Thursday, December 29, 2005


It has been on the news lately that the NSA was authorized by Bush to wiretap some 30 American citizens without judicial consent. I've been hearing all about how this is further evidence of our civil liberties being eroded away, blah, blah. To be honest, this news actually makes me more comfortable, and not because I think the tapping has helped us catch terrorists.

The NSA has been reputed to have a budget that is five times larger than that of the CIA. The general public has very little knowledge about what the NSA actually does. Especially after 9/11, I had assumed that the NSA was wiretapping tens thousands of Americans without judicial -or- presidential consent. The fact that there were only 30 cases, authorized by an elected representative, makes me feel better. The situation isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was. Leave it to hollywood to make us more paranoid than we really should be (Enemy of the State?).

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Finals are finally over...they were nasty (particularly physical chemistry). I have confirmed As in all of my classes right now, except for evolution. Its going to be either an A- or an A. I think its crap at IU that you can get penalized for an A- but you do not benefit from an A+. If that was not the case, I'd have two 4.0 semesters (including this one). Purdue doesn't give plusses or minuses; that would be great for me, considering I have many more A-'s than I have B+'s.

Iraqi elections - went astoundingly well. There were even reports that Sunni insurgent groups were protecting polling stations in Anbar from public enemy #1 - Al Qaeda in Iraq. Iyad Allawi was the head of Iraq's transitional government a year or so ago. He ran in this election on a secular (non religious) platform that has both Shiite and Sunni participants. I really hope he did well this time around. Shying away from a religious or Shiite-dominated government would be the best thing for unifying the country.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

'Zarqawi is an American agent'

From Aljazeera:

"In a move that would have been inconceivable only months earlier, Saddam Hussein loyalists are urging Sunnis to vote in Thursday's poll and warning al-Qaida fighters not to launch attacks."

This says it all. Sunni clerics in Falluja of all places are telling the people that voting is a religious duty. Iraqis in Anbar (the extremely violent Sunni province) have made it clear that they will protect the polling stations from Al Qaeda in Iraq.

This election won't end all of the violence overnight. However, it is a big slap in the face to Zarqawi, and will be a great victory for America. The Sunnis are going to have a political voice, and hopefully this will draw them away from the insurgency. After Thursday's election, our administative duties in Iraq are over, because this final election is for a permanent, legitimate Iraqi government. America's misson from Thursday on will be to provide security for as long as the new government wants. When they ask us to leave, we will leave.

No mistake would be bigger for Zarqawi than if he was to attack Sunni polling stations on Thursday. Such moves would completely polarize the Iraqi Sunni population against him, and give all native Iraqis a common enemy (aside from the US).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Holocaust denial.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad makes an ass out of himself again. He "expressed doubt that the holocaust ever occurred". He has also recently turned down Russia's offer to supply Iran with enriched uranium, saying that Iran will enrich their own. Part of me wishes that cool heads in Iran would get rid of him. The other part of me is thankful that a complete moron is running their country; it only makes our job easier.

A few posts down I mentioned that Sistani had endorsed a religious Shia political party for the December 15th elections. According to Juan Cole, Sistani issued a new statement from his office today saying that the previous statement was a fabrication. In other words, Sistani may be staying out of politics, not telling people to vote for anyone in particular. It would be great if this turns out to be true.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Choice quote

"Whereas a year ago, many Sunni Arabs believed they could eventually regain control of the country, now the majority opinion is that one must cut a deal before a Shia or Kurdish death squad, or a war crimes indictment, gets you. While Iraqis love their illusions, when death or destitution gets really close, logic becomes more of a factor."

I've got to believe that as reality sets in, Sunni support for the insurgency is going to quickly wane. That reality is becoming more evident every single day. The above quote comes from this article, which discusses some of the insurgent tactics such as suicide bombings, and how they are not as effective as they might seem.

Also, this is a great article that discusses why things are going to be so utterly nasty in Iraq for a long time. When you look at the history of the country, it is no surprise that the place is going nuts right now - not all of the violence is the result of America's failures.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

So much for secularism.

I really hoped that Al-Sistani wasn't going to do this. That is, calling for voters to elect religious candidates. I hoped Sistani would urge people to vote, but let the people decide for whom to vote for. Well, I suppose it's to be expected that the new government will be religious. I hope it doesn't become too religious; the last thing we need is another Iran.