A former American overseer of Iraqi prisons says several dozen inmates who were members of Saddam Hussein's military and intelligence forces boasted of helping transport weapons of mass destruction to Syria and Lebanon in the three months prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Don Bordenkircher – who served two years as national director of prison and jail operations in Iraq– told WND that about 40 prisoners he spoke with "boasted of being involved in the transport of WMD warheads to Syria.
A smaller number of prisoners, he said, claimed "they knew the locations of the missile hulls buried in Iraq."
Some of the inmates, Bordenkircher said, "wanted to trade their information for a release from prison and were amenable to showing the locations."
The prisoners were members of the Iraqi military or civilians assigned to the Iraqi military, often stationed at munitions facilities, according to Bordenkircher. He said he was told the WMDs were shipped by truck into Syria, and some ended up in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
QUESTION: What's your thoughts about the Israeli Prime Minister bowing out of the scene? Do you see this affecting the peace process at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's a matter for Israeli domestic politics. The fact is, when you see, within much of the Israeli body politic, a movement and desire for peace - certainly, that is the view of Prime Minister Olmert and his government, including Foreign Minister Livni, who's the lead negotiator. So any matters of configuration within the context of Israeli politics are for the Israeli people and their leaders to decide.
Anything else on this?
QUESTION: Yeah. Sean, it doesn't seem that the main figures of the Israeli Government share the same view you're presenting here, like Olmert? Prime Minister Olmert on Monday excluded Jerusalem from any agreement. Today, Shaul Mofaz is departing Israel on his way to the U.S. He said, and I'm quoting, "At this time of change in the government, we must not reach agreements on the core issues in negotiations with the Palestinians." So what kind of hope are you talking about if the Israelis, within their government, are not agreed on reaching any agreement?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the Secretary got this question yesterday in her press conference, and she said we have been assured that the commitment of the Israeli Government, from the top down to the negotiating ranks, remains the same, that everybody is committed to the same goals that they stated in Annapolis. Those are as I have told you. We are all working towards an agreement in '08.
QUESTION: Even Minister Mofaz?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I'll let Minister Mofaz and any other individual member of the Israeli Government speak for themselves. But we have been given assurances, as the Secretary said yesterday, that that is their commitment. And I think the fact that you have the negotiators here today is one indicator of that commitment. And like I said, we are going to continue to push this process along. The Secretary is committed to it. The President is committed to it. We've stated what our objectives are. We've stated what our goals are. Those are unchanged.
At the same time, we have a process here. And it's a process that has given the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, people of the region, some hope that we can succeed. Our goals remain the same. But again, at the same time, the Secretary is not going to be in the position where she irretrievably breaks a process that has hope of bringing peace to the region.
QUESTION: Would you advise the Palestinian - one more question, one follow-up. Would you advise the Palestinians to sign an agreement, even if it doesn't include all the main issues?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I've stated what our goals are. I don't want to have to repeat those for you. Fundamentally, this is about the two parties coming to an agreement. We can help, we can push, we can prod, we can cajole, we can offer our good offices. But ultimately, they have to come to an agreement. Nobody can do that for them. And if they are not invested in an agreement and if they are not bringing their publics along with them to support an agreement, then it won't succeed, simple as that.
You know, we can't want peace more than the parties do. What you saw at Annapolis is that the parties have, at a fundamental level, committed to trying to achieve peace because they understand what's at stake for their people and for the region. So that is the spirit in which the people with whom we are working are negotiating and we haven't detected any deviation from that course.
QUESTION: Sean, I just want to follow up on what you just said, that the process has given the Israelis and Palestinians hope. And it obviously has and both sides have said that they're committed to the process --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- and they feel that a process is better than no process and - but I think that there is a difference between being committed to trying and being concerned on the Israeli and Palestinian part that they may not be able to get it done. And is - are you and the Administration and the Secretary - I mean, obviously, you're going to keep trying towards the end of the year. But if you've made gains and you don't have a deal, I mean, isn't that progress in itself? I mean, is it an all-or-nothing thing for you guys?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Elise, I've tried to explain the nuance of this to you. And ultimately, it comes down to a matter of judgment. And that's why you - you know, that's why, you know, the Secretary and the President and other members of the foreign policy/national security team get paid the big bucks to make those kinds of judgments. Again, there's something inherent to our nature that causes us to be optimistic - it's - that causes us to try to push things as far as they can possibly go, sometimes beyond people's comfort zones. And if you want to try to crack a really tough problem, probably one of the toughest foreign policy problems that we have out there - it's existed for decades - you know, maybe the parties have to go outside their comfort zone. We'll see. And we'll see if they're ready to do that, see if they're willing to do that. We've always said it will require tough compromises on everybody's part.
So we'll test that. You know, to import - I told you this morning - import a engineering concept into foreign policy, we'll test the tolerances of the process....
(IsraelNN.com) "This government has reached an end and it doesn't matter who heads Kadima," declared Opposition faction leader and Likud party chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday in an interview on Voice of Israel government radio.
Netanyahu called for immediate new elections, saying the entire Kadima party membership "are all partners in this government's total failure. National responsibility requires a return to the people and new elections."
According to the Ass. Press, polls show Bibi "would mostly likely win such a race if it were held today."
A Kuwaiti journalist quipped ... that arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar is an ingrate. He came out of 29 years in Israeli prisons in perfect health, weighing 200 pounds with a double chin, and with a university degree that the prison authorities allowed him to complete in correspondence with an Israeli University.
In an Arab prison, he'd have emerged as a body bag.
While the graves of Israel’s martyred Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are still fresh and tears still glisten in our eyes, the Levantine tents of Ishmael rejoice. Many people wrote me and asked, “How could Hashem allow His people to be humiliated so badly? The mourning for our fallen brothers is bad enough, but seeing Kuntar and Nasrulla hug each other while pledging to destroy Israel, Heaven forbid - this is too much!”
Those of us that don’t have televisions in our homes were spared the agony of witnessing Beirut’s jubilation, while arch-villain Nasrulla emerged from his underground rat’s nest to greet the toddler-killing arch-terrorist Samir Kuntar. Meanwhile, Karnit Goldwasser, Ehud’s widow, was shedding tears on her gentle husband’s coffin. One husband from the USA wrote me that his wife screamed in frustration when her television screen displayed the contrasting images.
After twenty nine years in an Israeli ultra-high-security prison, Kuntar is now a double-chinned and pot-bellied 46 years of age. One would think that he’d have enough sense to seek the quiet retreat of his family’s mountain estate in the town of Allei and tend to the family goats or play shesh-besh with the old men in their local sidewalk café. He promised (sic) his captors that he’d steer clear of terror activities once released. But Kuntar, displaying his proud Ishmaelite qualities, feels a physical and emotional need to live by the sword.
In a recent string of interviews, Kuntar has frothed at the mouth with threats against Israel. In his first interview with Hezbollah's TV station Al-Manar, Kuntar urged the entire Arab world to continue to fight to throw the Jews into the sea. Referring to the dead former satanic brain of Hizbulla terror operations and Nasralla’s right-hand man Imad Mughniyeh, whose hands were soaked in Jewish blood, Kuntar declared, “With me back in Lebanon, the Jews will long for the age of Mughniyeh,” hinting that his own sinister designs will make his murderous predecessor look like Captain Kangaroo.
Luckily, Kuntar doesn’t know Jewish history. His ignorance will serious shorten the span of his evil life. Throughout the annals of the Jewish people, no tyrant has ever gone peacefully to the grave....
In the Gemara’s description of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (see tractate Gittin 56b), Titus, the mightiest general in the world, blasphemes the Holy of Holies in the ugliest imaginable way before setting fire to the Temple. It’s impossible to imagine the Jewish national humiliation of such a vile act. Hashem showed how even the greatest of generals can be reduced to nothing by the tiniest of creatures. A mosquito entered Titus’s brain by way of his nostrils, and stung his brain repeatedly for seven whole years. Titus became a madman and suffered a miserable death.
.... Hashem does not forget the blood of tender martyrs, who donned a uniform for one reason only - to defend the Jewish homeland. He certainly won’t forget such beloved sons as Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser.
... beneath the exuberance lies a desperate nation. The curse of Jewish history--the inability to take mere existence for granted--has returned to a country whose founding was intended to resolve that uncertainty. Even the most optimistic Israelis sense a dread we have felt only rarely--like in the weeks before the Six Day War, when Egyptian President Gammal Abdul Nasser shut down the Straits of Tiran, moved his army toward our border, and promised the imminent destruction of Israel. At the time, Lyndon Johnson, one of the best friends Israel ever had in the White House, was too preoccupied with an unpopular war to offer real assistance.
We feel our security unraveling. Terror enclaves have emerged on two of our borders, undoing a decades-long Israeli policy to deny terrorist bases easy reach to our population centers. The cease-fire with Hamas is widely seen here as a defeat--an admission that Israel couldn't defend its communities on the Gaza border from eight years of shelling, and an opportunity for Hamas to consolidate its rule and smuggle in upgraded missiles for the inevitable next round of fighting. The unthinkable has already happened: missiles on Haifa and Ashkelon, exploding buses in Jerusalem, hundreds of thousands of Israelis transformed into temporary refugees.
During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Tel Aviv was hit with Scud missiles, residents fled to the Galilee. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the Galilee was hit with Katyushas, residents fled to Tel Aviv. In the next war, there will be nowhere to flee: The entire country is now within missile range of Iran and its terrorist proxies.
Above all else, we dread a nuclear Iran. With few exceptions, the consensus within the political and security establishment is that Israel cannot live with an Iranian bomb. In the U.S., a debate has begun over whether the Iranian regime is rational or apocalyptic. In truth no one knows whether the regime, or elements within it, would be mad enough to risk nuclear war. But precisely because no one knows, Israel will not place itself in a position to find out. As we contemplate the possibility of an Israeli military strike, we worry about the extent of support from you at what could be the most critical moment in our history. When Israelis discuss the timing of a possible attack, they often ask: If Obama wins the election, should we hit Iran before January?
In summary, Olmert said he would resign as soon as the Kadima primary elects a new leader and that person forms a government. The Kadima election would be in late September. But if that person cannot form a new government, we would go to new elections. Olmert could remain Prime Minister until the new elections. That could be December or January - enough time to do a lot of damage or to attack Iran. Or to give the Golan to Syria in exchange for talking to him directly.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is currently in the US, said that Olmert should have reached the same conclusion six months ago (I would have said two years ago) and that Olmert's term in office has been 'a farce.'
By the way, the reason Olmert addressed the nation tonight is that Livni, her main Kadima rival (Transportation Minister) Shaul Mofaz, and Defense Minister and Labor Party leader Ehud Barak are all in the United States right now.
Don't get too excited: Olmert could be in office until MARCH. Carl explains; read it all.
If my blogging gets lite, it's because Yeshiva Son is on his way home from Israel. We haven't seen him in a year, so I'm planning on being happily distracted... at least through Shabbos.
On July 29, 2008, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iranian authorities had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.
The paper said that according to sources, Iran was working to distance its nuclear installations from international oversight. The English version of the report, published in the Kuwaiti Arab Times, said, "Disclosing [that] Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned [that] the project poses a very serious threat to international security."
Also according to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not know about this site at all, since it was not included in negotiations with Iran in Geneva held in early July.
According to the report, the sources said that during 2000-2003, Iran expropriated the lands and homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region, destroying homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region.
Destroyed homes, fields, orchards, and wells, and built a three-meter-high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures hundreds of kilometers.
The report also said that "the construction of the reactor began with the laying of a pipeline for fresh water from the [nearby] KarounRiver to the site, and the expansion of the Al-Zarqan power station."
Also, the sources said that "the construction works seem to be routine and do not arouse attention, but the tight security around the region is what arouses suspicions regarding the nature of the work." They added that the site is guarded by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel, reflecting its importance and sensitivity.
(IsraelNN.com) Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri warned Tuesday that the Fatah crackdown on the rival Hamas terrorist party in Judea and Samaria could spark a revolt. A Fatah leader dismissed the threats as being made by "irresponsible people."
Fatah has arrested hundreds of Hamas members and leaders and is closing down businesses, schools and institutions associated with Hamas.
Hamas, which ousted Fatah from political power in Gaza after bloody clashes in June 2007, has charged that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad are cooperating with Israel by trying to wipe out Hamas's strength.
"Now the Zionists [Israelis] are protecting you," Hamas said in a statement addressed to PA forces in Judea and Samaria. "You know that once the protection of the Zionists is over, people will enter your headquarters and kick you out."
A Fatah military officer challenged Hamas to try to stage a revolt. "What are they waiting for? Why is it allowed for them to kill and arrest people in Gaza?" he said.
Hamas has arrested more than 200 Fatah members in Gaza, and Fatah has retaliated in Judea and Samaria, causing an overflow in PA jails.
[Daniel Silva:] ... the Iranians have very cleverly created two proxy armies on Israel’s border, one in the north called Hezbollah, and one in the south called Hamas. It is now estimated that Hezbollah has about 42,000 short-range missiles in rockets.
Remember a couple of years ago when Israel went to war briefly with Hezbollah. Maybe the estimate then was about 15,000. They have re-armed, they are armed to the teeth, and Israel knows that if it strikes at Iran’s nuclear facilities, that Hezbollah is going to be able to launch an extraordinarily violent retaliatory strike that will probably depopulate the north of Israel.
Secretary Rice's Remarks with Italian FM Franco Frattini - yesterday:
MR. MCCORMACK: We have time for two questions a side. We'll start with Anne Gearan from the Associated Press.
QUESTION: Yes. Madame Secretary, on the Mid-East, yesterday, Prime Minister Olmert said that he does not think a deal is possible on all the core issues by the end of the year. The Palestinians have been pessimistic in public prior to that. Are you feeling a little lonely out there as the only one who thinks a deal is still doable this year? How will you press that with both sides this week?
And Mr. Minister, is there something you think the United States should be doing or doing differently - doing that it isn' doing, or doing differently to try to get a deal in short order?
FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: What - excuse me, and the last part?
QUESTION: Do you think the United States should be doing something differently to try to get a deal done?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I am quite certain and I have been assured that the government of Prime Minister Olmert remains committed to the Annapolis vision of concluding this â an agreement by the end of the year. And there is no doubt that itâs difficult work, and there is no doubt also that there are a number of issues that would have to be resolved. Now, Jerusalem is a final status issue, so it will ultimately have to be resolved.
But our goal, as the United States, is to work as hard as we can to encourage the parties to resolve the differences between them. They are working very, very hard. They are also working very seriously. But, Anne, as I've said to you many times before, had this been easy, somebody else would have solved it a long time ago. The fact is that this is, unfortunately, a conflict that has been going on for decades. As much as people have said they've come close before, no one has done it. And so it only speaks to the difficulty of the issues that they're addressing.
But there are many things going for them this time, including, I think, the realization that the Middle East is not going to get better without the creation of a Palestinian state to live side by side with Israel in peace, security, and democracy. It simply isn't going to get better. And so the question is, if not now, when.
We have to work as hard as we can. I will have the Palestinian delegation here shortly. I will have the Israelis and the Palestinians - the Israeli delegation then tomorrow morning, and the Israelis and Palestinians a little later in a trilateral. I was with Prime Minister - or with Foreign - with Defense Minister Barak a little bit earlier, and I have talked to all of the parties by phone.
So I expect to continue to help the parties find points of convergence, to help them to continue to try to work toward this. But I'm assured that they're all committed to trying to make it happen, but nobody should underestimate the difficulty of doing that.
FOREIGN MINISTER FRATTINI: Yes, I fully agree with what Secretary Rice just said. Just a comment. I believe that time is playing against us. We have now a window of opportunity. That's why it's very important to come to an end before the end of the year, because now we have a good window of opportunity. And I think the moral, not only the institutional duty of Israel and Palestinian Authority is to show the international community that negotiations are alive. This is the very important point, that they are taking seriously, as I think they do, the negotiations.
And what United States is doing is absolutely right, try to persuade, try to move, try to go ahead, and, I would say, explaining to the public opinion that option -- failure does not exist.
This is the very important point because, otherwise, if we lose hopes, it's finished, not only for Middle East but for the international community which is at stake - its credibility - it's at stake, credibility of international community which is involved for a very long time to get comprehensive and lasting peace would be seriously at stake if we (inaudible) to fail. That's why what is - what Secretary Rice is doing is absolutely right.
There's also BILLIONS of dollars at stake, but it would be tacky of me to bring that up, especially when everyone else is talking about the PEACE process.
[WB&G = palestinian terrortories in the "West Bank" and Gaza]
... Palestinian Authority officials reported on Monday that the PA faces a major financial crisis, and is on the verge of bankruptcy (IsraelNN.com).
(How) Can this be? In the first six months of 2008, the "international community has paid out more than 920 million dollars in six months in direct budgetary support and signed for one billion dollars of bilateral agreements with the Palestinian Authority for development projects.
Of this, the U.S. has paid 61%, or $562 million, "surpassing our pledged level of $555 million" - according to a State Department press release yesterday.