There are three really big stories to watch after this weekend. Richard Clarke calling out the Bush administration on their poor job on the war on terror, the elections in Taiwan and Israel killing Sheikh Yassin.
Read an excellent round up of the Richard Clarke situation at the Washington Post White House briefing page:
A related article which backs up what Clarke was talking about:
FBI Budget Squeezed After 9/11
Request for New Counterterror Funds Cut by Two-Thirds
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2004; Page A06
In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI, an internal administration budget document shows.
The document, dated Oct. 12, 2001, shows that the FBI requested $1.5 billion in additional funds to enhance its counter-terrorism efforts with the creation of 2,024 positions. But the White House Office of Management and Budget cut that request to $531 million. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, working within the White House limits, cut the FBI's request for items such as computer networking and foreign language intercepts by half, cut a cyber-security request by three quarters and eliminated entirely a request for "collaborative capabilities."
On the Yassin killing we have this. The financial markets were already heading south overnight on fears of instability in Taiwan. The news of Yassin and the expected blow- back have carried over to the American markets today.
`The Israeli military announced it had killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Hamas militant group that had claimed responsibility for several attacks in Israel.
The news stoked fears of an upsurge in militant actions from other Islamic groups. "People are fearing possible attacks here in the States," said one trader, adding, "there's an absence of buyers and everyone's trying to sell on this [news] tape."'
An Islamic Web site has published a statement purporting to come from an al Qaeda-linked group vowing revenge on the United States and its allies over Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Reuters reported
"We tell fighters in Palestine, especially Hamas and Jihad, that your real enemy is the tyrant of the age, America, because Sheikh Yassin was killed by American money, weapons and political and media support," the statement said.
According to Haaretz also:
Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter was opposed to assassinating Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli missile strike early Monday morning in Gaza, Channel Two TV reported Monday evening.
At last week's security cabinet meeting, during which the decision was made to target Yassin, Dichter argued that the costs of killing the Hamas leader outweighed the benefits to Israel, the report said.
[Don't worry though, Condi Rice has it all under control:]
"It is very important that everyone step back now and try now to be calm in the region," Rice told NBC's "Today" show.
"There is always a possibility of a better day in the Middle East and some of the things being talked about by the Israelis - about disengagement from areas - might provide new opportunities."
"I would hope that nothing will be done to preclude those new opportunities from emerging," she added.
[Yeah, right. Maybe she should have told Israel that before they killed Yassin?]
"White House national security advisor Condoleezza Rice said in morning television shows the United States did not have advance warning of the assassination from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."
[Well, that's just great. They do something like this, which will surely provoke more attacks against us, their supposed ally, and they don't tell us? Maybe because we would have said no? We give them a lot of money ( Billions!) and weapons every year; you'd think they'd take us into account before doing something this reckless. I think Israel is really playing fast and loose with the Arms Export Control Act. It was our helicopters that killed Yassin, a fact that won't be lost on people in the region].
Here's an really good resource for more info on Middle East:] news:http://www.accessmiddleeast.com/index.aspx
[And lest we forget, there's the brewing crisis in East Asia:]
"Many now view Chen [President Chen Shui-bian] as reckless and a threat to the vital U.S. interest in at least temporarily improving ties with China while it wrestles with the war on terrorism and the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis.
The U.S. challenge now will be to convince Chen to exercise restraint and take a conciliatory stance towards China. At the same time, Washington must keep Beijing at arm's length as it inevitably renews its attempts to push the United States into joining forces to undermine not only President Chen but also Taiwan's existing de facto independence."
From the National Review On-line:
UPDATE:(also see posted comments)
For the first time Monday, Hamas threatened the United States and suggested it might seek outside help in carrying out revenge attacks.
"The Zionists didn't carry out their operation without getting the consent of the terrorist American administration and it (the United States) must take responsibility for this crime," Hamas said in a statement. "All the Muslims of the world will be honored to join in on the retaliation for this crime."