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June 2004

Marine Letter to Al Qaeda

This letter is written by a veteran of the 3/4 Marines and was forwarded to me via a Sergeant Major. Whatever you want to say about Marine Corporal Hassoun's service, currently held in Iraq, he's still a US Marine.

To the terrorists currently operating in Iraq,

I see that you have captured a U. S. Marine, and that you plan to cut off his head if your demands are not met. Big mistake. Before you carry out your threat I suggest you read up on Marine Corps history. The Japanese tried the same thing on Makin Island and in a few other places during World War Two, and came to regret it. Go ahead and read about what then happened to the mighty Imperial Army on Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. They paid full price for what they did, and you will too.

You look at America and you see a soft target, and to a large extent you are right. Our country is filled with a lot of spoiled people who drive BMWs, sip decaf lattes and watch ridiculous reality TV shows. They are for the most part decent, hard working citizens, but they are soft. When you cut off Nick Berg's head those people gasped, and you got the media coverage you sought, and then those people went back to their lives. This time it is different. We also have a warrior culture in this country, and they are called Marines. It is a brotherhood forged in the fire of many wars, and the bond between us is stronger than blood. While it is true that this country has produced nitwits like Michael Moore, Howard Dean and Jane Fonda who can be easily manipulated by your gruesome tactics, we have also produced men like Jason Dunham, Brian Chontosh and Joseph Perez. If you don't recognize those names you should. They are all Marines who distinguished themselves fighting to liberate Iraq, and there will be many more just like them coming for you.

Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our culture one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was "The Marine Corps Builds Men." You will soon find out just how true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who come to your country to repair your power plants, or sabotage the oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate, plain and simple.

When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us. If you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning out Fallujah a few weeks ago you haven't seen anything yet. If you want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines, and we will be coming for you.

David C.

Is Iraq Really Better?

By now, you have probably heard that the hand-over of power happened already in Iraq. L. Paul Bremmer is no longer in charge. While many are proclaiming his failures, I believe we won't really know how successful he was for at least another year or two.

The Chicago Sun-Times ran an article today about a raid that went wrong, then ended up on target. Here's the end note:

As the convoy rolled into the street hunting its target house, few seemed to notice. Life went on.

"The three times that I've seen the Americans in this street, they asked me if there was anything I needed," said Basher, the 23-year-old owner of a dry cleaning establishment. Despite the late-night intrusion, he described the regime shift from Saddam Hussein's totalitarianism to the American-led efforts as "a beautiful change. People now have satellites, microwaves; our money is worth more."

But I noticed this headline in the Chicago Tribune:

Bremer's legacy mired in violence
Despite his tireless effort, U.S. administrator Paul Bremer made decisions that brought a different kind of anguish to a post-Hussein Iraq, critics say
Is there more violence in Iraq than the United States or even Chicago?

Mistakes were made. That's certain because there is no operation of that scale and scope that is error-free; however, time will tell of the legacy of Paul Bremmer. I didn't agree with how we handled Fallujah and I don't agree with some other key points of the CPA. But, speaking from a standpoint of someone who usually has immense distaste for politicians influencing military operations, I think that, overall, Bremmer's legacy will be a good one.

William and Josephina Meyer - Someone You Should Know

Lambertus Meyer, an Emigre with a Digital Cluebat, has a post about his parents who survived Nazi occupation of Holland.

...I find it interesting that only now, faced with his own mortality by advancing age and ill health, has he decided that these are stories that need to be told before it is too late. They have revealed many things that I only had had a small inkling of growing up with these two marvelous people. Learning of the these events only serve to make me admire them even more than ever.
Lambertus follows with a link to a news article about his parents and their story of heroism and survival. It's a story of a ten year old volunteering to save dutch jews, being captured and sent to a concentration camp, escaping and coming to America.

[read about other heroes that you should know - here!]

Economy Indicator - Shopping Mall Metrics(?)

Today, I became a godfather. My brother's son was baptized today at a church in Batavia, Illinois. I love being a godfather...it's like being the best uncle. My nephew will get his first drum set from me - probably next year ;->.

Anyway, there's an outlet mall on the way back to Chicago. We decided to stop at about 3PM CST. We drove around for 25 minutes trying to find a parking spot. There were absolutely no parking spaces. In fact, there was a quarter mile long line from the expressway to get to the mall.

So much for the soft economy.

Al Qaeda Claims to Have a Marine Hostage

There is no confirmation yet as to the veracity of the claim as of 4:45PM CST. Fox News is reporting that the Marine may have been lured out of his camp by Al Qaeda.

Captors Say Marine, Pakistani Held in Iraq
By CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Arab television broadcast videotape Sunday of two hostages said to be of Pakistani origin, one of them a blindfolded U.S. Marine militants claimed to have lured from his base and taken captive. Insurgents threatened to behead them both...

Update 7PM CST:

AP updated the above story: ...The U.S. military confirmed that a Marine named Wassef Ali Hassoun had been missing from his unit for nearly a week. It said it was unclear if he had been taken hostage, but Hassoun's name was on a Marine "active duty" identification card shown by militants in the videotape aired by the Al-Jazeera network....
Marine Corporal Hassoun may be from Utah.

Update 06-28-04: Update from Atlanta TV WSB.

Military: Kidnapped Marine May Have Been Going To Lebanon

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the military is working under the assumption that the Marine has been kidnapped -- but he indicates that hasn't been confirmed.

Kimmitt said the Marine had gone on an "unauthorized absence" around June 21 -- and that officials suspect he may have been heading to Lebanon. The general didn't give more details...

Sanctions For Everyone!

Ooh! We're gonna sanction the Sudan...

Well, not really...the US is already sanctioning the Sudan. But we've got something further up our sleeve. We'll have the whole U.N. sanction the Sudan!

Powell to Threaten Sudan with Sanctions -- Officials
By Saul Hudson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell will threaten to press for U.N. sanctions against Sudan during a visit to press Khartoum to stem the world's worst humanitarian crisis, U.S. officials said on Friday.

The top U.S. diplomat will fly to Africa's largest nation next week to highlight the crisis and demand Khartoum allow aid into the Darfur region and stop Arab militias who have driven hundreds of thousands of black Africans from their homes.

"He will look them in the eyes and say, 'You are in for a world of pain unless you give us what we are asking for -- immediately,"' said a Bush administration official, who asked not to be named.

The United States and United Nations accuse Sudan of supporting militias responsible for ethnic cleansing in the oil-rich country and have warned hundreds of thousands of people could die in a conflict affecting 2 million people.

Washington says it is assessing whether the militias are responsible for genocide. The Bush administration, which has been criticized for responding too slowly to the crisis and is under pressure from Congress to do more, is obliged to prevent genocide due to a U.N. convention on such violence.

The menu of Powell's threats, which would likely be made in private meetings with the government, would range from international sanctions to the possibility officials could be pursued as war criminals, the administration official said.

The United States hopes Powell's trip, which coincides with a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will help raise the profile of the crisis within the Security Council where there is no clear support for sanctions. The two men will meet in Khartoum.

The United States already has an array of its own sanctions against Sudan and is considering freezing the assets of individual officials...

There are 53 members of the UN Commission on Human Rights which include the Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - some of the more gross violators of Human Rights on the planet.

UN Sanctions tend not to work very well (maybe we should sanction the 53 countries on the commission). UN intervention comes late, if at all.

This had better be the last step before military intervention - US military intervention.

Chicago's Un-Civil War

I'm Ferris Bueller today...

I'll be at the Cubs-White Sox Crosstown Classic this afternoon. The "Classic" didn't used to mean much before the interleague play, but, now, there's a lot at stake. Both teams are doing well.

I'm a big Cubs fan. I'm a Sox fan, too, except when they play the Cubs. In case you didn't see it the last time that I posted it, here's the difference between games at the Cell and Wrigley.

Go Cubs!!!

See you after the game...

Stupid Criminals - Identity Thief Picks Wrong Target

Just two years ago, I was a victim of identity theft. I am very careful with my personal information on-line. The computer that I use to balance my accounts isn't internet capable. I teach classes and seminars on information security and encryption. I figured that I would be the last guy to have his identity stolen.

But, somehow, a model citizen found enough information about me to try to open accounts at several banks and investment companies. The good folks at Merril Lynch caught it, reported it, and contacted me. They gave me a checklist of things to do to ensure that my name and credit record remain protected. Then, they followed up to make sure that I took the necessary steps to protect myself. Because of their quick actions, I never lost a dime and didn't have to go through years of trying to clear my credit record.

And I didn't even have an account with Merril Lynch. I do now.

So, these kind of stories catch my eye:

Identity Theft Victim Is Prosecutor

HOUSTON - If you're going to steal someone's identity to draw from their bank account, you might as well go for someone with a good job.

A woman with a history of fraud got the bank account number of Houston's chief prosecutor, and is now accused of writing hot checks...

Suffice it to say that this lady is going to get both barrels...