I posted about Scott Thomas Beauchamp last week. As predicted Beauchamp defenders have rewritten "due process" in true Orwellian fashion.
Below is some correspondance between the Columbia Journalism Review and myself. It speaks for itself:
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On Jul 27, 2007, at 5:06 PM, greg wrote:
[In his recent commentary CJR's] Paul McLeary writes, "While there are some very legitimate questions about what Beauchamp wrote, nothing, it's worthy of note, has been proved false yet." Proved false? How Orwellian. The Columbia Journalism Review now advocates guilty until proven innocent. So, were one to write on their blog that Mr. McLeary was a serial rapist it would be true until Mr. McLeary "proved it false."
Funny, but I thought the word "liberal" was taken from "liberty." I guess not.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
On 7/27/07, mike hoyt
I think you are misreading Paul. He is saying that none of the claims that Beauchamp made things up have yet been proven. In other words, innocent until proven guilty. I should have edited out the ambiguity.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Jul 27, 2007 5:35 PM
Subject: Re: More Beauchamp! (sorry...)
To: mike hoyt
I think I understood him perfectly. What I am saying is that any writer or blogger can apparently accuse US soldiers of any misbehavior (or worse) and not have to actually provide evidence to prove it. At least that's how Paul's comments come off. If so, that is bassackwards. It's Nifong journalism a la the Duke case and 88 Duke scholars.
Needless to say I didn't hear back from them... but comical, eh? For them the burden of proof lies not upon Beauchamp or The New Republic, but rather on the military and its defenders to disprove the negative.
What's most ironic about the Democrats' efforts to undermine the TSP program?
If the next terrorist attack succeeds because the TSP program has been rendered ineffective it will be those very legistators whose lives are put most in danger. Hijackers intended United FLT 93 to ram the Capital Building -- and there's no guarantee that next time US citizens will be able to protect what our intelligence agencies couldn't on 9-11.
Related: An educating editorial by the Wall Street Journal.
Democratic leaders were briefed on the [Terrorist Surveillance Program (aka warrantless wiretapping) program from the first and never once tried to shut it down. But once it was exposed [by a criminal leak to the New York Times], these same Democrats accused Mr. Bush of breaking the law by not getting warrants from the special court created under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.
Mr. Bush has rightly defended the program's legality, but as a gesture of compromise in January he agreed to seek warrants under the FISA process.
This has turned out to be an enormous mistake that has unilaterally disarmed one of our best intelligence weapons in the war on terror. To understand why, keep in mind that we live in a world of fiber optics and packet-switching. A wiretap today doesn't mean the FBI must install a bug on Abdul Terrorist's phone in Peshawar. Information now follows the path of least resistance, wherever that may lead. And because the U.S. has among the world's most efficient networks, hundreds of millions of foreign calls are routed through the U.S.
That's right: If an al Qaeda operative in Quetta calls a fellow jihadi in Peshawar, that call may well travel through a U.S. network. This ought to be a big U.S. advantage in our "asymmetrical" conflict with terrorists. But it also means that, for the purposes of FISA, a foreign call that is routed through U.S. networks becomes a domestic call. So thanks to the obligation to abide by an outdated FISA statute, U.S. intelligence is now struggling even to tap the communications of foreign-based terrorists. If this makes you furious, it gets worse.
Our understanding is that some FISA judges have been open to expediting warrants, as well as granting retroactive approval. But there are 11 judges in the FISA rotation, and some of them have been demanding that intelligence officials get permission in advance for wiretaps. This means missed opportunities and less effective intelligence. And it shows once again why the decisions of unaccountable judges shouldn't be allowed to supplant those of an elected Commander in Chief.
When the program began, certain U.S. telecom companies also cooperated with the National Security Agency. But they were sued once the program was exposed, and so some have ceased cooperating for fear of damaging liability claims. We found all of this hard to believe when we first heard it, but we've since confirmed the details with other high-level sources.
Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell more or less admitted the problem last week, albeit obliquely, when he told the Senate that "we're actually missing a significant portion of what we should be getting." That's understating things. Our sources say the surveillance program is now at most one-third as effective as it once was.
Gosh, even Newsweek agrees that the Democrats attacks on the Terrorist Surveillance Program have gone too far. Well, not exactly:
Aug. 6, 2007 issue - Six years after 9/11 , U.S. intel officials are complaining about the emergence of a major "gap" in their ability to secretly eavesdrop on suspected terrorist plotters. In a series of increasingly anxious pleas to Congress, intel "czar" Mike McConnell has argued that the nation's spook community is "missing a significant portion of what we should be getting" from electronic eavesdropping on possible terror plots. Rep. Heather Wilson, a GOP member of the House intelligence community, told NEWSWEEK she has learned of "specific cases where U.S. lives have been put at risk" as a result. Intel agency spokespeople declined to elaborate.
... Two officials familiar with the controversy, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive material, said that had the administration initially been candid about its antiterror surveillance plans, it could have worked with Congress years ago to tweak the FISA laws to account for the technological changes. One of the officials said the administration's secretiveness had, in this case, created problems for antiterrorism efforts.
So, who is to blame for Congress attempting to undermine President Bush's TSP program? Why Bush himself! But of course!
Such tortured logic, however, doesn't meet with honesty.
You see, Bush presented Congress the details of the TSP shortly after its creation in 2002. It was only after the New York Times leaked the story that Congress pretended to be shocked -- yes, we're shocked!!! -- and awed.
I guess the Newsweek gang is getting a little nervous knowing this since, you know, their main offices are in DC and NYC.
A few weeks ago a CBS News/New York Times poll found "American support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat" over two months from 35 to 42 percent. The New York Times naturally buried this poll and repolled, thinking it MUST be a mistake. The second poll indeed confirmed the first.
Maybe it's because the strategy of General David Petraeus - did I mention recently he authored the Army's counterinsurgency manual? - is working? And maybe it's because there are at least a few mainstream media reporters and pundits who are putting facts ahead of personal ideology? Maybe it's because the American public have had almost 5 years of "We can't win no matter what the sky is falling" coverage on Iraq?
My, is there hope yet? Well, let's not count our chickens just yet...
So make sure you read this entire commentary by Ken Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon.
Ken Pollack is the author of The Threatening Storm - a 2001 book that made the case for bringing down the Hussein regime - but both he and O'Hanlon are both liberal Brookings Institute members and frequent Bush critics. They are certainly not neo-conservatives as the predictable squawk from the anti-war liberals has voiced.
I know I trash the New York Times often (among other media) on their leftward slant in reporting and editorializing (and often editorializing disguised as reporting), so I'm going to mention also that the Times' John Burns coverage of Iraq has been very fair. Recently Burns said on the Charlie Rose show what so many other liberals deny -- that a US troop pullout would instigate a bloodbath.
Anyway, here's the commentary:
July 30, 2007
A War We Just Might Win
By MICHAEL E. O'HANLON and KENNETH M. POLLACK
VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration's critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily "victory" but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.
In Ramadi, for example, we talked with an outstanding Marine captain whose company was living in harmony in a complex with a (largely Sunni) Iraqi police company and a (largely Shiite) Iraqi Army unit. He and his men had built an Arab-style living room, where he met with the local Sunni sheiks — all formerly allies of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups — who were now competing to secure his friendship.
In Baghdad's Ghazaliya neighborhood, which has seen some of the worst sectarian combat, we walked a street slowly coming back to life with stores and shoppers. The Sunni residents were unhappy with the nearby police checkpoint, where Shiite officers reportedly abused them, but they seemed genuinely happy with the American soldiers and a mostly Kurdish Iraqi Army company patrolling the street. The local Sunni militia even had agreed to confine itself to its compound once the Americans and Iraqi units arrived.
We traveled to the northern cities of Tal Afar and Mosul. This is an ethnically rich area, with large numbers of Sunni Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. American troop levels in both cities now number only in the hundreds because the Iraqis have stepped up to the plate. Reliable police officers man the checkpoints in the cities, while Iraqi Army troops cover the countryside. A local mayor told us his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq. All across the country, the dependability of Iraqi security forces over the long term remains a major question mark.
But for now, things look much better than before. American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).
In addition, far more Iraqi units are well integrated in terms of ethnicity and religion. The Iraqi Army's highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.
In the past, few Iraqi units could do more than provide a few "jundis" (soldiers) to put a thin Iraqi face on largely American operations. Today, in only a few sectors did we find American commanders complaining that their Iraqi formations were useless — something that was the rule, not the exception, on a previous trip to Iraq in late 2005.
The additional American military formations brought in as part of the surge, General Petraeus's determination to hold areas until they are truly secure before redeploying units, and the increasing competence of the Iraqis has had another critical effect: no more whack-a-mole, with insurgents popping back up after the Americans leave.
In war, sometimes it's important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.
Another surprise was how well the coalition's new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.
In some places where we have failed to provide the civilian manpower to fill out the reconstruction teams, the surge has still allowed the military to fashion its own advisory groups from battalion, brigade and division staffs. We talked to dozens of military officers who before the war had known little about governance or business but were now ably immersing themselves in projects to provide the average Iraqi with a decent life.
Outside Baghdad, one of the biggest factors in the progress so far has been the efforts to decentralize power to the provinces and local governments. But more must be done. For example, the Iraqi National Police, which are controlled by the Interior Ministry, remain mostly a disaster. In response, many towns and neighborhoods are standing up local police forces, which generally prove more effective, less corrupt and less sectarian. The coalition has to force the warlords in Baghdad to allow the creation of neutral security forces beyond their control.
In the end, the situation in Iraq remains grave. In particular, we still face huge hurdles on the political front. Iraqi politicians of all stripes continue to dawdle and maneuver for position against one another when major steps towards reconciliation — or at least accommodation — are needed. This cannot continue indefinitely. Otherwise, once we begin to downsize, important communities may not feel committed to the status quo, and Iraqi security forces may splinter along ethnic and religious lines.
How much longer should American troops keep fighting and dying to build a new Iraq while Iraqi leaders fail to do their part? And how much longer can we wear down our forces in this mission? These haunting questions underscore the reality that the surge cannot go on forever. But there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kenneth M. Pollack is the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.
The fellas at Power Line Blog comment about the New York Times half-a$$ed apology over the fabricated non-scandal that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had lied to Congress about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP.
Today the New York Times filled in the blanks on Alberto Gonzales's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As we discussed in detail here and here, Gonzales testified that he had visited John Ashcroft in the hospital to try to resolve a legal dispute that had developed over an intelligence program, but that the program in question was not the "terrorist surveillance program" that had been confirmed by President Bush, i.e., the interception of international communications where one participant is associated with al Qaeda. About that program, Gonzales said there had been no serious legal question.
This testimony was met with incredulity by the Senators. "Do you expect us to believe that?" Arlen Spector asked. Committee members Schumer and Leahy flatly accused Gonzales of lying, and called for a special prosecutor to carry out a perjury investigation. One thing I could never understand was why anyone cares: what difference would it make if Gonzales's hospital visit related to the "terrorist surveillance program," or to some other intelligence activity? And what reason would Gonzales have to lie about that fact?
Today the Times confirms that Gonzales told the truth. The legal dispute that broke out in 2004 was about the NSA's "data mining" project, in which databases of telephone records were reviewed for patterns suggestive of terrorist cells.
What's comical about the Times' reporting is that the paper can't bring itself to acknowledge that this means Gonzales has been vindicated.
Via the Washington Post, the Democrats are showing their hand on how they plan to undermine the potentially promising report on Iraq that General David Petraeus is scheduled to give in September.
So, what's their plan?
Simple. The Democrats will simply ignore the Petraeus report and instead cite an alternate Iraq report that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) - an oxymoron if there ever was one - will give on September 1st.
The GAO, if you don't recall, is the same group that year after year after year misses the mark on deficit/surplus projections because they determine tax policy with static scoring rather than dynamic scoring. This means the GAO fails to take into account how a tax increase will curb corporate and private spending and investment behavior, or how a tax cut can encourage corporate and private spending and investment.
Thus, they're left looking generally incompetent and useless when every tax cut ends up INCREASING TAX REVENUES (because of the volume of spending.)
So this group that never forecasts economics correctly will be relied upon by Democrats to provide an accurate assessment of Iraq -- a far more complicated project.
"The 15-person team includes an array of specialists, lawyers, economists, foreign policy experts and statisticians," according to the Post, but will most certainly not include one... you know... anybody who actually serves in Iraq.
Does one need any more proof that Democrats have made full capitulation on Iraq a foregone conclusion?
There's been a ton of new developments in the "Shocktroops" episode, which I introduced here a few days ago.
Basically, The New Republic - a center-left publication whose columnists have been generally opposed to the war in Iraq (or Kerryesquely for the war before they were against the war) - had published the writings of a pseudonymed soldier "Scott Thomas." In his writings titled "Shocktroops," the soldier had claimed witness to alleged unprofessional and unmoral behavior of fellow soldiers that included desecrations at an Iraqi mass grave site; using Bradley armored vehicles to run down structures and stray dogs; and openly mocking the injuries of a particularly scarred Iraqi woman.
After much pressure from bloggers, both those former and active military and those not, Scott Thomas has revealed himself as 24-year-old Scott Thomas Beauchamp, while The New Republic has decided to "re-report" ( i.e., actually bother fact checking) Beauchamp's accusations.
So the guy appears to really be a soldier, and his service is both noted and appreciated. However, we don't yet live in Pakistan or Egypt, where the militaries tell the citizens what to think, and thus Beauchamp isn't above legitimate criticism for his display of immaturity and careerism -- on the latter, by his own blog admission, Beauchamp states he joined the military "just to write a book." No doubt he'll get that deal. Maybe like John Kerry did in 1971, Beauchamp can go before Congress and spread noxious heresay disguised as fact. Proof isn't needed, just ears that are predisposed to believe the worst about our soldiers. Disgusting.
Nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has been all over this, as has Michael Goldfarb at The Weekly Standard. And I'm borrowing their links often here.
First you need to read Beauchamp's tortured explanation:
My Diarist, "Shock Troops," and the two other pieces I wrote for the New Republic have stirred more controversy than I could ever have anticipated. They were written under a pseudonym, because I wanted to write honestly about my experiences, without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, my pseudonym has caused confusion. And there seems to be one major way in which I can clarify the debate over my pieces: I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name.
I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.
My pieces were always intended to provide my discreet view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.
It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join. That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.
--Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp
My, my, where does one begin.
It should first be noted that if Beauchamp indeed witness such things, especially the Iraqi mass grave, his duty would have been to report it to his superiors, not write about it for future career gains via a commentary magazine. If nothing else he's guilty of that.
And how does one logically complain that retorts to those writings "take[s] the time out of my already insane schedule" when he seems to have plenty of time to write for TNR in the first place!
Secondly, if there is "more controversy than [he] could ever have anticipated" and "confusion" over his writings he has only himself to blame -- he wrote it! It's either true or it's not. And if it is one best be prepared to offer evidence, which neither he nor TNR did.
Next, a great point by Michael Goldfarb of TWS: "That Beauchamp chose to reveal himself at this point also seems a bit disingenuous, since the military has already launched an investigation and, courtesy of [former Marine] JD Johannes, we'd already identified his unit four days ago. If we'd gotten that much information, it was only a matter of time before somebody besides his editors started asking him 'hard questions.'" Indeed, Johannes narrowed his identity down to about 100 men likely under the command of a single commanding officer, Captain Robby Johnson.
Most galling and self-deluding of all, with that ridiculous comment that "my comrades in arms have been called into question" Beauchamp portrays himself as a defender of those ONLY he himself insulted. One of Michelle Malkin's readers appropriately chides:
Say what? Lemme get this straight: This clown supposedly witnesses things that, if they were not observed by his chain of command, should've been brought to their attention immediately; instead he stabs his his "comrades in arms" between the shoulder blades by semi-anonymously writing to a lefty rag portray them in the worst possible light, the details of his accounts straining even the most generous sense of credulousness.
Then, when people who read has BS - and it still reeks of BS - come to the defense of his "comrades in arms," he whines that it is they who are questioning the character of his comrades?
I'm sure Beauchamp wishes that all those who dared question him were Chickenhawks, but from my research the vast majority of retort come from those actively serving our military, or those who have in the past. They are soldiers sweating and bleeding alongside Beauchamp, and certainly deserve to have their opinions heard. (Not to mention the Chickenhawk argument is nothing more than a petty ad hominem attack).
Those accused by John Kerry in 1971 never got that opportunity. But thanks to the Internet those accused by Beauchamp will.
Bloggist Ed Morrisey brings up an excellent point regarding the validity of polling, in this case a poll of President Bush's approval ratings by the Washington Post:
However, the Post's polling has such a sampling problem that it calls into serious question how accurately they could measure his disapproval ratings.
After a few years of relative equality, Democrats have pulled ahead of Republicans in party affiliation, as NBC noted in February . Nationally, Democrats enjoy a 34.3%-30.4% advantage in registrants. This has caused some analysts to predict that the GOP will have a tougher time in the Electoral College than in the last two elections, which was the general point of the article.
Now let's look at the Washington Post sample. On question 901, respondents answered that they were 35% Democrats, which is close enough to the national average. However, only 23% identified themselves as Republicans, which amounts to a 24% underrepresentation of the GOP in this sample. In fact, the Post consistently underrepresents Republicans, and has for the past two years. The last time it came close to reality was in November 2006 -- when the Post needed to make sure its election predictions came close to the results.
Not surprisingly, that was also the last time the Post's polling on George Bush's approval ratings came close to reality, too. His disapproval then was 57%, which the elections seem to have confirmed. At the time, Rasmussen -- which has been historically more accurate than the Post -- had it at 56%. They now have it at 59%, actually down from a high of 65% in the first part of July during the immigration debate.
Bush is not popular, by any means. However, by seriously underrepresenting Republicans in its polling samples, the Post exaggerates his unpopularity and renders its polling unreliable. If their pollsters cannot generate a sample that resembles the American electorate, then they should find new pollsters.
In terms of propping Bush it's indifferent -- whether as unpopular as Nixon or not it's certainly true that Bush fatigue has set in and conservatives are hoping for a Guiliani or Thompson to save them; that is Bush has become his father.
But take it as a daily affirmation that the mainstream media simply cannot be trusted to be objective or trustworthy when it comes to any subject to the right of Al Gore.
Labels: media bias
This excellent post by Victor Davis Hanson needs no further commentary...
A New Democratic Foreign Policy?
Ms. Edwards promising to swear off tangerines to stop global warming? (but not the private jets that most of the recent debaters arrived on). Sen. Obama eager to meet with everyone from Hugo Chavez to Castro to Bashar Assad, as if, like the NY-DC media, they too can be wooed and wowed with wit and panache? And as far as the candidates' new ideas on the Middle East?
We should be talking with Iran?—but we are. We should be working with moderate Palestinians? But we are. We should get the UN involved and 'regional neighbors', but we are. We should get out of Iraq? But the surge is intended to bulk up the Iraqis to do just that in time.
On the one hand the Democrats aren't offering much new about the old—except they mostly want to start leaving Iraq right now—while on the other, they are absolutely silent about the real dilemmas in our future: to what degree would they be willing to go into Pakistan to get al Qaeda, whom they assure us are growing and have been neglected by our war against them in Iraq? Exactly what programs—list them—would they shut down: wiretaps, Patriot Act, rendentions, Guantanamo? What exactly would they do if Iran continues to violate UN non-proliferation accords and heads to the next step of enrichment with more threats of Armaggedon?
In sum, what we are seeing is basically the outlines of a return to the world of 1993-2000, where we did little in response to terrorism other than in the context of utopian dialogue and refined diplomacy. For many Americans that may seem preferable to hitting the problem head-on in Afghanistan and Iraq—unless of course one believes that such a past policy was one of appeasement and its logical consequence was 9/11.
Promoting dialogue with and "engaging" illiberal regimes in North Korea, Venezuela and Iran seem to be all the bi-partisan rage these days.
Even the White House is following along! Envoys from the US, Iran and Iraq are meeting this week to discuss "restoring stability in Iraq."
And just why would Iran want that? Why wouldn't they want to promote the very instability they promote in Lebanon every time it moves toward democracy?
According to Peter Brookes US officials are doing so to "score some points - and breathing room" with European leftists, "those in Congress that worship at the altar of the Baker-Hamilton Report," and parts of "the U.S. domestic audience that favors at least some engagement with Iran."
I call it a fool's errand.
It's lipstick on a pig.
It's a Sysiphean task: taken from the Greeks, Sisyphus was forced by Zeus to eternally roll a boulder up a hill, which only slipped and rolled back down just before he reached the top.
Anyone who expects illiberal dictators to suddenly promote the values they don't even provide to their own populations will find the boulder rolling back over them.
At least the Bush administration is not pulling punches -- at least by today's summary of accounts via US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.
One cannot say the same of most Democratic presidential nominees.
Instead of a You Tube question about "talking with our enemies" and such Kumbayah nonsense, how about a reaction to how Hillary Clinton feels about Iranian police enforcing Islamic dress codes and rounding up women who defy them?
Speaking of that, some are accusing Mrs. Clinton of flip-flopping on the issue.
In April she stated she would "begin diplomatic discussions with those countries with whom we have differences," adding that "it is a terrible mistake for our president [Bush] to say he will not talk with bad people."
But last night she bashed Barack Obama because he said pretty much the same. Responding to Obama, Clinton chided, "Certainly, we're not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria, until we know better what the way forward would be."
Michael Goldfarb sums up Obama's position nicely:
Obama seems to think that once the threat posed by the U.S. is removed, Ahmadinehad and Assad will become responsible parters, and will take on the serious work of maintaining 'stability' in Iraq. His answer shows a Carter-like misperception--that if we just talk to our adversaries, we'll realize that we all want the same thing. Expect Obama to get hammered on this if he wins the Democratic nomination. (Looks like Senator Clinton won't wait for the general election to see him hammered.)
The Clintons are shrewd, and over time Obama will be exposed as an amateur attempting to play with professionals. She set him up good on this one. He followed her lead from April but today he -- not she -- looks silly.
Hillary's lesson to Obama: If you're going to flip-flop, make sure you flop on the correct position, and flop first before the rest of the pack.
[Media Research Center] During Monday night's CNN/You Tube Democratic presidential debate, the candidates were hit with questions from the left over the right by nearly a 3-to-1 margin: 17 liberal questions posed in You Tube clips versus six conservative clips. With CNN's You Tube forum with Republican presidential candidates set for September 17, CNN has eight weeks to ensure an equal approach of of pushing each party from the direction of its base, so Republicans should be pressed from the right by about 3-to-1 over from the left. But if most of the questions to Republicans also come from the left, the CNN/You Tube debates will have served as little more than prime hours dedicated to advancing liberal causes.
Oh, I bet they can't wait: "Yes, Mr. Republican Candidate, when will you stop persecuting gay Muslims and murdering brown babies for oil?"
"And a follow up question: How many tons of explosives did the Neo-Cons and their friends in the Israeli lobby use to destroy the World Trade Center?"
Actually, I'd love to see someone like Giuliani respond to these loaded, partisan questions.
Here's an actual question from last night, for example:
"Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent, predominantly white city?"
Correct answer: "Yes, it would have been different because the local leaders wouldn't have been incompetent boobs like Mayor Ray Nagin and governor Kathleen Blanco, both Democrats by the way, and no other city's leaders would have been so stupid as to allocate control of the levies to independent local government councils, which ensured a lack of communication and quality control. Thanks for the question."
Despite his faults Giuliani might give us something politically incorrect, maybe Fred Thompson too, but the rest are boobs themselves.
CIA Director of Public Affairs Statement on New Book
July 20, 2007
CIA Director of Public Affairs Mark Mansfield issued the following statement today:
We generally don't comment on books, but we have departed from that on occasion, and have decided to do so in connection with Rowan Scarborough's new book, "Sabotage: America's Enemies Within the CIA."
CIA employees work very hard to protect their fellow citizens and to help keep America safe. They take great pride -- and take great risks -- in serving our country. They know that the intelligence they collect, analyze and deliver to policymakers, diplomats, law enforcement officers, and military commanders makes a difference, each and every day.
The premise of Mr. Scarborough's book -- that CIA employees are working to undermine our government -- is both ridiculous and offensive.
By happenstance I ordered Scarborough's new Sabotage book last week and will read it all before I pass judgment on it -- I doubt if the CIA public affairs director could say the same.
Anyway, from my so-far limited understanding Scarborough's premise is not "that CIA employees are working to undermine our government," which is bait-and-switch spin from Mr. Mansfield, but rather that CIA employees let personal ideologies drive their decisions and projections.
It struck me as curious that the CIA would have a problem with Scarborough's book when so many other authors have basically stated the same of the CIA. For instance, former CIA operative Robert Baer wrote a book -- See No Evil* -- whose theme was that the CIA was run by career-obsessive, politically correct, soft and naive bureaucrats, and not persons concerned with spying and intelligence gathering.
The difference, of course, is that Baer and other authors were not conservatives. Scarborough is, and thus to CIA bureaucrats he is worthy of ad homonym attacks.
In other words, the CIA press release seems just further proof that Scarborough is actually on to something.
* If you don't know the movie Syriana (end credits) claims to be "based on the book See No Evil," which I had read in 2002. But watching Syriana I thought to myself, "I don't remember any of this from Baer's book!" So I read See No Evil again, just to see if I had forgotten. I can positively state that the book has less than 1 percent to do with Syriana. That is, the character's first name in the movie is indeed "Bob," and there is a crooked oil-man. However, in real life the oil-man was involved in a Clinton financial scandal -- and not with greedy neo-cons conducting illegal assassinations -- and Bob Baer intended See No Evil to be in part a mea culpa apology as to how he unintentionally got caught up in it.
Once again Hollywood fabricates history and promotes it as non-fiction.
You'd think that The New Republic magazine would be extra careful about its reporting following the embarrassing discovery in 1998 that former TNR "reporter" Stephen Glass fabricated a whopping 27 articles.
But The New Republic editor Franklin Foer seems to be stubbornly sticking to a story by a reporter who claims to be a member of the US military. As summarized by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post here, TNR has published that a soldier named Scott Thomas has personally witnessed various atrocities and unprofessional conduct by US military personnel.
Claims include that the military is covering up "a mass graveyard of children's skeletons" and that US soldiers had desecrated the site by playing with the skulls. Thomas also told a story where "a soldier used his Bradley Fighting Vehicle to run over dogs."
The allegations by Thomas, whose true identity has yet to be revealed, sparked a heated response by bloggers everywhere, especially those of a military background who could immediately punch holes in Thomas' claims, including those from past reports. Indeed, from those retorts one could reasonably wager that Thomas isn't even military because of the sheer number of factual errors.
The Weekly Standard has a slew of round ups here (Also, here, here, here and here)
But perhaps one of the best responses comes from the 1st Infantry Division's (DRAGONS FOB Falcon) Public Affairs Officer, Major Kirk Luedeke:
As the 4th IBCT Public Affairs Officer- I can tell you unequivocally: there was NO mass grave discovered in this area of operations in conjunction with the building of a coalition outpost anytime in the past 12 months. None. Zero. Zip. And Frank Foer's assertions to the contrary, there is no way that his mystery soldier "Scott Thomas" can prove it. Foer can produce all of the alleged "eyewitnesses" he wants- unless these individuals are willing to back up their claims with real evidence, it's just so much garbage on a computer screen. Some people seem to forget that the burden of proof should be on the New Republic to back up his unsubstantiated claims and not the other way around...
I invite Mr. Foer and the New Republic to actually give us something to go on. Proof. Any kind will do - and something more than one anonymous soldier's claims and a nebulous "we've heard from others who can corroborate it," kinds of responses he provided Howard Kurtz. It's kind of hard to take these allegations seriously, when you're hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. Just about every Soldier these days has his or her own digital camera or video camera. Talk to anyone here- every unit down to squad level in our brigade is *required* to have a camera on every mission. It's all part of being prepared for such a discovery. Surely- there would be photos of the skulls and mass grave if it truly existed, would there not? The reason there isn't any photos, is because simply- the story isn't true...
I invite Scott Thomas to come by the Dragon PAO shop at FOB Falcon- Bldg 301, Rm 119, and I'd be happy to share the DoD media policy with him. While he's here, I'd love to discuss with him the mass graves, Bradley IFV dog hunting and IED burn victim he's so intent on stating is fact. If he can provide the evidence, I will gladly retract every word I've posted on the subject. If he's not willing to do that, then it kind of makes you wonder about his credibility, and that of the New Republic's doesn't it?
Indeed! Has the New Republic forgotten their own past?
Reporters are highly ideological - often to the point where they jeopardize their own careers by fabricating baseless allegations.
It happens far more often than you think. Recall Jayson Blair in 2003, fired by the New York Times for his "creative" reporting. CBS fired long-time anchor Dan Rather for accepting without question obviously manipulated documents disparaging of President Bush before the 2004 election. Recall both the LA Times and Reuters fired Michael Hiltzik and Adnan Hajj, respectively, for their separate attempts to photoshop photographs taken during the last Israel-Lebanon conflict.
The Wikipedia site, for example, is full of such examples, and those examples seem to have skyrocketed of late.
Why is that? Simple: the blogosphere - independent reporting - does the simple-stupid fact checking that gutless, unprofessional and ideologically-motivated newsroom editors don't do themselves.
More evidence that those demanding troop withdraw are mostly scared that the Surge is actually working:
[UK Times] Al-Qaeda faces rebellion from the ranks
Sickened by the group's barbarity, Iraqi insurgents are giving information to coalition forces
Deborah Haynes in Doura
Fed up with being part of a group that cuts off a person's face with piano wire to teach others a lesson, dozens of low-level members of al-Qaeda in Iraq are daring to become informants for the US military in a hostile Baghdad neighbourhood.
The ground-breaking move in Doura is part of a wider trend that has started in other al-Qaeda hotspots across the country and in which Sunni insurgent groups and tribal sheikhs have stood together with the coalition against the extremist movement.
"They are turning. We are talking to people who we believe have worked for al-Qaeda in Iraq and want to reconcile and have peace," said Colonel Ricky Gibbs, commander of the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, which oversees the area.
The sewage-filled streets of Doura, a Sunni Arab enclave in south Baghdad, provide an ugly setting for what US commanders say is al-Qaeda's last stronghold in the city. The secretive group, however, appears to be losing its grip as a "surge" of US troops in the neighbourhood – part of the latest effort by President Bush to end the chaos in Iraq – has resulted in scores of fighters being killed, captured or forced to flee.
"Al-Qaeda's days are numbered and right now he is scrambling," said Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Michael, who commands a battalion of 700 troops in Doura.
A key factor is that local people and members of al-Qaeda itself have become sickened by the violence and are starting to rebel, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael said. "The people have got to deny them sanctuary and that is exactly what is happening."
Al-Qaeda informants comprise largely members of the Doura network who found themselves either working with the group after the US-led invasion in March 2003, or signed up to earn extra cash because there were no other jobs going. Disgusted at the attacks and intimidation techniques used on friends, neighbours and even relatives, they are now increasingly looking for a way out, US officers say.
"It is only after al-Qaeda has become truly barbaric and done things like, to teach lessons to people, cut their face off with piano wire in front of their family and then murdered everybody except one child who told the tale afterwards . . . that people realise how much of a mess they are in," Lieutenant James Danly, 31, who works on military intelligence in Doura, said.
It is impossible to corroborate the claims, but he said that scores of junior al-Qaeda in Iraq members there had become informants since May, including one low-level cell leader who gave vital information after his arrest.
"He gave us dates, places and names and who did what," Lieutenant Danly said. When asked why he was being so forthcoming, the man said: "Because I am sick of it and I hate them, and I am done."
Disgraced antiwar British MP George Galloway troubles are only beginning writes Christopher Hitchens in Slate.
I do not think that an 18-day suspension from the House of Commons is anything like enough punishment for what Galloway has done, first on behalf of a sadistic and genocidal megalomaniac and second to steal food and medicine from the mouths of desperate Iraqis. We ran into each other a few times on his debate-tour, and on the last occasion on which we exchanged views, when he told me that he would never debate with me again (which he has since consistently refused to do), I told him that we were not done with each other. I would, I told him, be waiting to write a review of his prison diaries. The Senate subcommittee has now referred his "false and misleading" statements under oath (a crime under 18 USC Section 1001) to the Department of Justice. Prosecutors in Manhattan (location of the banks through which some of the shady transfers were made) have also been handed the relevant papers. And the evidence adduced by the House of Commons must necessarily be considered by Scotland Yard, because it goes far beyond the damage done to the honor of Parliament. In the meantime, it will be interesting to discover whether Galloway's former wife, or the associates of his campaign who also received "Oil for Food" money [first payment for $150,000, the second for $120,000], ever declared the income or paid any tax on it. And if I was the editor of the Daily Telegraph in London, whose printed documents about Galloway appear to have been vindicated by the parliamentary inquiry, I would want to revisit the judgment for libel that Galloway astonishingly managed to win, even under a notoriously oppressive law, in an English court. His troubles are only now beginning.
Just look at the gang that strove to prevent the United Nations from enforcing its library of resolutions on Saddam Hussein. Where are they now? Gerhard Schroeder, ex-chancellor of Germany, has gone straight to work for a Russian oil-and-gas consortium. Vladimir Putin, master of such consortia and their manipulation, is undisguised in his thirst to re-establish a one-party state. Jacques Chirac, who only avoided prosecution for corruption by getting himself immunized by re-election (and who had Saddam's sons as his personal guests while in office, and built Saddam Hussein a nuclear reactor while knowing what he wanted it for), is now undergoing some unpleasant interviews with the Paris police. So is his cynical understudy Dominique de Villepin, once the glamour-boy of the "European" school of diplomacy without force. What a crew! Galloway is the most sordid of this group because he managed to be a pimp for, as well as a prostitute of, one of the foulest dictatorships of modern times. But the taint of collusion and corruption extends much further than his pathetic figure, and one day, slowly but surely, we shall find out the whole disgusting thing.
And as with all things disgusting, they usually involve the United Nations.
Speaking of which, Melanie Kirkpatrick explains a year long investigation of the United Nations Development Program -- financed in large part by US taxdollars, by the way -- finds that the agency "procured and delivered to North Korea in May 2006 technology that could be used for military purposes."
Obama Statement on The Declassified National Intelligence Estimate
CHICAGO, IL-Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the Declassified National Intelligence Estimate.
"This morning's declassified NIE is a chilling reminder of what we have feared all along. After almost six years, awesome sacrifices by our brave men and women in uniform, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, we are no safer than we were on 9/11. This is a consequence of waging a misguided war in Iraq that should never have been authorized, and failing to seize the opportunity to do lasting harm to the extremist networks that pose a direct threat to our homeland. It is deeply troubling that more that nearly six years after 9/11, al Qaeda maintains a safe haven, an intact leadership, and the capability to plan further attacks. It is time to act to correct those mistakes, and the first step is to get out of Iraq, because you can't win a war when you're on the wrong battlefield."
The wrong battlefield?
That implies that Senator Obama believes there's a "right" battlefield, an alternate battlefield, where he, as president, would authorize military force.
Is Senator Obama really advocating an invasion of Pakistan? Sure sounds like it. But it's laughable to believe that Democrats - who have suddenly discovered Pakistan - would ever authorize military force.
No, the only thing Democrats have discovered is a way to not sound soft on the war on terror (which some of them - ahem, John Edwards - refuse to even acknowledge).
And while we're at it if, as Democrats argue, military action in Iraq only "creates" more terrorists why wouldn't military action in Pakistan or Afghanistan also "create" more terrorists?
And why wouldn't Iran and Syria and al Qaeda and Saudi terror sponsors simply funnel their foreign fighters from Iraq to wherever we decided to go under a President Obama or Clinton?
And so, does it really matter where is the battlefield so long as it is not in the US? Scratch that: Iraq is a tough environment to fight in, but fighting in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan would be far, far more difficult. Gee, maybe that's another reason they chose Iraq?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic plan to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of April 2008 to cap a rare round-the-clock U.S. Senate debate.
On a vote of 52-47, backers fell short of the needed 60 to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and move toward passage of the measure opposed by the White House.
Last time I checked the U.S. Constitution Congress didn't have the power to "withdraw U.S. combat troops" from anywhere. That power is reserved to the Executive Branch, not the Legislative Branch. The Congress, rather, only has the constitutional power to cut the funding of the war. This bill could have thus passed 100-0 and regardless been just as unenforceable and pointless. (Reuters, among other media, desperately need a high school civics lesson.)
This bill didn't cut funding, of course, because that action would actually require, you know, some courage (albeit misguided and stupid), which Congress, especially Democrats in Congress, have none of.
It would be, as Thomas Sewell wrote today, Democrats "taking responsibility for the defeat [in Iraq]." But responsibility and Congress rarely mix.
The most delicious irony in all this is that the Republicans used the 60-vote procedure to deny the (feckless and meaningless) bill.
You see, it was none other than former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle who in 2002 took a rarely used voting procedure and morphed it into a tool for everyday use to stymie Senate Republicans.
Reap what you have sown, Democrats.
Get a load of the opinion which Democratic Senator Jim Webb wrote in 1995 for Strategic Review. Of it, radio personality Mark Levin commented: "Jim Webb, now the antiwar senator . . . Today, four years into this war . . . he insists we do exactly what he condemned 12 years ago."
Media depictions of the fighting typically showed tired and frustrated American and South Vietnamese soldiers, while often using stock propaganda footage of communist troops marching cheerfully down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The elders who made their names in younger days on such allegations as U.S. troops lying about their "body counts" gave almost no mention of the horrendous communist military casualties, despite the most newsworthy item of those few weeks: the Hanoi government officially admitting it lost 1. 1 million soldiers dead and another 300,000 still missing from the fighting, compared to American losses of 58,000 and South Vietnamese of 254,000. And few discussions recalled the Hanoi pledge in the 1973 Paris Peace Accords that Vietnam would be reunited only by peaceful means, with guarantees of individual freedoms in the South, as well as internationally supervised free elections.
To the contrary, on the heels of Mr. McNamara's comments regarding the "unwinnable" strategy he concocted and failed to adjust during the first four years of war, media air waves were filled with a litany of speeches proclaiming "vindication" by those who otherwise might have been forced to answer hard questions regarding their conduct and beliefs during the late 1960s and early 1970s. For some, such conduct was betrayal. For others, it was only a stupefying naiveté. But for most, there has been a persistent conspiracy of silence that has lasted for decades, accompanied of late by an attempt to leap over the carcasses and the devastation that followed the communist takeover, to simply pretend it did not happen.
When forced to comment, those who opposed our attempt to assist the building of a democracy in the South picked up the debate in its present makeup, pointing to the Hanoi government's efforts in the past few years to liberalize the economy and reach out to the Americans in the wake of the collapse of their Soviet ally and the continuing menacing growth of the Chinese.
As a consequence, the best opportunity of a lifetime was lost for the many who still wish to put a generation's most bitterly divisive period into proper historical perspective.
So what's changed since 1995 senator, other than the party holding the Oval Office.
File under "But That Was Then."
Read this statement from the latest National Intelligence Estimate:
We assess that the spread of radical — especially Salafi — Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West's Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States — who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement — points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate. We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however.
On one hand it's simply the rule of percentages -- i.e., as a country's Muslim population grows so does the probability that Islamic extremists, as a percentage, will grow.
But note the bolded sentence above -- that by combating Islamic extremists via standard law enforcement and domestic courts, as we did before 9-11, it will further radicalize some Muslims and provoke them to commit terrorism in the US.
This is interesting because opponents of the war in Iraq (and even Afghanistan) have long said that our fighting there may "create" terrorists. (There's some truth to this too, but to me it's not a strong enough reason to not respond to terror with military might, akin to fighting Nazis will just create more Nazis).
So, then, in reading the above, and reminded that liberals have long thought of terrorism not as a national security (war) issue but instead as a law enforcement issue, does this mean that liberals will oppose arresting Islamic radicals too for fear of provoking them?
Shall we raise our white flags and all convert to Sharia law?
Columnist Michael Ledeen asks if we be in a regional war, why not act like it?
Ledeen finds it curious that there has been no reaction to a recent speech in which Bush plays his hand and reiterates that he considers the war in Iraq to be just a piece of a regional effort to counter aggressive actions by Iran and Syria. Namely, he called out Iran for arming Iraqi insurgents with IEDs and using Hezbollah to quash democracy in Lebanon. Bush called out Syria for its support to Islamic Jihad and Hamas and allowing terrorists to pass into Iraq.
In short, the president sees that it is a regional war, as it has been from the beginning, just as our enemies in Damascus and Tehran publicly told us it would be, even before a single American soldier set foot in Iraq. The two biggest causes of casualties in Iraq are non-indigenous: suicide bombers and constantly improving explosive devices deployed in and alongside roads. Eighty to ninety percent of all suicide bombers are foreigners (mostly Saudis who are trained in Syria), not Iraqis, and the explosives have long been known to be of Iranian design to contain Iranian components, and often constructed in Iran (see the latest intelligence news about al Qaeda reconstituting in Iran).
... It follows that victory in this war requires the defeat of both the terrorists on the ground and the state sponsors, just as President Bush vowed shortly after 9/11, when he said we would not distinguish between the terrorists and the states that provided them with the wherewithal for their actions. Yet the president does not instruct his people to move against the Assads and the mullahs. Quite the contrary, in fact. Military officers have long been instructed to "take it easy" against Iranian forces and surrogates in Iraq, even though the leash has been loosened in recent months. And as Senator Lieberman has so bravely insisted, it is a mistake to permit such forces and surrogates safe haven in Iran and Syria, from which they are free to move against us and the brave Iraqi people. We should attack the terrorist training camps, and the manufacturing facilities for the terror bombs, which, by the way, are also deployed regionally. The first exemplars of the new generation of such bombs were used against Israelis in Gaza and then again in Lebanon.
Attacks against the terrorists are fully justifiable; they would be acts of legitimate self-defense. But they are the least we should be doing. The president constantly says that freedom is our most lethal weapon against the terror masters, and he is right. But then he permits himself to be gulled by those in his administration who shrink from the consequences of our announced policy, and promise him that diplomacy and a gradually escalating set of sanctions will bring the terror masters to heel. That human history knows no case where this strategy has succeeded is somehow not sufficient to show them the errors of their ways, which is a tribute to their hubris and their inability to see the world plain.
... Big wars require big strategies, and we do not have one. Yet. I believe the country would support one if the case were made clearly and honestly. Taking the war to our enemies in Damascus and Tehran does not require troops on the ground or bombs from the air, except in the limited cases of terrorist training camps and weapons factories. It requires, above all, two things: support for the democratic forces in Syria and Iran, and the will to confront our enemies. That will can be easily expressed, but no president has had the coherence and courage to do that. Iran has been at war with us for nearly thirty years, but no president has ever said we want an end to the terror regime in Tehran.
[Rasmussen Reports] By a 39% to 20% margin, American adults believe that the three major broadcast networks deliver news with a bias in favor of liberals. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 25% believe that ABC, CBS, and NBC deliver the news without any bias.
Similar results are found for CNN and National Public Radio (NPR). By a margin of 33% to 16%, Americans say that CNN has a liberal bias. The nation's adults say the same about NPR by a 27% to 14% margin.
There is one major exception to the belief that media outlets have a liberal bias—Fox News. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say it has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias.
...Those not affiliated with either major party tend to see a liberal bias everywhere except Fox. Thirty-eight percent (38%) of unaffiliateds see a liberal bias at the major television networks while only 19% see a conservative bias.
So much for a need for the "Fairness Doctrine." It seems the majority of Americans, 2 to 1, find that there's plenty of ways for someone to find a liberal viewpoint. (Rasmussen will publish the public reaction to the Fairness Doctrine this weekend).
Most telling of all was that Rasmussen found "that voters tended to select news sources based upon their political preferences."
Gee, I guess people aren't as helpless as politicians think, since they're happy to go out and find the news they want on their own without Congressional assistance or meddling.
The following is a report from John Burns of the NY Times. Burns is pretty much the only NYT reporter willing to give the military and surge a fair and objective shake.
[Maj.] Gen. [Rick] Lynch, a blunt-spoken, cigar-smoking Ohio native who commands the Third Infantry Division, said that all the American troops who began an offensive south of Baghdad in mid-June are part of the five-month-old troop buildup, and that they were making "significant" gains in areas that were previously enemy sanctuaries. Pulling back before the job was completed, he said, would create "an environment where the enemy could come back and fill the void."
He implied that an early withdrawal would amount to an abandonment of Iraqi civilians who he said have rallied in support of the American and Iraqi troops, and would leave the civilians exposed to renewed brutalities by extremist groups. "When we go out there, the first question they ask is, 'Are you staying?' " , he said. "And the second question is, 'How can we help?'". He added, "What we hear is, 'We've had enough of people attacking our villages, attacking our homes, and attacking our children.' "
General Lynch said his troops had promised local people that they would stay in the areas they had taken from the extremists until enough Iraqi forces were available to take over, and said this had helped sustain "a groundswell" of feeling against the extremists. He said locals had pinpointed hideouts of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, an extremist group that claims to ties to Osama bin Laden, that have been used to send suicide bombers into Baghdad, helped troops locate 170 large arms caches. The general also said the locals had founded new neighborhood patrol units called "Iraqi provincial volunteers" that supplied their own weapons and ammunition.
The general declined to be drawn into what he called "the big debate in Washington" over the war, saying American troops would continue to battle the enemy until ordered to do otherwise. But he made it clear that his sympathies lay with the Iraqis in his battle area, covering an area about the size of West Virginia, mostly between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that extends about 80 miles south of Baghdad and includes four of Iraq's 18 provinces.
The heat is on. And the war against the war continues.
It's pretty sad that our military leaders have to beg Congress and the media not to have the rug pulled from underneath them, even as they succeed, and even before Petraeus' September report.
Could you imagine Gen. Eisenhower, during the midst of war, forced into admitting that "mistakes were made" due to his decision to fuel Montgomery into Antwerp instead of fueling Patton's army, allowing Germans to regroup and both prolonging the war and increasing US casualties? Could you imagine Congressional leaders having demanded the US Navy withdraw forces against the Japanese in the Pacific because the Secretary of the Navy didn't foresee a need for large numbers of submarines prior to 1942?
These mistakes were just the tip of an iceberg of Allied mistakes during World War Two, yet we prevailed in part because the Western media and FDR's political foes weren't hellbent on undermining the war! You put this Congress and media to that war and I'm certain we'd have lost. To that which Victor Davis Hanson alluded recently, the United States wasn't at war to defeat Germany and Japan, it was at war to defeat the idology of fascism (else, for starters, why invade Italy?).
Just wait until September 1, when General David Petreaus is scheduled to provide an official report before Congress -- a few days before that insurgents are sure to detonate a few Iraqi schools enabling our media and war opponents to provide comparisons to "another Tet offensive!"
It is, as James Taranto noted today, persons urging positions that would have catastrophic results so they can thus blame Bush for failure. What a hollow victory indeed. A sick twist to their schadenfreude where ultimately the horror and death may reach back to those quietly (and some not so quietly) hoping for a US defeat in Iraq.
[Dallas Morning News] Nobel Peace Prize winner Betty Williams came from Ireland to Texas to declare that President Bush should be impeached.
In a keynote speech at the International Women's Peace Conference on Wednesday night, Ms. Williams told a crowd of about 1,000 that the Bush administration has been treacherous and wrong and acted unconstitutionally.
"Right now, I could kill George Bush," she said at the Adam's Mark Hotel and Conference Center in Dallas. "No, I don't mean that. How could you nonviolently kill somebody? I would love to be able to do that."
About half the crowd gave her a standing ovation after she called for Mr. Bush's removal from power.
"The Muslim world right now is suffering beyond belief," she said. "Unless the president of the United States is held responsible for what he's doing and what he has done, there's no one in the Muslim world who will forgive him."
I find it fascinating and educating that so-called peace activists and women's rights movements are more troubled by an attempt to instill at least some Western liberal democracy than they are by the existing illiberal and undemocratic autocracies that dominate the entire Arab and Muslim world.
Does Ms. Williams protest with such frequency the suffering at the hands of Iranian, Sudanese, or Egyptian rule, by contrast, or does she limit her criticism to George Bush and Dick Cheney?
Do these activists believe they are making a difference in this fashion even while groups like Freedom House report that of the 18 countries in the Middle East a whopping 61 percent are "not free," and 33 percent only "partly free." (Israel, the only country considered "free" in the most unfree region in the world, is naturally compared to Nazi Germany by these same groups. Orwell would appreciate that irony.)
Someone need remind the IWPC's attendees that the Taliban are no long in power to beat Afghan women for showing their ankles precisely because Bush and Cheney (and Tony Blair) actually, you know, did something about women's rights in Afghanistan beyond putting on conferences and other such toothless and useless feel-good measures where liberals spend their time blabber-mouthing, back-slapping and coming up with ways to rhyme Bush with fascist.
Intentions do matter. No matter how late in the game the Bush administration changed its war strategy, and empowered General David Petraeus, Muslims will be far better off if the US is successful in Iraq.
Meanwhile, there's not a single Muslim woman ever been freed because a bunch of socialist leftists put on a conference.
In fact, granting unwarranted legal rights [to unlawful combatants] would put soldiers and civilians at risk by rewarding their treachery with privilege. Unlawful enemy combatants — individuals who do not adhere to the traditional laws or customs of war — have never been entitled to Prisoner of War status or the full protections of the Geneva Conventions, let alone unfettered access to U.S. courts. When only one side plays by the rules on a battlefield, that side is likely to disproportionately suffer from illegal acts of war.
-- James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation
Sadly, that doesn't seem to bother some of our elected officials, including, astonishingly, a Democratic representative from New York. Get a load of this jaw-dropping response:
A few weeks ago, former White House aide Bradford Berenson testified before the House Judiciary Committee about the much-debated question of whether suspected-terrorist detainees should have habeas-corpus rights.
During one exchange, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) had this to say: "I don't see how you can pick up someone in New York and say that his rights are different or less because he's accused of being an enemy combatant, based on whatever information, as opposed to his being accused of being a murderer. . . ."
Berenson responded: "[W]e need to be clear about what that means. It means that if we had captured Mohammed Atta on September 10th, we would have had no choice but to treat him as a criminal defendant, which would have meant no interrogation, no intelligence, and the World Trade Center is coming down."
Nadler interjected, "That's exactly right."
In a 1994 legal memorandum, assistant attorney general Walter Dellinger reached a similar conclusion about Vice President Gore, determining that the vice president's office is not an "agency" for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act. Dellinger's opinion pointed out that "the Vice President has no constitutional or statutory responsibilities as an executive branch officer," and that therefore general references to executive-branch entities are not sufficient to include the vice president.
Dellinger's 1994 memorandum wasn't met with accusations that Al Gore was "above the law." That's because, back then, a media reaction wasn't being stoked and scripted by Rep. Henry Waxman, the combative California Democrat.
-- Kate O'Beirne, NRO
Coolidge, JFK, Reagan, and Bush... how many times does it have to be proven? Tax cuts increase tax revenues.
[WSJ] The Bush Administration's midsession budget review, released yesterday, estimates that the deficit will have shrunk by more than 50% in three years: to $205 billion in the fiscal year ending this September from $413 billion in 2004. As a share of the economy, the budget deficit is expected to fall to 1.5%, well below the 40-year average of 2.4%.
Buoyant tax revenues are the major reason for this deficit reduction. So far this year tax receipts are up 7.5%, and that follows two years of double-digit increases. Federal tax receipts since 2004 are up by nearly $700 billion -- the largest ever revenue gain over a similar period. Tax collections have been so resilient that many private forecasters and the Congressional Budget Office are predicting a budget deficit well under $200 billion by year's end.
After the fiscal blowout of Mr. Bush's first term, federal spending is finally starting to slow, with this year's increase estimated to be a more sustainable 4.7%. Medicare is still the entitlement that ate the taxpayer -- up $42 billion, or 13%. Congress is set to expand federal health-care expenditures by another $25 billion or so next year with more funding for the states to pay for health programs in the name of children that increasingly cover adults. Because the states have built record budget reserves over the past two years, it's not clear why the indebted feds should be giving states more money.
The bright fiscal picture is especially impressive given that we have the fiscal burden of spending $173 billion this year to fight the war against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. The biggest threat to continued deficit reduction is not war spending, which as a share of the economy is still below what it was in 1992. The main risk is from a potential economic slowdown -- which would mean less worker income and corporate profits to tax.
In 2003, Mr. Bush and Congress cut taxes on investment and high earners, and the happy result has been revenues aplenty. As a hedge against the economy cooling down, it might be time to cut tax rates further on the economy's most productive assets and workers.
In a post titled "Genocide Preferred" Jules Crittenden correctly chastises the New York Times for demanding US troops leave Iraq now while simultaneously acknowledging that genocide could likely occur.
[NY Times] It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit... Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.
Mind you, this is the same newspaper that continuously demands action (always a vague word with antiwar liberals) be taken to end the genocide in Sudan!
So apparently genocide is bad in Darfur but okey-dokey in Baghdad. (They seem to forget that it was only US and British airpower and a threat of ground troops that ended genocide in Kosovo [and all without UN approval]).
Either you're for liberty or you're not, and if you are it generally means you have to at times fight for it.
Similarly convoluted and gutless, Democrats on Capital Hill are proposing yet another toothless withdraw bill that will only undercut our troops fighting there and embolden our enemies.
Michael Goldfarb explains that the proposed "Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act" (H.r. 2956) demands that the US Secretary of Defense reduce troops in Iraq 120 days after the bill is passed and "complete the reduction and transition to a limited presence of the Armed Forces in Iraq" by April 1, 2008.
What constitutes a 'limited presence' is up to the discretion of the White House. So if President Bush believes we should 'draw down' to 125,000 men, that's what will happen... It's clear that Congressional Democrats want American troops out of Iraq--yesterday, if possible. But why then, do they refuse to consider legislation specifically do to that? Despite all the bluster and inflammatory rhetoric that will accompany it, the plain language of this bill still leaves Iraq in the president's hands. As such, it doesn't represent the 'change of course' that Democrats are promising. And given that they ultimately gave the president the Iraq funding bill he wanted, that shouldn't be a surprise.
But rest assured, that's not how House Democratic leaders will pitch it to MoveOn and DailyKos. According to Speaker Pelosi, the measure would 'begin the responsible redeployment of U.S. troops within 120 days and complete redeployment by April 1, 2008.' While true on its face, there's one major caveat: the president will define all the terms.
If Democrats are being truthful, they will acknowledge that this amounts to little more than a 'sense of the Congress,' designed to state (loudly) what the majority Democrats think about Iraq, without forcing any action. To the extent that we don't know what the Democrats think, I suppose it's instructive--but I already got the message.
Republican leaders, Goldfarb reports, are justifiably attacking the move.
Meanwhile, General David Petraeus is begging for the time he was promised to conduct his surge (phase one of the surge - positioning the troops like chessboard pieces - is over, and phase two of the surge - conducting offensive operations against insurgents - has only just begun).
[Ralph Peters] Q: Now that the surge is fully in place, what's your sense of the positives and negatives thus far? If you could have more of any one item, what would it be? Troops? Time? Iraqi unity?
[Gen. Petraeus] A: I can think of few commanders in history who wouldn't have wanted more troops, more time or more unity among their partners; however, if I could only have one at this point in Iraq, it would be more time. This is an exceedingly tough endeavor that faces countless challenges.
Given, neither Petraeus nor any other proponent expects the surge to be a panacea to our problems in Iraq. But it's already showing success. Should Petraeus report in September that we're succeeding he'll no doubt propose the next steps. He's a straight up commander. Should it not be working he'll report just that too.
But that's why those who oppose the war are fighting to undermine Petraeus before September - they fear his report will be positive.
The WSJ editors retort to a tee the mainstream media's propaganda that McCain's numbers have fallen because he supports the war in Iraq.
But Mr. McCain has picked a policy fight over the years with nearly every part of the Reagan-Bush coalition.
His obsession with campaign money struck social conservatives as an attempt to limit political speech. He angered economic conservatives by opposing tax cuts in his 2000 campaign, and then voting against them in 2001 and 2003. While Mr. McCain now says he wants to extend the Bush tax cuts past 2010, his campaign is offering no new tax proposals to reverse doubts about his economic convictions.
Even on national security, which is his strength, Mr. McCain has let other GOP candidates get to his right on interrogations and enemy combatants. Rudy Giuliani in particular has jumped into this space on economics and the war on terror, sounding more stalwart than Mr. McCain. We support Mr. McCain's consistent and far-sighted stand on immigration reform, but it also didn't help him with many in the GOP base this year.
I've got one more -- McCain kowtows to the global warming scaremongers. While his attempt is probably to mollify attacks from that group, the side effect is to disgust traditional conservatives, the very base that he needed to win.
This was an interesting analysis via the Houston Chronicle:
If the Great Storm of 1900 had hit Galveston two years ago, it would have inflicted $72 billion in damage, nearly as much as Hurricane Katrina, researchers say.
Already the country's deadliest hurricane with an estimated 8,000 deaths, the 1900 storm also would rank as the nation's third costliest, say hurricane scientists who sought to gauge the economic damage that historic storms would have caused if they had occurred in 2005.
Under the new analysis, which adjusted for inflation, population and coastal development, Hurricane Katrina and its $81 billion cost ranked second to the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, which caused damage estimated at almost $140 billion. Another Galveston hurricane, in 1915, ranked fourth with $57 billion in damage.
Put simply, the devastation wrought by Katrina in 2005 was not unprecedented.
That's significant in an era when some blame global warming for catastrophic hurricanes. The research concludes that economic damage from hurricanes, after being adjusted, has remained relatively constant during the last century.
Furthermore, scientists involved in the study say, a $500 billion storm in a major metropolitan area along the U.S. coast, such as Miami or possibly even Houston, is conceivable by 2020 if present development trends continue, as expected.
When it comes to hurricanes, these scientists say, coastal development — not warming oceans — should perhaps be policymakers' biggest concern.
Nonetheless, one expects to be pounded daily from the consensus advocates of global warming disaster with the view that Katrina and future storms are somehow "caused by" or otherwise exaggerated by our consumption of fossil fuels. Anyone who dares debate that can further expect to be branded a "denier" - a badge of honor for me - and treated as something lower than a child molester (indeed, RFK's son recently suggested global warming deniers be tried for treason, I kid you not).
It was once said that in the absence of God man will create his own. Environmentalism, especially with climate change, has become precisely that for the Far Left. Their religion is the environment and anyone who dares question their desire to centrally plan economics (carbon trading schemes, "offsets", etc.) in an attempt to "save" the environment is considered a heretic or infidel.
FYI, if you haven't yet read the "Deniers" series at the Canadian Post, you should. It's fascinating because the reporter started the campaign expecting to support global warming beliefs and himself became a skeptic as he digested the data.
Going back to numbers of troops in Iraq is an argument that is tireless but at best academic. For instance, people often point to the days directly following the fall of Saddam's regime when Iraqis seemed to loot as old world Vikings. With more troops, perhaps the number General Eric Shinseki recommended, the argument goes, the coalition forces would have been able to restore order.
This argument assumes, however, that our upper echelon civilian and military leaders would have given our troops the authority to shoot looters. After all, what does it matter if one soldier or 10 soldiers or 100 soldiers are guarding a building if the looters know that they will not be shot for stealing? Indeed, this did not happen with the supposedly too few troops we had. Our troops were ordered to stand down.
Thus the answer: nothing would have changed with more numbers. It's not the numbers, it's how we're using them.
I've read a lot of articles and books voicing concerns and complaints from our soldiers and the one that most often appears regards the ridiculously strict rules of engagement that we place upon them.
The stories of soldiers like 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, who must literally fight for their lives in a courtroom after doing so in Iraqi battlefields (murder charges against Pantano were ultimately dismissed), are becoming far too common. Likewise, the entire theme of books like No True Glory regard an unwillingness of our leaders to win the war in Iraq for fear of a perception of heavy-handedness or causing too many civilian casualties.
Someone need remind our president, the Congress, and the Pentagon politico-military leaders that we (the Allied forces) had to kill no less than 10 million German and 2.5 million Japanese to win the Second World War (the last war we clearly won). Those killed weren't all Goerings and Tojos, either. There were tens of thousands of children, women and old people killed by our bombs and bullets.
But that's the very point of war, which we seem to have forgotten -- to make it so horrific for your enemy that they'll never risk fighting you again.
So we, as a nation, either better begin to understand the amount of blood a nation need shed to win wars, or in turn get used to losing them.
Because our enemy of radical Islam has decided we haven't the stomach. And they don't care if you supported the invasion or not, who you last voted for or ask for your political affiliation before they kill you.
As a post script, here are the comments of Lt. Col. David Bolgiano, from his recent commentary:
We should also protect our warriors from the caterwauling of those such as the Washington Post reporters who "broke" the Haditha story and from those in the military who are more concerned about maintaining an "appearance of propriety" than in killing our determined enemies. Neither the law nor decency allows for the willful killing of innocent civilians. There need to be, however, allowances for unintended and unfortunate consequences.
When it comes to applying the correct legal standard, those judging the actions of warriors in combat should recognize the tactical realities of an engagement. It may be legally and morally appropriate under certain circumstances to kill "unarmed" individuals, such as those actively acting as lookouts for the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or participating in the network of conspirators building such devices. In a recent Time magazine article a jihadist named Abdallah is quoted saying: "They are not going to defeat me with technology. If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me." Our young Marines are able and willing to make that happen, if only our leaders will display the moral courage to allow them to do so without fear of prosecution.
We have become our own worst enemy. Sadly, it is not the law that creates these restrictions, but rather an overly-restrictive interpretation of it by some commanders and their lawyers. Hopefully, the military will adopt a self-defense deadly-force policy akin to the FBI's, which reads in part that individual agents will not "be judged in the clear vision of 20-20 hindsight," but rather, based on how a reasonable person would act under situations that are "tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving." I can think of no circumstance more tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving than that faced by our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the current counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.
ON the heels of news that US troops have captured Iranian backed terrorists in Iraq, comes this plea from Sen. Joe Lieberman.
While some will no doubt claim that Iran is only attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq because they are deployed there--and that the solution, therefore, is to withdraw them--Iran's parallel proxy attacks against moderate Palestinians, Afghans and Lebanese directly rebut such claims.
Iran is acting aggressively and consistently to undermine moderate regimes in the Middle East, establish itself as the dominant regional power and reshape the region in its own ideological image. The involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq, just revealed by Gen. Bergner, illustrates precisely how interconnected are the different threats and challenges we face in the region. The fanatical government of Iran is the common denominator that links them together.
No responsible leader in Washington desires conflict with Iran. But every leader has a responsibility to acknowledge the evidence that the U.S. military has now put before us: The Iranian government, by its actions, has all but declared war on us and our allies in the Middle East.
America now has a solemn responsibility to utilize the instruments of our national power to convince Tehran to change its behavior, including the immediate cessation of its training and equipping extremists who are killing our troops.
Read the whole thing.
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