October 12, 2006
"Of Course I Bear Responsibility...Write it Down"
Donald Rumsfeld doesn't pass the buck.
September 26, 2006
Saddam Ejected from Trial Again
The judge in Saddam's genocide trial tossed out the chief defendent for the third straight hearing:
New chief judge Mohammed al-Ureybi, who had thrown Saddam out of the two previous hearings he has chaired in the past week, opened Tuesday's hearing with a lecture to Saddam to behave.
And I thought the O.J. Simpson trial was wild and wacky.
"Saddam, Aides Ejected from Genocide Trial"
September 23, 2006
Obsessing over Numbers
How many Bush-bashing, Leftist shibboleths can one reporter put into an "objective" news story? Count along with we go through the Associated Press' Calvin Woodward:
Now the death toll is 9/11 times two. U.S. military deaths from Iraq and Afghanistan now surpass those of the most devastating terrorist attack in America's history, the trigger for what came next.
I was waiting for this number to come up. For some reason Woodward doesn't bother to explain what 2,974 battlefield dead has to do with anything. The only thing interesting about that number is it provided Woodward a reason to write his anti-war "news" story.
Historians note that this grim accounting is not how the success or failure of warfare is measured, and that the reasons for conflict are broader than what served as the spark.
The only ones obsessing over body count numbers has been a sensationalist MSM and Bush-bashing, war protesters who wish they lived in a world where we could sing "Kumbaya" with Osama bin Laden and ask him nicely not to attack us again.
While each American death in the Islamist War is awful all of us must stay focused on the goal: defeat the enemy and secure the nation from future attacks. Many have already died, and many more will perish in this mission. Afghanistan and Iraq have been two places, and expect other places where the U.S. military will extend its sword in defense of the homeland. War is hell, yet we shouldn't shudder from the fight because of a body count.
Woodward is so obsessed with numbers so I'll give him a more important one. The number of Islamist terrorist attacks since Sep. 11, 2001: zero*.
[UPDATE: I made a mistake. I meant the number of Islamist attack on U.S. soil since Sep. 11. My apologies.]
Do you think President Roosevelt cared when the number of Americans killed in World War II equaled the number dead at Pearl Harbor? I doubt it. He was too busy commanding conflicts on both sides of the world. Did it matter to the Founding Fathers that the deaths at Lexington and Concord were greater than that of the Boston Massacre? No, they were a little busy organizing a resistance to the British.
"There's never a good war but if the war's going well and the overall mission remains powerful, these numbers are not what people are focusing on," said Julian Zelizer, a political historian at Boston University. "If this becomes the subject, then something's gone wrong."
Hey Woodward, casualties have also been "remarkably light by any historical standard" in Iraq too. Before the war in 2003 I fully expected 10,000 troops to die. I thought Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard would put up a tougher fight, and chemical weapons--that the whole world thought Iraq had--would produce grotesque injuries and deaths. Despite my fears of so many deaths I firmly supported the invasion because I thought the cause was true. Thankfully, the invasion went well. The occupation and Iraq's rebuilding has been the real challenge.
The Pentagon reports 56 military deaths and one civilian Defense Department death in other parts of the world from Operation Enduring Freedom, the anti-terrorism war distinct from Iraq.
Wouldn't it be better to lump these tragic deaths to Iraq's liberation and ascension into civilization? No, because Woodward wants to pull at his readers heartstrings. If anyone should be blamed for those deaths it's the resistance who reject a democratic regime.
Among the latest U.S. deaths identified by the armed forces:
These are all patriots who deserve nothing but gratitude.
A new study on the war dead and where they come from suggests that the notion of "rich man's war, poor man's fight" has become a little truer over time.
Now, we get into Woodward's bit of class warfare. He mentions the income distributions of casualties in a number of wars but "forgets" to note that there's no longer a draft. We have a voluntary armed forces. Men and women are free to enlist and now renew their enlistment when their service time in done. But that important piece of information would unravel Woodward's "rich man's war, poor man's fight" canard.
Eye-for-an-eye vengeance was not the sole motivator for what happened after the 2001 attacks any more than Pearl Harbor alone was responsible for all that followed. But Pearl Harbor caught the U.S. in the middle of mobilization, debate, rising tensions with looming enemies and a European war already in progress. Historians doubt anyone paid much attention to sad milestones once America threw itself into the fight.Yes, because we don't have an MSM and Bush-bashing Left obsessed with making President Bush look bad instead of seeking victory over our enemies.
In contrast, the United States had no imminent war intentions against anyone on Sept. 10, 2001. One bloody day later, it did.
To Calvin Woodward and those Bush-bashing, anti-war protesters I give you this from Victor Davis Hanson:
Today I finish the last class of a five-week course I taught this late summer at Hillsdale College on World War II. What is striking is the abrupt end of the war, whose last months nevertheless saw the worst American casualties in Europe of the entire struggle. 10,677 of our soldiers died in April 1945 alone, just a few days before the collapse of the Nazi regime— about the same number lost a year earlier during the month of June in the 1944 landings at Normandy and the slogging in the Hedgerows. Okinawa saw our worst casualties on the ground in the Pacific—and was declared secure only 6 weeks before the Japanese surrender. 1945 was far bloodier than 1939, a reminder that in the midst of a war daily losses are not necessarily a barometer of how close or far away is the end of the carnage. Ask the Red Army for whom the final siege of Berlin—361, 367 Russian and Polish soldiers lost—may have been their worst single battle of their entire war, itself characterized by killing on a scale unimaginable in the West.
"War Price on U.S. Lives Equal to 9/11"
*Since we don't know who was responsible for the anthrax attacks soon after Sep. 11 I don't count that. Even if it is discovered to be al Qaeda's or some other terrorist group's doing I will include that with Sep. 11 since the nation was only in the beginnings of responding to the Islamist threat.
September 19, 2006
Saddam's Lawyer Caught Snoozing
Saddam's lawyer is either enjoying the Baghdad nightlife too much, or he doens't give a damn about his client:
THE chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial castigated a defence lawyer for falling asleep during the proceedings, as a witness was recounting a gas attack.
I almost feel sorry for Saddam, but then I remember the thousands he had killed. That sympathy quickly evaporates.
"Judge Castigates Sleeping Saddam Lawyer"
September 18, 2006
Bush: War Can't Be Islam Vs. Christianity
If you ever talk to radio yapper Mike Gallagher you shouldn't bother to say it's off the record. That won't stop him from blabbing as he did when he mentioned to the George Christian Coalition what President Bush told him recently:
He told the audience he was fresh back from an hour-and-45-minute session which President Bush held in the Oval Office Friday afternoon with him and four other conservative talk show hosts: Atlanta’s Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Michael Medved. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t make it, he said.
As James Joyner observes, "It’s no small irony that this was revealed while introducing, Ann 'invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity' Coulter."
"An Evening with Ann… and Lynn"
August 24, 2006
France Shamed into Sending 1,600 Troops to Lebanon
Italy sending 2,000 to 3,000 troops to Lebanon as well as public shame at France surrendering before they even deployed got Jacques Chirac to agree to send 1,600 troops to support the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.
The question still remains whether the 15,000 troops under a U.N. mandate along with 15,000 troops of the Lebanese army will disarm Hezbollah, the terrorist state-within-a-state or will let them quietly rearm and prepare for their next clash with Israel.
"France Pledges 1,600 More Troops for Lebanon"
August 18, 2006
France Surrenders Before Going into Lebanon
When the Israel-Hezbollah War starts again I'm blaming France:
France on Thursday rebuffed pleas by U.N. officials to make a major contribution to a peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, setting back efforts to deploy an international military force to help police a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, according to U.N. and French officials.
France was a prime mover on the U.N. Security Council to send in 15,000 troops to bolster the Lebanese army. Yet, when push comes to shove the French run away like--well--the French.
But wait! There's more!
Chirac also told Annan that "France was prepared to assume command" of the bolstered U.N. force, according to the statement.Wow. France is willing to order around the international force but not to risk their own rears.
France had a moment to step up to the plate and show the world they could still be a world player. They're failing like--well--the French.
August 11, 2006
U.N. Approves Israel-Hezbollah Ceasefire
The U.N. Security council passed a ceasefire resolution that will bring in 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to bolster the Lebanese army:
At the heart of the resolution are two elements: It seeks an immediate halt to the fighting that began July 12 when Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli troops along the Blue Line, the U.N.-demarcated border separating Israel; and it spells out a series of steps that would lead to a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution.
Israel will withdraw in parallel from Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon when the U.N./Lebanese forces move in. Israel will still be allowed to continued defensive operations. They'll be able to launch attacks at Hezbollah rocket positions.
The resolution will stop the killing, but unless Hezbollah is disarmed and not allowed to simply build up its military stores with Syria's and Iran's help war will return.
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked his cabinet to accept the deal while at the same time he ordered troops to push into southern Lebanon. He must see his window of opportunity closing and wants to damage Hezbollah as much as possible before the ceasefire is implemented.
Captain Ed sees the resolution as putting blame on Hezbollah. The terrorist organization indeed was the
Andrew McCarthy at The Corner declared an Israel defeat:
Hezbollah wins this big just by being legitmized. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, not a country. The resolution we are signing on to, however, addresses it as if it were a country. The resolution doesn't purport to direct any UN member nation to make Hezbollah cease firing — least of all Lebanon, the purported sovereign of this territory. Instead, it appeals to Hezbollah directly — in the same paragraph in which it addresses Israel, as if there were no difference in status between the two — and "calls on" it to stand down.
If Hezbollah is perceived in the region as being the victor then it will gain public support and make it difficult to be disarmed. An armed Hezbollah means future war with Israel since the goal of the organization is the destruction of the Jewish state.
"Security Council OKs Mideast Peace Deal"
"Olmert Accepts UN Ceasefire Deal"
UPDATE: John Hawkins writes, "Actually, I think Israel has accomplished more than most people realize."
August 07, 2006
Waiting for Outrage after Hezbollah Attack on Peacekeepers
Hezbollah mortar rounds injured three Chinese peacekeepers. A U.N spokesman said, "A mortar round from Hizbollah impacted inside the headquarters of the Chinese contingent in the al-Hinneyeh area. They received medical treatment in position. Their condition is stable and they were not evacuated."
Let's wait and see if Kofi Annan will accuse Hezbollah of intentionally targeting U.N. peacekeepers (an oxymoron, I know). That's what he did last month when Israeli forces hit a UNIFIL position. He accused Israel of "apparently deliberate targeting" of U.N. peacekeepers. [via Wizbang]
August 02, 2006
The Double Standard Facing Israel
Ed Morrissey had a good op-ed in the Washington Examiner on the double standard facing Israel and her enemies. Here's a portion:
The U.N. Security Council held a rare Sunday session in response to the tragic Qana bombing. Governments from Britain to Bahrain scolded the Israelis for their disproportionate response to the war Hezbollah provoked, and the Lebanese government in Beirut decried the “massacre” at Qana.
"This is the Soft Nihilism of Low Expectations"
July 30, 2006
Blame Hezbollah for Civilan Deaths
It's Hezbollah's uncivilized tactics like fighting among civilians that caused the deaths of 34 children.
Will the world community hold Hezbollah to account?
"Photos that Damn Hezbollah"
July 24, 2006
"We are all Hizbullah"
It's nice that terrorist sympathizers come out to protest. That way authorities can know who to keep an eye on.
"Anti-Israel Protest in London"
Kos' Israel Silence
On the latest war Israel is involved in (The Lebanon War? The Hezbollah War? The 2006 War? We need a name.) I'll give Kos a little slack for only writing one front-page post on it.
I too am flumoxed at Israel and the Arabs. Much of it has to do with the honor-shame calculations involved when dealing with the Arab tribe cultures and have been incorporated into Israeli security thinking. David Pryce-Jones' The Closed Circle helped, but I'm far from understanding this pre-rational thinking. The Arab-Israeli conflicts are far different than the cool calculations of the Cold War. If one doesn't have anything valuable to say it's sometimes best to keep silent.
What Dean Barnett's Weekly Standard article shows is those Kossites not as politically astute as Markos Moulitsas see Israel, the strongest democratic republic in the region, as a "spreading plague."
Kos can't control completely what webloggers and commenters write. That's just the nature of the weblog beast. Kossites can be seen as early adopter when it comes to technology and politics. What we're seeing is the slow, steady trend of the GOP gaining American Jewish support because of its strong support for Israel.
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
July 18, 2006
A.N.S.W.E.R. Rally in August
Neo-Stallinists A.N.S.W.E.R. don't just hate America, they hate Israel too. They're rallying as many West haters has they can for an 08.12.06 protest in Washington, D.C. Jeff Harrell got the e-mail and replies:
I can’t help noticing that International ANSWER didn’t call for a “national emergency march” every time a Hezbollah rocket exploded in an Israeli neighborhood. They didn’t call for a “national emergency march” when Hezbollah militants kidnapped Israelis. It was only when Israel started to take steps to get their soldiers back and to force the newborn Lebanese govenment to disarm or expel the terrorists within her borders that International ANSWER thinks the time has come to act.
In A.N.S.W.E.R.'s North Korea-loving mind they think Israel asked to be attacked. Just like some rape victims "ask" to be attacked for wearing a short skirt to a bar.
A.N.S.W.E.R. may be planning ahead, but they're not very smart. In August D.C. empties like a bottle of gin in the hands of Ted Kennedy. The only ones covering the kooks will be cable newsers who want non-Middle East war stories and webloggers.
July 17, 2006
Inklings of a Resolution
Israel sent some ground troops into Lebanon and sent the beginnings to a possible cease-fire:
On Sunday, Lebanese officials said Israel had sent the terms of a possible cease-fire through Italian mediators. The terms were the release of two captured Israeli soldiers, and a Hezbollah pullback to roughly 20 miles from the Israeli-Lebanese border.
This situation might not have escalated had Hezbollah released the soldiers sooner.
"Israel Hammers at Lebanese Infrastructure"
July 16, 2006
Gingrich Declares World War III
Newt Gingrich told a Seattle reporter that President Bush should be bolder and tell the nation we're fighting World War III.
He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week's bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and "connect all the dots" for Americans.
July 11, 2006
Prisoners to Get Geneva Protections
The U.S. will extend Geneva Convention protections to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other locations:
The policy, described in a memo by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, appears to reverse the administration's earlier insistence that the detainees are not prisoners of war and thus not subject to the Geneva protections. But the administration has insisted that it has always treated the detainees humanely.
QandO's McQ writes,
It also paves the way for designation of detainees as POWs which allows the administration to keep them almost indefinitely (or until the "war" is over). In the big scheme of things, that seems the most important point.
In World War II I know of German prisoners of war camps in Wisconsin where prisoners helped harvest crops, can foods, and cut down trees. Don't expect the same treatment for our Islamist opponents.
Captured Islamist enemies will receive Geneva protections even though they don't fall under the Geneva convention because they dress as civilians and wear nothing to distinguish themselves as combatants, nor do they abide by the provisions themselves as the pictures and video [WARNING: Very graphic.] of killed U.S. soldiers attests.
With this decision the government has answered the question of what to do with Islamist War prisoners. Despite Ralph Peters' good point [via Riehl World View] that "an imprisoned terrorist is a strategic liability" we're going to play nicer. Captain Ed doesn't think so. Instead, he sees "more casualties for our enemies, as we will not put our soldiers at unnecessary risk for the minimal gain of capturing these terrorists if they give us no opportunity for giving us intel on ongoing operations." I hope being nicer doesn't get more innocents killed.
"U.S. Will Give Detainees Geneva Rights"
June 15, 2006
Al-Qaeda in Iraq in "Crisis"
Documents found at al-Qaeda in Iraq hideouts indicate the U.S. and her allies were winning the insurgency:
The document also said al-Zarqawi planned to try to destroy the relationship between the United States and its Shiite allies in Iraq.
One of the documents called the current situation a "crisis." Tell that to Sen. John Kerry who now says he made a mistake in voting for the Iraq War.
The strategy for al-Qaida in Iraq is to get the U.S. involved in a war with Iran and/or Iraq's Shiites.
"We mean specifically attempting to escalate the tension between America and Iran, and American and the Shiite in Iraq," it quoted the documents as saying, especially among moderate followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq.
Obviously the U.S. anti-terrorist missions along with training Iraqi security forces is the cause of the "pressure." It sounds like the Bush administration's plan is working just don't expect them to get any credit from knee-jerk Bush bashers.
One wonders if al-Qaeda in Iraq has had any contact with Iran in trying to draw the U.S. into a military confrontation. For Iran a U.S. attack would pump up Persian nationalism and give support to the government while al-Qaeda could use it to egg on Muqtada al-Sadr's forces.
The Counterterrorism Blog has published one of the documents.
"Papers Show 'Gloomy' State of Insurgency"
June 13, 2006
One Measure of Progress
One way to measure security progress in Iraq is the day President Bush will be able to travel to Baghdad without it being a secret mission. Today isn't that day, but the Iraqi government is making an effort to secure the capital:
Iraq's new prime minister promised Tuesday to show "no mercy" to terrorists and said before President Bush arrived for a surprise visit that a long-awaited security plan for Baghdad will include a curfew and a ban on personal weapons.
There will come a day when a Presidential visit to Iraq won't be shrouded in secrecy.
June 08, 2006
With the news of Zarqawi's death Girl on the Right declared today a "cheesecake for breakfast day." Me? I'm going out for a nice lunch.
For your mid-day reading here's The Atlantic's piece on Zarqawi in their latest issue.
"Zarqawi Dead? Again?"
Two Quick Observations
Here are a couple observations on the Al-Zarqawi news:
Now, I need to sleep a little so I can comprehend any new reporting and analysis.
The AP reports Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will announce Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead. NBC News reports the U.S. military confirmed it.
This is great, amazing, wonderful news. Big, big news. It shows progress is being made in Iraq. It is a signal that U.S.-Iraqi forces are relentless is hunting down the Islamists who want Iraq's government to fall a quickly as it rose.
Iraqi troops should march al-Zarqawi's body through the streets of Baghdad and allow people to smack it with their shoes or whatever insult is most appropriate in their culture. That evil man forced Iraq to endure so much suffering.
"Report: U.S. Forces Kill al-Qaeda Leader al-Zarqawi"
UPDATE: The AP reports al-Zarqawi was killed in an air strike.
It was reported that Zarqawi was killed in the city of Baquba at 7.00 pm local time, in a joint operation involving Jordanian intelligence, US intelligence and American special operations forces.
Kudos go to the Jordanians.
The Guardian reports:
Mr Maliki said the air strike was the result of US forces acting on information provided to Iraqi security forces by local residents.
Kudos to local Iraqis. Obviously more reporting is needed to sort out who all should be praised.
CNN has remarks from Gen. George Casey:
Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi and some of his associates who were conducting a meeting approximately eight kilometers north of Baquba when the airstrike was launched.
Oil futures have gone down on the good news.
Michelle Malkin is as much of a night owl as I am.
June 05, 2006
Sullivan: U.S. is a "Rogue Nation"
The United States is on par with Stallinist North Korea and millitant Iran. At least that's what Andrew Sullivan declares (emphasis mine):
The United States is a rogue nation that practices torture and detainee abuse and does not follow the most basic principles of the Geneva Conventions. It is inviolation of human rights agreements and the U.N. Convention against torture. It is legitimizing torture by every disgusting regime on the planet.
If you think making prisoners endure cold, hot, loud music, and the occasional waterboarding is the rebirth of the Inquisition then you're beyond my convincing. Is it U.S. policy to shove bamboo under prisoners' fingernails? Are interrogators systematically breaking bones? Are they, a la Jack Bauer, making prisoners swallow socks only to yank them back up their esophaguses? No, no, and no. Instead, they're making prisoners stand nude before women then having an Israeli flag drapped over them. Is it psychologically demeaning? Sure, but if I were a prisoner I'd gladly accept that "torture."
Look at the picture Sullivan posted.
That prisoner isn't in a comfortable position, but do you see any bruises, any gunshot wounds, any scars, any marks at all?
Crimes have been committed. The case of an Afghani killed from being kneed scores of times is an example. However, Bush critics have set the torture bar so low the real crimes become noise. At Guantanamo the prisoners have been well fed, can practice their religion, and can read Harry Potter. I'd prefer that to the Hanoi Hilton Sen. John McCain had to endure during the Vietnam War.
The U.S. gets attacked on Sep. 11, 2001 then proceeds on a quest to destroy Islamist groups. Afghanistan and Iraq both are liberated. Millions of people have the chance to create a regime of liberty and breathe free. President Bush has set the nation down a path to promote liberty the world over. And the U.S. is a "rogue nation?" We're the bad guys? It will take another terrorist attack on the homeland to shake Sullivan out of his delusions of Chomsky.
May 19, 2006
Iraq Has a New Government...Sort Of
Iraqi leaders have agreed on a national unity government to be presented to parliament on Saturday, negotiators said on Friday, adding that the key interior and defense ministries would be filled later.
No word on how long it will take to fill the defense and interior ministries. Baby steps forward are better than steps backward.
"Iraqis Agree on Government"
May 05, 2006
Islamists' Video Games
Islamists are using modified video games for training and propaganda purposes:
Tech-savvy militants from al Qaeda and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.
Every technology will be used in this war. Islamist terrorists are (or were) using satellite and mobile phones, e-mail (probably encrypted), graphics programs to whip up propaganda pictures, the whole gamut of communications technologies. Employing new technology has been the norm in warmaking since there have been wars. One of the most famous instances was the Battle of Agincourt where English forces defeated the French with their long bow. Groups of people are working to make video games useful for training troops. It's not a surprise the enemy is doing the same.
There's at least one online gamer who doesn't mind the enemy playing video games. He offers some "advice."
"Islamists Using US Video Games in Youth Appeal"
April 24, 2006
Military Combats Worker Abuse in Iraq
One problem with the Iraq War has been oversight of contractors. Auditors have found massive amounts of cost overruns and wasteful spending. Now, the Chicago Tribune reports contractors have mislead new hires by telling some they were going to work in Jordan but instead sending them to Iraq. Another abuse was confiscating workers' passports. In essence they made them slave labor. The newspaper documented the abuses last October. Only this month has the military bureauacracy responded.
"Iraq War Contractors Ordered to End Abuses"
April 18, 2006
A Generals' Conspiracy?
A collegue mentioned to me he thought there was something nefarious and organized about all these generals coming out at the same time and calling for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. I tossed the notion aside thinking it was too conspiratorial. Tony Blankley wonders himself:
More specifically, can a series of lawful resignations turn into a mutiny? And if they are agreed upon in advance, have the agreeing generals formed a felonious conspiracy to make a mutiny?
I wouldn't call it seditious since all the critics are out of the military with no evidence they are telling leaders still serving to ignore or undermine Rumsfeld. What I find most interesting is much of the ex-generals' concerns deal with pre-war planning. That's not news. There was a public decision on that in the 2004 election. More voters chose to retain President Bush than call for change with Senator Kerry.
"Seven Days in April -- Generals Prepare to 'Revolt' Against Rumsfeld"
"Behind the Military Revolt"
"Our Intimidated Generals"
"A Generals Revolt?"
April 17, 2006
Gateway Pundit has links galore in defense of Donald Rumsfeld. A few generals should read and click. Anti-warriors could also use the dose of perspective.
"Judge Rumsfeld by His Successes And Failures"
April 13, 2006
Newt Speaks on Iraq Remarks
Ankle Biting Pundits has a video interview with Newt Gingrich allowing him to explain his views on Iraq. As with most things coming out of his mouth, Newt's thoughts are original and unique. There's no need for me to summarize since the clip isn't long.
"Vlog-clusive: Newt on Iraq"
April 12, 2006
Newt Doesn't Want "Pull Back" from Iraq
On Newt Gingrich's website his recent statements at the University of South Dakota are clarified. The Argus Leader quoted Gingrich as saying, "It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003. We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it." The newspaper reports that remark was given Monday afternoon before students and faculty before an evening lecture.
In a printed transcript along with an audio clip Gingrich didn't call for a "pull back." At the end of his evening lecture he said, "And I want us to reduce American casualties, I want us to be as smart as possible, but there are no circumstances where I want to see those kind of people win. Not on our watch." That doesn't sound like pulling out of Iraq.
Since there's no known recording of the afternoon talk we have Gingrich's memory compared to that of Monica Labelle's, The Argus Leader reporter on the scene. Newt has no track record of calling for an Iraqi pullout so I'm chalking this up as a misunderstanding (I'm not assuming liberal bias; that's a knee-jerk response for too many conservatives) on Labelle's part. A reader at this South Dakota weblog who was at the afternoon talk comments the paper got it wrong. Sibby Online was also at the afternoon talk and writes,
I did attend the afternoon session, and no way did Gingrich gave the impression that we should surrender Iraq and instead presented the three points that he now has at his web site. I also heard Gingrich on Sean Hannity’s talk radio show at 4PM today. After Hannity aired Gingrich’s actually position, Gingrich stated that the Argus Leader got it wrong. He then compared this to the Dan Rather fake document incident where the bloggers corrected the MSM mistake. And tonight I am reporting the terrible error made by the Argus Leader today. It will be interesting to see if the Argus Leader will run a correction and an apology.
April 11, 2006
Gingrich: "Pull Back" from Iraq
Newt Gingrich joins a growing list of conservatives to have second thoughts about the Iraq War:
"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."
AJStrata isn't too happy and writes, "Gringrich just lost any chance of a political come back with this backtrack."
"Gingrich at USD: Pull out of Iraq"
April 01, 2006
Jill Carroll disavows the statements she made in a video before her release:
Protected by the U.S. military and far from the country where she had been held hostage, Jill Carroll strongly disavowed statements she had made during captivity in Iraq and shortly after her release, saying Saturday she had been repeatedly threatened.
No surprise. People will do lots of things when there are guns pointed at them. Jonah Goldberg is man enough to admit he was initially wrong.
"Carroll Rejects Statements Made in Iraq"
March 31, 2006
Waiting on Judgement
Hooray to Jim Geraghty for not jumping on the "Jill Carroll must be crazy" bandwagon. A downside to the instant news and analysis the internet and blogosphere provide is many feel they must comment on an event ASAP. Geraghty writes,
My instinct is to lay off for a bit. If she comes out in a few weeks making the same comments and appears to be defending her abductors, then she’ll be fair game for criticism. But for now, I’m willing to chalk up the pre-release tape to duress and the strange comments in the immediate hours and days after her release to stress and trauma.
There's a time and a place for everything. Just because you can offer your opinion instantly doesn't mean you should.
"Hold Off on Judging Jill Carroll -- For Now"
UPDATE: This explains Carroll's remarks:
The night before journalist Jill Carroll's release, her captors said they had one final demand as the price of her freedom: She would have to make a video praising her captors and attacking the United States, according to Jim Carroll.
That's good enough for Captain Ed who wonders why many forgot the enemy uses prisoners for propaganda. They forgot because wanted to offer instant analysis and appear to be on top of the story. They sided with speed instead of truth which travels at her own pace. We amateurs who are still cutting our teeth in this new wide-open media world have to always keep that in the backs of our minds.
"Jill Carroll Forced to Make Propaganda Video as Price of Freedom"
March 20, 2006
Where are the Protesters?
One of my frequent commenters, Mjm, pointed out Gateway Pundit's coverage of the small number of anti-war protesters at demonstrations this weekend.
"Anti-War Anniversary Protests a Bust"
March 04, 2006
Progress in Iraq
A Nicole Kidman sighting in Baghdad is proof Iraq is slowly connecting with the rest of the world. That's a very good thing.
[via Ghost of a flea]
February 24, 2006
A Sense of Calm in Iraq
Curfews in Baghdad have kept people off the streets and have tapped down violence. Friday is often a day when Iraqis go to their mosques then protest after being rallied by imams. Not today. That doesn't mean the threat of religious violence (or "tribal anarchy" to use Lee Harris' chilling words) has passed. It is probably still simmering below the surface. Mohammed @ Iraq the Model is cautiously opptimistic. It's a "good thing is that the Sunni have not returned the attacks and I hope the Shia have satisfied their vengeance by now because I don't want to even think of what can happen if this situation lasts longer than this."
For now, we wait. We wait for the curfews to be lifted and for people to come out of their homes and publically gather. Now is the time to pray for Iraq and our troops in their midst.
"Iraqi Religious Leaders Call for Peace"
February 23, 2006
Iraqi Sectarian Violence
Pulling people out of cars and shooting them mark a low point in my hopes for a free Iraq.
Muqtada al-Sadr has raised his ugly head by blaming the government for his powerlessness. "If the government had real sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened. Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite shrines and mosques, especially in Samara." His lack of support in backing the government has a lot to do with it. Mohammed at Iraq the Model reports, "In our neighborhood the Sadr militias seized the local mosque and broadcast Shia religious mourning songs from the mosques loudspeakers."
Omar at ItM thinks "foreign terror groups" were behind the attack on the Samarra mosque. UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw said, "al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida have been linked as it has the hallmarks of their nihilism."
"Dozens Slain in Iraq Sectarian Violence"
"Iraq Sunni Clerics Blame Shi'ite Clerics for Unrest"
February 20, 2006
Iraq in Nato
Big strategic news from Iraq:
The senior advisor in the Iraqi defense ministry Mohammed al-Askari told the press today that the ministry is looking forward to seeing Iraq become a member of the NATO and that the minister Sa'doun al-Dulaimi, the chief of staff and the higher commanders are planning to propose this plan to the new government once it's seated.
I say the more the merrier.
How would anti-war Democrats react?
February 16, 2006
One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid 1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."Those chilling words came from a man who used chemical weapons on defenseless Kurds. The monster had a track record joking addition aside. Saddam with WMD in a post-Sep. 11 world was unacceptable. Whether he had them or not, he certainly acted like he did.
"EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Tapes -- Inside Saddam's Palace"
February 15, 2006
Offical Talks of Saddam's Terrorist Connections and WMD
Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti was a regional commander in Saddam's Iraq in the late 1980s. In an interview he claims Saddam gave "logistical and some material support" to Palestinian terrorist groups, "provided Al-Qaeda with intelligence support and whatever money or munitions they could provide," and had a plan to hid his WMD in Syria to "embarrass the West."
We know Saddam supported Palestinian bombers. Stephen Hayes' work has made a good case Saddam's Iraq was knee-deep with lots of terrorists. I'm skeptical of the claim Saddam's WMD are in Syria. It's too pat. Plus, I don't buy Ibrahim al-Tikriti's claim that the plan was around since the 1980s. Saddam had no fear of invasion by the West until he invaded Kuwait in 1991. Simpler explanations are Saddam made himself appear tougher by acting like he had WMD, or he was fooled by his underlings into believing he possessed them.
February 03, 2006
The "Long War"
The administration has found a better name for our current conflict than that mouthful "Global War on Terror."
With its formal embrace this week of the term "long war," the Bush administration has turned a simple descriptive phrase into an official name for the war on terrorism, and possibly catapulted it into the ranks of such other era names as "Cold War" and "World War."
The "Long War" suggests patience and determination. Looking in dark places for evil Islamists will take time. It will also take time to extend connectivity to the Gap, undeveloped areas of the world that are havens to terrorists.
"Abizaid Credited With Popularizing the Term 'Long War'"
January 02, 2006
Hassan Returns to the States
Farris Hassan, the teen who ran off to Iraq to experience the place and become a better writer, has returned to the U.S. All he told the AP was, "I do want to tell you how flattered I am. The media has been very, very kind to me. I hope to get a good night's rest." Expect a Dateline exclusive soon.
"Florida Teen Home After Iraq Adventure"
December 30, 2005
What Was He Thinking?
Sixteen-year-old Farris Hassan wanted to really research what is going on in Iraq before writing editorials for a class assignment. So he hopped on a plane and went alone to Iraq via Kuwait and Lebanon. Mom was scared to death while dad says Farris has "a new appreciation for all the blessings" he has in the U.S. The 101st Airborne found him, and the U.S. embassy is getting him back to the States. Irresponsible? Yes, but you know he's going to get a book deal out of his adventure.
"U.S. Teen Runs Off to Iraq by Himself"
December 26, 2005
Christmas in Iraq
The Blog General has a short Christmas story from Iraq that reminds us about the blessings of freedom.
"Merry Christmas, Infidels!"
December 23, 2005
President Bush's argument that Congress gave him the authority for expansive eavesdropping was countered by ex-Senator Tom Daschle in an Washington Post op-ed:
On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11. With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Daschle goes on:
If the stories in the media over the past week are accurate, the president has exercised authority that I do not believe is granted to him in the Constitution, and that I know is not granted to him in the law that I helped negotiate with his counsel and that Congress approved in the days after Sept. 11. For that reason, the president should explain the specific legal justification for his authorization of these actions, Congress should fully investigate these actions and the president's justification for them, and the administration should cooperate fully with that investigation.
To support his argument Daschle went back into (recent) history to gleen the sense of the Senate. He was trying to determine their original intent. Is this Tom Daschle or Antonin Scalia?
It's interesting we can determine the intent of Senators from four years ago, but we can't determine the Founding Fathers' original intent (or the very words they used) to support a more literal reading of the constitution (no mention of abortion, Miranda rights, creation of the modern welfare state, etc.).
Then we have Captain Ed blasting Daschle:
Nowhere in that resolution does it restrict the Bush administration from conducting its war operations within the US, and contrary to what Russ Feingold and Tom Daschle would have Americans think, laws do not enable government power but restrict them. That which is not explicitly forbidden is therefore assumed to be legal, and not the other way around, as a moment's thought will clearly show.
As a conservative I'm not comfortable stating it like that. What Ed is talking about is "negative liberty." While I agree the concept should be applied to individuals I'm not so sure it should be applied to governments. Government must be limited to secure liberty. But liberty is meaningless without adequate security. Creating institutions and writing words on paper can only limit actions so much. Lawyers, because of their years of training, analyze what can and can't be done under the law. They find loopholes and seams to squeeze their clients through--be it a petty thief, a corporation eyeing a tax break, or the government using new methods to find terrorists.
Also on the right, John Hindraker analyzes the NSA's activities starting with the President's constitutional powers as commander-in-chief:
The starting point, of course, is the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order.
A limiting factor is the Fourth Amendment. Hindraker points out it "does not apply to terrorists overseas." There is also that important word "reasonable" before "searches and seizures." Is it unreasonable for the President of the United States to listen in to conversations of people in the U.S. are having with terrorist suspects overseas? Hindraker agrees:
The only constitutional limitation on the President’s power to intercept communications by Americans for national security purposes is that such intercepts be “reasonable.” Is it reasonable for the administration to do all it can to identify the people who are communicating with known terrorists overseas, via the terrorists’ cell phones and computers, and to learn what terrorist plots are being hatched by those persons? Is it reasonable to do so even when—rather, especially when--some portion of those communications come from people inside the United States? I don’t find it difficult to answer those questions; nor, if called upon to do so, would the Supreme Court.
Politically the President wins this argument. The intent of President Bush is to stop terrorist attacks. The public will accept that argument if the White House does a good job arguing that. If it's found the NSA was used to spy on political enemies then get ready for impeachment hearings. But there hasn't been any hint of this. After Congress holds its hearings next year this issue will pass. Some new legislation might be passed to limit the President's intelligence capability but that will receive Bush's (first!?!) veto. Another effect will be increased paranoia and rage from Bush bashers.
Daschle's originalism versus Hindraker's textualism, which one wins? Hindraker does because he goes straight to the heart of powers of the American government, the constitution. Daschle only tries to pop a balloon in one of the Bush administration's arguments.
"Power We Didn't Grant"
December 15, 2005
Great Progress on Iraqi Election Day
How can you not cheer when an old man in a wheelchair was the first in line at his polling center then said, "I'm here at this early hour to challenge the terrorists who want to kill the democratic process in Iraq and I want to encourage the healthy people to vote"? From Jeff Goldstein's survey it's easy for the Bush bashers.
UPDATE: Captain Ed delivers a solid smackdown on the anti-warriors:
The only losers in this election will be those who have told us over and over again that democracy could not be imposed at gunpoint. That the cut-and-run Coalition of the Gutless could still today stand and make that argument is a testament to the enduring power of freedom: stupidity and cravenness is no crime. The Iraqis didn't get democracy imposed on them at gunpoint at all. They had their oppressors removed at gunpoint -- and then the Anglo-Aussie-Italo-Polish-etc-American coalition kept them from falling prey to even more oppressors by gunpoint while they slowly took charge of their own destiny. No one who has watched the three free elections in Iraq this year could possibly describe the march to the polls as being "at gunpoint". These people rose up as a nation -- perhaps in this election especially for the first time -- in defiance of the guns and bombs of their erstwhile oppressors to take their nation back from them.
"Have We Gotten The Message Now?"
Iraqi Election Coverage
December 13, 2005
Following the Iraqi Election
Blog General serving in Iraq recommends some weblogs to follow the Iraqi elections. That will contrast a media "breathlessly await[ing] the next bombing, the next soldier killed."
"A Couple Sites to Keep Up With!"
Iraqi Ballot: Tool of the Devil
How horrible can the Iraqi government be? Saddam Hussein is eligible to vote. I wonder if he thinks the vote is "Satanic?"
"Islamic Extremists: Iraqi Vote 'Satanic'"
December 05, 2005
Observing Saddam's Trial
Mohammed at Iraq the Model covers a wild day at Saddam's trial. Here's just a portion:
The testimony in general was very touching that it forced the butchers to shut up for a long time and even when Saddam tried to act as if he were still in power he looked so stupid and foolishly arrogant in front of the suffering of the witness who finished his statement by saying “at age 15 I went to prison for 4 years with the rest of my family, seven of my brothers were executed and none of us got the chance to see a judge or get a fair trial’.
"The Trial of Our Time…"
December 02, 2005
We Never Win with these Guys
The damn French. The U.S. was supposed to get their permission to invade Iraq. Now, the U.S. needs French permission to leave. Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said,
I think that the timetable should be a global timetable.... The real timetable is the Iraqi situation.
For once de Villepin is right, but he lost the debate and should just keep his trap shut.
November 30, 2005
Rummy's Word Games
Donald Rumsfeld is a great Secretary of Defense. Not perfect. But still great. His press conferences will go down as some of the most lively and forceful in D.C. history. Still, he gets goofy like when he refuses to call Iraqi insurgents "insurgents:"
"I've thought about it. And, over the weekend, I thought to myself, you know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit," Rumsfeld said.
Eloquent? No. Silly? Yes.
Rumfeld is also remembered for this wordy mess (which actually makes sense):
that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know.
"Don't Call It an 'Insurgency': Rumsfeld"
"News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace"
November 24, 2005
No German Troops in Iraq
In Brussels, Chancellor Merkel said German troops wouldn't be going to Iraq. She said, "We made clear that we will continue not to take part in training inside Iraq, but continue training in neighbouring countries." It's disappointing but not surprising. She has to hold together a grand coalition with former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats. Still I see her election as improving U.S.-German relations.
"Merkel to Keep Troops out of Iraq"
November 23, 2005
Gaffney is Right
Steve Clemons goes after Frank Gaffney for saying exactly what I did: al-Jazeera could be a legitimate military target. Gaffney told a reporter,
We're talking about a news organization, so called, that is promoting bin Laden, that is promoting Zawahiri, that is promoting Zarqawi, that is promoting beheadings, that is promoting suicide bombers, that is other ways enabling the propaganda aspects of this war to be fought by our enemies, and I think that puts it squarely in the target category.
Clemons now wants a whole host of Bush administration officials to distance themselves from Gaffney's opinion. If pressed Condi Rice, Stephen Hadley, and other will do so...publically. It doesn't look good for the MSM to tell the world "Bush Administration Supports Bombing Media." Their moral relativism will prevent them from addressing what al-Jazeera does. They'll simply consider the network an Arab version of the BBC. Privately I hope administration officials see the importance the media plays in the Iraq War. An overt bombing run would be a mistake, but having al-Jazeera's satellite antenna malfunction or their web servers go down wouldn't be bad.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds adds, "[S]ince Al Jazeera is a CIA front operation we'd never bomb it. Duh."
Matthews: Selectively Quoted
I told the students that my way to deal with terrorists was to do what Golda Meir did after the killing of Israeli athletes at the Olympics: track them down and kill them one by one and be rough about it.
While the response is good he doesn't deny or explain what he meant when he said, " The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective." Does Matthews believe in evil?
[via Mark Klimer]
November 22, 2005
The Intelligence War
What I divine out of the Murray Waas' story is that the battle of the White House and Pentagon vs. the CIA went on from the moment of the Sep. 11 attacks. Waas reports on the Pentagon intelligence unit set up by Douglas Feith:
The Pentagon unit also routinely second-guessed the CIA's highly classified assessments. Regarding one report titled "Iraq and al-Qaeda: Interpreting a Murky Relationship," one of the Naval Reserve officers wrote: "The report provides evidence from numerous intelligence sources over the course of a decade on interactions between Iraq and al-Qaida. In this regard, the report is excellent. Then in its interpretation of this information, CIA attempts to discredit, dismiss, or downgrade much of this reporting, resulting in inconsistent conclusions in many instances. Therefore, the CIA report should be read for content only-and CIA's interpretation ought to be ignored."
Which makes me wonder why President Bush didn't fire George Tenent much, much sooner. Was Bush afraid he's start talking? And about what exactly?
Waas then ties in Valarie Plame:
The Plame affair was not so much a reflection of any personal animus toward Wilson or Plame, says one former senior administration official who knows most of the principals involved, but rather the direct result of long-standing antipathy toward the CIA by Cheney, Libby, and others involved. They viewed Wilson's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration as an indirect attack by the spy agency.
What we have now are government bodies caring more about who gets blamed in the media and Congress than how to win the war. What the hell is Porter Goss doing in Langley? John Negroponte as National Intelligence Chief hasn't done much either. Last time I heard we're all on the same side. The goal is to defeat the enemy not worrying about who'll win the Washington insider ego game.
"Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel"
Not A Crazy Idea
About the idea of bombing al-Jazeera, whether the report is true or not, it is not as absurd as Bush bashers would want you to believe. Journalists don't have the protection groups like the Red Cross or Red Crescent have. Aiding the enemy makes one a military target. If al-Jazeera is helping the Islamists in Iraq kill our troops and destablizing Iraq then they're fair game. Back in 2003 an al-Jazeera reporter was "Spain as a member of al Qaeda." They are not at all like CNN, CBS, or Fox News.
One would think the anti-war Left would be furious with al-Jazeera. Their actions are helping more of our brave men and women get killed. But in their world only the U.S. can do wrong in Iraq. The Islamists and al-Jazeera are just the effect of an arrogant, bullying, cowboy President.
If Bush thought al-Jazeera was aiding the enemy then they're a legitimate target. Flying over Qatar and dropping bombs doesn't seem like the most sensible method of knocking off a television network. Black ops would be more subtle.
Another point, since President Bush is human many ideas pop into his mind. All of us have some "interesting" ideas (like say, building a commercial company out of a weblog portal) that are more thinking out loud than anything. Some ideas are more sensible than others. He may have spouted out something like dropping a nuke on Fallujah to really send a signal to the Islamists. Would that make him a warmonger? No. Like the rest of us he must be judged on his actions. Al-Jazeera still stands. Which means he took the advice of Tony Blair and others and considered the consequences of his actions.
"Exclusive: Bush Plot to Bomb His Arab Ally"
"Bush al-Jazeera 'Plot' Dismissed"
"Bombing al Jazeera? Not a Bad Idea"
Matthews' Memory Loss
Power Line's Paul Mirengoff takes aim at Chris Matthews' historical forgetfulness:
Matthews also asserts that "the period between 9-11 and [invading] Iraq was not a good time for America." Well, the aftermath of a deadly attack on the homeland is never going to be a "good time," but the period had its moments. We liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, killed or captured hundreds if not thousands of terrorists, and passed the Patriot Act which enhanced our ability to combat domestic terrorism. It is quite possible that the actions we took during this period prevented one or more attacks of the scope of 9/11.
"Chris Matthews in Canada"
November 21, 2005
Matthews' Moral Relativism
We're at war. Just like Pearl Harbor dragged the U.S. into World War II Sep. 11, 2001 dragged us into the Islamist War. And just like our enemy was the evil German Nazis and Imperial Japanese our enemy today are Islamists hell bent on killing as many Americans as they can. But Leftists like Chris Matthews don't understand that. He doesn't even think the enemy is evil. About Islamists he told a Canadian audience, "If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective." Osama bin Laden isn't evil? Al-Zarqawi isn't evil? Saddam the Butcher isn't evil? How about those monsters who behead people? I've figured them out. They're barbaric thugs who have to be killed before they kill us.
"Hatred Blinds U.S. to Truth: Journalist"
UPDATE: Jonathan R. at GOP Bloggers writes sarcastically, "Osama bin Laden just has a different perspective? Yeah, he just hates all non-fundamentalist Sunni men and wants to enslave or kill them. He's not evil, just different."
Probably Too Good to Be True
The White House doesn't think Zarqawi was killed in a gunfight in Mosul:
On Saturday, police Brig. Gen. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri said the raid was launched after a tip that top al-Qaida operatives, possibly including al-Zarqawi, were in the house in the northeastern part of the city.
Debbie at In the Bullpen writes,
Some speculate whether King Abdullah of Jordan had a hand in the intelligence leading to eight dead al-Qaeda terrorists in Mosul, Iraq today. Or perhaps al Zarqawi’s family helped. It is interesting that today the family of al-Zarqawi (whose real name is Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh) in Jordan disowned him, saying, “We sever links with him until doomsday.”
"White House Doubts al-Zarqawi Among Dead"
November 20, 2005
Al-Zarqawi May Be Dead
Keep your fingers crossed:
U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.
Even if al-Zarqawi isn't dead, he doesn't have family in Jordan anymore.
"Al-Zarqawi May Be Among Dead in Iraq Fight"
November 19, 2005
Vote Clutters Media Stream
One more thing about the House's Iraq vote: it's good politics for the simple reason that it adds another voice in the media swirl. Until the vote the anti-war Democrats were getting all the war attention. The House vote adds to the cacophony in D.C. Non-news junkies will simply see squabbling House members and think, "Same bickering as usual." Cynical? Yes, but better than leaving the debate only to your opponents.
"That Hawkish Democrat"
November 18, 2005
Iraq Retreat Resolution Fails in House
The House of Representatives voted on something similar to Congressman Murtha's call to get troops out of Iraq. It failed 403-3. Sure it was a stunt, but were the Republicans clever enough so the news survives the dreadful Saturday news cycle? For this stunt we have to thank Rep. J.D. Hayworth.
"Lawmakers Reject Immediate Iraq Withdrawal"
Swinging at Murtha
The Bush White House must be comfortable that Patrick Fitzgerald--who will work with a new grand jury--won't pop any more indictments on anyone. Ever since the President's pro-war speech last Friday the administration has been punching back against war opponents. Yesterday, one-time pro-war Democratic Congressman John Murtha called to "immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces." In other words, cut and run regardless of military morale or the impression of victory it would give America's Islamists enemies. Remember, Bin Laden was energized by the pullout from Somalia, and terrorists were embolden to attack Israel when she pulled out of southern Lebanon.
Press Secretary Scott McClellan shot out a terse four-sentence reply:
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.
Being a "media-shy congressman" I doubt Murtha will fire back.
For the most part Murtha doesn't approve of the way the war has been fought, not the war itself. That makes his critique different than other knee-jerk, Bush-bashing, anti-war Democrats. In his press conference Murtha said, "We spend more money on Intelligence that all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong." With still few indications of what happened to the WMDs that is the case. However, the Congressman went on to say, "It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused." Oh, contraire, Congressman. During the run-up to the war no one doubted Saddam has WMDs. The U.N. thought so, the Russians, the French (one minister admits he was paid off by Saddam), the Germans, and the Brits all did. In the Clinton administration a host of people worried publically about Saddam's WMDs. The only one who said Iraq was WMD-less was Saddam, and his track record was awful.
"The Murtha Plan For Iraq"
November 17, 2005
Ex-Inspector Theorizes about Iraq WMDs
FrontPage interviews a former UNSCOM inspector who isn't Scott Ritter. Bill Tierney describes how Saddam's regime played games with inspectors to keep them away from sites. Here's one example:
On finds, the key word here is “find.” UNSCOM could pursue a lead and approach an inspection target from various angles to cut off an escape route, but at some point, the Iraqis would hold up their guns and keep us out.
The question this is, "Where are the WMDs?" Tierney answers:
While working counter-infiltration in Baghdad, I noticed a pattern among infiltrators that their cover stories would start around Summer or Fall of 2002. From this and other observations, I believe Saddam planned for a U.S. invasion after President Bush’s speech at West Point in 2002. One of the steps taken was to prepare the younger generation of the security services with English so they could infiltrate our ranks, another was either to destroy or move WMDs to other countries, principally Syria. Starting in the Summer of 2002, the Iraqis had months to purge their files and create cover stories, such as the letter from Hossam Amin, head of the Iraqi outfit that monitored the weapons inspectors, stating after Hussein Kamal’s defection that the weapons were all destroyed in 1991.
Maybe. Or Saddam was so maniacal as to pretend to be hiding the weapons so as to be seen as strong in the Arab world.
"Where the WMDs Went"
November 13, 2005
Willis and the War
If I don't care that Left-wing celebs hate the Iraq War why should I care that Bruce Willis supports it?
October 28, 2005
Saddam Can Only Blame the Man He Sees in the Mirror
The United Arab Emirates and the U.S. agreed with Saddam weeks before the Iraq War to let him to go into exile in the UAE.
UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan made the proposal for Saddam to go into exile at an emergency Arab summit just weeks before the U.S.-led war began in March 2003.
The Arab states that refused to discuss the idea knew Saddam wouldn't remain quiet. This is the same man who invaded his neighbors and gave international weapons inspectors the run around for a decade. Saddam's weasely ways are what led to his deserved downfall.
"Saddam Accepted UAE Exile Plan to Avert Iraq War-TV"
October 15, 2005
Iraq Votes on Constitution
When Reuters says Iraq is "bloodless" that means the Iraqi constitutional elections were going well. There has been some violence and deaths. U.S., Iraqi, and allied forces have once again created a safe voting environment. Omar at Iraq the Model noticed "that no multinational forces were on the streets and the only sign for their presence was the helicopters that patrolled the skies." That's what a curfew can do. With security in place 10 million people voted including Sunnis. Even if enough Sunnis voted to reject the constitution this is still a great result. In order for Iraq to sustain a liberal regime the public must feel they are part of the process. Sunnis voting is a great sign of progress.
Check out Gateway Pundit for plenty of links and some context.
"Bloodless Iraq Vote Leaves Divide on Constitution"
October 14, 2005
Giving Us the Finger
The purple finger has returned to Iraq.
"A Beautiful Sight!"
October 13, 2005
Five Year Aniversary of Cole Attack
Eric at Classical Values remembers where he was when the U.S.S. Cole was bombed:
I remember talking about it at the time when I ate dinner with a World War II Navy veteran. He said that the attack on a Navy ship was a clear act of war, and he exploded with rage. I won't repeat what he said about the president (or what he said we should do to Yemen in retaliation, but it didn't matter to him whether the "links to terrorism" could be proven). Above all, he pointed out that Americans seemed to have forgotten the sacrifices that were made by his generation during that war. (The guy is still alive, but 90 years old, and very frail.)
While still significant realize the first attack on the World Trade Center happened in 1993. Before that Islamists took Americans hostage, bombed planes, and killed over 200 Marines in Beruit. The Islamist War has been waging years before Sep. 11, 2001. Most of us didn't realize it.
"Five Years -- and Still a Gaping Hole"
October 02, 2005
Fracture in the Coalition
Bad news in Iraq:
Iraq's Kurdish president called on the country's Shiite prime minister to step down, the spokesman for the president's party said Sunday, escalating a political split between the two factions that make up the government.
A fracturing Iraqi coalition doesn't ensure U.S. troops leaving anytime soon. This is a bigger threat to a stable Iraq than al Qaeda. But it is also an opportunity to see if Iraqi political life is maturing. If this dispute is resolved with the government still intact that's a tremendous positive. If there's bloodshed then it's a huge step back
"Iraq's President Calls for PM to Step Down"
Al Qaeda might have captured two marines, or they might have raided an Iraqi boy's toy box.
"Al Qaeda Claims Marine Captives"
August 17, 2005
Cut & Run Russ
Sen. Russ Feingold wants U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2006. Wishful, anti-war thinking, yes. But completely ignorant of the real world and history. Most U.S. troops will leave when President Bush and the Iraqi government think Iraq can defend itself. I'm sure Bush would like nothing more than to pull out thousands of troops, get them rested and restocked, and ready as a nice hefty stick to threaten Iran and/or North Korea. As for history, we invaded Germany and Japan 60 years ago. Guess what? We're still there. I'd hope there'd be American bases in Iraq for years to come. Liberty and representative government in the Middle East will be a long-term process. A permanent American presence would facilitate that.
Feingold really wants to run for President and has given himself plenty of room to wiggle out of his headline grabber:
While Feingold is proposing a deadline for American troop withdrawal, he says it can be a flexible deadline.
So Feingold wants a deadline to kiss up to the MoveOn.org Bush-bashing anti-war activists while trying to remain realistic. It's a deadline but not really.
"Feingold Seeks Troop Withdrawal"
"Feingold Proposing Target 'End Date' for Withdrawal"
"Feingold goes Deaniac"
July 27, 2005
Words Mean Things
The Bush Administration is starting to use a new phrase in their battle against Islamist terrorists. The "global war on terror" has been replaced with "global struggle against violent extremism." Not only is this even less elegant than the GWoT it's also less meaningful. On Sep. 11, 2001 the U.S. was attacked by terrorists followers of Islamist ideology. It wasn't simply followers of Islam who attacked us. It was a totalitarian ideology that piggy-backed onto that religion. President Bush started using GWoT for diplomatic reasons; he didn't want to offend slow-thinking Muslims who would turn our nation's struggle into a clash of religions and the rise of American imperialism. Critics did it anyway so Bush's strategem failed. He would have been better off verbally targeting Islamists from the start.
"Global war on terrorism" implied the U.S. would go beyond Islamists. Groups like the IRA and the Basque separatists in Spain also are terrorists, but the U.S. has done nothing to stop them. The war's focus has been on toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan, finding Osama bin Laden, and liberating Iraq. All involve Muslims and Islamists. So the term GWoT was politically correct spin.
Another problem with the GWoT is terrorism is a means to an end. We're fighting an end. That is an ideology that wants us to convert to Islam, follow strict Islamic law, or die. Since terrorism has been around since Man first discovered ways to terrorize each other at the begining of time the war against a means will never end. That doesn't bode well for limited government. A state of permanent war isn't viable. Either the public will tire of the hyperbolic rhetoric or government will harden its grasp.
Getting even more vague and now calling the Islamist War a "global struggle against violent extremism" robs our efforts of even more seriousness. When the U.S. was attacked Islamists declared war on the U.S. Now, our government wants to play nice and go after "violent extremism." Yes, Gen. Myers is correct that victory in this war will require "all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power." But that was the case when opposing the Soviets and international Communism. Economic vitality, alliances, and culture we used to win the Cold War. Oddly back then, Republicans weren't afraid to call that conflict a "war." It was communist-sympathizing Leftists who bashed Cold Warriors (both Democrats and Republicans) for increasing tensions with the Soviets with such harsh words as "evil empire."
Language is vital. Words mean things. We must call as spade a "spade." Knowing who is our enemy will help lead us to victory. Otherwise we'll be flailing away just waiting to get sucker punched again.
July 10, 2005
Iraqis Not Giving Up Despite More Bombings
You want to talk about bloody terrorism how about Iraq:
A man strapped with explosives blew himself up at an Iraqi military recruiting center in Baghdad as suicide bombers attacked three times in Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 33 people and breaking a relative lull in violence in recent days.
Yet Iraqis aren't giving up:
In the deadliest blast Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at an Iraqi military recruiting center at Muthana airfield near central Baghdad, killing 25 people and wounding 47, according to the U.S. military and hospital officials.
The fight for freedom is real. The U.S. can't give up on those willing to put their lives on the line by setting a date, packing things up, and going home.
"Iraq Suicide Bombings Kill at Least 33"
July 06, 2005
Diplomats Targeted in Iraq
Chad Evans has some thoughts on the new trend of terrorists targeting diplomats in Iraq.
"Bahrain and Pakistan Diplomats Targeted"
July 05, 2005
Pentagon Rethinking Two-War Strategy
The Pentagon is seriously reconsidering its two-war strategy:
The Pentagon's most senior planners are challenging the longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at a time. Instead, they are weighing whether to shape the military to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts.
This is just high-level strategy conforming to the real world. Or as an unnamed Defense Department official put it, "It's coming to grips with reality." I don't think anyone seriously thinks the U.S. could put up a serious fight if she had to fight another major war say China invading Taiwan or North Korea invading South Korea. Iraq and Afghanistan operations are doing a tremendous job taxing our reserve forces. We have some conservatives seeing the need for a draft. The all-volunteer force is bearing its greatest challenge.
One possible alternative strategy would have to rely on nuclear weapons. The U.S. would build a military capable of fighting one major war while using massive airpower to deter another major conflict. That firepower would include strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. This approach might hold off a more rational opponent like China or Russia, but it wouldn't deter stateless creatures like al Qaeda who would like nothing more then the U.S. to create an ocean of glass somewhere in the Middle East to truely turn the Islamist War into a clash of civilizations.
"Pentagon Weighs Strategy Change to Deter Terror"
June 28, 2005
How Can I Become a Gitmo Prisoner?
The unlawful combatants held in Gitmo are eating better [PDF] than me. I've never had garlic mashed potatoes or Tandori chicken breast.
June 25, 2005
The Truth of Gitmo
The U.S. is admitting to the U.N. that torture has taken place at Gitmo:
Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.
With all the talk about the abuses in Gitmo most have missed the fact that prisoners there have received hearings:
The Department of Defense, working through the National Security Council interagency process, established procedures that would provide appropriate legal process to these detainees, procedures that go beyond what is required even under the Geneva Conventions. These included combatant status review tribunals to confirm that, in fact, each individual is, in fact, an unlawful enemy combatant. Every detainee currently at Guantanamo has received such a hearing. As a result, some 38 individuals were released.
Why the administration hasn't loudly proclaimed this fact, I don't know. Less secrecy wouldn't stop the moonbats from proclaiming "Bush lied, people died!" or that Gitmo is a Gulag, but it might reassure those who support the Islamist War but worry some preventable bad things are taking place. The White House should release the U.N. document before the UN Committee against Torture hearings next May.
"US Acknowledges Torture at Guantanamo and Iraq, Afghanistan: UN source"
"Guantanamo Bay Tribunals"
June 21, 2005
There's a good discussion going on at Redstate.org.
"More on the Adults."
Sen. Durbin attempted to apologize today on the floor of the Senate. I'm disappointed.
Why can't any politician just say, "I made a mistake?" Why do they have to say "I'm sorry people were offended by what I said?" That just puts the blame onto the listener. Captain Ed calls it a "halfway dodge."
Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them I extend my heartfelt apologies.
Durbin apologized because some listeners didn't like what he said. There wasn't an apology for what he actually said. He didn't recant and say Gitmo wasn't like Nazi death camps or the Gulag.
It must be something genetic in politicians. From watching the video I could see Durbin getting choked up. He was bother by the reaction to his words. I'd like to believe he didn't mean to insult the troops. But his whole focus was on others' perception of his words and not the words themselves.
Durbin went on to say about those serving in the U.S. military,
They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them.
Here's what he said last week:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others - that had no concern for human beings.
But by putting Gitmo on the same level as Auschwitz and the Lyubyanka prison he compared the U.S. military to the Nazis and the Red Army. Durbin didn't take back what he said about Gitmo. He declared that U.S. troops there "had no concern for human beings." He had a chance to say he was wrong about his characterization of the United States' approach to the Islamist War. He could have mentioned some examples of how Gitmo prisoners are being treated. He could have come clean, but he didn't do that. Sen. Durbin's words may be good enough for media whore Sen. John McCain, but not for me. He doesn't deserve to remain Minority Whip, but as I've said before he won't lose that job.
"Sen. Durbin Apologizes for Gitmo Remarks"
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
UPDATE: Mark Klimer thinks "[t]his one’s over."
June 20, 2005
President Clinton Couldn't Resist
Bill Clinton, always the attention-seeker just had to comment on Guantanamo Bay.
Well it either needs to be closed down or cleaned up. It's time that there are no more stories coming out of there about people being abused.
If I may be so blunt, what the hell can Bill Clinton say about mistreatment of people by the U.S. government? The man has little moral authority. On Clinton's watch 80 Branch Davidians met a firey end in Waco, TX. No one was fired, not even Attorney Janet Reno. Also on Clinton's watch was the awful spectacle of armed agents storming a Miami home just so little Elian Gonzalez could be shipped off to Communist Cuba.
Clinton is also a man who made fighting Islamists a law-enforcement operation instead of a military one. I won't lay full blame on the man since before Sep. 11 most of America didn't take the Islamist threat seriously, but who knows how history would be different had Clinton sent actual strike teams to knock off Osama bin Laden instead of a few cruise missiles?
"Bill Clinton's Gitmo"
My 2nd New Favorite T-Shirt
"I Got My Free Koran and Prayer Rug at G'itmo"
June 19, 2005
More British Memos Leaked
More memos about the set up to the Iraq War have been leaked to the British press. A memo written to Foreign Minister Jack Straw reads in part,
The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September.
Exactly. Events change how we view things. New information alters our perceptions. Threats that didn't seem as dangerous suddenly became more so now that we knew the U.S. was vulnerable.
The memo goes on:
But even the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW (chemical or biological weapons) fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.
Even this knowledge of Saddam's WMD program was wrong. Nothing has been found to show he was rearming after the Persian Gulf War. Everyone, war supporter and critics, was wrong. But that doesn't mean "Bush lied; people died."
The Sunday Times gets into the legality of pre-war bombing by British and American forces. The British Foreign Office argued that bombing to soften up Iraq or tempt Saddam into reacting was illegal under international law. According to them,
allied aircraft were legally entitled to patrol the no-fly zones over the north and south of Iraq only to deter attacks by Saddam’s forces on the Kurdish and Shia populations.
Liberal Democrat Lord Goodhart said,
Putting pressure on Iraq is not something that would be a lawful activity.
The raids or "spikes of activity" General Tommy Franks used soften up Iraqi positions was "without lawful authority."
For me the U.N. has no authority. It is merely a place for nations to gather and talk. International law is a misnomer anyway. Law doesn't exist unless there's someone able to enforce it. The U.N. can't enforce anything. They can only go to member states and ask for help. Relations between states is an anarchy.
After what we've learned about the Oil-for-Food scandal that international body has no moral authority or credibility. Franks' early air war was intended to make a possible American invasion swifter and easier. That would save American lives. I'll accept the ire of international law experts in order to make our troops safer. If anti-warriors want to attack President Bush for allowing Tommy Franks to win the war they can waste their breath. The public's concern isn't so much with going in but with the perception that there's no end in sight.
Finally, let me maintain a bit of skepticism. We can't be 100% sure of the accuracy of these new memos. That's because,
[Reporter Michael] Smith told AP he protected the identity of the source he had obtained the documents from by typing copies of them on plain paper and destroying the originals.
No one has questioned the accuracy of the first leaked Downing Street Memo.
A British official told the AP the content "appeared authentic," but after Dan Rather's "fake but accurate" letters about President Bush's National Guard service I wonder. I'm not accusing Smith of forging documents. I'm just being cautious. Captain Ed is taking a harder line.
"Memos Show British Fretting Over Iraq War"
"British Bombing Raids were Illegal, Says Foreign Office"
UPDATE: Tim at Blogicus gets into Michael Smith's odd treatment of the documents.
June 17, 2005
Getting the Call
BBA member Blog General is being called into active service. No word of where he's going, but he writes, "it seems like perfect timing to help with security with the Iraqi elections." Wherever he goes I hope he continues to post to give us all some great perspective.
God's blessings to him, his fellow soldiers, and his family.
June 09, 2005
Taking Over Amnesty
Charles Bird has an interesting idea:
If Amnesty International is truly a democratic organization, then what this group needs is not shunning and derision and dismissal. Rather, it needs more members who can steer it back to its historical mission. This leads me to the question in the title of this post: Should conservatives beat 'em by joining 'em? To me, the answer is yes, and that's why I joined Amnesty International today. That's right. I am now a member in good standing. The executive director of Amnesty International USA, William Schulz, sent me a nice and friendly e-mail thanking me for joining his group and for providing financial support.
I'll have to think about that. I'm pretty sure I don't support AI's mission. My problem is with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Amnesty Travesty Part III: Should Conservatives Beat 'Em by Joining 'Em?"
Few people can speak of gulags with as much authority as Anne Applebaum. She takes Amnesty International to task for the end of their political neutrality and their "recent misuse of the word 'gulag.'"
June 06, 2005
Gitmo Guards' Perspective
If you're one of those who thinks Guantanamo Bay really is a "gulag" (or someone who hates anonymous sources) then take this story with a grain of salt. But do realize those kept at Gitmo aren't political prisoners in the vein of an Andre Sakharov. These are people who would like nothing more than to strap on some explosives, find a group of Americans, and go "boom!"
"Guantanamo Guards Tell of Prisoner Attack"
The head of Amnesty International USA, William Schulz doesn't seem to know much.
Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag."
Schultz doesn't know if Gitmo is a gulag, doesn't know if Rumsfeld approved torturning prisoners there, and doesn't know if Red Cross officials have had access to prisoners. But that didn't stop him from demanding that "independent human rights organizations" (i.e. Amnesty International) be allowed to traipse around Gitmo. Imagine if Schultz were allowed there. He'd find a prisoner with a sunburn and claim the U.S. is evil for not providing sunblock with a high enough SPH. The military could be feeding them wonderful meals with Twinkies for dessert and Schultz would complain the U.S. was engaging in caloric torture.
Schultz's ignorance egged on Sen. Joe Biden and his ridiculous call to close down Gitmo. The whole reason those Islamists are there are to keep them under U.S. watch and away from the mainland. It's kind of hard (politically and logistically) for al Qaeda to run an operation out of Cuba. Imagine the uproar from local Congressmen and Senators if these prisoners were put up on a base in Florida?
Biden said something even more ridiculous: "More Americans are in jeopardy as a consequence of the perception that exists worldwide with its existence than if there were no (Guantanamo)."
We're better off without Gitmo? What's the alternative? Simply release people who want to destroy America? Or should we just shoot them shortly after capture?
Someone get Schultz a copy of Anne Applebaum's fine book and Sen. Biden some sensible ideas to combat the violence we face.
"'Don't Know for Sure' about Guantanamo: Amnesty USA"
June 04, 2005
So far I've read no reports of riots in the Muslim world. Urine got on a Quran. Come on. That has to be worth a suicide bomber or two.
"Military Releases Koran-Abuse Findings"
Alert! Alert! Beware of Riots!
Expect the Muslim world to explode due to new U.S. military revelations:
U.S. military officials say no guard at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects flushed a detainee's Quran down the toilet, but they disclosed that a Muslim holy book was splashed with urine. In other newly disclosed incidents, a detainee's Quran was deliberately kicked and another's was stepped on.
It's the end of the world. Some Qurans got messed up. Gitmo is the Gulag! In Islamists' minds this is grounds for bombing anything that even smells slightly American (or Israeli for good measure).
In other news, at my bookstore last night I watched a Quran topple over on a shelf. SHUDDER! I expect a terrorist to walk in and blow himself up any day now.
"U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran"
UPDATE: Captain Ed offers some vital perspective.
If American servicemen at Gitmo have beaten or tortured prisoners, we need to know about it and put a stop to it. However, all of this hue and cry over how we treat printed material -- and even the steps that the Pentagon put in place to treat it "respectfully", such as requiring gloves and such -- demonstrate a complete lack of perspective about who and what our enemy is. These are the same people that put grenades in dolls so that children get maimed and killed when they pick them up, a favorite Taliban tactic in Afghanistan. They fought for the same lunatic leaders who now kill Americans and Iraqis in the Sunni Triangle with carbombs and perhaps-not-volunteer suicide bombers.
It's nice to know what the MSM can complain about when we're winning the Islamist War.
"The Self-Indulgence Of The American Media And Leftist Establishment"
June 02, 2005
Eyes of the Gods
That's what the U.N. expects us to believe they have when they claim "that material that could be used to make biological or chemical weapons and banned long-range missiles has been removed from 109 sites in Iraq." They claim that valves, pumps, pipes, and "fermenters ranging in size from 2 gallons to 1,250 gallons" have been removed. Their evidence? Satellite photos. From hundreds of miles up U.N. experts think they can see a two-gallon fermenter and some valves? And I thought Iraq wasn't capable of making WMD. I'm skeptical and slightly confused.
"U.N.: Weapons Equipment Missing in Iraq"
May 31, 2005
Betrayed for Bucks
Gitmo detainees say Pakistanis sold them to U.S. forces. Ok. And the problem is...? This isn't so much that the Pakistanis were taking advantage of a smart U.S. government plan to offer rewards for al-Qaida and Taliban forces as the judgement of the U.S. officers on the ground as to whether the captives were worth the reward.
It's interesting how ABC News wrote the head line. They make it seem like Muslims were sold to the Americans (i.e. Christians).
"Gitmo Detainees Say Muslims Were Sold"
May 30, 2005
Ed Moltzen shows us how a good book can put our present world into perspective.
"When Another George Fought For Freedom"
May 29, 2005
Iraqis Fight for Themselves
From what little I know about counter-insurgency getting the locals to fight for themselves is a very good thing. That's what happened in Husaybah this month.
"Another Sign Of Insurgency's Failure"
May 20, 2005
Ever improving personal technology has bit the U.S. military on the ass again. First, the world found out about the crimes at Abu Ghraib because abusive U.S. troops were dumb enough to take a bunch of digital photos. Today, The Sun and the NY Post published photos of Saddam in his underware--not a pretty sight. U.S. military officials think the photos are over one year old. That surprises me that they stayed hidden this long.
This is a pretty clear violation of the Geneva Convention. Someone will have to be punished for this. It's just like people will have to be punished for the crimes committed on Afghan prisoners in this NY Times' story. Now, the punishment for the Saddam photos shouldn't be that harsh. Snapping some slightly embarassing pictures is no where as bad as beating a prisoner's legs into pulp or letting them hang from their wrists for days. Expect out-of-proportion anxiety from Leftists in the media. And don't be surprised if Iraqi insurgents demonstrate their barbarism by launching vicious attacks on military and civilian targets all in the name of defending Saddam's "honor."
"US Investigating Source of Unauthorized Saddam Photos"
"Saddam to Sue Over Prison Photos"
April 04, 2005
Muddled Thinking on a Draft
Brian Noggle notes the muddled thinking of a San Francisco Chronicle reporter.
So although many people have called for more military personnel, a far smaller number of people have called for a draft. Several quotable notables in the article say it will be tough to maintain or to elevate force levels. However, only one person in the article seems adamant that the draft is a real danger.
"Cross Checking the Cross Section"
April 01, 2005
Intelligence Agencies Thrown a "Curveball"
The commission investigating Iraqi War intelligence failures lays the blame on agents and analysts for relying on information from the Iraqi informant named "Curveball." His claims of mobile biological weapons labs made it all the way to Colin Powell's pre-war presentation before the United Nations Security Council. Last year, the CIA declared Curveball's claims to be "fabricated."
"Source 'Curveball' Blamed in U.S. Intel Failure"
UPDATE: Power Line points out that the Iraqi National Congress (and by extention certain neocons) have been exonerated.
March 09, 2005
Did Sgrena Lead to Soldier's Death?
The flack the U.S. has received from the Sgrena incident may have cost a soldier his life. Sergeant Andrew Bossert "died Monday when a car went through a checkpoint and exploded in western Iraq." Charlie Sykes wonders, "Is it at all possible that what happend to Sgt. Bossert...that they [U.S. troops] might have withheld their fire for just a moment?"
Did the Islamist insurgents take advantage of that? With all the scrutiny our soldiers are facing because of the Sgrena incident they have a "no-win" choice. They can either be too cautious and allow mistakes to happen where people are killed who shouldn't be. Or the troops can succumb to hypercriticism and accept greater risks. As with all choices in life there are tradeoffs. Sgrena only added fuel to the fire by accusing U.S. troops of trying to kill her (she later backed off that claim). Chad Evans writes,
She ... is playing with the lives of innocent Iraqis, American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, Bulgarian soldiers, Australian soldiers, Japanese soldiers and Italian soldiers by charging that the real evil-doers are not the ones who take people hostage but are the ones who wear a military uniform.
The damage was already done, and Sgt. Bossert might have died because of it.
"Solder Killed at Roadside Checkpoint… Where is the Outrage?"
Sgrena Hates America
Am I shocked Giuliana Sgrena told a Dutch reporter "The Americans are the biggest enemies of mankind?" No. She does write for a Communist rag. The reporter places much blame on Sgrena for Nicola Calipari's death:
With her bias Sgrena did not only jeopardize herself, but due to her behavior a security officer is now dead, and the Italian government (prime minister Berlusconi included) has had to spend millions of euros to save her life. It is to be hoped that Sgrena will decide to have a career change. Propagandist or MP perhaps. But she should give up journalism immediately.
"About Giuliana Sgrena" [via Little Green Footballs]
Italy: No Ransom for Sgrena
Italy will be joining the U.S. in investigating what went wrong in Giuliana Sgrena's escape from Baghdad. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claims his government gave the U.S. military plenty of notice about the journalist's passage. Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini denies that Sgrena's release was because Italy paid off the Islamist terrorists who captured her.
"Italy: U.S. Must Take Responsibility for Iraq Death"
March 08, 2005
Sgrena's Car Isn't Swiss Cheese
If Kevin found the right car we know Giuliana Sgrena was full of it when she claimed 300-400 rounds were fired at her. The car would have been Swiss cheese, and Sgrena wouldn't be making any claims because they'd still be cleaning up her bloody mess.
"Photos of Giuliana Sgrena's Car"
UPDATE: The head of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division completed his intitial investigation. Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. determined Sgrena's car was the only one fired upon that night at that checkpoint. An unnamed official told the Washington Times, "Something that car did caused the soldiers to fire." Another problem was Italian secret service didn't communicate well with U.S. forces and traveled in an "inconspicuous pickup truck." The mention of a truck means either La Repubblica reporter Giuseppe D'Avanzo got part of his story wrong or the pictures found by Wizbang aren't Sgrena's car or something happened in the translation of D'Avanzo's story. The third possibility is most likely because ABC News mentions a car.
"Italy Didn't Plan Safe Escape for Hostage"
March 07, 2005
Sgrena Backs Down a Little
Giuliana Sgrena appears to have taken Italian Communications Minister Maurizio Gasparri's advice and stopped talking "nonsense." When asked by the BBC [via Instapundit] if she thought U.S. troops purposely fired on her car she answered,
I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information. But also a lack of information in this case is [their] responsibility because you are in a war field and you have the responsibility to pass immediately any information.
Even Sgrena's newfound skepticism won't quell the loons at Democratic Underground.
March 06, 2005
Pulling a Jordan
Released Italian communist reporter Giuliana Sgrena is not ruling out the possiblity she was deliberately targeted by the U.S. military. Sounds like Eason Jordan--if we ever saw the Davo video tape. Friday the car she and an Italian intelligence agent were in were shot at an Iraqi roadblock. The agent was killed while Sgrena was wounded. When the agent covered her to protect her from the bullets she remembered her Islamists kidnappers telling her "to be careful because the Americans don't want you to return." The U.S. claims the car didn't stop after soldiers gave hand signals and flashed lights at it. President Bush said an investigation is underway.
Sgrena was captured on 02.04 so it would be a stretch to say she was influenced by Jordan's Davos comments. However, she certainly could have known that an executive of a major world-wide news organization told an audience in Portugal in 2004 that "journalists have been arrested and tortured by US forces." If Sgrena is just spouting communist, anti-American bile, we know where she got the inspiration. This is the huge downside for the U.S. for Eason Jordan making those unsubstantiated claims he did. Foreign journalists lapped it up like hungry cats.
"Italian Journalist Rejects U.S. Account"
UPDATE: Giuliana Sgrena claims U.S. troops fired 300-400 bullets at her car. Sgrena's partner Pier Scolari continued her conspiratorial, Eason Jordan claim by telling the Guardian (via Captain's Quarters), "'Giuliana may have received information which led to the soldiers not wanting her to leave Iraq alive."
Look, if the U.S. had wanted Sgrena dead she'd be dead. Firing 300-400 bullets at a car would stop it dead in its tracks.
Bluto found this comment from the Italian Communications Minister:
I understand the emotion of these hours, but those who have been under stress in the past few weeks should pull themselves together and avoid saying nonsense.
In other words, shut the hell up unless you know what you were talking about.
CNN has posted a translated report Sgrena wrote for her newspaper Il Manifesto.
February 27, 2005
Syria Feeling the Pressure
Syria turns over Saddam's half-brother. Hmm... This news definitely gives ammunition to those who think Saddam's WMD were moved to Syria. More importantly this is a sign Syria is feeling the pressure. Those Baathists must think they're in President Bush's crosshairs. I wonder how ally Iran thinks about Syria caving so easily.
"Syria Hands Saddam's Half-Brother to Iraq"
February 13, 2005
Wants to Play Soldier Instead of Being a Dad
This guy doesn't have his priorities straight:
Johnnie Chennault has no regrets about joining the Navy Reserve, even though it means he's going to Iraq later this month.
Hey Johnnie, help your wife take care of your kids instead of prancing off to Iraq to satisfy your need to do something for your country.
January 30, 2005
My expectation for Iraq's elections were that great numbers would vote, but hundreds would die in terrorist attacks. Based on how things turned out I'm pleasantly surprised. Many, especially Shites, took part. I'm saddened that there was low turnout in some Sunni-dominated areas. We're only near the end of the beginning, but I'm cautiously opptimistic.
For a whole heck of a lot of blogospheric reaction, Steven Taylor is Iraq Election Central.
Faith and Freedom
Power Line's Deacon writes about how various groups must "keep the faith" for there to be a free Iraq. His look at democracy as a process dovetails well with this earlier post.
"Keeping the Faith"
January 29, 2005
Democracy Isn't the End Game
All the happiness and joy in these pictures reminds me to remind you that today's elections in Iraq are only a means to an end. I'm not one of those types who sees democracy as the end state. The end state is a free Iraq. A free Iraq is one where property rights and civil rights are respected. A free Iraq is one where people can dream big dreams, contemplate new ideas, and act on them without fear of death of restriction by government agent. A free Iraq is one where angry people employ the power of the pen instead of the power of the bomb. Democracy and liberty don't necessarily have to coexist. Hong Kong under British is an example. In the U.S. democracy is tempered by a constitution that limits (albeit imperfectly) government. And as we've seen in the U.S. democracy can hamper liberty. Iraq's elections continue the process where a limited yet effective government comes into existence.
January 20, 2005
Kemp Connected to Oil-for-Food
A benefit from Bill Clinton beating Bob Dole in 1996 is then we wouldn't have had a Vice President who was soft on Saddam like Jack Kemp was:
[Lanny] Davis confirmed that in 2001, Kemp personally approached Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell about a version of his proposal, in which Kemp and other emissaries would fly to Iraq and negotiate an arrangement by which United Nations inspectors would be allowed back into the country in exchange for a gradual phase-out of U.N. sanctions. Kemp talked to Cheney at a social gathering about the plan and was rebuffed, Davis and Kemp said. Kemp also telephoned Powell about his proposal in which the former congressman would be joined on a trip to Baghdad by Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, and an associate of former president Jimmy Carter. Powell “showed no interest,” Davis said.
After knowing the brutality Saddam put that country through I hope Kemp is happy Powell "showed no interest" in his idea.
Kemp has admitted he was in contact with an Iraqi-American who has pleaded guilty to charges in the Oil-for-Food scandal.
January 04, 2005
What About Iraq?
Richard Gere spoke "for the entire world" while cutting a GOTV (Get Out The Vote) ad for the upcoming Palestinian elections. Should we be expecting a similar ad for the upcoming Iraq elections?
"Richard Gere Speaks 'For Entire World' To Palestinians"
January 03, 2005
Taking Fewer Prisoners in Afghanistan
Thanks to Cybrludite there's a story on how U.S. troops are not taking as many prisoners in Afghanistan as they used to. Part of it is to get along better with Afghanis but another reason is to get anti-war lawyers off the military's back. It's come to the point where the Afghan operation is starting to look like an episode of Cops:
On Sunday, a U.S. soldier and a former militia leader were killed in a gunfight when American troops tried to search the man's home in western Herat province. McCann said the Afghan, Mullah Dost Mohammed, was a "known anti-coalition militant" and had fired first.
"U.S. Taking Fewer Prisoners in Afghanistan"
December 21, 2004
It won't be a merry Christmas for those soldiers attacked in Mosul nor for the families of those killed. A really awful part of this story is two soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion of the Virginia National Guard were killed. They're going home in about a month, and battalion lost no one--until today.
UPDATE: Samizdata's Johnathan Pearce writes:
As an aside, it makes me wonder how those critics beating up Donald Rumsfeld at the moment would have written about the calibre of F. D. Roosevelt's defence chiefs 50 years ago, during the Battle of the Ardennes, better known as the Battle of the Bulge. Andrew Sullivan might have been calling for Eishenhower's head on a stick by now.
December 08, 2004
Liberals & The War On Terror: A Response
Oliver Willis was inspired by a few of my words on liberals and terrorism. I'm flattered. I'm not interested in debating the Iraq War. That's over with and done. I will comment on some of Oliver's points that stand out to me.
I claimed Afghanistan and Iraq were military victories. Oliver disagrees. I simply take before-and-after snapshots. Before both wars the two nations were filled with oppressed people governed by autocrats that posed threats to the U.S. After the wars, both nations were put on the path to becoming stable democratic republics.
Afghanistan now has a freely elected President. To claim that victory in Afghanistan means it should be as stable and safe as any Western nation is unrealistic.
Iraq is much messier. Al Qaeda has poured its energies into preventing the January elections from happening. If we can glean anything from rank-and-file Democrats its that they want U.S. troops out of Iraq. They hate the Iraq War, think it's a failure, and want America out.
On another point Oliver writes,
Here's a bit of advice, for free. Labeling your political opposition as traitors, simply because they see an ill-planned and ill-advised war as folly in the making, is not the best way to unite a nation. It is the Republican party who decided in 2002 to make the war a wedge issue. I want us to fight terrorism, I want us to fight threats to our nation and our interests, and to put in place policies that will derail the creation of future terrorists.
The way he writes implies I was tossing the "traitor" label around. As far as I know, I never did that. (If you find where I did, let me know). I know I called those that disagreed with the Islamist War to be misguided, unserious, and wrong.
Let me note that it was Sen. Tom Daschel and fellow Congressional Democrats who went partisan with the Homeland Security Department bill. They placed a union provision above getting the bill passed. That bit them in the tuckus in the 2002 elections. When the post-Sep. 11 political division began, I don't know. What I do know is one party decided to be unserious about winning the war and bashed everything the President was doing while the other accepted the destiny set before it.
"Liberals & The War On Terror"
November 17, 2004
Saddam siphoned off money from the U.N. Oil-for-Food program and funneled it to the families of Palestinian terrorists. Saddam was enabled by the U.N. to fund Islamist terrorism, the biggest threat the Free World faces.
I have read nothing that proves for disproves the validity of the documents linking Saddam to terrorist organizations. In fact, I've read nothing about them since their dissemination last month. Presuming Rep. Henry Hyde's committee didn't get snookered we are starting to see just how extensive Saddam's terrorist ties were.
The election may be over but the evidence supporting the President's war decision continues to come in.
"Probe: Oil-for-Food Money Went to Palestinian Bombers' Families"
November 07, 2004
Tonight, above the night sky charged particles from places far beyond are slamming into the magnetic field. What results is a ghostly, everchanging glow. The aurora's angelic presence is fleeting. Rarely does she allow her shimmering veil to visit this far south. Yet her aura is sublime and welcome.
Another sky was lit up. Only the glow was from a harsh rain of destruction. The Battle of Fallujah has begun. May God's blessings and a few guardian angels rain down upon that troubled city.
"U.S. Soldiers Storm Part of Fallujah"
October 29, 2004
Two points on the KSTP al Qa Qaa stories:
What the stories tell us is there were lots of explosives at a few bunkers at al Qa Qaa. There was also an IAEA-sealed bunker. It does not tell us if HMX or RDX was there. It also does not tell us if they were looted.
"The Latest Word on Al Qaqaa"
"ABC News Getting Ahead of the Facts"
October 28, 2004
Study Claims 100,000 Iraqi Civilian Deaths
President Bush has the blood of 100,000 Iraqi civilians on his hands. Expect that to be the spin from Bush bashers and Kerry Edwards. I wonder a little about extrapolating from interviews. I also wonder why this study differs by a large magnitude from this anti-war bodycount.
This isn't knee-jerk pro-war spin but I wonder about this claim from Johns Hopkins University researchers on civilian deaths in Iraq:
Most of the casualties occurred after the end of major hostilities in May 2003, researchers said in the study. Observations suggest that civilian deaths since the war are mostly caused by air strikes, the survey said. Two-thirds of the deaths were in the insurgent-held Sunni Muslim Iraqi city of Fallujah, the study said.
Two-thirds of 100,000 is about 66,000. According to this Asia Times article, Fallujah's population in 09.03 was 500,000. Thus over 13% of Fallujah's population has been wiped out.
This analysis doesn't so much support the anti-war claim that the U.S. invasion was wrong. Instead, it demonstrates what happens when the U.S. is too soft on insurgents. If the Marines cleaned out the city earlier this year instead of hoping the Fallujah Brigade would bring order, then many lives would have been saved. By not going in hard into Fallujah, it only empowered the insurgents who thought they discovered America's achilles' heal.
Who Knows What?
The IAEA isn't even sure how much explosive was at al Qa Qaa:
The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.
There's also some question about how secure the HMX stored at al Qa Qaa was:
The documents show IAEA inspectors looked at nine bunkers containing more than 194 tons of HMX at the facility. Although these bunkers were still under IAEA seal, the inspectors said the seals may be potentially ineffective because they had ventilation slats on the sides. These slats could be easily removed to remove the materials inside the bunkers without breaking the seals, the inspectors noted.
I'll add another possibility. Suppose Iraqis (with possible Russian help) found another way around the seals or (oh, my!) removed the seals, moved the HMX, then put the seals right back where they found them. Let's realize, Saddam's Iraq spent oodles on palaces and bunkers to hide WMD programs. It's not a stretch to think that engineers wouldn't have let some IAEA seals stop them.
For an "October Surprise" the only surprise has been how pathetic this attempt to smear Bush is.
"Discrepancy Found in Explosives Amounts"
October 27, 2004
In Come the Russians
The Russians moved the explosives. That's what John Shaw, a deputy under-secretary of defense, claims.
Did Vladimir Putin think this information (if true) would soon come out? Is that why he made comments recently supporting the Bush administration?
At the very least, the Russian possibility has as much credence as what the NY Times wanted you to believe. I'm just not sure it will stop Kerry Edwards from continuing to use this issue to bash the President.
As for Bill Gertz's story, the Washington Times servers can handle the Drudge link. I'll have to remember to read it tomorrow morning before work.
Boom! There Went that Story
380 tons of HMX and RDX couldn't blow a bigger hole in the NY Times' and Kerry Edwards' accusation that the Bush-led invasion allowed the explosives to disappear. Forget whatever the NBC News embeds with the 101st Airborne reported because the 3rd Infantry Division was at al Qa Qaa almost one week before.
On what the 3ID found Wretchard writes,
The contemporaneous CBS report, written before anyone knew al Qa Qaa would be a big deal, establishes two important things. The first is that 3ID knew it was looking through an IAEA inspection site. The second was that the site had shown unmistakable signs of tampering before the arrival of US troops. "Peabody said troops found thousands of boxes, each of which contained three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare." Now presumably those thousands of boxes were not all packaged and labeled with chemical warfare instructions under IAEA supervision, so the inescapable conclusion is that a fairly large and organized type of activity had been under way in Al Qa Qaa for some time. It is important to reiterate that these are contemporaneous CBS reports which were filed no with foreknowledge of the political controversy to come.
James Glassman then uses the al Qa Qaa story to defend the Iraq War:
Kerry and Edwards say that Bush didn't do enough to prevent the disappearance of the explosives, which could be used against Americans here at home. But the very existence of such explosives -- whether defined as weapons of mass destruction or not -- was the reason Bush led the nation into Iraq in the first place.
Obviously mistakes have been made in the war. Find the current "dead tree" issue of National Review and read Rich Lowry's critique of the war. Most of the problems had to do with poor pre-war intelligence--something the President has failed to fix--and not being forceful enough--Fallujah earlier this year. Al Qa Qaa, so far, is just that, ca-ca.
[Links via Power Line.]
October 26, 2004
Here's what we know about the missing explosives that were at al Qa Qaa:
I'm fairly confident IAEA personnel didn't leave Iraq the day before the war started. Let's assume they left one week before the "shock and awe" began, 03.12.03. We don't know if IAEA inspectors were at al Qa Qaa right until they left Iraq, but let's assume that also. That means 23 days passed between IAEA leaving Iraq and the 3rd Infantry Division arriving at al Qa Qaa. That's certainly enough time for a number of trucks to load up 380 tons of explosives and move them someplace else. The problem with this possiblity is wouldn't U.S. intelligence have noticed the activity at al Qa Qaa?
The looting explanation fails, first, because of pure logistical considerations as noted in this Captain's Quarters post. Another problem is the clean job the looters had to have done. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, "Some explosive material at the time was discovered, although none of it carried IAEA seals, and this discovery was reported to coalition forces for removal of the material." If the disappearance was due to looting then it was a very clean job that left no trace.
The most sensible possiblity is Saddam ordered the explosives moved. Maybe they were sent to neighboring Syria or stored away in a secret location to be used in guerrilla warfare to defeat the U.S. occupation and topple the new Iraqi government.
Note that the only reason we know the explosives are missing was the war. With the intelligence failures by France, Germany, Russia, the U.N., the U.S., and even the NY Times it's not safe to assume the IAEA knew the explosives remained in the bunker. In the lead up to the war, no one claimed Saddam didn't have WMD. The debate wasn't if he had them, it was how to deal with their existence. Post-war searches have shown Saddam didn't have the WMD everyone thought he did. This was an intelligence failure by more than just the Bush administration. With this recent history, I'm not convinced the IAEA wasn't fooled by Saddam.
After thinking and writing about this I have a feeling Ann Althouse is correct:
This is a pesky issue to be dealing with so late in the game, but for those already convinced the war was woefully mismanaged, it may not matter that much. Indeed, those who accept the raggedness of the post-war effort and stand by Bush may also not care that much.
This election will depend on each campaign getting their voters to the polls. Al Qa Qaa reinforces the perception of Bush supporters (me included) that the MSM wants Kerry to win. It may get more Bush backers to work harder to compensate for this media bias. Since this story only reinforces the feeling Bush has bungled Iraq, I suspect this story doesn't further energize the anti-Bushies who are already highly motivated.
"Report: Explosives Could not be Found when U.S. Troops Arrived"
October 11, 2004
Blogosphere, Have at It
CNSNews.com has published a bunch of memos that link Saddam to terrorism. Now, let's see if this news outfit got Rathered.
"CNSNews.com Publishes Iraqi Intelligence Docs"
October 07, 2004
Post Defends Bush
The Washington Post editorial page understands that hindsight is always 20-20, and that to properly evaluate a decision we must understand the information known at the time. On Iraq and WMD they write (emphasis mine):
In the meantime the report will surely fuel the debate between Mr. Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry about whether the war should have been undertaken. The two have staked out dramatically contrasting positions, focusing on a theoretical question: If the president had known what the Iraq Survey Group now reports, would he have been right to order an invasion? Mr. Bush says he would have made the same decision; Mr. Kerry says he would not have. Yet in reality no president could have known what is known now. As long as Saddam Hussein remained in power and refused to cooperate fully with the United Nations, there could have been no certainty about his weapons. Mr. Bush had to decide whether the risks of invading outweighed those of standing pat without knowing for sure what U.S. forces would find in Iraq or what would happen once they were there.
There's a difference between lying and being wrong. The President and "most other Western intelligence agencies" were the latter. (An interesting question from the Bush bashers would be "After the intelligence failure of 09.11.01 why did the President have faith in them when it came to Saddam's WMD?) MoveOn.org, Michael Moore, and Kerry Edwards cannot simply use the lack of WMD to prove Bush lied. They must find some evidence that Bush knew there weren't WMD but said there were anyway. They must then explain (with evidence) why it would be politically smart for Bush to take the country to war. The anti-Bushies can't do either so instead they should "Bush lied, people died!" and use the Halliburton smear.
October 04, 2004
Memos Purport Iraq-Terrorism Connection
CNSNews.com is reporting that memos found in Iraq prove Saddam had WMD as recently as 2000. Also an 11-page memo lists a host of terrorist organizations Iraq had relations with.
We know Saddam did have WMD. He used them on the Kurds. We also know Saddam paid off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. These memos back up many of Stephen Hayes' claims.
Unfortuantely these feels too good to be true. At an opportune time in the Presidential race documents appear to support one candidate while tearing down an important premise of another. This feels a lot like the forged Killian forged memos. Only in this case Bush is the winner and Kerry the loser. So I'm skeptical.
It would be nice if CNSNews.com posted the documents on the internet so experts and curious readers could examine them. As a start outside translators could double check to see if the memos actually say what CNSNews.com claims they say. Instead they've only placed the first of 42 pages up for display in Arabic. Even then, you can't read the script. To see the rest you have to be a "credentialed" journalist or counter-terrorism expert and go to CNSNews.com headquarters in Virginia. They fear the webloggers--or at least the anti-Bush, anti-war ones. But this doesn't help my skepticism.
Here's one element that may help in authenticating the documents. A memo contains an order from Saddam's secretary that "the party should move to hunt the Americans who are on Arabian land, especially in Somalia, by using Arabian elements, or Asian (Muslims) or friends." Somalia isn't part of the Arabian penninsula. Are there previous Iraqi or Arab references calling Somalia part of Arabia? Or since Islam is dominant in Somalia did Saddam consider it a part of Arabia?
These documents could be a blockbuster or just a conservative bust.
"Exclusive: Saddam Possessed WMD, Had Extensive Terror Ties"
UPDATE: Oliver Willis thinks you're a "loon" if you think this story is plausible. I guess my skepticism doesn't count in his eyes. But also realize Oliver thinks I'm in favor of Jim Crow law because I'm against voter fraud.
September 24, 2004
An Explanation Please
Vice President Cheney should explain how his thinking has changed in the 12+ years since the Persian Gulf War. (Calling John Edwards.) Why are 1000+ American casualties tragically acceptable today when a few more than the 146 weren't in 1992? Does he regret not trying to topple Saddam back then? These questions would be perfect for the VP debate.
Despite Oliver's valliant attempt, it's a little late to paste the flip-flop label on Cheney. First, no one votes for the VP. Second, he had to find something said 12 years ago. In contrast, Kerry has stood on both sides of an argument in the same sentence.
"Cheney's 'Major League' Flip-Flop on Iraq"
P.S. Oliver, the idea that Glenn Reynolds is one reason France and Germany aren't in Iraq is just plain goofy. The man's a law professor in Tennessee.
September 17, 2004
The State of Things
I offer no solutions to the violence plaguing parts (not all) of Iraq. I can only hope comments like these overcome the evil taking place there.
"Hearts and Minds"
September 16, 2004
No Iraqi WMD
There's no way or reason to sugar coat this: This is the biggest intelligence failure in U.S. history. For me personally, Iraqi liberation wasn't the reason to topple Saddam. If freeing people from oppression were all that was needed for U.S. intervention troops would be be in Cuba, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Caucauses. It would really start to look like an American empire. The reason to invade was to prevent him from either using WMD against the U.S., it's allies or, Iraq's neighbors and to prevent WMD from falling into terrorists' hands. Taking WMD out of the hands of Saddam was in the vital interests of the U.S. If I knew before the war that such weapons didn't exist, then I wouldn't have supported the war.
Now, that doesn't mean I've turned into a Deaniac and become an anti-war Bush basher. I put myself in President Bush's shoes. Before the war everyone thought Saddam had WMD. Anti-warriors feared a U.S. invasion would force Saddam to unleashed his deadly arsenal. At the U.N., France, Germany, and Russia didn't opposed an invasion because they said Saddam didn't have WMD. They said inspections should be more aggressive and given more time. The only ones saying Iraq didn't have WMD was Iraq, and their track record was far from pristine.
And with that agreed set of knowledge was the events of Sep. 11. Not acting when Saddam had a history of supporting terrorism and being a threat to U.S. interests was more risky than hoping the WMD didn't exist or U.N. inspections would finally work. If I were in Bush's position then, I would have gone to war too. I can't fault him for something I would have done.
"U.S. Weapons Inspector: Iraq Had No WMD"
August 07, 2004
A New Name
President Bush is getting closer, but I guess calling our current struggle the Islamist War would be too uncomfortable for his "compassionate conservatism."
"Bush Renames War?"
July 21, 2004
What's Dave Think?
Dave, as in Dave Mustaine, of Megadeth fame.
"People in the music business, in American, are talking bad about Bush…you know what? Shut the fuck up! You're a musician; you don't know a thing about running a country! If there would have been a better man to run the States right now, we would have picked him, it's a democratic process. There are a couple of guys who run for office, everybody picks him, he goes to the next level. Shut up, he's the fucking president! There's gonna be an election, if you don't like him go for the other guy. Don't sit back there and just piss and moan. I see all these guys like Michael Moore going off and I'm like, 'Dude, you don't have a fucking idea about what you're talking about. . .
Mustaine doesn't align himself with the right here, he's just saying "hey, shut up!"
It's great that some people are speaking up. OpinionJournal.com today had an Extra talking about Hollywood's Rebels, those actors who are aligned with the Republican party.
Along with not succumbing to the casting couch and not dating your co-stars, one of the unwritten rules in Hollywood has been not coming out of the GOP closet. Actress Emma Caulfield ("Darkness Falls") was slammed when she said she would campaign for Elizabeth Dole. "I would never fully admit to being a Republican in this town," she later told Premiere magazine. "I want to work."
This goes again to my point earlier about professors, which students are counting on for a grade, pushing their ideology in the classroom.
I imagine this happens in most places; fortunately I have been employed places or involved with places where many of the people I am around align with my views.
July 20, 2004
Good News in Iraq
For those pro-warriors who are down about the state of Iraq Arthur Chrenkoff has a round-up of good news.
No Dress Code Here
The Federal Air Marshal's Service requires its air marshals to dress to the 9's for a flight, complete with a clean shave and a fresh shine on the shoes. Doing so sort of sets them out from the crowd, as was reported over the weekend.
In a previous life (a.k.a, before the layoff) I was a frequent traveler for my job. In each of the last two years, I am a Gold Elite traveler on Northwest Airlines. Traveling that much, safety is always on my mind. I welcome the marshal's on board, irregardless of how they are dressed. If they want to look like a beach bum, it's of no difference to me if s/he has to make their presence known. My safety, not to mention that of the plane and other passengers, shouldn't be put into danger because some bureaucrat in DC wants his "image" to be upheld.
July 15, 2004
Joe Wilson: Liar
Joe Wilson is getting raked over the coals by Robert Novak and the Wall Street Journal editorial board. In a previous post, I held back in declaring Wilson a liar. I wanted to see of more information would come out. In the meantime, I have the former ambassador the benefit of the doubt. Since the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report nothing new has come out. Nothing has arisen to explain the contradicitons between the report and what Wilson has said and written. His claims that Bush, Cheney, and others in the administration were liars "had no basis in fact," to use Sen. Pat Roberts' words. Bush ended up being correct with those "16 words." When will Wilson and the Bush bashers who used him as the centerpiece for their attack on the President come out and admit they were wrong? Also, when will John Kerry remove Wilson's endorsement from his website? Honesty and Joe Wilson don't go together.
"Errant Former Ambassador"
"The Yellowcake Con"
July 11, 2004
The Truth and Joe Wilson II
By not branding Joe Wilson a liar I hoped to lessen the caustic state of our politics. The problem is evidence is piling up against the former ambassador.
Thankfully, Mark Steyn has the intellectual honesty to no declare that someone lied--even Joe Wilson:
Bush didn't LIE!!!! He was right, and the CIA were wrong. That doesn't mean they LIED!!!! either. Intelligence is never 100 percent. You make a judgment, and in this instance the judgments of the British and Europeans were right, and the judgment of the principal intelligence agency of the world's hyperpower was wrong. That should be a cause of great concern -- for all Americans.
"Happy Anniversary to Joseph C. Wilson IV"
"Bush's State of the Union Speech Redeemed"
UPDATE: Regardless of whether Wilson was lying or was wrong outing Valarie Plame as a CIA agent could still be illegal. Daniel Drezner writes,
Nevertheless, there's a reason this has political traction. The apparent disconnect between what Wilson said in his report versus what he said in June 2003 -- combined with Plame's role in hiring Wilson in the first place, contrary to previous reports -- make it appear that both of them were lying in order to try to embrrass the administration.
Even if there are indictments the muddy swirl surrounding Wilson gives no political advantage to Kerry and the Democrats.
July 10, 2004
The Truth and Joe Wilson
Besides the conclusion that the Bush White House didn't pressure intelligence analysts to "sex up" their information, the most interesting part of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq intelligence failures is Joe Wilson's role. Wilson denies that his wife offered him up to investigate the possible sale of Niger yellowcake uranium to Iraq. The report says otherwise:
The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.
We have two claims that directly contradict each other. Here are a few possibilities:
Number one is possible because of all the hell coming down on that agency someone wanted to do some CYT--cover your tush. Number two is also quite possible since Wilson has been such a harsh critic of the President then and now.
Number four is pretty weak since a Democratic Senator could just step up to a microphone and declare the Wilson portion of the report as a sham and discrediting the whole document.
That brings us to number three, Plame is a liar. The Wilsons have been taking full advantage of "Plame Game" by the couple accepting interviews and Joe selling lots of copies of his book (when will Valerie's come out?). How long could Valerie keep her secret away from her husband? When it would come out it would make him look like a fool? So this possibility doesn't seem likely.
We're down to the claim of an annoynmous CIA official versus a former ambassador. The former is unknown so we can't do much to critically evaluate his claim. The latter has a vendetta against the administration. This is where we stand.
I did this exercise to show my pro- and anti-Bush brethren that there's a difference between lying and being wrong. While one of the most likely possibilities is that Joe Wilson lied about his wife's role there is also the possibility that he was left in the dark. I didn't titled this post "Joe Wilson is a Liar!!!!" for a reason. We don't know... yet. It takes a lot more thought to dig into what might have happened than just doing the perverbial scream.
July 09, 2004
Hersh Proven Wrong
Seymour Hersh got a lot of attention for a New Yorker article accusing the Bush administration of "stovepiping" pro-war intelligence past traditional vetting procedures. The Senate Intelligence Committee (D.C.'s most obvious oxymoron right now) nixes that theory:
The committee found no evidence that the intelligence community's mischaracterization or misinterpretation "was the result or politics or pressure," [Republican Senator Pat] Roberts said. "In the end, what the president and the Congress used to send the country to war was info that was provided by the intelligence community and that information was flawed."
This view is also bipartisan:
"I think it's important to know that the intelligence they gave was under their judgment — the right perception," Sen. John Corzine, D-N.J., told FOX News on Friday.
Roberts nicely sums up what happened, "This was a global intelligence failure." As Francis Fukuyama wrote last year, "What is at stake is not the credibility of one administration, but of a system designed to protect the world against weapons of mass destruction."
One Fine Jay thinks "that the worst that Bush And Friends are going to come out in this whole matter is that they were inept."
"Senate Report Blasts Iraq Intel Failures"
July 07, 2004
Update from Iraq
From the front lines... It's a bit long, please read through to see what is happening that the media is not making all of us aware of. And, please continue to pray for our soldiers there, not only for their well-being and safety, but also for their mission, which is much more encompassing than what we think or hear about. As you will see, these guys deal with a lot more than we know, including some health issues. I've left the soldier's name off, but do have his permission to post this.
Update from Iraq….just want to start by saying “Thanks” to everyone that has sent letters, email, packages, and most of all your prayers. Great to hear what is going on back home, helps me to keep in touch. We call ourselves ‘short-timers’ because we have only 11 months left (hopefully). Still very busy here, some days we wake up and don’t even know what day of the week it is. Just tell me if I’m going back outside the wire, running Entry Control Points or just name the detail. Our schedule (if you want to call it that) shifts from days to nights and back again so often we sometimes look like zombies when we get up. Guess I won’t complain about set work schedules ever again. For the most part we are doing well. No injuries, so if we look at that angle we are actually doing very well.
I think I’m dwindling away to nothing… should be under 180 lbs. I left the states around 200 lbs. My pants are always falling down, so I had to start using suspenders. I suppose it doesn’t help that I have a pistol strapped to my belt and cargo pockets full of gear… I always thought Tim [his son] looked funny carrying around all his toys, camping gear and stuff on his belt and more coins and collectables in his pockets than the pawn shops. I guess “Dear ol’ Dad” took after his son this time.
It's time to point out a distortion by ommission by the Center for American Progress. In a post titled "White House Trumps up New WMD Charges" CAP pooh-poohed the news that nearly two tons of radioactive material was taken out of Iraq so terrorists couldn't lay their evil hands on them. CAP discounts this achievement because the "material moved was not weapons grade, but instead in the form 'commonly used to provide radiation for cancer treatments, or for industrial X-rays' and 'to sterilize medical equipment or kill bacteria in food.' The magazine dispels the possibility that the material could be used to make a "dirty bomb"--an idea mentioned in the NY Times article CAP linked to. The AP story CAP refers to claims "uranium is not suitable for making a dirty bomb." The report cites no one to back this claim. But even if that is the case a conventional explosive that spread uranium over an area (Times Square or Chicago's Millenium Park for example) would cause terror? An entire area would be shut down for weeks, months, or years. That would be the definition of a terrorist attack. And how much derision would CAP have poured on President Bush if terrorists would have attacked someplace with the radioactive material they failed to contain? (That's a rhetorical question because the President can't win in the eyes of his bashers.)
"US Moves Radioactive Materials Out of Iraq"
"Radioactive Material Seized From a Nuclear Plant in Iraq"
[via Oliver Willis]
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
July 06, 2004
Where are the Profits?
One theory Bush-bashing anti-war kooks spout is the President went to war to fatten the pockets of his rich business buddies. One HUGE problem: KBR, the contraction unit of "evil" Haliburton is barely making a profit.
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
July 03, 2004
Israelis at Abu Ghraib?
Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib says she knows that at least one Israeli was involved with Iraqi interrogations there. Other than ticking off a lot of anti-Semetic Muslims I don't see the big deal. The Israeli government says there are no Israeli personel in Iraq, but that doesn't mean Israeli civilians were part of the contractors hired by the U.S. And even if Israelis were involved in interrogations there's so much bad blood between Israel and Muslims that it could hardly get any worse.
Also, could this be a method of Karpinski to draw responsibility away from her?
"PM's Bureau Denies Reports Israelis Operating in Iraq"
June 28, 2004
And Now the Hard Work Really Begins
Iraq's sovereignty was returned to Iraqis two days early to preempt possible anti-government attacks.
"U.S. Transfers Sovereignty to Iraqi Govt."
June 26, 2004
An Army Reserve Captain from Minnesota, currently stationed in Afghanistan, is understandably a little upset.
Eric Ekstrom's wife Olena gave birth to a baby last July. Olena is Ukranian, and her mother still lives in The Ukraine. With her husband gone, Olena could use a little extra help around the house, and they have been trying to get a U.S. Visa so that her mother could visit.
Olena Ekstrom's mother, Lidiya Bukhtoyarova, came from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, to visit just before the birth. The family had planned for Bukhtoyarova to stay with her pregnant daughter while he served two weeks of Army training.
In the same newspaper today (The Star Tribune of Minneapolis) there is The Tale of The Open Door for a suspected terrorist.
PowerLine condenses and points out how The Revolving Door spun for this guy.
As abbreviated as it is, this account raises some obvious questions. The Strib reports that "The U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained [Elzahabi] and began deportation proceedings," apparently in 1988. Elzahabi then left the country, engaged in various terrorist activities for seven years, and "returned to the United States for medical care" after getting shot in 1995, apparently without anyone noticing that he was supposed to have been deported. He then left the country again, and "reentered the United States in mid-August 2001" after participating in terrorist activities in Lebanon and Chechnya, again, apparently, without encountering any immigration problems.
This is a sad tale. Certainly Olena Eckstrom could use the help. Not to mention, these people are following the rules and laws that are in place to bring her mother, Bukhtoyarova, here. How many illegal aliens are here today, who overstayed their visas or crossed over illegally? Yet, in an instance where people are following the rules, they are punished (i.e., prevented from coming here), but the damn terrorists are welcomed in.
June 20, 2004
Iraq and Terrorism
In 1990, Saddam threatened terrorism upon the U.S.
If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you.
Even if Saddam's Iraq didn't have anything to do with the Sep. 11 attacks, when you take this statement and combine it with the terrorists that found safe haven in Iraq it's safe to say Saddam had terrorist connections and was, indeed, a terrorist state.
This brief analysis won't stop the Bush-bashers from continuing to declare the Iraq War as a diversion in the larger Islamist War. Which brings up this odd explanation of the "real" reason Bush liberated Iraq:
But for the vast majority of us, attacking Iraq was a weak response to the difficulty of destroying Bin Laden and his network.
Willis thinks it was easier to invade Iraq than give bin Laden the final deathblow--he may be dead anyway for all we know. Building a coalition, going to the U.N., and moving thousands of troops and materials to the Middle East was easier than traipsing around the mountains along the boarder of Pakistan and Afghanistan? I'm sure if you asked people running this war which would have had less difficulties: invading or not invading. The easier action would have been to let the U.N. drag its feet giving countries like France the impression it could hem in American "hyperpower."
"Why Would Saddam Want to Use Terrorists and What New Evidence do We Wave about those Threats?"
June 17, 2004
If Jacques Chirac is so pig-headed that he can't see there's a new Iraq then the country should just announce they will no longer acknowledge the debt to France.
June 04, 2004
Debt Easing from Down Under
All of Iraq's lenders should realize that letting Saddam's debt hand over the country's head will only stifle the economy and prevent a free Iraq from taking root. Because of that, I appauld the Australian government for declaring that it will be "writing off the vast majority of Iraq’s debt."
I'll celebrate with an upcoming purchase of a nice Australian wine.
"Australia Writes Off Iraqi Debt"
May 26, 2004
Make a Commerical with This
While President Clinton used empathy ("I feel your pain") to connect with people, President Bush used his confident moral purpose with some of Saddam's terror victims--remember, the bad guy who ordered much more abuse in Abu Ghraib than some U.S. troops ever did.
Bernard Lewis Speaks
Esteemed Islam scholar Bernard Lewis offered some wise words in a speech in Chicago Tuesday. Neil Steinberg was there and reported:
You might think George W. Bush is an idiot -- everyone seems to nowadays. But Bernard Lewis sure isn't an idiot. He's perhaps the most eminent Islamic scholar alive. I caught his speech Tuesday, and he said quite eloquently that we are battling for our lives.
This is a moral war, a war of civilizations. However, it's not a battle between Christianity and Islam. It's between the free West and an Islamist ideology grown from the same poisoned soil as fascism.
"President Sounds OK, Looks Even Better"
May 24, 2004
The President has laid down the plan for Iraq's future. We all know the path this administration wants to go down. It continues the Islamist War by stabilizing Iraq and going after the terrorists and Saddam loyalists. It's multilateral both militarily, financially, and diplomatically (a new U.N. resolution has just been offered). And it's achievable. That's not to say Iraq won't fall down into a pit of chaos and civil war in the future. No one can be sure what the future portends. The best the U.S. can do is put Iraq on the path to creating a strong regime of liberty.
"President Outlines Steps to Help Iraq Achieve Democracy and Freedom"
May 21, 2004
Prison Blues V
The Washington Post has some abuse video from Abu Ghraib on their website. All I saw were some prisoners naked or stripping. Humiliating, to be sure. According to a Post story there are worse images.
The video begins with three soldiers huddled around a naked detainee, his thin frame backed against a wall. With a snap of his wrist, one of the soldiers slaps the man across his left cheek so hard that the prisoner's knees buckle. Another detainee, handcuffed and on his back, is dragged across the prison floor.
May 19, 2004
Some people besides grunts are taking responsibility for the abuses (not atrocities, that was Saddam's "fun") at Abu Ghraib. However, Bush bashers won't like it because Rumsfeld and the President aren't falling on their swords. Instead, Gen. John Abizaid, commander of Persian Gulf forces, told Senators, "We have a real problem with ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] reports and the way that they're handled and the way that they move up and down the chain of command," Abizaid said. ". . . We've got a problem there that's got to be fixed." He also said, "And we should have known. And we should have uncovered it and taken action before it got to the point that it got to."
From this testimony, we see that while the Iraq War was a stunning achievement in its quick victory with a small force, occupation requires more manpower. Rumsfeld proved that invasion could be done with high tech and highly efficient troops. The problem was with the aftermath. Paul Wolfowitz conceded that the post-war insurections are more intense than the Pentagon predicted. Maybe Rumsfeld had plans to transform post-war and peacekeeping efforts, but Sept. 11 put a wrench in the works for continued transformation. I do doubt that because until Sept. 11 President Bush gave short shrift to messy stuff like nation building.
"System Failures Cited for Delayed Action on Abuses"
May 18, 2004
Major General Geoffrey Miller, the new commander of the Iraqi prison system, flatly denied Seymour Hersh's claim of a "special access program" run out of Abu Ghraib.
James Joyner has links to some other stories about new developments in the prison abuse scandal.
"General Says He Backed Interrogation Limits"
Good news for those who want to be Saddam's replacement. Jordan's King Abdullah II wants a strongman put into power. "I would say that the profile would be somebody from inside, somebody who's very strong, has some sort of popular feeling," said the king. I guess he'd feel more comfortable with another autocrat for a neighbor. Then there's that little problem that Jordanians might want an elected leader of their own after seeing their Iraqi neighbors pick one.
"King Abdullah: Iraq Needs Strongman"
May 17, 2004
The leader of the Fallujah Brigade, Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed Abdul-Latif, had plenty to say about U.S. troops in his country:
We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice.
He went on to tell Fallujah leaders,
They were brought here by the acts of one coward who was hunted out of a rathole — Saddam — who disgraced us all. Let us tell our children that these men (U.S. troops) came here to protect us.
He also had this to say about the insurgency:
Those bullets that are fired will not get the Americans out, let them finish their job here so that they can return to their country.
Few war backers want U.S. troops to be in Iraq any longer than needed. However, troops can't leave to allow Iraq to implode. That would only turn the country into a place where Islamist terrorist could plan attacks against the U.S. Stability is necessary, but planting the seed of freedom in the Middle East is paramount. For the sake the people there and the future security of the U.S. regimes of liberty must be given a chance.
The CPA should plaster Latif's words on billboards and buildings. For fed up Iraqis it's realism with a foreseeable end to the occupation.
Four, this Sy Hersh hitjob does a smashing job of conflating abuse with torture and tough (but legit) interrogation techniques, and of using unnamed sources to impeach nameless badguys for the MP prison abuses, which they apparently had nothing to do with.
"On Seymour Hersh’s Latest Hitjob"
UPDATE: Give me a moment to wipe the egg off my face. Sasha was nice enough to correct me. The post wasn't written by her but by Al Maviva.
Prison Blues IV
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the person formerly in charge of Iraqi prisons has been blamed for the abuse that took place inside Abu Ghraib. For someone who is the third-ranked perpetrator (so far) behind Lynndie England and Charles Graner you would think she'd be bitter at those high up on the totem pole. Nope.
Washington, D.C.: Do you think Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld should resign?
"Transcript: Prison Abuse Scandal"
After all the hoopla that Capt. James Yee might have been a Muslim spy inside Guantanamo all charges and reprimands have been removed from his record. Unfortunately, we don't know much about what happened because Yee has been ordered not to talk, and the military won't say anything either.
"The Ordeal of Chaplain Yee"
May 16, 2004
Not to dismiss Seymour Hersh's latest accusation against Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush administration, and the U.S. military (his previous Abu Ghraib stories seem to have held up), realize that this prize-winning investigative reporter isn't perfect. Last year in a story accusing the administration of misusing intelligence, he maintained the myth that President Bush claimed Iraq was an "imminent" threat. The closest critics came to proving this was an encounter between Rumsfeld and Tom Friedman on Face the Nation, and that was a stretch.
Next, we look at Hersh's book on John F. Kennedy, The Dark Side of Camelot. Hersh almost "proved" a JFK/Marilyn Monroe affair based on evidence proven to be a forgery. That didn't stop him from making his claims which amount to "unsubstantiated celebrity rumors" in the words of Edward Jay Epstein. Hersh then bases claims that JFK was a bigamist and was in cahoots with the mob to kill Castro on witness memories that appeared only recently.
May 14, 2004
Prison Blues III
Spiked's Brendan O'Neill looks into how the press got the infamous Abu Ghraib photos. He writes:
Whether it was military families trying to protect their loved ones from being scapegoated by US military command in Baghdad, or faceless Pentagon sources seeking to score some points against Rumsfeld for dragging America into a seemingly intractable war, the leaking of the torture photos reveals as much about internal doubt about America's mission in Iraq as it does about the cruelty visited upon Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. The motor of the torture story appears to have been an internal falling-apart, rather than external pressure from journalists or anti-war campaigners for the truth about Abu Ghraib. It seems to have been a profound uncertainty among American soldiers or military officials that allowed the torture snaps to be leaked, and to become such a powerful international symbol of American failure in Iraq.
May 11, 2004
A Simple Question
Punchthebag asks: "Do Democrats want to win the War on Terror?" There are a few Senators who sound like they'd sacrifice victory for a Kerry electoral win in the fall.
Truth About Galen
A certain weblogger has tried to dismiss Rich Galen's view point on Abu Ghraib by pointing out that he "is/was employed by the administration as a paid flack on the Iraq situation." Which is it? Is Galen still employed or not by the administration? Here's the answer:
Ok. I'm back from Eye-Rack and I am restarting Mullings as the three-day-a-week political column it was before that adventure began.
Context: good; knee-jerk rejection: bad.
May 09, 2004
Prison Blues II
To put it bluntly, Rich Galen is pissed about the Abu Ghraib fallout:
I am now officially sick-and-tired of the self-serving and largely uninformed hand-wringing about the goings on at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad. As someone who has actually been on the grounds of Abu Ghraib prison, let me explain a few things.
Read the rest.
May 07, 2004
Reporters were let into the once-again infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad.
At today's Senate hearing on the abuses and torture of Iraqi prisoners Donald Rumsfeld told Senators that there are still worse images that haven't been seen publically. He refused to resign saying in classic Rumsfeld fashion,
Needless to say, if I felt I could not be effective, I would resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people are trying to make a political issue out of it.
Sen. Joseph Leiberman (D-CT) made some wonderful remarks admonishing the horrible conduct of some U.S. troops but noted that terrorists who killed 3,000 people on Sep. 11, 2001 haven't apologized, and we still haven't heard an apology from those who mutilated the bodies of American security contractors last month.
"Tour Provides Glimpse of Life at Abu Ghraib"
"Rumsfeld: 'Deepest Apology' for Iraq Prison Abuse"
May 04, 2004
The Gall of Rall
Well, at least Ted Rall isn't hiding behind any sense of misinterpretation. He's pretty on how he feels about the Islamist War:
The word 'hero' has been bandied about a lot to refer to anyone killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. But anyone who voluntarily goes to Afghanistan or Iraq [as a soldier] is fighting for an evil cause under an evil commander in chief.
Let's note that if al Qaeda had won and the West became Islamist (not Islamic, big difference) then Rall wouldn't be able to publish the crud he does. He's just a short-sighted anti-war, Bush basher.
May 01, 2004
Iraq DID Seek Niger Uranium
Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf, AKA "Baghdad Bob," tried to get uranium from Niger. The source of this news about Saddam's attempt at building a nuclear weapon: Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The same Joeseph Wilson who became a darling of the Left for saying President Bush lied to America in his 2003 State of the Union Address.
"Book Names Iraqi in Alleged '99 Bid to Buy Uranium"
April 29, 2004
Live from Camp Pendleton
Gerard Van der Leun writes of war, citizenship, patriotism, and how a bunch of webloggers and their readers helped with the war effort.
"Small Moves, the Spirit of America, and Doing What You Can"
April 25, 2004
Moving Ammo Instead of Dresses
The Boston Globe has an interesting article on the military's logistics revolution and whether Iraq has shown us the limits civilian contracting and outsourcing.
"Supply and Command"
April 22, 2004
Ed Moltzen counters James Fallows' critique of the Iraq War.
April 21, 2004
Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT) will convene a hearing on the fraud that was the Iraq Oil-for-Food program. Before allowing the U.N. to do anything more in Iraq, that organization must be held accountable for perpetuating Saddam's regime. Friends of Saddam, a new weblog, is following this story.
"The Iraq Oil-for-Food Program: Starving for Accountability"
April 20, 2004
Don't Just Sit There...Give!
Here's the deal: the Marines want to get seven Iraqi television stations up and running so the populace can watch something other than al-Jazeera. The Spirit of America is collecting donations for equipment it will send to Iraq. It's now the mission of a few webloggers to fill SoA's coffers so we can help out the troops and the newly-liberated Iraqis. Won't you help out? It'll feel good.
"The Victory Coalition"
April 19, 2004
But I want to be on the winning team.
"The Victory Coalition"
April 09, 2004
Blix Bites Back
If no WMD are ever found in Iraq, then blame for the war rests firmly on the lap Saddam Hussein. In a review of Hans Blix book Disarming Iraq Fareed Zakaria writes:
Later, in February 2003, as the United States made clear that time was running out, several countries proposed ways of testing Iraqi cooperation. One was that Saddam Hussein give a televised speech promising full cooperation with inspections so that everyone in the country heard it from the top. Another was a timeline for inspections with clear benchmarks. Almost every country got seriously interested in these proposals. But there was no response from Iraq. It was behavior like this that led Blix and many others to assume that the Iraqis were not coming clean because they had something to hide.
Zakaria then chides the Bush administration for not using diplomacy enough:
But if getting Iraq right was tough, getting the diplomacy right was much easier. Reading this book one is struck by how, at the end, the United States had become uninterested in diplomacy, viewing it as an obstacle. It seems clear that with a little effort Washington could have worked through international structures and institutions to achieve its goals in Iraq. Blix and ElBaradei were proving to be tough, honest taskmasters. Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war. But in a fashion that is almost reminiscent of World War I, the Pentagon's military timetables drove American diplomacy. The weather had become more important than international legitimacy.
Zarkaria thinks diplomacy for just a little longer would have gotten more international backing. How could that be when France declared they wouldn't support any resolution that called for war? Like the Sep. 11 widows, this is a lot of "coulda', woulda'" Monday-morning quarterbacking.
"Disarming Iraq: Lack of Evidence"
April 03, 2004
Screw You, Kos
Jay Reding has an outstanding reply to Kos' spew.
"The Dead Of Fallujah"
UPDATE: Kos hasn't apologized. He didn't try to use the non-apology apology trick ("I'm sorry if I offended anyone"). He isn't even sorry he got caught. He was worried for a while. Not for upsetting lots of people or displaying a pretty ugly side of himself. Instead, he was worried all his advertisers would dump him with no one to replace them. In Kos' world, the Iraq War may only be about the oil for President Bush, but it's all about the Blogads for him.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Kerry campaign had the decency to de-link Kos' webog from the campaign's. Now, I hope they have the decency to stop accepting the contributions he's bundling for Kerry. Read Matt Margolis' post on how tied in Kos is with the Democrats.
April 01, 2004
I'll Pay for this Ad
Democrats misleading America on Iraqi WMD? Watch this?
March 20, 2004
What Good Timing
Thank God, I'm on vacation. Because I don't feel the need to comment on the crud spewed by the anti-war/anti-Bush/anti-Israel/anti-America protesters. For commentary, I leave it to Michele.
"Do They Hear What I Hear?"
March 11, 2004
A Spy in the House of Love
I don't know what "love" Susan Lindauer has, but it certainly isn't love of country. She's been indicted for spying for Saddam's Iraq. Now we know where some of that U.N. Oil-for-Food money went.
March 04, 2004
U.N.: Miserable Failure
The rather lame "miserable failure" Google bombing has been waged against President Bush, Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter, and Sen. Hillary Clinton. However, the true example of a miserable failure is the United Nations for getting hoodwinked for years while Saddam orchestrated a very profitable scam on its oil-for-food program. Companies doing business with Saddam's Iraq inflated costs and paid kickbacks to various foreign bank accounts. So, while ordinary Iraqis were suffering from malnutrition, Saddam and his Ba'athists lived in luxury. The U.N. doesn't have much of a defense. As the NY Times put it:
United Nations overseers say they were unaware of the systematic skimming of oil-for-food revenues. They were focused on running aid programs and assuring food deliveries, they add.
The image of three monkeys comes to mind.
Dr. Khidr Abbas, Iraq's interim minister of health, had this to say about those companies that aided Saddam:
I would say to them, it was very cruel to aid a dictator and his regime when all of you knew what the money was and where it was going. Instead of letting his resources dry up, you let the dictatorship last longer.
You could say that about the U.N. too.
March 02, 2004
New U.N. WMD Report
U.N. weapons inspectors will issue a report saying Saddam's Iraq didn't have WMD. That backs up David Kay's report. The U.S. is using the findings to see why there was such a disparity between intelligence findings and reality; but the U.N. would much rather engage in defensive postering than in self-appraisal. The U.N. was was just as wrong about Saddam's WMD as everyone else.
"U.N.: Iraq Had no WMD after 1994"
February 18, 2004
"Heads Should Roll"
I'm glad someone with a voice to the administration wonder why George Tenet still has a job.
February 16, 2004
If the U.S. was so unilateral in the Iraq War, how come Dutch troops are training future Iraqi police? Can the Bush bashers please stop using this canard? The facts make them look like fools.
Adam Curry is providing some great pictures (the one linked above is one) and coverage about what's really going on there besides bombings and attacks.
February 13, 2004
I'm still in the question asking mood. What was the point of a group of governors visiting Iraq? Sure it was nice of them to visit soldiers from their own states, but what do the governors have to offer in winning the peace? What it looks to me was that this was nothing more than a chance for people outside the Bush administration to defend the administration. That's pretty expensive PR. There is this funny story Gov. Tim Pawlenty told:
Pawlenty said Americans should measure progress in Iraq against conditions that existed there a year ago.
To plagerize Glenn Reynolds, "Heh!"
"Pawlenty, Other Governors, Brief Bush on Iraq Trip"
February 04, 2004
How Could They Be So Wrong?
Bush needs to get out front and tell the public that given the information available and the past actions by Saddam Hussein it was reasonable to conclude that there were WMD in Iraq. Getting absolutely conclusive proof is a metaphysical endevor. Even in a court the standards of proof are "reasonable doubt" (in criminal cases) and "preponderance of the evidence" (in civil cases). With the data and analysis available at the time what would a Democratic President have done? A sensible one would have come to a similar conclusion: Saddam was a WMD threat. How to respond may have been different. A President Gore may have let U.N. inspections go on while his diplomatic team tried to get backing from Russia, France, and Germany.
However, President Gore might have chose to go war even sooner. The Iraq War took place at a time only 1 1/2 years after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. For decades, Democrats have been viewed by the public as soft on military issues. They trust Republicans more to fight wars. After a swift victory in knocking off the Taliban and liberating Afghanistan, easing up on Saddam's Iraq would have brought up the spectre of a Democrat getting weak again on war. Perception wouldn't necessarily equal reality, but deep-seated views like this slowly change.
Here in the real world we have to deal with probablities and possibilities. Mistakes were made, but no one can seriously claim Iraq, the region, and the world aren't safer with Saddam Hussein removed from power. In the case of Iraq, over-estimating the threat was prudent.
This intelligence failure is a bipartisan issue. Robert Einhorn, who worked at the State Department in both the Clinton and Bush administration said, "If we were massively wrong, we were all massively wrong. Everybody."
"A Desert Mirage: How U.S. Misjudged Iraq's Arsenal"
[This post has been added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
February 03, 2004
"Intent" Justified War
Colin Powell told reporters,
I think it was clear that this was a regime with intent, capability and it was a risk the president felt strongly we could not take and it was something we all agreed to and would probably agree to it again under any other set of circumstances.
Maybe I missed it but I would feel better about my pro-war support had Saddam's WMD intents have been emphasized more.
And why does George Tenet still have a job?
"Powell Says Invasion Justified by Iraqi 'Intent'"
February 02, 2004
Like the incredible story told by Bill Safire, it will be years and years before the public finds out about some of the successful secret operations in the Islamist War. That makes it hard for the public and politicians to measure its progress. The best measurement we have is to note that there haven't been any al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. since Sep. 11.
January 31, 2004
There should be a commission to investigate Iraq intelligence and , and it's good the White House appears to be supporting one. If it turns out the administration manipulated the intelligence, at the minimum, they should be denied re-election.
But so far, I've seen no evidence of deliberate manipulation. The most impressive argument is that during the debate over the war no one claimed Saddam didn't have WMD. If France thought otherwise then it would have been a strong card to play at the U.N. You would also think they would speak up loudly now if they knew the WMD threat wasn't what was claimed by the U.S. Instead, we hear silence.
There is a huge difference between lying and being wrong. Paul Wolfowitz said,
You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later.
Simply being wrong doesn't mean deliberate falsification took place. Anyone who thinks otherwise should put themselves in President Bush's shoes.
"Bush Considers Iraq Intelligence Review"
UPDATE: This Wall Street Journal editorial makes the points I was trying to make, and they did it so much better. That's why they get paid to write while I'm up late a night tapping on a keyboard as a hobby.
"So Where's the WMD?"
January 18, 2004
When will a Dem weblogger accuse Michael O'Hanlon of not being a "true liberal" (even though he works at the Brookings Institution? While being critical of some aspects of the Iraq War, O'Hanlon refutes Bush's opponents' claim that the war prevents going after al Qaeda.
January 14, 2004
If Paul O'Neill misused documents while CEO of Alcoa like Power Line accuses him of doing then the feds better send a forensic accounting team to look at Alcoa's books.
January 11, 2004
How unpatriotic and irresponsible is Paul O'Neill? If he felt the U.S. was going to war on false pretenses he had an obligation to speak out. That he didn't until he had a book coming out just reaks of opportunism.
"Inspector O'Neill: There Was No Evident of WMD"
January 07, 2004
Halliburton Found Innocent
The Army Corps of Engineers has determined that Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root division was justified "in the price it charged the government for importing hundreds of millions of dollars of petrol and other fuel into Iraq."
"Halliburton Wins Round in Iraq Pricing Battle"
December 29, 2003
Less Debt for Iraq
Japan has agreed to reduce a portion of its outstanding Iraqi debt. James Baker is turning out to be an economic saint for the Middle East debtor. Chalk this up as another foreign policy achievement by President Bush. This time no stick was needed.
"Japan Ready to Write Off Majority of Iraq Debt"
December 22, 2003
WI Reporter Weblogging in Iraq
December 21, 2003
Time Person of the Year
December 17, 2003
James Baker is doing amazing work on reducing Iraq's debt. In a little over two weeks, he's moved France and Germany from being totally recalcitrant to not requiring a new Iraqi government to be in place before debt is reduced. Russia will require its companies have access to rebuilding contracts. It's all a part of the Bush strategy I surmised last week.
I did enjoy John Cole's rip on Howard the Duck:
If only Howard Dean had taken the time to teach former Secretary Baker and President Bush about foreign affairs, instead of just teaching them about defense, perhaps that could have been negotiated today. Howie will soon save us all, I guess.
December 16, 2003
Baker Already Succeeding
It didn't take James Baker very long to find some success in reducing Iraq's debts. Also, the carrot-and-stick approach seems to be working. France is already willing to eliminate some of its debt in a deal put together next year. France wants to tie it to the establishment of a new Iraqi government. Since the plan is to shift sovereignty to them next summer, the U.S. and its diplomatic adversary are on the same page. On the rebuilding contracts front, the administration says its remains open to discussion.
"U.S., Germany, France Agree Iraq Needs Debt Relief"
December 14, 2003
Doing My Best Cheney Impression
Fox News just reported an explosion in Baghdad. For up-to-the-second coverage go to The Command Post. TAM will be off to an undisclosed location to eat good food, drink good beer, and (hopefully) watch a Packers victory. I don't know if I will post until this evening.
The Complicated World We Live In
Michael Van Winkle has a cogent post on Iraq rebuilding contracts. In his argument he sees this as a free-rider problem:
The whole world benefits from the coalition’s actions in Iraq. So if you’re a foreign country, there is not much incentive to join the coalition because you know they are going to overthrow Saddam with or without you. Your benefit is the same whether you pay or not. Leaving contract bidding unrestricted enhances this effect even more. This would be a disaster for future American campaigns. We would expect that fewer and fewer countries would participate unless they had an immanent security threat, even if the whole world agreed that the campaign would be beneficial.
President Addresses Nation
I just watched President Bush's brief statement. Here are some quotes:
"His capture was critical to the rise of a free Iraq."
To Iraqi people:
To American people:
"We Got Him"
Note in Saddam's capture that he was found in a spider hole on a farm. Over five months passed since President Bush declared major war operations over. It took that long to find one man. We shouldn't be surprised that WMD hasn't been found yet.
"Without Firing a Shot, U.S. Forces Detain Ex-Iraqi Leader"
To follow the news as its made periodically visit The Command Post.
"Roundup of Saddam Stories"
UPDATE II: Fox News is reporting a rumor that Saddam's location may have bee given away by a tipster. If so, that person may have earned the $25 million bounty on that thug's head. Note: this was only a brief mention, but I'll be keeping my ears peeled on this angle.
Let's be real clear... If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam would be in power, not in prison.
Now why couldn't Joe have said this stuff a few months ago? Is it because the Democratic base so full of anti-war/anti-Bush rage they wouldn't listen?
December 11, 2003
Matthew Gross, Duck, M.D.'s chief weblogger had underestimated President Bush's tactic in regards to Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Bush sustained the new policy that only companies from countries that are part of the war coalition can bid on the major contracts (but they can be subcontractors). Here's an key item from the LA Times:
The president made no mention of specific nations. But in a clear reference to France, Russia and Germany — key targets of a U.S. effort being led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III to restructure Iraq's staggering international debt, estimated at $125 billion — Bush suggested that he might look more favorably on those who helped ease Iraq's current financial problems, even if they had not contributed militarily or financially to the war effort.
Carrot, meet stick. And with this Bush could do some major damage on Iraq's huge debt. If the President pulls this off Iraq's future is more secure, he can claim a substantial foreign policy victory, and Duck, M.D.'s chances at beating him become dimmer.
"Bush Stands Firm on Iraq Contracts"
December 03, 2003
Brooks on Soldiers in Iraq
David Brooks writes on the peacekeeping and warmaking U.S. soldiers have to do in Iraq. He also takes on the "America as Empire" meme:
When you read their writings you see what thorough democrats they are. They are appalled at the thought of dominating Iraq. They want to see the Iraqis independent and governing themselves. If some president did want to create an empire, he couldn't do it with these people. Their faith in freedom governs their actions.
November 30, 2003
Serious Problems at Guantanamo
Now, a fourth person has been accused of security problems at Guantanamo. Col. Jack Farr, a reservist, is accused of "wrongly transporting classified material" and lying to investigators. At first glance, this doesn't look as suspicious as Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, who is accused of spying for Syria, or Army Captain James Yee, who received religious training in Syria. But even sloppy handling of classified information isn't very assuring. Let's just say, I'm happy those terrorists are tucked away in Cuba. Heads should start rolling and/or some inquisitive Congressmen should look into this.
"US Officer Faces Security Charges"
"Guantanamo Officer Charged with Security Breach"
November 27, 2003
"The Ultimate Road Trip"
It takes a lot of guts for a President to pull off a secret mission to Baghdad. This wasn't just going anywhere in the occupied country. No, President Bush flew into the heart of the
Reuters has a great report on how Bush snuck out of his Crawford ranch onto Air Force One bound for Maryland. There he switched planes for the long flight to Baghdad. All along, Bush was willing to cancel the mission if it leaked out. On the way to Iraq, it almost happened:
The plane took off for Baghdad on Wednesday night on an 11-hour flight.
The troops loved it, cynics and Bush bashers nash their teeth, some reporters are ticked at not being on the flight, and the Democrats once again look dumbfounded before a bold and clever man they always underestimate.
In Afghanistan, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) celebrated Thanksgiving with the troops there. Bravo to her.
"Bush Pays Surprise Thanksgiving Visit to Troops in Iraq"
"Amid Tight Secrecy, a Tip: Bush Is Going to Baghdad"
"Guess Who's Coming to Thanksgiving Dinner?"
"How Bush was Whisked to Iraq"
UPDATE: Oliver Willis tried really hard to be 100% nice about the trip, but he just couldn't stop his case of knee-jerk Bush bashing:
Wonder if he found any WMDs there? Just asking.
Note that TAM made no cynical remark about Hillary in Afghanistan. I could, but I won't. She did a good deed. Nothing else needs to be said.
UPDATE II: Matthew Yglesias joins the cynical Bush bashing party by bluntly calling the trip a "little stunt."
UPDATE III: Matthew Yglesias won't renege his comment. He goes even further in this post:
That doesn't mean everything Bush does is harmful -- there's no real harm done here -- but it does mean that none of it should be taken seriously. It was a stunt -- designed to maximize partisan advantage. Hence the secrecy, etc., etc. I'm not going to give the president credit for pulling stunts, even if they are well-executed stunts.
He fits in perfectly with the TAP crowd.
November 23, 2003
A Report from Prague
You could say New Media (broadly defined) was beating the pants off Old Media on the al-Qaeda/Iraq connection if the latter was even bothering to cover it. No big newspapers or news magazines have followed up on The Weekly Standard's report by Stephen Hayes on a
November 15, 2003
A Smoking Gun
The Weekly Standard has a blockbuster on a memo showing a 13-year link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. It even appears Iraq wanted to finance the Sep. 11 attacks. From the memo (as quoted by Stephen Hayes):
The Czech counterintelligence service reported that the Sept. 11 hijacker [Mohamed] Atta met with the former Iraqi intelligence chief in Prague, [Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir] al Ani, on several occasions. During one of these meetings, al Ani ordered the IIS finance officer to issue Atta funds from IIS financial holdings in the Prague office.
Hayes adds, "Note that the report stops short of confirming that the funds were transferred. It claims only that the IIS officer requested the transfer."
Is this the reason we toppled Saddam? Is the intelligence contained in this memo the reason Iraq was an immediate target after the Sep. 11 attacks? How much training does al-Qaeda have in regards to WMD? Is the reason they haven't carried out such an attack due to lack of materials (uranium, killer viruses, certain chemicals), the lack of knowledge, or both?
My guess is the White House leaked this memo to the sympathetic magazine.
November 14, 2003
The Birth of a Nation
Mark Pierce is on a roll. This time, he has a good piece on the U.S. occupation and the creation of a new Iraqi state.
"The Iraqi Double Fork"
Local Hero Honored
Maj. Mark Mitchell will received the Army's Distinguished Service Cross, the military's second-highest honor, today for his heroism in attacking a prison in Afghanistan two years ago. That was the prison filled with al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners of war where CIA agent Johnny Spann was killed.
"In the Line of Duty, a Hero Emerges"
November 13, 2003
How do I address Oliver's pretty flimsy argument? His attempt at satire fell flat here in TAM land. Then his point falls short. He writes, "[T]he people who are supporting and encouraging a war of first-strike aggression are the same people who didn't/aren't serving." The first thought that came to mind was, "So what?" That's an ad hominem attack. But in the next sentence, Oliver trips over himself. "Do you have to have been in the military to support or oppose war? No." If it doesn't matter, then why did he bring it up?
What Oliver doesn't understand is pro-war webloggers don't get some glee from Americans sacrificing their lives. What we have realized is after September 11, the world changed. After that date, we knew we weren't safe from terrorist attacks. A city could burn up in nuclear hellfire. A deadly plague could ravage whole states. The scales fell from our eyes. Unless America's enemies are stopped ("eradicated" as Oliver put it), all of us are vulnerable.
Here's an example from Glenn Reynolds. On 8.28.01, Reynolds wrote:
To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, a nation's got to know its limitations. We were established as an anti-imperial nation. Playing a quasi-imperial role during the Cold War strained our nation's institutions, and its soul, almost to the breaking point. Playing the role of global hegemon, without any struggle against an Evil Empire to give it a moral center, would surely destroy us.
A few weeks later, three jets were turned into cruise missiles aimed at our financial and governmental centers. When events change one's worldview changes along with it. Glenn became a "warblogger."
We've supported invading both Afghanistan and Iraq because they were threats to the U.S. Afghanistan because it was home to al-Qaeda while under Taliban rule; Iraq because of their WMD. Oliver and others may disagree with this opinion.
Let's turn on the way-back machine to find out what Oliver was thinking in the days after the Sep. 11 attacks. There's this post:
It is good to see England, Germany, France and the rest of Europe stand with us, as well as NATO's willingness to treat this as an attack on all the member nations. But, this is not the time to build international coalitions like we did in the Gulf War. America fights now. If those other countries want to help, more power to them - but this is our battle.
Then here's a portion of this one:
The enemy must be eradicated. Not attacked, or bombed, but eradicated. One by one we must expunge the world of these terrorists. When that is accomplished, we will work with the countries of the world to set things right - as we did after World War II.
Oliver was pretty upset and justifiably so. But was he a "chickenhawk" then because he didn't immediately march to the local recruiting office and enlist? No.
Finally, after the attacks Oliver wasn't so keen on coalition building:
As I saw on a British comedy: "Weak as water". This is why coalition building is useless. The rest of the world continually hems and haws, wrings its hands, issues "condemnations" from the UN. They talk diplomacy when the enemy kills innocents. It seems only England truly understands the situation. They stand with us. If the rest of the world doesn't stand with us, where do they stand? Think about it.
To be up-front, my pro-war views have hardened since Sep. 11. On 9.26.01, I wrote:
A war on global terrorism is impractical. There are so many groups out there and only one or a handful took part on the 9.11 attacks. An open-ended quest to rid the world of terrorism would be a bigger failure than the War on Drugs. Terrorists would still exist and would attempt counterstrikes.
I supported the Iraq War even if Saddam wasn't a "direct, immediate threat." I went from that to this position:
Iraq can never move forward as long as Saddam remains in power. Recent history shows that internal opposition won't topple him. Maybe U.S. military might can? Liberating Afghanistan is step one in the War on Terrorism. Liberating Iraq would be a good step two.
As I put it in a post last year, "At its core, invading Iraq is a war to save lives."
Neither Oliver then nor I now are chickenhawks. We're just two people who disagree about means to the same end--wiping out the Islamist terrorist threat to the U.S. Tom Tomorrow, who started this whole debate, has no idea how pro-war webloggers' thoughts evolved. He just went for the quick insult.
Do I believe that my decision to serve my country somehow makes my opinion more relevant than those who chose not to join up? While I do feel that my experiences in the military, and especially my time in the Gulf, give me a unique perspective on some issues of national security, I don’t believe that it somehow makes me morally superior to those who have never worn wear a uniform. After all, serving in the US military is all about protecting the freedoms that we ALL cherish – including the right to free speech.
November 11, 2003
My closest connections to veterans are a cousin who was a Marine about ten years ago and a great uncle who fought in WWII. On this Veteran's Day I just want to say thank you to
November 10, 2003
Rummy Vs. Aziz
At a dinner in 1985, Rumsfeld demonstrated his concern for the Arabs. He challenged Tariq Aziz, then Iraqi foreign minister, on Iraq's attempt at uniting the Arab world:
Rumsfeld expressed his admiration for the foreign minister’s ability and for the aim of modernizing the Arab world. He shared and supported the idea that Arabs should live with pride and comfort, rather than being ruled by princes and tyrants. His goodwill toward Iraq had recently been demonstrated by his success as Middle East negotiator in restoring diplomatic relations between Iraq and the United States. Aziz beamed with pleasure. But then Rumsfeld asked Aziz directly: “Do you really think the way to achieve what you are attempting is through ethnic solidarity? Are you convinced that you have more in common with all Arabs than with others who are non-Arab but share a vision of hope and decency for all peoples? Is it possible that the quest for Arab solidarity is driving the Arab world to seek alliances that are artificial or based on self-defeating and costly hatreds?”
Rumsfeld went on to say, "The values that ensure political and economic progress are universal, not ethnic." The way the Pentagon has approached the war and post-war shows its leader still believes those words.
November 08, 2003
Hotel Attackers Captured
U.S. troops captured Iraqis suspected of being behind last month's Rasheed Hotel attack.
"US Troops Grab Iraq Hotel Attack Suspects in Raids"
Whenever you notice a Democrat yapping about how the Iraq War was wrong because WMD hasn't been found, just pull out this list of Democrat quotes. If President Bush was wrong about WMD, then so were a lot of others.
"Clintonistas on Iraq"
November 06, 2003
McCain Wants More Troops
Sen. John McCain is criticizing post-Iraq War efforts. He wants more troops there to put down any Baathist/Islamist resistance. Like all the "more troops in Iraq" crowd, he doesn't mention if the U.S. has the manpower to send more troops, or where they'd come from. It's not like the U.S. can send a carrier group back to the Persian Gulf and those seaman can be used on the ground. What would seem like prudent strategy is to send special forces into the Sunni Triangle to destroy the resistence, but they may be too occupied with chasing al-Qadea in Afghanistan.
"McCain: Force Levels in Iraq Inadequate"
"McCain on War"
November 05, 2003
Joyner on Luttwak
James comments on the Edward Luttwak article I posted on:
Luttwak's argument is reasonable but he comes to the wrong conclusion. It is not only unrealistic but unwise to employ that many American soldiers as civil police authorities. This would only inflame resentment.
"Boot on the Ground IV"
November 04, 2003
The Right was Right
Spinsanity analyzes the misuse of the words "imminent threat."
Destroy the Enemy
A little bit of recent history can certainly make my war juices boil. Rich Lowry compares Sunday's downing of a Chinook helicopter to the Black Hawk Down battle in Somalia in 1993. He writes that after 18 Americans were killed followers of warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed were terrified of a counterattack. That never came to be. Instead, President Clinton bailed out of Somalia sending the message to al-Qaeda that the U.S. didn't have a fighting heart. Such a message may have inspired bin Laden to go ahead with the Sep. 11 attacks.
Fate has given the U.S. an opportunity to make amends. Since Iraqi resistance killed 16 of ours, troops should go out and kill 32 of theirs. If they kill 20 of ours, we must kill 40 of theirs. Superior force against force. That's what thugs like them understand. One way to rebuild support for the war at home is victory. Smash the resistance, show their destruction to the world, and let America's enemies quake in fear.
"Black Hawk Down Redux"
More Troops? From Where?
Edward Luttwak's, Fareed Zakaria's, and David Brooks' criticisms of winning the Iraqi peace beg the question: Do we have enough troops available to send to Iraq? Right now, there are three hot spots where U.S. troops are needed: Afghanistan, North Korea, and Iraq. Troops there can't be moved to Iraq or those missions would be threatened. NRO's Stanley Kurtz offers the volunteer route. Recruiting more would mean months of training before they were battle-ready. So where do we get more troops in the mean time?
"So Few Soldiers, So Much to Do"
"Iraqification: Losing Strategy"
"A Burden Too Heavy to Put Down"
November 03, 2003
Wolfowitz on Democracy
I would have thought a highly-studied man like Paul Wolfowitz would know the difference between democracy and limited government. At a speech in Iraq, he told his audience,
To Americans, the most important thing about democracy is to guarantee human rights and justice for all.
Democracy is only a design of government. What Wolfowitz is refering to is limited government, classical liberalism. Just as authoritarian dictators can justify their rule through democratic means (Saddam claimed 100% of the vote months before the war) nations can guarantee human rights and justice without democracy (Hong Kong pre-Chinese take over).
Also in David Ignatius' piece he continues the lie that the Iraq War was in response to Saddam's "imminent threat" to the U.S.
November 02, 2003
One quick post before watching the Packers beat the Vikings. This week at OpinionJournal Bernard Lewis and James Woolsey advise the allies to use the 1925 Iraqi constitution as a transition device to modern Iraqi self-rule. Also, they reject the fetish of some to yearn for U.N. submission in this process:
Some contend that a process that gave the U.N. a central role would somehow confer legitimacy. We are at a loss to understand this argument. Nearly 40% of the U.N. members' governments do not practice succession by election. In the Middle East only Israel and Turkey do so. Why waste time with U.N. member governments, many of them nondemocratic, working out their differences--and some indeed fundamentally oppose democracy in Iraq--when the key parties who need to do that are the Iraqis? Besides, real legitimacy ultimately will come about when Iraq has a government that "deriv[es] its just power from the consent of the governed." During a transition in which Iraq is moving toward democracy, a government that is operating under its existing constitution, with a monarch as called for in that document, is at least as legitimate as the governments of U.N. members that are not democracies at all.
Lewis and Woolsey are being too kind to U.N.-ites. Those in favor of greater U.N. involvement in Iraq do so because it isn't a U.S. led institution. American opponents like France don't give a damn about Iraqis or a transition to self-rule. Their goal is to lessen American "hyperpower."
"King and Country"
Local Hero Killed
Christopher Mueller, southeast Wisconsin native, was killed this week chasing terrorists in Afghanistan. The former Navy Seal was working for the CIA.
"Tracking Terrorists, Waukesha Native Gave his Life"
Lt. Col. Allen West
Boycott Hollywood is nowt Right Voices. Chris has posted on the Lt. Col. Allen B. West story. He's the soldier in Iraq who got some information out of a prisoner by shooting his pistol in the air. The prisoner wasn't harmed (except for some soiled pants) and he foudn out about a future sniper attack. Lt. Col. West is now facing charges for his interrogation method.
"Tying The Hands Of Our Troops"
October 28, 2003
War on the Home Front
Do you think all the important fighting of the Islamist War is happening overseas? Do you want to serve your country but for any number of reasons (financial, familial, etc.) can't? Here's Dean Esmay:
It's time to take the gloves off, kids. The real war is for hearts and minds here at home, and the enemy is the pernicious pack of lies that Iraq is a "quagmire," that the Iraqis hate us, that our forces are losing, that our casualties are heavy, or that we did this for "imperialist" reasons.
This struggle might be even longer than the one our boys are fighting in Iraq.
October 26, 2003
Serving His Country
Rich Galen will be putting his Mullings column on hiatus for a few months. Why?
If everything goes according to plan, just about this time next week I would be winging my way east as a civilian employee of the United States Department of Defense with the task of helping to see that the full story of what the US is accomplishing and what the Iraqis are accomplishing in Iraq is being told to viewers, listeners, and readers in America and around the world.
The DoD made a great choice.
"Mullings Goes to War"
October 25, 2003
ANSWER is at It Again
For anti-war/Bush bashing coverage, visit Michele.
October 21, 2003
Hersh Perpetuates Lie
Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker article argues that the Bush administration rejected traditional intelligence-vetting methods. The result being that the President went to war in Iraq on bad information. I'd be more sympathetic to the argument if Hersh didn't rely so much on quotes from anonymous sources. If these people want to seriously accuse the administration they should have the guts to be in the open about it.
What I want to mention is this sentence near the end of Hersh's piece (emphasis mine):
[Iraq Survey Group head, David] Kay was widely seen as having made the best case possible for President Bush’s prewar claims of an imminent W.M.D. threat.
Hersh continues the lie that we went to war because Iraq was an imminent threat. President Bush never said that. In fact, what Bush said in the State of the Union speech was we couldn't wait until Saddam's threat was imminent.
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Hersh is being dishonest by not providing any quotes where Bush or any officials contradict this.
October 18, 2003
Senators Back from Iraq
A group of Senators told reporters of their recent visit to Iraq. Sen. Mitch McConnell pointed out the positive things happening there:
First, I know that all of you must have been taught in journalism school that only bad news is news. But I would argue that in Iraq, good news is news, because if you were there for the last 35 years, you saw nothing but atrocities. Saddam Hussein, as you well know, murdered 300,000 of his own citizens. And if you're an Iraqi, you're probably living in a safer environment today than you were during that period, particularly if you've made a mistake and uttered your opinion on something.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a war opponent, spoke of needed investment in Iraq:
I was also struck, as an opponent of the war that the people that we did meet with are happy to get the heavy boot of Saddam Hussein off their necks, and that came through very strongly. However, it's all still not a bed of roses. Somebody is still killing us over there. And I think if we're going to turn the corner, as Ambassador Bremer says, we count on human intelligence, and that's a big word for they got to -- the Iraqi people have to rat-out the bad guys. And that's -- I think if we're going to turn the corner, we have to continue to invest in Iraq so that we can count on that human intelligence because that's going to make the difference.
"Senators in DoD Briefing Room Discuss Recent Congressional Delegation to Iraq"
October 17, 2003
Senate Piles Debt on Iraq
If the Senate has it's way the embryonic free Iraq will be saddled with $20 billion in debt. For Democrats (some running for President) it was a way to stick it to President Bush. The House passed a bill without the $20 billion in loans. A conference committee will have to put together a deal. What I want to know is who actually thinks Iraq will pay the loan back? While progess is being made to rebuild the country they're in no condition to pay the U.S. (let alone pay off the debt racked up by Saddam). Burdening a country we want to see succeed with billions in debt isn't smart foreign policy. So, I'm joining this bi-partisan group of webloggers opposing the loans.
"House Clears $87 Billion Iraq Spending Bill"
October 16, 2003
Hoystory responds to 60 Minutes II's story on Iraq intelligence. While it's become a broken record in the blogosphere, he points out that CBS claims President Bush's reason for the war was Iraq's imminent threat to the U.S. That is, of course, not true.
October 15, 2003
Iraq War Hero
"Good News, Bad News"
October 14, 2003
Things are getting better in Iraq despite all the bad news you see and read in most news reports. Most importantly, good progress is being made to build a democratic republic as Thomas Friedman notes.
October 13, 2003
Guess who said this:
Iraq repeatedly made false declarations about the weapons that it had left in its possession after the Gulf War. When UNSCOM would then uncover evidence that gave the lie to those declarations, Iraq would simply amend the reports. For example, Iraq revised its nuclear declarations four times within just 14 months, and it has submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each of which has been rejected by UNSCOM.
You'd think it was some crazy neo-conservative intent on turning Iraq into the 51st. state to be an example for the rest of the Middle East. If you guess that, you're wrong! It was President Bill Clinton who said these words in 1998.
The Weekly Standard then once again makes THE case for war in Iraq:
We have retold this long story for one simple reason: This is why George W. Bush and Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar led their governments and a host of others to war to remove the Saddam Hussein regime in March 2003. It was not, in the first instance, to democratize the Middle East, although we have always believed and still believe that the building of a democratic Iraq, if the United States succeeds in doing so, will have a positive impact on the Arab world. It was not to increase the chances of an Arab-Israeli peace, although we still believe that the removal of a dangerous radical tyrant like Saddam Hussein may make that difficult task somewhat easier. It was not because we believed Saddam Hussein had ordered the September 11 attack, although we believe the links between Saddam and al Qaeda are becoming clearer every day (see Stephen F. Hayes's article on page 33 of this issue). Nor did the United States and its allies go to war because we believed that some quantity of "yellowcake" was making its way from Niger to Iraq, or that Saddam was minutes away from launching a nuclear weapon against Chicago. We never believed the threat from Saddam was "imminent" in that sense.
That's the pro-war argument (except for Tom Friedman's tangential case for toppeling Saddam to shake things up in Islamdom). Now, can the anti-war Bush-basher please offer a response without using straw men and misquotes?
"Why We Went to War"
October 04, 2003
Dummy Corp Outed
I'll see about posting my thoughts from the first day of BloggerCon later. But because of the spotty Net connection in my hotel and me being beat from a stimulating day among webloggers I'll just make a brief comment about Valarie Plame's dummy company that got outed with her.
If she was under such secret cover why didn't she donate $1000 to AlGore in 1999? That left a trail for foreign governments and investigative reporters to find. This story is just too strange. It certainly wouldn't make for much of a spy novel.
September 30, 2003
Bush's Role in Plame/Wilson
John Cole's question about President Bush's role in the Plame/Wilson investigation is just so good:
Why does the left seem to think that Bush needs to get involved in this- my guess is so that anything he says can be scrutinized and distorted so later on they can treat it as a lie or as evidence of a cover-up?
If Bush did get personally involved in the investigation he could be asked by reporters or investigators as to what he knew and when. If he lied or said anything strange this affair would turn into a "coverup is worse than the crime" scandal. To protect the President, I'm guessing only lawyers in the White House Counsel's office is asking anything. As lawyers they have more protection with the attorney-client privilege. Ironically, those Bush critics who complain that Bush isn't involved enough to get to bottom of this have created an environment where the President can't get involved or risk further political and legal liability.
"Last Plame Post for a While"
Matthew makes two good points on Plame/Wilson. First:
Am I alone in thinking that the CIA is withholding some information on Plame -- in particular, exact details of her "undercover" status -- not because it would reveal secrets, but because the CIA as an institution feels slighted by the administration's cherry-picking of intel from various sources, and so is allowing the Plame scandal to play out in a way that's as embarassing as possible to the administration and their hawk supporters, including those DOD apparatchiks who will inevitably fall on their sword if and when the administration decides to cut its losses and finger someone to blame?
Here's another question that nobody seems to be asking: if Plame really was undercover at the time Novak's column was published, why would White House politicos/PR hacks know the identity of an undercover CIA agent? Does the CIA go around handing out booklets with the names of undercover agents to just anyone who works in the White House? The fact that leakers could so readily name Plame suggests either (a) that there are inter-administration leaks between the CIA and the White House, or (b) that her identity really was an "open secret," as some Beltway conservatives have alleged.
George Tenet could answer a few questions, but since he fell on his sword over the 16 words he'll just let the White House flail away for a while.
A question that hasn't been answered is who are the other reporters who were told about Plame yet didn't report it? Who initiated contact? What was said? This is news that the public should know. It would help the investigation, and help President Bush hold people accountable. It would also make one blockbuster story sure to boost the reporters' careers. There may be some qualms about compromising a source, but if accurate, this source broke the law.
"Still a Lot of Smoke, and Justice Thinks there's a Fire"
UPDATE: Today's Howard Kurtz column tries to answer my question about why reporters haven't come forward:
All good questions. Reporters who got these calls are now in the uncomfortable situation of having to honor their confidentiality pledge to the administration officials, even as Justice looks into who the officials are and whether they committed a crime. Not since Ken Starr and his folks were accused of illegal leaks during the Clinton impeachment have journalists, and their willingness to grant high-level people anonymity, become part of the story in this fashion.
It really doesn't answer my question, but it does get into the mind of these reporters. But if the leaker would be hung out to dry or forced to do the perp walk, why should the reporter care about their confidentiality pledge? Suppose the pledge is broken and the reporter outs the leaker. Future leakers would be disinclined to talk to that reporter. Is that a bad thing? It stops the flow of information, but the flow would never happened anyway because the reporter keeps quiet. Also, the leaker intends to use that flow for anti-social purposes.
"One Heckuva Leak"
September 28, 2003
AintNoBadDude has a link to the Washington Post story on Plame/Wilson (to use Glenn Reynolds' label) as well as blogosphere commentary. I didn't watch any Sunday yap-fests so I don't know how it's playing inside the Beltway. Outside the Beltway (like the transition?) James Joyner takes a wait-and-see approach.
To show how serious this scandal could be Daniel Drezner, once an unpaid Bush-Cheney advisor, mentioned the i-word if Bush had anything to do with this.
September 27, 2003
Putting the Africa uranium claim into the State of the Union speech may have been a mistake (the 16 words have never been shown to be inaccurate), but if White House officials broke laws and compromised an intelligence agent they must be fired and prosecuted. This could be serious scandal if the President doesn't act fast. None of the standard "wait for the investigation to proceed" business.
September 25, 2003
Hobbs Speaks Truth
Bill Hobbs has some good evidence that President Bush didn't lie about his reasons for going to war in Iraq. It didn't have to do with Iraq sponsoring the Sep. 11th attacks. It was a pre-emptive war to oust a wicked man who was a threat to the U.S.
[via Balloon Juice]
Dems Bash Bias
When Democrats are critical of media coverage in Iraq, you know something is wrong with the press. Most notable was a comment by Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) who said there were only 27 reporters left in Iraq.
September 18, 2003
France Wants U.S. Out of Iraq
Want to assure failure in Iraq? Listen to the French and hand over power to Iraqis in a few months. Such a quick transistion would require neglecting work on a constitution. Democracy isn't enough for Iraq. A limited government that respects the rights of its citizens is needed. Otherwise that place has a good chance to splinter along ethnic and religious lines. David Phillips of the Council on Foreign Relations sees this transition taking at least one year.
If you haven't already, read Fareed Zakaria's column in the Washington Post.
"France Wants Transfer of Power to Iraqis in Months"
"Iraq: Washington Sees Complex Process To Restore Sovereignty"
September 12, 2003
There is very promising data from a Zogby/The American Enterprise polls of Iraqis. Seven of ten expect their lives to be better five years from now. As to what country's political system to emulate, the U.S. topped Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. 60% said they don't want an Islamic government.
September 09, 2003
Reality in Iraq
With most of the news coverage from Iraq reporting what an awful situation our troops are in, perspective is needed. Some was provided last Saturday at a press conference. General Ricardo Sanchez told reporters:
The last five days we have had an average of 15 attacks per day. Fifty percent of those attacks were attacks that were conducted at a long range, outside of contact of the American and Coalition forces. The enemy has made a decision to stay away and not engage us other than with improvised explosives that are being remotely controlled, or with mortars where they can escape readily.
He went on to say,
We've said it repeatedly that what is required here, and the Secretary just highlighted it, is that we need the Iraqi people to help us, give us the intelligence that is necessary for us to go out and defeat these disparate elements
At that same press conference, Donald Rumsfeld offered a good explaination for not sending a massive amount of new troops to Iraq:
To the extent you "flood the zone" or whatever you said by burying this country in foreign forces, what do you do? You don't fight any more battles because there are only so many terrorists, there are only so many criminals, and there are criminals and terrorists in practically every city in the world. But what you do do is you create this heavy, unnatural presence. And to the extent you do that there's a tendency, not always, but there can be a tendency for the people not to assume their own responsibility but to point fingers and rely on the foreign troops to make life perfect and that's not going to happen.
Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability in Iraq
Then there's a story that I'm sure won't make the front page of the NY Times. 158 troopers from the 101st Airborne re-enlisted for another tour. Those guys know the Islamist War isn't short-term. I'm proud these guys are defending us.
September 07, 2003
I need more on this story. How 80 Australian SAS troops took on Iraqi opposition sometimes outnumbering them 10 to 1 is amazing. Even more amazing is they didn't have a single casualty. Wow!
"Inside the SAS in Iraq"
August 28, 2003
Perle Admits Mistakes
Richard Perle, a key cheerleader for war, told a French newspaper that "mistakes have been made" in Iraq. His solution is to create an Iraqi government as soon as possible. An Iraqi constitution is not even in an embryonic state so any kind of permanent government structure is months or even years away. And would a quick transfer of power to Iraqis only make the new government the target of attacks to undermine it? And what would happen if a new Iraqi government decided that the U.S.'s time was up and wanted them to leave. Would Bush remove the troops if Iraq wasn't yet stable and on the path to democracy? Perle's been right on many elements of this war, but not in this case.
"Perle Cites Errors in Iraq, Urges Power Transfer"
August 27, 2003
Lt. Smash is home. Hoorah!
"The Long Road Home"
August 26, 2003
Brits Not Backing Down
The Brits aren't backing off their claim that Saddam could have launch chemical weapons in 45 minutes.
August 20, 2003
Mark Edwards has a reasonable explaination for how a photojournalist was mistaken for an Iraqi guerilla and killed.
August 19, 2003
Salman Pax on today's bombing:
was there about an hour after it happened. really bad. very quick response from the American military, the helicopters with red crosses on them were going back and forth and there wer always three waiting to get the poeple to hospitals. ambulances going back and forth. the whole area cordoned off. the worst was having to talk to people who have relative and family in there. it is a car bombed there is no question about it.
"Bad Scene, Very Bad Scene"
August 12, 2003
Commerical Flights to Basra
Since we don't read enough good news from Iraq, here's something positive:
British Airways has been given permission from the US-led administration in Iraq to resume flights to the country after a gap of 13 years.
Progress is being made. Iraq is slowly returning to the global community.
"BA to Start Flights to Iraq"
Human Shield Fined
Maybe it's the August doldrums, but over these past few days it's been really hard to post something, anything. But this story just needs to be shared.
When Ryan Clancy went to Iraq to protest the war, he knew he was breaking the law. He thought the penalty was a $500 fine, a price he was willing to pay for the cause of peace.
Clancy was one of the peaceniks who road that damn double-decker bus into Iraq. The feds really shouldn't be wasting their time on a punk like this who was in the middle of Saddam's authoritarian Iraq and still came out opposed to the war. Get this quote from Clancy,
The U.S. was interfering in an extremely destructive way, punishing Saddam's victims and breeding more terrorists.
Well, by going to Iraq he was supporting a brutal regime. The war freed Iraq's people. By toppling Saddam, they now have a chance to breath free and rise to their God-given potential. If he really "cared about the children" he would have backed regime change years ago. It just goes to show you can still be stupid even if you have a degree from a good school.
"Back from Iraq, Activist Finds Price of Protest is $10,000 Fine"
UPDATE: Midwest Pundits links to a similar story involving a Florida woman.
August 09, 2003
WMD in September
According to Robert Novak, Iraqi WMD will be shown to the world next month.
July 31, 2003
WMD in Iraq
Kate is confident that WMD will be found in Iraq:
After the flak after Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. in February, and all of the false-positives on various items discovered since the start of the war, I have no doubt that any case presented to the world will be iron-clad. My guess is that we'll not only have located the actual weapons and tested them, but we'll have pulled in quite a few intelligence agencies from other countries to perform their own verifications; we'll have videotaped and written statements by Iraqi scientists and military leaders; we'll have photos, sat photos, maps, charts, graphs, and every other piece of documentary evidence that you can imagine.
She's absolutely right on her last post.
"Don't Be Surprised"
July 30, 2003
Quote of the Day
Saddam Hussein is no longer bad news. He's a piece of trash waiting to be collected.--Colin Powell
July 23, 2003
We Shouldn't Have Killed Them
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) sounds like he prefered that Uday and Qusay Hussein, two of Iraq's chief brutalizers were still alive. Instead of praising the work of U.S. troops on vanquishing those evil men, Rangel mocked them by saying, "I personally don't get any satisfaction that it takes 200,000 troops, 250,000 troops, to knock off two bums." At least he had enough moral sense to call Uday and Qusay "bums."
In Iraq, instead of indignation, there was jubilation.
As word spread of the deaths of the feared and ruthless brothers, celebratory gunfire crackled across night-time Baghdad.
UPDATE: It's informative to write an article on how the U.S. has been ignoring the (stupid) ban on political assassination; but George Gedda makes it look like the U.S. were the bad guys here. Remember, we didn't start this war, and I have little sympathy for the deaths of those two tyrants.
July 20, 2003
Guerilla War Planned
From a Iraqi memo discovered by Al-Hayat the guerilla warfare happening right now was the plan should Saddam fall.
[via Oscar Jr.]
Reading the Speech
I may not be as sharp as usual today (lack of sleep can do that), but James' examination of the State of the Union speech (including those sixteen words) blows Bush bashers' criticisms right out of the water.
July 19, 2003
Release of NIE
What we've learned from the White House's release of a portion of last October's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is that government officials disagreed over the extent of Iraq's African uranium attempts. Wow, smart people disagreeing on facts, analysis, and conclusions. We've also learned that the charge of lying to go to war has an even shakier foundation than before.
"Warning in Iraq Report Unread"
July 16, 2003
CIA Should Use FedEx Next Time
In another twist to the already complicated Iraqi uranium charge, the CIA didn't get the forged documents until after President Bush's State of the Union speech. It offers some strength to the admistration's argument that the uranium claim was based on more than the Niger letter. But it also the White House was sloppy by including a charge that wasn't well supported by intelligence data. That doesn't make Bush or any of the people under him liars. It just shows that really smart people can make mistakes too.
"CIA Didn't Get Disputed Documents until after Bush Claim"
July 15, 2003
Quote the Press Release
Hey, boys and girls! It's time for every weblogger's favorite game of Quote the Press Release. It's a pretty simple game where the contestant (me) points out some interesting items from press releases. Hence the name.
Our victim of the moment is Presidential candidate Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) who wants to impeach President Bush over a remark in the State of the Union speech. At the time, here's what he had to say about the speech:
I think the President moved forward tonight and presented some new information. The test is going to be whether he is persuasive enough to cause a significant number of other countries to join us in an alliance. We don’t want to be in the situation of waging the military action alone, and then undertaking the reconstruction of Iraq alone.
Note that Graham was the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It's a good assumption that he was aware of the possibility that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Africa. If Graham then thought the intelligence was bogus, he didn't mention that in his response to the State of the Union.
Then in a 2.05.03 statement, Graham praised Colin Powell for his presentation to the U.N. Security Council. He also said,
Since October, the American intelligence community has been warning us that, when Saddam Hussein is on the verge of being toppled, he will be the most dangerous, including striking out against Americans here in our homeland and abroad.
Saddam was toppled yet he didn't strike out against Americans here or abroad. Was Graham lying when he made this statement? No, he was just wrong. And that's an important point that has to be emphasised when Bush bashers hyperventilate with their cries of "Bush lied!" The Bush administration has conceded that the uranium charge wasn't substantiated enough to be put in the State of the Union.
Now, onto Graham's speech he gave before the Senate during the Iraq war resolution debate. He called the resolution "timid" and wanted the President to have broader authority to wage war "against all international terrorists groups who will probably strike the United States as the regime of Saddam Hussein crumbles."
Most interesting in the speech are these sentences:
Now, there are good reasons for considering attacking today's Italy, meaning Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime has chemical and biological weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity. But the briefings I have received have shown that trying to block him and any necessary nuclear materials have been largely successful, as evidenced by the recent intercept of centrifuge tubes. And he is years away from having nuclear capability.
How much did Graham know about Iraq's attempts at getting nuclear material out of Africa? As a member of the Intelligence Committee, he's in a position to know if the President's claim was true or not, yet he said nothing in his post-State of the Union statement. He also didn't state that he considered the uranium charge to be "new information."
Based on the intelligence, Bush was wrong; but Graham was wrong about terrorist attacks, and no one is calling for his head. Well, let me be the first. As long as he thinks Bush should be impeached for coming to a wrong conclusion, I think Graham should resign or be recalled. At a minimum his selective memory as a Intelligence Committee member is being used to advance his Presidential campaign.
"Graham: Bush Still Needs to Make Case on Iraq"
"Security Must Be Bolstered Before War, Graham Says"
Senator Graham's Floor Statement on the Iraq Resolution
Kennedy's Claim of Iraqi "Tragedy"
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) shot his mouth off over Iraq:
The great tragedy would be that American servicemen are risking and losing their lives in Iraq based on flawed, distorted and failed intelligence.
Other than the uranium charge, what bad intelligence was used? Have we now learned Saddam didn't have WMD and didn't have a program to develop them? Have we now learned that Saddam was actually a benevolent leader who treated his people with love and respect? Have we learned Saddam didn't pay the families of Palestinian homicide bombers? Have we now learned that Saddam didn't really wage two wars against his neighbors but was really a sweet, caring man who had a mild obsession with putting his image everywhere in the country?
Kennedy may think we'll focus on the uranium issue, but I won't.
"Kennedy Says U.S. Policy in Iraq is Tragedy"
UPDATE: Steve at ESR Musings has some questions too.
July 14, 2003
African Uranium and Faking WMD
There are two good posts at the Reductio Ad Absurdum Blog (not to be confused with Reductio Ad Absurdum). First, Kevin points out that Tony Blair isn't stepping back from accusing Saddam of trying to get uranium from Africa. Then Rob explains how to make it look like Saddam has WMD even if he didn't. Here's his conclusion:
So, Bush lied about the WMD? Bull. The longer we go without finding WMD, the more convinced I am that he didn't lie. There were WMD in Iraq, I know this for a fact, almost as first-hand information. They're gone. They need to be found.
I missed them both because Reductio's server was cracked.
June 23, 2003
Lt. Smash has a good summary of what we've done in the 21 months. Progress has been made.
Less than two years later, it is very clear which path we have chosen. Within a month of the terror strikes, we were bombing al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Within two months, we had overthrown the Taliban government and forced the terrorists to hide in caves. Then we bombed the caves.
He also ties the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way many on the Right haven't done:
The peace process in Israel and Palestine must continue, but terrorists will be given no quarter. Syria must be further “encouraged” to eliminate all support to Hamas and Hezbollah. Their puppets in Lebanon must do the same, and the training camps in the Bekaa Valley must be dismantled. The Palestinian Authority must begin to take responsibility for its own security, and purge terrorist influence from their government. The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict is the single largest source of animosity in the Islamic world towards the United States. We will not achieve victory in this war until there is a reasonable level of peace and stability between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.
I don't know if I agree with that. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has existed much longer than al-Qaeda's declared war on the U.S. Granted, terrorists have been hijacking planes and bombing Americans for years, but we got serious when they bloodied us on our home turf. A bit of innocence was lost. Destroying the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the remnants of Iraq's Ba'ath Party may be enough of a statement that "you don't mess with the U.S." regardless of whether the Israelis and Palestinians continue to kill each other.
Lt. Smash does end with something we can both agree on. Most importantly, Iraq must be rebuilt so it can "become the civil and economic model for the rest of the Islamic world."
"It's Not Over Yet"
June 20, 2003
Work in Iraq
Enterprising people should consider the opportunites available in Iraq. Unemployed? Know about pest control? If so, then you too could earn $125,000/year in post-war Iraq. KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, is also hiring "health, safety and environmental inspectors; food and laundry service employees; construction and electrical contractors; truck and bus drivers; warehousemen; firefighters; and accountants." Sure, it gets hot, really hot in Baghdad, but I'm sure you could get a good deal on one of Saddam's palaces.
"Secrecy Shrouds Halliburton Hiring Frenzy at Houston Hotel"
June 14, 2003
Saddam Still a Pain
Here's Patrick Ruffini, using Daniel Henninger as a spring board, on the post-war evaluation of the need for war:
I don't think that "imminent threat" is an appropriate standard to apply when deciding to wage war, or in this case, deciding whether the war was just. Either someone is a threat, or they're not. Either someone has the intent to harm you or they don't. September 11th, and to some extent, the fluctuating threat levels since, shows us how tricky it is to project just how "imminent" a threat is. Is an attack coming three days down the road, or three years? It's almost impossible to tell. This is why it's incoherent to say Saddam was a threat, but not an imminent threat. As September 11th showed, one can have vague chatter one day and planes crashing into buildings the next. At what point did we understand an attack on such a scale to be "imminent?" Never, and even if it were possible, it would be for a vanishingly short moment at one minute to midnight. Do we really want to let things slide that far?
It still requires that evidence of Saddam's weapons programs must be found, or he wasn't really the threat many like me thought he was. But reasonable people can't claim Saddam never had WMD. U.N. inspectors knew about his programs since 1991.
Based on Henninger's sensible analysis, we won't get the people who know where the weapons are, the scientists, talking until Saddam is captured or killed. Maybe that's what this week's Operation Pennisula Strike is about?
President Bush was wrong to declare the war over. It won't be over until Saddam is found dead or alive. Until then, he'll be a thorn in our side.
"Where's the 'Intelligence'?"
June 10, 2003
Iraqi Civilian Casualites
The AP tried to figure out how many Iraqi civilians were killed in the war. Their number is 3,240 and "sure to be significantly higher" because if they couldn't find hospital records to determine civilian versus military deaths, then they weren't counted. Their number also doesn't count victims who were never brought to hospitals. The AP's methodology seems sound and errs on the conservative side.
"AP Tallies 3,240 Civilian Deaths in Iraq"
Iraqi Museums Not Ransacked
Remember the looting of Iraqi museums. Remember the outrage that history and culture were lost because ignorant American military men didn't risk their lives for clay tablet and old vases. Well, instead of the 170,000 items originally reported to have been stolen, American authorities have dropped that figure down to 33. That's it! Iraq's cultural heritage remains intact despite years of Saddam's oppression. Will we hear apologies from the anti-Bush crowd? I'll let you guess.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds found this Guardian analysis. My conclusion is that Dr Donny George, the Iraqi National Museum's director of research, is a Ba'ath shill, and anti-Americans fell for his lies.
"Lost from the Baghdad Museum: Truth"
June 09, 2003
Lots of Letters: WMD & Now I
Either I've turned the corner on the whole "where's the WMD" game, or I've realized Bush's opponents have gone loony in seeing this as their big chance to get the President. Robert Kagan states that if Bush is lying he's "part of a vast conspiratorial network of liars that includes U.N. weapons inspectors and reputable arms control experts both inside and outside government, both Republicans and Democrats." Kagan continues,
Maybe former CIA director John Deutch was lying when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sept. 19, 1996, that "we believe that [Hussein] retains an undetermined quantity of chemical and biological agents that he would certainly have the ability to deliver against adversaries by aircraft or artillery or by Scud missile systems."
Everybody, the Germans, Russians, even the French were all in cahoots to start a war in Iraq and create a new era in international relations. If sounds like it's too much to believe there's a pretty good chance you shouldn't.
Despite John Dean's first mention of the "i" word from a pundit (it will be the buzz for the next news cycle) we're no where further than where we started. People are still looking for Saddam's WMD and Bush's opponents are desperate for anything to attack him with. In this instance, Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO), a Presidential candidate, didn't take a shot at his possible opponent, but said, "There is long, consistent, clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And I'm still convinced that we are going to find them." Maybe guys like Paul Krugman could learn from Gephardt's example.
"A Plot to Deceive?"
"Powell Slams Media on Iraq WMD Reports"
UPDATE: Dean Esmay gives us some needed recent historical perspective.
June 05, 2003
The Mastermind of the United States
My week-and-a-half obsession with not finding Iraqi WMD may have come to an end thanks to Tony Blankley's excellent piece. He notes that the same critics of President Bush who claimed he was dim-witted, black-and-white, moralizing, Christian cowboy is now a "devious mastermind of a mind-bogglingly complex plot to deceive the world into thinking Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons." Bush's critics are so worked about all his successes that they're willing to drop any pretense of intellectual honesty in order to tar him.
June 04, 2003
WMD Was the Reason for War
To reinforce my claim that the administration went to war because of Iraq's WMD is this comment from Paul Wolfowitz while in Japan:
But there should be no doubt whatsoever this was a war undertaken because our President and the Prime Minister of England and the other countries that joined with us believe -- and I think they believe correctly -- that this regime was a threat to our security and a threat that we could no longer live with. It is also the case that, beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, this regime was a horrible abuser of its own people and that there is no question the Iraqi people are far better off with that regime gone.
It's important to know if intelligence was wrong or *shudder* even manipulated. WMD and terrorism was the reason we went to war. Daniel Pipes can't go back and change the past.
And to demonstrate I'm not turning against the war, I'm linking to Hussain Hindawi's and John Thomson's article offering enough logical explanations to keep me a patient and hopeful observer.
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
June 03, 2003
Cam Edwards on WMD
Why Cam Edwards isn't in my blogroll yet, I don't know. But his thoughts on WMD (see Cam, no "s") have earned him a place on that vaunted pixel strip of HTML.
"Where Are the WMD?"
Committees to Look at WMD Claims
Committees in the U.S. and U.K. will be investigating the evidence and reasoning behind going to war in Iraq.
It's not enough for Bush critics to use the fact that few indications of Iraqi WMDs have been found. They have to put together some explanation of why Saddam would snub his nose to U.N. inspectors for years resulting in economic sanctions when all he had to do was let inspectors in and embarass the U.S. Doing that would have make Saddam a huge hero in the Muslim world.
"British Lawmaker Panel to Probe Iraq War"
"US Congress to Probe US Intelligence on Iraq's Alleged WMD"
Pipes on WMDs
Daniel Pipes chimes in on the lack of discovered WMDs. He's not worried because that wasn't the reason for going to war.
The campaign in Iraq is ultimately not about weapons. It's not about the United Nations. And it's not about Iraqi freedom.
And I thought it was about U.S. national security. This feels very disingenuous, almost bait-and-switch like. Before the war, I never heard anyone claim we had to topple Saddam because he broke his post-Gulf War agreement. No, it was about violating U.N. resolutions (which I cared little about), having WMDs, and links to terrorism. Pipes' new reason for war feels way too much like him covering his arse.
I happen to agree, but here are two major problems: (1) "The right thing to do" argument was never the primary motivation of the Bush administration, as even the president acknowledged. If it were, we would have to deal in earnest with humanitarian crises around the world (Congo, anyone?). The war was framed from the start as a national security issue: stop WMD development and end support for anti-liberal terrorism. (2) How can we trust the motives of certain Anglophone administrations if it turns out that their most salient arguments are based on spurious lies?
Not finding WMDs is a matter of trust with the government. I still trust that WMDs will be found. But if they aren't, it's going to take a lot of convincing should they decide another military excursion (Syria, Iran, North Korea) is in order.
"Iraq's Weapons & the Road to War"
June 02, 2003
Reflections on WMDs
You've noticed I'm a little conflicted over the Iraq's WMDs. The best evidence has been two mobile bioweapons labs that look just like the ones Colin Powell described in his U.N. speech. That says to me Saddam had an active weapons program. What that doesn't tell me is did Iraq have the sort of weapons available to make them a threat to the U.S.? Being an evil, brutal regime that slaughtered its own people isn't enough justification for war. That isn't enough to send American men and women overseas to die. I didn't support NATO's bombing to defend the Kosovars because I didn't see any U.S. interests at stake. There are a lot of bad countries in the world that are no threat to the U.S. Venezuala is an example where an elected president decided he wanted to consolidate power and clamp down on opponents. Venezuala even has oil, and there's been not one scrap of talk from any Bush official that the U.S. should force regime change.
The buzz in Washington has been about Iraq's WMDs and a possible intelligence hoax.
When weighing the murky evidence of an aggressive tyranny's weapons, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair were obliged to take no chances. The burden on proof was on Saddam. By his contempt, he invited invasion; by its response, the coalition established the credibility of its resolve. There was no "intelligence hoax."
Then there's Tony Blair who is adamant that WMDs will be found. Politically, he has more to lose if the WMD claim was a hoax. His government could fall. He insists "Over the coming weeks and months we will assemble this evidence and then we will give it to people."
And I shouldn't forget to mention that anti-war countries like France, Germany, and Russia never claimed Saddam didn't have WMDs. Their complaint was going to war without their approval. Sean Penn can crow that he was right, but those who had a better opportunity of really knowing never challenged the allies on this point.
I'm more sanguine about the war than my past posts have shown. Seeing millions of people gulp freedom's sweet taste for the first time does that to you. But my support of this war was predicated on Iraq having WMDs. If we find out they didn't then either the administration lied to the world or the U.S.'s and U.K.'s intellegence services are incompetent (even including Kevin Whited's note that "is an imprecise business").
[Kudos to James Joyner for the Safire link.]
June 01, 2003
WMD Evidence Has Been Found
Thanks for Power Line for linking to a story where President Bush reminded us that two trailers have been discovered in Iraq that appear to be mobile bioweapons factories. Let's let the President speak for himself:
You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them.
"Bush: 'We Found' Banned Weapons"
May 30, 2003
Still No Weapons Found
It's not encouraging to hear a general in Iraq calling the threat of chemical attack by Saddam to have been "simply wrong." Tony Blair may tell me to have patience, but something, some evidence of chemical or biological materials should have been found by now.
Steven is right that "there are intellectually honest reason[s] to say that the war was worthwhile sans WMDs (and I remain unconvinced that there are none whatsoever)." But the reason the administration used to convince the public that war was needed were the WMDs and Iraq's ties to terrorism. The latter has been shown to be true to me, but I'm still waiting on the former.
As I've written previously freeing Iraqis was nice but going to war war predicated on Iraq being a threat to the U.S. In hindsight, it isn't looking like as much of a threat as I first believed.
"US Intel 'Simply Wrong' on Chemical Attack-General"
"Angry Blair Says UK Did Not Invent WMD Evidence"
May 27, 2003
Rumsfeld's Rules in Iraq
Secretary Rumsfeld gives us a progress report on post-war Iraq and shows us what the Allies will do to grow a liberal democracy there. For those who are worried that the U.S. will leave before rebuilding Iraq, Rumsfeld writes:
The Coalition will maintain as many security forces in Iraq as necessary, for as long as necessary, to accomplish the stated goals--and no longer. Already 39 nations have offered stabilization forces or other needed assistance for the postwar effort, and that number is growing. Together, coalition countries will seek to provide a secure environment, so that over time Iraqis will be able to take charge of their country.
Remnants of the Baath Party will not be allowed to exert power. "De-Baathification" and the promotion of liberal Iraqis will take place.
For countries that opposed the war, a price will be paid:
Whenever possible, contracts for work in Iraq will go to those who will use Iraqi workers and to countries that supported the Iraqi people's liberation so as to contribute to greater regional economic activity and to accelerate Iraq's and the region's economic recovery.
In other words, French companies are screwed.
Then Rumsfeld warns Iran that Iraq won't become another part of their Islamic Revolution:
Assistance from Iraq's neighbors will be welcomed. Conversely, interference in Iraq by its neighbors or their proxies--including those whose objective is to remake Iraq in Iran's image--will not be accepted or permitted.
What is needed the most in Iraq is patience. Rumsfled points out that it took eight years for our Founding Fathers to write our Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. It's only been seven weeks since the ouster of Saddam. Much needs to be done to build a modern, stable, and free Iraq.
May 22, 2003
Cost of War
Rought numbers from the Pentagon put the cost of the Iraq War at $917,744,361.55. So, for 46 minutes of U.S. economic production in 2001, we toppled a dictator and liberated a people. Yet, we can only afford a $350 billion tax cut?
"Congress Near Passing $350 Billion Tax-Cut Plan"
May 11, 2003
Mobile Bio Lab
A weapons team has concluded that an Iraqi trailer was a bioweapons lab. This is progress, but I'm waiting (patiently) for the discovery caches of biological and chemical weapons. Freeing Iraq from Saddam was a wonderful by-product for the war, but my support was firmly based on Saddam possessing ABC weapons or technology and passing them on to terrorists.
April 28, 2003
Tis Better to be Feared than Loved
Steven Taylor (of Poliblog fame) ends his column on the post-Iraq War world with this:
There can be no doubt that it would ultimately be a better world if we existed in a state of mutual love, but clearly the world is not made up of the loving. There are numerous individuals and states that wish harm on the United States, and no amount of desire on our part to "play nice" is going to make them like us. As a result, putting some fear in the hearts of terrorists and dictators works in our pursuit of national security and world peace.
"Iraq War May Give U.S. Needed Fear Factor"
April 18, 2003
The Obligatory Cop Killer
In another example that the anti-war movement has lost its marbles, at last Saturday's ANSWER march in Washington, a protester held a sign that read, "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, US Out of Iraq".
April 14, 2003
Thanks for Nothing
Mark Levin holds Democrats accountable. I'm fond of Jimmy Carter's comments only a few weeks before the war started:
The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home.
A "clear improvement" is the destruction of torture chambers like the one found in Nassiriya. If we would have listened to Carter and his ilk men like Sheikh Lami Abbas Ajali would still be beaten, shocked, and tortured while France, Germany, and Russia debated the legality of going to war.
If I were a newly freed Iraqi, I'd say to Jimmy Carter, "Thanks...for nothing!"
"The Anti-Liberation Front"
April 12, 2003
Ditch the Debt
Maybe in the post-Saddam world, the U.S., France, Russia, and Germany can agree that Iraqi debt reduction will help. Treasury Secretary John Snow has already begun talking to his French counterpart about it, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has a resolution in Congress supporting it. Since Iraq owes lots of countries lots of money, by default, any debt reduction will have to be unilateral. For that reason alone, France should just love it.
April 10, 2003
You would think seeing cheering Iraqis stomping on a statue of Saddam would bring warm feelings to everyone's hearts. Not so in the case of Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane.
To the uninformed eye, it's hard to tell whether this is jubilation or anarchy.
The Iraqis were so relieved about the end of the bombing (which hasn't stopped) that they've offered handshakes, hugs, and tea to U.S. troops. Looks like jubilation to me.
Sure, the images from Baghdad were inspiring on some levels, but they also were incomplete when it comes to divining the actual hearts and minds of most Iraqi citizens in regard to this war.
Nothing can be what it appears to be. For Kane, cynicism trumps visual reality.
But wondering about the motives of happy Iraqis isn't enough for him. Kane then has to go and rip on the troops that drove Saddam's thugocracy into oblivion.
My problem with our liberating forces wasn't with their stated purpose, but rather with their decorum.
In Kane's world one person's liberators are another's marauders. Our soldiers are people who endured weeks of gunfire to free a people from dictatorship and protect the U.S. from future attacks. After putting up with enemy tanks, snipers, and suicide bombers, our troops deserved to savor their progress. Note, that the troops were lounging in one of Saddam's palaces, built on the suffering of Iraqis.
Real marauders don't make pain-staking efforts to not his civilians. Marauders don't bother with the laws of warfare. Marauders bash their way through things regardless of who gets hurt or killed. Marauders rape, pillage, and collect booty. Mr. Kane, out troops have done so such thing. They've acted with great poise and have displayed tremendous respect for the Iraqi people while being ruthless with its brutal regime. They aren't marauders, they're liberators and protectors.
I won't even bother with Kane's complaint about the renaming of Baghdad International Airport. No need to bother with such pettiness. However, I must address his last point:
But for many who opposed it, the shots of cheering Iraqis and toppled statues do nothing to address the main concerns.
Kane just doesn't get why we had to topple Saddam. It wasn't about Iraq stepping out of line, it was its ABC weapons, its links to terrorism, its past regional aggression, and its threat to the U.S. Iraqi liberation is a wonderful byproduct. Kane and his ilk will look at this as "bullying" but reasonable people view this as justified self-defense.
"Were Iraqis Jubilant the Bombs Stopped?"
"U.S. Good. No more Saddam."
It was simply amazing to watch that Saddam statue fall among the crowd in Firdos Square. While not being a sign that the war is over, it does prove that the Ba'aths won't be terrorizing Iraqis anymore. That moment in time is a pleasant reminder that all the suffering, deaths, and treasure was worth it to bring freedom to those who didn't have it.
While many have posted the picture of the statue falling, I'll leave you with this one of a Saddam mural going up in flames in Kirkuk. Much like his brutal regime.
"Marines Welcomed as Heroes, Confront "Human Shields" in Baghdad"
"Wary Soldiers Hope for Better Days"
Needs a New Paint Job
April 09, 2003
Al-Jazeera Leaving Iraq
For a network who thinks it's the target of military attacks, I'm shocked at this statement by news editor, Ibrahim Hillal:
We still have four reporters in Baghdad, we will pull them out. We have one embedded with US forces in Nassiriya; we want to pull him out.
For a country that supposedly hates al-Jazeera, it's awfully nice of the U.S. to let one of their reporters hang out with the troops.
Strength in the Muslim World
If Afghanistan was any indication, an allied victory in Iraq won't create hundreds of bin Ladens. Daniel Pipes gives reasons why this might happen. I sympathize most this one:
As bin Laden himself put it, "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." An allied victory will establish who the strong horse is, diminishing the ardor of its enemies to fight.
Peace through strength is still useful long after the end of the Cold War.
"100 Bin Ladens on the Way"
April 08, 2003
Reporters Killed in Baghdad
People die in war. That's the most unfortunate result. Buildings are destroyed and land decimated, but the loss of human life is the saddest. Buildings can be rebuilt, and land can be replenished, but science hasn't found a way to bring back human life once it's been snuffed out.
For some news organizations and journalists, certain classes of human life are more important--more "newsworthy"--than others. CNN (especially Christiane Amanpour), the Arab networks, Reuters and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) are demanding investigations and explanations for why U.S. troops hit some buildings and killed people. Do they care because they were military targets (Saddam or Chemical Ali)? Or that it was some accident of killing Iraqi civilians or friendly fire? No, these journalists are upset because fellow journalists got killed.
A U.S. tank fired on the Palestine Hotel where journalists still in Baghdad have been staying. Military officials have said there were gunmen in the area. The tank may have been firing at what they believed were enemy binoculars, but actually were television cameras. In another attack, a bomb was dropped on Al Jazerra's office, killing one. This attack sparked this response from the conspiratorial IFJ:
The IFJ says that this attack is a shocking mirror of the destruction of the Kabul offices of Al Jazeera by American forces during the war in Afghanistan. "It is impossible not to detect a sinister pattern of targeting," said [Adrian] White.
The IFJ has gone so far as to call the attacks "Crimes of War." Most of their press release is filled with attacks on allied (U.S.) forces with a small mention of Iraq using journalists and civilians as human shields. It's nice of the IFJ to put Saddam's regime on the same moral plain as the U.S.
In his own statement on the deaths, Reuters Editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank put on his army cap and questioned the "judgement of the advancing U.S. troops."
We should all lament the deaths of people. They were endowed by God with life. In this time when the Culture of Death slowly sinks its claws ever more deeply into society, holding all human life precious becomes even more important. Yet the IFJ et. al. have become obsessed with the deaths of three people. Their outcry cnad calls for investigations didn't happen when the bodies of U.S. soldiers were found when Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued. There haven't been calls from the IFJ to look into the friendly fire accident that killed 18 Kurds and Americans in northern Iraq. But when three journalists die everyone should drop what they're doing and find out exactly what happened and determine who should be "brought to justice" to use the IFJ's words.
In the big picture right now, journalists aren't that important. Sure, they have provided the close-up coverage of war that's never been done before. But they aren't there to liberate Iraq and to rid the world of a ruthless tyrant and his weapons. Journalists aren't there to make the world safer, that's what the Allies are there for. They're there to tell us what's happening and to stay out of the story as much as they can. Journalists were killed, and that's awful, but their complaints are making them part of the story. Just ask Peter Arnet if that's such a good idea.
"Three Journalists Die in Baghdad Attacks"
"U.S. Attacks Kill Three Journalists"
April 07, 2003
Savor the War Progress
The allies are now moving at will in Baghdad and Basra. U.S. troops are even staying the night in one of Saddam's palaces. Only a few dozen tanks have been knocked out in less than three weeks, and allied casualties around 100. It's shocking when you remember all the critics going off on Rumsfeld for putting together a "horrible" battle plan.
Since there will be lots more fighting before Iraq is secured, we shouldn't celebrate victory. But you could always stick it to your anti-war, Bush-bashing "friends" with a t-shirt from RightWingerWear.com.
"American Troops Occupy Saddam's Palace"
April 06, 2003
Chemical Weapons in the Euphrates
No wonder U.N. inspectors had trouble finding Saddam's chemical weapons. He had them dumped into the Euphrates.
What kind of man allows chemical weapons to be dumped in a river? The same man who used them against civilians and lets his thugs terrorize the public. The same man who cares about absolute power more than the lives of his soldiers who charge to their deaths against U.S. armored columns. Will this news get Greenpeace to support the war? I won't hold my breath.
April 05, 2003
What About the North?
Army and Marine troops are now in Baghdad, and the Brits are patiently surrounding Basra waiting out Ba'ath Party members and paramilitaries (who want to surrender). But other than the destruction of an al-Qaeda-associated terrorist camp, little news has come from north of Iraq. From reports I've gone through there isn't even a push from the north down to Baghdad. There are reporters in the north, some embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, but if big things are happening they aren't being noticed by the tireless news tickers on every news channel, the front page of news web sites, or tv anchors.
The way trends are going Baghdad may fall while northern Iraqi cities are still under Ba'ath control. How long cities like Tikrit and Mosul would hold out to the Allies without Saddam or his minions in power is unknown.
April 04, 2003
CNN's medical reporter, Sanjay Gupta, crossed the line from journalist to getting his hands bloody in order to save a child's life. Gupta performed brain surgery on an Iraqi child. The boy didn't make it, but he wouldn't have had a chance if Gupta try.
Bush International Airport
This AP story looks into how the Allies might use the Saddam International Airport. If the plan is to isolate Baghdad or to attack the city, the airport will make a good place to bring in supplies (both military and humanitarian) and to launch strikes into the city. As a way to resupply troops, the airport would stop Iraqi irregulars from harassing supply lines.
Although the airport might not be completely secure, troops took the time to rename it Bush International Airport. With the way the war is going, President Bush won't need the honor of having an airport named after him. He'll probably get an aircraft carrier. Instead, how about Rumsfeld International? It sounds pretty good to me.
"Airport Could Be Used As 'Superbase'"
April 03, 2003
Forces Enter Baghdad
Despite 90-100 degree temperatures, allied forces moved to within 10 miles of Baghdad's city center. Troops are already trying to secure Saddam Huessein International airport.
It's no surprise that with the good news, stocks went up.
To catch up with the war, The Washington Post has a good summary of today's events.
And to keep up with the latest in war news in almost real-time go to The Command Post.
"U.S. Troops Attack Baghdad Airport"
Japan and the A-Bomb
If Japan is any indication, it could take years to determine the extent of Saddam's ABC weapons programs.
Media's and Wall Street's Manic Depression
Now that Allied (U.S.) forces are on the move once again, the press coverage is favorable. This USA Today story starts out like this:
War planners and government leaders in the USA and Britain made two key assumptions about a war here — the Iraqi regular army wouldn't put up much of a fight and the Iraqi people would greet coalition forces as liberators.
The media's war temperature is bobbing up and down as much as Wall Street. Adam Shell told his readers to "just monitor war headlines" and that will show them which way the market will go.
"Entering War, U.S. Planners Made Two Key Assumptions"
"Stocks Take Direction from Tone of War News"
April 02, 2003
If Michael Kelly's assessment of the 3rd Infantry Division's kill ratio is correct (1000 Iraqi soldiers killed to 2 U.S.) and similar across the country, this war may be the most lop-sided in history. Kelly writes,
As Col. William Grimsley, commander of the division's 1st Brigade, put it, the Iraqis have not so much attacked American positions as impaled themselves on them.
"A Real Test: Restraint During War"
April 01, 2003
Keegan on War Status
John Keegan gives his opinion of how well the allied forces are doing in Iraq:
In a conventional military environment, not so heavily influenced by the surveillance of the media, any commanding general might reckon the campaign had made highly satisfactory progress so far. It has secured most of the territory and facilities over which it needs to operate, has a secure base, has acquired its own resupply port, dominates the enemy and is not threatened by large-scale civilian disorder.
Critics and war watchers buzzing from the cable channels' news crawler should just take a deep breath.
March 31, 2003
Adaptable War Plans
USA Today reports on when the Republican Guard will be attacked by U.S. forces. In the story, Dave Moniz and John Diamond ask the question that's been on many armchair generals' minds:
By the time American ground forces engage the Republican Guard, the 3rd Infantry Division will have been sitting in place nearly two weeks, leading to an obvious question: Why the race to Baghdad in the first place?
In the next paragraph, Moniz and Diamond offer an answer:
Military officials say one reason is that the Pentagon's war plan factored in the possibility that Saddam's government might collapse in a matter of days. If that occurred, the military wanted a large, powerful unit nearby to take advantage.
This was based on government officials' beliefs that Iraqi officers would give up without a shot or even turn on Saddam when war broke out. As it's turned out, the mass defections haven't happened, and the Pentagon isn't relying on that anymore.
Having a military presence at the ready in case of an implosion in Baghdad makes sense. You know the critics would have been screaming if Saddam's government would have collapsed soon after the bombing started but no U.S. troops were in the area to fill in the void.
I may know little about war tactics and strategy, but I do know that winning requires adapting to the unexpected. Allied forces seem to be doing that. The lack of Iraqi defections and guerilla attacks on their supply lines haven't stopped them from dishing out punishment on the enemy. The 3rd. Infantry Division has paused so supply lines can be secured while air power bombs the hell out of the Republican Guard. In Basra, Great Britian could have stormed into the city to squelch unexpected resistance. Instead, they're targeting Baath Party positions hoping to gain the confidence of Iraqi civillians.
"Attack on Guard May be Days Away"
March 29, 2003
Heartbreak and Compassion
Two stories show the heartbreak of war, but they also show human compassion.
First, there is the story behind the now-famous picture of a soldier carrying an Iraqi child to safety. An Iraqi family was caught in the crossfire of an ambush on elements of the 7th Cavalry. After the fighting stopped, the Iraqi father screamed for help. Pfc. Joseph P. Dwyer rushed to the family and took the four-year-old boy.
(A subplot in this story is that Pfc. Dwyer enlisted in the army shortly after the September 11 attacks.)
Then there is the awful story of marines accidentally attacking a civilian vehicle near Nasiriyah killing three. The surviving family members forgave the soldiers for the mistake and blamed it on Saddam Huessein. The marines helped bury the dead at a nearby mosque.
"On The Scene: Iraqi Forgiveness"
March 28, 2003
Lots of Troop Love in Wisconsin
Southeastern Wisconsin residents swamped local Red Cross offices with care packages. The Milwaukee office had so much traffic there was no room in the parking lot. Millie Tischendorf said it best, "This is the only way I can help. What else can I do?" Even the local Hmong community donated. Sometimes multiculturalism isn't such a bad thing.
In a similar vein, a call should go out for care packages for Iraqis. Like the President has said time and time again, our beef isn't with the Iraqi people, it's with the Butcher of Baghdad. A few truckloads of M&Ms, blankets, soap, and teddy bears could help win the trust of the people over there.
"Red Cross Awash in Aid"