Friday, September 23, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Decaf Coffee)

I don't drink decaf unless it is absolutely necessary for social decorum. Decaf is evil. I am not exaggerating. Coffee by its nature has caffiene. To decaffienate is to remove an essential good, albeit an accidental good, from the coffee. Therefore, decaf is evil because of the lack of good that ought to be present. Now where is my grinder? [Fr. Shane Tharp (circa September 19, 2005)]

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More Abstract Theorizing and Hypothetical Wartime Situations:

This is to some extent a continuation of the thread located HERE.

I agree, although within the limits of the hypothetical I don't think a deliberate attack to capture or destroy the Fertilizer X is permissible.

Just war theory recognizes the licitness within a just war of destroying (but not poisoning) food and drink supplies of the enemy.

But one key, to my way of thinking, in the hypothetical was hinted at by "perhaps foolishly." The Lilliputians know damn well that their fighters are a legitimate military target. To hamper Blefuscu in this situation would effectively allow the Lilliputians to use their civilian population as hostages to coerce Blefuscu into inaction in the face of military activity by an enemy. If that results in a "windfall victory" for Blefuscu well, c'est la guerre.

Indeed, they would be stupid to use such an approach but it is a pretty accurate summation of what the Japanese actually did in some respects...though not with food and drink supplies of course.

We all condemn Saddam for trying to put civilians in military installations. What is the moral position of a country subject to massive bombing which continues to allow military installations to operate among large civilian populations?

Basically, your analogous position (and my answer to it) answers the question.

Now the real argument, ISTM, against H & N is proportionality, which is not the same thing as causing "too many" civilian casualties. The nuclear bomb was, and remained for some time, an area weapon incapable of the kind of precision targeting which even WWII's crude methods allowed via daylight bombing using conventional explosives. Using this sledgehammer-and-fly approach flirts with violating just-war doctrine on that ground, not on the "deliberately targeting civilians" ground.

I agree that the situation flirts with a violation of just war doctrine if we consider it apart from the moral and ethical principle of double effect and how the latter applies in this circumstance. And I would argue that since the latter can be sustained in this instance, that by implication just war doctrine is upheld however tenuously. But as I noted in one of the two posts from September 6th, the just war doctrine is not upheld by the firebombing approach because of the methodology involved -not to mention the predominant factor of active cooperation by human agents in various stages. That is why I approached the subject from the rubric of the double effect and further, why I had a trained Catholic philosopher assess my arguments before they were posted.

I am not saying that my arguments are bullet proof of course but they do constitute one viable way of viewing things from a Catholic moral and ethical lens. But before they can be interacted with or legitimately criticized, one must make sure to avoid context-switching and try to argue in the same non-normative, objective, and issued-based fashion which I did.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(From Tacitus and George Orwell)

"A bad peace is even worse than war." [Tacitus]

"Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'"[George Orwell]

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More "Tales From the Crypt Mailbag"

In order to get this subject completely out of the way, I have decided to post Matt's brief followup to the thread I posted here and my response to it. Again, Matt's words will be in black font.

Dear Shawn,

Hello Matt:

Thank you very much for responding with such a documented response. I feel a little sorry for Mr. Hand, after reading how his thought process works. He is either suffering from some kind of mental illness, or he readily jumps sides to his perception of what is the most popular.

I am hesitant to note what I think his problems (psychological or otherwise) are publicly for obvious reasons. That may not be the full story but it at least seems like a good part of the equation.

He has insulted me as well when I questioned his views on capitalism (I am a Sales Manager for a large consulting company, and to be honest, I consider myself successful, it allows me to have a large family with my wife staying home).

I am not surprised at his attitude towards you Matt.

I am going to stop visiting TCR News. I used to really enjoy reading his links to Cardinal Newman, Chesterton, Belloc.

Well, there are plenty of good links on those subjects at Dave Armstrong's website. Though Dave recently did the Handian "excommunication" of me from his weblog for our exchanges on the atomic bombings (where he argued a lot like the aforementioned Mr. Hand), I hold out hope that Dave will recognize the problem with these kinds of antics and publicly repent of them. I should note that in his case it is a very rare occurrance{1} whereas this attitude is a serial one with Mr. Hand. For that reason, with the latter am afraid it will require quite a miracle for such a reconciliation to happen unfortunately. In fact, I predict that Mr. Hand is so enslaved to his ideology that he would probably renounce his religious faith before he would renounce his secularist faith.

Thanks again. I like your blog, you echo my thoughts much better than I can communicate them.

Well, we try to do our best here with limited time. Nonetheless, I am glad to count you among the readers of Rerum Novarum now. If you want to write a guest editorial on anything, let me know and you will be accommodated -provided it is on a subject that is interesting of course. You can even write it to disagree with me personally and the odds are good it will be posted...heck I have done it before. And no, we need not even agree issue-wise btw for you to have that forum...unlike Mr. Hand I am not about to hamstring those who disagree with me on a particular issue as that does not allow for fruitful dialogue to be cultivated accordingly.

In conclusion, barring any additional emails received on this subject (which I may or may not elect to respond to privately or publicly), the stance of this weblog towards Mr. Hand returns to what it was prior to this posting in perpetuity. (All things to the contrary ntowithstanding.)

Note:

{1} For this reason, I believe in Dave's case it can be chalked up to the kinds of human weaknesses that are par for the course for all people rather than as the kind of habitual tendency which manifests itself so consistently in Mr. Hand's public statements...and which have been made with an increased frequency in the last six to twelve months or so.

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"Tales From the Crypt Mailbag" Dept.
(On "De-baiting" Certain People)

This text with only two exceptions (an expansion of footnote two and a new footnote eight) has received only slight modifications from a private response sent out to an email interlocuter named Matt yesterday with regards to a certain individual who has made a public request for debate. Matt's words will be in black font.

I was reading Mr. Hands invitation to you to debate him, on the War in Iraq.

Mr. Hand is looking for attention. I refuted him soundly in a series of posts on my weblog in early May of this year and see no reason to revisit what was noted at that time.{1} As I noted in a May 11th posting, Mr. Hand is too much like the Black Knight in Monty Python and at some point one has to end it; ergo I did at that time. Subsequent badgering of me and others publicly resulted in me revisiting and tying together the various May threads from Greg, Chris, Dave, and myself in a July multi-part posting.{2}

That is not to say that there were not some posts between May 11th and July 1st where he was one of the persons I had in mind when writing them but the interim postings with possible connexions were mainly targeted at ideological allies of Mr. Hand's in the area of the war, the death penalty, and economic socialism masquerading as "compassion." In that respect, he was a derivative target at best.

Personally, I think Mr. Hand uses Catholicism to push his Marxist, Socialist agenda(my theory is, his envy of successful people).

You have hit the bullseye there. Indeed Mr. Hand was one of the parties I had in mind when sketching out on my notepad what became a "points to ponder" posting on the many masks of modern marxism. The part that reads not a few varieties of so-called "social justice" and so-called "peacemaking" was written with Mr. Hand specifically in mind.

The problem with this guy is he relies too much on people like Juan Cole, Galloway, etc, and never vets out their nonsense.

To briefly explain him, Mr. Hand is a barking moonbat{3} and an idiotarian{4} Matt. Those terms (which are blogosphere standards) explain his mentality on a whole host of geopolitical matters quite accurately.

Did you respond [to] this inanity?

No because I did not know about the challenge until you informed me of it. I did know that Mr. Hand made a lame attempt to respond to Greg's post after I publicly shamed him for his cowardice{5} but that was all. I knew of the latter only because Chris Blosser told me about it but I did not read the actual link where it was contained...I was told by Chris that it was pathetic and Greg has not seen it as worth his time to engage so that is all I will say about it.

Truthfully, I have not visited Mr. Hand's site in over four months. That is not to say that I am completely unaware of what happens as there are others who fill me in on his moonbattery (should they be inclined to and as you have here). Time after all is too short to waste on timewasters and I wasted enough time trying to dialogue with Mr. Hand back in May viz. my criticisms of his excesses.

Besides, Mr. Hand is not serious. He tries to claim that [these] particular polemicists, we must say, specialize in ad hominem polemics, trying to make their opposition the issue, so as to deflect from the issues themselves when in reality, I stuck to issues and he was the one doing precisely what he claims in that sentence. Indeed I demonstrated the above with actual arguments where I pointed out that he made no intentions whatsoever to respond to my arguments. Instead, all he did was make emotionalist rants and misrepresent Church teaching (not to mention my positions and those of the others) in classic Orwellian double-speak fashion.{6}

If you have ever heard of someone being "180 degrees off" it is Mr. Hand and his assessment of my arguments...which he has shown no evidence whatsoever that he has actually read. Now he can come along four months later and claim whatever he wants but he is a liar as the records of our exchanges well attest to.{7}

I am interested in dialogue not mindless debate and certainly not with those who are serially prone to shunning actual arguments in favour of normative public whining and handwringing.

Oh and see the postings in footnotes one and two for ample evidence of this assertion on my part. Unlike Mr. Hand, I prefer to provide evidences for my assertions and not just talk since we all know talk is cheap. He had his chance for dialogue four months ago and he blew it. This latest ploy is simply him trying to get attention in light of the credibility which he pissed away in how he responded to the criticisms set down by Greg and myself (and supported/extended by Dave and Chris).

I barely have enough time to blog as it is now and Mr. Hand is 2800 miles from me and he knows it. (I live in Seattle.) Likewise, Dave is in Michigan and probably a thousand miles away, Greg is probably 3000 miles from him (San Diego). I am not about to fly someone like him anywhere except (perhaps) to San Quenten where his seditious keister can be locked away for a while.

As far as proximities go, only one of us is even close to him and that is Chris who is on the east coast but (frankly) the way Mr. Hand has insulted Chris repeatedly over the months, I would not waste an iota of time entertaining this petty, solipsistic, marxist shill if I were Chris. Again, Mr. Hand is trying to get attention long after the fact. His apostolate is sinking and he has been losing credibility as a "balanced" person for a long time...what happened in May was only the explicit manifestation of his inner insecurities.

Good luck. Personally, I would not debate him, he runs from the real issues, and hides under the cloaks of Popes, mostly with out of context interpretation of encyclicals.

Precisely. And his trackrecord on this viz. the May disputes bears this out unmistakably. And while more could be noted than that about his recent statements{8}, that is all I will touch on at this point.

Essentially Matt, I have no problem with you or anyone scrutinizing my posts and telling me where they believe my arguments may be problematical or even positing a counter to what I wrote. (I even have the guest editorial format where this has happened at times.) However, Mr. Hand cannot act in like manner and indeed has actually made deletions in his archives to try and run from his past statements: something Dave demonstrated in his part of the disputes circa last May (see the first link in footnote two for details). But that is neither here nor there.

In conclusion, barring any additional emails received on this subject (which I may or may not elect to respond to privately or publicly), the stance of this weblog towards Mr. Hand returns to what it was prior to this posting in perpetuity. (All things to the contrary ntowithstanding.)

For a brief followup to this thread, go HERE.

Notes:

{1} In case you were not aware of what transpired earlier this year, here is the post sequence (my comments interspersed):

A Long Overdue Indictment of Stephen Hand --A Rerum Novarum Guest Editorial by Greg Mockeridge (circa April 29, 2005)

A Commentary on Greg Mockeridge's Guest Editorial From the Webmaster of Rerum Novarum (circa April 29, 2005)

The above threads were intended to publicly take Mr. Hand to task for some of his excesses.

A Small Note of Thanks And Other Miscellaneous Bits (circa May 3, 2005)

Self-explanatory when you read the text of the above thread.

"Reactions Without Reasoning" Dept. (circa May 4, 2005)

Dealing with Mr. Hand's first attempted "response" to what Greg and I wrote. I noted in that thread his refusal to engage my actual arguments rather than his caricatures of them: a theme that would repeat itself throughout this whole situation. Of the subsequent threads, ones which were to some extent indirect responses will be indicated with stars around them.

*Points to Ponder--On Legal Plunder and How to Identify It (circa May 7, 2005)*

The above quotation from Claude Frederic Bastiat was a sharp poke at the economic socialism advocated by people like Mr. Hand.

*On the Argumentation Fallacy of Provincialism --An Audio Post (circa May 8, 2005)*

I had Mr. Hand in mind when recording the above post...along with a few other people.

On the Abyss of Private Judgment that has Engulfed TCR's Stephen Hand (circa May 9, 2005)

My response to Mr. Hand's second offering where I again pointed out his refusal to engage my arguments rather than his stereotyped caricatures of them.

*Points to Ponder--On the Vatican and Americanism (circa May 9, 2005)*

On the above thread, I again had Mr. Hand and his fellow anti-American ideologues in mind.

Email From Jack Benedict (circa May 9, 2005)

Jack was Mr. Hand's associate editor from 1999-late 2001.

Some Thread Updates and Additional Notations on the Stephen Hand Saga From the Webmaster of Rerum Novarum (circa May 11, 2005)

That was the third and final direct thread in the confrontation (until July 1st). There are others which have to varying degrees an implicit response to either Mr. Hand personally or those of his overall ideology in that interim but in the interest of not running this list any longer, I will omit them here.

{2} On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences"--Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept. --Parts I-III plus Addendum (circa July 1-2, 2005)

The above postings represent the last time I have spoken of Mr. Hand on my site explicitly. Basically, the above four part thread recapitulates everything that took place and points out in detail why Mr. Hand is a waste of time to try and dialogue with.

Furthermore, I backposted to this weblog yesterday (for only the second time in its history) a comments box thread to the day and time that it was posted elsewhere (with necessary formatting alterations of course). Here is the thread in question:

For Preserving the Historical Record (circa June 29, 2005 3:00pm)

To get a thread contemporary to the time period, I had to do something I have never done before and that was remove a thread posted on the 27th, move a post from the 29th to the 27th, and post it where the original thread from the 29th was actually posted. The removed thread from the 27th (which was a link with a sentence description) was reposted yesterday. The backposted thread was written contemporary to the time when the multiparter noted further up in this footnote was awaiting completion. (Basically in fifteen minutes during lunch if memory serves.) This was done to correct some misperceptions about me personally which were being circulated in the blogosphere. My reason for backposting it are noted in a two paragraph prefatory note preceding the material posted and I do not intend to reiterate it here.

Oh and so that readers can verify my concern for context (as in all my essays and major weblog postings over the years), I have supplied live links to the source. They will only be good for about two more weeks but those who wonder if I made anything but cosmetic changes to the previous posting (such as replace a broken link I could not track down with another link covering the same subject matter) can verify with their own eyes that I have done no such thing. Furthermore, they can verify in that posting (which is from a source I do not control) that I made no misrepresentations whatsoever of Mr. Hand's words or views. If Mr. Hand makes this accusation anymore publicly, he will reveal himself to be a craven liar...and only provide more evidence to substantiate my assertions in the multipart posting from July 1-2, 2005 liinked further up in this footnote.

{3} From the Glossary of Blogging Terms Via Samizdata:

Barking moonbat

{4} From the Glossary of Blogging Terms Via Samizdata:

Idiotarian

{5} See the first link in footnote two.

{6} To provide one example of many which could be cited is this foonote from part one of my July 2005 posting on Mr. Hand:

This idea that he didn't call anyone "less than Catholic" is an insult to our intelligence. While he never uses those words, he clearly implies such. To wit his attack on Fr. Pavone:

"Hear the good man sadly declare himself wiser than the Holy Father as he plays fast and loose with the Pope's clear teaching and intent in another matter of life and death"

If this isn't calling someone "less than Catholic," nothing is! Also saying that we (the war hawk bloggers) are "after the popes again" is tantamount to castings aspersions on our orthodoxy. [Greg Mockeridge: Excerpt from a privately circulated email circa May 14, 2005 about some TCR statements in recent years]

It bears noting that the above excerpt is from a TCR article titled Fr. Pavone (Finally!) Reveals His Americanist Point of Departure which Greg originally used in his Rerum Novarum guest editorial. Mr. Hand has since then removed that article from his site without apology to those he insulted. The readers can take from that undeniable fact whatever they like about the integrity of Mr. Hand and his TCR apostolate. Unlike Mr. Hand, we do not delete archived material from previous periods of time to try and hide from it. [Excerpt from On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences" Part I, footnote 5 (circa July 1, 2005)]

With the above footnote, check the last link to see via the Internet archive proof of Greg's assertions. Mr. Hand no longer has that up at his site and he never apologized for putting it up there.

Furthermore, there is footnote six from the same thread:

You have to read Stephen's so-called truce statements with a bit more than just a cursory glance. In the article...refers [to], Stephen says that it "never occurred to [them] that to suggest that those who support this war are less Catholic than we who oppose it." Then a few lines later he drops this [bit]:

"We confess our fear that too many Catholics are more influenced by the judgements of media personalities and news channels than the prudential wisdom and ordinary magisterium of the popes and the Church ." [Greg Mockeridge: Excerpt from a privately circulated email circa May 31, 2005 about a TCR statement (circa May 29, 2005)]

His attempt to talk out of both sides of his mouth is evident from the above examples...and check the link if you doubt my veracity on this (or Greg's). As of this note, it reads as quoted but with Mr. Hand, he could change that at some point so be warned in advance about that.

{7} See footnote one. The threads involved are posted to my weblog and have never been edited since their original postings except a few times to correct misspellings and/or grammar glitches in spots. (The kind of stuff that happens when you write quickly and do not have the time for precision editing or have an associate editor to do it for you as Mr. Hand has had in the past and may have currently.)

{8} There is irony in someone like Mr. Hand claiming that I or anyone else he has named has engaged in words [being] excised from context as any kind of specialty when I have in all my responses to Mr. Hand used his words verbatim without any ellipses or modifications to the sense of the text in any manner whatsoever except on rare occasions (where it necessary to respond to him) the tense of the words. But even in doing that I am careful to convey the same sense. Here is one example of probably a hundred or so I could list...the example in this very paragraph. Here is how it was utilized:

There is irony in someone like Mr. Hand claiming that I or anyone else he has named has engaged in words [being] excised from context as any kind of specialty

Here is what Mr. Hand said verbatim:

words cannot be excised from context as is their specialty.

Has what I noted above conveyed the sense of the text that Mr. Hand used??? Of course it has though because of the way he phrased it a response to the verbatim text would have been difficult. But that is the most I excise anything he has said. The vast majority of the time (as the threads in footnote one demonstrate), I respond to his verbatim statements. Unless Mr. Hand wants to claim that his own words used verbatim are somehow words [being] excised from context, his accusations against me personally have no merit. Nor can I recall any of the others using his words in any sense except direct verbatim citations so again, the accusation falls flat. But Mr. Hand is not interested in substantiating his public assertions Matt. No, he thinks he can make assertions and that somehow suffices. I trust that anyone with a normal, intact, functioning brain can recognize the inadequacy of his methodology so no more needs to be said about it here.

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"Empty Spaces" Dept.

Whaaat shaaall we uuuse...
To filllll...the emp-ty...
spa-ces...where...we used to taaaalk?
Howwww...shall I fillll...the fin-alll...spa-ces...
Howwww shall I.......com-pleeeete the wall?


This post originally comprised an advertisement for a site with Gregorian Chant music which I later discovered was to a wacko fringe site. For that reason, I have deleted the text of a weblog post for only the second time in this weblog's history (and first in over two years).

Thus, there is an empty space here now to fill. I will do so as I did over two years ago with an advertisement for my good friend Dave Armstrong's books. Click HERE for details. If you mentally replace the references to Christmas with "early-fall" or some other equivalent, everything else falls into place nicely.

[Posted 10/07/05]

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On Able Danger and A Potential Defense Department Coverup:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I must admit it my friends: I have had a sneaking suspicion for a while that all this hurricane coverage is in part to keep the Able Danger hearings from receiving their proper spot in the media reporting. I also have my suspicions as to why this is happening but I would prefer to go over those subjects another time and focus on what the MSM is not covering with the prominence that they should be. That is not to say that they are not covering it because they are.{1} But Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita are slow gale winds compared to the tsunami-like accusations being brought forward by the Honourable Congressman Curt Weldon in recent months.

For those with little to no knowledge of what I am referring to, Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) is making some very serious allegations from every microphone he can get his hands on. Key amongst them are (i) that there was a Defense Department/Pentagon quashing of key intelligence information that may well have prevented 9/11 from occurring and (ii) that the 9/11 Commission either ignored or seriously played down this information in their hearings and final reporting. These are serious allegations since they deal with national security issues. Furthermore, since the 9/11 Commission was supposed to get to the bottom of what happened, the idea that they would spike potentially key information gives us just cause to question what they actually did put forward in the form of facts and recommendations.

The purpose of this post will be to go over Able Danger a bit and the hearings that took place today and set down some pointers which can be developed further as more information becomes readily available. To set the stage for my own musings, let us consider the observations of others who are following Able Danger carefully. With that in mind, I bring you some information and commentary from Bryan Preston (JunkYard BLOG), A J. Strata (Strata-Sphere), and Captain Ed (Captain's Quarters). Let us start with Bryan Preston's prescient comments from over a month ago -one's not included in the recent JYB update incidentally enough::

JPod and Jim Geraghty rightly called for someone within Able Danger to come forward with what he or she knew, and now someone has. He's Lt Col Anthony Shaffer, and if he's right the weeks leading up to the fourth anniversary of 9-11 are going to be turbulent:

A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the F.B.I.

A word about the risk to Shaffer's career and its relevance to the story. Shaffer, it's clear by now, worked for a very, very secretive unit. It was under Special Operations Command, and in all likelihood interfaced not only with the Defense Intelligence Agency but also with the National Security Agency. His position was one of special trust, a position few in the military have the privilege of attaining. As an Army rep in this mix, it makes perfect sense that he was loath for several years to come forward, and it likewise makes sense that his fellow soldiers hold a similar attitude. The last thing Shaffer would want to do, other than fail in his assigned tasks, would be to make the Army look bad in any way, through bullheadedness or perceived conflicts with others in the mix. The context, in other words, matters a great deal here, and I seriously doubt that many who have never been in the military or around intel operations will understand it But there it is.

Colonel Shaffer said in an interview that the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified by name the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the F.B.I.'s Washington field office to share the information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the F.B.I. at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Colonel Shaffer said might have led to Mr. Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

"I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued," Colonel Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the F.B.I. in 2000 and early 2001.

And there that is. Here's something else. The current Chief of Staff of the US Army is Gen. Peter Schoomaker. He rose through the ranks of Special Operations Command, and was in charge of that command at MacDill Air Force Base at the time Able Danger did its work. If the Pentagon is reticent to confirm Lt Col Shaffer's story, you have two data points to consider as reasons why. One, the likely involvement of NSA, the most secretive and most effective (largely because it's so secretive) intel agency we have. They stay out of the limelight and generally because of that run rings around the CIA. Anything that puts a spotlight on NSA is bad, so that in and of itself could be a reason to pour cold water on Able Danger. The second data point is that it could boomerang around on the Army Chief of Staff if he was in any way involved in bottling up Able Danger in his old command. The Pentagon does not want this scandal, not now and not ever. So I'll be surprised if they say anything interesting anytime in the next hundred years about Able Danger. [Bryan Preston: Excerpt from a JunkYard BLOG Thread (circa August 16, 2005)]

The purpose of quoting the JYB posting from mid August is to set the stage for what follows. As those who are paying close attention know, the Senate Judiciary Committee (chaired by Senator Arlen Specter) are holding hearings on Able Danger...they did so today and those hearing have not been closed. Oh and those of you who did not know this can quit reading the media's hurricane overkill coverage and pay attention please. Consider if you will what AJ Strata noted four days ago was to take place in these hearings:

In the latest explosive revelation in the Able Danger saga, two former members of the data-mining team are expected to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that they uncovered alarming terrorist activity and associations in Aden weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombing of the U.S. warship that killed 17 sailors. [A J Strata: Excerpt froma Strata-Sphere Thread (circa September 17, 2005)]

In other words, members of Able Danger will not only testify that they knew in advance of the Al Queda operatives involved in 9/11 a year before the tragic events of that day but also that they were onto terrorist activities in the area where the USS Cole was sunk!!! Of course the problem is, those members of Able Danger did not testify because the Pentagon interfered preventing five key witnesses from testifying today. This is the very same Pentagon who has tried to make the hearings private for some reason or another. On these interferences, Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters has some very trenchant commentary yesterday which is well worth considering:

The Pentagon might think that withdrawing its witnesses will keep Able Danger from breaking wide open, but they will find themselves sorely mistaken. This only demonstrates that the program found something that the Pentagon still wants hidden. If that includes a finding that their program not only found Atta and other AQ terrorists over a year before the attacks, but also predicted the USS Cole attack three weeks before it happened, and that the Pentagon shut down the program anyway, eighteen Senators will want to know why.

In fact, the withdrawal of the witnesses clearly shows that the story has substance and isn't a case of mistaken identity. Had this just been an identification of a second Mohammed Atta, as Specter postulates, the Pentagon should have no problem putting its witnesses on the stand. Nothing about a mistaken identity would create a classification problem for the hearing tomorrow. [Captain Ed: Excerpt from Captain's Quarters (circa September 20, 2005)]

Indeed, if this story was not significant, then the Pentagon would not act as they are acting...which is disturbingly similar to that old sitcom gag where one character flays away wildly trying to distract another from opening a particular door if you know what I mean. Some serious problems have been unearthed -including a few which are being pointed out by the MSM interestingly enough.{2} I want to muse a bit on what did take place today in the hearings before wrapping up this posting. However, first I want to recall something I wrote last week about Rep. Curt Weldon:

As I have noted in private correspondence to a few individuals, what he has done (in writing a book about Able Danger and 9/11) and what he is saying (in promoting his book on the various media curcuits), Rep. Curt Weldon has taken quite a gamble here. Bryan is right about him essentially going "all in" with what he is doing (to use a Texas hold'em expression) in that if he is called and does not produce the cards, he will be finished politically. However, if he can deliver on what he says he can, then his prestige will increase. In fact, if the latter proves to be true, look for Rep. Weldon to become a Republican darkhorse candidate for the presidency in 2008 (whether he wants it or not). My money is on Weldon's gamble paying off because generally speaking people do not make public stances like this unless they can deliver. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 16, 2005)]

Readers of this weblog are not unaware that your host tends to be right on his predictions a lot more than he is wrong -mainly because Our predictions tend to be made as a rule only after some semblance of an outline has already emerged in Our reading and reflections on issues. The essence of the problem is (i) whether or not 9/11 was possibly avertable as a result of information that Able Danger possessed and (ii) if so, why was 9/11 not so averted. Rep. Weldon had some pretty uncomfortable things to say in a letter I linked to in the previous JYB thread discussing this subject -part of that text I reproduce here:

Yesterday the national news media began in-depth coverage of a story that is not new. In fact, I have been talking about it for some time. From 1998 to 2001, Army Intelligence and Special Operations Command spearheaded an effort called Able Danger that was intended to map out al Qaeda. According to individuals that were part of the project, Able Danger identified Mohammed Atta as a terrorist threat before 9/11. Team members believed that the Atta cell in Brooklyn should be subject to closer scrutiny, but somewhere along the food chain of Administration bureaucrats and lawyers, a decision was made in late 2000 against passing the information to the FBI. These details are understandably of great interest to the American people, thus the recent media frenzy. However I have spoken on this topic for some time, in the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, on the floor of the House on June 27, 2005, and at various speaking engagements.

The impetus for this letter is my extreme disappointment in the recent, and false, claim of the 9-11 Commission staff that the Commission was never given access to any information on Able Danger. The 9-11 Commission staff received not one but two briefings on Able Danger from former team members, yet did not pursue the matter. Furthermore, commissioners never returned calls from a defense intelligence official that had made contact with them to discuss this issue as a follow on to a previous meeting...

The 9-11 Commission took a very high-profile role in critiquing intelligence agencies that refused to listen to outside information. The commissioners very publicly expressed their disapproval of agencies and departments that would not entertain ideas that did not originate in-house. Therefore it is no small irony that the Commission would in the end prove to be guilty of the very same offense when information of potentially critical importance was brought to its attention. The Commission’s refusal to investigate Able Danger after being notified of its existence, and its recent efforts to feign ignorance of the project while blaming others for supposedly withholding information on it, brings shame on the commissioners, and is evocative of the worst tendencies in the federal government that the Commission worked to expose.

Questions remain to be answered. The first: What lawyers in the Department of Defense made the decision in late 2000 not to pass the information from Able Danger to the FBI? And second: Why did the 9-11 Commission staff not find it necessary to pass this information to the Commissioners, and why did the 9-11 Commission staff not request full documentation of Able Danger from the team member that volunteered the information?

Answering these questions is the work of the commissioners now, and fear of tarnishing the Commission’s legacy cannot be allowed to override the truth...[Congressman Curt Weldon: Excerpt from a Letter He Sent to the Former 9/11 Commission Members (circa August 10, 2005)]

Now of course anyone can say anything but Rep. Weldon has asserted many very damaging things including not only what is noted above but also that he has witnesses who will swear under oath that that they were ordered to destroy records relating to the Able Danger program. I realize I covered this already{3}, but this factor is not unimportant since it smells strongly of a coverup within the government entities -particularly the Department of Defense and the Pentagon. And in the Able Danger hearings yesterday, Rep. Curt Weldon went on the record under oath saying the following earlier today --oh and LIWA stands for the Land and Information Warfare Analysis branch of army intelligence by the way in case you are wondering:

The only way to move forward with new policies is to go back and really understand what went wrong – even if it means reexamining old territory. However, it is regretful that all of the Able Danger team members are not allowed to speak today. The victims and families of 9-11 and the Country deserve better...

During 1999 and 2000, I was aware that the LIWA was providing massive data mining and analysis for a number of extremely important intelligence and anti-terrorism initiatives – including international drug cartels; corruption in Russia and Serbia; terrorist linkages in the Far East; proliferation activities both within and against the United States; as well as an extensive global analysis of Al Qaeda.

In fact, in the weeks following 9/11, I was provided an extensive analysis chart of Al Qaeda, which I immediately took to the White House and personally delivered to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Steven Hadley. Mr. Hadley was extremely interested in the chart and said that he would take it to the President. I continued to vigorously support the concept of data mining and analysis, particularly when the TTIC was announced.

In the spring of 2005, I attempted to re-create the chart that I had presented to Hadley in 2001, so I queried my contact from LIWA. It was then that I received a brief to create a new expanded data mining and analysis capability known as Able Providence (which I would like to submit for the record). Able Providence was an initiative that would be supported through the Office of Naval Intelligence. The Navy was so enamored with getting Able Providence up and running that they even provided my Chief of Staff with the appropriate budget line number to direct any additional congressional funds.

It was during the briefings on Able Providence that I was provided additional information about Able Danger. I was told that Able Danger had amassed significant data about Al Qaeda and five worldwide cells – one of which had linkages to Brooklyn and has been referred to as the Brooklyn cell. I was told that Able Danger identified the Brooklyn cell – to include Mohammed Atta and three other 9/11 hijackers – more than one year before September 11, 2001. Additionally, I was informed of an effort to share specific information with the FBI about Al Qaeda in September 2000 – one year before 9/11 – and that three meetings for that purpose were abruptly cancelled hours before they were scheduled to take place.

This new information was startling, and caused me to review the 9/11 Commission Report to see if any reference to Able Danger was contained therein. Realizing that no such reference existed, I asked my Chief of Staff to personally contact the 9/11 Commission and determine if they had been briefed about Able Danger...

How could it be possible that two 9/11 Commission staffers received two briefs, by two different members of Able Danger, in two different countries, on the same subject, yet no such information was brought to the level of a Commissioner. One is left to wonder if there was a similar information sharing problem within the commission.

On June 27, 2005, dismayed by the fact that Able Danger was omitted from the 9/11 Commission Report, I took to the floor of the House of Representatives to outline the entire Able Danger story for my colleagues and the American people. In the weeks following that speech, I methodically briefed the Chairs of House Armed Services, Intelligence, Homeland Security and FBI Appropriations Oversight Committee.

The New York Times picked up the story in August and ran three straight days of stories. On each day, the 9/11 Commission changed their story...

Along with my Chief of Staff, we pursued the operatives involved in Able Danger throughout the months of July and August. We identified five officials who confirmed the facts of Able Danger, as well as knowledge of massive data and materials tied to the effort. We identified an FBI agent who played a role in arranging meetings to share information on U.S. persons that were abruptly cancelled. We also identified a technician who did Able Danger analysis and an individual who admitted to destroying Able Danger data – up to 2.5 terabytes. This data contained information on U.S. persons with ties to terrorism that could have helped prevent 9-11 and possibly even be used to track terrorist movements today. The person who destroyed this data has also spoken about how Major General Lambert, the J3 at U.S. Special Operations Command, was extremely upset when he learned that his data had been destroyed without his knowledge or consent...[Congressman Curt Weldon: Testimony Under Oath Before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Able Danger (circa September 21, 2005)]

There is more than just what is quoted there but Rep. Weldon has really put himself on the line now since if he perjurs himself, nothing else he says will be viewed with credibility. Furthermore, there are a lot of questions that Rep Weldon noted need answering. However, a few in particular are of interest to me and they are the following ones which he noted in his testimony earlier today:

Who ordered the destruction of 2.5 terabytes of data about Al Qaeda and why?

Those of you who are computer savvy can fill me in on how large a terabyte is...I would presume it is larger than a gigabyte but I do not know for sure so that is all I will say on that part of it. With regards to the destroying of information, I am always disturbed when allegations are made of this sort because it give the impression of a coverup no matter what else is said to the contrary.

Who stopped the meetings between the FBI and Able Danger personnel in September 2000 and why?

Since this was a year before 9/11, the idea that such meetings (where potentially life-saving information could have been passed on to the FBI) were not allowed to take place is profoundly troubling to me.

What was the extent of the 3 hour brief provided to General Shelton in January 2001 regarding Able Danger?

It is hard to believe that in three hours of briefing that the information about Al Queda that Able Danger was reputed to have had would not have been passed on...after all, 3 hours is a lot of time to fill. And again, this was at least eight months before 9/11 so again I am left wondering why if key information was passed on to General Shelton (again, if) why it seems to have gone nowhere viz. informing the FBI and CIA.

Why have threats been made to Able Danger witnesses who were simply telling their stories?

If Able Danger was such a pecadillo-filled operation, then these kinds of threats make no sense. Furthermore, the Pentagon's blocking of five key witnesses which Rep. Weldon intended to call forward to testify under oath also makes no sense unless where there is smoke there is fire.

Fortunately, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee (one Sen. Arlen Spector) wants some answers from the Defense Department about Able Danger. And I for one hope he gets them so that we can have this matter cleared up once and for all. I should remind the readers that my views on Senator Specter over the years have not been positive ones -indeed I recall expressing skepticism about his ability to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee in light of the (then inevitable, now currently occurring) confirmation hearings of President Bush's nominees.{4} However, on that matter, I have no qualms to speak of thus far on his handling of the Justice Roberts hearings.{5} And if he can get to the bottom of this whole Able Danger situation and allow Rep. Weldon to make his case and have his witnesses interviewed under oath, I will have to reassess my very negative assessment of Sen. Specter.

Remember, this is not a partisan issue my friends and it should not be made into one. That is why we need full disclosure because if 9/11 could have been prevented but for intelligence sabotage within the government, then that needs to be made known and those responsible need to be punished accordingly. Hopefully the partisans of both sides of the divide can agree to that much and suspend polemics on this matter until we know with as much certainty as we can have who did what, who ordered what to be destroyed and why, if anything was destroyed which could have helped prevent the disasters of 9/11 from occurring, and why members of the 9/11 commission (which was supposedly "bipartisan") have changed their story on Able Danger at least three times if not more so.

--I do not want to see Democratic ideologues ignoring potentially damning evidence against the Clinton Administration in its handling of Al Queda and terrorism in general -either under the pretense that it "tarnishes the legacy of President Clinton" or "impedes the presidential aspirations of Sen. Clinton."

--I do not want to see Republican ideologues ignoring potentially damning evidence against the Bush Administration in its handling of Al Queda and terrorism in general -either under the pretense that it "tarnishes the legacy of President Bush" or "impedes the presidential aspirations of the Republicans in 2008."

What I want is the truth and I do not care to whom or where the political casualties will lie as a result. Oh and if Rep. Curt Weldon is proven to be right, I want him given a Medal of Honour for his courage in championing this issue as he has. While more could be noted, that suffices for now to set down some pointers which can be developed further as more information becomes readily available which was the intention of this post to begin with.

Notes:

{1} Certainly, we who are often so critical of the MSM must be fair and also give them their props when they do their jobs.

{2} The following is the New York Post article on some of the members of Able Danger who were prevented from testifying today by the Pentagon:

September 17, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — Members of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit known as Able Danger warned top military generals that it had uncovered information of increased al Qaeda "activity" in Aden harbor less than three weeks before the attack on the USS Cole, The Post has learned.

In the latest explosive revelation in the Able Danger saga, two former members of the data-mining team are expected to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that they uncovered alarming terrorist activity and associations in Aden weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombing of the U.S. warship that killed 17 sailors.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the Defense Intelligence Agency's former liaison to Able Danger, told The Post that Capt. Scott Phillpott, Able Danger's leader, briefed Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former head of Special Operations Command and now Army chief of staff, about the findings on Yemen "two or three weeks" before the Cole attack.

"Yemen was elevated by Able Danger to be one of the top three hot spots for al Qaeda in the entire world," Shaffer recalled.

Shaffer and two other officials familiar with Able Danger said contractors uncovered al Qaeda activities in Yemen through a search of Osama bin Laden's business ties.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment. [New York Post: Terror Alert Wks. Before Cole Attack (circa September 17, 2005)]


{3} To quote my previous comments on this matter:

Congressman Curt Weldon (R - Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another 'Able Danger' witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was "ordered to destroy records" relating to the 'Able Danger' program. [Excerpt from The JunkYard BLOG via. Rerum Novarum (circa September 16, 2005)]

{4} Yes my friends, in the interest of disclosure, this is what I said last year on this weblog about Senator Arlen Specter...probably my only public utterances on the man in about seven years:

[B]efore ending this post, a few comments on the upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and the probable soon-to-be-new chairman of the committee Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

I have been hesitant to say anything much about Senator Arlen Specter in recent years. Part of the reason is because I cannot think of anything he has done since his unmasking of Anita Hill that was worth anything. He seems to pride himself on being "independent" to the point of sacrificing principles for political expediency. Nonetheless, apparently the Republicans in the Senate are actually going to show some backbone here viz. Specter's desire to head the Senate Judiciary Committee...

Time will tell if Specter follows through on his promises or not; nonetheless this is a good development for congressional Republicans who need to start showing some real backbone for a change. Chalk me up as skeptical until they actually do...[Excerpts from Rerum Novarum (circa December 3, 2004)]

{5} Granted, I have not watched much of the hearings; ergo, this assessment is not as set in stone as it could be.

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Points to Ponder:
(On Homelessness)

Of all the lies that are swallowed and regurgitated by the media, the ones that hurt the most are from the Good Guys...[t]he grassroots do-gooders, the social work heroes, the non-profit advocacy groups battling for peace, justice, and equality. [Katherine Dunn: From The New Republic (circa 1993)]

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Recent convert Alvin Kimel (of Pontifications) reminds us of some very poignant words about the Church by the late cardinal Jean Danielou (RIP)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Real Historical Understanding and How to Properly Approach the Past)

This is to some extent a continuation of a previous "points to ponder" thread.

Real historical understanding is not achieved by the subordination of the past to the present, but rather by our making the past our present and attempting to see life with the eyes of another century than our own...Instead of being moved to indignation by something in the past which at first seems alien and perhaps even wicked to our own day, instead of leaving it in the outer darkness, he makes the effort to bring this thing into the context where it is natural, and he elucidates the matter by showing its relation to other things which we do understand. [Herbert Butterfield -From The Whig Interpretation of History (c. 1931)]

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Abstract Theorizing and Hypothetical Wartime Situations:
(With SecretAgentMan)

This note is a response to The Secret One's posting HERE on hypothetical war situations. His words will be in black font.

[A(nother) Hypothetical Situation . . . .

. . . is here proposed with respect to the present discussion concerning the conformity (or lack thereof) between the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and just-war rules by way of the principle of double effect:

Blefuscu is at war with Lilliput. The Lilliputians are an island people who require imported shipments of Fertilizer X to grow food and feed themselves. They have arranged to acquire their entire year's supply of Fertilizer X by means of one shipment but, perhaps foolishly, also load the ship with dissassembled fighter planes. No other shipments of Fertilizer X can be arranged in this year.

Ok.

Losing the fighter planes would be a significant reversal, but not a war-ending event, for the Lilliputians, who have other aircraft. The destruction of the Fertilizer X, however, would result in millions of civilian deaths by starvation. The fighters' presence arguably makes the ship a military target whose destruction would also have consequences for the civilian population of Lilliput. On the other hand, it's clear that the war-winning effect of an attack would come from the starvation of Lilliputians, who would have no choice but to surrender or die.

The Blefuscutian admiralty knows all this. May it order Blefuscu's submarine fleet to track the Lilliputian ship and sink it without violating Catholic moral principles?

Yes, the destruction of the ship by sinking it is legitimate. What would not be legitimate however is if they captured the ship, poisoned the food supply, and then allowed the ship to escape to Lilliput. Destruction of food or water supplies but not the poisoning of said sources, is legitimate. I outlined this principle from Catholic sources in a previous thread{1} and my rationale on this hypothetical situation are to be understood as congruent with what I posted on the matter in the aforementioned thread.

Note:

{1} [The person in question] seems to have a confusion about these matters since (i) double effect is not required to be sustained by just war criteria since the act in conforming to its intrinsic principles already meets that standard and (ii) a seeming unawareness of what a proper appeal to just war theory actually is. On the latter, I will now briefly touch on so that readers do not think I am merely asserting something without proof...

[I]n medieval times, the term “just war” applied to the authority for levying the war, rather than to the substance of the cause or the complaint. If levied on the authority of an independent prince, the war was considered just, since there was no higher authority to judge the cause, and battle settled the issue. [Encyclopedia Brittanica Fifteenth Edition: Excerpt from War, the Theory and Conduct of Macropaedia Volume XXIX, pg. 643 (c. 1985)]

[The person in question] by trying to apply it to the substance of the cause or the complaint rather than to the authority for levying the war thus misappropriates the principle in no small detail. And lest [they] object to me quoting a non-Catholic source above on the matter, I will now quote from my copy of the Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary on the subject of war:

War. War is waged justly if it be initiated by public authority for a sufficiently grave and just reason. Soldiers enlisted before the outbreak of war can take its justness for granted unless the contrary is apparent; after the outbreak, those who join the army must first be morally certain of its justness. In a just war all means are licit which necessary and suitable for carrying the war to a successful end, provided that they are not contrary to natural or international law; e.g. the killing of any man under arms or of spies but not of non-combatants, the laying of ambushes, the destruction, but not the poisoning, of wells, are lawful acts of war. For a war to be just the motive must be the vindication of a certain right, of proportionate importance, which has been certainly violated, or a just intervention to defend the rights of others, and then only when other means of redress have failed. [Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary Tenth Edition: Donald Attwater - General Editor pg. 553 (c. 1941)]

The above definition in all of its parameters has more than amply been met with the first eight posts of the nine I have posted on this subject since August 17th. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 6, 2005)]

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Why is it so rare
For proposed dialogues to
Be based on issues???

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Points to Ponder:
(On So-Called "Progressivism" as a Religion)

Progressives killed 100 million people in the 20th Century, in peacetime; the societies they constructed created poverty on unimaginable scale; their economic systems didn't work. Has any of this caused them a second thought? Or look at the current war to overthrow a monster in Iraq and give ordinary Iraqis the freedom to vote. So-called Progressives have done everything they could to save Saddam's bacon and prevent Iraqis from achieving even minimal freedoms. The same people who used to get enraged when the United States supported dictators are now attacking Bush for overthrowing one. Why? Because in their melodrama America is the global oppressor, the Great Satan, and therefore, can never do anything right. That's why you can only understand Progressivism as a religion. [David Horowitz (circa August 3, 2005)]

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