We already have incontrovertible evidence that former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who is now busy with a career equally divided between casting aspersions on American Jews and making a fool of himself, was incompetent at his job running the agency’s Osama bin Laden desk in the 1990’s, and was seen as such by those in charge.
Do we now have evidence of something else?
The Danish daily Politiken ran a story on Sunday reporting that “CIA renditions in Europe date back as far as the mid-1990′s.” The term “renditions” refers to the agency’s highly secret practice, some details of which have previously leaked out, of extraditing terrorism suspects from one foreign state to another for purposes of interrogation and prosecution.
Politiken went on, according to an AP summary, to provide specifics, including the fact that in 1995 U.S. agents seized an Egyptian by the name of Abu Talal, a senior member of the Egyptian terrorist organization al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, who had been granted political asylum in Denmark. He was reportedly nabbed while visiting Croatia and was turned over to Egypt, where he may have been executed.
Along with other unidentified CIA officials, Politiken cites Michael Scheuer as a source for this information, which is now stirring up anti-Americanism in Denmark.
Yesterday, a submersible lowered a titanium Russian flag onto the Arctic seabed, near the North Pole, at a depth of almost 14,000 feet. Canada immediately mocked Moscow’s stunt. “This isn’t the 15th century,” said Ottawa’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter MacKay. “You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say ‘We’re claiming this territory.’ ”
International law permits Russia, Canada, the United States, Denmark, and Norway, the nations with coastlines inside the Arctic Circle, to enforce 200-mile exclusive economic zones north of their shores. The Kremlin, however, claims a bigger zone that includes the seabed under the North Pole. It maintains that the Lomonosov Ridge, which runs under the Pole, forms part of Siberia’s continental shelf. Canada and Denmark maintain competing claims to the same ridge. (Why do so many nations want the Ridge? Because a receding polar cap may someday make drilling for hydrocarbons there feasible.)
Russia is not the only nation to make outsized claims on continental shelves. China, for instance, believes it has rights to a good portion of Japan’s coastline. China also maintains claims on the continental shelves of the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam (as well as the entire South China Sea).
The United States is party to few economic-zone disputes. Nonetheless, it is the final guarantor of the international system. As such, it should be taking a greater interest in making sure that claims are settled peacefully—and that the rights of free passage are protected—whether or not the Senate sees fit to ratify the controversial Law of the Sea Convention, as the Bush administration wants it to do. And the first item on our agenda should be to talk openly and pointedly to Beijing and Moscow about their grand claims and methods of bolstering them.
On Tuesday evening the film Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center, a documentary, was screened for a standing-room only audience in Lower Manhattan. Billed as “the film that PBS doesn’t want you to see,” it studies the intense friction between moderate Muslims and Wahhabi radicals. Profiles of Muslims in Denmark, France, Canada, Michigan, and Arizona demonstrate how moderate voices, devoted to the idea of integrating Islam with democracy, are threatened and marginalized by Islamists intent on establishing Islamic law (shari’a) in the West.
Although it deals with a topic of national importance, and offers a much-needed platform for moderate Muslim voices—such as the embattled Danish lawmaker Naser Kader; the head of the Arizona Medical Association, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser; and the intrepid Parisian filmmaker Mohamed Sifaoui—PBS has decided to suppress the film.
Originally created for the America at the Crossroads documentary series currently airing on PBS, the film was nixed upon completion and kept off the air. Before the screening on Tuesday, Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev, two of the filmmakers behind Islam vs. Islamists, joked that theirs was one of the first films “roundly attacked by the people who commissioned it.” Gaffney added, “The nicest thing they [PBS] said about it was that it was ‘alarmist.’”
The sorry spectacle of Israel’s political system going through one financial scandal after another—the latest involves finance minister Abraham Hirchson, accused of embezzling large sums of money when he headed an HMO in the 1990’s—is more than just an embarrassment. Coupled with the growth of organized crime and frightening rumors of its inroads into politics and law enforcement, these scandals are making Israelis feel these days as if they were living in a Jewish Sicily.
Is it that bad? Probably not, although it’s hard to say. Corruption in Israel is something that, even today, you’re far more likely to read about in the newspapers than to experience personally. Israel is still a country whose citizens assume, when dealing with government officials, the police, or business contacts, that they are facing someone honest. It’s not some third-world state or banana republic where you routinely slip money into your car registration papers when you’re asked for them by a traffic cop, leave a gift on the desk of the official you’ve applied to for a building permit, or promise a kickback to the executive you’re negotiating a contract with. But then again, I don’t suppose that routinely happens in Sicily, either.