Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threaten nationwide protests if Christian woman facing death for blasphemy is pardoned

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

If Zardari gets it into his head to be merciful to this persecuted woman, other heads will roll. “Pakistan president urged not to pardon Christian woman,” by Reza Sayah for CNN, November 24:

Islambad [sic!], Pakistan (CNN) — Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threatened Wednesday to call for nationwide protests if the president pardons a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

“If the president pardons Asia Bibi, we will raise our voices across the country until he is forced to take his decision back,” nationally known mufti Muneer Ur Rehman said.

Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a leading cleric in Lahore, said pardoning the woman would be “criminal negligence” and would cause inter-religious tension.

Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer told CNN Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon Bibi if the High Court did not grant her request for mercy.

Bibi, who has been jailed for nearly 15 months, was convicted in a Pakistani court earlier this month of breaking the country’s controversial blasphemy law by insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan’s penal code. She was sentenced to death. […]

Prosecutors say Bibi, a 45-year-old field worker, insulted the Prophet Mohammed after she got into a heated argument with Muslim co-workers who refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she is not Muslim.

In a brief news conference at the prison where she’s being held, Bibi said last weekend that the allegations against her are lies fabricated by a group of women who don’t like her.

“We had some differences and this was their way of taking revenge,” she said….

Jihad Watch

Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threaten nationwide protests if Christian woman facing death for blasphemy is pardoned

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

If Zardari gets it into his head to be merciful to this persecuted woman, other heads will roll. “Pakistan president urged not to pardon Christian woman,” by Reza Sayah for CNN, November 24:

Islambad [sic!], Pakistan (CNN) — Two prominent Pakistani Muslim leaders threatened Wednesday to call for nationwide protests if the president pardons a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

“If the president pardons Asia Bibi, we will raise our voices across the country until he is forced to take his decision back,” nationally known mufti Muneer Ur Rehman said.

Hafiz Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, a leading cleric in Lahore, said pardoning the woman would be “criminal negligence” and would cause inter-religious tension.

Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer told CNN Tuesday that President Asif Ali Zardari would pardon Bibi if the High Court did not grant her request for mercy.

Bibi, who has been jailed for nearly 15 months, was convicted in a Pakistani court earlier this month of breaking the country’s controversial blasphemy law by insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable with death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan’s penal code. She was sentenced to death. […]

Prosecutors say Bibi, a 45-year-old field worker, insulted the Prophet Mohammed after she got into a heated argument with Muslim co-workers who refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she is not Muslim.

In a brief news conference at the prison where she’s being held, Bibi said last weekend that the allegations against her are lies fabricated by a group of women who don’t like her.

“We had some differences and this was their way of taking revenge,” she said….

Jihad Watch

Business Leaders: We Won’t Be Placated With A Backyard Beer Summit

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Obama is, well, I can’t really say learning, since he is obviously infallable and knows better than everyone else on the planet since the dawn of time, but, he might catch a little clue that after months and months of demonizing business, you know, that entity that makes the economy go, are not as easily placated with a smile and some words as the Obamazombies are

After business leaders sunk millions into the midterms to defeat Democrats, a chastened Obama administration is seeking reconciliation with the corporate community.

But after two years of building frustration, the executives say they won’t be won over by another round of private lunches and photo opportunities at the White House.

If President Barack Obama has any hope for a truce with Corporate America in time for his 2012 reelection campaign, he needs to drop the name-calling, try to see their point of view better and step up with some specific proposals.

“No amount of relationship-building is a substitute for policy,” said Johanna Schneider, executive director for external affairs at the Business Roundtable, which was once one of the administration’s most enduring corporate allies.

“We have to see some concrete policies that will help grow business because everyone’s goal is to grow jobs. This isn’t hocus-pocus. There are concrete steps to take for job growth,” she added.

Good luck with that. Don’t you know who won in 2008, and who is Thee President? Being president is hard enough, what with all the vacations, rounds of golf, meet and greets overseas, parties, and pushing massively unpopular outsourced legislation. He doesn’t need you darned capitalists making it any harder. But, really, he wouldn’t be so stupid as to set up luncheons with a massively far left and incompetent adviser, would he?

The White House is embarking on a new round of corporate outreach, said Valerie Jarrett, a key White House adviser, who told POLITICO in an interview that she is lining up a fresh round of private, luncheon sessions, and that other events could be in the works.

I guess he would.

Some White House officials, in turn, privately express frustration that the business world seems to give Obama no credit for supporting bailouts of Wall Street and the auto industry as well as an economic stimulus bill that likely spared the country a deeper recession. Many CEOs now are enjoying hefty corporate profits and a Dow at healthy levels in part because of Obama’s efforts in steering the economy through the global meltdown, administration officials contend.

Personally, I have a feeling that said business world looks at Obama more as a chump who gave them lots of money for making massive mistakes, kinda like giving your kid money for a new lawnmower for your kids’ business after said kid decided to see if he could mow a gravel road for the fun of it. Think the kid will respect you, or think you’re a chump?

Obama doesn’t like business, he constantly takes shots at them, his policy is anti-business, and then he and his peeps wonder why business is against them. As far as policy goes, they can forget that, because Obama and all the far left academics that surround him have not real world ideas. What they want did not work in the old Soviet Union, is failing miserably – and has been for decades – in Europe, and won’t work here. Obama will have to be dragged kicking and screaming to sign the pro-business legislation that Republicans in the House, along with some Democrats in the Senate who want to keep their jobs in 2012, will pass and send to his desk. Unfortunately, these Port siders have the insane idea that there are only two conditions: pro-business or pro-worker. They just can’t wrap their minds around legislation that is good for both.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach. sit back and Relax. we’ll dRive!

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Stop The ACLU

Conservative leaders attack Browner, Administration and Upton on climate science and clean energy

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Senior Fellow Daniel J. Weiss is CAPAF’s Director of Climate Strategy.

The incoming House Republican majority includes many climate science deniers.  They have already begun their attacks on promoters of policies to reduce energy use, save families money, and cut global warming pollution.  This includes an attack on Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a leading candidate to become Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He is under fire for his efforts to require more energy efficient light bulbs.  But he has also joined the global warming witch hunt by hurling misleading charges about Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Carol Browner in an attempt to discredit her long record of basing energy policies on sound science.  This attack is the beginning of efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s successes at creating clean energy jobs, saving families money, and reducing oil use and pollution.

The attack on Upton sprung from the effort by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to become Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C).  House Republican term limit rules restrict their members to three Congresses (six years) as chair and/or ranking minority member of a committee.   Barton seeks a waiver to allow him to become Chair of E&C in 2011 even though he already served as chair for two years and ranking member for four years.  Without a waiver, the next most senior Republican – Upton – should become chair.

Despite Upton’s life time American Conservative Union record of 72 percent, many on the far right believe he is not conservative enoughto oversee federal energy, communications, and health care policy.  Politico reported on this anti-Upton campaign.

They’re pointing to Upton’s support for phasing out some incandescent light bulbs in favor of greener alternatives.

Right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh cited Upton’s promotion of eco-friendly light bulbs evidence that he shouldn’t take the Energy and Commerce gavel.

“This would be a tone-deaf disaster if the Republican leadership lets Fred Upton ascend to the chairmanship of the House energy committee,” Limbaugh said this week. “This is exactly the kind of nannyism, statism, what have you, that was voted against and was defeated last week. No Republican complicit in nannyism, statism, can be rewarded this way.”

Upton (R-Mich.) teamed up with California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman on 2007 legislation aimed at phasing out the use of incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy efficient bulbs. That language eventually became law as part of a larger energy bill.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy notes that incandescent bulbs that use only 10 percent of their energy for light – the rest is waste heat.  More efficient compact fluorescent bulbs

use less energy and last longer, [so consumers] will save up to several times their purchase price each year through reduced electricity bills and fewer replacement bulbs.

Upton’s light bulb efficiency provision was part of the Energy Independence and Security Act that President George W. Bush signed into law in 2007.

The bill sets lamp efficiency standards for common light bulbs, requiring them to use about 20-30% less energy than present incandescent bulbs by 2012-2014 (phasing in over several years) and requiring a DOE rulemaking to set standards that will reduce energy use to no more than about 65% of current lamp use by 2020.

The attack on Upton’s leadership to require light bulbs to waste less energy and save more money is an example of the right’s broad attack on science and clean energy technology.

After the assault he promptly dimmed his support for energy efficiency and consumer savings.  Politico reports

Hoping to counter attacks from his right, Rep. Fred Upton is promising to reexamine a controversial ban on incandescent light bulbs if he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

After the right’s attack on Upton, he followed in their footsteps by launching a similar misplaced attack on Carol Browner.  On November 15, he sent a letter questioning her actions on the Department of Interior moratorium on deep water drilling in the wake of the nation’s worst oil disaster.  It focuses on the disproved charge that her office modified the DOI report so that it appeared that the moratorium decision was peer reviewed by scientists when it was not.

This question was fully examined by the Inspector General at the Department of Interior, and it found no wrong doing.

While the 30-Day Report’s Executive Summary could have been more clearly worded, the Department has not definitively violated the IQA [Information Quality Act, which guides the federal government’s use of information]. For example, the recommendation for a moratorium is not contained in the safety report itself. Furthermore, the Executive Summary does not indicate that the peer reviewers approved any of the Report’s recommendations. The Department also appears to have adequately remedied the IQA concerns by communicating directly with the experts, offering a formal apology, and publicly clarifying the nature of the peer review.

Upton’s letter is like issuing a speeding ticket to a car traveling at 25.1 miles per hour in a 25 MPH zone, even after the radar gun demonstrated there was no violation.

Interestingly, we could find no record of Upton raising similar concerns about the Bush administration’s frequent editing of documents to remove descriptions of climate science.  The New York Times revealed that

A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

Upton’s misleading attack on Browner is his attempt to demonstrate his right wing, anti-science bona fides during the mud wrestling to win the coveted E&C chair.  However, this false attack is not an isolated incident, but instead part of the incoming House majority’s effort to attack climate science and scientists, as well as the administration’s successful clean energy policies.

As chair, Upton plans to conduct hearings designed to undermine EPA rules to protect public health and the environment from toxic coal ash, smog, mercury and other toxic chemicals, and global warming pollution.  All of these safeguards will be based upon the best medical and scientific evidence available in order to protect children, seniors, and others from these harmful, controllable contaminants.

Upton’s attacks are the rule, rather than the exception, among the new majority.  His colleagues plan a host of similar efforts to conduct witch hunts in the name of oversight.  This could include efforts to overturn or delay the implementation of President Obama’s new fuel economy standards that would reduce oil use by 1.8 billion barrels, save consumers $ 3000 or more over the life of their car, and cut nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas pollution.  Bloomberg reports,

Tea Party-backed candidates who won seats in the House by campaigning against federal regulation and spending, including the GM and Chrysler bailouts, may lead opposition to increasing fuel-economy standards, said Russ Harding, senior environmental policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from 1995 to 2002 [under Republican Governor John Engler, now head of the National Association of Manufacturers].

Incoming Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R-CA) plans to interrogate the administration over some of its other successes.

With their new majority in the House, Republicans are expected to waste no time in flexing their oversight authority. The ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government reform panel confirmed that the GOP-led committee will investigate polices like the stimulus, the health care bill, and the bank bailout.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the “stimulus”) has had a real success creating clean energy jobs, investing in renewable technologies, and reducing families’ energy bills via efficiency.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the likely chair of the House Science Committee, has already announced his future assault on climate science.

The likely next chairman of the House Science Committee says “reasonable people have serious questions” about the science connecting manmade greenhouse gas emissions to global warming.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) on Wednesday vowed to investigate the Obama administration’s climate policies if he becomes chairman.

Fred Upton is on the receiving end of the kind of assault that he has levied on Carol Browner.  Many more similar attacks are likely after his colleagues take control of the House of Representatives on January 5, 2011.  The objective of these attacks is to defeat or delay health and science based policies that protect and benefit society as whole even if they reduce profits for big oil, dirty coal or other special interests.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), defeated by a Tea Party candidate in his primary, alerted his Republican colleagues that their assault on science and clean energy policies would harm Americans.  At a House Science Committee hearing on global warming science he warned,

I would also suggest to my Free Enterprise colleagues — especially conservatives here — whether you think it’s all a bunch of hooey, what we’ve talked about in this committee, the Chinese don’t. And they plan on eating our lunch in this next century. They plan on innovating around these problems, and selling to us, and the rest of the world, the technology that’ll lead the 21st century. So we may just press the pause button here for several years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button.

What we’ll find is we’re way behind those Chinese folks…They plan on leading the future. So whether you — if you’re a free enterprise conservative here — just think: it’s a bunch of hooey, this science is a bunch of hooey. But if you miss the commercial opportunity, you’ve really missed something.

Former House Science Committee Chair Sherry Boehlert (R-NY) also counseled his compatriots against this attack on science.

The new Congress should have a policy debate to address facts rather than a debate featuring unsubstantiated attacks on science. We shouldn’t stand by while the reputations of scientists are dragged through the mud in order to win a political argument. And no member of any party should look the other way when the basic operating parameters of scientific inquiry — the need to question, express doubt, replicate research and encourage curiosity — are exploited for the sake of political expediency. My fellow Republicans should understand that wholesale, ideologically based or special-interest-driven rejection of science is bad policy. And that in the long run, it’s also bad politics.

Inglis and Boehlert are urging Republican leaders to reject the unfair, anti-science attacks aimed at Fred Upton and his common sense light bulb efficiency legislation.  Hopefully, he and his colleagues will refrain from hurling such false, destructive charges at Carol Browner, scientists or other administration officials.  If not, they will demonstrate the same ignorance, selfishness, and economic obliviousness shown by Upton’s attackers.

Daniel J. Weiss is Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Climate Progress

Military Leaders, Newspapers, And Republicans Criticize Kyl And Senate GOP For START Obstruction

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Following Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) announcement last week that he will delay and obstruct the New START treaty, many in the media presumed that START was all but dead. Yet the White House, knowing that it is now or never for the START treaty, doubled down and put its credibility on the line demanding a vote now. The move was risky, but in the last week, Democrats, the nation’s major newspapers, members of the military and even many Republicans have publicly denounced Kyl and Senate Republicans for their START objection.

The administration demonstrated the high level bipartisan backing for the treaty when it brought former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of State and Defense to the White House, including Republicans Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, and Brent Scowcroft. On the Sunday shows this past weekend, Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs emphasized that the military of the United States wants this treaty ratified right now. This has highlighted that Republicans are rejecting the advice of military leaders. At the NATO Summit in Lisbon last week leaders from East, Central, and Western Europe all came out in unanimous support for the treaty and called on the Senate to ratify. Finally, the President used his weekly address to emphasize the need to ratify the treaty and attacked Republicans for wanting “to trust but not verify.”

In the last week, 17 editorial boards in states from all over country like Utah, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Maine, Texas and Iowa, have eviscerated Kyl and Senate Republicans for their obstruction. The Louisville Courier called Kyl’s move an “outrage.” Kyl was described as “narrow-minded,” politically “craven,” and as putting forth “lame excuses.” The New York Times even said Iran should send Kyl a “thank you note.”

The presumption over the last generation has been that when it comes to national security debate, progressives always lose. But following the foreign policy disaster of the Bush administration, the country simply doesn’t trust Republicans on national security. An ABC/Washington Post poll taken right before the election showed that Americans trust Democrats more on national security 45 percent to 40 percent for Republicans. Given that 73 percent of Americans support the New START treaty, according to a just released CNN poll, the stance of Kyl and Senate Republicans is proving incredibly unpopular.

Here is what 17 newspaper editorial boards around the country are saying:

Louisville Courier-Journal:

The determination of the national Republican Party to oppose anything that could be construed as a victory for President Obama has moved from being irresponsible to downright dangerous. Republican preoccupation with limiting Mr. Obama to one term — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top priority — is reckless enough at a time of persistent high unemployment and economic hardship. Now comes an effort, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to block the lame-duck Senate session from ratifying the crucial New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia…This is an outrage.

The New York Times:

The world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, should send a thank you note to Senator Jon Kyl… The treaty is so central to this country’s national security, and the objections from Mr. Kyl — and apparently the whole Republican leadership — are so absurd that the only explanation is their limitless desire to deny President Obama any legislative success.

Read more

Haqqani Network leaders detained in Afghan east and north

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Click to view slide show of the Haqqani Network. Pictured is a composite image of Siraj Haqqani.

Over the past several days, Coalition and Afghan special operations forces have captured two key commanders of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network and two suicide operations facilitators during raids in the north and east.

A combined special operations team captured the top suicide operations facilitator for all of Nangarhar province during a raid in the Khogyani district yesterday. The suicide facilitator was “working for Al Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani [Network] and other insurgent groups,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The commander, who was not named, “moved suicide bombers into Afghanistan” from Pakistan.

The terrorist facilitator was detained just six days after the Taliban’s failed suicide assault on Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Behsud district in Nangarhar. US troops killed six enemy fighters and recovered two suicide vests along with multiple weapons.

Al Qaeda and the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba maintain a strong presence in Nangarhar province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Achin, Bati Kowt, Behsud, Chaparhar, Dara Noor, Deh Bala, Jalalabad, Khogyani, Sherzad, Shinwar, or 10 of Nangarhar’s 22 districts.

On Nov. 18, an Afghan and Coalition special operations team captured “a key Haqqani facilitator, who served as a liaison between Haqqani and Taliban operatives in northern Afghanistan,” during a raid in the district of Baghlan-e Jadid in Baghlan province.

“The facilitator was reportedly in contact with Pakistan-based senior leadership from both insurgent groups and was a top target for Afghan and Coalition forces,” ISAF stated. The commander, who was not named, is said to have been instrumental in expanding Haqqani Network operations into the north.

Also on Nov. 18, combined special operations teams captured an Haqqani Network facilitator who moved roadside bombs, or IEDs, into Khost province to attack US and Afghan forces. The commander was detained in the Terayzai district, a known stronghold for the Haqqani Network.

The US military said that 12 senior Haqqani Network commanders have been captured in Khost this month. A Haqqani Network leader known as Zakim Shah serves as the shadow governor of Khost province.

And, on Nov. 16, special operations teams captured another Haqqani Network commander who was “directly involved in planning Haqqani suicide attacks in Kabul.” The commander, who was not named, was involved with the Kabul Attack Network, the Taliban group responsible for carrying out attacks in and around the Afghan capital.

The Kabul Attack Network is made up of fighters from the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and cooperates with terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. Top Afghan intelligence officials have linked the Kabul Attack Network to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate as well. The network’s tentacles extend outward from Kabul into the surrounding provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, and Kapisa.

The Kabul Attack Network is led by Dawood (or Daud) and Taj Mir Jawad, military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. Dawood is the Taliban’s shadow governor for Kabul, while Taj Mir Jawad is a top commander in the Haqqani Network.

Background on the Haqqani Network

The Haqqani Network has extensive links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and its relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has allowed the network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan. The Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. They have established multiple training camps and safe houses used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives, as well as by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy. American intelligence agencies confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISI’s direct involvement in the 2008 Indian embassy bombing. [See LWJ report Pakistan’s Jihad and Threat Matrix report Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban for additional information on the ISI’s complicity in attacks in Afghanistan and the region.]

The Haqqani Network is led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Sirajuddin. Jalaluddin is thought to be ill and is considered the patriarch of the network. Siraj runs the daily operations and is the group’s military commander.

Siraj is one of the most wanted Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in the Afghan-Pakistan region. The US military has described Siraj as the primary threat to security in eastern Afghanistan. He is the mastermind of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan, including suicide assaults in Kabul, and he is the senior military commander in eastern Afghanistan. He is the leader of the Taliban’s Miramshah Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s four regional commands [see LWJ report, The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders].

Siraj is considered dangerous not only for his ties with the Afghan Taliban, but also because of his connections with al Qaeda’s central leadership, which extend all the way to Osama bin Laden. Siraj is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or top council, US intelligence sources told The Long War Journal. In a tape released in April 2010, Siraj admitted that cooperation between the Taliban and al Qaeda “is at the highest limits.” On March 25, 2009, the US Department of State put out a $ 5 million bounty for information leading to the capture of Siraj.

The US Treasury recently added Nasiruddin Haqqani, Siraj’s brother, to the list of specially designated global terrorists. Nasiruddin is a key financier and emissary for the Haqqani Network. According to the Treasury, Nasiruddin has traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

Despite Siraj’s ties with al Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network’s use of suicide attacks, some top US military commanders have stated that Jalaluddin Haqqani, his father, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another supporter of al Qaeda, are “absolutely salvageable” and ripe for negotiations.

“The HIG already have members in Karzai’s government, and it could evolve into a political party, even though Hekmatyar may be providing al Qaeda leaders refuge in Kunar,” Major General Michael Flynn, the top military intelligence official in Afghanistan, told The Atlantic in April 2010. “Hekmatyar has reconcilable ambitions. As for the Haqqani network, I can tell you they are tired of fighting, but are not about to give up. They have lucrative business interests to protect: the road traffic from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to Central Asia.”

Sir Graeme Lamb, a senior adviser to General McChrystal, echoed Flynn’s view on Hekmatyar and Haqqani, and discounted the groups’ close ties to al Qaeda.

“Haqqani and Hekmatyar are pragmatists tied to the probability of outcomes,” Lamb also told The Atlantic. “With all the talk of Islamic ideology, this is the land of the deal.”

A Haqqani Network leader known as Zakim Shah serves as the shadow governor of Khost province. Khost, Paktika, and Paktia provinces are the main strongholds of the Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network also has a presence in the provinces of Logar, Wardak, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Zabul, and Kabul.

The Haqqani forces in Paktika province are commanded by Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior lieutenant to Sirajuddin Haqqani. A US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal that Sangeen also commands forces outside of Paktika and that he has become one of the most dangerous operational commanders in eastern Afghanistan.

Last year, Sangeen took credit for the kidnapping of a US soldier who apparently stepped away from his post at a combat outpost in Paktika on June 30, 2009. US forces in eastern Afghanistan launched a massive manhunt for the soldier, but failed to find him. The soldier is believed to be held across the border in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

US and Afghan forces hit the Haqqani Network hard in the summer of 2009 during a series of raids in Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Logar, and Zabul. Major battles were fought in mountainous regions as the joint forces assaulted strongly-defended Haqqani Network “fortresses.” The raids failed to dislodge the Haqqani Network from the provinces.

The Haqqani Network has also been heavily targeted by the CIA in the covert air campaign in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Siraj and his top lieutenant, Mullah Sangin Zadran, have been the targets of multiple Predator strikes. Siraj’s brother, Mohammed, who served as a military commander, was killed in a February 2010 strike in North Waziristan. Seven of the 17 Predator strikes in the month of September have taken place in territory administered by the Haqqani Network.

Siraj is believed to be sheltering in the neighboring tribal agency of Kurram to avoid the Predators.


Suicide attack facilitator captured in Nangarhar overnight, ISAF press release
Haqqani, Taliban-affiliated senior leader captured in Baghlan, ISAF press release
US, Afghan troops beat back Taliban assault on outpost in the east, The Long War Journal
Another Haqqani Network leader captured in Khost overnight, ISAF press release
Haqqani facilitator linked to attacks in Kabul captured overnight, ISAF press release
Suicide assault team targets civilian guesthouse in Kabul, The Long War Journal
2 American troops missing in Kabul as US targets Kabul Attack Network, The Long War Journal
Pakistan’s Jihad, The Long War Journal
Pakistan backs Afghan Taliban, Threat Matrix
The Afghan Taliban’s top leaders, The Long War Journal
Taliban cooperation with al Qaeda ‘is at the highest limits’ – Siraj Haqqani, The Long War Journal
US adds Haqqani Network, Taliban leaders to list of designated terrorists, The Long War Journal
Hekmatyar’s ‘peace plan’ calls for NATO withdrawal by 2011, The Long War Journal
Man Versus Afghanistan, The Atlantic
Haqqani Network captures US soldier in Afghanistan, The Long War Journal
Siraj Haqqani sheltering in Kurram, near area of US helicopter strikes, The Long War Journal

1 The Long War Journal

Conservative leaders to Republicans: No more unfair criticism of Jim DeMint or else

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


News you can use if you happen to be a Republican politician or consultant who’s inclined to object to anything Jim DeMint says or does. By its own terms, the declaration only applies to “unfair” criticism; fair criticism is, in theory, still welcome because the signatories “do not expect or advocate for ideological purity in […]

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Obama’s Neglect of Central and Eastern Europe Doesn’t Impress Young Leaders

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
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The United States no longer considers relations with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) a top priority. This was one of the recurring themes at the href=””>Young Leaders Dialogue with America conference last week in Prague.

Irena Kalhousova, chief analyst at Prague’s Security Studies Institute, lamented that President Barack Obama ignores CEE and cast doubt on the certainty of transatlantic partnership. Indeed, the Administration’s brazen cancellation of the third site missile defense program last year, with radar stations in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland, was href=””>“a slap in the face for those who actually believed a key agreement with Washington was worth the paper it was written on.” Though the radar stations were unpopular with the Czech public, many Czech parliamentarians who vigorously advocated for the stations suffered at the polls the following election. id=”more-46723″>

Many believe that the withdrawal of the missile defense capabilities was part of the U.S. effort to reset relations with Russia and a sign that the new Administration cares little about the sentiments of CEE allies. Unfortunately, little can be said in defense of the Administration’s actions. Not only did the missile defense debacle call into question America’s loyalty, but other policies, such as the href=””>expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, have excelled at a snail’s pace. The White House also committed a series of public diplomacy blunders when Obama href=””>failed to appropriately acknowledge several critical World War II anniversary dates as well as the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. These missteps have not passed without notice.

Kalhousova admitted that while CEE countries are connected to the U.S. through a critical history, powerhouses like China have a lot more to bring to the table in terms of economic incentive. She further suggested that CEE have more to gain by working closer with the European Union than by relying on the U.S. as its closest ally. If countries like Poland and the Czech Republic earn little satisfaction from its friend across the pond, closer ties with Brussels is an obvious alternative.

Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale flatly dismissed concerns about Obama Administration’s disinterest in CEE allies, citing President Obama’s two visits to the Czech Republic. But simply paying a visit to the Czech Republic is quite different from actually caring about relations with its government and people. After all, during President Obama’s last trip to the Czech Republic, he further rekindled relations between the U.S. and Russia by signing the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

One could argue that the very purpose of the State Department–sponsored YLDA conference was a sign that the Obama Administration does care about its friends in CEE. If so, this was a good opportunity for McHale to take the voiced concerns to heart and not take href=””>New Europe for granted.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

World Leaders’ Small Talk: iPads, Travel Plans & Virtual Koi Ponds

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: So what do world leaders chat about in those rare unscheduled minutes when they are gathered together before the start of a global summit session? At the APEC summit here in Yokohama Japan, the answer…

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Political Punch

Conservative Movement Leaders Discuss 2011 Agenda Behind Closed Doors

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Another indicator of the changing of the guard in Washington came yesterday as dozens of representatives and leaders from conservative groups convened for a private meeting in the suburbs of Virginia. Representatives of a wide variety of Tea Party groups, mainstream conservative think tanks and right-wing media outlets came together to talk about the future of the conservative movement, TPMmuckraker has learned.

The agenda indicates that they attempted to hash out some of their priorities for the legislative agenda in the upcoming Congress, which will feature a GOP-controlled House for the first time in four years.

The hush-hush meeting was sponsored by the Conservative Action Project (CAP), an offshoot of the Council for National Policy.

Reagan-era Attorney General Ed Meese, the head of the CAP (not to be confused with the liberal Center for American Progress), was scheduled to address the summit, which drew attendees with speeches from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Press secretaries for both members did not respond to requests for comment about their remarks.

Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway was also on the summit agenda, along with Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, and former Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.). Press representatives for Conway and Feulner did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, but a secretary for McIntosh confirmed that he was speaking at the summit.

A group discussion was to focus on the outcome of the election and the future of the conservative movement. Attendees were also invited to discuss economic, social and national security issues, judicial nominations and state elections and issues.

Organizations scheduled to be represented at the meeting included the National Organization for Marriage, the Media Research Center, Susan B. Anthony List, the Heritage Foundation, 60 Plus Association, the Federalist Society, the Family Research Council, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Women for America and the Tea Party Patriots.

Employees of the American Spectator, the Washington Examiner and Human Events were also invited, as were John Fund of the Wall Street Journal and Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online (Lopez told TPMmuckraker she did not end up attending).

Republican House and Senate staffers from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Republican Conference made the guest list alongside conservative luminaries like Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Republican super-lawyer Cleta Mitchell, ATR’s Grover Norquist, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, RNC chair candidate Ken Blackwell, American Values President Gary Bauer and David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Frank Gaffney, the president of the right-wing Center for Security Policy who has raised fears over the imposition of Sharia law in America, attended the meeting, his secretary confirmed.

Kevin Gentry of Koch Industries — the oil and gas company which has funded Tea Party groups — was also invited, but declined to tell TPMmuckraker whether he attended, instead referring calls to Koch’s PR shop.

Patrick Pizzella, a former Bush administration official who is the only paid member of the Conservative Action Project, was out of the office and at a CAP event, according to the individual who picked up his phone. An e-mail to Pizzella was not immediately returned.


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