Saturday, June 21, 2008

Intelligence Officials: Dozens of Europeans Have Trained in Terror Camps in Pakistan

From ABC News:

Dozens of white Europeans have trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan's tribal regions in recent months, U.S. intelligence sources tell ABC News, in what officials fear may be the beginnings of a new breed of al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorism.

Government officials suspect the terrorists, recruited in Europe, have been dispatched to plan attacks against Europe and possibly the United States. The alleged terrorists hail from Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Romania and Estonia, sources said.

There is growing evidence that some European recruits may have already gone operational. Two of the suspects arrested in a September 2007 plot to kill American soldiers in Germany were native Germans, and U.S. officials say they are investigating whether they were trained in Pakistan.

Pakistan is the new Afghanistan:
Terrorist attacks against noncombatants more than doubled in Pakistan from 2006 to 2007, reflecting the growing violence in the country's turbulent tribal areas and new bombings against Pakistani government officials and security services, according to a report released Wednesday by the State Department.

The report also said the number of deaths from the attacks in Pakistan quadrupled in that time period, to 1,335 fatalities, casting doubt on the American-backed counterterrorism policies of President Pervez Musharraf that the new government in Islamabad is now reshaping.

The new statistics show that terrorist strikes against nonmilitary targets worldwide remained virtually unchanged in 2007 from 2006, at roughly 14,500 attacks, but the number of deaths from those attacks increased to 22,685 from 20,872, according to statistics compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center.

Press Roundup on Offshore Oil Drilling

Found on Cup of Joe Powell:

"The immediate, direct impact would, of course, be zero, since it takes years to bring new oil sources online. But what about the indirect impact that new drilling permits might have on perceptions of future supply? Might that help lower oil prices in the near term?

Maybe, but it's unlikely. Take ANWR first. A recent EIA study took a look at the impact that drilling in ANWR would have, and they concluded that it would probably reduce oil prices by 75 cents a barrel in 2025. A change that small two decades in the future almost certainly wouldn't have any effect on commodity traders today.

Huffington Post:
There are two prohibitions on offshore drilling, one imposed by Congress and another by executive order signed by Bush's father in 1990. Bush's brother, Jeb, fiercely opposed offshore drilling when he was governor of Florida. What the president now proposes would rescind his father's decision _ but the president took the position that Congress had to act first and then he would follow behind.

An estimated 3 million gallons of oil have spilled from oil and gas operations in 73 incidents between 1980 and 1999, according to Oynes' agency. Environmental groups say the spills illustrate the ecological dangers of offshore drilling, but Oynes said the last significant spill was the 1969 blowout.

Patterson says his office records about 500 minor spills a year in Texas from vessels or off-loading incidents but said he does not remember a spill related to offshore drilling.

IHT interviews Chevron CEO:
Oil prices have jumped from around $25 in 2002 to about $140 a barrel recently. Are we in a bubble?

I am a believer that most of this is related to fundamentals. Those are concerns about supplies. Last year, oil supplies did not grow in total. What the market is looking for is more visibility in future oil supplies. That is one of the main drivers for the difference of between the prices five years ago and the prices we're seeing now.

NY Times:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and some other Republicans opposed to drilling have also held their ground. Ray Sansom, who is in line to become speaker of the Florida House, representing the coastal town of Destin, said Wednesday that he still opposes drilling. And former Gov. Jeb Bush, in an e-mail message, said that while he supported Mr. Bush’s efforts to develop domestic energy sources, “this does not diminish the long-term need to conserve and develop alternative sources of energy.”

LA Times Editorial:
Californians have been leery of coastal drilling since a devastating spill from an oil platform off Santa Barbara in 1969. Drilling proponents counter that new technology has greatly decreased the risk of spills, but they nonetheless still happen. And there's more to worry about than spills. Texas is not known for its beaches, which attract the detritus -- such as tar balls and empty oil drums -- from thousands of oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling releases a host of toxic chemicals, creating such problems as dangerously high mercury levels in fish.

CNN quoting Obama:
"When I hear McCain say that he is now in favor of the same oil drilling off the coast that he was opposed to just a week ago, what he doesn't tell you is that George Bush's own energy department has said that this would have no impact on consumers until 2030," he said, "no appreciable impact for the next 22 years. Something they're not telling consumers."

Press Roundup: Democrats Cave-in to Bush on FISA Bill

Hanlon's Razor's take on the FISA bill:

Here’s something I learned by dealing with 5 year olds. When you tell someone that you’ll take them for ice cream if they clean their room, but point out that even if they don’t you’ll take them for ice cream anyway, guess what? Exactly. If Obama doesn’t threaten a complete and total rejection of the bill so long as telecom immunity remains, then it’s going to stay.

Alternet on the same bill:
House Democratic leadership agreed to support the measure -- seemingly out of fear of losing conservative Democrats to an even weaker proposal. But it is the worst of both worlds. It contains just enough of a pretense of accountability to allow the legislators to claim a victory for civil liberties, as it sells out core principles of accountability and privacy.

Daily KOS quotes Senator Tom Udall:
The FISA bill we considered today would compromise the constitutionally guaranteed rights that make America a beacon of hope around the world.

Today's vote was not easy. I stood up to leaders of my own party and voted against this bill, because I took an oath to defend Americans and our Constitution, and it was the right thing to do.

More from Alternet:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that a key positive feature of the new wiretap "compromise" is that the bill reaffirms that the President must follow the law, even though the same bill virtually assures that no one will be held accountable for George W. Bush's violation of the earlier spying law.

TPM quotes Barack Obama:
"Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance -- making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.

"Today (June 20), Steny Hoyer is bringing to the House floor the latest FISA bill (PDF), which includes retroactive immunity for the telcos. The bill also is very weak on judicial review, allowing the telcos to use a letter from the president as a 'get out of liability free' card.

"The proposed FISA deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation," Senator Russ Feingold said today. "The House and Senate should not be taking up this bill, which effectively guarantees immunity for telecom companies alleged to have participated in the President’s illegal program, and which fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. Allowing courts to review the question of immunity is meaningless when the same legislation essentially requires the court to grant immunity. And under this bill, the government can still sweep up and keep the international communications of innocent Americans in the U.S. with no connection to suspected terrorists, with very few safeguards to protect against abuse of this power. Instead of cutting bad deals on both FISA and funding for the war in Iraq, Democrats should be standing up to the flawed and dangerous policies of this administration."

McCain Hampered By Campaign Missteps

Its why McCain is going to lose...big:

Call it campaign growing pains. Or bad luck. Or a combination of the two.

By any name, Sen. John McCain is hampered by missteps and self-generated controversy in the early days of the general election campaign for the White House.

Take his most recent trip through several states and the Canadian capital, a five-day span during which he courted conservatives and independents alike, raised more than $10 million and began detailing his considerable differences with Sen. Barack Obama on energy policy.

Still, on Tuesday, he criticized his rival for proposing a windfall profits tax on the oil industry. The attack was complicated by McCain's earlier statement that he would consider the same thing.

The following day, he met with a group of Hispanics in Chicago. Aides who had kept word of the event secret were placed on the defensive within hours after one participant criticized some of McCain's comments.

On Thursday, the Arizona senator flew to Iowa, a likely battleground state in the fall, where he expressed sympathy with victims of severe flooding and pledged support for federal recovery aid. The event was overshadowed by President Bush's appearance elsewhere in the same state on the same day.

- Read more of this article from The Huffington Post