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A U.S. military spokesman, responding to a query about the soldiers, was incredulous. "Just so I understand this clearly, you saw U.S. soldiers at a nightclub in downtown Baghdad outside of the Green Zone in uniform drinking and dancing?" asked Tech. Sgt. Chris Stagner.It will be a public relations nightmare for the U.S. Army to punish them, but they'll find a way.
Club manager Salah Hassan said Thursday's visit was not exceptional. "The Americans come here four or five times a week," he said. "They buy drinks and pay for them."
Others at the club said the soldiers had been there more than once. "I love the Americans," said Amal Saad, a petite young woman with blue contact lenses and thick red lipstick. "I like it when they come here. I feel so safe."
(Part one here.)
On May 19, 2008 the DoD announced seven brigade combat teams would deploy to Iraq, a process that would "begin in the fall and continue until the end of the year."
On June 30, 2008 the DoD announced four brigades and two regimental combat teams would deploy to Iraq "in the early months of 2009".
On May 19, 2008 the DoD named four brigades to begin deploying "in the spring of 2009".
And on September 30, 2008 the DoD announced seven brigade combat teams' deployments "will begin in the winter and continue into Summer 2009."
That's one year of deployments - from Fall of 2008 through summer, 2009. With each serving 12 month tours, the total number of Brigades in Iraq at the end of the period would be 22 (ignoring for this discussion the Regimental Combat Teams).
And how many are there now?
According to this Washington Post report from November, 2008, there are 14:
Gen. David H. Petraeus has decided to reduce the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 15 to 14 about six weeks earlier than planned, as a result of dramatically lower violence there, Pentagon officials said yesterday.Very nice. So one of the 22 Brigades from the standby talent pool (the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain from the June 30 announcement) was sent to Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
Petraeus and Odierno oversaw the "surge" of five combat brigades into Iraq last year, bringing the total to 20. That number was lowered to 15 as of July, after major improvements in security.
Then in February, President Obama was able to announce that the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (see September 30 announcement) was also heading for Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
Which leaves 20. I'm no math whiz (and maybe some of the Brigades "don't count" for some reason or other), but unless Obama names six or seven more Brigades to be "diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan" real fast his drawdown is going to result in an increased number of Brigades in Iraq...
Actually, that many Brigades to "divert" is a potential public relations bonanza for President Bush to leave his successor (note that that person's identity was unknown at the time of the set-up), so given this news:
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama has called former President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to brief them on his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq....I'd have to hope a simple "thanks, dude!" was included somewhere in there.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says Obama called al-Maliki from Air Force One on his way to Camp Lejeune (lih-ZHOON') for a speech announcing his troop withdrawal plan. Gibbs says Obama called Bush from the Marine Corps Base in North Carolina, shortly before going on stage to lay out his plan.
Gibbs said Obama called the former president as a courtesy.
Back in September, 2008, the Seattle-Tacoma News Tribune reported that the newest Stryker Brigade was (almost) ready for action in Iraq...
Fort Lewis 5th Brigade almost ready for battle
The Army's seventh and final Stryker brigade is in the home stretch of its buildup to enter the U.S. fighting forces.
When that's done, it will be the fourth Stryker unit built at Fort Lewis.
And it will further cement the reputation of the medium-weight, highly mobile combat brigades. They faced skepticism from no less than then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - doubts that were quickly overcome after the original brigade left Fort Lewis five years ago for the proving grounds of Iraq.
For the just-completed exercise, the brigade picked up on training that previous brigades have used to prepare for typical missions in Iraq.
Like previous Stryker brigades, the 5th Brigade has put dozens of its troops through intensive, 10-month Arabic language training. They were tested in exercises last month where they had to help their commanders negotiate with native-speaker role players at Fort Lewis' urban training center, Leschi Town."This is the only way our brigade logistics can really be tested," 5th Brigade commander, Col. Harry Tunnell told the News Tribune. "These are things we have to do in Iraq, but that are really hard to do in the United States."
Tunnell has added his own adaptations as well. He sent senior sergeants to intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., so that each of his infantry companies could do more analysis work that would typically be done at the battalion level, further up the chain of command.
And to give his companies more know-how when it comes to bargaining with the mukhtars and sheiks they'll encounter in Iraq, he sent senior sergeants for training in the art of negotiation.
That focus was born out of his own experiences on his last deployment to Iraq, when he commanded the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and jumped into northern Iraq in March 2003."The Army hasn't made an official announcement", the Tribune reported, "but the 5th Brigade is expected to be in the mix for duty in the Middle East in the latter half of next year."
In fact, two days later the DoD announced:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 825
September 30, 2008
DoD Announces Iraq Deployments
The Department of Defense announced today additional major units scheduled to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The announcement involves one corps headquarters, one division headquarters, one Marine expeditionary force headquarters and seven brigade combat teams consisting of approximately 26,000 people. The deployment window for these units will begin in the winter and continue into Summer 2009.
Specific units receiving deployment orders include:
Brigade combat teams:
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Ft. Bliss, Texas
4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, N.C.
5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Ft. Lewis, Wash.
1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, N.C.
3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Ft. Lewis, Wash.
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Ft. Riley, Kan.
In the weeks that followed, and as a result of gains achieved over the previous year, more Provinces were turned over to Iraqi control, small "Task Forces" were assuming control over areas previously watched by multiple Brigades, and Brigades were departing Iraq without replacements moving in (see links embedded above). The Status Of Forces Agreement and Strategic Framework Agreement were signed (originally available on the White House web page, both documents have been removed from public view there by the Obama Administration), the drawdown was planned, American units were departing Iraq weeks ahead of their original schedule and others scheduled to replace them tapped for Afghanistan instead. But all these events of the final months of the Bush Administration occurred with little to no attention from the American media.
Fast forward to February 17, 2009, when headlines announced President Obama's Afghanistan Surge - Barack Obama diverts 17,000 soldiers from Iraq to Afghanistan:
Mr Obama indicated that the units being sent to Afghanistan had been earmarked for Iraq, saying the drawdown of US forces there "allows us the flexibility to increase our presence in Afghanistan"."The Afghanistan Surge" would actually be just two units and support personnel. The official DoD announcement revealed that one of them would be the 5th Stryker Brigade:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 102-09Of course, "intensive, 10-month Arabic language training" and "exercises... where they had to help their commanders negotiate with native-speaker role players" were now useless - but if they were no longer needed in Iraq, so be it.
February 17, 2009
DoD Announces Afghanistan Force Deployment
Pursuant to President Obama's decision today, Secretary Gates ordered the deployment of two additional combat units, totaling more than 12,000 troops, to Afghanistan. The 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), from Camp Lejeune, N.C., with approximately 8,000 Marines will deploy to Afghanistan in late Spring 2009.
The 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy approximately 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan in mid-summer 2009. This Stryker Brigade and the MEB will deploy to increase the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Approximately 5,000 additional troops to support these combat forces will receive deployment orders at a later date.
Besides, CNN reported, Americans were wildly enthusiastic about the new President's plan:
A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans support President Barack Obama's plan to send 17,000 more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan.Indeed. "Let me say this as plainly as I can," the President dramatically announced, "By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." That provides an enterprising young reporter a great opportunity to ask exactly how many troops in Iraq have seen combat over the past year - but don't expect one to do so any time soon.
Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the poll say they support Obama's plan to beef up U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with 36 percent opposing the move.
"Obama's plan for more troops wins twice as much support as the surge in troop levels in Iraq won when George W. Bush first unveiled that plan in 2007," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "The Afghanistan plan is more popular than the Iraq surge because the war in Afghanistan is more popular."
"The survey's Thursday release comes one day before Obama is expected to travel to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to announce he'll withdraw most combat troops from Iraq within 19 months."
Certainly some have seen combat - and certainly there's still a need for Stryker Brigade Combat Teams there. Otherwise the Obama Administration - with massive media coverage of his "ending combat" announcement - wouldn't quietly be substituting identical Brigades for the ones who have been "switched to Afghanistan" as part of his wildly popular surge:
Gen. Odierno will receive a Stryker Brigade to replace the incoming replacement brigade diverted to Afghanistan just a week ago. That means that he will continue to maintain the current level of two Stryker brigades in Iraq. The light armored vehicles are favored by military commanders for their mobility as a quick reaction force while providing greater protection for the troops.Hopefully there's still time to get them to that 10-month Arabic Language school. That little tidbit of information (which if accurate, exposes everything you've heard about troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two weeks as an absolute hoax on the American public) can be found buried deep in this blog entry from ABC.
Instant update: the original claim from ABC has been 'disappeared' without explanation from their web page. Here's what it says now:
ABC News has also learned that Gen. Odierno will continue to maintain a Stryker Brigade presence in Iraq through the upcoming elections as he had requested. There are currently two Stryker Brigades in Iraq. When their tours end later this year, only one of those departing brigades will be replaced by an incoming Stryker Brigade.And here's the Google cache (while it lasts) of the original version.
Update two: The Google cache link now goes to the modified version, so here's a screen grab of the original (click image for larger version):
Update three: the ABC story is back to its original version - which was correct all along. Details here.
For more entertainment, you can read his Wikipedia bio - whoever wrote it worships him like a God. ("He is a popular interview subject appearing as an insightful expert with ground experience or as an often humorous raconteur of his various misfortunes and safety tips on shows as diverse as Oprah, Conan O'Brien, CNN, Fox, BBC, ABC, CBS, NBC and others" - uh, encyclopedic, much?) The author is anonymous, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover his initials are RYP.
I've mentioned her before...
Her father was shelled on the battlefields of France on the last day of World War One.The crazy son is me, of course. (And she sent enough brownies to Baghdad to fatten the whole team.)
Her future husband was in the Army during World War Two, and so were four of her brothers (plus a bunch of cousins). One sat out the end of the war in a German stalag - then served with another brother through Korea and Vietnam.
And at this point in her life her crazy son has gone off to play in Iraq twice, so far.
Today is her birthday.
Have a happy one, mom. Love you, thank you. You're my hero.
If Amnesty International and the Red Cross are permitted to see the actual circumstances, then I believe that Guantanamo, different than most, can stay open with a greater understanding in the world as to why the individuals are being held there.Welcome to the brave new world.
Not to be confused with the bad, old world:
On June 21, 2007, the Helsinki Commission held a hearing on "Guantánamo: Implications for U.S. Human Rights Leadership."Of course, now we know the abuses were all just the work of a few bad apples... All done!
Chairman Alcee L. Hastings presided over the hearing, joined by Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, and Commissioner Rep. Mike McIntyre. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, a former Helsinki Commission Chairman, also participated. Prepared statements were also submitted by Commissioners Senator Christopher J. Dodd and Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis.
During the hearing, Chairman Hastings, Co-Chairman Cardin, and Majority Leader Hoyer all argued for closing the detention facility.
Chairman Hastings said he could not believe "that the American federal prison system cannot try 380 people." He argued that the United States "should take every prisoner out of Guantánamo, no matter his or her status, and move them to a federal prison in the United States of America [and then] either release persons who are not charged, or charge them, try them and confine them in an appropriate federal prison."
The Status of Forces Agreement and Strategic Framework Agreement with Iraq have vanished from the White House web page - but they're apparently still being implemented.
It's official: any combat forces in Iraq after August 2010 will be called something else:
President Obama’s planned Iraq troop drawdown would leave the bulk of American forces in place until early next year while some combat units would remain in place in new roles even beyond a declared August 2010 target for withdrawal, administration officials said Wednesday.
The plan would maintain relatively high troop levels through Iraq’s parliamentary elections, to be held in December, before beginning in earnest to meet the August 2010 target for removing combat forces, the officials said. Even after August 2010, as many as 50,000 of the 142,000 troops now in Iraq would remain, including some combat units reassigned as “Advisory Training Brigades” or “Advisory Assistance Brigades,” the administration and Pentagon officials said.
Officers warned that even as overall troop levels dropped, there would be fresh American units deploying to Iraq, both to replace those whose tours end and to reshape the force into one better suited for training and advising Iraqis. While most of the troops remaining after August 2010 would be in support roles, some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions.
“I think a limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, summarizing past descriptions of the new mission offered by administration and Defense Department officials.
Moveon is on board:
Word of Mr. Obama’s impending decision generated little of the anger that has flavored the Iraq debate for years. Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, a group that has strongly opposed the war, said activists were willing to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt....but Nancy Pelosi is eager to prove she's more than just a Pavlovian trained seal, and in fact understands fractions:
“People have confidence that the president is committed to ending the war,” Mr. Ruben said. “This is basically what he promised in the election.”
“I don’t know what the justification is for 50,000,” Representative Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat and the House speaker, said on MSNBC. Noting that she wanted to hear the president’s plan, she added, “I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.”
A couple key points for the record: The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) - the treaties detailing the ongoing drawdown in Iraq - have been disappeared from the White House web page. (Curously, President Obama's Iraq plan still says "Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.") The treaties are also not mentioned in current media coverage of President Obama's planned Iraq drawdown.
Then-candidate Barack Obama abandoned any pretense of withdrawing troops from Iraq on a rigid timeline in the summer of 2008. If this point was ever acknowledged by the media they've obviously since forgotten.
Bloomberg gets the headline right: Gates Says Families Can Decide on Photos at Return of War Dead:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he will allow photographs of fallen American troops returning to the U.S. if their families agree.It remains to be seen whether this will result in badgering of those families by the press.
Whether the media should be allowed to attend this event and photograph the returning caskets is a decision that “should be made by those most directly affected on an individual basis, by the families of the fallen,” Gates said.
CNN puts a different spin on the story:
Official: Pentagon allows coverage of war coffinsSo does the AP:
The Pentagon will lift its ban on media coverage of the flag-draped coffins of war victims arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
Pentagon Lifts Media Ban on Photos of War Dead...and the New York Times (Pentagon to Allow Photos of Soldiers’ Coffins), and the Washington Post (U.S. to End Ban on Media Coverage of Returning Military Coffins)...
News organizations will be allowed to photograph the homecomings of America's war dead under a new Pentagon policy, defense and congressional officials said Thursday.
I've acknowledged previously that the argument "leaves President Obama in an awkward position - supporting those who defend the nation or giving in to those whose ongoing messianic worship could be critical to his administration's goals". While some might argue that passing the option to families is a way of avoiding that decision there's really no argument against Secretary Gates' point: "I think that foremost in our thinking about issues like this should be the families and giving them choices.”
For instance, if a reporter asked me for photographs of a family member's coffin for the front page of tomorrow's paper, I might choose to feed them their teeth. Others may respond more or less graciously - this is America. (And since CNN, the New York Times, et al have declared victory, apparently no damage has been done there.)
Conveniently overlooked in the manufactured uproar over this issue has been the fact that the media have always been able to attend the various memorial services for fallen troops. (Hey, if Fred Phelps and his offspring could do it, they could too - though ironically, unless Klan Phelps did show up the coverage was rare.) If it's true - as proponents of a total lifting of the ban maintained - that Americans are actually ignorant of the fact that their countrymen are dying in the nation's wars, the blame never fell on the Pentagon, the Administration, or the families of the fallen.
Elsewhere: Tom Ricks and I are on the same wavelength here.
...nowhere on Earth are there people more insensitive than a TV crew trying to get a good shot. I speak as someone who has been stepped on, elbowed, and camera-clobbered by those guys.(He is more gracious than I. At least a bit.)
Dover (by Gold Star dad Robert Stokely)
Sure, the Reuters' headline says "Exclusive: Lawyer says Guantanamo abuse worse since Obama", but the key point is this:
He [human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour, the subject of the headline] stressed the mistreatment did not appear to be directed from above, but was an initiative undertaken by frustrated U.S. army and navy jailers on the ground.Just a few bad apples, you see. It's not like the President can be responsible for anything and everything the lowest ranking soldier in the Army does, right?
President Obama is expected to announce as early as Friday that he will remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by August 2010, three months later than promised during his campaign, U.S. officials said.Of course, they're all going to Afghanistan.
But those are just the combat troops:
The Obama withdrawal plan would leave a residual force of as many as 50,000 support troops that would advise Iraqi forces and perform other security missions, the officials said.Some enterprising young reporter should ask if those non-combat troops would have weapons, and if so, why?
And if a group of the non-combat troops exchanges shots with a group of non-Americans in Iraq, what will that be called?
And will they get combat pay and bonuses?
U.S.-Iraqi Effort Targets Al-Qaeda's Last StrongholdMosul:
BAGHDAD -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun a new military offensive in northern Iraq aimed at rooting out al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgents, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Sunday.
The offensive -- dubbed Operation New Hope -- has netted 84 suspects in Iraq's third-largest city, Mosul, and surrounding towns, Iraqi Brig. Gen. Saeed Ahmed al-Jubouri said.
American soldiers were attacked, and one was reported killed, by Iraqi insurgents wearing police uniforms in Mosul on Tuesday, making it at least the third attack in the restive northern city in the past two months by Iraqis wearing the uniforms of security officers.Mosul. Where have I heard that before...
The soldier’s death was reported by news agencies. Earlier, a statement from the United States military had said that four soldiers were wounded and an Iraqi interpreter was killed. The Americans were on patrol, inspecting a police checkpoint, when two men dressed as police officers opened fire on them, according to an Iraqi official in Mosul.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama may have no choice but to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to buy a new fleet of White House helicopters, defense analysts say.Plus they provide jobs for Americans, right?
The existing 19 helicopters built by United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft are more than 30 years old, and several have broken down on presidential trips. But most worrisome is that the current fleet does not meet the communication and protection needs of the White House, according to military analysts.
Obama on Monday said the helicopter he has now seems "perfectly adequate," adding that he never had one before and didn't see a need for a more costly aircraft, but "maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it."
"The president's comments are certainly understandable given the level of White House scrutiny regarding the compensation and travel perks for bank executives and auto manufacturers," said Jim McAleese, a Virginia-based defense analyst.
And during an interview Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterated the president's sentiment, saying "we don't need any new helicopters at the White House."
But Loren Thompson, a defense consultant for the Lexington Institute in Virginia, disagrees. The current presidential helicopter is "dangerously outdated," he said. Thompson's clients include Lockheed Martin Corp., the prime contractor on the new helicopters, though he is not working for the company on the program.
Cost overruns and delays have plagued Lockheed's helicopter program due partly to aggressive plans by the Bush administration to incorporate anti-missile defenses, communications equipment, hardened hulls and other advanced capabilities on the aircraft following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"If President Obama is serious about righting the wrongs of the Bush years and winning the war against terrorists, here is a good place to start."
Stop me if you've heard this one before. (But you haven't. So hear me out.) Three retired military senior officers walk into
a bar an editorial page - a USAF Colonel and General and an Army General, and ask President Obama to right the wrongs of the Bush administration...
Capt. Hill and his officers interrogated the detainees. Worried about the safety of his men, Capt. Hill reportedly made verbal threats, allowed his first sergeant to sit on the prisoners' chests demanding answers, and is even said to have fired his pistol near the blindfolded heads of prisoners to trick them into thinking one of their comrades had been killed. Capt. Hill was soon brought up on charges for using these methods to learn about future ambushes. The prisoners were not physically hurt by Capt. Hill. <...> Our rules of engagement punish servicemembers for nonlethal acts, such as threatening captured enemy agents. In this bitter war, the armed forces have imposed strict rules of engagement upon our forces while our enemy beheads and tortures noncombatants. Strict enforcement against our forces wins us no mercy from the terrorists. Just ask Daniel Pearl.
Meanwhile, we are asking a lot from our people. They must fight the enemy with great restraint. Even the appearance of transgression of the rules of engagement is punished severely by military courts. It is time for a public debate regarding the double standards that bind our hands in battle but impose no restraint on the enemy.
Our soldiers are fighting under the most difficult conditions and are being second-guessed by military lawyers and bureaucrats in snug offices in safe, rear areas. We need to remember that life is a lot messier at the front.
And the public must demand reform. Capt. Hill's honorable status should be restored and his case should be the last in a string of prosecutorial overzealousness that began in the Bush years.
If President Obama is serious about righting the wrongs of the Bush years and winning the war against terrorists, here is a good place to start.
I had to check the date to be sure this story found in the Dawn Patrol yesterday was current - it is:
A Green Bay soldier told the Army today that he won’t go back to Iraq because he believes the war is immoral.
Walker said he hasn’t pursued conscientious objector status because it would be futile.
“The Army’s definition is a little different than mine,” Walker said. “The Army’s definition is that you have to be opposed to war and all its forms. That’s not me. I absolutely support using military force to respond or retaliate to attack. By their standards, you’re not allowed to object to one conflict over another.”
Walker enlisted in the Army in 2002 and spent a year in Iraq as an infantryman beginning in February 2004. When his initial enlistment ended, he joined the Army Reserve unit headquartered in Buffalo, Minn. The unit was activated in July and deployed to Samarra, Iraq, in October.
A side note, there's an interesting contrast between how the Green Bay paper (source of quote above) covered this story and how MSNBC reported it for a national audience. First, here's one more quote from the Green Bay account:
Lt. Col. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said Walker did not follow military procedure by filling out paperwork to list himself as a conscientious objector....so you've got quotes from the Soldier and "the Army", each stating their position in their own words. Well done.
“His unit is counting on him,” Banks said. “He’s actually turning his back on his battle buddies. By just not reporting, you’re letting down your teammates. When you raise your right hand to defend the country, you knew there was a time you could possibly be deployed.”
Now (again via the Dawn Patrol) watch MSNBC/the AP work their magic:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A US Army spokesman says a Green Bay soldier stationed out of Minnesota is "letting his battle buddies down" by refusing to return to Iraq. Lt. Col. Nathan Banks says leave is granted on a rotational basis -- so if Army Reserve Spc. Kristoffer Walker doesn't go back, some other soldier could be denied leave.Among other things, all those annoying details about only wanting to fight the wars that meet his personal approval are AWOL from this version. All done!
Walker refused to leave yesterday at the end of his two-week leave. He says he's disillusioned with the US role in Iraq.
He says he served one tour after the Sept. 11 attacks and re-enlisted as a reservist. But he says he has since concluded the Iraq war is "an illegitimate, unnecessary campaign" and he shouldn't have to take part.
The New York Times: Iraq Museum That Was Looted Reopens, Far From Whole
BAGHDAD — Well over half the exhibition halls in Iraq’s National Museum are closed, darkened and in disrepair. And yet the museum, whose looting in 2003 became a symbol of the chaos that followed the American invasion, officially reopened on Monday.The "looting" story should be a symbol - of everything that was wrong about news coverage of Iraq. (Especially New York Times coverage of Iraq.) But to this day the original reports are often quoted as though they were true, and even stories like today's somehow fail to mention the significant errors and outright fabrications reported initially as fact.
For years now the Early Bird - the DoD's (password-protected) open-source news aggregate "prepared by the Current News Service of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs" (Full description from the site: "The Current News Early Bird is a daily compilation of published items and commentary concerning significant defense and defense-related national security issues. It aims to represent how the public, Congress and the press see military and defense programs and issues. The Early Bird is an internal management tool intended to serve the informational needs of senior DoD officials in the continuing assessment of defense policies, programs and actions.") has been subdivided into various sections; "Iraq", "Afghanistan", "Terrorism", "Army", "Navy" etc., etc.
For the better part of the past five years Iraq has been the first section, followed by Afghanistan, then others. More recently, Afghanistan has been at the top of the list.
But today's version reflects a new order. Leading off:
1. Marine One Upgrade Now Looks Less Likely
(Washington Post)...R. Jeffrey Smith
The prospects for building a new fleet of high-tech presidential helicopters darkened yesterday, after the new commander in chief called the costly Bush administration effort an example of military procurement "gone amok" and said he thinks the existing White House helicopter fleet "seems perfectly adequate."
2. Helicopter Plan Is Excessive, Obama And McCain Agree
(New York Times)...Peter Baker
One thing known before Monday was that John McCain would never have a new Marine One helicopter at his disposal. One thing known after Monday is that Barack Obama might not either.
3. Obama Aims For A Clearer Budget
(Los Angeles Times)...Christi Parsons and Maura Reynolds
...Obama's first budget, scheduled to be released in broad outline Thursday, will include at the outset money for the Iraq war, the military buildup in Afghanistan and other expenditures. The approach is in contrast to that of the previous administration, which often tucked such costly commitments into separate spending requests that would go to Congress later.
...followed by "Detainees", then Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.All done!
ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) called on Saturday for retaliation against the United States over a U.S. tax probe into the country's biggest bank UBS that threatens prized banking secrecy....from now on we'll just call it Freedom Cheese!
The populist SVP, the country's biggest party, said Switzerland should not take in any detainees from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the Swiss government said last month it could consider to help shut the camp down.
"Call me a softie", says Tom Ricks, "but I don't understand why this murder case involving American troops hasn't gotten more media attention in this country. This seems to me worse than the tortures at Abu Ghraib."
The accused has since been found guilty and sentenced to life with possibility of parole.
[Leahy’s civilian lawyer] said the government will likely seek Leahy’s cooperation in murder cases against two other soldiers — Master Sgt. John Hatley and Sgt. 1st Class Joseph P. Mayo — who also are accused of shooting the detainees.So let's re-write Ricks' statement into a question: "Why hasn't this case gotten more (or equal) media attention in America than Abu Ghraib?"
Quick update: Bonus points if your answer includes "Brandon Neely".
And - time's up. Twenty four hours and no one offered the answer, which is simple: The entire purpose of media fixation on Abu Ghraib was the hope that it could end George Bush's Presidency. George Bush is no longer president. Thus, American reporters no longer have to pretend to give a damn what happens to Iraqis.
Recent/related: We Have Met the Enemy (II)
Source of quote: "The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards" ...found.
It's a fine quote on its own, and obviously applicable to various issues of today. (Campus ROTC bans, etc.) But it's also remarkable when viewed in context, as then-Lieutenant General David Petraeus explained a few months prior to his 2007 tour of duty in Iraq:
The study of history and reflection on what it can offer us are thus important endeavors, both for those who wear the uniform, and for those who make national policy. Indeed, there are countless admonitions about the value of soldiers also being scholars. The most famous, perhaps, was British General Sir William Butler’s remark in 1889, “The nation that insists on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man,” he wrote, “is liable to find its fighting done by fools, and its thinking done by cowards.” That caution is familiar to all of us; however, of relevance to us today is the context in which Butler offered it, and which I didn’t know, in fact, until preparing for this presentation. Butler’s admonition was, in fact, offered in a biography of Charles Gordon, while writing about the need for a military commander to be prepared to lead civil reconstruction after a battlefield victory.You'll find the actual (Butler) source document linked at Chap's (see Chap's comment #3), and also that which contains the Petraeus quote.
The headline reads U.S. Marines find Iraq tactics don't work in Afghanistan, but the story says:
DELARAM, Afghanistan — On a sunset patrol here in late December, U.S. Marines spotted a Taliban unit trying to steal Afghan police vehicles at a checkpoint. In a flash, the Marines turned to pursue, driving off the main road and toward the gunfire coming from the mountain a half mile away.
But their six-ton vehicles were no match for the Taliban pickups. The mine-resistant vehicles and heavily armored Humvees bucked and swerved as drivers tried to maneuver them across fields that the Taliban vehicles raced across. The Afghan police trailed behind in unarmored pick-up trucks, impatient about their allies' weighty pace.
The Marines, weighted down with 60 pounds of body armor each, struggled to climb up Saradaka Mountain. Once at the top, it was clear to everyone that the Taliban would get away. Second Lt. Phil Gilreath, 23, of Kingwood, La., called off the mission.
Body armor is critical to warding off snipers in Iraq, where Sunni Muslim insurgents once made video of American soldiers falling to well-placed sniper shots a staple of recruiting efforts. But the added weight makes Marines awkward and slow when they have to dismount to chase after Taliban gunmen in Afghanistan's rough terrain.Is excessive armor a "tactic"? The only tactic I see employed here - and it's brilliant in its obvious simplicity - is an enemy taking advantage of a congressionally-mandated weakness in their enemy.
Even the Humvees, finally carrying heavy armor after years of complaints that they did little to mitigate the impact of roadside explosives in Iraq, are proving a liability. Marines say the heavy armor added for protection in Iraq is too rough on the vehicles' transmissions in Afghanistan's much hillier terrain, and the vehicles frequently break down — so often in fact that before every patrol Marine units here designate one Humvee as the tow vehicle.
The moment of supreme irony comes from a commenter (code named "puffypants") there:
God bless the Marines.(The story is from January 11, 2009. No doubt our tactics have subsequently changed and the procurement system has been made flawless since then.)
George Bush' crony procurement system and the military penchant for fubar with regards to tactics, strategy, and logistics/equipment will make them need that blessing more than normal.
WTF would we have done in North Africa in 1942 if SOP was so important over successful prosecution of the mission? If GWB had been president then we'd all be speaking German and Rommel would own the pyramids. Can someone get our marines a 1944 Dodge Powerwagen, please?
Keep CJ away from Brandon Neely. (And for the luvahgawd keep Neely away from buffets...)
And here's an earlier post from CJ on the same topic, in which the subject matter expert himself appears in comments: "Also if you think I am such a liar PROVE me wrong, which you and know one else can."
Except (whoops) CJ wasn't calling him a liar. He was assuming he was telling the truth, and saying he should be punished for the crimes he confessed to.
The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee tackled the controversial subject of competing rights on Wednesday, debating whether to impose limits on protest marches at funerals and memorial services.
The bill was drafted in response to the activities of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, whose members believe that the deaths of military personnel overseas are the result of God's anger toward the US for its acceptance of homosexuality.
Church members regularly picket outside military funerals, carrying signs bearing slogans including "God Hates Your Tears", "Thank God for IED's" (Improvised Explosive Devices) and "God Hates Fags."
The committee is considering whether to impose a 300-foot buffer zone between protesters and funeral activities, as well as a time limit that would dictate that no protests could take place within an hour of the start or conclusion of such services.
Supporters of the bill say they are not trying to restrict anyone's right to free speech, but are instead trying to preserve a family's right to mourn the loss of a loved one in peace.
But Alan Lichtenstein of the Las Vegas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says such legislation would trample protesters' rights to free speech, and would give a limited number of people the power to determine who can express themselves and which messages can be expressed.
"You will have funeral directors and families or whatever saying, 'This message is disruptive and this message is not,' and that's clearly a content-based regulation," Lichtenstein said.
Lawmakers will move the bill to workshops for further debate and possible revision.
"This bill does not prevent protests," Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, who sponsored the bill, told members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. "We aren't seeking to stifle anyone from speaking their minds."
The bill applies to all funeral and memorial services but is supported by military and veterans groups that want to protect services from disruption.
"These are types of things families don't need," said Sgt. Maj. John Hefner of the Nevada Army National Guard. "This bill would help discourage that."
Hefner described the funeral for Staff Sgt. Sean Gaul of Reno, killed Jan. 9, 2008, in combat in Iraq.
Protesters from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, picketed the funeral and were surrounded by a larger pro-military group that held American flags and blocked the Westboro group from the view of the funeral-goers.
Hefner, a casualty assistance specialist who spent 20 days with Gaul's family, said news that the Kansas group planned to protest was very stressful.
"This bill would help protect the families' rights," he said.
A similar bill died in the 2007 Nevada Legislature because Assembly members said it violated the constitutional rights of the protesters to exercise free speech.
Let's hope Nevada shows their support for the troops and it passes this time.
For your daily roundup of information on the War on Terror, Military news via Milbloggers and other sources can be found here.
Guest post from Gold Star Father, Robert Stokely:
Met with Under Secretary of Defense, Arthur J. Myers, for 30 minutes today. Good meeting regarding the Dover Policy, but we need to keep the letters going to Secretary of Defense asking that the policy continue to prevent media access and imaging of the arrival / departure of our fallen.
And, I got another very rare opportunity, at least for someone of my standing - a personal tour of the Army Chief of Staff's Office and a 15 minute one on one meeting. Some may not know this, but General George Casey Jr. is a Gold Star Son, his father having died when his helicopter was shot down in Viet Nam (General Casey was then 21 and had just received his commission). It was to say the least, an honor and privilege to have this opportunity. Truth is, my "boy" Mike's footprints and shoulders carried me in the door.
Thank you Robert.
Now let's keep the letters going to Secretary of Defense asking that the policy continue to prevent media access and imaging of the arrival / departure of our fallen.
UPDATE II: Some Soldier's Mom weighs in here.
(Looks like long-term employment, at least. Is that a good thing or bad?)
Gotta love Pelton's response to "the Army's" by-point refutation of his claims: "You're attacking the messenger!"
No doubt he'd say the same about this.
But maybe Men's Journal will care, if you'd like to express your thoughts on the type of crap Men's Journal is putting out you can contact them here mailto:email@example.com
Round-up of milbloggers thoughts (Note comments are a must read, alot of action going on there, even threats by Pelton:
And keep checking back with Old Blue at Bill and Bob's Afghan Adventure
More to come.
Okay - Mr G's update: Who gives a rat's ass about a magazine designed to sell hair gel to "men"? Part of that equation is making sniveling little cubicle dwellers feel like they're hot shot studmuffins who just need the right cologne to finally score a date with that hot chick from accounting, and a big part of that equation - along with advice on white water rafting gear they're never going to use - is making them feel superior to (and more "manly" than) guys like Lt Jones, he of the "lower-tier liberal arts college" who couldn't get a job and is therefore "stuck in
Iraq Afghanistan". (Sound familiar?) So readers of "Men's Journal" get to the end of that story convinced of their ongoing superiority to anyone who doesn't get a "Hawaiian Shirt Friday", turn the page, start drooling over the chick in a Bulova watch ad and forget all about it.
Let them dream. Turn the page.
And (damn I hate to update after that) - a final point for the record. "The Army's" response is not the Army's response. (Which is why I used quotes around "the Army" above.) As much as the Men's Journal crew would like to believe 'the Army' responded to them (adds a bit to the macho mystique to be standin' up to the man!), the response is from two individuals who make no claim whatsoever to be speaking on behalf of the Army. The layers of ignorance here are astounding.
And (hell, I just can't let it go just yet - especially since I just quoted this for Presidents Day) has anyone ever read Teddy Roosevelt's Sorbonne speech? The part after "It's not the critic who counts... the credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" ... who knows "his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat" goes like this:
Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for 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. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."Credit the folks who created Men's Journal with coming up with the key to the wallets of the tepid-souled cynics, fops and other assorted sordid figures Roosevelt was describing there.
The New York Times: Obama's War on Terror May Resemble Bush's in Some Areas.
From what I've seen so far those areas include Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, and a small part of Cuba - but there may be others.
As a result, those who wondered how our new President would respond to threats may get an early answer.
Being military, I have often had the occasion to work closely with my American counterparts over the course of my career as well as with those from the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Ghana, Turkey, Bangladesh, India and a number of smaller nations.
Each country brings something different to the table and each situation has its pros and cons when it comes to how closely we work together. As soldiers, of course, we always pass along every bit of information we gain from these experiences, whether good or bad.
Because of their sheer numbers, I have had the opportunity to work closely with U.S. forces on each of my deployments to Afghanistan. I know there are some Canadians who view the U.S. military and foreign policy with suspicion. But from my own experiences, I am wholeheartedly thankful to call them allies and brothers-in-arms. <...> On my second tour in Afghanistan in 2005, I didn't work with U.S. forces as much as I did other NATO troops and I quickly realized that I missed the professionalism that the Americans bring to the table.
On a couple of occasions, for example, soldiers from other nations were caught sleeping in the guard towers overlooking Camp Julian. Doesn't give you a warm and fuzzy feeling when the people guarding you are sleeping on the job.
Russell Storring is a sergeant with the Canadian Army, and has been a signals operator for the 17 years he has been in the military. He completed his third tour of duty in Afghanistan in November 2008, having served there previously in 2005 and 2003. He also served with the UN in Rwanda in 1994. His columns give a first-person account from the field of the life of a soldier.
This is a great read, and nice to hear how professional our U.S. Soldiers are in the field of battle. You wouldn't know it by reading crap like this from Robert Pelton. (Prepare to be outraged.)
Update: if you liked to express your thoughts on the type of crap Men's Journal is putting out you can cantact them here mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
and here's a MilBloggers Outrage Round-up
Back to the Canadians...
The Candadians have been doing a fanatastic job in Afghanistan.
If your interested in what the Canadian have been doing you can keep up with them from those below.All done!
The Miami Herald joins the New York Times in demanding paparazzi access to photograph military coffins arriving at Dover:
Maybe now we'll see what we have not been allowed.Not wanting to be left behind, the LA Times piles on:
Meaning coffins draped in our national colors, filled with the remains of our honored dead.
A ban on showing the return of our military dead is a disservice to them and to us. Obama should lift it.But among other things they don't want their readers to know:
Veterans groups are adamant -- the flag-draped caskets of fallen troops should not be turned into yet another photo op....and of those who responded to a military.com poll, 70% oppose allowing paparazzi access to Dover.
Both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Tuesday condemned a proposal to lift restrictions that now prevent the press from photographing caskets as they arrive home from wars overseas.
Obviously the argument against denying photographs of the coffins of the nation's fallen for use on front pages, t-shirts, bumper stickers, posters, or coffee mugs carries little weight with those who serve, but this leaves President Obama in an awkward position - supporting those who defend the nation or giving in to those whose ongoing messianic worship could be critical to his administration's goals.
Previously: The Return.
Sorry - can't let this pass without comment:
I'm sure the fresh U.S. troops are also anxious to get their barrels hot, but coalition soldiers will have to show restraint to avoid killing civilians. The U.N. announced today that civilian deaths spiked 40 percent last year.I've got just a few issues with that. First, "I'm sure the fresh U.S. troops are also anxious to get their barrels hot" - I wouldn't be. Some of the juniors might be looking forward to earning a combat patch, but I'd bet the majority of troops would prefer to get to the end of the deployment without firing a shot. Which brings us to "but coalition soldiers will have to show restraint to avoid killing civilians". Exactly what the hell does that mean? Have unrestrained soldiers until now been killing civilians to get their barrels hot? That's certainly what it seems the author is claiming. (Maybe someone's been reading a bit too much Nick Meo.)
Besides being deeply unethical, killing civilians hurts the mission. Afghanistan is in many ways a propaganda war aimed at the Afghan people. Killing them, even by accident, won't help win that part of the conflict.
"The U.N. announced today that civilian deaths spiked 40 percent last year."
KABUL – The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan's worsening conflict jumped 40 percent to a new high last year, and more than half of the deaths were inflicted by Taliban insurgents and other militants, the United Nations said Tuesday.And I'd add that the number of civilian deaths the U.N. could attribute to coalition forces would be approximately zero if "the Taliban insurgents and other militants" weren't shooting at Afghan and other coalition forces. Just a thought.
The report said insurgents increasingly use roadside bombs, car bombs and suicide bombers in attacks that are "undertaken regardless of the impact on civilians." In the latest such attack, the U.S. military reported a roadside bomb killed five civilians Monday in Kandahar province.
Two of the worst civilian tolls from insurgent attacks came in a February suicide bombing at a dog fight in Kandahar that the U.N. said killed 67 civilians and a car bombing at the Indian Embassy last July that killed 55 civilians.
Finally, "Besides being deeply unethical, killing civilians hurts the mission. Afghanistan is in many ways a propaganda war aimed at the Afghan people. Killing them, even by accident, won't help win that part of the conflict." Thank you, Albert F. Einstein. Is there someone somewhere arguing in favor of killing civilians and this is a counter argument?All done!
Obama is getting his surge on
Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday.and a reminder
The new troops are the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape under President George Bush but has been given impetus by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan.
“This deployment was planned under Bush, but Obama will own it. His rhetoric about this region has always been aggressive (see Pakistan: bombing it) and he’s long talked of doubling down on troop strength in Afghanistan. Now Obama’s getting his wish and the wheels of war are spinning more quickly than they were just a few months ago. What happens this spring will set the direction and tone of Obama’s war.” But, of course, it’s our war — just as it was when Bush was President.HT: Glenn
Cass has much more on Obama's No End Game"
Bouhammer, an Afghanistan vet, is taking a poll to Surge or not to surge?
The United States' presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan is only furthering the spread of terrorism and President Obama could be charged with war crimes, former Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) wrote Wednesday.Very soon Obama will understand what it's been like to be in Bush's shoes.
"Why are we killing GIs to spread terrorism?" Hollings, a longtime (though now-retired) lawmaker asked in a blog post for the Huffington Post. "The best way to stabilize is to get out. It became a matter of conscience for me years ago."
Follow-ups: Re: Another man's surge
...reason #97: "Because our freaking meteorologists are hardcore badass":
2/12/2009 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- In an instant, Senior Airman Alex Eudy went from battling the enemies of Afghanistan to battling for his life.
It was just after 1 a.m. Jan. 24. He was only two months into his first deployment after graduating from Advanced Skills Training at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in September 2008. The special operations weather team journeyman and the Marines he served with were on patrol about 30 miles from their firebase in the western province of Farah.
Behind the wheel of the fourth of four up-armored humvees, Airman Eudy and the five others in his vehicle kept their eyes peeled for variations in the road surface, exposed wires, freshly dug soil - "scab left" or "scab right" they called out. The driver adjusted his path of travel accordingly to mitigate the threat to the special operations patrol.
Then the roadway erupted.
Two 155 mm mortars and a Soviet anti-tank mine were command detonated under the front of the vehicle. The engine flew 30 feet away as the six-ton rig somersaulted three times. The concussion of the blast rendered Airman Eudy unconscious.
His personal protective gear had done its job - no puncture wounds or lacerations from flying debris. In the violence of the explosion, his helmet chinstrap had sawed through the skin on his lower jaw. Everything else seemed fine - except his legs.
When he came to, he said he was lying nearby outside the vehicle - he thought he'd been thrown out.
"My Marines told me when they pulled me out of the vehicle, they could hear the bones crunching," the 22-year-old warrior said. "Of the six of us in that vehicle, I was one of the two who were non-ambulatory."
So Airman Eudy became the casualty collection point as the Marine special ops team set a defensive perimeter and requested med-evac airlift. He didn't just lie there, Airman Eudy said. He checked his buddies and put his Combat Lifesaver first aid training to work. He checked his weapon - the 9 mm pistol was still in its holster, but his M-4 rifle had been lost in the explosion.
In the hours and days after the explosion, Alex's parents, Dale and Kathy Eudy of Highlands Ranch, Colo., spoke with Alex and others involved in the convoy, medical evacuation, treatment and travel back to the states.
Despite dozens of fractures from both knees down, the special ops weatherman kept his mission focus, Dale said. With a medical evacuation helicopter, Alex's special operations weather team mission was paramount.
"When the med-evac was inbound, Alex was telling his Marines how to use his instruments to pass critical weather data for the helicopter landing zone," Dale said.
"That's what we do - generate high-fidelity, localized, mission-tailored forecast to for ingress, employment and egress of air, land and sea forces," Alex said.
His training and discipline had earned him his gray beret, fulfilling a dream he'd held as a 17-year-old. Now it would bolster him for survival and recovery.
"When the med-evac helicopter touched down, the flight medical technician knelt down to Alex who was strapped down on the stretcher," Dale said. "'We're gonna take care of you, he said. You're going to be okay.'"
In triage later that morning, Alex said he heard the doctor saying, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The quote by Sir Edmund Burke is tattooed on Alex's back.
"That's why we're here," Alex said. "That's why special tactics is so important. We can't sit around and let evil triumph."
Less than 10 days after the explosion, Alex was lying in a waiting room in the hospital at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. -- swaddled from the knees down in bandages, bones pinned, screwed and grafted. He was surrounded by family and friends - "and everyone is Alex's friend," Kathy said.
Lt. Gen. Donny Wurster, the Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, stopped in to present the bed-ridden, post-op Airman with The Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
The only time Alex's "eyes leaked," as he put it, was when he offered tribute to his fellows who were wounded with him and to the Marines who had adopted him as one of their own.
They adopted him, as they do all special operations battlefield Airmen, because despite their high-operations tempo, these Airmen seamlessly integrate with their sister service brothers.
"We're in the field in direct contact with enemy fighters and friendly air assets, keeping them abreast of real-time conditions on the target," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Gilbert, 10th Combat Weather Squadron operations NCO in charge.
Despite the months of painful healing, rehabilitation and reliance on others, he is not dissuaded.
"Wallowing in sorrows doesn't do anybody any good," Alex said. "I'm not out of the fight. This is just a different kind of fight."
He approaches his recovery just like any other mission.
"Just like we pack our gear for a mission, I know what's going on with my treatment," he said. "I'm packing my tools for a different battlefield. As a patient, I'll never be uneducated - I'll know my treatment options and medications." He hopes his recovery will lead him to the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Alex said there is a chance he will not return to duty as a fully functioning and deployable special operations weather team member. Regardless, his special tactics brethren offer unflagging support to Alex and his family. That camaraderie - seemingly forged in the DNA of special tactics Airmen - will carry Alex down the road to recovery, he said.
"They become your family and families intertwine," Alex said. "In special tactics, you're held to a higher calling. It's something more that protects you, not only on the battlefield, but on the home front as well."
Time will tell whether Airman Eudy wins his battle to regain his former mobility. Vast challenges lay ahead, but Alex Eudy - Airman, warrior, friend - is keeping his eyes forward to win the next battle.
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL -- Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Donny Wurster, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal to Senior Airman Alex Eudy's shirt during an informal ceremony at the hospital here Feb. 3. Airman Eudy also received The Purple Heart for injuries he received during his deployment in Afghanistan. An improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle he and five other U.S. military members were traveling in Jan. 23. All six survived the attack. Airman Eudy, a special operations weatherman in the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, FL, is on the mend and in good spirits after extensive surgery to his lower legs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster)
... When even Russia tells you so
"We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism... Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence is another possible mistake. True, the state's increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent... In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated."
Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin at opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 28, 2009
... and China tells you so
BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Increased borrowing by the United States to fund its massive stimulus package could cause the depreciation of U.S. dollar-denominated assets, Chinese economists have told Xinhua.China also warns:
Being the largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities, China had reason to be concerned about that possible depreciation, the economists said.
China’s ministry of commerce officials attending the Davos forum have also spoken about the danger of "fanning protectionist sentiments" in the United States and elsewhere with "unhelpful" statements about China’s currency policies and its trade surpluses.
Earlier, U.S. president Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, told U.S. lawmakers that president Barack Obama, "backed by the conclusions of a broad range of economists - believes that China is manipulating its currency".
The remarks by Geithner - later confirmed as U.S. treasury secretary - represent a shift from president George W. Bush’s team, which avoided using the term "manipulation" in criticising China’s exchange-rate management.
While Beijing has rejected the claims outright, the pronouncements - so early in the days of the new U.S. administration - have reignited fears here that president Obama will take a tougher line on China’s trade policies.
Experts are worried that a defensive approach to China’s U.S. trade might facilitate the acceptance of what they say is a "wrong concept about the origins of the crisis" as a consensus among American political circles.
Michelle Malkin has moreAll done!
READER MATT HOLTZMANN WRITES: “Today’s Times has a front page expose’ of the secret drone base in Pakistan. It tells all, including fuel usage. This should immediately result in censure of Dianne Feinstein. She has recklessly endangered American lives once again. She should have her security clearance pulled at the very least.”Actually, Feinstein does not appear in the
The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found....begging a "chicken/egg" question as to what came first. Here's the Times' answer:
Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency.Which - unless they check it on a routine basis - someone pointed them to. (Seems unlikely that that someone would have been Feinstein.)
Previously from Mrs G: Senator Leaks Classified Info to Press
The Voice of Warriors:
Everyone who has been in the military, especially to Iraq or Afghanistan, within the last few years needs to watch the first part of this video. Look at the "military equipment" CBS is pushing as recently stolen or "looted" from US Forces. You will notice that it's equipment we aren't even issued. Also, they blatantly lie when attempting to show night vision equipment, which isn't night vision equipment at all.I'm shocked, shocked I tell you...
For what it's worth, there have been shipments of military gear that 'disappeared' somewhere on the way to or from Afghanistan, but CBS didn't find any here. Perhaps their video could be considered, uhh... fake but accurate?
Update: Just remembered something else CBS might want to look into. Back when I was in Iraq there were rumors (and these are just rumors, mind you - I certainly never saw anything like this myself) that pirated versions of American movies and television programs were available on the local economy!!!!! (I know - now you're shocked, shocked you tell me.) If this is true, it's entirely possible that many CBS programs could be included in their number. One could perhaps obtain the entire series run of CSI, for example, for about 25 bucks (if these horrible, horrible rumors are true).
Or "Presidential Quotes, part four".
(Series began here)
"Words without actions are the assassins of idealism."
- Herbert Hoover
"There are as many opinions as there are experts."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
"A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties."
- Harry S Truman
"There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly."
- John F. Kennedy
"You aren't learning anything when you're talking."
- Lyndon B. Johnson
"A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits."
- Richard Nixon
"Independence has to be defended as well as declared"
- Gerald R. Ford
"I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me."
- Jimmy Carter
"As Dwight Eisenhower once said: ``There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.''"
- Ronald Reagan
"I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."
- George H. W. Bush
"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America."
- William J. Clinton
"Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking.""
- George W. Bush
"Yes we can."
- Barack Obama
Back in 2003, Helen Thomas wrote:
No wonder Bush doesn't connect with the rest of the country.I've been quoting Presidents here in honor of Presidents Day. Here are a couple of spares:
He walks into the Oval Office in the morning, Bush said, and asks Card: "What's in the newspapers worth worrying about? I glance at the headlines just to kind of (get) a flavor of what's moving," Bush said. "I rarely read the stories," he said.
What struck me and a lot of other folks about the interview was Bush's revelation that he does not read newspapers.
Anyone who wants to stay in touch with national, international and local events looks forward to reading the newspaper every day. The variety and breadth of newspaper stories make Americans the best-informed people in the world.
"I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it."
"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
Both are attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
More recently, this week's Sunday New York Times editorial courageously stands for the rights of the paparazzi to photograph flag-drapped caskets of U.S. Service members arriving at Dover Air Force Base:
At a news conference last week, President Obama promised to review the ban, first imposed during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. If his commitment to greater transparency in government has any meaning, he will quickly reverse the photo blackout.And if not, demands the Times editorial board, "Congress should act quickly to adopt legislation" allowing access. Denying them that opportunity is "misguided policy — which dishonors the war dead."
Pictures are powerful. Newspapers seek to commemorate the war dead by running photos of their often smiling faces. The country should also see the reality of their coffins when they make their final journey home.I could almost be convinced they are sincere in their desire to help Americans see reality if for every such photo they published they would also include one of terrorists beheading prisoners or blowing up school children along with the caption "____ died fighting the people who did this". But since the real motivation of the New York Times is to keep Americans as ignorant as they possibly can that will never happen.
In an HBO movie that has its premiere on Saturday, Kevin Bacon, playing the part of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, escorts the body of Chance Phelps, 19, a fellow Marine killed in Iraq, home to his parents in Wyoming. There’s no real plot; the linear narrative follows Colonel Strobl through his solemn rituals, often including a slow ceremonial salute, as he watches over Private Phelps (later Lance Corporal Phelps). The body is moved in a shipping container through various airports, from cargo hold to cargo hold, on its long last journey.Which might lead a cynical man to wonder if promoting the film (which, if true to the source material, should be very much worth watching) is the real point of the sudden return of interest in this particular story - or if news organizations (who never in a million effing years would have published the original story) are simply trying to cash in on a perceived opportunity.
HBO promotes the movie, “Taking Chance,” based on Colonel Strobl’s true account, as “nonpolitical.” But it arrives in a highly political context and at an acutely political moment.
Just last week, President Obama was asked at a news conference if he would allow coverage of the flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware “so the American people can see the full human cost of war.”
And if you thought this was "news" - here's a 2004 version of the recurring complaint:
In their eagerness to take advantage of the first photographs of American war dead from Iraq returning to Dover, several news organizations broadcast or published images of coffins that actually contained the remains of astronauts killed in the breakup of the Columbia space shuttle, NASA said Friday.There were more coffins in the shuttle photos than those from the war, of course.
Among the news organizations that used the incorrect photographs were CNN, The Associated Press, Reuters and The Washington Post.
NASA officials realized that the images were from the Columbia ceremonies because they recognized the scenes from the events. For one thing, Mr. Jacobs said, "one of the coffins has an Israeli flag on it," he said. One of those killed in the shuttle disaster was an Israeli astronaut, Col. Ilan Roman.
But news organizations that used the NASA pictures labeled them as dead soldiers from Iraq.
Finally, if you haven't read Gold Star father Robert Stokely's contribution to this discussion (or the comment it received from Gold Star mom Michelle Arnette Bryant) I respectfully urge you to do so.
It is a very personal moment when a fallen hero arrives home. And the first to see that should be the family, not America.More at the link.
Our family made a decision which granted me a special privilege and honor for me to go alone and meet Mike's body as he arrived from Dover at Hartsfield Atlanta Airport on August 24, 2005. A quiet singular reception, so I could ride in the hearse to take him to the funeral home 25 miles away on a road he and I traveled many times as I carried him to and from for weekend, holidays, and other visitation as a divorced dad. It was a "LAST RIDE TO TAKE MY BOY HOME". I wore a favorite blue blazer and red and blue tie as my way of showing respect to my son. As they uncrated his casket and draped the American flag over him I saluted from nearby, tears streaming down my cheeks as a number of busy airline air cargo employees suddenly stopped in stunned silence, only then realizing what was taking place. I held my salute, poor as it was for an untrained civilian, until the flag was completely draped and the edges evenly corned out. Then, I stepped outside to call my wife Retta who loved him like one of her own and as she answered the phone, tears still streaming down my cheeks, with a quiver in my voice, I said "our boy is home."
“I may be president of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damned business1.”
- Chester Arthur
"A truly American sentiment recognizes the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil."
- Grover Cleveland
"Perhaps no emotion cools sooner than that of gratitude."
- Benjamin Harrison
"Some day I will be better remembered."
- Grover Cleveland2
"Boys! Don't let them hurt him!3"
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt4
"Politics makes me sick."
- William Howard Taft
"If you want to make enemies, try to change something."
- Woodrow Wilson
“I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!”
- Warren Harding
"You can't know too much, but you can say too much."
- Calvin Coolidge5
Arthur demonstrated as President that he was above factions within the Republican Party, if indeed not above the party itself. Perhaps in part his reason was the well-kept secret he had known since a year after he succeeded to the Presidency, that he was suffering from a fatal kidney disease. He kept himself in the running for the Presidential nomination in 1884 in order not to appear that he feared defeat, but was not renominated, and died in 1886. Publisher Alexander K. McClure recalled, "No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired ... more generally respected."
2. Cleveland was the only president to have been elected to two non-consecutive terms. When you read his second quote, did you remember the first?
3. In context:
President and Mrs. McKinley attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He delivered a speech about his positions on tariffs and foreign trade on September 5, 1901. On the second day, McKinley was at the Temple of Music, greeting the public. Leon Frank Czolgosz waited in line with a pistol in his right hand concealed by a handkerchief. At 4:07 P.M. Czolgosz fired twice at the president. The first bullet grazed the president's shoulder. The second, however, went through McKinley's stomach, pancreas, and kidney, and finally lodged in the muscles of his back. Czolgosz would have fired again, but he was struck by a bystander and then subdued by an enraged crowd. The wounded McKinley even called out "Boys! Don't let them hurt him!" because the angry crowd beat Czolgosz so severely it looked as if they might kill him on the spot.McKinley's doctors believed he would recover, but he died eight days later.
One bullet was easily found and extracted, but doctors were unable to locate the second bullet. It was feared that the search for the bullet, using the medical techniques of the time, might cause more harm than good. In addition, McKinley appeared to be recovering, so doctors decided to leave the bullet where it was.
The newly-developed X-ray machine was displayed at the fair, but doctors were reluctant to use it on McKinley to search for the bullet because they did not know what side effects it might have on him.
4. More: "Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for 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... There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. "Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."
5. Calvin Coolidge may be one of the most quotable Presidents in our history (compilation here.) This: "Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House." has certainly been taken to heart by subsequent seekers of the oval office.
Part four is here.All done!
Andrew Exum offers a thought-provoking review of Tom Ricks' book The Gamble, noting "winners", "losers", and "curious omissions". To be clear, those are Andrew's categorizations of Ricks' narrative, and not the organization of the book.
Read the whole thing, and this from Dave Dillege at Small Wars Journal (including a quote from Theodore Roosevelt you'll be seeing here in different context shortly). As to the attack on one man, I suspect it's more an effort to undermine the position he espouses in the COIN/conventional debate (which in turn is actually a debate on the future of the U.S. military and all the budgets there intertwined). From a distance, Ricks strikes me as the sort to curry favor (with a certain courtier-like flair) with those whom he perceives as receptive to such efforts, in hopes of furthering his "insider with high-level access" reputation and symbiotically advancing his patrons. Smearing those persons or concepts he perceives as impeding the advance of his chosen few fits as part of that equation. (One wonders if Ricks would be offended if his efforts were characterized as Machiavellian. A previous and related example here.)
Meanwhile, among the "curious omissions":
The New Media: Ricks cited a discussion on Small Wars Journal once and also cited some things on PlatoonLeader.org but never considered the way in which the new media has revolutionized the lessons learned process in the U.S. military....among other things. For a fine example I'd urge one and all to go read this and this.
First ten here, next ten here:
"No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure."
- James Knox Polk
"It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe."
- Zachary Taylor
"It is not strange... to mistake change for progress."
- Millard Fillmore
"Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion."
- Franklin Pierce
"The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there."
- James Buchanan
"It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: 'And this, too, shall pass away.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!"
- Abraham Lincoln
"There are no good laws but such as repeal other laws."
- Andrew Johnson
"The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity."
- Ulysses S. Grant
"Let every man, every corporation, and especially let every village, town, and city, every county and State, get out of debt and keep out of debt. It is the debtor that is ruined by hard times."
- Rutherford B. Hayes
"If the power to do hard work is not a skill, it's the best possible substitute for it."
- James A. Garfield
Read the whole thing. I'm left with the impression that S.D. Liddick, while addressing his post to a specific individual, is aiming for a broader audience. Perhaps he has the degree of credibility with that audience that will allow his message to take root, maybe even grow.
That said, there's nothing he writes that couldn't have been written two years ago at the height of the surge, or before that - when the argument was infinitely more critical than it is now, and required proportionately more courage to advance.
In fact it was - by others in other venues, to the scorn of the sorts of folks who get their news from the Huffington Post, The Daily Show, and other watering holes for the herd. Perhaps somethings transformative happened in the intervening months that has made previously fallow ground ready for the seeds of truth. I sincerely hope so, and I salute S.D. Liddick for taking the opportunity to plant them. I look forward to seeing the resulting growth.
More from fellow milblogger Chap: "Journalist Calls Other Journalist Coward, Stateside REMF Entertained".
For President's Day: a collection of non-political quotes from Presidents of the United States. While many of these probably aren't the most memorable, most are at least thought provoking, and all capture some small part of the American philosophy. (Speaking of which: "Philosophy is common sense with big words." - James Madison.) Appearance of quotes here should not be seen as endorsement of the sentiment therein by yours truly, nor as my personal validation of the accuracy of the attribution.
That said, here are quotes from our first ten Presidents, with others to follow.
"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company."
- George Washington
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."
- John Adams
"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Any reading not of a vicious species must be a good substitute for the amusements too apt to fill up the leisure of the labouring classes."
- James Madison
"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
- James Madison
“A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue”
- James Monroe
"All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse."
- John Quincy Adams
"It is a damn poor mind indeed which can't think of at least two ways to spell any word."
- Andrew Jackson
"The government should not be guided by Temporary Excitement, but by Sober Second Thought."
- Martin Van Buren
"There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power."
- William Henry Harrison
"Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette - the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace."
- John Tyler
In Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood this Valentine's Day, shop windows were crowded with giant red teddy bears and stuffed hearts reading "Forever in Love."Okay, to the men of Iraq, from one participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Dude, I'm totally sorry.
Heh - just kidding, Mrs G.
But there were milbloggers among the troops in the Karrada neighborhood a few years ago (before the surge, even). You can read a re-cap of their actions here. (You'll probably recognize some of the names.)
As for the opening quote in this story, it's from Reuters. Here's more:
Romance is in the air in Baghdad as war-weary Iraqis celebrate Valentine's Day after a sharp drop in violence, allowing lovers to cautiously hold hands in parks and to buy gifts for their sweethearts.Khatab had left Iraq for Syria "several years ago". He "returned a year ago and the couple has been venturing out to places where they can spend time alone -- in green areas by the Tigris or along the shores of a nearby a lake."
Public courtship and more daring clothing for women are increasing after years of growing intolerance, perhaps signaling the Islamic dogma and conservatism that accompanied Iraq's slide into sectarian slaughter may be losing their grip.
"You cannot imagine how happy I am today," said Usama Abdul-Wahab Khatab, a recent university graduate nestled beside his girlfriend at a riverside Baghdad park.
Although Iraq is predominantly Muslim, celebration of an originally Western day for lovers became popular after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
When religious militias and insurgents controlled swathes of Baghdad, men found with women before marriage were whipped, and the woman taken to her parents, Abbas Jawad said.More at the link, including video of Iraq suicide bomb kills pilgrims.
"My son is spending Valentine's Day with his girlfriend. He's 16. I would never have allowed that before," he said.
Technology out of reach or not yet in existence under Saddam has enabled many Iraqis to discreetly widen their social circles or flirt. Bluetooth radio signals on most modern phones allow people to subtly send messages to strangers sitting nearby.
Even more Eid el Hob coverage here.All done!
"On Thursday [Thursday was September 11th] at about 11 o clock in the morning The Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw down of money market accounts in the USA to the tune of $550 Billion dollars in a matter of an hour or two. Money was being removed electronically." says Kanjorski.
Whooah! Why are we just now hearing about this? Where's the media? Why wasn't there an official statement?
Could it be?
and 550 Billion? That's about 3/4's of the $787 billion stimulus package the US House just passed.
In the video, Kanjorski says this occurred on Thursday, September 15, 2008. September 15th was a MONDAY.We've been attacked and no one told us?
THURSDAY was .......SEPTEMBER 11, 2008
This was a Financial Terrorist Attack on the seventh anniversary of 9/11. Aren't the American people entitled to know who was behind the run on the banks?
The financial crisis was deliberate, planned, staged. Who made the run? "Someone threw us in the middle of the Atlantic ocean without a life raft. We are trying to determine which is the closest shore and whether there is any chance in the world to swim that far. We don't know."
Considering Kanjorski gaffe with incorrect dates, it's either the 11th or the 18th. If the 11th then people will come to the conclusion this is some sort of financial terrorist attack, if it's the 18th then it most likely due to the fall of Lehman Brothers
and everyone withdrawing money market funds, and freezing the market.
Finacial terrorist attack? or Credit markets froze, which critically affects economy?
Both are very scary scenerios.
and finding Stinkulus Facts, via CJ:
Okay, I just literally spent the past five hours looking through all 1400+ (1434 to be exact) pages of the stimulus bill the Senate just passed, which sends the Stinkulus Bill to President Obama for signature. I'm not going to offer any personal insight into this other than I'm disgusted with all the spending that has NOTHING to do with job creation and everything to do with government job insurance. I mean, there is a LOT of money coming to us in the military and I'm still opposed to it. Yes, we need the money, but not in a "STIMULUS" bill. Instead, I copied some numbers and figures about where SOME of this money is going and how much. It's nowhere near all-inclusive of the entire $787 billion. I didn't touch the tens of billions of dollars to the Department of Health and Human Services (I'll probably add those later when I'm brave enough to dive back in).Check out his list
And here's a quick bit of fun from the bill. Can anyone translate this paragraph for me?
“the Secretary of the Treasury shall make a $300 payment to each individual who, for any month during the 3-month period ending with the month which ends prior to the month that includes the date of the enactment of this Act, is entitled to a benefit payment…”
I'm not sure, but I think that may mean I qualify…
What you are about to see only adds up to approximately $120 billion of the total stinkulus bill. Enjoy!!
Bacon and $#*t sandwich anyone?
...sad, if so, but you aren't the only one:
Kabul: Afghanistani President Hamid Karzai admitted on Friday that he had not spoken to Barack Obama since the new US president assumed office last month and conceded that he had become increasingly isolated as American support drained away.I'll assume the U.S. President has been too busy with this stimulus thing I've been hearing about. But now that it's all but a done deal, maybe that phone will ring...
Or else maybe he's just not that into you.
Update: I probably should make this clear - a new President should speak to leaders with whom his nation is allied in war early and often. Unbelievable that the first call would be one month down on the "things to do" list.
That said, I find this comment from Stephen Biddle quite sensible. He's responding to the question "Putting aside questions of whether we should have even been in Iraq in the first place, thus creating the need for a surge, might we see this same strategy in Afghanistan, where we should have had a surge a long time ago? Isn't that where our attention should be focused now?"
Stephen Biddle: US strategic attention is definitely refocusing on Afghanistan. And there will clearly be a shift of resources - as well as attention - from Iraq to AFG. The pace of that shift, however, is a key unresolved decision for now. My own preference is for a slower shift rather than a faster one. This is partly because I see a continuing need for substantial US forces in Iraq to provide a crucial peacekeeping role. But it's also because I think we need to keep the strategic interests at stake in these two conflicts in context. Failure in Iraq is still possible, and threatens profound US interests in the stability of the Persian Gulf. Afghanistan is important, too, but its importance is less direct than sometimes supposed in the US debate, and does not necessarily dominate the scale of our continuing interests in Iraq. The key US interest in AFG is now across the border in Pakistan. We invaded Afghanistan because bin Laden used it as a base for the 9-11 attacks, but bin Laden is no longer in Afghanistan - by all accounts, bin Laden and the AQ global base structure is now in Pakistan. The stability of Pakistan is a critical US security interest - about the only way AQ is likely to get its hands on a nuclear weapon is if Pakistan collapses or its government is toppled and loses control of its nuclear stockpile. Chaos in Afghanistan makes the threat to Pakistani stability worse (the Taliban is a cross-border Pashtun movement with important connections to other Pakistani Islamists), but our actual influence over events in Pakistan is pretty limited. And our ability to ensure Pakistani stability by defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan has important limits, too. We can make things *worse* by failing in AFG, but we can't make things all that much *better* by succeeding there. The result is still a very important US security interest in AFG, but the view one sometimes hears that Iraq is a sideshow for real US interests whereas AFG is central because bin Laden planned 9-11 from there is overstated.Still more: The Afghanistan section of the latest Dawn Patrol is full of related must-reads, from Feinstein's slip to the "Mumbai style" attacks in Kabul to the future role of the British military and the war on poppies - and, as always, first-hand reports from milbloggers there, too. If Obama ever finds time to talk to Karzai there should be no shortage of topics.
Iraq vet prepares to deploy to Afghanistan:
FORT BENNING, Ga. — Dr. John Burson balked when a skeptical Army staffer asked him to undergo a three-day physical exam to make sure he was fit to deploy as a field surgeon to Afghanistan."Burson keeps a steady exercise regimen, working out four to five times a week lifting weights, playing racquetball and occasionally mountain biking." And based on the photo accompanying the story, it shows.
“Look, I’m training to run a half-marathon,” replied Burson, 74, a retired lieutenant colonel. “You come down and check to see if I can make it.”
Burson won the debate and was declared fit for duty. The ear, nose and throat specialist from northwest Georgia wrapped up a weeklong training course this week at Fort Benning before his deployment Friday for a 90-day rotation with a unit of the 101st Airborne Division.
The first of two stints in Iraq proved unforgettable back in 2005, he said. Burson was among several doctors assigned to keep watch over an imprisoned Saddam Hussein.
The fallen dictator, who was three years younger than Burson, told him: “I’m glad they sent me one with gray hair this time.”
“He likes to say, ‘Where else can a 74-year-old go and have fun?’ ” said Barbara Burson, his wife of 53 years. “I don’t know if I see it as fun, but he enjoys doing it. And anyone would feel good about being able to contribute.”
It’s not clear how many others in their 70s have volunteered, or who’s the oldest, said Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. Retired Army Reserve Col. William Bernhard, a Maryland physician, was 75 when he served in Afghanistan in 2006.
What Daily Show viewers learned about the surge, strategy, and COIN:
Stewart: What they came up with was a plan that almost seems brilliant in its simplicity: "Let's not torture them anymore. Why don't we treat them with a modicum of some decency and see what that does. And give them money and see what that does." And it seems to have paid dividends.
Ricks: I was sitting in Petraeus' office one day in Iraq and I said essentially that. And he began singing Aretha Franklin, r-e-s-p-e-c-t, find out what it means to the Iraqis.
- end excerpt -
So, we used to torture them, and we switched to paying them money instead, and that worked. Okay, good for a chuckle from the audience, but post-chuckles there was a brief opportunity for a 30-second explanation of COIN 101 and what the surge was all about (then quickly back to the funny) but it was missed. Instead we got 30 seconds of assurances that all that was done without Bush knowing about it.
I know - comedy show, mass audience, looking for laughs. But I still think 'missed opportunity'. There are intelligent people who watch the Daily Show, and if you're going to promote your (presumably) intelligent book there it seems it would pay to pique their interest rather than play to their preconceived notions and prejudices. After the chuckling a simple "well John, there's much more to it than that - in fact it's a pretty amazing story, that's why I wrote it" might have been all it took - but that assurance never came. I haven't read Ricks' book yet, but if it could be summed up as "we used to torture them then we started giving them money instead but we had to do it behind Bush's back" then I don't need to - it's wrong and stupid and insulting to those of us who executed the surge.
I don't think that description fits Ricks' book. At least, I didn't before I saw this.
(Or "we have met the enemy and he is us, too")
There's much to be gained from dialog with "the enemy" in any conflict. Reporters, however, don't have a monopoly on that dialog. Here, for example, is a story on efforts by US Army Capt. Samuel Cook, operating in Iraq's Salahuddin Province, to "turn" insurgents there into allies.
One man who came in to talk was Sarhan Hassan Wisme, a local legend, described by Cook as "the Robin Hood figure at the height of the insurgency in 2006." Sarhan boasted of having planted more than 200 bombs for attacks on U.S. troops, a claim he later happily repeated to Cook. His other specialty was killing locals who cooperated with the Americans. "The thing that intrigued me about him is that he was not afraid to tell us exactly what he had done to U.S. forces proud of it almost." The Americans had raided his house six times but never caught him.Read the whole thing to learn why Cook didn't shoot him on the spot. But understand that if he had (or if Tom Ricks had decided not to include that story in his new book) we wouldn't have insight into details like this:
During several more meetings in January, Sarhan told Cook his life story. He worked at a fertilizer factory in nearby Bayji, home of a major oil refinery, and obtained some of his bombmaking materials there. He had started attacking the Americans in the spring of 2004, motivated by news of the American abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad.Note that he said spring of 2004 - that's when CBS news first broadcast the now infamous abu Ghraib pictures - and not fall of 2003, when the abuse took place, or winter 2004, when a soldier stationed there provided those pictures to Army investigators.
That soldier was then-Specialist Joe Darby, who would describe the abuse in graphic detail years later:
You have to understand, we were the most heavily mortared compound in Iraq. From the day we got there until the day I left, nobody took more mortars than we did. Nobody. We were taking them morning and night. It was just something you got used to. It became normal. After a while, we started having these surreal conversations while the mortars were ﬂying. We’d hear the boom of the launch, and then we’d argue about what size it was while the shit was still coming in.Whoops - once again I used the wrong quote. I meant to cite a description of the horrific naked pyramid inflicted on the prisoners by the sadistic guards at abu Ghraib but instead I've provided Darby's account of the actions of the "freedom fighters". Perhaps most people - like Sarhan Hassan Wisme - are already familiar enough with the torture photos and the story behind them.
As long as the mortars landed on a building, it wasn’t a big deal—they weren’t powerful enough to pierce the roof. But if one landed in the yard or in the tent camp, it could do a lot of damage. Like, one night they got lucky and split our fuel tanker in half. Dropped a mortar right through it. It caused a ﬁre you could see for miles, probably 4,000 gallons of burning fuel. Another time, they dropped one in the middle of a prisoner prayer group. That was pretty bad. These guys had just been sitting in rows, facing Mecca and praying, when the mortar came in. We had ﬁfteen to sixteen dead and a bunch more wounded. We had to dig through the bodies, put them in body bags, and take them to the processing area to check them out of the prison. Whenever a prisoner was brought in, we would ID them with a retina scan and ﬁngerprints, so when they died, we had to process them out the same way. Which meant that, for the rest of the day, we were digging through body bags looking for eyeballs. Sometimes there wasn’t an eyeball we could use, so we’d look for a ﬁnger.
Or perhaps not. There are still those among us who - in spite of a media barrage to the contrary - believe those actions were merely the work of rogue night shift guards at the prison camp, and not the result of direct orders from Donald Rumsfeld. Among that number - Joe Darby:
The general in charge of the prison was Janis Karpinski, but that didn’t mean she was ever there. To actually lay eyes on Karpinski took an act of God. She spent all her time in Kuwait or in the Green Zone Palace. She kept her happy ass in the nice, safe places. The only time she’d come by was when a dignitary was visiting. She’d ﬂy in a half hour before they got there, get briefed, lead the tour, and then ﬂy back out. Other than that, she had no idea what was going on. She did nothing but suck dignitary ass. I guess she didn’t like being in an overcrowded, violent prison with constant mortar ﬁre coming in. In the ﬁve months I was at Abu Ghraib, I only saw her twice.Darby's description of some of the night crew:
Everybody thinks there was an order from high up, or that somebody in command must have known. Everybody is wrong. Nobody in command knew about the abuse, because nobody in command cared enough to ﬁnd out. That was the real problem. The entire command structure was oblivious, living in their own little worlds. So it wasn’t a conspiracy—it was negligence, plain and simple.
But most of these soldiers I had doubts about already. Like Sabrina Harman. She was a piece of shit from the day I met her. Before we ever got to Abu Ghraib, when we were still in Hilla, she had this kitten for three days when a dog came and killed it. So Harman decided to dissect it. She said there were no marks on the outside, so she dissected it and found some ruptured organs or something. And then she decided to mummify it. She tried different methods, but all she ended up with was the head. A damned mummiﬁed cat’s head, for Christ’s sake. This rotted-out head with pebbles for eyes. She stuck it on top of a soda can and carried it around with her everywhere. I didn’t give a rat’s ass what happened to her. I just tried to avoid her. Or Ivan Frederick, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the night shift. He and I avoided each other, too. We didn’t get along. Or Charles Graner. He and I got along, but we weren’t friends. Graner is one of those guys, he’s got an overpowering aura about him. People just like him. But if you see the other side, you understand that he’s not someone you want to get too close to. He’s manipulative. He has multiple personalities. He can be this religious guy, talking about God and the way things are supposed to be done, but he’s also got this very, very dark, evil side. We were talking in Hilla one time, before we got to Abu Ghraib. I’d been walking around smoking a cigarette, and he was working the gate to our compound, so I was talking to him for like ten minutes, and he was telling me about when he thought his wife was cheating on him. He said that he found himself across the street from their house, up on a hill, with a loaded riﬂe trained on the door, just waiting for them to come out. I said, “What happened?” and he said, “They never came out.”On a side note, Lynndie England - perhaps the most familiar of the accused abu Ghraib guards - has told the cat's head story, too:
When I turned the pictures in, that’s the story that stuck with me. Because I knew what this guy was capable of.
Not long into their stay, two of the soldiers appeared at the base one day with animal carcasses. They'd found a dead goat and a dead cat somewhere and started slicing them up. Someone took a photo of a soldier pretending to have sex with the goat's head. "Then they cut off the cat's head and shoved it on the top of a soda bottle," England says."I still didn’t think it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be." Darby said of turning a handful of dirtbags over to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. "I thought they would be taken off duty and tried, but I didn’t think the world would ever hear about it. I never thought it would explode the way it did."
For several weeks, the decaying animal heads provided entertainment for the soldiers. "Someone put sunglasses on them, and put the rifle next to the heads and took a picture. Some soldiers put a cigarette in the cat's mouth," she says. The soldiers stashed the severed heads in their rooms.
"It was funny," England says. "So funny."
What Darby didn't know was that one of the Soldiers - Ivan Frederick, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the night shift - was going to blackmail the Army in hopes of avoiding prosecution.
"The Army had the opportunity for this not to come out, not to be on 60 Minutes," he said. "But the Army decided to prosecute those six G.I.'s because they thought me and my family were a bunch of poor, dirt people who could not do anything about it. But unfortunately, that was not the case."Ultimately Frederick would enter a guilty plea and spend three years in prison for his part in the abuse. Meanwhile, in addition to an increase in "insurgent" recruits there were other immediate results of the CBS broadcast of his photo collection:
You’ve also spent some time downrange. Where were you from January 2004 to January 2005?Elsewhere:
Primarily, I was at the Abu Ghraib prison. I was part of the 53-person team — 53 give or take — that set up the first hospital there to treat the detainees. I was there until end of September.
What was it like to be at Abu Ghraib amongst all the controversy, the photos, etc., with so much attention focused on the detainees and their treatment there?
In February, we started setting up at Abu Ghraib, and the stories broke in April, I believe. At that point of course, the frequency of attacks increased. It got bad. We had [mass casualties] of 120 and 109 patients. Mortars landed in the detainee camps. Our primary mission was to treat detainees. It was very frustrating because every news reporter that came through, every VIP that came through from all over these countries, the only thing they wanted to know was what we did with the abused prisoners.
At the beginning of May, the spotlight of national publicity had swung completely away from Fallujah and onto the Abu Ghraib scandal. The prison abuse story also pushed Sadr's rebellion to the back pages. MajGen Dempsey had backed Sadr and his bruised militia into a corner in Najaf. Instead of arresting him, the Iraqi politicians agreed to let him go free. The reason they gave was that the Coalition could ill afford to make him a martyr at a time when the Arab press was showing the Abu Ghraib pictures as proof that Americans were the oppressors in Iraq. Sadr was allowed to leave Najaf and resume his plotting, with the warrant for his arrest abated.And...
Twenty-three-year-old Nicholas Berg, a friendly Californian - part entrepreneur, part youthful wanderer - was traveling by himself in Baghdad when he disappeared in mid-April. In mid-May, the terrorist Zarqawi posted a video on his web site, Al Ansar. The grainy pictures showed a bearded and gaunt Berg, clad in an orange prisoner jumpsuit, sitting in a white plastic chair in front of a beige wall. Five men clad in black, with facemasks and green chest vests holding AK clips, stood behind Berg as Zarqawi proclaimed retaliation for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Then shouting "God is great!" Zarqawi drew a long knife and leaped upon Berg. There was a scream, and a few seconds later Berg's severed head was placed on his bloody torso. The gory videotape made the prime-time news on Al Jazeera.And to all that we can now add
Sarhan boasted of having planted more than 200 bombs for attacks on U.S. troops, a claim he later happily repeated to Cook... He had started attacking the Americans in the spring of 2004, motivated by news of the American abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad....as did many others. US deaths in Iraq skyrocketed "post-abu Ghraib", and not until the surge operations did they return to pre-April 2004 levels. But prior to (and even throughout) the surge, US domestic pressures in response to the increasing violence in Iraq would lead many to demand withdrawal - and many more to anticipate it:
In January 2007, he had affiliated with al Qaeda after hearing its local mufti speak about the need to unify because the Americans were retreating from Iraq, and the insurgency had to stand as one to oppose the inevitable Persian attempt at domination."He" in this case being Sarhan Hassan Wisme, the "Robin Hood" who was motivated by abu Ghraib.
"I still have a lot of bad feelings toward the press." Joe Darby says.
Me too.All done!
When Shooting An RPG Goes Bad
Let's play caption and guess what this guy is screaming at the end of the video.
HT: Jawa Report
A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an airbase inside that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counterterrorism collaboration with the United States.
The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.
At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise at Pakistani opposition to the ongoing campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Al Qaeda targets along Pakistan's northwest border.
"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said of the planes.
The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counterterrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country.
The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein's account was accurate.
According a Gateway Pundit commenter:
Feinstein is also the one who leaked sensitive information in the Night Stalker investigation. When she was mayor of SF, she leaked information to the media that the police knew what kind of shoes the killer was wearing. This was the one big lead that had been withheld from publication. Thanks to her big mouth, the killer changed shoes and kept on killing.
Wow, and she's the Chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee? Time to re-examine that.
Update: From Wiki:
In 1985, at a press conference, she revealed details about the hunt for Richard Ramírez, otherwise known as the Night Stalker, and in so doing angered detectives by giving away details of his crimes, including displaying actual evidence at the press conference. These revelations subverted their investigation and Ramirez left the San Francisco area to commit another murder before he was finally captured in the Los Angeles area.
The best thing for leaks....duct tape.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Continental Flight 3407 (operated under Colgan Air), from Newark to Buffalo (a commuter flight).
It crashed into a home on 6050 Long Street, Clarence Center, NY (a suburb of Buffalo) at around 10:10 p.m. (Est). The plane was a Bombardier Q400, a twin-engine turboprop with a passenger capacity of about 74.
It is estimated that
49 50 people were killed. The dead included 44 passengers, four crew members and a person on the ground.
The Buffalo News reports that Beverly Eckert, who lost her husband in the WTC attacks, was on board and en route to a celebration of her late husband’s birthday.
For Sue Bourque, the wait for confirmation regarding her sister, Beverly Eckert, was all too familiar. Eckert is the widow of Sean Rooney, a Buffalo native who lost his life in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Eckert was traveling to Buffalo for a weekend celebration of what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday. She also had planned to take part in presentation of a scholarship award at Canisius High School that she established in honor of her late husband.
Bourque said that while the family had not yet received official confirmation of her sister’s fate, the reality was settling in. “We know she was on that plane,” Bourque said, “and now she’s with him.”
She was just at the White House last week with Obama as part of a meeting he had with relatives of those killed in the 2001 attacks and the bombing of the USS Cole.
An image from FlightAware shows the route until tracking data was lost (follow the green line), you can also see bad weather around where the aircraft’s tracking data was lost.
Let's hope this was weather related and not pilot error or god forbid something else.
Local reports can be found here
A few contact numbers below:
1 800 621-3263 (the number for families) (FNC is saying the last 4 digits are 3236) Update: FNC is wrong...it's the first number.
713 324-5080 (number for the media to call)
716 741-8930 (number for Clarence residents only)
Any witnesses, FBI is asking you to call 716-856-7800
But seriously folks...
The key to this report is the definition of overweight. And that's included in the actual report:
For this report, the endpoint of data summaries and analyses were outpatient medical encounters with diagnoses specifi c for/suggestive of overweight/obesity (“clinical overweight”). A medical encounter for clinical overweight was defi ned as at least one of the following: an outpatient encounter with a diagnosis of “overweight or obesity” (ICD-9-CM: 278.00-278.02); an outpatient encounter with a Vcoded diagnosis indicating a body mass index above 25 kg/m2 for adults (V85.2-V85.4); or an outpatient encounter with a pediatric body mass index above the 85th percentile for persons up to 20 years of age.I highlighted the body mass index (BMI) above. That "25" figure is the basis for every report you will ever see or hear about the large percentage of "overweight people" - in the military, America, or the world.
You can determine your body mass index here. Go ahead, I'll wait.
So - are you overweight? Actually, unless you are skinny by any reasonable definition you are. If you're 6' even and weigh 185 your BMI is 25.1, fatboy. Doesn't matter if it's solid muscle and not an ounce of actual fat - you are overweight.
This is not to imply there aren't any folks in the military who could stand to shed a few pounds. There are - I see them every day. But using BMI of 25 to define "overweight" is a measure of nothing but ignorance.
Me? Right now I'm six three and a half, 190. BMI = 23.4. But there's a picture of me in Iraq (2007) in the sidebar. I believe I weighed about 205-210 at that time. Plug those numbers into the BMI formula and you'll discover that I was "overweight". By the way, I'm wearing armor - front, rear, and side plates - in that picture. The weight is not included in that 210, but the bulk probably makes me look even bigger than actual size.
The Born Again American campaign asks citizens to pledge themselves to be “their country’s keeper” through higher levels of service and civic engagement. At www.bornagainamerican.org, visitors can pledge their active citizenship, volunteer for service, register to vote, share their thoughts with their public officials, listen to and write their own lyrics to the song and otherwise work together to renew the American promise. The “Born Again American” song features regular Americans performing in front of fourteen iconic landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate Bridge.
What's your thoughts?
So if any of you who fell for this piece of (fill in the blank) I urge you NOT to sign it. (but hey you don't have to listen to me).
Norman Lear, the producer of this video is also part of "People for the American Way" (PFAW) / "The Democracy Alliance Does America" funded by lefty loon, George Soros in case anyone doesn't know.
Does anyone really need to sign a pledge to do what many of you are already doing? Being American, involving yourselves in your local communities, volunteering, donating to worthy causes, writing to your congressman, etc.
I'm surprised by the number of friends that have already signed their pledge. It seems like they're just out to gather names. Expect to at least, to get spammed.
Clusterf#@k to the Poor House, too Funny!
Video of crew members of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln reciting the Gettysburg Address as they celebrate the 200th birthday of the ship’s namesake.
TIME joined the crew and spoke with each member.
CDR Salamander asks:
How could the Navy possibly ruin such an opportunity? How could something as inclusive, uniting, and purely American as the Gettysburg Address be used as a tool to divide Sailors?
Many people associate firefighters with rescuing cats out of trees. For the firefighters assigned to the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, they weren't expecting this animal rescue call where a baby camel was trapped in a manhole, Feb. 9.
"This was the weirdest call I've ever been on," said Staff Sgt. Bryan Senecal, 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Rescue Services crew chief. "The situation happened so fast. My first thought when we saw him stuck in there was 'how are we going to get [him] out of here?"
Senecal said his crew received a call from the Provost Marshal Office reporting there was a camel stuck in a manhole. They needed assistance to try and get it out. "So we got our gear and went out to the local village right outside the main gate," Senecal said. "We made our way toward the manhole and looked in. Sure enough, there was a camel stuck in it."All done!
Senecal and fellow firefighter, Airman 1st Class Nicholas Gallagher, went down into the hole with some rope to secure the camel and get it safely out of danger. However, there were a few obstacles they had to overcome. The camel was stuck in a foot-and-a-half of mud and wedged between a valve pipe and wall, Senecal said.
Gallagher said the rescue started a bit rough with the camel being uncooperative. "It was moving its neck a lot, leaning left and right," he said. "I've never been around a baby camel before so I thought it was broken at first. We tried to be as gentle as possible, but finally we had to just get down there and lift it up."
Senecal said after wrestling the camel from between the valve-pipe and the wall, and dislodging his legs, they realized he was bigger than they thought. They secured the rope around him and tossed the other end of the rope to the engine crew topside. They hoisted the camel out of the shaft without further injury.
"I'm glad we were successful, and he didn't get seriously injured," Senecal said.
The camel sustained a minor injury on his left hind leg and was shaken up from the ordeal. The crew, along with staff members from the entomology clinic, cleaned and bandaged him up and sent him on his way. Senecal said the camel's owner thanked them as best she could, despite their language barrier.
"I definitely think events like this help us build a better relationship and trust with the locals because they realize we are here to help them," Senecal said.
Uncle Jimbo over at BlackFive has author Eric Maddox on podcast to discuss his book Mission: Black List #1: The Inside Story of the Search for Saddam Hussein---As Told by the Soldier Who Masterminded His Capture
Don't miss it!
I linked to this story the other day now James Taranto takes issue with it. Not with me, the story I linked.
and now it seems the U.S. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center got back to him with a link to that study on corpulence in the corps and James analyses it here.
...and he is ours. Or us.
NPR interviews an Iraqi Insurgent, and the Mrs asks if stories such as these are really necessary, or "did NPR just give a platform for this anti-American insurgent to spew his propaganda?"
She says "I'm just a military wife whose husband could have been in these attacks." While that perspective certainly justifies her position I offer (at great risk of sowing family disharmony) counterpoint. Such airing of grievances as NPR provides can indeed be useful, and I can provide an example from recent history to back that statement up. It's not the most recent example - the Nir Rosen joins the Taliban dust-up from late last year. My case study is from May, 1998 - when John Miller (of ABC) traveled to an unspecified location to interview a little-known terrorist leader named Osama bin Laden:
John Miller, ABC: Mr. bin Laden, you have issued a fatwah calling on Muslims to kill Americans where they can, when they can. Is that directed at all Americans, just the American military, just the Americans in Saudi Arabia?
To which "Mr bin Laden" replied "We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets, and this is what the fatwah says ... "
In that fatwah, issued earlier that same year, bin Laden listed his primary reasons for calling for a jihad against America.
First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.
Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
Had Miller not taken the time end effort (and risk) to seek out bin Laden we might have spent the months after 9/11 wondering "why do they hate us?" even after we'd been given the answer from the horse's mouth: Iraq.
To more fully understand bin Laden's complaint we have to roll back a bit further in time - to January of that year:
Whoops - sorry, almost but not quite. Here's the moment I was aiming for:
January 17, 1998: President Clinton, testifying under oath to lawyers in the Paula Jones harassment case, denies having had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
January 19, 1998: Monica Lewinsky's name and the rumours linking her with Clinton are published on the Drudge report internet site.
January 13, 1998: Iraq blocks an inspection by an American dominated team. It accuses the leader of the team, Scott Ritter, of spying for the US. UNSCOM timeline: The Executive Chairman reports to the Council that during the first day of an inspection, Iraq announced that it was withdrawing its cooperation with the inspection team on the pretext that the team had too many individuals of US or UK nationality (S/1998/27 of 13 January 1998).Unlike several previous denials of U.N inspectors, this one would provoke a vigorous response from the administration:
January 26, 1998: "Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." - President ClintonWhoops - sorry again. I meant to quote President Clinton's State of the Union address from the next day, in which he assured the world that the US was prepared to eliminate the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein:
Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade and much of his nation's wealth not on providing for the Iraqi people but on developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The United Nations weapons inspectors have done a truly remarkable job, finding and destroying more of Iraq's arsenal than was destroyed during the entire Gulf War. Now, Saddam Hussein wants to stop them from completing their mission.
I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republicans and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot defy the will of the world. And when I say to him: You have used weapons of mass destruction before. We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again.
Elsewhere, frustrated UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter would detail the horrors beyond WMDs he had witnessed in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: "The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children -- toddlers up to pre-adolescents -- whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene."
Tensions in the stand-off escalated, and by February 17th the President declared "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
The next day in an Ohio Town Hall meeting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured citizens that "Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face. And it is a threat against which we must, and will, stand firm." From the same stage, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger expressed no doubt as to Hussein's capabilities and intentions: "He [Saddam] will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
USA Today reported that anti-war protesters at the meeting got their comeuppance from a heroic soldier who phoned in a timely message:
And the administration backed its tough talk with actions.
Some of the protesters held aloft a banner that said, "No War," but one caller identifying himself as a U.S. soldier on duty in Germany said he supported Clinton's approach.
"If a soldier's life needs to be lost let it start with mine," the soldier said by telephone. His remark drew a round of applause from the arena audience.
And that wasn't all:
ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON...
As the United States prepares for possible strikes against Iraq, Navy and Marine Corps pilots are set to fly the majority of missions in an operation code-named "Desert Thunder" that will hinge, by all accounts, on downpours of precision munitions...
At the center of any U.S. air assault on Iraq would be the F/A-18 and F-14 fighter jets on this aircraft carrier and another, the USS Independence, along with about 250 Tomahawk cruise missiles spread among eight other ships.
Of course, all that is familiar history to the average American, as is the previously mentioned February 23, 1998 fatwa issued by bin Laden calling for the destruction of the United States:
In addition to the U.S. and coalition forces already in Kuwait, a brigade task force from 3d Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., rapidly deployed to Kuwait. Departing from Hunter Army Airfield, the brigade task force deployed 4,000 personnel and 2,900 short tons of equipment on 120 aircraft. Within 15 hours of landing at Kuwait City International Airport, the unit had drawn prepositioned equipment and was in battle positions in the desert. On Feb. 28, Coalition/Joint Task Force-Kuwait was prepared to defend Kuwait with a ground force strength of more than 9,000 personnel.
Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, and Kuwait rounded out the C/JTF by providing liaison teams, aircraft support, special operations elements, Chemical/Biological, Base Defense Units, MASH units, and medical personnel.
Added to forces on the ground was equipment for two more brigades (one Army and one Marine) afloat in the Arabian Gulf with the Maritime Preposition Force. These ships were poised to link up with soldiers and Marines who would draw their equipment and head to the front if required. Attack air provided by Navy, Air Force, and Coalition assets rounded out this formidable force.
...despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million... despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.
So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
But in one of history's greatest anti-climactic moments, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan traveled to Iraq for a three-hour meeting with Saddam Hussein, after which the UN announced a deal on weapons inspections.
The New York Times, February 26, 1998:
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., urged President Clinton on Wednesday to reject the U.N. accord with Iraq, while the administration worked on bolting down precise details.
Lott accused the administration of capitulating to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and abdicating its foreign policy to a dubious negotiator, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
"It is not too late to reject a deal if it leaves Saddam Hussein rejoicing," Lott said in a floor speech.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, in a hastily called news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, alternately rejected Lott's criticism and distanced herself from the accord until Saddam proves he will keep his word and allow inspectors unfettered and unconditional access throughout Iraq.
"This is not the time for U.N.-bashing," Albright said.
As part of a bid to stop UN staff being disheartened by critics of the agreement, Mr Annan told them: "It is the (Security) Council, not a few critics, who will have the last word.The military would stand down - for a few months. The coalition assault on Iraq would not come until December of that year:
America and Britain have been pressing for a UN resolution threatening military action should Iraq fail to co-operate, but France, Russia and China have strong reservations about this.
December 11, 1998: The House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment on a 21-16 party line vote, passing them to the full House of Representatives. The three articles accuse Clinton of lying to a grand jury, committing perjury by denying he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, and obstructing justice. Clinton declares himself "profoundly sorry" and willing to accept censure.Whoops - once again, my mistake. Here's what I meant to say:
December 16, 1998: The United States and Great Britain begin a four-day air campaign against targets in Iraq, Operation Desert Fox. The stated mission: "to strike military and security targets in Iraq that contribute to Iraq's ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of mass destruction."
In spite of the brevity of the attack, the BBC would report that during those four days "more cruise missiles were fired on Iraq in Desert Fox than during the entire Gulf War in 1991".
But that's a story for another day. For now we return to John Miller's May, 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden:
John Miller, ABC: Describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia.
Osama bin Laden: After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim.
"In America," Miller told bin Laden, "we have a figure from history from 1897 named Teddy Roosevelt. He was a wealthy man, who grew up in a privileged situation and who fought on the front lines. He put together his own men - hand chose them - and went to battle. You are like the Middle East version of Teddy Roosevelt." Miller further assured Osama that "the American people, by and large, do not know the name bin Laden, but they soon likely will."
So imagine for a moment if American reporters never interviewed their nation's sworn enemies, never gave them a chance to tell their side of the story. Consider that if John Miller had held that point of view back in 1998 Americans today might be completely ignorant of bin Laden's motivation, could even be convinced that the Iraq war began in 2003, the war on terror in 2001, and that Iraq had no connection whatsoever with the sudden, unexpected events of 9/11.
Fortunately that's not the case. He did conduct that interview, and as a result the American public is (as we were in 2003) well informed on the issue that could be considered the most vital confronting our nation today.
Postscript - two months after Miller's Osama bin Laden interview:
August 7, 1998: African embassy bombings This is the eighth year anniversary of the arrival of U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia and the start of United Nations sanctions against Iraq. A bomb explodes at the rear entrance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 U.S. citizens, 32 Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs), and 247 Kenyan citizens. About 5,000 Kenyans, six U.S. citizens, and 13 FSNs were injured. The U.S. embassy building sustained extensive structural damage. Almost simultaneously, a bomb detonates outside the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing seven FSNs and three Tanzanian citizens, and injuring one U.S. citizen and 76 Tanzanians. The explosion caused major structural damage to the U.S. embassy facility. The US holds Osama bin Laden responsible for these acts.
(Note: unsourced quotes above are from here.)
First and foremost I'm appalled (but not surprised) that the MSM does not report this for what it really is. I'm sure they just want to stay on the Obama's invitations list. What if president Bush had done this? Our illustrious MSM would have pointed out what a socialite he was trying to be, with disregard of the wasteful spending.
You can stiff the president on a policy issue and defy him on a political one, but who can turn down an invitation to the White House?So American tax dollars are paying for this weekly free-for-all?
Using one of the world’s most famous private residences as bait, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are unleashing a bipartisan charm offensive and exploiting every square inch of their new home to make friends and influence rivals. The social calendar suggests a return to the days of Camelot.
Since moving into their new digs, the first couple has hosted a half-dozen gatherings — from bipartisan cocktail receptions to a public open house to the more intimate Super Bowl party two Sundays ago — ending many of their days past midnight. Most recently, on Wednesday, the Obamas opened the White House doors to House caucus leaders from the moderate Blue Dog Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus. White House aides say the couple hopes to make the Wednesday cocktail parties a tradition.
Friends say the Obamas are looking to maintain the dizzying social calendar they had in their pre-White House days, while using their knack for socializing to find new friends and win hearts on Capitol Hill and in other Washington power centers.
“They want to replicate the same kind of environment they had in Chicago,” said a longtime friend of the Obamas, adding that White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is “the perfect person” for the job because she knows the couple’s former life inside out and is “designing the calendar to reflect the kinds of things they like to do.”
“If there was a party or an event [in Chicago], they were there,” the friend said. “They’ve always liked to go to lots of restaurants and be a part of the community. Now they want to be a part of D.C.”
Is this a new platform for lobbying?
“You would have felt like a fool talking about politics at this party,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), one of the guests. “I was surprised how much of a social event it was and how little of a political occasion it was.”Yeah right, bull(cough)#$%&
While the everyday American is trying to figure out how to get food on the table; the Obamas are having soirees every Wednesday?
The White House alcohol budget has sure skyrocketed since inauguration; I guess having these swanky cocktail parties is Obama's way to stimulate the economy.
Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said Obama is “smart to use the off hours to move forward with his ideas and agenda in a town that is so harsh.”Yeah he's young, he's hip, he likes to party hearty, how cool. (sarcasm mode off)
“He wants to convey this idea of someone who is young, alive and active. Young people host parties, they go out to eat, especially when there are young kids around,” Zelizer said. But he cautioned that the gatherings could “detract from the image he is trying to cultivate.”
I suppose the White House will soon smell like stale smoke.
After recently throwing the most expensive inaugural celebration in American history with alcoholic beverages and $100.00 wagyu steak, and scaring America into passing this not-so stimulating stimulus package that will strap future generations with insurmountable debt, perhaps the Obama's might consider cutting back on such luxuries that the everyday American cannot afford.All done!
WASHINGTON — The number of troops diagnosed as overweight or obese has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq war, yet another example of stress and strains of continuing combat deployments, according to a recent Pentagon study. The review, contained in the January edition of the Defense Department's Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, raises concerns about the overall readiness as demands on the military continue to increase, says Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, director of strategic communication for Pentagon health affairs.
"Stress and return from deployment were the most frequently cited reasons" for gaining weight, the study said. The largest increase in diagnoses of overweight and obese troops came in the last five years, the report said.
From 1998 to 2002, the number of servicemembers diagnosed as overweight remained steady at about one or two out of 100. But those numbers increased after 2003, according to the study, and today nearly one in 20 are diagnosed as clinically overweight.
There may be even more overweight troops than the report shows, Kilpatrick said, because the study includes only servicemembers diagnosed as overweight during a visit with a doctor. The actual percentage of troops who are found to be overweight during fitness trials could be higher, he said.
(BAGHDAD) — Four Iraqi prisoners have been transferred from the U.S. military detention center in Guantanamo Bay to Iraqi custody, two senior Iraqi security officials said Monday.
The officials said the men had been arrested in Afghanistan, then transferred to Guantanamo, before being released to the Iraqis for questioning. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, did not give a timeframe for their arrests or release.
Don't you love it when officials who are not authorized to speak to the media, speaks to the media.
"We have interrogated four Iraqi men who are now in our custody," one of the officials said, adding the detainees included a Shiite from Basra. He said one more Iraqi citizen remains at the U.S. naval base in Cuba and was seeking refugee status in the United States.
Baghdad - Four Iraqi prisoners from the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been handed over to the authorities in Baghdad, a Red Cross official told AFP on Monday.
...Around 60 of the current 245 prisoners might have to be transferred to third countries because they could face the death penalty at home, while others could be tried in US courts.
NPR apparently interviews an Iraqi insurgent who wants to continue the fight against U.S. troops:
But there also are insurgent groups with different aims that remain active as well. Abu Abdul Aziz (his nom de guerre) is a member of one of these groups, what he terms the "honorable resistance." (His voice in the broadcast version of this story has been disguised at his request.)He is an active insurgent who plans on killing more of our U.S. troops, and is actively training more terrorists. So here's a question: did NPR pass his juicy tidbit of information on to our military forces instead of letting him slip away? How about with the clothes description we get a locale? OK that's two questions.
Americans 'Here To Harm Us'
"I have killed many Americans, not just one or two. When I kill them, I feel happy, like victory is coming," says Aziz.
He says this matter of factly. He looks unremarkable. His eyes are dark brown, his clothing neat and ordinary — he wears a red and white checkered headdress and a long, tan dishdasha.
"If you look into my heart, you won't find any sympathy for the Americans at all. That's not because I have no human feelings, but because I feel that they are here to harm us, to steal from us, to kill our women and our children," he says.
He says his last operation against American troops was last week — a Katyusha rocket attack against an American forward operating base in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.
"We've done many operations — mortar attacks, roadside bombings, sniper fire — and we've also fought them in street battles, face-to-face with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns," Aziz says. "There is a saying here: 'What is taken by force can only be restored by force.' We know the Americans won't really leave unless we use force."
Aziz sees himself as an Iraqi nationalist, and he insists his group does not target Iraqi civilians.
"The honorable resistance does not do suicide bombings. That's al-Qaida. We do not harm innocent people, Muslims or not Muslims. Our target is only the Americans," he says.
However he admits the resistance is weak.
Now I have a few questions for you, I'm just a military wife whose husband could have been in these attacks. Do you think, NPR listeners, benefit from hearing from this low life? Do you think this interview makes the threat over there more real to some who would not know without NPR? Are stories such as these while painful, necessary?
Or did NPR just give a platform for this anti-American insurgent to spew his propaganda?
Update One more question, he says his target is only the Americans, what about all the non-American coalition forces?
We need to break that down a bit first. The first question would have to be: Does NPR "owe allegience to the United States"? According to its mission statement, NPR only owes allegiance to its "members in matter of their mutural interest". It's not a government agency, but it is a non-profit United States incorporated organization. I guess the better question would be to ask NPR if they owe allegience to the United States. If they do not, then we revoke their non-profit status and send them somewhere (Iraq?) where they DO owe allegiance. If they owe allegiance to the United States, then I guess they would be legally guilty of treason.
With that said, let's push all this aside for a moment and get more personal. What if this Abu Abdul Aziz character was responsible for the death of Jonathan Roberge earlier this week? He was just 22 years old and now his parents and younger sisters and brother have to bury him and will never have their son back. What would his family think about NPR meeting with and talking to the people responsible for his death and not telling us?
My sentiments exactly CJ.
For the second time in three years, Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT has received a grant from the San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAF) through SAAF’s Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD).
The grant of $210,000 is expected to purchase at least 300 laptops, which will be distributed to wounded veterans at San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) or living in the surrounding area. The computers will be used for communication, post-military employment preparation and physical and occupational therapy, and will be fitted with adaptive technology from the Department of Defense for severely injured users, including voice-control. As one of the largest treatment facilities for wounded veterans in America, BAMC is a major hub for Project Valour-IT and Soldiers’ Angels works closely with caseworkers there to identify recovering service members in need of a laptop.
Wounded veteran and Valour-IT co-creator Chuck Ziegenfuss knows firsthand the power of Valour-IT. He reported that using a voice-controlled laptop while he recovered was “the first time I felt whole since I’d woken up wounded.”
This is the third SAAF/TRIAD grant for Soldiers’ Angels, forming a growing bond and furthering the reach of Project Valour-IT, which has already distributed 3,000 laptops nationwide. "With the money from this grant we will be able to touch many more heroes who need Valour-IT Laptops,” said Veterans Support team leader, Twyla Choate. “Soldiers' Angels is thrilled to once again be given the opportunity to help those who have done so much for us.”
In 2007, Valour-IT received a $150,000 grant from TRIAD. Soldiers' Angels proudly salutes the work of official volunteer grant writer Cheryl Walker, who wrote both of the TRIAD grant applications for Valour-IT.
And admitted Gitmo is ‘pristine, professional operation’?
Friday, Debra Burlingame was among the 40 family members of the 2,975 murdered on September 11 and the 17 sailors murdered aboard the USS Cole who met with President Obama. During the meeting, President Obama was wrong on the law, wrong about what Boumediene v. Bush afforded the detainees held at Guantanamo, and stated the public’s perception about Guantanamo is confused with Abu Ghraib. … There is more.
She spoke with talk-radio host Steve Malzberg this afternoon about the meeting; here is the audio:
A USS Cole Victim's Mother Declines Obama Invitation and expressed her own regret for having voted for Obama
What's the Shadow Army, you say?
The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject
Update: This can't be good
Mom, wife (military wife, even), homemaker, troop supporter (wounded and otherwise), Soldiers Angel, MilBlogs Ring manager, Dawn Patrol compiler, Presidential Adviser, web site designer...
(Hmmmm, I better go bake a cake. More later.)
Mrs G here, BTW, cake was delicious. Thanks to all for your birthday wishes.
Tom Ricks' new book The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 ships tomorrow.
High Rises, Trade Center, hotels, new libraries, shopping centers, and an amusement park being built in Iraq.
"We did not have power stations, we did not have any refineries, we did not have any highways, bridges, and 5 star hotels, now to have this is paramount,..." all sectors are open for investmant". "The time to get in is now!"
Pakistani Taliban release tape of murder of Pole -- [Reuters]
Pakistani Taliban militants released a video tape on Sunday of them beheading a Polish geologist whom they said killed him because Pakistan's government refused to release Taliban prisoners.
The Islamist militants said on Saturday they had executed the Polish engineer, Piotr Stanczak, who they kidnapped in September, because the government had refused to free 60 captured militants before Friday's deadline.
An image posted at Islamist forums of Polish hostage Piotr Stanczak shortly before the Taliban murdered him.
Don't expect the unedited version any time soon. The video was not posted at the usual forums. Instead, it appears to have been hand delivered by a Taliban courier directly to a Reuters reporter. [Or, it's being passed around in e-mails rather than in public].
The version of the video and images from it at Islamist forums seem to be the edited version released by Reuters.
Rusty has more here
Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond (right), commanding general of 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division – Baghdad, artist Laith Fattah al-Turk (center), a renowned local artist, and Dr. Muayad Muslin Hamid al-Jaburri (left), an Iraqi cardiologist and humanitarian, unveil a gold eagle-head statue in front of division headquarters on Camp Liberty, Feb. 5. Photo by Sgt. DaleAnne Maxwell, Multi-National Division. Baghdad..–
CAMP LIBERTY — A new symbol of freedom and appreciation now greets Soldiers and visitors to the headquarters of Multi-National Division – Baghdad, after an unveiling ceremony in front of division headquarters here, Feb. 5.
Dr. Muayad Muslin Hamid al-Jaburri, an influential Iraqi cardiologist and humanitarian, donated the gold eagle-head statue to all the Soldiers of MND-B in admiration for their sacrifices while working to make Baghdad a safer place to live.
“The Eagle represents a little bit of mixed culture, knowing how important the eagle means to Americans and knowing that in the Arabic culture we have been putting eagles on top of the castles for thousands of years to show power and protection,” said Jaburri.
The statue also symbolizes the basic rights Soldiers, Iraqi Security Forces and local civilians have been striving to spread across the nation.
“The eagle is symbol of freedom,” said 1st Lt. Hunter Wakeland, a native of Kennebunkport, Maine, who serves as a platoon leader with MND-B.
The eagle is also a token of Jaburri’s appreciation to the division and the Soldiers for what they went through to help the Iraqi citizens. He recognized and showed appreciation for the sacrifices that have been made for the citizens of Baghdad, specifically in Doura.
Two years ago, the Doura neighborhood of southern Baghdad was a dangerous place; as an al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold there were numerous murders and violence was a daily occurrence.
Today, the citizens of Iraq can visit the bustling Doura Market feeling safe and secure because of the hard work of MND-B Soldiers and the help of local citizens such as Jaburri.
“Now I can walk the streets and see the children playing at the park and going to school,” said Jaburri. “My mother can go shopping without fear, and my wife can safely go to work.”
(By Sgt. DaleAnne Maxwell, Multi-National Division – Baghdad)
Val Kilmer thinks he's qualified to be a leader and is reported to be seriously considering a run for Governor of New Mexico in 2010.
Good luck with that.
But he won't get any votes from Vietnam vets!
Before anyone considers voting him take a look at his interview for Esquire magazine :
Klosterman: You mean you think you literally had the same experience as Doc Holliday?Ahem. Wow, it's nice to see how he feels about our military.
Kilmer: Oh, sure. It's not like I believed that I shot somebody, but I absolutely know what it feels like to pull the trigger and take someone's life.
Klosterman: You understand how it feels to shoot someone as much as a person who has actually committed a murder?
Kilmer: I understand it more. It's an actor's job. A guy who's lived through the horror of Vietnam has not spent his life preparing his mind for it. He's some punk. Most guys were borderline criminal or poor, and that's why they got sent to Vietnam. It was all the poor, wretched kids who got beat up by their dads, guys who didn't get on the football team, couldn't finagle a scholarship. They didn't have the emotional equipment to handle that experience. But this is what an actor trains to do. I can more effectively represent that kid in Vietnam than a guy who was there.
I can more effectively represent that kid in Vietnam than a guy who was there.
Really? You think very highly of yourself there Val.
Kilmer will never have the courage of their convictions to actually do something honorable as he obviously lacks the essential characteristics of honor, integrity, duty, and honesty.
Anyone who has been reading Mudville or the Dawn Patrol knows who Scott Kesterson is, a U.S. photojournalist who spent 15 months embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan in an effort to understand the conflict.
Via Kansas City News - The Pitch: At Fort Leavenworth, officers are marching on a new target: the blogosphere.
This is a 5 page article so click the above link to read it in it's entirety, I've highlighted the most interesting.
U.S. Air Force Maj. James Simonds was stationed in Afghanistan when Operation Red Wing went down. He can't forget the crushed expressions on his fellow soldiers' faces the day they held a memorial service for the 19 dead.The very reason why MilBlogs were formed. To write their own part of the history of these times, to document a war that many felt and still feel the traditional media has failed to capture, and to deny others the opportunity to speak falsely "for the troops" without concern of being exposed.
"You want to see the biggest group of guys crying their eyes out — it devastated us that that happened," Simonds says.
But on TV, Simonds says, he didn't see much besides a body count reported by the press.
"Obviously, there wasn't a whole lot of information that was going to come out on it," Simonds says. "But sometimes I wonder if it's not an injustice to some of the folks, the way it's presented, you know?"
Like every other officer at the CGSC, located on the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Simonds has to ignore the chip on his shoulder concerning the press. That's because Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, who oversees the CGSC and 17 other schools and training programs, decided last year to make media savvy a requirement for graduation. Each war-college student must complete a course of "strategic communication" in order to graduate. It's an extracurricular activity — no class covers it exclusively. Officers must participate in an interview with a television, print or radio reporter, publicly address a community group, write an article or opinion piece for publication (it need not actually be published), and blog under his or her real name.
Still, this communications requirement signals a dramatic departure from the old way that the military guided officers regarding media relations. One professor at the war college, a lieutenant, describes the military's former philosophy on talking to reporters as "shut up and go up." In other words, direct questions away from yourself and up through your chain of command.
Simonds' disdain for the press surfaced anew at a panel discussion held at Fort Leavenworth at the beginning of the fall 2008 term. Representatives of media outlets, including the McClatchy Company, Wired, The Washington Post and the Associated Press, took questions. A common thread: Why do news organizations report on bad news rather than on, say, wells being dug and orphanages being built?
"Someone flat-out said that it's not glamorous enough," Simonds says. "And the thing that really got to me, one of the panel members said, 'It's too hard. Things blowing up, things like that, that's the easy way to go.' My heart sank when I heard that."
And the Army's blogging policy has come a long way:
[Lt. Gen.] Caldwell realizes that the military needs to join the conversation before it’s too late.More:
“Before, the Army prohibited you from blogging,” Caldwell says. “You couldn’t blog. We do blog now. But what we did is, we went out and said, Here’s the deal: Just like you would do a TV or a newspaper or radio interview, the blog is just another means to communicate information. It’s just another interview, except you’re completely controlling it. That’s pretty powerful. You have an amazing influence in the blogosphere. Here you’re deciding what you want to talk about, and you’re sharing it with the world.”
Caldwell’s two-page blog policy for students includes among its instructions: Don’t write anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of a newspaper with your name and photo. Don’t write anything that might embarrass Fort Leavenworth, the U.S. Army or the U.S. government. Stay apolitical. Sign your name and rank. Don’t divulge classified information; military operations being executed; or any tactics, techniques or procedures that aren’t already public. And though Caldwell tells The Pitch he wants to create an environment where students feel they have “the freedom of failure,” the policy reads that public-affairs officers will be conducting annual reviews of the blogs for policy violations.Interesting. What will happen? One thing's for sure - MilBlogs are here to stay. All done!
Students are allowed to blog on any site, Caldwell says. But in the first few months after he explained his mandate to the officers, he still noticed “this massive reluctance to blog.” Realizing the officers might feel more comfortable on a military blog site that is accessible to the public, he had the Combined Arms Center add a blog site to its home page (http://usacac.army.mil/blog/). “It’s catching on slowly,” Caldwell says. “I’d like to see, three months from now, triple or quadruple the number of people blogging than I see today.”
Caldwell is aiming at changing the military’s tight-lipped culture one generation of officers at a time. He wants his officers to feel confident enough to become storytellers and have faith that people are listening. “We have to get much broader guidelines, trust our subordinates with a lot more,” he tells The Pitch. Ever a realist, he urges patience rather than frustration: “Probably 30 percent of the time, when you’re talking to the media, things won’t really turn out the way you perhaps wanted them to. But you know what? That’s OK … we can’t change it, and we shouldn’t try to control it.”
Military culture won’t change overnight, but its leadership can. Allen, the CGSC instructor, still has doubts. “I wonder what happens when he [Caldwell] leaves,” he says. “What will the next commander’s big issue be? Will it be the same or will it be different?
Setting the Iraqi police straight and telling it like it is:
I've been busy elsewhere, but the Mrs has kept things running here in Mudville. Not just with entries here, but behind the scenes too. Thanks to her, there's now a (long overdue) pda version of The Dawn Patrol available here. Since it's ultra-low bandwidth, it's also a good tactical version, enabling those without high speed cnnections to peruse the latest from milbloggers (and the latest news of interest to milbloggers) from all over the world.
As if that weren't enough, she's also been busy creating the banners for the 2009 MilBlogs Conference:
For which I say "tanks".
Weirdest Superbowl story I've seen this year: NFL Orders Retreat From War Metaphors.
And it seems to be a year with a lot of NFL/military stories.
Mrs G Updates:
Gen Petraeus Tosses Coin at Super Bowl XLIII
An observation from a milblogger (and military journalist) in Iraq: "Once again, the Iraqis are waving purple fingers demonstrating their role in democracy."
I wanted to cover the elections so bad today, but military presence is limited. I haven’t even heard of anyone providing security for the elections, and that’s huge. From what I’ve heard, the military was there for support if needed, but in the background as a last resort. I would have loved to be out in the streets of Baghdad today, even if I had to wear civilian clothes and blend in with Associated Press reporters.Read the whole thing.
And while she could only offer her first hand perspective from 'inside the wire', Reuters apparently had someone on scene, whose efforts are now available under this typically cheerful headline: Iraqi election turnout not as high as hoped
Officials said on Sunday 7.5 million or 51 percent of the more than 14 million registered voters had braved car bans, body searches, barbed wire barricades and checkpoints to take part.According to Reuters, turnout ranged from a high (60 percent and 57 percent) in Nineveh and Diyala provinces to a low in Baghdad, where "turnout on Saturday appeared to have been just under 40 percent, the independent electoral commission said."
And while they did open by explaining the low turnout was due to "voter registration problems and tight security" they did ultimately offer this 'praise' of the numbers:
The turnout levels may be respectable for a provincial poll in a country only just beginning to adopt competitive democracy and where scepticism about politicians runs high, analysts say.
This was not an election for nation-wide office - so some helpful perspective can be gained by comparing these results to those from a non-Presidential election from a more established democracy. No doubt Reuters would have done so but ran up against a deadline or filled their available server hard drives and weren't able to provide a good point of comparison.
I had five minutes to spare this weekend, so utilizing the web site "google" (www.google.com) I was able to locate results from non-Presidential elections in a more established Democracy. I couldn't determine if one was available where "scepticism about politicians" is not high, but I did discover that information on voter turnout in U.S. elections has been added to the world wide web, and that the United States has over two centuries of experience in "competitive democracy".
Perhaps in 2010 the United States could achieve something close to Iraq's 51% turnout. Maybe if we add "car bans, body searches, barbed wire barricades and checkpoints" to our polling stations, too?
The Dawn Patrol 1/30/09 (More from milbloggers in Iraq)All done!
Half of Iraq's eligible voters turned out for peaceful provincial elections this weekend, the election commission said Sunday.
An Iraqi man whose finger has been ink stained after voting makes a call in Baghdad.
The turnout of 7.5 million voters starkly contrasted with elections in 2005, when the violence and intimidation of al Qaeda in Iraq kept voters away from the polls and only 2 percent of eligible voters participated.
Faraj al-Haidari, the head of the Independent High Electoral Commission, called the turnout this year "very high" for provincial elections in any country. Fifty-one percent of the 14.9 million eligible voters cast ballots.
Al-Haidari called the weekend voting the "most important elections in the history of Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein."
Voting was held in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. The highest turnout -- 65 percent -- was in the Salaheddin province in northern Iraq, the commission said.
The lowest -- 40 percent -- was in Anbar, the Sunni heartland west of Baghdad. The sprawling desert area was dominated in 2005 by al Qaeda in Iraq.
Preliminary results from the electoral commission are expected within five days. Final numbers are due at the end of February.
Security for the Christian minority in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has improved since the wave of sectarian violence there last year, according to the only Christian candidate running in Saturday's provincial elections, Sami Habib Astifu. He spoke to Adnkronos International (AKI).
"The situation has improved markedly since the Iraqi government dispatched armed forces to the area, and things will improve further once we have a new provincial council," he said.
The Iraqi polls are significant and could set the tone for parliamentary elections planned in late 2009. They are also seen as a key test for Iraq's Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
MAJ. GEN. DAVID PERKINS, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN: The last big election period here in Iraq, January '05, the average number of daily attacks in Iraq was 92 a day. Yesterday, the average, we have five total attacks in Iraq.
So you see this huge improvement in security already under the leadership of the Iraqis. So, obviously, the trend is in the right direction, and they are fully committed to making sure security is such that everyone can get to the polls and vote
Something new is coming to Iraq. The signs are in the air, plastered on walls, buildings, light posts lining the road and even strung between buildings.
Provincial elections are being held today, and most public structures have, in some way shape or form, campaign posters attached to them.
There have been elections in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s fall from power, but this is the first totally Iraqi-run election. The Iraqi Security Forces and emergency services voted Jan. 28, allowing them to provide security today.
Lt. Col. Craig Simonsgaard, commander of the military transition team working with the Iraqi Army’s 44th Brigade, 11th Division, met with the brigade’s Soldiers shortly after most had voted.
“The first thing they did was hold up their index fingers,” said Simonsgaard. Purple ink on the index finger indicates that a person has voted.
“They are all extremely proud of being able to vote. They take that purple finger very serious, and they take a lot of pride in it,” said Simonsgaard.
One of those proud Soldiers was Iraqi Army Pvt. Hussain Ali Hussain.
US President Barack Obama has praised Iraq's provincial elections as an "important step forward" for the future of the country.
"This important step forward should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future," Mr Obama said in a statement after millions of Iraqis went to the polls to elect councils in 14 or Iraq's 18 provinces.
Security for the country's first ballot since 2005 was extremely tight, with Iraqi police and military deployed in force, and Mr Obama praised the technical assistance by the United Nations and other organisations to Iraq's electoral commission, which he said "performed professionally under difficult circumstances."
Mr Obama said "it is important that the councils get seated, select new governors and begin work on behalf of the Iraqi people who elected them."
Since Barack Obama would not say it let me be the one to tell the American soldiers and Marines, the private American citizens and American Allies....
Thank you for your dedication and service. Thank you for protecting the Iraqi people. Thank you for bringing democracy to Iraq. Thank you for bringing Victory to Iraq
Once again, the Iraqis are waving purple fingers demonstrating their role in democracy. I was here during the first elections and the military played a huge part in security during that time. I was at the convention center the day of the election and it was swarming with politicians and media. I remember fighting through the crowds of Arab media to get shots of politicians speaking another language. I had no idea who they were, but when I saw the Iraqi reporters flock to them I know they must be important. The Iraqi media is ruthless and I couldn’t get a shot of one of the more popular politicians - popular based on the crowd around him. I got down on all fours and crawled through the legs of the Iraqi reporters landing myself a spot in the front, camera angled up to the politician. It probably wasn’t the best angle, but I got the shot. It was then that I really felt like a reporter.
I wanted to cover the elections so bad today, but military presence is limited. I haven’t even heard of anyone providing security for the elections, and that’s huge.
The last time Iraqis voted the city was an al-Qaeda stronghold and its mosques issued bloodcurdling warnings to stay away from the polls. On Saturday clerics were using the loudspeakers once again, but this time urging the town's population to vote.
As a result, turnout seemed as high in Fallujah as elsewhere in the country as many of Iraq's 15 million voters took part in local elections held in 14 of the country's 18 provinces - everywhere except Kurdistan and the city of Kirkuk. More than 14,000 candidates stood for 440 seats in what could prove to be a turning point in Iraq's recent bloody history.
Campaigning was peaceful by recent Iraqi standards, and the Iraqi police and army forces provided all the security without calling on Coalition backup.
As the polls closed the defence ministry hailed the fact that there had not been a major attack anywhere in the war-weary country.
Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, cast his vote in the security of Baghdad's protected Green Zone.
He said: "This is a victory for all the Iraqis." He told reporters that an expected high turnout will be an indicator of "the Iraqi people's trust in their government and in the elections" and "proof that the Iraqi people are now living in real security."
I walked more than three miles and four polling centers to vote today. I have lived in the same neighborhood for more than 30 years, but my name was not on the list.
With the sound of hovering American helicopters filling the unusual silence on the streets I walked to the polling center nearest my house to vote. First I had to be searched and take off my wristwatch, my box of cigarettes and my mobile telephone because an American patrol was watching the main checkpoint of the polling center.
I checked my name but I could not find it. An employee told me: “You may find it at another center.” So I started walking. But the guards wouldn’t let me go straight there because of the security cordons around polling centers. My route was like a sneaky puzzle. The streets were clear of vehicles and children exploited the occasion to amuse themselves by playing football or marbles in the streets, without any notion of the importance of this day.
While I was walking to the second polling center I met a friend of mine who smiled when he saw me, hoping that I would help him find his polling center.
They may have been peaceful, but Saturday's all-important provincial elections across Iraq appear to have suffered from a combination of apathy and confusion, resulting in a turnout of only 51 percent, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission announced today.
The numbers are likely to be a disappointment to election officials and U.N. and U.S. officials, who have portrayed the event as a barometer of Iraq's capacity for moving beyond bloodshed and embracing democratic change. With turnouts as limited as an estimated 40 percent in some provinces, losers could charge that the election results are illegitimate.
Reasons for the low turnout vary, but one problem that emerged Saturday was with voters who showed up at polling stations only to be turned away because their names were not on voter lists.
UPDATE AT BOTTOM
So I'm reading this article how the dress code of the Obama administration is informal (reads as if Bush running a tight ship was a bad thing). In the first week , President Obama has made the White House a Hip and Trendy Workplace. No suit jackets required. However, this confused his aides and they did not quite know how to dress so President Obama has issued
jeans Fridays “business casual” on weekends.
But, and there is a but, the reason for the lack of suit jacket attire apparently has nothing to do with being informal but that “He likes it warm" so he's cranked up the thermostat. "You could grow orchids in there.” says David Axelrod. "He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?”
So I'm wondering what ever happened to the "everybody just inflating their tires" to save energy meme?
Or the "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say "OK"... That's not leadership. That's not going to happen." speech.
Contradiction? Hypocrisy? If Obama expects people to do this to save on energy, the least he could do is turn down his thermostat and put on a freakin jacket.
Just saying since I'm footin the utilities bill.
UMMM, that's easy to say from a toasty Oval office.
So is he "steeled by Chicago’s harsh winters" or can't take the cold because he's "from Hawaii"?
Somebody please help me out here, I'm just confused.
Do Kentuckians need to toughen up?
HOPE/CHANGE!!! - Obama And FEMA Leave Americans To Die In Kentucky
BUT THE WHITE HOUSE IS "SO WARM YOU CAN GROW ORCHIDS"
The Governor called in the Natl Guard three days after issuing state of emergency.
42 people dead, communities iced in, nearly one million still without power are left without lifesaving power for heat and cooking; conditions are worsening - and FEMA nowhere to be found.
Local officials grew angrier at what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In Kentucky’s Grayson County, about 80 miles southwest of Louisville, Emergency Management Director Randell Smith said the 25 National Guardsmen who have responded have no chain saws to clear fallen trees.
“We’ve got people out in some areas we haven’t even visited yet,” Smith said. “We don’t even know that they’re alive.”
Smith said FEMA was still a no-show days after the storm.
Marty Hudak, spokesman for Obama FEMA director Nancy Ward, said emergency personnel can’t get to the people living (and dying) in these dangerous disaster areas because it’s, well, too dangerous to do so.
There's some that say this is “a Katrina moment for President Obama.”
Just a FYI: Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana 3 DAYS before Katrina made landfall. President Bush had to get on the phone two days before the hurricane to plead with the governor to order a mandatory evacuation. In response, she dithered and delayed. Then, after they failed miserably remember all those empty school buses), they enlisted their enablers in the national media to shift all blame to the evil Bush, even though FEMA has always told states and cities that they are on their own for the first 72 hours after a disaster. BTW, during those first 72 hours, the US Coast Guard, of which Bush was Commander in Chief, rescued some 10,000 people in New Orleans and vicinity.
In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm’s landfall.
On October 4, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act. The act significantly reorganized FEMA, provided it substantial new authority to remedy gaps that became apparent in the response to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the most devastating natural disaster in U.S. history, and included a more robust preparedness mission for FEMA.
Guess FEMA isn't any better under Obama.