Saturday, February 26, 2005

This blogger on O'Reilly Factor talks about the real Putin

Appearing on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor show February 24, this blogger shed light on the real history of Russian President Vladimir Putin, following the Bush-Putin summit in Bratislava.

Putin is no democrat and certainly no reliable partner, despite what US leaders want to believe. I told Bill O'Reilly about Putin's gangster past as the KGB money man in charge of hard-currency transactions in St. Petersburg, his shadowy origins in the sleaziest and most repressive unit of the KGB, and his power-mongering that has shut down nearly all his opposition.

A friend of mine, Galina Starovoitova, a democratic Russian Duma member, was assassinated while investigating organized crime in Putin's hometown. Putin was Russian internal security chief at the time. He announced he would take personal control of the investigation into her 1998 murder. Democrats denounced the security organs for being more interested in defaming the victim and her allies during the probe, and the issue gradually died away.

Five years ago I wrote a profile of Putin for Boston University's Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy. I stand by my record and my predictions. To read the report, click here.

Here more of my articles about Putin:

"Yeltsin keeps it all in 'The Family," Insight, September 6, 1999. Describes Yeltsin's appointment of Putin as secret police chief.

"Putin resorting to Cold War threats," Insight, March 30, 2004, on Putin's goals for a revived empire and his personal participation in a mock nuclear attack on the United States.

"Russia: Death and resurrection of the KGB," Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Summer 2004. Chronicles the resurgence of the Soviet secret police in taking over post-Soviet political institutions in Russia.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Why Beijing may make Washington irrelevant in the Americas

The Monroe Doctrine is dead, but nobody wants to say it out loud.

Dollar by dollar, the People's Republic of China is creeping into the American hemisphere, generously spreading money to the region's eager politicians and businessmen who increasingly view Washington as an irrelevant nuisance.

"You guys are losing," a top Latin American diplomat told me recently. "You don't stand by your friends."

"We like the North Americans better, but the Chinese are more generous and they don't preach at us," a senior Panamanian official told me in a separate conversation. Beijing has offered up to $10 billion to finance an expansion of the Panama Canal, which the US abandoned in 1999 under the 1970s Carter-Torrijos treaty. Successive administrations have ignored, dismissed or ridiculed concerns that China would fill the gap.

The PRC not only pays big-time under the table, but it doesn't harp on things like corruption, rule of law and human rights as the US does, some Latin American friends say.

The issue is well beyond Beijing's long-held policy of bribing countries to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Taiwan in favor of the PRC, as has happened recently in the Caribbean.

With deep pockets and a don't ask-don't tell attitude, China is poised to make major inroads in Latin America, leaving the US in the dust. The Bush Administration has stood by and let this happen - even welcoming Chinese troops into the Caribbean as part of an international peacekeeping force.

Political kowtowing and subservience will follow the Chinese money. Our southern neighbors generally prefer the US to the PRC, but it's hard to see how any amount of US aid, loan guarantees, and "public diplomacy" can compete with China's "dollar diplomacy."

Friday, February 18, 2005

John Negroponte knows how to use intelligence to fight the enemy

If anybody has be National Intelligence Director (NID), John Negroponte is the man.

Setting aside reservations about the NID as an institution, which looks more like civil-rights-lawyer-filled Department of Homeland Security secretariat than a streamlined intelligence coordinator, the NID is there and it needs not just competent, but exemplary leadership.

Negroponte is one of the few real shining stars remaining in the Foreign Service. He spent much of his career in hardship posts where normal FSO weenies dared not tread.

He knows how to fight the enemy from his earliest days as an FSO, serving in hardship post after hardship post, becoming known to the world as ambassador to Honduras where he oversaw implementation of one of the largest and most successful covert operations of the late Cold War: the supply and coordination of the Nicaraguan democratic resistance against the Soviet-backed Marxist regime.

Those in the Senate who oppose him are merely re-fighting the battles they lost in the 1980s when they were on the other side. They should get over it and support the brave diplomat who knows how to take the battle to the enemy and win.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

PC police discover underground State Department blog

This just in from friends in the diplomatic underground: America-first bloggers within the State Department had to shut down their site, Diplomad, after the PC police discovered it.

Not to worry: A new blog has sprung up - New Sisyphus - to take its place.

Diplomad is still online for the time being. Visit it before it disappears.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

As the judge metes out American justice, the Shoe Bomber praises Allah and Osama

Rarely are American jurists as clear-spoken as federal Judge William Young, in his sentencing of Richard "Shoe Bomber" Reid on January 30, 2005, for trying to blow up a civilian airliner over the Atlantic.

The exchange with Reid shows the thinking, as it were, of the terrorist, but most importantly it reminds us that our country still has good judges out there who stand up for truth, justice and the American way. Here is the transcript of the sentencing:

RICHARD REID: I start by praising Allah because life today is no good. I bear witness to this and he alone is right to be worshiped. And I bear witness that Muhammad Sa'laat Alayhi as-Salaam is his last prophet and messenger who is sent to all of mankind for guidance, with the sound guidance for everyone.

Concerning what the Court said? I admit, I admit my actions and I further, I further state that I done them.

JUDGE WILLIAM YOUNG: I didn't hear the last. I admit my actions and then what did you say?

REID: I further admit my allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah. With regards to what you said about killing innocent people, I will say one thing. Your government has killed 2 million children in Iraq. If you want to think about something, against 2 million, I don't see no comparison.

Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons. I don't know, see what I done as being equal to rape and to torture, or to the deaths of the two million children in Iraq.
So, for this reason, I think I ought not apologize for my actions. I am at war with your country. I'm at war with them not for personal reasons but because they have murdered more than, so many children and they have oppressed my religion and they have oppressed people for no reason except that they say we believe in Allah.

This is the only reason that America sponsors Egypt. It's the only reason they sponsor Turkey. It's the only reason they back Israel.

As far as the sentence is concerned, it's in your hand. Only really it is not even in your hand. It's in Allah's hand. I put my trust in Allah totally and I know that he will give victory to his religion. And he will give victory to those who believe and he will destroy those who wish to oppress the people because they believe in Allah.

So you can judge and I leave you to judge. And I don't mind. This is all I have to say. And I bear witness to Muhammad this is Allah's message.

YOUNG: Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you. On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive one with the other. That's 80 years.

On Count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you on each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million.

The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines. The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need not go any further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.

We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.
Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.

Source: CNN, January 31, 2005

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Note to federal prosecutors: Check out the Center for Constitutional Rights

With their victorious February 10 conviction of "civil rights" attorney Lynne Stewart for aiding and abetting Islamist terror groups, federal prosecutors should focus on an affiliated group: the Center for Constitutional Rights.

A jury found that Stewart provided material support to an Egyptian terrorist organization by acting as a courier for her imprisoned client, the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman, and his followers abroad. Stewart also tried to prevent federal investigators from listening to the convicted terrorist's conversations. Abdel Rahman was a spiritual leader for the terrorists who committed the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, and for conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Stewart "crossed the line" from advocacy for a terrorist client to being an "accomplice," legal observers say. According to a prosecutor, she "used her status as a lawyer as a cloak to smuggle messages into and out of prison," allowing Rahman to "incite terrorism."

But lawyer Michael Ratner says the whole trial was unfair. "The purpose of this prosecution," he said, "was to send a message to lawyers who represent alleged terrorists that it's a dangerous thing to do."

Ratner's upset because he's one of the lead terrorist attorneys in the United States. And as President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), he has spent his professional life aiding and abetting terrorists, murderers and spies as part of his political activist agenda to make war on his own country from within.

Ratner's mentor, the late CCR founder William Kunstler, said he founded the organization in 1966 to keep armed extremists in the streets. The current CCR leader has used a combination of litigation, legal defense, political activism and media events to continue the founder's legacy. His most recent work has been on behalf of terrorist detainees at the US Naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. He has successfully argued cases before the US Supreme Court, and was behind some of the actions that have weakened the country's legal tools against terrorism.

Even though Ratner is an admitted supporter of Marxist-Leninist movements, including the regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba, the press persists in calling him a "human rights" advocate.

Has Michael Ratner and his Center for Constitutional Rights, like Lynne Stewart, stepped over the line that divides legitimate advocacy from complicity with terrorists?

Having observed his organization for 25 years, I think they have.

If federal agents take a good look at Ratner and his operation, I bet they'll reap a rich harvest.