Friday, December 10, 2010

UK: Anti-Semitism Rampant in Muslim Schools


by Soeren Kern


Muslim religious schools operating in Britain are using poisonously anti-Semitic textbooks from Saudi Arabia to teach children as young as six that Jews are descended from "monkeys" and "pigs," and that Zionists are plotting to take over the world. The schools are also instructing children on how to chop off the hands and feet of a thief as per Islamic Sharia law. These are just a few of the findings of a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) exposé of Saudi-run Muslim schools in Britain that aired on the prestigious Panorama documentary television program on November 22.

The Panorama investigation identified a network of over 40 such after-school and weekend programs catering to about 5,000 children, from ages six to eighteen. The schools offer the official Saudi national curriculum and run under the umbrella of "Saudi Students Clubs and Schools in the UK and Ireland." Panorama says the schools are overseen by the cultural bureau of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, and that a building used for one of the schools (in Ealing, West London) is owned by the Saudi government.

Saudi officials quoted by the BBC disavowed direct responsibility for the schools and clubs, and described the teachings cited in the program as having been "taken out of their historical context." But BBC Newsnight exposed similar anti-Semitic sentiments in Saudi textbooks at a Saudi school in London in 2007. At the time, the Saudi government promised a "comprehensive" review of all offensive material in its curriculum. (Saudi Arabia also promotes anti-Semitic hate-speech in the United States.)

According to Panorama, one Saudi textbook asks children to spell out the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews and explains that Jews are "cursed by God." Another textbook teaches that the penalty for sodomy is execution, and outlines differing perspectives as to whether death should be by stoning, immolation by fire, or throwing offenders off a cliff.

Yet another Saudi textbook explains the punishments prescribed by Sharia law for thievery, including the amputation of hands and feet – a hand for the first offence, a foot for the second. A BBC video shows a textbook illustration of a hand and a foot marked to show where amputations should be made.

Muslim teenagers studying the Saudi national curriculum in Britain in the hopes of getting into a Saudi university are also being taught that Zionists are plotting to take over the world for Jews. This harks back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent anti-Semitic text first published in Russia in 1903, that purports to describe a Jewish plan to achieve global domination. Although the "Protocols" were exposed as a hoax in 1921, the Saudi textbook for tenth-graders insists there are "many proofs" of the "veracity" of the Protocols.

During its investigation, Panorama also compared more than 100 websites of schools of all faiths, and was struck by the unequivocally anti-Western tone of many Muslim schools. Panorama voiced concern about a Muslim school ethos that reinforces separatism, either by living in separate enclaves or by rejecting the core values of a liberal democracy, such as tolerance, equality between men and women and respect for man-made laws.

Panorama says many Muslim parents are sending their children to the Saudi-run schools to shield them from Western influence. But by teaching an overly narrow, Islamic-focused curriculum, these schools are turning out students ill-equipped for life in anything other than a Muslim ghetto -- which is a recipe for social conflict.

The Muslim population in Britain has been rising rapidly in recent years, and research (here, here, here and here) by the Centre For Ethnicity and Citizenship at Bristol University shows that Muslim children are the most segregated in Britain.

Another study, the Channel 4 Dispatches Muslim Survey (complete results here), one of the most comprehensive surveys to date of Muslim opinion in Britain, shows that a new generation of Muslims is being raised to be much more radical than its parents. It also shows that Muslim integration into British society has effectively come to a halt. Although immigrants to Britain usually have tended to become more secular and less religious than their parents by the second generation, the survey shows Muslims have gone in precisely the opposite direction.

The Dispatches survey shows that today's young British Muslims are less liberal and more devout than their parents. Their beliefs render many of them determined not just to be different, but also to be separate from the rest of Britain. Although it is often assumed that those holding the most radical anti-Western views are from the lower socio-economic classes, the survey shows that the well-off and well-educated are just as likely to identify with radical Islam.

Among other findings, the survey shows that an overwhelming number of British Muslims believe free speech should not extend to insulting their religion, and that nearly one quarter of them believe the 2005 terrorist attacks in London were justified. More ominously, one-third of British Muslims would rather live under Sharia law, and almost 30% say they dream of Britain one day becoming an Islamic state.

Michael Gove, the education minister in the government of British Prime Minister David Cameron, told Panorama that the government would not tolerate "anti-Semitic material of any kind in English schools." (Gove is the author of Celsius 7/7, a brilliant analysis of Britain's wilful blindness in refusing to grasp the true nature and extent of the Islamist war upon the West). Gove also said that Ofsted, the government-appointed agency with oversight of education and children's services, would be "reporting to us shortly" on measures to tighten oversight of part-time schools.

The Saudi schools in Britain have, further, been able to get away with propagating anti-Semitism for nearly 30 years because, unlike full-time schools, part-time schools do not have to register with the Department for Education, and thus do not get inspected.

Not that inspections would make much difference. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph recently established that Ofsted has published positive reports praising Muslim schools for their contribution to community cohesion, even in the case of a school which openly states that Muslims "oppose the lifestyle of the West." The Ofsted inspector responsible for many of the reports has been accused of having links to radical Islamist organisations. The newspaper also revealed that another Ofsted inspector is the chief executive of a radical Muslim educational foundation, IBERR, which describes Islamic schools as "one of the most important factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions."

In one instance, Ofsted inspected the Madani Girls' School, a private Islamic school in London's East End. In its official report, Ofsted says the school leaves its pupils "well-prepared for life in a multicultural society." However, the Madani Girls' School's website states: "If we oppose the lifestyle of the West, then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system which represents that lifestyle should educate our children."

In another instance, Ofsted inspected the Tawhid Boys' School in Hackney, north London. The Ofsted report says the curriculum is "good … broad and balanced." However, the school's prospectus says the curriculum is kept strictly "within the bounds of Sharia."

Ofsted has also cleared schools run by supporters of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir, which would like to replace the British state with a dictatorship under Islamic law. The schools, which belong to the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, teach children key elements of Hizb ut Tahrir ideology, which says that integration as "dangerous" and says that British Muslims should "fight assimilation" into British society. It also states that "those [Muslims] who believe in democracy are Kafir," or apostates, and it orders all Muslims to keep apart from non-believers, and boycott "corrupt" British elections and political processes.

One of the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation's trustees is the author of a Hizb ut-Tahrir pamphlet titled Education and Identity, which attacks the British national curriculum for its "systematic indoctrination" of Muslim children "to build model British citizens." The trustee criticizes "attempts to integrate Muslim children" into British society as an effort "to produce new generations that reject Islam." She also describes English as "one of the most damaging subjects" a school can teach, and attacks fairy tales, saying they "reflect secular and immoral beliefs that contradict the viewpoint of Islam."

Ofsted has also passed responsibility for the inspection of dozens of Muslim schools to a new private "faith schools watchdog," the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, which is co-controlled by Islamic schools' own lobbying and trade body, the Association of Muslim Schools. The Bridge Schools Inspectorate allows Muslim head teachers to inspect each other's schools and return favourable verdicts.

A November 22 report published by the center-right think tank Policy Exchange concludes that the British education system is currently "not equipped" to prevent "extremist influences" in faith schools. Titled "Faith Schools We Can Believe In: Ensuring that Tolerant and Democratic Values are Upheld in Every Part of Britain's Education System," the report contains a number of recommendations about how to protect children from religious fundamentalism in the classroom. Among those, the report calls for abolishing the Bridge Schools Inspectorate and the establishment of a Due Diligence Unit to assess all schools, their trustees and staff, against a statutory definition of extremism.

Soeren Kern

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

How WikiLeaks Influence the Middle East


by Harold Rhode


The Middle East has its own logic: people there believe that the US is all-powerful, and when it chooses to, enforces order as it sees fit. To them, whatever the US does, it does deliberately and calculatedly. By this logic, the release of the WikiLeaks classified documents was intentional: most Middle Easterners would have great difficulty believing otherwise.

Among many foreign leaders mentioned in these documents is Turkish Prime Minister Prime Minister Erdoğan. Before the leaks, Erdoğan seemed to be able to get away with doing everything he could to undermine Israel and the United States both in the Middle East and throughout the world.

From a Turkish point of point of view, there are two explanations for America's apparent acquiesce: Either America displayed weakness by letting Erdogan get away with this, or it intentionally let him do this because it fit into some American plan, which, as the Turks say, was developed "behind the curtain," with a hidden American hand intentionally directing this policy.

But from this perspective, all that changed when the US government "intentionally" released classified documents regarding Erdoğan, his government, and Iran. Among the leaked documents is one in which the US Embassy writes about rumors that Erdoğan has multiple Swiss bank accounts in which he has more the $1 billion. As the Turks see it, Erdoğan must have been stunned by this revelation. Many believe that the US released this document in order to embarrass and humiliate him.

America had shown its power. Erdoğan therefore had no choice other than it submit to its dictates. How best to do that? A large number of Middle Easterners believe the Jews run America and the world. By this logic, now that America has thrown down the gauntlet, the best way for Erdoğan to redeem himself is to find a way to ingratiate hmself to the Americans and Israelis. This, accordingly, would help him come down off of a branch onto which he dangerously had stepped.

The opportunity presented itself very quickly. When Israel proved unable to handle the huge fire that was blazing in its Carmel Mountains, Erdoğan jumped at the opportunity to send two Turkish planes to help the Israelis put out the fire. This humanitarian gesture would surely signal to the Americans and world Jewry that he was not as bad as they thought he was. This gesture, they reasoned, would help Erdoğan back into the good graces of the Americans and the Jews, who together, "behind the curtain," run the world.

Moreover, given past history, it is very likely that Erdoğan and his cohorts also have a lurking fear that America and the Jews might have other tricks up their sleeves, and most certainly fear this Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu handled this situation adeptly: by personally calling Erdoğan and thanking him for sending the planes, he got credit for decency in the eyes of the world, and the Turkish nation in particular. Netanyahu also personally went and shook the hands of the Turkish pilots who came to Israel's rescue. Pictures of the Israeli Prime Minister were printed in newspapers and shown on Turkish television stations throughout Turkey. These pictures and the personal call to their Prime Minister touch deep cords in Turkey: showing warmth, hospitality, and gratitude are major characteristics in Turkish society. Netanyahu's actions demonstrated to the Turks that he is an extremely decent man, not the "killer" that Erdoğan and his colleagues have claimed the past few years.

Where does this leads us? Since the WikiLeaks and the fire in northern Israel, there has been a flurry of diplomatic activity behind the scenes between the Israelis and the Turks – seeking ways to patch up their differences. We should consequently not be surprised if Turkish-Israeli relations markedly improve in the coming months. By "intentionally" leaking documents about Erdoğan and those around him, the US has, from a Middle Eastern point of view, warned him that he had better find a way to step in line; that if he does not, the other shoe might drop.

Another unintended consequence of the Wikileaks could easily be an improvement of US-Turkish relations. As an incentive from the American side, this might be the reason, many Turks believe, that the Americans also leaked a document according to which Armenia was facilitating weapons transfers to Iran, which used these weapons to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

This logic, to people who have worked and lived in the Middle East, makes perfect sense.

Harold Rhode

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Ahmadinejad Sets Nuclear Red Lines for January Talks


by Ramin Mostafavi

A day after the conclusion of a two-day meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), Ahmadinejad told those countries to drop any idea of curbing Iran's quest for nuclear technology and instead invited them to help build the 20 nuclear power stations it plans.

"We are in favor of cooperation and they should come and cooperate with us and build us 20 nuclear plants," he said in a speech to students quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

The West is concerned Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability under cover of a declared civilian atomic energy program and wants it to curb uranium enrichment.

Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters after Tuesday's meeting in Geneva that: "Iran will not discuss a uranium enrichment halt in the next meeting in Istanbul.

Ahmadinejad reiterated that point and specified three red lines that Iran would not cross. "Our nuclear rights, including the continuation of enrichment, making 20 percent uranium and building nuclear plants are not negotiable," he said.

Ahmadinejad indicated Iran might be interested in reviving a fuel swap deal, agreed in principle in the 2009 talks, which would have seen Iran export some of its stocks of low-enriched uranium in return for higher enriched material for a medical research reactor for which it cannot yet manufacture fuel.

That pact soon unraveled in disputes over conditions and Iran embarked on refining uranium up to 20 percent fissile purity itself, which it says will eventually be converted into special fuel plates for the medical reactor.

"Cooperating in different fields like a fuel swap, and political, economic and security issues of the world are topics for negotiations," he said.

The Geneva meeting -- the first of its kind in over a year -- ended with the head of the P5+1 delegation, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, saying the January talks would focus on "our core concerns about the nuclear issue."

Iran says it is not involved in "nuclear talks" and insists the negotiations are aimed more generally at discussing global problems. A French diplomatic source told Reuters the Geneva meeting was an "exchange of monologues."

Esmail Kowsari, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said Ashton's summary of the talks, focused on the nuclear issue, was "immoral ... As we said many times Iran will not accept negotiations under pressure, threats and sanctions," he said.

Ramin Mostafavi

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hillary's Bad Hair Week


by Ken Blackwell

Even the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza noticed. He designated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as having "the worst week in Washington." This is something of a comedown among liberals, who have been fawning over Hillary. Cilizza noted it was an unusual slip. "She has traveled the world, winning kudos everywhere she goes for her grace and, um, diplomacy."


Cilizza notes the damage done to Hillary's image by the WikiLeaks revelations. Those leaked cables -- those undiplomatic diplomatic documents -- show what he calls "a chatty and at times petty State Department offering strikingly candid assessments of the relative strengths and weaknesses of various world leaders."

Well, now Chris Cilizza is putting it most diplomatically. These leaks are devastating.

As former Speaker Newt Gingrich says, they show an administration wholly incapable of protecting classified documents. Why, Newt asks, does a low-level Army private have access to a quarter-million classified documents? Who gave this grunt a security clearance? Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton chimes in: This WikiLeaks scandal shows an administration so weak, so disorganized, that it does not understand the first thing about national security.

Indeed. How can Hillary Clinton continue to get kudos from anyone? Grace? Diplomacy? The leaks show that she tried to find out if Argentina's lady president was on drugs. Why do we need to know that? Argentina's people deserve our respect. Their leaders don't. And trying to find out such sensitive information is crazy. It could only lead -- as it has led -- to a huge embarrassment.

We have to recall Watergate. Why did Nixon's people do it in the first place? And why did Nixon attempt to cover up?

Hillary's traveling the world was a problem even before these leaks. Recall her horrible gaffe in Ottawa last spring. She visited our loyal ally and berated Prime Minister Harper's Conservative party government for not including abortion in its maternal care initiative for Africa. This from the woman who as first lady said that "abortion is wrong" (Newsweek, October 31, 1994).

It would have been just as undiplomatic if Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had gone to Canada and attacked the Liberal government in 2005 for its support of the forced abortion-condoning UNFPA. Of course, Sec. Rice should have objected to that Canadian policy, but if she had -- and perhaps she did -- it should have been done privately.

Hillary's blunders are not confined to this hemisphere. She kicked off her "reset" summit with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by presenting the dour Russian with a big red button brandishing the word "reset" in English and Russian (in Latin, not Cyrillic, characters, by the way) -- but the Russian version actually said "overcharge"! The whole idea of "reset" with Russia comes down to this: Russia can help Iran's nuclear program, Russia can meddle in Ukraine, Russia can invade the Republic of Georgia, and we're going to overlook all of that.

Hillary's leaks scandal reminds me of a joke recited by Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev -- perhaps the only joke told in seventy years of Communist misrule. The party boss said a man was arrested outside the Kremlin for yelling, "Khrushchev is a fool!" Nikita Sergeyevich told Western reporters the unfortunate Soviet citizen got a "fiver" -- one year for insulting the party chairman and four for revealing a state secret.

Now, Sec. Clinton says it's America's urgent priority to approve the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. She wants this lame-duck Senate to ram the thing through.

Remember Ronald Reagan's famous take on U.S.-Soviet relations. "Trust, but verify," the Gipper always said. Dealing from a position of strength, Reagan was able to sign a treaty embodying the biggest reduction in nuclear arms in history.

Now, this administration ignores the Russian spies who were arrested on the eve of President Obama's "hamburger summit" with President Medvedev. Our government booted the spies out of the country before having any chance to interrogate them, to learn what they learned, to determine whom they talked to about U.S. national security. Attorney General Holder didn't even have a chance to read them their Miranda rights or to provide them with one of his favorite lawyers from the al-Qaeda bar.

From Reagan's "trust, but verify," we have gone under this administration to pumping for a treaty with the Russians that is all trust and no verification. No wonder the Russians show their contempt for this administration daily.

Let's hope the newly strengthened Senate GOP caucus will call a quick STOP to this false START. Besides, Hillary needs to spend all her time smoothing diplomatic feathers ruffled by her most undiplomatic spying and prying.

Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union, and National Rifle Association and is co-author of The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

WikiLeaks, Stuxnet, Cyberwar, and Obama


by J.R.Dunn


War is transforming itself before our eyes, turning into something unfamiliar and strange. Information has taken a place as a major class of weaponry, with sabotage and subterfuge as preferred tactics. On the new battlefield, these weapons are available not only to nation-states, but to organizations and even individuals.


The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) is something that ought to be more widely known than it is. Starting in the 1980s, advances in cybernetics and communications began having a dramatic impact had on military operations. Such innovations as Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) and high channel capacity communications systems not only increased the effectiveness of individual weapons systems, but, acting as force multipliers, they also boosted the capabilities of entire units to a point where they could take on and defeat enemy forces that in the past would have been considered far superior.

The impact of the RMA became apparent in the First Gulf War of 1990-1991. Most of the two-thirds of a million Coalition troops deployed in Saudi Arabia never engaged with enemy forces. The Iraqis were defeated by a handful of spearhead units so technologically superior to the Warsaw Pact-type Iraqi units that there was no contest. In 2003, a much smaller Coalition force routed the Iraqis, utilizing all the technological advantages that had appeared in the ensuing twelve years. (Unfortunately, Donald Rumsfeld attempting to carry out the occupation of Iraq with the same size force, demonstrating that the RMA does not extend to civil affairs.)

But despite all the speculation surrounding the RMA, few foresaw the arrival of a second phase in which the breadth, execution, and very definition of warfare would be transformed. The new technology empowered not only military forces, but also intelligence agencies and even non-state actors. Utilizing communications and cybernetics innovations, the new combatants can, under the right circumstances, have an impact rivaling that of entire nation-states, causing serious turmoil and damage with a minimal outlay of effort. In 2010, we have been introduced to this mutated form of warfare by two distinct events: Stuxnet and WikiLeaks.

Stuxnet is the trojan "malware" (somehow the term doesn't seem quite fitting in this case) infiltrated into Iranian nuclear weapons program infotech systems. Its creators are unknown (for the record, I would surmise that these were the U.S. and Israel, the U.S. possessing the knowhow and the Israelis the espionage network). Its effects have been substantial but as yet unquantified, and they may remain so. One curiosity concerning the incident lies in the fact that damage estimates have continued to grow in the months since the worm was first discovered. Even Iranian strongman Ahmadinejad has, very much against his will, been forced to acknowledge the damage the program wrought. The Iranian nuclear effort has not yet returned to normal operations. Some question exists as to whether it can.

Since Stuxnet was discovered in July of this year, considerable effort has gone into analyzing it by computer security outfits such as Symantec and Kaspersky Labs, as well as agencies generally known by their initials. Expert conclusions can be best termed "disturbing." The Stuxnet worm is serious sci-fi malware, not something made up by a comp sci major in his dorm room. Embodying several innovations not previously encountered, it comprises a multi-targeted, multitasking IT warhead of unparalleled capabilities.

While much of the story remains conjectural, what we know is this: the worm was seeded in home PCs in the area surrounding Iranian nuclear facilities, presumably in computers belonging to Iranian techs and scientists. The program infected one or more flash drives, which carried it into the nuclear sites. There it targeted the centrifuge cascades used to enrich uranium. Stuxnet was programmed to manipulate these centrifuges, which number in the thousands, in a particular way -- by causing them to suddenly speed up well faster than their design limits without destroying them. This accomplished two things: it damaged the machines, and also cut the purity of the uranium, rendering it useless. This is an interesting point -- previous speculation on destroying the cascades has revolved around driving the centrifuges out of control. Since these machines revolve at a speed of several thousand RPM, increasing the speed uncontrollably would cause them to simply disintegrate.

But Stuxnet was specifically designed to avoid this. Why? To continue the process as long as possible without calling attention to itself. There's only one rational reason for such a tactic: while disabling the cascades, Stuxnet was also doing something else.

What follows is speculation -- what I would want a cyberwarfare worm to do if I were to order one. We can assume that Stuxnet was sending copies of itself out of the facilities, possibly by way of the same people who brought it in, and then contacting its creators through external computers. As the months passed, it forwarded more and more detail about the Iranian program. By now, the white hats know as much about Iranian nuclear initiatives as the Iranians themselves, if not more. And this involves not only facilities and technology, but also personnel -- it's well within the realm of possibility that the two nuclear scientists attacked on November 29 (one was killed, the other badly wounded) were identified as crucial to the Iranian effort by Stuxnet.

As knowledge of the Iranian program grew, it's likely that Stuxnet was adapted to target different facilities. Distinct "mods" could be programmed to perform varying tasks. The Iranians have put off the ignition of the Bushehr reactor several times with no explanation, suggesting serious problems. Lingering effects of Stuxnet are not out of the question. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless. Consider an app that could change or lose internal e-mails while they were being sent, or place suspicious or misleading files in an engineer's computer, and so on. Between Stuxnet and covert action, the mullahs' nuclear program is being dismantled piece by piece. Lastly, it's possible that we haven't heard the end of the Stuxnet story. Copies could be still hiding in odd nooks and crannies of the Iranian system, with the computers reprogrammed to overlook the fact that they exist. The very possibility must weigh heavily on the mullahs and their servants.

Serves 'em right for using Windows.

A cyber warhead of this sophistication represents an evolution even more profound than the introduction of ironclads in the Civil War or aircraft in WWI. What this means in immediate terms is a constant, continual cyberwar on the Cold War espionage model. Adversaries will endlessly probe potential enemies (not to mention friends) to discover weaknesses and pry out secrets. (The behavior of China over the past few years suggests that this state of affairs is already the case.)

The first strike in any war from here on in will be cybernetic, in hopes of paralyzing an enemy's armed forces and shattering his society. Under these circumstances, the most important military figure in sense of pure national defense will be the cybertechnician, much as the missile launch officer was the most crucial during the Cold War. The American military need a bottom-up evaluation of its entire military IT system, including training, doctrine, and practice, to assure that we are capable of addressing this challenge. Such an action can't be expected from the current administration, preoccupied as it is with such critical matters as eliminating DADT and assuring that military vehicles use their fair share of ethanol. But it should be the first thing on the agenda when an adult administration again takes office. The survival of the United States as a superpower depends on it.

Further evidence of that fact is easily obtained from the WikiLeaks saga. It is no exaggeration to state that Julian Assange is engaged in warfare. He is at war -- not simply with the U.S., although the U.S. is his current bête noire, but with the human race as a whole. He is a would-be Alexander, intent on bending the world to his will, with little concern who gets hurt while he's doing it. He sees himself as a mythic figure, above and beyond the run of normal humanity, a man with a historical mission. (This is no rarity, unfortunately -- see Obama, Barack.) His followers see him as an Apollo bringing forth a new age.

Yet the world isn't bending, and the new age remains unborn. Despite all the excitement, Assange's impact has been minimal. Until incarcerated, he simply dropped one info-bomb after another, then ran off and hid, perhaps loitering to paw a woman or two in the process. It's an unedifying spectacle, nothing Alexandrine or Napoleonic about it.

It has been an axiom of the left since the days of the New Masses and the Daily Worker that if "the people" knew what was "really going on," what decisions were being made and crimes committed "in their name," they'd simply rise up in their wrath to smash the pillars of the temple and smite the evildoers. This is the impulse behind the Pentagon Papers, all those flicks that end with the main character pausing meaningfully before entering the Times building, and, for that matter, the entire Plame saga, now appearing in a multiplex near you. That is the role that Assange is playing in real time and on the world stage. And yet... far from ushering a new non-Matrix reality, he's cowering in a British hoosegow waiting for the Swedish cops to get the spelling right on his rape warrant, his site is being locked out from every host and service on the net, from Amazon to PayPal to XXX Real Live Bondage XXX for all I know, while the world awaits his next info-bomb not with dread or exultation, but with much the same sense of titillation as greets the antics of Britney or Jon Gosselin. What went wrong?

The information is trivial. There are no blockbusters or nation-breakers in the material yet released. No secret fleets of black helicopters. Karl Rove is not scheming to sell humanity to the aliens. The CIA is not transplanting children's brains into chimpanzees in the Langley basement. What we have learned instead is that the Saudis are terrified at the prospect of a nuclear Iran, that the U.S. is cutting quiet anti-terror deals with countries such as Yemen, and that Hamid Karzai is as corrupt as he is charismatic. In other words, nothing at all new to anyone paying attention to media reports. The big disclosure is how little of this stuff needed to be secret in the first place.

There have been loud gasps in some circles at the "news" that Hillary instructed her diplomats to seek out intelligence. This is asinine. Diplomats have been low-key intelligence agents as long as they've existed. For centuries they were often the only intelligence force many states possessed. The practice was not invented by Hillary, or Condi, or even Talleyrand, for that matter. It's part of the job description. All this "revelation" does is provide Dick Morris with ammunition to continue his never-ending feud with Hillary.

The only item that surprised me was news of China's impatience with North Korea, which I never thought they'd admit to anybody, but there it is. Since one of the drivers of the recent crisis has been the conviction that China would back up North Korea to the last ditch, it appears that our would-be Australian Samson has succeeded only in defusing a current tension point. Good going -- how does a Nobel sound?

The damage is minimal. There has been a lot of concern expressed over damage to the U.S. as a whole, to American diplomacy, and to the international community. I don't see it. The Saudis are not going to sever relations or cease sharing intelligence, not with a pack of crazy Shi'ites intent on building A-bombs right across the Gulf. The Yemenis are not going to toss the infidels out and allow al-Qaeda to march into Sana'a next week. What damage does exist can be easily repaired since it's in the interests of all concerned to do so.

Examine the chain of events. The gruff, hard-bitten Bradley Manning stole a lot of secret e-mails and sent them to WikiLeaks. The e-mails originated in large part from the Defense Department, run by Robert Gates, and the State Department, run by Hillary Clinton. The Justice Department, run by Eric Holder, couldn't figure out what to do about it. All these people work for Barack Obama. That's a pretty impressive lineup. All that we're missing is Van Jones, and he'll probably pop up.

If anybody sees a sign of the reliable, dutiful United States in that picture, the U.S. that serves as global sheriff and last resort of desperate nations and peoples worldwide, kindly point it out to me. All I see is the weird, twisted caricature that Obama and company have been trying to foist on us lo these past two years. It is that fantasy leftist U.S. that will take the major hit -- as long as the center-right doesn't line up to support O and his menagerie in a fit of false patriotism. This is not an American screw-up -- it is the ultimate Democratic foreign policy fiasco. It has all the symptoms: an unbalanced clown in a position of trust, loosened security standards, aloofness and ignorance at the highest levels, and pure ineptitude elsewhere. We have seen it a thousand times under LBJ, Carter, and Clinton, and here it is again. I'm certain that most foreign leaders would agree, whatever they may say for public consumption. What is going through their minds now is this: this is what happens when they put a Democrat in charge over there.

Yes, there has been ancillary damage to the United States. But the catastrophic damage is limited to the Democratic brand -- the ultimate proof, written in letters a mile high, that if Luxembourg were to attack the U.S. with a Democrat in office, we'd all be subjects of the Grand Duke two weeks later, without, furthermore, anybody being able to figure out how it happened.

For this point of view, it's clear that Julian has been calling in artillery rounds on his own position.

Assange's followers are flakes. These are not Red Guards or Khmer Rouge; these are the potential victims of Red Guards and Khmer Rouge -- foolish, childish, spoiled, miseducated (and possibly ineducable), the dregs of millennial society. They exist in a dream reality, feeding on myths that any normal individual would reject half-heard: that the world is run by means of conspiracy. That capitalism is evil. That Marxism is about sharing. That 9/11 was an inside job. That Michael Moore and Joseph C. Wilson IV are heroic figures. And most of all, that a brave new world lies just around the corner if we only do the right thing.

These people -- the lumpen-intellectuals -- have been bereft in recent months. Their last messiah let them down badly. It has been two years since 2008, and we're still in the bad old world, with Gitmo open, George W. Bush unarrested, and the oceans purportedly still rising. But now they have a new messiah, one whose prophecies remain tantalizingly vague and thus all the more enticing.

What we have here is a religious war, with the left's true believers against everybody else. Fortunately, their method of fighting amounts to sending out e-mails deriding Bristol Palin. In this view, Assange is the latest of those peculiar historical figures who appear when a system is collapsing, vocally assuring its triumph while practically guaranteeing its extinction -- Savonarola in 15th-century Florence, Tenskwatawa and Sitting Bull among the 19th-century Indian tribes, Gorbachev in the last days of the USSR. This new crusade will end just as badly as they all do.

(Anyone seeking evidence of terminal flakiness will find it in this Q&A. One of the questioners unburdens himself of the major puzzle that's been gnawing at him: what about UFOs? Julian A. assures him that the data's on the way. The truth is out there!)

Assange is not too bright. Assange has an obsessive's grasp of IT, and that's about it. The balance of his ideas are on a level with those of his followers -- the same as those of a somewhat thick college sophomore who gets most of his information from the tube.

Consider his strategy. Rather than analyze the e-mails on hand, collate them, sort them, select the one ones with the greatest potential for controversy, and release them where they would have the most impact, he simply throws everything out at once. Why? Because he doesn't know any better. Think of what could have been done with the same information by someone with a more sophisticated grasp of politics -- someone who would have contacted interested parties, who obtained financing or protection by guaranteeing certain messages would -- or would not -- be released. Who would use what he had to pry or bluff further information. Consider what chaos could have been created if this material had been data-mined on behalf of the al-Qaeda or another enemy force. Consider what a Metternich, a Lenin, or a Goebbels would have accomplished with such material.

In light of the possibilities, the actual results are unimpressive. Whatever damage Assange has achieved can in no way match the apocalyptic ruin he was seeking to trigger. He must be far more bewildered and frustrated that he's letting on: it's not like the movies. What happened?

The question remains as to why Assange has been allowed to continue. Part of the answer undoubtedly lies in incompetence -- it's a real puzzle as to exactly what would have to happen to make Eric Holder do the smart thing. But a deeper explanation may lie at the exact opposite pole -- in the omnicompetence of the Intelligence Community that remains untouched by Obama's influence.

It has been known that Assange possessed this material for nearly a year. It was understood that there was no means of getting it back or preventing its release. So what was the alternative? If you've got a lemon, you make lemonade.

Any number of methods exist for manipulating Assange and his organization -- send WikiLeaks fake files, locate their archives and insert new files, manipulate e-mails and other messages, and others that even my nasty imagination would miss without specialized training. As for the purpose -- that's not difficult to envision. A message implying that certain jihadi leaders are on the payroll. That a critical North Korean officer is a Western agent. That certain things that Osama, the mullahs, or Dear Leader wanted done were not done, or were botched in the doing. (In the late 1930s, German intelligence eliminated Soviet Marshal Tukachevsky, the actual formulator of the blitzkrieg strategy, and his entire general staff by exactly this means. Even if the victim suspects the info is false, he still has to take some action. Needless to say, the ultra-paranoid Stalin didn't require much prompting.)

It is likely that Assange is being used, possibly by several parties. They know his every move, what he's doing, whom he's in contact with. (While he was fleeing Sweden at the end of last summer, two laptops in his luggage vanished, along with all data media. See "not too bright" above.) His organization has been penetrated, with all new leaked material traced and accounted for. It's fairly certain that everyone involved has been tracked down by this time, with none of them capable making a move unobserved. Assange is now a puppet, acting out against his will the role of Goethe's Mephistopheles, "Who wills forever evil, and does forever good." (Keep in mind that this holds true even is he is forced to address the charges in Sweden. The rape charges are ancillary matters, unrelated to WikiLeaks -- in fact, little more than a distraction.)

But eventually, Assange's usefulness will end. Then he will vanish -- not by means of a hit squad, but far more subtly and elegantly. A batch of documents from Russia, the mob, or Hamas will appear on the WikiLeaks site, and in short order, Julian and everyone who ever worked for him will be seen in their regular haunts no longer. A wise intelligence service will have film footage of Julian being jammed into a car by figures easily identifiable as to country of origin.

My sympathy will be well-controlled. People have died -- and more will die -- because of this man's actions. It is apparent in the manner in which he abuses women that Assange is a psychopath. Such figures grow worse as they grow more deluded. Under the circumstances, the sooner the better.

The first aircraft raids were carried out by pilots tossing grenades from open-cockpit biplanes. We are the same position as the soldiers gazing up out of the trenches and wondering what the hell that was all about as the offending kite puttered off into the clouds. People in 1914 were not yet introduced to the concept of technological extrapolation; they did not even consider the possibility of the vast air fleets, ruined cities, and atomic bomb strikes that were to grow from such trivial origins. After a century of whirlwind technology, we know better.

How do we defend ourselves on the transformed global battlefield? National militaries are studying both Stuxnet and WikiLeaks closely, not to mention thousands of hackers sitting in their basements considering how much better they'd have handled it than Julian A. We can take it for granted that the same level of discussion and analysis is occurring in American military and intelligence circles. As already noted, nothing can be expected from the current administration. But when a new one takes office, we can be sure that much of the necessary groundwork for Cyberdefense V.2 will have been accomplished.

But we can't leave it at that. The threat is too great, too vast, and too varied. Nor is it limited to IT. The nightmare possibilities inherent in nanotech and biotech chill the blood. There are already large numbers of serious amateurs carrying out biotech experiments in their homes and offices. Little oversight exists to assure that none of them is attempting to supercharge the plague bacillus. Simply add the dementia of a Charles Manson or the megalomania of a Jim Jones, and the picture comes right into focus.

One figure we can look to is the shadowy one of the Jester, evidently the sole force in the Western world capable of making WikiLeaks dance to its own tune. In the Jester's actions we can see clear similarities to the War on Terror, in which civilians have prevented almost all jihadi attacks while official forces have made ever greater asses out of themselves. We are just as much in the front lines as regards cyberwar as we are in fighting terror. We must consider how to extend and deepen the combatant role that the Jester has pioneered. Grabbing people's crotches, no matter how appealing to the Pistoles and Napolitanos of the world, will accomplish nothing. (One possibility would be an informal network among amateur biotech researchers to provide basic self-policing.)

But in the end, we will require something far more profound than tactics, strategy, or organization. We will require a new civility, a mass return to the ideals of responsibility and service that animated civilization up until the modern era. We must revive the concept of the heroic. We need a status quo in which efforts such as WikiLeaks would be considered a scandal and a disgrace by all. After two centuries, the compulsive rebel -- descended from the club-footed Byron and the frail Shelley -- has about run his string. It is a long way down from the maimed grandeur of a Byron to the whining, petulant Assange. Whatever benefit such types may have provided is a matter of dead history. They have shed their attractiveness and outworn their welcome. They are a nuisance at best and a danger at worst. Our civilization has reached a stage where we would be better off without them.

It is possible to transform an entire society in such a fashion. This is exactly what occurred in Great Britain between 1790 and 1840. A rough, violent, and licentious society became one in which gentility, taste, and industry prevailed. This was accomplished through religious fervor, education, and example. The tools exist to duplicate this transformation today. As for the details...they require more in the way of consideration than we have space for at the moment.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker and will edit the forthcoming Military Thinker. His upcoming book Death by Liberalism can be found at Amazon.com.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Base Drama for Obama


by Rich Trzupek

So much for the post-partisan presidency. Not that there was any chance that it would actually happen anyway. It would have taken a modern-day Solomon to bridge the ideological divide in America today and no one would confuse Barack Obama with the Biblical King. From the beginning of his term, Obama’s idea of bipartisanship more closely resembled a mob racket than any kind of nuanced balancing of political and public interests. From the stimulus through government bailouts, from health care through trials for terrorists, the administration’s message has been unmistakably clear: we’ll all get along fine, so long as you do exactly as Nancy, Harry and I say. The administration thus alienated Republicans early and often and, as the 2010 election so amply demonstrated, millions upon millions of Americans as well. Now, the furor over the president’s proposal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to everyone has turned another faction against him: Obama’s base on the far-left views the president’s tax-extension proposal as “proof” that Obama is in fact a money-grubbing Republican disguised [in] progressive clothing.

Bob Tyrrell coined the phrase “conservative crack up” when things started to fall apart on the Right after the Reagan years. The current episode may well signal a repeat of the phenomenon [1] on the Left. The far-left and the elected officials representing progressives, like Speaker Pelosi [2], are rushing to put as much distance between themselves and Obama’s heretical proposal as possible. Centerist [sic] Democrats, like centrist Republicans, are willing to go along with a “framework” that neither group believes is perfect, but that each believes is necessary if we’re to avoid an even deeper recession. The right-wing of the Republican party isn’t at all sure that it’s willing to swallow the bitter pill of additional spending that goes along with the tax cut extension in Obama’s proposal, but the jury is still out as to whether hard-core conservatives will vote against the deal or not. At the end of the day, my guess is that conservatives will hold out as long as they can for as much as they can, before joining the center of both parties to ensure that tax rates remain stable for everyone over the next two years.

While the Obama administration is not the first post-partisan presidency since George Washington, it is certainly the first post-ironic presidency. Obama’s entire economic demagoguery was based on the contention that the Bush tax cuts ruined the economy – a fantasy that corresponded directly with the delusions of his leftist base. So what does the president propose to do to keep the economy from tanking even further than he’s torpedoed it thus far? Extend the Bush tax cuts. The cognitive dissonance on the Left must be shattering – either they were terribly wrong about economics all along, or Obama wasn’t the Chosen One they’d imagined him to be from the start. Actually, both are true, but their disillusionment is spectacular to behold.

Consider a few comments posted on the Daily Kos [3], the site that is always a harbinger of far-leftist opinion, shortly after the president announced his willingness to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all. “I’m just going to accept the fact that I was had and that Obama is in fact a Republican,” one commenter moaned. “Then I am going to move on. I am going to expect nothing at all from Washington and work very hard to elect progressive Democrats locally. I’m just going to start all over from the bottom up. Oh, and this. I will NEVER, EVER, EVER again give time or a dime or a vote to a blue dog Democrat. That includes the President.” Another complained about Obama’s defection in terms that could have been plucked from a McCain-Palin ad in 2008: “During the election, a Brit asked me: ‘What do we really know about this Obama character? Isn’t it a bit risky to choose a President with no experience?’ At the time, I responded as you might expect. ‘Saying all the right things’, ‘Energizing the country’, etc, etc. Crap, I should have listened to the guy. Obama turned out to be nothing but a suit with a great speech writer.” Finally we have this bit of sarcasm from a Daily Kosite who believes that allowing people to keep more of the money they’ve earned is morally equivalent to highway robbery: “The rich need our money more then (sic) we do, because they are better people. Obama knows this and doesn’t flinch from doing the hard things – like taking our money and giving it to the rich.”

If Barack Obama isn’t far enough left for the far-left, the far-left has nowhere to go. As painful as it may be for the president to knowingly alienate his loyal base, the alternative is far more painful. If the economy tanks any further, Obama has zero chance of getting re-elected in 2012 and he knows it. Extending the hated tax cuts are a vital measure towards fueling a recovery, and you don’t have to go any further than the president’s chief economic advisor Larry Summers to understand the truth of that statement. Here’s what Summers had to say about extending the Bush-era tax cuts, from the AP story [4]:

[I]f the measure isn’t passed soon, it will ‘materially increase the risk the economy would stall out and we would have a double-dip’ recession. That put the White House in the unusual position of warning its own party’s lawmakers they could be to blame for calamitous consequences if they go against the president.

The far-left, which is so committed to the idea that redistributing wealth is the cure for all that ails us, won’t pay any more attention to Summers than it has to the president. On the other hand, hardcore conservatives understand that the president’s economic guru speaks the truth. They can be expected to struggle mightily to reduce the spending elements contained within Obama’s compromise measure: the extension of unemployment benefits and spending more on stimulus measures. Yet, when push comes to shove, the Right will likely approve the best deal it can wrangle from the president, simply to avoid any further economic horror. In doing so, conservatives will hand Barack Obama a gift he hasn’t earned: a path toward economic recovery that will provide Obama a glimmer of hope in the 2012 elections. Ultimately, Barack Obama will face a very odd situation when re-election time comes around. The base that idolized him will have abandoned him, even as his hated ideological enemies provide him with the tools to get America’s troubled economy back into motion.

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2010/12/09/base-drama-for-obama/

URLs in this post:

[1] a repeat of the phenomenon: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/7/obama-whacks-liberal-critics-tax-cut-compromise/

[2] like Speaker Pelosi: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/45807.html

[3] a few comments posted on the Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/2/924976/-Midday-open-thread

[4] from the AP story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101209/ap_on_bi_ge/us_tax_cuts


Rich Trzupek

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Egypt after Mubarak


by Lee Smith


As the Obama administration crosses its fingers in the hope that an Iraq currently without a government will somehow stabilize and justify the American blood and money spent over the last seven years, Washington has started to turn its attention to what has historically been one of Baghdad's rival centers of Arab power—Cairo.

A Democratic Hereditary Succession?

Things are changing in Egypt as well, for barring any last-minute surprises, the ailing 82-year-old president, Husni Mubarak, is reportedly on the verge of enjoying the highest privilege afforded Arab rulers—to die in bed of natural causes. It seems almost certain that he will be succeeded by his second son, Gamal, the 46-year-old, one-time London financier.[1] The speculation inside the Beltway is that either Gamal will replace his father on the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) ticket for next September's presidential elections, or that Husni Mubarak will not last that long and the constitutional process will kick in, paving the way for Gamal's nomination and election.

Another Mubarak would spell continuity of a sort even if it meant an end to nearly six decades of military rule by the "Free Officers" regime. While it is true that Gamal has relationships with the military establishment not only through his father but also by way of intersecting business interests—some Egyptian industries are essentially military-run concessions—the fact remains that he is not a military man. "To be part of the military establishment is not just about your connections or family," says Muhammad Elmenshawy, Washington bureau chief for the independently owned Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Shorouk. "It means that you've worn a uniform, or you've fought in a war. Gamal is a complete outsider."

This perhaps raises a historical analogy: The Mamluk sultans (1260-1517) tried to get their non-slave sons to succeed them and sometimes managed it, but they were not from the military slave caste and eventually petered out, to be replaced by a proper Mamluk. The bulk of Gamal's task, at least early on, may be to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Most Washington officials are comfortable with Gamal and see no fundamental change in the U.S.-Egyptian relationship on the horizon or adverse effects on the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord that is the foundation of the U.S. position in the eastern Mediterranean. Indeed, the fact that Gamal accompanied his father to the pre-Labor Day peace summit in Washington[2] that also included Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas along with Jordan's King Abdullah II, was read as a signal that the succession issue had been resolved.

Until now, Mubarak has not only declined to appoint a successor, or even name a vice president who would assume the presidency in the event of an emergency, but has also avoided discussing the political prospects of his second son. According to officials from the Bush administration, whenever the president asked after Gamal, the Egyptian ruler would quickly change the subject. It is widely believed that the Egyptian president is less eager to have his son inherit the post than is his mother, the first lady Suzanne Mubarak.

Does Gamal Even Want the Job?

Other U.S. policymakers are not sure that Gamal himself is entirely interested in the job. His background is in finance and economics, subjects that seem to elicit his passion. And indeed, thanks largely to Gamal and his cadre of technocrats in the NDP, the Egyptian economy has enjoyed a period of growth for half a decade or more. Even as little of the wealth has trickled down to improve the lot of the poor—20 percent of Egyptians live in abject poverty, and 60 percent live on $2 a day—the thriving economy has changed middle-class perceptions. Egyptian parents, Elmenshawy explains, are less impressed these days when their daughters are courted by members of the military and security establishment and more apt to be swayed by young men who have made careers in banking, telecommunications, or the big real estate deals taking place in New Cairo.

If Gamal cares about the economy, this seems to come at the expense of his interest in politics, a topic that leaves him cold or, in the words of someone who has been in the room with him, brain dead. This is a dangerous liability for a man required to keep in check competing centers of domestic power—including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military, and the intelligence services (mukhabarat)—and regional actors while also accommodating his U.S. benefactors without aggravating an Egyptian population that has always been, at best, wary of U.S. influence in the Middle East. On the other hand, it is possible he has just learned well from his father, the stone-faced former Air Force commander who has steered the Free Officers' regime on a steady course for almost thirty years between the radicalism that devastated Nasser's Egypt and the then-startling accommodations with the United States and Israel that got Sadat killed. And so the question in Washington is, what will this transitional Egypt look like?

"The physical decline of Husni Mubarak coincides with the decline of Egypt as a regional actor," says David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Never mind the fact that Iran sets the region's political tempo while Qatar and Dubai's satellite TV networks have eclipsed Cairo's as the region's media capital. "Egypt can't even get a veto on upstream Nile development projects anymore from upstream African riparian states, like Ethiopia."

Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees that the Cairo regime is not what it once was. "Domestic affairs take up so much time that Egypt is far less able to play an effective role in regional affairs. Even the succession issue itself preoccupies them and absorbs energy. Egyptian influence is much less than it was even twenty years ago though part of that is because other Arab states have caught up in terms of education and communication and moved past Egypt in terms of development. But Egypt just can't present a compelling model, a compelling argument, or philosophy that other Arabs want to imitate."

The Egyptian opposition, says Dunne, is another matter. "Look at Kifaya, which started in 2004, and then the way Facebook took off and rallied people. These things inspired imitators around the region. Egypt is still an important country that other Arabs look up to, but its energies ensue not from the government but from those that are opposed to government."

Competition from Mohamed ElBaradei

To be sure, one of the biggest stories surrounding the succession issue is Mohamed ElBaradei's decision to challenge the regime with his unofficial campaign. Even as the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief is not—not yet anyway—a member of a political party and thus not eligible to run in next fall's elections, his presence has generated attention both inside and outside Egypt.

"There's a weird infatuation with Baradei," says Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations, referring to fawning notices in U.S. press outlets including The Washington Post and The New Yorker. "But in a fairly bleak political environment lacking charisma, Baradei shakes things up. He says, 'I am not going to run unless I can be assured of free and fair elections,' and this really throws a monkey wrench into the system and shakes up Gamal's claims to legitimacy."

"I like the idea of Baradei," says Schenker. "I like the idea of an ostensible liberal. Baradei came along and said things openly, and no one could touch him. He seems to be in the vanguard of a political culture that is less fearful of the government." Nonetheless, explains the former Bush administration Pentagon official, ElBaradei wouldn't be particularly palatable in Washington. "He politicized the IAEA, oversaw the nuclearization of Iran, and maintains that Israel is the most dangerous state in the Middle East," says Schenker.

Given that ElBaradei was comfortable working with the Islamists who govern Iran, it is hardly surprising that he has joined forces with Egypt's own Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to focus on political reform.[3] Presumably the Brotherhood is happy to let ElBaradei take the lead since his previous employment and profile afford him international political protection not extended to the Islamists. The Brotherhood, says Joshua Stacher, an assistant professor at Kent State, is not going to make a big deal out of the succession.

"I have talked about it with them exhaustively, including senior leadership," says Stacher, who has done extensive research on the movement. "All oppose an inherited succession in principle, but they will not mobilize in an organized way, and there will be no overt signs of discontent. Presidential succession is extremely important to the elites in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood doesn't want to challenge them on something they hold this close to their hearts. They all think it's unjust but, as one told me, 'at the moment of the transfer of power, the Brothers will be silent.'"

In exchange, says Stacher, the Brotherhood is not exactly expecting a quid pro quo. "The MB is not going to be handed the keys to the parliament, but they're not going to be shut out completely either," he explains. "Gamal or whoever becomes president will have to renegotiate with a large array of interests and social forces, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood."

Consolidating Power and Shifting Allies

Indeed, Washington policymakers and analysts concur that the real campaigning will take place after Gamal becomes president rather than before. "Arab leaders are always most vulnerable just when they take office," says Stacher. "They are busy consolidating power and eliminating enemies."

The two most obvious, and recent, examples are Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Jordan's King Abdullah II, both of whom also followed their fathers. According to press accounts and contemporary scholarship, both Abdullah and Bashar spent a considerable amount of energy during their early years at the helm building their power bases and eliminating the so-called "old guard" remnants from their fathers' diwans. However, the fact is that both Bashar's and Abdullah's paths to power passed directly through regime strongholds. Abdullah was the commander of the Hashemite Kingdom's special forces, an elite unit that ensures the regime's survival; and Bashar was handed the extremely sensitive Lebanon portfolio, which during the years of the Syrian occupation was essentially Damascus' ATM, feathering the nests of the country's numerous security chiefs.

Unlike those two soon-to-be peers, Gamal has no such foundations in regime management, which is why so many believe that Omar Suleiman, chief of Egypt's General Intelligence, is the man to watch. While it had been rumored that Suleiman was another presidential possibility, and still may be, he is ineligible, right now anyway, since he is without membership in a political party. At any rate, the key issue is where Suleiman stands on Gamal, and whether or not he will stick his neck out for a novice with no military or security credentials tasked to run what is still a military regime. Certainly the $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt is evidence that Washington, however happy with the country's recent economic performance, still sees Cairo as such.

Perhaps a more useful question is, how does Cairo see itself? In a sense, Mubarak was only continuing Sadat's work of extricating Egypt from troublesome regional issues, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict, as it went from frontline combatant to peacemaker and mediator. Gamal is likely to wish for more of the same inward turn and to focus on the economy, but the Middle East has its own energies and forces to which an untested leader, one at the helm of the largest Arab state, may be especially vulnerable.

The main issue right now is Iran, which has effectively patterned itself after Nasser's Egypt in its struggle to build a regional hegemony and challenge the U.S.-backed order, which presently includes Egypt and the other "moderate" Arab states along with Israel. The Egyptian masses might be infatuated with Iran, says Elmenshawy, "but the elites see it as anti-Western and isolated from the rest of the world. It is not an appealing model for them." Still, Cairo has decided to restart its own nuclear program but understands that the prospect of an Iranian bomb is only one aspect of Tehran's regional strategy. Even without a nuclear weapon, Iran is dangerous to Egypt through its allies and assets, from Syria to Hezbollah, and especially Hamas, sitting on Egypt's border.

"If I were part of the Egyptian elite," says Stacher, "I'd be most worried about Gaza. If that spills over the border, it can derail everything."

One way to defend against Hamas is to seek to co-opt them as the Turks have tried. And indeed one possibility considered throughout Washington is what might happen if Cairo follows Ankara's lead. If U.S. power is perceived to be on the decline, what if Egypt, like Turkey and Iran, questions some of the assumptions of the U.S. order? Egypt could force the issue with the Israeli nuclear program and could even question demilitarizing the Sinai. It is highly unlikely that the Egyptians would take it as far as making war on Israel, but they could make themselves more obstreperous, just as the Turks have done, such as when they dispatched the "humanitarian flotilla" to Gaza. Now that the Turks are bending to the new regional winds, it is hardly clear that Washington has exacted a price for their behavior or even warned them. That it is acceptable to cross Washington is not a message the United States wants to send its regional allies, especially Egypt, one of the foundations of its Middle East strategy.

From Nasser through the pre-October 1973 Sadat, Washington was accustomed to Egypt being the primary regional power that questioned the U.S. order. Sadat's strategic shift made Egypt one of the pillars of the U.S. camp, which Washington has taken for granted just as it had done with regard to Turkey's strategic orientation. The passing of Mubarak and the rise of his successor, presumably his son, means that the largest Arab state's future orientation can no longer be taken for granted.

[1] Daniel Sobelman, "Gamal Mubarak, President of Egypt?" Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2001, pp. 31-40; "Gamal Mubarak: 'We Need Audacious Leaders,'" Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2009, pp. 67-73.
[2] Ha'artez (Tel Aviv), Aug. 31, 2010.
[3] Ilan Berman, "The Islamist Flirtation," Foreign Policy, Apr. 2, 2010.

Lee Smith is a Senior Editor at The Weekly Standard and the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

An IPT Investigation: Islamic Group's Database Found to be Fraudulent


by IPT News


A database used by Islamist groups to support claims that the Muslim community is responsible for helping to break up one-third of terrorist plots is based on flawed and selective use of data, an Investigative Project on Terrorism analysis shows.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) claims in its study that "almost 1 out of 3 al-Qaida-related terror plots threatening America since 9/11/01" were thwarted in part because of help from the Muslim community. However, the MPAC study is full of mistakes, faulty data, contradictions, selective use of information, and demonstrably dishonest analysis:

  • MPAC overstates the role of "community assistance," including plots that were broken up by intelligence assets overseas and other plots that had little or nothing to do with the U.S. Muslim community;
  • MPAC selectively defines what is a "terrorism incident," ignoring a huge set of cases involving the domestic support of terrorist organizations, as well as those involving threats outside of al Qaida, such as Hamas and Hizballah;
  • MPAC ignores traditional law enforcement techniques, specifically avoiding the use of informants, a technique that the organization frequently condemns.

Despite its flaws, the MPAC study continues to be cited by the media, with the New York Times recently inflating the statistics and stating—without bothering to review the underlying data—that according to a recent MPAC study "almost 4 of every 10 Qaida-related terrorism plots," were broken up with the help of "community assistance." They accepted MPAC's claims without bothering to review the underlying data.

Community help in all forms of crime prevention, not just terrorism, is critical. But the MPAC report is totally dishonest. The report suffers from a number of flaws—namely that it selectively defines what a "terrorism incident" is, overstates the role of the Muslim community in the cases identified, and seemingly ignores the contributions made by informants, a group that MPAC has condemned and falsely claimed to have instigated terrorist plots.

Community help overstated

The MPAC report claims to track "terrorist incidents – prevented and occurred – within and against the United States since 9/11." Identifying 42 cases over the past decade, MPAC highlights the role of Muslim community cooperation in 16 of the cases but doesn't provide a detailed breakdown of the cases.

A closer look at the 16 cases suggests that at least five of them have nothing to do with community policing:

  • MPAC touts the role of Ahmad Wais Afzali, an imam who actually tipped off Najibullah Zazi, the man plotting to bomb the New York City subway.

MPAC claims that while "Afzali is initially thought to have tipped off [Najibullah] Zazi to police surveillance, information in the court complaint and corroborating reporting from mainstream media sources found this accusation to be false." Although Afzali may not have been charged with tipping off Zazi, there was ample evidence that his actions did just that.

On Sept. 10, 2009, New York Police Department detectives met with Afzali, who had served as an informant in the past. During the meeting, detectives showed Afzali photos of Zazi and others. Afzali contacted Zazi the next day and told Zazi that the police were asking questions about him, thus tipping him off about the law enforcement investigation.

"I want to speak with you about something…I want a meeting with you," an affidavit filed in support of an arrest warrant quoted Afzali saying. "You probably know why I'm calling you for this meeting…I was exposed to something yesterday from the authorities. And they came to ask me about your characters. They asked me about you guys.

"I'm not sure if somebody complained about you," Afzali continued. "I'm not sure what happened. And I don't want to know…They said, 'please, we need to know who they are…what they're all about.'... And I told them that they are innocent, law abiding…"

Selectively defining terrorism

MPAC deliberately ignores more than 150 cases reported by the Justice Department as involving "material support or resources" to a designated terrorist organization, therefore enabling it to boost the percentage of claimed "community assistance." This includes prosecutions for providing weapons, money, personnel, and other support to designated terrorist organizations. While it's one thing for MPAC to believe that the "material support" law is improper, it's another to ignore cases that include the use of the statute.

By ignoring these cases, MPAC leaves out the indictment and prosecution of six Americans for funneling money and personnel to al-Shabaab; the case of Sami al-Arian, who was convicted of serving as the American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and the now defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, whose leadership was convicted of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. The exclusion of the last two cases in particular is proof of MPAC's deception in compiling their database—the group was a vocal defender of both Sami al-Arian and the Holy Land Foundation (HLF).

After HLF and its leadership was charged in 2001 with funneling money to Hamas, MPAC signed a joint statement arguing that the goals of cutting off funding for terrorism and achieving peace in the Middle East could not be achieved "by taking food out of the mouths of Palestinian orphans or by succumbing to politically-motivated smear campaigns by those who would perpetuate Israel's brutal occupation." MPAC went on to criticize the government's action against HLF as "an unjust and counterproductive move that can only damage America's credibility with Muslims in this country and around the world and could create the impression that there has been a shift from a war on terrorism to an attack on Islam." Despite the protestations by MPAC, in 2008 the defendants were convicted of illegally routing more than $12 million to Hamas and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

In the case of Al-Arian, MPAC Senior Advisor Maher Hathout demanded proof that the charges against Al-Arian were based on "concrete evidence of criminal activity and not guilt by association or political considerations," following his 2003 arrest. Hathout added that it was disturbing that Attorney General John Ashcroft inserted religious expressions like Jihad and martyrdom, words the defendant himself used, to a major federal investigation and indictment:

"Such ambiguous assertions and inflammatory language about religious terms does not help in clarifying the direction of the war on terrorism nor does it reassure Americans of the effectiveness in the government approach in rooting out terrorism."

Although the trial presented evidence of al-Arian praising suicide bombers and calling for attacks against the United States, the trial ended in an acquittal, leading MPAC to issue a statement in support of Al-Arian: "The acquittal … proves once again that everyone deserves their day in court, and that such cases should be fairly tried in the court of law not the court of public opinion." On April 14, 2006, facing retrial on the nine charges, Al-Arian pled guilty to "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist."

Considering MPAC's defense of both Sami Al-Arian and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, perhaps it's not surprising that they left these cases out of their "terrorism database."

MPAC has been highly critical of the material support law, going so far as to condemn the United States Supreme Court in June for upholding it. "The ruling not only dismisses the fundamental rights that protect the work of such organizations vis-à-vis granted under the U.S. Constitution, but it also erodes the institutions of diplomacy and conflict resolution that are alternate measures to military force."

Most recently, MPAC criticized raids in Chicago and Minneapolis investigating support for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), both designated terrorist organizations. Calling the searches "fishing expeditions," Alejandro Beutel, the author of MPAC's terrorism database, argued "unless there is clear and convincing evidence that these activists were planning terrorist operations, then the justification of the raids is absurd." As the Investigative Project pointed out at the time, this argument reflects a misunderstanding of current law.

The statute, which has become a cornerstone in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts since 2001, is intended to cover a wide array of support—both violent and non-violent, because: "foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contributions to such an organization facilitates that conduct." Indeed, the most common types of support that Americans have been charged with providing to terrorist groups have been weapons, personnel, and money.

Ignoring traditional law enforcement techniques

While MPAC uses its flawed statistics to tout "community assistance," it continues to criticize another type of community help—informants. Informants are responsible for stopping more terrorist plots than community assistance. While the support of Muslim Americans is critical to breaking up homegrown and other radical Islamic terrorist plots, MPAC's condemnation of Muslim informants actually hurts law enforcement's ability to break up terrorist plots.

MPAC has been hypocritical at best when it comes to the use of informants. While conceding that "informants are an extremely important tool that can be used to great effectiveness in various kinds of criminal investigations, including counterterrorism ones," MPAC has also made the false and incendiary charge that the FBI uses informants to actually instigate terrorist plots. In none of any of the terrorist convictions since 9-11, has a judge given this false accusation any merit whatsoever. The charge is designed to accuse the FBI of fomenting the terrorist plots, thus exonerating the real terrorists. Not only is this charge totally false, but it also radicalizes Muslims into believing that the government is conducting a "war against Islam", the number one mantra (no matter how false) that radicalizes Muslims into becoming terrorists.

Beyond criticizing the effectiveness of informants, MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati has urged Muslims not to provide information to the federal government. During a July 2005 conference sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America, Al-Marayati said "we reject any efforts, notion, suggestion that Muslims should stay spying on one another. In fact, if you look at the Lodi case, the disaster of Lodi is that Muslims were reporting each other to the authorities saying 'Oh, this person is an extremist.'"

The defendants in Lodi, were eventually convicted of providing material support to a designated terrorist organization, a conviction which may not have been possible had it not been for the work of informants. Beutel, MPAC's Washington-based lobbyist who wrote the report, engaged in the following dialogue during an interview in August 2009 on al Jazeera:

Q: Is the FBI and federal law enforcement targeting Muslims?

A: Absolutely, we do see that there is a trend … within the FBI, but more generally within law enforcement. Since 9/11 this has been going on. … These latest issues with informants seem to be the latest in a trend of ongoing issues."

When it comes to informants, MPAC has been schizophrenic. The group claims its urges its members to be vigilant and help law enforcement officials, but it publicly calls informants agent provocateurs. However, that didn't stop Beutel from including cases involving informants in the terrorism database. Those include informants who helped break up terrorist plots in New York, North Carolina and New Jersey, just to name a few. Although MPAC identifies each of these cases within its database, they fail to highlight the critical role played by these informants in the investigations, thus trying to use these cases as part of their database without revealing to the public that they had previously claimed that these cases were illegitimate.

The effect of failing to credit these techniques is clear. Even assuming that MPAC's statistics were are accurate, the remaining two-thirds of cases would not have been prevented without traditional law enforcement techniques.

As the Investigative Project has explained when discussing MPAC's attempts to laud "community policing:"

"while it may be true that greater cooperation is needed among the American-Muslim community and U.S. law enforcement, suggesting that 'counterradicalization' and 'criminal activities' are mutually exclusive is preposterous. The two issues are completely intertwined; it is difficult to combat one without understanding and acting in concert against the other. Consequently, both law enforcement and the American-Muslim community should work together in fighting both terrorism and the radicalization that feeds it."

As a review of its report demonstrates, MPAC is engaged in yet another game of deception. The organization selective defines what a "terrorism incident" is and overstates the role of "community assistance" in order to skew its statistics in its favor, and ignores the role of traditional law enforcement techniques in dismantling domestic terror plots. More than anything else, MPAC attempts to claim credit for the Islamic community's role in breaking up plots when in fact, it has been far more influential in dissuading people from coming forward.

IPT News

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