February 1, 2010 Implications of the Mabhouh Assasination - History

February 1, 2010 Implications of the Mabhouh Assasination - History

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 1, 2010 Implications of the Mabhouh Assasination

The Palestinians tried a new form of terrorism today, bomb filled barrels that rolled ashore on two Israeli beaches. Both bombs were defused without injuries. It seems a little strange to try to float bombs onto beaches in the middle of the winter. There is some question if this was an attempt to retaliate for the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas agent who was killed by unknown assailants in Dubai. Most observers believe that Mabhouh, who coordinated Hamas’ shipments from Iran was killed by the Mossad. Reports from Dubai indicate that Mabhouh was interrogated for hours before being killed. The attack on Mabhouh ties together two changing factor in the Middle East over the course of the last two years: First, the Mossad has clearly regained its mystic. Members of Hamas, and for that matter Hezbollah and the Iranian regime know they are not safe anywhere. Second, the attack on Mabhouh is largely believed to have happened with significant cooperation from Arab intelligence agencies. In the past year, and especially in the past few months, the Egyptians and other moderate Arab states have been less circumspect in their cooperation with Israel. It is clearly Egypt and the others Arab states, together with Israel against any type of Iranian influence. The announcement that Egypt had stopped a cell from attacking an Israeli tourist in Egypt the other day is part of that pattern.

The IDF and Defense Ministries opposition to an outside Israeli investigation on the actions of the IDF during last year’s operation in Gaza continues to perplex. On one hand, today it was leaked that two very high-ranking officers were court-martialed for allowing artillery fire in an area that resulted in the shelling of the UN facility in Gaza. That trial was kept secret for over a year. In the meantime, most Israeli observers, and many in the government, believe Israel has no choice but to appoint an independent investigative commission. Both Barak and Ashkenazi have been immovably opposed, and do not seem willing to budge.

February 1, 2010 Implications of the Mabhouh Assasination - History

2:31 pm - February 18th 2010

by Dave Osler

There now seems little doubt that Mossad took out Hamas commander Mahmoud al Mabhouh, either with or without the complicity of other Palestinian elements. Yet astonishingly enough, the debate on the assassination somehow centres on alleged duplicitous use of British passports on the part of the Isrealis.

Effectively, the Israeli ambassador to London has been summoned to the Foreign Office for a bollocking, at which David Miliband will tell him: ‘Look, no problems with you lot bumping off that dodgy Pally bloke. But it’s just not on for your country’s hit squads to travel on fake UK papers, old chap. Don’t let us catch you doing it again.’

What is being missed here is the question of whether premeditated extrajudicial murder of specific individuals at the behest of a state can ever be morally legitimate, and whether or not it was morally legitimate in this instance.

Targeted killings – to use the currently fashionable euphemism – are by no means rare. States do it all the time. I’m certainly not ‘demonising Israel’ on this score.

It’s always impossible to provide proof on such matters, but it remains a reasonable surmise that the Russian government had a hand in poisoning Alexander Litvinenko with polonium-210. There’s ample evidence that Syria did for Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, and that there was British Army involvement in the slaying of Irish republican solicitor Pat Finucane.

But Israel unquestionably resorts to targeted killings with infelicitous alacrity. One recalls the 2004 guided missile attack on Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, a wheelchair-bound and almost blind cleric. Nine bystanders died as a result of the incident. I could cite many other cases.

It does seem to me that the al Mabhouh murder breaches the principle of respect for human life. I sure that an excellent hypothetical moral case for targeted killings can be constructed in urgent situations where there are no other means to avoid given imminent harm. But the criteria do not appear to have been met on this occasion.

It may well be that Mossad has successfully eliminated one of the enemies of the country it exists to serve. But where was the clear and present danger? What the Israeli secret service has perpetrated was reprehensible and deserving of international reproach.

About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
· Other posts by Dave Osler

Slain Hamas commander helped smuggle arms into Gaza, officials say

A Hamas military commander slain in a Dubai hotel room played a key role in smuggling antiaircraft missiles and other weapons into the Gaza Strip, Israeli and Hamas officials said Sunday.

But they disagreed on whether Mahmoud Mabhouh’s death would be a blow to Palestinian armed groups in the territory or inspire them to redouble their arms campaign.

“This guy was a middleman for smuggling weapons from Iran, not only to Gaza but to Hezbollah” in Lebanon, said an Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues involved.

Among other things, Mabhouh, believed to be about 50, was suspected of helping to route smuggled arms through Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. One of the arms convoys was bombed in Sudan last year, reportedly by Israeli aircraft.

Israel has refused to comment on Hamas’ allegation that it was behind the Jan. 20 assassination of Mabhouh in the United Arab Emirates. Details of the killing are murky, with conflicting reports that he was either electrocuted, strangled, poisoned or injected with a drug that made his heart stop. Initially the Islamic militant group reported that he died of a medical condition.

Israeli officials said they hoped Mabhouh’s death would slow the flow of arms into Gaza.

“Of course, the moment a guy like this is dead, there is always someone to replace him,” the military official said. “But information [about arms-smuggling routes] is usually kept very secret. You have to renew the connections, rebuild the trust. It takes some time to grow into his shoes. It shakes the whole system.”

Hamas officials in Gaza declined to comment on Mabhouh’s role in the organization other than to confirm he helped plan the killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989.

But a Hamas official in Syria called Mabhouh an important military leader who helped bring “special weapons” into Gaza.

Mabhouh “played a key role in supplying the Palestinian people with weapons and money,” Talal Nasser, a Hamas spokesman in Damascus, told the National, a newspaper based in the United Arab Emirates. “His central role in the 2008-2009 Gaza war was clear.”

Nasser said the slaying would only strengthen his organization.

“His murder is not a victory for Israel,” Nasser said. “It is a victory for the resistance. The blood of Mahmoud Mabhouh will spawn a thousand more like him.”

The Case of the American Sheeple

On the corner of 53rd and 3rd Ave in New York City, a posted flyer read “Learn How to Blog!” The advertisement, like so many on New York City streets, is easily dismissed, but if one stops to really consider the message, it offers a profound insight into the American psyche. Blogging is by its nature an informal form of individual expression. There are no rules, only a means for individuals all over the world to churn out their personal ideas. Sure there are ways one can create a more reader friendly blog or learn strategies to successfully publicize their writing, but does anyone really need to “Learn How to Blog!?

Blogging is inherently democratic. It is something that every individual can do, if they only have the ideas to opine on. However, the advertisement was not offering an opportunity to learn how to promote a blog, but a class to learn how to blog. In other words, it was targeted at people who liked the concept of blogging, but did not necessarily know what they wanted to write about. But more importantly, it reveals a conceptual inability for many Americans to truly think for themselves. The targeted consumers of the course are not joining the blogger bandwagon because they have ideas they wish to present, but because they are drawn to the concept of blogging. To them blogging is not a public version of their journal, but a thing to do. Because of this blogging is not natural they need to be told how to blog.

Now, it was not clear from the flyer what the precise curriculum of this course was or how successful it has been that is beside the point. What this minor episode offers is a window into the American condition and in particular the recent resurgence of populism. Over the past few years, populist movements have been growing in force on both the left and the right. This is a worrying trend that could have disastrous effects on American policy.

Obama became President, in part, due to a groundswell of populist support. His campaign, which was brilliantly executed, appealed to the everyman without offering (or possibly hiding) any real political ideology. His troubles of the past year are largely because many Americans saw through his populist veneer to what lies beneath. The campaign promises were either bogus or simply infeasible (Guantanamo). Many of his former supporters on the center-left and in the middle are disappointed with their choice, but are now unfortunately stuck with a President who does not represent their wishes or values.

In response, a very similar movement – the Tea Party – has been rising on the right. The Tea Party is steeped in many sound principles and ideas: opposition to big government, excessive taxes, and socialist programs. However, it is based more on emotion than on ideas. Politicians, such as Sarah Palin, have been brilliant is cultivating and stoking this sentiment. This is all too evident in Palin’s recent speech before the Tea Party.

The cultivation of populist movements is often very beneficial for a politician. It has skyrocketed both Obama and Palin to national preeminence. However, it is questionable what benefits such movements have for the governance of America. First, by being devoid of any concrete intellectual basis the movements can do little to change the deep flaws that may exist within the American system. Palin’s speech did not offer ideas to change America, but preyed upon emotion to support an amorphous cause.

Second, the movement can quickly and unexpectedly change tack, directing politicians down dangerous policy trajectories. The routine attacks on Wall Street from both sides of the aisle are evidence of this possibility. While finance or the so-called Big Business is certainly responsible in part for the current economic crisis, a complete attack on the system will hurt all Americans. In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Donald Luskin outlines the risks of a rightwing populist attack on business.

Populism is a movement of passion. While there are very often real concerns, real ideas, and real issues imbedded in a populist movement, they are generally secondary to the emotion. Emotion should not be dismissed, but it cannot be the primary factor in the American political system. Instead, the emotions of populism must be analyzed and understood. New ideas must be developed and considered to address the political issues of the polity. In his discussion of the American Revolution, Irving Kristol wrote:

James Bond, Meet Dubai

In the Middle East, Dubai has replaced Beirut as the place where deals are done, secrets are sold and scores are settled.

The glitzy city on the Gulf has become a kind of Arabian Big Easy where a senior operative in a powerful political organization can be assassinated in a five-star hotel - and the crime will be hushed up for more than a week while the powers-that-be decide how the story will be spun.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a military commander and arms smuggling specialist with Hamas, was found dead in his room at the swanky Al Bustan Rotana Hotel on Jan. 20. But word of al-Mabhouh's demise was kept quiet for nine days, until a brief announcement on Friday from the U.A.E. government's official press agency coincided with his funeral at the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus.

According to the announcement, the assassination was carried out by an "experienced criminal gang, who had been tracking down the movements of the victim before entering the U.A.E."

Al-Mabhouh arrived in Dubai from Syria on Jan. 19. His body was found in his hotel room less than 24 hours later. By that time, his killers, apparently travelling on European passports, had already fled the country.

Trending News

"Despite quick skill exhibited by murderers . they left behind evidence at the scene of [the] crime that would help in tracking them down," said an unnamed security source quoted in the official statement.

A family member in Gaza told Al Jazeera television on Friday that al-Mabhouh received an electrical shock to the head and was then strangled.

As a senior member of Hamas, al-Mabhouh usually travels under an assumed name and with a detail of body guards. On this trip he traveled under his own name and without body guards, according to Hamas officials.

Dubai police say they now know the identity of the killers and, with the help of Interpol, will quickly bring them to justice.

Dubai, which would prefer to be famous as a playground for the rich, has lately become a center of international intrigue. Last year, a former Chechen general and opponent of the republic's Moscow-backed regime was shot dead in the parking garage of the upscale residential compound where he lived. Two suspects, an Iranian and a Tajik national, are in custody.

The city's don't-ask-don't-tell notion of banking regulation made it a money laundering haven that allegedly serviced the needs of Russian mobsters, Somali pirates and Al Qaeda terrorists. After 9/11, local authorities tightened financial reporting laws, but plenty of shady types still linger in the shadows.

Al-Mabhouh has been described as a key operative in the pipeline that smuggles weapons provided by Iran into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. It did not take long for speculation to surface that al-Mabhouh was in Dubai, where many Iranian banks do business, to close an arms deal.

Hamas quickly pointed the finger at Israel.

"We in Hamas hold the Zionist enemy responsible for the criminal assassination of our brother, and we pledge to God and to the blood of the martyrs and to our people to continue his path of jihad and martyrdom," said a statement on Hamas' website. The group vowed to "retaliate for this Zionist crime at the appropriate time and place."

Israel has a long memory and a long history of "targeted assassinations." The Mossad, Israel's spy agency, has an impressive record of infiltrating assassination teams into Arab capitals. It would hardly be surprising for al-Mabhouh to be on the agency's hit list.

The 50-year-old Palestinian was one of the founders of Hamas' Izz el-Deen al-Qassam brigade, and the Israelis hold him responsible for the 1989 abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers during the first intifada. In retaliation, Israeli authorities demolished the family's home in Gaza.

Al-Mabhouh has lived in exile in Damascus for years. His family says he has been the target of several Israeli assassination attempts.

Targeted Assassinations: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, International Law, and Strategic Implications

Recently published details regarding the assassination on January 20, 2010 of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, in Dubai, underline the strategic issues raised by targeted assassinations in violation of international law.

It is one thing for a country to attack an individual actively engaged in the launching of armed attacks against the territory of another state when that individual is acting in the country from which attacks are being launched, and quite another to assassinate an individual believed to have been engaged in a pattern of such attacks when that individual is on the territory of a third state.

The question of what is legally permitted under international law involves identifying the line between permitted and non-permitted uses of force separating these two hypothetical cases, under both the United Nations Charter and international human rights law. Stated differently, what are the limits on the use of force in exercise of the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, in the absence of consent by the territorial state? And what are the limits on the use of force imposed by international human rights law and the domestic legal order of the territorial state when the latter has given its consent to another state to take such military action? How might these principles be applied in these two hypothetical cases?

In general, it appears clear that a state does not have the right to violate the territorial integrity of another state to use force against an individual in the territory of that state, without the permission of the territorial state. It is also clear that the territorial state cannot legally give permission to another state to take the life of individuals on its territory in a manner that it would not itself be legally permitted to do under international human rights law and its own domestic legislation. Under international law, including human rights law, and the domestic law of nearly all countries, states are not permitted to simply identify criminals and terrorists and then go kill them.

The United Arab Emirates would not have the legal authority to conduct an extrajudicial assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh when he is in Dubai, and consequently could not give its consent to a third state to do what it itself could not do under either international or domestic law.

This analysis is based on sound and universally accepted principles of international law. These principles, which are embodied in binding legal norms, help to preserve international order and avoid the slippery slope toward anarchy upon which one would enter with any policy sanctioning targeted assassinations in third countries.

It does not take much imagination to envision Russian hit squads or agents assassinating domestic critics, or political candidates from countries in Russia’s asserted sphere of influence whom it opposes, when these individuals are in a third country such the United Kingdom. Or Israel assassinating a Hamas leader in Dubai.

But if these hypothetical examples were either accepted as permissible under international law, or permissible in some moral scheme in which international law is “irrelevant” or “out of date”–which amounts to the same thing–the forces of anarchy would be unleashed upon the world.

The most essential characteristic of a democratic state is at issue here. Individuals may not be killed except in exercise of the right of self-defense, as defined in domestic and international law, or as the result of due process of law, i.e., judicial process or its equivalent under humanitarian law (also known as “the law of war”).

On the domestic level, the alternative is a regime like that of Nazi Germany, or Argentina during “the dirty war” in the 1970s in which the government killed an estimated 30,000 Argentines who it viewed as a threat to the nation.

On the international level, the alternative is an anarchic existence in which, for example, a state in Africa, Latin America, or South Asia might send hit squads into the teritory of another state to assassinate political opponents or individuals it believed had the blood of its soldiers or citizens on their hands.

States react sharply to violations of their territorial integrity, and it is not difficult to see how one or a series of such incidents might lead to armed conflict between the two states involved.

The remaining question to be addressed is what are the limits of self-defense in employing targeted assassinations against the leaders or participants of an insurgent group directing and organizing attacks from one state into the territory of another, e.g. from the territory of Pakistan into the territory of Afghanistan?

Here, at a minimum, the requirements of self-defense under international law must be applied to the specific facts of each case, absent the consent of the territorial state. In general, exercise of the right of self-defense requires that the requirements of necessity, proportionality and immediacy be met. On the other hand, when the attacking state is operating with the consent of the territorial state, it must act in accordance with the provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as the domestic law of the territorial state.

(The application of humanitarian law or “the law of war” in an expanisve manner permitting any indivdidual supporting the Taliban’s military activities to be targeted for assassination is highly controversial, inherently subject to potential abuse due to its self-judging character, and raises serious questions in terms of its longer-term strategic effects on populations where civilians are frequently killed.)

Whether an individual’s involvement in earlier decisions to launch attacks against Afghanistan from Pakistan would justify a targeted assassination of that individual when he is residing, for example, in Karachi, is a case which raises the pertinent questions.

When acting without the consent of the territorial state, the requirements of necessity, proportionality, and immediacy would, at a minimum, have to be met.

When acting with the consent of the territorial state, human rights and humanitarian law requirements must be observed by the attacking state, just as they would need to be observed by the territorial state if it were carrying out the attack itself.

Would the Pakistani government be legally entitled to conduct a targeted assassination of this individual in Karachi, or would an effort to arrest him and bring him before the courts or military tribunals be required?

It is interesting to note that the Afghanistan Taliban’s second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested, not assassinated, in Karachi in mid-February, 2010.

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February 1, 2010 Implications of the Mabhouh Assasination - History

In fact, reducing our nuclear -arsenal will not somehow persuade Iran and North Korea to alter their behavior or encourage others to apply more pressure on them to do so. Obama’s remarks reflect a complete misreading of strategic realities.

We have no need for further arms control treaties with Russia, especially ones that reduce our nuclear and delivery capabilities to Moscow’s economically forced low levels. We have international obligations, moreover, that Russia does not, requiring our nuclear umbrella to afford protection to friends and allies worldwide. Obama’s policy artificially inflates Russian influence and, depending on the final agreement, will likely reduce our nuclear and strategic delivery capabilities dangerously and unnecessarily. (Securing “loose” nuclear materials internationally has long been a bipartisan goal, properly so. Obama said nothing new on that score.) Meanwhile, Obama is considering treaty restrictions on our missile defense capabilities more damaging than his own previous unilateral reductions.

What warrants close attention is the jarring naïveté of arguing that reducing our capabilities will inhibit nuclear proliferators. That would certainly surprise Tehran and Pyongyang. Obama’s insistence that the evil-doers are “violating international agreements” is also startling, as if this were of equal importance with the proliferation itself.

The premise underlying these assertions may well be found in Obama’s smug earlier comment that we should “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.  .  .  .  Let’s leave behind the fear and division.” By reducing to the level of wayward boys the debates over whether his policies are making us more or less secure, Obama reveals a deep disdain for the decades of strategic thinking that kept America safe during the Cold War and afterwards. Even more pertinent, Obama’s indifference and scorn for real threats are chilling auguries of what the next three years may hold.

Obama has now explicitly rejected the idea that U.S. weakness is provocative, arguing instead that weakness will convince Tehran and Pyongyang to do the opposite of what they have been resolutely doing for decades—vigorously pursuing their nuclear and missile programs. Obama’s first year amply demonstrates that his approach will do nothing even to retard, let alone stop, Iran and North Korea.

Israel Matzav: Mitchell to Abu Bluff: No more excuses

Mitchell to Abu Bluff: No more excuses

It sounds like US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell is losing patience with ' moderate ' ' Palestinian ' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen .

United States special Mideast envoy George Mitchell has urged Europe to step up pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to kick-start stalled peace talks with Israel, the London-based A-Sharq-al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

"The time has come to stop finding excuses for avoiding a return to the negotiating table," the London paper quoted Mitchell as saying, citing French officials.

Mitchell believed the Palestinians were showing little enthusiasm for talks because as inaction was safer than reentering dialogue when the outcome was so uncertain, the paper said.

According to A-Sharq al-Awsat, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner defended Abbas, urging the envoy to recognize the risk to the Palestinian leader of returning to talks without international guarantees.

Kouchner proposed reassuring Abbas with a clear declaration that the aim of any new talks would be the creation of a Palestinian within a set time frame of anything up to two years, the paper said.

But Mitchell rejected out of hand French calls for an international conference and for U.S. guarantees to both Israel and the Palestinians.

Instead, he is said to prefer indirect negotiations accompanied by a series of confidence-building measures on the ground in the West Bank.

Israel Matzav: Israel didn't come into existence because of the Holocaust

Israel didn't come into existence because of the Holocaust

In the minds of some, the establishment of the State of Israel is linked to the Holocaust, or even seen as a direct result of the Holocaust. U.S. President Barack Obama, probably unaware of the history of the Zionist movement, implied as much in his speech in Cairo last year.

But the truth is almost the exact opposite. The extermination by the Germans of six million Jews during World War II came close to putting an end to the dream of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. The reservoir of Jewish immigrants to Palestine was decimated. Vladimir Jabotinsky, in his testimony before the Peel Commission in London on February 11, 1937, spoke of the aim of Zionism as the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River in which there would be room for "the Arab population and their progeny and many millions of Jews." At that time, the Jewish population of Palestine was no more than 400,000.

By the time the war had ended, millions of Jews had been exterminated in Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor and the killing fields of Russia. To Zionist leaders, it became clear that not only were there not enough Jews to constitute a solid Jewish majority, which was the condition for establishing a Jewish state, on both sides of the Jordan River, but that Jewish immigration would not even suffice to establish such a majority in the entire area west of the Jordan.

It was the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who grasped the full potential of the destruction of European Jewry for ending Zionist aspirations, and therefore allied himself with Hitler. Arab leaders in Egypt and Iraq similarly found good reason to hope for Hitler's victory. Yet after the war, the Yishuv (the Jewish community in pre-Palestine) and the remnants of European Jewry, who overcame British efforts to block their way to Palestine, had enough vitality and strength to bring about the establishment of the State of Israel in part of the territory that the League of Nations had originally mandated to Britain for the establishment of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River.

Israel Matzav: Better tell them to stop having those 'obstacles to peace'

Better tell them to stop having those 'obstacles to peace'

The number of Jews in Judea and Samaria has grown to 313,000 – double the growth rate of the rest of Israel – according to the latest Civil Administration report.

The Civil Administration report, as quoted by Haaretz, shows that the population in Judea and Samaria grew in the past half-year by 2.75%, and by 5.1% in the past year, and now stands at 312,940. A large part of the growth is due to the hareidi-religious cities of Beitar Illit (6.3%) and Modiin Illit (9,8%) - but even without those cities, Yesha’s growth rate of 3.8% more than doubles that of the rest of Israel, which stands at 1.7%.

Two-thirds of the towns in Yesha grew at a higher rate than the rest of Israel (see below).

And unless they're going to turn Judea and Samaria into China, there's not a whole lot the government can do to stop that growth rate. You see, most of the growth there is 'natural growth.'

The government cannot stop the revenants from having more 'obstacles to peace.'

Israel Matzav: Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Although Iran is now blaming us , and Hamas has used his death as a pretext for sticking a fork in the 'terrorists for Gilad' negotiations, maybe Israel didn't kill Hamas murderer and weapons smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh after all.

Hamas Representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan insinuated Tuesday that it was possible that the Palestinian Authority had been involved in the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

"Several of the PA's intelligence apparatuses may have been involved in the assassination," he told the al-Manar network.

A preliminary investigation conducted by Hamas suggests that the assassination of one of its officials in Dubai last month was likely carried out by agents of an Arab government, and not by Israel's Mossad spy agency.

But details of a Hamas inquiry passed to Haaretz reveal that Arab states, not Israel, now top the suspect list.

Both Hamas and Dubai police say that Mabhouh had enemies across the Middle East, any of whom may have had a motive for his murder.

A Hamas source told Haaretz on Monday that Mabhouh was wanted by authorities in both Jordan and Egypt, where he previously spent a year in prison.

Hamas also suspects its Palestinian rivals in the West Bank.

"It is quite possible that Palestinian Authority security forces were involved," Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader in Lebanon, told Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar on Monday.

"West Bank forces are persecuting our fighters and have killed dozens since 1994," he said.

On Sunday, a Dubai police commander updated the Palestinian consul in the United Arab Emirates on progress in the investigation. Mabhouh was killed by a seven-man team, four whom had been identified, the commander said.

According to Hamas investigators, Mabhouh arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus at 9:00 A.M. on the morning of January 19, where he boarded flight EK912 for the UAE, landing at Dubai at 2:30 P.M.

Local authorities were unaware of the presence of the Hamas leader, who traveled under a false identity. Al-Mabhouh took a taxi to the luxury Al Bustan Rutana Hotel, where he checked into room 130, also under a false name.

As always when traveling, al-Mabhouh had taken the precaution of reserving in advance a room with no balcony and sealed windows. On arrival, he deposited a case of documents in the hotel safe before spending around an hour in his room.

Between 4:30 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. al-Mabhouh left the hotel for a meeting. Hamas claims to know the identity of his Dubai contact - but has so far kept details under wraps.

Hamas assumes that he dined outside the hotel, which has no record of him ordering food or drink, before returning to his room at around 9:00 P.M.

Police say it is likely that Mabhouh answered the door to his assailants - but Hamas believes the attackers awaited him on his return and were warned of his approach by accomplices tailing him.

At 9:30 P.M. Mabhouh's wife called his cellular telephone. There was no answer. Both Hamas and police believe the victim was by then already dead. His body was discovered the following day.

Post mortem examinations revealed signs of electrocution beneath both ears -presumably from a device used to stun Mabhouh, whose nose was bleeding and whose teeth showed signs of abrasion.

Pathologists determined the cause of death as asphyxiation, probably with a pillow found near the body and stained with blood.

Meanwhile, London's Sunday Times reported on Sunday that Mabhouh had been injected with a drug that simulated the effects of a natural heart attack.

Also on Sunday, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi landau denied that Mossad agents had posed as part of his entourage to carry out the hit. Landau, the first Israeli minister to travel officially to the UAE, left the country three days before Mabhouh was killed. [ Landau is denying this story (Hat Tip: The Majlis ) . CiJ]

Whatever the case may be, it sounds like we will know more soon .

The police commander of Dubai announced this week that there are important developments in the investigation into the death of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Mabchouch, who was found dead in his hotel room on January 20th. He said details, including photographs of seven people who recently entered the country on European passports, will be publicized in the next few days. He added that the modus operandi indicates a political murder pointing to the involvement of the Mossad Israeli intelligence agency.

Love of the Land: On Free Speech and Informed Public Debate: An Open Letter to NIF and Affiliated NGOs

On Free Speech and Informed Public Debate: An Open Letter to NIF and Affiliated NGOs

Gerald Steinberg/NGO Monitor Staff
NGO Monitor
02 February '10

To ACRI, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, PCATI, Yesh Din, HaMoked, PHR-I, Rabbis for Human Rights, and New Israel Fund (NIF):

The recent attacks directed against NGO Monitor’s detailed research represent a dangerous attempt to prevent free speech and informed public debate on the political role of some NGOs. In particular, in your February 1, 2010 letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, you tendentiously referred to NGO Monitor as an “extreme group” that “unleashed an unrestrained and inflammatory [attack],” and implied that we are the “rotten fruits” of Israeli democracy B’Tselem’s US representative, Mitchell Plitnick, labeled us “extremists” and “right wing” and, a few months ago, an NIF employee posted an indecent graphic on his blog (which was later removed) to illustrate his opinion of NGO Monitor’s publications.

These characterizations are inconsistent with claims to uphold the mantle of human rights and democracy in Israel. Contrary to the implications of your letter, NGO Monitor has never contested the right of civil society organizations to exist or to criticize. And if your rhetoric about upholding free speech in Israel were matched by your policies, you would uphold our right as an independent research organization, and the rights of NGOs that do not share your political views, to do the same.

Love of the Land: NPR's Self-Examination

NPR's Self-Examination

Honest Reporting
Media Critiques
02 February '10

According to National Public Radio's statement of principles: "Our coverage must be fair, unbiased, accurate, complete and honest. At NPR we are expected to conduct ourselves in a manner that leaves no question about our independence and fairness."

This is not always the case concerning NPR's coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Commendably, however, NPR allows for independent quarterly critiques. Amongst some of the latest observations and criticisms is the issue of reporting Palestinian casualty figures from Operation Cast Lead:

Rob Gifford's piece for ATC on December 15 reported on a threat by British authorities to arrest former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. It failed to attribute Palestinian casualty figures during the Israeli-Gaza war. Gifford said "more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the offensive, 13 Israelis lost their lives." There is no question about the Israeli casualties. But Palestinian and Israeli sources dispute the number of Palestinians who died (as well as how many were civilians).

Measuring the Pervasity of Antisemitism

Measuring the Pervasity of Antisemitism

Were the Nazis antisemites? Were the Germans of that time? Silly question, you might think: if the Nazis weren't antisemites, who ever was? If a sizable chunk of their society didn't hate Jews, who got rid of them all over Europe and sent them to the East to be killed? Who set up and ran the killing machine?

That's common sense, of course. Yet common sense isn't as common as we'd like. Over the decades there have been popular narratives of the Nazi era which earnestly claimed that the authentic Jew-haters were few and far between, and it was all sorts of other things that motivated people (if they even noticed what they were doing). Indeed, by the 1980s, the mainstream of historians of Nazism were busy downplaying the centrality of Jew hatred and playing up other things. Eventually some of them - most notably, a largish group of young German historians - re-examined the historical record and came back to report that Yes, hatred of the Jews had been pervasive and significant in the story of their persecution and mass murder. Till this very day, however, it's not hard to find well-intentioned folks who will earnestly tell you that No, it was man's inhumanity to man or some such fairy tale.

All of which is a long introduction to this link . Behind it you'll find a report by Julie Birchill about the ambiance of Jew Hatred in today's UK. Anyone can read the Guardian and see the antisemitism in it what's harder to do is know if the haters there are representative fo anything. That's why reports from the field such as Burchill's are so important. These are not far out loonies, she's telling. Or perhaps they are, but there are lots of them.

Israel Matzav: Global warming coming to Jerusalem?

Global warming coming to Jerusalem?

Israel Matzav: 'War crimes' investigation unlikely

'War crimes' investigation unlikely

The Scotsman explains why a 'war crimes' investigation of Israel or Hamas by the International Criminal Court is unlikely , notwithstanding the Goldstone Report.

But the chances of the ICC being ordered into action are slight. The UN General Assembly is unable to order a war crimes investigation by the ICC. Only the Security Council can do that, and that is almost certainly not going to happen.

The United States fears that an investigation by the ICC will derail any chances of starting a new Middle East peace process. Certainly, it is hard to see how meaningful negotiations could start among statesmen under threat of war crimes indictment.

The result is that the US will veto any vote on the ICC that comes before the Security Council – and it will not be alone. At least three of the permanent members, Britain, France and Russia, are likely to take the same line, and for the same reasons, blocking any move in the Security Council to bring the ICC into action.

Israel Matzav: The Times of London rips Goldstone

The Times of London rips Goldstone

In an editorial on Tuesday, the Times of London ripped Richard Richard Goldstone and the Commission and report that bear his name (Hat Tip: David Hazony via Twitter).

The reprimand relates directly to the shelling of the United Nations headquarters in Gaza, in which more than 700 Palestinians were sheltering. For all those interested in Israel’s relations with the rest of the world, it brings two lessons. The first is that, unlike many of its neighbours, Israel has a strong domestic desire to hold itself to account. The second is that, in this most fraught and nuanced of regions, condemnatory megaphone diplomacy does not work.

For an example of such ineffective megaphone diplomacy, consider Judge Richard Goldstone’s report into the Gaza conflict for the UN, released last September. Both dangerously and unreasonably, Judge Goldstone implied an equivalence between the indiscriminate rocket fire with which Hamas bombarded Israel and the steps that Israel subsequently took to defend itself. While he alleged war crimes on both sides, he reserved his strongest ire for Israel’s “disproportionate” use of force and its “deliberate targeting” of Palestinian civilians.

Faced with such provocative bias, a country might be expected to slam down the shutters and turn away. Instead, the Middle East’s only functioning democracy quietly continued to conduct its own investigation into the conflict, which it has now submitted to the UN. The censure of Brigadier-General Eyal Eisenberg and Colonel Ilan Malka, a brigade commander — the first high-ranking officers to be named as having been at fault — is an indication that this is no mere whitewash. True, Israel’s process is far from flawless. The deployment of white phosphorus shells over a heavily populated area is an horrific act. When such shells explode, they shower sticky and flaming pieces that burn and burrow into clothing and flesh. A “slap on the wrist” (to quote one senior Israeli official) is an indefensibly cursory punishment for those responsible. Even so, it should be seen for what it is — a clear acknowledgment by Israel that, during the conflict, it behaved in a manner in which it should not.

For obvious reasons, Israel is a country deeply uncomfortable about criticising its own military. But those who cry “war crime” and seek to paint Israel as a pariah do diplomacy itself a disservice. They make it harder, not easier, for that country to behave as it should. Contrary to the impression some would like to give, Israel is not a rogue state with good PR, content, like Shakespeare’s Claudius, to smile and smile and be a villain. It is an accountable, democratic, transparent nation, and fighting to remain one amid challenges that few other nations ever have to face.

Israel Matzav: Haaretz's search for scapegoats

Haaretz's search for scapegoats

As I posted on Monday, Haaretz reported that two IDF officers were disciplined for authorizing the firing of phosphorus shells near the United Nations compound at Tel El Hawa during Operation Cast Lead. Later in the day, the original Haaretz report was flushed down the drain and a new report indicated that the IDF denied disciplining the two officers. I revised my post accordingly.

CAMERA has a lengthy report in which they discover the source of Haaretz's assertion that the two officers (who were first named by Haaretz) were disciplined. It's definitely worth reading the whole thing . It ought to convince you of Haaretz's ideological biases and cause you to take anything they write with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, before Haaretz changed the report, it was picked up by many media outlets worldwide. Among those outlets are the Times of London , the BBC , and the New York Times , although the latter was bit more careful in how it reported the story, referring to a 'reprimand' rather than to the officers' being 'disciplined.'

In a story Tuesday, Haaretz continues to insist that the officers were ' disciplined ,' although it now claims that the discipline was for the improper use of artillery shells rather than white phosphorus. If you read the full CAMERA report , you will see that there is no basis for claiming that the officers were disciplined.

Writing in Tuesday's Haaretz, Amos Harel is upset that the IDF didn't tell anyone about the reprimands in April or July 2009.

In April 2009, when the investigations ordered by Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi were completed, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel presented the findings to the media in a briefing. Harel briefly described the attack on the UNRWA compound at Tel al-Hawa, which was investigated by two different groups as part of the examination of the damage to international institutions.

The affair for which Eisenberg and Malka were later reprimanded was not mentioned at the briefing - the matter of the unjustified artillery fire: the use of live ammunition to help rescue a Givati Brigade platoon from a situation in which they were under anti-tank missile fire from Hamas - even though the orders allowed firing only smoke shells. The investigation found that Malka exceeded his authority, but his orders did not cause the death of any innocent civilians. Division commander Eisenberg, who was not directly involved in the decision, requested to be tried too, so as not to abandon his brigade commander.

Harel, who is now on leave before his his retirement from the IDF, said yesterday that the affair was raised in general terms during the investigation, and it was determined that the matter would be investigated more deeply at a later date. Therefore, the artillery fire was not brought up at the April briefing, he said.

Harel said it was a mistake that the results of the disciplinary action were not announced in July, and said he thought the matter "fell between the cracks" between the General Staff and Southern Command, two bodies whose relations are in any case sensitive.

For months, journalists who asked whether additional disciplinary actions had been taken against senior officers as a result of Operation Cast Lead were told "no." Now it turns out that they were misled. Military sources said yesterday that the IDF spokesman's office only heard about the matter for the first time on Sunday evening, when journalists asked for a response.

So did someone intentionally keep the matter from the IDF spokesman, or was it just an innocent mistake? That is a question the IDF must answer. Not providing an answer will only damage the IDF: After all, it was the IDF that investigated and tried. Why not publicize on time and prove that Israel dealt with such matters promptly, as it claims?

Israel Matzav: Video: National Museum of American Jewish History

Video: National Museum of American Jewish History

The new National Museum of American Jewish History (www.nmajh.org), opening in November 2010, is dedicated to telling the still-unfolding story of Jews in America, who embraced freedom with its choices and challenges as they shaped and were shaped by our nation. The Museum envisions its new home as a place that welcomes all people, inviting them to discover what they have in common with the Jewish experience in America, as well as to explore the features that make this history distinctive.

Rising five stories above Independence Mall, in the heart of historic Philadelphia, the National Museum of American Jewish History will join Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell and other landmarks at the hallowed site of America's birth. There could not be a more fitting place for a museum that will explore the promise and challenges of liberty through the lends of the American Jewish experience.

Let's go the videotape (Hat Tip: Michael P ).

Looks like a place to take the kids the next time we manage to take them to the US (we haven't taken all the kids since 2000, and we haven't taken any of the kids since 2004, although one kid has gone on her own).

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian' Groundhog Day

'Palestinian' Groundhog Day

I've already shared this on Twitter but it's too good not to put here as well. It actually comes from the Twitter feed of President Obumbler's good friend Ali Abunimah, the founder of Electronic Intifadeh (Hat Tip: Abu Aardvark via Twitter).

Palestinian Groundhog Day: Saeb Erekat craws out of hole, sees his shadow, predicts 60 more yrs of "negotiations"

Israel Matzav: Israeli technology monitors cell death in cancer treatment

Israeli technology monitors cell death in cancer treatment

When it comes to aggressive cancers, in the brain or lung for example, oncologists know that the sooner they can determine whether a treatment is unsuccessful, the sooner they can reevaluate and, if necessary, prescribe a new course of action. But typically, it takes two months or more to do the before-and-after comparisons that help determine whether a tumor is shrinking. Now an Israeli company called Aposense says it may have found a way to drastically speed up the process: an imaging marker that, when used with PET scans, indicates the presence of dying cells.

Apoptosis, the process by which cells commit suicide, is a vital mechanism in the body that weeds out damaged, infected, or otherwise unhealthy cells. No matter what the disease or the tissue, cells undergoing apoptosis have very distinct characteristics--the electrical profile of their membrane changes, the cells become more acidic, and lipids in the membrane lose their rigid order and become jumbled. Aposense believes it has found a way to target a trace marker to this combination of traits, which would let doctors image cell death and thereby determine whether radiation and chemotherapy are working within just a few days after treatment begins.

As Glenn would say, "faster, faster."

Israel Matzav: Why would Israel kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Why would Israel kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Marc Lynch questions why Israel would kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (which obviously, no one knows for sure that Israel did in fact, we may never have an unequivocal admission that Israel killed him).

Why would Israel put this de facto ceasefire at risk by an assassination? First off, it's impossible to say at this point whether they did --- no evidence has yet been presented to back up Hamas's claims. Much of the Arab public immediately believed it, though, as it immediately recalled the botched operation against Khaled Meshaal in Amman a decade ago, as well as the assassinations of leading Hamas figures such as Ahmed Yassin and Abd al-Aziz al-Rentissi in 2004. That doesn't mean that it's true. But since Hamas has already gone public with the accusation and promised revenge, it may spark off a dangerous cycle anyway.

What if it's true? There should be questions about the legitimacy and morality of assassinating one's enemies abroad, one would think. But that seems unlikely in this day and age, when the United States openly brags of its Predator strikes, discusses them primarily in terms of whether or not they "work" as opposed to whether or not they are legal or morally acceptable, and muses about whether or not to target Anwar al-Awlaki (the radical Islamist in Yemen who is also an American citizen). The international norms against such assassinations have been thoroughly degraded by the Global War on Terror, and the Obama administration has escalated rather than reined in such measures.

So the real debate is more likely to be about the logic of the assassination and whether it "works." But it's not obvious what that would even mean in this context -- it makes little strategic sense. If Israelis and the PA both acknowledge that Hamas has been controlling attacks against Israel from Gaza, what is gained by a provocation such as this? Would it have "worked" if Hamas fails to respond, demonstrating its impotence? Would it have "worked" if Hamas does respond, killing innocent Israeli civilians and possibly triggering another round of horrific violence? Would it have "worked" if a Hamas retaliation (or even an unfulfilled threat of retaliation) offers a pretext for maintaining or intensifying the blockade of Gaza? At this point I'm seeing a blizzard of Arab commentary on the subject but no real consensus. But smaller things have sparked disastrous confrontations in the past, and I only hope that this one does not.

There are two issues to be dealt with here: Why would Israel want al-Mabhouh dead and why would it risk the de facto cease fire in Gaza to get the job done?

There are two reasons why Israel would want al-Mabhouh dead, and I'm going to take the second reason first because the main reason segues into the second question. Think Munich. Remember after the Munich Olympic Massacre how Israel sent agents all over the world to kill the murderers of Israel's Olympic team? Why did Israel do that? To show that actions have consequences. Al-Mabhouh kidnapped and murdered two Israeli soldiers. The kidnappings were among the very first terror attacks carried out by Hamas. If Israel killed al-Mabhouh, it has shown that it knows how to settle scores and that terrorists should not expect to ever be able to live in peace (think Sheikh Yassin, who was released from an Israeli prison in the aftermath of the botched Khaled Meshaal assassination, and got his virgins via IDF helicopters a few years later). Al-Mabhouh knew all that - that's why he lived in exile in Syria and it's why he had a security detail.

But the second reason for knocking off al-Mabhouh is far more important. It also provides a military justification for the operation.

Mabhouh helped found Hamas’s armed wing Izzadin Kassam in the 1980s, was behind the kidnapping in the first intifada of two Israeli soldiers and later established strong ties in Sudan, which he used to smuggle weaponry from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

He was reportedly responsible for the weapons convoy that, according to foreign reports, Israel bombed during Operation Cast Lead as it was making its way to Gaza through the Sudanese desert.

Israel Matzav: Al-Guardian claims to have proof IAF bombed Gaza flour mill

Al-Guardian claims to have proof IAF bombed Gaza flour mill

As you may recall, as part of a blood libel that Israel is trying to starve Gazans, the Goldstone Report claimed that Israel had deliberately targeted the al-Badr flour mill in Northern Gaza.

919. On 9 January, at around 3 or 4 a.m., the flour mill was hit by an air strike, possibly by an F-16 . The missile struck the floor that housed one of the machines indispensable to the mill’s functioning, completely destroying it. The guard who was on duty at the time called Mr. Hamada to inform him that the building had been hit and was on fire. He was unhurt. In the next 60 to 90 minutes the mill was hit several times by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter . These missiles hit the upper floors of the factory, destroying key machinery. Adjoining buildings, including the grain store, were not hit. The strikes entirely disabled the factory and it has not been back in operation since.

922. The Mission found the Hamada brothers to be credible and reliable witnesses. It has no reason to doubt the veracity of their testimony.

163. With respect to the allegation of deliberate targeting of the el-Bader flour mill, the IDF conducted a command investigation, which gathered evidence from numerous sources, including relevant commanders and officers and ground and aerial forces. In addition, the investigator received information from the Israeli CLA, which was in direct contact with the owner of el-Bader flour mill, Mr. Rashad Hamada. The command investigation included several findings, which are delineated below.

164. From the outset of the Gaza Operation, the immediate area in which the flour mill was located was used by enemy armed forces as a defensive zone, due to its proximity to Hamas’s stronghold in the Shati refugee camp. Hamas had fortified this area with tunnels and booby-trapped houses, and deployed its forces to attack IDF troops operating there.

For example, 200 meters south of the flour mill an IDF squad was ambushed by five Hamas operatives in a booby-trapped house 500 meters east of the flour mill another squad engaged enemy forces in a house that was also used for weapons storage and adjacent to the flour mill, two booby-trapped houses exploded .

165. The IDF ground operation in this area began on 9 January 2009, during night time. Before the ground operation, the IDF issued early warnings to the residents of the area, included recorded telephone calls, urging them to evacuate. Such telephone calls were made to the flour mill as well.

166. While preparing for the operation, the commanders identified the flour mill as a “strategic high point” in the area, due to its height and clear line of sight. Nevertheless, in the planning stage, it was decided not to pre-emptively attack the flour mill, in order to prevent damage to civilian infrastructure as much as possible.

167. In the course of the operation, IDF troops came under intense fire from different Hamas positions in the vicinity of the flour mill. The IDF forces fired back towards the sources of fire and threatening locations. As the IDF returned fire, the upper floor of the flour mill was hit by tank shells. A phone call warning was not made to the flour mill immediately before the strike, as the mill was not a pre-planned target.

168. Several hours after the incident, and following a report about fire in the flour mill, the IDF coordinated the arrival of several fire engines to fight the fire.

169. The Military Advocate General reviewed the findings and the records of the command investigation and other materials. In addition, the Military Advocate General reviewed the information included in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report, as well as the transcript of the public testimony of Mr. Hamada to the Fact-Finding Mission.

170. Taking into account all available information, the Military Advocate General determined that the flour mill was struck by tank shells during combat. The Military Advocate General did not find any evidence to support the assertion that the mill was attacked from the air using precise munitions, as alleged in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report. The Military Advocate General determined that the allegation was not supported in the Report itself, nor in the testimony to the Fact-Finding Mission by Rashad Hamada, who had left the area prior to the incident in response to the IDF’s early warnings.

Photographs of the mill following the incident do not show structural damage consistent with an air attack.

171. The Military Advocate General found that, in the specific circumstances of combat, and given its location, the flour mill was a legitimate military target in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict. The purpose of the attack was to neutralize immediate threats to IDF forces.

172. The Military Advocate General did not accept the allegation in the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Report that the purpose of the strike was to deprive the civilian population of Gaza of food. In this regard, he noted the fact that shortly after the incident, the IDF allowed Palestinian fire trucks to reach the area and extinguish the flames, as well as the extensive amount of food and flour that entered Gaza through Israel during the Gaza Operation.

173. Although the Military Advocate General could not conclusively determine that the flour mill was in fact used by Hamas’s military operatives, there was some evidence of such use. The Military Advocate General noted that Mr. Hamada testified before the Fact-Finding Mission that after the operation he found empty bullets on the roof of the flour mill. This could not have been the result of IDF fire, since – as was evident from the findings of the command investigation – the IDF forces which occupied the mill’s compound three days after the incident did not occupy the roof of the mill, where they would have been exposed to enemy fire .

174. Accordingly, the Military Advocate General found no reason to order a criminal investigation regarding the case.

The UN mine action team, which handles ordnance disposal in Gaza, has told the Guardian that the remains of a 500-pound Mk82 aircraft-dropped bomb were found in the ruins of the mill last January. Photographs of the front half of the bomb have been obtained by the Guardian.

But the Guardian visited the mill days after the war last year and on the first floor of the building saw what appeared to be the remains of an aircraft-dropped bomb in the burnt-out milling machinery.

The UN mine action team said it identified an aircraft-dropped bomb at the mill on 25 January last year and removed it on 11 February. "Item located was the front half of a Mk82 aircraft bomb with 273M fuse," according to the team. "The remains of the bomb were found on an upper floor in a narrow walkway between burnt-out machinery and an outside wall." The bomb was made safe by a technical field manager and removed.

The team also provided two photographs of what it said were the bomb remains, marked with the date and time it was identified: "25 Jan, 14:38". The team did not do a damage assessment of the building to see what other ordnance hit because that was not its task.

The picture at the top of this post came from a BBC report in June 2009. The caption says that it is the top two floors of the al-Badr flour mill. Here's a larger version of the picture:

I am not a military expert, but the damage would seem to be more consistent with a hit from a helicopter or a tank shell than from an F-16 as Goldstone claims above. If the building had been hit by an F-16, I would think that the roof would be gone. While Goldstone also refers to helicopters, note that the Guardian report, which challenges the Israeli account, refers to a 500-pound bomb. Helicopters don't carry 500-pound bombs. A 500-pound bomb would not have left the roof intact (more evidence that the roof was intact follows below).

Elder of Ziyon publishes a satellite photograph of the mill, which was taken by UNITAR - the United Nations Institute for Training and Research - a week after the damage allegedly occurred on January 9. Here's that photograph (Hat Tip: CAMERA Snapshots ). Note that in the satellite image, the roof is still intact.

Elder quotes UNITAR's version of what happened, which is much different than Goldstone's.

First of all Mr. Hamada is obviously a hearsay witness with regard to the actual events at the flour mill. The only witness was »the guard«, i.e. the only person present at that compound during the incident since the mill owner and the report explicitly speak of the guard as a singular. Obviously the guard is by far the most important witness regarding the incidents at the site. He in fact was the only witness. But the report does not give any hint that this witness has been heard directly. One has to assume that he was not heard at all. Obviously the mission members considered him to be not that important and therefore the events that actually had happened at that site not that important.

But the mission considers Mr. Hamada to be credible and regard his testimony as corroborated. According to these two persons the building was hit by an air strike, »possibly by a F 16«. One wonders how a single person in the middle of the night could possibly determine that some explosion on the area had been the impact of an air strike. But note how careful the mission members put it: »possibly by a F 16«. That is reasonable since neither they nor the guard would have been able to determine with certainty the origin of some air strike: Helicopter, drone, fixed wing etc.

According to the report the hitting was very precise. In fact it is claimed here that the first missile was aimed at a particular floor housing the indispensable machinery.

Then the building was hit several times and for 60 – 90 minutes »by missiles fired from an Apache helicopter«. In contrast they must be very sure about this: It was one single Apache helicopter. And missiles were fired by this helicopter. How can they be so sure, one wonders? They weren´t there. Mr. Hamada wasn´t there. Apaches can fire their missiles from several kilometers away. Usually no one sees them coming. But that single guard person in the middle of the night was able to determine the type of aircraft and the number of aircrafts involved precisely? That is strictly impossible.

What about the precision of the alleged attack? After the first »missile« had hit, the building was hit several times for more than one hour. That is not a surgical targeting of specific machines on specific floors. That is a barrage. One wonders why anyone would occupy valuable military resources like one or more helicopters for such a barrage if a single large free fall bomb could have reached the allegedly desired outcome of the disablement of that mill in seconds.

And of course we know that the flour mill is damaged but still standing.

Writing in October, Harris doesn't get everything right (he says that the IDF used the mill's roof, which the IDF report issued on Friday denies), but he does come up with this quote from Hamada's testimony before the Goldstone Commission:

Was the report of the building being targeted by air a mistake all along? Was it only targeted by tank fire? It sure sounds like it.

In conclusion, the IDF's account of what happened at the al-Badr flour mill is at least as credible as the Goldstone Report account. The claim that the IDF dropped a 500-pound bomb on the flour mill sounds awfully suspicious, and we wait for the Guardian to show us the evidence.

Finally, here's a picture of Mr. Hamada with his milling equipment (also from the BBC). Take a look and tell me: Does this machine look like it was in a building that was hit by a 500-pound bomb?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The (Krugman?) Thinking that Blows Up Portfolios, Companies and Countries

Larissa MacFarquhar has a fairly boring profile of Paul Krugman, in The New Yorker. It's not her fault, Krugman and his wife seem to be pretty boring people. The gist of the profile is that he writes things and his wife "focuses on making him less dry, less abstract, angrier."

I used to at least give Krugman points for his writing style, but now I am wondering if I have been too generous in doing so. Clearly, his wife appears to be the one who can turn a phrase. With the clips that MacFarqhar shares, Krugman sounds like a second rate academic with a plodding writing style. It's his wife who seems to put the life and energy into the writing.

Aside from that, we learn that the Krugman's have three residences and that they have two cats instead of kids.

There is one curious sentence that MacFarquhar writes without attributing it to Krugman, or his wife. Is MacFarquhar adding her own view? Unlikely. She is more likely repeating a view of at least one of the Krugmans' without a direct quote. Here it is, it is one of the goofiest damn pieces of reasoning I have ever come across:

How can a model be a useful analytic tool if it doesn't reflect reality? A model can take only certain elements from reality to make a specific point, but those points better reflect reality. The collapse of Long Term Capital Management and the mortgage backed securities market occurred because of models that failed to take into account key elements of reality.

Does Krugman really believe that models don't have to reflect reality and can simultaneously be used as analytical tools?

Later in the article MacFarquhar points to Krugman rejecting this belief:

But then again, maybe this is his wife's words. Clearly, someone in this group of three is real confused about models, though we can't know which.

Bottom line: The only thing this profile does is cause us to now think when we read another Krugman bylined piece, "Is this Krugman's sentence or that of his wife?"

Latest Greek Bailout Talk

WSJ reports on a new scheme to bailout Greece.

This one would involve the German and French governments coming up with a total of 󌌿 billion, with Greece raising another 󌌿 billion in the markets.

Since, Greece needs to raise 󌍦 billion this year, the current scheme is obviously just a stop gap measure and doesn't address the problem of the other PIIGS.

As I have pointed out before, the real test comes in July when Spain has to step up to the plate and borrow big.

Are the German and French governments going to bail Spain out also? Will the market participants be willing to pick up 󌌿 billion in Greek debt, now?

This scheme is very shaky and points to the fact that there is no real solution to this problem short of bankruptcy.

Head of IMF Proposes New Reserve Currency

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund, suggested Friday the organization might one day be called on to provide countries with a global reserve currency that would serve as an alternative to the U.S. dollar.

"That day has not yet come, but I think it is intellectually healthy to explore these kinds of ideas now," he said in a speech on the future mandate of the 186-nation Washington-based lending organization.

Strauss-Kahn said such an asset could be similar to but distinctly different from the IMF's special drawing rights, or SDRs, the accounting unit that countries use to hold funds within the IMF. It is based on a basket of major currencies.

He said having other alternatives to the dollar "would limit the extent to which the international monetary system as a whole depends on the policies and conditions of a single, albeit dominant, country."

What's really going on here is a back-up plan TO KEEP a major role for the dollar. U.S. government officials are aware that the dollar's role as the international reserve currency is one bad news headline away from collapse.

The fear among U.S. government officials is that gold or another currency, the euro or, perhaps, China's yuan may begin to replace the dollar (Note this is long term thinking, it is clear that the euro is on the skids short-term). Instead of allowing this to occur, the U.S. puppet, the IMF, is ready with a back-up plan that would be a basket of currencies where the dollar will play a major role.

It would be a retreat, but U.S. government officials fear the alternative would be a total collapse of the dollar, if central banks around the world bail out of the dollar for another currency or gold. The new currency plan is an attempt to head off an dilute such an occurrence.

Jim Rogers Clarifies Position on the Pound

A press release sent Thursday ahead of a conference in March at which Rogers is scheduled to speak said the famed investor predicted a collapse of the pound within weeks. Clarifying the confusion, Vince Stanzione, one of the organizers of the London conference, said he wrote the comments attributed to Rogers in the press release. Rogers “is obviously a little bit upset because he’s saying some of these statements are harsher than he would like to say,” Stanzione said.

In a telephone interview from Singapore, Rogers said he will attend the conference for investors in London in March, citing “contractual obligations.” As regards his views on the pound: “I do not think the pound sterling is going to collapse within the next few weeks. I’m on record as saying the U.K. has serious problems, serious debt problems, and the pound sterling has got problems, too,” Rogers said. He emphasized the U.S. and other countries also face serious economic problems.

Regarding a separate forecast released by UBS earlier this week calling for a possible fall in the pound to “$1.05 and below,” Rogers said he wouldn’t be surprised if sterling fell that far, “but whether that happens this year or this decade, I don’t have a clue.”

Possible Warren Buffett Successor: I Rank People According to Who I Would Fire First

Tsunami Amplitude Forecasts Largest Forecast North American Waves: Pismo Beach, CA (1.43m) and Santa Monica, CA (1.18 m)

Site Name Forecast Amplitude (0-to-pk in m) Observed Amplitude

Attu 0.84
Shemya 0.71
Adak Dock 0.73
St. Paul 0.37
Nikolski 0.59
Unalaska TG 0.98
Akutan 0.35
False Pass 0.27
Sanak 0.75
Cold Bay 0.31
King Cove 0.47
Belkofski 1.10
Sand Pt. 0.59
Ivanof Bay 0.63
Perryville 0.41
Kodiak CG TG 0.65
Port Lions 0.49
Ouzinkie 0.45
English Bay 0.16
Seldovia 0.12
Homer Spit 0.10
Halibut Cove 0.12
Seward 0.35
Whittier 0.14
Tatitlek 0.24
Valdez 0.14
Cordova 0.18
Icy Bay 0.35
Yakutat dock 0.88
Elfin Cove 0.33
Gustavus 0.14
Auke Bay 0.08
Sitka Dock 0.39
Langara 0.16
Cape Scott 0.73
Tofino 0.45
Neah Bay 0.20
Port Angeles 0.10
Bellingham 0.14
Everett 0.04 ?
Seattle - Pier 48 0.04
Moclips 0.39
Westport 0.24
Long Beach, WA 0.14
East Astoria 0.12
Cannon Beach 0.33
Newport TG 0.18
Yachats 0.18
Empire 0.12
Charleston 0.16
Bastendorf Beach 0.39
Port Orford 0.27
Crescent City TG 0.61
Trinidad 0.47
South Spit 0.47
Humboldt Bay 0.41
Eureka 0.20
Ten Mile River 0.69
Elk 0.51
Arena Cove 0.49
Bodega Bay 0.80
Fort Point 0.22
Sausalito 0.24
Alameda 0.18
Pacifica 0.67
Half Moon Bay 0.96
Rio Del Mar 1.00
Santa Cruz 0.51
Monterey 0.45
Morro Bay 0.82
Pt. San Luis 0.84
Pismo Beach 1.43
Surf 0.86
Naples 0.57
Santa Barbara 0.75
Malibu 1.02
Santa Monica 1.18
L.A. 0.77
Laguna Beach 0.90
La Jolla 0.84
Ballast Point 0.65
San Diego Navy Pier TG 0.27

Tsunami First Wave Estimated Time of Arrivals

The following list gives estimated times of arrival for
locations along the North American Pacific coast from a
tsunami generated at the given source location. The
list is ordered by arrival time starting with the earliest.
Since tsunami speed is directly related to
water depth, tsunami ETAs can be computed independent of
time is the initial wave arrival. Tsunamis can be dangerous
for many hours after arrival, and the initial wave is not
necessarily the largest.

Lat: 36.1S
Lng: 72.6W
Mag: 8.8
O-time: 0634UTC
Date: FEB 27

Estimated times of initial tsunami arrival:

DART 46412 1144 PST FEB 27 1944 UTC FEB 27
La Jolla, California 1202 PST FEB 27 2002 UTC FEB 27
the California-Mexico border 1204 PST FEB 27 2004 UTC FEB 27
Newport Beach, California 1212 PST FEB 27 2012 UTC FEB 27
San Pedro, California 1215 PST FEB 27 2015 UTC FEB 27
Point Concepcion, California 1217 PST FEB 27 2017 UTC FEB 27
Santa Monica, California 1225 PST FEB 27 2025 UTC FEB 27
Santa Barbara, California 1231 PST FEB 27 2031 UTC FEB 27
Point Sur, California 1232 PST FEB 27 2032 UTC FEB 27
Port San Luis, California 1235 PST FEB 27 2035 UTC FEB 27
Monterey, California 1243 PST FEB 27 2043 UTC FEB 27
DART 46411 1257 PST FEB 27 2057 UTC FEB 27
Point Reyes, California 1259 PST FEB 27 2059 UTC FEB 27
Point Arena, California 1304 PST FEB 27 2104 UTC FEB 27
Fort Bragg, California 1307 PST FEB 27 2107 UTC FEB 27
Cape Mendocino, California 1322 PST FEB 27 2122 UTC FEB 27
San Francisco, California 1326 PST FEB 27 2126 UTC FEB 27
DART 46407 1332 PST FEB 27 2132 UTC FEB 27
Humboldt Bay, California 1333 PST FEB 27 2133 UTC FEB 27
Crescent City, California 1346 PST FEB 27 2146 UTC FEB 27
Cape Blanco, Oregon 1350 PST FEB 27 2150 UTC FEB 27
the Oregon-California border 1350 PST FEB 27 2150 UTC FEB 27
Charleston, Oregon 1402 PST FEB 27 2202 UTC FEB 27
DART 46404 1406 PST FEB 27 2206 UTC FEB 27
Cascade Head, Oregon 1426 PST FEB 27 2226 UTC FEB 27
Newport, Oregon 1429 PST FEB 27 2229 UTC FEB 27
Tillamook Bay, Oregon 1434 PST FEB 27 2234 UTC FEB 27
the Oregon-Washington border 1439 PST FEB 27 2239 UTC FEB 27
DART 46419 1440 PST FEB 27 2240 UTC FEB 27
Seaside, Oregon 1446 PST FEB 27 2246 UTC FEB 27
La Push, Washington 1456 PST FEB 27 2256 UTC FEB 27
Westport, Washington 1457 PST FEB 27 2257 UTC FEB 27
Point Grenville, Washington 1459 PST FEB 27 2259 UTC FEB 27
the Washington-British Columbia border 1501 PST FEB 27 2301 UTC FEB 27
Neah Bay, Washington 1507 PST FEB 27 2307 UTC FEB 27
Astoria, Oregon 1511 PST FEB 27 2311 UTC FEB 27
Tofino, British Columbia 1515 PST FEB 27 2315 UTC FEB 27
the north tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia 1516 PST FEB 27 2316 UTC FEB 27
Port Angeles, Washington 1544 PST FEB 27 2344 UTC FEB 27
Langara Island, British Columbia 1551 PST FEB 27 2351 UTC FEB 27
DART 46409 1505 AKST FEB 27 0005 UTC FEB 28
DART 46403 1508 AKST FEB 27 0008 UTC FEB 28
Port Alexander, Alaska 1515 AKST FEB 27 0015 UTC FEB 28
DART 46410 1519 AKST FEB 27 0019 UTC FEB 28
DART 46402 1524 AKST FEB 27 0024 UTC FEB 28
Sitka, Alaska 1529 AKST FEB 27 0029 UTC FEB 28
DART 46408 1538 AKST FEB 27 0038 UTC FEB 28
Elfin Cove, Alaska 1538 AKST FEB 27 0038 UTC FEB 28
Seattle, Washington 1641 PST FEB 27 0041 UTC FEB 28
Ketchikan, Alaska 1549 AKST FEB 27 0049 UTC FEB 28
DART 46413 1553 AKST FEB 27 0053 UTC FEB 28
Craig, Alaska 1600 AKST FEB 27 0100 UTC FEB 28
Yakutat, Alaska 1619 AKST FEB 27 0119 UTC FEB 28
Prince Rupert, British Columbia 1720 PST FEB 27 0120 UTC FEB 28
Atka, Alaska 1622 AKST FEB 27 0122 UTC FEB 28
Nikolski, Alaska 1624 AKST FEB 27 0124 UTC FEB 28
Akutan, Alaska 1625 AKST FEB 27 0125 UTC FEB 28
DART 21414 1626 AKST FEB 27 0126 UTC FEB 28
Bella Bella, British Columbia 1727 PST FEB 27 0127 UTC FEB 28
Kodiak, Alaska 1628 AKST FEB 27 0128 UTC FEB 28
Sand Point, Alaska 1629 AKST FEB 27 0129 UTC FEB 28
King Cove, Alaska 1634 AKST FEB 27 0134 UTC FEB 28
Juneau, Alaska 1635 AKST FEB 27 0135 UTC FEB 28
Perryville, Alaska 1637 AKST FEB 27 0137 UTC FEB 28
Dutch Harbor, Alaska 1638 AKST FEB 27 0138 UTC FEB 28
Old Harbor, Alaska 1638 AKST FEB 27 0138 UTC FEB 28
Amchitka, Alaska 1639 AKST FEB 27 0139 UTC FEB 28
Seward, Alaska 1639 AKST FEB 27 0139 UTC FEB 28
Adak, Alaska 1642 AKST FEB 27 0142 UTC FEB 28
Valdez, Alaska 1657 AKST FEB 27 0157 UTC FEB 28
DART 21415 1702 AKST FEB 27 0202 UTC FEB 28
Cordova, Alaska 1706 AKST FEB 27 0206 UTC FEB 28
Alitak, Alaska 1708 AKST FEB 27 0208 UTC FEB 28
Cold Bay, Alaska 1709 AKST FEB 27 0209 UTC FEB 28
Shemya, Alaska 1721 AKST FEB 27 0221 UTC FEB 28
Attu, Alaska 1727 AKST FEB 27 0227 UTC FEB 28
Homer, Alaska 1739 AKST FEB 27 0239 UTC FEB 28
St. Paul, Alaska 1750 AKST FEB 27 0250 UTC FEB 28
Port Moller, Alaska 2002 AKST FEB 27 0502 UTC FEB 28
Saint Matthew Island, Alaska 2026 AKST FEB 27 0526 UTC FEB 28
Cape Newenham, Alaska 2134 AKST FEB 27 0634 UTC FEB 28
Gambell, Alaska 2243 AKST FEB 27 0743 UTC FEB 28
Dillingham, Alaska 2324 AKST FEB 27 0824 UTC FEB 28
Hooper Bay, Alaska 0044 AKST FEB 28 0944 UTC FEB 28
Little Diomede Island, Alaska 0140 AKST FEB 28 1040 UTC FEB 28
Nome, Alaska 0335 AKST FEB 28 1235 UTC FEB 28
Unalakleet, Alaska 0626 AKST FEB 28 1526 UTC FEB 28

More on Charlie Munger as Genius

Charlie Munger — Berkshire vice chair and Warren Buffett’s longtime partner — knows a good thing when he sees it.

It was Munger who first learned of an obscure Chinese maker of batteries and automobiles called BYD Inc., several years ago and championed an investment in the firm. “BYD was Charlie’s idea,” Buffett told the Journal in a story back in May. “When he encounters genius and sees it operating in a practical way, he gets blown away.”

Judging by the return Berkshire has seen so far on BYD, Munger might not merely be encountering genius. He might be one. In 2008, Berkshire decided to invest $232 million for a 10% stake in BYD.

In his shareholder letter, Buffett reports that it now values that 10% stake at $1.99 billion, putting the value of that investment above other better-known Berkshire common stock holdings such as Johnson & Johnson, ConocoPhillips and U.S. Bancorp.

Tracking Nouriel Roubini

NYU economics professor Nouriel Roubini is the most wired in economist in the world. He is close to many Obama Administration people, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and top White House economic adviser Larry Summers.

He has worked for the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve, the World Bank and Israel's Central Ban. He holds Turkish, U.S. and Iranian citizenship's.

He has attended seminars and conferences in the U.S., China and the Middle East.

After dark, he has been spotted partying with Donald Trump, Russian oligarchs and movie director, Oliver Stone.

It makes sense to keep an eye on this operator.

Newest entry in Roubini's calendar: He will be in Bucharest from May 24 to May 26, 2010.

He is scheduled to take part in the seventh edition of the central and South-Eastern European Financial Forum, organised by the Romanian National bank (BNR) and Invet Forum.

During the Financial Forum in Bucharest, Nouriel Roubini will have a dedicated panel and will also take part in a series of meetings with Romanian business and political representatives,according to Romania's HotNews.ro.

Buffett: Bill Gates and Jack Welch Got Out at the Top

Buffett on the Difference Between the Government Manipulated Housing Interest Rate and the Free Market Rate

. the punitive differential in mortgage rates between factory-built homes and site-built homes. [a] problem for. large numbers of lower-income Americans. The residential mortgage market is shaped by government rules that are expressed by FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Their lending standards are all-powerful because the mortgages they insure can typically be securitized and turned into what, in effect, is an obligation of the U.S. government. Currently buyers of conventional site-built homes who qualify for these guarantees can obtain a 30-year loan at about 5 1⁄ 4%.

In addition, these are mortgages that have recently been purchased in massive amounts by the Federal Reserve, an action that also helped to keep rates at bargain-basement levels.

In contrast, very few factory-built homes qualify for agency-insured mortgages. Therefore, a meritorious buyer of a factory-built home must pay about 9% on his loan.

Tsunami Warning for Hawaii.

Charlie Munger On Pooping Dogs

I can’t resist telling you a true story from long ago. We owned stock in a large well-run bank that for decades had been statutorily prevented from acquisitions. Eventually, the law was changed and our bank immediately began looking for possible purchases. Its managers – fine people and able bankers – not unexpectedly began to behave like teenage boys who had just discovered girls.

They soon focused on a much smaller bank, also well-run and having similar financial characteristics in such areas as return on equity, interest margin, loan quality, etc. Our bank sold at a modest price (that’s why we had bought into it), hovering near book value and possessing a very low price/earnings ratio. Alongside, though, the small-bank owner was being wooed by other large banks in the state and was holding out for a price close to three times book value. Moreover, he wanted stock, not cash.

Naturally, our fellows caved in and agreed to this value-destroying deal. “We need to show that we are in the hunt. Besides, it’s only a small deal,” they said, as if only major harm to shareholders would have been a legitimate reason for holding back. Charlie’s reaction at the time: “Are we supposed to applaud because the dog that fouls our lawn is a Chihuahua rather than a Saint Bernard?”

The seller of the smaller bank – no fool – then delivered one final demand in his negotiations. “After the merger,” he in effect said, perhaps using words that were phrased more diplomatically than these, “I’m going to be a large shareholder of your bank, and it will represent a huge portion of my net worth. You have to promise me, therefore, that you’ll never again do a deal this dumb.”

Yes, the merger went through. The owner of the small bank became richer, we became poorer, and the managers of the big bank – newly bigger – lived happily ever after.

BTW, I think Munger is a much more astute judge of investment opportunities than Buffett. If you look at a lot of Buffett hits in the relatively early years, they came out of California, where Munger lived and was generally familiar with the operations.

If I had to choose between giving money to Buffett or Munger to manage, it would be Munger, no question.

This doesn't mean that Buffett isn't an Einstein of investing, but it does mean that Munger is probably the god of investing. Damn Right! is a great biography of Munger.

Chile Earthquake About the 5th Largest Since 1900

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile Saturday was similar in intensity to the fifth most powerful quake recorded since 1900.

That quake struck off the coast of Ecuador in 1906. It is not known how many people were killed.

The biggest quake recorded since 1900 hit the coast of southern Chile on May 22, 1960. The 9.5-magnitude quake killed more than 1,600 and left around two million people homeless.

"The Ghost Writer": Evoking the spirits of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney, Halliburton and the Carlyle Group

"I'm your ghost," announces Ewan McGregor's character in "The Ghost Writer," in which he plays a steadfastly anonymous young author assigned to pen the memoirs of a retired British prime minister. Indeed, there are hauntings aplenty in this sleek, masterful thriller that recalls such classics as "All the President's Men" and the more recent "Michael Clayton" in its pared-down, paranoid style. Like an expert driver behind the wheel of a purringly expensive automobile, director Roman Polanski invites viewers to settle back and simply enjoy a ride whose sinuous curves he navigates with supreme assurance and skill -- banishing, at least for the moment, thoughts of the skeletons that haunt his own life.

The Ghost, as McGregor's protagonist is called, has taken on the memoir project after the first author's mysterious death. The day the Ghost seals the deal, he's whisked to an island off Massachusetts, where former prime minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) lives in an elegantly appointed concrete bunker with his wife (played with biting asperity by Olivia Williams) and a staff of comely assistants, led with velvet-gloved authority by Lang's personal aide, Amelia (Kim Cattrall). As the Ghost sets to work on the project, he realizes that Lang's distant reticence, a tight deadline and curiously tight security around the project will be the least of his problems.

It's difficult to overstate how good "The Ghost Writer" is, if only because the things it does well are so simple: Working with co-writer Robert Harris, here adapting his own novel, Polanski smoothly threads viewers through a story that on paper might seem ludicrously contrived but that with his exacting execution comes alive with flawless detail, convincing performances and an uncanny prescience.

Lang is clearly based on Tony Blair, but the film also evokes the spirits of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney and such private enterprises as Halliburton and the Carlyle Group.

The Coming Open Source Revolution

Until today, I really hadn't done any thinking on any topics that would help me put into perspective the action of the Austin, Texas pilot who crashed his plane into the IRS building. I had not reached any deep picture meaning about the pilot's actions. That is, until I read Doug Casey's thought on the action. Casey clearly has been doing a lot of thinking on topics tangential to the pilots action. He immediately saw the big picture implications.

Casey's thoughts are revealed in a recent interview of Casey by Louis James. It is must reading for an understanding of why more of these type of lone actor attacks may occur . Casey puts the pilot's actions in perspective and relates it to the growing encroachment of Big Government in our lives. He explains how the encroachment might spawn an Open Source Revolution.

Deception and Abuse at the Fed

Remarkable new details have surfaced regarding Federal Reserve activities surrounding the financing of the Watergate break-in and the cash funding of Saddam Hussein. It becomes more and more difficult to believe that Fed Chairman Bernanke was not aware of at least some of these details when he called Congressman Ron Paul's questions on these matters "bizarre." Below is a statement and letter that Ron Paul entered into the Congressional Record about the matter.

Before the US House of Representatives, February 25, 2010

Madame Speaker, I would like to enter into the record the following letter from Professor Robert D. Auerbach, a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. This letter provides additional information regarding remarks I made at yesterday's Financial Services Committee Humphrey-Hawkins hearing, remarks which Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke categorized as "bizarre."

Thank you Congressman Ron Paul for bringing these important facts to the public's attention.

I thank Congressman Ron Paul for bringing to the public’s attention the Federal Reserve coverup of the source of the Watergate burglars’ source of funding and the defective audit by the Federal Reserve of the bank that transferred $5.5 billion from the U.S. government to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Congressman Paul directed these comments to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at the House Financial Services Hearing February 24, 2010. I question Chairman Bernanke’s dismissive response.

BERNANKE: "Well, Congressman, these specific allegations you've made I think are absolutely bizarre, and I have absolutely no knowledge of anything remotely like what you just described."

The evidence Congressman Ron Paul mentioned is well documented in my recent book, Deception and Abuse at the Fed (University of Texas Press: 2008). The head of the Federal Reserve bureaucracy should become familiar with its dismal practices.

First, consider the Fed’s coverup of the source of the $6300 in hundred dollar bills found on the Watergate burglars when they were arrested at approximately 2:30 A.M. on June 17, 1972 after they had broken into the Watergate offices of the Democratic Party. Five days after the break-in, June 22, 2003, at a board of directors’ meeting of officials at the Philadelphia Fed Bank, it was recorded in the minutes [shown on page 23 of my book] that false or misleading information had been provided to a reporter from the Washington Post about the $6,300. Bob Woodward told me he thought he was the Washington Post reporter who had made the phone inquiry. The reporter "had called to verify a rumor that these bills were stolen from this Bank" according to the Philadelphia Fed minutes. The Philadelphia Fed Bank had informed the Board on June 20 that the notes were "shipped from the Reserve Bank to Girard Trust Company in Philadelphia on April 3, 1972." The Washington Post was incorrectly informed of "thefts but told they involved old bills that were ready for destruction."

The Federal Reserve under the chairmanship of Author Burns not only kept the Fed from getting entangled in the Watergate coverup, which the Fed’s actions had assisted, it allowed false statements about bills the Fed knew were issued by the Philadelphia Fed Bank to stand uncorrected. Blocking information from the Senate and House Banking Committees [letters shown in my book, Chapter 2] and issuing false information during a perilous government crisis imposed huge costs on the public that had insufficient information to hold the Fed officials accountable for what they had withheld from the Congress. Had the deception been discovered the Fed chairmen following Burns may have been forced to rapidly implement some real transparency to restore the Fed’s credibility. That would have reduced or eliminated many of the lies, deceptions, and corrupt practices that are described in my book.

The second subject brought up by Congressman Ron Paul is the exposure of faulty examinations of the Federal Reserve of a foreign bank in Atlanta, Georgia through which $5.5 billion was sent to Saddam Hussein that a Federal Judge found to be part of United States active support for Iraq in the 1980s.

On November 9, 1993, several federal marshals brought a prisoner, Christopher Drogoul, into my office at the Rayburn House Office Building of the U.S. House of Representatives. The marshals removed the manacles. Drogoul took off his jump suit and changed into a shirt, tie, and business suit. He immediately looked like the manager of the Atlanta agency with domestic headquarters in New York City of Banca Nazionale. Drogoul had come to testify about "scheme prosecutors said he masterminded that funneled $5.5 billion in loans to Iraq’s Hussein though BNL’s Atlanta operation. Some of the loans allegedly were used to build up Iraq’s military and nuclear arsenals in the years preceding the first Gulf War."1

Drogoul’s "‘off book’ BNL-Atlanta funding to Iraq began in 1986 as financing for products under" Department of Agriculture programs.2 The loans allegedly had been authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since Drogoul told the committee he was merely a tool in an ambitious scheme by the United States, Italy, Britain and Germany to secretly arm Iraq in their 1980󈟄 war, the testimony was politically contentious and unproven. He was sentenced in November 1993 to 37 months in prison and he had already served 20 months awaiting his sentencing hearing.

U.S. District Judge Ernest Tidwell found that the United States had actively supported Iraq in the 1980s by providing it with government-guaranteed loans even though it wasn’t creditworthy. The judge said such policies "clearly facilitated criminal conduct."3

Gonzalez was drawn to Drogoul’s answer about the Fed examiner who had visited his Atlanta operation. Gonzalez said that:

"At the November 9, 1993 Banking Committee hearing I asked Christopher Drogoul, the convicted official of the Banca Nazionale Del Lavoro agency branch in Atlanta, Georgia, how the Federal Reserve Bank examiners could miss billions of dollars of illegal loans, most of which ended up in the hands of Hussein.

The task of the Fed [bank examiner] was simply to confirm that the State of Georgia audit revealed no major problems. And thus, their audit of BNL usually consisted of a one or two-day review of the state of Georgia’s preliminary results, followed by a cup of espresso in the manager’s office."

Gonzalez was appalled at the of lack of effective examination of a little storefront bank and also appalled by the gifts exchanged by officers of the New York Federal Reserve and the regulated banks in New York City where the main U.S. office of BNL was located. A description of what followed is in my book.

The Fed voted in 1995 to destroy the source transcripts of its policy making committee that had been sent to National Archives and Records Administration. Chairman Alan Greenspan had the committee vote on this destruction, telling the members: "I am not going to record these votes because we do not have to. There is no legal requirement." (p. 104 in my book.) Greenspan thus removed any fingerprints on this act of record destruction. Donald Kohn, who is now Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve, answered some questions I had sent to Chairman Greenspan about this destruction. Kohn replied in a letter on November 1, 2001 to me at the University of Texas that they had destroyed the source records for 1994, 1995 and 1996, they did not believe it to be illegal and there was no plan to end this practice. That is one reason why the Federal Reserve audit supported by Congressman Ron Paul is needed. The Fed must stop destroying its records.

Israel is prime suspect in killing of Hamas official

This article was published more than 10 years ago. Some information in it may no longer be current.

The apparent assassination of a senior Hamas official poses serious consequences for Israel - and for certain Israelis.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 49, a military official of the Islamic Resistance Movement, was found dead in his Dubai hotel room late last month. While the death appeared to be from natural causes, an autopsy revealed Mr. al-Mabhouh was killed, apparently by suffocation with a pillow after receiving electric shocks, perhaps from a taser.

Hamas has accused Israel of carrying out the killing, and Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan said that Mossad, Israel's infamous spy and dirty tricks agency, was one suspect.

Story continues below advertisement

"I don't exclude any party that has an interest in the assassination," Mr. Khalfan said. "There were seven or more people holding passports from different European countries" in the group suspected of killing Mr. al-Mabhouh, he said.

Israel has maintained official silence on the matter, but cabinet officials provided a complete dossier on Mr. al-Mabhouh, who was wanted in Israel for abducting and killing two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and, more recently, is alleged to have been involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Gaza.

Israeli newspapers, meanwhile, hailed the killing. The Jerusalem Post called it "another blow to the 'axis of evil' " that will make it harder for Hamas to get arms into its Gaza stronghold.

But the satisfaction being expressed over Mr. Al-Mabhouh's death may be short-lived.

The reckless killing risks jeopardizing relations with one of the few Arab countries that has quietly maintained relations with Israel. Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, allowed the visit of an Israeli cabinet minister to a conference in another UAE state, Abu Dhabi.

The attack also invites retaliation against Israelis anywhere in the world. Although this is something Hamas has not engaged in before, having confined their attacks to Israel and to Israelis in occupied Palestinian territories, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar warned Israel about its breaking "the rules of the game."

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination - the plot thickens

After the last news about Dubai chief of police uncovering another 15 killers of the late Hamas chief, I have decided to let the subject rest for a few years. After all, when you see how the story quickly outgrows the impressive dimensions of the Murder on the Orient Express, you may want to wait till the final numbers become published. As it is today, Guinness people should already take heed and open a new rubric: a record number of killers per single person. But they, most probably, wisely decided to wait for the final report too.

I'm not sure that, as Meryl suggests, we are dealing in this case with a bumbler policeman of Inspector Clouseau type. I am personally inclined to think along the lines of a Middle Eastern version of Hercule Poirot. And I am eagerly anticipating the final scene of the story, where the master sleuth gathers all suspects and all other interested parties to disclose the Truth. Of course, the logistics in this case will be not that simple, but I hope they have a large enough stadium in Dubai, at least large enough for the suspects alone.

Anyhow, this is only a part of the master sleuth's tasks, and it seems to be going fairly well. There is another part, though, dealing with the ways and means of this killing. The more information becomes available, the more unbelievable and outlandish the story grows to be. Of course, until the moment when our Hercule P. reveals all to the masses. But still, the ways in which Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was dispatched to his heavenly rewards are baffling, to say the least. Just from these two sources:

But I think we shouldn't include the Hamas member in the list of the ways and means, unless he is to be considered a blunt instrument.

There is, however, another element of the mystery that I've intentionally left for the end, for real connoisseurs of murder thrillers: the locked room mystery :

I really don't know what to say. Aside of the strong sympathy I feel for the Dubai chief of police. The man is dealing with a formidable mystery here. Or a formidable foe. Or both.

  1. The deceased (D) locks the room and puts the security chain on.
  2. D tasers self on his chest, under his ear and in his groin.
  3. D injects self with a drug that eventually increases blood pressure in the brain.
  4. D injects self with a drug that eventually causes a heart attack.
  5. D connects self to the wall power outlet, probably using a table lamp cord with a switch.
  6. D ties self up with a wire and lies down on his bed (while connected to the electricity source)
  7. D bites on a pillow to suffocate self, while simultaneously pressing (with his toe or something) the switch that electrocutes him.
  8. D expires.

So, I think that, all things considered, the Dubai chief of police is in a good shape re this case. All venues are still open. Cool.

Update : as Finzz correctly suggests in the comments, all steps 1-8 were undertaken while being seduced by a person of a female persuasion dressed in in a hotel uniform.

Posted by SnoopyTheGoon at 26.2.10  


Don't forget this from the Times Feb 16th:

<span>Details of the method of his murder remain unclear. In January Dubai police said that Mr al-Mabhouh appeared to have allowed his killers into his hotel room, where he was suffocated or strangled. One report suggested that the killer gained entry to his room because the woman member was dressed in a hotel uniform. He was reported to have been electrocuted and poisoned. Hamas has vowed to avenge the assassination.</span>

Now things are starting to make sense. Israel sent 15 or 26 or 30 folks to off him. Why the redundancy?

To kill him multiple times!

As I recall Abu Nidal died of multiple self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.

Stranger things have happened.

Latest developments.
"Dubai police: We have 颼 percent' DNA proof of one assassin" at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1152610.html

Wonder what sort of DNA could that be? If what Finzz suggests about a pretty woman being involved is correct, think we can figure that out.

I imagine the Dubai police chief to be like Captain Renault (Claude Rains) in "Casablanca". A corrupt, brutal, opportunistic yet effective commander who promptly rounded up all the usual suspects his cops could get their hands on and has been busy extracting (correct term) information from them. No doubt some of it is contradicting, which is why there are these different accounts being circulated of what happened and how many people were involved.   

30 is just a start, SD, you just wait!

We shall see, David - this police chief has a great future. In comedy shows, I mean.

Over at his Atlantic blog, Jeff Goldberg refers to a Dubai police claim that two of the assassins departed Dubai for Iran. If so, it's hardly likely that the Mossad was involved.

Who knows? It could be that the duty free in Tehran's airport is especially good -)

Aha, so now we now: Rube Goldberg was the assassin!  I would explicate on this further, but at the moment I am at work, enjoying heat, electricity, hot and cold running water, and Net access, all of which I dont have at home, thanks to the nor'easter that just blew through this neck of the woods, leaving three feet of snow, downed power lines, and equally downed trees all over the place. I am not a back to nature kind of guy, you know, and I really dislike having to go back to nature inside my own home.  You know, no one ever really appreciates Sir Thomas Crapper's greatest invention until the thing doesnt work anymore.

Actually, it's Aha, so now we Know. must learn to proofread.

Oh boy. how did I live that many years in similar places? I mean places with snow and sleat falling down on people's heads.

I hope it will be over soon, Akaky, and you will be able to partake of your own home hospitality again.

As for Rube G. - it rather looks like the victim was of that kind himself, not being able to decide on the best way to leave this world )

Been following the snowicane on accuweather. Heck of a way to spend the weekend. As for Rube G., Yourish has it right, linking to the Facebook page entitled "I was also a part of the Dubai assassination squad." I have added my name to the mix. Least I can do for the hapless gumshoes of Dubai.

[ . ] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @zenx, an influential author, said RT @1ndus: Xtreme [ . ]

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