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Steve Shippert of Threats Watch reports of another wave of irresponsible government leakers that have jeopardized national security by divulging information on deployed forces in Iraq.
That senior Administration official, a suspected collaborator in the leak conspiracy exposed initially by the Los Angeles Times, has been under fire in certain congressional circles as the potential target of hearings, investigations and charges of war crimes.
ThreatsWatch will be utilizing its many military, intelligence, policy maker and administration sources to get to the bottom of what is proving to be yet another intolerable breach of confidentiality and information security at the highest levels of government. This clearly politically motivated and coordinated endeavor to sabotage future policy aims can be neither dismissed nor allowed to proceed unpunished.
We commend the overall media restraint displayed thus far in aiding the damaging propagation of this leaked data. While ThreatsWatch has often been critical of the major US media outlets in this regard, it must be acknowledged that this is a restraint they have been admirably consistent in demonstrating regarding this type of unnecessary wartime data that clearly serves no public service in exposing further.
We will keep readers updated as we ferret out the source, aims and damaging consequences associated with these irresponsible and unpardonable concerted acts.
There used to be a time when public service ads reminding Americans of the dangers of revealing too much information were advertised and encouraged Americans to be discreet in their communication to prevent restricted information from being leaked to the enemy.
These ads were created by the The War Advertising Council during WWII, now just called the Ad Council due to peace time.
I think the "War" Ad Council need to come back along with these ads:
Recently, John McCain put out an ad attacking Barack Obama for his celebrity, comparing him to Britney Spears.
Slate V imagines what online video backlash would look like… How would an Obama fan as devoted as the “Leave Britney Alone” guy react to attacks against Obama?
Why isn't this in the news?...
A top Iraqi official visited wounded American troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to thank them for their part in ending Saddam Hussein’s rule in his country.
“We have come … to express our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by these great warriors, soldiers, in freeing the Iraqi people and in helping us in Iraq recover from tyranny and dictatorship,” Jawad Karim al-Bolani, Iraq’s minister of the interior, said through a translator to a handful of journalists in the lobby of the medical center.
...probably because all the major networks are following some other guy
But those at Walter Reed are glad to be appreciated and supported;
“We also want to express our gratitude to the families of all these great men and women and express how important their sacrifices are for our nation,” he added.
Bolani’s visit with troops comes on the heels of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) recent trip to the Middle East, where the Democratic presidential candidate caused a stir when he canceled a planned visit to wounded American soldiers.
And the Iraqi PM didn't make a political brouhaha about it.
The Iraqi government official, who didn’t mention presidential politics, said that he also wanted to visit Walter Reed because it was a “great institution.” “(We wanted) to witness firsthand the level of technical (and) medical sophistication that is being practiced here so that we may learn from it to help our foreign wounded and the many, many victims of terrorism and violence in Iraq,” Bolani added.
This is great, our troops deserve this and so much more.
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Part one of this series is here.
Major Smith and Colonel MacFarland's Military Review article can be found here, and should be read in its entirety.
The Guardian video can be viewed in full here.
A Stars and Stripes homecoming tribute (pdf) to the Ready First Combat Team can be found here.
Recent Mudville entries on this topic:
Earlier coverage cited in the video series:
Saluting the 3rd ACR (February, 2006)
Anbar Rising (September, 2006)
Close Air Support (November, 2006)
Links to most other reports cited in the video can be found in the above links, but additional links will be added to this post as time permits.
MilBlogs TV is funded by readers like you. Please help MilBlogs TV grow.
Colonel MacFarland did brief the media on September 29, 2006. Unfortunately, with congressional elections looming little news from Iraq beyond the death toll was provided to Americans at the time.
For example, Time magazine covers from the month following featured the looming war with Iran, a reporter wounded in Iraq, evolution, the end of the Republican Party, and a feature on "the next president". The New York Times front-page Iraq stories detailed a new book claiming that President Bush ignored warnings on Iraq on the 29th, and a story that the US might cut funding to the abusive Iraqi police on the 30th.
So with great pride we now present the world premier of Colonel MacFarland's September 29, 2006 briefing to the American media from Ramadi...
Ignored by traditional western media, the story of the Anbar awakening was told only in Arab media and in American milblogs at the time
While Colonel MacFarland didn't use the term, as reported in part one of this series, The story of what would come to be known as the "Anbar Awakening" was first revealed in a little-noticed February, 2005 Time magazine article by Michael Ware.
A June, 2005 London Times report headlined "US in Talks with Iraq Rebels" would cause a bit more of a stir. (A follow-up story in the Washington Post would reveal the "insurgent outreach" program had been approved in August, 2004.)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answered questions about the effort on Fox News Sunday that week. The secretary announced that such meetings "go on all the time" and described efforts to "split local insurgents off from the al Qaeda/foreign fighters group."
He dismissed any need for additional US troops in Iraq, stating emphatically that Iraqis - not American troops, were going to win the battle against the insurgency in their country.
His confidence was based on expectations that the Iraqis would very soon reject the brutality practiced by the radical groups in their midst.
Reports of conflict between al Qaeda and Sunni groups would surface periodically thereafter, but would often blend into the emerging "civil war in Iraq" theme.
In June, the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in a coalition air attack would result in a new leader for the group, and within days of Colonel MacFarland's announcement of the Anbar sheik's movement (limited at the time to Ramadi but then known as the "Anbar salvation council") Abu Ayyub al Masri would offer "amnesty" to the sheiks if they would return to his control before the end of Ramadan.
"Return to your religion and homeland before we defeat you", the new al Qaeda leader commanded, "and you will have peace and security. We will not touch you but with kindness. You must first declare your sincere repentance in front of your tribes and families and inform us by whatever means, lest we make a mistake [and kill you]. You should put your hands in the hands of your brothers and sons, the mujahideen, for peace and security to return to our homes and expel the invader and to expel the occupier from our midst in this blessed month"
His response came from Sheik Sattar Abu-Risha. - Though little known outside Ramadi, the Sheik was in the process of turning the tide of the war in Iraq
"I do not know what kind of authority he enjoys." The sheik stated, "Is he a prophet? Did he receive a messenger from God to give us a pardon? Are we criminals like him? Are we killers like him to be given a pardon? Or did we ask him for pardon? On the contrary, he should ask us for pardon, because he killed Iraqis, Sunnis and Shi'is. Who is he? He is only an inferior criminal. We should not grant him a pardon."
A profile of Sheik Sattar From an early 2007 BBC report...
As Smith and MacFarland would relate in their 2008 review, Sattar was a dynamic figure willing to stand up to al Qada at a time when victory was far from certain. On 9 September he organized a tribal council attended by over 50 sheiks and the brigade commander, declaring the awakening underway and beginning a snowball effect that resulted in a growing number of tribes declaring open support for the movement or withdrawing support from al Qaeda in Iraq.
The establishment of the Awakening was not spontaneous; it was an evolutionary movement developing over years in Iraq. But dramatic events along the way ensured its success. One of the most significant of these was the battle of Sufia, retold by Smith and MacFarland in Anbar Awakens...
Once again,, other than milblogs readers, few would know of these events at the time. Coincidentally, the same milblogs story would include a report of Senator John McCain challenging General Casey on the need for additional troops in Baghdad and Anbar.
For while the Awakening movement was altering the course of the war in Ramadi, the terrorists fleeing that area were helping spread violence throughout Baghdad, Mosul, Baqubah, and other areas in Iraq.
In early 2007 the "surge" was announced. General David Petraeus was named commander of Multi-national force Iraq. Among his first agenda items on assuming command was a meeting with sheik Sattar.
From the earliest days of the surge, efforts were underway to recreate the success of the Ramadi movement, and spread the awakening model throughout the country.
General Petraeus' first press conference from Baghdad...
AS Smith and MacFarland would later explain
"The Anbar Awakening was the result of a concerted plan executed by US forces in Ramadi.
Tactical victory became a strategic turning point when farsighted senior leaders, both Iraqi and American, replicated the Ramadi model throughout Anbar Province, in Baghdad, and other parts of the country, dramatically changing the Iraq security situation in the process."
The conclusion of their report sums their unit's key lesson's learned from Iraq
Accept risk in order to achieve results.
Once you gain the initiative, never give the enemy respite or refuge.
Never stop looking for another way to attack the enemy.
The tribes represent the people of Iraq, and the populace represents the "key terrain" of the conflict. The force that supports the population by taking the moral high ground has as sure an advantage in COIN as a maneuver commander who occupies dominant terrain in a conventional battle.
They close by noting,
In the end, probably the most important lesson we learned in Ramadi was that, as General Petraeus said,
"Hard is not hopeless."
The Ready First Combat Team returned to its home station in March 2007 as the first of the "surge" Units were positioned in Iraq. Over the course of about 14 months on the ground, 31 of the brigade's soldiers were killed - among them, Capt Travis Patriquin, credited by Smith and MacFarland as the man responsible for the initial contacts and ultimate cementing of the American bond with the Ramadi Sheiks.
A police station in Ramadi is named in Capt Patriquin's honor.
Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed by a roadside bomb at the outset of Ramadan in the western calendar year 2007. Contrary to expectations at the time, his movement survived him.
In June, 2008 his brother and new awakening leader Sheik Ahmad al-Rishawi came to America, though his visits to President Bush and members of the US Congress received little media attention.
He told the New York Sun that his message to Congress was that American soldiers should stay in Iraq for at least as long as it takes to rebuild Iraq's national army - but also repeated his brother's earlier offer to join the battle against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"Al Qaeda is an ideology," Sheik Ahmad told the Sun. "We can defeat them inside Iraq and we can defeat them in any country."
Keeping with the Anbar Awakening theme, a video from some guys who were there in '06...
Click on computer screen Icon for full screen mode.
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Let me be crystal clear: if elected president, my first act will be to call for the immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq.Reality:
Or will I? As is obvious to all but the most deluded HuffPo retard, the surge in Iraq has produced dramatic improvements in security throughout Iraq, and the roots of a stable pro-American democracy. We have the terrorists on the run, and it would obviously be crazy for us to pull our troops from the region just as we are on the verge of victory. And it is equally obvious that everything I said in the previous paragraph was designed to placate the naive hipster moonbats I brilliantly exploited to destroy the Clintons.
See what I mean? That previous paragraph should be a signal to all of you in the progressive community just how committed I am to an immediate troop withdrawal. If that's the kind of shameless bellicose jingoism it takes to temporarily fool the neocons and extra-chromosome Jebus tards, I will do it.
And that there is exactly the kind of transparent commie crap that left wing lunatics eat up. It's unfortunate that I had to participate in it during the primary season...
Obama said that after being sworn in he would give U.S. military commanders a new mission, "for us to begin a phased redeployment at a pace of one to two brigades per month, at which point we would have our combat troops out in 16 months. That's the goal that I'm setting."Next week? Who knows...(Nice that he refuses to be boxed in to that rigid timeline he's demanding, though.)
"What I will refuse to do is to get boxed in into what I consider two false choices," he said. "Either I have a rigid timeline, come hell or high water, and I am blind to anything that happens in the intervening 16 months, or, alternatively, I am completely deferring to whatever the commanders on the ground says, which is what George Bush says he's doing, in which case I'm not doing my job as commander in chief. I'm essentially, simply rubber-stamping decisions that are made on the ground.
And by the way, just because I bet the farm on our terrific troops getting handed their asses in Iraq and lost doesn't mean I was wrong:
However, Obama would not attribute the decreased violence entirely to the troop surge, which he opposed, instead saying that it was the result of "political factors inside Iraq that came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, my assessment would be correct. ... The point I was making at the time was the political dynamic was the driving force in that sectarian violence."And for good measure, "I think it's important to recognize that on the majority of issues that we've faced in terms of foreign policy, not just over the past four years but over the past six, seven years that my batting average is pretty darn good."
A fine analogy, since in baseball getting a hit three times out of ten is pretty darn good.
By the way, ABC sent an email alert on this adding that "If you wish to use this material, you must credit “Nightline.”"
I say they must credit Iowahawk.
If you are already registered for the full blogworld expo you don't need to register for the milblogs track seperately. However, if you plan to attend only the Milblog portion of the Expo, registration/attendence is free (although this isn't true of the larger blogworld expo) for milbloggers, Milblog supporters, service members/spouses/parents and those who work in the non-profit, troop support field.
1. To register for the milblogs (and and only milblogs) conference, first send an email (with "Request Code" in the subject line) to andi-at-andisworld-dot-com. You'll receive a registration code via return email. (It may take a couple of days or so for you receive your code. Please don't send follow-up email or worry about it unless it's been more than seven days and you've received no response.)
2. Log in to register for the blogworld expo conference here (select "attendee registration" option.)
3. Fill out the requested information. Register for “exhibits only” (There is no milblog track listed in the registration system.) Place your registration code in the "Coupon Code" section when presented with the option. NOTE on codes:
- All O's are Zeros
- All Codes are Case Sensitive and Must be Entered Exactly as Given
- Each attendee must have their own code
- Codes are non-transferrable
4. You'll receive a ribbon at registration that will get you into the MilBlog Track.
4.5 Those registered milblogs attendees who wish to attend other portions of Blogworld Expo will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org, tell her you are attending the milblog track and want to pay to attend another portion of the Expo and she will handle your request.
5. See you there!
Here's episode 2 of MilBlogs T.V., in which we introduce America to ... Afghanistan (and Sevendust). The choice of bands for the soundtrack might seem obvious from the start, but not until the end of the video does that really become clear...
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If you're like me you're not an HBO subscriber, and haven't seen HBO's miniseries "Generation Kill". Fortunately for us, one who did see the program has offered the following review. Even more fortunately, he's Richard S Lowry, author of "Marines in the Garden of Eden" - 'The true story of the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.'
That would be the battle for Nasiriyah, fought in the earliest days of the march on Baghdad, and also retold in Generation Kill. Our sincere thanks to Mr Lowry for sharing his insight here.
His review of episode one can be seen here. Now on to episode two...
Generation Kill – Part Two: The Cradle of Civilization
Review by Richard S. Lowry
Marines in the Garden of Eden
July 21, 2008
In part two, The Cradle of Civilization, Ed Burns' and Eric Wright's credibility started to erode. While the series remained visually stunning and the characters seemed like real Marines, the story started to stray from the truth.
When it comes to the battle for Nasiriyah, I will probably end up being Burns' and Wright's worst critic. I know too much about that fight to be dazzled by their literary license. The Generation Kill story is unfolding to be quite an adventure and we still cannot tell which direction the writers will be taking us. It appears that they will portray 1st Recon's enlisted Marines as gruff good guys and officers and other units as lacking in courage, intelligence and morals. Last night, I was particularly offended by the implication that 2d LAR indiscriminately killed civilians north of Nasiriyah. I was also disgusted with the distortion of the truth in the events surrounding the fight in Nasiriyah.
Let's start with March 23, 2003. The day Task Force Tarawa attacked into Nasiriyah. All of our 1st Recon "heroes" were stuck in the traffic jam, south of the city. Eleven soldiers and eighteen Marines were killed in, and around, Nasiriyah that day and about twenty Marines were wounded. Captain Eric Garcia flew the last CASEVAC at sunset. There were no other casualty evacuations that night. It was horrible to lose twenty-nine Americans in a single fight, but the number of casualties was nowhere close to the 200 claimed in Generation Kill.
Which leads me to 24 March; when our 1st Recon "heroes" arrived at the Euphrates River Bridge, there was quite a fight going on. This is absolutely true, but it was the 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, not RCT-1, that got into a large scrap at the bridge that day. The fight did not erupt until after LtCol Eddie Ray had taken his 2d LAR Battalion through "Ambush Alley." By the way, not a single shot was fired when Ray charged through the city. 2/8 sustained a few injuries in their fight, but none were serious. There was never an artillery friendly fire incident at the river. No Marines were wounded or killed by friendly artillery fire. I challenge the writers to support this claim.
It is very true that Colonel Dowdy, RCT-1's commander, hesitated and would not order his regiment through "Ambush Alley." Generals Conway and Mattis were extremely unhappy with his lack of aggressiveness. This was the second of several incidents which caused Dowdy to be the first Marine regimental commander to be relieved on the field of battle. Notwithstanding, the Marines of RCT-2 fought courageously in Nasiriyah. Colonel Ron Bailey, RCT-2's commander, drove through Ambush Alley just after 2d LAR with only a few vehicles to visit his battalion, north of the city.
Godfather 6 concluded last night's installment with a couple disagreeable statements. He claimed that the enemy "stared us down" in Nasiriyah. In fact, the enemy was decimated in Nasiriyah. 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, another Task Force Tarawa battalion, lost eighteen brave Marines because they pressed the attack and did not give up until they had met their objectives which were the two bridges in Nasiriyah. By sunset on the 23rd, both bridges were secure and RCT-2 was waiting for RCT-1 to pass through the city. Again – the war did not revolve around the 1st Recon Battalion.
I studied the battle of Nasiriyah for quite some time. I interviewed nearly one hundred soldiers, sailors and Marines who were actually there in the fight. I am not happy with the way the writers have bent the facts to fit their story and overlooked the courageous stories of men like Major Bill Peeples; Captain Eric Garcia; Lieutenants Fred Pokorney, Brian Letendre, "Ben" Reed and Mike Seely; Sergeant William Schaffer, Corporals Nick Elliot and Pat Nixon and many, many more. Burns and Wright have lost their credibility. I will have a hard time believing anything in the last five segments.
Richard S. Lowry is the award-wining author of "The Gulf War Chronicles" and "Marines in the Garden of Eden." He served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1967-1975 and spent the time from 1975 to 2002 designing sophisticated integrated circuits for everything from aircraft avionics to home computers. He is currently working on his next book, "New Dawn," which will tell of the fight to free Fallujah. Visit www.marinesinthegardenofeden.com for more information.
This has nothing to do with Obama (who I think does a fine job of visiting the troops), but whenever I see anyone "visiting the troops" I'm reminded of this scene from one of the all-time classic war films.
Though in my memory it was R-rated for language. But my memory isn't what it used to be...
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Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday he could get violence under control in six months...Nov 30 2006:
"We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough."
AMMAN, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Thursday his government's forces would be able to take over security command from U.S. troops by June 2007 -- a move which could allow the United States to start withdrawing.A nation's leaders should be optimistic, says I.
Rough unedited video of U.S. Senators Hagel, Obama and Reed visiting and dining with troops in Afghanistan.
From what I can tell from watching this video, Senator Obama is a lefty. Who knew?
This is from the early part of the Senator's visit to the troops in the mideast. It's unedited footage and there's some bad audio in parts, but you can tell these guys love him. As I said before, he doesn't need to be afraid to debate McCain at Ft Hood on that account.
Another thing I didn't know about Obama: his grandfather served under Patti Bader's great-uncle in WWII. Small world!
"I am there to listen, but there is no doubt that my core position, which is that we need a timetable for withdrawal, ...to put more pressure on the Iraqi government, is now a position that is also held by the Iraqi government."
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has arrived in southern Iraq to meet British troops after holding talks with political leaders and US military commanders in Baghdad during an unannounced visit to the country.All done!
The PM flew by Hercules military transport plane from Baghdad to the main British base in Iraq at Basra Air Station.
Following talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and President Jalal Talabani in Baghdad, Mr Brown said it was his intention to reduce UK troop numbers in the country, but insisted he would not set an "artificial timetable" to bring forces home.
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!
'Tis new to thee.
- Shakespeare, The Tempest
In comments through the (currently ongoing) While America Slept Series, recently embedded Iraq reporter Nathan Webster and I have been discussing the relative merits of the troop increase ("the surge") and the recruitment of local citizens (Awakening Movements, Sons of Iraq, Concerned local Citizens groups, former insurgents, and a host of other names - your choice - I'll use any and all below) in the fight to stabilize Iraq.
I think this comment is a reasonable statement:
To propose that any of these deeply intertwined developments would have brought us to where we are today without the influence of the others is wrong. In fact, it's absurd. Better analogies probably escape me just now, but it seems akin to arguing whether your car's engine or transmission deserve the credit for your last trip.I can add a couple of others - whether the offense or defense wins football games, or whether the guitar or drums matter more to a band. There are those who are willing to enter such arguments - I'm not among them. (Nor is Mr Webster, I should add.)
But those who follow politics are aware of the argument that "the surge" was unnecessary and pointless (or, in the extreme, a "failure") because of the rise of Iraqis (usually this argument is limited to the Anbar Awakening movement - with similar success in other areas being ignored) against militias, insurgents, JAM, or al Qaeda (again, your choice). Those who make this argument also tend to see the Awakening Movement as something that sprang forth from the sands (in spite of US presence in Iraq - or even because of American failure to pacify the region) in the late summer of 2006. (I'm not aware of anyone anywhere arguing that the "citizens" movement didn't contribute to success in Iraq. If there are such voices please let me know.)
Hopefully my position on the Iraqis or Americans debate is clear from the above. If not, the short answer is both. For those seeking a long answer, I've been working on another ongoing (though overdue for update) series here called Genesis that describes in greater detail the parallel development of both trends.
That said, the Genesis series may be a bit complex (and lengthy) for some. With that in mind, I will attempt to present a shorter timeline on the development of the "awakening councils" alone here. The staunch defenders of the "surge wasn't needed" argument will probably be surprised to discover whose point of view they currently embrace.
"What's past is prologue." as the bard wrote. This is a brief overview of developments that did not occur in isolation from others (a few references to concurrent events are included for some historical perspective on what the mainstream narrative on Iraq was at the time). For additional details and links to source material see Genesis.
August, 2004 (The Washington Times):
Other parts of the U.S. government, including the State Department and CIA, have also been holding secret meetings with Iraqi insurgent factions in an effort to stop the violence and coax them into the political process, according to U.S. government officials and others who have participated in the efforts.February, 2005 (Michael Ware/Time magazine):
The military plan, approved in August 2004, seeks to make a distinction between Iraqi insurgents who are attacking U.S. troops because they are hostile to their presence, and foreign insurgents who are responsible for most of the suicide bombings -- which have killed more than 1,200 people in the past couple of months -- and whose larger political aims are unclear.
"We are ready," he says before leaving, "to work with you."June, 2005 ( The London Times):
In that guarded pledge may lie the first sign that after nearly two years of fighting, parts of the insurgency in Iraq are prepared to talk and move toward putting away their arms—and the U.S. is willing to listen.
Pentagon officials say the secret contacts with insurgent leaders are being conducted mainly by U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers.
Hard-line islamist fighters like Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda group will not compromise in their campaign to create an Islamic state. But in interviews with TIME, senior Iraqi insurgent commanders said several "nationalist" rebel groups—composed predominantly of ex-military officers and what the Pentagon dubs "former regime elements"—have moved toward a strategy of "fight and negotiate."
AT a summer villa near Balad in the hills 40 miles north of Baghdad, a group of Iraqis and their American visitors recently sat down to tea. It looked like a pleasant social encounter far removed from the stresses of war, but the heavy US military presence around the isolated property signalled that an unusual meeting was taking place.June, 2005 (Fox News Sunday):
After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies.
The talks on June 3 were followed by a second encounter 10 days later, according to an Iraqi who said that he had attended both meetings.
CHRIS WALLACE: Let's start with these reports of these direct meetings between U.S. officials, including allegedly a representative of the Pentagon, and insurgent commanders. Did they happen, and, if so, what did they accomplish?In that same interview, Rumsfeld dismissed calls for additional troops in Iraq, stating that the Iraqis were the ones who would ultimately defeat "the insurgency":
RUMSFELD: Well, the first thing I would say about the meetings is they go on all the time.
Second, the Iraqis have a sovereign government. They will decide what their relationships with various elements of insurgents will be. We facilitate those from time to time.
And if you think about it, there aren't the good guys and the bad guys over there. There are people all across the spectrum.
There's the government, people who strongly support the government, people that are leaning and not quite sure what to do, people who are leaning the other way and not quite sure what to do, and then insurgents and people who oppose it, which is a mixture: There's the jihadists, there's the Zarqawi group, there are criminals, there's the Sunni Baathists who would like to take back the government.
Meetings take place all the time...
WALLACE: But let me just ask you about this one specific idea. Is there an effort -- you talk about the spectrum of groups -- to try split off the homegrown insurgents from the foreign fighters, the Zarqawi group?
RUMSFELD: Well, sure, my goodness, yes. The first thing you want to do is split people off and get some people to be supportive.
I can understand some people would say, "Oh, there ought to be more," or, "There ought to be less." General Abizaid and General Casey are absolutely convinced, and said so publicly, that they would worry if there were more U.S. forces there, because it would require more force protection, more support troops, more targets, a heavier footprint, a more intrusive occupation force that would further alienate Iraqi people from the coalition forces and what they're trying to do.January, 2006 (USA Today):
Second, the implication of the question was that we don't have enough to win against the insurgency. We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency.
"Now you actually have a wedge, or a split, between the Sunni population and al-Qaeda in Iraq," said Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for multinational forces in Iraq. "It poses a significant crossroads for these groups as they look at where they head."February, 2006 (The Christian Science Monitor):
The U.S. military cited incidents of insurgent infighting in a rare public description of a split:
• At least six ranking members of al-Qaeda in Iraq have been assassinated by Sunni insurgents or tribal gunmen in separate incidents since September, Zahner said. The killings are usually in retaliation for al-Qaeda's role in violence, such as the execution of local police officers, he said.
• In Ramadi, in western Iraq, he said, armed clashes have erupted between local Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda operatives in recent months. At least one high-ranking al-Qaeda member, Abu Khatab, was recently run out of Ramadi by insurgents loyal to the local tribe.
• Near the Syrian border, members of the Albu Mahal tribe, which attacked U.S. positions as recently as March, have lately been pointing U.S. troops to al-Qaeda hideouts, Zahner said.
Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, also said there is a rift in the insurgency, calling it a "a major step forward in our fight against terrorism."
Sunni Tribes Turn Against JihadisFebruary, 2006 (The London Times):
Sheikh Osama al-Jadaan, head of the influential Karabila tribe in Sunni Arab-dominated western Iraq, is more politician than traditional sheikh these days. He's given up his dishdasha and Arab headdress for a pinstripe suit with a silk handkerchief in his breast pocket.
He's also turned away from supporting Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and other foreign fighters in Iraq. "We realized that these foreign terrorists were hiding behind the veil of the noble Iraqi resistance," says Mr. Jadaan. "They claim to be striking at the US occupation, but the reality is they are killing innocent Iraqis in the markets, in mosques, in churches, and in our schools."
"The local insurgents have become part of the solution and not part of the problem," US Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters at a press conference last week.
Sunni Leader Killed For Joining Ceasefire TalksMarch, 2006 (The Washington Post)
A SUNNI tribal leader was murdered in the Iraqi city of Ramadi a day after taking part in talks with American and Iraqi officials aimed at curbing violence there.
Sheikh Nasser Kareem al-Fahdawi, head of the al-Bu Fahad tribe and a physics professor at Anbar University, was shot by insurgents opposed to the talks in late December.
Iraqi Tribes Strike Back At InsurgentsMarch, 2006 (Reuters):
Tribal chiefs in Iraq's western Anbar province and in an area near the northern city of Kirkuk, two regions teeming with insurgents, are vowing to strike back at al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni Arab-led group that is waging war against Sunni tribal leaders who are cooperating with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military.
Most Americans see Iraq civil war as likely: pollJune, 2006 (Time Magazine):
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eight in 10 Americans believe that recent sectarian violence in Iraq has made civil war likely, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.
The objective of Maliki's "national unity" policy, strongly backed by U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, involves trying to draw the Sunnis, including some mainstream insurgent groups, into the political process.While all this was ongoing, coalition forces were capturing al-Qaeda members (often on tips from Iraqi citizens) and gaining intel that ultimately led to the June attack that killed Zarqawi.
June, 2006 (Mudville)
Coalition forces kill Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Multi-National Force-Iraq Commanding General, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., announced the death of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in the following statement during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad June 8:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Coalition forces killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, yesterday, June 7, at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house.
June, 2006 (Mudville):
The recently released letter from a senior al-Qaeda "advisor" to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (captured in the aftermath of the strike that killed him) confirms the strained relationship between the factions of the terrorist organization.August/September, 2006 (Mudville. Note: While now considered "conventional wisdom" the events described in this passage were ignored by American media as they happened, and this story was broken right here in the Mudville Gazette):
It's not the attacks on Sunni Muslims that concerns the al Qaeda leadership - its just the priority of the attacks, and in the eyes of the senior leadership Zarqawi has misjudged the urgency. There will be plenty of time later to deal with Sunnis who disagree with al Qaeda's goals, as the author assures Zarqawi:
In short, work with them now, kill them last.
A first publicly-released message from Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri - the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi's replacement as leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, made brief headlines in the western media late last month.November, 2006 (The London Times):
Muhajir brands his growing (and increasingly bold) Sunni opposition "traitors", demands they make a very public "repentance", and gives them until the end of Ramadan to do so. While the full translation of Muhajir's speech is not currently publicly available, one brief excerpt can be seen here:
"I say to those traitors in this blessed month, the month of pardon and forgiveness," al-Muhajir wrote, "that we are declaring a general pardon for all of them, forgiving them for our blood that was spilled by your hands and your treachery. We welcome you once again. Return to your religion and homeland before we defeat you, and you will have peace and security. We will not touch you but with kindness. You must first declare your sincere repentance in front of your tribes and families and inform us by whatever means, lest we make a mistake [and kill you]. You should put your hands in the hands of your brothers and sons, the mujahideen, for peace and security to return to our homes and expel the invader and to expel the occupier from our midst in this blessed month"
Iraq's al-Iraqiyah Television interviewed Shaykh Abd al-Sattar Abu-Rishah, chieftain of the Al-Bu-Rishah tribe in al-Anbar the day following the release of Muhajir's message:
Asked about his response to Al-Muhajir's statement about giving a pardon to the chieftains of Iraq, he says: "I do not know what kind of authority he enjoys. Is he a prophet? Did he receive a messenger from God to give us a pardon? Are we criminals like him? Are we killers like him to be given a pardon? Or did we ask him for pardon? On the contrary, he should ask us for pardon, because he killed Iraqis, Sunnis and Shi'is. Who is he? He is only an inferior criminal. We should not grant him a pardon."
Sheikh Sattar al-Buzayi summoned other tribal chiefs last week for a war council at his fortified home in Ramadi, the teeming, scarred capital of Iraq's Anbar province, desert heartland of the Sunni Arabs.
There was a bountiful feast of beef and rice, and a vow of unrelenting battle against the common enemy -- al Qaeda.
"We have to form police and army forces from among our sons to fight these al Qaeda militants," Buzayi, who says the militants murdered his father and his brother, told Reuters.
"We have now entered a real battle. It's either us or them."
Sunni tribal leaders who have vowed to drive Al Qaida out of Iraq's most restive province met the Shiite premier on Wednesday, marking what Washington hopes will be a breakthrough alliance against militants.
Sattar Al Buzayi, a Sunni shaikh from Anbar province who has emerged in recent weeks as a leader of a tribal alliance against Osama Bin Laden's followers, said he and about 15 other shaikhs had offered their cooperation to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
"This is admired and respected by all Iraqis. We are fully prepared to back your efforts," said the prime minister.
While the world’s attention has been focused on Baghdad’s slide into sectarian warfare, something remarkable has been happening in Ramadi, a city of 400,000 inhabitants that al-Qaeda and its Iraqi allies have controlled since mid-2004 and would like to make the capital of their cherished Islamic caliphate.November, 2006 (Mudville):
A power struggle has erupted: al-Qaeda’s reign of terror is being challenged. Sheikh Sittar and many of his fellow tribal leaders have cast their lot with the once-reviled US military.
They are persuading hundreds of their followers to sign up for the previously defunct Iraqi police. American troops are moving into a city that was, until recently, a virtual no-go area.
The US military wooed the sheikhs over what one US officer described as “hundreds of cups of chai and thousands of cigarettes”.
Sunni Leader Urges Arab Nations Not To Back Iraq's Shiite-Led GovernmentBut...
A prominent Sunni religious leader is calling on the international community to end its support for Iraq's Shiite-led government.
Otherwise, he says, Iraq's escalating sectarian violence will spread throughout the Middle East.
The sheik, who heads the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, lives in Jordan.
Sunni sheiks from Iraq's volatile Anbar province have denounced a powerful Sunni cleric as "a thug" for supporting the al-Qaida terrorist group.November 2006 (Mudville):
The Anbar Salvation Council, a group of sheiks formed to resist foreign militants in Iraq, also denied accusations by cleric Harith al-Dhari that it was cozying up to the Iraqi government in exchange for money, the New York Times reported Sunday.
"We, on behalf of the Anbar tribes council, say to Harith al-Dhari: If there is a thug, it is you; if there is a killer and a kidnapper, it is you," the Times quoted Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi as saying.
Close Air Support to the Anbar Salvation CouncilDecember, 2006 - Anbar, as described in American media:
Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the Abu Soda tribe in Sofia Nov. 25. In response, Coalition Forces provided support to the Abu Soda’s fight against Al Qaeda.
“The American’s have come to the aide of the Abu Soda tribe. They have understood the dire situation [that the Abu Soda are currently battling the Al Qaeda], because [the Americans] see it as a fight against a common enemy,” said Sheikh Ahmed, Sheikh of Abu Resha.
This is big. Remember al-Qaeda's threat to kill the "renegade" Sunnis after Ramadan? Since the tribes "have given their men to the Ministry of the Interior to serve as Iraqi Police" and the coalition has given significant resources in support, they're going to have a tough time delivering.
Earlier this month, in Washington, Senator McCain called for more troops...
The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report...Janury, 2007 - President Bush announces "the surge" (Mudville)
The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post, is far bleaker than some officials suggested when they described it in late summer.
Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists.March, 2007 (Mudville):
Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Al Hurra. Could you confirm to us, please, that there is a dialogue between the American officials and the Mahdi Army militias and some armed groups like the Islamic Party in Iraq?The rest, as they say, is history.
GEN. PETRAEUS: In an endeavor like this one, the host nation and those who are assisting it obviously are trying to determine over time who are the irreconcilables and who are the reconcilables. And they're on either end of the sectarian spectrum, of ethnic spectrums, political spectrums and so forth. And of course, what the government is trying to do, what those supporting the government are trying to do are to split the irreconcilables from the reconcilables and to make thepart of the solution rather than a continuing part of a problem, and then dealing with the irreconcilables differently. And that is certainly what the government of Iraq is doing and what those who are supporting the government of Iraq -- what the coalition is also doing, in very, very early stages.
But let's review the words of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from June, 2005:
"And if you think about it, there aren't the good guys and the bad guys over there. There are people all across the spectrum.The next time you hear someone arguing that the Salvation Councils saved Iraq and that McCain's additional troops weren't needed, point out that they're claiming that Rumsfeld was right, that his plan worked - and ask them why they didn't support the former SecDef so staunchly and vocally when it mattered.
"Meetings take place all the time... The first thing you want to do is split people off and get some people to be supportive.
"I can understand some people would say, "Oh, there ought to be more [troops]," or, "There ought to be less." General Abizaid and General Casey are absolutely convinced, and said so publicly, that they would worry if there were more U.S. forces there, because it would require more force protection, more support troops, more targets, a heavier footprint, a more intrusive occupation force that would further alienate Iraqi people from the coalition forces and what they're trying to do.
"Second, the implication of the question was that we don't have enough to win against the insurgency. We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency."
Politics makes strange bedfellows: Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster.
- The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002.
For more details on the above see Genesis.
For another comparison/contrast of news coverage of the Awakening Councils vs al Qaeda battle, see Decap Attacks.
Panels for the 2008 Milbogs Conference are shaping up. Yes - the Greyhawks will be there. Hope you will, too!
Am I the first one to think of that headline?
(This, btw, is a highly disciplined band.)
But why was there a civilian parachutist in the first place?
Something a bit different this week, in keeping with our the war was won theme. This is a video produced by the Third Infantry Division (aka Task Force Marne and MND-C) the surge division in Iraq.
The version of this I put up on LiveLeak drew some very positve comments. They definitely aren't all CHUD over there.
To embed this video on your web site copy and paste the following:
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcK4OAA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="270" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>
(And don't miss this video - true must see TV!)All done!
A video report, via the Dawn Patrol:
By the way, Afghanistan has has never been missing from Mudville's coverage of the war. You can get caught up here.
(Previous entry in series here.)
"I'm reluctant to say "the war has ended," as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true."
- Michael Totten, on Michael Yon.
He was expanding on a brief post he'd done at his own site, in which he added that "...I'll be back in Iraq myself soon enough, and I'll weigh in on that question then."
And I believe he's uniquely (and superbly) qualified to do it - so I'm looking forward to his reports.
I met quite a few wandering bloggers passing through Baghdad last year. Missed a few, too.
Mike Totten stopped by on his way to and from Fallujah. He'd been through before, had seen the red zone at it's most red. But this trip was different. While we'd been hearing a little about Ramadi (specifically the awakening movement) Fallujah had all but dropped off the radar as far as media reports from Iraq. Generally this means a place is relatively peaceful, and I thought Mike's choice was interesting for that reason - what sort of story could he tell from such a place?
Turns out he could tell a damn fine story (several, in fact), and once back stateside he did. Michael Totten hadn't come looking for a tale of combat, he sought the story of Iraq.
And by coincidence, his first posted story on his travels to Fallujah prompted what would turn out to be my own final post from Iraq.
Here (with spelling errors intact) is an absurd comment left under Michael Totten's first report from Fallujah:Your no Micheal Yon, and your reporting seems to be all over the place. Are things better or not in the town? Seems like you give it a "Wow, I'm not in harms way since the surge helped the country, how many ways can I say things are bad over here, but not as bad. I suggest these readers go to someone who goes out on combat missions he's attached to with the ground pounders, and get a real feel of reporting. Micheal Yon.I don't want to promote any discussion of the relative merits of the various bloggers who've actually come to Iraq to cover the war first-hand - I greatly admire them all, and I've yet to find any who weren't worth reading. The more the merrier, as they say; after all, there are a million stories to tell over here - plenty to go around. But I wanted to highlight this for two reasons: one, to provide the link to Totten's Fallujah report (which should be widely read) and two, to point out something most readers here have probably seen but not noticed: two of Yon's most recent posts have actually been advice columns on suitable cameras for deployed reporters.
But with that and other evidence of victory obvious in Baghdad at the time, I also noted that "Meanwhile, back in America 48 percent of respondents to a Pew Poll feel that the military effort is not going well, and 44 percent feel we are losing ground to the insurgents."
Such, I suppose, is the power of television.
"Well, we're drowning in information but somebody has to sort it out. So, when it came to the war, despite enormous pressure from the administration that said to the media, 'You folks in the media are being too negative. You're distorting the picture.' We had brave correspondents bringing us the carnage night after night, into our living rooms, what was going on in Iraq. And you had the anchors framing the story in such a way that it really punched through."
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bill Roggio in this discussion. Especially since he and I were on Camp Victory for one of the more spectacular (and, frankly, not spectacular) indirect fire attacks of the year. Bill's efforts in establishing the Long War Journal as the go-to site for front line reporting and strategic analysis on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are without equal, grass-roots media at it's finest. His site is now home to an unmatched cadre of new media war reporters, and if the mainstream media shifts their focus to Afghanistan over the coming months they'll have to work hard to catch up to LWJ, Bill never lost his focus on that corner of the war.
"I'd like to leave Iraq a little better than I found it."
I met quite a few wandering bloggers passing through Baghdad last year. Missed a few, too. One of those I missed had recently stopped updating his site - like so many other military bloggers too often do. But shortly before he deployed Mrs G received a welcome email: "As you may recall, I had to go to radio listening silence after I was warned that my writings might be a bit too strong to stay within Army regs a few months back. I'm happy to report that I am blogging again..."
He added that he was hoping to "maybe give the folks back home a little information they wouldn't otherwise get."
She replied "Great News, was looking in on you just the other day for anything new. Glad to have you back. Greyhawk asked me to pass on that he's in Baghdad. Maybe you two can get together and do lunch."
"I'd enjoy that. I will spend about two weeks at Taji sometime in mid-July...if he's in that area, I'd love to get a chance to finally meet him."
Schedules are inflexible, leisure travel impossible, and lunch was the most that could be hoped for. But it didn't happen. I'd have enjoyed getting the chance to actually speak to him face to face - I wanted him to accept the credit I thought was his. A few years before, when I'd begun writing my history of milblogs project, I'd emailed him about just how early he'd begun - I believed then (and still do) that he was the first of us all.
From reading his reply I got the impression that was a distinction he felt he didn't deserve:
"What I remember isn't much: I started blogging on 11 Oct 01, inspired by Glenn Reynolds primarily, although I was also reading Virginia Postrel at the time. I'm sure there were other milbloggers at the time, although I can't recall any off hand. The first I remember seeing was Sgt. Stryker. I'm not sure when he got his start. He was more of a true military guy, though, as my focus has always been more on philosophy and politics."
You can get a feel for that philosophy in a profile a local paper did on him before he deployed:
"I want to see if I can help the Iraqi Army understand a little bit about the rule of law and the importance of being professional soldiers devoted to something higher than just the local tribe or their family," he said. "But I don't know how realistic that is. I don't expect to make any huge changes. If I can make some incremental changes that's about the best I can hope for."
"I guess more than anything else, I'd like to leave Iraq a little better than I found it."
That was Andy Olmsted, of course, in the Rocky Mountain News. He was going to lead a team doing the toughest job left to do in Iraq - fighting the last battle of the war, if you will: prepare the Iraqi Army to take the lead, and facilitate our departure. That's part of the story he'd hoped to help tell.
Here's the full email I quoted from above:
As you may recall, I had to go to radio listening silence after I was warned that my writings might be a bit too strong to stay within Army regs a few months back. I'm happy to report that I am blogging again, now for the Rocky Mountain News about my assignment as a MiTT commander. The blog is here, and they've done a profile of me here. I plan to take full advantage of this exposure to get the word out about what the MiTTs are doing in Iraq and maybe give the folks back home a little information they wouldn't otherwise get.
Less well known was that he was also blogging at Obsidian Wings under the pseudonym G'kar. A co-blogger there would post his final entry on Andrew's own blog - an entry in which Andy announced "I'm dead. That sucks," and "I died doing a job I loved."
One who knew him better than I addressed the overwhelming attention that post received:
I think Andy would be astonished at the amount of attention his last post received. He could be pretty self-effacing that way... He'd be embarrassed by all the fuss, and genuinely surprised, but deep down, I think it would have meant the world to him. I just wish he could be here to see it.Andrew Olmsted had prepared his final post before he deployed, when the fighting at Iraq was at it's worst, as was a different sort of fighting back home. And in it he also left this message for the world:
I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support.
Guess what, Andy... we won.
Continuing a series begun here.
Let's take a movie break, shall we?
There's a full screen toggle at the bottom of the video player above. Enjoy.
Multi-National Division-Center (MND-C) was formed in the early months of 2007 - a key part of the strategy commonly called "the surge". The Third Infantry Division, dubbed "Task Force Marne" in Iraq, took command of the newly defined area of operations (AO) in March of that year.
By June all surge Brigades (sub-components of the Division, each with an assigned battlespace within the MND-C AO) were in place, and full spectrum combat operations began in earnest. As noted previously, by the end of the year - after much blood and sweat equity - the need for combat ops had fallen significantly. MND-C was thus able to shift its focus to "non-lethal operations" - assisting in rebuilding Iraq. The early results of that effort can be seen in the video above.
Feel free to embed this video on your site - just copy and paste the following code:
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcLbOAA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="270" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>
Part four is here.All done!
From comments on part one:
I just returned from my second embed in Iraq, this time with the 25th Infantry north of Baghdad, and I agree completely with Michael Yon - the war in Iraq is over.I left out a significant part of the comment raising several issues somewhat off the topic immediately at hand here, but I urge one and all to read it in full on the post.
It will probably be a Northern Ireland-style sectarian fight for some time, with high casualty attacks drawing attention, but not really reflecting the country as a whole.
The difference between this summer and last summer is vast. Granted, I was in two different places, but both were awful in 2007 - Bayji, and now Tarmiyah. Last year, attacks were every day. This year, IEDs were very rare and small arms were unheard of.
Michael Yon's right, and he's got a hell of a lot more knowledge than me...there's no reason for an independent journalist to go back to Iraq, though I might follow up with the same unit before they redeploy - The story of the Sons Of Iraq isn't "action-filled," but it's so interesting it deserves a much closer look than I was able to give it.
Afghanistan is where the war is now; it's where it always was...
The comment was from Nathan Webster, whose latest entry at the Long War Journal can be found here. Nathan's work has also appeared (as has much good reporting from Iraq) in local coverage of the units in which he has embedded and the troops therein.
I believe Nathan Webster shares Mike Yon's POV: from the perspective of the combat reporter, the war in Iraq is over. There will still be combat, but the odds of being embedded with the right unit at the right time have dropped from slim (as it was at best outside the early surge ops or the major city battles - unless you were willing to spend a significant amount of time with one unit) to none - or at least prohibitively long.
As for Afghanistan, one aspect of realizing the Iraq war was won last fall when it happened is that by February you could point out that the conversation needed a bit more focus on that front. (Though even my February questions might be outdated now.)
Mike Yon: "But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won."
I can't recall if I discussed that with Mike when he was in the States. We might have, I honestly don't remember. There's a reason Mike didn't realize until now that we had won the war, and it's a pretty good one. Mike likes to be where the fighting is, and throughout his last visit to Iraq there was fighting, and he could find it. This time last year he was reporting from Baqubah where intense battles were ongoing - but had he wanted he could have been telling the same stories from many other locations, especially the neighborhoods of Baghdad and points south that were then referred to as "the belts".
Or, from a different angle, as I wrote as the surge was barely beginning, there were a lot of missed opportunities for news media to get stories (instead of just death tolls) from Iraq:
I'm not addressing that failure here - that's a given. I actually want to point out the magnitude of the failure. Over the past week I've collected not a handful, not a dozen, but 55 such press releases here - and there are others I simply didn't have time to add. Fifty-five stories that could have been told in the way Mike did; unembellished, un-hyped, and simply factual, but with the level of detail that a press release can't provide. Fifty-five stories lacking only the teller to be told.Too late now - they blew it. (Or perhaps they didn't blow it. America is generally ignorant of Iraq, if that's what they wanted they were wildly successful.)
I wrote the piece that included the above excerpt as I was preparing to deploy myself. As we went from the hospital to the dentist to finance to all the other fine locations you must clear in order to prove that you really really want to go to Iraq we noticed every television in every waiting room tuned to the news story of the century: Anna Nicole Smith. Meanwhile, the initial briefings on the surge were delivered to empty seats.
But I was successfully poked, prodded, and stamped a-ok, and I got to go to Iraq - for my second tour. While I was there I had a different perspective than Mike Yon. I had a view of the bigger picture, knew how many missions were ongoing, knew where the fighting was, and knew how fierce it was. But a funny thing happened through the summer of '07: all the right numbers fell. Casualties - down, attacks of every sort - down, violence - down. And the right numbers rose: tips from citizens - up, trained Iraqi soldiers - up, and on and on. Amazingly, a much expected "Tet Offensive" immediately prior to General Petraeus' September briefing to Congress didn't happen. More amazingly, "violence" didn't return to high levels during Ramadan (a month that began with the General's briefing and had many folks "in the know" questioning the sanity of those who timed it) either.
The narrative on Iraq - the one you see in the media, that is - is changing. Claims that "we've lost" and that American soldiers have been beaten by opponents who are righteous heroes or nine-foot tall and bullet proof are being quite subtly shifted to arguments that no potential victory (if even grudgingly acknowledged) could be worth the price. This argument may prove irresistible to those who've invested heavily in defeat.It's obvious now, of course. In fact, apparently we all knew all along, etc. etc. etc... but I suppose to really get it back then - in September, in October - when it actually happened - you had to be there.
Battles went on - and still do. "We've won" doesn't mean "it's over". And Mike Yon went where the action was, and might or might not have noticed that his options were dwindling rapidly. (Though by the end of his last visit he was writing camera reviews...) Until now, when I can imagine him asking - in advance of returning to Iraq - where the action is.
And getting the obvious answer: Not here.
(But part two is here.)All done!
I'm guessing they don't want a repeat of last year.
If you're like me you're not an HBO subscriber, and weren't able to see episode one of HBO's miniseries "Generation Kill". Fortunately for us, one who did see the program has offered the following review. Even more fortunately, he's Richard S Lowry, author of "Marines in the Garden of Eden" - 'The true story of the bloodiest battle in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.'
That would be the battle for Nasiriyah, fought in the earliest days of the march on Baghdad, and also retold in Generation Kill. Our sincere thanks to Mr Lowry for sharing his insight here.
Generation Kill – Get Some "Roger that!"
Review by Richard S. Lowry
Marines in the Garden of Eden
July 14, 2008
Last night, I sat with eyes glued to my television. David Simon et al have done an excellent job of bringing the Marines of the 2003 invasion into our living rooms. Part 1 – Get Some – was a stunning introduction to the series. It was visually accurate from the storm in the desert to the Skittles on the dashboard. This first installment provided an accurate introduction to the Marines and the fight.
I wasn't there, but I have dedicated my life's work to researching and writing about our conflict in Iraq. I spent three years of my life putting together the puzzle that was the story of the battle of an Nasiriyah. With my extensive knowledge of the events, I was not disappointed by Generation Kill's first installment.
That being said, I feel that a few issues that were brought up need some historical context. The Marines classically run on bubble gum and duct tape. All of the Marine Units were lacking for supplies and equipment in one way or another. They have the smallest budget of all the services and are treated like a red-headed stepchild when it comes to budgeting in the Navy Department. These shortfalls were exacerbated by the monumental military budget cuts of the 90's. In 2003, our armed forces were paying the "Peace Dividend."
As we left TEAM 1 ALPHA last night, they were headed for the Fertile Crescent. Godfather 6 surmised aloud that if the mission of securing the bridge over the Euphrates had been taken away from them, it must not be too important. The war did not revolve around 1st Recon. Taking the crossings over the Euphrates River was of utmost importance to Generals Conway, Mattis and Natonski. So much so, that Conway ordered General Natonski to make a beeline to Nasiriyah. The entire 2nd Marine Regiment and Task Force Tarawa were assigned the task of securing three vital bridges.
The Betio Bastards of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines (an entire infantry battalion) was given the mission of securing the Highway 1 (ROUTE TAMPA) bridge, ten kilometers west of Nasiriyah. The rest of the 2nd Marine Regiment was tasked with securing the two bridges and road which ran through the eastern side of Nasiriyah. A two kilometer urban stretch of road through the city (Ambush Alley) connected the two bridges. The southern bridge crossed the Euphrates River and the northern bridge crossed the Saddam Canal. The plan was for the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines (a reinforced mechanized infantry battalion) to cross the Euphrates River Bridge and then move to take the bridge over the Saddam Canal.
The regimental combat team's third infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, would then secure the southern bridge, leaving an infantry battalion guarding each of the three bridges. This was hardly a task for a light recon unit. Task Force Tarawa also had 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, an artillery battalion in support (I will discuss the artillery support after next week's show).
This context is important for the viewer to understand. Task Force Tarawa was given the mission of securing the bridges so that the 1st Marine Division could cross the Euphrates River quickly, without expending any of their combat power. The commanders were worried that the bridges would be blown and the Marines would be caught in a bottleneck and fall victim to chemical attack. Everyone believed that Saddam had chemical weapons and that he would use them in Nasiriyah.
Now that we all have the context, we can pull up our chairs and settle in to watch Part 2. My hopes are high that this will be the first real movie about Americans at war in the 21st Century. If Chapter 1 was any indication, we are all in for an amazing ride.
Richard S. Lowry is the author of "The Gulf War Chronicles" and "Marines in the Garden of Eden." He served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service from 1967-1975 and spent the time from 1975 to 2002 designing sophisticated integrated circuits for everything from aircraft avionics to home computers. He is currently working on his next book, "New Dawn," which will tell of the fight to free Fallujah. Visit www.marinesinthegardenofeden.com for more information.
Can HBO get the war right? Given the multitude of recent non-home box office failures on Iraq, the question is valid, and probably the first on the minds of those familiar with the real war and it's Hollywood history. Here at Mudville we'll do our own mini-series on the topic. This is episode four.
More from the book Generation Kill
These young men represent what is more or less America's first generation of disposable children. More than half of the guys in the platoon come from broken homes and were raised by absentee, single, working parents. Many are on more intimate terms with with video games, reality TV shows and internet porn than they are with their own parents. Before the "War on Terrorism" began, not a whole lot was expected of this generation other than the hope that those in it would squeak through high school without pulling too many more mass shootings in the manner of Columbine.I'd eliminate Haiti, and place the start perhaps at the actual beginning of the war in Iraq in 1990, but otherwise that sounds about right to me.
But since the 9/11 attacks, the weight of America's "War on Terrorism" has fallen on their shoulders. For many in the platoon, their war started within hours of the Twin Towers falling, when they were loaded onto ships to begin preparing for missions in Afghanistan. They see the invasion of Iraq as simply another campaign in a war without end, which is pretty much what their commanders and their president have already told them. (Some in the military see the "War on Terrorism" merely as an acceleration of of the trend that started in the 1990s with Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo: America cementing it's role as global enforcer, the world's Dirty Harry.)
There are credible critiques of Wright's book from members of the unit, raising issues on his characterization of some senior ranking members of the team (of course, not those he had the most personal contact with - they were exceptional) as incompetent, cowardly, or worse. Not having been there I can't comment on those topics. Out of professional courtesy I'll point out you can find them here and here, (and another worthwhile discussion here) and add that I believe as with many other aspects of the book it's likely that a bit of dramatic license was applied. The "led by the incompetent" theme has has been a cliche of war stories for years - some authors will deliver what they believe the customer expects. But while Evan Wright will never be mistaken for Mike Yon (for instance, he doesn't provide action photos) I can recommend the book Generation Kill without hesitation to those who are building comprehensive collections of books on Iraq, or who simply enjoy a good war story. This is among the best.
Will the miniseries be worth anyone's time? I really hope it is. Two Marines from the unit served as advisers, and one - Rudy Reyez - actually plays himself in the series. No surprise - as a fellow (known smartass) Marine explains in the book: "It doesn't mean you're gay if you think Rudy's hot. He's just so beautiful... we all think he's hot."
But this interview with the series co-creator should certainly serve as a subtle hint to those looking for preservation of the book's unbiased account:
How did working on this series affect your perspective on the war?He should read the book Generation Kill (or just the excerpt in part one of our series) in which we learn that Saddam lied. Meh - some might argue that making money from war movies is also a crime, but others will point out that that's what makes America a great country.
It didn't. I still hate it. It just makes it more of a tragedy to know that we sent these guys into combat in the wrong war, on a make-up war. We wasted such talent on a lie. I know from Vietnam, when these guys are injured -- guys who are really injured, the guy who steps on a mine or gets hit with an IED [improvised explosive device] -- you know, he wants to believe that he gave it for the right cause. And you know, as time wears on, it'll become more evident, just like it was in Vietnam, that it wasn't the right cause. Yet that doesn't bring his foot back or his arms back.
From my point of view, we should try those people responsible for putting us to war. Put them in a courtroom, because what they did was a crime.
Speaking of freedoms guaranteed by American rough men, in publicizing the series, HBO has launched an extensive ad campaign on hard-core left wing blog sites. This might indicate their concept of an appreciative "target" audience, or perhaps simple understanding of the greater impact advertising has on the gullible.
Meanwhile, for the milbloggers there's this (via email):
HBO AND CORPORATE PARTNERS TEAM UP TO SEND DONATIONS ANDWhich, even if a cynic might claim is only a ploy for free publicity, I think is a fine idea. I sent some batteries and Maxim magazines - at no cost to myself other than clicks of a mouse, for which I'm sure the Hollywood Marines would no doubt say "thanks, fucker."
SUPPORT U.S. TROOPS STATIONED IN AFGANISTAN AND IRAQ
In honor of the Marines of Generation Kill, and all of our troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, HBO and its partners are sending care packages overseas containing the items troops most frequently request. The troops have determined the items—YOU determine how many are sent.
Donations can be placed at no cost to you by going to www.genkilltroopdrive.com and following three quick steps.
The donation drive starts NOW and will continue through the finale of the Generation Kill miniseries on August 24th. All donations will be shipped overseas this fall.
Spread the word—every click counts!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Joanna Firneno| PR Coordinator
345 Hudson Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10014
As for the film, we'll soon know. After all, it's nearly showtime.
Related: The Boo RadleysAll done!
Can HBO get the war right? Given the multitude of recent non-home box office failures on Iraq, the question is valid, and probably the first on the minds of those familiar with the real war and it's Hollywood history. Here at Mudville we'll do our own mini-series on the topic. Part one is here, part two is here. This is episode three.
We’re told much of the dialogue, and action, came straight from Wright’s notebook. But a good dramatist understands the need for balance. Instead, the miniseries spends too much time focusing on every military misstep, the camera lingering on dead Iraqi bodies as long as possible.Is that a fair complaint, an accurate critique of the series? It's hard to believe they might have gotten it wrong - because if the production team wanted to deliver balance, they needed only the book for source.
The Marines have drilled for weeks, studying the Rules of Engagement (ROE). The ROE lay out all the conditions regarding when a Marine may or may not fire on Iraqis. The problem is, some Iraqi soldiers will presumably change out of their uniforms and fight in civilian clothes. Others will remain in uniform but surrender. There might be some in uniform surrendering, and others in uniform fighting. On top of this, large segments of the civilian population are expected to be armed with AKs, so these armed but not hostile civilians will be mixed up with enemy fighters dressed in civilian clothes. Therefore, the usual battlefield rules - shoot guys wearing enemy uniforms; shoot guys with weapons - don't apply. What the ROE boil down to is that if the Marines come across a bunch of armed Iraqis they can't shoot them unless the Iraqis shoot at them first.Days later, in Iraq:
...Gunny Wynn addresses the men... He is 35, making him the oldest man in the platoon. He's also among the more experienced men in the platoon. In Somalia he headed a sniper team and scored numerous confirmed kills...
"I spent five months in Somalia, and we got a lot of good kills out there," he says. He gazes at the men, not blinking, letting his credibility as a sniper-killer sink in. "But we let a lot more bad guys get away than we killed, and that's okay. Don't fucking waste a mother or some kid. Don't fire into a crowd. Those people north of here have been oppressed for years, they're just like us. Don't hurt them, even if you can justify it later under our ROE."
"In approximately one hour, we are going to bust north to the bridge at the Euphrates," he says. "Change in the ROE: Anyone with a weapon is declared hostile. If it's a woman walking away from you with a weapon on her back, shoot her. If there is an armed Iraqi out there, shoot him. I don't care if you hit him with a forty-millimeter grenade in the chest."But...
When he finishes, Espera says, "Sir, we're going to go home to a mess after we start wasting these villages. People aren't going to like that."
"I know," Fick says. "We now risk the PR war. Fighting in urban terrain is exactly what Saddam wanted us to do."
The men in Alpha and Charlie companies spot muzzle flashes coming from windows of apartments 250 meters across the river. But in their first twenty minutes at the riverfront, the Marines fire very few shots. There are civilians moving about the streets of the city. Even during this low-intensity gun battle, some even stand still, trying to observe the Marines aiming among them.
The strangest, most unsettling spectacle Marines see, however, is that of armed men who dart across alleys, moving from building to building, clutching women in front of them for cover. The first time it happens, Marines shout, "Man with a weapon!"
Despite the newly aggressive ROEs, Marines down the line shout, "I'm not shooting! There's women."
Now, directly across the river, every Iraqi with an AK or machine gun seems to open upon Recon's position. Apparently the Javelin strike alerted everyone in the city with a gun to the Marine's presence here. Taking concentrated enemy fire, the men in Alpha and Charlie lose their inhibitions about possibly shooting women in the city. Up and down the line, just about every rifle, machine gun and grenade launcher roars to life.
Next - Episode Four: Showtime!All done!
Can HBO get the war right? Given the multitude of recent non-home box office failures on Iraq, the question is valid, and probably the first on the minds of those familiar with the real war and it's Hollywood history. Here at Mudville we'll do our own mini-series on the topic. This is episode two.
"That's fucked," Person says. "Isn't it weird to look at those Iraqis and know that some of them are probably going to die in the next few hours?"
Wait a minute - did he say "That's fucked?" I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn a Marine would utter such profanity.
The first episode - or more specifically the first 20 minutes - of HBO’s new miniseries Generation Kill confirms a conservative’s worst fears about HBO’s latest Iraq project.
Right away the Marines depicted are casually racist, homophobic and ignorant beyond reproach. They complain about the lack of supplies, decry their mission and mock letters of support from children back home. One Marine goes so far as to describe the little girl who wrote one of the letters as “hot.”
The dialogue also pays the mission no favors.
“It’s destiny, dawg. White man’s gotta rule the world,” says one Marine of color, while another jokes that his fellow Marines going in to “loot and pillage a country.”
No one comes anywhere near supporting the invasion.
Yet “Kill,” based on the nonfiction book by embedded reporter Evan Wright, overcomes its initial bombardment of anti-soldier sentiment.
Anti-soldier? Ignoring how Marines would respond to that sentiment, I can only note that there's a reason why the first line of text you'll always read on this site says "The reader will kindly forgive any tendency to rough language or behavior on the part of the site owner... "Good people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."" I had no idea the facts behind that disclaimer were anti-soldier. Who knew?
In fairness, that review from one "pro-troops"" viewpoint is overall favorable. As is this one from another "pro-troop" angle:
On the morning of 9/11 and the days that followed, I’m guessing a lot of Americans shared my angry fantasies of enlisting in the U.S. military to help mete out a little payback. “Kill” will make you pity plenty the lost kids who actually volunteered and wound up assigned to Iraq.I think more than a few fine Americans eagerly welcome (seek out, in fact) anything that supports their reluctance to serve in time of war. Teddy Roosevelt once described such folks as "...those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are."
But whatever sense of failure today's youth feel in that regard is internal, of course - no one ever asked them to contribute. (Ironically, these same folks tend to be the loudest shouters of "chickenhawk" at the war's civilian supporters.) But while it's quite easy to talk like one, not everyone is cut out for life as a Recon Marine - and that's what makes them what they are.
For example, in the book, the author adds this comparison to a description of the Marines' relative calm under fire: "In my civilian world at home in Los Angeles, half the people I know are on anti-depressants or anti-panic attack drugs because they can't handle the stress of a mean boss or a crowd at the 7-Eleven when buying a Slurpee."
Can HBO get the war right? Given the multitude of recent non-home box office failures on Iraq, the question is valid, and probably the first on the minds of those familiar with the real war and it's Hollywood history. Here at Mudville we'll do our own mini-series on the topic. This is episode one.
In an early passage from the book Generation Kill, author/embed Evan Wright describes deserting Iraqi soldiers crossing paths with U.S. Marines:
Through a Marine translator, the Iraqis say they've come from units in Basra and started fleeing two days ago as soon as the American bombardment began. They say that because they surrendered [Greyhawk notes: 'deserted' might be the better term], they are being hunted and executed by Fedayeen death squads east of here, and ask for protection. Many carry colorful slips of paper dropped by American planes promising them safety in return for surrendering.
Several of the men claim they worked in special units in charge of launching chemical-filled missiles. They say they were moving these missiles just a few days ago, getting ready to launch them. These men have atropine injectors, used to counteract nerve agents, which normally would be carried by those handling such chemicals. One of the more baffling aspects of the invasion is that the Marines will encounter numerous Iraqis, both soldiers and civilians, who claim to have first hand knowledge of chemical weapons. At times, Marines will speculate that Iraqis are fabricating these stories in an attempt to curry favor by telling the Americans what they want to hear. But further north, they will encounter village elders who seem quite sincere, pleading with the Marines to remove weapons stocks they believe Saddam's military buried near their farms, which they fear are poisoning their water. Given the fact that no such weapons have been found, you get the idea Saddam or someone in his government created the myth to keep the people and the military in awe of his power.
Chronologically that should occur in the first episode of the HBO miniseries based on the book - if those involved in the production felt it was worth including. The passage would be difficult to translate from book to film, of course. You can't have one of the Marines (who had been wearing chemical protection gear since before leaving Kuwait, by the way) point out that "further north we'll encounter village elders who seem quite sincere" etc. during that scene. But the detail - a stark reminder of why we were in Iraq - could remain intact (facts will hardly dent the "Bush lied" mantra so endearing to some), and the "up north" events could be portrayed in their due time. Or not.
You'll get some idea of the 'balance' in the HBO project if that description - and this one:
The surrendered soldiers are a wretched lot. ...quite a few don't have shoes and have swollen, bleeding feet. Doc Bryan, the corpsman, treats more than a dozen who have infected sores, dysentery, and fevers. <...> As a group they seem dazed and numb as they accept the water and humanitarian rations the Marines hand out....are MIA while the end of the anecdote remains intact:
Unfortunately for the Iraqis, First Recon's commander orders his Marines to tell these men who have just walked some seventy kilometers from Basra to go back the way they came. (From the American standpoint, a wise order, given the fact that these Iraqi soldiers had been heading to Nasiriyah, where in a few days the Marines will first confront urban war.) The prisoners are unhappy with this news. They have been saying all morning the Fedayeen death squads where they have come from have been capping their friends. And the Marines have dismantled and tossed all of their weapons into a nearby canal so they can't defend themselves. Several wave the slips of paper promising safe passage if they surrendered. But most are too exhausted to protest and start the trek back toward the Fedayeen death squads.Or perhaps they just waited a while out of sight and then continued on their way. The author could have provided and endless litany of possibilities, I'll credit his sense for good drama for declining to do so. That sense is apparent throughout the book, an undeniably excellent read.
"That's fucked," Person says. "Isn't it weird to look at those Iraqis and know that some of them are probably going to die in the next few hours?"
As for the television version, if the modern version survives the scripters and editors, then those familiar with the treatment of an incident involving a small group of POWs by another unit that was recently the subject of an HBO miniseries might be surprised at the contrast between then and now.
Wait a minute - did he say "That's fucked...?"
Find out in episode two, "Potty Mouths"All done!
The Senator regrets, etc.:
“Senator Obama strongly supports America’s veterans and military families and has worked hard on their behalf in the Senate,” said Phillip Carter, director of Mr. Obama’s veterans effort and an Iraq war veteran. “While we unfortunately had a previously scheduled commitment on the date proposed, Senator Obama looks forward to continuing the dialogue he’s been having throughout the country with veterans on how we can better serve our men and women in uniform as they serve us.”I hope they can reach accomodation. I believe Senator Obama will find a receptive crowd, and I think Phil knows that - I hope he can make it happen.
Carissa Picard, managing director of the Fort Hood Presidential Town Hall Consortium, said she had suggested Aug. 11 and asked the campaign to suggest other dates if that was not convenient, but after several conversations she had not been able to work anything out.
“I’m having extreme difficulty getting the Obama campaign to commit to this event, and we do not understand why,” said Ms. Picard, whose husband is deployed in Iraq. “We made it very clear to them that if they would commit to the event, we would work with them on dates.”
The organizers released details about the event in hopes that it would pressure the Obama campaign to agree to the event.
Unless you're at a Dick Cheney appearance in Baluud, you'll probably find a large number of "undecideds", and an equal split between Obama and McCain supporters in the military community.
Republicans would do well not to overly hype the potential no-show as a demonstration of Obama's disregard for the troops; McCain himself was one of two Senators absent when the new GI Bill passed (even though it contained compromises he pushed for that made it even better than the original pure Webb version) thus leaving himsef wide open to counter attack.
Long time milblogger (the original Intel Dump was one of the first blogs in the ring) Phil Carter now blogs at the Washington Post - a fact the NY Times reporter missed. ;)
Of course, Phil's wapo profile doesn't mention his Obama campaign position, either. Such things are rarely updated at the frequency they should be.
I don't, of course, though I've learned a little over the years I have been around. And I've learned a lot from folks who lived through the decade that followed that year. (And the war that followed that decade.)
In hindsight, that decade was the best in history for the fortunes of one Party in the United States (and another unrelated Party in Germany, for that matter) and for the advance of socialism (note small "s") in general.
And one of the worst for banks:
Many of the recessions in the United States were caused by banking panics. The Great Depression contained several banking crises consisting of runs on multiple banks from 1929 to 1933; some of these were specific to regions of the U.S. Much of the Depression's economic damage was caused directly by bank runs, and institutions put into place after the Depression have prevented runs on U.S. commercial banks since the 1930s, even under conditions such as the U.S. savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The Depression's bank runs left a lasting mark on the American psyche, exhibited in sometimes disturbing images such as the bleak scenes where the fictional hero George Bailey contemplates suicide in the movie It's a Wonderful Life.Actually, George prevented the Bank Run from destroying his town:
...an event that had been engineered by the evil Mr Potter (a character who could only exist in movies). But everything worked out a few minutes later, just in time for the end of the final reel, as it often did in the feel good, reel world of Hollywood in those days - when we were all in this together.
But in the real word? Not so much. (But someone seems to be suffering from an overdose of nostalgia...)
Two decades ago my father passed away from colon cancer that spread to his liver.
A lesson learned from that: Celebrate life.
I wrote about the man and the band here. Beats Workin's web page has since vanished.
Speaking of working, Mrs G got to meet Tony (and his boss) on his last day at work. (I was working, and missed out. But the Washington Post launched one of the most disgusting CHUD attacks I've ever seen, something I couldn't let slide.)
Of course, the CHUD are now appearing in the comments section of the Youtube video above.
Somewhat related item here, for those who enjoy memory lane.
(Another personal bias revelation here.)
Always start the weekend with a song, says I...
So here's another of the songs I recorded prior to deploying to Iraq.
Did a bit more (mostly expiremental) post-production with this one.
Encore, if you wish.
Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton)
It's late in the evening; she's wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, "Do I look all right?"
And I say, "Yes, you look wonderful tonight."
We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that's walking around with me.
And then she asks me, "Do you feel all right?"
And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight."
I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize how much I love you.
It's time to go home now and I've got an aching head,
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight."
I know, it's from a few days ago...
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has for the first time suggested establishing a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, a step that the Bush administration has long opposed....but it sure caused a bit of excitement this week:
Maliki raised the idea Monday during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he spoke with Arab ambassadors about a security pact being negotiated to determine the future U.S. military role in Iraq.
...Sadiq al-Rikabi, a top political adviser to Maliki, said any timetable would be conditioned on the ability of Iraq's security forces to secure the country, something the government has long said. "In that case, American forces should return home," Rikabi said, adding that there were no discussions so far of specific dates for a U.S. withdrawal.
Ali al-Dabbagh said any timetable would depend on "conditions and the circumstances that the country would be undergoing." But he said a pullout within "three, four or five" years was possible.I suppose CNN's headline: "Iraq official: U.S. could be out by 2011" is technically accurate - 2011 would be three years, 2012 would be four, 2013 would be five. If conditions on the ground warrant. But maybe "by 2013" would have been a better headline.
Or maybe that would sound too much like the one over this story from two months ago:
McCain sees U.S. troops leaving Iraq by 2013Even though technically, he said they'd be home before 2013:
Senator John McCain declared Thursday that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013 and that the nation would be a functioning democracy with only "spasmodic" episodes of violence.
"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom," McCain said at the Columbus Convention Center. "The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced."Regardless of the headlines, they're saying the same thing.
Funny how much of the subsequent coverage failed to note the similarity, and instead reads like this:
Sen. John McCain, who has repeatedly derided anyone who advocated a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, now suddenly finds himself in a political box as the American-backed Iraqi leadership yesterday raised the prospect of exactly that....and this:
McCain, Obama at odds over Iraqi withdrawal demandSo gosh, what's gotten into these reporters lately? I have no idea how to explain this short term memory loss...
Iraq's hardening demand for a pullout deadline for US troops on Tuesday sent shockwaves through the White House campaign, putting Republican hopeful John McCain on the defensive.
McCain, who says it is too early to leave Iraq, said US pull-backs must be dictated by security conditions, after Democrat Barack Obama said the Iraqi government now shared his desire for a timetable for withdrawals.
So, what do you see when you look at this bit of art from an exhibition at a Florida Mall?
If this was your answer:
In many cases the results feel more like heartbreak than like anger. The emotion in more subtle works, like Richard Tuttle's simple drawing of Uncle Sam hidden behind a wall, reminded me of what I saw in the faces of Iraqis and Americans when things went horribly wrong. It was the marine frustrated by his inability to protect a Sunni ally from assassination; the reporter crushed to discover the lies of an American official; the Iraqi politician saddened by the circus of his country's Parliament. Democracy often seems to grow uglier with age....You need help. You have a VERY unhealthy obsession with Iraq - among other problems. Seek a professional. Get some rest. Turn the TV off. Don't read the news for a couple days. You can get better.
You can read my interpretation of the piece in the comments thread here.All done!
Start turning over rocks (or picking them up to throw) and you find all sorts of creepy crawly things. That thought occurred to me when I first heard CNN (and others) dredging up the old Swift Boat issue last week. They wanted to make sure everyone in America knew Bud Day was associated with Kerry's fellow Swift Boat sailors. A true story - but they weren't telling the reason for Col Day's opposition to John Kerry - it stemmed from the latter's career-launching repeat of allegations of wartime atrocities committed by Soldiers and Marines in Vietnam before congress in 1971.
Some folks might have misunderstood my position on the issue - if so they jumped to a conclusion. I only presented the facts on that post and kept my opinions to myself. I've never claimed American troops are incapable of committing crimes. In fact, the opposite is true. I tend to address those issues head on here as I have zero tolerance for such. This link isn't the only example, you'll find another below. (I'm also, on the other hand, a pretty good bullshit detector - if I say so myself.)
I got into a great discussion with Vietnam War historian Keith Nolan on the Bud Day post. What began as comments became a post of its own. Mr Nolan and I are in agreement on many of the fundamental issues, though we each offer differing opinions on Col Bud Day's post-service career.
As it happens, another commenter on that resulting post opened another door quite wide on details of atrocities committed years ago. But in looking at his source (an LA Times article from 2006) I realized that therein could be found the names of at least two men who could answer a lot of questions about their part in the 30+ year cover-up of those crimes.
So a hat tip to Commenter "skylark" for helping blow the lid off this case:
Greyhawk said:To which I reply:
"Meanwhile, [how many] of those various investigations of "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" (John Kerry) resulted in convictions? More on that below."
Well, with all due respect, that's a bit of a false issue.
Military investigators evidently did not press charges against individuals who had already been discharged even when they found clear evidence of wrongdoing, because they were considered to be out of military jurisdiction. That is one reason for the failure to charge individuals during the Tiger Force investigations:
And same with the investigations based on Jamie Henry's claims.
Though, according to the LA Times article, it seems that they ignored the Army general counsel's advice that it was possible to prosecute ex-soldiers.
In fact, the Toledo Blade recently ran an article saying retired soldiers could possibly still be prosecuted:
But for whatever reason these cases weren't prosecuted at the time, it wasn't for lack of evidence.
"Well, with all due respect, that's a bit of a false issue."So do 200 (or even 2,000) soldiers up against those numbers indicate "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" as John Kerry claimed?
It's the key issue to this claim: "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command"
I asked how many because a) that's one indication of whether that claim is true and b) I don't know the answer. And the poorly written LA Times piece doesn't help.
Here's what the LA Times said: "The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators"
So, who exactly launched these investigations?
Of which, "Investigators determined that evidence against 203 soldiers accused of harming Vietnamese civilians or prisoners was strong enough to warrant formal charges. These "founded" cases were referred to the soldiers' superiors for action."
Note the verbiage switch - 320 incidents investigated, but 203 soldiers with enough evidence to charge. (Note also this is not proof of guilt.)
Regardless, "Ultimately, 57 of them were court-martialed [no word on whether these were the ones accused of the more heinous crimes] and just 23 convicted, the records show." So an 11% conviction rate of those 'with enough evidence to charge' and a 40% conviction rate of those who went to trial.
You note that some "were considered to be out of military jurisdiction." The choice of words is interesting, as this is more accurate: "were out of military jurisdiction". There is a case today wherein a group of soldiers raped and murdered a young Iraqi girl and her family - some have confessed. However, the chief accused had left the service (discharged for behavior patterns, if memory serves) before the story was uncovered.
He (last I heard) awaits trial in civilian court. [update] The rest of the crew in military court [update]. Such is the law. And there's now another, more contentious case ongoing with similar jurisdictional issues.
Did the Army pass the Vietnam-era information on to civilian prosecutors? If that info is in the LA Times story I missed it. If not, a sad failure on the part of the reporters. Given the point of the story (making the army look bad - lets not pretend they give a damn about justice for the victims) I'd think if the Army had failed to do so they'd have noted it.
This is noted: "The Army did not attempt to pursue them, despite a written opinion in 1969 by Robert E. Jordan III, then the Army's general counsel, that ex-soldiers could be prosecuted through courts-martial, military commissions or tribunals."
But that opinion only indicates the Army could make an attempt. They'd have to fight through a battalion of civilian defense attorneys first, and convince civilian courts to surrender jurisdiction; they'd have to agree that Jordan's opinion mattered. That might have been do-able, and if so the Army could then try them on the actual charges. But recall that the Army had an 11% conviction rate in the cases in which they had clear jurisdiction and you can see why military prosecutors (who had other fish to fry anyway) weren't eager to take on these admittedly politically unpopular cases. (I'm not excusing or forgiving this.)
Finally, "the Toledo Blade recently ran an article saying retired soldiers could possibly still be prosecuted". Retired soldiers are a different category from separated (veterans) altogether. They are still drawing a pension and are still subject to the UCMJ. While almost never re-activated for this purpose, it happens.
And if it's going to happen here I think a good start would be an investigation of this guy: "...Robert G. Gard, who oversaw the task force as a brigadier general at the Pentagon in the early 1970s.
"We could have court-martialed them but didn't," Gard says of soldiers accused of war crimes."
Court Martialing the General responsible for the investigation - the man who kept his mouth shut for all these years - would seem like a fine start.
I'm not excusing or defending anyone here. I know what soldiers are capable of. (See this for example.)
I also know there were 2,709,918 American soldiers who served in Vietnam, and there are 58k+ names on the memorial wall.
If so, we at least now know one guy at high level who knew - and kept his mouth shut. In some cases that's admirable in dealing with classified material. But the Times says:
The records were declassified in 1994, after 20 years as required by law, and moved to the National Archives in College Park, Md., where they went largely unnoticed....for another 12 years, until appearing - along with the officer in charge of the investigation, in the LA Times.
The LA Times story is from 2006 (just before Gard and a player to be named shortly would join Harry Reid in an effort to pull American forces from Iraq). Had I been the reporter (and note the length of the story - space was not an issue) I'd have had some more questions.
But as opposed to CNN only wanting Americans to know one thing about Bud Day, there's one thing the LA Times would probably rather you didn't know about Gard today - at least in association with this story - because it's the reason no one will ever ask "the tough questions" about his part in the 3-decade long cover-up of these war crimes. He's the chairman of "Veterans for Obama." (And apparently he likes to use his military rank when writing political appeals.)
That's too bad, because "Retired Brig. Gen. John H. Johns, a Vietnam veteran who served on the task force, says he once supported keeping the records secret but now believes they deserve wide attention..." and I agree - but for different reasons. He says "...they deserve wide attention in light of alleged attacks on civilians and abuse of prisoners in Iraq". But we've already seen that things aren't done today like they were back in the day when Johns was a fast rising young man on the move. (hmmm... I wonder who his "sponsor" was...) I say they deserve wide attention so that no one can sit on that sort of information for all those years and still "somehow" make flag rank. (Then retire and teach ethics courses.)
But whether for my reason or Johns', there can't be many who wouldn't want to see those unasked questions asked and answered.
Of course, Gard was already a General when he led that long-suppressed investigation - but I'll bet he'd blame "the bigwigs" in a heartbeat once he was on the witness stand.
Like I said, start turning over rocks (or picking them up to throw) and you find all sorts of creepy crawly things...All done!
Over at Kaboom: "CityGirl (LT G's fiancee) is taking over and hoping to keep everyone informed about life in the suck."
Hopefully you all recognize Lt G - though he's now CPT G. Unfortunately, there are worse things than losing your blog:
After nearly seven months in Iraq, the Gravediggers’ luck had a momentary lapse. I regret to inform you that one of the Gravediggers is in dire need of prayers, thoughts, and support. On June 22, PV2 Hotwheels had an accident. The Gravediggers had returned from a mission and PV2 Hotwheels was refueling a generator. A fire ignited and he was engulfed in flames. Thankfully, two fellow Gravediggers and a terp came to PV2 Hotwheels’ rescue, putting out the flames as quickly as possible. It should be noted that PV2 Hotwheels followed the appropriate safety precautions and had on the necessary protection. The accident was a fluke.She adds that once back stateside, "Doctors immediately started to treat him for smoke inhalation, in addition to the second and third degree burns over 60% of his body. He had a successful skin graft and was recovering from the surgery when he began to have gastro-intestinal issues."
His family has a page on the caringbridge website here.
Take a deep breath before you read this:
Matthew, our 19 year old son, was born on Thanksgiving day, November 24,1988 in Tampa, Fl. He is the middle of 3 children. He has a sister, Cami, 27, and a brother, Cody, 12. Matthew was home schooled from K-3rd grade, attended Tampa Baptist Academy for 4-11 grade and completed high school at Chamberlain in May of 2007. His interests growing up included playing baseball, golf, football and going hunting and fishing. He got certified in SCUBA at age 14 and loves to go to the Rainbow or Itchetucknee Rivers to snorkel and float.Then please consider leaving words of encouragement here.
Around age 3, while visiting MacDill Airforce base with his grandparents, who were both in the military, his Papa being retired Navy, Matthew began his interest with the military. He would just stand and stare in awe at the men in uniform. He talked about joining the military for years while still in school and upon graduating began making the rounds, talking to recruiters. His dad and I, for selfish reasons, did our best to try to dissuade him or delay his enlistment until after college. But he wouldn't hear of it and informed us that this is what he wanted to do and please be supportive. He went in knowing full well what the risks could be. With that said, Matt would not want anyone to feel sorry for him or us right now. He is a very patriotic young man, as are all of our military. His love for God and country is what drove him to this place.
A local blogger on Barack Obama's possible pivot: I'd like to see the 180 - I suspect we'd be seeing a lot more coverage of progress in Iraq after that.
But did he pivot?
"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator," said Obama, who is still a senator from Illinois.According to USA Today the answer is "no" - he's always held that nuanced position:
Democratic candidate Barack Obama said he wants to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months, although he said any pullout would be determined by conditions there.But according to the Washington Post, the answer is yes:
Although Obama has long pledged to begin immediately withdrawing combat troops at a rate of one to two brigades a month, completing the process within 16 months, he has recently tempered his position with a promise to consult with U.S. commanders on the ground before taking any action.So everyone gets a share of the "hope", and learns a little more about "change".
Regardless, over the past several days I found a number of "good news" stories from Iraq - often under positive headlines. Perhaps, as with Obama's commitment to withdraw from Iraq only if conditions warrant and the Generals say it's okay, that's always been the case. Such stories are usually balanced with bad news, of course (always a good idea in war reporting) - as though like shy prom dates on their first dance the media and the Obama campaign seem confused as to who exactly should lead. But the good news is peeping out, and such behavior should be encouraged.
There is not enough space in USA TODAY to recount all the wonderful stories that go beyond just the recent significant reductions in violence and death.Okay, that one doesn't count - its a letter to the editor from a guy who just completed a tour of duty in Iraq.
But I think this does:
Meanwhile, violence by nearly every measure is down in Iraq. Al-Maliki said this weekend that terrorists in Iraq were defeated.As does this:
Mullen flew by helicopter to Baghdad's Sadr City after arriving in the capital on an overnight flight from Washington. He visited U.S. troops at a coalition observation post and strolled through a market in Sadr City. “We saw extraordinary progress there,” he said. “A few months ago no one could go into Sadr City. I was able to walk openly down a street that until recently was extremely unsafe, and I'm encouraged by that.”Here's a 'good' headline: Iraq Vehicle Bombs At Lowest Level In Years. And here's another: U.S. Commander A Smooth Operator (and the commander referenced isn't General Petraeus).
Kirkuk may be the only province in Iraq in which the police force functions almost like its American counterpart, proactively seeking to prevent crime and terrorist acts while trying to serve and protect citizens. Recently, Paschal helped dedicate a new major crime-unit facility aimed at helping police bring cases to court against detainees based on evidence, not whim or ethnic affiliation. ''It highlights the importance of the rule of law,'' Paschal said, ``and will stand as an example to the rest of Iraq on what you can establish when you establish security.''This might be good: Iraqi Shiite Party Rises As Sadr Falls. And this certainly seems to be:
Iraq To Get Debt Relief From EmiratesCloser to home, the LA Times: " Iraq To Open Consulate In San Diego".
...In addition to canceling the debt, Emirates leader Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan pledged to send an ambassador to Baghdad and help with the reconstruction of holy shrines in Iraq damaged by years of war and civil strife.
Iraq's finance minister had said last week that several other Sunni Arab countries were planning to set up embassies in Baghdad. Besides the United Arab Emirates, he named Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait.
From the other coast, the NY Times: Iraqi Parties, After Meetings In Finland, Agree On Principles To Guide Further Talks
And here's another from the New York Times on Diyala:
The province became the headquarters of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the extremist Sunni insurgent group most associated with suicide bombings and beheadings. The danger was great enough that Western reporters could visit Diyala only while embedded with American troops.It's not all butterflies and rainbows, but it is news that would earn scorn for anyone atttempting to point it out one year ago.
But in late June, a New York Times reporter and photographer traveled to the provincial capital, driving in old Iraqi cars with an interpreter to see how much had changed.
On admittedly smaller scales, there's this:
BAGHDAD - Muntadhar al-Sharify stood shivering yesterday in Baghdad's searing heat, a smile on his young face.And this:
The Iraqi boy had just completed a rite of passage known to children around the world - his first swim. But his fun also marked something broader: Another small step in Baghdad's halting progress from violence to more normal life.
BAGHDAD--Iraqis no longer have to settle just for thick Turkish coffee, cardamom-laced tea, strawberry-flavored milk or bottled water to quench their summertime thirst. Beer and alcoholic beverages are readily available once again.And this:
There are no bars outside the American-controlled Green Zone and parts of Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, for booze is sold retail only. But more shop owners are reopening behind iron gates.
Take Saif. At 19, he's barely old enough to buy liquor in Iraq; the law says 18. But the improbably young entrepreneur's family owns four liquor stores in Baghdad, and business, after years of literally being blown out from under them, is becoming brisk.
Baghdad Park A Unique Refuge For Young Couples In LoveEven the battles get "positive" coverage (at least in countries that aren't having presidential elections this year):
Many of the couples sneak away from university lectures and sit arm-in-arm, whispering and kissing under the shade of eucalyptus trees each morning. On many days, there's not a single empty bench.
Iraqis lead final purge of Al-QaedaSome will recall Arthur Chrenkoff's compilations of "good news" stories from Iraq. They relied heavily on non-American media sources. For now that's no longer the case, for whatever reason the days of complaining about media ignoring good news from Iraq should be over.
American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.
And for whatever reason, that's the real good news.All done!
The world waits to once again follow America's lead:
In a Dec. 11 message to the secretariat, Marquez [FARC's contact with Chavez, who lives in Venezuela] writes: "If you are in agreement, I can receive Jim and Tucker to hear the proposal of the gringos."When some folks reference the world's dim view of America, this is the world they mean. All done!
Writing two days before his death, Reyes [FARC's "foreign minister"] tells his comrades that "the gringos," working through Ecuador's government, are interested "in talking to us on various issues."
"They say the new president of their country will be (Barack) Obama," he writes, saying Obama rejects both the Bush administration's free trade agreement with Colombia and the current military aid program.
“It’s just like if you know anybody who’s ever been a POW for any length of time, you will see you go along for months or maybe even years, and then something will happen and it will trigger all those bad dreams and they will come back, and it may not last 30 seconds,” he said.- Bill Clinton.
(Of course, you can push a lot of buttons in 30 seconds - nudge nudge wink wink.)
I'd propose a new category: "Chud feeders" - for those who toss such fodder to the CHUD.
Ohio intends to be a winner:
In an effort to attract more veterans to Ohio’s public universities, Gov. Ted Strickland announced Tuesday that the state would charge in-state tuition to all veterans attending college on the G.I. bill.All done!
The Ohio plan, the first of its kind in the nation, makes all veterans “honorary Ohioans” for the purpose of a college education.
On June 30, President Bush signed into law a new G.I. bill, doubling college benefits for eligible troops and veterans, essentially guaranteeing full scholarships at their in-state public colleges or universities, as well as providing monthly housing stipends. But generally, veterans can attend college under the law only in their home states.
The Ohio plan, called the Ohio G.I. Promise, changes residence requirements at the state’s 36 colleges and universities to allow all veterans, their spouses and dependents to attend Ohio colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.
Sometimes worthwhile comments appear late in the day on a particular post, when most eyes have moved on. That's the case with the Bud Day post from a few days back. Because a worthy discussion has indeed begun there, and because it's moved so far down the page, I'm giving them an entry of their own. (Those who haven't read the original entry and its follow up might do so before joining this discussion).
I've added hyperlinks to Keith Nolan's books and web site below. The remainder of his comments are as made.
Keith Nolan 2008-07-08 01:18:36:
A dissenting voice here, if you don't mind.Greyhawk 2008-07-08 04:07:
To begin with, there is no doubt that Bud Day is one of the great military heroes of the Vietnam War.
There is also no doubt that Bud Day's memories of the war are colored through a hard-right perspective. He certainly earned that perspective, but his take-no-prisoners perspective allowed him to put his name behind two falsehoods during the 2004 campaign against John Kerry.
To begin with, Bud Day and the Swift Boaters with which he aligned himself in 2004 charged that the communists used John Kerry's anti-war statements while torturing American POWs in Hanoi. Kerry made his statements in 1971. The torture of American POWs in Hanoi actually stopped after Ho Chi Minh's death in 1969.
Numerous POWs went on the record in 2004 to note that they never heard boo about John Kerry while still being held in Hanoi. Conversely, there were so many anti-war critics with military creds in 1971 (General Shoup, Rep McCloskey, etc.) that Hanoi didn't even need John Kerry's words.
More importantly, Bud Day signed a statement claiming that "Kerry cast a long dark shadow over all Vietnam Veterans with his outright perjury before the Senate [in 1971] concerning atrocities in Vietnam. His stories to the Senate committee were absolute lies..fabrications..perjury..fantasies, with NO substance...."
Bud Day is speaking here of the so-called Winter Soldiers who gave testimony in Detroit in 1971 about their service in Vietnam. As soon as the Winter Soldiers opened their mouths, the Nixon Administration accused them of being phony veterans telling lies about a war in which they had never served.
However, despite decades of diggging by various right-wing organizations, not a single Winter Soldier who gave testimony was ever shown to be a fake veteran. Indeed, many have proven their bonafides over the years with discharge papers, letters, diary notes, award citations, photos of themselves in Vietnam, etc.
More to the point, though a few of the Winter Soldiers were probably exaggerating their atrocity stories, many have been born out over the years. In fact, recently declassified CID reports show that Jamie Henry (B/1-35th Infantry, 4th Div, RVN, 1967-68) was telling the absolute truth when he described at the Winter Soldier Investigation the numerous rapes and murders committed by his comrades during the hard days of the 1968 Tet Offensive.
I could name numerous other Winter Soldiers whose testimony has been validated by CID and NIS reports, contemporary news accounts, official histories, etc.
Bud Day is an American Hero, but he is also a highly-politicized figure who has no problem demeaning the service of left-wing veterans with whom he disagrees.
That he threw his wholehearted support behind hucksters like the SBVFT still makes me cringe.
03Keith,Keith Nolan 2008-07-08 05:58:48
Google: Al Hubbard.
Your comments are welcome here. I only wish you'd made them when the story was still fresh. I urge you to read the more recent entry I made here. In addition to McCain's actual testimony on his Hanoi time, linked therein you might even find my 2004 post in which I waved the bullshit flag on a Newsmax story headlined McCain: Hanoi Hilton Guards Taunted POWs With Kerry's Testimony.
Meanwhile, [how many] of those various investigations of "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" (John Kerry) resulted in convictions? More on that below.
Only a fool would argue that no American soldier ever harmed a civilian, or that soldiers are in their entirety a righteous breed. I'm more familiar with the current crop than the previous generation, but folks don't evolve at a pace where that really matters. I know the Abu Ghraib sort don't represent the overwhelming number of folks in uniform now, and I believe the same of the My Lai crew. Sadly, I can only hope that the Joe Darbys and "Buck" Thompsons are proportionately better represented than that bred or the "Winter Soldiers" who (according to their own testimony) never spoke or acted when it mattered. (Thus in one regard the two sides of the winter solder argument boil down to "they're liars" or "they're cowards".)
I'd question your assertion that Day is somehow chiefly politically motivated. I think his reasons are deeper. I'm quite sure that upon hearing Kerry's testimony for the first time - whenever and wherever that was, he didn't ask what color tie the SOB wore.
I'm not sure that's true of all involved. In fact, the prime question in my mind is one of motive. What motivated these 'Winter Soldiers" to do what they did? What did they hope to achieve? And what was John Kerry's goal? Others ask the same.
B.G. Burkett, Stolen Valor:The same disrespect for the truth was in operation during the Winter Soldier hearings. After all the atrocities were dutifully taken down, the transcript was inserted into the Congressional Record by Sen. Mark O. Hatfield, who asked the commandant of the Marine Corps to investigate the many crimes, particularly those perpetrated by Marines.
"The results of this investigation, carried out by the Naval Investigative Service are interesting and revealing," said historian Guenter Lewy in his book America in Vietnam. His history of the war was one of the first to rely on previously classified documents in the National Archives. "Many of the veterans, although assured that they would not be questioned atrocities they might have committed personally, refused to be interviewed. One of the active members of the VVAW told investigators that the leadership had directed the entire membership not to cooperate with military authorizes.
One black Marine who testified at Winter Soldier did agree to talk with the investigators. Although he had claimed during the hearing that Vietnam was "one huge atrocity" and a "racist plot," he could provide no details of any actual crimes. Lewy said the question of atrocities had not occurred to the Marine until he left Vietnam. His testimony had been substantially "assisted" by a member of the Nation of Islam.
"But the most damaging finding consisted of the sworn statements of several veterans, corroborated by witnesses, that they had in fact not attended the hearing in Detroit," Lewy wrote, "One of them had never been to Detroit in his life." Fake "witnesses" had appropriated the names of real Vietnam veterans.
Lewy pointed out that incidents similar to those described at the Winter Soldier hearings did occur. "Yet these incidents either (as in the destruction of hamlets) did not violate the law of war or took place in breach of existing regulations," Lewy wrote. Those responsible were tired and punished.
"In either case, they were not, as alleged, part of a 'criminal policy,'" Lewy said. Despite the antiwar movement's contention that military policies protecting civilians in Vietnam were routinely ignored, Lewy said the rules of engagement were implemented and taken very seriously, although at times the rules were not communicated properly and the training was inadequate. That's what made the failure so notable.
..."The VVAW's use of fake witnesses and the failure to cooperate with military authorities and to provide crucial details of the incidents further cast serious doubt on the professed desire to server the causes of justice and humanity." Lewy wrote. "It is more likely that this inquiry, like others earlier and later, had primarily political motives and goals."
Thanks for the quick and courteous response, Grayhawk. Allow me to make some counterpoints:All done!
1.) You wrote: "Your comments are welcome here. I only wish you'd made them when the story was still fresh."
Ah, actually, I've been screaming about the validity of the Winter Soldier Investigation since it became an issue in 2004.
I need to make myself clear. I'm not a particular fan of John Kerry (he's too stiff, too arrogant, too liberal, and pats himself endlessly on his own back for serving in combat), but he did earn a Silver Star and a few other medals in the service of his country.... and I gotta respect that, especially when I think about how many of his rich-kid peers hid under their beds instead of going to Vietnam.
Conversely, the Winter Soldiers, as a group, are a little too radical for my blood.... but, again, I gotta respect their service no matter what side of the political fence they eventually landed.
And that's my beef. If the right-wing had simply argued (in 1971, and when the issue came alive again in 2004) that the Winter Soldiers were addressing the worst U.S. conduct in Vietnam, and that their stories were not representational of the majority of veterans, you'd have heard not a peep from me.
Instead, the right-wing argued (in 1971 and 2004)that the Winter Soldiers were a pack of frauds making up lies about a war in which they never served.
Well, as a historian of the Vietnam War, I've met some of the Winter Soldiers over the years, and know from documents and photos that they were real veterans. I've also spoken to enough Vietnam veterans of all political stripes to know that many of the Winter Soldier stories rang true.
For example, Scott Moore, formerly a platoon leader in the 9th Division, spoke at the Winter Soldier Investigation about fake body counts. In fact, the 9th Division under General Ewell was infamous for fake body counts. (See ABOUT FACE by Colonel Hackworth.)
Robert Kruch, formerly a grunt with the Americal Division, spoke at the Winter Soldier Investigation about a hyper-aggressive battalion commander who ordered his unit not to take prisoners so to boost the body count, and also about a combat refusal that took place near FSB Center, I Corps, RVN, in August 1969. Well, the combat refusal was covered extensively by the press at the time, and I tracked down Kruch's former company commander who confirmed that, yes, their battalion commander was a little nuts, and did, in fact, put out the word that he didn't want prisoners.
Mike McCusker spoke at the Winter Soldier Investigation of a rape-and-murder incident committed by B/1/5 Marines in 1966. That incident was confirmed in the official marine history of court-martials in Vietnam by LtCol Gary Solis, USMC.
Another Winter Soldier spoke of a company commander in the 9th Marines being assassinated (fragged) by his own men in 1969. Again, that murder was confirmed in LtCol Solis's official history.
Then there's Jamie Henry, formerly of the 4th Division, who cooperated with the CID to have justice done regarding the rapes and murders he had seen--rapes and murders confirmed by the CID--only to have the whole mess swept under the rug as a political embarrassment. (Just as the Tiger Force atrocities were also swept under the rug at the same time by the same agencies.)
In addition, as a researcher/writer with an interest in establishing the veracity of the Winter Soldier Investigation, I began tracking down veterans as of 2004 who might confirm or deny what was said in Detroit in 1971. Numerous veterans provided me old letters and diary entries that confirmed the atrocity tales told by the Winter Soldiers. Some of those same veterans also provided me with old photos of hamlets being burned down, villagers toyed with at gun and bayonet point, prisoners being brutally beaten, and GIs holding up heads hacked from dead Viet Cong.
I could go on and on.
In any event, history might chalk such atrocities up as "isolated incidents"--but confirmation of such incidents makes a lie of the SBVFT claim that Kerry's Winter Soldiers were a pack of frauds.
2.) You wrote: "Google: Al Hubbard."
Ah, Al Hubbard, the achilles heel of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War--the guy who most definitely lied about his military service, exaggerating his rank, exaggerating the extent of his service in Vietnam, ad naseum.
Al Hubbard never made any atrocity claims, however, and never said boo in front of the microphones at the Winter Soldier Investigation.
Incidentally, after decades of digging for dirt on the Winter Soldiers, Al Hubbard is the only guy the right-wing can actually point to as a B.S. artist--and, as I say, he was an organizer who didn't actually offer any personal testimony.
One other thought: I've never encountered a veterans organization of any political persuasion that did not have a few flakes and liars.
3.) Regarding the Winter Soldiers, you write that "they never spoke or acted when it mattered. (Thus in one regard the two sides of the winter solder argument boil down to "they're liars" or "they're cowards".)
Not so fast. It's no simple thing for a stressed-out nineteen-year-old grunt to rat out his buddies when they do something ugly in the heat of the moment--and virtually impossible when some of those ugly things are being done at the orders of lieutenants and captains. You're expecting some kind of moral clarity out of teenagers that often wasn't possible in the confusing landscape of an ugly guerrilla war like Vietnam in which the name of the game was body count, body count, body count.
Also, please bear in mind that the record shows that many war crimes in Vietnam WERE reported by outraged grunts and junior officers--whose reports were then covered up by their superiors who feared having the careers derailed by scandal. (See: My Lai, the atrocity behind the book Casualties of War, etc., etc., etc.)
4.) You reference B.G. Burkett's Stolen Valor (which is really a hilarious piece of work, filled with much feel-good whitewashing and outright distortions of the historical record).
More specifically, you reference an NIS investigation cited by Burkett that claims the former Marines who testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation were confirmed as fakes: "... the most damaging finding consisted of the sworn statements of several veterans, corroborated by witnesses, that they had in fact not attended the hearing in Detroit... Fake 'witnesses' had appropriated the names of real Vietnam veterans...."
Quick point: not one of those real veterans who supposedly had their identities ripped off has ever stepped forward. Names, please!
Longer point: that purpoted NIS investigation is the only "proof" that the Winter Soldiers were fakes. Couple big problems, however. The report was never made public in 1971, and neither Navy nor Marine archivists could locate a copy in 2004.
Guenter Lewy cited the NIS report in America In Vietnam, but when contacted by reporters in 2004, admitted that he wasn't sure if he actually read the report--or merely accepted a verbal paraphrasing of the report from an official at the Pentagon.
In any event, the former Marines who told the wildest tales at the Winter Soldier Investigation (Mike McCusker, Scott Camil, and Joe Bangert) are all real veterans with photos and documents to back up their claims of service. They are certainly not the fakes claimed in the NIS report. McCusker's stories have been confirmed by the historical record. I personally think Camil's stories are half true, half exaggerated, and I doubt anything a maniac like Bangert has to say.
No matter: all three of those guys are USMC veterans of the Vietnam War, no matter what innuendos were floated by the NIS to Guenter Lewy.
Well, this is a lot of verbiage! I'll end by repeating my main point: as a kind of right-wing, pro-military guy myself, I've always been embarrassed that the right-wing (from Nixon to Burkett to Scott Swett to the SBVFT) simply couldn't dismiss the Winter Soldiers as being non-representational of the majority of Vietnam veterans--instead of perpetuating the lie that those poor shell-shocked kids who became Winter Soldiers hadn't actually fought and bled for their country in Vietnam.
Disgraceful. That's the kind of nonsense I'd expect out of a gas bag like Michael Moore, not the Grand Old Party.
Here 's a V.A. fact sheet on the new GI Bill.
Here's the V.A. web page on same.
"I believe the momentum we have is not reversible," said Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff who helped develop the Iraq strategy adopted by President Bush in January 2007.That's what I get for naming something a "quote of the day" as early as I did.
I supppose since the earlier quote wasn't really today's news...
Whatever. Here are a few more from the same story.
There will be "significant reductions in 2009 whoever becomes president," said Keane, who regularly consults with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.Obama has always supported Oceana's war with Eurasia, you see.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki echoed Keane's optimism Saturday by declaring that "we defeated" the terrorists in Iraq. U.S. commanders remain cautious.
Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said recently that "our progress is fragile, and we continue to work to make this progress irreversible."
Such encouraging reports could benefit both presidential candidates. Republican John McCain has been a major supporter of Bush's escalation of U.S. forces in Iraq. Democratic candidate Barack Obama said he wants to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months, although he said any pullout would be determined by conditions there.
Yeah, now about those helicopters again...
Continuing a discussion begun here.
LT Nixon: "CHUDs have been spotted in various corners of the political blogosphere for quite some time... Some other places where they have been popping up are Youtube comments, Liveleak comments, MySpace, and Facebook."
In spite of that warning, I was on a mission...
So I created a MilBlogs Blip TV channel. Loved the quality - from now on videos that I create and post here will come from that source. But I wanted the reenlistment videos to reach a wide audience, so I created a MilBlogs LiveLeak channel, too, and uploaded them there.
LiveLeak is certainly lively. Here are some quotes the re-up videos drew:
That "Hooah" at the end look silly .
I think many male soldiers get ass-banged.
No one cares anymore. The Military has lost all respect as they torture innocent people, lie to American citizens and Cost us all a fortune under the excuse "we broke it we have to fix it."In fairness, there are comments like this one, too:
They have no credability as they scam the American Tax Payers.
There are two types of people, the one's that run toward danger and those that run away from it, guess which type the first two posters are? Guess which type of people always need protection too? But they are also the biggest complainers, go figure.And please let me assure one and all that I'm long past the point where that sort of stuff can hurt my feelings, or even get me annoyed enough to respond. In most cases you're dealing with someone who wants to take a beating anyway and will enjoy it. In others you might be chatting to a 12-year old.
Then things really got fun when I posted my Free and the Brave video on LiveLeak. That baby was serious CHUD bait:
A redneck song for redneck-trash. Scumbags who try to link the so-called "war on terror" to Iraq are the sheep who've bought into the neocon agenda. I pity you, but at the same time you're beneath my contempt.
Uneducated garbage, go back to school. You're a coward if you have gone to Iraq to fight a war waged on lies and fabricated evidence.
Posted 18 hours ago by "ZenGaardens"
Thats gotta be the sh1ttiest red neck white trash music I've heard in a while. had to turn it off at 00:20. sounds like it was written and composed by a retard(Those are the actual avatars the individuals use to represent themselves, by the way.)
Posted 17 hours ago by "Zardoz86"
Oddly enough, the video was also recategorized as "mature" within a few minutes of posting - must have been that graphic Mike Yon photo.
That's probably why these guys rushed over to see it, too. These are low-level e-chud, likely pre-teen basement dwellers who's moms are out for the evening, and hardly worth a response - but I couldn't resist: "I've been to Iraq twice, but golly, I sure never experienced anything as harsh there as your comments. I think I'll weep gently into my pillow all night now knowing that ZenGaardens and Zardoz don't like me."
Seriously, I'm a guy with nothing better to do then upload videos to the web in hopes that maybe someone's mom will see them, and these are guys with nothing better to do than be the first to comment on any military-themed post and hope their moms don't.
But I am a believer in having fun with CHUD.
By the way, military approval? 71 precent nationwide.
Obama said he did not make a mistake with his earlier choice of words in describing his Iraq position -- even though he called a second news conference a few hours after his initial comments to clarify his stance.- Reuters
He laid the blame with reporters.
"I'm surprised at how finely calibrated every single word was measured. I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator," said Obama, who is still a senator from Illinois.
From Lt Nixon (fresh back from Iraq): CHUD busters!
I think he's found the perfect name for the group. I've had a few recent run ins with persistent, low-level CHUD myself - more on that to follow. In the meantime, meet the CHUD.
It doesn't rise (or is fall the better term?) to the CHUD level, but I noted a quick (as in within minutes of posting) response to my renlistment video at YouTube below: "Suckers one and all." What's more notable then the sentiment expressed is the speed at which it was posted. As it turns out, the individual who posted it is a subscriber to the MilBlogs YouTube channel, and as such is alerted to any new video posted.
But I also received this response from a mom of one of the guys participating in the ceremony.
Thank you for posting those re-enlisting video's of our servicemen. I am one of those Mom' s that their son was re-enlisting at that location. You gave me a priceless gift, one that I will cherish always. I didn't see him, but you enabled me to attend his second enlistment.Which immediately launched me on a campaign to get the videos posted everywhere I could, in hopes that more relatives might stumble upon them, and get to participate long distance in the event. (And many thanks to PowerLine*, Hot Air, and BlackFive for doing so.)
However, (no surprise, really) my efforts would also really bring the CHUD out of the woodwork. More to follow...
Footnote - Scott at PowerLine: "By my count via a Google News search, there is a grand total of three or four newspaper stories covering the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military."
Sheesh. But failure to make goals gets headlines worldwide...All done!
Media Matters: "Print reports on Clark's comments didn't note that McCain camp's response included Swift Boat Vet Bud Day"
The Left wing watchdog of the "right wing media" went on to note that The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Reuters all mentioned Bud Day without pointing out that he was a Swiftboater!!!! (Probably because unlike their "watchdog" they wisely didn't want to open that particular door, as we'll soon see.) Media Matters then described many of the charges levied by Kerry's fellow Swift Boat vets as baseless, and claimed they had debunked them.
All of which is a moot point in this discussion. Because (oops) Media Matters forgot to address Bud Day's part in the story - which had nothing whatsoever to do with John Kerry's time in service. America's most decorated veteran - like countless other former POWs (and veterans) - was outraged by Kerry's post-service accusation that they were baby killing, ear-collecting rapists and war criminals, a charge made before the US Congress while Day and his fellow POWs were being tortured in Vietnamese prisons in part for refusing to sign confessions of just that.
McCain weighed in on the Swift Boat ads regarding Kerry's service back when it mattered.
"I deplore this kind of politics," McCain said. "I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War."So it's admirable that Media Matters wants to highlight McCain's "maverick" attitude towards "dirty" politics. But while attacking Bud Day might appeal to hard core communists, it should be noted that while "condemning" Kerry's fellow Swift Boat vets, McCain remained silent on the post-service issues his fellow POWs raised in 2004. (And has likewise so far in 2008, but by all means, keep pushing.)
McCain likely would not have remained silent in 1973. Just released from a North Vietnamese prison, he recounted his experiences in the May 14 issue of U.S.News & World Report.
I was in the hospital about six weeks, then was taken to a camp in Hanoi that we called "The Plantation." This was in late December, 1967. I was put in a cell with two other men, George Day and Norris Overly, both Air Force majors. I was on a stretcher, my leg was stiff and I was still in a chest cast that I kept for about two months. I was down to about 100 pounds from my normal weight of 155.
I was told later on by Major Day that they didn't expect me to live a week. I was unable to sit up. I was sleeping about 18 hours, 20 hours a day. They had to do everything for me. They were allowed to get a bucket of water and wash me off occasionally. They fed me and took fine care of me, and I recovered very rapidly.
I remained in solitary confinement from that time on for more than two years. I was not allowed to see or talk to or communicate with any of my fellow prisoners. My room was fairly decent-sized—I'd say it was about 10 by 10. The door was solid. There were no windows. The only ventilation came from two small holes at the top in the ceiling, about 6 inches by 4 inches. The roof was tin and it got hot as hell in there. The room was kind of dim—night and day—but they always kept on a small light bulb, so they could observe me. I was in that place for two years.
Suddenly "The Cat" said to me, "Do you want to go home?"
I was astonished, and I tell you frankly that I said that I would have to think about it. I went back to my room, and I thought about it for a long time. At this time I did not have communication with the camp senior ranking officer, so I could get no advice. I was worried whether I could stay alive or not, because I was in rather bad condition. I had been hit with a severe case of dysentery, which kept on for about a year and a half. I was losing weight again.
But I knew that the Code of Conduct says, "You will not accept parole or amnesty," and that "you will not accept special favors." For somebody to go home earlier is a special favor. There's no other way you can cut it.
I went back to him three nights later. He asked again, "Do you want to go home?" I told him "No." He wanted to know why, and I told him the reason. I said that Alvarez [first American captured] should go first, then enlisted men and that kind of stuff.
"The Cat" told me that President Lyndon Johnson had ordered me home. He handed me a letter from my wife, in which she had said, "I wished that you had been one of those three who got to come home." Of course, she had no way to understand the ramifications of this. "The Cat" said that the doctors had told him that I could not live unless I got medical treatment in the United States.
We went through this routine and still I told him "No." Three nights later we went through it all over again. On the morning of the Fourth of July, 1968, which happened to be the same day that my father took over as commander in chief of U. S. Forces in the Pacific, I was led into another quiz room.
"The Rabbit" and "The Cat" were sitting there. I walked in and sat down, and "The Rabbit" said, "Our senior wants to know your final answer."
"My final answer is the same. It's 'No.' "
"That is your final answer?"
"That is my final answer."
With this "The Cat," who was sitting there with a pile of papers in front of him and a pen in his hand, broke the pen in two. Ink spurted all over. He stood up, kicked the chair over behind him, and said, "They taught you too well. They taught you too well"—in perfect English, I might add. He turned, went out and slammed the door, leaving "The Rabbit" and me sitting there. "The Rabbit" said "Now, McCain, it will be very bad for you. Go back to your room.
What they wanted, of course, was to send me home at the same time that my father took over as commander in the Pacific. This would have made them look very humane in releasing the injured son of a top U. S. officer. It would also have given them a great lever against my fellow prisoners, because the North Vietnamese were always putting this "class" business on us. They could have said to the others "Look, you poor devils, the son of the man who is running the war has gone home and left you here. No one cares about you ordinary fellows." I was determined at all times to prevent any exploitation of my father and my family.
There was another consideration for me. Even though I was told I would not have to sign any statements or confessions before I went home, I didn't believe them. They would have got me right up to that airplane and said, "Now just sign this little statement." At that point, I doubt that I could have resisted, even though I felt very strong at the time.
But the primary thing I considered was that I had no right to go ahead of men like Alvarez, who had been there three years before I "got killed"—that's what we say instead of "before I got shot down," because in a way becoming a prisoner in North Vietnam was like being killed.
About a month and a half later, when the three men who were selected for release had reached America, I was set up for some very severe treatment which lasted for the next year and a half.
They took me out of my room to "Slopehead," who said, "You have violated all the camp regulations. You're a black criminal. You must confess your crimes." I said that I wouldn't do that, and he asked, "Why are you so disrespectful of guards?" I answered, "Because the guards treat me like an animal."
When I said that, the guards, who were all in the room—about 10 of them—really laid into me. They bounced me from pillar to post, kicking and laughing and scratching. After a few hours of that, ropes were put on me and I sat that night bound with ropes. Then I was taken to a small room. For punishment they would almost always take you to another room where you didn't have a mosquito net or a bed or any clothes. For the next four days, I was beaten every two to three hours by different guards. My left arm was broken again and my ribs were cracked.
They wanted a statement saying that I was sorry for the crimes that I had committed against North Vietnamese people and that I was grateful for the treatment that I had received from them. This was the paradox—so many guys were so mistreated to get them to say they were grateful. But this is the Communist way.
So this was a period of repeated, severe treatment. It lasted until around October of '69. They wanted me to see delegations. There were antiwar groups coming into Hanoi, a lot of foreigners—Cubans, Russians. I don't think we had too many American "peaceniks" that early, although within the next year it got much greater. I refused to see any of them. The propaganda value to them would have been too great, with my dad as commander in the Pacific.
David Dellinger came over. Tom Hayden came over. Three groups of released prisoners, in fact, were let out in custody of the "peace groups." The first ones released went home with one of the Berrigan brothers. The next group was a whole crew. One of them was James Johnson, one of the Fort Hood Three. The wife of the "Ramparts" magazine editor and Rennie Davis were along. Altogether, I think about eight or nine of them were in that outfit. Then a third group followed.
The North Vietnamese wanted me to meet with all of them, but I was able to avoid it. A lot of times you couldn't face them down, so you had to try to get around them. "Face" is a big thing with these people, you know, and if you get around them so that they could save face, then it was a lot easier.
For example, they would beat the hell out of me and say I was going to see a delegation. I'd respond that, O.K. I'd see a delegation, but I would not say anything against my country and I would not say anything about my treatment and if asked, I'd tell them the truth about the conditions I was kept under. They went back and conferred on that and then would say, "You have agreed to see a delegation so we will take you." But they never took me, you see.
At this point I want to tell you the story of Capt. Dick Stratton. He was shot down in May of 1967, when the American peace groups were claiming that the United States was bombing Hanoi. We were not at that time.
Dick was shot down well outside of Hanoi, but they wanted a confession at the time an American reporter was over there. That was in the spring and summer of '67—remember those stories that came back, very sensational stories about the American bomb damage?
"The Rabbit" and the others worked on Dick Stratton very hard. He's got huge rope scars on his arms where they were infected. They really wrung him out, because they were going to get a confession that he had bombed Hanoi—this was to be living proof. They also peeled his thumbnails back and burned him with cigarettes.
Dick reached the point where he couldn't say "No." But when they got him to the press conference, he pulled this bowing act on them—he bowed 90 degrees in this direction, he bowed 90 degrees in that direction—four quadrants. This was not too wild to the "gooks," because they're used to the bowing thing. But any American who sees a picture of another American bowing to the waist every turn for 90 degrees knows that there's something wrong with the guy, that something has happened to him. That's why Dick did what he did. After that they continued to keep pressure on him to say he wasn't tortured. They tortured him to say that he wasn't tortured. It gets to be a bad merry-go-round to be on.
All through this period, the "gooks" were bombarding us with antiwar quotes from people in high places back in Washington. This was the most effective propaganda they had to use against us—speeches and statements by men who were generally respected in the United States.
They used Senator Fulbright a great deal, and Senator Brooke. Ted Kennedy was quoted again and again, as was Averell Harriman. Clark Clifford was another favorite, right after he had been Secretary of Defense under President Johnson.
When Ramsey Clark came over they thought that was a great coup for their cause.
Some of you may have to find some way to forgive John McCain for referring to his torturers as "gooks" - McCain himself has subsequently embraced reconciliation with Vietnam. Time often tempers one's opinions of even the most vile of foes.
McCain biographer Paul Alexander chronicled the Arizona Republican's anger toward Kerry during their early careers in the Senate together.But lets not start picking out curtains...
"For many years McCain held Kerry's actions against him because, while McCain was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, Kerry was organizing veterans back home in the U.S. to protest the war."
In his 2002 book, "Man of the People: The Life of John McCain," Alexander says that the two Vietnam vets finally reconciled in the early 1990s after having "a long - and at times emotional - conversation about Vietnam" during a mutual trip to Kuwait.
During the early summer, Mr Kerry implored Mr McCain, the maverick Republican who ran against Mr Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries, to become his running-mate, meeting him seven times. He even offered to expand the vice-presidency to include running the Pentagon. “I can’t say this is an offer because I’ve got to be able to deny it,” Mr Kerry told Mr McCain. “But you’ve got to do this.”It's often a pleasure to stroll briefly down memory lane. For folks like the Media Matters crew that might seem to be a very short path. In reality it's not, of course, and it's one that they - like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Reuters - might take care to avoid.
Mr McCain told him he was out of his mind, and went on to embrace Mr Bush. “Goddammit,” a furious Mr Kerry said to an aide. “Don’t you know what I offered him? Why the f*** didn’t he take it?” At the time, Mr Kerry also thought that John Edwards, his eventual choice, was overly ambitious. “What makes this guy think he can be president?” he asked staff in February.
After the anti-Kerry Swift Boat veteran attacks in August that questioned his Vietnam service, Mr Kerry’s campaign was in turmoil, beset by feuds, indecision and dithering. Mr Kerry, often generous to his staff but a constant whiner, had reverted to indecision, unable to straighten the mess out.
PowerLine: Robert Coram is the author of American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day. He has forwarded a message related to our post "Setting the record straight on Bud Day, and CNN." Mr. Coram writes:
Michelle Malkin: "Take a look at the man on the left in this photo ..."
Heh: "John Kerry says that John McCain lacks the good judgment necessary to be president..." It's another flip flop!All done!
Watching who's watching Mudville.
If I missed you, leave a comment (or send an email) and I'll add.
Trying out a new video player...
I think it's a bit better than the YouTube version.
But check this out:
(If you're viewing this on a single archive entry page you might have to scroll down if it's too big to fit your screen!)
If you're viewing this from the main page, you can restore the site by clicking the "all done" link below. (But who needs one this size - when there's a "full screen" toggle on even the little one?)
Update: There's a MilBlogs channel on LiveLeak now, too.All done!
Thank you for posting those re-enlisting video's of our servicemen. I am one of those Mom' s that their son was re-enlisting at that location. You gave me a priceless gift, one that I will cherish always. I didn't see him, but you enabled me to attend his second enlistment.And that made mine!
Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taping and posting these. This made our July 4th complete.
You can witness most of the ceremony (not just the actual reenlistment) here. And if you've got a blog (or other web site) please feel free to embed those videos - no credit to me is needed. There are 1200 other moms (and dads, and husbands, wives, and kids) out there who would probably love to see the videos of this event, and you can help make it happen.
Hot town, summer in the city...
For Iraqis, Progress Is Splashing In PoolFor the older kids:
BAGHDAD - Muntadhar al-Sharify stood shivering yesterday in Baghdad's searing heat, a smile on his young face.
The Iraqi boy had just completed a rite of passage known to children around the world - his first swim. But his fun also marked something broader: Another small step in Baghdad's halting progress from violence to more normal life.
Across the city this summer, a handful of parks and pools are opening to the public. And places like Zawra Park, where three swimming pools opened yesterday after repairs financed by the U.S. military, are drawing crowds of Iraqi families.
"In the last eight or nine months, life has been normal in Zawra," said Salah al-Mandalawy, the assistant general manager of the park in western Baghdad.
BAGHDAD--Iraqis no longer have to settle just for thick Turkish coffee, cardamom-laced tea, strawberry-flavored milk or bottled water to quench their summertime thirst. Beer and alcoholic beverages are readily available once again.
There are no bars outside the American-controlled Green Zone and parts of Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, for booze is sold retail only. But more shop owners are reopening behind iron gates.
Take Saif. At 19, he's barely old enough to buy liquor in Iraq; the law says 18. But the improbably young entrepreneur's family owns four liquor stores in Baghdad, and business, after years of literally being blown out from under them, is becoming brisk.
Liquor distilleries can be found in all 18 of Iraq's provinces. The most famous are in Diyala and Nineveh provinces. Iraqis are well-known among Arab countries for the liquor called arrack, made of dates and colloquially called ''the milk of the lioness.'' Abo Dawood, another liquor-store owner, noted that ``most of my customers prefer to buy arrack because it is cheaper and stronger than any other liquor.''"''It's very safe these days, and I can go back to my town even at 2 a.m.,'' he said." Some day that might be true of Washington D.C., New York, or Detroit - but at least for now it's true of Baghdad.
Iraqi law bars the licensing of Muslims to sell alcohol, and the trade is in the hands of people like Dawood, who's Yazidi, a small non-Muslim sect from the north of Iraq, and Christians.
Drinking is nonsectarian, however. Iraqis from all religions and sects consume alcohol.
Abo Do'aa is a Muslim Iraqi in his 40s who travels more than 50 miles from Balad, in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad, to Sadoon Street in downtown Baghdad to buy liquor.
''It's very safe these days, and I can go back to my town even at 2 a.m.,'' he said. ``I came to buy liquor for me and my friends. It's expensive, but we can afford it. We used to drink for a long time just to enjoy ourselves.''
Another regular is Abo Ali, 37: ``I drink only beer because I like it and it relaxes me.''
Perhaps in order to avoid being banned from the finer journo-bars back home, the headline above the "booze" story reads "Booze back in Baghdad -- but it costs". The swimming pool story describes progress as "halting" and the reduction in violence as a "recent ebb".
Here in Mudville, we remember when booze was actually news - two months ago.All done!
I suppose this is good news from Iraq:
Planning to put some of this [oil] money to work, the Iraqi government held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday for a major project to refurbish the main road to the Baghdad airport. The road was once considered one of the most dangerous in the world but has become safer with the decline in violence in the country.From the same story:
Iraq's prime minister said Saturday that the government has defeated terrorism in the country, a sign of growing confidence after recent crackdowns against Sunni extremists and Shiite militias.And...
"They were intending to besiege Baghdad and control it," al-Maliki said. "But thanks to the will of the tribes, security forces, army and all Iraqis, we defeated them."
The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium - reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.All from the same article, in which we also learn that "yellowcake alone is not considered potent enough for a so-called "dirty bomb"".
The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" - the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment - was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.
The Iraqi government sold the yellowcake to a Canadian uranium producer, Cameco Corp., in a transaction the official described as worth "tens of millions of dollars." A Cameco spokesman, Lyle Krahn, declined to discuss the price, but said the yellowcake will be processed at facilities in Ontario for use in energy-producing reactors.
But that begs the question: if you had 500+ tons of nuculer material in storage in Iraq, would you tell the world?
(Via Hot Air)
Bill Ardolino recommends Bud Day's biography American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day by Robert Coram.
I haven't got a copy, but a collectable copy of Day's out of print autobiography Return With Honor can be obtained via Amazon for $2,199.95 (+ $3.99 shipping). If you buy it, please send it to me after you're done reading it - I'll pay postage. ;)
You may have already heard some details of the the dramatic hostage rescue in Colombia this past week:
...two white helicopters arrived in a jungle clearing where the hostages were being held. The men in the helicopters looked like guerrillas, Betancourt later said, describing details of the rescue at the military airport.Members of the Colombian mlitary were disguised as allies of the communist guerrillas on a mission to relocate the hostages. After binding them, they loaded them (along with their captors) on the helicopters, then sprung their little surprise.
"Absolutely surreal," she said, noting that some of the men who got off the helicopter wore T-shirts emblazoned with the iconic image of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. "I thought this was the FARC," she said.
Video of the rescue:
The New York Times:
The rescuers included an agent pretending to be Italian, another supposed to be from the Middle East and a third who performed his role as an Australian so convincingly, according to Mr. Santos, that he invoked the spirit of Crocodile Dundee.
Even the video itself was part of the ruse, shot by two agents pretending to be television journalists. The Colombians’ three-minute video captured some of the despair, trickery and euphoria involved in the operation.
In some images, for instance, Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian politician captured by the FARC in 2002, gazes despondently at the ground before being guided aboard the helicopter. Another portion shows Raimundo Malagón, a mustachioed soldier held for a decade by the FARC, pleading to tell his story to the journalists.
The journalists even tried to interview César, the guerrilla charged with guarding the captives, but he declined to talk. César smiled at the cameras, seemingly shy about appearing on film while more than a dozen comrades stood nearby grasping assault rifles.
Choppy and blurry in parts, the video also shows Keith Stansell, one of three American military contractors freed in the operation, while a rebel was handcuffing him. “I love my family,” Mr. Stansell said into the camera, smiling widely. “Pray a lot.”
The rough video lacks audio in parts and seems to have been edited, though Colombian officials attributed a gap to the camera operator lunging at the two guerrillas aboard the helicopter as agents subdued them.
The video ends with images of elation among the captives, who embrace one another aboard the helicopter.
The soldiers had infiltrated the FARC, but still it seems these terrorists were pretty gullible to believe that they had helicopters. It reminds us of an Israeli joke*, recounted in this Ha'aretz story:But deeper background is now available, revealing the helicopters weren't so unbelievable after all. They were Russian craft, painted to resemble those of the terrorists' "friends from Venezuela":
An Israeli pilot whose helicopter was in trouble over the sea lands on an aircraft carrier. The captain chastises him: "How dare you? This is an American aircraft carrier." "Really?," says the Israeli innocently. "I thought it was one of ours."
The undercover officers cultivated an unkempt appearance. Playing a convincing role was crucial because the undercover agents were to be unarmed during the mission. The military got two Russian-made helicopters and painted them in white and red, similar to ones used by Venezuela during the hostage release in January.That via this (subscription only) Wall Street Journal story, headlined "Details Emerge of U.S. Role in Colombia's Hostage Rescue". But that headline might be considered deceptive, too. According to the article that role was minimal ("One area where the Americans were directly involved: Giving Hollywood-style acting classes to the Colombian undercover military officers who duped the guerrillas into handing over the hostages.") and discussion thereof represents a small fraction of the incredible story.
Things went perfectly on the day of the operation. When the helicopter landed, one undercover soldier strolled off to take pictures of the jungle, as a tourist might do. Another two, disguised as television news crew wearing the red shirts and black vests usually worn by reporters from Mr. Chávez's Telesur network, who have been along on prior hostage releases, rushed Mr. Aguilar, and started interviewing him. "It inflated his ego," says a Colombian military officer.
Read the whole thing for details on the planning, training, and execution of a mission that should draw the attention of publishers and Hollywood execs. ("Mr Banderas, the studio is on line one...") Even the comic relief is already available - beyond the Che t-shirts: "Fidel Castro on Thursday praised the Colombian action and said the hostages should never have been held to begin with" and "Mr. Chávez, chastened by the revelations from the captured computers, also praised the rescue and called for the FARC to free all hostages and lay down their arms." Now if only they could find some angle where America looks bad, next year's summer blockbuster would be on the way.
In the meantime, readers might consider the parallels with other debates in the action vs negotiation arguments presented here.
The successful rescue has boosted Mr. Uribe's political standing abroad in capitals other than Washington. Since he took office in 2002, the conservative has launched an aggressive military campaign against the FARC, which funds itself largely through drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping, holding nearly 700 hostages in the dense Colombian jungles.All done!
Mr. Uribe's campaign has decimated the FARC and earned him high approval ratings at home, but also has drawn criticism from many Latin American and European governments that the Colombian leader has relied solely on a military solution to the insurgency at the expense of negotiations. Mr. Uribe, whose father was killed by the FARC in a botched kidnapping attempt, firmly believes the group won't negotiate unless it is forced to its knees.
Those differences also came into play over how to deal with some 40 hostages the FARC held for political purposes rather than for ransom, a number that until last week included the Americans and Ms. Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian national. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and France's Nicolas Sarkozy urged the Colombian government to avoid any rescue mission that could endanger the hostages and negotiated directly with the FARC. This year, that approach gained momentum when the FARC released a handful of hostages through Mr. Chávez's offices.
But things changed dramatically March 1, when the Colombian military killed the FARC's No. 2 man, Raul Reyes, in a bombing raid on his camp just across the border in Ecuador. Laptop computers that belonged to Mr. Reyes showed that Mr. Chávez and the FARC were using the negotiation process to try to gain international legitimacy for the rebels and force Mr. Uribe to call off his military offensive.
Emails in the laptops also revealed that the FARC had no intention of releasing either the three Americans or Ms. Betancourt, calling her their most valuable negotiating card. But in one dramatic stroke this week, the rescue mission won support for Mr. Uribe's get-tough approach.
"I have to recognize that the strong hand has prevailed," said human-rights activist Robert Menard, founder and secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders. "Our insistence on the need to negotiate with the FARC, hoping they would release their most valuable card, was foolish."
SO I WAS AT THE GYM THE OTHER DAY - wearing my PT uniform*, and thankful that I have a job that allows me to spend time at the gym. Mandates it, in fact - but I'm a guy who would spend his off duty time there anyway. (And there would be fewer posts on this site, to the joy of some.)
The treadmill is always my last stop. I run outdoors, of course, but I like to do speedwork on a treadmill - it keeps me honest, and I live in flat country so the machine provides my only hills, too. Although I can't do quarter miles at what used to be my one-mile speed I think my half dozen sub-six minute/mile reps (with recovery jogs) are respectable for a man of middle age and limited time. I know it helps keep me lean, I like to believe it helps keep me young.
So I'm standing on the machine getting ready to start, plugging my mp3 player into my ears (I think this tune sets a good workout rhythm, if I say so myself...) when I glance up at the bank of televisions on the wall above me. (Did I say gym? I meant Fitness Center, and the one I'm standing in is barely a year old. It ain't your father's army post...)
The TV above me is tuned to CNN, but the sound is turned down. On the screen I see the unmistakable face of Colonel Bud Day, USAF (ret). I thought that was a remarkable coincidence - I'd just written about Col Day at MilBlogs. In an odd bit of synchronicity, this long time friend (and former cellmate) of John McCain had been the first commander of a unit in Vietnam that would later be briefly led by then-Major Merrill McPeak, who as co-chair of the Barack Obama campaign had made weekend news by spouting catty remarks about John McCain's weight.
For those who wouldn't recognize America's most decorated living veteran CNN provided his name in a caption - albeit without identifying him as such. There was only one thing CNN wanted the viewer to know about Bud Day - that was made clear in the frame around the video. The one thing CNN wanted Americans to know about Bud Day was that he was a member of the Swiftboat Veterans.
I made a mental note to check out why CNN was featuring Bud Day later. Then I pushed play, hit the quick start button, and cranked up the speed.
Like many of my generation I did not go to war gravely and soberly, as Lao-tzu tells us a wise man ought. But I returned from it that way.Many veterans would probably concur with that simple quote from Steven Pressfield's brilliant novel Killing Rommel. I suspect Bud Day might be among them.
Among military members, Bud Day needs no introduction. For others:Whenever I think I'm "torturing" myself in the gym, I think of guys like Bud Day.George "Bud" Day was seventeen in late 1942 when he badgered his parents into allowing him to volunteer for the Marine Corps. He spent nearly three years in the South Pacific during World War II, then returned home, went to college, and got a law degree. In 1950, he joined the Air National Guard. When he was called up for active duty a year later, he applied for pilot training and flew fighter jets during the Korean War. After being promoted to captain in 1955, he decided to become a "lifer" in the Air Force.Here's a video of Bud telling the rest of the story (once again - you'll recognize the name of his Hanoi Hilton "roomate"). More here and here (including his Medal of Honor citation).
In 1967, Day, now a major, was put in command of a squadron of F-100s in Vietnam involved in a top-secret program. Nicknamed the Misty Super Facs, their mission was to fly over North Vietnam and Laos as "forward air controllers," selecting military targets and calling in air strikes on them. On August 26, ground fire hit Day's plane, destroying its hydraulic controls and forcing it into a steep dive.
Then this:In February, 1971 several American prisoners at the Hoa Loa camp gathered for a forbidden religious service. Suddenly they were interrupted by the enraged enemy guards. As the guards burst into the meeting room with rifles pointed at the prisoners, one of the Americans stood to his feet. Ragged, battered but unbroken, it was George Day. Looking into the muzzles of the enemy rifles he began to sing. The song was "The Star Spangled Banner", our National Anthem. Next to him another prisoner stood. Commander James Bond Stockdale was the ranking American in the prison and he lended his voice to Day's anthem of freedom. Soon the other prisoners joined the refrain, and then from throughout the entire prison camp, came the sounds of others. Stockdale, who would join "Bud" Day in receiving Medals of Honor five years later wrote that, although he was punished for the episode, it was exhilarating: "Our minds were now free and we knew it."
John Donovan, writing in a different context:For those of you who aren't familiar with Once an Eagle, Anton Myrer's story of an Army that no longer exists, Courtney Massengale is the officer who is the consumate Organization Man in a Suit. Always playing the game the right way, angling for the right jobs, etc. Sam Damon is... a warrior.Bud Day defines warrior:
All armies have their share of both. Successful armies find enough Damons to counteract the Massengales. The Massengales, while happy to use the Damons, also tend to drive them out, because a Damon makes a Massengale uncomfortable, and isn't as skilled at "the game" as the Corporation Man.He is often cited as being the most decorated U.S. service member since General Douglas MacArthur, having received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions in combat. Day is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.Without ever once citing the fairness doctrine he went on to make the Massengales of this world extremely uncomfortable. More on that later.
After being passed over for nomination to brigadier general, Day retired from active duty in 1977...... At his retirement he had nearly 8,000 total flying hours, and 4,900 in single engine jets, and had flown the F-80 Shooting Star, F-84 Thunderjet, F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, F-4 Phantom II, A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair II, CF-5 Tiger, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and CF-18 Hornet jet fighters.
Col George "Bud" Day, USAF
Day retired in 1977 and entered law practice in Florida. When retirees were thrown out of the military medical care system, during the Clinton administration years...
Among other endeavors, Day filed a class action lawsuit against the United States government in 1996 on behalf of military retirees who were stripped of their Air Force medical care benefits and told to apply for Medicare.
Here's what NBC wanted to tell Americans about Bud Day in 2007:
One of the members of John McCain’s new Truth Squad — which his campaign says was launched to respond to unfair attacks on his record of military service –- was a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and appeared in an attack ad for the group in 2004.Which he did - they've even got a photo capture from the video to prove it.
And since they brought it up, here's the full video:
To understand Col Day's opinion of John Kerry, you'd have to be familiar with Kerry's testimony before congress - given while Day and the other POWs in that video were being tortured in Vietnam:
Col Day wasn't much interested in John Kerry's Vietnam career. His issue with the Democrat's choice for President was related to Kerry's post-war conduct. Day explained his position in 2004:
Letter from Col. George E. "Bud" Day regarding John KerryBefore teaming with Kerry's fellow Swift Boat veterans, Day and other POWs had told their stories in the documentary "Stolen Honor: Wounds that never heal", a film that received an amazing review from the New York Times:
The major issue in the Swiftboat stories is, and always has been, what John Kerry did in 1971 after he returned from Vietnam. Kerry cast a long dark shadow over all Vietnam Veterans with his outright perjury before the Senate concerning atrocities in Vietnam. His stories to the Senate committee were absolute lies..fabrications..perjury..fantasies, with NO substance. That dark shadow has defamed the entire Vietnam War veteran population, and gave "Aid and Comfort" to our enemies..the Vietnamese Communists. Kerry's stories were outright fabrications, and were intended for political gain with the radical left..McGovern, Teddy and Bobby Kennedy followers, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and the radical left who fantasized that George McGovern was going to be elected in 1972. Little wonder that returning soldiers from Vietnam were spit upon and castigated as "baby killers".
A returned war hero said so. Kerry cut a dashing figure as a war hero, lots of medals, and returned home because of multiple war wounds..even a silver star. His Senate testimony confirmed what every hippie had been chanting on the streets.."Hey hey LBJ..How many kids did you kill today"????? He obviously was running for political office in 1971.
Until Lt. John O' Neil, himself a Swifboat commander, spoke out before the 1972 elections against Kerry's outright deceptions, there was no one from the Swiftboat scene that could contradict Kerry's self serving lies.
I was a POW of the Vietnamese in Hanoi in 1971, and I am aware that the testimony of John Kerry, the actions of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, and the radical left; all caused the commies to conclude that if they hung on, they would win North Vietnamese General Bui Tin commented that every day the Communist leadership listened to world news over the radio to follow the growth of the anti-war movement. Visits to Hanoi by Jane Fonda and Ramsey Clark gave them confidence to hold in the face of battlefield reverses. The guts of it was that propaganda from the anti-war group was part of their combat strategy.
While the Commies were hanging on, innumerable U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Air Force members were being killed in combat. Every battle wound to Americans after Kerry's misdirected testimony is related to Kerry's untruthfulness. John Kerry contributed to every one of these deaths with his lies about U.S. atrocities in Vietnam. He likewise defamed the U.S. with our allies and supporters. His conduct also extended the imprisonment of the Vietnam Prisoners of War, of which I was one. I am certain of at least one POW death after his testimony, which might have been prevented with an earlier release of the POWs.
My friend and room mate Senator John S. McCain denounced the Swiftboat video by John O'Neil. I have a different take on the Swiftboat tape and disagree with my good friend John.
John Kerry opened up his character as a war hero reporting for duty to the country with a hand salute...and his band of brothers..of which he was the chief hero. Most of his convention speech was about John Kerry..Vietnam hero, and his band of brothers. John Kerry's character is not only fair game, it is the primary issue. He wants to use Bill Clinton's "is", as an answer to his lack of character.
The issue is trust. Can anyone trust John Kerry?? "Never lie, cheat or steal" is the West Point motto. When a witness perjures himself at trial, the judge notes that his testimony lacks credibility. Should we elect a known proven liar to lead us in wartime??
I draw a direct comparison of General Benedict Arnold of the Revolutionary War, to Lieutenant John Kerry. Both went off to war, fought, and then turned against their country. General Arnold crossed over to the British for money and position. John Kerry crossed over to the Vietnamese with his assistance to the anti-war movement, and his direct liaison with the Vietnamese diplomats in Paris. His reward. Political gain. Senator..United States. His record as a Senator for twenty years has been pitiful. Conjure up, if you will, one major bill that he has sponsored.
John Kerry for President? Ridiculous. Unthinkable. Unbelievable. Outrageous.
Col. Geo. "Bud" Day, Medal of Honor, Vietnam POW 1967- 1973, USMC- USA- USAF- Attorney 1949-2004
Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," the highly contested anti-Kerry documentary, should not be shown by the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It should be shown in its entirety on all the networks, cable stations and on public television.The Kerry campaign was quick to instruct their adherants how to feel about the group's charges: "While the stories of the POWs sounded legitimate, the Kerry campaign warned that the group has a shady history." And "This group is the poor, distant cousin of the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush," said Mark Nevins, a spokesman for the campaign. "It’s comprised of people with questionable backgrounds whose sole mission in life is to smear John Kerry."
The anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has spent more than $10 million trying to discredit Kerry's war record, recently changed its name to Swift Vets and POWs for Truth to bring into its fold dozens of Vietnam prisoners of war opposed to Kerry's candidacy. Many of those POWs are interviewed in the documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal."Sinclair Broadcasting planned to air the film on it's network stations in the weeks prior to the 2004 elections. The possibility of Americans hearing the testimony of these former POWs so frightened the Democrats that they filed complaints with the FCC and organized boycotts against Sinclair sponsors.
Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal was never aired on American television, but you can still see excerpts of the film on the web site.
Bud Day may have retired from the Air Force - and helped end the presidential aspirations of ex-lieutenant John Kerry, but he has never quit the battlefield:
A Message from MOH Recipient Col. Bud DayThe Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation home page is here. You'll find more information about Bud Day here, and excerpts from his autobiography here.
October 4, 2007
My Dear Fellow Americans:
For the last few weeks, the “Liberal’s War on America” has gone badly.
* MoveOn, the New York Times, and Senators who accused Gen. Petraeus of being a traitor and a liar have been exposed and repudiated;
* The media’s attempted flim-flam to portray Iran’s Terrorist Dictator as a “Statesman,” tripped on Columbia University’s red carpet;
* The brave combat Marines whom Congressman Murtha and the press eagerly charged with “cold-blooded murders” in Iraq are being found innocent, acquitted one by one.
The “War” is not going well … the “War On America,” that is.
Those who claim they “Support the Troops” are finally being unmasked, shown for being the cowards they are. But, it won’t be long before they regroup, begin their own “Surge” in this decades-long “War On America.” We won’t stand by quietly when they do; nor, should you.
My fellow POWs and I have long known the contempt the extreme Left has for our military. We felt the crush of rifle butts in our faces, beatings and unspeakable torture in the Hanoi Hilton Prison when we refused to kowtow to American traitors who traveled to these countries for propaganda “photo-ops” with our Communist jailors.
The so-called “anti-war movement,” lead by the likes of Lt. John Kerry and his mentor, Sen. Ted Kennedy, also said they “supported the troops”. What they didn’t say is whose “troops.”
We knew the answer then, we were witnesses and victims. It’s the same today. They “support” America’s enemies, any Communist Regime, Dictator or Terrorists that vow to kill and maim American soldiers and innocent civilians.
American soldiers in Vietnam were falsely accused of being a “barbarian horde,” “rapists,” “murderers,” “drug addicts” and “baby killers.”
Today, their sons, daughters and grandchildren serving in uniform stand accused of being “terrorists,” “Nazis,” “cold-blooded murderers,” people who wantonly conduct “air raids on villages” bombing and killing civilians.
Every one of those spurious accusations were spewed from the Halls of Congress, most often by the same men and women who voted to send America’s youth to war, only to denounce, vilify and abandon them later, when the opportunity for personal, political advantage presented itself.
When I and my fellow veterans — POWs, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Navy Swift Boat combat veterans alike — attempted to warn America about one of the most notorious turncoats from the Vietnam era, we were initially ignored by the mainstream media.
When the press and TV networks could no longer cover-up for John Kerry’s very public treasonous conduct, we were accused of being “serial liars,” shouted down by Leftist political campaign operatives disguised as “journalists.” All the while the networks kept the film evidence of Lt. Kerry’s betrayal under lock and key, where it remains hidden from the American public even today.
The recent treatment accorded Gen. Petraeus by the same radicals in Congress and the media was strikingly similar to our experiences in 2004. Before he uttered a single word, this highly decorated combat veteran, a man of great honor who has risked his life many times in the defense of our country, stood accused, disparaged and berated by a pack of power-hungry shirkers and slackers unworthy to polish his combat medals.
Veterans who attempted to expose Sen. Kerry in 2004 were treated no better. But, Kerry and his band of Leftist comrades had something special in store for me and my fellow POWs and their wives. We were sued repeatedly for three long years, forced to spend $1 million just to defend ourselves in several frivolous lawsuits.
What did we do to cause such a prolonged, vindictive assault? We told the truth no Mainstream Media news operation wanted the American public to know, then or now.
Dozens of my fellow POWs and their wives participated in a documentary, “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal.” In that film we said Kerry and his anti-war followers were liars and frauds working on behalf of our brutal Communists captors. Their collaboration with the enemy prolonged our captivity and the Vietnam War itself by years. Their vicious lies accusing us and all U.S. servicemen of being “war criminals” put our lives and the lives of Americans still fighting on the battlefield in grave danger.
Worse of all, Kerry’s self-aggrandizing, false accusations against American soldiers who had born the brunt of the bleeding and dying in Vietnam, spawned the myths our young men and women in Iraq today are forced to defend against, even as they fight for their lives on the battlefield each and every day.
You can draw a straight line from the deceitful Leftist tactics used to bring America’s defeat and dishonor in Vietnam to Iraq today.
America’s military didn’t lose the Vietnam War. Congress declared defeat, voted to abandon South Vietnam nearly two years after our last combat troops left. That sell-out, not only of our South Vietnam ally, but the nearly 60,000 Americans who gave their lives on the battlefield, ignited a genocidal holocaust throughout Southeast Asia that can still only be measured in the millions, an estimated three to five million innocent civilians brutally murdered.
We cannot let that happen again. We will not let that happen. You can stand shoulder to shoulder with us to prevent that from happening.
Three years ago, I and my fellow POWs and Vietnam combat veterans created a non-profit organization, ” The Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation”. Our mission was simple, to set the record straight about the Vietnam War and those who served and fought there. Little did we know then we’d be slapped with multiple lawsuits for daring to uncover the layer upon layer of lies that constitute the false Vietnam History.
Nor, could we know then the Left’s plans to use the same Vietnam blueprint for defeat in Iraq. Little wonder Kerry and his followers wanted to sue us into silence! But, we prevailed. We successfully defended against each of those lawsuits, all have now been withdrawn. And, we will not remain silent any longer.
Our research into the Vietnam War, most especially, those individuals and organizations responsible for creating the completely false history of Vietnam, is voluminous, factual and compelling. We have amassed a virtual library of records, documents and eyewitness testimony that proves, conclusively, the popular history of Vietnam is pure bunk, propaganda.
Once we get the truth out to the American people, there will be winners. Those winners will be every man and woman who has served in our Armed Forces. To them and their families, this is a war we cannot lose.
The “War On America” is just heating up again. What we do now will dictate America’s future, whether it is one of victory over terrorism, or, decades more of defeat, humiliation in a lost, but noble cause.
God Bless You and America,
Col. Bud Day
America's most decorated living veteran - it's no small wonder the Left fears him.
Tracking: thanks to Instapundit, PowerLine, Dean Esmay, Gateway Pundit, The Smallest Minority, Pal2pal, The Conservative Syndicate, Amused Cynic, and Chapomatic for joining the conversation! (If I missed you, leave a comment or send an email and I'll add you in.)All done!
The reenlistment video got a comment (and a one-star rating) within seconds of being uploaded to the Youtube site.
"Suckers one and all."
Record setting re-up - 4 July 2008. 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines take the oath of enlistment once again, in Baghdad:
The best quote of the event comes from MNF-I Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill: "I'll always remember the message you've sent to the adversary: the same guys and girls who've been kicking your butt for the past five years signed up for some more."
More video below. Don't miss it!
Update: I've replaced the Youtube videos with higher quality versions from the MilBlogs Channel on Blip TV.
Troops Re-enlist on Independence DayAnd here it is.
BAGHDAD -- Servicemembers from all over Iraq gathered here today in the Al Faw Palace rotunda on Camp Victory, to re-enlist and celebrate America's Independence Day.
All 1,215 servicemembers celebrated by raising their right hand and pledging to continue defending the 'land of the free' in what is the largest re-enlistment ceremony since the all-volunteer force began in 1973, according to the Multi-National Force - Iraq Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt, Maj. Marvin L. Hill.
"Volunteering to continue to serve our nation, while deployed - is both noble and inspiring," said Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general, Multi-National Force - Iraq. "It is, as award citations often state, in keeping with the finest traditions of our military services."
Petraeus presided over the ceremony and led the airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers in their oath to defend their country against all enemies both foreign and domestic on this day of celebration of America winning its independence.
"We recognize the sacrifices they make and the sacrifices their families and communities make as they serve in Iraq," Hill said. "These servicemembers know the cost of war and they are still re-enlisting."
All together, the servicemembers pledged more than 5,500 years of additional service to their country.
"It makes me feel proud to serve this great nation," said Spc. Zackary Cunningham, mechanic, 602nd Maintenance Battalion, Tactical Base Balad, who plans on making the Army a career.
The re-enlistees have every right to feel proud, according to Petraeus.
"You and your comrades here have been described as America's new greatest generation, and, in my view, you have more than earned that description," Petraeus said. "It is the greatest of honors to soldier here with you."
(MNF-I Press Release)
Update - Via email:
Thank you for posting those re-enlisting video's of our servicemen. I am one of those Mom' s that their son was re-enlisting at that location. You gave me a priceless gift, one that I will cherish always. I didn't see him, but you enabled me to attend his second enlistment.And that made mine!
Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taping and posting these. This made our July 4th complete.
You can witness most of the ceremony (not just the actual reenlistment) here. And if you've got a blog (or other web site) please feel free to embed those videos - no credit to me is needed. There are 1200 other moms (and dads, and husbands, wives, and kids) out there who would probably love to see the videos of this event, and you can help make it happen.All done!
Hmmm... if memory serves me, saying things like this back in March...
"He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator," she said at one point in the interview....would earn you a quick toss under the Obama campaign bus. (Of course, the Democratic nomination was still a contest back then.)
Power downplayed Obama's commitment to quick withdrawal from Iraq on Hard Talk, a program that often exceeds any of the U.S. talk shows in the rigor of its grillings. She was challenged on Obama's Iraq plan, as it appears on his website, which says that Obama "will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months."
"What he’s actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you – at best case scenario – will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president," Power says.
But soon it might be conventional wisdom.
If so it will be interesting to see the media - and those who support Obama primarily for his firm pledge to withdraw troops from Iraq - respond.
I'd like to see the 180 - I suspect we'd be seeing a lot more coverage of progress in Iraq after that. But if he were elected I'm not sure how well he'd hold up - meaning how long that stay the course plan (albeit with a different, more nuanced name) would last - after the first high casualty suicide bombing of his as-yet hypothetical term.
You may have read recent news reports that suggest I have modified my position regarding the redeployment of American military personnel in Iraq. Unfortunately, these reports have been the source of much confusion and anxiety among the millions of voters who have supported my campaign, and I would like to take this opportunity to address their concerns.Now that I think about it, I understand completely. Soon the Obama campaign will pose the question: Exactly what part of "change" did you not understand?
And more, from Lt Nixon: "As one voter, I'm willing to give Obama a pass on all the misguided policies for Iraq he proposed earlier in his campaign, now that the reality has changed. Expect me to be in the minority."
Meanwhile, an early Left react at Daily Kos:
Americans Prefer Candidates Strong On Science
A new poll conducted by Scientists and Engineers for America indicates an overwhelming majority of voters prefer candidates who support research into science and technology, with emphasis on the three E's: education, environment, and energy.
You know that as a guitar-playing GI Joe I gotta let a former member of the 101st get us started on the July Fourth weekend...
...before handing it off to some members of the 82nd Airborne with their version from Iraq.
The LA Times headline: Time to make candidates answer on Iraq.
I can't argue against that. But in some instances the details they claim aren't available actually are - if you know where to look.
For instance, this quote from the story: "Neither of the candidates really has been pushed to say what he would do about the 4 million displaced Iraqis" may be true insofar as "neither candidate has been pushed" - but Barack Obama has in fact included his solution to that issue in his overall Iraq policy:
He would increase American investments in Iraq's refugees and internally displaced people and to the neighboring countries that house them to at least $2 billion. He would work with Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt to dramatically increase access to social services for refugees.Most guesses place the vast majority of refugees who've left Iraq in Syria, where 2 billion dollars can provide significant social services. (We've been following the refugee issue here.)
Then he'd toss the current constitution of Iraq, and let the UN help create a new one:
Obama has a plan to immediately begin withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year. He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq's leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation.
The Iraqi Government sues U.N. over oil for food program.All done!
Official spokesman for the Iraqi government Dr. Ali Aldabagh announced that the Iraqi government is filling law suites against individuals and companies involved in corruption and bribery in the “oil for food” program. This program has suffered large scandalous corruption and mismanagement. Many have collaborated with the Sadam regime by inflating pieces of goods and selling expired medication etc…., bribery schemes and supplying sub standard material in return for large bribes and pay backs.
Back in October, we "listened" as journalists discussed strategies news agencies might employ if the (then) four month old trend of increasingly lower U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq continued its downward plunge:
CHARLES GIBSON, ABC ANCHOR: The U.S. military reports the fourth straight month of decline in troop deaths, 66 American troops died in September, each a terrible tragedy for a family, but the number far less than those who died in August. And the Iraqi government says civilian deaths across Iraq fell by half last month.Cynical bastard that I am, I made my own prediction of how the media would deal with a continued decrease in monthly deaths for the remainder of the year. They'd highlight the yearly total instead of the monthly. Was I right?
KURTZ: Joining us now to put this into perspective, Robin Wright, who covers national security for The Washington Post. And CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Robin Wright, should that decline in Iraq casualties have gotten more media attention?
ROBIN WRIGHT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Not necessarily. The fact is we're at the beginning of a trend -- and it's not even sure that it is a trend yet. There is also an enormous dispute over how to count the numbers. There are different kinds of deaths in Iraq.
KURTZ: Barbara Starr, CNN did mostly quick reads by anchors of these numbers. There was a taped report on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Do you think this story deserved more attention? We don't know whether it is a trend or not but those are intriguing numbers.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: But that's the problem, we don't know whether it is a trend about specifically the decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. This is not enduring progress.
KURTZ: But let's say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.
STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that's certainly -- that, by any definition, is news.
Here's the New York Times headline from November 07, 2007: 2007 Is Deadliest Year for U.S. Troops in Iraq. Hell, maybe I gave them the idea.
Of course, after that the death toll remained relatively low (eventually even reaching pre-Mary Mapes levels, surprising even me) , and Iraq vanished from the American media - an event that briefly made its own headlines, accompanied by the complaint that Americans no longer knew the TOTAL death toll from the war!!!
But here's a question our intrepid reporters didn't ask themselves back in October (or December or any time since): What if the death toll in Iraq fell to that in Afghanistan... how could we spin that?
This week USA Today provides the answer: U.S. deaths in Afghanistan near those in Iraq.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Greyhawk:
With the momentum building toward the Olympic Games in Beijing, I wanted to draw your attention to a couple remarkable U.S. Army Soldiers who will represent the nation at the upcoming Olympics.
1) Staff Sgt. Libby Callahan, age 56, will be the oldest U.S. female Olympian when she competes at the Summer Games in Beijing. This three-time U.S. Olympian also has a shot at becoming the oldest female Olympic medalist in history. Competing in women's sport pistol, this South Carolina native learned to shoot as a member of the D.C. police force. Learn more at http://www.usashooting.org/
2) Maj. Michael Anti, age 42, brought home a silver medal from the 2004 Summer Games. To reward himself, he purchased a sliver Corvette. This prone rifle shooter has set his sights on a gold Corvette and medal following his competition in Beijing http://www.usashooting.org/
We believe our Soldiers will have a slight advantage since they already posses the mental and physical toughness that can only be obtained by wearing the uniform of a U.S. Army Soldier. Check out this training video of some of Army's World Class Athletes in action.
The Army's Olympic delegation, comprised of track and field athletes, boxers and more, kicked off their road to the Summer Games with a Times Square fitness challenge. New video will post to the official YouTube channel immediately following the event.
COL Michael J. Negard
Chief of Public Affairs
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
If you're viewing this as an individual entry you won't see much difference - but if you go to the main page you'll notice many obvious changes. This is still a work-in-progress, lots more tweaking to do. I haven't got all the bugs (width) worked out in Firefox though. If anyone notices anything I may of missed, please give me a shout.
The Dawn Patrol will now always be posted on the right center column and is pulled from the Dawn Patrol Blog here
Mudville's posts will be on the left center column.
So how do you like?
How's the load time?
The New GI Bill becomes law:
...along with some other items.
Details of the veterans education benefit here.
Comments from the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSEAll done!
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 30, 2008
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
AFTER SIGNING H.R. 2642,
THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008
9:48 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. A few moments ago I signed legislation that funds our troops who are in harm's way. Our nation has no greater responsibility than supporting our men and women in uniform -- especially since we're at war. This is a responsibility all of us in Washington share -- not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. And I want to thank leaders of the House and Senate for getting this bill to my office.
America remains a nation at war. There are enemies who intend to harm us. Standing in their way are brave men and women, who put on the uniform, who raise their right hand, and took an oath to defend our freedom. They volunteered to deploy in distant lands, far from their families, far from their homes, and far from comfort of America. And every day, they risk their lives to defeat our adversaries and to keep our country safe.
We owe these brave Americans our gratitude. We owe them our unflinching support. And the best way to demonstrate that support is to give them the resources they need to do their jobs and to prevail. The bill I sign today does exactly that. It provides necessary funds to support our troops as they conduct military operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other theaters in the war on terror.
I appreciate that Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed to provide these vital funds without tying the hands of our commanders, and without an artificial timetable of withdrawal from Iraq. Our troops have driven the terrorists and extremists from many strongholds in Iraq; today violence is at the lowest level since March of 2004. As a result of this progress, some of our troops are coming home as result of our policy called "return on success." We welcome them home. And with this legislation we send a clear message to all that are servings [sic] on the front line that our nation continues to support them.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to our nation's military families. They endure sleepless nights, and the daily struggle of caring for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I'm pleased that the bill I sign today includes an expansion of the GI Bill. This legislation will make it easier for our troops to transfer unused education benefits to their spouses and children. It will help us to recruit and reward the best military on the face of the Earth. It will help us to meet our responsibilities to those who support our troops every day -- America's great military families.
The bill also includes agreed-upon funding for other critical national priorities. This bill includes $465 million for the Merida Initiative -- a partnership with Mexico and nations in Central America to crack down on violent drug trafficking gangs. The bill includes nearly $2.7 billion to help ensure that any state facing a disaster like the recent flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest has access to needed resources. This bill includes a measured expansion of unemployment insurance benefits with a reasonable work requirement. And this bill holds overall discretionary spending within the sensible limits that I requested.
The bill is a result of close collaboration between my administration and members of both parties on Capitol Hill. I appreciate the hard work of my Cabinet -- especially the leaders of Defense and State, and Veterans Affairs, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as OMB. I want to thank House and Senate leadership and leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. I am particularly grateful to Congressmen Boehner, Hoyer, Obey, and Lewis. And I want to thank members who worked hard for the GI Bill expansion -- especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.
This bill shows the American people that even in an election year, Republicans and Democrats can come together to stand behind our troops and their families.
Thank you for coming.
END 9:53 A.M. EDT