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ZARQAWI DESPERATE?

There were more than a dozen bombings in Baghdad Sept. 14th, four of them suicide bombings, which killed at least 152 people. Yet this may be "early signs of diminishing jihadist capability." Here's why:

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IDIOTS IN IRAQ

The 14 Marine reservists killed last week when the amtrac in which they were riding was struck by a powerful roadside bomb would have been safer if they had been riding in up-armored humvees, opined CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. "I'm very disappointed that we don't have the good vehicles in the al Anbar province," Blitzer said. "It's a very sensitive issue for me, because I was there in March." An amtrac with 15 combat loaded Marines aboard weighs more than 23 tons. The IED -- reportedly made from a 500 lb. bomb -- flipped it over like a toy. An up-armored humvee weighs less than four tons. Only an idiot would deem it more survivable, especially since an amtrac has more armor than an up-armored humvee. Blitzer, alas, is typical of the near perfect ignorance of most in the news media about matters military.

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THE AL QAEDA FIZZLE

There is good news and bad news in the attacks Thursday in London. The bad news, of course, is that the attacks took place. The good news is that they were so clumsily executed. The attacks mirrored those of July 7th. Now as then, three subway trains and a bus were targeted. NBC has reported the Brits have told American authorities that both the backpacks used in Thursday's attacks and the (homemade) explosives in the backpacks were identical to those of July 7th. What was different is that this time only the detonators went off. Just one person -- apparently one of the bombers -- was injured in Thursday's attacks. The fact of the attack, coupled with its ineffectiveness, is more likely to infuriate than to intimidate the British. When an attack inspires more contempt than terror, the terrorists are in trouble.

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THE ROVE RED HERRING

Why is special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pursuing so zealously the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, since it is all but impossible to prove that the leaker or leakers committed a crime? The Intelligence Identities Protection Act requires that the leaker have learned the identity of a "covert agent" from authorized sources. And it requires that the leak be deliberate. The law defines a "covert agent" as someone working undercover overseas, or who has done so in the last five years. Plame has been manning a desk at CIA headquarters since 1997. So why is Fitzgerald acting like Inspector Jauvert in Les Miserables? The answer may lie in a sentence Walter Pincus of the Washington Post wrote on June 12th, 2003.

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RECRUITMENT: THE ARMY, THE MARINES, AND THE LEFT

What recruiters tell prospective recruits makes a difference, says retired Army Major Donald Sensing, whose son is a Marine lance corporal. Though they have suffered, proportionately, three times the casualties the Army has, the Marines are meeting their recruiting goals. His son chose the Marines over the Army because the Marines appealed directly to his patriotism, while Army recruiters talked of job training and pizza parties. “The problem is the Army’s recruiting strategy with its heavily civilianized marketing influences,” Sensing said. The Marines don’t hide what they’re about. Recruiting is harder because many parents wont let their children talk with Army recruiters, said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of Recruiting Command. Parental concern for the safety of their sons and daughters is understandable. But there is another group of influencers whose behavior borders on sedition. Any high school or college which denies military recruiters access to campus should lose all of its federal funding immediately. Any high school or college which does not expel students who disrupt recruiters at job fairs should lose all federal funding immediately.

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FROM BAD TO WORSE IN IRAN

According to the Iranian government, former secret policeman Mahmoud Ahmadeinejad defeated former president Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani, 62 percent to 37 percent, in a runoff for the presidency last Friday. Turnout was 60 percent, the government said. AP reported the government's figures as if they were true, even though there was a boycott of the election (photographs taken throughout the day showed polling places in urban areas virtually empty), and Rafsanjani claimed massive ballot box stuffing. The blatant manipulation of an already sham election to install a hardline reactionary as president suggests that the Ayatollah Khameini, chief of the Guardian Council, no longer sees a need to put a "reformist" face on the regime. That suggests to me that Iran is very close to -- or already possesses - a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it.

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SHALLOW THROAT

The self-outing of former FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt as "Deep Throat" still leaves the most important questions about Watergate unanswered. Bob Woodward has said Felt was Deep Throat, and he was seen visiting Felt at his Santa Rosa, California home in 1999. What is cloudy is how much of a role Felt played in the Watergate saga. We know of Deep Throat not from the reporting Woodward and Bernstein did for the Washington Post in 1972, but from their book, "All the President's Men." But Woodward's literary agent, David Obst, has said Deep Throat was not mentioned in the original book proposal, and emerged only after Woodward had discussed movie possibilities with Robert Redford. Is Deep Throat a Hollywood invention?

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GOOD NEWS IS BAD NEWS FOR BUSH-HATERS

“I hate to say this to Iraqis, but I pray for chaos and civil war,” Nina from Toronto emailed the BBC. "It's the only way to stop Bush's policies and show that peace can never come through force. If Iraq gets peace, Bush gets credibility. It cannot be allowed to happen." These are miserable days for Nina and others of her ilk. Two British newspapers report that the resistance in Iraq is crumbling. Sharif Ali bin al Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement, told the Financial Times that “many insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process if they receive guarantees for their safety.” Mr. Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections “dealt the insurgents a demoralizing blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process,” the Financial Times reported March 26th. The left-wing Guardian reported March 27th that "the Iraqi resistance has peaked and is turning on itself, according to recent intelligence reports received by Middle Eastern intelligence agencies."

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ITALIAN MORAL STUPIDITY IN IRAQ

Giuliana Sgrena does not lack a sense of self importance. The 56-year-old journalist for the Italian communist newspaper Il Manifesto thinks she knows so many deep dark secrets the U.S. military tried to shut her up permanently. Sgrena went to Iraq to report on the heroic resistance to the American imperialists. Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos rode in the airplane to Baghdad with her. "Be careful not to get kidnapped," Doornbos warned Sgrena. "You don't understand the situation," she responded, according to Doornbos' account in the Nederlands Dagblatt. "The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers. The enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear." She got nabbed on her way back to her hotel. Sgrena told her captors she was on their side, and suggested they kidnap an American soldier instead. But the U.S. government doesn't pay ransoms.

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