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Thursday, March 16, 2006
The Competenence Issue and the Domestic Side of the WoT
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:10 pm

There are a variety of reasons why the Bush administration, despite a deep well of goodwill and high expectations post-9/11, is inspiring doubts from the population.

Specifically in the domestic side of the war on terror, the LAT notes that the Moussaoiui case, where prosecutorial misconduct will affect his sentence, is hardly the only example of administration failing in the area of the prosecution of terrorists: Moussaoui Case Is Latest Misstep in Prosecutions.

Indeed, the Moussaoui case may be the least of the mistakes, as he will get life in prison despite the attempt by a prosecutor to coach seven TSA witnesses.

Here are some of the others.

  • Jose Padilla:
    Gen. John Ashcroft announced in 2002 that Jose Padilla, a Bronx-born Muslim, had been arrested on suspicion of “exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or ‘dirty bomb,’ in the United States.”

    Padilla was held nearly four years in a military brig without being charged. This year, as his lawyers appealed his case to the Supreme Court, the administration indicted him in Miami on charges of conspiring to aid terrorists abroad. There was no mention of a “dirty bomb.”

  • Brandon Mayfield:
    n May 2004, the FBI arrested Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer and Muslim convert, saying that his fingerprint was on a bag containing detonators and explosives linked to the Madrid train bombings that had killed 191 people two months before. The former Army officer was held as a material witness even though officials in Spain considered the fingerprint evidence inconclusive.

    Mayfield was freed after almost three weeks in custody and received an apology from the FBI, which blamed the misidentification on a substandard digital image from Spanish authorities.

    The Mayfield case is an especially egregious error, as the man’s picture was shown around the world as a potential al Qaeda member. It is hard to erase that. Further, three week is jail, when one is innocent, is a horrible injustice-imagine how disruptive that would be to your life, not to mention having to actually be in jail.

  • Some others:
    • A computer science student in Idaho was accused of aiding terrorists when he designed a website that included information on terrorists in Chechnya and Israel. A jury in Boise acquitted Sami Omar Al-Hussayen of the charges in June 2004.

    • A Florida college professor was indicted on charges of supporting terrorists by promoting the cause of Palestinian groups. A jury in Tampa acquitted Sami Al-Arian in December.

    • Two Detroit men arrested a week after the Sept. 11 attacks were believed to be plotting a terrorist incident, in part based on sketches found in their apartment. A judge overturned the convictions of Karim Koubriti and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi after he learned that the prosecutor’s key witness had admitted lying to the FBI, a fact the prosecutor had kept hidden.

The only success that comes to mind is that of the Lackawanna Six.

The CSM also notes:

Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at the Guantánamo prison camp where many terrorist detainees are held, was arrested and accused of espionage. writes that, “When returning from duty at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, he was arrested on September 10, 2003, in Jacksonville, Florida and charged with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. He was then transferred to a United States Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.” CNN reported at the time that he might also be charged with treason.

The military never said what country Yee was supposed to have been spying for. He was held for 76 days in detention. All court-martial charges against him were “quietly” dropped in March 2004. The US military has never offered an explanation for its actions, or an apology to Yee.


The LA Weekly reported on March 1 that there are now doubts about the FBI case against a father and son accused of terrorism in Lodi, Calif. That case went to trial in February. The Los Angeles Times also reported Wednesday “terrorism experts and even federal officials” are expressing serious doubts about the testimony from the government’s key informant in the case, who said he saw Al Qaeda’s number two, Ayman Zawahiri, in 1999 in Lodi. Government sources say that while Zawahiri was in the US in the early 90s, he had not returned to the US since 1995 at the latest.

The piece also notes the following stats:

The Bush administration says that more than 400 people have been charged with terrorism-related crimes and that 228 have been convicted. But LA Weekly points out that “the vast majority of these cases have involved minor crimes not directly related to terrorism, such as immigration violations.” In June 2005, The Washington Post looked at 361 “terrorism-related” cases, as identified by the Justice Department, and found that only 39 convictions for crimes related to national security or terrorism.

In general, this an unimpressive record, and also one brings into question precisely how concerned we should be about domestic terror cells and/or the actual ability of the federal government to catch them if they are out there.

Another thought: the administration has argued that it needs expanded powers via the USA PATRIOT Act, and the NSA wiretapping program, yet we haven’t really caught anybody of great significance. Indeed, the most significant domestic catch to date is Moussaoui, who was caught pre-9/11.

Of course, the 9/11 hijackers themselves weren’t caught-and obviously we want to caught any such future group. I am not saying that there is no potential threat, but there are significant question here. And, of course, I have long thought and argued that the best way to ward out further domestic terrorism is the disruption of terror networks abroad. I fear that, on balance, once they are in the US, catching them is a difficult proposition.

Update: Some minor editing was done several hours after the original post to correct a few typos/errors.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Censure Issue
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:26 am

Via WaPo: A Senate Maverick Acts to Force an Issue

Feingold, 53, says he is convinced that Bush broke the law in ordering National Security Agency wiretaps of overseas telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens that involved people suspected of terrorist activities without first obtaining special court approval, and that his party must take a firm stand in protest.


Feingold’s resolution, formally introduced Monday, would censure Bush for approving an “illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil.” The senator’s intention was to refer the matter to the Judiciary Committee for hearings and a vote before consideration by the full Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) tried to force an immediate vote, to put the Democrats on the spot, but Democratic leaders objected, and for now the censure measure appears to be stalled.

I will say this about this affair: I would like to see a full investigation of the President’s action on this matter to determine if he did, in fact, violate the law. If he did, I would actually like to see a censure resolution voted out. If a President misbehaves, a President ought to be called on it by the Congress.

In other words, I would like to see a formal finding on what was done and a determination made as to its legality-and, further, as to the degree to which there was an honest issue of interpretation that led to the administration’s actions, and to what degree it was a deliberate ignoring of existing statute. In other words, were there gray areas, or were there stark areas of black and white, legally speaking? To be honest, my interpretation of the situation leans heavily towards the latter, while still seeing some of the former.

Of course, there has never been a full airing of this topic (not the operational aspects, but the legal/policy aspects) to my satisfaction.

The fact of the matter is, of course, that partisan and electoral politics so infuse this issue that true and an honest communication from the Congress to the President is not going to happen. Members of both parties (both in government and out) see this situation mostly from the point of view of how it effects 2006 and 2008, not from the POV of whether the President took proper actions.

Of course, I am of a mind that the censure option should be one that is more frequently on the table, insofar as the Congress ought to have a tool for the formal communication of serious displeasure with the President. However, this is a tool that clearly isn’t likley to come into vogue, as the article notes:

Censure, or official Senate condemnation, is a rare tool that has been used against only one president — Andrew Jackson, in March 1834. Jackson ignored the censure, and it was expunged three years later. Censuring is a symbolic act compared with impeachment — an indictment by the House permitted under the Constitution, which, if approved, leads to a Senate vote on acquittal or removal from office.

Really, President Clinton deserved a censure, rather than an attempt at removal from office-although I have often thought that the idea of impeachment without removal was a censure, after a fashion.

Of course, back to practical politics, a major problem with the censure idea is that it really would end being not a tool of inter-branch communication and criticism, but simply one of inter-party point-scoring. So, my musings regarding its use are in many ways a political fantasy predicated on the idea that Congress is really concerned about policy and proper governance and not political gain. Ah well, once can be an idealist in one’s own thoughts from time to time, I suppose.

Still, while I do think that Feingold is engaging in some pre-2008 politicking, I also think he is making a principled stand from his own point of view, and he also had to know that the resolution would fail (and, to be fair, he also knew it would get a lot of press).

To me it is unfortunate, albeit not surprising, that there hasn’t been a fuller investigation into the President’s actions on this NSA wiretap policy, as I think it is something that we all have a right to know more about, and that it is an issue that is serious in terms of how much power can a given president assert in such areas in the name of national security.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Moussaoui Trial Problems
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:12 am

Via the NYYT: Judge Calls Halt to Penalty Phase of Terror Trial

An angry federal judge delayed the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui on Monday and said she was considering ending the prosecution’s bid to have him executed after the disclosure that a government lawyer had improperly coached some witnesses.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema said she had just learned from prosecutors that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration gave portions of last week’s trial proceedings to seven witnesses who have yet to testify. In e-mail messages, the lawyer also seemed to tell some of the witnesses how they should testify to bolster the prosecution’s argument that Mr. Moussaoui bore some responsibility for the deaths caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“In all my years on the bench, I’ve never seen a more egregious violation of the rule about witnesses,” Judge Brinkema said before sending the jury home for two days. She said that the actions of the government lawyer, identified in court papers as Carla J. Martin, would make it “very difficult for this case to go forward.”

The the witness tampering was pretty extensive:

According to the filings, Ms. Martin sent e-mail messages to the seven witnesses, all current or former government aviation officials. In most of her messages, Ms. Martin included the transcript of the opening trial statements along with her criticism that prosecutors had, in her view, “created a credibility gap that the defense can drive a truck through.”

And, of course, doing it via e-mail wasn’t too bright.

The question that immediately comes to my mind is how much of this was stupidity and how much of this was Martin feeling either justified in her actions because of Moussaui was a terrorist, and/or general stress over a need to get a conviction in this case.

I fear that it was the because “he was a terrorist” explanation, but I will grant that I have no evidence to that fact, just concern.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006
On Pinochet
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:52 pm

(Speaking of Chilean politics):

Robert Farley of Lawyers, Guns and Money asks: Why Pinochet?

Why is it that Augusto Pinochet gets lefties into such a lather?

I mean this question in all seriousness, and I’m looking for serious answers. Pinochet has always struck me as a kind of middling dictator, not worthy of the hatred that the left holds for him. From what I understand, Chile under Pinochet was somewhat less bloody than the Philippines under Marcos and Argentina under its military junta. He certainly didn’t approach the level of brutality found in Guatemala, El Salvador, or the Dominican Republic under Trujillo. Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, and the various leaders of China make him look like a rank amateur in the tyranny game. Yet, the invocation of Pinochet lets loose the rage. I don’t understand.

Speaking as someone who would be considered as coming from “The Right” (as crude a dichotomy as that is) let me attempt to provide something of an answer. And I will preface my comments by stating that I am appalled by the degree to which some on the right ignore the brutality of the regime. I recall, for example, Bob Novak on The Capitol Gang one night lauding Pincohet for his economic reforms and utterly ignoring the nature of his government.

I will state that in general I view the overall neoliberal policies of the Pinochet regime in a positive light, but cannot accept the method by which that regime was installed and the way it conducted itself in power.

There is something haunting and chilling about the idea of the presidential guard removing itself from the protection of a democratically elected president, and then having the presidential palace bombed by the air force and assaulted by the army. That is something that should be wholly inconceivable in a a democracy, yet it happened. No amount of positive economic policy can erase those events.

I will confess to never having done a quantitative comparison of the death tolls in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. However, my generic understanding is that the basic attacks on the left were similar in all three states. Further, in Chile, unlike Brazil, political society was essentially shut down during the Pinochet era (in Brazil one could say that political society was controlled, but it was not shut down during the military era). We are talking here not just about assaulting the armed left, but the rounding up of professors, poets, musicians and intellectuals who were considered sympathetic to communism (which echoes what happened in Brazil and Argentina). We are also talking about the attempt by the state to utterly quell political organization and activity (which echoes Argentina).

In a review of literature on Pinochet, Todd Landman writes:

In the early years of the Pinochet regime, dissidents and suspected subversives were routinely detained, tortured, exiled or killed. Such a pattern of repression continued into the early 1980s, when it was replaced by a strategy of forceful intimidation of civil society through the use of arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture (Foweraker and Landman 1997: 246-247). The main perpetrator of the violations was generally seen to be the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA), which was replaced by the National Intelligence Centre (CNI) in 1977. In response to increasing social mobilization in the early 1980s, the regime declared a state of siege and used emergency powers under the 1980 constitution to suspend guarantees of civil and political rights. Violations of human rights have been variously documented by the Vicaría de la Solidaridad (a human rights NGO) and the Chilean Commission for Truth and Reconciliation. While the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation confirmed a limited number of extra-judicial killings (3,428), estimates by other groups of these and other violations are much larger (Reiter, Zunzunequi, and Quiroga 1992: 116-124).

Now, why might it be the case that left-leaners in the US go apoplectic over Pinochet, and not over the Brazilian military regime (which ruled for a longer period of time) or the Argentine, whose Dirty War may have been worse than that in Chile? There may be a simplistic explanation, which is actually pretty compelling: there was no single military leader in either of those cases.

The Brazilian military regime had regular, institutionalized rotation of the presidency amongst various generals. Here’s the list-and I suspect none of them leap out at anyone save a Brazilianist, or perhaps someone who regularly teaches Latin American Politics:

-Alencar Castelo Branco (1964-1967)
Artur da Costa e Silva (1967-1969 (died in office))
Emílio Garrastazú Médici (1969-1974)
Ernesto Geisel (1974-1979)
João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-1985)

Similarly, the Argentine case did not have a single dictator during the 1973-1983 period: first a junta, than Videla, Viola, Lacoste, Galtiere, Saint John and Bignone. All but Videla and Bignone served for less than a year. Videla as in office the longest-roughly five years.

As such, of the big three authoritarian regimes in South America, only Chile had a long-term “face”-the sixteen-year rule of Pinochet, which was followed, even after the transition to democracy, with his continuance as Commander-in-Chief of the military until 1998 when he then assumed a seat, under the constitution he had penned, as a Senator. This may add to the reaction-there is no sense that Pinochet received even a modicum of justice-he wasn’t even forced to resign in disgrace and hide from the public. Quite the contrary, he maintained himself as a political force even after the first presidential elections. It wasn’t until his arrest in London in 1998 that it even looked as if he might face justice in some capacity. As such he was in the public eye for a quarter of a century as either dictator, or the ex-dictator who got away with it legally.

So another reason that Pinochet may raise the hackles of many is that he didn’t go away, even after democracy returned to Chile. Indeed, one could argue that full democracy was not restored until the constitutional reforms of 2005 removed the military’s political powers.

Take the personal identification issue, the fact that he never “went away” and add it to the following list, and I think Robert’s question is pretty much answered:

  • Pinochet’s neoliberal program (viewed as anti-social justice by many on the left).
  • The fact that Allende was an elected leftist.
  • There was US CIA involvement in trying to destabilize the Allende regime. However, I think that calling the coup a “CIA-led” one is an overstatement-I think it was lead by the Chilean military. I do not think that the evidence suggests that it was a CIA coordinated event, like, for example, the removal of Arbenz in Guatemala or the installation of the Shah in Iran.
  • The Nixon administration was the one that was supporting the regime destabilization of Allende.

I would note that all three cases illustrate the folly of promoting dictatorship over democracy during the Cold War, and is one of the reasons I applaud the notion that our foreign policy in the Middle East (and globally) should be to promote democracy over dictatorship in the fight against terrorism (i.e., that the stability promised by authoritarians isn’t everything). Much harm came out of the US’s devotion to stamping out communism at all costs during the Cold War and I would not want to see similar mistakes made in the war on terrorism. However, I will further note that some of our policies in place like Guantanamo, or our usage of rendition, do put me in the mind of the national security attitudes of many Latin American governments during the Cold War: the need to be “getting the bad people” even if it violates our basic views of human rights and proper application of governmental power.

As such, we Americans need to be cautious about the way in which fear can drive policy, but in the way we treat foreign nationals, but how we seek to protect ourselves from our own citizens. The zeal of the administration and law enforcement to catch terrorists (such as the NSA wiretap program or the mistake in the Madrid bombing case noted in WaPo today) illustrate the degree to which lives can be severely damaged even when the intentions are good.

Update: Matthew Shugart makes some excellent points in the comments section. First, just as Pinochet is the most well-known of the dictators, so too is Allende the most well-known of those who were overthrown. Second, and more significantly, of the three cases, Chile was the most democratic-making the coup all the more dramatic and shocking.

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Friday, March 10, 2006
US-UAE Trade Talks on Hold
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

Via Reuters: US-UAE postpone free trade talks amid ports row

The United States and United Arab Emirates have postponed free trade talks set for next week, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Friday.


“This is not unusual. Just in the past few months, we’ve postponed rounds with Ecuador three times, Panama twice and Colombia once,” Moorjani said. “We continue to work on our negotiating issues” with the UAE, she said.

This is quite true. Still, one can’t help but think that this isn’t designed to be something of a message given the DPW mess.

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Terror in the Skies
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

The Onion? No, the AFP: Pakistan arrests 1,000 kite-flyers under terror laws

“Those flying kites with metal wire, nylon string or dangerous cord will be tried under anti-terrorism laws,” said Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, chief minister of Punjab province.

“We cannot allow people to play with the lives of ordinary citizens in the name of sports,” he said.

You have to admit: that’s quite a line.

In all seriousness, the ten deaths mentioned in the story are very sad, but anti-terror laws? The whole “dangerous string” business actually does sound like something that requires regulation-but this is just another example wherein the concept of “terrorism” is proving to be a tad too elastic.

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Dubai Ports and “a United States Entity”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:13 am

So, now the question becomes: what does it mean for Dubai Ports to transfer the contracts to a United States Entity?

Via the NewsHour: Dubai Ports Pledges to Transfer Ports to U.S. Entity

MARGARET WARNER So, Simon Romero, let me just — for our viewers, I will re-read the operative sentence, because there has been a lot of debate about what it means.

The — Senator Warner said, D.P. World will transfer fully the U.S. operations to a United States entity.

Now, does that sound like full divestiture of the U.S. portion of this deal?

SIMON ROMERO, The New York Times: Well, Margaret, it’s very hard to tell at this point, because, you know, there were reports earlier today that were saying that some private equity companies in the United States were interested in bidding for those U.S. assets.

But what — like you — exactly like the D.P. World statement says, they’re not saying that they are selling them. They are simply saying that they are transferring them. So, that could very well mean that they could create a legal entity that is based in the United States, that has American managers, and even an American board of directors, but could still be effectively controlled by — by Dubai.

It would seem to me that such a deal would be noticed in the current climate.

I will confess that when I heard the phrase “a United State entity” I figured it did not necessarily mean a US-owned company. The notion that DPW might try to still be indirectly involved did not occur to me.

And to my amusement (but then again, I didn’t get much sleep last night), Haliburton gets mentioned:



Halliburton, for example, has done something like this in Iran, where they operated for many years, up until recently. They simply operated those — those — you know, those Iranian operations out of an offshore entity. And that could be very well what — what the Dubai company is planning to do as well.

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Thursday, March 9, 2006
Retaliation from Dubai?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:44 pm

Via The Hill: Dubai threat to hit back

Dubai is threatening retaliation against American strategic and commercial interests if Washington blocks its $6.8 billion takeover of operations at several U.S. ports.


A source close to the deal said members of Dubai’s royal family are furious at the hostility both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have shown toward the deal.

“They’re saying, ‘All we’ve done for you guys, all our purchases, we’ll stop it, we’ll just yank it,’” the source said.

Retaliation from the emirate could come against lucrative deals with aircraft maker Boeing and by curtailing the docking of hundreds of American ships, including U.S. Navy ships, each year at its port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the source added.

It is not clear how much of Dubai’s behind-the-scenes anger would be followed up by action, but Boeing has been made aware of the threat and is already reportedly lobbying to save the ports deal.

Some sort of response would not be surprising.

No doubt some of this is simple anger and frustration, not to mention politics. However, I still think that the foreign relations implications of the current over-reaction to Dubai Ports’ role in this situation by numerous members of congress could be quite negative.

h/t: Reader Chris V. via e-mail

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All Things Beautiful linked with Dubai Ports, The Deal Is Dead
Ports Issue Becomes Moot
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:58 pm

Via WaPo: Dubai Port Company to Divest Itself of American Holdings

The United Arab Emirates company that was attempting to take over management operations at six U.S. ports announced today that it will divest itself of all American interests.

The announcement appears to head off a major confrontation that was brewing between Congress and the Bush administration over the controversial deal.


It was not immediately clear how the divesture would be handled or what U.S. company would take over the operation.

No doubt all the hysterical pols can now tell us that they saved us all from the Big Bad Dubai Ports Deal.

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The Same Subject Continued
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

Writes James Joyner at OTB

The irony, though, is that Republicans and Democrats are uniting here to make political hay out of what was probably the right decision on part of the president, all in the name of port security. Yet, shamefully, neither the White House nor the Congress is actually doing anything about real security issues at our ports.

Indeed. Regular readers know that I have been critical of the President of late, and do think that he and the administration have handled the politics of this situation very poorly, but based on what information I have, it would seem that the President is on the right side of this. Further, I think that if this deal dies for the primary reason that Dubai is an Arab country, then there will be negative consequences for our relations with Arab states in general, and therefore could be a detriment to US security policy.

Also: since we should want to encourage increased economic ties with Arab states, so as to hopefully foster liberalization and overall improved relations, it would be a shame for this deal to die because of political posturing.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Legislative Deal on NSA Situation
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:02 am

Via the NYT: G.O.P. Senators Say Accord Is Set on Wiretapping

The proposed legislation would create a seven-member “terrorist surveillance subcommittee” and require the administration to give it full access to the details of the program’s operations.

Ms. Snowe said the panel would start work on Wednesday, and called it “the beginning, not the end of the process.”

“We have to get the facts in order to weigh in,” she said. “We will do more if we learn there is more to do.”

The agreement would reinforce the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was created in 1978 to issue special warrants for spying but was sidestepped by the administration. The measure would require the administration to seek a warrant from the court whenever possible.

If the administration elects not to do so after 45 days, the attorney general must certify that the surveillance is necessary to protect the country and explain to the subcommittee why the administration has not sought a warrant. The attorney general would be required to give an update to the subcommittee every 45 days.


The proposed bill would allow the president to authorize wiretapping without seeking a warrant for up to 45 days if the communication under surveillance involved someone suspected of being a member of or a collaborator with a specified list of terrorist groups and if at least one party to the conversation was outside the United States.

This strikes me, at first read anyway, as reasonable. As long as there is both adequate oversight of all such activities by courts and the Congress, this is acceptable.

I still would like to have seen a more thorough inquiry by the Congress as to what the White House is doing and why they think that they can.

However, there is something to this criticism:

But Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, compared the proposed bill to a doctor’s diagnosis of an unexamined patient.

“Congress doesn’t have that great a history in reforming programs it knows a lot about,” Mr. Wyden said. “Here Congress is trying to legislate in the dark.”

However, if the new sub-committee has full access, it will allow for the opportunity for legislative refinement if needed.

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Thursday, March 2, 2006
May it be so
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:33 pm

Via Reuters: US troops say seize 61 al Qaeda in Iraq members

Bomb making equipment, weapons and munitions were seized in the raids on the training and bomb making facility in an area 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Falluja, Lynch said.

Some of al Qaeda in Iraq’s “critical facilitators” were included in the 61 people captured, he said.

Of course, experience counsels prudence in taking too seriously such initial reports in the WoT.

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Monday, February 27, 2006
You Don’t Say?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:51 pm

Via the AP: Paper: Coast Guard Has Port Co. Intel Gaps

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Zarqawi Aide Captured?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:07 am

Via Reuters: Iraqi forces capture Zarqawi aide: TV

Iraqiya named the man as Abu Farouq and said he was captured with five others in the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of the capital.

It said Abu Farouq al-Suri, previously unknown to the media, was captured by the Wolf Brigade, one of several counter-insurgency units operating within the Shi’ite-run Interior Ministry but accused by Sunnis of targeting civilians in their community.

Of course, the burning question is whether or not he is al Qaeda’s #3 man in Iraq.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006
Pundit Roundtable
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:29 pm

I was a participant today at Pundit Roundtable.

The topic: the port discussion.

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