashid Rauf Set To Begin

The trial of Rashid Rauf is about to begin in Pakistan, where last week the formerly alleged ringleader and/or mastermind and/or explosives expert and/or al-Q'aeda connection of the currently alleged Liquid Bombers saw all of his terror-related charges dismissed.

He is still held on non-terror charges including impersonation and traveling with forged papers, and faces a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Rashid Rauf may also face extradition to Britain. The British have been trying to question him in connection with a 2002 murder as well as this summer's alleged plot.

They haven't been successful, and there's no extradition treaty between Britain and Pakistan, so they might never get him to the UK.

But that hasn't stopped them spending money trying.

Rashid Rauf's brother, Tayib Rauf, was arrested in the UK during the "anti-terror" raids of August 9/10 and held for two weeks before being released without charges. Their father, Abdul Rauf, was arrested (or merely detained) in Pakistan before he too was released without being charged. Within a few days of his release, however, a Muslim charity which he founded, and which had allegedly been funneling money to terrorists, had its funds frozen. Hmmm.

Serious strangeness surrounds the Rashid Rauf story in multiple layers.

For instance, some reports indicate that he was arrested on August 9th in Pakistan, that he sent a text message (or else phoned a friend who sent a text message) to the alleged plotters in England, telling them to go ahead, and that the police intercepted the message and arrested the alleged would-be bombers.

Other reporters believe that he was arrested three or four days (or maybe as much as a week) earlier, that he was tortured in a Pakistani prison, that he revealed the names of the alleged plotters to his interrogators, and that the so-called Liquid Bombers were arrested thanks to cooperation of the Pakistani police, who promptly shared the names with Scotland Yard.

We may never know the truth ... but I am still digging.

In my opinion, this is not primarily about Rashid Rauf, and neither is it primarily about the eleven Britons who are charged with "conspiracy to murder".

It's not even about the abrupt change in the news cycle which it caused, and which was used to maximum advantage both by the Blair government in the UK and by the Bush government in the USA.

It has something to do with the draconian restrictions imposed on air travel, first at Heathrow and then all over Europe and North America, restrictions which have just recently been relaxed and which are still ludicrous.

But even more than that. It sideswiped the political landscape at a time when the war criminals who prowl the Oval Office, and the war criminals who take their orders from the aforementioned Oval Office war criminals, badly needed a change in said political landscape. It led to three weeks of full-bore terror-alerts, which were followed by another round of Pin 9/11 on Osama bin Laden, and -- as if by magic -- the war criminals (on behalf of whom both Osama bin Laden and Rashid Rauf appear to have been working) had a plan all ready to make sure that that exploitation of this frenzy for political purposes was complete.

And what was in the plan? It's easier to understand it if you can see it from a distance. And it helps to have a good guide with you. David Wallechinsky published one recently, at Huffington Post, and we'll share the final few paragraphs (along with a few slightly frozen remarks from yours truly):

Bye, Bye, Bill of Rights
What with Bush's low approval ratings, the president and his administration could not count on Congressional Republicans to pass this Act just because Bush asked them to. So they ratcheted up the terrorism fear level and, six weeks before an election, forced the Republicans to rush through the Act in order to look tough on terrorism just before Americans went to the polls.
The timing was very kind to the British as well, with Tony Blair teetering on and on, and his would-be successors bringing the knives into the open for the first time in many years.
And how did the Bush administration raise the fear level? Take a look at the Gallup Poll results relating to President Bush's handling of terrorism. In July of this year, more Americans disapproved of his handling of terrorism than approved. Four weeks later, there was a reversal and a majority approved of Bush's anti-terror performance. What happened in between?...the arrest of more than twenty suspects in a terrorist plot in England that was aimed at destroying ten airplanes.
An alleged terrorist plot in England that was supposedly aimed at destroying ten airplanes (although we now know that destroying even one airplane with a so-called "liquid bomb" is quite impossible)
This incident was a perfect launch for the Bush administration's pre-election Be Afraid of Terrorists campaign. Even Bush's overall approval rating went up, albeit by a modest 3%. The Bush team sure got lucky on that one. Or was there more to it? Maybe it's just my fertile imagination, but...

I recommend reading the article about the plot by Don Van Natta, Elaine Sciolino and Stephen Grey that appeared in the New York Times on August 28 and that is available online through the TimesSelect service or on various unofficial sites.
The link above leads to a site set up expressly to mirror that NYT article.
The article makes clear that the plot was real. However, it was not imminent.
It's hard for me to imagine in what sense the plot was "real", but in all other respects Mr. Wallechensky's approach seems quite sound.
British officials apologized, two weeks after the fact, for the exaggerated, panic-inducing statements they had made at the time of the arrests. Naturally, the dire warnings made headlines, while the retractions and apologies went largely unnoticed.
The most intriguing revelation in this article is that British officials at Scotland Yard felt in complete control of the plotters,
Scotland Yard may have been in complete control of the alleged plotters, in more ways than one!
who had not yet made flight reservations and two of whom had not yet even obtained passports. The British spies wanted to continue their surveillance of the plotters. Unfortunately, Scotland Yard was forced to act quickly because, thousands of miles away in Pakistan, the Pakistani government, without informing their British anti-terror colleagues, arrested a man with dual British/Pakistani citizenship who was, presumably, vital to the plot and whose arrest was immediately known to the plotters.
Mr. Wallechensky here joins the text-message school of thought, as opposed to the tortured-confession school of thought favored by such seasoned observers as Nafeez Ahmed and Craig Murray.
From the Times: "Several senior British officials said the Pakistanis arrested Rashid Rauf without informing them first. The arrest surprised and frustrated investigators here who had wanted to monitor the suspects longer, primarily to gather more evidence and to determine whether they had identified all the people involved in the suspected plot." So if the hijackings were not imminent and the British wanted to wait before making any arrests, why did the government of Pakistan's dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, arrest Rashid Rauf when it did? So far, there has been no official explanation.
Well, the official White House explanation for this series of events would not be difficult to predict:

"Terrah! Terrah! 9/11! Look Over There!!"

Other reports suggested that Pakistani intelligence picked up Rashid Rauf because the Americans had threatened to "render" him.
As I said, maybe I just have too fertile of an imagination, but one thing is certain: over a period of just seven weeks, that arrest triggered the British arrests that set off a fear-of-terrorism panic that gave President Bush extra ammunition to pressure Congressional Republicans, who then rushed through passage of an anti-terrorism bill
Ahem. A so-called anti-terrorism bill. Please. There's no evidence -- not even a hint of a suggestion -- that any aspect of the Military Commissions Act will deter, prevent or otherwise mitigate terrorist attacks in the USA or indeed terrorism in the world generally. The Act in effect codifies some of the most grievous transgressions Bush and his junta have been claiming the right to commit -- and actually committing! -- since September of 2001. Or, as David Wallechensky describes it, it's the Act
that transferred new powers to the executive branch while, at the same time, immunizing President Bush and others from prosecution for their violations of the U.S. War Crimes Act.
Some guys have all the luck.
They sure do.


twelfth in a series

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Appearances: Derrick Shareef Appears In Court; US Invasion of Iraq Appears Justified

Rockford's suddenly famous "Air Grenadist", Derrick Shareef, appeared in court Wednesday, December 20, but did not speak as his attorney waived twice. One: No, the Federales were not required to present any evidence against him. Two: No, the judge was not required to deny Derrick Shareef bail.

Derrick Shareef was arrested two weeks ago in Rockford, Illinois, while attempting to trade a pair of speakers for a handgun, some ammo and four hand grenades. He supposedly needed these things because he was allegedly planning to attack a Rockford shopping center. But the grenades and the ammo were duds, the "arms dealer" was an FBI agent, and rather than the box of grenades he thought he was getting, Derrick Shareef has traded his speakers for trouble of a different kind. He may be in prison for a very long time.

In previous reports, I have suggested that the feds will have to drop at least one of the two charges filed against Derrick Shareef, the charge involving "using a weapon of mass destruction". Unfortunately, this description of the charge, which I read in a news account and naively believed, is misleading. Derrick Shareef may be in much more trouble than I thought, and the US invasion of Iraq may have been justified.

More on that later. First, the news.

The best reporting on the hearing comes from the Rockford Register Star and it starts this way: Mall terror suspect will enter plea within six weeks
CHICAGO — Through his attorneys, Derrick Shareef, the 22-year-old Rockford resident charged with plotting to detonate explosives at CherryVale Mall during the Christmas shopping season, waived a pair of hearings that had been scheduled for today in federal court.

Prosecutors had been expected to outline evidence against Shareef, and the defendant’s attorneys had been expected to seek his release on bond. Instead, Shareef will remain in custody for the time being.

The next step in the process is an arraignment at which Shareef will enter pleas to the charges against him. That’s likely to occur in late January or early February, according to his attorneys.
But the prosecuting attorneys aren't promising anything, except that the arraignment will happen "in the future".

There's also been a report from the AP Wire, which as you can see, brings the religious angle front and center: Man accused of plot on Rockford mall appears in court
CHICAGO - A Muslim convert accused of plotting to wreak havoc at a Rockford mall by blowing up garbage cans with grenades remained in custody Wednesday after a short hearing in federal court.
Ironic, is it not, how the AP manages to spin in two directions at once. Playing up the "Muslim convert" angle feeds into The Phony War, and is therefore to be expected. But the "garbage can" angle is one of the phoniest-sounding details in a very phony-sounding story. So that was unexpected, except in an ironic way.


As for the hearing itself, several questions present themselves, beginning with: What is the defense attorney's angle? Why wouldn't he want to see the evidence against his client? And why wouldn't he want to try to spring his client on bail?

My best guesses: No judge would ever set bond in an amount that Derrick Shareef could afford. So waiving the bond hearing is an easy one. And maybe there are all sorts of reasons why an attorney would waive the preliminary hearing. Perhaps the evidence against Derrick Shareef is so strong, his attorney doesn't even want to see it? Perhaps his attorney is working pro bono and hoping to be elsewhere very soon? Perhaps his attorney is thinking about Lynne Stewart? Perhaps a combination?

Media Coverage

Next question: How much media coverage will it get and how good will that coverage be? The easy predictions are "not much" and "not good", but I've been surprised before, so we'll see ...

At the moment the prediction "not good" may be in some danger. The Rockford Register Star has been mostly pretty good on this topic, and I've been especially impressed with Mike Wiser. We'll see what happens.

But the prediction "not much" appears right on target. There's been no coverage outside the immediate area. Aside from an item on the AP wire, the only original reporting has come from the Rockford TV station and the Star.

This fits the pattern (i.e. from a Terror Scare point of view). Derrick Shareef's time in the spotlight is past. Mike Wiser mentioned on TV that he had seen a lot of reporters at the hearing; apparently they were all on vacation and had nothing better to do.

You'll find links to all the media coverage of the hearing (and a bit more) below.

Was It "Overblown"?

Mike Wiser appears to have asked Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers whether too much was made of the incident, possibly using the word "overblown".

In "Hearing on mall terror plot today in Chicago", Wiser quotes
Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers, who said that regardless of Shareef’s competence in actually executing a plan and regardless of the reasons behind it, the result would have been the same if he had been successful.

“It doesn’t make a difference. ... The end result would have been mass casualties,” Meyers said. “I don’t think it was overblown at all.”
Kudos to Mike Wiser for asking the question that prompted this very interesting response.

I'd be even more interested in knowing what Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers would have said if someone (Mike Wiser, perhaps?) had asked "Doesn't this look a little bit like entrapment?"

This so-called plot was supposedly hatched during a conversation between two people: Derrick Shareef (who we've been told was working alone!) and the FBI informant known in the affidavit as "CS" (Confidential Source). The affidavit has transcripts of key sections of the crucial conversation, and a careful reading of the affidavit reveals that it was CS who suggested bombing CherryVale Mall, who suggested the date (December 22) and the reason (to disrupt Christmas), and it was even CS who suggested using grenades. Then CS set up the meeting between Shareef and the bogus arms-dealer, and CS drove Shareef to the spot where the transaction was to take place.

And yet, there seems to be a feeling that, as Wiser puts it:
it’s possible that even though Shareef didn’t, in the government’s words, pose an imminent threat, he could have if the person he was dealing with wasn’t, in fact, a government agent.
I don't understand this as analysis, although I do understand it as propaganda. As analysis it makes no sense to me, because if left to his own devices, Shareef would never have thought of bombing a shopping mall.

He has no idea. He has no money. He has no weapons, no access to weapons. No real motivating forces, no friends ... and then all of a sudden there's this guy in his life, and they talk about jihad!, and it's kind of exciting in a remote sort of way, but then his new "friend" starts daring him -- in not-so-subtle ways -- to prove his manhood, and his faith! -- and Derrick Shareef isn't bright enough or strong enough to resist that kind of pressure, so eventually he starts talking about hurting somebody. Maybe smoke a judge, that'd be fun. But that's not good enough for CS, so he keeps pressing. Why not kill a bunch of people? Why not ruin a religious holiday?

Most observers in Rockland and elsewhere, even those critical of FBI for one reason or another, seem to believe the FBI undercover agents are "picking off" the radical Muslim youth who would otherwise hook up with real terrorists and pose real threats. And that may be true. But it may also be true that the undercover FBI pseudo-jihadis are picking off lonely young guys with nothing much going for them, who are susceptible to a bit of peer-pressure and can be led to say and do virtually anything. In this case if it hadn't been for the FBI, Shareef would probably have moped around the mosque for a while, then gone home and listened to some music on his stereo speakers, rather than trading those speakers for the chance to carry a box of dud grenades from one car to another and spend the rest of his life in prison.


Previous reports in this space have been misleading with regard to the charges in the case. It was originally reported that Derrick Shareef had been charged with "using a weapon of mass destruction" and I have argued that [1] a grenade -- or even a box of four -- is not a weapon of mass destruction, so how could a box of dud grenades be a WMD? and [2] he didn't "use" said weapon, even if it were a WMD. Based on these arguments, I have stated flat-out that the charges will have to be dropped.

Unfortunately, I was wrong about all this and Derrick Shareef is in a lot more trouble than I originally imagined. According to the applicable laws, a "weapon of mass destruction" is defined as anything that gives of poison or pathogens or radioactivity (biological, chemical, and nuclear respectively, as expected) as well as anything that explodes!
Weapon Of Mass Destruction

(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—

(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life; and
Destructive Device

(4) The term “destructive device” means—

(A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas—
(i) bomb,
(ii) grenade,
(iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces,
(iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce,
(v) mine, or
(vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the preceding clauses;
According to this law, the US invasion of Iraq was justified, and UN arms-inspector Hans Blix is an idiot. Clearly Saddam Hussein had at least one hand grenade; that's a weapon of mass destruction, just the same as any bomb, any mine, and all but the smallest rockets and missiles. In fact this law appears to classify as weapons of mass destruction all weapons which can hurt people from a distance, except for firearms (here we see the long reach of the 2nd Amdendment and the even longer reach of the NRA), crossbows and slingshots (and these loopholes will certainly be closed in the next version of the law).

Therefore, the continued occupation and depleted-uranium-poisoning of Iraq is fully justified, the whining lefties who never believe anything the president says can go jump off a cliff, the rape, murder and torture of innocent Iraqis is legitimate and fully called-for, the editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post may still be liable for treason, and the president's "surge option" deserves support from across the entire width of the political spectrum, even though 87.3 percent of all Americans are smart enough to know it cannot possibly work.

Why? Because Saddam Hussien had weapons of mass destruction, that's why!

Further complications: Derrick Shareef is not charged with using a WMD; he is charged with violating this law:
Use of weapons of mass destruction

(a) A person who, without lawful authority, uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use, a weapon of mass destruction —-
(1) [...]
(2) against any person or property within the United States, and
(A) [...]
(B) such property is used in interstate or foreign commerce or in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce;
(C) [...]
(D) the offense, or the results of the offense, affect interstate or foreign commerce, or, in the case of a threat, attempt, or conspiracy, would have affected interstate or foreign commerce;
So it does appear likely that Derrick Shareef is going to have to resort to the first word that came into my head when I heard of his case:


In criminal procedures, a complete defense. The defendant must show that officers induced the defendant to commit a crime not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him.

Legal Documents

Press Release from DoJ announcing Derrick Shareef's arrest (PDF)
Affidavit filed by FBI agent Jared Ruddy (PDF)


Rockford Register Star:
Special Section:
Terror In The Region: Plot Foiled
December 20:
Mall terror suspect will enter plea within six weeks
December 21:
Terror suspect mum at hearing

Chicago Tribune:
December 20:
Man accused of plot on Rockford mall appears in court
December 21:
Mall bomb plot suspect to stay in federal custody

December 21:
Shareef to Stay in Custody Until Next Hearing
-- includes a video report, which includes Mike Wiser of the Rockland Star Register
December 22:
Shoppers Descend On Area Stores Despite Foiled Terror Plot

WREX-TV, the Courier News, The Southern, the Dekalb Daily Chronicle and the Journal Gazette Times-Courier also have (all or some of) the same AP piece that appeared in the Tribune.

Additional Resources

Google Maps:
Rockford is about halfway between Chicago and Dubuque.
Here's a closer view of Rockford and area.
And this is CherryVale Mall.

The Polemicist:
December 8, 2006:
(En)trapping a Potential Terrorist: The Ghettoest Terror Plot in History

Winter Patriot:
December 8, 2006:
Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?
December 13:
More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois
December 18:
Rockford Breathes a Sigh of Relief, Safe from the Menace of Derrick Shareef


fourth in a series

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Absurd Assinuation

I've reported three times (1, 2, 3) on this incident without ever being able to link to evidence of it. Please watch this short video clip from relatively early in his reign, and see what happens when the imperial chimperor faces a semi-tough question.

Poor Chimpy ... couldn't think of an answer all by himself, and then when it did finally come to him ... he didn't hear it properly! Oh well! Tough luck, Chimpy, you dolt!

What an absolute disaster. His only function is to provide PR cover, and he can't even do that. It's no wonder his handlers didn't want him to testify under oath, even for the 9/11 whitewash.

But that's not my main point. My point is: When caught red-handed, these guys just call the accusations "absurd" and carry on, as if simply saying something made it true.
"I did not kill my wife; she killed me!"

Then how did you wind up in the living room with her dead body?

"Her dead body in the living room? Come on! I would have noticed it, wouldn't I?"

And how did you get blood on your hands?

"Blood on my hands? That was ketchup!"

And why did the DNA in that blood match your wife?

"DNA? No, that can't be right. There's no DNA in ketchup."

Well then how did you get ketchup on your hands?

"What ketchup? I never had any ketchup."

But you just said you you had ketchup on your hands.

"Ketchup on my hands? That's an absurd assinuation!"

(So then you must be innocent of all wrongdoing?)

(Exactly... now run along before I declare you an enemy combatant!)

Fear Sells -- Want Some?

This photo is as horrifying to me as any photo of blood and guts and gore and death I have ever seen.

Look at those eyes, if you can bear it. Supremely haunting, are they not?

Now you can be supremely haunted in the privacy of your own home, for less than five thousand dollars.

But not much less.
The unforgettable green eyes of this young Afghan girl stared out at the world from the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985, making her one of the world's most famous faces.

Photo by Steve McCurry/Magnum

Digital 16" x 20" print signed by the Magnum photographer.

16 x 20 Signed: $4,500.00

16 x 20 Signed & Framed: $4,675.00
You don't believe me? Click here.

Considering what it is, at least it's done with a bit of class ... at least compared to this!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interpol Alerted to Watch for Dissident Farting Pole

I missed this story in October, just spotted it today, in fact, but thought it was worth a mention:
Police in Poland have launched a nationwide hunt for a man who farted loudly when asked what he thought of the president.

Hubert Hoffman, 45, was charged with "contempt for the office of the head of state" for his actions after he was stopped by police in a routine check at a Warsaw railway station.

He complained that under President Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw, the country was returning to a Communist style dictatorship.

When told to show more respect for the country's rulers, he farted loudly and was promptly arrested.
This is not covered under freedom of speech, is it? Hmmm...
Hoffmann was [...] released on bail but failed to turn up at a Warsaw court early this week to be tried, and the judge in the case rejected an appeal by defence lawyers to throw the charges out.
Instead the court ordered the police to start a nationwide hunt for the man, and interpol have been alerted.
Interpol!! Interpol?? Shouldn't they be doing something more useful??
Interpol is the world's third largest international organization, after the United Nations and FIFA, with 186 member countries financed by annual contributions of about €41.7 million from its member countries.
Because of the politically neutral role Interpol must play, its constitution forbids any involvement in crimes that do not overlap several member countries, or any political, military, religious, or racial crimes. Its work focuses primarily on public safety and terrorism, organized crime, war crimes, illicit drug production and trafficking, weapons smuggling, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, high-tech crime, and corruption.
I've read the list over and over and I just don't see how farting fits here, unless you consider it politically-motivated farting in which case I guess it makes sense to mobilize the third largest international organization in the world; at the very least I believe it's quite clear that neither the UN nor FIFA would have been interested in the case.

Wake Up!! It's Tuesday!!

Is it necessary? Is it possible!!? Pervez Hoodbhoy does a fine job Re-Imagining Pakistan. Gwynne Dyer thinks about the future, and it includes carbon rationing. RAW STORY says the Navy buildup off Iran is a WARNING, and a Canadian hockey player has been fired for not desecrating a flag -- for the troops, of course!

Over at Atlantic Free Press, Rod Amis asks Keith Olbermann to pay attention to Mexico, while Phil Rockstroh says we're Eating the Planet Like a Bag of Doritos for Jesus. Would you like a beverage with those Doritos? Be careful what you put in it! "Mythbusters" explain what happens when you drop Mentos in your Diet Coke.

On a personal note: Homeyra has been dreaming of a nearly frozen blog, my Liquid Bombers piece, "Brother of Ringleader Released Without Charges", has been published today at Start The Revolution, my more recent piece, "Mission Accomplished! Attacks in Iraq at highest levels ever!!" has been published today at Atlantic Free Press, and Technorati finally rates this humble blog above the 100,000 mark! (It's in the 85,000 range now, up from the quarter-of-a-million range the last time I looked.)

For the penultimate words -- and a jolt of serious wisdom -- let's turn to the above-mentioned Pervez Hoodbhoy. Last week he gave the commencement address at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi. He was talking about Pakistan, but his words may have been more universal than he realized:
First, I wish for minds that can deal with the complex nature of truth.
My second wish is for many more [people] who accept diversity as a virtue.
My third, and last, wish is that [people] learn to value and nurture creativity.
We have to wake people up and get them politically engaged again.
We can change for the better. We can be like other nations on this planet. We can make responsible choices for who should govern us. We can bring justice to our people. We can be a decent civilized, peaceful, well-informed, educated people. It’s only a question of trying and getting our act together. That is the task before all of us, young and old.
Yes, it's necessary. Yes, it's possible.

Kitchen Science 102: More Exploding Liquids and an Update from my Science Advisor

In Kitchen Science 101, we saw what happens when you let a couple of demented young scientists play around with Mentos and Diet Coke:

I also mentioned that my Science Advisor had agreed to write a semi-irregular science column for this nearly frozen page.

News on both fronts: the same demented young scientists are still at it! But my Science Advisor is not going to become a semi-irregular columnist anytime soon.

He will continue to be available for consultation, however. So that's good. We've been talking about all kinds of things lately, including polonium-210 and the "Holocaust deniers" conference in Tehran. And I may have more on one or both topics sooner or later.

But in the meantime here's another Diet Coke and Mentos video, to be followed by a question or three.

Did you watch that video? It's hilarious, isn't it? If you haven't watched it yet, please take a few minutes and do so before you continue...

OK? Now for the questions:

[1] Do you suppose the Pakistani courts dismissed all the terror-related charges against Rashid Rauf because they could find no Mentos among his possessions?

[2] What happens when you mix Mentos with hydrogen peroxide?

[3] Can you buy Diet Coke on an airplane? If so, Maybe It Was Possible After All!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mission Accomplished! Attacks in Iraq at highest levels ever!!

The International Herald Tribune says:
Nearly 1,000 insurgent and sectarian attacks were carried out against American and Iraqi targets every week over the last three months, the highest level ever recorded, according to a Pentagon report on security trends in Iraq that was issued Monday.

The report, which covers the period from early August to early November describes a worsening security environment in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

The rise in attacks, to a weekly average of 959, was a jump of nearly 200 compared with the previous three months. As a consequence, civilian casualties reached a record high, more than 90 a day, the report said. While the majority of attacks were directed at U.S. forces, most of the casualties were suffered by the Iraqi military and civilians.
That last was a compound sentence, and the "while" messed up the impact. So let's try that again.
The majority of attacks were directed at U.S. forces.

Most of the casualties were suffered by the Iraqi military and civilians.
This is why we gotta get out now. All this bananarama about staying to provide stability is just that, bananarama. If we were interested in providing stability we would have provided it a long time ago. But we're not. We're only interested in staying. And this level of violence -- which we have deliberately created -- offers a perfect pretext.

We have never been interested in winning, nor in having a short war. We've only been interested in getting entangled in something so awful that we have no choice but to to stay there and make sure it doesn't get any worse.

This is what the chimperor meant when he said: "Mission Accomplished!"

If you believe we can keep it from getting worse without leaving, I have a bridge to sell you.

If we can keep it from getting worse at all, the only way we can do so is by leaving. And the sooner the better.

And this is what the Iraqi blogger Riverbend meant when she wrote:
Chaos? Civil war? Bloodshed? We’ll take our chances -- just take your Puppets, your tanks, your smart weapons, your dumb politicians, your lies, your empty promises, your rapists, your sadistic torturers and go.

Tom Toles: A Lump Of Coal For Christmas

Open Thread.

The Art of War Profiteering

An attractive headline, yes? But clearly our friends at Halliburton care more about the profiteering than the art:
The vice president’s associations with Halliburton “raise concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest or favoritism,” Judicial Watch argued, “particularly since the contract was awarded to KBR without a bidding process and because the contract was not announced to the public until after it was approved.”
The way to stop raising the concerns, of course, would be to stop announcing the contracts, even after they're approved!

That was simple. Let's hope they never hire me as a tactician.

Please read more from Larisa: Fixing the policy around the contracts

Rockford Breathes a Sigh of Relief, Safe from the Menace of Derrick Shareef

The Rockford Register Star celebrated the weekend with a special section on the Derrick Shareef story, named without any apparent hint of intentional irony "Terror In The Region: Plot Foiled".

In "Local News: Cherry Valley", Bridget Tharp tells us the sting was all-federal, and Police Chief Gary Maitland explains why he thinks it should be that way: Cherry Valley police tell how small their terror response really was
It was “just luck” that Police Chief Gary Maitland was lunching with two law-enforcement leaders when the FBI agent showed up at his office Dec. 6, he said.

The timing meant that South Beloit Police Chief Larry Schultz and Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers learned together that the FBI had thwarted a terror plot set for CherryVale Mall.
"Just luck"-- That's a good one. Remember that for later, will you?
Maitland shared details Tuesday of his department’s reaction and minimal involvement in last week’s terror scare with the village Public Safety Committee.
"Minimal"?? That's putting it kindly, is it not? Unless you mean "minimal" as in "negligible"...
Federal officials said Derrick Shareef, 22, was plotting to set off hand grenades in garbage cans in CherryVale Mall. By the time local officials were told, Shareef already had been arrested.
So ... "minimal" as in "none". And it's something of an issue in Rockford, according to several references in this special section of the Rockford Register Star.

But this is no surprise.

The story continues:
Although some booed the FBI’s secrecy, Maitland understands why local officials were left out of the loop. If he’d heard of the threat before the arrest, he would have put extra patrols around the mall. Doing so might have interfered with the federal investigation, Maitland said.
In my "model" of this so-called "terror plot foiled", I see Gary Maitland as something of a diplomat. There's at least a finite chance that he was righteously steamed to find out what had been going on under his nose, and look at how he found out: after the fact, and not even in private but also in the company of other police chiefs. What could he say about the FBI, especially there and then? Nothing but nice things, right?

To a coincidence theorist, it may have looked like
it was “just luck” that Police Chief Gary Maitland was lunching with two law-enforcement leaders when the FBI agent showed up at his office Dec. 6
but it may have been something else, too. Appearances can be deceiving.

And that aspect of the story was interesting, as were some other spots I will point out in a little while, but it was the Editorial that really engaged me. It's called "A scary thought: Threat of terror in our backyard", and it opens with some classic sleight-of-hand.
Whether or not Derrick Shareef was capable of pulling off a terrorist attack or multiple attacks he’s accused of, it’s unnerving to think that some of us walked alongside him and an FBI informant at CherryVale Mall as Shareef talked about how to detonate grenades to kill the most people.
Remember that last phrase, will you? "to kill the most people." We'll be coming back to that later. But first the sleight-of-hand. In my view,
Whether or not Derrick Shareef was capable of pulling off a terrorist attack or multiple attacks he’s accused of
is the essential question. Or at least that's the essential small question. The sleight-of-hand appears in the way it's included in the opening phrase, the "whether or not" intro, the "let's all sweep this part under the rug" preamble, as if to say, "Let us move past the physical realities of the case, let us not tolerate any outrageous conspiracy theories, let us move along to things we can all agree on."

When I see this happening, I always think "Let us try to prevent the next big attack without ever really understanding the previous one." But I digress.

When Webster Tarpley looks at a terrorism case, he uses a simple question to differentiate perpetrators from patsies: "Do they have the physical and technical ability to cause the effects observed?" In the event of a "foiled terror plot", I ask a similar question: Did he have the physical and technical ability to cause the effects being claimed? In other words, "Could the defendant have committed the crime for which he is accused?"

Whether or not Derrick Shareef was capable of damaging anything at all is an open question, and whether he could or could not have exploded grenades in the mall is central in my view. So slipping this aspect of the story under the rug is a natural opening move for an editorial of this sort. It was well done, but of course you can't fool all the people all the time.
When did we lose our ability to think clearly?
Rember that phrase, too, will you? "When did we lose our ability to think clearly?"

The editorial continues:
We have to be grateful for the informant’s decision to notify authorities when, according to the charges, Shareef shared his intention to wage a one-man jihad against America.
Is that so? Grateful for the informant’s decision to notify authorities? In my view, that's no reason to be especially grateful. That's the informant's job, to sell information.

You'd have to expect the informant to keep the authorities notified all along the way. That's how these things work. How else could you do it?

I mean, how could they give him his instructions unless the he sent them regular status reports?
After that, authorities say, there was never any danger that Shareef would be able to create the mayhem he spoke about.
The editors and I agree here, but I would go even further:

There was never any danger that Shareef would be able to create the mayhem he spoke about, period. He wouldn't have even been speaking about it if not for the FBI informant.

As a close study of the affidavit makes clear, Shareef would never have spoken about hand-grenades or shopping malls, would never have been to CherryVale even once, had it not been for the informant, who led him along every step of the way.
The FBI set up a bizarre swap of two stereo speakers for some phony grenades, a pistol and some nonfunctioning ammunition. When the swap was made, Shareef was arrested.
A bizarre swap indeed. What was the FBI-connected fake arms-dealer going to do with a pair of speakers? Use them as evidence, of course.

Derrick Shareef had no idea that he was being set up. He didn't have any money, he didn't have a car, he didn't have any friends, and he didn't have a clue. He even thought he could get four functional hand grenades, a handgun and functional ammo for the gun, all for a pair of speakers. They must have been some speakers!

He’s in jail now, held without bond and facing federal charges, including one involving use of a weapon of mass destruction aimed at people and property.
Use of a weapon of mass destruction? Are they serious? It's difficult to see how that particular charge could ever stick.

Aside from the question of whether a hand grenade -- or even a set of four -- constitutes a weapon of mass destruction, Derrick Shareef never used any weapon. Derrick Shareef never even obtained any weapons, if by "weapon" you mean a functional instrument of violence.

Surely a box containing four "phony grenades, a pistol and some nonfunctioning ammunition" does not constitute a weapon of mass destruction; and moving that box from the trunk of the FBI-connected fake-arms-dealer's car to the trunk of the FBI-connected informant's car does not constitute "use" of said so-called "weapon" in any way shape or form, especially considering that all this happened in a store parking lot full of federal agents who, as the editorial correctly states, were set to arrest Shareef as soon as they could also seize the so-called "evidence" of his so-called "terror plot" in his so-called "possession".
The news went all over the world about a terrorist plot against a mall in Rockford, Ill., not exactly the kind of public relations this city relishes, but it could have happened anywhere, really.
Creating the news itself, and sending it all over the world, were the main points of this exercise. Derrick Shareef's future is a non-issue to the feds. They don't care whether they have to drop the charge about "use of a weapon of mass destruction"; if this case goes according to the usual pattern, that won't happen for another year or more.

By then Derrick Shareef will have been forgotten by all but a few. And the dropping of the charge will receive little or no attention. But the damage will already have been done.

The editorial is absolutely correct on this point: It certainly could have happened anywhere. It could have happened anywhere the FBI wanted it to happen. This particular bogus terror alert could have happened anywhere in the Chicago/Milwaukee area; it just happens that the informant chose to take Shareef out to CherryVale. Or something...

As noted in a previous article, that didn't make any sense. Why CherryVale? Remember that, too, ok?
The FBI affidavit released by the U.S. attorney’s office details how the counterterrorism squad documented Shareef’s actions and stated intentions as the case against him was put together. It’s fascinating reading, as it reveals the simplistic, dehumanizing nature of such a person’s grievances, their self-aggrandizing martyr tendencies and the apparent disregard for the sanctity of life. A scary combination, indeed.
This is an insane reading of the affidavit, in my view. But then, I've read it twice. And I'm willing to link to it, so others can read it and make up their own minds.

Let's cut to the chase:

The affidavit also reveals that Derrick Shareef had no car, no money, and no clue. He was a loner, a few bricks short of a full load, just the sort of person these sting operations focus on. Derrick Shareef was the perfect target for an entrapment operation such as this.

The affidavit goes on to reveal how it was the informant who started talking about the mall, and it was the informant who started talking about the grenades, it was the informant who started talking about disrupting Christmas and killing as many people as possible.

It was the informant who brought Derrick Shareef to Rockford to "case" CherryVale Mall.
It could have been anywhere....
Right. It could have been anywhere...

But here's the thing: Have No Fear! The grenades will always be phony, the ammunition will always be non-functional, the parking lot will always be full of federal agents, and the terrorist will always be hapless and helpless, toothless and useless.

That's the pattern. That's how the FBI gets all these bogus terror arrests.
The FBI did admirable work, as far as we can tell, with one rather obvious omission: The agency did not notify local law enforcement until very late in the game. Mayor Larry Morrissey and Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson said they didn’t know what was going on until the news was breaking across the nation.
Well of course they didn't know what was going on. Gary Maitland, Larry Schultz and Dick Meyers all found out about it at the last minute, too, as noted above. And that's the way it was supposed to happen.

In traps like this one, it's seen as essential that the local authorities be kept completely in the dark until the trap has been sprung, and for the exact reason Gary Maitland mentioned. Had he known what was happening, he would have put on extra patrols, which might have interfered with the FBI investigation.

OOPS! What would have happened then? What if Maitland's extra patrols were on duty -- and paying attention -- when the FBI Informant brought Derrick Shareef out to Rockland case the mall? That might have been messy, no? They might even have arrested the informant!

Is this what the Mayor was wondering about, or was he thinking about something else?
Morrissey said he was going to try to get some answers from the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald about why local law enforcement was kept out of the loop.
The Mayor will no doubt get "some answers from the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald" but whether they will be reasonable ones, who can predict what answers he will get?

Well, OK, I was lying; I can predict this one: the answers will be some variation of "Hands Off, Mouth Shut!". The answers from Fitzgerald's office may be phrased more delicately, of course.

If Larry Morrissey isn't happy with the answers he gets from Patrick Fitzgerald, please somebody send him a link to this article, or give him my email address. I'd be thrilled -- chilled! -- to explain all this and much much more to Mr. Morrissey, and indeed to anyone else -- mayor, congressman, private citizen -- who is curious enough to ask. In fact, they don't even have to ask; all they have to do is click against my wishes when I say "please don't read my blog."
It’s difficult to be too mad at the FBI, which identified and monitored a potentially dangerous person and kept a lid on leaks until an arrest could be made.
Is it? I agree that the FBI "kept a lid on leaks until an arrest could be made". But is it really "difficult to be too mad at the FBI"? And is it really true that the FBI "identified and monitored a potentially dangerous person"?

Aside from the fact that we're all dangerous, how dangerous was Derrick Shareef, anyway?

He had no car; that's why he and the informant rode around in the informant's car.

He had no money; he couldn't even come up with a few hundred bucks for some grenades -- he had to trade in his speakers.

He was so ignorant about grenades that he wanted to have them detonate in garbage cans!

Never mind that the grenades would produce much more harmful effects if they were detonated in the open.

Never mind that Derrick Shareef couldn't afford to buy real grenades, wouldn't know where to get real grenades, didn't know the difference between functional deadly hand-grenades and the phonies he bought -- or obtained in a trade for a pair of stereo speakers -- in a store parking lot crawling with federal agents.
Shareef might not be the brightest bulb in the jihad marquee, but he seemed bent on destruction and he had little to lose.
The conclusion that Derrick Shareef was "bent on destruction" seems questionable at best. A careful reading of the affidavit reveals that -- especially on the topics of CherryVale and grenades -- Derrick Shareef was saying whatever the FBI-connected confidential informant was telling him to say, doing whatever the informant was telling him to do.

It's entirely possible that Derrick Shareef was intent on destruction even before the confidential informant convinced him to say enough to get his sorry young ass arrested. And I don't mean to imply in any way that Derrick Shareef may have been a good guy, or a harmless one. All I'm saying is:

Can we please keep this in perspective?

If not for the FBI, Derrick Shareef would still be a dim-witted unknown with a bad attitude and a pair of speakers. And he may not have much to lose, unless you count his personal freedom. But in my view, this is not about Derrick Shareef.

This is about America. This about the world. How many people have heard the news that made its way around the world so fast, about the terror plot that was foiled near Chicago, just in time for Christmas?

What is the message?

The message is:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Give up all your civil liberties in the name of greater security. Support a bogus war against bogus terrorism and allow the lifeblood to be sucked out of your society. Remember that too, will you?
We’re relieved they got him.
I'm sure you are. But are you relieved you've read this?

I'm not relieved at all, to tell you the truth, and here's what alarms me: the reactions of the sheep! Innocent as always, they bleat out their praise for the ghastly machine that's herding them into the wrong pen, as perfectly illustrated by the following Letter to the Editor:
To informant: Thanks

I would just like to say thank you to the person who notified the proper authorities leading to the arrest of Derrick Shareef.

You may always be unknown to all of us, but I feel that you are the true hero.

Thank you for stepping up to the plate and for saving so many people from being hurt and killed. Life is always so busy and we sometimes forget to recognize the truly wonderful things that people do for each other.

I walk at CherryVale Mall and my family thanks you for helping to keep me safe, as well as our entire city.

God bless you always. You are a gift to all of us.

— Kim Einhorn, Rockford
Does Kim Einhorn have any idea of the deception and provocation that was required -- and provided -- to create this "gift to all of us"? It's hard to imagine.

It's hard to imagine that she has much of a clue about anything. None of these things, anyway.

And here's the saddest part: she probably represents the community much better than the editorial.

In other words: baaah, baaah, baaah, baaah....


What were we supposed to remember? Do you remember?

"Just Luck"

Whenever a news story starts with an disclaimer about how is was "just luck" that a certain thing happenened, be very suspicious.

"To Kill The Most People"

We're always told the terrorists are trying to kill as many people as possible, because they want us all dead.

If that were the case, wouldn't they "plot" to "explode" their "grenades" in the open? Why would they contain the blasts in garbage cans?

And why would they choose such an off-the-beaten-track place to do it? Why wouldn't they attack downtown Chicago?

In my view this is not about killing the most people at all. It's not about killing anybody. It's about scaring us all senseless.

Why CherryVale?

Perhaps it was chosen because it's small. The informant brought Derrick Shareef to CherryVale twice and paraded him around, making sure some of the merchants (and probably some of the other shoppers as well) noticed them. In a big city it's a lot harder to get noticed.

Or maybe it was chosen because it's out-of-the-way. Just to enhance the "Shock-And-Awe" factor for the worldwide audience.

CherryVale in particular? I don't know. But any out-of-the-way place would do as well. People who don't live in big cities don't worry about terrorism very much. It's entirely possible that the main point of this exercise was to remind them to Be Very Frightened.

The Lifeblood of Society

One budget after the next has robbed from everybody except the richest one or two percent, and given to the War On Terror, and people are getting tired of seeing everything around them breaking down except the security police.

The bloom has come off the rose, so to speak, and therefore there needs to be some bogus terror news every so often. Otherwise the rose would vanish completely. So to speak. But that's another story.

What else? There was one more thing we were supposed to remember ...

When did we lose the ability to think clearly?

Right about here, I'd say, for most people.


Therefore, the readers' response, so far, has been favorable to the FBI. But the level of understanding does appear somewhat limited.

Many readers appear to see the "informant" as somebody who happened to have a suspicion and called the FBI, as exemplified in this comment from Bob Ham:
Think about what if that one person had turned the other way and said, it's none of my business or what if I'm wrong and nothing is planned.

We were very lucky someone was not afraid to point the finger at a potential killer. I'd rather be wrong than right and say nothing.
As usual in these cases, nobody asked me what I'd rather do, but I'll tell you anyway.

I'd rather see the FBI investigating actual crime, rather than fabricating bogus terror events like this one.

Not because I hold any truck with Derrick Shareef. But because this case fits a familiar pattern.

Because all these terror scares are being used for political purposes, to keep us frightened, frightened to the point where we happily give away our constitutional rights, our inalienable gift from God and/or the great American patriots of the past, gifts which, were we in our right minds, we would certainly fight to preserve.


Further reading:

The Affidavit from Smoking Gun:
Shopping Mall Terror Plot Foiled

The Polemicist:
(En)trapping a Potential Terrorist: The Ghettoest Terror Plot in History

Winter Patriot:
Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?
More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois


third in a series

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Coincidence Theorist's Guide To Political Assassination

Conspiracy Theorist:
Did you hear about this one? The coroner called it 'suicide', but the papers say the guy who killed himself...
-- slashed his wrists and ankles
-- injected himself with four different poisons
-- shot himself three times in the head
-- raped himself repeatedly
-- ran over himself with his own car
-- tortured himself with an electric drill
-- jumped off the same bridge twice
-- stabbed himself several times with a hunting knife
-- poured gasoline over his body and lit himself on fire
-- dove in front of a moving freight train
-- cut his own body into little pieces
-- and buried himself in an unmarked grave.
Does that sound like suicide to you?
Coincidence Theorist:
Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Conspiracy Theorist:
Oh come on! What kind of suicide is that?
Coincidence Theorist:
That was a man who really wanted to die.