Patterico's Pontifications


‘Home Grown Terrorism’ Update

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Following up on this post about 5 young Muslim-American men arrested in Pakistan for investigation of links to terror groups, a Pakistani official says the men were to be used for an attack on a Pakistan nuclear facility:

“Usman Anwar, police chief in Sargodha, where the men were arrested this month, said emails had revealed plans for the young men from Virginia to travel to a Pakistani nuclear power plant.

“We believe that they were supposed to be used inside Pakistan,” Anwar told Reuters by telephone.

“In their last email to the Taliban, we found they mentioned the Chashma Nuclear Plant and that’s why they were going to Mianwali (district).”

The Americans are described as joining the “militant jihad through cyber channels:”

“Some analysts say the case of the Americans reflects a new strategy by militants to try to avoid tighter security measures by forming networks on the Internet.

The men — two are of Pakistani ancestry, one of Egyptian, one of Yemeni and one of Eritrean — may face terrorism charges.”

Hopefully the Obama Administration will retain surveillance of international communications, but what happened to kids airing their rebellious side by running off to join the circus?


More on the Legal Aspects of the Terror Trials

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In support of the Obama Administration’s decision to try some Guantanamo detainees in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision to pick New York City’s civilian courts instead of military courts was based “strictly on which venues he thought would bring the strongest prosecution.”

Mayor Bloomberg agreed, saying it is “fitting” that the terrorists who planned 9/11 would face justice in a Manhattan courtroom, just blocks from the site of the Twin Towers. Objections by Republicans were treated as no more than partisan rhetoric.

Now reality sets in at the New York Times:

“Since the government’s announcement that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed would be tried with others in Manhattan in connection with the 9/11 attacks, some lawyers and others have expressed skepticism that such a trial will ever be held in the city.

They are confident that defense lawyers will ask that the trial be moved, and believe that a judge might even consent.

But a review of previous terrorism trials and interviews with lawyers involved in those cases and other legal experts show that such an outcome is hardly guaranteed.”

The article notes it will be difficult to find any American venue where potential jurors won’t be affected by 9/11. In addition, some defendants may not want a change of venue, preferring to take advantage of the New York City soapbox:

“Much is unknown about the forthcoming cases against Mr. Mohammed and four others. No public indictment has been released; no judge has been picked. It is not clear that Mr. Mohammed will even mount a defense. And he may want his trial to be a soapbox of sorts, blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.

If he does seek to defend himself, some lawyers say a motion for change of venue would almost be mandatory because of 9/11’s impact on the city.”

Further, New York City jurors can be unpredictable and they may not go along with the Obama Administration’s promise to convict the detainees or sentence them to the death penalty:

“To block the death penalty, the defense needs only a single holdout, the kind of free-thinking juror who might conclude, for example, that a lifetime in solitary confinement would be greater punishment for a terrorist seeking martyrdom.

Not all American jury pools have the diversity and open-mindedness that New Yorkers are famous for,” said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia law professor and former federal prosecutor in Manhattan. “I suspect people elsewhere would probably be a whole lot quicker to close their ears to anything the defendants had to say.”

My gut says the people most likely to be picked as terror trial jurors will be the “diverse, open-minded” ones.


Hot Air: Welcome to the Obama Administration’s “New Transparency”

Filed under: Economics,Obama — DRJ @ 5:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Hot Air and the Wall Street Journal noticed the Obama Administration dropped a financial bombshell on Christmas Eve:

“The Treasury announced Thursday it was removing the caps that limited the amount of available capital to the companies [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] to $200 billion each.

Unlimited access to bailout funds through 2012 was “necessary for preserving the continued strength and stability of the mortgage market,” the Treasury said. Fannie and Freddie purchase or guarantee most U.S. home mortgages and have run up huge losses stemming from the worst wave of defaults since the 1930s.

“The timing of this executive order giving Fannie and Freddie a blank check is no coincidence,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. He said the Christmas Eve announcement was designed “to prevent the general public from taking note.””

A Credit Suisse analyst described the government’s blank check as “reassuring.” I’m sure it is … for analysts and Fannie and Freddie workers, but I’m not sure taxpayers should share that optimism.

The report states the U.S. Treasury will receive preferred stock paying 10% dividends and warrants to acquire nearly 80% of the common shares in Fannie and Freddie. However, the Treasury has already loaned $60 billion to Fannie and $51 billion to Freddie. At this point, it’s hard to believe more money is the answer.

Maybe the New York Times was right: Democrats plan to talk about deficit reduction in 2010 but not do anything about it for now. Or as President Obama puts it:

“Mr. Obama calls it “a false choice” to pit spending to spur the economy against reducing the deficit. His advisers say the president, and American voters, favor both — spending to create jobs in the short term, and commitment to spending discipline and deficit reduction over the long term.”


Urban Meyer Resigns (Updated: On Leave)

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 4:04 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Florida football coach Urban Meyer has resigned for personal reasons. Initial reports indicated his resignation is health-related but later reports have been more vague. [EDIT: This ESPN report says he has a heart valve muscle defect that is not life-threatening.]

Meyer plans to “remain in Gainesville and involved with the University of Florida.” His last game coaching Florida will be at the Sugar Bowl.


UPDATE: Just one day later, Meyer has changed his mind. Now he’s taking an indefinite leave of absence and he “expects to be on the sideline leading the Gators when next season opens.” It’s possible his players helped change his mind:

“The 45-year-old Meyer said being with his players at a “spirited practice” Sunday morning persuaded him not to resign.

“To not try would not be the right thing to do,” he said.”

H/T ropelight.

Identifying Airline Security Threats (Updated)

Filed under: Air Security,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In the wake of the terrorist attack on Northwest Flight #253, the TSA has issued new rules:

“Some airlines were telling passengers on Saturday that new government security regulations prohibit them from leaving their seats beginning an hour before landing. The regulations are a response to a suspected terrorism incident on Christmas Day.”

Other reports indicate passengers will not be allowed access to carry-on bags and will be prohibited from putting blankets or pillows on their laps during the last hour of a flight.

Meanwhile, the father of the Nigerian suspect says he warned the U.S. Embassy about his son in November:

“A congressional official said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, popped up in U.S. intelligence reports about four weeks ago as having a connection to both al-Qaida and Yemen.

Another government official said Abdulmutallab’s father went to the embassy in Abuja with his concerns, but did not have any specific information that would put him on the “no-fly list” or on the list for additional security checks at the airport.

Neither was the information sufficient to revoke his visa to visit the United States. His visa had been granted June 2008 and was valid through June 2010. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because neither was authorized to speak to the media.”

Our government clearly learned nothing from 9/11. Instead, we ended up with a system that ignores a man identified as a threat by a family member, but adopts a rule that treats everyone else as a threat.

RELATED: This AP article has similar information and reports on the filing of charges against the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.


UPDATE: CNN has a still shot of the suspect taken onboard the plane.

The Yemeni Connection

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports the Northwest Flight #253 bomb plot was planned by al Qaeda in Yemen:

“The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect’s underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News.

Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet. Yesterday’s bomb failed because the detonator may have been too small or was not in “proper contact” with the explosive material, investigators told ABC News.”

Yemen’s ties to al Qaeda and terrorism go way back:

“As the birthplace of Osama Bin Laden’s father and the poorest country in the Arabic world, Yemen has always been a breeding ground for anti-western sentiment. But a few years ago a grouping of hardline Muslim insurgents in Yemen, said to be responsible for the attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and the kidnap and deaths of western tourists two years earlier, appeared to have burnt itself out after a government crackdown.

However, earlier this year a group calling itself Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) emerged in Yemen. It combined jihadists from Saudi Arabia with homegrown activists and has been responsible for, or has influenced, multiple attacks in the Middle East and further afield.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the US army officer who killed more than a dozen people while running amok in Texas last month, was said to have corresponded with Anwar al-Awlaki. The radical cleric was born in the United States but moved in 2002 to Yemen, where he is said to be hiding with AQAP.”

Has al Qaeda returned to the regional safe haven of Yemen? It appears so, which may be why U.S. drones resumed targeting al Qaeda leaders in Yemen in early November with a CIA drone attack that killed six suspected members of Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

For more on Yemen, read this Christmas Eve Glenn Greenwald interview of Gregory D. Johnsen, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University specializing in Yemen and one of the contributors to the Waq al-Waq blog.


A Bit Late, Perhaps . . .

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 1:37 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

But still appropriate. As we enjoy the remainder of our Christmas weekend, we should remember those who serve and defend our country far from home. The below video will no doubt warm the hearts of most readers here, and its expressions of sentimentality and patriotism will just as surely aggravate the leftist trolls who so loathe such expressions.

–Jack Dunphy

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