June 25, 2006

Sunday Must-Read: The Real Story of the Khobar Towers “Investigation”

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:08 pm

This was in the subcription side of The Wall Street Journal a few days ago, and we should be grateful that The Journal put in OpinionJournal.com today.

It’s former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s read-the-whole-thing column on the Khobar Towers bombing 10 years ago. The ineffectualness and obstructionism that followed that attack should offend everyone, but especially the families of those who died.

And it all happened because of the rose-colored foreign-policy outlook of the previous administration towards a country that has been making a lot of news these days — Iran:

….. The Khobar victims, along with the courageous families and friends who mourn them this weekend in Washington, deserve our respect and honor. More importantly, they must be remembered, because American justice has still been denied.

Although a federal grand jury handed up indictments in June 2001–days before I left as FBI director and a week before some of the charges against 14 of the terrorists would have lapsed because of the statute of limitations–two of the primary leaders of the attack, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil and Abdel Hussein Mohamed al-Nasser, are living comfortably in Iran with about as much to fear from America as Osama bin Laden had prior to Sept. 11 (to wit, U.S. marshals showing up to serve warrants for their arrests).

….. It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon’s Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.

We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Spiritual Leader’s office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to make a personal request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI’s request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.

….. Finally, frustrated in my attempts to execute Mr. Clinton’s “leave no stone unturned” order, I called former president George H.W. Bush. I had learned that he was about to meet Crown Prince Abdullah on another matter. After fully briefing Mr. Bush on the impasse and faxing him the talking points that I had now been working on for over two years, he personally asked the crown prince to allow FBI agents to interview the detained bombers.

After his Saturday meeting with now-King Abdullah, Mr. Bush called me to say that he made the request, and that the Saudis would be calling me. A few hours later, Prince Bandar, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington, asked me to come out to McLean, Va., on Monday to see Crown Prince Abdullah. When I met him with Wyche Fowler, our Saudi ambassador, and FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson, the crown prince was holding my talking points. He told me Mr. Bush had made the request for the FBI, which he granted, and told Prince Bandar to instruct Nayef to arrange for FBI agents to interview the prisoners.

Several weeks later, agents interviewed the co-conspirators. For the first time since the 1996 attack, we obtained direct evidence of Iran’s complicity. What Mr. Clinton failed to do for three years was accomplished in minutes by his predecessor. This was the breakthrough we had been waiting for, and the attorney general and I immediately went to Mr. Berger with news of the Saudi prison interviews.

Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger’s astounding response was: “Who knows about this?” His next, and wrong, comment was: “That’s just hearsay.”

….. The Khobar bombing case eventually led to indictments in 2001, thanks to the personal leadership of President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. But justice has been a long time coming.

No kidding, and it still hasn’t arrived.

So in the last 4-1/2 years of the Clinton Administration, the Khobar investigation was essentially blown off, and would have stayed that way had Bush 41 not agreed to intervene for Mr. Freeh.

Now we have the former Secretary of Defense and Assistant Secretary of Defense of that administration lobbying Bush 43 to “do something” about Iran (HT Redhawk Review), possibly including some kind of military action. That sounds an awful lot like “Please clean up the mess we made” — just as Freeh indicated the two Bushes did with the Khobar investigation. Just as Bush 43 did by going into Afghanistan to oust a regime engaging in unspeakable oppression and destroying priceless antiquities of the “wrong” religions. Just as Bush 43 did by going into Iraq (with the approval of huge congressional majorities) to do something the previous administration had promised to do in 1998 if UN resolutions continued to be ignored (they were ignored, but nothing was done). Just as …..

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more on those who were killed, including a link to an overview of the attack and to PDFs of the actual indictments (14 people on 46 counts, none brought to justice).

Conservative Culture Suddenly Sunday Trackback Participant.

Weekend Question 3: When Will We Understand That Net Neutrality is Really Net Regulation?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:01 am

I think Pat Cleary at RedState has the language down right on this issue:

….. “Net neutrality” = “net regulation.” If you want to regulate the net, you’ll love net neutrality. Net regulation will require a one-size/one price fits all approach to the net. Today, you can spend more to get a better car, house, iPod, whatever. Even the US Postal Service allows you to spend more to send a letter or a package faster. So why is it bad for companies to be able to charge more for faster and more complex Internet service? If you don’t want that, you’d pay less. Makes sense, no? Remember the market?

We wrote about this a while back. Someone sent us an article comparing this debate to the Post Office, noting the different rates for mailing a post card vs. a bicycle. Under net regulation, the government would require that you pay the same for both. Guess what happens to the price of mailing a post card?

Another point made by one of the attendees at yesterday’s session, cutting through the clutter of what net regulation meant was this: “Who do you trust to manage the development of the Internet — the private sector or the US Government?” Only one answer to that one.

After all controversy last fall that centered around keeping the UN and the EU away from the Internet, I’ll be dipped if I’m going to let the heavy hand of US government regulation intervene without justification.

And again, if there IS justification, the FCC and DOJ will have to have the nerve to address it. I don’t have any reason to believe they wouldn’t.

This is a basic liberal-conservative divide, and the question is, “Who do you DIS-trust the least?”:
- Government.
- BizzyBlog Wall of Shame members Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!
- The Telcos and Cablecos.

By default, my level of DIS-trust is lowest with the Telcos and Cablecos.

Saturday’s OpinionJournal.com reinforces: “Google and Moveon.org say they want to help you. Look out.”

UPDATE: Dave at NixGuy has more on the “Who do you trust (or distrust the least)?” demarcation.

Positivity: Her Favorite Song Wakes 5 Year-Old from Coma

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

This seems from England seems too corny to be true, but Claudia De’Alwisis’s parents believe it:

Girl, 5, awoken from coma by favourite James Blunt song
by JAMES TOZER, Daily Mail

After a horrific headfirst fall from a 15ft high balcony, there were fears Claudia De’Alwis might not survive.

For ten days she lay in a coma in hospital, her distraught parents praying at her bedside for a miracle.

But it was only when the five-year-old’s favourite song – You’re Beautiful by James Blunt – came on the hospital radio that she finally began to awaken.

Yesterday, as she continued to make a remarkable recovery, her mother and father said they were convinced that the melody of the singer’s Number One hit had helped her pull through.

“Claudia loves You’re Beautiful and she used to sing it all the time,” said her father Paul, 40. “It was like her theme tune.

“Following the accident, the doctors warned us she might not make it, and after ten days in a coma we were desperately worried that she wasn’t going to recover.

“But then the song came on the radio and she started to move for the first time, and we could tell she was starting to wake up.

“It was an unforgettable moment when she opened her eyes and acknowledged us at last.

“Since then it’s been tough but she hasn’t looked back, she’s a real fighter, and I’m sure that hearing the song she loves so much helped her come round.”

Claudia, an only child, fell from a first-floor balcony onto a hallway floor while playing at a friend’s house last month, suffering a fractured skull.

Her father Paul, a property developer, and mother Gaynor Turner, 40, a bank clerk, live in a bungalow in Burnley, Lancashire, and they fear she was unused to the dangers of heights.

After being stabilised at the accident and emergency unit of her local hospital, she was transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Pendlebury where her parents spent ten days at her bedside around the clock praying for her to recover.

“The doctors told us straight away that it was a case of life and death,” said Mr De’Alwis. “We broke down when we saw the state of her.

“She was strapped down with tape everywhere so that she couldn’t move for her own safety, but she was unconscious anyway.

“The doctors said she might not make it and if she did she might not speak, or may be brain-damaged or paralysed.”

But after her remarkable recovery her parents now hope the youngster, who goes to Wellfield Church School, Burnley, will be able to go home in time for her sixth birthday next month.

“She is still paralysed in the right arm and leg, but she is starting to move more and more,” said Mr De’Alwis. “She can already walk a few yards and we’ve been told she should be able to go home in about two weeks’ time.

“Claudia is a fantastic, really strong little girl. She has a better social life than I do – she does martial arts, swimming and ballet. That’s what we think saved her life, as she is such a fit little girl.”

Harrow-educated Blunt, a former cavalry officer, has sold six million copies of the album from which You’re Beautiful is taken, Back to Bedlam.

Here are the lyrics “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt:

My life is brilliant. My love is pure. I saw an angel. Of that I’m sure.

“You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful, it’s true. I saw you face in a crowded place, And I don’t know what to do, ‘Cause I’ll never be with you.