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November 24, 2009
Leakiest administration ever?By Greyhawk
Headlined "Obama plans to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan" - this news from McClatchy...
President Barack Obama met Monday evening with his national security team to finalize a plan to dispatch some 34,000 additional U.S. troops over the next year to what he's called "a war of necessity" in Afghanistan, U.S. officials told McClatchy.
...sounds a lot like this news from McClatchy (headlined "Obama leaning toward 34,000 more troops for Afghanistan") from November 7th. However, at that time they did add that "the officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss internal administration planning, cautioned that Obama's decision isn't final."
After that earlier story, McClatchy reported that administration leaks had done significant damage to America's efforts in Afghanistan, and "poisoned ties between the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan and the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, and left the administration struggling for leverage to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to appoint untainted officials to his new government."
So last week, President Obama boldly decreed that he felt that leaks from his administration were "not appropriate."
"We have deliberations in the situation room for a reason; we're making life and death decisions that affect how our troops are able to operate in a theater of war. For people to be releasing info in the course of deliberations is not appropriate."
It's nice that the president understands and acknowledges the life and death issues at stake - but all that did was set up what might be the greatest leak quote ever in the new McClatchy piece:
The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and because, one official said, the White House is incensed by leaks on its Afghanistan policy that didn't originate in the White House.
So if we really need 34,000 more troops in Afghanistan it seems the White House could send administration leakers there and still have some to spare.
Except they're proven security risks, and demonstrably not qualified to hold clearances or deal with classified information. So scratch that idea.
(A large roundup of several months worth of national security leaks here.)
Neptunus Lex: "That's an interesting turn of phrase - it implies that leaks originating within the White House are perfectly fine. Gotta control that narrative."
Politico: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement: "After completing a rigorous final meeting, President Obama has the information he wants and needs to make his decision and he will announce that decision within days."
Jules Crittenden "It's another great oratory op for Obama, whose great, lauded accomplishments to date are limited to the wonder he's induced at his remarkable ability to string together sentences."
Ed Morrissey: "The new plan contains the "off-ramps" Obama demanded from his national security team... The increase in troops is a good decision, but the off-ramps almost completely undermine it."
Max Boot: "Obama had better use his televised talk to the nation not only to announce a robust reinforcement package but also to make clear that he expects the troops to defeat the Taliban -- not to prepare the way for a rapid "exit strategy." No one wants to risk his or her life to secure a more expeditious withdrawal. If we're going to commit more troops -- and we should -- the only proper objective is victory. That is a word that has been missing so far from Obama's vocabulary. I hope it is not MIA on Tuesday night."
Corrente: "Has the administration ever articulated a reason why we're fighting in Afghanistan?"
The Hill: "The proposal, in its current form, would authorize the deployment of slightly fewer troops than the number Gen. Stanley McChrystal first requested back in September."
Foreign Policy: "The top U.S. and NATO commander in the country, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Amb. Karl Eikenberry, have both reportedly been told to prepare to testify before Congress "as early as next week," so they can offer support for the president's decision"
Juan Cole: "President Obama is widely thought to be likely to announce his Afghanistan plans next week. Leaks suggest that he will send 34,000 new troops. If that is so, Gen. Stanley McChrystal has won the struggle for policy decisively."
Firedoglake: "Looks Like Escalation In Afghanistan... That timeline means that the last installment of new troops wouldn't arrive in Afghanistan until a year from now. We're talking about an escalation in slow motion."
CNN: "If President Barack Obama decides to send 34,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a new national poll indicates Americans would be split over whether to support such a move."
Newshoggers: "President Obama will announce on Dec 1 that he will order 34,000 additional troops sent to Afghanistan... Which is just about the number everyone was expecting and exactly enough to keep both the pro-war and anti-occupation camps dissatisfied. Obama must have decided he'd just piss everyone off equally. "
Posted by Greyhawk / November 24, 2009 10:33 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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