Okay, I couldn't go on vacation without mentioning this:
the Planned Parenthood "I had an abortion" t-shirt.
Seriously. I couldn't make something this bizarre up.
Here's a picture:
Seriously, what the heck are these folks thinking? Did someone ACTUALLY BELIEVE that this would be a neat little marketing gimmick? That it would improve the reputation of Planned Parenthood? That mainstream folks would react in a positive manner to this new ad gimmick?
Prostitutes Join Police Converging on DNC Boston
July 24, 2004 — By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
BOSTON (Reuters) - Security officers won't be the only professionals coming to Boston in unprecedented numbers for the Democratic National Convention.
Practitioners of the world's oldest profession are seeking reinforcements to help service some of the 35,000 visitors -- plus untold numbers of police reinforcements -- expected in the coming week when Democrats name Sen. John Kerry their presidential candidate.
"Every convention brings in more people, and women fly in from all over the country to work it," said Robyn Few, a prostitute on probation who runs the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an advocacy group.
"There will be girls from California and from the South in Boston this week," she said. "I hope a lot of women make a lot of money and make a lot of men really happy."
While Boston has played host to a number of conventions, a national political convention draws larger crowds than the city is accustomed to and security for the event is said to be unprecedented amid terrorism concerns.
For weeks, escort services have plastered advertisements in magazines and on the Internet asking women to work the convention.
Even local strip clubs are putting out the word that more women are needed.
"We are looking for more girls right now," said Frank Caswell, who runs the Foxy Lady club outside Boston. "Obviously, hospitality and beauty are expected and the girls must bring something that is enticing to see."
Local agencies said they charge anywhere from $200 an hour for a little company in a delegate's hotel room; rates at national agencies can be five times that much.
Several sex workers said political conventions were often particularly lucrative. Democratic organizers wanted to point out that many delegates are bringing their families.
"This really is a G-rated event," said DNC spokeswoman Mariellen Burns.
Hat tip: U.S.S. Clueless. Steven den Beste is correct: you really can't make stuff like this up.
On vacation next week, so posting may be slow or non-existent. My wife and I are celebrating our tenth anniversary and taking a trip to San Antonio. Later in the week, we'll head up to Oklahoma to see relatives. I should be back by Tuesday, August 3 (at least, that's what I've told the boss).
Until then, here's a classic Saturday Night Live rant from the 1970's. Point/Counter-point was a news "opposing views" parody in which Jane Curtin played a reasonable, yet liberal commentator who would give a viewpoint on an issue of the day. Dan Akroyd would then give an obnoxious response that always began with the words "Jane, you ignorant slut."
This rant is in response to a lawsuit filed by Michelle Triola, actor Lee Marvin's live-in lover. They had broken up, and she was suing for a large portion of the marital estate based on a quasi-marital contract as well as maintenance payments (for what would later be called "palimony"). Jane believed this was a reasonable reaction by the law to the changing mores and customs of our times.
Without further ado, here's Dan Akroyd's response.
Dan: "Jane you ignorant slut! Bagged out, dried up slunk meat like you and Michelle Triola know the rules: if you want a contract, sign on the dotted line. Oh, but let's all shed a tear for poor Michelle Triola. There was only testimony that she had sexual intercourse over forty times with another man while living with actor Lee Marvin. But I suppose that sort of fashionable promiscuity means nothing to someone like you Jane, who hops from bed to bed with the frequency of a cheap ham radio. But, hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn, and Michelle Triola like a screaching, squealing, rapacious, swamp sow, is after actor Lee Marvin's last three million dollars. I guess what you and Michelle are saying, is that when you're on your backs, the meter's running. Well, please spare us, gals, and tell us the rates from the top. Then we can choose which two bit tarts and bargain basement sluts to shack up with."
Very un-PC, but still interesting, and amusing, as commentary on our changing mores and on the stiff formality of news reporting prior to CNN and FoxNews.
Have a good time next week.
Not much to report today -- work is too busy.
In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful image I call "The Clinton National Security Strategy.
Hear no threats, state no policy, see no danger, steal the evidence.
This keeps looking worse and worse.
FOXNews.com - Politics - Sandy Berger Probed Over Terror Memos:
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
WASHINGTON: Former President Clinton's national security adviser is under criminal investigation for taking highly classified terrorism documents that should have been turned over to the independent commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, FOX News has confirmed.
Sandy Berger is under scrutiny by the Justice Department following the disappearance of documents he was reviewing at the National Archives.
Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants after the former Clinton adviser voluntarily returned some sensitive documents to the National Archives and admitted he also removed handwritten notes he had made while reviewing the sensitive documents.
However, some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of Al Qaeda terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing, officials and lawyers said. Officials said the missing documents also identified America's terror vulnerabilities at airports to seaports.
This is a rehash of what we already know.
Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket, pants and socks, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.
Okay, this is new. His socks?
He smuggled out notes in his socks.
My word. The last time I knew of a person smuggling notes in his socks was a kid in my tenth grade biology class who smuggled a cheat sheet INTO the final exam.
"I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," Berger said in a statement.
There are laws strictly governing the handling of classified information, including prohibiting unauthorized removal or release of such information.
Presumably, stuffing documents into your pants and socks is outside the normal protocols.
Lanny Breuer, one of Berger's attorneys, said his client had offered to cooperate fully with the investigation but had not yet been interviewed by the FBI or prosecutors.
Berger served as Clinton's national security adviser for all of the president's second term and most recently has been informally advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Clinton asked Berger last year to review and select the administration documents that would be turned over to the Sept. 11 commission.
Which may partly explain the national security failings of the Clinton administration.
Deputy Attorney General James Comey told reporters Tuesday he could not comment on the Berger investigation but did address the general issue of mishandling classified documents.
"As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously," Comey said in response to a reporter's question about the Berger bind, adding that the department has prosecuted and sought administrative sanctions against people for mishandling classified information.
"It's our lifeblood, those secrets," Comey continued. "It's against the law for anyone to intentionally mishandle classified documents either by taking it to give to somebody else or by mishandling it in a way that is outside the government regulations."
I expect an indictment very soon.
The FBI searches of Berger's home and office occurred after National Archives employees said they believed they witnessed Berger placing documents in his clothing while reviewing sensitive Clinton administration papers and that some documents were missing.
Berger said he returned some classified documents that he found in his office and all of the handwritten notes he had taken from the secure room, but could not locate two or three copies of the millennium terror report.
"In the course of reviewing over several days thousands of pages of documents on behalf of the Clinton administration in connection with requests by the Sept. 11 commission, I inadvertently took a few documents from the Archives," Berger said.
"When I was informed by the Archives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had except for a few documents that I apparently had accidentally discarded."
Breuer said Berger believed he was looking at copies of the classified documents, not originals.
And that is why he stuffed them in his pants and socks -- they were COPIES of CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS! Nothing to see here, folks, please move along.
Government and congressional officials said no decision has been made on whether Berger should face criminal charges.
Umm, why not? I mean, this is a pretty sound case. He violated laws and regulations concerning the handling of classified documents. If those laws and regulations are to have ANY MEANING WHATSOEVER, Sandy Berger must be prosecuted.
Although lawmakers didn't want to make a judgment call on Berger's fate until all the facts are known, they agreed that the situation doesn't look good for Berger, or even for Kerry.
"There's an ethic here -- that is of strict discipline, of not letting the fact you're working on a political campaign start to color your actions when it comes to national security," Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told FOX News on Tuesday.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., called the news "surprising" and said that "unless we learn otherwise, I have to assume that what Sandy said was right -- that any removal of documents was inadvertent. But it is serious."
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said, "we need more information -- obviously the timing of it is not good" for Kerry.
Just another black spot on Kerry's judgment, or lack thereof.
"From now on, until the election, everything like this will have a spotlight put on it, examined very carefully," Lott continued.
Why is the election relevant to this issue, Trent? Are you saying National Security should only be protected in election years?
Idiot. I continue to thank God you are no longer the majority leader.
More 'Innocent Than It Looks?'
David Gergen, who was an adviser to Clinton and worked with Berger for a time in the White House, said Tuesday, "I think it's more innocent than it looks."
"I have known Sandy Berger for a long time," Gergen said in a television interview. "He would never do anything to compromise the security of the United States." Gergen said he thought that "it is suspicious" that word of the investigation of Berger would emerge just as the Sept. 11 commission is about to release its report, since "this investigation started months ago."
Berger testified publicly at one of the commission's hearings about the Clinton administration's approach to fighting terrorism.
Oh, so Sandy is a 'victim'. Those Ee-vil Republicans FORCED him to stuff documents into his socks and pants and smuggle them out of the National Archives in violation of several laws regarding the handling of classified materials.
Right. And poor Mr. Clinton accidentally allowed Monica to fellate him.
Berger had ordered his counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, in early 2000 to write the after-action report and has publicly spoken about how the review brought to the forefront the realization that Al Qaeda had reached America's shores and required more attention.
The missing documents involve two or three draft versions of the report as it was being refined by the Clinton administration. The Archives is believed to have copies of some of the missing documents.
In the FBI search of his office, Berger also was found in possession of a small number of classified note cards containing his handwritten notes from the Middle East peace talks during the 1990s, but those are not a focal point of the current criminal probe, according to officials and lawyers.
Breuer said the Archives staff first raised concerns with Berger during an Oct. 2 review of documents that at least one copy of the post-millennium report he had reviewed earlier was missing. Berger was given a second copy that day, Breuer said.
Officials said Archive staff specially marked the documents and when the new copy and others disappeared, Archive officials called Clinton attorney Bruce Lindsey.
Berger immediately returned all the notes he had taken, and conducted a search and located two copies of the classified documents on a messy desk in his office, Breuer said. An Archives official came to Berger's home to collect those documents but Berger couldn't locate the other missing copies, the lawyer said.
Breuer said Berger was allowed to take handwritten notes but also knew that taking his own notes out of the secure reading room was a "technical violation of Archive procedures, but it is not all clear to us this represents a violation of the law."
Justice officials have informed the Sept. 11 commission of the Berger incident and the nature of the documents in case commissioners had any concerns, officials said. The commission is expected to release its final report on Thursday.
So the documents are related to the Vaunted Counter-Terrorism Expert Clarke's work?
Curiouser and curiouser, as they say. Sandy needs to be charged and arrested NOW.
National security should always trump politics, but Democrats rarely let it.
Annie Jacobsen was on MSNBC's Scarborough Country last night and the Today show this morning. Michelle Malkin says Annie was believable. I reserve judgment as I did not see either appearance.
If you saw either appearance, drop me a note and let me know how it went. What are your impressions as to her story, credibility, etc., as presented on the air? What bias did the interviewer present (if any)?
More on the Berger incident from the Washington Post.
I need to make a few corrections to my prior comments. First, Sandy didn't put the documents in his coat, as I previously stated. He stuffed them in his pants.
He. Stuffed. Them. In. His. Pants.
A natural mistake, I'm sure you'll agree, that any one of us could have made.
I am still, however, outraged at the laxness of the National Archives in this whole matter. I have yet to hear a single satisfactory explanation for why Mr. Berger was allowed to go through the documents without a handler sitting with him.
Again, as a lawyer, I have several cases with large numbers of documents. Typically, if the bad guys have more than three or four boxes of documents, my client and I will go to the opposing lawyer's office and go through the boxes produced, tagging those documents we want to copy. That way, we avoid unnecessary expense or duplication (as we may already have certain documents, etc.).
During these reviews, there is always somebody from the opposing side in the room -- whether that person is a lawyer or a paralegal varies from case to case, but SOMEBODY is there. Their job is to make sure we don't remove or destroy any documents (inadvertently or otherwise) and to make sure we don't scramble an existing filing system or otherwise re-arrange the documents (which are often ongoing business records of one sort or another).
I'm glad that person is there because it protects me, too. If the bad guys later claim some documents are missing, they cannot claim that I had anything to do with it.
These protocols are for simple civil lawsuits in state and federal courts. Why, then, should the protocols for allowing a civilian no longer employed by the Executive branch be any less restrictive? Sure, Sandy is a former administration member and is (was) advising the Kerry campaign, so he should (a) already have a security clearance (though that is probably gone now (or it should be)); and (b) have a good reason to want to see those documents.
But to allow him to review them without a handler simply invites things events such as this. It's stupidity bordering on recklessness.
Sandy is, of course, responsible for his actions; the National Archives should be held responsible for their omission.
Isn't this just PERFECT?!
Clinton Adviser Probed in Terror Memos
WASHINGTON - President Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, is the focus of a criminal investigation after admitting he removed highly classified terrorism documents from a secure reading room during preparations for the Sept. 11 commission hearings, The Associated Press has learned.
How convenient. "Oops! I forgot about them. Sorry.
Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents armed with warrants. Some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing.
I wonder whether those reports might have been critical of President Clinton? Probably just a coincidence, right?
Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed handwritten notes he had taken from classified anti-terror documents he reviewed at the National Archives by sticking them in his jacket and pants. He also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio, they said.
How does this happen? An inability to read? Those big letters "TOP SECRET -- DO NOT REMOVE" on the cover sheet to hard to decipher?
"I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," Berger said in a statement to the AP.
Berger served as Clinton's national security adviser for all of the president's second term and most recently has been informally advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites). Clinton asked Berger last year to review and select the administration documents that would be turned over to the commission.
And we should take your word for it, right? Problem is, it is more convenient obfuscation and odd occurrences from a member of perhaps the most corrupt Presidential administration in my lifetime. Given that I lived through the Nixon and part of the Johnson years, THAT takes some doing.
The FBI searched Berger's home and office with warrants earlier this year after employees of the National Archives told agents they believed they witnessed Berger put documents into his clothing while reviewing sensitive Clinton administration papers, officials said.
When asked, Berger said he returned some of the classified documents, which he found in his office, and all of the handwritten notes he had taken from the secure room, but said he could not locate two or three copies of the highly classified millennium terror report.
Any word on why he might have been PUTTING THE DOCUMENTS IN HIS CLOTHING IN THE FIRST PLACE? I mean, what the heck -- was his briefcase too full?
And why was he reviewing the documents without an adminstration handler? As a lawyer, I have been to plenty of document reviews for civil discovery. The other side might have twenty boxes, I go through them, then decide what I might want to have copied, and tag those documents.
I am NEVER left alone with the documents. And I don't want to be. I don't want to catch the blame if some documents come up missing.
So, if I can think of this simple security measure for civil discovery, why can't our nation's leaders think of it in regards to NATIONAL SECURITY DOCUMENTS?
"In the course of reviewing over several days thousands of pages of documents on behalf of the Clinton administration in connection with requests by the Sept. 11 commission, I inadvertently took a few documents from the Archives," Berger said.
I mean, they just fell right off the desk and into my inner suit jacket pocket. I really don't understand HOW that could have happened!
"When I was informed by the Archives that there were documents missing, I immediately returned everything I had except for a few document that I apparently had accidentally discarded," he said.
Can somebody tell me how he knows how many documents we are talking about? Or how he knows he "accidentally discarded" those documents?
My guess is that he didn't discard the documents, "accidentally" or otherwise. He destroyed them. He destroyed documents that might have made Clinton (or him) look even more like dismal failures in the war on terrorism.
Lanny Breuer, one of Berger's attorneys, said his client has offered to cooperate fully with the investigation but has not been interviewed by the FBI or prosecutors. Berger has been told he is the subject of the investigation, Breuer said.
I should darn well hope so. Our national security should not be sacrificed for political appearances.
Government and congressional officials familiar with the investigation, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the probe involves classified materials, said the investigation remains active and that no decision has been made on whether Berger should face criminal charges.
I hope that he is. Maybe putting a few people in jail will drive home the idea that national security is serious business.
That being said, it is unlikely he will face charges for any serious criminal charges. He is a high profile suspect with lots of resources. US Attorneys may be unwilling to expend resources on a risky, lengthy prosecution.
Then again, they went after Martha Stewart, so who knows? Likely no decision will be made until after the election.
The officials said the missing documents were highly classified, and included critical assessments about the Clinton administration's handling of the millennium terror threats as well as identification of America's terror vulnerabilities at airports to sea ports.
Oh that's swell. So he not only removed documents potentially critical of the Clinton administration's handling of terrorism threats, he removed documents that might just have blueprints of American vulnerabilities to future terror attacks.
And now he can't find them.
This would be a bigger story were it, say, Republican Donald Rumsfeld rather than Democrat Sandy Berger.
Rightwing Counter Protests!
The guys at Protest Warrior have decided to stage counterprotests at the expected Lefty Liberal protests during the Republican National Convention next month (how was that for too many prepositions in one sentence, Messrs. Coyle and Miser?).
More power to them. Protest Warrior seems to have caught many of the far left off guard by using their own tactics against them. They often videotape their exploits for later distribution. Quite well done, and humorous, to boot.
Way to go guys.
Part II: Terror in the Skies, Again? - WomensWallStreet
More on the Annie Jacobsen story. I haven't had time to read all of it, but will do so and comment later today, gentle readers, after I get some of this vast expanse of paperwork off my desk.
Okay, I read it. It doesn't really break much new information (other than the mainstream media's sudden interest, and some confirmation of similar testing of security by airline industry workers. Hopefully, the light of the mainstream media will bring more facts to light.
Two more classics from Allahpundit:
Another take on the Annie Jacobsen article: folks from Salon fisk the story. Interesting enough; if the story is fake, then it will be a relief.
It won't, however, change the fact that our policy regarding racial caps on secondary questioning of airline passengers is seriously flawed.
A note from the WWSJ editors regarding the recent Annie Jacobson story:
We have received thousands of emails about Annie Jacobsen's article, 'Terror in the Skies, Again?' We are also receiving dozens of phone calls from the main stream media. They are now working on the story to break it nationwide. Thank you for your feedback, both positive and negative, about the article. We are a free America, and we welcome an open discussion about this important topic. A second article written by Annie Jacobsen about her recent experience on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles will be posted soon.
Good. This is what the internet is SUPPOSED to do for the mainstream media -- force them to open doors that would otherwise remain closed.
I wonder how they'll spin it.
Elections Canada to Charge Moore with violating Canadian elections laws forbidding a non-Canadian from attempting to induce electors to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.
A few days before the recent Canadian elections, Moore made televised statements in violation of Canadian elections law. In short, Moore urged Canadian voters not to vote for the Conservative Party.
Moore could be fined $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail. As a practical matter, he will likely never spend any time in jail, but he could be banned from EVER re-entering Canada.
Heh. That would be funny -- and it would put a crimp on any future film "mockumentary" that attempted to convince Americans to adopt the inadequate Canadian health care system model.
Work is INCREDIBLY busy today, but this is important enough that I want to post it now.
I offer it without much comment, just a question -- how many more people will have to die before we get serious about terrorism?
Terror in the Skies, Again?
By Annie Jacobsen
Note from the E-ditors: You are about to read an account of what happened during a domestic flight that one of our writers, Annie Jacobsen, took from Detroit to Los Angeles. The WWS Editorial Team debated long and hard about how to handle this information and ultimately we decided it was something that should be shared. What does it have to do with finances? Nothing, and everything. Here is Annie's story.
On June 29, 2004, at 12:28 p.m., I flew on Northwest Airlines flight #327 from Detroit to Los Angeles with my husband and our young son. Also on our flight were 14 Middle Eastern men between the ages of approximately 20 and 50 years old. What I experienced during that flight has caused me to question whether the United States of America can realistically uphold the civil liberties of every individual, even non-citizens, and protect its citizens from terrorist threats.
On that Tuesday, our journey began uneventfully. Starting out that morning in Providence, Rhode Island, we went through security screening, flew to Detroit, and passed the time waiting for our connecting flight to Los Angeles by shopping at the airport stores and eating lunch at an airport diner. With no second security check required in Detroit we headed to our gate and waited for the pre-boarding announcement. Standing near us, also waiting to pre-board, was a group of six Middle Eastern men. They were carrying blue passports with Arabic writing. Two men wore tracksuits with Arabic writing across the back. Two carried musical instrument cases - thin, flat, 18" long. One wore a yellow T-shirt and held a McDonald's bag. And the sixth man had a bad leg -- he wore an orthopedic shoe and limped. When the pre-boarding announcement was made, we handed our tickets to the Northwest Airlines agent, and walked down the jetway with the group of men directly behind us.
My four-year-old son was determined to wheel his carry-on bag himself, so I turned to the men behind me and said, "You go ahead, this could be awhile." "No, you go ahead," one of the men replied. He smiled pleasantly and extended his arm for me to pass. He was young, maybe late 20's and had a goatee. I thanked him and we boarded the plan.
Once on the plane, we took our seats in coach (seats 17A, 17B and 17C). The man with the yellow shirt and the McDonald's bag sat across the aisle from us (in seat 17E). The pleasant man with the goatee sat a few rows back and across the aisle from us (in seat 21E). The rest of the men were seated throughout the plane, and several made their way to the back.
As we sat waiting for the plane to finish boarding, we noticed another large group of Middle Eastern men boarding. The first man wore a dark suit and sunglasses. He sat in first class in seat 1A, the seat second-closet to the cockpit door. The other seven men walked into the coach cabin. As "aware" Americans, my husband and I exchanged glances, and then continued to get comfortable. I noticed some of the other passengers paying attention to the situation as well. As boarding continued, we watched as, one by one, most of the Middle Eastern men made eye contact with each other. They continued to look at each other and nod, as if they were all in agreement about something. I could tell that my husband was beginning to feel "anxious."
The take-off was uneventful. But once we were in the air and the seatbelt sign was turned off, the unusual activity began. The man in the yellow T-shirt got out of his seat and went to the lavatory at the front of coach -- taking his full McDonald's bag with him. When he came out of the lavatory he still had the McDonald's bag, but it was now almost empty. He walked down the aisle to the back of the plane, still holding the bag. When he passed two of the men sitting mid-cabin, he gave a thumbs-up sign. When he returned to his seat, he no longer had the McDonald's bag.
Then another man from the group stood up and took something from his carry-on in the overhead bin. It was about a foot long and was rolled in cloth. He headed toward the back of the cabin with the object. Five minutes later, several more of the Middle Eastern men began using the forward lavatory consecutively. In the back, several of the men stood up and used the back lavatory consecutively as well.
For the next hour, the men congregated in groups of two and three at the back of the plane for varying periods of time. Meanwhile, in the first class cabin, just a foot or so from the cockpit door, the man with the dark suit - still wearing sunglasses - was also standing. Not one of the flight crew members suggested that any of these men take their seats.
Watching all of this, my husband was now beyond "anxious." I decided to try to reassure my husband (and maybe myself) by walking to the back bathroom. I knew the goateed-man I had exchanged friendly words with as we boarded the plane was seated only a few rows back, so I thought I would say hello to the man to get some reassurance that everything was fine. As I stood up and turned around, I glanced in his direction and we made eye contact. I threw out my friendliest "remember-me-we-had-a-nice-exchange-just-a-short-time-ago" smile. The man did not smile back. His face did not move. In fact, the cold, defiant look he gave me sent shivers down my spine.
When I returned to my seat I was unable to assure my husband that all was well. My husband immediately walked to the first class section to talk with the flight attendant. "I might be overreacting, but I've been watching some really suspicious things..." Before he could finish his statement, the flight attendant pulled him into the galley. In a quiet voice she explained that they were all concerned about what was going on. The captain was aware. The flight attendants were passing notes to each other. She said that there were people on board "higher up than you and me watching the men." My husband returned to his seat and relayed this information to me. He was feeling slightly better. I was feeling much worse. We were now two hours into a four-in-a-half hour flight.
Approximately 10 minutes later, that same flight attendant came by with the drinks cart. She leaned over and quietly told my husband there were federal air marshals sitting all around us. She asked him not to tell anyone and explained that she could be in trouble for giving out that information. She then continued serving drinks.
About 20 minutes later the same flight attendant returned. Leaning over and whispering, she asked my husband to write a description of the yellow-shirted man sitting across from us. She explained it would look too suspicious if she wrote the information. She asked my husband to slip the note to her when he was done.
After seeing 14 Middle Eastern men board separately (six together, eight individually) and then act as a group, watching their unusual glances, observing their bizarre bathroom activities, watching them congregate in small groups, knowing that the flight attendants and the pilots were seriously concerned, and now knowing that federal air marshals were on board, I was officially terrified.. Before I'm labeled a racial profiler or -- worse yet -- a racist, let me add this. A month ago I traveled to India to research a magazine article I was writing. My husband and I flew on a jumbo jet carrying more than 300 Hindu and Muslim men and women on board. We traveled throughout the country and stayed in a Muslim village 10 miles outside Pakistan. I never once felt fearful. I never once felt unsafe. I never once had the feeling that anyone wanted to hurt me. This time was different.
Finally, the captain announced that the plane was cleared for landing. It had been four hours since we left Detroit. The fasten seat belt light came on and I could see downtown Los Angeles. The flight attendants made one final sweep of the cabin and strapped themselves in for landing. I began to relax. Home was in sight.
Suddenly, seven of the men stood up -- in unison -- and walked to the front and back lavatories. One by one, they went into the two lavatories, each spending about four minutes inside. Right in front of us, two men stood up against the emergency exit door, waiting for the lavatory to become available. The men spoke in Arabic among themselves and to the man in the yellow shirt sitting nearby. One of the men took his camera into the lavatory. Another took his cell phone. Again, no one approached the men. Not one of the flight attendants asked them to sit down. I watched as the man in the yellow shirt, still in his seat, reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small red book. He read a few pages, then put the book back inside his shirt. He pulled the book out again, read a page or two more, and put it back. He continued to do this several more times.
I looked around to see if any other passengers were watching. I immediately spotted a distraught couple seated two rows back. The woman was crying into the man's shoulder. He was holding her hand. I heard him say to her, "You've got to calm down." Behind them sat the once pleasant-smiling, goatee-wearing man.
I grabbed my son, I held my husband's hand and, despite the fact that I am not a particularly religious person, I prayed. The last man came out of the bathroom, and as he passed the man in the yellow shirt he ran his forefinger across his neck and mouthed the word "No."
The plane landed. My husband and I gathered our bags and quickly, very quickly, walked up the jetway. As we exited the jetway and entered the airport, we saw many, many men in dark suits. A few yards further out into the terminal, LAPD agents ran past us, heading for the gate. I have since learned that the representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Federal Air Marshals (FAM), and the Transportation Security Association (TSA) met our plane as it landed. Several men -- who I presume were the federal air marshals on board -- hurried off the plane and directed the 14 men over to the side.
Knowing what we knew, and seeing what we'd seen, my husband and I decided to talk to the authorities. For several hours my husband and I were interrogated by the FBI. We gave sworn statement after sworn statement. We wrote down every detail of our account. The interrogators seemed especially interested in the McDonald's bag, so we repeated in detail what we knew about the McDonald's bag. A law enforcement official stood near us, holding 14 Syrian passports in his hand. We answered more questions. And finally we went home.
Home Sweet Home
The next day, I began searching online for news about the incident. There was nothing. I asked a friend who is a local news correspondent if there were any arrests at LAX that day. There weren't. I called Northwest Airlines' customer service. They said write a letter. I wrote a letter, then followed up with a call to their public relations department. They said they were aware of the situation (sorry that happened!) but legally they have 30 days to reply.
I shared my story with a few colleagues. One mentioned she'd been on a flight with a group of foreign men who were acting strangely -- they turned out to be diamond traders. Another had heard a story on National Public Radio (NPR) shortly after 9/11 about a group of Arab musicians who were having a hard time traveling on airplanes throughout the U.S. and couldn't get seats together. I took note of these two stories and continued my research. Here are excerpts from an article written by Jason Burke, Chief Reporter, and published in The Observer (a British newspaper based in London) on February 8, 2004:
Terrorist bid to build bombs in mid-flight: Intelligence reveals dry runs of new threat to blow up airliners
"Islamic militants have conducted dry runs of a devastating new style of bombing on aircraft flying to Europe, intelligence sources believe.
The tactics, which aim to evade aviation security systems by placing only components of explosive devices on passenger jets, allowing militants to assemble them in the air, have been tried out on planes flying between the Middle East, North Africa and Western Europe, security sources say.
...The... Transportation Security Administration issued an urgent memo detailing new threats to aviation and warning that terrorists in teams of five might be planning suicide missions to hijack commercial airliners, possibly using common items...such as cameras, modified as weapons.
...Components of IEDs [improvised explosive devices]can be smuggled on to an aircraft, concealed in either clothing or personal carry-on items... and assembled on board. In many cases of suspicious passenger activity, incidents have taken place in the aircraft's forward lavatory."
So here's my question: Since the FBI issued a warning to the airline industry to be wary of groups of five men on a plane who might be trying to build bombs in the bathroom, shouldn't a group of 14 Middle Eastern men be screened before boarding a flight?
Apparently not. Due to our rules against discrimination, it can't be done. During the 9/11 hearings last April, 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman stated that "...it was the policy (before 9/11) and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory."
So even if Northwest Airlines searched two of the men on board my Northwest flight, they couldn't search the other 12 because they would have already filled a government-imposed quota.
I continued my research by reading an article entitled Arab Hijackers Now Eligible For Pre-Boarding from Ann Coulter:
"On September 21, as the remains of thousands of Americans lay smoldering at Ground Zero, [Secretary of Transportation Norman] Mineta fired off a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from implementing the one security measure that could have prevented 9/11: subjecting Middle Eastern passengers to an added degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He sternly reminded the airlines that it was illegal to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin or religion."Coulter also writes that a few months later, at Mr. Mineta's behest, the Department of Transportation (DOT) filed complaints against United Airlines and American Airlines (who, combined, had lost 8 pilots, 25 flight attendants and 213 passengers on 9/11 - not counting the 19 Arab hijackers). In November 2003, United Airlines settled their case with the DOT for $1.5 million. In March 2004, American Airlines settled their case with the DOT for $1.5 million. The DOT also charged Continental Airlines with discriminating against passengers who appeared to be Arab, Middle Eastern or Muslim. Continental Airlines settled their complaint with the DOT in April of 2004 for $.5 million.
From what I witnessed, Northwest Airlines doesn't have to worry about Norman Mineta filing a complaint against them for discriminatory, secondary screening of Arab men. No one checked the passports of the Syrian men. No one inspected the contents of the two instrument cases or the McDonald's bag. And no one checked the limping man's orthopedic shoe. In fact, according to the TSA regulations, passengers wearing an orthopedic shoe won't be asked to take it off. As their site states, "Advise the screener if you're wearing orthopedic shoes...screeners should not be asking you to remove your orthopedic shoes at any time during the screening process. " (Click here to read the TSA website policy on orthopedic shoes and other medical devices.)
I placed a call to the TSA and talked to Joe Dove, a Customer Service Supervisor. I told him how we'd eaten with metal utensils moments in an airport diner before boarding the flight and how no one checked our luggage or the instrument cases being carried by the Middle Eastern men. Dove's response was, "Restaurants in secured areas -- that's an ongoing problem. We get that complaint often. TSA gets that complaint all the time and they haven't worked that out with the FAA. They're aware of it. You've got a good question. There may not be a reasonable answer at this time, I'm not going to BS you."
At the Detroit airport no one checked our IDs. No one checked the folds in my newspaper or the content's of my son's backpack. No one asked us what we'd done during our layover, if we bought anything, or if anyone gave us anything while we were in the airport. We were asked all of these questions (and many others ) three weeks earlier when we'd traveled in Europe -- where passengers with airport layovers are rigorously questioned and screened before boarding any and every flight. In Detroit no one checked who we were or what we carried on board a 757 jet liner bound for American's largest metropolis.
Two days after my experience on Northwest Airlines flight #327 came this notice from SBS TV, The World News, July 1, 2004:
"The U.S. Transportation and Security Administration has issued a new directive which demands pilots make a pre-flight announcement banning passengers from congregating in aisles and outside the plane's toilets. The directive also orders flight attendants to check the toilets every two hours for suspicious packages."Through a series of events, The Washington Post heard about my story. I talked briefly about my experience with a representative from the newspaper. Within a few hours I received a call from Dave Adams, the Federal Air Marshal Services (FAM) Head of Public Affairs. Adams told me what he knew:
There were 14 Syrians on NWA flight #327. They were questioned at length by FAM, the FBI and the TSA upon landing in Los Angeles. The 14 Syrians had been hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert. Adams said they were "scrubbed." None had arrest records (in America, I presume), none showed up on the FBI's "no fly" list or the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List. The men checked out and they were let go. According to Adams, the 14 men traveled on Northwest Airlines flight #327 using one-way tickets. Two days later they were scheduled to fly back on jetBlue from Long Beach, California to New York -- also using one-way tickets.
I asked Adams why, based on the FBI's credible information that terrorists may try to assemble bombs on planes, the air marshals or the flight attendants didn't do anything about the bizarre behavior and frequent trips to the lavatory. "Our FAM agents have to have an event to arrest somebody. Our agents aren't going to deploy until there is an actual event," Adams explained. He said he could not speak for the policies of Northwest Airlines.
So the question is... Do I think these men were musicians? I'll let you decide. But I wonder, if 19 terrorists can learn to fly airplanes into buildings, couldn't 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?
This is not a law enforcement matter. It is a war -- and it is here.
Until we can learn that painful lesson, there will be more attacks on our soil.
Another victory for victimhood. Will ANYONE be responsible for their actions in the future?
Medicare Redefines Obesity As an IllnessUsing my tax dollars, of course, instead of, oh, I don't know, CUTTING OUT STARCHES, SUGARS, AND GETTING OFF THEIR BUTTS AND EXERCISING ONCE IN A WHILE!
July 16, 7:47 AM (ET)
By ELIZABETH WOLFE
WASHINGTON (AP) - Medicare now recognizes obesity as an illness, a change in policy that may allow millions of overweight Americans to make medical claims for treatments such as stomach surgery and diet programs.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "Obesity is a critical public health problem in our country that causes millions of Americans to suffer unnecessary health problems and to die prematurely."... due largely, of course, to lifestyle choices and bad personal habits. Don't get me wrong, I know there are some people who are genetically predispositioned to weight gain, but the vast majority of obese folks in this country are obese due to PERSONAL choices.
Treating obesity-related illnesses results in billions of dollars in health care costs, Thompson said.
No kidding. You still haven't explained exactly WHY I should have to pay for their lifestyle choices. I mean, I didn't strap these folks down in a chair and force them to eat chip after chip and Oreo after Oreo while watching hours of Oprah.
"With this new policy, Medicare will be able to review scientific evidence in order to determine which interventions improve health outcomes for seniors and disabled Americans who are obese," Thompson told a Senate panel on Thursday.
How about developing a refrigerator and pantry timed lock, like a bank safe, so that these guys can only access their carbohydrate caches for about five minutes per day? Maybe a related invention would cut off service to their televisions (and internet services) for all but one hour per day? The post office could develop new regulations that require a residential mailbox to be at least 400m from a dwelling, 300m from the nearest motor-vehicle access, and atop five flights of stairs. At least THAT might give these folks a little exercise.
Or we could (now, stay with me, this is a bit radical) tell these folks that they need to change their lifestyles, or pay for surgeries, etc., THEMSELVES -- or face an early death.
With the removal of language in Medicare policy that said obesity is not an illness, beneficiaries will be able to request a government review of medical evidence to determine whether certain treatments for obesity can be covered.
And giving the plaintiff's bar something new to frivolously litigate now that people are catching on to the rip-off that IS asbestos litigation.
Though Medicare and Medicaid programs cover sicknesses caused by obesity - including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer and gullibility disease - the previous policy meant that weight-loss therapies have often been denied coverage.
And rightfully so. Unfortunately, this administration seems determined to address nearly every major domestic social issue by drowning it in taxpayer's money. Were it not for the war on terror, I might be sitting this election out.
"The medical science will now determine whether we provide coverage for the treatments that reduce complications and improve quality of life for the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who are obese," said Mark McClellan, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees health insurance programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.That's not true. Government BUREAUCRATS will make this determination.
Government programs almost never shrink in size; instead, they expand their individual constiuencies by finding new and innovative ways to spend taxpayer dollars. If they can spend money on a large (no pun intended) new group of people, then they can rely on that constituency to fight any attempts by Congress to cut funding, or even limit the rate of increase in funding.
This is known as bureaucratic job security. It is not only the reason that these programs continue to expand, but it is also one reason some government workers meet the stereotype bureaucrat -- cold, indolent, and perfectly secure in the knowledge that no matter how poorly they perform their work, they have a good deal of job security.
I have family members that are government employees. They are very hard working individuals who believe in the work they do. They are neither lazy nor callous.
But there are many other government employees (at all levels) for whom the stereotype is completely accurate.
Some detractors of the change said it is based on unsound science. "We have a tremendously exaggerated fear of higher than average weight in this culture," said University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, author of "The Obesity Myth."
"What's partly baseless is this notion that the government needs to intervene to make Americans thinner," Campos said.
It's not partly baseless, it's wholly baseless. Personally, I think it is based on an unsound view of the role of government, but maybe that's just me. In my opinion, the question of the soundness of the medical advice regarding obesity is irrelevant. Even if obesity is horribly bad for your health, it is not the government's job to protect you from largely self-inflicted conditions.
That also means, by the way, that I wouldn't cover most diabetes cases that result from self-abuse by overeating, poor diet, and lack of exercise. If you are morbidly obese and develop Type A diabetes, you better get another job, buddy, because I'm not paying for it.
HHS said the policy change is not expected to immediately alter Medicare coverage, and no figures were provided on potential costs to taxpayers. The Medicare agency said it may meet this fall to review scientific evidence on various surgical procedures related to obesity.
Which means, conveniently enough, that the taxpayer will have NO idea how much this is going to cost until well after the election. What a coincidence.
Of course, it's not like we could trust any government estimates anyway, right?
Where will it end? Why must we force taxpayers to pay higher taxes in order to protect people from the consequences of their own stupid decisions?
We give out condoms to kids because we just KNOW they are going to have sex and we want to protect them from the consequences of their own stupid decisions. We give single moms welfare benefits to protect them when their government-approved condoms failing; again, to protect those fertile moms from the consequences of their own stupid decisions. Heck, we even give single moms ALREADY on welfare MORE money if they have additional children, all to protect these fertile morons from the consequences of their actions.
So let's extend that policy, shall we? I think we should have government drivers available for all persons who drink too much alcohol too quickly to protect the lushes from any consequences arising from their own stupid decisions. Similarly, we should extend government grants to cover any bounced check fees in order to protect check kiters from the consequences of their own stupid decisions.
I mean, it isn't FAIR or JUST to protect one group and not another, right? It's not like they can help it or anything.
Big Gay Rosie Slams Bush During Big Gay Boat Ride
PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On the eve of a possible U.S. Senate vote to make gay marriages unconstitutional, Rosie O'Donnell spoke out against the Bush administration's plans to ban same sex unions during a stop on a gay-friendly cruise, according to Local 6 News.
In other words, she recognized she was overweight, over the hill, and her fifteen minutes had run out a LONG time ago.
"I think this cruise comes at the perfect time, when they're considering an amendment making it illegal for us to have families," O'Donnell told Local 6 News partner Florida Today.
Who's doing that, Rosie? You can have a family -- you can even get married. You just can't get marrie dto another woman. Is that so difficult to understand?
O'Donnell, who is a strong advocate of gay marriage and adoption, railed against President George W. Bush and the administration, according to the report.
Because if she didn't, nobody would pay any attention to her -- she's THAT irrelevant.
"It will be the first time, except for prohibition, that bigotry has been added to the Constitution," O'Donnell said.
Mark of idiocy number one. Prohibition wasn't bigotry. Neither is an amendment regarding the recognition of marriage.
No, bigotry would be, say, the 3/5's clause, under which a slave counted as only 3/5 of a free man in the national census. That was in the original document.
"That the prevention of rights and exclusion of rights takes paramount over some religious ideology.
What, did I miss something? Is there now a religious requirement to get married?
And, supposedly, that is what we are fighting in Iraq -- A religious extreme government that is not letting people live freely."
Mark of idiocy number two. Saddam's government was quite secularin nature.
Not that you support the Iraq war anyway.
The seven-day trip departed New York on Sunday and is the first cruise of R Family Vacations, the O'Donnell-backed company that promotes family-friendly vacations for gay and lesbians.
Sounds swell. Yearghhhh. Sorry, but in the words of Sam Kinison, most lesbians are short, fat, stump ugly and have a voice like a diesel engine.
Besides standard cruise ship entertainment fare, the 2,100 passengers on the chartered ship can attend discussion groups on adoption, artificial insemination, surrogacy and other topics of interest to gay parents or gay parents to be.
Only in America could you have a group of people with odd sexual backgrounds take a vacation and bill it as a 'family cruise'.
"It is not by any means only gay families (on the cruise)," O'Donnell said. "There are bi-racial families, one-parent families. There are heterosexual families. It's all families are welcomed. It is, in my opinion, what America is all about."
Thank God your opinion is even more irrelevant now than it ever has been. Twit.
O'Donnell will receive the key to Key West when her cruise stops at the popular island, according to Local 6 News.
Yet another on the list of places I have no desire to visit. Rosie gets the key to the city? Yeesh.
Gaza's Killing School:
Tell me again why I should respect this civilization as the equal of the West? Tell me again about Islam as the Religion of Peace? Tell me again how this is all just understandable frustration?
Please. These people are barbarians. No civilized people would brainwash, let alone sacrifice, their children in this manner.