The Army and Air Force are considering disciplinary action against seven officers - including four generals - who violated ethics rules by assisting a Christian group in the production of a fundraising video. The Pentagon inspector general found the officers were interviewed in uniform and "in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations," according to a 45-page report. They made comments that "conferred approval of and support" to the evangelical group, Christian Embassy, "and the remarks of some officers implied they spoke for a group of senior military leaders rather than just for themselves," the report stated. None of the Army and Air Force officers involved asked for or received approval from their superiors to participate in the interview in an official capacity or in uniform, according to the inspector general's report, which was released last week. The report recommended that senior military leaders consider "appropriate corrective action" against the officers.
Lt. Col. Linda Haseloff, an Air Force spokeswoman, said Monday the service is still studying the report "and no additional information can be provided at this time." Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the report is being reviewed by legal staff and no decisions would be made until they are done. According to the group's Web site, Christian Embassy is a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that "seeks to help diplomats, government leaders and military officers find real and lasting purpose through faith and encouragement." Christian Embassy holds prayer meetings each Wednesday morning at the Pentagon.
The inspector general's report reveals a "long and deep collusion with a fundamentalist, religious missionary organization," Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said in a statement. Weinstein wants Congress to hold oversight hearings over the Defense Department's failure to separate "church and state."
Among the officers cited in the report are Army Brig. Gens. Vincent Brooks, deputy commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, and Robert Caslen, commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. Air Force Maj. Gens. Peter Sutton and John Catton also appeared in the video. Sutton, who has retired, and Caslen "accepted full responsibility for their actions and committed to be more alert to ethical issues in the future," according to the report.
Brooks told investigators he believed he did not violate any rules. Due to Christian Embassy's long tenure of working with Pentagon employees, Brooks said he saw the group "as a sanctioned or endorsed activity." Catton's response was similar. Christian Embassy had become a "quasi-federal entity," he told investigators, and he believed he was taking part in a program approved by the Defense Department. Catton is director of requirements at Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Retired Army Col. Ralph Benson, former Pentagon chaplain, was criticized for allowing Christian Embassy to film inside the Pentagon. Benson, the report said, misrepresented "the purpose and proponent of the video." The names of the other two officers were redacted from the report. Cleared of any impropriety was Army Secretary Pete Geren and an unnamed civilian Army employee. Investigators said while Geren and the employee "provided personal endorsements of Christian Embassy, they did so without verbal or visual references to position, title or DOD."
ACLU and public funding for Muslim foot baths
The ACLU twists itself into a pretzel shape, trying to justify opposing all state funding for religious purposes, except when it comes to Muslims, who want foot baths in schools and other public facilities for religious reasons. From the New York Times
The American Civil Liberties Union says the footbath issue is complex. "Our policy is to object whenever public funds are spent on any brick and mortar component of religion," said Kary Moss, director of the Michigan Civil Liberties Union. "What makes this different, though, is that the footbaths themselves can be used by anyone, don't have any symbolic value and are not stylized in a religious way. They're in a regular restroom, and could be just as useful to a janitor filling up buckets, or someone coming off the basketball court, as to Muslim students."Then, too, Ms. Moss said, the health and safety component is not normally part of religious accommodation cases. How about oil wealthy Muslim nations footing the bill? (pun intended) or the increasingly prosperous American Muslim community? Muslims have one of the highest incomes per capita of any group in America).
So next week can expect to see the ACLU supporting the installation of holy water basins in public schools for the Catholics? After all, while the Catholics may only sprinkle themselves with water, others might use it to ward off vampires and goths, still others might just drink it or use it to wash their faces. It is only holy water to the Catholics so it couldn't be construed to be of religious significance to anyone else, and no-one is 'forced' to recognize its religious significance. Right?
I think we should also expect the ACLU then to support the installation of kneeling benches with cushions. Sure, Christians might use these for prayer at certain times, but that's not the intent. The intent is that they are there to provide respite for students that might wish to kneel when chatting or to rest.
Or how about crucifix shaped chin-up bars for the gym ? Better yet, we should have Star-of-David shaped roundabouts (I dont know what you call them here) and Star-of-David-shaped 'jungle gyms' (don't know what you call those either).
British Muslims don't like being quoted
A "distorted" Channel 4 documentary about Muslim extremism that enraged community leaders and resulted in a fruitless police investigation will now be the subject of an Ofcom inquiry. West Midlands Police made a formal complaint over a Channel 4 Dispatches film that participants and race crime prosecutors claim was edited in a misleading manner.
Undercover Mosque, broadcast in January, featured footage shot at a number of mosques, including one at which a preacher praised the Taleban for killing British soldiers. Channel 4 said that the programme revealed how a message of hatred and segregation was being spread by some Islamic preachers.
After investigating 56 hours of footage, West Midlands Police said that it had been advised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the broadcaster for stirring up racial hatred, but that selective editing had helped to create an impression of Muslim hatred. Bethan David, the CPS reviewing lawyer, said: "The CPS has demonstrated that it will not hesitate to prosecute those responsible for criminal incitement, but in this case we have been dealing with a heavily edited television programme, apparently taking out of context aspects of speeches, which in their totality could never provide a realistic prospect of any convictions."
Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, said he was shocked when he saw himself depicted. Mr Usamah was shown saying: "If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of speech, isn't it?" He later said that he was explaining an opinion featured in some books, and not one that he believed. Mr Usamah said that the mosque had a tradition of teaching a moderate version of Islam. "To try and demonise the efforts of these people by taking their comments out of context was shocking," he said. A senior imam filmed calling for the creation of a British Islamic state under Sharia also claimed that his comments were take out of context.
Roger Godsiff, a Birmingham Labour MP, called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to take action against "words that were racist and an incitement to murder". When that investigation was abandoned, the police went on to examine the editing of the programme, resulting in a complaint to broadcasting watchdogs.
Channel 4 said it believed that Ofcom would exonerate the broadcaster. Kevin Sutcliffe, commissioning editor for Dispatches, said: "We believe the comments made in the film speak for themselves. Several speakers were clearly shown making abhorrent and extreme comments. This was a thorough and detailed one-hour documentary, made over nine months, which allowed these comments to be seen in a fuller context."
Channel 4 was "fully aware of the sensitivities surrounding the subject matter, particularly its effect on community relations". Mr Sutcliffe added, however, that there was a "greater public interest in exposing what was being preached in the name of Islam in some main-stream British mosques".
The Metropolitan Police said yesterday that it would investigate Britain under Attack, a Dispatches documentary broadcast on Monday that gave a platform to an Islamic activist who called on Muslims to arm themselves against nonbelievers.
Australia: Melbourne Jewish cricketers abused
Melbourne has a fairly visible Jewish community so cowardly envy has an easy target. A Jewish community press release on the matter is here
A WEBSITE urging cricket players to post racially abusive messages to Jewish cricket team Ajax has appalled Jewish groups. The website, created through Facebook, encouraged guests to post comments on Ajax players "without fear of censorship. Swearing and abuse is encouraged". The F.U. Ajax Cricket Club site, which has now been removed, showed images of players from the McKinnon and Beaumaris cricket clubs alongside postings of racist comments.
One man who said he was the "Deputy Vice-President in charge of Holocaust References" called on the group to "Install A F---ing RHEEM". Another man wrote: "Being of German heritage, I think I need to apologise for ACC to still be in existence, my grandparents tried to get them all . . ." A third man said: "I've never played against Ajax but I did see their 3rd XI play McKinnon last year. They should have won easily but they nearly choked . . . probably on the gas." Another contributor hoped members of the Jewish community saw the website, if not he would "accidentally" forward a link.
The website comments have rocked the Victorian Turf Cricket Association, which the clubs play in. And Cricket Victoria is investigating, with a range of sanctions set to be discussed. McKinnon Cricket Club officials met last night to decide the best course of action.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Anton Block was disgusted by the comments. "This kind of sledging by mindless racists is unacceptable," he said. "No member of any sporting club should be subject to abuse such as this, no matter what their race or religion. It is simply unAustralian." Ajax president Jamie Hyams said he was stunned. "It's the sort of thing you would expect to find in the most vile Nazi websites rather than a bunch of guys we play cricket against," Mr Hyams said. "The Holocaust references especially were very disappointing and if they think the Holocaust is a joke they should have a look at the Holocaust museum and we'll see how funny they think that is."
McKinnon president Stuart Hamstead said he knew nothing about the racist comments until being contacted by the league this week. "I don't condone it whatsoever," he said. The comments come after the Herald Sun revealed in June that children as young as 11 were racially abusing Jewish players at junior footy games.
Source. One of the abusive commenters has now apologized profusely. See here
High-risk Leftist judges -- comment from Australia
Kirby (below) is an open homosexual who was appointed in the dying days of a Leftist government. He dissents from around half of the judgments of the court. Fortunately, he reires in 2009 when he turns 70
SINGLE-HANDEDLY, Justice Michael Kirby disproves Alexander Hamilton’s aphorism that the judiciary is the “least dangerous” branch of government. Fortunately, there is only one Kirby on the High Court. Accordingly, his refusal last week to uphold the Howard Government’s control orders is just another meaningless whistle in the wind from our most senior court’s great dissenter. But Kirby’s 94-page judicial yawn at the need for anti-terrorism laws provides a timely lesson on why filling the next High Court vacancy with a sensible judge is such a critical issue.
As with most things, it’s all a question of numbers. A few more Kirby-style judges on the High Court and we risk turning our Constitution into what US justice Robert Jackson once described as a suicide pact. In this case, it would be a pact brimming with civil liberties but offering little security from those who rely on those liberties to plot mass murder and dream of an Islamist regime that would extinguish all liberties and deal with gay judges rather differently. No grand invitations to speak out on gay rights. Just the occasional public execution to keep the masses entertained.
And so, those looking for the perfect case study about judges ensconced in ivory towers need only read and contrast the judgments of Kirby and his fellow judge, Ian Callinan, in the case brought by terror suspect Jack Thomas. Thomas, who allegedly trained with al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan, was placed under a control order after the verdict in his first trial was overturned and pending a retrial. Last week the High Court upheld the constitutional validity of control orders.
On the side of reason sits Callinan, delivering one of his final judgments before he retires next month. That judgment is a template for the next generation of judges who will undoubtedly be called on to decide the validity of anti-terrorism laws. Callinan said control orders were valid under the defence power of the Constitution because, let’s face it, we’re at war with a group of homicidal and ideological jihadists. He trawls through the evidence just in case anyone missed September 11. He cites intelligence reports that confirm Australia was treated as a target by al-Qa’ida prior to 9/11 and “continues to be viewed as a legitimate target”.
He recalls that in February 1998, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri declared war on the West and implored all good Muslims to “kill the American and their allies - civilians and military”. He lists the terrorist attacks in Bali, Madrid, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Aden, Mumbai and London and the plots to blow up Western targets, including the Australian High Commission in Singapore and the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.
Callinan also remarks on the vulnerability of people to modern terrorism where “modern weapons, and not just such horrific ones as nuclear bombs, germs and chemicals, are more efficient and destructive than ever before”. He adds that it is “blindingly obvious” that Islamists exploit international travel and use modern communications to recruit and train terrorists. Callinan spends page after page listing what those in the legal world call “notorious facts”, meaning facts judges can rely on to determine that control orders are constitutional.
And contrary to the claims of Kirby and his civil libertarian cheer squad, Callinan has not trashed the decision in the Communist Party case. The cases are different. Notorious facts about the dangers of communism were not established in that 1951 case.
In 2007, the facts about the dangers of terrorism are undisputed. Which is why most of us would agree that the majority of the High Court was right to decide that a control order to monitor a man suspected of weapons training with al-Qa’ida was not an unreasonable response by a national government charged with protecting its people.
Not Kirby. This High Court judge, who recently said he wants to be remembered as a “loving man”, seems to be sending all his love in an unrequited direction: towards those suspected of supporting the slaughter of Western infidels. It’s hard to know where to start with Kirby’s long judgment. But hypocrisy is as good a place as any. For Kirby, an interim control order involves a “serious and wholly exceptional departure from basic constitutional doctrine unchallenged during the entire history of the commonwealth”.
To hear Kirby talk about settled constitutional doctrine is rather amusing given that he is the first to trounce settled doctrine and dabble in a bit of judicial activism when it suits. And in any case, the majority opinions are not exceptional. They are grounded in legal precedents that say the Government’s defence power waxes and wanes. When Australia is threatened, the power broadens. In peace, the power shrinks.
Which brings us to Kirby’s Wizard of Oz view of the world. Like Dorothy, Kirby seems to think he need only click his shiny loafers and return safely home to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. He could have spared his overworked associate and shortened his judgment to, “It’s all a bad dream. It’s not real. We don’t need these nasty laws.” Cementing his place as poster boy for the civil libertarians, Kirby says terrorism is too hard to define. For him, the danger of Islamist terrorism “is not a matter upon which I would be prepared to speculate ... (given) the sometimes coloured, emotional and disputable public media coverage of such issues.” This is Kirby at his most hilarious. The man who on other occasions thinks he inhales community values (at least the ones he favours) as easily as he breathes in the crisp Canberra air on his morning walk to chambers refuses to open his eyes to the growing threat of terrorism.
And given his disdain for the media on “such issues”, he may have ignored the British Prime Minister a few weeks ago saying in The Guardian there had been 15 attempted attacks in Britain since the 2001 attacks in Washington and New York. Gordon Brown warned we would be fighting al-Qa’ida-inspired terrorism for a generation.
For the same duration we will also be fighting the lawyer class that refuses to take terrorism seriously. A lawyer class that invents nebulous and self-serving views about civil liberties, dressing them up as eternal human rights so lawyers can elevate them above laws made by elected parliaments. A lawyer class that knows it will attract juicy headlines in the media by describing the real terrorists as those in the ranks of a government entrusted to protect us. A lawyer class adored by terrorists for making their job of jihad that much easier.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.