What if Iran already has nukes hidden in North Korea?

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

nuclear-explosion

That’s the not so subtle implication of Gordon Chang’s article in The Daily Beast. Much of the article explores the illicit nuclear proliferation network (parts confirmed, others suspected) between Iran, China, North Korea, and (formerly?) Pakistan, dating back nearly fifteen years. But the key portions follow:

In October 2012, Iran began stationing personnel at a military base in North Korea, in a mountainous area close to the Chinese border. The Iranians, from the Ministry of Defense and associated firms, reportedly are working on both missiles and nuclear weapons. Ahmed Vahidi, Tehran’s minister of defense at the time, denied sending people to the North, but the unconfirmed dispatches make sense in light of the two states announcing a technical cooperation pact the preceding month.

(…)

The North Koreans have also sold Iran material for bomb cores, perhaps even weapons-grade uranium. The Telegraph reported that in 2002 a barrel of North Korean uranium cracked open and contaminated the tarmac of the new Tehran airport.

(…)

The relationship between the two regimes has been long-lasting. Hundreds of North Koreans have worked at about 10 nuclear and missile facilities in Iran. There were so many nuclear and missile scientists, specialists, and technicians that they took over their own coastal resort there, according to Henry Sokolski,  the proliferation maven, writing in 2003.

Even if Iran today were to agree to adhere to the Additional Protocol, it could still continue developing its bomb in North Korea, conducting research there or buying North Korean technology and plans. And as North Korean centrifuges spin in both known and hidden locations, the Kim regime will have a bigger stock of uranium to sell to the Iranians for their warheads. With the removal of sanctions, as the P5+1 is contemplating, Iran will have the cash to accelerate the building of its nuclear arsenal.

So while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere. In other words, they will be one day away from a bomb—the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran—not one year as American and other policymakers hope.

(Emphasis added)

Think about it. Pretend for a minute you’re one of the Muslim fanatics who rule Iran. Maybe you’re part of the faction that sees it as its duty to bring about the Islamic “end times.” You definitely want to crush the Jews and destroy Israel. You hate America as the Great Satan and see Iran’s Islamic Revolution as the one hope for truly making Allah’s religion supreme. To protect the revolution and fulfill Allah’s goals, you’ve decided Iran needs nuclear weapons.

But the Great and Little Satans (America and Israel) stand in your way. They don’t want you to have these weapons. They are infidels and enemies of Allah. So, to buy yourself the time to make them, you enter into negotiations — not to give anything away, but merely to delay. And, so far, it’s worked. The infidels are weak and anxious for an agreement, so they keep playing along, no matter how outrageous your demands.

And yet there are risks. What if the Zionist Entity (Israel) loses patience and attacks? That might set back your program. What if a new president takes charge in America, one who isn’t afraid to use his nation’s awesome resources to weaken your regime by supporting the opposition, as Reagan did with Poland, or through the direct use of armed force, as they did to Saddam? That could wreck your nuclear dreams, if not overthrow you altogether. How do you guard against that?

Well, like any well-run operation, you have a disaster back up plan. In this case, an offsite nuclear program, parallel to the one in Iran. One so offsite that  it is in another country, an allied nation with a nuclear program of its own and that hates America, too, and is obsessed with security.

A place like North Korea.

This is all speculative, of course, but it is also plausible. It’s what any reasonable person would consider doing in a similar situation. And, while the mullahs are aggressive antisemitic religious fascists, they are not stupid.

Keep your eye out: Iran has been playing hardball in the negotiations, demanding so much that even Obama and Kerry must have been tempted at times to walk out. The deadline for an agreement is coming up: If Iran suddenly and to everyone’s relief makes major concessions, I think the North Korean backup scenario goes from “likely” to “almost certain.”

Sleep well.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#NeverForget 9-11: Remembering 9-11, and WTC victim Peter Edward Mardikian

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Reposting.  God bless, and never forget.  -ST**

———————————————————-

Longtime readers of this blog will recognize this post, as I have published it here every 9-11 since 2006 in honor of Mr. Mardikian, and all victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, as part of DC Roe’s 9-11 remembrance project. I thought this year about doing another post for another victim, but decided it would be too painful, as the memories of what happened that day are still so fresh and raw for many, myself included. I didn’t know anyone in the WTC towers, the Pentagon, or on any of the planes, but I was in NYC on that day – scheduled to fly back home that evening. I remember just like it was yesterday what I was doing and where I was when I found out what was going on, and the shock and numbness that washed over me as it slowly started to sink in that we were under attack. When my friend S and I checked back into the Times Square hotel we had only checked out of about 2 hours earlier, the first thing we did was turn on the TV to get updates. At that time, news channels were showing unedited coverage, & raw eyewitness footage as all news at that point was “breaking,” so we saw what the rest of America was seeing – like people screaming for help from the top floors of the towers, some of them jumping. Also, like many other Americans, we watched on TV as the towers collapsed. And, again, like the rest of America, she and I couldn’t stop crying at the senseless losses of so many innocent lives, as the victim count piled up from NYC, to the Pentagon, to a field in Shanksville, PA.

It’s still hard to believe even today that something as horrifying as 9-11 happened on our soil. But it did, and we must never, ever forget it. Time passes on and life goes on, but for the victims, their families, and for the future of America, we must always remember – and always remain vigilant against the Islamofascists who would like nothing more than to commit many more 9-11s.

For an extensive archive of TV coverage of 9-11 as it happened, click here.

Here, once again, is Peter Edward Mardikian’s story. Note: Some links may no longer work, but they were valid at the time of the original writing.

———————————–

(Originally posted 9/10/06 7:55 pm)

Peter Edward MardikianImagine you are 29 years old. You’ve been married for six weeks to your college sweetheart, someone whom friends would later say that you wouldn’t have been “complete” without. You’re beginning to realize your personal and professional dreams. The world looks to be your oyster, and you believe that you and your spouse have the rest of your lives to explore it, all the while enjoying the comfort of knowing that you have not only each other, but the enduring love of family and friends surrounding you.

And then imagine those hopes being snatched away from you in the blink of an eye, without warning, without provocation. Imagine the chilling, horrifying realization that you will never see your spouse again, your family, your friends. That you will be leaving this earth much sooner than you ever thought you would be.

Such was the case for Peter Edward Mardikian, one of 2,996 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.

As it was for most of us, September 11, 2001 started off as an average day for Mr. Mardikian. Peter worked for a company called “Imagine Software” in Manhattan. That morning Peter was on business, preparing a software exhibit for a trade show in the World Trade Center at Windows on The World, which was a popular restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower. As you can see from the picture, it had a spectacular view of the city. It was a city Peter Mardikian, who grew up in Princeton, NJ, had dreamed of living and working in. Here is what the morning started out like at Windows on the World:

Windows on the World restaurant“Good morning, Ms. Thompson.”

Doris Eng’s greeting was particularly sunny, like the day, as Liz Thompson arrived for breakfast atop the tallest building in the city, Ms. Thompson remembers thinking. Perhaps Ms. Eng had matched her mood to the glorious weather, the rich blue September sky that filled every window. Or perhaps it was the company.

Familiar faces occupied many of the tables in Wild Blue, the intimate aerie to Windows that Ms. Eng helped manage, according to two people who ate there that morning. As much as any one place, that single room captured the sweep of humanity who worked and played at the trade center.

Ms. Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, was eating with Geoffrey Wharton, an executive with Silverstein Properties, which had just leased the towers. At the next table sat Michael Nestor, the deputy inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of his investigators, Richard Tierney.

At a third table were six stockbrokers, several of whom came every Tuesday. Ms. Eng had a treat for one of them, Emeric Harvey. The night before, one of the restaurant’s managers, Jules Roinnel, gave Ms. Eng two impossibly-hard-to-get tickets to “The Producers.” Mr. Roinnel says he asked Ms. Eng to give them to Mr. Harvey.

Sitting by himself at a window table overlooking the Statue of Liberty was a relative newcomer, Neil D. Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority. He had never joined them for breakfast before. But his secretary requested a table days earlier and now he sat waiting for a banker friend, said Mr. Levin’s wife, Christy Ferer.

Every other minute or so, a waiter, Jan Maciejewski, swept through the room, refilling coffee cups and taking orders, Mr. Nestor recalls. Mr. Maciejewski was one of several restaurant workers on the 107th floor. Most of the 72 Windows employees were on the 106th floor, where Risk Waters Group was holding a conference on information technology.

Already 87 people had arrived, including top executives from Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg, according to the conference sponsors. Many were enjoying coffee and sliced smoked salmon in the restaurant’s ballroom. Some exhibitors were already tending to their booths, set up in the Horizon Suite just across the hallway.

A picture taken that morning showed two exhibitors, Peter Alderman and William Kelly, salesmen for Bloomberg L.P., chatting with a colleague beside a table filled with a multi-screened computer display. Stuart Lee and Garth Feeney, two vice presidents of Data Synapse, ran displays of their company’s software.

Down in the lobby, 107 floors below, an assistant to Mr. Levin waited for his breakfast guest. But when the guest arrived, he and Mr. Levin’s aide luckily boarded the wrong elevator, Ms. Ferer would learn, and so they had to return to the lobby to wait for another one.

Upstairs, Mr. Levin read his newspaper, Mr. Nestor recalled. He and Mr. Tierney were a little curious to see whom Mr. Levin, their boss, was meeting for breakfast. But Mr. Nestor had a meeting downstairs, so they headed for the elevators, stopping at Mr. Levin’s table to say goodbye. Behind them came Ms. Thompson and Mr. Wharton. Mr. Nestor held the elevator, so they hopped in quickly, Ms. Thompson recalled.

Then the doors closed and the last people ever to leave Windows on the World began their descent. It was 8:44 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower, slicing through floors 94 through 98. Those in the direct path of the Boeing 767 aircraft that had been used as a weapon were likely killed instantly. No one in the floors above floor 91 would survive, because they had no way out, and firefighters could not reach them.

According to Peter Mardikian’s wife Corine, he called her at 9:05 a.m. using a landline phone, one that was miraculously still working, on the 106th floor. Here is her recollection of the conversation:

“He said it was very, very smoky,” Ms. Mardikian said, “and he was worried about his breathing. He was talking about going up to the roof. I think he was trying to shelter me. He said he couldn’t talk longer because there were a lot of people standing in line to use the phone.”

His in-laws quoted him as saying this as well to his wife:

“We think a bomb hit here. I’m having a hard time breathing. I probably won’t make it out of here. I just want you to know I love you.”

Here’s what was happening on the top floors of the North Tower at 9:35 that morning:

So urgent was the need for air that people piled four and five high in window after window, their upper bodies hanging out, 1,300 feet above the ground.

They were in an unforgiving place.

Elsewhere, two men, one of them shirtless, stood on the windowsills, leaning their bodies so far outside that they could peer around a big intervening column and see each other, an analysis of photographs and videos reveals.

On the 103rd floor, a man stared straight out a broken window toward the northwest, bracing himself against a window frame with one hand. He wrapped his other arm around a woman, seemingly to keep her from tumbling to the ground.

Behind the unbroken windows, the desperate had assembled. “About five floors from the top you have about 50 people with their faces pressed against the window trying to breathe,” a police officer in a helicopter reported.

Now it was unmistakable. The office of Cantor Fitzgerald, and just above it, Windows on the World, would become the landmark for this doomed moment. Nearly 900 would die on floors 101 through 107.

In the restaurant, at least 70 people crowded near office windows at the northwest corner of the 106th floor, according to accounts they gave relatives and co-workers. “Everywhere else is smoked out,” Stuart Lee, a Data Synapse vice president, e-mailed his office in Greenwich Village. “Currently an argument going on as whether we should break a window,” Mr. Lee continued a few moments later. “Consensus is no for the time being.”

Soon, though, a dozen people appeared through broken windows along the west face of the restaurant. Mr. Vogt, the general manager of Windows, said he could see them from the ground, silhouetted against the gray smoke that billowed out from his own office and others.

By now, the videotapes show, fires were rampaging through the impact floors, darting across the north face of the tower. Coils of smoke lashed the people braced around the broken windows.

In the northwest conference room on the 104th floor, Andrew Rosenblum and 50 other people temporarily managed to ward off the smoke and heat by plugging vents with jackets. “We smashed the computers into the windows to get some air,” Mr. Rosenblum reported by cellphone to his golf partner, Barry Kornblum.

But there was no hiding.

As people began falling from above the conference room, Mr. Rosenblum broke his preternatural calm, his wife, Jill, recalled. In the midst of speaking to her, he suddenly interjected, without elaboration, “Oh my God.”

Imagine what it would feel like to be Peter Mardikian in that crowd, knowing that each moment may be your last. What would you think? How would you feel? How would you act?

The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 that morning. Collapsing along with it were the lives of everyone in floors 92 and above, including Peter Mardikian.

Destroyed with it were the hopes and dreams of everyone on those floors who were murdered that day in an act of extraordinary cruelty and viciousness perpetrated by Islamofascists in an act of war against America.

Mr. Mardikian’s life was snatched from him in a way that no one should ever have to experience. He will never get to feel sunlight on his face again, nor get a kiss from his wife after he’s come home from a hard day at the office. Any plans they’d made for the future? Gone.

A September 11 Memorial Endowment was established by Ohio State University in 2002 in honor of Peter Mardikian, who was an alumnus – graduating from OSU’s Fisher College of Business in 1995 with a B.A. in marketing and business. It’s also where he met the woman who would be his wife.

The online guestbook for Peter Mardikian has many pages of messages from family, friends, and strangers – their lives all touched by either knowing and loving Peter Mardikian or learning about him after Sept. 11.

At some point in your day, please say a prayer or a kind word for Mr. Mardikian’s family, as well as all other families who lost loved ones that day. They may be gone, but they are most definitely not forgotten.

Thanks to D.C. Roe for coordinating the 9-11 victims tribute. Click here read other tributes to 9-11 victims (some links may no longer work).

Awesome: persons from ebola-outbreak countries among illegal border crossers

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

"Ebola virus"

“Ebola virus”

I’m telling ya, this is how Act One of a bad science fiction movie would run. A report leaked to Breitbart Texas from the Customs and Border Patrol service (CBP) discusses how people from all over the globe are trying to exploit our porous southern border to get into the United States. People from more than 75 different countries have been apprehended. That’s frustrating enough. But what is truly scary is where some of them are coming from:

Among the significant revelations are that individuals from nations currently suffering from the world’s largest Ebola outbreak have been caught attempting to sneak across the porous U.S. border into the interior of the United States. At least 71 individuals from the three nations affected by the current Ebola outbreak have either turned themselves in or been caught attempting to illegally enter the U.S. by U.S. authorities between January 2014 and July 2014.

None of those people it seems were carrying ebola, for we’d surely know by now. But what if someone carrying the virus made it across the Rio Grande and successfully hid themselves in our inner cities, not knowing the danger he or she posed as a “Trojan horse?” By the time this person showed symptoms and was discovered, the virus might already have spread into the larger population. Even if safely contained, the news would spread like wildfire.

Can you say “mass public panic?”

Securing the border is looking better and better all the time.

via Rick Moran

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Brutal: NY Daily News on #Bergdahl deal — “Surrender without honor”

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

NYDN cover

Mind you, this is from one of the liberal newspapers in New York City:

President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.

The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.

These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.

In retrospect, his Rose Garden announcement that he was bringing home an American POW appears to have been a cynical act of theater.

In other words, a dog and pony show to distract from the VA fiasco. I can believe that.

Then, after dismissing Obama’s assurances about “keeping on eye” on these barbarians while they’re in Qatar, the NYDN delivers the killing blow:

Finally, Obama provided insight into the actual reason for the deal by placing it in the context of his drive to pull out of Afghanistan.

“This is what happens at the end of wars,” Obama said. “That was true for George Washington; that was true for Abraham Lincoln; that was true for FDR; that’s been true of every combat situation — that at some point, you make sure that you try to get your folks back.”

In other words, he wants out so badly that he accepted the Taliban’s terms, regardless of the threat to American security.

He is surrendering without honor.

Remember, this is from a major regional paper that’s generally on The One’s side. Can’t dismiss this one as “Faux News.”

What’s going on here, I think, is that even center-left outlets (1) are having trouble coloring this as anything other than a major “dereliction of duty” on the part of the president. They find themselves nodding in agreement with former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy at center-right PJM:

Is that the end of the matter? Not by a long shot. As I’ve also contended, the president’s failure to comply with a dubious statute is a mere footnote to his truly egregious offense: replenishing enemy forces at a time when the enemy is still conducting offensive terrorist operations against our armed forces. It would be difficult to fathom a more outrageous dereliction of duty by the commander-in-chief.

Moreover, if you want to fret over statutory violations, I would spend less time on the 30-day notice law and more on the federal criminal law that makes material support to terrorists a serious felony. The president has knowingly provided personnel—key, experienced, highly effective jihadists—to terrorist organizations that are still very much at war with the United States. That is material support to terrorism.

What Obama did was the equivalent of Eisenhower capturing senior North Korean and Chinese generals and then returning them while the fighting in Korea was still going on. If Ike were an idiot, that is, which he wasn’t.

In New York City, a metropolis that’s been the victim of catastrophic terrorism, even a paper as reliably liberal as the Daily News can’t help but scream “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing??”

If Team Unicorn expected any kudos for this “deal,” they must be gravely disappointed.

PS: Jim Geraghty, from whom I took the graphic, has an interesting article on impressions confirmed and disproved by the Bergdahl deal. Also via Jim, is Obama so sick of being president that he’s dropping hints he may resign if the Republicans win the Senate in November? Check this out:

Obama tells anxious Democrats that there is only so much he can do beyond fundraising and better implementing the health-care law. But he also has told allies that losing the Senate to Republicans would make his last two years in office unbearable . . .

“I don’t really care to be president without the Senate,” Obama said, according to attendees, signaling that he knew the health care debacle created resentment among Democrats and that he wanted to make amends.

As Allahpundit likes to say, “Hmmm….”

via Bryan Preston

Footnote:
(1) Other than MSNBC, which will be the network of Obama lickspittles until the End of Days.

UPDATE: At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski asks a darned fine question — “Why Are We Releasing Terrorists Who Kill Girls Because They Go To School?”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Asking for trouble: the Obama-Hagel defense budget

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

U.S. Navy, post-Obama

U.S. Navy, post-Obama

Long ago, the Roman writer Vegetius wrote perhaps the wisest thing anyone has ever written regarding war and peace:

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

In other words, if your potential foes know you are strong, that you are willing to use force to defend your interests, and that they are not likely to win, then they will not pick a fight with you.

President Obama and his dullard Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, have evidently never read Vegetius:

Stating that a postwar environment was the time to do some shrinking, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a budget proposal Monday that reduces the Army to pre-World War II levels despite “a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States.”

“Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities: first, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations; second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries; and, third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon today.

You can read the details in Bridget Johnson’s article, but, quickly, the Army would be reduced to 450,000 soldiers, the Marine Corps to 182,000, the Navy would be kept at 11 carrier battle groups (unless further cuts are needed), and, among other cuts, the Air Force would eliminate its entire force of A-10 “warthog” ground-support aircraft. I’m sure infantrymen everywhere are thrilled with that one.

Hagel’s opening statement is nonsensical: in one breath he proposes devastating cuts to our military capabilities, while, in the other, he claims (rightly) that the world is growing “more volatile, more unpredictable,” and “more threatening.” When he claims this configuration will allow us to defend ourselves from foes by relying on high tech, he ignores his own assertion that the world is unpredictable. Who knew on September 10th, 2001, in the wake of the Clinton-era defense cuts, that we would find ourselves in a war that required liberating and occupying two nations? While we are leaving Afghanistan and have left Iraq (God help them), we are still at war with a transnational terror group waging holy war against us. What if they should take over another country as a base (Syria? Mali? Iraq, again?)?  Do we then shrug our shoulders and say “No can do?” What if North Korea decides to invade the South, again? Those A-10s will be sorely missed, I guarantee it.

Those are just two among the myriad possible threats we face as dictators grow emboldened by our feckless leadership. When Ronald Reagan launched our military buildup in the 1980s, it wasn’t just to have plenty of ships and tanks on hand, it was to demonstrate a will to resist the world’s tyrants, so that they would make no miscalculation. The Obama-Hagel defense cuts, on the other hand send just the opposite message, one of weakness and a lack of confidence, of opportunity for the enemy because this administration is renouncing our traditional role as guarantor of a liberal world order.

And it’s deliberate. In an essay that now seems truly prescient, Charles Krauthammer made it plain that, for an ideology that sees American power as a problem, not a solution, for the world’s challenges, decline is a choice, one made in sacrifice to the desire to turn the US into a gelded European social democracy:

This is not the place to debate the intrinsic merits of the social democratic versus the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism. There’s much to be said for the decency and relative equity of social democracy. But it comes at a cost: diminished social mobility, higher unemployment, less innovation, less dynamism and creative destruction, less overall economic growth.

This affects the ability to project power. Growth provides the sinews of dominance–the ability to maintain a large military establishment capable of projecting power to all corners of the earth. The Europeans, rich and developed, have almost no such capacity. They made the choice long ago to devote their resources to a vast welfare state. Their expenditures on defense are minimal, as are their consequent military capacities. They rely on the U.S. Navy for open seas and on the U.S. Air Force for airlift. It’s the U.S. Marines who go ashore, not just in battle, but for such global social services as tsunami relief. The United States can do all of this because we spend infinitely more on defense–more than the next nine countries combined.

Those are the conditions today. But they are not static or permanent. They require constant renewal. The express agenda of the New Liberalism is a vast expansion of social services–massive intervention and expenditures in energy, health care, and education–that will necessarily, as in Europe, take away from defense spending.

This shift in resources is not hypothetical. It has already begun. At a time when hundreds of billions of dollars are being lavished on stimulus and other appropriations in an endless array of domestic programs, the defense budget is practically frozen. Almost every other department is expanding, and the Defense Department is singled out for making “hard choices”–forced to look everywhere for cuts, to abandon highly advanced weapons systems, to choose between readiness and research, between today’s urgencies and tomorrow’s looming threats.

That was in 2009, and now we’re seeing the inevitable product of that vast expansion of the welfare state. And the world is going to become much more dangerous because of it.

To paraphrase Vegetius, “If you want war, pretend your enemy wants peace.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

The Snowden Scandal: Blazing Incompetence

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Obama foreign policy advisers

Our national security watchdogs

This reminds me frighteningly of the communications breakdowns that enabled the 9/11 attacks. Has no one learned anything?

Apparently not:

Just as Edward J. Snowden was preparing to leave Geneva and a job as a C.I.A. technician in 2009, his supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his personnel file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits, as well as a troubling suspicion.

The C.I.A. suspected that Mr. Snowden was trying to break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access, and decided to send him home, according to two senior American officials.

But the red flags went unheeded. Mr. Snowden left the C.I.A. to become a contractor for the National Security Agency, and four years later he leaked thousands of classified documents. The supervisor’s cautionary note and the C.I.A.’s suspicions apparently were not forwarded to the N.S.A. or its contractors, and surfaced only after federal investigators began scrutinizing Mr. Snowden’s record once the documents began spilling out, intelligence and law enforcement officials said.

“It slipped through the cracks,” one veteran law enforcement official said of the report.

No sh… er… kidding, genius.

Forget firings. Someone needs to be shot over this. And I don’t mean just Mr. Snowden.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

(Video) You really ought to go home

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

An interesting edition of Afterburner. Bill Whittle talks about a recent incident in which an American F-22 suggested that the pilot of an Iranian fighter “ought to go home” and then ties it to two well-known politicians who, themselves, should to do the same:

That Obama canceled the F-22 should surprise no one; cutting military spending regardless of strategic needs is par for the course for someone of his political stripe, someone who believes that American power causes problems in the world. It’s who he is.

But John McCain? It’s sad to say about someone whose service to his country was genuinely admirable, but, as also demonstrated by his uncritical enthusiasm for intervening in Libya and Syria, his reasons for ending the F-22 program show that whatever judgment he may have possessed is gone, and he himself has descended into a vain, old fool.

You really ought to go home, Senator.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#NeverForget 9-11: Remembering 9-11, and WTC victim Peter Edward Mardikian

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Reposting.  God bless, and never forget.  -ST**

———————————————————-

Longtime readers of this blog will recognize this post, as I have published it here every 9-11 since 2006 in honor of Mr. Mardikian, and all victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, as part of DC Roe’s 9-11 remembrance project. I thought this year about doing another post for another victim, but decided it would be too painful, as the memories of what happened that day are still so fresh and raw for many, myself included. I didn’t know anyone in the WTC towers, the Pentagon, or on any of the planes, but I was in NYC on that day – scheduled to fly back home that evening. I remember just like it was yesterday what I was doing and where I was when I found out what was going on, and the shock and numbness that washed over me as it slowly started to sink in that we were under attack. When my friend S and I checked back into the Times Square hotel we had only checked out of about 2 hours earlier, the first thing we did was turn on the TV to get updates. At that time, news channels were showing unedited coverage, & raw eyewitness footage as all news at that point was “breaking,” so we saw what the rest of America was seeing – like people screaming for help from the top floors of the towers, some of them jumping. Also, like many other Americans, we watched on TV as the towers collapsed. And, again, like the rest of America, she and I couldn’t stop crying at the senseless losses of so many innocent lives, as the victim count piled up from NYC, to the Pentagon, to a field in Shanksville, PA.

It’s still hard to believe even today that something as horrifying as 9-11 happened on our soil. But it did, and we must never, ever forget it. Time passes on and life goes on, but for the victims, their families, and for the future of America, we must always remember – and always remain vigilant against the Islamofascists who would like nothing more than to commit many more 9-11s.

For an extensive archive of TV coverage of 9-11 as it happened, click here.

Here, once again, is Peter Edward Mardikian’s story. Note: Some links may no longer work, but they were valid at the time of the original writing.

———————————–

(Originally posted 9/10/06 7:55 pm)

Peter Edward MardikianImagine you are 29 years old. You’ve been married for six weeks to your college sweetheart, someone whom friends would later say that you wouldn’t have been “complete” without. You’re beginning to realize your personal and professional dreams. The world looks to be your oyster, and you believe that you and your spouse have the rest of your lives to explore it, all the while enjoying the comfort of knowing that you have not only each other, but the enduring love of family and friends surrounding you.

And then imagine those hopes being snatched away from you in the blink of an eye, without warning, without provocation. Imagine the chilling, horrifying realization that you will never see your spouse again, your family, your friends. That you will be leaving this earth much sooner than you ever thought you would be.

Such was the case for Peter Edward Mardikian, one of 2,996 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.

As it was for most of us, September 11, 2001 started off as an average day for Mr. Mardikian. Peter worked for a company called “Imagine Software” in Manhattan. That morning Peter was on business, preparing a software exhibit for a trade show in the World Trade Center at Windows on The World, which was a popular restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower. As you can see from the picture, it had a spectacular view of the city. It was a city Peter Mardikian, who grew up in Princeton, NJ, had dreamed of living and working in. Here is what the morning started out like at Windows on the World:

Windows on the World restaurant“Good morning, Ms. Thompson.”

Doris Eng’s greeting was particularly sunny, like the day, as Liz Thompson arrived for breakfast atop the tallest building in the city, Ms. Thompson remembers thinking. Perhaps Ms. Eng had matched her mood to the glorious weather, the rich blue September sky that filled every window. Or perhaps it was the company.

Familiar faces occupied many of the tables in Wild Blue, the intimate aerie to Windows that Ms. Eng helped manage, according to two people who ate there that morning. As much as any one place, that single room captured the sweep of humanity who worked and played at the trade center.

Ms. Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, was eating with Geoffrey Wharton, an executive with Silverstein Properties, which had just leased the towers. At the next table sat Michael Nestor, the deputy inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and one of his investigators, Richard Tierney.

At a third table were six stockbrokers, several of whom came every Tuesday. Ms. Eng had a treat for one of them, Emeric Harvey. The night before, one of the restaurant’s managers, Jules Roinnel, gave Ms. Eng two impossibly-hard-to-get tickets to “The Producers.” Mr. Roinnel says he asked Ms. Eng to give them to Mr. Harvey.

Sitting by himself at a window table overlooking the Statue of Liberty was a relative newcomer, Neil D. Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority. He had never joined them for breakfast before. But his secretary requested a table days earlier and now he sat waiting for a banker friend, said Mr. Levin’s wife, Christy Ferer.

Every other minute or so, a waiter, Jan Maciejewski, swept through the room, refilling coffee cups and taking orders, Mr. Nestor recalls. Mr. Maciejewski was one of several restaurant workers on the 107th floor. Most of the 72 Windows employees were on the 106th floor, where Risk Waters Group was holding a conference on information technology.

Already 87 people had arrived, including top executives from Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg, according to the conference sponsors. Many were enjoying coffee and sliced smoked salmon in the restaurant’s ballroom. Some exhibitors were already tending to their booths, set up in the Horizon Suite just across the hallway.

A picture taken that morning showed two exhibitors, Peter Alderman and William Kelly, salesmen for Bloomberg L.P., chatting with a colleague beside a table filled with a multi-screened computer display. Stuart Lee and Garth Feeney, two vice presidents of Data Synapse, ran displays of their company’s software.

Down in the lobby, 107 floors below, an assistant to Mr. Levin waited for his breakfast guest. But when the guest arrived, he and Mr. Levin’s aide luckily boarded the wrong elevator, Ms. Ferer would learn, and so they had to return to the lobby to wait for another one.

Upstairs, Mr. Levin read his newspaper, Mr. Nestor recalled. He and Mr. Tierney were a little curious to see whom Mr. Levin, their boss, was meeting for breakfast. But Mr. Nestor had a meeting downstairs, so they headed for the elevators, stopping at Mr. Levin’s table to say goodbye. Behind them came Ms. Thompson and Mr. Wharton. Mr. Nestor held the elevator, so they hopped in quickly, Ms. Thompson recalled.

Then the doors closed and the last people ever to leave Windows on the World began their descent. It was 8:44 a.m.

At 8:46 a.m. American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower, slicing through floors 94 through 98. Those in the direct path of the Boeing 767 aircraft that had been used as a weapon were likely killed instantly. No one in the floors above floor 91 would survive, because they had no way out, and firefighters could not reach them.

According to Peter Mardikian’s wife Corine, he called her at 9:05 a.m. using a landline phone, one that was miraculously still working, on the 106th floor. Here is her recollection of the conversation:

“He said it was very, very smoky,” Ms. Mardikian said, “and he was worried about his breathing. He was talking about going up to the roof. I think he was trying to shelter me. He said he couldn’t talk longer because there were a lot of people standing in line to use the phone.”

His in-laws quoted him as saying this as well to his wife:

“We think a bomb hit here. I’m having a hard time breathing. I probably won’t make it out of here. I just want you to know I love you.”

Here’s what was happening on the top floors of the North Tower at 9:35 that morning:

So urgent was the need for air that people piled four and five high in window after window, their upper bodies hanging out, 1,300 feet above the ground.

They were in an unforgiving place.

Elsewhere, two men, one of them shirtless, stood on the windowsills, leaning their bodies so far outside that they could peer around a big intervening column and see each other, an analysis of photographs and videos reveals.

On the 103rd floor, a man stared straight out a broken window toward the northwest, bracing himself against a window frame with one hand. He wrapped his other arm around a woman, seemingly to keep her from tumbling to the ground.

Behind the unbroken windows, the desperate had assembled. “About five floors from the top you have about 50 people with their faces pressed against the window trying to breathe,” a police officer in a helicopter reported.

Now it was unmistakable. The office of Cantor Fitzgerald, and just above it, Windows on the World, would become the landmark for this doomed moment. Nearly 900 would die on floors 101 through 107.

In the restaurant, at least 70 people crowded near office windows at the northwest corner of the 106th floor, according to accounts they gave relatives and co-workers. “Everywhere else is smoked out,” Stuart Lee, a Data Synapse vice president, e-mailed his office in Greenwich Village. “Currently an argument going on as whether we should break a window,” Mr. Lee continued a few moments later. “Consensus is no for the time being.”

Soon, though, a dozen people appeared through broken windows along the west face of the restaurant. Mr. Vogt, the general manager of Windows, said he could see them from the ground, silhouetted against the gray smoke that billowed out from his own office and others.

By now, the videotapes show, fires were rampaging through the impact floors, darting across the north face of the tower. Coils of smoke lashed the people braced around the broken windows.

In the northwest conference room on the 104th floor, Andrew Rosenblum and 50 other people temporarily managed to ward off the smoke and heat by plugging vents with jackets. “We smashed the computers into the windows to get some air,” Mr. Rosenblum reported by cellphone to his golf partner, Barry Kornblum.

But there was no hiding.

As people began falling from above the conference room, Mr. Rosenblum broke his preternatural calm, his wife, Jill, recalled. In the midst of speaking to her, he suddenly interjected, without elaboration, “Oh my God.”

Imagine what it would feel like to be Peter Mardikian in that crowd, knowing that each moment may be your last. What would you think? How would you feel? How would you act?

The North Tower collapsed at 10:28 that morning. Collapsing along with it were the lives of everyone in floors 92 and above, including Peter Mardikian.

Destroyed with it were the hopes and dreams of everyone on those floors who were murdered that day in an act of extraordinary cruelty and viciousness perpetrated by Islamofascists in an act of war against America.

Mr. Mardikian’s life was snatched from him in a way that no one should ever have to experience. He will never get to feel sunlight on his face again, nor get a kiss from his wife after he’s come home from a hard day at the office. Any plans they’d made for the future? Gone.

A September 11 Memorial Endowment was established by Ohio State University in 2002 in honor of Peter Mardikian, who was an alumnus – graduating from OSU’s Fisher College of Business in 1995 with a B.A. in marketing and business. It’s also where he met the woman who would be his wife.

The online guestbook for Peter Mardikian has many pages of messages from family, friends, and strangers – their lives all touched by either knowing and loving Peter Mardikian or learning about him after Sept. 11.

At some point in your day, please say a prayer or a kind word for Mr. Mardikian’s family, as well as all other families who lost loved ones that day. They may be gone, but they are most definitely not forgotten.

Thanks to D.C. Roe for coordinating the 9-11 victims tribute. Click here read other tributes to 9-11 victims (some links may no longer work).

Some questions before we bomb Syria

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

Syria_Topography

Threat Matrix, the blog of The Long War Journal, has some questions that need answering before President Obama, having decided Syria has crossed his ill-advised “red line,”  gives the “go” order. Here are a few of most interest to me:

3. Is there a possibility that the Aug. 21 attack was an accidental hit — of chemical stocks belonging to either the regime or the rebels — by the undisputed massive regime bombardment in the area at the time? It is known that the regime has been frequently moving its chemical weapons to keep them out of rebel hands, and it is also known that rebel fighters, including al Qaeda-linked groups, have sought and reportedly had access to chemical weapons also. The Al Nusrah Front is known to have pursued chemical weapons; credible reports of the group plotting to conduct sarin and mustard gas attacks have emerged from Iraq and Turkey over the past several months.

(…)

6. The regime has much to lose by mounting chemical weapon attacks, and especially while UN inspectors are in country and the world’s eyes are turned toward Syria. Why now? Is the basic vagueness of the US’s accusation due to a Western decision that now is the time to intervene militarily, regardless of who perpetrated the attack, since there is clearly a very distinct danger of the spread of chemical warfare in the region at this point?

…and…

8. What happens if the US actually succeeds in killing Assad and overthrowing the government? Will Islamist terror groups such as the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq dominate the political scene in Syria, as they have dominated the fighting? Is that in the best interests of the US and the West, or, for that matter, those of Syria and the region? The West’s efforts for a resolution to the conflict in Syria ultimately hang upon the fragile hope that moderate forces will prevail, in a situation where the two strongest forces, the Assad regime and its largely Islamist opponents, each offer only harsh alternatives.

These are darned good questions, especially that last one. In one sense, it’s easier to deal with brutal, but secular, dictators; one can find mutual interest and cut a deal, even if that interest is simply survival. But apocalyptic minded fanatics who think conquering or destroying you is a divinely ordained mission? They simply don’t operate in the same paradigm we do, and coming to a genuine modus vivendi (other than “we surrender”) is usually impossible.

In the Telegraph, Tim Stanley asks a question related to number six, above: Why would Assad do something that would guarantee Western intervention in a war he’s winning?

Second, why would the Assad regime do something so stupid? It must know that by using chemical weapons it would isolate itself from any international support and invite a Western military response. More importantly, Assad was already winning the war – so why bother to use WMDs during the last lap to victory? Indeed, the only people who have anything to gain by Assad using chemicals are the rebels, because that would internationalise the conflict in a way that they have long lobbied for.

And yet there is a good case for intervention. Daniel Hannan weighs the arguments pro and con from a British national-interests point of view and, while he finds the interventionist arguments inconclusive, he concedes their strengths. Meanwhile asking a question for the pro-interventionists, Jim Geraghty (sorry, newsletter only) asks: If Assad has used chemical WMDs, are we prepared to accept the consequences of doing nothing:

The world has actually made good progress at eliminating existing stockpiles of chemical weapons. Most regimes have concluded the diplomatic and public relations cost isn’t worth keeping their aging stockpiles around. But . . . if an embattled regime like Assad’s successfully uses them to put down an insurrection with no major consequence short of rote international denunciation . . . how quickly will the cost-benefit calculus change? How certain could we be that Pyongyang, or some other embattled regime, wouldn’t feel the temptation? These sorts of weapons are cheap and relatively easy to make using regular civilian chemical equipment.

That’s not an easily dismissed possibility. It’s not for nothing that chemical weapons have been called the “poor man’s nukes.”

I myself have no good answers, though I’ve favored some sort of limited intervention since the civil war started, since hurting Assad hurts his patrons in Iran, the real source of much of the trouble in the Middle East and which, as Michael Ledeen persuasively argues, should be the focus of our efforts.

As for the administration having the answers…. Heck, I doubt they’ve even asked the right questions.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

“Heroic” Edward Snowden applies for membership in KGB veterans group

FacebookTwitterPrintFriendly

**Posted by Phineas

This just gets better and better:

Renegade National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied to join a group of former Russian intelligence and security officials, according to the group’s director.

Participation in a union of former KGB security, intelligence, and police officials, would likely change Snowden’s status from that of a whistleblower seeking to expose wrongdoing, to an intelligence defector who has changed sides.

Alexei Lobarev, chairman of the group called “Veterans of the Siloviki”—literally “men of power”—told a Russian news outlet on Monday that Snowden, who has been staying in a Moscow airport transit lounge for a month, applied for membership in the group.

(…)

Ariel Cohen, a Russia specialist with the Heritage Foundation, said joining the former KGB officers’ group would be a significant development in the Snowden affair.

“It could be a spoof or a deliberate attempt to tarry the former NSA contractor,” Cohen said in an email. “However, if proven true, this puts Snowden squarely into the defector category. Whatever the whistleblower rhetoric—if indeed it is Snowden—the man is seeking to join a group whose livelihood was to spy on and harm, the United States. There is hardly a more anti-American group in Russia than ex-security officials. They would want nothing more than to coddle Snowden.”

Other experts think Snowden is being played by the Russians, rather than being a “traitor aforethought.” And there could be another reason for this farce. Who knows? What we do know is that he’s done tremendous damage to our national interests, the Obama administration looks like fools, and Putin is laughing his head off at us.

Great work by the man some call a hero, no?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)