Thursday, January 22, 2004

New developments

Just as the criticism of the United States' erosion of civil rights is peaking, we hear new -- as yet unconfirmed -- evidence about the origin of the September 11 attacks.  This is certain to intensify debate over the Patriot Act and other governmental policies that limit civil rights, due process, and equal protection:

  Iran 'initiated 9/11 attacks'

22 January 2004

HAMBURG – The Iranian intelligence service was the initiator of the 11 September 2001 suicide-jet attacks on New York and Washington, according to a defector quoted Thursday by German police at the Hamburg terrorist trial.

One Federal Crime Office interrogator said he had taken down a statement in Berlin on Monday from a former Iranian agent who insisted that Iran had employed Saudi radical Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network to carry out the attacks.

The defector could not appear himself in court because he had been promised anonymity, two police officers told the trial of accused plotter Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, a Moroccan student who lived in Hamburg and was friends with three of the four suicide pilots.

The shock claim emerged on the day when a verdict had been scheduled. The prosecution asked for the delay to hear the new evidence. The end of the trial may be delayed for weeks.

The defector, who stated he had fled Iran in July 2001, two months before the attacks, claimed ultimate responsibility lay with a man named Saif al-Adel, who was an official in Iran of Hezbollah, a radial Shiiite organization with close links to Iranian intelligence.

According to the defector, "Department 43" of Iranian intelligence was created to plan and conduct terror attacks, and mounted joint operations with al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's son, Saad bin Laden, had made repeated consultative visits to Iran.

Lawyer for Guantanamo detainee says tribunal process designed to only "produce guilty verdict."
posted January 22, 2004, updated 12:00 p.m. ET
The Miami Herald reports that a US Marine lawyer, Maj. Michael Mori, Wednesday blasted the tribunal system designed to try terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Mori, in a direct slap at President Bush, said the trials will not be "full and fair" as Pentagon leaders promised, but were "created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions."
"Using the commission process just creates an unfair system that threatens to convict the innocent and provides the guilty a justifiable complaint as to their convictions," said Mori, who has defended or prosecuted about 200 cases in military courts.
Reuters reports that Mori believes his client, Australian David Hicks, should be tried in his own country. "In fairness if David Hicks has violated a law, an international law, there is no reason why it would not apply in Australia. That's universal jurisdiction, and so he should be tried in his country." Australia, which does not have a death penalty, has already gained assurances from the US that neither Mr. Hicks or another Australian held at Guantanamo, will be executed, and, if convicted, will be allowed to serve prison time in their home country.

I encourage everyone to read the actual articles.  Note that the CSM article is written in a style common to many blogs, with liberal quoting from a multitude of sources, and ample hyperlinks.  As an aside, I point out that it is great to see "the establishment" finally learning to make full use of the technology that us amateurs have been using for years.

If it is confirmed that the Iranian government had a significant role in the Sept. 11 attacks, this could mean 1) Another war.  2) More embarrassment for Mr. Bush, who would then have to explain why he went after the wrong target, 3) Additional pressure to limit civil liberties, and 4) Return of compulsory military service.  Oh, and 5) Higher taxes, and 6) Monetary inflation.

Note that in the opinion of one military expert (see 1/14 post), the US military is "near the breaking point," in that we do not have the capacity to wage another war right now.  This, of course, highlights one of the practical problems created by getting into an unnecessary war: you don't have the resources to fight a necessary war.  If we do end up attacking Iran, we almost certainly will have to expand the size of the military.  We also might have to return to true diplomacy and try -- with sheepish resignation -- to create a true international coalition.