Patterico's Pontifications


Excellent Letter to the Editor of the NYT

Filed under: Media Bias,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

I would like to highlight this excellent letter to the editor of the New York Times:

To the Editor:

I don’t believe for a moment that editors should “surrender to the government” the decision of whether to publish information stamped “classified” — only that the decision made by The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times in this instance was reckless and irresponsible.

The Swift program to monitor international banking transactions was by all accounts highly effective. No credible suggestion has been made that it was illegal.

The best that Bill Keller of The New York Times has been able to do in suggesting a public interest in knowing about the program has been to cite abstract “concerns” about its breadth expressed by some officials.

The other major defense of publication that these editors have made — that the terrorists already knew that we were trying to track their financial transactions — is nonsense.

The terrorists might know what we are trying to do without having realized how effective we are in doing it, and may now avoid the types of transactions that led to the capture of the Qaeda terrorist mastermind Hambali.

The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have done a serious disservice to our country.

Howard F. Jaeckel
New York, July 1, 2006

Man. Mr. Jaeckel sounds like he has been reading Patterico.

Beautifully stated, Mr. Jaeckel.

Long Beach Aquarium Sea Lions Die of Heat Exhaustion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:45 pm

I am very unhappy about this:

Two sea lions that died at the Aquarium of the Pacific apparently succumbed to heat exhaustion, aquarium President and CEO Jerry Schubel said Monday.

Kona, 4, and her 4-week-old pup died in their shaded nursery at the Long Beach facility Saturday afternoon. Both had above-normal liver temperatures and signs of thermal shock in their other internal organs, Schubel said.

We are members of the Aquarium and were there on the last day that the baby sea lion was available for public viewing. My wife and I remarked to each other that the mother seemed very uncomfortable. She was being kept on dry concrete, supposedly so she could “bond” with her pup. But she kept struggling like she wanted to be in the water. “Can’t they bond in the water?” I asked my wife. She nodded in puzzled agreement.

We’re not experts on sea lions. But it looks like the Long Beach Aquarium isn’t either.

It’s very sad, and seemingly unnecessary.

UPDATE: A commenter says baby sea lions can’t swim. So I guess the option of letting them both in the water wasn’t available. All I can tell you is that the mother looked distinctively uncomfortable when we saw her. She seemed to be trying to find a hole in the wall separating her from the water just next door.

Of Course the British Knew Paul Revere Used Codes!

Filed under: Humor,Media Bias,Terrorism — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

I don’t think there is anyone who reads this blog who doesn’t read Power Line or Instapundit. But, just in case, you’d better click here, for the best New York Times parody yet.

(See-Dubya) Which Terrorists Knew What About Terror Finance Monitoring?

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 12:19 pm

(A post by See-Dubya, cross-posted at JYB)

Risen and Lichtblau and Keller (and Clarke), backpedaling furiously, would now have us believe that everyone but you and me knew about the “closely held” SWIFT surveillance program. Well, you, me, and Hambali the Bali Bomber, whom we arrested in 2003:

Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

Let’s look at the public record and put a name to one of those “persons”, shall we? A while back I just happened to post about the arrests of several Canadians on charges of plotting terrorism, and mentioned a CBC broadcast about the strange journeys of an apparent Al-Qaeda bag man, Canadian Mohammed Mansour Jabarah, who helped Hambali plan the Bali nightclub bombing in 2002:

In November 2001, Jabarah went to City One Plaza in Kuala Lumpur several times to meet al-Qaeda’s chief financial officer in Southeast Asia. He received $10,000 US on each visit, which he transferred to the men who were to carry out the bombings.…

After the arrests in Singapore, Hambali met with Jabarah in Thailand, says Rohan Gunaratna. Hambali knew how important Jabarah was and that he would be identified and picked up if he remained in Southeast Asia.

Hambali urged Jabarah to leave Southeast Asia immediately for the Middle East, which he did.

According to the FBI Interrogation report, Hambali gave Mohammed Mansour Jabarah a critical piece of information in that Bangkok meeting. He said that Al Qaeda would now move on to attacking undefended targets such as “nightclubs frequented by Westerners” in Indonesia and elsewhere.

“Why did Hambali tell this information to Jabarah?” says Gunaratna. “Because Jemaah Islamiyah was dependant on al-Qaeda money, and that money, $70,000 was provided to Jemaah Islamiyah by al-Qaeda through Jabarah.”

It looks like Jabarah and the unnamed Al-Qaeda money man in Kuala Lumpur may have been the other two parties identified by Swift surveillance, and that Jabarah was the “link” who met with Hambali in Thailand and tipped off the authorities. In which case that makes at least four terrorists identified by the program.The fourth being (according to Risen and Lichtblau) Uzair Paracha, a Pakistani man arrested in Manhattan in 2003 and thought to be a financial conduit for Al-Qaeda. Curiously, authorities attributed Paracha’s arrest to information received from the interrogation of Al-Qaeda mastermind Khaled Sheikh Mohammed*, and not to the surveillance of the Swift data, the closely-held open secret that everybody knew about, except for you, me, and four terrorists (apparently including Al-Qaeda’s chief financial officer in Southeast Asia, whom you would think would know about this sort of thing if anybody would.)

Oh, maybe we should make that five, because Paracha’s father Saifullah Paracha, was arrested in Thailand and is now in Guantanamo:

According to American investigators, Saifullah Paracha, 58, who is being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba for suspected terrorist ties, urged Al Qaeda operatives to acquire nuclear weapons for use against US troops. The allegation, contained in documents filed recently in US District Court in Washington, also identifies Saifullah Paracha, who has an import business in New York, as a participant in a plot to smuggle explosives into the United States and to help Al Qaeda hide “large amounts of money,” according to newspaper reports.

So maybe the authorities thought that if the program had already caught three money men, a courier, and a major terrorist organizer there might be one or two more Al-Qaeda operatives somewhere in the world who hadn’t gotten the memo about the Swift program surveillance…and so it might be a good idea to keep it a secret.

Oh, well: they’ve heard of it now. Thanks, New York Times!

(*I get the feeling that a lot of the cool sources and methods the government would rather not blab about get attributed to the “interrogation of captured Al-Qaeda figures”.)

UPDATE: You know, looking back over that CBC story linked above, I notice that Mohammed Mansour Jabarah’s brother Abdul Rahman Jabarah was also an Al Qaeda operative who was killed by Saudi police in 2003. His father told him in 2002 that the Canadian police were looking for him. Since Mohammed Jabarah was apparently discovered through Swift monitoring, and was being tracked and followed, and both brothers were wanted by the time they met in Dubai in January 2002, it seems logical that Swift surveillance of one Jabarah brother led to the revelation of the other as well—bringing the total to six terrorists probably identified and/or stopped by the secret Swift program. How many more leads these six that we know about turned up, we’ll never know—especially since all of their associates are now busily covering their tracks now that they realize how the Crusader Infidel Army as been tracking them down and picking them off.

Yes, These Disclosures Do Kill People

Filed under: Morons,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:43 am

The New York Times (yes, the New York Times) reports:

KATHARINE GRAHAM, the publisher of The Washington Post who died in 2001, backed her editors through tense battles during the Watergate era. But in a 1986 speech, she warned that the media sometimes made “tragic” mistakes.

Her example was the disclosure, after the bombing of the American embassy in Beirut in 1983, that American intelligence was reading coded radio traffic between terrorist plotters in Syria and their overseers in Iran. The communications stopped, and five months later they struck again, destroying the Marine barracks in Beirut and killing 241 Americans.

“This kind of result, albeit unintentional, points up the necessity for full cooperation wherever possible between the media and the authorities,” Ms. Graham said.

What? Disclosure of counterterror operations hurts our counterterror efforts?? And people get killed as a result? Really??

Jeff Goldstein:

Surely the terrorists must have known we were listening in on them. That’s what our spy agencies do, after all.

The Founding Fathers would have wanted the Post to publish this. Thomas Jefferson said: “If I had to choose between a government that can keep secrets about effective, legal counterterror programs, and one that has such secrets published, such that American servicemen are killed by the hundreds, I’d choose the latter.”

So as the Fourth of July approaches, be proud that we live in a country where newspapers can make stupid decisions that can get us all killed.

My Letter to Dean Baquet

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:26 am

I have written this letter to Dean Baquet:

Dear Mr. Baquet,

As I believe you are aware, I run a blog called “Patterico’s Pontifications” that is frequently critical of your newspaper. I am appalled by your decision and that of New York Times editor Bill Keller to publish classified details of a legal and effective counterterror program with appropriate safeguards.

I have read both your personal defense of the publication decision, as well as the one that you have written jointly with Mr. Keller. Many questions remain unanswered.

I would like to ask you those questions.

I am asking you to do an interview with me, in any format you choose — via e-mail, on the phone, in person, or on the radio. (I am quite sure we could find a radio venue if that’s what you’d prefer.)

Publishing op-eds defending your decision is all well and good, but you have yet to face the truly tough questions. I think you should be willing to do that. In your op-eds, you and Mr. Keller have alluded to the quasi-governmental role of the press in our system as a watchdog. Indeed, many refer to newspapers as the Fourth Estate — the fourth branch of government. Further, you and Mr. Keller appear willing to arrogate to yourselves some of the powers of duly elected officials, such as choosing what classified information will be disclosed to our citizens (and our enemies). If you are going to exercise such awesome and quasi-governmental powers, you should face the same kind of scrutiny that you would expect members of the actual government to face in similar circumstances.

In sum, you have a responsibility to defend your decisions to the public — not simply in antiseptic op-ed pieces ringing with platitudes, but also by facing difficult questions posed by someone who disagrees with your decision.

I look forward to your response.

Patrick Frey
Patterico’s Pontifications

I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.

UPDATE: I have received an autoreply to my e-mail stating:

Dean Baquet is out of the office until Tuesday, July 11.
If you need immediate assistance with a news story please contact Managing Editor Doug Frantz @
Thank you.

Hopefully all this Swift nonsense will have blown over by then, eh?

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