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Archive for December, 2006

Who knows whether this will help or not, but it can’t hurt. Go here and sign the petition that will likely do nothing to help pardon former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. But as I said, it doesn’t hurt.

I’ve already covered in-depth the unfortunate plight of Ramos and Compean. Needless to say the ineptitude of our government goes beyond the Iraq fiasco. It often hits home. In this case, it struck wildly and with extreme malice at Compean and Ramos and their families.

Keep these men and their wives and their fathers and mothers and children in your thoughts this holiday season. If we move beyond the holiday season and a pardon has not been granted, continue to keep them in your thoughts. This indisputable travesty of the United States judicial system should not be allowed to meet the conclusion George Bush, Michael Chertoff, Katheel Cardone, and et. al. obviously wish it to meet.

Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should not go to jail.

Border agents plead for ‘Christmas pardon’
Congressman hosts rally asking Bush to stop ‘miscarriage of justice’


Posted: December 20, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

A Border Patrol agent sentenced to prison along with his partner for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S. will appear with a congressman tomorrow at a rally asking President Bush to offer a pardon.

Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas. The drug smuggler was granted immunity for his testimony.

Compean will be joined by family; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif.; Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist; and members of other border-security groups such as Friends of the Border Patrol at the courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow.

Rohrabacher, noting the president already has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, is asking Americans to sign petitions and send e-mails and letters to the White House requesting a “Christmas pardon.”

Grassfire.org has an online petition calling on Bush to pardon the agents, with more than 130,000 signatures.

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career,” Rohrabacher told WND. “Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”

Compean’s sister, of Huntington Beach, lives in Rohrabacher’s Southern California district.

The White House has not responded to the letter, according to Rohrabacher, and did not follow up a request from WND for comment. Press secretary Tony Snow has said he cannot comment on presidential pardons.

Gilchrist said what has happened to the two agents is “atrocious,” with “their lifes being ruined, their families being put in turmoil.”

“We would expect the president to give a full and unconditional pardon to these two wrongly arrested, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted members of law enforcement,” he told WND, “and retroactive pay and benefits they’ve lost over the past two years since they were originally arrested.”

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.


Agent Jose Alonso Compean. Courtesy of KFOX-TV

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”

The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”

Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

The letter to Bush included the signatures of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” the letter said. “We are confident that during such an investigation you will find that these Border Patrol agents were acting within the scope of their duty and were unjustly prosecuted. Also, we ask that you use your power of presidential pardon, as granted by the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, to pardon these two Border Patrol agents. We understand these requests usually are for those that have already completed their sentences; however, we feel in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to send these two Border Patrol agents to prison for protecting our nation’s borders from an illegal drug smuggler.”

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I have refrained from addressing the issue of former Los Angeles Fire Department fireman, Tennie Pierce and his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles after having been fed dog food from fellow firemen a few years back.  Last month, the Pierce fiasco was all over local talk radio and television news, even making national news to a smaller degree.  Why have I not posted anything concerning Tennie and his two scoops of dog food ingestion?  I have no idea.  Normally, this story would be something I would have enjoyed discussing, but for some reason I simply didn’t get around to posting a single entry about the whole mess.   There’s no time like the present I suppose, and since the drama simply refuses to subside, I reason the time has come nigh for my input concerning the matter of Tennie Pierce vs. Los Angeles.

Basically, Tennie Pierce is an idiot.

It is truly inconceivable to me that an actual legitimate lawyer (hmm… is there really such a thing?), backed by an actual law firm would choose to represent a man such as Pierce for an incident as innocuous as what transpired two years ago–the dog food incident.

Anyway, who is Tennie Pierce?  If you aren’t already familiar with the man, Pierce is a black ex-Los Angeles fireman, having served in that capacity for nearly 20 years.  At one point in 2004, Pierce was subjected to a prank wherein his fellow firemen mixed dog food into a plate of spaghetti, presented it to Pierce who then proceeded to partake of the dish, swallowing two bites of the affected pasta before he realized his peers had pulled some sort of frivolity upon him, not because he could taste the dog food in the spaghetti, but simply because the other firemen were laughing hysterically at their frat house-style deception.

Pierce claimed he was subjected to racial discrimination due to the prank.  He secured the services of lawyer Genie Harrison (who is also currently representing several LAFD firewomen on discrimination charges–cases that appear to hold much more weight than the Pierce case) and marched forward in a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.  Upon the horribly misguided advice of LA city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Tennie Pierce was eventually awarded $2.7 million of LA taxpayer money by the city council in an overwhelming 11 to 1 ruling, with councilman Dennis Zine the only dissenting (and obviously sane) voice.  I don’t blame Zine for now requesting an outside legal team defend against the Pierce case–Delgadillo proved nothing but impotent.

Cue John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the Los Angeles based talk radio station KFI640.  Championing the taxpayers of Los Angeles, these two radio hosts, through various means, managed to bring to the fore telling evidence in the form of old photographs featuring Tennie Pierce engaging in various pranks upon other firemen that are flagrantly racist and shamelessly degrading.  However, in light of the new photos, the city council continued their hard-headed, out-of-touch-with-reality ways and protracted their original judgment awarding nearly three million dollars to a man who ate two spoonfuls of dog food.  With strengthened fury, John and Ken continued their rant against Pierce and the LA city council.  Publicity of the case became top evening news.

Pressure on the city council grew to titanic proportions until the intervention of Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa grew inescapable.  He could no longer ignore the cries of outrage from the public.  Late last month, Villaraigosa vetoed the city council’s original adjudication.  I’ve never been a fan of Villaraigosa, but I will give credit where credit is due:  This was a rare, smart decision.

Of course, Genie Harrison swore the repercussions of this choice would cost the city far more if the Pierce case were to go to trial.

Here are the basic no-brainers apropos to this case.

1.  Tennie Pierce had a nickname–“The Big Dog.”

2.  Pierce was fed the dog food as a prank from fellow firefighters who were annoyed by his chest-thumping arrogance during a department volleyball match in which Pierce was heard by many to shout, “feed the big dog” repeatedly throughout the game every time he scored a point, spiked the ball, or did anything worthy of celebration on his part.

3.   In firehouses throughout Los Angeles and the nation, frat house shenanigans play a modest part in relieving stress, rites of initiation, promotion, retirement, etc.  This is nothing new or shocking.  Personally, if acting like children helps maintain the sanity of firefighters around the country, who am I question their Neanderthal-like rites of passage.  As long as they put out fires, I’m happy.

4.  Under the circumstances, feeding dog food to Tennie Pierce was not racially motivated, nor was there any intent of racial discrimination on the part of the firemen who fed Pierce the dog food.  While not an innocent prank (because in all actuality, there’s no such thing), deeming it racist is idiocy.

5.  The surfacing of various photographs clearly depicting Pierce actively perpetrating and participating in numerous pranks against other firefighters are incontrovertibly racist and homophobic.  These photos are the central argument for the Villaraigosa veto.  Here are only a few of the photos

Prank: “Oy vey! I’m Gay!”  What the fuck?  And Pierce felt he had a right to bring a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city?  Of course, these photos came out after the lawsuit, but I’m sure he was hoping they would never surface.  Too bad for him. 

Tennie Pierce

In these pictures, Pierce can be seen assisting in holding a man down, grasping his genitals, and preparing to shave his naughty bits.  Ultimately, the prankee came out unscathed because it was just a PRANK!.

Also, the last picture depicts Pierce pouring water into another fireman’s mouth via a garden hose.  This looks to go beyond pranking.  It’s simply brutal water-boarding torture. 

continued from above…

Now however, it appears that Pierce lawyer, Genie Harrison is looking not to take the case to court as she so angrily threatened after the veto last month.  Instead, it looks as if she and Pierce realize that any meaningful award will not come from the court system.  With the above pictures, I can’t imagine a sensible jury anywhere bestowing any sort of meaningful reward in favor of Tennie Pierce.

Of course, there have been boneheaded verdicts in the past that have squarely followed race lines.  This I believe is not the case to champion.  Tennie Pierce deserves every ounce of ridicule, humiliation, and disdain he’s received from the public as a result of his case against the city of Los Angeles.   I do not want one penny of my tax money going to shady and despicable man looking for a quick and easy dollar by pulling the race card in a situation that was clearly not racially motivated.

Shame on Tennie Pierce and shame on Genie Harrison (may you never win another case throughout the remainder of your career.)

https://i2.wp.com/a.abclocal.go.com/images/kabc/cms_exf_2005/news/local/112106TenniePierce200.jpg

On a side note, and in reference to the bleeding-heart story further down the page courtesy of the LA Times, Tennie Pierce’s claims of time as a member of the Denver Broncos NFL team are quite spurious.  No one from the Broncos of years past remembers Pierce.  No records of him exist.  No one knows who the hell he is, and they deny he was ever signed to the team, let alone he ever played a pre-season game.

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Settlement talks reopen in bias case

L.A. officials are trying to strike a deal to close the debate over hazing of a firefighter whose lawsuit has prompted so much controversy.

By Jim Newton and Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writers
December 19, 2006

Los Angeles officials have reopened talks with the lawyer for former firefighter Tennie Pierce as the two sides seek to settle a racial discrimination case that has upended city politics in recent weeks.

Although officials would not discuss the matter on the record, one person close to the talks said they are trying to strike a deal that would end Pierce’s case against the city and close debate over his attempt to secure a $2.7-million payout.

Pierce, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, sued the city after colleagues in his station house fed him dog food mixed with spaghetti sauce and then allegedly taunted him for months after the incident.

Details of the new proposed settlement were being closely guarded, but sources familiar with the talks said both sides were attempting to craft an agreement that would structure any payment in a way that would make clear that much of the money to Pierce was to compensate for lost salary and pension benefits — and that his payout would cover his legal bills as well. One official said the deal also might involve setting aside a portion of the money for Fire Department reforms.

In settlement talks earlier this year, the city and Pierce’s attorneys discussed providing at least $1.3 million to buy out his pension plan at a rate as if Pierce was a 30-year employee, according to a transcript of a City Council closed session on the case from June 21. Pierce, at that time, was six months shy of serving 20 years.

Pierce, a tall and broad-shouldered African American, was fed dog food after a 2004 volleyball game in which he proclaimed himself the “Big Dog.”

In pursuing his lawsuit against the city, Pierce has argued that the incident and its aftermath were humiliating and made it impossible for him to stay with the department. Critics of the deal have cited Pierce’s “Big Dog” remark as evidence that the incident was intended as an innocent joke and not racially motivated, and have noted that Pierce himself admits to having engaged in pranks as a firefighter.

Nevertheless, in the weeks since the council first overwhelmingly approved the deal, it has sparked outrage on both sides, often with a clear racial subtext. In interviews, many African Americans have tended to side with Pierce, while many whites have been markedly less sympathetic.

Last month, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the original settlement amid a wave of public criticism and radio talk show jibes. The council then reversed itself and upheld Villaraigosa’s veto.

That could propel the Pierce case to trial, but the city’s interest in settling grows out of the sense, shared by many city officials, that a jury verdict could end up costing taxpayers more than a deal.

That conviction is based in part on a broader view of the case than the mere act of Pierce eating dog food. Last summer, professional mediator Joel Grossman considered the case and sanctioned the $2.7-million proposed settlement. According to a source familiar with that mediation, Grossman reached that conclusion in part because he believed that Pierce suffered long after the dog food incident.

That source said news of the prank quickly spread throughout the Fire Department, and firefighters across the city would tease Pierce wherever he went. Some called his home and left messages with barking sounds. Others would ask which he preferred, Alpo or Purina. Fire Department officials knew of the teasing but allowed it to continue, thus arguably making them complicit in a workplace environment that Pierce found increasingly hostile.

In a deposition, one top official in the Fire Department — whom the source described as a high-ranking African American — conceded that the harassment of Pierce appeared to him to be racially motivated. If the case goes to trial, that deposition could be used against the city and could incline a jury to punish the department and city with a large award. The mediator indicated to the lawyers in the case that that deposition weighed heavily on him in recommending the $2.7-million deal, the source said.

Although the source did not name that fire official, Millage Peaks, a battalion chief who is African American, was deposed in July. On Monday, Peaks declined to comment about his deposition, but he has in the past spoken out publicly about racism and harassment in the Fire Department.

Advocates of settling the case also stressed that the amount includes legal fees. If the case goes to trial and Pierce wins, he probably would be entitled to legal fees on top of whatever a jury might award him in damages. And since the case already has a long history — that would only grow more extensive given a trial — some estimate that Pierce’s legal bill could top $1 million.

At the same time, there are incentives for Pierce’s lawyers to negotiate. Pierce admitted to engaging in pranks himself, which could weaken his case in the eyes of a jury. And some jurors might not sympathize with giving a large sum over what the city could argue was a relatively trivial act of harassment.

Reached Monday, Grossman confirmed that he had mediated the deal, but declined to discuss it, saying he needed permission from the lawyers on both sides. The city attorney’s press office declined to comment on negotiations because the case was still being litigated.

Still, any proposed deal is likely to stir controversy again, and some council members are wary of supporting a large payout.

“The overwhelming majority of the public is clearly against the settlement,” said Councilman Dennis Zine. “At least in my office, all the calls and e-mails that we received said, ‘Councilman, you have the courage to stand up and do what’s right.’ ”

Zine also said that he would be leery of any large settlement offer. “A million dollars is too much,” he said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, by contrast, voted to settle the case for $2.7 million and then voted later to override the mayor’s veto of that agreement.

On Monday, she said she did not have any firsthand knowledge of further talks in the case, although she said she had heard buzz around City Hall that negotiations were continuing.

She stressed that she would be open to any deal that “drives the city into stopping such patterns and practices of the city allowing and letting stand a hostile work environment.”

Perry said that if talks were ongoing, she wouldn’t expect to see another settlement in the neighborhood of $2.7 million. She said “it would be surprising if it was in the same ballpark” because objections by the mayor and some other council members were based on the amount.

http://heima.olivant.fo/~l_s_d/cliparts/cliparts/Firemen.jpg

(Here is a shameful, sob-story look at Pierce post-veto.  Leave it to the perpetually subscriber-sliding LA Times to write such abhorent drivel.)

For firefighter, sense of brotherhood shattered

SANDY BANKS, Times Staff Writer
December 14, 2006

Before he was Big Dog in the fire station, he was Big Fella because of his giant frame and Bigfoot because of his size 15 boots. Before there was the dog food in his spaghetti, there was the noose draped over his station locker and the white flour sprinkled in his bed.

And before Tennie Pierce became the Los Angeles Fire Department’s $2.7-million man — a symbol of racial discrimination to some and political correctness gone wrong to others — he was an ordinary firefighter, who had spent 17 years pledging allegiance to the department’s notion of brotherhood.

That allegiance began unraveling two years ago, when a firefighter at Pierce’s Westchester station mixed dog food into his dinner — a practical joke intended to “humble” him, the department’s investigative report said, for “declaring himself Big Dog” in a volleyball game.

Pierce sued the city for racial harassment last year, after enduring what he describes as months of taunts and retaliation. The City Council voted to settle his case for $2.7 million last month, but, after a public uproar, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the settlement.

Pierce’s claim and its repercussions — a respected fire department unmasked; a popular fire chief dispatched; a racially divided populace at odds — unhinged the city and unmoored the man.

“I didn’t expect it to go the way it went,” said Pierce, whose public claim and private life — from his work habits to the state of his marriage — provided weeks of fodder for talk radio programs. Hosts such as John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on KFI-AM (640) fielded dozens of calls from disgruntled white firefighters, who castigated Pierce for “playing the race card” and produced photos of him joining in the hazing of others.

The storm took Pierce by surprise. “I always felt I was part of a great brotherhood,” he said. “I know I have always been upright and fair. When I see how the masses turned on me….” He shrugs his giant shoulders and stares at the floor.

For some, he’s become a caricature — a big, strong, black man brought down by a couple of bites of dog food. But to his friends and family, the reality is considerably more complicated.

“The Fire Department was Tennie’s life,” said L.A. firefighter and friend Johnny Green. “He would much rather be at work than going through this foolishness.”

Pierce knows those photos of him standing over firefighters smeared with condiments and shaving cream made him a lightning rod for criticism. But the pranks weren’t done to hurt anyone, he said. “Basically, it’s a celebration of love. It’s your birthday, your last day at the station…. I’ve never heard a guy say, ‘Stop. Don’t do this to me.’ ”

But Green said Pierce was one of relatively few black firefighters who participated in hazing rituals. “He assimilated with those guys” at his station, Green said. He went on ski trips with them, helped work on their houses, spent his days off with them riding Harleys.

“That’s why the betrayal he feels is so strong,” Green said. “He’s the O.J. of the Fire Department.”

*

Recognized by strangers

Pierce is 6 feet 5 and weighs more than 250 pounds, so it’s hard for him to hide. Strangers recognize him at the gym, at his daughter’s school. People he doesn’t know feel free to scold him.

“There are all those people out there casting stones,” he said. “Reporters standing on my porch, [confronting] my daughter coming home from school.”

His lawsuit has not only angered many whites but has also divided black firefighters and made Pierce a pariah among men who were his friends.

The black firefighters organization the Stentorians has refused to back his lawsuit. “Right case, wrong guy,” one black captain said. Because Pierce participated in hazing rituals, supporting Pierce would undercut the group’s official stance that “no member be subjected to any form of unprofessional behavior or practices in the workplace.”

The rift is hard for Pierce to bear, Green said. “He’s a teddy bear. Did he have fun and play games? Yeah. Hazing, condiments … that was all good-natured fun. Tennie did that real well.”

The dog food was another matter. There are three rules that every firefighter knows, Green and others say. “You don’t mess with people’s family, you don’t mess with their safety equipment, you don’t mess with their food,” Green said. “What they did to him crossed the line.”

Pierce has been off work now — relying on a combination of sick leave, disability, vacation and administrative leave — for more than a year, collecting a portion of his salary while he spends his days working out, visiting doctors and therapists, and helping out at his daughter’s track practices.

The enforced idleness has been hard on their marriage, his wife says. Pierce is often irritable and unable to sleep, ashamed that he must rely on his wife’s salary to support the family.

His case is headed for trial next year, though city officials could offer another settlement. But his career as a firefighter is over, he said.

Pierce denied rumors that he has been visiting other cities to look for a firefighting job. “I’m 51. My body is beat up,” he said. He wants to go back to college “and start my life over again.”

*

Football career envisioned

Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Pierce left Cal State Northridge five credits shy of graduation, he said, envisioning a pro football career. He said he was signed by the Denver Broncos but was injured during a preseason game in 1980 and never played during a regular season.

He married and had two children, then divorced and wound up with custody of his infant daughter and toddler son. He was working as a pipe fitter when a friend told him that the Los Angeles Fire Department — then under a consent decree mandating the hiring of minorities — had openings. He joined the department in 1987.

A year later, his daughter, then 5, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His older sister moved in with him to help care for the child, who was bedridden, had a tracheotomy tube in her throat and needed twice-daily trips from Inglewood to UCLA for treatment. She died in 1989, just after her sixth birthday. His son is now 26.

The next year, Pierce remarried, and the couple later adopted a 3-year-old girl. His wife watched him throw himself into his work; the demands of his new job seemed to help ease his grief, she said.

“It meant learning a new language and a new way of thinking, a whole different culture,” Pierce said.

Pranks and hazing were a part of that culture. In his first station assignment in the San Fernando Valley, Pierce got a taste, and made a choice.

“We were practicing knots,” he recalled, “and somebody laid a noose right in front of my locker.” He threw it in the trash without telling anybody.

“You want the job so bad, you don’t want to stir the pot,” Pierce said. “You go up there and tell the captain, then the captain calls everybody into the kitchen and now I’ve created a hostile work environment for myself.”

Nor did he complain later, when a buddy sprinkled flour in his bed, leaving his dark skin dusted white. “It wasn’t mean,” he said. “It was like that old saying, ‘Boys will be boys.’ ”

“People criticize him [now] for complaining,” said his lawyer, Genie Harrison. “But Tennie’s got 17 years of doing nothing but laughing about the jokes that were played on him.”

Pierce said he was so shocked and ashamed when his station mates confessed that they had tricked him into eating dog food that he didn’t even tell his wife when he went home.

Then the calls from other black firefighters “started coming through on my home phone…. ‘Hey, Pierce, I heard what happened…. I’m glad it was you and not me, because if it happened to me, there’d be people in the hospital.’ That’s how my wife found out.”

The news traveled quickly through the department, he said. Firefighters began teasing him, calling him ‘dog food boy,’ barking like a dog when he walked by.

Pierce decided to sue, he said, only when the environment became unbearable. “I’ve been on this department for a long time. I’ve done everything they’ve ever asked me to do,” he said.

“All I asked for was three things: transfer me, do a thorough investigation, let me have some kind of psychological help to deal with this.”

He received got counseling and was transferred, but was later ordered back to the Westchester station.

And although the Fire Department’s records show that the battalion chief overseeing the Westchester station did, indeed, call for a full investigation, Deputy Chief Andrew Fox, who heads the department’s disciplinary division, rejected that recommendation. Instead, he relied on firefighters’ written statements to administer three suspensions ranging from six days to one month off without pay.

The fallout is still reverberating through the city’s fire stations. “There are 3,600 firefighters that love the Los Angeles Fire Department and want it to have a sterling reputation,” said Pat McOsker, former president of the firefighters union. “They are heartbroken that a handful of incidents are dragging us through the mud.

“The natural tendency is to be mad at those responsible: ‘Why couldn’t you just suffer this silently?’ ” he said. “I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s what happens.”

Green said Pierce is heartbroken too. “He really was the Big Dog … the biggest, blackest man in that station, with more seniority than any of them,” he said. “When they gave him that dog food, they were sending him a message: He would never be one of them.

“I’m sad for Tennie, that’s he’s got to go through this, change his phone numbers, move his kid’s school,” Green said. “But this case needs to go to court so people will see what it’s like for African Americans.”

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted the below Youtube video on his blog (sorry, you’ll need an account to Myspace, which is interestingly owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox News which, as we all know, runs The O’Reilly Factor.) It concerns a grave distortion (and huge error of judgment) on the part of the perpetually-out-of-touch-with-humanity Bill O’Reilly with an egregious historical inacuracy concerning the Malmedy massacre 62 years ago when roughly 80 American soldiers were ruthlessly executed by their Nazi captors during the Battle of the Bulge.

From my friend’s blog

Bill O’Reilly, commentator for the F-Word Network, has chosen to reverse history, and use Malmady as a historical excuse, if not justification, for atrocities committed by U.S. military forces in Iraq. He’s reversed history in order to further his own propaganda.

To make matters worse, he not only hasn’t apologized, but the F-Word Network has seen fit to go back and alter their transcripts for both broadcasts.

I used to watch Keith Olbermann quite frequently, but somehow grew adrift of the habit. Seeing this video (which is actually quite old) compels me to offer Mr. Olbermann my strict attention once again via his nightly program, Countdown.

Thanks to my friend, John for the reminder.

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Mecca

And the continuing saga of the poor, victimized imams from US Airways Flight 300 on November 20 continues, despite the fact that their shenanigans did nothing but create a public relations fiasco that’s painted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as manipulating whiners who attempted to elicit support from the army of the politically correct in order to eradicate any form of muslim/arab profiling. Purposefully, the six imams exhibited obviously inflammatory behavior in order to concoct a situation they could then point the finger of political correctness at as blatant and baseless discrimination–they simply want a lawsuit. Those who witnessed the events on Flight 300 would beg to differ as to the baselessness of the imam’s actions.

Now, CAIR is urging all Muslims on hajj to Mecca, which begins December 29, to look for (or perhaps seek out as the imams did on Flight 300) and document any signs of discrimination and/or oppression against their persons as a result of their faith and/or ethnicity when flying on any airline.

Hey Muslims (or anyone for that matter regardless of their ethnicity or religious bearings), here’s a tip: Don’t do what the six imams did on US Airways Flight 300–don’t act like a moron. If you simply get on the plane, relax, and enjoy the flight, I guarantee there will be no problems. Really. I’m not just making that up. I mean it. I really do.

Muslim pilgrims urged to complain

By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
December 13, 2006

American Muslims making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca are being encouraged to file civil rights complaints if they feel discriminated against by airlines.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), citing what it called the “airport profiling” of six imams removed from a recent flight, yesterday said Muslims traveling this month to the holy site in Saudi Arabia need to be aware of their rights.

“Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year’s hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman.

The group has established a toll-free hot line (800/784-7526) for victims of “flying while Muslim,” as Muslims have begun departing for the weeklong hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime obligation to visit the holy city of Mecca, which this year begins Dec. 29.

But M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), said the announcement by CAIR “continues the tired stoking of the flames of victimization.”

“They are unfortunately exploiting, for purely political reasons, what should be a sacred and purely spiritual story of our faith’s annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca,” Dr. Jasser said.

“We need new leadership and organizations which use their passions and the bandwidth of the media to lead the ideological fight against radical and political Islam rather than this tired pre-emption of supposed discrimination.”

CAIR is representing the six imams removed from a US Airways flight last month and has asked for a meeting with the airline to seek an out-of-court settlement. It maintains that police and witness reports detailing the imams unusual behavior before their removal last month were ethnically and/or religiously motivated.

The imams say they were praying and did not, as the reports say, change seats and make remarks critical of President Bush and the Iraq war.

Pilots and air marshals called the incident a “PC probe” to intimidate passengers and crew from reporting suspicious behavior by Muslim passengers and are fearful the incident will set off a domino effect of lawsuits.

Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, thinks this is a ploy to extort money from the airlines.

“I think CAIR is soliciting complaints, and if they don’t get it, they will make it up,” said Miss Burlingame, who is also a director for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation.

“People complain about everything, including bad weather, so, the angry Muslim activists will be loaded for bear,” Miss Burlingame said.

A guide issued by CAIR advises Muslims that “as an airline passenger, you are entitled to courteous, respectful and non-stigmatizing treatment by airline and security personnel.”

“You have the right to complain about treatment that you believe is discriminatory,” the guide says.

Those treated in a discriminatory manner are advised by CAIR to “ask for the names and ID numbers of all persons involved in the incident. Be sure to write this information down.”

The Washington Times obtained police and witness reports just days after the incident involving the imams, and reported on Nov. 28 that the men did not sit in their assigned seats, asked for seat-belt extensions they did not need, and spoke in Arabic among themselves.

Federal air marshals and pilots were also asked by The Washington Times to examine the imams’ seating arrangement, and reported that it resembled a pattern used by the September 11 hijackers.

“That behavior has been identified as a terrorist probe in the airline industry,” one pilot said.

One airline official who asked to remain anonymous called the CAIR threats about ethnic profiling “much ado about a practice that does not exist in any major airline.”

“You do wonder what the ultimate aim is here; to eliminate a discriminatory practice that does not exist, or is there some other agenda afoot,” the official said.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s insane dictator, has been hosting a “conference” that questions the validity of the Holocaust–according to him, it’s a myth. What saddens me is how many attendees are Jews from various countries, Europeans, and Americans.

At a speech he gave during the event today, Ahmadinejad once again threatened complete destruction upon Israel.

“Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out,” he said. I’m assuming he’s also indirectly including America as part of the “Zionist regime.”

Believe it when Ahmadinejad says he will destroy Israel, or at least work towards doing so. Iran is not developing its nuclear program for energy producing peaceful purposes. They are developing nuclear weapons, most notably demonstrated when Mahmoud held a highly publicized celebratory public event when the country finally was able to successfully enrich a touch of uranium. For all of his supposed bluster, he is deadly serious. He will do it.

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Iran president says Israel’s days are numbered

By Paul Hughes

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel’s days were numbered.

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the killing of six million Jews in World War Two as a “myth” and calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, launched another verbal attack on the Jewish state.

“Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want,” he said.

“Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out,” he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.

The Vatican, Germany and the European Commission added their voices on Tuesday to others — such as the United States and Israel — who have condemned the Tehran meeting.

Iran says it organized the conference to shed light on the reasons behind the formation of the state of Israel after World War Two and to allow researchers from countries where it is a crime to question the Holocaust to speak freely.

“Iran is your home and is the home of all freedom seekers of the world,” Ahmadinejad said. “Here you can express your views and exchange opinions in a friendly, brotherly and free atmosphere.”

“FACT-FINDING” COMMITTEE FORMED

He urged countries where Holocaust denial is a crime, to respect freedom of speech and not to take action against any of the conference participants on their return.

Human rights groups frequently number Iran as one of the world’s worst violators of free speech, where scores of newspapers have been closed, journalists jailed, access to Web sites blocked and government critics hounded out of the country.

Delegates at the meeting earlier on Tuesday agreed to form a “fact-finding” committee to study the Holocaust.

The head of the new committee, identified as Iranian academic Mohammad Ali Ramin, said its members were “not racist or opposed to any particular group”.

“Rather they are just seeking the truth to set humanity truly free,” the ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying, without naming the committee members.

Robert Faurisson, a French scholar who has described the Holocaust as a “historical lie”, said the committee included members from the United States, France, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Iran, Bahrain and Syria, ISNA reported.

The Vatican called the Holocaust an “immense tragedy” which had to remain forever a warning for all people to respect the rights of others.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Tehran meeting “shows the danger of the situation Israel is in and in particular the threat that Israel lives under.”

She was speaking after meeting Ehud Olmert, who was on his first visit to Germany as Israeli Prime Minister.

Germany has made it a priority to support Israel since the Holocaust under the Nazis and the end of World War Two in 1945.

EU Commissioner Franco Frattini expressed “shock and indignation”, adding: “Anti-Semitism has no place in Europe; nor should it in any other part of the world.”


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomes participants of a Holocaust conference in Tehran, December 12, 2006. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

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Photo

“Politicians are dumb everywhere. There are very few smart, well-meaning politicians.”
– Hecubus

That is a quote from little old me from this story concerning Chicago’s ban on The Nativity Story advertising. As much as I believe that statement, little did I predict that a politician would emerge this quickly and demonstrate so thoroughly his lack of knowledge in matters he had better well have a near-expert understanding. Please meet your new Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat from Texas, a man who possesses an obvious flair for the obtuse.

Below is an interview conducted by Jeff Stein for the Congressional Quarterly. In his time with the incoming HIC Chairman, Stein asked some fairly basic, and fairly simple questions concerning Islam, Iraq, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Reyes’ mental acuity is shocking–not in what he knows, but in what he doesn’t (but certainly should) know.

[Of course, Republicans prooved just as moronic in a previous interview under similar circumstances, but they don’t head the House Intelligence Committee either. ]

Now you may say to yourself, “Well, I don’t know all the answers,” or “those are some pretty tough questions.” That’s fine. But your job doesn’t likely require you to know all of the answers to the questions posed by Stein. It’s disturbing that the soon to be leader of the House Intelligence Committee, whose job it is to be intimately familiar with subjects and issues such as Islam, Iraq, Shiites vs. Sunnis, and al-Qaeda, has barely a clue as to what those concepts and entities entail. Reyes doesn’t even do a passable job stumbling his way through the interview with the typical politicized pat answers that all politicians practice religiously when standing in front of a mirror.

But in all honesty, the questions in the interview are not difficult to anyone who keeps up with current world events, and I found myself becoming very angry with Reyes and the intellectual vacuum in which he resides . This man has no clue, and he has no right to sit as Chairman for a committee whose expertise lies in the areas in which he was queried.

Oh well, Nancy Pelosi picks another winner to lead the nation. She would have been much better off choosing Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.), who does have the understanding and expertise necessary for the Chairman post, but Pelosi’s personal issues with Harman prevented her from making the right choice. Way to go, Pelosi.

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Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda

Forty years ago, Sgt.
Silvestre Reyes was a helicopter crew chief flying dangerous combat missions in South Vietnam from the top of a soaring rocky outcrop near the sea called Marble Mountain.

After the war, it turned out that the communist Viet Cong had tunneled into the hill and built a combat hospital right beneath the skids of Reyes’ UH-1 Huey gunship.

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

To his credit, Reyes, a kindly, thoughtful man who also sits on the Armed Service Committee, does see the undertows drawing the region into chaos.

For example, he knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep.
Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and
Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.

Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?

Civil War

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Poquito,” I said—a little.

“Poquito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes is not alone.

The best argument for needing to understand who’s what in the Middle East is probably the mistaken invasion itself, despite the preponderance of expert opinion that it was a terrible idea — including that of Bush’s father and his advisers. On the day in 2003 when Iraqi mobs toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Bush was said to be unaware of the possibility that a Sunni-Shia civil war could fill the power vacuum, according to a reliable source with good White House connections.

If President Bush and some of his closest associates, not to mention top counterterrorism officials, have demonstrated their own ignorance about who the players are in the Middle East, why should we expect the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee to get it right?
Trent Lott, the veteran Republican senator from Mississippi, said only last September that “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people.”

“Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion?” wondered Lott, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after a meeting with Bush.

“Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?

“They all look the same to me,” Lott said.

Haunting

The administration’s disinterest in the Arab world has rattled down the chain of command.

Only six people in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad are fluent in Arabic, according to last week’s report of the Iraq Study Group. Only about two dozen of the embassy’s thousand employees have some familiarity with the language, the report said.

The Iraq Study Group was amazed to find that, despite spending $2 billion on Iraq in 2006, more wasn’t being done to try “to understand the people who fabricate, plant and explode roadside bombs.”

Rare is the military unit with an American soldier who can read a captured document or interrogate a prisoner, my own sources tell me.

It was that way in Vietnam, too, Reyes says, which “haunts us.”

“If you substitute Arabization for Vietnamization, if you substitute . . . our guys going in and taking over a place then leaving it and the bad guys come back in. . . .”

He trails off, despairing.

“I could draw many more analogies.”

Yet Reyes says he favors sending more troops there.

“If it’s going to target the militias and eliminate them, I think that’s a worthwhile investment,” he said.

It’s hard to find anybody in Iraq who thinks the U.S. can do that.

On “a temporary basis, I’m willing to ramp them up by twenty or thirty thousand . . . for, I don’t know, two months, four months, six months — but certainly that would be an exception,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, the killing is going on below decks, too, within Sunni and Shiite groups and factions.

Anybody who pays serious attention to Iraq knows that.

Reyes says his first hearings come January will focus on how U.S. intelligence can do a better job helping the troops in Iraq.

It may be way too late for that.

“Stop giving me tests!” Reyes exclaimed, half kidding.

“I’m not going to talk to you any more!”

Queries Vex New Chair of Intelligence

Reuters
Tuesday, December 12, 2006; Page A07

The incoming Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee could not describe Hezbollah and incorrectly described al-Qaeda‘s Islamic roots in a recent interview.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), whom incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named earlier this month to chair the panel, formally known as the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was asked by a reporter from Congressional Quarterly whether al-Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. “Predominantly — probably Shiite,” Reyes replied.

From Osama bin Laden down, al-Qaeda’s leadership is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

In fact, U.S. officials blame al-Qaeda’s late leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, according to a story published online Friday, Reyes responded “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah” and then said, “Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock?”

The Texas congressman later added: “Speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes, a former Border Patrol agent and an opponent of the Iraq war, was chosen for the intelligence committee post over the panel’s two top-ranking Democrats, Reps. Jane Harman (Calif.) and Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.).

Reyes’s office issued a statement yesterday noting that the interview covered a wide range of topics.

“As a member of the intelligence committee since before 9/11, I’m acutely aware of al-Qaeda’s desire to harm Americans. The intelligence committee will keep its eye on the ball and focus on the pressing security and intelligence issues facing us,” Reyes said in the statement.

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Most in this country will probably consider September 11, 2001 to be our modern “Date which will live in infamy.” But on this day December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked and absolutely destroyed by squadrons of imperial Japanese fighter pilots. Rather than reflect on that date, as is so often done on television news casts, magazine and newspaper articles, and internet websites–really, the subject’s pretty much covered everywhere else–I’d rather point to this short but laconic editorial by the always controversial writer, Robert Spencer from his website, JihadWatch.org.

I agree with all that he expresses here. I only hope that the leaders and/or future leaders of this country will seriously consider how dangerous capitulating political correctness can be, and the damage that non-action will have on our country.

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for a few good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke – Philosopher (1729 – 1797)

Un Zero survolant Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1946

Five years after Pearl Harbor, the war was over. The Third Reich was kaput. The Japanese were vanquished as well.

But five years and counting after 9/11, there is no victory in sight. There is not even much clarity about why we are fighting, or whom we are fighting. Some of the most important victories in this shadowy twilight war have come in the form of arrests of those who were plotting attacks even more heinous than 9/11, but these arrests have an unfortunate side effect: they perpetuate the illusion that we are not seriously threatened, that there is nothing to be particularly concerned about — after all, they haven’t struck since 9/11. They probably can’t. They probably just got lucky on that day.

One main reason, meanwhile, why the war is so poorly understood and controversial: the enemy is not a nation-state but an ideology, an ideology which has been spread throughout the world and can now be found in practically every nation on the planet. Because of the religious derivation of this ideology, analysts are generally reluctant to identify it properly or fully. They don’t wish to examine how this ideology is advancing through peaceful means. They refuse to consider the ways in which it threatens American society, laws, and mores. And multiculturalism dins into all our ears that all value systems and belief systems are equal, and that only “bigots” oppose one or another, or dare to examine how one may be contain incitements to violence and supremacism.

That’s why after more than five years it still feels as if we have barely begun. Few in the Muslim world are willing, as he notes, to confront the deep roots that jihad violence has in the Islamic texts, and no one among the Western government or media elites is daring to ask them to do so. The myth persists that Americans can adjust the U.S. policy in a way that will end the global jihad — by leaving Iraq, or ending support for Israel, or by cleaning up American society, or what have you. No one in official Washington seems capable of realizing that the jihad would proceed against us no matter what we do or don’t do, because it springs from imperatives within Islam that are not dependent upon the character of the infidels who must be fought.

It is crucial now that we identify forthrightly what we are up against, so as to be able to fight against it more effectively. But I have said this for years, and we are no closer to doing it than we were the first time I said it. Yet the longer we postpone doing it, the more likely it is that the carnage of September 11 will be just a prelude.

May the courageous ones who fought to defend America, Britain, and Western Europe from the Axis scourge be blessed today. And may we prove to be their worthy sons and daughters.

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