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Except, it's not real. I Photoshopped it.
Here's some news you may have heard: "U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq's cities today." I can provide you countless links to blogs (mostly) and mainstream news sources (fewer) that have reported this. It is wrong.
This is not wrong: "U.S. combat forces gradually withdrew from Iraq cities over the past several months." The military has said this repeatedly, very few people have heard. Many of those who've been ignoring reality will be outraged that the military has "lied to them" when they learn this.
There are plenty of U.S. forces left in Iraqi cities. They are non-combat forces.
They have guns.
Update: General Odierno's message to the troops.
Col. Schroeder, Inspector General / Assistant Deputy Director Strategy & Plans Division, will discuss his experience advising and assisting Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior and Joint Headquarters IGs in the development of a modern, professional IG capability; with noted successes and challenges.
The term "combat forces" in the agreement is important. At the request of the government of Iraq, the requirement for combat forces to be out of Iraq's cities does not apply to U.S. troops serving in other roles. There will still be some U.S. forces located in Iraq's cities who are serving in an advisory or liaison capacity. Additionally, the Iraqi government reserves the right to request assistance from U.S. combat forces if necessary.
Primary responsibility for advising Iraqi security forces is assigned to an organization called Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. MNSTC-I is presently comprised of more than 5,600 of America's best soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Defense Department civilians, and contractors. Its mission is to help train and equip Iraq's security forces to the point where they are able to protect the Iraqi people and do so within the rule of law, in accordance to international standards, and while respecting human rights.
In yesterday's roundtable, I asked Joseph McMillan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs if the bulk of forces left in Iraqi cities would be MNSTC-I troops - the answer: no. They will be MNC-I. ("Multi-National Corps - Iraq, part of Multi-National Force - Iraq , is the tactical unit responsible for command and control of operations throughout Iraq.") MNC-I and MNSTC-I are both part of Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), commanded by General Odierno. If all that confuses you, you are not alone. (But hopefully listening to the audio above will help - that's the reason I chose that as my first question...)
(My thanks to USN Lt Jennifer Cragg, who does the hard work putting these together.)
Who does this guy think he is?
On June 2, Obama administration officials got a firsthand look at the brewing political battle when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Honduras for an Organization of American States conference. Mrs. Clinton met with Mr. Zelaya, and he reportedly annoyed her when he summoned her to a private room late in the night after her arrival and had her shake hands with his extended family.
Some of "those people" have HUGE extended families. I'll bet she looked like hell the next day.
At the HuffPo
It has been widely reported that Iraqis are celebrating the withdrawal of US forces from their country. But what the media has failed to emphasize is that 130,000 residual forces will still be operating inside of Iraq...
Damn it! Who are their sources? How do they find this stuff? No matter how hard the Pentagon and the media attempt to cover up what's really going on in Iraq, somehow (you can bet on it) an intrepid blogger for the Huffpo or Daily Kos will find The Truth. (That's just one reason I call them the Sniffington Post here - they never stop sniffing around for that media cover-up.)
Take a look at this Washington Post story, for example:
BAGHDAD, June 30 -- This is no longer America's war.
Six years and three months after the March 2003 invasion, the United States has withdrawn its remaining combat troops from Iraq's cities, the U.S. commander here said, and is turning over security to Iraqi police and soldiers.
While more than 130,000 U.S. troops remain in the country...
Three sentences - they tried to bury the truth in the third sentence of their so-called "news" story. It's no wonder the top reporters from both Posts are going at it over who does a better job asking the tough questions at Presidential press conferences.
Meanwhile, you've got to get almost half way through this 450 word Pentagon News bulletin currently headlined on Multi-National Force - Iraq's front page to find the Truth:
U.S. troops in Iraq, who up until this weekend were securing Iraq's cities and towns, are now forming layers of defense outside the country's major cities and focusing on Iraq's external borders, Morrell said. This is not to say, however, that the 131,000 ground forces will never set foot in an Iraqi city in a combat capacity, he added.
O.M.G. I shudder to think what might happen if (or when) a SniffPo investigative reporter discovers what "combat troops" means.
I'm almost afraid to read sites like the SniffPo or Daily Kos. After all, who knows what else the "mainstream media" sources have been denying about Iraq?
Update: My buddy Jules: "Talk about denial. Euphrates ain't a river in Baghdad at all. Tigris is." Drat - he's discovered my part in the coverup! (I'm serious when I say "my buddy" though.)
Packed 'em in there, they did. Sez the Prez:
(Cell phone "quacks.")
Whose duck is back there? (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: It's a duck.THE PRESIDENT: There's a duck quacking in there somewhere. (Laughter.) Where do you guys get these ring tones, by the way? (Laughter.) I'm just curious. (Laughter.)
And finally, I want to say a word about "don't ask, don't tell." As I said before -- I'll say it again -- I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security. (Applause.) In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security. (Applause.)
Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we'll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.
Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as commander in chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.
I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.
Now even as we take these steps, we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open. For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters -- not yet.
That's why I've spoken about these issues not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences -- in front of African American church members, in front of other audiences that have traditionally resisted these changes. And that's what I'll continue to do so. That's how we'll shift attitudes.
Hey - wait a minute! That was an awful manly looking group in that photo...
Elsewhere in the Administration:
I was just going through the invite list to the White House gay party last night. I counted around 63 women out of around 176 invitees. (Some names were hard to determine the gender, and it's always possible my back-of-the-envelope count is off by one or two, but that won't change the overall percentage enough to make a difference.)
113 men (64%)
63 women (36%)
That would be a bit more than one-third women invited to a major civil rights event hosted by a Democratic president. Let me explain something. For good or for bad, and I happen to think it's good, when a big liberal group or politician holds a public event, they try to get a representative mix of people showing up. That means you pay attention to how many women you have, or haven't, invited, how many African-Americans, etc. Even in the 1990s, inviting nearly twice as many men as women would raise more than a few eyebrows. But in 2009?
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis issued a warning letter to departmental employees late last week, after posters celebrating Gay Pride Month hanging in 35 department elevators since June 22 have been either defaced or removed altogether.
In an e-mail message sent to the entire department, Ms. Solis, who helped found the House of Representative's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Caucus when she was in Congress, said she was outraged by the behavior.
Legislature: We can't loan money to Governments that support terrorism.
President: Yes we can.
Oh, by the way...
Charlie Savage at the New York Times blog The Caucus:
On Wednesday, June 24, President Obama signed the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, and issued a short, laudatory signing statement. It was purely "rhetorical," to use the language of academics who study this subject, and voiced no constitutional objections...
Two days later, apparently at about 4:15 pm on the evening of Friday, June 26, the President issued an additional statement that contained the fifth constitutional signing statement of his presidency. After four paragraphs lauding the funding the Act provides, the President stated:However, provisions of this bill within sections 1110 to 1112 of title XI, and sections 1403 and 1404 of title XIV, would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with international organizations and foreign governments, or by requiring consultation with the Congress prior to such negotiations or discussions. I will not treat these provisions as limiting my ability to engage in foreign diplomacy or negotiations.
Mr. Bush's frequent use of the device to claim a right to bypass laws prompted criticism by the American Bar Association in 2006. Its House of Delegates called signing statements "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional separation of powers," and called on presidents to stop using the device and instead to veto legislation if it has sections that the president believes to be unconstitutional.
Shortly after taking office, Mr. Obama issued a directive to executive agencies telling them not to rely on any of Mr. Bush's signing statements to bypass a law without prior approval from the attorney general. He also promised to use the device sparingly, and only to invoke mainstream theories of the Constitution.
Since then, he has issued several signing statements of his own.
John Elwood (author of the Volokh Conspiracy link/quote at the beginning of this piece) says of Savage's commentary, "one might say it lacks the "urgency" of some of his earlier Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporting on the subject" and provides links to same that upon review indicate that's a fair observation. But perhaps he's just getting warmed up...
Given recent news of Congress passing Bills that no one has read (or in some cases are only "almost" written), one's immediate concern might be whether whoever does read the multitude of voluminous documents they churn out prior to Presidential approval (a very large team, I assume) might be having a tough go at keeping up. And while a two day delay on an addendum to a signing statement might be reasonable under the workload, is there a definition on what might be excessive? (Or is that a "no, but we'll know it when we see it" sort of thing?*)
At this point I'd like to congratulate those still reading for having an attention span greater than most elected officials. You'll find I've appended the fairly long text of the disputed portions of the
Bill Law at the end of this entry, though I certainly don't expect anyone to read them. The shortest with which the President balks is section 1404, in which Congress asserts that the U.S.will oppose (by vote) any loans by International Institutions to any nation whose government "has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.'
Other challenged sections deal with "promotion of policy goals at the world bank group", "climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas accounting", ("The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that multilateral development banks... adopt and implement greenhouse gas accounting in analyzing the benefits and costs of individual projects (excluding those with de minimus greenhouse gas emissions) for which funding is sought from the bank.") and "multilateral development bank reform".
You may be asking, "what does any of that have to do with paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? The answer: every bit as much as Cash for Clunkers does - it too was a part of the "Defense Supplemental". (It's law now, suckers - at least, except for the parts President Obama has or will in the future red line.)
(And one final caveat - I pulled the text that follows from the Government Printing Office web site, where it is claimed to be the version that passed both the House and Senate. There is no way that statement can ever be verified as truth, nor should anyone assume that there is such a version, or if so that that version is also the one the President signed - examples of such failures can be found here.)
*Footnote/added thought: If Congress passed a Bill limiting the time between signing and a "statement", would the President veto it?
Promotion of policy goals at the world bank group
Sec. 1110. Title XVI of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262p et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:
`SEC. 1626. REFORM OF THE `DOING BUSINESS' REPORT OF THE WORLD BANK.
`(a) The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Directors at the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, and the International Finance Corporation of the following United States policy goals, and to use the voice and vote of the United States to actively promote and work to achieve these goals:
`(1) Suspension of the use of the `Employing Workers' Indicator for the purpose of ranking or scoring country performance in the annual Doing Business Report of the World Bank until a set of indicators can be devised that fairly represent the value of internationally recognized workers' rights, including core labor standards, in creating a stable and favorable environment for attracting private investment. The indicators shall bring to bear the experiences of the member governments in dealing with the economic, social and political complexity of labor market issues. The indicators should be developed through collaborative discussions with and between the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the International Labor Organization, private companies, and labor unions.
`(2) Elimination of the `Labor Tax and Social Contributions' Subindicator from the annual Doing Business Report of the World Bank.
`(3) Removal of the `Employing Workers' Indicator as a `guidepost' for calculating the annual Country Policy and Institutional Assessment score for each recipient country.
`(b) Within 60 days after the date of the enactment of this section, the Secretary of the Treasury shall provide an instruction to the United States Executive Directors referred to in subsection (a) to take appropriate actions with respect to implementing the policy goals of the United States set forth in subsection (a), and such instruction shall be posted on the website of the Department of the Treasury.
`SEC. 1627. ENHANCING THE TRANSPARENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE INSPECTION PANEL PROCESS OF THE WORLD BANK.
`(a) Enhancing Transparency in Implementation of Management Action Plans- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to seek to ensure that World Bank Procedure 17.55, which establishes the operating procedures of Management with regard to the Inspection Panel, provides that Management prepare and make available to the public semiannual progress reports describing implementation of Action Plans considered by the Board; allow and receive comments from Requesters and other Affected Parties for two months after the date of disclosure of the progress reports; post these comments on World Bank and Inspection Panel websites (after receiving permission from the requestors to post with or without attribution); submit the reports to the Board with any comments received; and make public the substance of any actions taken by the Board after Board consideration of the reports.
`(b) Safeguarding the Independence and Effectiveness of the Inspection Panel- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to continue to promote the independence and effectiveness of the Inspection Panel, including by seeking to ensure the availability of, and access by claimants to, the Inspection Panel for projects supported by World Bank resources.
`(c) Evaluation of Country Systems- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the World Bank to request an evaluation by the Independent Evaluation Group on the use of country environmental and social safeguard systems to determine the degree to which, in practice, the use of such systems provides the same level of protection at the project level as do the policies and procedures of the World Bank.
`(d) World Bank Defined- In this section, the term `World Bank' means the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association.'.
Climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas accounting
Sec. 1111. Title XIII of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262m et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:
`SEC. 1308. CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND GREENHOUSE GAS ACCOUNTING.
`(a) Use of Greenhouse Gas Accounting- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that multilateral development banks (as defined in section 1701(c)(4) of this Act) adopt and implement greenhouse gas accounting in analyzing the benefits and costs of individual projects (excluding those with de minimus greenhouse gas emissions) for which funding is sought from the bank.
`(b) Expansion of Climate Change Mitigation Activities- The Secretary of the Treasury shall work to ensure that the multilateral development banks (as defined in section 1701(c)(4)) expand their activities supporting climate change mitigation by--
`(1) significantly expanding support for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including zero carbon technologies;
`(2) reviewing all proposed infrastructure investments to ensure that all opportunities for integrating energy efficiency measures have been considered;
`(3) increasing the dialogue with the governments of developing countries regarding--
`(A) analysis and policy measures needed for low carbon emission economic development; and
`(B) reforms needed to promote private sector investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including zero carbon technologies; and
`(4) integrate low carbon emission economic development objectives into multilateral development bank country strategies.
`(c) Report to Congress- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this section, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit a report on the status of efforts to implement this section to the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.'.
Multilateral development bank reform
Sec. 1112. (a) Budget Disclosure- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that the multilateral development banks make timely, public disclosure of their operating budgets including expenses for staff, consultants, travel and facilities.
(b) Evaluation- The Secretary of the Treasury shall seek to ensure that multilateral development banks rigorously evaluate the development impact of selected bank projects, programs, and financing operations, and emphasize use of random assignment in conducting such evaluations, where appropriate and to the extent feasible.
(c) Extractive Industries- The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States Executive Directors at the multilateral development banks to promote the endorsement of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) by these institutions and the integration of the principles of the EITI into extractive industry-related projects that are funded by the multilateral development banks.
(d) Report- Not later than September 30, 2009, the Secretary of the Treasury shall submit a report to the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives, detailing actions taken by the multilateral development banks to achieve the objectives of this section.
(e) Coordination of Development Policy- The Secretary of the Treasury shall consult with the Secretary of State, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and other Federal agencies, as appropriate, in the formulation and implementation of United States policy relating to the development activities of the World Bank Group.
Sec. 1403. (a) Not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Executive Director of the World Bank and the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (the Fund), shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the steps taken to coordinate the activities of the World Bank and the Fund to avoid duplication of missions and programs, and steps taken by the Department of the Treasury and the Fund to increase the oversight and accountability of the Fund's activities.
(b) For the purposes of this title, `appropriate congressional committees' means the Committees on Appropriations, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committees on Appropriations, Foreign Affairs, and Financial Services of the House of Representatives.
(c) In the next report to Congress on international economic and exchange rate policies, the Secretary of the Treasury shall: (1) report on ways in which the Fund's surveillance function under Article IV could be enhanced and made more effective in terms of avoiding currency manipulation; (2) report on the feasibility and usefulness of publishing the Fund's internal calculations of indicative exchange rates; and (3) provide recommendations on the steps that the Fund can take to promote global financial stability and conduct effective multilateral surveillance.
(d) The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose any loan, project, agreement, memorandum, instrument, plan, or other program of the Fund to a Heavily Indebted Poor Country that imposes budget caps or restraints that do not allow the maintenance of or an increase in governmental spending on health care or education; and to promote government spending on health care, education, food aid, or other critical safety net programs in all of the Fund's activities with respect to Heavily Indebted Poor Countries.
Sec. 1404. Title XVI of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262p-262p-8) is amended by adding at the end the following: `The Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Director at each of the International Financial Institutions (as defined in section 1701(c)(2) of this Act) to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose the provision of loans or other use of the funds of the respective institution to any country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined, for purposes of section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, or section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, to be a government that has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.'.
"Joseph McMillan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs spoke with online journalists and bloggers during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable, June 29, to discuss the 30 June official turn over in Iraq."
Audio here (there will be about 15 seconds of silence initially...). Crowded line for this one, with about ten folks asking questions - from ten perspectives. I was probably a bit too far into the weeds for my first question (MNSTC-I vice MNF-I, but it was answered), I think my second was more generic (the "pre surge posture" description) but still worthwhile.
I'm following a breaking story over a one-day news cycle, to see how it breaks, and how good/bad a job is done doing so. I won't edit incorrect info as news comes in, as that is sort of the point: to see how incorrect the info is.
Helluva story, too.
And here's Joshua Foust at Registan with more.
Bottom line (for now) is it's never a good sign when U.S. Forces in Afghanistan must release statements saying
There was no involvement of coalition or ISAF [International Security Assistance Forces] forces in the attack at a Kandahar police station today.
The incident was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident, and did not involve U.S. or international personnel or equipment.
Don't take my word as condemning the statement or questioning either its necessity or veracity - I'm merely observing that the need for it in the first place is both real and not good.
Meanwhile, back at the front:
"Yes, rest assured that whenever there is political upheaval anywhere in the world, Gen Y will be there to take pictures of themselves in front of it."
- Starbuck, from Iraq talking Honduras.
He's talking Iraq and June 30 deadlines here, though:
American troops will be reversing the maneuver which kicked off the surge--namely, moving combat troops out of small outposts inside the cities.
I'm surprised how few (if any) others have described it in those terms.
Mongo (who in a separate post endorses Starbuck on June 30 shenanigans we can expect) says:
I'm not going to post squat on the 30 JUN withdrawal of US combat forces from urban areas in Iraq. Too easy to get crosswise with OPSEC, PAO, etc. Instead, I'll link to this article, which does a good laydown of the situation.
But he offers one caveat, so click through to his place to read that and discover what article he's talking about.
Back in October '08 milblogger Dreadcow completed his second tour in Iraq with this post at Fun with Hand Grenades.
During a redeployment briefing about two weeks ago we were informed it would be a good idea to develop a "thirty second answer" for the purpose of dealing with questions coming from civilians such as "what's it like over there?" and "what's going on in Iraq?" I wish it was that easy... the situation in Iraq is complicated and everyone has their opinion; I certainly don't think thirty seconds is long enough to address the problems we face and the solution to those problems, but it definitely got me thinking.
And what followed was hands down the best analysis of the big picture Iraq situation I've seen. (He quit blogging shortly thereafter, but there are signs he has returned...) As prelude to whatever events are about to transpire in Iraq this week it can't be beat.
A chaplain from Walter Reed. A doctor from Walter Reed. The owner of a new hair salon. An architect. On a Metro train, in one terrifying instant and its aftermath, their lives became forever intertwined. This is their story.
...It would be impossible to read all those big, icky, boring bills...
Texas Republican Reps. Joe Barton and Louie Gohmert have just asked the chair whether there exists a complete, updated copy of the Waxman-Markey carbon-cap bill.
"If a bill for which there is no copy were to actually pass this body," Barton asked, "could the bill without a copy be sent to the Senate for its consideration?"
May 22, 2008
House Republicans introduced a privileged resolution Thursday calling for an investigation into how a part of the Farm Bill was dropped from the bill that was sent to the president for his signature or veto.
The Republican resolution called for an immediate investigation into "the abuses of power surrounding the inaccuracies in the process and enrollment" of the bill and "admonished" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of Democratic leadership for their roles in the matter.
The resolution was quickly tabled with a party line vote.
Title III of the 15 title bill -- which pertains to trade -- was inadvertently left off the physical bill that was sent to the president's desk. Bush vetoed the bill, and the House voted to override his veto Wednesday evening.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he's troubled by the fact that Democratic leaders were aware that the title was missing but went ahead with the override vote anyway.
"This is a very serious issue," said Boehner. "We don't know what happened or what kind of mistakes were made."
Why, if they read all these things they'd never have time to vote on them.
Let's get one thing straight (as possible, at least...) - Congress left the Obama admin out to dry (or maybe covered for them, who really knows?) by not funding the Gitmo closing in the defense budget or the supplemental. It's about the only funding they didn't like - "Cash for Clunkers" somehow made the grade for the defense budget, this did not. As usual, plenty of other non-defense related items (many - but not all - of which are pure pork) passed muster, too. On top of that, more F22s than the DoD asked for and various other increases critical to continued home-district support found their way into the bill.
As for things considered that didn't fit, a Lieberman/Graham amendment to ban release of any additional detainee abuse photos received overwhelming support as a stand-alone measure (putting the Senate in line with the Supreme Court and the White House on that issue.)
And, oh by the way - the bulk of the cash goes to continuing the various wars (or "supporting the troops" if you prefer). Who would complain over a few tens of billions on top of many more tens of billions for that? This is the third year in a row all this has gone on under a Democratic controlled congress, although only the first prepared for the signature of a Democrat in the White House.
At some point, it will occur to the the useful idiots subset of those who voted for change (in 2006 or 2008) that they are no longer useful. When that reality strikes it will be interesting to see what they do about it. (Prediction: cry.) But that day is not today.
Up armor the trailers!!!!! (FWIW: I get emails from troops in Afghanistan saying their Under Armour gives them a rash.)
On the other hand - no, we don't need more F22s in this year's budget - regardless of what the Democratic-controlled Congress might say to the contrary. There are plenty of good reasons for that, but unfortunately MSNBC went with John ("The Rangers killed Tillman for Bush!!!!) Soltz over just about anyone familiar with the issue. (On the third hand, loud group chants of Republicanz R teh Suxorz!!! led by the VoteVets crew might be just the thing to keep the useful idiots useful and distracted while we buy more shiny new F22s to fly overwatch at Gitmo. Or, maybe "cutting" the ridiculously small - 7 or 12 - number of extra F22s the DoD doesn't want from the budget will be a bone to throw at the useful idiots to make them still feel useful...)
And for those not in on the inside joke at This Ain't Hell, I am Sam Elliot.
Looking forward, non-shark jumping news follows:
Here's a comparison/contrast of the operational environments (and other factors) confronting ISF and SoI troops, from Boss Mongo - who is currently mentoring ISF forces in Iraq. (Always a critical task, but one that will be very much so next week...)
Hmmmmm... speaking of next week:
Of particular concern is a new rule that bars U.S. troops from using mine-resistant armored vehicles in urban areas during the day, officials said....I believe someone is misinterpreting the guidance here. Obviously "combat troops out of cities" means we won't be doing routine solo (meaning sans ISF) security patrols in town, and I've heard that routine travel (to and from) various urban locales (say, resupply to the security stations and other locations where our many "non-combat" adviser and support troops are stationed) will be at night when the roads are less crowded, but this description paints a different (and, I suspect, erroneous) picture.
And speaking further of next week - for those not wanting to be surprised by the news I highly recommend the Iraq section of yesterday's Dawn Patrol for read-aheads. (And just because I'm biased towards the efforts of the awesome lady who compiles that information doesn't mean I'd steer you wrong.)
Faces change but the danger is constant. There is no way around it. Doing the job safely is impossible. Some say that the best way to avoid danger is to stay with the troops. This is completely false. I spent more time with U.S. troops in Iraq than any correspondent from any organization, and the same might also be true of British forces. The time with the troops has been far more dangerous than time spent unembedded. I've never been in a shootout in Iraq or Afghanistan other than those times with U.S. or British forces, in which case it would be impossible to remember all the firefights, bombs, sniper attacks, or all the dead bodies. The most dangerous work that one can do is to embed with our combat troops. Nothing else comes close.That may be true, but with or without platoons of armed soldiers, Mike Yon has never shied away from going where others fear to tread:
Having worked for Mr. Jackson at his Neverland Ranch, I had the feeling that he was a hostage to his success.Mike Yon's reporting - you can't Beat It.
Yesterday: "Twitter appears to be crashing under the strain, which indicates it's not that useful for really big news.".
It wasn't just Twitter - and I wasn't the only one who noticed:
"Between approximately 2:40 p.m. PDT and 3:15 p.m. PDT today, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson," a Google spokesman told CNET, which also reported that Google News users complained that the service was inaccessible for a time. At its peak, Google Trends rated the Jackson story as "volcanic."
As sites fell, users raced to other sites: TechCrunch reported that TMZ, which broke the story, had several outages; users then switched to Perez Hilton's blog, which also struggled to deal with the requests it received.
CNN reported a fivefold rise in traffic and visitors in just over an hour, receiving 20 million page views in the hour the story broke.
Twitter crashed as users saw multiple "fail whales" -- the illustrations the site uses as error messages -- user FoieGrasie posting, "Irony: The protesters in Iran using Twitter as com are unable to get online because of all the posts of 'Michael Jackson RIP.' Well done." The site's status blog said that Twitter had had to temporarily disable its search results, saved searches and trend topics.
I was able to get a message out: "Goodnight Iran".
Update - the upside:
"We've taken more orders for Jackson CDs and mp3 products in the last 24 hours than we did in the previous 11 years of the Amazon music store. The response is just unprecedented," says Bill Carr, vice president of music and video. " It's not a surprise, though. He's a legend and the king of pop. But the kind of sales volume we are seeing is simply unbelievable."Maybe it will end this recession.
...to my earlier question, from the guy who knows best.
Meanwhile, the Small Wars crew (chagrined, they are!) says "for you lurkers - worth signing up and chiming in." Sounds like an invite to me.
Okay, actually I'm not at all surprised:
The White House and the Pentagon leadership couldn't be clearer: they don't want any more of the controversial F-22 stealth fighters. But Congress now seems ready to pour billions into extra jets, anyway. The Senate Armed Services Committee just "voted to fully fund seven F-22 Raptors for $1.75 billion," Air Force Times is reporting.
Last Week, the House Armed Services Committee voted to add 12 of the planes to the upcoming Pentagon budget.
I wish I could bet on stuff like this, but who on Earth would offer odds against it?
Update: On a related note, the President signed the supplemental '09 budget for Iraq and Afghanistan (not to be confused with the FY10 military budget discussed above) this week:
"I want to thank the Members of Congress who put politics aside and stood up to support a bill that will provide for the safety of our troops and the American people. This legislation will make available the funding necessary to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end, defeat terrorist networks in Afghanistan, and further prepare our nation in the event of a continued outbreak of the H1N1 pandemic flu."Not to mention Cash for Clunkers, and a few billion in pure pork added on. (Ironically, those who voted against that will "pay for it".)
Returning to the original story:
McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger, said U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith.For additional clarification Smith explained: "But if there is a compound they're taking fire from and they can remove themselves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that's the option they should take."
Note the phrase, "imminent danger" - then watch this.
That's from the recent Discovery Channel Somali Pirates story (check your local listings for a repeat if you missed it the first time) - but the emphasis on "imminent danger" is mine. It should be noted that the Captain is a hostage didn't meet the definition - but any debate was effectively ended by a Vice Admiral's clear statement - initially made in the immediate aftermath of the event. (And that's all that any Operator could want.)
Recall, too, that days before an attempt to rescue a French hostage had ended with the death of the hostage - a reminder of the risk confronting decision makers in this event.
But all's well that ends well in this case - in spite of efforts by some to depict Somali Pirates as Greenpeace-like protectors of the purity of the waters there are very few tears being shed over the loss of three, and no strident calls for convention of either the Court of Public Opinion or any more physical investigative authority.
That will likely not be the case in a future event in Afghanistan, where were it not for concern over the public relations ramifications this discussion would not be being held. The question is: responding to an event there, will a hypothetical three-star general be able to state honestly and unequivocally in the immediate aftermath of an event that 'this was the case' - and will that statement suffice for that AO?
I fear the answer to the second part is "no". And I also fear that the answer to the first part is "no" too - mostly because of the word "immediately", a requirement that the Army in Afghanistan (and Iraq) has had a much more difficult time with (see here and here) than does the Navy off the shores of Somalia.
Yep: "There are four days remaining until US combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraqi cities" - that will be next week's "surprise story" (this week's was "ROE change in Afghanistan").
The key word in "combat troops" is "combat" - there will also be much feigned shock next week when some folks (mostly outside of Iraq) discover it does not mean what they thought it meant. (Or just notice that word in the first place.)
Speaking of meaning - "surprise story" doesn't necessarily mean "big story", either. Michael Jackson is both, few other things rise to that level. But since a milblogger in Iraq has noted that "most milblogs and pundits have been relatively quiet on any sort of predictions of exactly what will happen when US troops have moved combat forces out of the cities" - I offer my prediction: Barring abnormal levels of death and destruction, events of Jun 30 will merit a brief story touting the impact of the Cairo speech and little more. Too many bombs and the "Bush's murderous folly" storyline will reappear.
Unless Michael Jackson's funeral is held that day.
(That observation absolutely does not apply to readers here, who should now go read those links.)
A great discussion on changing the rules in Afghanistan at Small Wars Journal. ("Great" insofar as those contributing know what they're talking about.)
My contribution is a question. To understand it you'd have to understand this:
From the original post:
In November, 2006, what would come to be known as the "Awakening Movement" was still growing and still tentative, as two groups (US and local Iraqis) were just discovering whether they could actually work together. In the States, Democrats had just won the congressional elections in part on promises of a "new direction" in Iraq. Nothing whatsoever was certain about the future of that nation or the US presence there.
AQIZ (al Qaeda in Iraq) was not yet defeated in Ramadi (much less all of Anbar) and were determined to impose their will on the citizens there. A promise of "amnesty" for the sheiks who had turned against them had expired at the end of Ramadan, and they were about to make an example of one tribe on the outskirts of Ramadi.
As Major Niel Smith (writing in tandem with his commander, Col Sean MacFarland) explains briefly, at the time of the discovery of the attack an American unit (Lieutenant Colonel Charles Ferry's 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry) was about to deploy on another mission. They turned on a dime and headed for Sufia (this is no easy task - one could spend longer explaining the difficulties to those unfamiliar with the process than it took the Army to overcome them) even as air assets were called in for support.
And that's what caught my eye back in November, 2006 when I said "this is big." That was based just on the MNF-I press release, the media wouldn't have recognized this for what it was, and they were quite busy ignoring the greater awakening movement anyway. Those who've spent any time in a TOC in Iraq (yeah, that's a great number, I know...) will grasp this for what it was: Risk with a big cap "R" and HIGHLY "successful COIN" in all regards. The payoff was commensurate with that risk; the awakening survived and thrived, the surge helped it spread beyond the confines of Ramadi, and there are thousands of Americans and Iraqis alive today because of the decisions made then and there.
Here's the Military Review article - text from that is the script I used in the video above. Read that for a discussion of how Sufia fits in to the larger "Awakening" story.
No one disputes the impact of the awakening movement on subsequent events in Iraq -at least I hope I no longer need to explain that. But few understand (in fact, many deny or are unaware of) the significant U.S. contribution to the success of that movement. Given that, I maintain that the significance of the Sufia battle is under-appreciated in terms of impact on subsequent events in Iraq. (Or in terms of applied counter-insurgency.) This has everything to do with both the actions taken and the decision to take action - which was very much an "outside the box" (and difficult and risky - both tactically and 'career-wise') decision.
Acknowledging that no one has yet seen the new instructions (some form of "break contact" when civilians are in danger), I think my question is a fair response: How would application impact an event like the battle of Sufia, in terms of conduct of the battle and the decision process to engage in the first place?
Update: and here's Niel Smith's answer - thank you, sir!
(But the full discussion is more than worth the reader's time.)
Just returned war vets in "pitched gun battle" with local officials... jail under siege, sheriff threatened... government description: "crisis".
Yes - in America. That DHS report is looking ever more prescient every day.
I wanted to write this post yesterday, but thought it would be wrongly perceived:
Dear IranI should have gone with my instinct - though it turns out it was Michael Jackson and I was optimistic on the timing.
Don't be fooled - you have about 48 hours until Brittney Spears does something to make us forget you.
Update: Twitter appears to be crashing under the strain, which indicates it's not that useful for really big news.
Continuing our airlift into Afghanistan with the first SOF team in...
This is part two of a selection from Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. (Part one is here.)
Once again, the words are Stanton's, the voice and formatting are mine - the pictures were found all over the web (and in most cases serve only as a reasonable facsimile, and not images of the actual individuals involved). I hope you enjoy the end result as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Jut push play...
Hey, we can do previews of coming attractions here, too - so here's what we're working on:
How this -
But first, part two of this:
All coming soon...
McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger, said U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith.
For additional clarification Smith explained: "But if there is a compound they're taking fire from and they can remove themselves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that's the option they should take."
Oh, so that's what the kids are calling it these days....
After years of pushing stories about how awful Army and VA hospitals are, are they really now to be offered up as shining examples of how wonderful government healthcare can be?
And does anyone believe that if those facilities were treating anyone other than injured veterans of America's wars anyone would give a damn about paint peeling in condemned buildings?
ABC's Matt Gutman reports from Afghanistan:
It became apparent in the very first briefing I received from the brass at Camp Leatherneck, that more troops will be needed. 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2nd MEB) commander Brig Gen Lawrence Nicholson says "we can't be everywhere at once. This area is just too large." The 10,000 Marines of the MEB, are taking over an area a little smaller than New Jersey. It's four times the number of troops there this time four months ago, and sounds like a lot of troops. But fighting is one thing, creating a sense of semi-permanent security locals, and holding territory are different. There are two Afghan army and police units to hold areas taken from the Taliban.
For instance, in the unruly crags of Gulestan, which hugs the Farah border with Helmand, a single platoon of Marines, about 50 men plus assorted supplementary troops, is charged with holding a 450 sq km area. It has one semi-passable road that runs diagonally through it. Gulestan has thirty cops. One of them said: "I will fight as long as the Marines are here, when they leave, I will leave before them."
(Via The Dawn Patrol, where you'll find the rest of today's news from Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, too.)
It won't be out until next year, but here's the trailer to The Pacific, the upcoming HBO series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg:
News from Monday:
KABUL - The U.S. commander in Afghanistan will soon order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding among villagers, an official said Monday, announcing one of the strongest measures yet to protect Afghan civilians.
The most contentious civilian casualty cases in recent years occurred during battles in Afghan villages when U.S. airstrikes aimed at militants also killed civilians...
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took command of international forces in Afghanistan this month, has said his measure of effectiveness will be the "number of Afghans shielded from violence" -- not the number of militants killed.
McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger, said U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith.
For additional clarification Smith explained: "But if there is a compound they're taking fire from and they can remove themselves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that's the option they should take."
Deadliest Strike Yet in Pakistan Drone War
CNN, quoting unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, says the strikes killed at least 55 people, including three top Taliban commanders. Al Jazeera puts the death toll somewhat higher, saying around 60 people were killed as they dispersed after funeral prayers in the Makeen district of South Waziristan; Reuters, quoting Pakistani intelligence sources, puts the toll at 70.
If after paying for your home and utilities, your food, and your family's medical care, you were left with $17,000 for the year, could you eke out an existence on that? (Think about your own earnings after those expenses...)
That's the worst-case scenario for a brand-new military member, an E1 - assuming they received no bonus for enlisting in the first place. Then again, promotion to E2 comes before that first year is up, so after a few months they'll actually be making close to 19k a year. By the time they're an E4 with a couple years in, base pay is up to 23-24k. Achieve NCO status and you're close to 30k - in addition to your housing, food, medical care, and any special allowances or bonuses. Not bad for a high school graduate with no additional training or experience, says I. (Official military base pay table here.)
Still, you'll often see horror stories citing that 17 thousand/year base pay as if that was all she wrote. But military pay is most likely different than yours, as about.com attempts to explain here:
It's really impossible to produce an actual annual salary chart. This is because there are many variables to military pay.
Some jobs are entitled to flight pay, continuation bonuses and special pay, and some jobs are not. Some people live in free on-base government quarters (barracks or base housing) and others live off-base and receive a housing allowance. The amount of the housing allowance depends on the person's location, and whether or not they have dependents.
The below chart shows average annual military salary for enlisted members, to include base pay, average housing allowance, monetary food allowance, and the "tax advantage" of untaxed allowances. The charts do not include items such as overseas housing allowance, overseas COLA (cost of living allowance), enlistment or reenlistment bonuses, or other bonuses and allowances that many servicemembers are entitled to.
They show E1 earnings at 35k, and E5 at 50+. And regardless of any other bonuses, they all get free health care for themselves and their families.
Now given the job they do - risking life to keep America safe - I also say they aren't getting paid enough (even with an extra 8k or so for a year's duty in a combat zone). And if you or anyone else wants to pick up the tab for a GI the next time you see one at lunch somewhere that's a great way to say thanks. Likewise, if you're the sort that sends care packages to the troops overseas I can assure you from personal experience they are appreciated. I never received one that didn't contain things I couldn't have bought for myself - but that's not the effing point. The knowledge that folks back home who didn't even know me actually gave a damn was priceless.
That said, this annoys me (to put it kindly) - and if you can't see the difference then I'm wasting my breath:
WASHINGTON, DC - On Thursday, June 25th, the President and First Lady will join hundreds of Congressional family members and five national nonprofit organizations to prepare 15,000 backpacks with books, healthy snacks, Frisbees and other items for the children of servicemen and women. The service event is part of United We Serve, President Obama's call to all Americans to engage in service projects and create meaningful impact in their towns and communities. The United We Serve summer service initiative began June 22nd and runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. The initiative is being led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency dedicated to fostering service in communities across the country.
And frankly, the fact that a military installation is being used as a backdrop for the charade adds fuel to the fire.
I think there are plenty of ways to say thanks for your service. I've taken advantage of free days at amusement parks for military members and families, I'm aware of summer camps set up for kids of deployed parents - awesome idea.
But healthy snacks? Frisbees? Really? I think charity is a great idea - if there are malnourished kids somewhere whose parents can't afford to give them healthy snacks then I salute the efforts of any charity to right that wrong. I'm not even opposed to Government aid to that end. But if those kids are the children of military members, it's for individual reasons beyond mom and dad don't get paid enough to buy them food.
The children of military members sacrifice for their country too, and they don't get a vote on that in more ways than one. So if you want to thank those kids for their sacrifice I think it's a great thing. They deserve it - in fact, you can't thank them enough. (But that shouldn't stop anyone from giving them a gift certificate for an ice cream cone or a free movie. Like me in Iraq they'll appreciate that.)
But I'm more than a little annoyed when I see military members treated as poverty stricken charity cases, which I think is the not-too-subtle message being sent here. And it seems to be part of a larger military member as helpless victim signal that increasingly seems to emanate from the home of the Commander in Chief. I suppose there's a fine line between thanking someone and insulting someone, and it's individually defined. But in this case I believe it's been crossed.
So I hope none of the folks involved aren't offended if I don't thank them.
(But thank you for reading.)
...to Colonel McMahon, USMC.
Back in the day, shortly after the Tonight Show broadcast, the local T.V. station would play the Star Spangled banner and then shut down for the night.
They don't do that any more.
Added thought: For some reason, I imagine this in the voice of Rich Little impersonating Johnny Carson: "...Yeah, so anyway, flags at the liquor store will be at half staff this week. (Audience groans) Uhhh... I understand there will only be two words on his tombstone - just two words... (pause, three, two, one) ... "Dead McMahon"... (rim shot)
Of course, you can't do comedy like that any more either.
And, since you can find anything on YouTube, even though this one is the wrong network and branch of service, this is for you, Ed.
Looks like the polling results on Iran must be coming in now.
Reader Michael Tubergen writes: "I can't help but wonder why the President couldn't just read from the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence. That pretty much says everything that needs to be said about the Iranian situation."
I've read it. Those are just words.
Know what I mean? (Hint: "words" is not a verb.)
Should the government provide them?
Sure, it's the hot new federal program attracting a lot of attention this week - but why the hell would a milblogger write about it? Read on...
There's probably plenty of blame to be shared for this program, starting with the name: "CARS" stands for Car Allowance Rebate System, something that's currently a pen stroke away from reality. (And you can forget about stopping that pen stroke.)
Here's how it will work: If you're ready to swap your under 25-year old vehicle that gets less than a combined highway/city 18 mpg (as determined by the federal government based on model) for a shiny new higher-mileage model, instead of you getting a trade-in value for that vehicle the government will kick in a few bucks to the dealer.
If you think you can get rid of some parts car you've had on blocks for a few years (or head to the junkyard and get one), you're wrong. To qualify your current vehicle must be in drivable condition and must have been continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in.
At least, if you're really stupid and really rich:
In addition to the credit, will I get the full value of my trade-in vehicle?
No. The law requires your trade-in vehicle to be destroyed.
So, maybe there's a guy out there who's been tooling around in an '87 Ford Bronco he hasn't been able to trade in on that brand new "Green Car" he's been wanting because he's just 4k shy of the sticker price - but this will put him over the top.
If not that (or something like that) an awful lot of new government employees hired to administer this program are going to have an awful lot of spare time on their hands.
None of which answers the question, "why is this a topic for a milblog"? But that's too easy - because the bill that creates this program is the supplemental funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
About which, more here later.
...sometimes they really are worth a thousand words.
Tonight, take a magic carpet ride, and fly along with the first group of Special Forces Troops to enter Afghanistan in 2001.
This selection from Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan should give you a good idea of the level of detail provided in the book.
The words are his, the voice and formatting are mine - the pictures and music were found all over the web (and in most cases serve only as a reasonable facsimile, and not images of the actual individuals involved). I hope you enjoy the end result as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Jut push play - your limo awaits...
Part two - with a special guest appearance by Joe Dirt - is here. See you there...
Today is Chuck's Alive Day. It's an ordinary day and that's the beauty of it.
Thank You Chuck for your service and for touching so many lives.
Because sometimes comment threads just ought to be posts...
The American Military does not make the decision to start or end a war. War is a decision made by political leaders - the President who makes the call to go with Congressional approval and funding. The role of the American Military is to follow the lawful order(s) of the Commander-in-Chief, the President. It is the foundation of our continued democratic experiment that our Military obeys its political leadership, even when such leadership is wrong in its decision making.
For those who say Iraq is a mistake, I always ask if they truly believe that, then we as a country should do what is the proper thing that should be done when a mistake is made - as best we can, put it back like it was before the mistake was made. I then ask how many people would want Saddam Hussein, or someone like him, to be restored to the same power and military potential as existed before America went into Iraq? I have yet to find one person who says they want that to happen, and in the end, everyone, regardless of their political leanings, or feelings about war, says essentially the same thing "he was an evil tyrant and we are glad he is gone..."
I have also said this in response to claims that Iraq is another Viet Nam - "when we left Viet Nam we did not have to worry about them following us home and trying to kill us on our own land. The forces we fight in Iraq, and now around the world, leave us no choice but to take the fight to them on their turf and tie up their resources somewhere else so they do not have the same level of lethality they would otherwise have to effect an attack on our own shores."
We fight a foe that will take lives of our brave American Military Personnel for generations to come, maybe forever. Radical fanaticism can only be stamped out one way - with the evil tyrannical controls of its people and society such as Saddam Hussein and his sons effected. Such is not the way America will fight or govern, nor should it.
In my opinion, we are not fighting a war of attrition, or a war that can be won in the traditional sense in Iraq or Afghanistan or the next country that it will spread to. We fight a war that very likely will never end, at least so long as radical fanaticism is a cult whose following is underpinned by religious teachings that has not been properly denounced or deprived by the very religious authorities who are themselves hijacked in the process. And until those very hijacked religious leaders stand as clearly and strongly as those on Flight 93 did and say we are not going to be victims and we are going to take on the hijackers, then the radical fundamentalism and extremism that is Al Qaeda and its knock-offs will continue to be a force America must fight.
proud dad SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq
USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG
Mrs G | June 20, 2009 6:31 PM
Well said Robert.
Greyhawk | June 20, 2009 8:34 PM
Robert you just reminded me of this quote from a great book, which I then left at Sarah's blog:
"Do you hate me, Lady? ... Were I you I would."
"I will never tell the city why I appointed these three hundred. I will never tell the Three Hundred themselves. But I now tell you.
"I chose them not for their own valor, lady, but for that of their women...
"Greece stands now on her most perilous hour. If she saves herself, it will not be at the Gates ...but later, in battles yet to come, by land and sea.Then Greece, if the gods will it, will preserve herself...
"When the battle is over, when the 300 have gone down to death, then will all Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it.
"But who, ladies, who will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen.
"If they behold your hearts riven and broken with grief, they too will break. And Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, dry-eyed, not alone enduring your loss but seizing it with contempt for it's agony and embracing it as the honor that it is in truth, then Sparta will stand and all Hellas will stand behind her.
"Why have I nominated you, lady, to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the Three Hundred? Because you can."
- Leonidas, in Stephen Pressfield's Gates of Fire.
Sarah | June 21, 2009 2:24 AM
Robert, thank you very much for your comments, especially your last paragraph. And Greyhawk, thank you for honoring me with that passage, which is one of my favorites and one I try to live up to all the time.
Mudville's own-near daily variety show - tonight's special guests include a few folks we've got our eyes on...
...but first, a musical number to start things off (or you can use it as a soundtrack as you read):
See how you are?
A good observation from Matt: "BG Walsh was showing Barbara Boxer respect by calling her "Ma'am" instead of "Senator." Believe me, the title "Senator" does not really hold a whole lot of credibility in the US military."
Are our Senators and
Congressmen congressional representatives really blind to recent polls showing approval ratings among Americans as low as 17%? Or, as Robert Stokely points out, that "respect is what you get by what you give to others"?
And a good point from Exum: "I suspect that one of the reasons Krauthammer, Kagan & Co. are criticizing Obama's tactics vis a vis Iran is because the majority of Americans would find their strategic goals they hint at but never reveal to be bat-guano crazy."
- At least, insofar as noting that what we see governments doing on the world stage are the tactics (and we may or may not see all of those) being employed to achieve strategic goals. I think the two are often confused for each other in much of the commentary. (There's also an operational level between those two - but we rarely glimpse that.)
"The world is watching* Iran" - saying so is a tactic employed by many world leaders. Since tactics don't replace strategy we'll assume there is a strategy, which would also generate the tactical answer to the as yet unanswered question "and..."?
(*More specifically: watching Iranians protest over the fairness of an election to determine who gets to be the attention-getting but effectively powerless mouthpiece and political front man for the Ayatollahs who run the country.)
But speaking of watching - I confess I'm confused by the concept of a "watch list". Are these separate (other than name) from a "wanted" list? How so? Or if not, why call it a "watch list"? If action is needed, or limitations to be placed on included individuals, that implies something beyond "watching" is required.
I'm all for investigating suspects to help determine guilt or innocence, and even see nothing wrong with law enforcement agencies knowing (or making lists of) who those suspected people are. But I get the suspicion that some folks are a bit too comfortable with suspicion-based (or even typo-based) "possible enemies lists" (vice wanted lists) with automatic penalties for inclusion. (Or maybe they just never met a 'gun control' proposition they didn't like?) Orwellian? Indeed.
(Beyond that, banning legal sales of firearms to known terrorists and violent criminals is a fine idea - and also one I favor - but it won't keep guns out of their hands any more than declaring a place a "gun free zone" would stop them from using them there.)
Envisioning the proper relationship between Special Ops and Conventional Forces (SOF/CF) - from a Transition Team leader/milblogger in Iraq. (If that doesn't interest you just click through to see a wicked looking blog masthead.)
Shokka!! - just look at what we found!:
On another day, the 43rd Iraqi Army Brigade, which also controls part of eastern Baghdad, led a raid for illegal drugs in a market area just outside their headquarters at Forward Operating Base Shield. The plan involved many players: Iraqi police were to stop traffic; the Ministry of Health was to give free local exams to make up for inconveniencing shoppers; and the Iraqi army was to look for heroin, cocaine and porn...
...In the end, the raid produced no illegal drugs, Liebal said, "but they got a scathing amount of porn."
But read the whole thing. (From another milblogger in Iraq, btw, who's examining a bigger picture than just that.)
This concludes today's search for the answers. We'll close with this reminder: Tomorrow is Fathers Day. If you forgot that, it's still not too late to get your dad a new watch (or a tie, or a book, or something).
Rapidfire starts with one link and no plan, is added to throughout the day, then somehow comes together with a coherent theme - usually. Repeat visitors can watch that happen as it happens.
...'cause here in Mudville, we know it's always midnight somewhere.
Here's a re-mix of a recording I made a while back - with some overdubs and effects added to what was once a pretty simple effort. Hope you enjoy...
Brief technical explanation follows...
This little video is actually the result of a practice session with various audio software. If I had wanted to simply post a recording of myself playing and singing a song along with a backing track it would have been easy, but where's the fun in that? So I did it bass-ackwards...
Just for practice with my recording/mixing software, I took a two year old (low budget web cam) video of me playing a guitar and singing, and stripped the audio. Then I put that audio along with a Karaoke version of the song into the program. By luck I was in tune with that version, so that reduced my workload. But the tempo was off and I had to adjust that throughout the song. Tweak this,add that, remove those, double that, balance this...
And ultimately I was done - which is not to say I had achieved perfection. Then I took the new audio track and put it back on the video replacing the original. And having spent a few hours on the project - aka a few hours not devoted to producing content for this web site - I decided to use it as content for this web site.
Besides which, my mom's a reader, so this is for her.
An invitation from long-time milblogger Sgt Mom:
Remember the Alamo Remember the People
DON'T TREAD ON US
San Antonio Tea Party: Independence Day Celebration at Rio Cibolo Ranch
The San Antonio Tea Party announces their 4th of July celebration at the Rio Cibolo Ranch. This family-friendly event is planned as a celebration with a serious purpose; to educate on the limits and responsibilities of the government as outlined within the U.S. Constitution, and to renew our dedication to the principles outlined by the Founding Fathers.
The Rio Cibolo Ranch is located on the outskirts of Zuehl, just off IH10 East, about twenty-five minutes drive from downtown San Antonio. A day of traditional Texas summer activities and games has been planned, beginning at 3:00 PM with emcee Even Sayet. Speakers will include Marcus Lutrell, Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA "Joe the Plumber", Dr. Donald R. May, and San Antonio's own Katherine Moreno, who spoke at our Tax Day gathering in Alamo Plaza. Live music performances by Steve Vaus, the Chris Story Band, and the Jokers Wild Band, culminating in a traditional firework display after sundown. The flag ceremony will be performed by members of the veterans' motorcycle group, the Gadsden Riders, and the Freedom Riders, who intend to travel by horseback all the way from Independence, Texas to participate in this Tea Party.
Games, contests, hayrides and riverboat rides will be available, free of charge. A wide variety of traditional summer-time cookout food, to include BBQ and hamburgers, beer and wine will be available at the Ranch. Participants are encourged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets, although no outside food or beverages, or ice-chests will be permitted.
Entrance to the Tea Party events and festivities is at no charge, although those planning to attend are asked to register through the SA Tea Party website at www.sanantonioteaparty.org. There will be a limited number of V.I.P. permits available for a fee of $10.00 to park at the ranch, which will be available only through the website. Otherwise, guests may park at the San Antonio Raceway, and take a free shuttle to the Ranch. Guests should add fifteen minutes to their estimated travel time, if they are parking at the Raceway and taking the shuttle.
This event follows our wildly successful Tea Party Tax Day protest on April 15th in Alamo Plaza, and is timed to coincide with other state and national 4th of July Tea Parties which are scheduled or currently being planned.
# # #
If you would like more information about this event, consult our website at www.sanantonioteaparty.org.
...to anyone preparing to deploy to a combat zone - or their family members (part 9,000):
"My husband has actually had someone say to him that at least his upcoming deployment is to Afghanistan, which serves a purpose and has meaning, unlike Iraq."
That from our friend Sarah, who is struggling with this one...
I am having a harder time working up the emotional investment this milspouse needs to send her husband off to fight.
I am not ready for my husband to join a new front in a war that won't end for centuries.
She's seeking motivation. Read the whole thing, perhaps you can help.
Hear the untold story of the dramatic hostage situation aboard the Maersk Alabama and through exclusive Navy footage, witness the extraordinary measures taken to keep Captain Phillips alive. Step in side the world of an elite Navy SEAL to see how they pulled off three impossible shots to put a sudden end to a modern day pirate standoff.
...but now I've actually screened the program. The quick review: you'll want to see it, too. (But stay tuned - more to follow here....)
Just when I'm set to write a post recommending Horse Soldiers as a Father's Day gift, into my email pops something better - an entry by author Doug Stanton himself. Enjoy...
This Father's Day Consider the Power of Legacy
By Doug Stanton (Author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan)
Horse Soldiers is the untold story of a victory won by U.S. Special Forces and other Americans, alongside Afghan counterparts, at a critical time in our recent history. Part sociologist, diplomat, part foreign policy expert, the men in the book enacted a nuanced campaign that is a template for the way future conflicts can be approached, and a window to where we are in Afghanistan today. And, according to those who know, their ethos is simpatico with emerging national policy concerning Afghanistan. In other words, these guys got it right. One of the reasons I wrote Horse Soldiers was to understand the world my children would inherit after the events of 2001.
When I was writing my first book In Harm's Way, I witnessed the sense of sacrifice that those WWII veterans possessed. I was surprised that sometimes their grandchildren hadn't talked to them about the historic events of that night in July 1945, when the USS Indianapolis went down. With some modest means, I started a scholarship program for the grandkids of the survivors, one of the requirements of which was that they write an essay about their grandfather. This project was meant to foster a legacy in these young people of the sacrifices made by those who had come before them.
Recently, then, I was startled and more than saddened, after hanging up the phone with Betty McCoy, of Palm Coast, Florida, the wife of Giles McCoy, of the USS Indianapolis, who told me that Gil had just passed away after a battle with cancer. My son and I had visited Gil and Betty, making a last trip to say goodbye, although I didn't want to admit that at the time.
Gil, a WWII Marine, having survived Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and the sinking of his ship, devoted himself to a life of helping others. He was about as resilient and strong a character as you could meet, and yet alongside his own steely self-awareness he possessed real powers of empathy. He never used phrases like "everyone agrees with me so I must be right."
This idea of legacy, of being bound together around the campfire or kitchen table of shared experience, is important, because it's in those moments that we move to the heart of solving problems, global and local, big and small. And of all people, I have learned that the people I write about in Horse Soldiers, the modern soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces, are trained to walk a selfless mile in another's shoes during often dangerous journeys meant to create change. And as with McCoy, when I call their actions heroic, I'm using a word they are too humble to use in describing what they accomplished.
©2009 Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. Originally published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, May 5, 2009
You can read an excerpt from the book here.
CJ Grisham has been going where the media fears to tread - and he's got a hell of a good story for his efforts. To bring you up to speed quickly, other than an AP claim to the contrary there's actually no evidence available that the White House (or President Obama himself) has issued a statement regarding the murder of Private William Long in Little Rock earlier this month. (See C.J.'s post here, previous Mudville entry here.) The White House maintains a comprehensive collection of presidential statements, speeches, and press releases and there's no mention of Private William Long to be found there.
I can't say whether or not the AP appreciates being the sole source of presidential decrees, but while some might be content to accept an independent news outlet's role as Presidential Press Office C.J. has been combing that White House archive (where my follow up search for "Private Long" yielded only documents related to private long-term health insurance) for an actual statement from the President - and found no such document. In hopes that that omission was merely an oversight by an over-worked staffer he's been talking and emailing with them, too - more on that shortly.
Q This is really just out of curiosity more than anything -- how do you guys decide which acts of violence prompt a White House response and which ones won't? There was a statement that went out about Dr. Tiller. How was the decision made that that would get a presidential statement whereas the military recruiter in Arkansas shooting would not?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I believe a statement did go to many stations in Arkansas regarding that.
Q Oh, okay, it did? Okay.
End of discussion.
The White House press room is a designated "blog-free zone" - so there was no one there to ask a follow up to that. C.J. suggests "A REAL reporter would follow up with, 'Oh okay, it did? Can you provide that please?' Or, 'why wasn't it provided nationally like all the other statements?' Or, 'Why wasn't the Dr. Tiller statement only released in Kansas like the Arkansas shooting statement?'"
I would have asked if that Arkansas release was in addition to the AP's - but like C.J. I wasn't there (at least, not then). But I do have access to "many stations in Arkansas" via the world wide web - and I can tell you if they received any statements from the President or the White House they didn't post them with the rest of their coverage of the story. In fact they didn't even mention receiving them.
Here's a collection of links to newspaper and television station web sites in Arkansas. Among them I found the most extensive coverage from Little Rock television station KATV. Even they only reference the AP claim - and those claims are only found in their published AP stories here and here.
Their coverage does include details mostly overlooked in the national reporting. For instance, at the request of the defense (after videotaped confessions were revealed) the presiding judge issued a gag order prohibiting the prosecution or law enforcement from publicly discussing the case. Fair enough - but the next day the accused killer phoned the AP from his cell and told them his lawyer was making claims that weren't true (a regular "dream" client, this guy), and that his primary reason for shooting the soldiers (he won't call it murder because he considers it justified) was because "he wanted revenge for claims that American military personnel had desecrated copies of the Quran" (thanks, Newsweek) and raped and killed Muslims. (Edited to simply "anger over what soldiers had done to Muslims" in most national coverage.)
Rival station KLRT reported that Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe was among the mourners at Pvt Long's funeral, but made no mention of their receiving any statement from the President of the United States. (They do have comments from wounded soldier Quinton Ezeagwula's former football coach.)
Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV offers a statement from Captain Mathew Feehan ("The army is a family. We consider it a personal loss. I think overall we're just shocked. This isn't something we expect to happen in downtown Little Rock.") in their coverage, but nothing from the Commander in Chief.
Turning to the Department of Defense for any possible confirmation there, the only reference I could find to Pvt Long was a June 9th public affairs release titled "Wounded Recruiting Office Shooting Victim Praises Army for Support". That story on Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula includes a brief claim that "President Barack Obama released a statement shortly after the incident." I'm certain he did - but I'm not certain he issued one about the incident.
Which brings us back to C.J. When he contacted the White House for clarification he got a third answer. Not "Sorry, we made an exclusive statement to the AP, check with them" or "we only released that to Arkansas media" - instead, he was told "the President is attempting to call the family of Army Pvt Long".
We've got three different answers now from the White House on the central question "did the President make a statement"? I suspect the correct answer would be a fourth one: "no".
There are obvious comparisons to be made between this story and coverage (and administration responses) to other high profile murders in the United States this month. The unnamed reporter questioning Robert Gibbs on the topic seems to acknowledge that point. However, I find myself more disturbed by two other issues raised - what this story reveals about how we know what the President really said (if anything) about any topic and how the Commander in Chief views his troops - two issues of no small significance to the nation. I see no positive indicators from these events on either at this point.
Some might question C.J.'s motives in keeping this story alive. All I can offer in response to that is that he's an Iraq war veteran (Bronze Star with V) and founder of the web site They Have Names - you can read about his motivation for that project here - but I can also offer personal testimony.
CJ and I were at the White House together, and given the chance to address the national security and veterans affairs staff he took the opportunity to express both his support and concerns for their efforts with regard to active and veteran troops - in a manner that impressed me as respectful, candid, honest, and authentic. At the time, the veterans should pay for their own healthcare story was resolved but still recent, and the President's decision (later reversed) to release additional Abu Ghraib photos was making headlines. He advised them in no uncertain terms that he saw those as early stumbles, that it wasn't a great start, but that he hoped for better things to come.
I'm certain this was not what he had in mind.
Must-reads on this story:
History - Crittenden on Waterloo: "Today marks the day, 194 years ago, the stage was set for our world."
More recent history: Somali Pirate Takedown: The Real Story Sunday, June, 21 at 10 p.m. E/P on Discovery Channel.
Hear the untold story of the dramatic hostage situation aboard the Maersk Alabama and through exclusive Navy footage, witness the extraordinary measures taken to keep Captain Phillips alive. Step in side the world of an elite Navy SEAL to see how they pulled off three impossible shots to put a sudden end to a modern day pirate standoff.
Tonight's YouServed podcast: Hosts CJ and Troy welcome guest General Peter W. Chiarelli, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, who will discuss Army mental health and suicide prevention efforts. (7PM Eastern).
By the way, C.J. has an update on his attempts to get an answer on the possibly fake Presidential statement regarding the murder of Private Long.
But, when I asked for a statement, I'm directed to a fake excerpt of a statement provided in a link by the AP instead of the actual statement. To add insult to injury, after 11 days the President is still "attempting" to contact the family. The leader of the most powerful nation on earth (well, it used to be) can't get in a phone call in nearly two weeks? Come on. Really?!I recall the faux outrage over autopen signatures during a previous administration, and the pretend outrage over Cindy Sheehan's inability to get a second (or was it a third?) meeting with President Bush. Maybe disregard for the troops isn't newsworthy anymore?
If you missed it live, here's the audio and video from the CNAS annual conference earlier this month.
On a related note, check out the CNAS Natural Security blog (read that title carefully).
Senate passes war funding supplemental.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the House on Thursday to follow the Senate in passing his bill prohibiting the release of classified photos showing abuse and humiliation of terror suspects held by the United States.
The Senate unanimously approved the Graham measure, co-sponsored by Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, late Wednesday after a weeklong impasse that compelled President Barack Obama's personal intervention.
The U.S. military is tracking a ship from North Korea that may be carrying illicit weapons, the first vessel monitored under tougher new United Nations rules meant to rein in and punish the communist government following a nuclear test, officials said Thursday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he has ordered additional protections for Hawaii just in case North Korea launches a long-range missile over the Pacific Ocean.
- making good on a promise, by the way. Good thing we have money in the budget, don't you think?
Fini flight redefined.
...for so long it's not true...
Ahhh, the Led Zep connection - wish I'd thought of that.
And I can't take credit for this either, because our friend FbL pointed it out in an email:
Note the charge against the recently-removed IG:WASHINGTON -- Responding to criticism from a Senate Democratic ally, President Obama explained why he fired the Inspector General of the AmeriCorps without the 30-day notification required by law, calling Gerald Walpin so "confused" and "disoriented" that there was reason to question "his capacity to serve."And that reminded me of this bit of scuttlebutt about General Jones.Newsmax can be unreliable, but the fact that Gates came out the next day in an unsolicited interview with the WaPo makes me think it's probably solid.
President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Gen. Jim Jones, is facing forced resignation because of his "poor performance," according to Fox News.
Several White House and National Security Council sources told Fox that the retired Marine general is so forgetful and inefficient that several officials seriously wonder if he's suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Something in the water in the White House, maybe? Damn - I hope not, I drank some of that the day I was there (and met Jones, btw, who seemed pretty sharp in my book...).
But since Zep stole the song in the first place, I considered stealing Althouse's video (and calling it a "tribute") - but instead I'll just steal the concept...
I'm not up on the latest styles... is this one of those asshats I've been hearing so much about?
Can anybody wear one?
Okay - after running this post through the Mrs G test (she's a civilian), I offer the following update/explanation:
1. The picture is a link. You have to click it to understand the point.
2. The hat is one worn by female Drill Instructors at basic training. Drill Instructors are notorious for instructing troops on the proper terms of reference applied to those holding various ranks (among other things).All done!
Given the small number of military members (as percentage of total U.S. population) today, it seems obvious that we live in an era wherein it can truly be said that never have so many owed so much to so few. But from that it should also be obvious (but apparently isn't) that never has it been so easy for so many to be hoaxed by so few.
Confused? Perhaps I can help...
Here's an update on the story of the anti-immigrant "activists" arrested on suspicion of murdering two people (including a 9-year old girl) in southern Arizona; Jason Eugene Bush (aka "Gunny") has now been charged with another murder: the 1997 stabbing of a homeless Mexican man.He adds "The "Minutemen for American Defense" website contained this short bio of Bush, although I don't know if any of it has been confirmed":
We are honored to have Gunny aboard. He served 6 tours over seas, where he has several medals. He received a Purple heart, Silver and Bronze star, Combat Infantry Badge and a Presidential citation for his actions in the Special Forces.
His point being "That DHS report on right wing extremism keeps getting more relevant."
But if you're a veteran (or just familiar at all with the military), you (like several LGF commenters) probably caught that "Gunny" is a nickname for a Marine Corps rank, and this particular inbred slack-jawed thug claims Special Forces status (Army) along with a CIB (Army again).
And if you read the news story Charles linked (wherein there's no mention of alleged military service) you'd learn he
...had a lengthy criminal record in Washington, including convictions for possession of stolen property, unlawful possession of a firearm and taking a motor vehicle without permission.
After his release from prison, Bush moved to Hayden Lake, Idaho, where he lived until 2007, according to court papers.
Which means he was an awfully busy guy to fit service to his country in that resume, too.
Going after a pathetic claim like that is fish in a barrel to Jonn Lilyea, who (once again) did the legwork required to blow that particular ectothermic coelacanth right out of the dihydrogen monoxide.
Prompting this response from Charles:
The truth is that I have nothing but respect for the military services of the US. I've made that clear repeatedly at LGF; this site has been a huge supporter of the US military over the years.
My post about Jason Eugene Bush also made it very clear that none of his claims of service had been confirmed.
But even if Bush's claims were true, it wouldn't be a cut against veterans to point out that fact. Veterans can be (and have been) criminals, just as with any group in society -- in a tiny minority, as in other groups. I really can't agree that noting Bush's claim to be a veteran is a smear against all vets, especially when all due skepticism was expressed -- and I certainly did not intend it as a smear.
Let me first endorse those first two paragraphs as accurate, then declare the third an argument against an exaggeration of Lilyea's point as I read it.
And before getting to my point (which isn't about the report) let me repeat that the retracted, withdrawn, released without authorization or review (all that according to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who apologetically added that "the wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed") Rightwing Extremism report was absolutely every bit as accurate and prescient as it was vague and useless. Combat arms-trained veterans are indeed desirable recruits for any organization wanting to cultivate a reputation as capable of violence (or just credibility on veterans issues) - from police forces to legitimate security firms to street gangs to organized crime families to political (in some cases extremist) groups, left, right, and otherwise.
Which is one reason why so many of the less than legitimate groups, seeking to establish a perception of credibility or capability, are eager to accept anyone who claims veteran status without bothering to vet their claims. Even when such groups have actual veterans as members (I'm thinking IVAW here) few of them want to expose a pretender (actually, IVAW accepts pretenders) - perhaps under the assumption that numbers enhance that perception.
Given that - along with other benefits and general societal appreciation that legitimate veterans accrue - it should surprise no one that the number of frauds claiming veteran status far exceeds the number of legitimate veterans who conceivably would join extremist groups - by several orders of magnitude. While this doesn't mean that no veteran would join such a group, it does mean that anyone who values their own credibility should not accept as fact (or repeat in any form other than a question) any claim by anyone seeking any potential advantage (even a date or a free drink) commensurate with veterans status without doing a minimum of checking of that claim. (And don't expect reporters covering these stories to do that for you.)
Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector, not government, will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care, the Washington Times reported.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause in Erie, Pennsylvania. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
Repeatedly in his hourlong speech and question-and-answer session, Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations, the paper reported. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office.
"When I look in the mirror, I say, 'He did not sell his soul for short-term politics.'"
Summer fun is here. The kids aren't bored yet, but why wait till they start complaining? USAA wants to spice things up with a Garage Band contest for any military kids who fancy themselves musicians. See details below if you think this is something worth sharing through your blog. Who knows, you might be helping discover the next breakthrough band. Military kids are well-versed in hitting the road and those who do have a band or are interested in forming one could be big winners. Feel free to contact me if you need more information.
P.S. Did you know that members of the folk rock band "America" were military brats? Sons of American fathers and British mothers, the were stationed at RAF West Ruislip, London during the mid-1960s where they met while playing in two different bands.
I did know that - because I'm just that old...
But years ago, NotYetGreyhawk was in a band himself:
USAA and U-TURN are looking for The Next Great American Road Song
The call for entries has begun for U-TURN's annual Garage Band Playoff '09, a national battle-of-the-bands competition sponsored by USAA and open to aspiring musicians and songwriters ages 13-21.
This year - in the tradition of immortal songs like Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild", and Rascal Flatts' "Life is a Highway" - U-TURN is looking for The Next Great American Road Song.
U-TURN's judges are seeking original compositions that celebrate cars, driving and the freedom of the open road. Song entries can be something the artists have previously written and recorded, or a completely new creation.
If a song makes the cut, it'll face off in a series of online, head-to-head match-ups against others... until only one song is left to be named The Next Great American Road Song.
THE GRAND PRIZE INCLUDES:
a professional photo and video shoot
an in-depth interview on U-TURN's audio podcast
tons of free buzz on MySpace, Facebook and more!
RULES OF THE ROAD:
Open to solo artists, groups and bands of any musical genre
Song must be original (no covers)
Song topic must be about cars, driving or the freedom of the open road (instrumentals OK if evokes a driving feel)
Song must be clean/radio-friendly
Solo artist or at least one band member must also be a USAA member
Solo artist or all band members must be ages 13-21 (as of July 31, 2009)
DEADLINE TO ENTER AT GARAGEBANDPLAYOFF.COM IS JULY 31, 2009. VOTING BEGINS OCTOBER 16, 2009. FOR MORE INFORMATION, E-MAIL UTURN@USAA.COM.
No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning.
This is U-TURN's third Garage Band Playoff competition, but the first with a theme.
In 2008, the competition involved 16 bands from across the country, ranging in style from country to metal.
Voters from around the world voted more than 150,000 times through 8 head-to-head matchups, 2 semi-final rounds, and the finals.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based indie rock group Coronete was crowned U-TURN's Garage Band Playoff '08 champion. (Their song can be streamed at myspace.com/usaauturn.) They beat Southern California-based Invictus (note: currently defunct) in a tight finals matchup.
The 2007 champion was San Antonio-based A Kid Named Thompson.
My friend and fellow citizen C.J. has been looking for answers from the White House. So far he's only gotten responses.
Some may recall that the President caught a bit of rightful flak earlier this month when he failed to make a public statement on the murder of U.S. Army Private William Long by a militant American convert to Islam. That event occurred within hours of the shooting of abortion doctor George Tiller (official statement here) - news coverage of which certainly eclipsed that of the similarly motivated shooting of one of the many members of the Army the President commands. (There are a lot of Soldiers, after all, and getting shot is what they do - so perhaps another one wasn't seen as news by those who determine what is - that's their call.)
But a few days later the AP announced that "President Barack Obama has issued a statement saying he's "deeply saddened" by a shooting that left one Army private dead and another wounded at a Little Rock recruiting center." As with many stories the "no response" news was developing in the blogosphere and was probably on the verge of breaking into the mainstream. In fact it's possible that an AP reporter researching it made a phone call to the White House for a statement and got that as a reply - end of story.
Except that if so, the White House forgot to follow through and actually release a statement. Here's one issued within hours of the murder at the Holocaust Museum, but other than an AP claim there's no indication that the White House is aware that William Long existed. Now I trust C.J.'s report, and to a lesser extent I trust the AP too (though they've been wrong a few too many times to deserve full faith) - so to verify I looked at the titles of every statement issued this month. There's nothing there. Not content with that effort (and lacking the time to read the full text of every one of them for an "and oh by the way, this too" add-on ), I Googled any reference to "William Long" on the entire White House web site. The result? "Your search - "william long" site:http://www.whitehouse.gov - did not match any documents."
Finally, I tried "Private Long" - and this time I got results: four Bush-era documents referencing Private Long-term Care Insurance.
Here's the White House compilation of press releases and official statements - it certainly seems comprehensive. Direct communication is a great thing; we no longer need rely on a time/space-limited media to filter and determine what we need to know, then pass it on to us in paraphrased, edited, and interpreted format. And obviously President Obama has much more to offer the country than statements released regarding hate crimes with national implications - this past week alone he's issued public decrees on multiple topics great and small. Among them: the President "to Announce Comprehensive Plan for Regulatory Reform", "Unveils 'United We Serve,' Calls on All Americans to Commit to Meaningful Volunteer Service in Their Daily Lives", and "Announces New White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport". You'll also find the text of a message from the President to the Senate regarding New Zealand Tax Protocol, and announcements of signing disaster declarations for Arkansas and North Dakota - but you won't find Private William Long.
I'm disappointed in that, but I wouldn't pretend it's up to me to decide what's worthy of the President's time and attention, or what he says or thinks or feels, or what is or isn't included there. Apparently that's the job of the AP.
The President is undeniably a busy man, and the White House Press Office should be commended for keeping up. C.J., as noted at the start, has been asking the right questions of the right people (at least, I think the White House, and not the AP, are the right people) and getting responses - so I also commend them for taking the time for that. While I'm sure they take longer to get, I'm looking forward to the answers, too.
If you haven't been following my friend Michael Totten's coverage of events in Iran, you should be.
In late March 1991, shortly after the Gulf War, Iraqis were in open revolt. Fighting erupted in all but three of Iraq's provinces, and Saddam's army was left with two days' worth of ammunition. A desperate Saddam sent one of his highest-ranking officers as a "defector" with information that Iraq's senior military leaders were on the verge of a coup but hesitated as long as they faced the threat of a revolution...
It's generally conceded that failing to aid the Shi'ite revolt in 1991 cost us dearly in 2003 and the years following. (Of course, arguably there wouldn't have been a second invasion of Iraq had we acted then, but "what if" is infinite, and something other than history.)
Strange to think that people who are, say... 30 years old today were 12 when all this happened.
Excerpts from A Brief History of a Long War:
March/April 1991: Following the end of DESERT STORM in March, Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq and Kurds in Northern Iraq rebel against Hussein's regime. Most major American newspapers urge the US to stay out of the conflicts.
THE BOSTON GLOBE:Major cities in South & Kurdish areas come under rebel control but the southern revolt is crushed by 29 March and the Kurdish revolt by early April. By some estimates 1.5 million Kurds flee into Turkey and Iran.
The reports of rebellion in Iraq resemble excerpts from a textbook on regime-toppling in the aftermath of a lost war. On the streets of Basra, a tank manned by returning soldiers turns its turret toward a gigantic poster of Saddam Hussein and, to the cheers of the populace, blows a hole in the tyrant's face....
The true war aims of of the coalition that defeated Saddam's army were, in ascending order of importance, the liberation of Kuwait, the destruction of Baghdad's offensive military capabilities, and the removal of Saddam. The first two have been accomplished by force of arms. The ultimate goal, Saddam's demise, cannot be achieved by foreign troops -- although the governments of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia are frequently conspiring to back their favorite Iraqi exiles in the postwar struggle for power in Baghdad....
The recycled petrodollars of Kuwait may have been paramount to Bush, but to Assad, King Fahd and Ayatollah Khomeini's successors the real purpose of Desert Storm was to cut Iraq's military down to size and replace Saddam.
For them, the decisive phase of the war has just begun. The Americans took out Saddam's communications with smart bombs; they are now trying to take out his regime with Iraqi proteges, subsidized proxies and professional hit squads.
The present struggle for power in Iraq holds two dangers for the U.S.: that Saddam will prevail, or that he will be replaced by forces equally inimical to peace and human rights. Washington has little control over the battlefield on which this political war is fought.
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:
In the wake of Iraq's military defeat has come urban turmoil. In Basra and other cities in southern Iraq anti- government demonstrators are challenging the iron grip of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Details are imprecise, and the partisanship of some of the sources claiming to know what is going on makes their information suspect. But some elements of the armed forces are involved, with units perhaps pitted against each other.
This political explosion was ignited by the anger and frustrations arising out of a costly, humiliating, and above all unnecessary war. To a significant but not yet fully measurable extent it is also a continuation of an ancient religious conflict. It pitted Iraq's majority Shiite Muslim population, which has never been permitted to share equitably in power, against an unyieldingly repressive regime dominated by Sunni Muslims....
If foreign armed forces must be sent into the cities to quell turbulence they should be provided by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf states. In other words they should be unmistakably Arab and Muslim.... Not only would it expose ground forces to the possible risks of urban fighting but, far worse, it would give the appearance of the West butting into an Islamic religious conflict. That would be a no-win situation, to be avoided at all costs....
No conceivable good could come from an extension of Iranian influence in Iraq. Should that occur, the region would quickly find itself facing fresh threats to its stability, just as it appeared that the crushing of Saddam Hussein's expansionist ambitions had opened the way to a calmer future. Probably -- nothing is certain in the Gulf -- the deep nationalism of Iraqis of all religious persuasions would work to oppose the aims of their ancient Persian enemy. But if disorders should give way to chaos and foreign armed intervention does become necessary, U.S. and Western forces should make sure they stay well out of it.
THE WASHINGTON TIMES:
No sooner had the guns begun to fall silent in Kuwait than they started to chatter inside Iraq. This weekend the predominantly Shiite city of Basra erupted in bloodshed between pro-Iranian, anti-Saddam dissidents and Saddam's Republican Guard. The conflict may foreshadow the Iraqi strongman's end and possibly even the end of Iraq as a unified nation-state. But however welcome the first might be, the second would be a disaster, not only for Iraq itself but also for the Middle East and U.S. interests in it.
Like many of the states designed by European colonialists and diplomats, Iraq is a hodge podge of different and antagonistic ethnic and religious groups. In the Tigris- Euphrates valley, Shi'ite Arabs predominate, and Shi'ites constitute some 55 to 60 percent of the country's 18 million people. The valley area also contains several cities that the Shi'ites, a 95 percent majority in neighboring Iran, consider among the holiest in Islam. But despite its Shi'ite majority, Iraq long has been ruled by Sunni Muslims, and resentments have festered....
As in most such "multicultural" states, the only thing that has held Iraq together has been the strong (indeed, brutal) arm of Baghdad, but these days the muscles on the arm are beginning to wither.... The return soon of dispirited Iraqi prisoners and veterans won't help stabilize the country either.
The leading figure among Iraqi Shi'ites is Hojatolislam Mohammed Bakr Hakim, who inspires the faithful from his tastiness in Tehran, perhaps aided by the more mundane assistance of the Shi'ite government there. Iran, for religious as well as political reasons, would like to get its hands on southern Iraq, but Hakim might not be the man to help them do it after all. Unlike the Iraqi Shi'ites, he is Persian rather than Arab.
Iraqi dissidents would like U.S. and other allied forces, now occupying most of southern Iraq west of the Euphrates, to intervene on their behalf, but they won't and they shouldn't. The Joint Chiefs of Staff's Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly says allied intervention can occur only if Iraqi unrest threatens allied troops. So far it doesn't, and it probably won't. If U.S. forces did step into the quarrel, they would have to side with one group or another of the dissidents or else wind up in the embarrassing position of supporting Saddam's regime.
Yet the chaos now threatening Iraqi unity could turn the whole country into a gigantic Lebanon, leaving it the plaything of regional poseurs such as Iran, Syria and Turkey, and removing its weight in the delicate regional balance of power. If Iran managed to control Basra, Iraq's access to the sea and its ability to export its oil through the Persian Gulf would be lost, making economic recovery much more difficult or impossible.
If the United States and its allies do nothing else in the Gulf, they can't allow Iraq to be dismembered. The Iraqis themselves can resolve their differences with Saddam and his clique as they will, but President Bush and the other leaders of the allied coalition must make it clear to Iran, the other regional states and to Iraq's own disgruntled fragments that the defeated country can't be carved up.
THE BALTIMORE SUN:
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein would be of great benefit, not only to this country but to his own. That means departure of the whole apparatus of tyranny: his kin, his cronies from Takrit, the Baath Party and the secret police. This would make possible a stable security arrangement in the gulf, reconstruction credit for Iraq, personal liberty for Iraqis and settlement of other Issues....
The dismemberment of Iraq would be a disaster not only for that country but for our own. It would open insoluble strife, unleash nationalisms in conflict with each other and with religious pinions. The anarchy might destabilize all Arab gulf states and require the presence of U.S. troops next door long after Americans wanted them gone. Small wonder that Mr. Bush and Mr. Baker emphasized that the U.S. did not seek the breakup of Iraq....
British influence invented Iraq in the breakup of the Turkish Empire following World War I, assembling a nation- state out of three provinces whose populations had little in common. With their classical leaning, the English were charmed at putting back together ancient Mesopotamia and guiding it to independence as Iraq.
In the north around Mosul, the people were Kurds, Muslims but not Arabs. Putting them in Iraq separated them from Kurds in Turkey, Iran, Syria and the Soviet Union. Ever since, when one of these countries wanted to make trouble for another, it stirred up the other's Kurds. All oppose an independent Kurdistan, for which Kurds hunger.
In the center around Baghdad, a great capital in medieval times, were Arabs who were Sunni Muslims, in the Arab mainstream. Though barely a third of the people, these would rule and hold Iraq together as an Arab nation. And so they have.
In the south, around Basra, were Arabs who were Shiite Muslims, opposed to secular authority, their clerics trained in schools with Iranian Shiites. Shiites are the fastest-growing segment and now more than half the population. During the Iran-Iraq war, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran hoped -- and Saddam Hussein in Iraq feared -- that Shiites would detach the south from Iraq and join it to Persian Iran. They did not. Their Arab nationalism overcame their religion.
But now they are rebelling against hated tyranny. They are capable of ruling southern Iraq, but not the whole country. Saddam Hussein has sent a deputy prime minister to Tehran in a desperate bid for that regime's help in keeping Iraq and his power whole. The U.S.-led coalition has unleashed forces it cannot control. Wars do that.
A monstrous crime is being perpetrated in Kurdistan. As the Kurdish people's brief springtime of freedom ends, they are, and will be, subject not only to the effects of a war waged in their own cities and towns without restraint or morality, but to the reimposition of Saddam Hussein's brutal rule and his revenge on those who have challenged him.The Wall Street Journal would report in November, 1997:
Yesterday Turkey's National Security Council said that more than 200,000 people fleeing Iraq, mostly women and children, were in danger of death near the Turkish border.
"Where is Bush?" was a question we must have heard a thousand times as we toiled on Monday up the slopes of the 8,000ft mountain passes that separate Iraq from Turkey. "Why did he start if he was not going to finish?" or "Why has he not finished Saddam?"
Sometimes all the bitterness and despair are compressed into the single word Bush, pronounced with a terrible resignation. The name of a man who was a hero to the Kurds only a few days ago has become almost a curse.
In late March 1991, shortly after the Gulf War, Iraqis were in open revolt. Fighting erupted in all but three of Iraq's provinces, and Saddam's army was left with two days' worth of ammunition. A desperate Saddam sent one of his highest-ranking officers as a "defector" with information that Iraq's senior military leaders were on the verge of a coup but hesitated as long as they faced the threat of a revolution. Accordingly, the U.S. signaled to Saddam that he could use his air power, grounded under the terms of the cease-fire, to crush the revolt. No coup followed.
And more recordings - sticking with a musical theme, here's something veterans of the Milblogs Conference will appreciate:
So, I fired the entire video post-production staff here at Mudville and re-did the latest effort, fixing the bad audio portions and adding a musical soundtrack. Here's the finished product.
Challenge: can anyone name all the songs used? I'll give you one for starters: The Internationale, the "the anthem of international socialism" and the former "de facto national anthem of the Soviet Union". For fun, see if any of your friends or co-workers leap to their feet when it begins playing. (It also blends rather well with another song in the video...)
And here's more from Blackfive.
And finally, a bit of advice: laugh all you want at anyone who stands for The Internationale - but don't even smirk in the presence of any man who says this is among the greatest songs of all time:
There is no cost.
Funagain Games is proud to announce the most recent winner of its monthly game grant of $100 to a person serving in the U.S. military.
To apply for a game grant read below the fold
PFC Denis Maddalena is a soldier in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq who plays cards, Uno, Gloom, Cthulhu 500 and Warhammer 40,000 "on the floor and makeshift terrain." Heʼs using his $100 grant at www.funagain.com (the source for the worldʼs largest selection of board games) to buy games that challenge his fellow Camp Liberty residents. The board games will be left there for the next rotation of soldiers.
To apply for a game grant, submit a 300- to 400-word essay to email@example.com explaining what you would do with $100's worth of new board games. Include your name and contact information. Applications remain active for one year after submission. More information and a listing of previous winners are at www.funagain.com.
Funny story from here in Mudville last week: On Monday I glanced outside and remarked to the wife, "look's like it's gonna rain". On Thursday it did, but she still steadfastly refuses to acknowledge my prescience...
Anyhow, that's the news from Mudville this week. Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, I pointed out that Shepard Smith's claim that the actions of an elderly World War Two PT boat commander armed with a shotgun validated predictions that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans would be recruited by rightwing extremists was pathetic. Now I never said word one about the accuracy of the report, so now let me try to sum it up like this: if my tax payer dollars were going to pay meteorologists to tell me it might could rain sometime soon, maybe because it's rained before and there's still water available I wouldn't in a million years say they were wrong but I'd damn sure think I wasn't getting my money's worth out of that investment. But speaking of strange weather, here in the old blogosphere, it seems I started a sh@tstorm over whether that report was right or wrong or fair or not - and since then it's moved into the pages of the New York Times and other papers and back to television and back to blogs again with pretty much everyone piling on and everyone missing the point. (Which makes me wonder if I never should have brought it up in the first place, but I have to confess it's also been fun to watch what I started turn into whatever it is right now.)
Anyhow, in the latest chapter my friend Matt Burden appeared on Fox News to talk to Neil Cavuto about the whole thing. Now I don't want to get into what I agree or disagree with Matt about (it just wouldn't fit in this post that's already too long), or what he said or what Cavuto said (though when Cavuto says "we" I assume he's talking about TeeVee talking heads, him being one and all...) but I will say that Matt's already acknowledged he owes me cigars for that line about crashing a PT boat into the Holocaust Museum. (I hereby offer my "P.T. Boat captain - just like John F. Kennedy" quote that I used in my update about this homicidal journalist/filmmaker to anyone for the same price.)
And since it's my point in the first place, I have to admit I'm annoyed by the loud noise and distracting graphic that appears in that video right when Cavuto makes the point about whether World War Two veterans are what the DHS really meant when they said Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Since that's the version of the video that appears at Crooks and Liars and Media Matters (where they're determined to prove that the report is prescient - apparently in fear they might still have a reader who doubts that) I can't say whether that distraction was added by Fox News or one of those sites. (I also wonder why none of the various experts on this prescient report anywhere ever mentions that it was "not authorized, has been withdrawn and is being rewritten" - "The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed," Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. "The report is no longer out there," she said. "An employee sent it out without authorization." Funny, that seems like a significant point to me.)
Anyhow, to be fair, I can see where people who call themselves "right wing" could be offended by the report. Imagine the response from the AARP if the Department of Homeland Security declared that "some senior citizens, despondent over nearing the end of their hate-filled, wasted lives, may choose to commit suicide by cop and take out some of their perceived enemies in the process" - a point that James von Brunn's attack on the Holocaust Museum validates. Likewise, I can see where folks who consider themselves anything but right wing would get some false sense of satisfaction from the belief that von Brunn was one of them. But none of that changes the fact that political affiliation alone generally doesn't keep anyone from killing people or hacking computers, let alone come close to addressing what exactly we should do about it.
Anyhow, since I tend to think of these things along the lines of "how could I use this report if I was the intended operational user?" I wondered what I would do if I was head of one of Mudville's Tribal Counterterrorism Task Forces (don't laugh - they brings in the federal bucks) or the Chief of Police. I came up with "arrest the Republicans" but dismissed that quickly - the jail ain't that big. Then I thought we could confiscate the children of unemployed parents and put them in foster homes or re-education camps, since the report highlights that "there appears to be a strong association between a parent's unemployment status and the formation of rightwing extremist beliefs in their children" - but Mrs G said that was a stupid idea and wouldn't even talk about it any more.
So since the Chief of Police and the Sheriff and all the heads of the Mudville Tribal Task Forces had taken advantage of good weather to go fishing that day, I decided to post the report and ask my readers if they could think of any worthwhile actions that could be taken if they were one of those people. And one of them did offer a damn fine idea.
But as far as I know, that's about the only example of anyone anywhere actually contributing something worthwhile to the whole discussion. Oddly enough, that particular post didn't attract near the attention of the earlier one that didn't say anything other than well, Shep Smith sure got that wrong.
And I doubt this one will either - because it's a new week in America, and though the sun might shine mostly, there's a definite possibility that somewhere it probably might could rain.
"This website is banned in Iran by goverment since 3 hours ago."
(Via our good friend Steve Shippert - a must read.)
I have no words to add, except that I am humbled by each and every one of our injured troops.
A convicted terrorist can sue a former Bush administration lawyer for drafting the legal theories that led to his alleged torture, ruled a federal judge who said he was trying to balance a clash between war and the defense of personal freedoms.
In the past, terrorists would hijack a plane and demand release of their imprisoned comrades. One possible lesson learned for such groups from the Padilla story might be that such actions are counter-productive - an imprisoned terrorist can do much more damage to a target than those outside the walls.
Padilla, who prefers to be called Abdullah al-Muhajir, alleges he was tortured by U.S. military members.
He is currently serving a 17-year sentence at the Colorado "Supermax" facility after being convicted on charges related to terrorism:
Evidence includes hundreds of FBI wiretap intercepts translated from Arabic, boxloads of documents ranging from bank records to passports and dozens of witnesses.
Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, has been in federal custody since his May 2002 arrest at O'Hare International Airport.
A key piece of evidence against Padilla - one that ties the other two to al-Qaida - is an application to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan that prosecutors say he completed in July 2000 using the name "Abu Abdullah al-Mujahir." They also say that it bears his fingerprints, and that another alleged al-Qaida recruit will testify that he filled out an identical form.
The defense maintained that "his client's fingerprints appear on only the first and last pages on the outside, suggesting it may have simply been handed to him" and that Padilla/ al-Mujahir "was a peaceful Islamic convert interesting in studying his religion overseas."
Here's the Wikipedia explanation of the legal odyssey of Abu Abdullah al-Mujahir - clearly broader issues are at stake in this case - in which Padilla is seeking $1 - one dollar - in damages, and a ruling that his treatment was unconstitutional. (One could imagine a government 'counter-offer' of 25 cents with no acknowledgment of abuse but a written statement that "prison sucks".) But limiting our discussion to the question "did U.S. military members torture or abuse (by any reasonable definition) Abu Abdullah al-Mujahir" (an obvious pre-requisite determination to Yoo's alleged part therein) we now return to our first story for additional details of the lawsuit:
He was held in a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., for three years and eight months as an enemy combatant. Padilla's lawsuit alleges Yoo personally approved his time and treatment in the brig.
His lawsuit alleges he was illegally detained and was subjected to sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, painful stress positions, and extended periods of bright lights and total darkness. Padilla also alleges he endured threats that he would be killed, that his family would be harmed, and that he would be transferred to another country to be tortured.
In fact he has alleged much more than that. At his sentencing in Miami, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke stated:
...she was giving Padilla some credit -- over the objections of federal prosecutors -- for his lengthy military detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina. She agreed with defense lawyers that Padilla was subjected to "harsh conditions" and "extreme environmental stresses" while there.In a pre-trial hearing, his lawyers had argued the defendant was mentally unfit to stand trial:
"I do find that the conditions were so harsh for Mr. Padilla ... they warrant consideration in the sentencing in this case," the judge said. However, he did not get credit for time served.
Padilla's lawyers claimed his treatment amounted to torture, which U.S. officials have repeatedly denied. His attorneys say he was forced to stand in painful stress positions, given LSD or other drugs as "truth serum," deprived of sleep and even a mattress for extended periods and subjected to loud noises, extreme heat and cold and noxious odors.
On February 22, 2007, at the competency hearing, Angela Hegarty, a psychiatrist hired by Padilla's defense, said that after 22 hours of examining Padilla it was her opinion that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. She said that he exhibited "a facial tic, problems with social contact, lack of concentration and a form of Stockholm syndrome." She diagnosed his condition as post-traumatic stress disorder. She told the court "It's my opinion that he lacks the capacity to assist counsel. He has a great deal of difficulty talking about the current case before him." In cross examination Federal prosecutor John Shipley pointed out that Padilla had a score of zero on Hegarty's post-traumatic stress disorder test and pointed out that this information was omitted in her final report. Hegarty responded that this omission was an error on her part. Another psychiatrist hired by the defense testified along the same lines. The Miami Herald reported that a "U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychiatrist who believes Padilla is fit to face trial and Defense Department officials -- are expected to testify at the ongoing hearing before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke."However, Cooke ruled that he was
...competent to stand trial on terrorism support charges, rejecting arguments that he was severely damaged by 3 1/2 years of interrogation and isolation in a military brig.Judge Cooke had earlier considered a defense motion to dismiss based on outrageous government conduct (specifically, abuse while held at Charleston).
"This defendant clearly has the capacity to assist his attorneys," Cooke said just hours after she finished four days of competency hearings.
Bush administration officials vehemently deny that Padilla was mistreated, and Cooke said her decision on competency should not be read as a ruling on those claims. "That discussion is for another day," she said.
Padilla claims that the mistreatment he allegedly suffered while at the Naval Brig divests the government of its jurisdiction to prosecute him for the crimes charged in the indictment. Mr. Padilla's allegations with regard to his mistreatment stem exclusively from his time at the Naval Brig. Padilla makes no allegations regarding outrageous government conduct prior to his arrest, during the course of his arrest or during his civilian custodial detention in connection with the crimes charged in the indictment. Mr. Padilla also makes no claim of prosecutorial misconduct related to the government's efforts to try this case.Judge Cooke noted that determining the validity of the motion to dismiss required her to rule under the still unproven assumption that the abuse claim was true:
And ultimately denied the motion:
In order to assess whether Padilla's motion is legally insufficient, this Court must accept its allegations as true, and determine whether he has stated a cognizable claim. Thus, while this Court has not held a hearing, nor made any findings with regard to Padilla's claims of abuse and torture at the Naval Brig, for the sake of this Order, this Court will accept Padilla's allegations as true.
Padilla claims that his charges should be dismissed due to outrageous governmental conduct perpetrated after the commission of his alleged crimes. Padilla seeks this relief despite the fact that the objectionable conduct occurred during his military detention in connection with his enemy combatant status. Padilla's argument contains numerous legal infirmities.
First, the fact that the governmental conduct occurred at a time and place removed from the crimes charged makes the remedy Padilla is seeking considerably more attenuated and arbitrary. Short of resorting to a 'two wrongs make a right' judicial process, it is difficult for this Court to ascertain how the remedy sought emanates from the infirmity defendant describes. This is considerably distinguishable from a government entrapment scenario, where the crime that the defendant is charged with is the crux of the outrageous government conduct claim.7
Second, the outrageous conduct occurred while Padilla was under military control at the Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. At this time, Padilla was being held under Presidential orders in connection with his enemy combatant status and had not been charged with the crimes he is currently facing. This further attenuates Padilla's outrageous government conduct claim. Even if Padilla's due process rights were violated while being held at the Naval Brig as an enemy combatant, he fails to explain how this violation should result in the dismissal of distinct crimes that he was not charged with at that point.8
Third, Mr. Padilla fails to explain why suppressing governmental use of any evidence obtained from him at the Naval Brig is insufficient for purposes of this trial. In his motion, Padilla acknowledges that the government has already averred not to seek introduction of any of the Naval Brig evidence at trial.9 Despite summarily rejecting this remedy as "clearly inadequate," Padilla fails to support this contention or explain why his requested remedy is more appropriate.10 In fact, in his motion, Padilla relies heavily on United States v. Toscanino, 500 F.2d 267 (2d. Cir. 1974),11 a case where the Second Circuit sanctions this very approach. Padilla's Motion concedes that "the court in Toscanino noted that many cases involving due process violations center on unlawful government acquisition of evidence and that, in those instances, the proper remedy would be the exclusion of the tainted evidence." Def. Mot. at 11.
Mr. Padilla fails to present a cognizable claim of outrageous government conduct entitling him to dismissal of the indictment.12 The objectionable conduct Padilla claims violated his due process rights occurred during his military detainment in isolation of the crimes charged. Padilla also fails to adequately explain why excluding any unlawfully obtained evidence would not be an appropriate remedy in this case. Applying the exclusionary rule to bar inclusion of any illegally obtained evidence would sufficiently satisfy due process concerns. This may ultimately be a moot point since the government has averred not to utilize any Naval Brig evidence in its case. However, should the government decide to make use of any such evidence, an appropriate hearing will be scheduled to determine to what extent it is admissible.
To avoid misinterpretation of "Mr. Padilla fails to present a cognizable claim of outrageous government conduct..." Cooke reiterated (in footnote 12) that (bold emphasis added) "This Court makes no finding with regard to Mr. Padilla's treatment at the Naval Brig. By stating that Mr. Padilla has failed to state a claim of 'outrageous government conduct,' the Court is merely rejecting the merits of Mr. Padilla's legal argument. Within the framework of this Order, the phrase 'outrageous government conduct' should be interpreted as a legal term of art and not defined in a conventional sense."All done!
Flag Day commemorates the official adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
So today, June 14th, fly "Old Glory" high! And when you see Old Glory grandly flying above, remember it symbolizes the freedoms we have been granted by our U.S. military, so briefly pause to remember the many sacrifices of those who have served and are currently serving our country. Take the time to honor them by letting them know we have not forgotten.
Here's a Flag Day Greetings from Iraq
The Army is the nation's oldest uniformed service. It was officially created on June 14th, 1775 during the Revolutionary War more than a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
In this Year of the NCO, the Army celebrates the long tradition of strength and leadership from the NCO
Here's a message from Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, the Army's Top NCO:
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III helped to commemorate the Army's 234th birthday at a Pentagon ceremony.
"This occasion marks the 234th year that ordinary men and women have become extraordinary citizens by answering the call of duty and placing the country in front of themselves," Lynn said to an audience of soldiers and other servicemembers in the Pentagon courtyard. "I'm humbled by this long tradition of service, reaching back even to the founding of our nation."
The Army tradition is expressed in a number of ways, he said, including in the actions and service of individual families.
"Our soldiers, of course, do not bear the burdens of combat alone," he continued. "When they sign up, they're also volunteering their families. Army families are a constant source of support and inspiration, and in many ways, they're the reasons our soldiers continue to serve."
and a message from Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren.All done!
Here's a challenge, involving a bit of role-playing. Place yourself in charge of one of the organizations specified below, then explain how you would use the information provided in the report that follows to "effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States" per the stated purpose of the report. Rules of this exercise: you are not allowed to declare the information useless, in fact you must work under the assumption it is valid, well conceived, and thoughtfully presented. (And you certainly wouldn't sneer at the goal, would you?) Vague responses (e.g. - "we would increase vigilance") are pointless - you are at the implementation level, you are "where the rubber meets the road".
(U//FOUO) This product is one of a series of intelligence assessments published by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch to facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. The information is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States. Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.The report follows. Note, if you're like me and can't read in this small format, there's a full screen button in the upper right corner.
Late comments on an old post that I think are worthy of a space of their own.
Longwalker | June 13, 2009 6:12 AM
Special Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns died in the line of duty and my heart goes out to his family. However, please don't do a "Tillman" on him.
The facts are that, noticing an old man approaching the door, Special Officer Johns acted in a very appropriate and professional manner - he opened the door so that the old man could enter.
The old man, von Braumm, shot him in the head as he entered the building. Johns probabily did not even register the fact that he was about to be shot. Being a security guard at a building enterance means, if you are well trained, that you know that you are subject to being shot, without warning, by any well-trained attacker.
One of my "old sargeants" used to tell those of us stationed at such "fixed" posts to make our deaths "real noisy" to allert the other guards as, in most attacks, we would be dead before we could comprehend the fact that we were being attacked.
Greyhawk replied to comment from Longwalker | June 13, 2009 12:24 PM |
Longwalker, since you brought it up, I don't think those who die in the line of duty while performing dangerous tasks shouldn't be recognized for sacrifice simply because they knew they were doing dangerous work.
As for precise cause of death or what immediate action they took that may have led directly to their demise, I see taking on the task in the first place as the point worthy of praise - exactly the point you are making in your third paragraph.
On a related tangent, I don't see death as requirement for recognition. As example, while many military members do heroic things and survive, all recently awarded Medals of Honor have been posthumous.
One could argue that had Pat Tillman survived he would not have received a Silver Star, this despite the fact that the citation makes clear he received it for actions that - as it turned out - led to his death. (That it came from "friendly fire" does not diminish the justification and absolutely doesn't mandate denying the award - a point Lt Gen McChrystal has made previously.) But it's frequently more clear (this does not mean "obvious") that one's actions are courageous when that ultimate proof is available.
But many Silver Stars and a handful of Service Crosses have gone to living recipients recently. Not to imply the Silver Star lacks significance, but it's really about in the middle of the spectrum of awards for valor. The problem I see is not that we excessively honor the dead, it's that we've forgotten that death is not the unavoidable end result of courage.
(Rapidfire consists of quick links updated throughout the day. As a demonstration of solidarity with new readers discovering Mudville through this post, in today's Rapidfire I will deliberately misinterpret the news.)
Ahmadinejad in a landslide. At first disturbing, but on second thought I'd like to actually see that. (But elections are another topic altogether.)
IN ONLINE games like World of Warcraft, the violence is normally restricted to fantasy realms populated by orcs and wizards. But when a dispute broke out between rival gaming services recently, it brought down large chunks of China's internet.
Problems started when hackers linked to an unnamed gaming company launched an attack on a server that provides access to a competitor site. The Xinhua News Agency says the attackers disabled the server by flooding it with incoming signals. Other, connected servers were slowed too, in a chain reaction that caused internet problems for 300 million people.
Two suspects were arrested on 29 May. Chinese authorities rate the disruption to the country's internet as the worst since an earthquake ruptured undersea cables near Taiwan in 2006.
A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries' computer networks.
Dr Jill Biden stands out - but keeps it casual, preferring people not make a fuss over her presence. "Even when people ask her about her relationship to Joe Biden, her answer is 'We're related.'" That's certainly understandable.
"It's inevitable that they're going to leave a trace on us after they depart," said Yahya Hussein, a soccer coach, former player and denizen of Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood.
"All this," he said, pointing at a kiosk, "came after the occupation."
Rickety stands along the street overflowed with goods. Toy guns emblazoned with the moniker "Super Police" sat next to imitation handcuffs and walkie-talkies. A doll dressed in fatigues, with dog tags around its neck, carried an M-16 rifle, familiar to Iraqis as a weapon of the U.S. military. With a squeeze of the doll's hand, Freddie Mercury belted out Queen's "We Will Rock You" to a street speaking Arabic.
Jeebus, it's NOT A DOLL - it's an action figure, morons!!!!!
At least Fox News is all over it: "'The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard,' said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center." Where would we be without 'em?
Right-winger Glenn Reynolds is obviously aware of all this - but thus far he hasn't connected the dots and acknowledged the flaming spaceball threat. Why?
From our great friend Greta:
A very important radio show for you to tune into this Saturday. I'm hosting a PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) roundtable with 3 experts from the Southeast Louisiana VA Health Care System.Click here for more details. Hooah?
Date: Saturday June 13th
Time: 9:00-10:00 AM central time
Where: Am 690 New Orleans or WIST radio live on your computer
Call in number: (504)260-0690 or 888-880-WIST
Questions or comments: in the comment section, gretaperry at gmail.com, @kissmygumbo or on Facebook
Hey - I'm a conservative this week!
See the linked word "agree"? That's me! And I'm "pathetic", too! Er, actually I'm "a milblogger that called Smith and Herridge "pathetic" for reconsidering the report."
But later on Fox, New York Post columnist Ralph Peters attacked Smith and Herridge for claiming that the shooting “validated” the DHS report.
Though some conservatives have concluded that the recent string of right-wing violence has “vindicated” the DHS report, many others agree with Peters. Michelle Malkin, who led the charge against the DHS report, approvingly linked to a milblogger that called Smith and Herridge “pathetic” for reconsidering the report. Malkin’s Hot Air colleague, Ed Morrissey, defends the criticism of the report by claiming that it didn’t “mention anti-semitism at all.”
Crap - I was actually directly addressing an accusation against veterans. But if my fellow veteran Ralph Peters said something...A biography of Brunn posted on the site says he is a World War II veteran who served time in federal prison for trying to make a "citizens arrest" of Federal Reserve Board members in 1981.If that's all on which Smith and Herridge are basing their claims of vindication regarding the veteran threat, they're pathetic.
Neil, I gotta say something. On Fox News of all places in the last hour I heard that this tragic incident at the Holocaust Museum somehow validates the disgraceful report from the Department of Homeland Security warning about a terror threat from our returning veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan. Neil, this guy served in World War Two. He's been out of the military 64 years.Double crap! - he was talking very specifically about veterans, too. But he's a conservative, right??... but crap again! I actually wrote my bit before he said that, and added him in an update. Dammit, I was just responding to a moronic claim about vets.
Then again - Michelle Malkin linked me! She's conservative, ergo so am I. But wait! The quote I opened this entry with, wherein I am linked twice, is from Think Progress, obviously a "progressive" web site, so I must be a "progressive" too...
Wait a minute! - I very specifically called Smith and Herridge pathetic for claiming vindication on a very specific claim about Iraq and Afghan vets on the actions of a (then-alleged) WWII vet - and not, per Think Progress, for their 'reconsidering the report'. And so did Peters! If that wasn't clear enough, I reiterated it with even more detail after actually quoting the DHS report in my post: "Smith and Herridge know they're talking about a guy who claims to be an 89-year old WWII veteran. Unless he crashed a PT boat through the front doors of the Holocaust Museum, any military training from back in '42 was not a factor." In fact, never in the entire piece did I take issue with the accuracy of the report itself. In fact, outside the direct quote from the DHS report (which I didn't refute) contained in my post I never even used "Right" Left" "Conservative" "Liberal" "Republican" "Democrat" -- or any of the many other terms that my post wasn't about. I even warned people not to assume they knew what I thought of the DHS report. Later, in comments, I pointed out a similar interpretation error made by a mistaken commenter and he or she apologized, as did I for my over-sensitive response.
So how did the folks at Think Progress get it so wrong? Do you suppose it's possible that they didn't even read my post? Or that they did but couldn't understand my concrete terminology?...
Wait - it gets better! I scrolled through the 75 comments currently at the Think Progress post to see if any one of the 30 people who bothered to follow those links over here and actually read my work for themselves had corrected. No again! (But there are several sneering at all the conservatives/Right Wingers who've never even read the DHS report!!!...) As far as I can tell, at Think Progress they're all "progress" and zero "think".
Aha! I must be conservative because now I've indiscriminately criticized "progressives" for believing anything they're told! But that's wrong again - because here's Mahablog (who I've linked previously on one of my defenses of President Obama - gasp!). They understood and concur with my point exactly (even though they see me as a right-wing blogger). And here's my old friend (I mean that) The Gun Toting Liberal who links to my follow-on post where I point out that with one exception no one deserves to be linked to this alleged J-school grad who (like John F Kennedy) was a PT boat captain in WWII. Here's the tricky, confusing way I worded that:
...no one (other than fellow Nazis - and some of them will probably deny him) deserves to be associated with this sumbitch. In his 90 years on this earth (which he probably wanted to end guns blazing) this dirt bag probably did many things (including - like Hitler - "art") - most of which neither define him or reflect on others who did - or do - those things.Once again I avoided right/left etc. - but yes, from "no one" you can infer correctly that I've made a CLEAR point regarding any group other than Nazis. (And I was right about that "some will deny" bit, too.)
In a moment of sublime synchronicity, two days before the shooting I had written this comment on another post:
RAHBut one thing does tend to get me pissed off - people who blindly, willfully, and unquestioningly believe what they're told. Bad things follow.
Something to ponder: Is an organization "liberal" if it's employees must fear veering from an rigid orthodoxy?
Even the people Rush Limbaugh calls "liberal" prefer to be called "progressive" now. ( I prefer "Leftist" but that's inadequate too.) One can dislike the direction in which they want to "progress", but it's more appropriate than Liberal, which absolutely doesn't fit the unquestioning acceptance of approved dogma that membership in the club requires.
As for the Leftist sobriquet, I consider that misleading because from my point of view they - like extreme Right Wing ideologues, share one end of a spectrum with me in the middle and anarchists on the other end. Maybe my group should be called the "tolerants". (It's tough to get us to impose our beliefs on others though...)
Anyhow, your comment got me thinking about that. Thanks.
...and incoming bolides:
A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.It's the new transparency!
The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.
The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.
"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work.
Update: Boy hit by meteorite! Told ya so! I told ya so! (gleefully dancing a vindication dance here) I knew this would be trouble! This makes my warning seem prescient now, doesn't it?
At least Fox News is all over it: "'The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard,' said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center." Where would we be without 'em?
Right-winger Glenn Reynolds is obviously aware of all this - but thus far he hasn't connected the dots and acknowledged the flaming spaceball threat. Why?
If you're like me you thought Dan Rather had faded into the sunset once he was booted from CBS after featuring forged documents in a story questioning President Bush's Air National Guard service.
But it turns out Dan got himself a cable Tee Vee gig - and he just scored a scoop: an interview with recently freed Guantanamo inmate Lakhdar Boumediene. In this clip from Dan's show you'll hear Boumediene describe the torture he experienced as a U.S. captive in Cuba:
Shameful - but as we know, all that came to an end when Barack Obama took the oath of office, right? Well, not according to Boumediene - it got worse:
"Nothing changed in Guatanamo"... "They torture me in the Obama time more than Bush" - disgraceful. But ol' Dan Rather wasn't born yesterday - he checked in with someone he identifies as "Boumediene's lawyer":
So whatever Boumediene says (ahem) "should be taken in full context with perspective." When his client says "they torture me in Obama time more than Bush" that means he isn't talking about torture using techniques that were used under the Bush administration... okay, I won't pretend otherwise - obviously these guys haven't coordinated their stories yet.
So Dan got a third opinion - this time from the Admiral commanding the Guantanamo facility, the man whose troops were just accused of crimes:
So he says no torture, Boumediene says more torture under Obama than Bush, and his lawyer says the torture used when Obama was president was different than when Bush was president because Obama had outlawed those techniques. Rather than sort that all out for his viewers, Dan presented all sides of the story fair and square. (And since I'm fair and square too you can see the whole thing here.)
Then after his broadcast he went on the Rachel Maddow Tee Vee program to tell her viewers what they missed out on by not knowing he was even on television anymore. (Please don't bother trying to figure out the picture of Dick Cheney in a Darth Vader costume in the background - that set decoration isn't important to this story):
Wow - I do believe either Dan's memory ain't what it use'ta was or else he's just gone and tied all the details of the story into a whole nuther pretzel altogether. Then he up and sprinkled it with all sorts of sheeit that just don't matter.
But hold on a minute, pa'dnuh, did I hear this right? "Some of those people who are working there now, looking, saying 'Guantanamo's going to close' - sort of take their last shots"?
Well I'll be durned - guess I did. And we never saw or heard Boumediene or his invisible lawyer say that. So heh - foxy Dan sure showed that cocky Admiral a thing or two, didn't he?
Shucks, back when ol' Dan was working that Abu Ghraib story after he got them nudie pitchers from one of them fellers that stacked up that there nekkid pyramid I thought he was doin' his dangdest to get abusive U.S. GI's off the hook, blame it all on the President. I don't know what's changed but I guess he ain't goin' to help any of them out any more.
But now take a look-see at this feller from ABC over here - looks like he got himself a piece o' the story 'ol Dan either forgot about or just plumb missed out on:
Well, I sure hope that Mr Boomerdeen feller and his lawyer can git together before that trial and come up with some sort of story they can both agree on as to what exactly went on there in Guantanamo.
Okay, at this point you folks might be every bit as confused as I was. You got Boomerdeen saying one thing, his lawyer saying another, and Dan Rather claiming somethin' else altogether. The only thing they all agree on is that under orders or in violation of orders, U.S. military folks sure like to torture them some prisoners. Anyhow, I took all the confusin' parts and put them all together in one last video to see if I could figger it all out. You see, I do agree with that wily ol' codger on this here: "It's one of those cases where you take a listen to both sides and make up your own mind".
So there you go. Now I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed, so all I kin say fer now is all of 'em might be lyin', but there damn sure ain't more than one of 'em tellin' the truth.
From 1-5pmET, FNC averaged 1,322,000 Total Viewers and 326,000 in the demo, followed by CNN (824,000 and 126,000) and MSNBC (311,000 and 93,000).And all those Fox viewers learned to beware the psycho vet threat.
A few quick notes on this panel - not to imply these are comprehensive, accurate, or the most important points:
Now on with the show:
Exum: This report was authored the heels of four strategic reviews of Afghanistan/Pakistan. First challenge - think of way to be useful... second challenge: plenty of people had ideas for how it could be useful.
Tried two things: One, given list of strategic goals, offer operational recommendations to meet those goals. We offer two recommendations for Afghanistan, two for Pakistan.
Second thing: provide metrics.
"Sense of urgency" - very alarmed at the downward trajectory.
First Afghanistan recommendation: Propose "ink blot" strategy; protect pop above all other considerations. Iraq=urban, Afghan=rural. In Iraq, secure Baghdad and you've secured 1/5th popualtion. Not in Afghanistan. Address this - commanders face tough decisions on trade-offs in where you put troops. Why in Korengal Valley? Maybe not to protect population there, but to protect population elsewhere.
Second Afghanistan recommendation: Limited personnel available for "civilian surge", therefore for best results put civilians in ministries - the perception of no corruption is important in developing population's trust of government.
With Pakistan: build from positions of strength. Boost police in areas where we already control. No good return on $9 billion investment thus far. Put mildly: "Pak mil sees threats from elsewhere" - we see internal. "Start East of Indus" (Petraeus earlier said east-west shift by Pakistan military is happening).
Second Pakistan recommendation: "We are not saying Drone strikes aren't part of solution, but they are part of the problem." Drone strikes appear to be tactic, not strategy, not linked to IO campaign.
What's missing? For all four recommendations 1 - resources 2 - metrics
"We are not regional experts" but in speech in March, Pres Obama said "We will set clear Metrics" - hasn't happened.
Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.)
Disagree with stopping Drone attacks. Metrics are essential, fewer metrics are better than more. Enemy is looking for ways to take coalition airpower off the table. They do this by exaggerating and publicizing civilian casualties as result of strikes. But civilian casualties in Afghan today equal to civilian casualties in Iraq today. In Iraq this is "success" - we must be careful who controls the narrative on civilian casualties.
Preventing 9/11 does not require semi-permanent bases. Afghanistan presence is not necessary. "Graveyard of Empires".
Why not first fix Mexico? Outranks Afghan in importance by several orders of magnitude. But anyone suggesting thousands of troops to Mexico would be laughed out of the room - but those talking Afghanistan are treated like sages.
Take minimalist approach - as in Uruguay or Fiji. Neither Obama admin approach nor that suggested by this paper satisfy criteria for more.
We don't need/can't afford to take on such a grandiose effort (as Afghanistan) as long as we maintain strong defense. As long as we do that, al Qaeda in caves pose no more than a moderate threat to our national interest.
Colonel Christopher G. Cavoli, USA (Note: AFGHAN bound as Bde cdr - this informs his views - will be "end user" )
"Because my command will be in El Paso, Dr Bacevich comments are of concern..."
Some things to be explored, filled in before document is operational useful. For instance, ink blot: "I couldn't agree more". But it should be done "right". Oil spots require "pretext" to exist. From experience, it's not infrequent to be asked - on arrival in small village: "Why are you here? Now there will be fighting".
Examples of pretext include: Build road, elections...
Ops in Ink blots must be consistent as units rotate - and consistent between "spots".
Further: must be pulled together in cohesive whole; must be consistent nat'l program.
Must decide "who's in/who's out" - and deciding who's in and pretext will be extremely highly political. What do you say to a population left "out" when asked - "there's no trouble in my zone, why are you spending resources 'over there' where there are?"
Difficult to achieve cohesive control in a COALITION (ISAF) - this makes difficult to see how we will generate momentum. (Implies ISAF = anti-momentum?) Concurs "corruption" (no one argues this) in Afghanistan. Step two, connect the population to gov't - is decisive [certainly for anything beyond short term].
"Lt Gen Barno covered 3d and 4th recommendations more succinctly than I could"
But: sometimes Afghanistan is operating area, Pakistan is safe haven - sometimes that flip flops. With that in mind, we see right now a safe haven exists in Pakistan. No problem with curtailing drone strikes, but that's all we have putting pressure on safe haven. Two, supporting Pakistan police over military also may relieve pressure on safe havens. These items in report can be fixed.
"We'll know it works because fighting will increase dramatically"
Repeats: we'll know it works because when COIN connects people to gov't, must separate insurgents from people; but bad guys will fight (not surrender) when this becomes apparent.
"I read very dire comments about Afghan, but remarkable to me how little effort is put in there" Gen Petraeus earlier showed slide (Sadr city) with 11 predators - the duration of last tour in Afghanistan I maybe had 1/2 dozen UAV sorties over my area"
Barno: Some would argue Pakistan has been playing a hedging game, always ready with plan B. Key element of their decision making must be "what is the US going to do?" So what are we going to do? 'Win and leave' [with minimum force/diplomatic pers. left behind ] or long term commitment?
Exum: I think we're headed towards long term commitment. We (authors) focused on lower level without getting into long-term. We invited Bacevich to challenge. He presented "gloriously heretical response, divcorced from political reality in the region" "I don't see political realities in America undermining our response in Afghanistan next 5 or so years"
Bacevich: The historian in me would say, back around 1980 with declaration of Carter Docrine, US in operated in the region based on assumptions that our efforts could effect results in the Persian Gulf - now that's been extended to the entire Islamic world. This has been enormously expensive, has delivered no meaningful benefit to the U.S.
There ought to be enough room to consider a radically different approach to nat'l security (cites current growing deficits).
Exum: WRT COIN doctrine - we do as third party, we are admittedly dependent on reconciliations that are outside our control.
Bacevich: "Imperal projection", vastly overestimates what US can do. "Previous way of war" assumption was short wars, decisive outcome, relatively cheap - ala Desert Storm. "New way of war" assumes long term (10-15 years), yielding ambiguous outcome.
Exum: Yes - long term, this is why we should avoid in the first place.
Audience: To extent polling is reliable in Afghan, support there for US ... should it be US in ministries vice Muslim countries, others...?
Exum: notes absence of Afghans on panel. The need to bring in Euro allies is addressed in paper. "Unity of command is good thing from military perspective, but we'd love to internationalize the aid portion."
FICK: does trajectory matter? Yes - and perceived trajectory is downward. I'm not an academic - therefore have freedom to cite anecdote. Myth - Afghans drove out Brits and Russians, so us to. But Afghans as a whole are more frustrated with our incompetence rather than our presence. They need tea, but not sweet tea.
Spoke to TV producer there who just got rights for '24' on Afghan TV. "You realize the villains are Muslim terrorists?" "Yes - but we don't care as long as they aren't Afghan". Point being many Afghans aren't caught up in pan-Islamic issues. "The reservoir on which we're drawing in Afghanistan is deeper" than we think.
Aud: I spent 3 years in Afghanistan. I would draw sorry conclusions: Bacevich is probably right. Americans have other desires... won't support effort... vast poverty and ignorance over there - I don't see American domestic strategy in your paper.
Exum: It's not a strategy paper - but if I had to come up with a "fifth" recommendation it would be educate US population. The new administration certainly has more considerations other than war than we did at the start of Iraq surge, but that still sounds a lot like what was said in 2007...
Aud: Do we have an exit strategy whether we like the term or not ...how might we finally have public conversation on "exit strategy" - is congress on this, is anyone working on this?
Exum: I'm not aware of any. Chris, take the non-military piece...
Cavoli: On the "win and leave" option, the minimalist idea on that is when al Qaeda is not using the area as a base. This is however a negative proposition, hard to know when achieved...
If you build a road you cause problems - who's land, where do workers come from... but problems are opportunities for gov't to work with people to solve problems.
BARNO: Inherent paradox to "exit strategy' - when friends and enemies think you're "on the clock". Pakistan and Afghan gov'ts and people are concerned... as important as it is to domstic audience, its a problem for ears over there.
Aud: What is the role for private security companies in Afghanistan?
Fick: Personal philosophy: Private contractors overseas with US forces are unavoidable part of modern way of war... but the closer contractors get to core military operations the more concerned I become. In 2004 CPA HQ in Najaf attacked, slow response from higher...
One project we intend to embark on in coming year is study of contractor issue, ... we are far from right balance on that
Exum: Answer is yes - there will be a role for contractors.
Cavoli: Different in Afghanistan, less of an issue. Terrain, distances, lack of infrastructure... few private security companies have infrastructure to overcome. [Implying they don't take on security role? - vacuum implied.]
Bacevich: Moral issue; architects of GWoT underestimated length of war... allies didn't step up... turning to private contractors was a way to conceal true cost.All done!
Okay - my headline is intended to make a point: no one (other than fellow Nazis - and some of them will probably deny him) deserves to be associated with this sumbitch. In his 90 years on this earth (which he probably wanted to end guns blazing) this dirt bag probably did many things (including - like Hitler - "art") most of which neither define him or reflect on others who did - or do - those things.
Update - Navy Times*:
The man accused of killing a security guard Wednesday in a shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington was the captain of a Navy PT boat in World War II, as he claimed, the Navy confirmed Thursday.
The alleged gunman, James von Brunn, served in the Naval Reserve from 1943-46, rising to the rank of lieutenant junior grade and eventually commanding PT 159 when it was stationed in the South Pacific, a Navy spokesman said.
So - just like John F. Kennedy! I wonder if they hung out in the O Club together?
And more - The Weekly Standard was a potential target? The FBI visited:
The magazine is about a mile north of the Holocaust Museum, and there's no other indication that von Brunn had targeted it. Von Brunn's published rants included attacks on "neocons," and the Standard has been at the heart of the neoconservative movement.And - if he lives, he might not be just a murderer - he might be guilty of a hate crime, too:
Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is working with the U.S. attorney's office and the Department of Justice on the case, said that it is still reviewing if civil rights and hate crime charges can also be brought against von Brunn "as an anti-Semite and a white supremacist who had established websites that inspired hatred against African-Americans, Jews and others."Additionally, he has been charged with discharging a firearm in a federal facility. Von Brunn could face the death penalty if found guilty of the federal crimes.
A few quick notes on this panel - not to imply these are comprehensive, accurate, or the most important points:
Why should we switch from pessimism to optimism in Iraq?
Nagl: Not ready to be anything more than guardedly optimistic. Believe the "cycle of sectarian violence is broken."
George Packer/New Yorker: Make a long list of what we got wrong - good idea. Wrote piece called "planning for defeat" - was wrong.
Most optimistic panel member may have been Iraqi Nazar Janabi, Next Generation Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Janabi: Maliki "Advisory teams" may have (not quote) taken over functions of some ministries - weakness: if Maliki isn't reelected, ministries suffer
Gen Keane:"So many for so long have been so wrong about Iraq" - "I shared in being wrong for close to 3 years."
"Al Qaeda in Iraq has been defeated since late 2007" -command has difficulty expressing that because "there's a car bomb around the corner."
Maliki is "most anti-Iranian" of Shia leaders (but to Sunnis perhaps not enough).
Govt of Iraq is "very concerned" about our administration. Concern is that like anyone they hear admin rhetoric. "Turn over to Iraqis" - couple that with what we've done to other allies, and they doubt our willingness to "invest". SFA = long term.
Democratic Iraq in midst of autocratic regimes, said autocratic leaders must expect change, but stability + Iran = buffer.
Amb. Sumaida'ie: Elections too early. "Constitution written by politicians, not Statesmen" - again, too early.
Associated papers:All done!
At CNAS Conference, a Fox News reporter asked Gen Petraeus about military members reading Miranda rights to captured enemy.
General Petraeus responded (firmly) that this is not a concern, "this is the FBI doing what the FBI does". But our forces DO NOT READ MIRANDA RIGHTS to detainees.
(I'm watching via webcast)
A review (or challenge) of "Triage: The next twelve months in Afghanistan & Pakistan" (Exum et al.) at Blackfive.
Here's the live webcast of the CNAS Conference.
Here's the schedule.
Here are the associated publications.
Video: Anderson Cooper interviews phony Marine and IVAW member Richard Strandlof (a.k.a Richard Duncan):
Okay, here's the complete quote that appears only in part here. To clarify what I'm about to relate: although I was in Iraq in 2007, when I use "we" in the following, I mean United States forces.
I may be wrong - but there seems to be some fundamental misunderstanding of COIN in general and "protecting the population" at play here.
The idea that those are somehow efforts that don't involve killing bad guys and blowing things up is wrong. I know this is obvious to 90% of the people who comment here, but there's also a growing number of people seeking understanding of this newfangled "COIN" business who may be under the impression that it's some sort of bloodless warfare - and some may scan these comments for illumination. If you aren't among that number skip this rest of this.
In Iraq for the early days of the surge we did not pull away from contact for fear of hurting someone - in fact we did the opposite. We plopped ourselves down in various neighborhoods (very much to protect the populations therein) knowing full well a bit of the old ultra violence would ensue. Check the death tolls* - civilian or military - for late winter to early summer '07 to see the result.
We killed bad guys ("irreconcilables") in droves. If they didn't come to us, we air assaulted (sorry - delivered troops via helicopter) to them. And if CAS (sorry - close air support, aka death from above via fixed or rotary wing aircraft...) was needed for TIC (sorry - troops in contact, meaning exchanging gunfire with the enemy), CAS was delivered. (Do not, however, take this to mean wanton, indiscriminate slaughter.)
I said we knew full well this would happen because we had a model: Anbar in '06. While much has been mentioned of the awakening (to which much credit is due), less has been said of the American efforts that preceded it. 1-1 AD cleared chunks of Ramadi, rather violently imposing themselves in the neighborhoods through the summer of '06. (Said violence was generally started by those who didn't like the new neighbors, and finished by the fine young men of the Ready First.) The awakening followed this demonstration of purpose. By Fall '06 they had "tipped the scales" in Anbar. (A longer comment would include Tal Afar '05/'06 as precedent for this...)
By late summer '07 we had pretty much tipped the scales in Baghdad too - check those death tolls* (or "life tolls", if you prefer) again. Part of the reason for that is that we initiated (repeat for clarity: we initiated) "the Awakening" movement there. (Ask me which was more important, the awakening or the surge and I'll ask you whether guns or ammo are more important.) But in less than two years we've forgotten about the eggs we broke to make that omelet - and the uproar back home against the effort at the time. (We couldn't put up a fucking T-wall without negative press.)
COIN is not a fluffy bunny warfare world where no one gets hurt and we all ride unicorns over rainbows. It is very much killing the enemy. Protecting the population requires it.
And for those who knew all that but read it anyway, sorry - but I warned you at the start.
*This is not an argument for death tolls as Metric; they're useful only once the perspective of time/hindsight has been gained.
I mention that by way of introducing these PowerPoint slides (in pdf format - and no, they aren't a joke) and this document. The two together serve as a fine introduction to Counter-Insurgency (aka "COIN") in execution - not theory.
I should note that the second document, relating the story of Anbar in '06 and the "Awakening" movement that began there, was not published until 2008. In between was the surge, tactics for which were being developed as this battle was being fought.
But the tactics employed would look a lot like this - in part because the guy who the Ready First relieved in Tal Afar went home to help write the book. But we'll get to that later.
For those seeking a bit more advanced info, I recommend actually reading the full comment thread here. Some remarks are true gems, some are just throwaways from smart people, some of pure garbage, and others define to some degree the core debate on COIN. If you can tell which are which you don't need this intro course, in which case thanks for reading.
Update a day later: I failed to provide the link to "full comment thread here" in the original post of this entry. Needless to say, this was a mistake, corrected now.
Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge just announced that the shooting at the Holocaust Museum - allegedly by an 89-year old WWII veteran - confirms a recent DHS report regarding the threat posed by extremist veterans.
Shepard Smith adds "They [DHS] saw the signs, now it has begun". Smith keeps hammering on that angle...
Early reports also indicate the shooter claimed to hold a journalism degree.
AS of now the New York Times reports:
Law enforcement officials said they have long been familiar with Mr. Von Brunn, who has claimed variously to be a member of Mensa, the high-I.Q. fraternity; to have been a P.T. boat captain in World War II and to have been victimized by a court system run by Jews and black people.
Update - earlier video from Herridge and Smith warning America about the veteran threat:
A man named James Von Brunn operates a white supremacist Web site, Holy Western Empire, that carries several anti-Semitic statements. A biography of Brunn posted on the site says he is a World War II veteran who served time in federal prison for trying to make a "citizens arrest" of Federal Reserve Board members in 1981.If that's all on which Smith and Herridge are basing their claims of vindication regarding the veteran threat, they're pathetic.
What biographical bit does he put first? "James W. von Brunn holds a BachSci Journalism degree from a mid-Western university".
Guess what, Shep - I'm no journalist, but until I confirmed that claim I'd assume he's lying.
And still more: Ralph Peters - appearing on Fox with Neil Cavuto and surprised by what he'd heard earlier on Smith's show, eloquently defends his fellow veterans: "Neil, I gotta say something. On Fox News of all places in the last hour I heard that this tragic incident at the Holocaust Museum somehow validates the disgraceful report from the Department of Homeland Security warning about a terror threat from our returning veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan. Neil, this guy served in World War Two. He's been out of the military 64 years. He wasn't career military, he was a career nut. Ten million Americans served in World War Two, of the millions who survived are you going to put them on a terrorist watch list? It had nothing to do with the Department of Homeland Security report." I'd add that no one has verified that WWII-veteran status yet, but his point is correct. Peters concludes: "You know a question nobody's asked yet? The brave security guard who died saving lives... was he a military veteran?"
Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn't. No reporter thought to ask.
But you can bet he wasn't a journalist.
And now - Video - here are a couple clips from the discussion. First - here's the actual veterans quote from the DHS report:
DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists--including lone wolves or small terrorist cells--to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.
- (U) After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans--including Timothy McVeigh--joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.
- (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces."
- (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups
As you watch, bear in mind that Smith and Herridge know they're talking about a guy who claims to be an 89-year old WWII veteran. Unless he crashed a PT boat through the front doors of the Holocaust Museum, any military training from back in '42 was not a factor. But Smith wants to make sure you understand very specifically - this is a former military guy, it's not political, social, or anything else:
And here's Ralph Peters, responding:
The security guard who gave his life in the line of duty has been identified as Stephen Tyrone Johns.
There are no words to express our grief and shock over today's events at the Museum, which took the life of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns. Officer Johns, who died heroically in the line of duty, served on the Museum's security staff for six years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Johns's family. We have made the decision to close the Museum Thursday, June 11, in honor of Officer Johns and our flags will be flown at half mast in his memory.
Late update: "FNC Has More Viewers Than CNN/MSNBC Combined During Museum Shooting". Swell.
More blame game. Here's a thought - let's blame the shooter.
Laughing Wolf at Blackfive would like to politely discuss this with Fox advertisers.
And from TSO: Vindication - a must-read. (I'll beg, even: please read it before writing something in the comments here that makes you look really stupid.)
And thanks, John.
And still more here (and thanks Glenn).
And lastly: DHS report confirmed? Well, "heck of a job, Brownie" - keep up the good work.All done!
Or it's just a coincidence.
An entry-level discussion of what COIN isn't. I'd caution that the point I was making is not a rebuttal of Triage. Many "anti-COIN" voices argue that we should be killing bad guys instead, and that population-centric efforts prevent that. Not so, and my point is to refute that false assertion. This is the truth: sometimes to protect the sheep the shepherd must kill the wolf.
That point applies to anyone who would make a "pro-COIN" argument along the same (call it "all food no bullets") lines, but I don't read Exum as doing that.
Next "lesson" here.
Video below via DVIDS (via the Dawn Patrol): "B-roll of unmanned aerial footage of an insurgent grenade attack in Asadabad, the provincial capital of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan. Scenes include U.S. Soldiers with the crowd, the explosion and the crowd dissipating after the explosion. According to U.S. military sources, three coalition troops and five innocent Afghan citizens are confirmed as wounded in the blast."
Kudos to them for the rapid release - this AP report is why it matters: "many wounded Afghans angrily accused the Americans" of throwing the grenade:
Other witnesses blamed U.S. forces. Rasmatullah, 22, who sells mobile phones, said one of the soldiers "was very uptight. He opened fire with a grenade launcher." Still other witnesses told The Associated Press that a soldier had pulled a grenade out of his pocket and threw it.
That's a quote from this AP report on the "grainy" video release.
The U.S. military on Wednesday released a grainy video of a grenade explosion that killed two Afghans and wounded more than 50, while President Hamid Karzai ordered a government investigation into the incident.All done!
None of the half dozen U.S. soldiers in the video can be seen throwing a grenade. However, the video does not make clear who may have thrown it.
After successfully completing the London Marathon, disabled British soldier Major Phil Packer is taking part in the El Capitan Climbing Challenge in Yosemite National Park. The climb is the latest in a series of challenges is in a bid to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes.Major Phil Packer, who lost the use of his legs in Iraq, is on his final push towards the summit of 3000 foot El Capitain in California.
Small Wars: "The Center for New American Security has released several new reports and working papers that will be presented at its third annual conference, "Striking a Balance: A New American Security" on Thursday, June 11." The collection is here.
Registration for the conference is closed. However, there will be a live webcast starting at 8:30 AM ET. If you don't recognize most of the last names (Petraeus, Nagl, Bacevich, Keane, et al.) without the first you should probably do a bit of homework before viewing. As for the issues, they'll be shaping our National Security debate (hence policy) for the foreseeable future. For those needing a bit of fast catch-up, we'll be running a short course on the basics of various issues here throughout the day today.
What's at stake? Read the topics for the panel discussions - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Korea... this is Defense with the capital (or capitol may be appropriate, too) D. While that's sufficient for some, it should be acknowledged that there are those who see defense as the short form of defense budget, and they will be eyes-on too.
Previously noted in the context of just one of their recent papers, and even more applicable to this event:
CNAS has been widely touted as "The" think tank for a new era (or administration, if you prefer) - this effort can be seen as their first to be released into the resulting increased limelight. In that regards, it can also be considered the response to "okay - show us what you got".Obviously, they've got a lot. And the show is about to begin.
The NY Times condemns (really) this book as "for those who like their military history told through the eyes of heroic grunts, sergeants and captains. Think of Stephen E. Ambrose's "Band of Brothers" or Stanton's own best seller, "In Harm's Way," the story of the survivors of the cruiser Indianapolis, which sank in shark-infested waters during World War II."
I think the Times reviewer actually prefers books that do his "thinking" for him, but that's a topic for another day. I'll offer a full review once I've finished (almost there!) for now my advice is enjoy this excerpt, then get this book.
Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan
by Doug Stanton
November 24-25, 2001
Trouble came in the night, riding out of the dust and the darkness. Trouble rolled past the refugee camp, past the tattered tents shuddering in the moonlight, the lone cry of a baby driving high into the sky, like a nail. Sunrise was no better; at sunrise, trouble was still there, bristling with AKs and RPGs, engines idling, waiting to roll into the city. Waiting.
These were the baddest of the bad, the real masters of mayhem, the death dealers with God stamped firmly in their minds. The city groaned and shook to life. Soon everyone knew trouble had arrived at the gates of the city.
Major Mark Mitchell heard the news at headquarters nine miles away and thought, You're kidding. We got bad guys at the wire?
He ran downstairs, looking for Master Sergeant Dave Betz. Maybe he would know what was happening.
But Betz didn't know anything. He blustered, "One of the Agency guys came down and told us we got six hundred Taliban surrendering. Can you believe that?"
Surrendering? Mitchell couldn't figure out why. He thought the Taliban had fled from the approaching forces of the Northern Alliance to Konduz, miles away. American Special Forces and the Northern Alliance had been beating them back for weeks, in battle after battle, rolling up territory by coordinating airstrikes from the sky and thousands of Northern Alliance soldiers on the ground. They now stood on the verge of total victory. Konduz was where the war was supposed to go next. Not here. Not in Mazar. Not at Club Mez.
Besides, these guys didn't surrender. They fought to the death.
Die fighting and you went to paradise.
Mitchell stood at the dirty plate-glass windows and watched. Here they came, a motley crew of the doomed, packed into six big trucks, staring out from the rancid tunnels of their scarves. Mitchell could see their heads over the barricade that ringed his headquarters, a former schoolhouse at the junk-strewn edge of the city. The prisoners -- who surely included some Al Qaeda members -- were still literally in the drivers' seats, with Northern Alliance soldiers sitting next to them, their AKs pointed at the drivers' heads. The prisoners turned and stared and Mitchell thought it was like looking at hundreds of holes punched in a wall.
"Everybody get away from the windows!" said Betz.
Major Kurt Sonntag, Captain Kevin Leahy, Captain Paul Syverson, and a dozen other Special Forces soldiers knelt behind the black and white checked columns in the room, their M-4 rifles aimed at the street. Behind them, in the kitchen, the local cook was puttering -- the air smelled of cooked rice and cucumber -- and a radio was playing more of that god-awful Afghan music that sounded to Mitchell like somebody strangling a goose.
He had been looking forward this morning to overseeing the construction of the medical facility in town, and the further blowing up of mines and bombs that littered the area like confetti. Each day, a little bit more of the war seemed to be ending. Mitchell had even started to wonder when he would get to go home. He and a team of about a dozen Special Forces soldiers had moved into the schoolhouse only forty-eight hours earlier. Their former headquarters inside the Qala-i-Janghi Fortress, nine miles off, in Mazar's western quarter, had given them the shits, the croup, and the flu, and Mitchell was glad to have moved out. It seemed a haunted place. Known as the House of War, the fortress rose like a mud golem from the desert, surrounded by struggling plots of wind-whipped corn and sparse cucumber. Its walls towered sixty feet high and measured thirty feet thick under the hard, indifferent sun.
The Taliban had occupied the fortress for seven years and filled it with weapons -- grenades, rockets, and firearms, anything made for killing. Even Enfield rifles with dates stamped on the bayonets -- 1913 -- from the time that the Brits had occupied the area. Before their hurried flight from the city two weeks earlier, the Taliban had left the weapons and smeared feces on the walls and windows. Every photograph, every painting, every rosebush had been torn up, smashed, stomped, ruined. Nothing beautiful had been left behind.
After three years of Taliban rule, there were old men in Mazar with stumps for hands. There were women who'd been routinely stoned and kicked on street corners. Young men who'd been imprisoned for not wearing beards. Fathers who'd been beaten in front of their sons for the apparent pleasure of those swinging their weapons.
The arrival of Mitchell and his soldiers on horseback had put an end to that. The people of Mazar-i-Sharif, the rugmakers and butchers, the car mechanics and schoolteachers, the bank clerks and masons and farmers, had thrown flowers and kisses and reached up to the Americans on their horses and pulled affectionately at the filthy cuffs of their camo pants. The locals had welcomed the balding, blue-eyed Mitchell and two dozen other Special Forces soldiers in a mile-long parade lining the highway that dropped into town out of the snowy mountains. Mitchell had felt like he was back in World War II, his grandfather's war, riding into Paris after the Nazis fled.
Now thirty-six, Mitchell was the ground commander of the Fifth Special Forces Group/Third Battalion's Forward Operating Base (FOB). It had been a distinguished nearly fifteen-year career headed for the top of the military food chain. His best friend, Major Kurt Sonntag, a thirty-seven-year-old former weekend surfer from Los Angeles, was the FOB's executive officer, which technically meant he was Mitchell's boss. In the tradition of Special Forces, they treated each other as equals. Nobody saluted, including less senior officers like Captain Kevin Leahy and Captain Paul Syverson, members of the support company whose job it was to get the postwar operations up and running, such as providing drinking water, electricity, and medical care to the locals.
Looking at the street now, Mitchell tried to figure out why the Taliban convoy was stopping. If anything went bad, Mitchell knew he was woefully outnumbered. He had maybe a dozen guys he could call on. And those like Leahy and Syverson weren't exactly hardened killers. Like him, these were staff guys, in their mid-thirties, soldiers who had until now been largely warless. He did have a handful of CIA operators living upstairs in the schoolhouse and eight Brits, part of a Special Boat Service unit who'd landed the night before by Chinook helicopter, but they were so new that they didn't have orders for rules of engagement -- that is, it wasn't clear to them when they could and could not return fire. Doing the math, Mitchell roughly figured that he had about a dozen guys available to fight. The trained-up fighters, the two Special Forces teams that Mitchell had ridden into town with, had left earlier in the day for Konduz, for the expected fight there. Mitchell had watched them drive away and felt that he was missing out on a chance to make history. He'd been left behind to run the headquarters office and keep the peace. Now, after learning that 600 Taliban soldiers had massed outside his door, he wondered if he'd been dead wrong.
The street bustled with beeping taxis; with donkeys hauling loads of handmade bricks to the city-center bazaar; with aged men gliding by on wobbling bicycles and women ghosting through the rising dust in blue burkhas. Afghanistan. Never failed to amaze him.
Still the convoy hadn't moved. Ten minutes had passed.
Without warning, a group of locals piled toward the trucks, angrily grabbing at the prisoners. They got hold of one man and pulled him down -- for a moment he was there, gripping the battered wooden side of the truck, and then he was gone, snatched out of sight. Behind the truck, out of sight, they were beating the man to death.
Every ounce of rage, every rape, every public execution, every amputation, humiliation -- every ounce of revenge was poured back into this man, slathered on by fist, by foot, by gnarled stick. The trucks lurched ahead and when they moved on, nothing remained of the man. It was as if he'd been eaten.
The radio popped to life. Mitchell listened as a Northern Alliance commander, who was stationed on the highway, announced in broken English: The prisoners all going to Qala-i-Janghi.
Remembering the enormous pile of weapons cached at the fortress, Mitchell didn't want to hear this. But his hands were tied. The Afghan commanders of the Northern Alliance were, as a matter of U.S. strategy, calling the shots. No matter the Americans' might, this was the Afghans' show. Mitchell was in Mazar to "assist" the locals in taking down the Taliban. He figured he could get on a radio and suggest to the Afghan commander presiding over the surrender that the huge fortress would not be an ideal place to house six hundred angry Taliban and Al Qaeda soldiers. But maybe there was a good reason to send them there. As long as the prisoners were searched and guarded closely, maybe they could be held securely within the fort's towering mud walls.
And then Mitchell thought again of the weapons stockpiled at Qala-i-Janghi, the piles and piles of rockets, rifles, crates of ammo -- tons of violence ready to be put to use.
Not the fort, he thought. Not the damn fort!
Belching smoke, grinding gears, the convoy of prisoners rumbled past the fortress's dry moat and through the tall, arched entrance. The prisoners in the trucks craned around like blackbirds on a wire, scanning the walls, looking for guards, looking for an easy way out.
In deference to the Muslim prohibition against men touching other men intimately, few of the prisoners had been thoroughly searched. No hand had reached deep inside the folds of their thin gray gowns, the mismatched suit coats, the dirty khaki vests, searching for a knife, a grenade, a garrote. Killer had smiled at captor and captor had waved him on,Tashakur. Thank you. Tashakur.
The line of six trucks halted inside the fort, and the prisoners stepped down under the watchful eye of a dozen or so Northern Alliance guards. Suddenly one prisoner pulled a grenade from the belly-band of his blouse and blew himself up, taking a Northern Alliance officer with him. The guards fired their rifles in the air and regained control. Then they immediately herded the prisoners to a rose-colored, plaster-sided building aptly nicknamed "the Pink House," which squatted nearby in the rocks and thorns. The structure had been built by the Soviets in the 1980s as a hospital within the bomb-hardened walls of the fortress.
The fort was immense, a walled city divided equally into southern and northern courtyards. Inside was a gold-domed mosque, some horse stables, irrigation ditches encircling plots of corn and wheat, and shady groves of tall, fragrant pine trees whipping in the stiff winds. The thick walls held secret hallways and compartments, and led to numerous storage rooms for grain and other valuables. The Taliban had cached an enormous pile of weapons in the southern compound in a dozen mud-walled horse stables, each as big as a one-car garage and topped with a dome-shaped roof. The stables were crammed to the rafters with rockets, RPGs, machine guns, and mortars. But there were more weapons. Six metal Conex trailers, like the kind semitrucks haul down interstates in the United States, also sat nearby, stuffed with even more guns and explosives.
The fortress had been built in 1889 by Afghans, taking some eighteen thousand workers twelve years to complete, during an era of British incursions. It was a place built to be easily defended, a place to weather a siege.
At each of the corners rose a mud parapet, a towerlike structure, some 80 feet high and 150 feet across, and built strong enough to support the weight of 10-ton tanks, which could be driven onto the parapet up long, gradual mud ramps rising from the fortress floor. Along the parapet walls, rectangular gunports, about twelve inches tall, were cut into the three-foot-thick mud -- large enough to accommodate the swing of a rifle barrel at any advancing hordes below.
In all, the fort measured some 600 yards long -- about one third of a mile -- and 300 yards wide.
At the north end, a red-carpeted balcony stretched high above the courtyard. Wide and sunlit, it resembled a promenade, overlooking a swift stream bordered by a black wrought-iron fence and rose gardens that had been destroyed by the Taliban. Behind the balcony, double doors opened onto long hallways, offices, and living quarters.
At each end of the fort's central wall, which divided the interior into the two large courtyards, sat two more tall parapets, equally fitted for observation and defense with firing ports. A narrow, packed foot trail, about three feet wide, ran around the entire rim along the protective, outer wall. In places, a thick mud wall, waist-high, partially shielded the walker from the interior of the courtyard, making it possible to move along the top of the wall and pop up and shoot either down into the fort, or up over the outer wall at attackers coming from the outside.
In the middle of the southern courtyard, which was identical to the northern one (except for the balcony and offices overlooking it), sat the square-shaped Pink House. It was small, measuring about 75 feet on each side, too small a space for the six hundred prisoners who were ordered by Northern Alliance soldiers down the stairs and into its dark basement, where they were packed tight like matchsticks, one against another.
There, down in a dank corner, on a dirt floor that smelled of worms and sweat, brooded a young American. His friends knew him by the name of Abdul Hamid. He had walked for several days to get to this moment of surrender, which he hoped would finally lead him home to California. He was tired, hungry, his chest pounding, skipping a beat, like a washing machine out of balance. He worried that he was going to have a heart attack, a scary thought at age twenty-one.
Around him, he could hear men praying as they unfolded hidden weapons from the long, damp wings of their clothing.
The above is an excerpt from the book Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan by Doug Stanton. Copyright © 2009 by Reed City Productions, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan, is the author of the New York Times bestsellerIn Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. A former contributing editor at Esquire, Sports Afield, and Outside, Stanton is now a contributing editor at Men's Journal and has written on travel, entertainment, and adventure, during which time he nearly drowned in Cape Horn waters, played basketball with George Clooney, and took an acting lesson from a gracious Harrison Ford.
Stanton lives in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where he is a member of the advisory board of the Interlochen Center for the Arts' Motion Picture Arts Program and a trustee of the Pathfinder School.
He has taught writing at the college level and worked as a commercial sports fisherman and caretaker of Robert Frost's house in Vermont. Stanton graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and also received an MFA the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He and his wife, the investigative reporter Anne Stanton, have three children.
(Because you've already finished this, right?)
Nine yards of news follows:
"For Vietnam-era awards and later, [the presentation of the Medal of Honor has] pretty much been a Presidential moment. Except for one...."
"A billboard in Baghdad produced by the Future Iraq Assembly, whose Web site lists no members, declares: 'Iraq's future is for those who believe in it.'" - Apparently this is somehow sinister.
Here's the WaPo coverage. Do they always cover the release of would-be policy papers?
At least four terrorists and a number of their horses were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire with the IDF. No soldiers were wounded.
"A very big terrorist attack was thwarted," the security source told the Post.
Lt.-Col. Avinoam Stolevitch, commander of the 13th Battalion, told Army Radio that future assaults of this sort would put Hamas at risk of a second Operation Cast Lead.
HuffPo headline: "Obama Could Be Handed First Legislative Defeat Due To Anti-War Liberals" - except that a read of the story shows that particular group deserves as much credit (blame, if you prefer) as Mothers against Drunk Drivers - which is to say, none. In fact, "anti-war advocates in Congress" are warning that "many in their ranks are not willing to deal Obama a major legislative defeat."
Elsewhere - Lieberman: "Senator Graham and I will not go quietly in the night because the safety of our troops and our nation is on the line". Graham: said U.S. troops have enough to do without "Congress adding to their burdens. So nothing's going forward until we get this right."
And "The liberal blogosphere is also waking up to the issue and weighing in against the Lieberman-Graham amendment." Hey, just because the administration no longer finds them useful doesn't mean they have to stop being idiots.
If you're interested in what non-idiots Dave Petraeus and Ray Odierno have to say on the matter, read this, too.
Meanwhile: "The Obama administration objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts."
Barack Obama invokes Jesus more than George W. Bush - I dunno, I don't keep score, but it seems to me he invokes Bush a lot...
He didn't have this option: "The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial."
Classic post-Iraq war headline: "US plans death camp"- May, 2003.
Classic post-WWII headlines: Germans Find Mass Graves at an Ex-Soviet Camp and Ex-Death Camp Tells Story Of Nazi and Soviet Horrors. The first was from 47 years after WWII, the second from nine years after the first. It's unfortunate that real death camps don't make the papers in real time.
Here's a story you must-read. And here's an Alfred Hitchcock film you must see - and probably haven't. But it's the most frightening movie he ever made.
Gallup: Conservatives Shift in Favor of Openly Gay Service Members (lot's of other interesting results in that poll, too).
Reason Online: "The question is whether President Barack Obama will lead the way to its repeal--as he promised he would during his campaign--or back-pedal to political safety, as he seems to be doing." "Lead" is correct - he can and should urge Congress to act. But confronted with the old lead, follow, or get out of the way options he has chosen "c" (modified).
Or has he?:
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to the Pentagon policy forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, granting a request by the Obama administration.
In court papers, the administration said the appeals court ruled correctly in this case when it found that "don't ask, don't tell" is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion."
Mourning Pvt. Long - featuring a video appearance by a hijab-wearing 9/11 troofer.
Rush Limbaugh and GM boycotts. Future models probably won't have AM radio anyhow... then again, how many of the Obama administration actions listed above would Limbaugh argue against?
Smile - you are always on Candid Camera.
The Word ...Victory!
Greyhawk here: Great show - kudos to Colbert and crew.
Lot's of shoulder rigs in evidence, at least in the front rows. No surprise for al Faw, and no surprise if the M9 crowd beat the M4 crowd to the best seats. (I did see at least one USAF E6 in the front row.)
Great line from the prez: "No, my ears are just that big".
But the biggest applause line of the night: "We have won the war in Iraq". I think the applause was authentic and heartfelt. I didn't hear Odierno refute that - I heard him say there was still work to do.
Very cool related video - a commencement address from Baghdad by Goodrich High School (Michigan) Principal David St. Aubin
Kudos to the NYT for citing VoteVets as one of the groups who failed at due diligence on the Rick Duncan/Rick Strandlof story: "Antiwar groups like VoteVets.org embraced him as a valued spokesman." They've subsequently purged any evidence of his existence from their web page, so that's not as obvious as it was at the time.
But for the record, VoteVets is a de facto organization of the Democratic Party, and they haven't been anti-war much lately. Their focus now is on supporting the Party platform on national security issues like green energy and card check.
But as for the Duncan story, here's a more detailed account from the Denver Post. As stated previously, much of the credit for exposing this fraud goes to a real veteran in "Duncan's" Colorado Veterans Alliance - a group that worked on homeless veteran's issues, and the only veteran's group to dissolve in the wake of this fiasco.
And more FraudVets - geesh this is an amazing crew.
And if you want to engage them, you can expect this in return:
I really really really hope that someday Malkin and her counterpart, Ann "Fucking" Coulter end up laying hog-tied with electrical wire in an Iraqi ditch. <...> I don't know what fucking idiot lobbied for these shithead right-wingers to be allowed at Winter Soldier but I fear for their safety on the campus. Me, I'm not doing shit to them. Not at Winter Soldier, anyway. But I'm far from being the only IVAW member who's quick with his fists. Also: after putting up with weeks of crude, sexual insults from conservative bloggers "Thus Spake [Brokedick] Ortner", the "[Not Actually but Wannabe] Sniper", that fat fucking pig Jonn Lillyea and all those other cockroaches, I've decided I'm probably going to waste most of them on sight dry-hump them all if I see them in DC away from Winter Soldier. I'll give them a clear, verbal ten-second exit opportunity to clear out of my fucking field of vision in some pub, restaurant or subway stop. If they don't get the fuck out of my sight... oh, well. Sorry.You know, them being macho/psycho wife-beating coke-snorting combat vets and all that. Hey - some of them are all those things - but in IVAW you need a scorecard to know who's who (but don't write it in ink - changes are too frequent for that). There's an obvious connection here to the pseudonymous blogging story that's grabbed so much attention among those concerned with the personal and professional ramifications of blogging; this is an example about ten levels up from that. Me bros at This Ain't Hell ain't really pseudonymous, either - though they've got a hell of a lot of better reasons for that than fear of co-worker scorn.
"KEEP MY NAME OFF YOUR BLOG OR WE SETTLE UP IN PERSON."He failed to pass one bit of information critical for full compliance, it seems. But while anonymous threats requiring knowledge of the sender's identity are a bit pointless, the key word in the phrase is still "threat".
That was the call I got this morning, at work, at 10:04 am. The caller immediately hung up of course, being the coward he is. But, who could it be?
"Funny that this is a story now" - indeed.
Milblogs were far ahead of the media on that Rick Duncan story... (surprise, right?) Basically that's because we're tired of seeing these frauds' stories promoted by the media, usually to vigorous response from members of Congress. There's big money (your money, dear taxpayer) moving from point A to point B via military personnel/Veterans Affairs issues, and these are the guys who are driving the freaking train that delivers that cash.
From the 'new' (they did a brief report a few weeks ago, but it lacked the details) NYT Rick Duncan story:
Days after news of his forged identity broke, veterans advocates, Congressional aides and elected officials who thought they knew him well remained shocked. One veteran was so angry that he created a Facebook page urging the Justice Department to indict Mr. Strandlof.Let me fix that for them:
"Hours after news of his forged identity broke several weeks ago, actual veterans collected virtually all the details we're about to report as if they were news, and posted them on milblogs."
Unlike "veterans advocates, Congressional aides and elected officials who thought they knew him well", milbloggers - you know, real vets of the war - tend to respond with something other than "shock" when these frauds (and the organizations that embrace them) try to set our agenda. Here's what I was able to accomplish in about an hour last month when "Rick Duncan's" real name was discovered. (Said real name - Richard G. Strandlof - was the name under which his organization was chartered - so it was available with little effort to anyone who had any suspicion of his story). I didn't have to contact Colorado government agency employees to get them to release personal files on the guy - it was all "out there" - in pieces waiting to be put together.
The obvious point to that being the one in this follow up - it was too easy to get the rest of the story:
Or maybe not - maybe years of practice at exposing these guys just makes me think it's easy. Besides that, while "Rick Duncan" was busy speaking at Obama rallies, cohosting "several events with then- Congressional candidate Jared Polis" and appearing in VoteVets ads supporting their Party's candidates American newspaper and television reporters were already working overtime exposing "Joe the Plumber" as a mere apprentice with a lien on his house whose name was misspelled on his voter registration card."Many of those people are now wondering what motivated Mr. Strandlof", the New York Times now adds regarding the various shocked "veterans advocates", Congressional aides and elected officials that embraced Richard G. Strandlof as Rick Duncan, USMC (we'll assume the newspaper and television reporters weren't a bit surprised). But I can help with that, too: he was a con man, who had found the easiest marks in the world.
Related: Mob Rules
From Robert Stokely:
Freedom is not Free, and its highest cost is a Lifetime of Love. With the news of three Georgia Families bearing the highest cost of Freedom, they have joined the ranks of those who bear a Special Privilege of Sacrifice, one none of us wanted, but if not borne by us, then who should bear it in our place..... It is a chiling reminder that there are those of courage who are willing to stand in harm's way so the rest of us do not have to.
These past few weeks have been sombering for me - a call from Afghanistan from Alden Williams, my son's very dear high school friend who took the last known picture of Mike just days before Mike was KIA nearly four years ago; a call from Chuck Crowder, as he was about to go wheels up to Afghanistan, a dear friend of Mike and Alden - they were a trio in high school, college and the National Guard. They split up into different units to up their odds one would make it back. Chuck Crowder risked life in limb just a few weeks before Mike was killed to rush through a field strewn with mines to render aid to fellow 48th BCT GAARNG soldiers seriously wounded and killed in an IED in south Baghdad. He then went back into the mine field to render aid to a fellow British soldier who had also tried to help but went down when a mine exploded. Then there is Matt Kellerman whose unit heads to Afghanistan next week as part of the 48th BCT GAARNG deployment - his courage is hard to describe, for he was seriously wounded in the same attack that killed my son, yet he didn't quit when he had the chance - he re-upped. I spoke with his dad the other day and my words were "How do you do it - you know what happened to us and how close your son came to dying that same night, yet you do this again - you, your family and your son are the bravest people I know..."
I met Maj. Jeanerette and some of his fellow 108th CAV Squadron soldiers last August. That unit is not the same unit as Mike's (his was decommissioned and merged into Bravo 2/121 INF 48th BCT GAARNG). But, none the less, I was proud to know that there was a 108th Squadron operating and carrying on the proud CAV SCOUT tradition that was so dear to my son. And, I was even prouder when they presented me with a unit coin, which I proudly display on a table in the foyer of our home, next to Mike's post deployment unit coin, a coin sent to me by President George Bush, and the sabre presented me by Mike's unit at his Memorial Service.
When I am asked what can be done to make it better for us I respond that there is nothing that can make it better, but there is one thing that can make it matter - REMEMBER WITH HONOR, THE LIFETIME OF LOVE freely given to America.
DUTY HONOR COUNTRY
proud dad SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq
USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG
I staggered back to the Underground
And the breeze blew back my hair
I remembered throwin' punches around
And preachin' from my chair
Well, who are you / Who are you... who who, who, who...
Oh, who are you / Who are you... who who, who, who...
Come on, tell me, who are you / Who are you...
Oh, who the f%^& are you / Who are you...
- The Who, "Who are You?"
Bad form, says I - though so is hiding behind a pseudonym in order to be an obnoxious twit (note I'm not accusing anyone of that motive here). I maintained a pseudonymous blog here for many years and many reasons - at the outset primarily because as a milblogger I practiced more strict OPSEC than what's officially required; for example, someone who knew who I was could determine where I was, from that many other bad things could potentially follow. Bear in mind that was the calculation of a guy who was one of the first milbloggers, entering into an unknown world (and an unknown future at war) - and the handful that preceded me were all pseudonymous, a tradition that continues with the vast majority starting out today.
I'm fine with that - I'd encourage it, even. But beyond potential OPSEC considerations, I tried to write everything I posted as though I were using my real name (as if Osama and your mama were reading is advice I follow and give freely). Part of the reason for that was anticipating I wouldn't be pseudonymous forever - that either by my choice or otherwise (as in the example above) I would one day be known. As things turned out, my choice was the answer in my case, but see Buzzell, Colby, or Beauchamp, Scott Thomas for examples of otherwise. (One of those gentlemen is also an example of a major flub of at least the mama part of the Osama and your mama rule, by the way. The other one got a nice book deal.)
Now you can see and hear "the real me" all over this blog, and find things written under my own name (and citing this site) elsewhere - but "Greyhawk" lives on. He is me, of course, but also better known than I. I can live with that, because I am he and he is me and we are all together. But I suppose that the possibility of living in your own shadow (assuming you draw an audience) is something to consider for anyone - milblogger or otherwise - opting for pseudonymity for the all the right reasons. (Confession: it's also fun to observe the change in facial expressions and response I get introducing myself to people at conferences when after a brief pause I add "Greyhawk from Mudville" to my actual name.)
More here (and thanks again, Glenn, if that's your real name...)
More: Having read some explanations from pseudonymous (non-mil)bloggers for pseudonymous blogging of the "fears for repercussions in my personal/professional life" variety, I must ask the obviously begged question: are you saying people wouldn't like you if they knew the real you - revealed only in your blogging? This implies you've fooled them in the first place...
Or are you saying the blogger you is a fraud? (If that's too harsh a characterization, perhaps that the blogger you is the person you would like to be if only you weren't
I'm reminded too of the accounts I've heard where someone meets a blogger (known for their confrontational on-line behavior) in person and is surprised to discover they're actually rather polite, mild mannered, and soft-spoken. I'm never surprised by that, the behavior of many in the blogosphere is the sort that tends to get you fed your teeth when practiced in the real world.
I understand that "loss of income" is persuasive and that the anonymity of the web can be cathartic for someone whose daily existence is a lie. Hell, I even understand that in a world full of compromise a Walter Mitty-esque existence online - where you're an uncompromising bastion of rock-solid beliefs and personal integrity - is damned attractive. But here's the lesson that should be learned: the internet security blanket does not exist. Outside of World of Warcraft and related sites the internet is not your personal and inviolable Magic Kingdom - it is a virtual extension of the real world, complete with actions and consequences. In many ways it's even more risky to sound off here - where people who couldn't (by lack of capacity or inclination) feed you your teeth in the physical universe won't hesitate to do so in a virtual sense - whether that impacts your "other life" or not.
I prefer things kept civil myself, but then the real world I've lived in for the past several years has included folks who actually wanted to kill me (nothing personal, however) so I tend to be more lover less fighter here - and more interested in avoiding wars than fighting them wherever I may be, and winning them only when I fail.
Maybe that makes me a wimp. If you think so, please let me know - if ever we meet in person.
Complain endlessly about the fact that you don't have free speech. If no one shoots you or locks you in jail, you have free speech. If people call you an idiot, they have free speech too.
A very few paragraphs into this this Boston Globe story* (headlined "65 years after D-day, Normandy's gratitude toward US has not faded") the reporter (or editor) passes along the news that "in France, things American are fashionable once again, particularly since Obama's election and President George W. Bush's departure from the White House."
Yer humble scribe, as a U.S. military member living just across the border in Germany, had the pleasure of visiting France on occasion during the Bush years. "If there is any ill will towards Americans on the part of the population of Paris I have never seen a hint of it." I said at the time. As for the French, "Fluent in English, most are truly pleasantly surprised when I sputter a few words of high school French. Good times - we will return." I can extend that observation beyond the people of Paris; that specification was in the context of the post, but my experiences were the same in other cities and small towns.
Perhaps my admittedly feeble efforts at speaking the language explains the lack of animosity I experienced. Or maybe I'm an obviously friendly person. Or maybe - prevented by cost from eating or sleeping at the finer places and by desire from actively seeking anyone who could reinforce that sneering stereotype I simply missed out. Whatever the explanation, besides admitting I don't know the reason I also acknowledge that my experience - from any broader point of view, is anecdotal.
I'm not naïve. Certainly somewhere in Paris there are those who would shout "Yankee go home" as I passed by - then and now. (I actually experienced that exact cliché once during my two years in Seoul, Korea, where I was more obviously not from around here to the casual observer.) And I'm sure there are individuals in France whose opinion of America has improved since President Obama's election - the Boston Globe reporter being one.
While watching a few minutes of The History Channel's D-Day, the Lost Evidence I caught a segment with a soldier recalling the interrogation of a captured German officer, just off the beach.
He described the prisoner kneeling on the ground as "scrawny" - nothing resembling the hulking blond Aryan of popular German myth. But big or little, the Americans wanted to know the location of any minefields nearby, and he wasn't talking. "Just name, rank, and serial number."
Finally his interrogator grew frustrated, and fired a round into the ground between the man's legs. "Nicht hier," the brand new POW responded, pointing to his crotch. "Hier!" - moving his finger to his forehead.
"These guys were fanatics", the American D-Day veteran recalled. "They didn't look tough, but they were tough."
That anecdote makes a fine lead-in to this long-forgotten audio, President Roosevelt's address to America announcing the D-Day invasion:
"You could have walked across the English Channel"...
Original video from the day, narrated by the men who were there....
More from the Army's D-Day page here.
This entry is part of our D-Day series, click the picture below for the next:
Flash! Allies confirm German invasion reports - here's the live feed to America from NBC radio, 6 June, 1944:
Keep your radios tuned to KMUD for additional developments...
Most Americans in the pre-TV world of 1944 first saw images from the D-Day invasion in newsreels at the local theater, but those came days (or weeks) after the fact, and were hardly the first news of the event. Radio was the immediate means of information dissemination then, and while the assault on fortress Europe was long anticipated this special bulletin no doubt grabbed the undivided attention of all who had theirs tuned in that day.
OPSEC and COMSEC ruled back in the day, too. Note that all the initial reports came from intercepts of German radio, without allied confirmation (though it was soon to follow...)
Click to play, and imagine (if you weren't actually there) what it was like for those on the home front to imagine the news; especially when every listener to the live broadcast had a friend or relative in the battle...
Your seat is still available:
This Daffy Duck adventure is not appropriate for today's modern, more sensitive viewer.
Watch at your own risk.
What's up, Doc?
It's time for the cartoon:
Tonight's movie will begin after this brief message from General Eisenhower (click image for Eisenhower's audio version):
This entry is part of our D-Day series, click the picture below for the next:
We'll return to our coverage of D-Day in a moment...
But first, this brief message from General Motors:
In addition to the newsreels, this collection includes an appearance by Bugs Bunny, begging you to buy war bonds (a cartoon that's a bit too racy for today's TV or movie audiences.)
Only a few seats remain in Mudville's D-Day Theater - but we've saved one for you:
A great D-Day page from EUCOM.
In an effort to continue to preserve the history and honor of our efforts long ago, Blackfive has posted MilBlog posts from years past and adds new ones this year. Well worth a visit.
A few more to add to this list:
Soldiers' Angel Germany (MaryAnn) has a D-Day The Prayer
Old Blue describes D-day as the Benchmark
Bad Dogs and Such in Iraq talks of the loss of his "Grandma Walton", at 106 years old. She was a major in the Army Nurse Corps in Europe in WWII.
Army Wife Toddler Mom has some Nebraska stories of D-Day, her brother-in-law in Iraq has been inspired by his Grandfather who served at Normany.
You'll see no more tangible connection of D-Day to today than this report from TSO, an Afghanistan vet from one of the hardest-hit units at Normandy.
"Don't worry chaps you'll only have to do this once. I'll have to come back and do a dozen takes with Errol Flynn!"--David Niven rallying his platoon before landing on gold beach."
That's a great quote, I hope it's authentic, there are many D-Day "legends" out there, at least one of which Chuck Z is D-Day mythbusting.
And a few observances of the day:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown makes a slip of the tongue calling Omaha Beach for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day - OBAMA Beach!
Jules Crittenden questions one D-day soldier's hero status.
This entry is part of our D-Day series, click the picture below for the next:
A milblogger from Iraq, today: "My great-grandmother passed away two days ago. A week short of 106 years old, so she had a good, long run." - and she was a World War Two vet. More here.
"MilBlogs" from 1944:
The World War Two Diaries of Private Melvin W. Johnson
D-Day Diary: The Landing at Normandy Notes on June 6, 1944 By Major Donald E. Rivette, U.S. Army
War Diary, Col. Charles H. Young 5 June 1944:
Following is an excerpt from the wartime diary of Col. Charles H. Young, CO of the 439th Troop Carrier Group. The diary entry is dated 5 June, which is when the D-Day takeoffs began for IX TCC units, then stationed in England. Col. Young reached his Normandy DZ at 0108 on 6 June.The story continues here.
If the weather had been good, the invasion would have started last night, but about noon I got word that it had been postponed 24 hours. We had the final briefing for pilots tonight at 2030, at which there were many photographers, movie cameramen, and war correspondents. Col. Harlan Miller and a crew of six, and Mr. Munn of United Press, among others.
Stations time at 2200, take off with 81 ships started at 2313. We left England at the Bill of Portland on a course of 213 degrees magnetic for 55 miles, then on 132 degrees for 57 miles, then east on 93 degrees across the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy.
The horseman guiding his steed sideways to get him squared away for his jump over a high bar and broad pit, then turning, loosens the reins and feels the surge of power ripple through his spirited mount. That is how I felt on the night of June 5th, 1944 as I turned our formation of 81 C-47s at the last check point in the English Channel, leading in the first group of the 50th Troop Carrier Wing, and started on the final straight run-in to German-held Normandy. Not that I'm kidding myself about the lumbering old C-47 Skytrains being powerful or spirited, but the potent fighting cargo we carried, the eager tough young paratroopers of Colonel Sink of the 101st Airborne Division, gave us that sense of power and spirit...
This entry is part of our D-Day series, click the picture below for the next:
Tonight's Late Show, below:
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
- Mick Jones singing "Should I Stay or Should I Go" from The Clash's 1982 album Combat Rock
"We need to reinforce the message at every turn that we are not going to cut and run."
- Simon Shercliff, First Secretary, Foreign Security and Policy, British Embassy, Washington - commenting on Afghanistan/Pakistan on his blog on the official website for the British Embassy in the United States.
...the new (and eagerly awaited) CNAS report on Afghanistan and Pakistan is out.
The author list should be familiar: Andrew M. Exum, Nathaniel C. Fick, Ahmed A. Humayun, and David J. Kilcullen. If the subject matter isn't, I suggest reading this first.
This document will dominate the discussion on Afghanistan/Pakistan in the near future - and that will in turn shape the long-term. CNAS has been widely touted as "The" think tank for a new era (or administration, if you prefer) - this effort can be seen as their first to be released into the resulting increased limelight. In that regards, it can also be considered the response to "okay - show us what you got".
That said, I'm off to read it myself.
And now for something a bit different: today's roundtable is with naval historian Robert J. Cressman: "As a tribute to the 67th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, Mr. Cressman will highlight the significance of this event in naval history."
More history: Remarks of Merkel, Obama, and Wiesel at Buchenwald: "We ask young people to carry on our struggle against Nazi ideology, and for a just, peaceful and tolerant world; a world that has no place for anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and right-wing extremism."
And more history: "Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is coming to the big screen at the hands of uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney, which just recently acquired the screen rights." - I hope so.
As TSO once said (the "S" stands for Santayana, btw) "those who don't learn Google are forced to repeat history 101", or something like that.
Speaking of Santa, on to the present:
McHugh on DADT: I have no interest in excluding people 'otherwise qualified to serve.' - how ironic, then, that he's departing the organization that set that policy (and has the power to change it) to become Secretary of the Army, and from here on must merely enforce it. Certainly his vote will be missed.
Speaking of Intelligence...
Republicans ignited a firestorm of controversy on Thursday by revealing some of what they had been told at a closed-door Intelligence Committee hearing on the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Democrats immediately blasted the GOP lawmakers for publicly discussing classified information, while Republicans said Democrats are trying to hide the truth that enhanced interrogation of detainees is effective.
Well, boo f$%&ing hoo.
The man accused of fatally shooting a soldier outside a recruiting center begged for FBI agents to free him from a Yemeni jail where he was "radicalized" by Islamic terrorists, his lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday.Lawyer Jim Hensley explained that Abdulhakim Muhammad's experiences "drove him to become someone his parents didn't recognize".
Mr. Cromitie's sister, Wanda Walker, said she was shocked to learn of her brother's arrest while watching television Thursday morning.Cromite, you may recall, changed his name to Abdul Rahman prior to being arrested for allegedly plotting to shoot down military aircraft and bomb synagogues. He, however, was "radicalized" in an American prison.
"Right now, to me he's, like, the dumbest person I ever came in contact with in my life," Ms. Walker said. She added that as far as she knew, he was not a Muslim, but said "they do a little time in jail and they don't eat pork no more."
Clearly this is a timely contribution: Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on Department of Justice's Outreach and Enforcement Efforts to Protect American Muslims
Okay, a final bit of history: "NASA Study Acknowledges Solar Cycle, Not Man, Responsible for Past Warming"
This entry is part of our Midway series, click the image below for the next:
A brief basic primer on the COIN-conventional debate. If you're interested in things like National Security you want to know this stuff - this debate will shape how we approach defense (or Defense) for the next several years.
Now that you're familiar with the basics, here's the Armed Forces Journal article from USAF Major General Charles Dunlap referenced here. "Forget the lessons of Iraq" is certainly a provocative title. (Then again, so is "Flawed Doctrine or Flawed Strategy?")
(This post shall grow... more to follow.)
If you're interested in Special Ops, the discussion here is on more than just the budget. (But not the "if I told you I'd have to kill you" part. That would be a great answer, wouldn't it?)
On May 21, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who said she had purchased "Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries" because she believed "crunchberries" were real fruit.That's all well and good. But wait til she finds out Cap'n Crunch never actually served in the military.
Flawed Doctrine or Flawed Strategy? by Sergeant First Class Morgan Sheeran, at Small Wars Journal. SFC Sheeran makes a strong case that evidence of actual existence of the Army's much feared/lauded COIN doctrine is not apparent in the trenches. I've heard his (valid) complaint regarding advisers vs 'maneuver' forces before - for too many years in Iraq. Sad to think that if we aren't going to transport our lessons learned from there to Afghanistan we will still bring the same problems. (At least there's an "upside" to that; those who are eager to establish their reputations as "problem solvers" will discover a land of opportunity there.)
And if reading a fine piece of writing on the Army's challenges in Afghanistan by an informed (and experienced - Afghanistan veteran) Senior NCO weren't enough incentive to click over, you can also check out the discussion between SFC Sheeran and Col Gian Gentile (Sheeran's by-name example of "those who resist further institutionalization of COIN" in the article) in the comments there.
It's a brave new world indeed.
A blog from a Gold Star father. Must read, tough read.
The Armorer's Medal of Honor Moment (an outstanding series) today: "our Midway focus is on a warrior whose actions this day and the next in 1942 earned him the Medal of Honor - Richard Fleming, Captain, USMCR".
More on Midway, at the U.S. Naval Institute blog, where they've been running a series.
If you prefer newer news, here's a discussion on current National Defense Strategy - "a product of the Bush administration".
The Obama administration has not laid out a National Security Strategy of the United States yet, or at least released one to the public, which raises questions what kind of National Defense Strategy might develop as a result of the QDR process.
Meanwhile, over at Blackfive: D Day.
You'll see no more tangible connection of D-Day to today than this report from TSO, an Afghanistan vet from one of the hardest-hit units at Normandy.
"SWJ has received an advance copy of a new Center for a New American Security (CNAS) report entitled Triage: The Next Twelve Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Andrew Exum, Nathaniel Fick, Ahmed Humayun and David Kilcullen. ...here is an excerpt from the introduction which serves more as an executive summary."
But Abu M asks "Does anyone else get the sense that Obama's big speech in Cairo today is a bigger deal in the Western world than it is in the Arabic-speaking and Islamic worlds?"
Given the blog response linked above, I don't see how it could be otherwise. In the Islamic world, "there is no God but Allah" sort of restricts the fawning. There are no such limits on American media.
This entry is part of our Midway series, click the image below for the next:
...from a former Air Force Weather Forecaster. (The site might be slow loading - heavy content, much attention.)
If the various charts and imagery boggle your mind, go ahead and skip down to the conclusions - and be sure to read some of the appended emails.
And since there is no comment feature there, feel free to discuss/ask questions here*. (Greyhawk knows his weather impacts on ops, he does. One thing I'll add immediately: flying into thunderstorms is not smart.)
U.S. troops reported a fierce firefight May 28 against Farsi-speaking insurgents who wore body armor and "Kevlar helmets" and used smoke grenades. The U.S. soldiers killed an estimated 35 insurgents and suffered no casualties, but say the battle demonstrated the increasing sophistication of some guerrilla groups here....but here's a first-hand report from a milblogger who was in the fight.
On June 4-6, 1942, a large Japanese force attempted to capture Midway Island in the North Pacific, but was defeated by U.S. forces with a loss ratio of 4:1 in favor of the Americans. On hand was a crew of naval photographers directed by John Ford; their documentary footage was edited together with narration by Hollywood actors. The film covers the attack on Midway, some limited aerial footage, the search for survivors, and aftermath of the battle.The battle changed the course of World War Two in the Pacific. Released in September 1942, the 18 minute film was one of four winners of that year's Academy Award for Best Documentary.
He entered the United States Naval Reserve on 3 October 1934 in the rank of Lieutenant Commander and on 11 September 1941 reported for active duty. He was promoted to Commander, 7 October 1941, and to Captain on 17 August 1945 to rank from 10 June 1943. He was placed on the Honorary Retired List in the rank of Rear Admiral on 1 May 1951.Ford received the Purple Heart for wounds received off Midway Island on 4 June 1942. He was later awarded the Legion of Merit for his work throughout the war.
In June 1942 he was in Midway during the battle for that island, observing and obtaining a photographic record from atop the Midway Island powerhouse, an obvious and clear target. He survived continuous attack and even though wounded was able to render a verbal report of the battle action, such information greatly aiding the Commanding Officer in the disposition of the defending American forces. In addition to photographing The Battle of Midway, later released by the War Activities Committee, he scored it and added dialogue.
He received a Letter of Commendation from the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District "For distinguished service in the line of his profession when on June 4, 1942, the Naval Air Station, Midway Island, was severely bombed and strafed by Japanese aircraft. Despite his exposed position he remained at his station and reported to the Navy Command Center an accurate account of the attack, thereby aiding the Commanding Officer in determining his employment of the defending forces. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Naval service."
Kiss my Gumbo thinks Mudville Rocks. I have to agree ;p
BlackFive talks about our new sponsors (see left sidebar)
The folks at This Ain't Hell have intercepted the following GM planning session held yesterday.
Chuck Z tells us that PRAVDA, is warning America about the dangers of marxism, and laughs at our demise at the hands of our own gummint.
Neptunus Lex discusses the need for such a large a Navy, when Barret Tillman asks, "Why do we need so large a Navy, if we scarcely ever use it?"
Are Pedator Drones illegal? Murdoc has solved this delimma.
Castle Argghhh!!! dances in Memorium for the last remaining Australian to serve in WWI who has died at the age of 110.
Brain Storm "Oxygen Under Pressure" is a short documentary exploring the application of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) dealing specifically with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on injured soldiers deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan. It is directed and produced by John Salcedo, a film student at LACC in California USA, he is a US army veteran.
This documentary is nominated as one of the "TOP 6" International Student Films for May 2009 - competing for the "Best International Student Film" for May/June 2009.
You can learn more about how John and Dr Paul Harch put this project together and how Congressman Walter Jones became involved here.
But for now they need your vote.
BRAIN STORM: "Oxygen Under Pressure" is nominated as one of the "TOP 6" International Student Films for May 2009 - competing for the "Best International Student Film" for May/June 2009. This film has received over 905 viewers in less than 9 days since it's release on Memorial Day weekend...(This is incredible) Just like everything else in life - things can be political, so I am asking for support through your "network" of HBOT advocates to support the film to increase public awareness. The publicity gained from this international award will be beneficial to Dr. Harch's research... To vote is simple. 1. Go to http://www.reelshowint.com to register (Free), it only takes a few seconds.
2. Vote on best film - tomorrow 4 June - comments on film link are welcome.
3. See flyer below for details.
Thank you for supporting the cause...
U.S. Army Veteran
Film Director Student
Los Angeles City College
If this helps in any way in treating our troops, they've got my vote.
Graham: Do you feel constrained at all to ask for more troops? Is there any political restraint upon you to ask for more troops, if you think they're necessary? Do you think you could make that request without any concerns?In fairness to Lt Gen McChrystal, there are any number of things he might need - from Humvee tires to bullets to boots, and until he gets "in the job" he isn't going to speculate on specifics or details. But by the way, if anyone needs any cash, please ask for it in the comments below. And believe me, if you were actually here I would look you in the eye and tell you the same thing - and that's exactly what that response means.
McChrystal: Sir I'm not in the job yet, so I'm speculating on that. Yesterday at a meeting Admiral Mullen said that if I was confirmed to ask for what I need. Almost quote unquote, he looked me in the eye and said that. So I believe that if I have a requirement I can look Admiral Mullen in the eye and tell him "that's what I need."
Graham: You think that's true of the administration also?
McChrystal: Sir I don't know.
Graham: Okay, fair enough.
Was Abdulhakim Muhammad part of a conspiracy - a terrorist network even?
The latest information seemed to contradict a local police official's denial earlier Tuesday that the shooting was part of a larger conspiracy, though details of possible accomplices and their involvement weren't immediately disclosed.If so, it wasn't a very good one.
An FBI joint terrorism task force based in the southern U.S. reportedly had been tracking Muhammad after he traveled to Yemen and was arrested and jailed there for using a Somali passport, an official told The Associated Press. The probe had been in its early stages and based on Muhammad's trip to Yemen, ABC News reported.(For what it's worth, the sources of the story include a "senior U.S. official" and "a joint FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press".)
Yesterday's hearings on Capitol Hill were kind of important, right? I mean, the confirmation of a controversial new commander for the war in Afghanistan should have attracted as much attention as the Spring 2007 hearing with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, right?I'm reminded of the empty media tents the 3ID set up for every training exercise conducted while preparing to deploy to Iraq for the surge... but that's another story.
The U.S. Senate thought so as well and reserved three tables for the media. One of those tables -- one -- was actually filled. Two bloggers and a clutch of print media were present. That was it. Those of you wishing for the death of the hated MSM should be careful -- you might get what you want. - Exum.
"U.S. Report Finds Errors in Afghan Airstrikes" - one of which was "a compound of buildings where militants were massing for a possible counterattack against American and Afghan troops was struck in violation of rules that required a more imminent threat to justify putting high-density village dwellings at risk".
Suspect was mad at the U.S. military "because he had seen what they had done to Muslims in the past" and "would have killed more soldiers if they had been on the parking lot"
And here's an interview with Daris Long, the murdered soldier's father. Pvt Long's mother was in the parking lot at the time of the shooting. She heard the gun shots...
And I shouted out "who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all, it was you...
- Mick Jagger, Sympathy for the Devil (abridged)
A moment of supreme irony yesterday: reading Bloody Mary Mapes' screed at the Sniffington Post blaming an anti-abortion group for the murder of an abortion doctor on the very day her Abu Ghraib fraud probably contributed to the death of yet another soldier.
Meanwhile, Sarah Plain condemns both killers, earns scorn (see comments). Politico's Ben Smith calls it "using the murder of abortion doctor George Tiller to call attention to the murder of an army recruiter in Arkansas, allegedly by a self-styled Islamic militant', which he declares is "a widely heard theme on the right".
Given the disparity of news coverage, it's not surprising that few are aware there's actually been a series of attacks on recruiting stations (see "flashback" links here) and other locations. Trends are trends, whether widely reported or not.
The supreme irony is that if you put these two killers in a cell together for a while (without the means to immediately kill each other) they'd eventually come to appreciate and respect their similarities and ultimately form a bond no man (or woman) could break.
Death threats aimed at Rusty Shackleford.
(By the way, there's a better picture of Rusty here.)
Jimbo (Blackfive): "A US District Court judge had ruled that three detainees being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan can challenge their detention using US courts and Habeas Corpus motions."
Nothing new under the sun? How about these clouds:
Hey - tanks a lot, really.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy.The President may also have considered the advice of General Ray Odierno:
Maliki said, "Baghdad will burn" if the photos are released, said a second U.S. military official.
I have concluded that the official release of these images, even if redacted to obscure identifying information, could reasonably be expected to:In the same document General Petraeus made similar statements regarding potential impact on the broader CENTCOM AO.
a. Endanger the lives of U.S. and coalition Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors, civilians, and contractors presently serving in Iraq;
b. Endanger the lives of Iraqi civilians, police, military personnel and government officials;
c. Aid in the recruitment and financing of extremists and insurgent groups;
d. Undermine the improving security conditions in Iraq.
The public dissemination of detainee abuse photos in 2004 likely contributed to a spike in violence in Iraq during the third quarter of 2004 as foreign and domestic insurgents were drawn to Iraq to train and fight. Attacks on CF increased from around 700 in March 2004 to around 1800 in May (after the photographs were broadcast and published) and 2800 in August 2004. Attacks on CF did not subside to March 2004 levels until June 2008. These increased attacks resulted in the death of CF, Iraqi forces, and civilians.
Perhaps the most gruesome of Internet reactions to the photo publication was a video posted in May of 2004 showing the decapitation murder of U.S. contractor Nicholas Berg. A man believed to be Zarqawi specifically made the linkage between the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Berg's murder, saying, "And how does a free Muslim sleep comfortably watching Islam being slaughtered, and [its] dignity being drained. The shameful photos are evil humiliation for Muslim men and women in the Abu Ghraib prison... We tell you that the dignity of the Muslims at the Abu Ghraib prison is worth the sacrifice of blood and souls. We will send you coffin after coffin and box after box slaughtered in this way."
Brig. Gen. Huber, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, will be discussing the "Training and mentoring Afghan National Security Forces - Ultimate exit strategy in Afghanistan for U.S. forces." In addition, he will address the Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix mission of training and mentoring Afghan National Security Forces comprised of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police to help them build sustainable security capacity/capability to protect the Afghan populace.Here's the audio:
Here's the video and liveblogging, so consider those thoughts as first impressions:
Today is an opportunity for the Senate to focus the eyes of the nation back on Afghanistan and demand of General McChrystal how, exactly, he intends to carry out the president's strategy. How will he measure success? How will he secure the population? How will he ensure the passage of a free and fair election in August? These are serious question and are more important than either the death of Pat Tillman or the alleged abuse of detainees. (And this blog has, for the record, always taken a firm stance against torture.)But question one was on the alleged abuse of detainees.
General: War in Afghanistan is `winnable' (AP/Robert Burns)
Obama's Pick for Afghanistan Commander Warns of Rising Casualties, Stiff Fight Ahead (Fox)
Nominee for Afghan Post Stresses Civilian Safety (NY Times)
Nominee for Afghan Command Apologizes for 'Confusion' Over Tillman's Death (Fox)
DoD news release: Afghan Strategy Requires 'Holistic' Approach, General Tells Senate
In Afghanistan: blurring the line between science fiction and superstition.
Let's rejoin Captain Clark Gable as he annoys the hell out of a lot of guys who're just trying to do their jobs...
Sanchez also fought back against Dick Cheney's claim that torture helped stop terrorist attacks: "During my time in Iraq there was not one instance of actionable intelligence that came out of these interrogation techniques."The Cheney part of that was a pointless (given that Cheney was citing specific not-in-Iraq events rather than the effectiveness of "torture" in general) TPM add-on; the part about lack of results was Sanchez as quoted in the Sniffington Post.
But Sanchez' actual claim indicates that he knows all the information gained from every interrogation used in Iraq, and the methods used in conducting those interrogations - without exception. While I wouldn't fault him for not having that level of detailed knowledge, I also wouldn't claim he's lying. (There's also the possibility he's been misquoted.)
Which begs the question: why call for a Truth Commission? If he knows all, then perhaps he should just tell all - truth commission be damned? Or is this hypothetical "truth commission" - from which we will all learn the mistakes so as not to repeat them - going to be secret?
Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman seems to wonder if perhaps Sanchez is just desperately seeking the right confessor:
Maybe this is Sanchez's attempt at accepting responsibility for his failings. He should be commended if so. On the other hand, Sanchez has never really demonstrated an aptitude for strategy, so it could be he's blundering into his latest mistake out of an expectation that he'll be vindicated.Which he would be - assuming president Obama is telling the truth. All done!
I'm reminded of the Baghdad shooting incident a few weeks ago, about which we still know nothing, really.
Update: The murdered soldier was Pvt William Long; the shooter has been identified as Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, 24, of Little Rock. Pvt Quinton Ezeagwula, the soldier wounded in the attack, "remains at a local [Little Rock] hospital in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries."
...investigators believe Muhammad acted alone, and likely carried "political and religious motives." [Little Rock police chief Stuart] Thomas said the gunman targeted the military but was not believed to be part of a broader scheme.More:
Muhammad faces one capital murder charge, and 15 counts of terroristic acts.
A Muslim convert who said he was opposed to the U.S. military shot two soldiers outside an Arkansas recruiting station, killing one of the soldiers, police said Monday.
"This individual appears to have been upset with the military, the Army in particular, and that's why he did what he did," Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said in a phone interview.
"He has converted to Muslim here in the past few years," Hastings said. "To be honest we're not completely clear on what he was upset about. He had never been in the military."
A tribute to Senior Airman Ashton Goodman
By Capt. Stacie N. Shafran
Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- On May 26, Senior Airman Ashton Goodman, Lt. Col. Mark E. Stratton II, the commander of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team, and Army Master Sgt. Blue Rowe were killed near here from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.
Over the past few weeks, this senior airman on the verge of becoming a non-commissioned officer seemed to transform in front of her teammate's eyes.
Everyone already knew that Airman Goodman was a capable vehicle operator.
The Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team's main project has been the construction of a $28 million road connecting Panjshir to the Badakhshan province, as well as all neighboring provinces. Airman Goodman supported countless engineering missions to the province's most northern and remote district of Paryan where the final leg of the 80-mile road is presently under construction.
It seems, though, that as her tour on Panjshir's Provincial Reconstruction Team came to an end, she still had a few things left on her to-do list.
Over the past month, Airman Goodman, an aspiring writer and photographer, volunteered to work in the public affairs office. Eager to tell her team's story, she penned her first news story and quickly found herself published on the Air Force Web site. She also channeled her passion and creativity every day for two weeks into producing the team's yearbook. Within days of launching an impressive advertising campaign, she had books sold to nearly everyone she came into contact with.
As a 21-year-old young woman, Airman Goodman also found herself in a unique position mentoring the province's female Afghan leadership. During weekly meetings with the Director of Women's Affairs, she advanced the economic and social development of women in Panjshir.
On May 18, she led the tremendous undertaking to deliver much-needed food and house supplies to more than 100 poor women. As the group drove up the narrow, steep, winding road to the village, she beamed with excitement over the chance to personally help these women.
Over the next few days, leading into Memorial Day weekend, she'd go on to mingle with female teachers during a "Teacher's Day" celebration, participate in a women's shura (meeting), attend a photography exhibit at Ahmad Shah Massoud's tomb where she saw Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, one of the country's presidential candidates and sample freshly made ice cream in a local bazaar.
Senior Airman Ashton Goodman enjoyed interacting with and learning from Panjshir's women. She served as a member of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team's women's affairs committee and regularly organized events and projects to directly improve the quality of life of Afghan women. Airman Goodman lost her life May 26 from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Stacie N. Shafran)
Her contributions to this team are countless and now, as I look at the empty desk next to me in the small office I shared for the past month with Airman Goodman, I smile when I think about the past month I shared with her and the impact she made on Panjshir Province. Her vivacious spirit, zest of life, and eagerness to experience it all will forever be remembered by our team.
If we kill 100 insurgents in Afghanistan one month, and 1,000 the next, does that mean we're doing better or worse?
If we kill 1,000 one month and 100 the next, does that indicate that we're losing or that we're winning?
What if we expressed the total as a ratio to US deaths, or total "boots on the ground"?
I ask the questions to point out just one of the inherent problems with body counts as metrics for measuring "success" in Afghanistan. This Wall Street Journal report leads one to believe we're doing just that.
American commanders have detailed nearly 2,000 insurgent deaths in Afghanistan over the past 14 months. U.S. officers say they've embraced body counts to undermine insurgent propaganda, and stiffen the resolve of the American public.For the record, I'm against body count metrics. I'm generally against any metric, as in my (regrettably sizable and long-term) experience they tend to become more important than the goal - or even become the goal - towards which they were supposed to serve as a measure of progress. But in fairness, in this case the running total might not be the focus of the effort, as this passage from deep in the bowels of the story reveals:
"It's a concern that at home, the common perception is this war is being lost," says Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, spokeswoman for the 101st Airborne Division, which initiated the policy.
Commanders first decided to publicize body counts from major engagements. "You'd have nights when you literally had 50 or 100 insurgents killed in a single event," Lt. Col. Nielson-Green says. Publicizing that makes it harder for insurgents to credibly claim victory, she says.In terms of a single event, the numbers are indeed useful. It's the "running tally" that is of marginal utility. (Until viewed from a more distant perspective - more on that shortly.) In fact, reading on we learn that...
The U.S. does not, Col. Julian says, keep an official running tally of how many Taliban, al Qaeda and other insurgents are killed. A review of the record, however, shows U.S. officers have released details of at least 1,971 insurgent deaths since April 10, 2008, the day the 101st Airborne took over press operations.While the reporter declines to reveal who, exactly, conducted a "review of the record", we can assume it wasn't the DoD. In fact, it's possible he might be creating his own metric, then taking the US military to task for its existence (though a third party with other motives can't be ruled out).
More to follow...All done!
These folks want The Truth...
Last month President Obama explained why he had decided not to release additional photos of detainee abuse:
In other words, this is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action. Rather, it has gone through the appropriate and regular processes. And the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.But President Obama's "bad apples/thoroughly investigated/appropriately punished" explanation (which didn't get much mainstream news coverage, by the way) doesn't sit well with everyone. Add Lieutenant General (retired) Ricardo Sanchez to the list of those unwilling to accept the President's assurances as truth.
It's therefore my belief that the publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals.
Sanchez, who lead all U.S. military forces in Iraq during the period the abuses took place, has joined with Rachel Maddow and "Liev Schreiber, John Leguizamo and other actors who portrayed various characters from the topics at hand" in demanding the establishment of a "Truth Commission" to determine exactly what went on under his command:
"For the American people to really know what happened, " he replied, "...this was an institutional failure, a personal failure on the part of many...."Speaking of repeats, although better known for his voice work as "Sid" in the Ice Age series of cartoons, Leguizamo also played "an Iraqi War vet who's trying to secure a future for himself and his forgotten fellow vets by robbing a bank" on television.
"If we do not find out what happened," continued the General, "then we are doomed to repeat it."
And Liev Shrieber portrayed Hugh Jackman's mutant homicidal maniac (and combat veteran of every war since 1861) brother Sabretooth in "X-Men Origins - Wolverine". (In 2003 Schreiber attempted to "rescue" an aspiring Iraqi filmmaker but was shocked to learn he "loves George Bush" for freeing his country.)
Already facing attacks from British tabloids on the topic, the administration could certainly have their hands full dealing with this formidable crew and their supporters - the many "little people" who make it all possible.
Maddow (star of MSNBC TV's "Rachel Maddow Show") said of Sanchez' call for a truth commission: "He is not shirking the discussion, he wants to be part of it."
Perhaps he could even lead the effort?
Update: Part two.
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That's what Jonn Lilyea calls Carl Webb:
Webb left the Reserves in 1992 and never reenlisted like he claimed. He was never recalled, he was never in hiding from the Army. He was never eligible to even join IVAW despite their loose membership requirements. That's his total military service in the FOIA document. Webb says he has different records that proves his story - no one has seen these documents and if he does have any, they're all forgeries.He also wants to borrow your bicycle and sleep on your couch (seriously - read the whole thing).
Will that stop television and newspaper reporters and editors from covering (and covering for) IVAW?
I've been reading that myself. As I said before, it's a first-hand account that reads like a milblog. (Yes, that means it's good). Well earned recognition.
We ran the first two parts of this film over Memorial Day weekend - here's part three:
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This is more of the test.All done!