Rep. Silvestre Reyes may not be corrupt like Rep. Alcee Hastings (or, not as corrupt), but is he really this clueless?

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

I remember in the wake of 9-11 reading nearly anything I could get my hands on that would help me understand what in hell’s name would drive people to turn airplanes full of innocent people into missiles and slam those planes into buildings to kill thousands more innocent people. (The answer, it turns out, is…) Evidently very few in our political class have that kind of curiosity, even after the worst atrocity on US soil since Pearl Harbor.

Is it too much to ask our high-paid political overlords to understand a couple of fundamental facts about the defeat they’re supposed to be mitigating?

I still don’t have a position on whether Litvinenko was the victim of a murder plot, or died after accidental exposure to polonium 210 during the course of smuggling the substance to points and people as of yet unknown. The tracability of the substance to only a handful of countries makes the murder plot a little less plausible imho, especially when ricin or a bullet would have done the job just as well for less cost and far less tracability, as does the fact that the stuff seems to be everywhere. It’s in London hotels. It’s in airplanes. Seven workers at the sushi restaurant have been exposed. It’s showing up on dishes there that have been washed multiple times. Either someone was very careless with this poison, or it wasn’t intended to poison just one man. And not yet.

I haven’t followed all the details, though I’ve been eyeing both Allah’s work and A. J. Strata’s, but one bit just jumped out at me last night while I was reading Strata-Sphere. The polonium 210 moved through Hamburg at some point. Hamburg has a long association with terrorism–the so-called Hamburg cell (of which Silvestre Reyes has probably never heard) was a European operational hub of al Qaeda and the 9-11 plot. Mohammad Atta himself lived in Hamburg before moving to the US, he planned there and moved around and through there while the plot developed. It’s still thought to be a hotbed of al Qaeda activity in Europe.

And now we have this mystery spy plot with Hamburg connections and a substance that could be used to make a dirty bomb. Given Litvinenko’s sympathies, we have the possibility of Chechen connections, which raises the possibility of al Qaeda connections–al Qaeda has reportedly trained Chechen terrorists for years. Chechens have made a dirty bomb before, though it wasn’t detonated. That bomb was made with Cesium 137, not polonium 210, but still…

Extrapolating out from there, if Litvinenko’s death is the result of a smuggling deal gone bad, it opens the possibility that Russia’s nuclear labs are completely compromised. And if that’s the case, there’s no telling what else has escaped those labs, where it might be, who has their hands on it, and what they intend to do with it.

And I’m sure everything I’ve just written went right over the head of the incoming head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Carrots and sticks and talking to Iran:

Can I pretty please be present when Nick Burns is sitting across the table from some Iranian official and says “We hereby promise never, ever to talk about democracy in Iran again. And we will say publicly that you are legitimate. Promise, cross my heart. And we will not try to destabilize you any more, promise. Listen, we don’t have any CIA programs to destabilize you now — I know you don’t believe me, but you should, honest, I promise — and we hereby promise never, ever to have them in the future. Honest. Cross my heart.”

That’s from an internal ISG email discussion. (h/t NRO)