FUBAR

Pakistani leader killed in suicide attack

Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally, aides said.

“The surgeons confirmed that she has been martyred,” Bhutto’s lawyer Babar Awan said.

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad. A gunman then blew himself up.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

The following editorial, among the most famous ever written, appeared in The New York Sun in 1897 and remains appropriate for this holiday season 110 years later.

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor! I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

U.S. ignored warnings on mercenaries

The US government ignored numerous warnings over the past two years that private security firms in Iraq were operating with little supervision and instead expanded their role, a media report said Monday.

Warnings about the risks posed by tens of thousands of US-funded private security guards in Iraq were relayed in writing from defense and legal experts and by senior Iraqi officials, the Washington Post reported, citing US officials, security firms and documents.

CIA claims it cooperated with 9/11 panel

The CIA on Saturday rebutted suggestions the spy agency was uncooperative and hid from the Sept. 11 commission the videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists, saying it waited until the panel went out of business before destroying the material now in question.

The destruction in late 2005 of the videotapes of two al-Qaida suspects has upset a federal judge and riled the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has promised an investigation. The Justice Department also is trying to find out what happened and whether any laws were broken.

CIA lied to 9/11 Commission

The September 11 commission asked the CIA in 2003 and 2004 for information on the interrogation of al Qaeda suspects, only to be told the agency provided all that was requested, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

The CIA said on December 6 it destroyed hundreds of hours of videotape in 2005 showing interrogations of al Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, prompting former members of the commission to review classified documents.

The bore of Al Gore

“So,” said Al Gore at the recent Bali, Indonesia, conference on global warming, “I am going to speak an inconvenient truth. My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. We all know that.”

Well, no, Al, what we all know is that a sufficient degree of disloyalty, pomposity, vengefulness and incompetence can lead people to dismiss truths that don’t lend them credence.

Another Watergate in the wings?

Administration officials refuse to shed light on whether White House lawyers talked to the CIA about whether to destroy interrogation videotapes of two terrorism suspects but bristle at questions into the affair and complain about news coverage. That puts the White House in an awkward position. The very vision of White House officials sitting around a table talking about such an inflammatory course of action evokes echoes of Nixon and Watergate.

Mixing oil and war

The definitive history of the role of oil in modern warfare has not been written, but a lot can be learned from Robert Zubrin’s new book, “Energy Victory.”

“For nearly a century,” Zubrin writes, “control of oil has been the decisive factor determining victory or defeat in the struggle for world dominance.” That was true in World War I and World War II. Zubrin says oil will be pivotal in the global conflict now under way as well.

Mainstreaming the winter blues

As I drive through the mid-Atlantic countryside in the unending blackness of the winter night, my eyes are drawn to colorful displays of light that people use to festoon their houses, bushes and trees. In this most dreary time of year, just getting out of bed in the morning becomes an obstacle to overcome, rather than an automatic and cheerful spring of the limbs. One’s most coveted activity (in my case, horseback riding) often seems more like an obligation or chore, really, instead of something one cannot wait to do.

‘Tis the season to be folly

It is the tradition in some American families to read Clement Clarke Moore’s charming seasonal poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve.

My own two children were involved in this lovely ritual for many years until they grew a little old for the task to the point where they were rebelling and threatening to join biker gangs. As it happens, the tradition had run its course anyway and now the formal recitation is merely a happy memory for me every Dec. 24.