Friday, February 25, 2005

ABC Learns a Lesson

Now this is what I call progress: after two years of almost nonstop excoriation of Bush and the Iraq conflict, ABC decides to run a two hour special on...wait for it...UFOs!
Flying saucers and strange beings who have visited Earth aren't the typical topics reported by Peter Jennings, anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. Jennings, whose new two-hour special tackles the subject of UFOs, admits he and his production team began the project with doubts and a dose of curiosity.

"We have a lot of skeptics -- I am very skeptical -- but we seriously investigated something a lot of people are serious about," he said. "And when we come to the end, this is wonderfully interesting.

Executive producer Tom Yellin said the UFO field is "a risky thing to report since it doesn't go with the conventional wisdom that this stuff is kind of silly, and the whole subject has been tainted by the brush of wackiness."

Like Jennings, Yellin initially had reservations about devoting a program to UFOs. "I thought it was all a bunch of baloney. Even though it has public appeal, you don't want to do something that subjects you to ridicule just to get a rating."
Unless, of course, you are Dan Rather and Andrew Hayward. But then, in their case CBS wasn't after ratings, they were after Bush's presidency. Perhaps ABC has learned a lesson from Rather and CBS: better to stick to safe stories like UFO sightings, than fake stories like the National Guard memos.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Now they've done it...

Now we discover that the terrorists have made a HUGE mistake:
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi state television aired a video yesterday showing what the U.S.-funded channel said was the confession of a captured Syrian officer, who said he trained Iraqi terrorists to behead people and build car bombs to attack American and Iraqi troops.

He also said the terrorists practiced beheading animals to train for decapitating hostages.
Oh, it's on now. Someone call PETA! I mean, I can understand the need to practice your jihad skills in order to butcher Western infidels, but those poor animals were innocent! This is immoral! This inhumane treatment must cease! This kind of brutality cannot be tolerated! The terrorists will rue the day that they crossed the Left like this!

*crickets chirping*

Or perhaps not. But the terrorists better watch their step...the first time they test skincare products on those animals, it's on! Just wait and see!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Site Traffic and the Real Section 31

As some of you may know, I have been less than prolific in posting recently, due to real life issues. Imagine my surprise then, when over the past week my daily site traffic has doubled. I have been getting a whole slew of Google refers from searches for "Section 31," enough to where this blog is now the number 2 Google site referred by those search terms. I suspect that this may have something to do with the recent cancellation of UPN's Enterprise, the most recent series in the Star Trek franchise. Unfortunately, I haven't followed the series as closely as I would have liked, due to the lack of a local UPN station, but apparently the series in its waning episodes is going to establish the very beginnings of Section 31 in the Star Trek timeline. A detailed history of Section 31 can be found here.

The concept of Section 31 has intrigued me ever since it was introduced. There is a fascinating dichotomy at work here; an organization that exists to protect a set of noble ideals does so by means that at times violate those same ideals. For some in the Star Trek universe, the idea is unacceptable. For them, the existence of Section 31 is repugnant to the most basic principles of Federation culture.

But the members of Section 31 see things a little differently. They are committed to the same noble principles as the rest of the Federation. However, they realize that against some dangers more extreme measures must be taken than their principles would normally allow. In effect, Section 31 sacrifices the thing it is sworn to protect, in order to safeguard it for others.

Will the United States ever find itself in a similar situation? Are there dangers in this world great enough to require the bending, or even the breaking of our ideals in the short term, to ensure that those ideals survive in the long term? I have asked variations of this question previously regarding the issue of torturing terrorists. The North Korean declaration of its nuclear capabilities, the Iranian rush to nuclear status, and the recent assassination plot against President Bush have all caused me to ponder once again the dangers facing our country, and the lengths to which our people are prepared to go in order to defend against them.

It may be that the dangers we face will in fact require action that many will condemn, perhaps action that even I will condemn. If that day comes, I may not be able to disagree with those who cry out against the violation of sacred national principles. But even if I join in the outcry against "extreme measures," I suspect that deep inside, there will be a part of me that is thankful that someone else has sacrificed to keep me safe while I condemn them for their methods. Could it be that our culture needs both groups of people, one to protect against external threats, the other to protect against the first group itself? Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Terrorists in America

They are here, and they want to kill us. I can't wait to see the details from this case:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A former Virginia high school valedictorian who had been detained in Saudi Arabia as a suspected terrorist was charged Tuesday with conspiring to assassinate President Bush and with supporting the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, a U.S. citizen, made an initial appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court but did not enter a plea. He claimed that he was tortured while detained in Saudi Arabia since June of 2003 and offered through his lawyer to show the judge his scars.

The federal indictment said that in 2002 and 2003 Abu Ali and an unidentified co-conspirator discussed plans for Abu Ali to assassinate Bush. They discussed two scenarios, the indictment said, one in which Abu Ali "would get close enough to the president to shoot him on the street" and, alternatively, "an operation in which Abu Ali would detonate a car bomb."

According to the indictment, Abu Ali obtained a religious blessing from another unidentified co-conspirator to assassinate the president.

More than 100 supporters of Abu Ali crowded the courtroom and laughed when the charge was read aloud alleging that he conspired to assassinate Bush.
The indictment means that federal grand jury thinks that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes he is charged with. The fact that he is actually being charged, and not just held for questioning, suggests to me that investigators have rounded up as many "unidentified co-conspirators" as they will be able to. Hopefully some useful intelligence was gleaned from the defendants before their arrest. Look for defense counsel to try to create a media circus over the torture issue, which should be absolutely irrelevant with respect to a plot concocted in Virginia to assassinate the President.

I wonder if Bush will continue to mouth the stale old "Religion of Peace" platitudes. Probably. It really has reached the morbidly humorous stage at this point. Muslims plot murder and mayhem in the name of Allah, but we are told time and again to overlook the behavior of "a radical minority." Sorry, but I refuse to overlook the consistent religious sanction of indiscriminate (and in this case, discriminate) murder. Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here.

Washington's Birthday

Powerline has this great post on the occasion of Washington's Birthday (now known as President's Day). It bears remembering how critical Washington's unifying presence was during the formation of our country. The correspondence between Washington and the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island is a wonderful example of the near universal esteem and admiration that Washington had from his countrymen. It's unfortunate that most children today will never learn of Washington's true character, but will instead read only that he was just another oppressive white male slaveowner.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Positive Developments

I had a very good interview yesterday with a local firm. It is currently a three-person firm, with two partners and one associate. The firm is a general civil litigation firm working for primarily private and individual clients. That would be a nice change from working for insurance companies. They also seemed much more accepting of my salary requirements than I thought a smaller firm would be. The senior partner will get back with me, so hopefully something good will come of the interview.

There are also some other options that may be popping up involving independent contracting and consulting. All in all, I feel much better about life today than I did a week ago. Isn't that usually how it goes though?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Blown Cover

Well, the Director's cover job has been blown, so my efforts now have to focus on developing a new cover. If I can, I'll continue with the attorney cover, but I am considering other alternatives as well. I'll report in with any developments along those lines.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

New Linkage

I have added a number of new sites to the Section 31 sidebar, some of them well-known, others not. Fellow Tennessean Donald Sensing makes the list of Field Operatives with One Hand Clapping, while The Counterterrorism Blog joins the Raw Intel Processing department. American Online proves to be a fascinating new Informant, while Section 31's New Assets nearly double, adding to their ranks Dennis' Ramblings, Long Time Gone, Macaroni Penguin (she gets two plugs this month!), Mover Mike, Ravings of a Mad Tech, and Varifrank. I would especially like to direct your attention to Varifrank's post regarding the Iraqi elections. This piece really resonated with me, providing a wonderful historical context to the momentous occasion that the Iraqi election really was. Highly recommended!

Just because the Director is quiet doesn't mean he isn't out there in the shadows working for his readers! Enjoy the new sites.