Big Friday Roundup


[Why is Scott Ritter’s picture here? Read more below.]

You know how it is when you come back from a little vacation. Work piles up, people need to meet with you, your place is a mess from unpacking. Loads of fun.

Matt Smith’s article in the SF Weekly on NATLFED is really good. I thought it was going to be a standard snarky hit-piece on nutty Bay Area radicals but he does a nice job covering the shady history and current activities of the organization. I promise to post something about my experiences on the inside soon. Here is an excerpt from Smith’s article:

NatlFed doesn’t fit most people’s idea of a cult. There’s no religious dogma. Instead, it’s best known for preaching leftist revolution. Yet, during its 40 years of existence, it doesn’t seem to have performed a single terrorist act. Decade after decade, its members have merely gone about preparing themselves for the possibility of an eventual day of insurrection — like Pentecostals awaiting the rapture.

In the meantime, the group has undertaken charitable works that Palo Alto‘s Jeff Whitnack, who volunteered for the group in the 1980s until he became disillusioned, refers to as “flypaper” designed to lure young idealists. They maintain what NatlFed insiders refer to as “entities” or “mutual-benefit associations” to do food drives, recruit doctors and attorneys to provide services for low-income people, and give lectures about the need for mental health services in the Mission.

For anyone living in the Bay Area, these apparent front groups are simultaneously invisible and ubiquitous. At a recent Thanksgiving dinner I attended at a San Francisco friend’s house, five of the 10 adults present had volunteered for, donated to, or been contacted by NatlFed fronts.

These groups, which the FBI has linked to NatlFed, have names that make them sound like labor unions or professional associations, among them the Coalition of Concerned Medical Professionals, the Coalition of Concerned Legal Professionals, the California Homemakers Association, and the Western Farm Workers Association.

None of the groups enter into collective bargaining agreements or are registered with the IRS as nonprofits. They do not publicly disclose their finances. They don’t form close public alliances with community groups that have similar aims. They do not publish their regular activities, have Web sites, or create any public documentation of how they function. They keep themselves all but invisible — except to those they choose to contact.

In the “I knew he was a scumbag” department, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was busted in a sex sting. The Pocono Record notes, a “police affidavit gives the following account”:

Officer Ryan Venneman was posing as 15-year-old “Emily” in an online chat room when he was contacted by someone using the name “Delmarm4fun.” This person, later identified as Ritter, told “Emily” he was a 44-year-old male from Albany, N.Y.

“Emily” told Ritter she was a 15-year-old girl from the Poconos, at which point Ritter asked for a picture other than the one “Emily” had posted on her account. Ritter then sent her a link to his Web camera and began to masturbate on camera.

“Emily” asked Ritter for his cell phone number, which he provided.

Ritter again asked “Emily” how old she was. Told she was 15, Ritter said he didn’t realize she was 15 and turned off his webcam, saying he didn’t want to get in trouble…

What a guy…

Now some links:

Bob from Brockley skewers Iran’s Press TV and the extremists of Islam4UK.

Roland “But, I am a Liberal” Dodds proclaims Ron Paul “Useful Idiot of the Year“.

Flesh is Grass discusses anti-Zionist malice.

Modernity Blog on Sri Lanka’s Tamils.

Noga (Contentious Centrist) takes a stroll in the Arab Street.

Poumista on the great Carlo Tresca.

Snoopy (Simply Jews) wades into the cesspool of the Guardian. So does Mod.

Kellie (Airforce Amazons) Strøm on the Iranian opposition.

Martin in the Margins on civil liberties for all, even those you disagree with.

Sultan Knish takes on Zinn, Moore and Stone.

Michael J. Totten interviews Christopher Hitchens: Part 1. Part 2.

ZWord on Tony Judt.

3 responses »


  2. The affidavit says that Ritter started the conversation with the girl and then for some reason showed his face on camera. The video apparently was not recorded and the officer had to recognize Ritter from the photos he saw later. It is also not clear why he gave his full name and location. Is it so that he would not be confused with other Scott or Bill Ritters? Scott Ritter seem to act very fullish for an intelligence agent, that had been previously caught in a very similar sting. Someone seems to have created a very easy case for the local police office that had only few such cases, one of which happens to be Scott Ritter. In conspirators’ defense, they did not try to totally destroy Ritter, even though they could. He may not get any time at all. Yet, his reputation is badly damaged already. The smear campaign could have failed, and then no one would have heard about it. But it has succeeded and it is all over the news.

    But why bother? The Iraq war is behind. This time it could be about Iran. Ritter is the only voice in the Western world arguing that Iran is not trying to acquire nuclear weapons. The talk from the previous smear campaign seems to have faded away as he did manage to get on to cable news couple times, but he was put down again. It does seem like a cycle and no one will listen to him again. The only thing missing is a war on Iran…

  3. “Ritter is the only voice in the Western world arguing that Iran is not trying to acquire nuclear weapons.”

    Actually, most of the hard left in the Western world argues the same thing.

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