How Cato Can Lose Friends & Alienate People

If the Cato Institute wants to lose the credibility it has tried so hard to establish with policymakers in Washington, all it has to do is publish more irresponsible op-eds full of falsehoods and fallacies, like this one by William Niskanen.

In it, Niskanen denies that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was a necessary part of the War On Terror, basing this upon a denial of the alliance between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda (which I call the Saddam-Osama Pact). Niskanen even goes so far as to claim that “At no time… has the administration made public any evidence that the Iraqi government… backed al-Qaeda or any other global terrorist group.”

Niskanen seems to have completely missed Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5, 2003 speech to the UN Security Council, in which he testified about the Saddam-Osama Pact, and CIA director George Tenet’s October 7, 2002 letter to Senate Intelligence chairman Bob Graham, which declassified CIA reporting on Iraq’s links to al Qaeda. More evidence has been made public by the Bush administration since then, as described in this recent article in the Weekly Standard.

Still more evidence for the Saddam-Osama Pact is in two books by experts on terrorism: “Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War On America,” by Yossef Bodansky, and “In The Name of Osama Bin Laden,” by Roland Jacquard.

How can Niskanen deny all this evidence and still expect to be taken seriously by those of us who are well aware of it? He doesn’t acknowledge the evidence but interpret it differently, or find it inadequate to prove the Saddam-Osama Pact, he flat-out denies its existence. Then he admits the connection between Saddam and Osama when he claims that the liberation of Iraq will provoke Al Qaeda to attack Americans (as if any further provocation were needed). If Osama really hates the Ba’athist infidels so much, why would he object to their overthrow?

Niskanen also denies the need for conventional military forces to fight terrorists:

“The most useful weapons are good intelligence — shared among national governments, among the various US intelligence agencies and between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local US police departments — and effective local policing. The Bush administration has yet to explain how an expanded military can defend US citizens against terrorist cells that use car bombs made out of fertiliser.”

Actually, the Bush administration has both explained and demonstrated in practice how conventional military forces can defend US citizens against terrorists: By destroying the states that sponsor terrorism. Consider the first phase of the War on Terror, the overthrow of the Taliban. Even if we reject the existence of the Saddam-Osama Pact, the alliance between Al Qaeda and the Taliban is undeniable, and it took more than just “good intelligence” and “effective local policing” to overthrow the Taliban (thus denying Al Qaeda its safe haven, training camps, and staging area in most of Afghanistan). That took the Green Berets, Nightstalkers, Navy and Air Force bombers, the Northern Alliance, etc. Niskanen owes us an explanation of how that could have been done with nothing more than “good intelligence” and “effective local policing.”

Once the need to end state sponsorship of terrorism and the existence of the Saddam-Osama Pact are acknowledged, it becomes clear that the use of U.S. intelligence resources to help overthrow Saddam was an integral part of the War on Terror – not the diversion that Niskanen says it was. Operation Iraqi Freedom may have also yielded more evidence of Saddam’s corrupt dealings with France, Russia, and other countries which have been reluctant to co-operate with the US. That evidence can be used to blackmail them into greater co-operation.

Libertarians ought to support winning the War on Terror by liberating people from totalitarian rule, but Niskanen seems to prefer that terror-sponsoring tyrants be left alone while the Department of Homeland Security increases its meddling in the affairs of peaceful Americans. That sacrifice of liberty in the name of security will leave us with neither, as Ben Franklin once said.

Fight for Liberty!

I have started a new e-mail list for libertarian supporters of the War on Terror, called “Fight for Liberty!” Here is an excerpt from my welcome message:

I created this e-mail list because I see a need for a place for those of my fellow libertarian comrades around the world who generally agree with me that:

  • Liberty is worth fighting for;
  • That it is sometimes necessary to fight for Liberty;
  • That Al Qaeda and the remnants of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein dictatorships are among the enemies of Liberty we must fight;
  • That we must minimize the cost of this fight in blood, treasure, and civil liberties, but that it will be impossible to fight the enemies of Liberty without paying any price at all.

I know there is a good deal of libertarian support for the War on Terror, because I’ve read about it on libertarian e-mail lists, on libertarian web sites, blogs, and I’ve spoken about it with some of you in person. What I have not seen is any forum focused on the War on Terror where its libertarian supporters can share information about it and discuss it. Nor have I seen any organized representation for libertarian supporters of the War on Terror, online or off. I would like this e-mail list to be the beginning of such an organization.

Please feel free to join, and to spread the word!

Napolitano Is Wrong

As it happens, Henry Mark Holzer wrote a refutation of the piece by Judge Napolitano that was just quoted below by Lynette. Since my Esteemed Editor complained about the length of my previous quote, I won’t quote this one at all. I will merely summarize it by saying that Napolitano doesn’t seem to understand Ex Parte Quirin at all, which is surprising for an expert like him. Perhaps it would help if he read the recent history book about it, “Shadow Enemies: Hitler’s Secret Terrorist Plot Against the United States,” by Alex Abella and Scott Gordon. I have, and found it quite illuminating.

Bork on Detaining Enemy Combatants

Well, whaddaya know, former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork agrees with me about the lawfulness of detaining enemy combatants. I’m not used to agreeing with Bork, given that he’s a majoritarian conservative & I’m a libertarian (see Stephen Macedo’s “The New Right vs. the Constitution” for a good critique of Bork’s school of jurisprudence). Still, even a stopped clock is right twice a day:

According to critics, by depriving certain captured individuals of access to lawyers, and by holding them without filing charges, the government is violating the Geneva Convention’s protections of lawful combatants or prisoners of war. This is nonsense.

Four criteria must be met to qualify a person as a lawful combatant. He must be under the command of a person responsible for his subordinates; wear a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance; carry arms openly; and conduct operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. The men the United States has captured and detained so far do not meet these criteria.

The government’s policy is as follows: if a captured unlawful enemy combatant is believed to have further information about terrorism, he can be held without access to legal counsel and without charges being filed. Once the government is satisfied that it has all the relevant information it can obtain, the captive can be held until the end of hostilities, or be released, or be brought up on charges before a criminal court.

The government chose one of these options when it charged John Lindh, an American citizen who fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who is thought to have been involved in the planning for September 11, with crimes. Lindh entered into a plea agreement under which he was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Moussaoui’s case has proved more complicated. The government proposes to use only unclassified materials in its prosecution, but Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan heritage who has admitted in open court to belonging to al Qaeda and swearing allegiance to Osama bin Laden, has demanded to see classified materials and to have access to other captured terrorists for the preparation of his defense.

For obvious reasons, Moussaoui’s demands are unacceptable to the government, which does not want to divulge classified information or allow terrorists to communicate with each other. But the prosecutors’ offer of an alternative procedure was rejected by the presiding judge. If the government continues to be unsuccessful in its determination to protect classified information, it may decide to prosecute Moussaoui in special military tribunals created for trying terrorists. That would surely trigger the outrage of civil libertarians, even though it is plainly arguable that Moussaoui could and perhaps should have been prosecuted there in the first place. I will return to this issue below.

In a somewhat separate category from Lindh and Moussaoui, both of whom have been charged with actual crimes, are the cases of two American citizens who have been detained rather than brought to trial because the government believes they possess undivulged valuable information. Yaser Esam Hamdi remains confined to the Norfolk Naval Brig, and José Padilla is confined at the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston. Neither man has yet been charged.

Hamdi filed a petition for habeas corpus challenging the legality of his detention. Although he was captured in Afghanistan, where he was carrying an AK-47 during a time of active military hostilities, and although he was classified by the executive branch as an unlawful enemy combatant, Hamdi claimed the full protections of the Constitution as an American citizen. He argued that his detention without charge and without access to a judicial tribunal or the right to counsel was in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held otherwise. Although the detention of U.S. citizens is subject to judicial review, that review must be “deferential.” The Constitution explicitly confers war powers on the political branches; in going to war in Afghanistan, the President had relied both on those powers and on Congress’s authorization of “all necessary and appropriate force” against nations, organizations, or persons he determined to be involved in terrorist attacks. Hamdi, the court said, was indeed an enemy combatant subject to detention. It elaborated its rationale:

The detention of enemy combatants serves at least two vital purposes. First, detention prevents enemy combatants from rejoining the enemy and continuing to fight against America and its allies. . . . In this respect, “captivity is neither a punishment nor an act of vengeance,” but rather “a simple war measure.”

Second, detention in lieu of prosecution may relieve the burden on military commanders of litigating the circumstances of a capture halfway around the globe. . . . As the Supreme Court has recognized [in Johnson v. Eisentrager (1950)], “it would be difficult to devise more effective fettering of a field commander than to allow the very enemies he is ordered to reduce to submission to call him to account in his own civil courts and divert his efforts and attention from the military offensive abroad to the legal defense at home.”

Hamdi’s petition was denied, as was his right of access to an attorney or to seeing government documents.

Padilla was arrested upon his arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare airport from Pakistan. The government indicted him, claiming he planned acts of terrorism, including the explosion of a radioactive “dirty bomb.” When, like Hamdi, he petitioned for habeas corpus, the court held similarly that “the President is authorized under the Constitution and by law to direct the military to detain enemy combatants.” Nevertheless, and over the government’s objection, the court said it would allow Padilla the assistance of counsel to litigate the facts surrounding his capture and detention. (The government is now appealing this.) At the same time, the court disallowed the presence of counsel at Padilla’s interrogations, and averred that the government need only show “some evidence” to prevail.

Anthony Lewis went ballistic. It is, he wrote, a “fundamental truth” that an individual cannot get justice against the state without the effective help of a lawyer, and this truth was “being challenged in a way that I did not believe was possible in our country.” But Lewis was completely wrong. Despite his attempt to conflate the two categories, detention is not punishment; its purpose, rather, is to prevent members of enemy forces from causing harm while hostilities are in progress. Nor is Padilla the subject of a criminal proceeding; criminal law rules do not apply when detention of an enemy is ordered by the President under his war powers. Hundreds of thousands of lawful prisoners of war have been held by the United States without the right to a lawyer, and unlawful enemy combatants are entitled to even fewer rights.

This makes perfect sense. A judicial system with rights of due process is crucial to a free society, but it is not designed for the protection of enemies engaged in armed conflict against us. Nor can we divert resources from the conduct of a war to the trial of every POW or unlawful combatant who wants to litigate. Besides, giving someone like Padilla a lawyer would frustrate the very purpose of his detention, and place American lives in danger. A lawyer’s duty, acting within the bounds of ethical behavior, is to create delay and confusion, keeping alive his client’s hopes of going free. Armed with such hopes, Padilla would be all the less likely to divulge what he knew, and plans for future terrorist attacks might thereby go undetected.

It might be argued that Padilla is not like other unlawful enemy combatants because he is a U.S. citizen taken on American soil. But the Supreme Court disposed of that distinction as long ago as 1942 in Ex parte Quirin. In that case, German would-be saboteurs had entered the U.S. illegally with the intention of attacking war industries and facilities. Upon capture, they sought habeas corpus, claiming a right to trial before a regular court rather than a military tribunal. In denying the petition, the Court deemed it irrelevant that one of the captives claimed U.S. citizenship and was on U.S. soil when apprehended.

Jose Padilla Revisited

In Jose Padilla: No Charges and No Trial, Just Jail, Robert A. Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, wrongly criticizes the detention of suspected unlawful combatant Jose Padilla:

Consider this specious logic, endorsed by the Bush administration: Under the Sixth Amendment, the right to counsel does not apply until charges are filed. The government has not charged Padilla. Ordinarily, U.S. citizens cannot be detained without charge. But the administration has avoided that technicality by designating Padilla as an “enemy combatant,” then proclaiming that the court may not second-guess his designation.

Essentially, on orders of the executive branch, anyone could wind up imprisoned by the military with no way to assert his innocence.

Except that those detained as enemy combatants do have a way to assert their innocence, as in the very case Levy goes on to cite next, the Hamdi case:

That frightening prospect was echoed by J. Harvie Wilkinson, the respected and steadfastly conservative chief judge of the Fourth Circuit. In a case involving another U.S. citizen, Yaser Hamdi, Wilkinson warned, “With no meaningful judicial review, any American citizen alleged to be an enemy combatant could be detained indefinitely without charges or counsel.” Judge Wilkinson upheld Hamdi’s detention but pointedly noted that Hamdi’s battlefield capture was like “apples and oranges” compared to Padilla’s arrest in Chicago. “We aren’t placing our imprimatur upon a new day of executive detentions,” Wilkinson cautioned.

While Levy inexplicably fails to mention it, Hamdi’s right to a habeas corpus hearing was upheld by the courts. So, even though the Bush administration may try “proclaiming that the court may not second-guess his [Padilla’s] designation,” the courts have disagreed, making it so that those detained as enemy combatants can assert their innocence in their habeas corpus hearings. If they can show that they are not enemy combatants, then they can get out of military detention and either be turned over to the criminal justice system or be freed entirely if there are no criminal charges against them.

An unambiguous federal statute and the U.S. Constitution both prohibit the executive branch from doing to Padilla what it is now doing. More than three decades ago, Congress passed Title 18, section 4001(a) of the U.S. Code. It states, “No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress.” Today, we have not had from Congress any statute that authorizes Padilla’s detention.

I’m surprised that such an eminent legal authority as Mr. Levy has never heard of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), enacted by Congress back in the 1950s, which authorizes the detention and trial by military tribunal of those suspected of war crimes (like unlawful belligerency), such as Padilla.

Yes, Congress enacted the PATRIOT Act, which says that non-citizens suspected of terrorism can be detained, but only for seven days. After that, they have to be released or charged, unless the attorney general certifies every six months that they present a security risk.

In other words, the PATRIOT Act authorizes the indefinite detention of non-citizens suspected of terrorism as long as the attorney general certifies every six months that they present a security risk.

Two months earlier, Congress had passed a resolution empowering the president to use all necessary force against the 9/11 terrorists. But that resolution surely did not give the administration unfettered discretion to detain citizens without charge.

Why not? There isn’t any exception made in that Congressional Resolution saying that all necessary force may be used against the terrorists who made the 9/11 attacks, except when it comes to unlawful combatants who happen to be U.S. citizens.

If it had, then the ensuing PATRIOT Act would have afforded more protection to aliens than to citizens. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, that proposition is incredible.

Perhaps the PATRIOT Act itself doesn’t give more protection to foreigners than citizens, but the Executive Order authorizing military tribunals for captured terrorists does. Only non-citizens may be tried by military tribunal under that Executive Order, despite both case law (Quirin) and statute law (the UCMJ) saying that citizens may be tried by military tribunal. In combination with the executive detention policy, the result is that both foreigners and citizens may be indefinitely detained as enemy combatants, but citizen unlawful combatants may not be tried by military tribunal, they must be tried in the U.S. criminal courts.

Reasonably construed, Congress’ resolution on the use of military force triggered the president’s commander-in-chief authority. He could then order seizure of enemy soldiers and detention of persons found in a zone of active combat. But he could not order the imprisonment, without charge, of an unarmed non-soldier far from active combat, especially a U.S. citizen on our own soil.

Why can’t enemy combatants be detained outside “a zone of active combat”? Where, exactly, are these zones, anyway? Where are their borders? If an enemy combatant starts out in such a zone, then gets out of one in the process of fleeing from those who are chasing him in the attempt to capture him, does that mean he gets away, as far as executive detention is concerned? That would be contrary to the international laws of war as codified in the Geneva Convention, to which the US is signatory.

Levy’s portrayal of Padilla, as “an unarmed non-soldier,” and “a U.S. citizen on our own soil” (soil he loves so much that he stands accused of conspiring with Al Qaeda to detonate a radiological bomb on it) is touching, but it is a war crime for enemy combatants not to bear arms openly, as well as for them to operate out of uniform. Levy seems to take Padilla’s unarmed, un-uniformed status as evidence that he deserves to be treated better than a POW, but it is actually evidence that he deserves worse.

Nor is the administration justified in its reliance on Ex parte Quirin, the Supreme Court case involving eight Nazi saboteurs, one of whom was an American citizen. The executive branch acted in Quirin in accordance with congressional authorization.

Padilla has also been detained in accordance with congressional authorization – the Congressional Resolution, and the UCMJ.

The eight Nazis were represented by counsel, charged, tried, and convicted.

As I’m sure Padilla will be, once his detention is over and he’s turned over to the civil courts to be tried, hopefully, for treason.

Here, by contrast, Padilla has been denied any chance to defend himself. He has seen no lawyer; he has not been charged, much less tried and convicted.

Yeah, funny thing, the Bill of Rights only guarantees the right to a lawyer to those who are being criminally charged. Padilla’s not, so he has no such right until he’s charged.

And he has been imprisoned notwithstanding a 30-year-old statute that expressly forbids the unauthorized detention of U.S. citizens.

Yes, because the UCMJ authorizes the detention of U.S. citizens, including those suspected of committing the war crime of unlawful belligerency.

Padilla may deserve the treatment he is receiving — perhaps worse. That is not the point. When Americans are taken into custody, they have the right to retain an attorney.

Yes, when and if they are charged.

Congress must first set the rules.

As was done in the UCMJ.

Then an impartial judge, not the president, should make the ultimate decision as to whether the arrest and imprisonment comport with the Constitution.

Padilla still has a right to a habeas corpus hearing in which he can challenge the constitutionality of his arrest and imprisonment, just as did Hamdi.

Ilana Mercer vs. Sheldon Richman & Justin Raimondo

Tee-hee, I haven’t had this much fun since Stephen Schwartz last flamed Justin Raimondo: Ilana Mercer’s been giving Raimondo & Sheldon Richman a richly-deserved torching over their demonization of Israel as the aggressor in the Wars Against Israel. Thus far, in the two-against-one no-holds-barred grudge match, I score Mercer the winner, despite the fact that her opponents have fought dirty.

Mercer has always struck me as having a healthy immunity to the bad memes about Israeli aggression, perhaps because she’s an Israeli emigre herself. Unfortunately, she seems to have succumbed to bad memes about the War On Terror and the neoconservative conspiracy. Still, it’s nice to see that she thinks for herself, rather than slavishly toeing the paleocon party line.

Sympathy for the UN

I’ve just seen the video from an NHK TV crew inside the UN mission in Iraq when a truck-bomb blew it up in an apparent suicide attack, killing at least 15 and wounding 40. Apparently the UN believed that since it didn’t support the invasion of Iraq to remove the Saddamite regime, and since most of its people in Iraq were involved in humanitarian aid, they wouldn’t be a target for the terrorists who’ve been swarming into Iraq from the rest of the Islamic world. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong about that.

Of course, they should’ve known better, as it’s happened before in Afghanistan. The Taliban had no qualms about attacking the UN mission in Kabul to get the then-President of Afghanistan, the Communist Najibullah, who they then executed publicly (a fate he richly deserved, having collaborated with the mass-murderers of a million of his fellow Afghans).

Also damaged in the attack was a hospital that is said to have treated victims of spinal-cord injuries – presumably Iraqis as well as foreigners. Apparently the fact that the victims of the attack would include Iraqis badly in need of such medical treatment, as well as the humanitarian aid being provided by the UN, was of no consequence to the terrorists.

As I write this, the news came in on the wire service that the head of the UN mission to Iraq, Sergio de Mello, did not survive the attack. Apparently he was able to make a call for help on his cell phone from within the rubble. This has not yet been confirmed.

Debunking Civil Liberties Hysteria

I’ve called for the repeal of the PATRIOT Act ever since its passage, on the ground that it was barely debated by Congress. However, I’ve yet to come across a substantive critique of it that holds water. I suspect that if it really were discussed by Congress, most of its provisions would turn out to be unobjectionable & would pass easily. Yet that hasn’t stopped many people from crying that civil liberties in America are at an historic low. These doomsayers would be more credible if they could give a coherent description of the Act’s contents.

I don’t claim to know all of what’s in the Act, but I recently came across this fairly good defense of it. Perhaps there are other provisions not discussed by MacDonald which are truly objectionable, but, if so, I haven’t heard what they might be.

Raimondo Mangles “Red Dawn”

Justin Raimondo can’t even get the story from the movie “Red Dawn” right, much less the nature of guerilla warfare:

Does anybody besides myself remember the movie Red Dawn? It’s a cold war morality play in which America is invaded, conquered and occupied by the Soviets: the story revolves around the exploits of an underground resistance, consisting mostly of teen-agers, that springs up to combat the Red Army and its collaborators. The resistance starts out small, with minor acts of sabotage, and escalates over time into a well-coordinated and virtually unstoppable general rebellion that ends in the defeat of the occupiers.

“Red Dawn” happens to be one of my favorite movies, by one of my favorite directors, John Milius, who also directed “Conan the Barbarian,” “The Wind and the Lion,” and my personal favorite of all Milius’ movies, “Farewell to the King.” I own a copy of it on VHS tape, and can assure you that the resistance portrayed in the movie never “escalates over time into a well-coordinated and virtually unstoppable general rebellion that ends in the defeat of the occupiers.” Well-coordinated, yes, but quite stoppable and never including more than about a dozen members (hardly a “general rebellion”). The movie ends with it’s being stopped by the Soviet Spetznaz (special forces) counter-terrorist soldiers, the leaders of the resistance being killed, and the survivors escaping to Free America – territory still held by the armed forces of the USA. The epilogue to the movie refers to the Soviet invasion being defeated, but not by the guerillas. In the 3 phases of guerilla warfare as defined by the 20th century pioneer of the theory and practice of guerilla warfare, Mao Zedong, the guerillas in “Red Dawn” never reach Phase 3, conventional operations in which the enemy is directly engaged in open combat and decisively defeated in battle. “Red Dawn” is a heroic tragedy, not the triumphalist work Raimondo makes it out to be.

Raimondo is evidently letting his wishful thinking about how things will go in Iraq today influence his memory of the movie. However, serious students of the history of guerilla warfare know that, among other things, guerillas must have foreign support in order to succeed, to provide them with supplies, safe haven, etc., and the Iraqi fedayeen and jihadists have very little foreign support today. What little they have they’re getting primarily from Syria & Iran, both of which are highly vulnerable to U.S. pressure.

Fisking Ron Paul on Gulf War 2

Congressman Ron Paul recently made some claims about the evidence used to justify Gulf War 2 which richly deserve rebuttal:

The charge that Saddam Hussein had aluminum tubes used in manufacturing nuclear weapons was in error.

Actually, an Iraqi scientist just recently revealed centrifuge parts which he’d been ordered by Saddam’s regime to bury under a rose bush in his back yard. Furthermore, not even International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed El Baradei denies that Iraq had the aluminum tubes, or that they could be used to enrich uranium. He merely denied that there was any evidence that Saddam’s regime intended to use them in that way. Personally, I find the fact that Saddam went to so much trouble to conceal the parts for so long to be evidence that Saddam’s intentions regarding them were less than innocent.

A fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles capable of dispensing chemical and biological weapons did not exist.

The 63,000 liters of anthrax and botulism have not been found, nor have any of the mobile germ labs. There are no signs of the one million pounds of sarin, mustard, and VX gasses alleged to exist.

We don’t know that these things did not exist, all we know is that they haven’t been found. As far as the chemical weapons are concerned, we do know that they did exist in Iraq at one time, and we don’t know what became of them. They might have been destroyed, they might have been transferred to Syria or Iran, or we might not have found them yet.

No evidence has been revealed to indicate Iraq was a threat to the security of any nation, let alone America.

Tell it to the Kuwaitis, Kurds, & Israelis.

The charge that Saddam Hussein was connected to the al Qaeda was wrong.

Actually, we know they were connected through Ansar al-Islam, the al Qaeda offshoot that used to be based in Iraqi Kurdistan, and which had Iraqi intelligence personally assigned to it:

“Ansar took its inspiration from Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan, but the group has its roots in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Iran provided aid to all anti-Saddam groups during this period, but it also created fundamentalist groups to supplant them and turn the Kurdish fighters into a tool for Iranian influence in Iraq. Fundamentalist fighters in Northern Iraq were organized by Osman abdul Aziz during the late 1980s with Iranian assistance. Azis was a Muslim intellectual and cleric imprisoned by Saddam for several years. Upon his release, in 1987, he immediately fled to Iran, where he organized the Bizotnawa, or Islamic Brotherhood. The Bizotnawa fractured and then reunified over the course of 15 years to become an instrument of al-Qaeda.

“Secret cells formed inside the Bizotnawa with independent agendas. In 1995, Islah or ‘Reform’ was formed inside Bizotnawa, but did not declare itself and separate until 1999. It was led by the notorious Mullah Keraker, now in prison in Norway.

“In 1997, Kurdish Hamas, or ‘Enthusiasm,’ formed and split off and the Arabs formed a secret cell called Markas (‘Center’). In 1999 Aziz died in Syria. His brother, Ali, succeeded him, but was not admired. Bizotnawa had lost its leadership. The Bizotnawa crumbled further. That same year Islah declared itself and split away. Tawheed, or ‘Unify’ was formed and split off in 2000. Finally, Komal, or ‘Group’ formed and split off. At this point there were six separate fundamentalist groups opposing Saddam, including the original Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, or Bizotnawa. Iran seemed to have lost control of the fundamentalist movement it had founded as it splintered. It would be re-united by OSama bin Laden, with the help of Saddam Hussein.

“In October 2000 Mullah Keraker of Islah sent a delegation led by a Mullah Namo to Afghanistan to receive al-Qaeda training and ask permission to join with bin Laden. Tawheed sent an emissary to Afghanistan as well later the same month. Travelling the drug smuggling routes controlled by al-Qaeda, they came to meet with the new power of fundamentalist Islam. They were accepted, but ordered to reunite.

“The unification of fundamentalist groups in IRaq coincided with bin Laden’s attacks on the U.S., suggesting a comprehensive regional strategy to not only declare Jihad on America, but seize control of the oil-rich Gulf states to use as a power base.

“Bin Laden sent a Lieutenant to lead the largely Arab Markas. In April, this Lieutenant, a Jordanian named Abu Abdul Rahman Al-Shami, was killed ina skirmish with the PUK. He was replaced by another bin Laden representative named abu Zubair (also Jordanian). In July 2001 The Tawheed Front was formed from the union of Hamas and Tawheed. Finally, Markas and the Tawheed Front were unified under bin Laden’s control on 1 September 2001 with the creation of the Jund-al-Islamiah, or ‘Soldeirs of Islam.’ They launched their first attack on PUK forces on 23 September, killing 43 in an ambush near the town of Halabja, the birthplace of Osma Aziz and the scene of Saddam Hussein’s devastating chemical attack on the Kurds in 1988. In December 2001 all groups except Komal, which guarded the valley approach to the new base, unified under the banner of the ansar-al-Islamiah.

“The group began bringing in chemical and biological weapons and storing them in mountain bunkers. A ‘retired’ officer from Iraq intelligence named Abu Wail took charge of the Iraqi Arabs in the group. At this point, Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, many of them with Afghanistan experience, made up over 50-75% of what was once a majority Kurdish organization. The group launched repeated operations against PUK fighters. On 2 April 2002, an Ansar hit team launched an unsuccessful assassination attempt on PUK Prime Minister Barham Salih, a key U.S. ally in favor of a democratic Iraq aligned with the West. Ansar has become bin Laden’s arm in Iraq. The presence of Iraqi intelligence indicates a direct link between the two, long denied by Saddam.”
– Victor Black, “Northern Iraq Firefight,” Soldier of Fortune, July 2003, pp. 48-49

This is in addition to evidence from Youssef Bodansky, which I’ve previously posted to this blog, and Roland Jaquard, author of “In The Name Of Osama Bin Laden” and consultant to the UN on terrorism, both of whom also affirm the connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. I’m not aware of any evidence that Black, Bodansky, and Jacquard are all wrong about this, and Paul doesn’t cite any.

Saddam Hussein’s violations of the UN resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction remain unproven.

Actually, those are proven by the very fact that we know that Saddam once had chemical and biological weapons, but we don’t know what became of them. The UN resolutions regarding Iraqi WMD required transparency on the part of Saddam’s regime. The very fact that those programs were opaque is proof of violation of the UN resolutions. This would be true even if Saddam’s regime really did destroy all of its WMD programs after 1998 (although I seriously doubt that really happened). The UN resolutions didn’t merely require Saddam to destroy his WMD programs, they also required that he make their destruction manifestly evident to the rest of the world so the international community could be assured that he had been disarmed of his WMD.

Mountains Out Of Molehills

My 2-week trip to the ISIL conference in Lithuania seems to have thankfully spared me from most of the “Bush Lied” Brigade’s hysteria. It’s funny how one piece of forged evidence in support of a conclusion which is still affirmed by everyone except the CIA, the DNC, & the paleos, is enough to get them screaming “Bush lied.” It reminds me of how Holocaust Deniers base their denial upon things like how Anne Frank’s diary was tampered with by her father (to cover up stuff that had nothing to do with the Holocaust).

In fact, a good deal of anti-war argumentation is highly reminiscent of the shoddy historical methodology of Holocaust Denial: evidence consistent with the case for the War on Terror is ignored and its very existence denied, or it is said to be fraudulent, while evidence contrary to the War On Terror is exagerrated or fabricated. Sources supporting the War On Terror are impugned as being biased, while sources opposing it are lionized. For example, the anonymous (alleged) ex-CIA sources who told Frontline that Saddam was a paid CIA asset when he participated in an assassination attempt on Iraqi President Qassem in the late 1960s are taken to be noble whistleblowers by the anti-warmongers, while the anonymous sources of Youssef Bodansky which affirm Iraqi sponsorship of Al Qaeda are dismissed, and Bodansky smeared as a “Republican operative.”

The true insignificance of the “Bush Lied” brigade’s whining can be gleaned from the fact that none of its Democrat members have said they regretted their votes for Gulf War II or that they would vote differently if they had to do it again. Instead, they have tried to have it both ways, claiming that they were misled into voting for GWII, which they still think was the right thing to do. Also, does the fact that one of the pieces of evidence about Saddam’s attempts to reconstitute his WMD program turns out to have been forged invalidate all the rest of the evidence that he was trying to reconstitute his WMD programs? Nonsense. Does it mean that he wasn’t sponsoring Al Qaeda? Of course not. Does it mean he wasn’t tyrannizing his own people? Don’t be silly.

More Rothbardian Lies about the Winter War

Having caught Rothbard before in some lies about the Winter War (Soviet Russia vs. Finland, 1939-1940), I thought it only fitting that I should point it out when I caught him in some more, brought to us courtesy of Lew Rockwell, the pseudo-libertarian crypto-fascist I love to hate:

All this, of course, is a beautiful way of vindicating a “hard-line” policy against the Enemy regardless of what actually happens. Two particularly neat examples are the policy of Finland toward Russia in 1940, and of Poland toward Germany and Russia in 1939. The Finns (Poles) insisted up to the moment of outbreak of a war that could only be disastrous for them that the Russians (Germans) were only “bluffing,” and that a rigid, inflexible, hard-line, no-negotiation policy would force Russia (Germany) to back down and cease their demands. After adamantly proclaiming this view throughout, the ruling Finnish (Polish) hard-liners suddenly found that the reverse had happened, that the Enemy had not been “bluffing,” and that war had indeed broken out. Was their reaction an abject admission of error and a turn toward peace and negotiation? Certainly not; on the contrary, the hard-liners immediately proclaimed that no negotiations were now possible until every single Russian (German) soldier had been driven off every square inch of holy Finnish (Polish) soil. The rest is history; the difference in ultimate outcome is only due to Finland’s having the luck to find leaders willing to abandon a hard-line policy before it was too late.

Did the Finns think that the Soviets were bluffing? Not unanimously:

…it was the opinion of nearly everyone in the Finnish government that these [Stalin’s] demands, as stunning as they were, were only the prelude to other, more severe demands–demands that the Finns would be powerless to reject because they would have already lost their strongest line of defense.

Foreign Minister Erkko in particular was convinced that Stalin was bluffing and that Finland needed only to stand fast and the Russians would back down. There were acrimonious discussions in helsinki between Erkko, those who thought as he did, and Marshal Mannerheim, who kept insisting that the Russians meant what they said, would not hesitate to take what they wanted by force, and could not be stopped by Finland’s armed forces.”

Rothbard clearly misrepresents the Finnish response to Stalin’s demands by presenting only the side of Finnish Foreign Minister Erkko, and not the side led by Marshal Mannerheim, the architect of Finland’s military defense.

Were the Finns unwilling to negotiate?

All through the rest of October and into November, negotiations continued. The Finns were willing to compromise slightly on the Isthmus border and were willing to cede some, but not all, of the gulf islands. As for giving the Russians a base at Hanko, on the Finnish mainland, that was quite unacceptable.”

    – ibid

So, once again, Rothbard’s account proves false: the Finns weren’t entirely unwilling to negotiate and compromise, although they were far less willing than the Soviets had expected. The Finns had good reasons for the position they took, too, as demonstrated by the subsequent Soviet invasion & attempted annexation of the whole of Finland.

Finally, the Finns did hold to a hard-line policy of refusing to negotiate with the Soviets right after the war began, because it would be wrong for them to appease Soviet aggression, and because the Finns were winning the war in the battlefields. However, the Soviets were equally unwilling to negotiate because they only recognized their puppet government as the legitimate government of Finland. It took some doing for the new Finnish Foreign Minister, Vaino Tanner, to get negotiations started with Molotov.

The Finns were induced to resume negotiations with the Soviets because the Soviets finally managed to improve the quality of their forces enough to start winning the war on the battlefield, but by that time pressure was being brought to bear upon the Soviets, too, by the Western Allies, who had condemned the Soviet aggression against Finland and were threatening to intervene on Finland’s behalf. So, shortly after the Red Army’s honor was restored on the battlefield, Stalin was willing to negotiate with the Finns and compromise for much less than total annexation and Sovietization of Finland.

That greatly differs from Rothbard’s account of the factors explaining the different outcome to the Soviet invasion of Finland and the German invasion of Poland. It wasn’t that Finland acquired enlightened leaders who were willing to appease Soviet aggression and thus end the hostilities, while Poland’s leaders remained intransigent. It was that, first of all, Finland’s armed forces killed enough Red Army soldiers to give Stalin pause. Secondly, the Red Army eventually was successful enough on the battlefield to make the Finns more willing to compromise. Thirdly, the threat of Western intervention made Stalin willing to settle for less than his maximum demands.

Unfortunately, Poland had none of these advantages with regards to Germany. The Polish Army proved no match on the battlefield for the Wehrmacht, the Poles didn’t have enough time to change their minds about Hitler’s demands, and there wasn’t enough of a credible threat of Western intervention to make Hitler back off from his maximum demands.

Thus, Rothbard’s falsification of history in defense of appeasing totalitarian aggression isn’t confined to the Winter War, but extends to the German invasion of Poland, too.