Friday, September 29, 2006


And the Internet, Too!

Byron York, posting at The Corner, reflects on some recent, defensive statements made by former President Bill Clinton. As summarized by York, this is what Clinton now claims:

After the October, 2000 attack on the USS Cole, Clinton said in his interview with Fox, "I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden." Although he didn't do that, Clinton said, at the end of his administration, "I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy" to the new Bush administration.

York also mentions in passing that Clintonista apologists claim the 9/11 Commission Report contains proof “that Clinton really had a big, new plan.” “Not quite,” according to York:

The [9/11 Commission] report says that in the last weeks of Clinton's presidency, the CIA came up with something called the "Blue Sky" memo. The memo was so named because it was a list of actions that might be taken against al Qaeda if there were, in the 9/11 Commission's words, "no prior policy or financial restraints" — in other words, under perfect ("Blue Sky") conditions. That certainly sounds like the kind of uber-helpful, all gloss and no substance policy approach for which Clinton was famous.

York recounts a more accurate, complete picture of what the 9/11 Commission actually said about Clinton Administration leave-behinds, and concludes:

In other words, what Clinton and his supporters called a "comprehensive" plan supposedly handed to the incoming Bush administration was a list of policy options that Clinton administration officials had not been able to agree on. As David Frum wrote a few days ago, "It is very seriously misleading to suggest that the Clinton administration left behind a plan that would have overthrown the Taliban, destroyed al Qaeda, or stopped or even interfered with the 9/11 attacks. And it is fair to note that the steps they did recommend to their successors were steps they had declined to take themselves, not just in 2000, but over the whole period 1998-2000."
Is that what any fair-minded person would call a new and "comprehensive" plan to destroy al Qaeda?

Nope. Just a suggestion to this ex-President suddenly so consumed with his “legacy” of fighting terror: Accept the loss. Move on.

I’m sure Al Gore remembers when, in some grand discussion of abstract theory and possibilities, he mentioned to some guy that a vast network of computers would allow everybody to connect “online.” And thus his heartfelt claim to have “invented” the Internet.

So Bill Clinton and his National Security officials, apparently. They had a lot of good ideas, if only the Bush Administration had asked them, “And exactly how do you propose we do that?”


More Troops?

If anyone’s looking for insightful military analysis as antidote to the stupidity of anti-war “military” voices like Kerry or Murtha, I highly recommend Jason Von Steenwyk, in particular his “among the best” arguments against the absurd proposition we needed 400,000 troops in Iraq.

Tipped by Chap over at Milblogs.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Cliff Dwellers at the Times

The Editors at The New York Times write an over-the-top, emotional and dishonest critique of the pending Antiterrorism Bill.

The Editors say a cynical (and by implication, criminal) Bush Administration is driving Congress “over a cliff,” and by fear-mongering and intimidation, forcing them to pass “a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.”

This is a war we fight, not that that’s at all assumed or accepted by the NY Times. Yet, to the Editors, this is entirely about extending complete judicial, constitutional, and Geneva Conventions rights and obligations upon a class of detainees that don’t even fit criteria for legitimate Prisoners of War, let alone prisoners of US law enforcement entities.

It’s all “mindless politics,” with an evil Administration forcing “ghastly ideas about antiterrorism” upon an “irresponsible Congress.”

Dear Lord, what adjectives will the NY Times have left come their treaded but much anticipated American Kristalnacht? (Or did that happen with the defeat of John Kerry in 2004, I might have missed it with all the public mourning.)

The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

According to the Times, we will make American Troops less safe – they’ll be without all that super strong, respected by Tyrants and Dictators Everywhere Geneva Conventions Bullet and Bomb Proof Armor. The Times laments that the Bill will do lasting damage to our nation of laws – despite that the Bush Administration has done far less in fighting this war than did FDR or Truman during WWII, Hoover or FDR during the Depression, and certainly, Lincoln during the Civil War. (I guess Lincoln’s suspension of Habeus Corpus did lasting damage too, but doesn’t lasting mean it doesn’t heal or correct itself after the war is won?)

If we had to fight WWII (or any prior war) by the rules demanded by the NY Times, and the Democratic Party and ACLU allies, we’d have lost. There would be no Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (there’d be no Jews left), and the sun would have set on Democracy and liberty and Western Civilization. The elites of Hyannis and Beacon Hill and Beverly Hills would no doubt be able to concentrate their love of humanity on non fossil fuels, solar and wind power, and the prevailing wages of the working classes, without messy concerns of National Security. Come to think on it, you can understand their sympathy for the 7th Century Jihadis. (“Finishing the job Hitler started.”)

I know I don’t always maintain my personal standard, of presuming that political opponents and critics argue in good faith, that they have good intentions, that they’re not evil, but misguided. But does the NY Times ever adhere to that standard? Must they always paint every action and decision of the President as the act of a would-be tyrant, of a cynical and opportunistic dictator, seeking the destruction of this nation for his own personal ends, and that of his party?

They seem never to consider that the rationale proposed by the US Government for our actions and decisions might actually be truthful (let alone sound). Instead, it’s all evil and illegal, but the Times never finds an opportunity to explain why that would be. They just assume their readers all accept the same moonbattery, the same theses of “Bush = Hitler,” and similar demagoguery.

How else to explain the following:

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.


Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These criminal men stopped, according to the Times, only because the US Supreme Court stepped in. The Supremes, by vouching enemy combatants, no citizens these, who fit no category in International Conventions or US law other than saboteurs or spies, with full rights and privileges of US Citizens or US Military under applicable legal frameworks, placed a final barrier between a criminally minded President and his dreams of Dictatorship.

The President’s fiercest opponents, and equally their partisan friends and supporters, at the Times and elsewhere, do indeed inhabit an alternate Universe, where their fevered ravings no doubt appear the norm. Where the American people are perceived to see their bizarro world just as they do, and a Congress can reach broad agreement and consensus, without going against the electorate.

It seems hardly warranted to go through the Times specific objections, given the hyperbolic dressings of their criticisms – how do you reason with what is largely an emotional response? – but for what it’s worth, let’s check them out.

I will grant the Times credit for one objection that I believe should be addressed with some form of oversight or amendment: that of allowing US citizens to be categorized as “illegal enemy combatant.” On the battle field, I want just such a designation for terrorists who refuse to identify themselves or fight as organized military, and target and intentionally kill civilians and other non-combatants by design.

The Times objects that such a designation can be applied against “foreign citizens living in their own countries,” but I don’t see what relevance that has, when the foreign citizen is plotting and executing terror against the US without constraint or intervention by their host country. That defines the Jihadi in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia. Why not? The alternative of letting them find and dwell in safe havens undisturbed is preferable?

If a US citizen is apprehended doing the same in concert with terrorist illegal enemy combatants, then by all means, try for treason within military justice, or as a murderer in civilian courts. I don’t care, whichever seems appropriate to command and civil authorities.

The Times also claims that:

The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

I’m not an Army Lawyer or a Constitutional Scholar, but I’m pretty sure that’s the President’s job – the job of the Executive Branch exclusively – to interpret intenraitonal treaties and reconcile more or less to applicable US Law.

The Time’s objections on not providing Habeus Corpus or Judicial Review protections to military prisoners seems pretty absurd if you accept the premise of a military at war, which of course is dubious to assume of the Times. I don’t want “prisoners of war” -- which these detainees are, except that they ignore and fight contrary to the Laws of War that accord rights to uniformed soldiers – to use or own civil legal processes to interfere with what should be an exclusively military process. Our soldiers are constrained by enough “rules of engagement” (ROE) as it is, do we want them to need more lawyers than guards?

It goes without saying that the Time objects to the concept of Secret Evidence, as they’ve never seen Classified Information that they didn’t want to reveal to the public (and our enemies), unless of course those secrets would hurt the political fortunes of their favored Democratic Party. We have seen ample evidence that prisoners and the lawyer-advocates that support them use legal proceedings and artifacts to convey otherwise sensitive information to their fellow terrorists. I really don’t want National Security endangered just to satisfy some World Jurists’ opinion that terrorism is just a matter of law enforcement and an issue of civil liberties.

The Times even ventures into gender politics, of course without the specificity that would allow readers not versed in such politics to understand, exactly what they’re talking about:

Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

Maybe somebody in comments can explain how non-consensual sex can occur without force or coercion. I am certain such a rationale exists within Gender Studies departments of most universities, but I’m not sure we want to give them standing within military justice of illegal enemy combatants. (Or anywhere else in American Jurisprudence, for that matter, and surely not anywhere within Military Justice.)

The Times patronizes the Congress and “Opposition Party” beyond the bounds that any prideful elected official should be able to tolerate:

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler.

But this is all of a piece with other NY Times Editorial positions that flow quite logically from the premise that “everyone’s a victim,” we’re all the product of external motivations, we can’t help ourselves, but must turn to Bigger Government to find solutions for all our problems.

Congress can’t be held responsible for their votes on Iraq in 2003, that lying President and his phony Intelligence made them vote the way they did. In 2006, they quail in fear that Republicans will unfairly accuse them of being “terrorist enablers.” Because, of course, none of them stand on principle, none have spines:

Come to think on it, they know well the mettle of their fellow partisans. Familiarity breeds contempt, I suppose.

The Times concludes with a Chicken Little warning that history will mark a “low point in American democracy:

But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

They said that about Lincoln, and worse. And his legacy grew to the immortal, contrary to the heckling of the Times of his day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Foot Soldiers and Intelligence

Jeff Jacoby gets it right in the Boston Globe, contrary to the foot soldiers of Democratic Party spin. By foot soldiers, I meant specifically those sources dismissed by Jacoby:

The New York Times (``Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat") and The Washington Post (``Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting US Terror Fight")

You might have thought I was referring to those other foot soldiers of spin, partisan enemies of President Bush within the CIA.

Either way, the foot soldiers show an appalling lack of honor and honesty. Again, quoting Jacoby:

The Times and Post stories were written, it appears, by reporters who hadn't read the document they were characterizing. The papers' headlines were unequivocal, but the stories themselves never actually quoted the NIE. They merely passed along the spin -- and advanced the anti-Bush agenda -- of the anonymous sources who chose this moment to leak secret intelligence for political purposes.

Jot this down in the Spinmeister Playbook. When confronted with the obvious failure of your position, the hollowness of your strategy to sway the public to your point of view, make every effort to characterize the evidence for your failure as proof of your success.

Black is white and white is black.

When your opponents (enemies) try to expose your duplicity and reveal the spin, turn their accusations against them, repeat your assertions, and wait.

The press will continue to craft stories that support your storyline.

Jacoby actually read the key judgments of the declassified NIE, and echoes what it actually concludes:

After 9/11, the United States went to war against Islamic totalitarianism; since 2003 that war has focused most dramatically on Iraq. It stands to reason that Iraq is therefore the focal point in the jihadis' war against the West. President Bush has made that point repeatedly, quoting Osama bin Laden's declaration that the war in Iraq is ``the most serious issue today for the whole world " and will end in ``victory and glory or misery and humiliation." Has US military action in Iraq inflamed the global jihad? Undoubtedly. But just imagine how galvanized it would be by a US retreat.

Not that matters to the Democratic foot soldiers at the CIA, Washington Post, or the NY Times. “Bush made more terrorists! Bush made more terror! Iraq was a horrible mistake! Cut and run now!”

That’s an Intelligence Estimate of a kind I suppose, but I’d estimate it’s about 5% Intelligence. The rest is all DNC Talking Points.


America is Free

Natan Sharansky offers a powerful antidote to the hysteria that has overwhelmed any reasonable debate over definitions of torture and treatment of unlawful combatants, in a freeSpeech segment at CBS Evening News.

Mr. Sharansky has, in my opinion, “absolute moral authority” on the subject of torture, what it is and what it is not. This authority rests on his long, personal experience, suffering at the hands of a regime fluent in the many expressions of torture and repression, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Mr. Sharansky makes a point completely lost in the rhetoric of critics of this Administration:

Those who would use abuses at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay to accuse America of being no different than the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or Sadaam's regime have lost all sense of moral clarity.
America is different because your citizens can protest without going to prison. America is different because your courts can defend rights and your press can expose injustice. America is different because your Congress can hold hearings and because your people can hold your leaders accountable. America is different because America is free.

The many and strident critics of this Administration are unlikely to agree with, or even consider, Mr. Sharansky’s caution, having not forgiven him for making The Case for Democracy.

Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Sharansky.



This is long overdue.

CITGO is majority owned by the ruling Government of Venezuela as a nationalized oil company. Oil profits from CITGO fuel Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, his personal wealth, and his ability to manipulate the poorest of Venezuelans in his one-time election as leader of Venezuela. (Once was all he needed, he publicly seeks to rule for life.)

Whether in personal corruption, totalitarian techniques, spreading of socialist agitation among his neighbors, Chavez in all ways models himself after his hero, Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

That he spews hateful and antagonistic bile against President Bush merely makes him more attractive to would be friends among America’s political leftists.

It’s hard to discern a coherent US foreign policy toward Latin America as a whole, let alone towards Venezuela specifically, so opponents of this Administration certainly find ample justification to excuse, condone, and even applaud the would be Generalissimo.

For some, Chavez’s appeal goes beyond the appeal of his rhetoric. Chavez has been interfering in US domestic politics for quite some time, with offers of heating oil to low income Americans. As readily as some New York politicians aided and abetted his public relations efforts, one has to wonder if perhaps Chavez augmented his philanthropy with political campaign contributions.

All at a time when your average Venezuelan didn’t own his own home or even have electricity, he’s giving welfare to “poor Americans” who are ten times wealthier than any average peasant in Venezuela.

No doubt all manner of politicians will manage to hold their noses and accept largesse from this sworn enemy of the current administration, and friend to tyrants and terrorists.

But a strong “well done!” for 7-Eleven, for deciding that they don’t need to do business – or profit the corruption of a two bit Castro wannabe.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Key Judgments

The Corner tips us off to the posting of the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), portions of which were leaked in distorted partisan hit pieces this week.

I just finished listening to NPR’s National Security reporter basically making the lame assessment that, with only the key judgments available (vice the entire NIE), it wasn’t possible to conclude whether or not the media reporting the leaks as “Iraq has created more terrorism” is impossible.

Contrary to NPR, I think the conclusion is pretty obvious. I can’t get to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) site, they’re obviously overwhelmed, but based on the findings read in the NPR report, you can see the way in which anti-Iraqi war media would “connect the dots.”

These are paraphrased from memory:

Al Qaeda and their sympathizers are using events in Iraq to exploit rage among disaffected Muslim youth, and using the war in Iraq for recruiting efforts. A new generation of Jihadists are training themselves in terrorist techniques in Iraq.

Since true believers know that George W. Bush has created the anti-US animus and turned the world, Muslims especially, against us, by doctrine that means any new terrorists were created by our war in Iraq. Since we don’t get any credit for killing terrorists or disrupting their operations – heck, we can’t even get credit for likely kills like OBL – logically that means Iraq has meant more terrorists and terrorism.

Foolish little men drive these issues, including the same disaffected Generals that the DNC has trotted out again this week to call Secretary Rumsfeld “incompetent.” By pretense or studied ignorance, they refuse to acknowledge that the Jihadis want to fight us all out, and they will grasp whatever symbol of offense that is at hand to motivate their followers. So it was for Carter, so it was for Reagan, so it was for Bush 41, so it was for Clinton, and so it is for Bush 43.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Important History

Former President Bill Clinton stages theatrical tantrums, former Clintonistas twist themselves into revisionist history pretzels, and the CIA re-implements their special election season security caveat of "SECRET - RELEASABLE TO NYT AND DNC."

As we approach the Autumn of the Partisans, two most-timely, must read histories present themselves.

Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette presents a very thorough chronology of a very brief but critical slice of pre-9/11 history: January through August 1998. This is the third part of a history he's undertaken, incredibly well researched, to remind those still subject to truth and reason of the forces leading to 9/11 and the Islamic fascist threat we currently face.

President Clinton is a smart man, as no doubt are many of his former colleagues and
supporters. But facts are facts, and it always amazes me how readily partisans forget inconvenient truths, when later they try to maintain a thematic storyline after the fact. The level of hypocrisy and willingness to pretent that this or that Democrat never said what they said, that this or that war opponent now saw nothing but enemies then. But still, in spite of bountiful, recorded history, they still insist that that devilish George W. Bush made it all up and tricked them into supporting war.

I remember much of what Greyhawk recounts, the bluster and war words during the latter days of the Clinton Administration. I remember talk of "wag the dog," but I also remember thinking (and hearing many conservatives say publicly), nevertheless, the threat is real and serious, and Clinton does right to act.

To claim now that most of Clinton's opponents spoke or reacted differently than that, is revisionist history indeed, and Clinton's own words and actions refute the Democratic criticisms of what they wrongly describe as President Bush's "rush to war."

The second important must read history piece is Bernard Lewis's excellent and succinct review of traditional and modern Islam, as recounted in Hillsdale's September Imprimis.

Professor Emeritus and Islamic scholar Lewis challenges what are probably widespread misconceptions. Lewis characterizes as aberrations of historical Islamic traditions, distortions resulting from dysfunctional modernization, unimaginable oil wealth, Wahhabism, Nazism, Soviet Communism, and Iranian Revolutionary theology.

Not to spoil the read, but here's Lewis's conclusion:
There are, as I've tried to point out, elements in Islamic society which could well be conducive to democracy. And there are encouraging signs at the present moment—what happened in Iraq, for example, with millions of Iraqis willing to stand in line to vote, knowing that they were risking their lives, is a quite extraordinary achievement. It shows great courage, great resolution. Don't be misled by what you read in the media about Iraq. The situation is certainly not good, but there are redeeming features in it. The battle isn't over. It's still very difficult. There are still many major problems to overcome. There is a bitter anti-Western feeling which derives partly and increasingly from our support for what they see as tyrannies ruling over them. It's interesting that pro-American feeling is strongest in countries with anti-American governments. I've been told repeatedly by Iranians that there is no country in the world where pro-American feeling is stronger, deeper and more widespread than Iran. I've heard this from so many different Iranians—including some still living in Iran—that I believe it. When the American planes were flying over Afghanistan, the story was that many Iranians put signs on their roofs in English reading, “This way, please.”

So there is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call “friendly governments.” And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook at the moment is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions—along their lines, not ours—is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail.

I think that the effort is difficult and the outcome uncertain, but I think the effort must be made. Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.
But that's just the take-away; best to read the whole thing, the history's what's important. Then you can draw your own conclusions.


Free Books for Enlisted

Love My Tanker, posting at SpouseBuzz, reports that Simon & Schuster is making e-copies of The Blog of War available to all enlisted soldiers. That’s an outstanding contribution for our soldiers!  


Here's the official word from Matt at Blackfive, with the password needed to download the e-copy.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Another Book Review

Yet another review of The Blog of War, this time up at The American Prospect. Generally favorable, and certainly fair.


More Template News

Here’s the template so familiar to the New York Times, that their editors and reporters feel compelled to use it for every story about the military.

Strains are Severe!

But not so bad just yet.

We may have to take drastic action immediately!

But maybe not so drastic, and maybe we can wait a year or two, and do something about it in a couple of years.

So is it any wonder, when you come to the end of an article based on this TemplateTM, that you find yourself asking, what was all that about?

The latest example of NYT mal-journalism was this scare-mongering report about ongoing considerations of additional National Guard activations to meet Active Duty military commitments.

Let’s walk through the template, shall we?

Strains are Severe (Lead paragraph):

Strains on the Army from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become so severe that Army officials say they may be forced to make greater use of the National Guard to provide enough troops for overseas deployments.

But not so bad just yet (second and third paragraph):

Senior Army officers have discussed that analysis — and described the possible need to use more members of the National Guard — with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s senior adviser on personnel, David S. C. Chu, according to Pentagon officials.

While no decision has been made to mobilize more Guard forces, and may not need to be before midterm elections, the prospect presents the Bush administration with a politically vexing problem: how, without expanding the Army, to balance the pressing need for troops in the field against promises to limit overseas deployments for the Guard.

Note phrasing, “possible need,” and the caveat that any decision or implementation would not be urgent. Kind of undercuts the lead, doesn’t it? Note also the immediate mention of competing priorities and trade-offs. Reasonable criticism, of course, acknowledges that these kinds of complex considerations are realities for leaders.

We may have to take drastic action immediately:

So many are deployed or only recently returned from combat duty that only two or three combat brigades — perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 troops — are fully ready to respond in case of unexpected crises, according to a senior Army general.

Who of course, won’t allow attribution for his remarks. Perhaps he’s one of the Senior Army Generals who are eying a political career? Wow, our entire National Security hinges on the readiness of no more than 10,000 Guard soldiers. Pretty scary

The alarmism of this anonymous assessment, as well as the opening lead, is further diminished by an assessment from the head of the Guard, but this is deep into the latter half of the story:

Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, the head of the Guard, said his forces would be prepared to meet current requirements and to send more forces if needed.

“Can I sustain that?” General Blum said. “I say the answer is, ‘Absolutely’ — if three things remain, three critical things.”

He said Guard members must continue to feel that what they are doing is important and that they have the support of the American people. Finally, he said, “We’ve got to give them some predictability or some kind of certainty so they can balance their civilian life, with their employers and their family, with their military service to the nation.”

But maybe not so drastic:

Given the lengthy lead time required for calling up, training, equipping and deploying Guard forces, Pentagon officials said that if more Guard members were mobilized, it would probably be for a rotation that begins in 2008.

Even so, Pentagon and military officials said that it was unlikely that any decision on a Guard mobilization would be necessary for several months or even into next year, which would place any announcement beyond the November mid-term Congressional elections.

To take on a greater load in Iraq and remedy existing equipment shortfalls, the Guard needs $23 billion over five years, Guard officials say.

Which underscores the real motivation for these anonymously floated stories, leaked power point slides, budget summaries, and other background noise. Budgets. Getting resources.

I know our National Guard Division mobilized, and while we received 110% of everything we needed and then some, we left a lot of mission essential equipment in theater to help the unit that took over after us. Along the way, we discarded a lot of obsolete equipment when we received the best and latest. And yes, getting us back to 100% fully mission capable will now cost some money. Deep in this story, it looks to me as if that’s 90% of what the data content of this story is about.

With the other 10% the packaging and spin that “puts it all in context.” The context of the TemplateTM, that is. The Army, to quote the hapless and befuddled Murtha, is “broken.”

So is it any wonder we wonder, what was all that about?


Projects and Propaganda

At the risk of giving too much attention to the people behind this film, supporters of our Military need to beware of a just-released propaganda piece, Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers. Produced by Brave New Films, the film is directed by Robert Greenwald, who in a similar vein produced a propaganda hit piece against Walmart, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed and Uncovered.

This film was brought to my attention by what I assume is one of the film’s publicists. A cursory review of the film’s website aroused immediate suspicion, further confirmed by postings on the site’s blog. These posts referenced all manner of coordinated events with Democratic Congress people, and are heavily laden with partisan invective about how the Republicans need to be “exposed,” and other evidence of proactive attempts to tie the film to Democratic Party talking points. (Culture of corruption, all about oil, Halliburton, real support for the troops, etc.)

Having deployed to Iraq, I am amazed and perhaps somewhat concerned over the breadth and depth of outsourcing in the Military. But I know that many factors played into this three decade old process, not how chummy President Bush or Vice President Cheney are with major military services contracting companies.

These corporations and companies that provide services for the US Military, or for that matter, implement projects for the Iraqi Government, are among the largest and most professional service organizations in the world. They employ many ex-military, they have been engaged to perform services the US Government has decided over time to outsource, and they are not war profiteers in any sense intended by the participants or political and financial backers of this propaganda.

Callimachus at Winds of Change recently reported some moving, first hand testimony

from his friend Kat, a Contractor who providing project auditing and oversight of development and reconstruction projects in Iraq. Kat expressed extreme frustration with media non-reporting of reconstruction efforts, and the failure of mainstream media (MSM) perceiving any newsworthiness of the tremendous amount of effort and good work being done, against high risks and extreme circumstances.

Kat points out that the great untold story in Iraq about contracting is at heart a business news story. As such, what few “war correspondents” in Iraq are ill-equipped and largely ignorant of business processes with which Business Desk writers would find easy to understand and write about knowledgably.

Here’s a background of what Kat did for nearly two years in Iraq:

"To the press," Kat wrote, "we might as well have been selling lemonade on little stands in front of our parents' houses." So here's her description, in answer to my questions, of her company's duties:

Without going into too much detail, those basically consist of providing added oversight and a separate control structure between governments and contractors. We act as a semi-autonomous break between the contractors and the governments who hire them. We often are contracted to provide oversight for critical phases of projects. If you aren't involved in a specific range of work, you'd not even know of us.

Unlike regular auditing firms, we have people on the ground full time with detailed knowledge of the contracts, including the structural and material requirements, the scheduling, and the payment process. We can review these against ongoing job conditions as well as the resulting expenses being reported, and we can provide recommendations where problems arise.

We are hired to help accomplish three specific tasks. First, assure the quality of the projects being performed. Second, to reduce the possibility of waste or corruption through a critical review process of the actual product compared to contract requirements and submitted invoices. Third, reduce the need for additional legal expenditures to contractors and completion expenditures for the government.

In other words, we exist for the sole purpose of assuring product quality and fair costs for governments, while at the same time providing additional surety to the businesses who contract with them. The fact that our company, and at least three others like it, was so heavily involved in Iraq reflects the commitment of the parties who hired us to do these jobs properly at the most reasonable costs.


Our company had 28 contracts providing engineering and managerial review and oversight for more than 100 section projects. Within these were more than 200 individual contracts and subcontracts directly reported to three US agencies, the hundreds of contractors and subcontractors themselves, and four semi-autonomous agencies of the Iraqi government.

In civilian life, I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and for many years performed project audits for my employer of many of our information technology (IT) projects. I understand completely the work Kat describes. It is demanding, detailed, and can as complicated as the complex projects upon which audits are performed. But I can’t imagine undertaking that already difficult work within a combat zone, with the added stress and strain of physical danger and potential political instability.

Projects in the Third World magnify all the normal factors for Risk, Quality, Change, Acceptance, and Subcontractor Management processes. As I related in a Presentation I gave earlier this week, Opposition Stakeholders have guns.

All of this by way of background to my suggestion that Iraq For Sale should be viewed as the simplistic propaganda it is, on par with other classic moments in partisan political film-making like Fahrenheit 9/11.

As with many of us who have informed and first hand experience in Iraq, Kat is most frustrated and angry with the utter failure of the MSM in reporting some of the most important stories in Iraq. And at the same time, fixating on the Halliburton bogey-man, itself a media prevarication, made-to-order to suit Democratic Party talking points:

Halliburton and all its political ramifications aside, maybe the lack of other press coverage is because the details of these jobs were a little too confusing and boring to assure great headlines. (I get paid to work through all that confusing and boring stuff; I admit, it can be pretty bland.) Fair enough.

But you at least might expect that when major project sections or complete projects were finished, the press might come out, give it a fair look, and send something back on what they saw. After all, those things at least produce pretty pictures and opportunities to mix and mingle with a few big shots and some of the little people. It’s a nice chance to get right down to the things that really are making day-to-day Iraq better.

Part of the irrigation systems we worked with was literally responsible for providing the restoration of thousands of square kilometers of marshlands in southern Iraq, which in turn has restored an ancient way of life to thousands of people. When that’s considered, you’d think it might be worth making a bit of a fuss about.

But that's not what happened. Instead, out of the more than 200 project completions and section completions we and government sources reported to the press, only two that I know of ever reached outside the country in the MSM, and those two were buried in a report about an increase in oil production. That's it. That’s the whole show. That's all of the reporting anyone ever got from four major irrigation systems, twelve major water supply systems, and twelve major oil and natural gas systems.

So just from my own company’s position, I can see more than 200 lost opportunities to cover some good news.

It goes way beyond trying to find good news to offset bad news. It is about finding the news that provides the full picture of what Iraq is all about.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Just Fade Away

Former President Bill Clinton, interviewed by NPR and reported by Reuters, casually insults the US Government and President Bush.

"The president says he's just trying to get the rules clear about how far the CIA can go when they're when they whacking these people around in these secret prisons," Clinton said in NPR's "Morning Edition" interview, recorded on Wednesday.

That just gets him started, he further alleges:

"If you go around passing laws that legitimize a violation of the Geneva Convention and institutionalize what happened at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, we're going to be in real trouble," he said.

Yeah, if we did, Bill. Because everybody knows that the isolated crimes at Abu Ghraib are what this debate is all about. I’m not at all surprised Bill’s so enamored with the vagaries of the latest Geneva Convention protocols. Written in excruciating legalese, with more wriggle room than the back of a ’52 Chevy, they must suit that great legal intellect who can parse what “is” means in context or inspire his junior’s “no controlling legal authority” evasion.

CIA officials, analysts, and operatives, and now as well Military Interrogators, rightly fear for their careers and freedom in an atmosphere where US law vacillates and waffles, and US Judiciary increasingly turn to foreign jurists and International opinion, and political elites prove ever more opportunistic to hang these real public servants out to dry.

Clarity, sir. Honor first, not last. Give the men and women in the fight the tools to do the job their country demands of them. Be a fraction as loyal as they have proven, tiem and time again, despite the carping and criticism and wild-eyed accusations.

First, they ever-disappointing Jimmie Carter, and now the ever-predictable Bill Clinton.

I voted for both of them when given the opportunity, and I swear they compete for which of my Presidential votes I should consider most regrettable (if not shameful).

Have either of these men considered the price in historical terms, of so wantonly abandoned the old reticence of former Presidents from too nakedly advancing partisan interests? No military men, these, they obviously have no respect for either tradition or decorum. They insult the President, they insult the CIA, they insult the military. They don’t care how much it hurts the US, promotes enemy propaganda, or gives aid and comfort to our enemies. All because the current occupant of the White House is among their political enemies. Hence, hurting a Republican is far more important than whether, in the process, they hurt the US.

Fade away, already. If we have to wait until you die, Lord knows how much insult and disrepute you’ll bring to the Presidency. The terms you served and the messes you made were bad enough.


The Increasingly Popular War in Iraq

Frank Warner summarizes the incredible prevalence of the phrase “increasingly unpopular war” in recent reporting, but notes that polling over the same period refutes the tone and smug editorializing in these pieces:

News stories written between Aug. 20 and Sept. 12 are demonstrably wrong if they used the “increasingly unpopular war” phrase. An Aug. 18-20 poll showed American support for the war at 35 percent. By Sept. 12-13, support rose a stunning 16 percent! In case the math ain’t clear, even with the margin of error, that’s increasing popularity.

Amazing. If only our media could maintain some kind of objectivity, the deeper truth that might belie their own prejudices and ignorance. Warner himself fairly hallucinates the following:

I can’t wait to see the corrections, retractions and apologies by Wallsten, Feldman, Ferraro, Kornblut, Sandalow and all the others who carelessly used the boilerplate phrase.

And then I can’t wait to see the stories by Wallsten, Feldman, Ferraro, Kornblut, Sandalow and the others reporting new events in the context of the “increasingly popular Iraq war.”

Hope for our troops. How will it feel to read that in a news story? Our enemies will be discouraged. Our troops will love it. I’ll check today’s papers to see if it’s there yet.

Go read the whole thing.

(H/T Instapundit)


Media Silence

Here’s news that 35,000 people protested the appearance of Iranian President Ahmadinejab at the United Nations. Slight mention in the Daily News, also covered by the conservative and pro-Israel New York Sun, but other media?

Blogs only I guess, great job from Atlas Shrugged linked above. You’d have thought a journalist might have made a contrast of the ongoing protests within any piece on the Iranian President’s address to the UN. You know, a single paragraph in passing. For contrast.

If you can call the people who work for mainstream media (MSM) “journalists,” that is.

(H/T Instapundit)


I'm With Chavez

Hey, I’m really impressed with this Hugo Chavez guy.

No really, he makes a lot of sense, and I think we should act on a couple of his suggestions immediately.

First of all, he accurately described the United Nations (UN):

Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.

So, he proposes that the UN be created anew:

And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.

Best of all, he offers to move the useless, Anti-American entity to a locale much more hospital to the dictators, kleptocrats, sexual predators, and other corrupt elites who so thoroughly enjoy free reign and lawlessness in the Big Apple:

And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.

This is a win win situation! No more sulpherous reek for the Gentleman from Venezuela.

I don’t know if it will work – if we closed the UN in NYC, my guess is half of the Royal Court (UN delegates) would seek diplomatic asylum in the US just to stay in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, let us go ahead and create something more humble, and suited no doubt to our evil selves: a union of free and democratic governments to fulfill to true and rightful charter of the organization formerly know as the United Nations.

I’m with Chavez – get the UN out of the US.


SpouseBUZZ News!

Andi, posting over at the new SpouseBUZZ, today announces SpouseBUZZ Live. Here’s her press release: is sponsoring SpouseBUZZ LIVE, an expo which will take place on Saturday, October 28 from 11:00 - 4:00 at The Plaza Hotel in Killeen, Texas. This expo will focus on topics and issues which are important to military spouses. Below, you'll find a list of panels/panelists.

Panel #1: THE MILSPOUSE EXPERIENCE: A warm-up discussion about the joys and challenges facing milspouses. This panel will feature a diverse group of spouses including active-duty, National Guard and a male spouse.

Moderated by Ward Carroll

Panelists: AWTM, Guard Wife, Sarah and Mike

Panel #2: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING....A DEPLOYMENT: Deployment A-Z. A "potluck" discussion on a wide range of issues surrounding deployment.

Moderated by Tara Crooks

Panelists: RedLegMeg, Airforcewife, Molly Pitcher, Nancy Nuding (wife of Dadmanly)

Panel #3: WHEN THINGS GO WRONG: This panel will focus on worst-case scenarios. How do you deal with the often-difficult reintegration period? What about PTSD? What happens if your spouse is wounded?

Moderated by Andi Hurley

Panelists: Joan D'Arc, Love My Tanker, GBear, Ft. Hood representative

I can’t wait, what a great idea. And yes, I’m very proud of Mrs. Manly, she’s impassioned, articulate, and she’ll make an excellent panelist. You should have seen her stand up to COL Hunt!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The Pope Knows

Lee Smith, writing in the Weekly Standard, astutely describes the controversy the Pope has created as a “prick in the conscience of Catholics the world over.”

Smith makes the argument that Pope Benedict knew full well how his remarks would be received. The Pope and his church know the bitter and violent history of Islam. Contrary to the view expressed by the Editors of the New York Times, the Vatican doesn’t need to “understand Islam.” The Roman Catholic Church has had 1400 years of first hand experience with Islam, as “the church has been contemplating its historical rival for about 1,300 years longer than the paper of record.”

Smith sees the Pope’s act as a clarion call to the faithful, and perhaps a warning shot that might cause “jihadi intelligentsia” to rethink their war against the West:

Sure the Pope is concerned about Islam, as are all Europeans. His sentiments about Muslim Turkey not belonging to Christian Europe are well-known. "Europe is a cultural and not a geographical continent," Ratzinger said back in 2004, a year before he became Pope. But he has stated repeatedly, and even in this recent address, that the major threat to Europe comes from secularism.

Here he is like many European Muslim leaders and ideologues, Tariq Ramadan for instance, who believe that the continent has been overcome with a spiritual malaise, a lack of purpose and self-esteem. Unlike secularism, Islam is a worthy competitor for men's souls--it is just an inferior doctrine, self-evidently so because it did not produce Europe. Moreover, and this is the point of the text Benedict cites, Islam is incapable of producing a Europe because its conception of God does not assume a rational divinity.

Now the Pope says this excerpted text does "not in any way express my personal thought." Really? So, the Vicar of Christ does not believe that Catholic doctrine is superior to Muslim teaching? Sure he does. The Pope does not want Christian Europe to regain its spirituality by becoming less rational, like Islam, but through an expanded concept of reason--one large enough to encompass a creator who is Himself rational.

AS THE CHILDREN OF A rational God, all men can think rational thoughts, but few are capable of philosophy. Early Christian and Islamic thinkers, especially those influenced by Neo-Platonism, understood the problem: The majority of men can only comprehend one level of reality, and only then through the use of symbols. Hence, what is most interesting about the Pope's speech is that he is operating on two different levels: There is philosophy, reason, and logos for one type of understanding, and there are symbols for another. Here, the symbols are those of the Catholic Church--the papacy itself--which he himself barely even hints at. Benedict left it to his dialogue partners to fill in the rest, and now every burned effigy of the Pope is a prick in the conscience of Catholics the world over.

Sure the European intellectual class believes the Pope is a moron for getting so many Muslims angry, but the elite is not his primary audience; rather, he was speaking over their heads to the masses of ordinary Catholics. What will they believe in? What will they live for and die for? Maybe the Church.

It is hard to get people to live, never mind die, for principles based entirely on reason. Most people need something real to fight for, something tangible. And this is the dilemma of liberal democracies that bin Laden, Nasrallah, and Ahmadinejad, among others, have rightly identified. It is only rational that the citizens of such a state would prefer to enjoy the privileges of such a life than to die. However, the jihadi intelligentsia have also made a less than thorough study of the war that they have chosen.

As John Paul in the fight against Communism and the Soviet Union, it may well be that Pope Benedict will prove an important ally in the West’s war on terror. If so, he would be a natural ally, and an ally on the basis of shared beliefs, values, history and culture.

This, Quite in contrast to the image of the religious fanatic and ideologue, a caricature which hate-mongers, apologists and appeasers seem determined to apply to the Pope. As is often the case in this bizzaro world of public discourse, should it strike us odd that such characterizations more aptly fits the leading figures of our enemies?

The violence of aroused Muslims the world over gave more ample proof of what the original source of Pope Benedict’s quotation alleged: that the Religion of PeaceTM repeatedly refutes its appellation.


SpouseBUZZ Buzzing

I think this was how the lyric went in Hair, “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a happenin.”

Here’s how Andi introduces SpouseBUZZ at Andi’s World:

Over the course of the past year, I've received a lot of email from military spouses, particularly National Guard and Reserve spouses, who have voiced their frustration about being located far away from military posts where resources and support groups are not as abundant as in military towns. I recognized months ago that this was a real problem, military spouses were desperately seeking ways to bond with others who shared their circumstance.

So, how to solve the problem? The simplest solution was to create a "virtual" Family Support Group. A place on the Internet where spouses can turn, 24/7, when they need a lift, a connection, a solution or just a laugh. Technology is a blessing for modern-day milspouses. I often wonder how the milspouses of prior conflicts dealt with the lack of information and cyber-friendships that are available to milspouses today. How long the days must have felt waiting for a letter to make the journey from Europe, Africa or Southeast Asia to the mailbox.

Today is the debut of a brand-new blog dedicated solely to connecting and supporting milspouses. SpouseBUZZ has arrived. SB is not a typical MilBlog. We have a narrow focus - life from the perspective of a milspouse. We don't dabble into politics or military strategy or current events, we exist to discuss topics which are unique to the large milspouse community.

Though SB is for milspouses, everyone should visit. If you're interested in trying to grasp and understand the challenges facing military spouses, and there are many, you should read this blog. 9/11 changed milspouses forever. Pre 9/11, deployments were the exception, not the rule. Post 9/11, deployments are the rule and not the exception. Any service member will tell you that they perform better if they know that their families are being taken care of at home. They will also tell you, without hesitation, that though they wear their uniform, their spouses serve too.

Some of the authors of SpouseBUZZ will be familiar to you, including Air Force Wife, AWTM, Homefront Six, Most Certainly Not, Sarah, My Life as a Military Spouse and Molly Pitcher. Some will be unfamiliar because they are new to blogging. The authors of SB have 106+ years combined experience as milspouses. They are articulate, informed and very funny. It's an all-star cast and I am certain they will make a huge difference in the lives of their fellow milspouses.

So, drop in on us often, and tell your friends to do the same.

A special thanks to for creating SpouseBUZZ, and for their continued, unwavering support of our veterans and their families.

What a wonderful idea. As the husband of a milspouse, I can vouch for the fact that Guard and Reserve families find it difficult to stay connected within the wider military community.

As the husband of a part-time milspouse blogger, I am equally excited that these very special voices might receive wider attention. SpouseBUZZ sounds like a great place to begin a very helpful dialog in which military families can find lots of support and encouragement.

They’re already linked at Dadmanly.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Another Plug for The Blog of War

Jay Nordlinger gives us a plug in his latest Impromptu up at National Review Online:

A “milblogger” — a military blogger — alerted me to a new book, The Blog of War, giving us “front-line dispatches from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.” A cutesy title, but one that had to be hard to resist. I can’t tell you anything about this book, not having seen it. But I can tell you that milbloggers have been invaluable these last several years. We complain about the MSM? Yes, but we don’t have to be hostage to them, either.

Thanks, Jay!


The Pope and Violence

“If you say I am violent one more time, I shall kill you. Not just kill you, but I shall slice off your head, burn your body, and hang your worthless carcass from a bridge! Such a fate awaits anyone who accuses the Religion of PeaceTM as prone to violence!”

It looks like Pope Benedict is in serious publicity trouble for quoting some ancient emperor, making mention of a centuries old debate between a Christian and a Muslim scholar.

From the Associated Press report, the Pope was quoted as saying the following:

The pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.

"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" he quoted the emperor as saying. He did not explicitly agree with them nor repudiate them.

Beats me, I don’t know what he’s talking about. This strikes me as some pretty arcane history, known only to the kinds of scribes and monks and scholars that most religions keep wisely bundled up in towers.

Is it just me, or do Muslims the world over have an overbearing sensitivity towards any mention of their religion by the Infidels? There must be some subsection of one of the laws in the Koran that tells them to find offense with any non-Muslim utterance that includes any mention of their religion, absent fawning praise and a prostrate attitude?

I mean, this guy’s the Pope of the Roman Catholic (Christian) Church. Doesn’t that automatically give him license to, like, not believe in other religions and their traditions? Doesn’t he get to adhere to his own traditions, and why must Muslims insist we all pay their traditions more deference than our own?

And some critics think we’re wrong to call the radical flavor of these guys fascists?!

I forgot the punch line, to come full circle. The AP Report quotes some Pakistani bureaucrat:

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

“In this, I am deadly serious. Stop saying that I am violent, or you shall indeed find out what violence means!”

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