The three House majority leader candidates are on Fox News Sunday. Rep. John Boehner on the ongoing tallies (approx. transcript): "We're polling our colleagues. Nothing matters until they vote by secret ballot." Those few words of common sense outweigh the week of hot air emitted by these candidates, their surrogates, and the punditocracy.
The Spectacle Blog
Most enjoyed Glory Road this evening, a recognizably friendly sports flick, recreating the back country El Paso underdogs rising with heroic sweat to win the big game of the NCAA championship in 1966. The heartfelt reason to see the movie is the music, a medley of Motown from the time that makes for sweet memory. It was fretful and puzzling to be seventeen years old in 1966, with LBJ, Vietnam, Cold War, civil rights, rock and roll, marijuana, and the perennial mystery of romance; but sitting in a suburban Philadelphia theater at Narbreth in a wet snow storm in 2006 while watching the turbulent sixties on the big screen with Smokey Robinson and the Temptations as accompaniement, I felt magical to have been there, even as a boy-man spectator. I think I remember watchng the actual victory on black and white tv, Texas Western defeating the imperial Kentucky, a black Cinderella ascending to the throne. Forty years passed like a Koufax fastball.
There are several interesting aspects of the apparent failure of the CIA to kill al-Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. First, for us to be mounting such an attack on Pakistani soil requires first intelligence sufficient to justify the mission and second, permission from the Pakistani government to do it. The latter, since 2001, has been regularly supplied though best concealed. For example, when mounting the attack on the Taliban, the Pakistanis allowed American landings on their soil, but only between dark and dawn. The lengths to which we went to help Pakistan conceal its assistance to us were considerable. That such a mission would be mounted openly now indicates that Musharraf believes his grip on power is greater than it was four years ago.
Second, though we did mount this operation on Pakistani soil, the failure of the mission gives rise to the question of whether the rules of engagement Pakistan has agreed to may have compromised it. Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, was one of the creators of the Taliban. How much were we required to tell the ISI, and did they warn Zawahiri?
Dave, Jed: In case you missed it, John Batchelor called it right late last night, in this note in response to "Zawahiri Dead?" which is posted under the "View Comments" to that item:
"See report, am not checking tonight, but am following orthodox response, which Jed follows as carefully, no confirm, no confirm. Wait on this. No confirm."
"Dr." Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda No.2, may have been killed by a US air strike in Pakistan. The forensic tests on the remains will be finished in a few days. But what if he is dead? Bin Laden himself has not been seen -- even on video -- for a year. Rumors of his death are usually tied to kidney disease. And his disease is probably an urban legend. If bin Laden is dead, it is probably for other reasons. If Zawahiri is dead, al Qaeda has lost its most visible presence on the world stage. But has it lost more important assets to other American efforts? Remember the letter Zawahiri sent to Zarqawi in Iraq last summer? In which Zawahiri asked his subordinate for a coupla hundred grand to keep the old school colors flying? Al-Q is now little more than a franchise operation. If Zawahiri is dead, it may have lost more than its operational commander. Most importantly, it may have lost the ability to conceal bin Laden. If Zawahiri is dead, and bin Laden still alive, OBL will have to risk making videos and communicating with his operators and franchises by courier and otherwise. And the more often he communicates, by any means whatever, the more likely we are to get him.
President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said all the right things on Friday morning, and they appear to be doing the right things too.
According to State Department sources, State Department European expert negotiator Nicholas Burns will be traveling to Europe for meeting early next week to coordinate the united response to Iran's nuclear threats. It appears the United States is now ready to take more of an active role, after leaving negotiations with Iran to European nations for the past two years.
American history buffs will enjoy reading about archeologists' findings regarding the Donner Party's ill-fated winter at Alder Creek. Conflicting stories by survivors led researchers to sift through the primary cooking site. Among 16,000 bone fragments found in that spot, none turned out to be human. Of course, this doesn't conclusively discount Donner cannibalism, but sheds significant doubt on the claims.
Syria fratricide update from trusted source. London and MI6 have hold of General Ali Dubah of the Syrian Air Force, who defected last week to give up the secrets of the al-Assads and to pose a deal for the regime change in Damascus. Ali Dubah offers Rifaat al-Assad, exiled brother of the dead king Hafez al-Assad. London favors this choice because it would team a restored Alawite regime with elements of the Sunni urban elite and also with the Druze of Lebanon and Syria -- the one constituency that London trusts in the region.
Pleasure to see The Connection author Stephen Hayes's Sam-Spade-work digging into the still unavailable documents of Saddam Hussein's terror regime featured in today's WSJ lead editorial.
Spoke to Steve last Friday the 6th, when he published online at Weekly Standard a summary of the search for the truth so far, to reveal that only fifty thousand of an estimated two million captured documents have yet been translated and archived. The project is titled DOCEX, and it goes slowly and without any P.R. from the Bush team or the DOD. What we have so far, from just the period 1999 to 2002, points to three terror training centers in Iraq, at Ramadi, Sammara, Salman Pak, where the regime ran a rent-a-jihad program for a witch's brew of terror gangs.