Patterico's Pontifications

11/19/2007

Blogger may have Helped US Military Identify AP Photographer, Alleged Terrorist Sympathizer Bilal Hussein (Updated)

Filed under: Media Bias,War — DRJ @ 10:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Bilal Hussein is an Iraqi photographer who works for the AP in Baghdad. Some of his acclaimed photos show al-Qaeda insurgents with weapons aimed at and attacks against American and Iraqi targets. Michelle Malkin has a few of Hussein’s photos here.

Hussein has been in American or Iraqi custody on unspecified charges for approximately 19 months. During that time, the AP lodged complaints aimed at gaining his release. A recent report indicates Hussein will now be charged by the Iraqis (at the request of the American military) because he “was caught in an apartment with known members of al Qaeda– with bomb making material.”

Rusty of The Jawa Report has learned that his blog posts on the AP photographer may have helped the American military identify Hussein:

“UPDATE: Holy crap, The Jawa Report credited with Bilal Hussein prosecution?!?!

A reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, informs me that The Jawa Report had something to do with Bilal Hussein’s prosecution. Apparently Bilal Hussein had been picked up in a raid in which he wasn’t the target. That target was a known al Qaeda operative, Hamid Hamad Motib, and bomb making materials were found in the house.

Hussein was arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib, but no one knew who he was. Just another low-level insurgent, I’m guessing.

He had been sitting in Abu Ghraib for a month, and nobody realized that he was the AP photog who had snapped dozens of staged photos with al Qaeda fighters. The reader was in Abu Ghraib as an investigator working on an unrelated case when he saw Bilal Hussein and recognized him from the extensive coverage we had on The Jawa Report.

He reported it up the chain of command and within days Bilal Hussein was transferred to a different facility, NCIS got involved, and eventually a criminal investigation opened on him. He ends the e-mail with:

“THANKS to you guys…you REALLY ARE making an impact on the [the war on terror] … you can claim credit.”

Hell, I hope so! I’ve communicated with the source before, and he seems legit to me.

The Jawa Report, sticking it to al Qaeda propagandists from the comfort of our living rooms. Any one wish to complain about the “chickenhawk” bloggers now?

It’s stories like these that make it all worth it!”

Well done.

Update 11/20/2007: Jules Crittenden has a lot more on this story, including links.

– DRJ

Online Review: Don’t Go to this Sports Bar

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ

I strongly recommend you avoid this sports bar but if you do go, be sure to pay:

“The owner of a popular Brooklyn Park sports bar is scheduled to appear in Hennepin County District Court this week on charges he assaulted a customer. Brooklyn Park police said the incident happened last June at Blondie’s bar. That’s when a customer tried to cancel a food order and got into a dispute with the owner and bar staff. Police said the man had stopped there for a bite to eat between jobs.

“It is not like he was drunk and disorderly. There was a dispute over the time it was going to take for his food. But he decided he didn’t want to pay for it and for that he ends up with these types of serious injuries,” said acting Brooklyn Park Police Chief Greg Roehl.

Investigators say the owner, Thor Gunderson, even tried to stop the man from calling 911 for help. When police got to the bar, they say they found the customer bleeding and on the ground, restrained by Gunderson and a bouncer.

“At the hospital they determined he had an injury which was to his scrotum and that one of his testicles was actually torn loose,” said Roehl.”

It’s hard to believe Blondie’s is so popular since it has the highest number of police calls for any area bar (then again, maybe that’s why it’s so popular):

“WCCO-TV obtained documents from Brooklyn Park police which confirmed problems aren’t unusual at Blondie’s. In fact, Roehl noted the bar has the highest number of police calls of any liquor establishment in the city. The reports show 242 police calls so far this year.”

I have a new motto for Blondie’s: Pay now or we’ll make sure you pay later.

– DRJ

UPDATE BY PATTERICO:

“At the hospital they determined he had an injury which was to his scrotum and that one of his testicles was actually torn loose,” said Roehl.

Hmm. Did this guy propound any torture hypotheticals? He might have run into John Cole.

Yagman Sentencing Delayed Until Wednesday

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:07 pm

Today was the day Stephen Yagman was supposed to be sentenced.

It didn’t happen . . . again.

But it should be soon.

As usual, I contacted the one person in Los Angeles who seems to be following this: L.A. Weekly staff writer Patrick Range McDonald. Patrick told me that the sentence was delayed until Wednesday, November 21, so the judge could consider Yagman’s “medical” needs in custody.

This makes it sound like Yagman assumes he will be going into custody — hardly surprising given the losses involved, but still, nice to know.

With any luck he will be locked up in time for Thanksgiving, giving the rest of us something new to be thankful for.

Houston Chronicle Blog/Murder Trial Update

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Law — DRJ @ 3:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ

Last Friday I posted about a Houston murder trial in which a comment left on a Houston Chronicle blog raised questions about juror misconduct. Today’s court proceeding cleared the jury’s foreman of any wrongdoing:

“The judge in the David Mark Temple case ruled this morning there was no juror misconduct after hearing testimony from a Houston Chronicle reader who suggested on the newspaper’s Web site last week that a juror inappropriately spoke with people outside the jury room about ongoing deliberations.

The reader, Robert Fleming, used the screen name “REFster” to post a remark in the “reader comments” section on the Chronicle’s Web page about 9 a.m. Thursday, seven hours before the jury returned its guilty verdict in the former high school football coach’s murder trial.
“Psst… My boss is on the jury. Thinks they’ll have a verdict this afternoon,” Fleming wrote using the pseudonym.

Jurors are forbidden from discussing the case with anyone outside the jury room while the trial is still in progress. Attorneys for Temple on Friday issued a subpoena to the Houston Chronicle seeking information that would help them identify the reader. But Robert Fleming came forward on his own.

Fleming, who works at CenterPoint Energy, said in testimony this morning that his boss did not say he was on the jury or discuss anything about jury deliberations. He said he surmised through the time his boss was out of the office that he was serving on the jury for the Temple trial.

Fleming’s boss is the jury foreman. Fleming said he stopped by his boss’ office between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. last Thursday. “I asked him how long he would be going through the deliberations,” he said. His boss told him the jury could be through that day, he said, although he did not specifically reference the Temple trial. That was their only conversation about the trial, Fleming said, and he and his boss did not discuss anything more. His comment on Chron.com was based on his assumptions, he said.”

I don’t envy Fleming going back to work with his boss but kudos to him for coming forward and to his boss for carefully following the judge’s instructions. Public incidents like this do more than a judge ever could to bring home to jurors and potential jurors the seriousness of jury instructions.

– DRJ

More Thoughts on CNN and the Democratic Debate (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election,Media Bias — DRJ @ 12:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In last week’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, CNN identified several questioners as “undecided voters” who are Democratic Party members and may also be Democratic officials and activists. In one case, the person might not even be a voter.

I commented on this story here and was roundly criticized for missing the boat. Most of the comments went like this: “It’s a Democratic debate. You don’t have to say the participants were Democrats because everyone knows they are or they wouldn’t be there. They are probably undecided which Democratic candidate they want to vote for.” Those commenters believed CNN was justified in labeling the questioners as undecided voters.

There was support for this view from conservative bloggers Captain Ed and, to a lesser extent, Jim Geraghty.

Let’s set aside the issue of whether the questioners were truly undecided even though there’s some indication that a few are associated with the Clinton campaign. We’ll give them the benefit of the undecided doubt. To those bloggers, commenters and readers who still believe CNN was right, here are some flaws in your logic:

1. “Undecided voter” has a common sense definition. It refers to a person who hasn’t decided for whom they will vote. It doesn’t mean someone who knows they will vote for a Democrat but hasn’t decided which one. As Jim Geraghty pointed out, if you want to say “undecided Democratic voter,” say it.

2. “Undecided voter” doesn’t suddenly have a new meaning because it is used at a Democratic debate. I agree it could have a different meaning if it happened at a Democratic Convention but debates are not exclusively partisan events. Independent voters are expected to and actually attend Democratic and Republican debates because they want information to help them make up their minds. Disenchanted Democrats and Republicans might also attend the other side’s debates.

3. The last time I checked the polls, there are still people who identify themselves as independents. Perhaps CNN knew there were no independents or disenchanted Republicans who might ask questions at this debate (given what we’ve learned about the way tickets were distributed, CNN might very well have known that only Democrats were there), but how would the television audience know that? CNN has no excuse for misleading their viewing audience with vague labels.

4. Finally, I don’t recall anyone who was anxious to defend CNN’s presentation of Maria L. as an undecided voter. It seems Maria may be a foreign exchange intern working in Sen. Harry Reid’s office. If so, she’s not eligible to vote because she isn’t a citizen. Maybe she never mentioned this to CNN but it does make me wonder why she was interested in participating in the debate.

UPDATE: But see comment 2 about Maria L.’s citizenship.

– DRJ

Possible Terrorist Probes on US Airplanes

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — DRJ @ 11:33 am

[Guest post by DRJ

Annie Jacobsen of The Aviation Nation has another example of passengers engaging in what may be dry runs or probes on US airplanes:

“This TSA Suspicious Incident #177, Unclassified but For Official Use Only (U//FOUO), “has many of the elements of pre-operational terrorist planning” according to TSA Office of Intelligence. It was leaked to me earlier today in my ongoing efforts to compile terrorist dry runs and probes on airplanes.

A FFDO (Federal Flight Deck Officer — i.e. armed pilot) flying in non-mission status on October 24, 2007, on a flight from Washington D.C. to Milwaukee, identified himself to flight crew in advance of take-off. When flight crew witnessed suspicious behavior by four passengers, they reported the information to the FFDO. The following unfolded:

(U//FOUO) Suspicious Activity Onboard Flight to Milwaukee

(U//FOUO) On 24 October 2007, crewmembers aboard a Reagan-Washington National to Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport flight reported to a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) flying in non-mission status that they noticed suspicious behavior by four passengers.

One of the subjects entered and exited the rear aircraft lavatory three times and failed to comply with crewmembers’ verbal instructions. The FFDO seated himself near this subject to observe his behavior. Shortly afterward, two more of the subjects moved into the aisles and entered both lavatories. After one of the subjects vacated the rear left lavatory, the FFDO searched it, noting that the mirror above the sink was not properly latched.

He exited the lavatory and a fourth subject was waiting second in line with a passenger in front of him. The FFDO offered the fourth subject access to the right lavatory, but the subject declined, claiming the right lavatory was dirty.The FFDO noted the right lavatory was clean, and the subject reluctantly entered the right lavatory and remained there for an extended period of time. (TSA/SD-10-3849-07)

(U//FOUO) TSA Office of Intelligence Comment: Although there is no information that the aircraft was being specifically targeted for a future terrorist attack, the actions of the four passengers are highly suspicious. FFDO confirmation of possible tampering of the lavatory mirror in one of the lavatories could be indicative of an attempt to locate concealment areas for smuggling criminal contraband or terrorist materials. In this case, it appears the left lavatory was the sole area of interest for the passengers. One subject’s excuse that the right lavatory was dirty when it was confirmed to be clean shows the four passengers had a specific, operational objective. Although unconfirmed at this time, this incident has many of the elements of pre-operational terrorist planning.

Source: TSA Suspicious Incidents Report #177

Before August 2006, the TSA refused to admit publicly that terrorists took dry runs and probes on U.S. aircraft (after the London Planes Plot, the White House stated, “we know they do dry runs” and TSA quietly agreed).”

Annie concludes her article with this very good question: “Unless there have been 177 such incidents in the past fifteen months, one wonders when TSA Suspicious Incident Reports #1-#176 occurred — and what information they contain?”

– DRJ

What it Means to Have Foreign Policy Experience

Filed under: 2008 Election,International — DRJ @ 10:23 am

[Guest post by DRJ

There was a time in American politics when national leaders were evaluated on their foreign policy experience: Had they worked in government positions that exposed them to weighty foreign policy debates and issues? Did they study and were they knowledgeable about history and foreign affairs?

In recent years, politicians who do not have hands-on foreign policy experience or a background in foreign policy studies claimed foreign policy experience from frequent overseas junkets, often at government expense.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that today’s version of foreign policy experience is living in another country … as a child:

“Democrat Barack Obama said Monday his childhood experience in Asia and his family in Kenya give him a greater foreign policy understanding than politicians who merely take junkets to other countries.

The first-term Illinois senator is frequently asked whether he has the foreign policy credentials to be president, and he faced the question again at a town hall meeting in Clarion. “I spent four years living overseas when I was a child living in Southeast Asia,” said Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent four years in Indonesia. “My father is from Kenya. That’s where I got my name. He’s passed away now, but I still have family.”

“A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school. It’s actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live.”

I agree with Obama that his knowledge of the people who live in Kenya, for instance, is greater than that of a Senator whose insight is based solely on a three-day or three-week junket to Africa. I don’t agree that living in a country as a child gives Obama better foreign policy perspective than someone who studies or is briefed by experts on area history, politics, and government or someone whose work involves dealing with foreign policy issues.

Would a leader in Germany or India seriously contend they are knowledgeable about US government and policies because they lived in Wyoming, Alabama, or Wisconsin as a child? They might but it would be a ridiculous contention. Not only would their understanding be limited because it arose from a child’s perspective but it would also be influenced by geographical constraints. What of real value would anyone learn about contemporary American government and policies from living as a child in one US town?

This seems like another example of Democrats believing the point of foreign affairs is to understand and be liked by the people of the world.

– DRJ


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