Watching the Shadows

Pope disses Islam, invokes Byzantine emperor who fought Turks

On a visit to his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in Sept. 12 before an audience at Regensburg University, where he once taught, on the contentious issue of rapport between Islam and the West. Calling for a "genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today," he began his speech by quoting a 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, in a conversation with a "learned Persian" on Christianity and Islam — "and the truth of both." But the words he quoted from the emperor were: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." He went on to say that violent conversion to Islam was contrary to reason and thus "contrary to God’s nature."

"America safer": Bush contradicts State Department

Unable to keep himself from milking 9-11 for all it's worth, Bush is treading, once again, into the realm of Doublethink. At his most recent in a spate of 9-11-themed speeches, in Atlanta Sept. 7, he said:

"Many Americans look at these events and ask the same question: Five years after 9/11, are we safer? The answer is, yes, America is safer. We are safer because we've taken action to protect the homeland. We are safer because we are on offense against our enemies overseas. We are safer because of the skill and sacrifice of the brave Americans who defend our people."

Secret CIA gulag: Bush admits it

Well well, it seems Amnesty International's conspiracy theories are decisively vindicated! Straight from the horse's mouth! From the AP, Sept. 6 (Newspeak phrase in bold):

Bush acknowledges secret CIA prisons
WASHINGTON - President Bush on Wednesday acknowledged previously secret CIA prisons around the world and said 14 high-value terrorism suspects — including the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks — have been transferred from the system to Guantanamo Bay for trials.

9-11 conspiranoiacs go mainstream

More and more of such reports. From the UK Daily Mail, Sept. 5:

Fury as academics claim 9/11 was 'inside job'
The 9/11 terrorist attack on America which left almost 3,000 people dead was an "inside job", according to a group of leading academics.

Armitage takes hit for Rove

We just love all the crowing in the right-wing press about how Valerie Plame Wilson and the liberals who cheer her on are not going after Richard Armitage now that he has been revealed as the source of the leak exposing Plame as a CIA agent. This Aug. 31 piece by Byron York from the National Review is faily typical:

Bush sees "Islamic fascism"; world misses irony

The below Aug. 30 AP account notes the growing use of the term "Islamic fascism" by the Bush administration and its amen chorus in recent days. The response has been predictable in the extreme, with lefties (e.g. The Huffington Post) calling it a "false historical analogy", and righties (e.g. the neo-interventionist William Shawcross on the website of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council) insisting "Yes, the Problem is 'Islamic Fascism'." Both, we fear, are missing the point. We've noted before the western left's unseemly illusions about Islamic extremism, and we don't think the term "Islamic fascism" is necessarily all that inaccurate. We just think it is hilariously ironic coming from Bush.

Neo-Nazis infiltrate US military

Just in case you missed this one. From the New York Times, July 7 (links and emphasis added):

Hate Groups Are Infiltrating the Military, Group Asserts
A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

Ruling in surveillance scandal headed for overturn?

Sometimes you have to look at your opponent's propaganda to get a realistic sense of your own side's weaknesses—call it an inoculation against groupthink. A case in point is this Aug. 21 analysis of the recent court ruling on the Bush telephone surveillance program from TCS Daily (for "Technology, Commerce, Society"). For the suppoedly "libertarian" wing of the free-market right, these guys show little outrage at government snooping. But this piece does reveal why the Detroit district court's ruling is ultimately a weak defense of freedom. The note of "optimism" that this piece ends on is worrisome. Emphasis added.

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