As you likely know by now, less than 48 hours after the “gang of 14″ Senators made their announcement that they’d saved the Republic, Democrats voted against cloture on the matter of confirming another of Bush’s nominees, this time John Bolton, nominee for UN Ambassador. So much for trusting in the fairplay of the Democrats. Now, of course, they’re coming up with new reasons why they won’t allow a vote, this time pointing to some classified documents at the State Department they supposedly need before they can decide. After Harry Reid’s references to there being something in the classified report on Henry Saad while speaking in the open on the Senate floor, I can just imagine that most of the agencies in Washington are just a little wary of handing over more classified documents to the Dems. Seems they can’t be trusted to keep the information, well, classified when they feel they’re not getting their way. I have no faith they won’t do the same here, and neither, apparently, does the President and Secretary of State. The President has said the Dems shouldn’t expect to get access to those documents any time soon.
|::::::::||The Bush administration said yesterday that Democratic senators should not expect to get the documents they are seeking before they will allow an up-or-down vote on John R. Bolton, whom the president nominated to be ambassador to the United Nations.
“They have what they need,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. “The Democratic and Republican leaders of the Intelligence Committee have had access to this sensitive, highly classified information. The Democrats clamoring for it have already voted against the nomination. This is about partisan politics.”
The Democrats are crying like they’re being completely cut off from the information and that is not true. In fact, they’ve seen the redacted, declassified variants of the e-mails and communications intercepts they’re asking for and they’ve not seen the classified variants because not every Democrat is cleared to see every classified document created by the government. As I explained before, there are levels of classification for all documents produced by the government. The highest baseline classification is Top Secret, or “TS”. After that, information can be more restricted to just certain groups of people holding TS clearances. That’s called “secure compartmentalized information” and it means that even though you may have a TS clearance, it’s a matter of whether your job function requires access to that specific info that determines whether you get to see it. Now, here’s the really critical part about this process and it’s the part the Democrats want to obscure. When a person with a proper baseline clearance wants to see “SCI” information, it’s the owner of the information that makes the call whether or not that person has a need to know, not the person wanting the information. That makes sense if you think about it for a minute. If a person without previous clearance to see classified info can force another to allow him access simply on his say-so, then the clearance process doesn’t really work, does it? So, the owner of the information, in this case, is the State Department and the President. The Democrats don’t like that, so they’re blackmailing the President with a filibuster.
Either that, or they don’t really need the information. They’re delaying and using it as an excuse.
Zell Miller wrote in his book, “A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat” that the President should get his nominees passed. He said, “I went to Washington believing that a president should be able to select his own team and make out his own batting order.” Miller thinks that it’s undemocratic and un-American that a minority should overrule a majority, and I agree. The Democrats have stood there complaining that Bolton’s not diplomatic enough, that he bullies people, and that he manipulated intel reports to prove his own points. They can prove none of this, but that’s of no concern to them. They haven’t been abe to bear the thought of the American people deciding – by majority rule, no less – that their ideas and stances on things aren’t the way to go. That there’s a better set of ideas across the aisle. In the face of a definitive majority decision against them, Ted Kennedy remarked that the Democrats really spoke for the majority of Americans anyway. They can’t stand not being able to simply dictate the direction America is going, so they use every dirty trick in the book.
I hope the 7 Republican Senators who so happily signed away their responsibility to act like the majority party are paying attention. The Democrats cannot be trusted to live up to their word on the filibuster. Figure it out, ladies & gentlemen, before it’s too late.
The Washington Times has a story up today about the buzz being generated in Japan over the reports that 2 of the soldiers may have been found after being separated from their unit during World War II.
|::::::::||Sixty years after the guns of World War II went silent, reports that two Japanese Imperial Army soldiers had been found in the mountains of the southern Philippines sent Japan’s diplomats on a frantic mission yesterday to try to contact them.
The two men, in their 80s, reportedly have lived on the restive southern island of Mindanao since they were separated from their division, staying on for fear they would face court-martial if they returned to Japan.
Stories of stranded Japanese soldiers came in after the island-hopping tactics of the American Pacific forces during WWII cut off both supplies and avenues of escape. Some of the soldiers honestly believed the war was still going on. In one case in 1974, a Japanese intel officer was discovered.
|::::::::||A few surrendered as late as 1948, then in March 1974, intelligence officer Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island. He refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former commander to formally inform him the war was over.||::::::::|
Obviously, this case is very different in that the men are well aware the war is over. Japanese officials are trying to contact the men now and their discovery has prompted quite a bit of interest in the WWII veterans back home. I hope they can find a way to make this work and return the men to Japan if that is still their wish.
I was catching up with my reading over on Captain’s Quarters yesterday afternoon and saw Ed’s write up on a story involving a judge in Indiana actually including in his orders regarding a divorce settlement that the parents of a 9-year old boy not teach their son about their religion. Yes, you read that right and, yes, I had to re-read it myself. From the story in the Indy Star:
|::::::::||An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge’s unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.”
The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.
Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple’s divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.
Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy’s outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.
Through a court spokeswoman, Bradford said Wednesday he could not discuss the pending legal dispute.
The boy attends a Catholic school which isn’t, contrary to popular opinon, restricted solely to Catholics. The education provided by Catholic schools is widely considered to be excellent and generally superior to public schools especially as regards the basics. The judge’s problem is he thinks the parents don’t understand the “level of confusion” the poor kid might suffer were he to go to a Catholic school by day and be subjected to such “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals” by his family. Well, that’s nice, judge. Fortunately, the issue’s already been addressed in a little document called The Constitution. Funny thing, that. The concept of the State (that’s you, judge) being prohibited from dictating to the People (that’s the parents, judge) what religion they get to follow and pass along to their children is clearly spelled out in concise, precise language that any moron with a modicum of english language skills should be able to process.
The judge’s ruling is completely, totally unconstitutional in such a blatant way that it defies description how badly wrong it is. To say that it should be reversed is an understatement. I have no idea what the process is for smacking a judge upside the head, figuratively speaking, but this “judge” should be censured in as strong a manner as is possible under the law. To make such a ruling demonstrates such a complete disregard and carelessness with the application of the law that one wonders how such a man even got onto the Bar, let alone the Bench. Marion County, Indiana deserves better than this and, certainly, these parents who have had their rights stomped upon do, as well.
There’s been a few stories running around about how taxpayer dollars are being spent providing Viagra and other sexual potency medications to convicted sex offenders. Apparently, someone in Virginia decided to check and see if it was happening here, too. It was. Gov. Mark Warner also said that it wasn’t going to happen again:
|::::::::||State officials say Medicaid paid for Viagra and other impotence drugs for 52 men registered as violent sex offenders in Virginia last year.
That’s something Governor Mark Warner says can’t happen again.
On Friday, the governor issued an emergency order that bars the state from paying for the drugs for those 52 men under the government program that helps the poor, elderly and disabled get drugs.
Patrick Finnerty — director of the state’s Department of Medical Assistance Services — says the drugs for the 52 sex offenders cost nearly $3,100
I agree with the sentiment that sex offenders shouldn’t be getting prescription drugs to assist in their sex life. I’m glad to see the Governor taking such swift action to preclude it from recurring.
Did you know you can serve as a member of the American Armed Forces and not be a US Citizen? It’s true and we have a number of men and women in uniform who aren’t citizens here. When one of these soldiers is killed in action, our military treats them the same way when it comes time to lay them to rest – their citizenship status is no bar to a military funeral in a national cemetary.
So why is the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization composed of moms whose military children die in service, making this distinction?
|::::::::||Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a Gold Star mother, part of the long line of mournful women whose sons or daughters gave their lives for their country. Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed last year in Afghanistan, but American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman, a Filipino, for membership because — though a permanent resident and a taxpayer — she is not a U.S. citizen.
“There’s nothing we can do because that’s what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen,” national President Ann Herd said Thursday. “We can’t go changing the rules every time the wind blows.”
That explanation isn’t satisfying the war veterans who sponsored Lagman’s application, some other members of the mothers’ group or several members of Congress.
I’m afraid that wouldn’t satisfy me, either. I would think that if our military can allow for non-citizen members and qualify them for full burial honors that this group, designed to provide moral support to mothers who have lost their children in service to this country, could meet the same standard. Kind of reminds me of the stories of the VFW initially not accepting Vietnam vets. Come on, ladies. No one’s asking for the rules to change “every time the wind blows.” You’re being asked to accept another mother of a US soldier. Surely there can’t be so many of them as to be a problem for you, can there?
Quebec, Canada has decided that allowing Islamic tribunals to settle family legal disputes there isn’t a good idea:
|::::::::||Quebec on Thursday rejected the use of Islamic tribunals to settle family disputes, with one legislator saying that Sharia law could isolate the Muslim community in the French-speaking province.
The debate over Sharia law surfaced in Canada two years ago when a Muslim group in Ontario proposed the arbitration of family disputes according to Islamic law.
The Quebec legislature on Thursday passed a motion against allowing Sharia, or Islamic, law to be used in the legal system.
“The application of Sharia in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam,” said Fatima Houda-Pepin, a Liberal member of the legislature.
Noted on The Drum and Cannon:
|::::::::||Quotes of the Week:
During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted…. –Thomas Jefferson
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war is worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature….– John Stuart Mill
I have placed my life and the life of my fellow soldiers in danger in order to achieve a measure of the freedoms we enjoy at home for the Iraqi and Afghani people. The irresponsible journalism being practiced by organizations such as Newsweek, however, [is] just inexcusable. At this point, because of their actions and failure to follow up on a claim of that magnitude, they’ve set the process back in Afghanistan immensely. I don’t regret serving my country, not one bit, but to have everything I’m doing here undermined by irresponsible journalists leaves me disgusted and disappointed. –an Army Sergeant on the Warfront with Jihadistan.
Noted from Captain’s Quarters:
|::::::::||While Western press agencies continue to report years-old allegations of Qu’ran abuse from detainees as if they were new, the Exempt Media completely missed important corroboration from Iraq’s new government that Saddam sheltered and even encouraged al-Qaeda terrorists during his reign of terror. CQ reader Jason Smith at Generation Why? notes this revelation from the Italian news portal AKI which confirms that Saddam’s regime sponsored an Islamist conference and specifically invited AQ’s #2 man and Zarqawi to attend:||::::::::|
What about a highly-placed former Iraqi government official confirming a linkage between his country’s former regime and one of the worlds most notorious terrorist organizations isn’t newsworthy? We get treated to one story after another about supposedly highly-placed former American government officials “confirming” reports about abuses that have already been reported years ago. Those stories contain nothing but anonymous sources that can’t be independently validated reporting what terrorist detainees claim has occured. Those stories are considered newsworthy even though the terrorists’ own training manuals – which are well-known by the MSM – contain instructions on making exactly the kind of claims that the stories are reporting. In spite of all that, the MSM finds those claims completely trustworthy and finds the Pentagon to be a bunch of liars.
But Iyad Allawi confirms a claim vigorously derided by the opponents of this Administration and loudly decried as unsubstantiated in the press and the MSM ignores it almost entirely. Bias is as much in what the MSM doesn’t cover as it is in what they say. We’re still a long way from a balanced news reporting environment, I’d say.
Business Week has a fascinating article on law enforcement efforts at tracking down cybercrime. If you’re a fellow techie, it’s worth a read.
In the landmark case SONY CORP. v. UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS, INC., 464 U.S. 417 (1984), the courts decided a case wherein Sony was being sued for damages by Universal Studios because they had made a machine – the Betamax video tape recorder – that allowed people to copy TV shows. Universal Studios considered that to be an infringement of their copyrights and sought to carve the money they’d “lost” out of Sony’s hide. The decision, which was reversed on appeal and then reversed again, held that Sony could not be held liable because the machine they’d created had as many uses that were considered fair use as those that were alleged not to be. In other words, even though someone might use a Betamax to tape a copyrighted show and re-air or sell it, it was just as likely that a user would use the thing in his own home to tape shows he wanted to watch at a later time. Basically, the court ruled that mere possession of a Betamax did not automatically mean the user had the intent of performing a criminal act.
This same principle is true on a large number of items you might be in contact with on a daily basis. You may own a handgun and have no intention of holding up a gas station. You no doubt own a car. There’s a high probability that you have no serious intention of running someone over with it. Think of all the things you’ve ever heard of that were used in the commission of a crime – from hand tools of all stripes to the telephone you use daily – that may be present in your home. Now what if you were accused of a specific crime and the mere fact that you had all of these items was used to prove you had criminal intent?
Consider the case of Minnesotan Ari David Levie. Levie was accused of taking illegal pictures of a 9-year-old and storing them on his computer. During his trial, the prosecution raised the fact that Levie’s computer had a piece of software installed on it and that the presence of that software showed criminal intent.
|::::::::|| A Minnesota appeals court has ruled that the presence of encryption software on a computer may be viewed as evidence of criminal intent.
Ari David Levie, who was convicted of taking illegal photographs of a nude 9-year-old girl, argued on appeal that the PGP encryption utility on his computer was irrelevant and should not have been admitted as evidence during his trial. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and is sold by PGP Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif.
But the Minnesota appeals court ruled 3-0 that the trial judge was correct to let that information be used when handing down a guilty verdict.
“We find that evidence of appellant’s Internet use and the existence of an encryption program on his computer was at least somewhat relevant to the state’s case against him,” Judge R.A. Randall wrote in an opinion dated May 3.
Now, Levie’s guilty and he should be considered so. He’s a lowlife, no question. That’s not the point here. There’s been plenty of lowlives who own computers with all manner of software installed and the mere presence of that software hasn’t been considered an issue at all. I personally use the software that’s mentioned in there. As a contractor who works on items for the federal government, I make use of the software regularly to send e-mails that I’d prefer only the recipient read. That’s the whole point of encryption. There are plenty of other people who use PGP and the open-source encryption package called “GPG” (yes, I know – those open source folks have a unique sense of humor) for e-mail communication and for protecting files because they want to protect the information contained within. That’s what encryption is all about and always has been.
I don’t approve of Mr. Levie and I damn sure think he should have been convicted if there was evidence to do so. But saying it was relevant that he simply had the software installed on his machine is a dangerous precedent that I don’t think should stand.