Patterico's Pontifications

2/19/2010

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Confession

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 pm

The written part of the confession has been public for quite some time, but now you can hear it with your own ears. This video, which has some graphic parts, sums up the highlights very well:

Thanks to Rebecca Grunewald.

More on the Fort Jackson Story

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 5:36 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Erick Stakelbeck has more on the Fort Jackson story Patterico introduced earlier today:

“According to [Army CID spokesman Christopher] Gray, the Army is investigating allegations that a group of soldiers from the 09 Lima program (more on that later in this post) at Fort Jackson–which is based in South Carolina–had talked about poisoning food in the base’s mess hall. The men were questioned about two months ago, around Christmas. Gray said that to protect the integrity of the investigation, he could not comment further. He stressed that the investigation is “open and continuing.”

CBN News also spoke to a Department of Homeland Security official with knowledge of the investigation who wished to remain anonymous. The official confirmed that the investigation was ongoing and said that someone in the Lima 09 program overheard five Muslim colleagues talking about poisoning food at the base. The person then reported the men, who were brought in for questioning.”

At the link, Stakelbeck has some background on the 09 Lima program and wonders if the 5 men are U.S. citizens. He also quotes an anti-terrorism consultant who believes Congress should be asking why this story is only becoming public now.

H/T red.

— DRJ

The Politics of Terrorism (Updated)

Filed under: Politics,Terrorism — DRJ @ 4:53 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Department of State recently participated in a conversation about counterterrorism with a Kentucky college class as part of the students’ Terrorism and Political Violence course:

“Students and Faculty from Bluegrass Community and Technical College connected to the State Department via digital video conference for a conversation on US Counterterrorism efforts as a part of their Terrorism and Political Violence course. Ahmed al-Rahim, Senior Advisor on Political Islam in the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism discussed the United States’ efforts to combat terrorism and political violence globally, specifically political Islam, and terrorist organizations’ influence on regional organizations to promote their global interests.”

When did “radical Islam” become “political Islam” … and does this mean some peoples’ politics is the enemy? If so, I guess right-wing extremists could still be at the top of the list.

— DRJ

UPDATE 2/20/2010PowerLine offers another Obama Administration official’s view of political Islam:

“Rashad Hussain is the deputy associate White House counsel who is Obama’s recently designated representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. We wrote about his appointment here, noting his 2004 expression of support for convicted terrorist Sami al-Arian. Al-Arian was the North American head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Anyone who bothered to read al-Arian’s 2003 indictment would see that al-Arian was a long-time, active supporter of PIJ’s terrorist operations.

According to Hussain in 2004, al-Arian was the victim of “politically motivated persecutions.” Hussain also reportedly asserted that al-Arian was being “used politically to squash dissent.” Hussain denied recalling the quoted comments expressing support of al-Arian and the White House publicized Hussain’s denial.”

This illustrates my concern with defining terrorism in political terms: Doesn’t this make it easier to blur the line between terrorism and freedom fighters?

Lautenberg Diagnosed with Lymphoma

Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 4:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Senator Frank Lautenberg was hospitalized last week for a fall associated with a bleeding ulcer, and today it was announced he also has stomach lymphoma:

“Doctors for the Democrat found B-cell lymphoma that will require treatment over the next few months, spokesman Caley Gray said in a news release.

Lautenberg will undergo six to eight chemotherapy treatments and should make a “full and complete recovery,” said Dr. James Holland of New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.”

Aides expect him to continue working in the Senate but should he decide to resign, New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie will name his replacement … unless the New Jersey Legislature changes the law as Massachusetts did when Mitt Romney was Governor and John Kerry was running for President.

— DRJ

Sebelius pumping up Dems with attacks on Big Insurance

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:49 am

[Posted by Karl]

In hindsight, it seems odd that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had such a low-profile role in Democrats’ attempt to take over the US healthcare system. She now seems to be assigned the role of cheerleader, to pump up the party’s left-wing base. That is the main function of her idle talk about reviving the public option (which even Ezra Klein sees as pssibly self-defeating). It is also the main point of her recent attacks on big rate increases proposed by Big Insurance (Democrat strategist Ed Kilgore and The Hill are among those noting the attacks are “aimed at ginning up public support for their healthcare reform efforts”).

Her primary target is Wellpoint’s Anthem Blue Cross unit in California, which seeks a large rate increase in the individual market. Although Sebelius was quick to note that Wellpoint made billions last year, she ignored the fact that Anthem Blue Cross lost money. Paul Krugman gets half-credit for conceding that point:

Here’s the story: About 800,000 people in California who buy insurance on the individual market — as opposed to getting it through their employers — are covered by Anthem Blue Cross, a WellPoint subsidiary. These are the people who were recently told to expect dramatic rate increases, in some cases as high as 39 percent.

Why the huge increase? It’s not profiteering, says WellPoint, which claims instead (without using the term) that it’s facing a classic insurance death spiral.

Bear in mind that private health insurance only works if insurers can sell policies to both sick and healthy customers. If too many healthy people decide that they’d rather take their chances and remain uninsured, the risk pool deteriorates, forcing insurers to raise premiums. This, in turn, leads more healthy people to drop coverage, worsening the risk pool even further, and so on.

Now, what WellPoint claims is that it has been forced to raise premiums because of “challenging economic times”: cash-strapped Californians have been dropping their policies or shifting into less-comprehensive plans. Those retaining coverage tend to be people with high current medical expenses. And the result, says the company, is a drastically worsening risk pool: in effect, a death spiral.

Krugman then argues that “California’s death spiral makes nonsense of all the main arguments against comprehensive health reform.” However, Krugman ignores the fact that the woes of Anthem Blue Cross — and similar insurers — rest quite a bit with government in the first instance:

Wellpoint’s rate hikes are the direct result of the Golden State’s insurance regulations—the kind that Democrats want to impose on all 50 states. Under federal Cobra rules, the unemployed are allowed to keep their job-related health benefits for 18 to 36 months. California then goes further and bars Anthem from dropping these customers even after they have exhausted Cobra. California also caps what Anthem can charge these post-Cobra customers.

Most other states direct these customers to high-risk pools that are partly subsidized, but California requires the individual market to absorb the customers and their costs. Even as California insurers have had to keep insuring these typically older and sicker patients, the recession has driven many younger, healthier policy holders to drop their insurance—leaving fewer customers to fund a more expensive insurance pool.

***

This episode is a preview of the adverse selection that would happen nationwide if ObamaCare passes. The Democratic bills would control what insurers could charge and force them to take all comers, regardless of health status. These burdens were supposed to be made tolerable by requiring all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty. Yet when this “individual mandate” proved to be unpopular, Congress watered it down so that younger customers would be able to pay the penalty knowing they can wait until they’re sick to pay the more expensive premiums. The only way an insurer can make up for these higher costs is to raise premiums.

Mind you, Big Insurance can blame themselves for their current plight. Their lobby — America’s Health Insurance Plans — was quite content to back ObamaCare, so long as there was no public option and the mandates were high enough to guarantee them higher profits in the future. The vast majority of Americans who are already have insurance — and are generally happy with it — deserve better. Unfortunately, the whining reply of AHIP honcho (and former Big Labor hack) Karen Ignagni suggests they still have not learned that you cannot cut a long-term deal with a crocodile.

–Karl

Alleged Fort Jackson Poisoning Plot: Something? Or Nothing?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 am

A lot of people want to talk about this, but it’s not at all clear that there is anything to it.

The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that soldiers were attempting to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

The ongoing probe began two months ago, Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, told Fox News.

The Army is taking the allegations “extremely seriously,” Grey said, but so far, “there is no credible information to support the allegations.”

Five suspects, detained in December, were part of an Arabic translation program called “09 Lima” and use Arabic as their first language, two sources told Fox News. Another military source said they were Muslim. It wasn’t clear whether they were still being held.

I don’t know what to do but shrug my shoulders at this point. On one hand, I’m not generally too reassured when the government tells me not to worry about possible terrorism. On the other, what evidence is there, at this point, of a plot?

This fellow says he doubts there’s anything to it. (H/t redc1c4.) Until I hear different, that will be my working assumption.


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