Aurora Borealis (ionization of the upper atmosphere)(While I have been trying to find a resolution to MI’s DNC delegation in the last few days, the Admin put on their nukes in Syria dog and pony show. Partly because I didn’t have the time to do the Syria presentation justice, and partly because Professor Foland–whom you know from his great comments–has a lot more expertise on this area than I, I asked him to do a post assessing the presentation. Thanks for the really informative post, Prof! -ew)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of this Administration, it’s that if Dana Perino one day announces that the sky is blue, I will be forced to assume that an alien invasion has commenced with the total ionization of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

With that in mind, there’s an awful lot of cognitive dissonance for me in analyzing the evidence on the raid (apparently named "Operation Orchard" by the Israelis) on a Syrian desert site (apparently named "Al-Kibar"). Having started my own blog motivated by "the incredible amount of lies & hyperbole on the Iran situation of early 2006", I don’t find it easy to accept anything this Administration puts forth as evidence. I’m having all this difficulty because the pictures they showed last Thursday are clearly pictures of a nuclear reactor.

In what follows, I will lay out the history of what we’ve known about Operation Orchard and al-Kibar, what the latest photographs show, and what questions we should probably be asking.

Read more

Who Let The Dogs Out? The Hounds Of Hatfill and the Federal Rules of Evidence

On Marcy’s most recent Hatfill post, I made a mostly flippant comment on the dogs in the Hatfill case:

What if Hatfill is just a pig and leaves pizza crusts around everywhere he goes and the dogs are smelling that? What are the customary industry standards for certification of anthrax sniffing dogs anyway; and who sets and regulates them? Or is this just some “wonder mammal” like Lassie or Flipper or something? Was there video of the searches with the wonder dogs? Because there sure should have been. Or are these yet more video items of evidence that have been “misplaced”? What was the nature of the dog’s response? Did it emit a “plaintiff wail” like Nicole Simpson’s Akita? (Great trivia: Nicole’s Akita was named “Kato” too). I don’t see how the dog(s) here meet any evidentiary standards for admissibility or reliance by a court.

Despite it being mostly in jest, that comment had what I consider to be a critical, if not the critical, point in it. From what it appears, the only bit of "evidence" (and I use that descriptor loosely here, and in the generic sense, because I don’t think there was any proper evidence at all) against Hatfill that served as the basis for identifying him was that the dogs had alerted.

We all saw, in the tragic case of the late Richard Jewell, the horrendous and deleterious effects of a defective identification on an individual for an infamous crime. It is simply unconscionable to hang such a collar on someone without substantial credible hard evidence. And, quite frankly, the aura and implications of the anthrax case were, and are, far worse that the Atlanta Olympic park bombing. An entire nation was brought to a standstill and was trembling from a terrorist act that was capable of being repeated anywhere, at any time, in the country via the mail. So the United States government better have a pretty strong case before it implicates someone such as Hatfill in such a crime.

What substantial and credible hard evidence was the identification of Hatfill based on? Well, as has been previously discussed, he had worked in the bio-agent/anthrax field, had the technical expertise and, according to profilers, the personality to do the anthrax deed. The government indicates that he may be one of 50 or fewer people who had the skills to do it and had access to the strain. Then you add in allegations of violence in his past and ties to South African apartheid militias, and you can certainly understand why he was being looked at. While such information is not all entirely innocuous background, it is certainly nothing more than circumstantial and does not inculpate Hatfill; the only alleged link of Hatfill to the actual crime with the anthrax letters, at least that we are aware of to date, was the dogs. That’s it; there is nothing else. What are the standards for admissibility of dog scent Read more