Patterico's Pontifications


Released GTMO Detainee Became a Homicide Bomber

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 9:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The downside of letting lawyers run the war:

“Three years ago, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, a Kuwaiti soldier who deserted to fight in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban, sat in a detention cell at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while lawyers argued whether he was an “enemy combatant.”

Last week, a Dubai-based television channel reported that al-Ajmi was killed carrying out a homicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq.”

Counter-terrorism analysts had argued he should not be released from GTMO because:

“— That he deserted from the Kuwaiti army to participate in a jihad in Afghanistan;

— The Taliban supplied him with arms, including grenades;

— He admitted fighting with the Taliban, including engaging in two or three firefights;

— He was captured by coalition forces in the Tora Bora region, an area once thought to be a hideout of Usama bin Laden;

— That upon his arrival at Guantanamo he demonstrated “aggressive” behavior; and,

— Based on a review of classified and unclassified documents, al-Ajmi was declared a threat to the United States and its allies.”

Nevertheless, al-Ajmi was released to Kuwait in 2005. At the time of his apparent death, he was free on bail pending trial on charges he helped raise money for Al Qaeda.


Democratic Convention Protest Groups Split

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 8:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Even last November, Democrats like Bill Richardson were urging partisan Democrats to just get along. However, the general election is 6 months away and there is no sign that Obama and Clinton will end their heated contest before the Democratic Convention.

Now the Denver Post reports that rifts have developed between liberal organizations that plan protests at the Democratic convention:

“A close ally with the local war protest group Re-create 68, which is organizing for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, is severing its ties, the group told R-68 today.

Tent State University, a national group represented locally by Adam Jung, says it is having trouble organizing support and bands to perform because of the violent imagery associated with R-68’s name, and with recent heated rhetoric from R-68 organizer Glenn Spagnuolo, who has been the face of the local effort to date.

From the outset, Spagnuolo’s group has attracted criticism because of its name, which suggests for many the violence outside the convention hall in Chicago in 1968. “We don’t feel that Re-create-68 is working well with the anti-war left,” Jung said.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the national group CodePink, seconded concerns over R-68’s message and image, saying she wanted to portray the anti-war message as positively as possible. But Benjamin didn’t rule out working with R-68, as long as the group’s message conformed with CodePink’s.”

Benjamin said Code Pink wanted to work with all groups but was interested in projecting a more “positive message” at the Convention. However, Spagnuolo expressed disappointment and suggested the rift was the fault of “conservative liberal groups.” He would not elaborate on what he meant by that.

It could get hot in Denver this August.


Hitchens on Michelle Obama’s Minister

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 6:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Christopher Hitchens wonders if Michelle Obama is responsible for the “Jeremiah Wright Fiasco.”

For several reasons, I think it’s likely that she played a large role in choosing and staying at Wright’s church for 20+ years:

  • She’s from Chicago and initially had more ties to and knowledge of the community, its churchs, and pastors than Barack had.
  • Fiancees, wives and mothers are often the moving force behind whether a family attends church, as well as which church a couple is married in, baptizes their children in, and attends.
  • As demonstrated by her Princeton thesis, Michelle Obama has long been interested in black-focused ideologies similar to the ideas preached by Jeremiah Wright.
  • Michelle Obama’s public statements suggest she is more disillusioned with America and thus more likely to be drawn to the message preached by Jeremiah Wright.
  • — DRJ

    Bill Clinton Has Found His Niche

    Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:46 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Bill Clinton has finally hit his stride as Hillary’s roving ambassador to small-town America.

    ABC News describes Clinton’s recent visit to Marion, NC, population 4,900, where he delivered a “classic 40-minute stemwinder at the town’s historic train station” that focused on fond memories of his Presidency and 30 more minutes of hand-shaking and photos. He’s making 8 or more visit per day to towns like Marion, country towns where he feels comfortable. Most of these towns have never had a visit from a President.

    Analysts say that the key was to get Bill Clinton in areas where his appearances generate significant local coverage but do not appeal to the national media where Bill might overshadow Hillary.

    It may be too little, too late for Hillary’s campaign but small-town voters are Hillary’s best argument that she is more electable than Obama, especially since those voters enabled her to carry states like Texas and Pennsylvania.

    — DRJ

    Clinton Vows to Take On OPEC

    Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:14 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    The Politico reports that Hillary Clinton is energized about OPEC:

    “”We’re going to go right at OPEC,” she said. “They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at,” she told a crod [sic] at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.

    “That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly,” she said, saying she’d use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC.”

    Unfortunately for Hillary, the Obama campaign remembered that she was not among the 13 cosponsors of this 2007 bill that would have amended the Sherman Act “to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal.”

    — DRJ

    9th Circuit Weighs In On DNA Statistics Case

    Filed under: Court Decisions,Crime,General — Justin Levine @ 1:05 pm

    [posted by Justin Levine] 

    Patterico has recently had an intriguing set of posts regarding the debate over the use of DNA statistics in criminal cases.

    In an unusual coincidence, the 9th Circuit has just come down with an opinion [PDF file] today that touches on the subject.

    Interesting reading, and more fodder for debate I’m sure (including O’Scannlain’s dissenting opinion in the case, which seems pretty convincing in my humble opinion).

    – Justin Levine

    Taxing the Rich: “We Just Want a Little”

    Filed under: Economics,Education,Politics — DRJ @ 8:07 am

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    InsideHigherEd discusses a new way to tax the rich that has caused a rift among Massachusetts’ Democrats:

    “With college endowments a favorite target for politicians in Washington, and many states struggling to find enough tax revenue to make ends meet, it’s almost a surprise that it took state legislators this long to start casting their eyes on colleges’ funds. But it’s perhaps not a shock that if the issue were to emerge anywhere, it would be in Massachusetts, home to the university (Harvard) whose nearly $34.6 billion endowment has become the poster child for higher education wealth.”

    The sponsor of the proposal, Democratic Rep. Paul Kujawski, is concerned that private colleges accumulate wealth and contribute little to the local economy because of their tax-exempt status. Defenders point out that Massachusetts does not have to spend as much money on higher education as other states because of the presence of so many private colleges. They also object to treating entities differently based on their wealth.

    [Note to Self: Remember this when liberals argue that the rich should pay more taxes.]

    The measure failed but it would have affected 9 Massachusetts colleges: Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams, Boston, Amherst and Wellesley Colleges, Tufts University, Smith College and Boston University. During the debate, Democratic lawmakers asked some revealing questions:

    “Why do we want to tax the poor all the time, but we let off the hook the richest of the rich?” said State Rep. Angelo Scaccia, a Democrat, said during the course of Monday’s debate, according to the Metrowest Daily News. “We’re not going to break them,” he added of colleges’ endowment funds. “We just want a little.”

    The next time Democrats talk about taxing the rich, they should start with these 9 colleges in Massachusetts.

    — DRJ

    Law Professor: L.A. Times Article on DNA Portrays One View As the Consensus View

    Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:28 am

    Prof. David Kaye says on his blog that yesterday’s L.A. Times article on DNA, cold hits, and statistics is not balanced, and portrays one side of a debate as though it is the only valid viewpoint:

    [A]n article in the May 3 Los Angeles Times claims to have uncovered a national scandal of sorts. The reporters describe a recent “cold hit” case that they say

    is emblematic of a national problem, The Times has found. [¶] Prosecutors and crime labs across the country routinely use numbers that exaggerate the significance of DNA matches in “cold hit” cases, in which a suspect is identified through a database search. [¶] Jurors are often told that the odds of a coincidental match are hundreds of thousands of times more remote than they actually are, according to a review of scientific literature and interviews with leading authorities in the field.

    The article maintains that

    [I]n cold hit cases, the investigation starts with a DNA match found by searching thousands, or even millions, of genetic profiles in an offender database. Each individual comparison increases the chance of a match to an innocent person. [¶] Nevertheless, police labs and prosecutors almost always calculate the odds as if the suspect had been selected randomly from the general population in a single try. [¶] The problem will only grow as the nation’s criminal DNA databases expand. They already contain 6 million profiles.

    This description portrays one approach to the issue as if it is the consensus in the scientific literature. It is not. There is disagreement about the need to adjust a random-match probability. Furthermore, if one counts the number of peer-reviewed articles on the subject, the dominant view is that adjustment is not necessary.

    (My emphasis.)

    So according to Prof. Kaye, the dominant view according to peer-reviewed articles on the subject is portrayed as the minority view (indeed, I note that the view is hardly discussed, as if nobody takes it seriously).

    Prof. Kaye’s post has more excellent insights on the right way to view this controversy. Go here to read it.

    Previous posts on this subject here and here.

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