Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our Leaders Show their Love for Our Troops (cont'd)

At a press briefing Wednesday, William Winkenwerder, the assistant defense secretary for health affairs, declared that problems in outpatient care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center "deserve immediate attention, and they are getting immediate attention." It seems that Winkenwerder may have deserved some immediate attention, too: As Reuters reports, the White House announced Thursday that he will be replaced.

Pentagon spokesman Byran Whitman said: "This announcement has no bearing on current events whatsoever." That may well be true, but the question is really the other way around: Did current events have any bearing on the announcement of Winkenwerder's departure? The Pentagon says no, that he has been planning to step down for several months now. And maybe that's true, too. But if it is, how are we to understand the forward-looking words Winkenwerder was saying about Walter Reed just three days ago? "The trust has clearly taken a hit here," he said. "I think it's our job to repair that trust, to re-earn that trust, and that's what we intend to do."

Maybe he still intends to do that. He just won't be doing it as an assistant secretary of defense.
Link (emphases added).

This is clearly what people in other countries are jealous of, and the reason why they hate us. They wish they had the leadership we have. We do live in the Golden Age.

The Genius of Our Leaders

...Vice President Dick Cheney said today that the Nancy Pelosis and Jack Murthas of the world shouldn't complain when he says their plan for Iraq would "validate the al-Qaida strategy." "If you're going to advocate a course of action that basically is withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, then you don't get to just do the fun part of that, that says, 'Well, we're going to get out,' and appeal to your constituents on that basis," Cheney said.

We suppose that it's too late to say that if you're going to start a war in a far-off land, you don't get to just do the "fun part" of talking about ousting a dictator without planning for what comes next.

Please, Donald, We Don't Care about Where, Just When

And the sooner, the better. Now would be excellent....
Trump Eyes N.J. as Final Resting Place
Feb 24, 2:10 AM (ET)

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) - He may be a New York native. But it's the Garden State that may own "The Donald" for eternity.

Real-estate mogul Donald Trump has filed paperwork to build a wedding chapel on his golf course in Bedminster. He told The Star-Ledger of Newark that he wants to later convert the building into a mausoleum for himself and his family.
More, as if you need or care....

Why Should They Know?

Today's "no shit, Sherlock" story:
Americans are keenly aware of how many U.S. forces have lost their lives in Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll. But they woefully underestimate the number of Iraqi civilians who have been killed.

When the poll was conducted earlier this month, a little more than 3,100 U.S. troops had been killed. The midpoint estimate among those polled was right on target, at about 3,000.


The number of Iraqis killed, however, is much harder to pin down, and that uncertainty is perhaps reflected in Americans' tendency to lowball the Iraqi death toll by tens of thousands.

Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated at more than 54,000 and could be much higher; some unofficial estimates range into the hundreds of thousands. The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reports more than 34,000 deaths in 2006 alone.
Among those polled for the AP survey, however, the median estimate of Iraqi deaths was 9,890. The median is the point at which half the estimates were higher and half lower.

Friday, February 23, 2007


A victim's husband writes:
Sunday, February 11, 2007

Persecution of the Innocent

With each passing day bringing Julie Amero closer to sentencing, we can’t stop thinking of how we got to this juncture in our life. One day you have the world on a string and the next day the string is cut and you are left free falling into an abyss of legal, ethical and social upheaval. Sleepless nights wondering, why am I being persecuted for something I had no control over? I use the word Persecution, because after looking up the meaning of the word, I’ve come to fully understand what it means. I’d like to share some of the definitions with you.

Persecution is persistent mistreatment of an individual/group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution, and political persecution. Persecution is not recognized as such by persecutors, only by their victims or outside observers. Persecutors see no wrong in their actions, or rationalize it as a small or short-term wrong to counter what they see as a larger, more serious wrong, as in "The ends justify the means". Most commonly, this is expressed as seeking to protect themselves or their families or society from what they see as the harmful influence of the persecuted. Persecuted groups or individuals are often labeled using pejorative terms, which reinforce their social alienation. Use of such terms with strongly negative connotations allows individuals to avoid examining the true nature of their relationship with the persecuted. For almost anything, which could be cited as an example of persecution, there will be those who claim it is legitimate, personal or social self-defense.

Throughout history there have been many examples of the destructive or senseless use of political power. This happens most frequently when too much power has been concentrated in too few hands, without enough room for political debate, public criticism, or other types of correctives.

Charles de Montesquieu claimed that without following a principle of containing and balancing legislative, executive and judiciary powers, there is no freedom and no protection against abuse of power.

Coming to grips with persecution is not an easy task, but now that we know where we stand, we can move on with our lives with a purpose. During the trial Julie was not granted her constitutional right to contest every fact that might tend to incriminate her. The court opted to deny / prevent the defense from presenting evidence to rebut the evidence introduced by the state.

After two independent forensic investigations concluded that malware, not Julie was responsible for the infestation of pop up ads for pornography sites. The states assertion of a deliberate attempt to access pornographic web sites can only be deemed as persecution of a political nature.

Wes Volle
Julie Amero’s Husband

Julie and I wish to extend a personal thank you to all the kind and generous people who are helping us in our fight against this injustice. God Bless all of you.

More and what you can do here

If it's not clear, the woman is facing jail time because the school couldn't maintain its computers properly. And I mean on a really basic level. And, yes, it's just about almost as simple as that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meet Our Leaders

The bogus Pelosi plane story has already been killed off multiple times and is at this point nothing more than a piece of journalistic roadkill. Still, you won't want to miss this one -- because it provides a backstage look at the extraordinary dishonesty that drove this whole non-story from the very beginning.

Today's Tampa Tribue is carrying a profile of one of the key drivers of this tale: Florida GOP Rep. Adam Putnam. As chairman of the House Republican conference committee, Putnam plays a key role in pushing the GOP's message in the media, and he aggressively pushed the plane story from the start. But now he's cheerfully admitted to the Tribune that not only did he have no idea whether the plane story was true, he didn't particularly care, either.

Honest Journalism

A major scoop from the N.Y. Post, the true newspaper of record if facts don't matter:

February 21, 2007 -- In a dramatic finding, a new poll shows a solid majority of Americans still wants to win the war in Iraq - and keep U.S. troops there until the Baghdad government can take over.

Strong majorities also say victory is vital to the War on Terror and that Americans should support President Bush even if they have concerns about the way the war is being handled, according to the survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

The poll found that 57 percent of Americans supported "finishing the job in Iraq" - keeping U.S. troops there until the Iraqis can provide security on their own. Forty-one percent disagreed.

By 53 percent to 43 percent they also believe victory in Iraq over the insurgents is still possible.

Despite last November's electoral victories by anti-war Democrats, the survey found little support among voters for a quick pullout of U.S. forces.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, "I don't really care what happens in Iraq after the U.S. leaves, I just want the troops brought home." Seventy-four percent disagreed.

The survey was conducted before last week's House of Representatives resolution repudiating Bush's war policies.

But by 53 percent to 46 percent, Americans said Democrats are going too far, too fast in demanding troop withdrawals.

But the poll of 800 registered voters found Americans pessimistic about Iraq's fledgling democracy.

Only 34 percent felt it would become a stable democracy, compared with 60 percent who said it would not.

Among other key findings of the poll conducted Feb. 5-7:

* When given a choice of four policies, an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops was the least popular (17 percent).

* The most popular option (32 percent) was a withdrawal timetable.

* The next most popular policy, favored by 27 percent, was expressed by the statement: "The Iraq war is the front line in the battle against terrorism and our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security to the country."

The fourth option, favored by 23 percent, was the statement: "While I don't agree that the U.S. should be in the war, our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and restore security to their country."

Well, a few questions and stuff: These 800 people are what? Voters? Liokely voters? Dopes who did oyther stuff on election day?

Speaking of which, a reminder: Millions of people gave their opinion last election day, and they were overwhelmingly against the war and pretty much the opposite of this study. So which poll matters? Election results or the work of partisan bullshit artists?

And the $.64 question: What were the questions asked to elicit these responses?

The raw data, more or less, is here.

American Justice

Police blotter: Teens prosecuted for racy photos
By Declan McCullagh

Story last modified Fri Feb 09 08:35:46 PST 2007

"Police blotter" is a weekly report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: Teenagers taking risque photos of themselves are prosecuted for violating child pornography laws.

When: Florida state appeals court rules on January 19.

Outcome: A 2-1 majority upholds conviction on grounds the girl produced a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child.

What happened, according to court documents:
Combine unsupervised teenagers, digital cameras and e-mail, and, given sufficient time, you'll end up with risque photographs on a computer somewhere.

There's a problem with that: Technically, those images constitute child pornography. That's what 16-year-old Amber and 17-year-old Jeremy, her boyfriend, both residents of the Tallahassee, Fla., area, learned firsthand. (Court documents include only their initials, A.H. and J.G.W., so we're using these pseudonyms to make this story a little easier to read.)

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next--perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm--but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next...but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.
Some more background: Under a 1995 ruling in a case called B.B. v. State, the Florida Supreme Court said that a 16-year-old could not be found delinquent for having sex with another 16-year-old.

"The crux of the state's interest in an adult-minor situation is the prevention of exploitation of the minor by the adult," the majority said at the time. The court ruled that a Florida statute punishing sex between teens was "unconstitutional as applied to this 16-year-old as a basis for a delinquency proceeding."

The same applies to Amber and Jeremy. Even though he is a year older than her, he is still a minor in Florida.

In other words, under Florida law, Amber and Jeremy would be legally permitted to engage in carnal relations, but they're criminals if they document it.

The rest is here.

The Current Establishment Rests on the Relentless Lies of Right Wingnuts

They're really, really quite pathological, demented liars:
In her column Tuesday, the New York Sun's Alicia Colon suggested that there really aren't as many U.S. military deaths in Iraq as the liberal media makes it seem. In fact, she said, fewer soldiers have died in Iraq than died in a four-year period under President Clinton. It's not a novel argument, as she readily admitted in an interview with Salon today -- but neither is it as relevant as she made it sound.

"The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens," Colon wrote. "Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That's 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who's counting?"

With a tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan, who has already done some of the legwork on this, we'd like to point out the irrelevance of the statistics Colon cites. In fact, when you look at the data provided by the Defense Department, you'll notice that almost none of the deaths during the Clinton administration -- just 76 over an eight-year period -- were from hostile action or terrorism. The rest were the result of accident, homicide, illness or suicide or were of an as-yet-undetermined nature.

These noncombat deaths have not simply stopped happening. There are still noncombat deaths going on in the military, and they are, for the most part, kept as a separate tally from the deaths in Iraq. (To be fair, some of the deaths -- about 16 percent -- that have occurred in Iraq are similarly not the result of hostile action.) The absolute number of deaths that have happened as a result of our invasion of Iraq may not be astoundingly high, but they are still deaths entirely above and beyond those that would happen in the course of normal peacetime military business, and that's not something Colon factors into her argument at all. Military deaths have spiked upward from the final years of the Clinton administration. In 1999, there were 796 total military deaths; in 2000, there were 758; in 2003, there were 1,410; and in 2004, there were 1,887.
More here.

Reality check: The Iraq Fandango (together with the Afghanistan farce) don't seem to be reducing global terrorism.

And don't look to the Justice Department for anything remotely like a reliable assessment.

And here, a humorous look at how modern Big Media ersatz (I know, it's repetitive) journalists spread the manure.

And a little more brilliance from the radical right haters:
"Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn't welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they'd welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright 'hot') most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she's grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her." -- radio host and film critic Michael Medved, on the recent homophobic comments of former NBA star Tim Hardaway.

And there's more:
This month the Catholic priest who runs the national association of Catholic charities condemned the Bush Administration budget as a moral failure. He said it "weaken(s) family life" and fails to address "the dignity of the human person," and he called on Congress to change it. Also this month, fringe rightwing activist Bill Donohue attacked two fairly low-level bloggers working for the Edwards campaign by claiming their writings were "anti-Catholic."

Which story do you think got more play in the media?
More here.

Now is it a little clearer how the "good Germans" supported and enabled the Nazi regime?

Bonus Micro$oft Updates

Microsoft Corp.'s new video-sharing Web site is hosting some of the same pirated clips that rival Google Inc.'s YouTube unit recently removed at the request of the media giants who own them -- including a famous "Saturday Night Live" rant by actress Natalie Portman that was an early favorite on YouTube.
And here's good news: Vista may be safe but it better be because it's spreading malware:
Microsoft has apologised for serving malware via its websites and Windows Live Messenger software.

APC reader Jackie Murphy reported the problem:

"With Microsoft launching Vista along with their Defender software to protect users from viruses and spyware, it seems therefore to be an oxymoron that they have started to putting paid changing banner advertisements for malware, on the popular MSN groups servers.[..."]
Much more here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Supporter of Our Leaders

What boggles the mind is not necessarily that Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, accused of funding terrorism, "gave $15,250 to the NRCC since 2002," or that he was made The National Republican Congressional Committee's "businessman of the year" in both 2003 and 2004 (part of a scam whereby you only get your "award" should you "donate" xxx dollars to the Republican's reelection committee).

No, what boggles me is that given a chance to comment, the NRCC wouldn't tell ABC's Justin Rood that were Alishtari to be convicted, the money would go to some good cause -- victims of terrorism or hungry children. Anything but no comment.

The NRCC: "won't say what it plans to do with thousands of dollars in campaign donations it received from an accused terror financier."

Here's the fun part. When ABC called the phone number of GlobalProtector, one of Alishtari's companies, they found it "connects to a recorded message offering the caller to 'spark up your days and nights' by calling a 1-800 phone chat line."

Bad News for the GOP Whiny Tit Babies

February 20, 2007, 2:49 pm
Johnson Leaves Hospital
By Sarah Wheaton

Senator Tim Johnson’s office just announced that he was discharged from the George Washington University Hospital last Friday. He is continuing his recovery at a private rehabilitation facility, which his office declined to name, citing privacy.


That possibility seems extremely unlikely now. In recent weeks, Mr. Johnson has reportedly been following the news and asking his staff to bring work to him at the hospital. He even co-sponsored a drought assistance bill last week, and several Democrats have been organizing fund-raising events on his behalf for his 2008 re-election campaign.

Well, there's always hope Honest Joe Lieberman will yet switch to the losing (I hope!) team....

Correction: Treating Injured Iraq Vets Like Garbage Has Been Going On for At Least Two Years

Here and a subsequent article is here.

Honor the brave indeed, Our Beloved Leaders! WHo can ever replace you?!

Losing the "War" by Losing Hearts and Minds -- It Really is a Plan for Defeat and Disaster -- And it's Working!

From the creepy New Republic's website:

Soldiers in Iraq do the State Department's job.

Missing in Action

by Lawrence F. Kaplan
Only at TNR Online | Post date 02.20.07

A world away, the Senate was bracing for a solemn debate over whether to debate the war in Iraq. But, in Iraq the place, the soldiers of the Tenth Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team (2-10 Mtn.) had a slightly more pressing concern. The sectarian mix in 2-10 Mtn.'s area of operations--which runs from the Shia-dominated city of Mahmudiyah south of Baghdad to the Sunni areas bordering Anbar Province to the west--offers a microcosm of Iraq and all of its problems. Not the least of these is that, until recently, Mahmudiyah's mayor--a plump Shia who favors Western attire and socialist literature--refused to talk to the Sunni sheiks who lord over the city's western outskirts. 2-10 Mtn.'s Captain Palmer Phillips, a young company commander who doubles as a liaison to the sheiks, had spent the better part of a month arranging for the mayor to visit with his Sunni counterparts. "Then the sheiks got upset," Phillips recounts, "and chaos ensued."

The mayor, too, had second thoughts about the meeting, informing the U.S. battalion commander in Mahmudiyah that he had other plans. The officer replied that his boss, 2-10 Mtn. commander Colonel Michael Kershaw, would be displeased. To bolster the point, Kershaw rolled up behind the mayor on the highway, and had his soldiers escort the mayor directly to the sheiks. The meeting proved to be a modest success. But what really made it notable was, first, that it happened at all and, second, the occupation of the men who arranged it--all of them soldiers, none of them diplomats.

Tribal diplomacy is very much the business of civilian agencies that operate, or ought to operate, in Iraq. In the five months that 2-10 Mtn. has been maneuvering in and around Mahmudiyah, however, diplomatic officials from the nearest provincial reconstruction team (PRT)--housed in Baghdad's Green Zone--have shown up once. Which is more than in some places. In a counterinsurgency whose main thrust ought to be nonmilitary, the full force and expertise of the U.S. government is nowhere to be seen in Iraq. Were the combined resources of the State Department, the Justice Department, and other government agencies actually brought to bear in this war, things in Iraq might have turned out much differently. Instead, we have in Iraq an answer to the old question: What if they threw a war and nobody came?

The spectacle of young Army captains cajoling and corralling sheiks three times their age is an everyday staple in Iraq. Over the years, I've watched the same scene unfold at mosques and homes in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi, Tall Afar, and Sinjar. Typically, it unfolds well. The sheiks and the captains often develop close friendships (at a memorial service a couple of months ago for Captain Travis Patriquin--a young officer-cum-tribal diplomat in Ramadi--nearly every sheik in the city turned up). Tribal leaders know that, despite their age, their U.S. interlocutors can generate funds, infrastructure projects, bureaucratic shortcuts, firepower, and just about anything else. They know, too, that their own government cannot procure any of these things. For their part, the young American officers tend to be skilled professionals, well-versed in the techniques of warfare and much else besides.

But they are, first and last, military professionals. Few of the officers engaged in tribal diplomacy have the benefit of any formal training; most aren't even civil affairs officers. The best ones rely on their wits, but not every young officer boasts the wits of a Phillips or a Patriquin. Hence, the logic of the civilian-led PRTs--unveiled in 2005 to, in the words of a State Department cable, "assist Iraq's provincial government with developing a transparent and sustained capability to govern ... promoting political and economic development, and providing the provincial administration necessary to meet the basic needs of the population." That the PRTs have accomplished none of these things owes something to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who initially objected to the military's role on the teams. But the Pentagon long ago reversed course--to the point that the Army now supplies most of the manpower for the PRTs. Persuading their civilian counterparts to show up is another matter.

Six months after they were unveiled, the PRTs had attracted all of twelve job applicants from the State Department, according to The Washington Post, and only one of those was qualified. Despite a flurry of memos pleading for recruits, guarantees of salary and career boosts, and a consensus about the importance of the teams that ran from the Iraq Study Group down to platoon leaders in Iraq, civilian agencies have declined to revive the Vietnam-era practice of compulsory war-zone assignments. According to The New York Times, federal employees have flatly refused requests that they go to Iraq. Others have been swayed by inducements yet have demanded that they be posted in the Green Zone. Outside Baghdad, "attracting civilians to serve at the PRTs in austere and dangerous locations has proved even more difficult," in the words of a report by the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

To understand what a pitiful contribution civilian agencies have made in Iraq, just consider the prototype the PRTs were meant to replicate, the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program in Vietnam. With the same mandate assigned the PRTs in Iraq, CORDS director Robert Komer (the president's special assistant for pacification, a title that came with ambassadorial rank) dispatched nearly 8,000 civilian and military advisers to fan out across South Vietnam's provinces. Extrapolating from U.S. Census Bureau abstracts, one of every 25 State Department/USAID employees was deployed to Vietnam as part of CORDS, versus roughly one out of every 300 today in the Iraqi PRTs. According to its program reports from the era, USAID alone had nearly 2,000 of its civilian employees working in South Vietnam, where they served 12-18 month tours. Until recently, civilian agencies couldn't muster a fraction of that to serve 3-6 month tours in Iraq. Relative to the size of the Iraqi and Vietnamese populations, the U.S. government sent more than twenty times as many civilian federal employees to assist in the reconstruction of Vietnam as it fields today in Iraq.

The hallmarks of the civilian contribution to the CORDS program were, in the words of a U.S. Army Center for Military History study, "aggressive leadership, bureaucratic skill, real and perceived Presidential interest, and a degree of cooperation and tolerance that was remarkable among disparate U.S. foreign policy agencies." The hallmarks of the PRT program have been exactly the reverse. Nor, contrary to Condoleezza Rice's recent assertion that that the State Department was "ready to strengthen, indeed to 'surge,' our civilian efforts," has this latest commitment been matched by anything more than the usual disconnect between empty words and actual deeds. No sooner, indeed, had Rice issued the pledge than she reversed herself, telling congress that more than 40 percent of the State Department posts to be created as part of the surge would have to be staffed by military personnel. Never mind the government's well-chronicled failure to mobilize the public for war. The government can't even mobilize itself.


And this is scary. Nearly fourt years after invading just now kinda, sorta, starting to do something regarding stabilizing the country. Sweet, Our Leaders!
The Pentagon and State Department have worked out a deal to send a small number of military personnel and Defense Department civilians to Iraq for several months until Foreign Service officers and State Department contract workers with specialized skills can fill those jobs, senior officials said Monday.


The officials said the stopgap measure would give the State Department time to identify Foreign Service officers to serve in political and economic development jobs in Iraq and to use new Congressional financing to hire people with technical skills that are not routinely part of diplomatic missions overseas.

The officials said the jobs included industrial development specialists, public health advisers, engineers, veterinarians, agricultural experts and lawyers who specialize in creating or enhancing judicial institutions.

While those skills are not a standard part of the diplomatic corps, they are found among active duty military and reserve personnel. It is those people who will be asked to step in temporarily.

“We are moving forward to try and fill many if not all of those positions, and can certainly manage it for 60, 90 or 120 days,” a senior Defense Department official said.

Another senior Pentagon official said, “Rather than waiting for the funding and contracting process, we want to push the envelope to get the provincial reconstruction teams running as rapidly as we can.”


The president’s new strategy calls for the State Department to step up its efforts in Iraq, by doubling to 20 the number of provincial reconstruction teams. That increase would be in tandem with the deployment of 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar Province to the west.

“We need to put more energy into government at lower levels, at the provincial level and, in some cases, at the municipal level,” a senior Defense Department official said.

Another official said the additional provincial reconstruction teams, to be managed by State Department personnel, would not focus on “brick and mortar” construction, but on “trying to reconstruct governmental capacity — the ability for the Iraqi government at all levels to effectively deliver services.”

The State Department-run reconstruction teams will rely on military personnel for security and to escort convoys, Pentagon and State Department officials said. Striking a balance between assigning troops to day-to-day combat missions versus providing security for nonmilitary efforts has caused some tensions in the past.


But across the civilian agencies, which have only a fraction of the Pentagon’s personnel and budget, government workers say the question is whether a few hundred unarmed civilians spread across Iraq can make a significant difference in promoting democracy and reconstruction in the middle of a war zone, when more than 130,000 troops are not succeeding in that task.

The rest of the story is here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How Our Leaders are Succeeding in Making Us and the World Safer

[M]ore than five years into the “war on terror,” Bush has overseen a strategy that has simultaneously alienated world public opinion – with scandals over Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and secret CIA prisons – while fueling Islamic extremism and giving new life to the 9/11 masterminds.

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group described the situation in Iraq as “grave and deteriorating.” But the same description would fit for the broader strategic position of the United States in the Middle East.

The U.S. military is facing a worsening crisis in Iraq; the Taliban is on the rise again in Afghanistan; Hezbollah is gaining strength in Lebanon; Iran is defying international pressure over its nuclear program; and now al-Qaeda – having resettled in Pakistan – is rebuilding its capability to strike targets beyond the Middle East.

Bush’s Mistakes

Much of today’s crisis can be traced to Bush’s arrogance and impatience. In 2001, even before the 9/11 attacks, Bush insisted on a “unilateralist” approach toward the world, asserting U.S. global hegemony under a strategy laid out by the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

At the center of this grandiose scheme was the belief that the oil-rich Middle East could be remade through violent “regime change” in hostile countries like Iraq. Bush later broadened his target list to the “axis of evil,” tossing in Iran and North Korea and making clear that other lesser enemies included the likes of Syria, Cuba and Venezuela.

While this neoconservative plan wrapped itself in the noble language of “democracy,” the concept was always less about respecting the will of indigenous populations than in restructuring their economies along “free market” lines and ensuring compliant leaders.

In all of this, there was little room for compromise or negotiation with the “bad guys.” It was as if the macho rhetoric of AM talk radio and Fox News had swallowed U.S. foreign policy. Real men don’t negotiate with people who get in the way; you jail or kill them.

Bush also grew enamored with his “gut” instincts about war, especially after U.S.-backed forces ousted Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders more quickly than many expected. Even after he let top al-Qaeda leaders slip away from Tora Bora in late 2001, Bush ignored warnings that he needed to finish the job there before turning America’s attention elsewhere.

Instead, Bush redirected U.S. military assets to Iraq, a country that wasn’t involved in 9/11 and actually had served as an important bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism, both the strains from Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda.

But Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was something of a Bush family obsession since he defied President George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. In March 2003, Bush launched an invasion of Iraq and toppled Hussein’s government in three weeks.

After basking again in public adulation as the victorious “war president,” Bush stubbornly refused to acknowledge the growing seriousness of an Iraqi insurgency that rose up to challenge U.S. forces.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq – combined with abuse scandals at U.S.-run prisons – also fed popular anger across the Middle East. Thousands of young jihadists rallied to the cause of ousting the Americans from Muslim lands.

As the body counts grew – thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis – Bush dug in his heels deeper. When Iraq slid into chaos and then civil war, Bush again refused to acknowledge the facts in a timely fashion.

Bush also encouraged Israel to wage an ill-conceived war in southern Lebanon in summer 2006, further alienating the Muslim world. That was followed by the grisly execution of Hussein in December and new military tensions with Iran in early 2007.

In short, Bush appears determined to stampede the United States into a Middle Eastern box canyon – after offending most Muslim allies and offering little more than military solutions to essentially political and diplomatic problems.

Al-Qaeda’s Favorite President

Over the past six years, the wily and ruthless leaders of al-Qaeda also came to understand that Bush was their perfect foil. The more he was viewed as the “big crusader,” the more they could present themselves as the “defenders of Islam.” The al-Qaeda murderers moved from the fringes of Muslim society closer to the mainstream.

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, al-Qaeda’s leaders transformed the conflict into both a rallying cry and a training ground. Bin Laden and Zawahiri believed the longer the Iraq War lasted the better it was for al-Qaeda.

So, in fall 2004, with Bush fighting for his political life against Democrat John Kerry, bin Laden took the risk of breaking nearly a year of silence to release a videotape denouncing Bush on the Friday before the U.S. election.

Bush’s supporters immediately spun bin Laden’s tirade as an “endorsement” of Kerry and pollsters recorded a jump of several percentage points for Bush, from nearly a dead heat to a five- or six-point lead. Four days later, Bush hung on to win a second term by an official margin of less than three percentage points. [See’s “The Bush-Bin Laden Symbiosis.”]

The intervention by bin Laden – essentially urging Americans to reject Bush – had the predictable effect of driving voters to the President. After the videotape appeared, senior CIA analysts concluded that ensuring a second term for Bush was precisely what bin Laden intended.

“Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President,” said deputy CIA director John McLaughlin in opening a meeting to review secret “strategic analysis” after the videotape had dominated the day’s news, according to Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders.

Suskind wrote that CIA analysts had spent years “parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. … Today’s conclusion: bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.”

Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, expressed the consensus view that bin Laden recognized how Bush’s heavy-handed policies were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.

“Certainly,” Miscik said, “he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years.”

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts were troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote.

Even Bush recognized that his struggling campaign had been helped by bin Laden. “I thought it was going to help,” Bush said in a post-election interview about the videotape. “I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the President, something must be right with Bush.”

Bin Laden, a well-educated Saudi and a keen observer of U.S. politics, appears to have recognized the same point in cleverly tipping the election to Bush.

Prolonging the War

Al-Qaeda’s leaders understood that a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq might mean a renewed assault on them as well as the loss of their cause celebre for recruiting new jihadists. With Bush ensconced for a second term, that concern lessened but didn’t entirely disappear.

According to a captured July 9, 2005, letter, attributed to Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leaders still fretted over the possibility that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could touch off the disintegration of their operations, as jihadists who had flocked to Iraq to battle the Americans might simply give up the fight and go home.

“The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal,” said the “Zawahiri letter,” according to a text released by the office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

In another captured letter, dated Dec. 11, 2005, a senior al-Qaeda operative known as “Atiyah” wrote that “prolonging the war [in Iraq] is in our interest.” [For details, see’s “Al-Qaeda’s Fragile Foothold.”]

Now, it appears al-Qaeda’s “Bush-second-term” strategy is paying big dividends. Bush is stretching U.S. forces even thinner by escalating the American troop commitment in Iraq while also deploying military assets to threaten Shiite Iran, another enemy of the Sunni fundamentalists in al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s Taliban allies are on the offensive against embattled NATO contingents in Afghanistan, and new al-Qaeda units are undergoing training in Pakistan. In Iraq, al-Qaeda still makes up only a small percentage of the armed insurgency – probably less than five percent – but it benefits from the arrival of new recruits and the opportunity to test out military tactics against the Americans.

Overall, time and momentum appear to be on al-Qaeda’s side. As long as Bush remains America’s leader and al-Qaeda’s poster boy, there seems little chance for a more effective U.S. counterinsurgency strategy.

Unlike the Iraqi insurgents who are proving to be highly adaptive in the field, Bush can’t seem to get beyond his tough-guy rhetoric and his obsession with military force. He remains bin Laden’s favorite President.

According to one recent Newsweek poll, 58 percent of Americans wish the Bush administration were over. But there is a long way between wishing for a desperately needed change and the slow process of the electoral calendar.

The trickier questions are: Can the United States afford 23 more months of Bush in the White House? Does his incompetence in the face of today’s fast-moving crises demand extraordinary action to remove him from office through impeachment?

If impeachment is impossible, given the sizable Republican minorities in both the House and Senate, is there at least some hope for legislative remedies that can begin to correct Bush’s many errors? Could patriotic Republicans confront the President and Vice President about resignations?

Or must the American people wait two more years as today’s “clear and present danger” grows only more acute?
The rest of the story is here.

How Our Leaders Care for Iraq Vets (cont'd)

Real reporters report on how they're treated here and here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Great Image is Always Worth Repeating!

My Other Unanswerable Question About Our Leader

I know he talks the fundamentalist walk, but really, does he walk it? How can he and support this kind of perversion of anything that religion may mean and symbolize?

They're Like Crack Addicts....

They obviously can't help themselves.... An intervention is needed.... When their misbehavior, as it were, causes Big Media journalistic outlets to tank, maybe something will be done. (Of course, thanks to the blogosphere, the truth is out there, somewhere, just not dependably in Big Media outlets.)

I mean, what possible excuse this side of some form of demented thinking can account for this (there is no excuse for it)?
Shame on the Washington Post, Again

By Robert Parry
February 19, 2007

Just days before the perjury/obstruction trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby goes to the jury, the Washington Post’s Outlook section published a bizarre front-page article by right-wing legal expert Victoria Toensing suggesting that the prosecutor and one of the chief victims in the case should be put on trial.

Beyond the absurdity – and dishonesty – of Toensing’s arguments, the Post illustrated the article with fabricated “mug shots” of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, an Iraq War critic whose undercover CIA wife, Valerie Plame, was outed by the Bush administration.

In this lead opinion article for Washington’s biggest-circulation newspaper, Toensing, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, cites Fitzgerald, Wilson and several other targets in proposed “indictments,” each of which begins: “This Grand Jury Charges …”

Given the Post’s prominence in the nation’s capital and Toensing’s former position in the Justice Department, the article has the look and feel of an attempt to influence the jury that will be judging whether Libby committed perjury and obstruction of justice.

Though the Post’s Outlook editors are sure to argue that the “mug shots” were tongue in cheek, the Post has editorially supported the Iraq War and disparaged American critics, especially Wilson who stepped forward in summer 2003 as one of the first establishment figures to accuse the Bush administration of “twisting” intelligence.

The Post also has bashed Fitzgerald for prosecuting Libby. So, there is a pattern and a motive to the Post’s behavior.

False Claims

Toensing’s article hinges largely on her false claim that Plame was not a covert CIA officer involved with sensitive counter-proliferation operations – and that therefore no real crime was committed when the Bush administration leaked her identity.

To bolster that central lie in the article, Toensing argues that Fitzgerald and the CIA may have described Plame’s status as “classified,” but that the prosecutor “never introduced one piece of evidence to support such status.”

Toensing leaves out, however, that it has been Libby’s defense lawyers who have fought to exclude evidence of Plame’s covert CIA status because they regard the fact as likely to prejudice the jury against their client. Plus, Plame’s covert status has been judged mostly irrelevant to a trial about whether Libby lied to investigators and the grand jury.

So, in muddying up the issue of Plame’s classified identity, Toensing is exploiting the limitations on evidence introduced at the Libby trial – and the unwillingness of the CIA to unnecessarily expose additional secrets relating to Plame’s sensitive assignments.

Toensing also recycles other misleading Republican talking points that have been used for three years to confuse the public and protect the White House. For instance, part of Toensing’s “indictment” of Wilson cites his correct belief that Vice President Dick Cheney instigated the investigation that Wilson undertook to Niger.

Ever since Wilson disclosed in 2003 that he found no evidence to support Cheney’s suspicions that Iraq was seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger, the Republicans have made a big deal out of the fact that Cheney didn’t personally ask Wilson to go on the mission; Cheney asked the CIA which recruited Wilson for the task.

Why this minor point of confusion is deemed significant has been one of the curiosities of this sorry affair.

But it is stunning that the Post so values this argument that it would let a partisan writer like Toensing include it in an “indictment” of a citizen who undertook a difficult mission for the CIA, without pay, and reported back correctly that the Niger-Iraq suspicions appeared to be baseless.

Republicans also have condemned Wilson because he believed the substance of his oral report on his mission was conveyed to Cheney’s office. Though Wilson was essentially right – the CIA repeatedly intervened to strike Niger references from White House speeches – the supposed contradiction here was that a formal report on Wilson’s findings was never sent to Cheney.

So, Toensing writes in her “indictment” that “This Grand Jury charges Joseph C. Wilson IV with misleading the public about how he was sent to Niger, about the thrust of his March 2003 oral report of that trip, and about his wife’s CIA status, perhaps for the purpose of getting book and movie contracts.” [Toensing's reference to "March 2003" appears to be another factual error in her article, since Wilson reported back to the CIA in early 2002.]

To back up her accusations, Toensing cites Wilson’s comment on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “the office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked [about the Niger uranium] and that response was based upon my trip there.”

With a dramatic flourish, Toensing then adds, “But Cheney said he had no knowledge of Wilson’s trip and was never briefed on his oral report to the CIA.”

What Toensing ignores, however, is that Cheney and other White House officials may not have known specifically about Wilson, but they were aware that the CIA had checked out the Niger claims and judged them to be unfounded.

That was why White House speechwriters had to sneak around the CIA’s negative findings and attribute the Niger claims to the British government in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address. But none of that detail finds its way into Toensing’s “indictment.”

Nailing Fitzgerald

In her “indictment” of Fitzgerald, Toensing accuses him of making “one factual assertion that turned out to be flat wrong: Libby was not ‘the first official’ to reveal Plame’s identity.” But, again, Toensing is playing games with a quote.

At his Oct. 28, 2005, news conference, Fitzgerald actually said: “Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.”

In October 2005, Fitzgerald’s comment was accurate. Libby was “the first official known” to have divulged Plame’s identity.

Only later did Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward reveal that he had heard about Plame earlier from deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. By editing out the full context of the quote, however, Toensing succeeds in maligning Fitzgerald’s honesty.

On and on Toensing goes, making one phony argument after another as she “indicts” pretty much everyone who played any role in advancing the case, from Fitzgerald to Wilson to the CIA to “the media” to the Justice Department. She does throw in two ex-administration officials, former press secretary Ari Fleischer and Armitage.

But Toensing leaves out of her “indictments” the principals who were responsible for misusing the Niger intelligence to scare the American people into supporting the Iraq War and who then organized the anti-Wilson smears that ended up exposing his wife’s clandestine work for the CIA.

Cheney, for instance, isn’t in line for a Toensing “indictment” although he was the sparkplug behind the outing of a CIA officer. Nor does George W. Bush merit an “indictment” although he issued misleading statements about the Plame leak that could have been interpreted as encouraging a cover-up.

Before Fitzgerald was appointed as special prosecutor – and when it looked like the scandal could be contained – Bush disingenuously urged his staff to cooperate.

“If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,” Bush said on Sept. 30, 2003. “I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”

Yet, even as Bush was professing his curiosity and calling for anyone with information to step forward, he was withholding the fact that he had authorized the declassification of some secrets about the Niger uranium issue and had ordered Cheney to arrange for those secrets to be given to friendly reporters.

In other words, though Bush knew a great deal about how the anti-Wilson scheme got started – since he was involved in starting it – he uttered misleading public statements to conceal the White House hand and possibly signal to others that they should follow suit in denying knowledge.

Toensing also spares White House political adviser Karl Rove from an “indictment” although he was another senior administration official peddling Plame’s identity to the press. One well-placed conservative source told me that Rove was a close behind-the-scenes associate of Armitage, and thus may have had a hand in coordinating Armitage’s role in the leaks. [See’s “New Clues in the Plame Mystery.”]

The Post’s Role

Yet, while it may be understandable why a right-wing operative like Toensing would recycle these smears against Wilson and Fitzgerald at this time, what is more shocking is that the Washington Post would give her such prominence – as 12 Washington residents are about to be asked to weigh the evidence on Libby impartially.

By presenting these pro-Libby arguments in such a high-profile manner, including fabricated “mug shots” of prosecutor Fitzgerald, the Post could be seen as joining in a last-ditch bid for jury nullification to spare Libby from conviction.

While the Post’s behavior may be surprising to some, it actually fits with a long campaign by Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt to undermine Fitzgerald’s investigation and tear down Wilson. [See, for instance,’s “Shame on the Post’s Editorial Page” or “Smearing Joe Wilson Again.”]

Yet, regardless of the Post’s editorial biases, there’s no justification for a newspaper publishing information that it knows to be false or intentionally misleading, even if the deceptions are in its opinion section.

Back in the late 1980s, I co-wrote a lead article for the Post’s Outlook section and the piece underwent intensive review for fairness and accuracy. So the argument doesn’t hold that the Post sees no problem in publishing reckless charges in the Outlook section just because it can be passed off as opinion.

Indeed, the Post editors never would have countenanced a similar “indictment” article that actually made sense – one that presented the criminal case against Bush, Cheney, Rove and, say, Fred Hiatt for participating in a conspiracy that involved exposing a covert CIA officer and then trying to cover up the disgraceful action.

Our Leaders Show their Love for Our Troops

For the slow-witted. We liberals don't hate the troops serving in Iraq. We regret their being there. Our Leaders and their enablers hate them and have utter contempt for them, destroying their lives for no reason and doing crap like this:
The Forgotten Families
By Donna St. George
The Washington Post

Friday 16 February 2007

Grandparents raising slain soldiers' children are denied a government benefit intended to sustain the bereaved.
Her daughter was killed by a bomb in Iraq. Eight months later, Susan Jaenke is both grief-stricken and strapped - behind on her mortgage, backed up on her bills and shut out of the $100,000 government death benefit that her daughter thought she had left her.

The problem is that Jaenke is not a wife, not a husband, but instead grandmother to the 9-year-old her daughter left behind. "Grandparents," she said, "are forgotten in this."

For the Jaenkes and others like them, the toll of war can be especially complex: They face not only the anguish of losing a son or daughter but also the emotional, legal and financial difficulties of putting the pieces back together for a grandchild.

They confront this without the $100,000 "death gratuity" that military spouses ordinarily get - a payment intended to ease the financial strain as families await government survivors' benefits.

"It really does get complicated for them," said Joyce Raezer of the National Military Family Association. The load of responsibilities placed on that generation - both during deployment and if a service member is injured or killed - "is a huge issue."

The case of Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime S. Jaenke, a Navy construction-battalion medic killed last June in Anbar province, is particularly striking because she was a single parent who clearly meant to assign her mother the benefit. Jaenke, 29, filled in her mother's name on a form and carefully spelled out her wishes in a letter.

But by law, the $100,000 benefit goes first to a spouse or a child. So 9-year-old Kayla Jaenke collects the $100,000 - plus $400,000 in life insurance - after she turns 18, leaving Susan Jaenke to ask, "What about the next nine years?"

In some other families, the $100,000 death benefit has gone to neither the children nor the grandparents who are raising them.

In California, Barbie and Matt Heavrin are caring for a 2-year-old grandson without the death gratuity or life insurance. Their daughter, Pfc. Hannah McKinney, assigned her $400,000 in life insurance to the man she wed just before deployment, her father said; by law, her husband also received the gratuity.

The Heavrins are happy to raise the boy - from an earlier relationship their daughter had - but wonder why he would get nothing. Five months after their daughter died last September, their only assistance is monthly benefits they expect will total about $800, most of which goes to day care.

In Missouri, grandmother Gail Kriete is raising 9-year-old Taylor Purdy, the child of Lance Cpl. Erik R. Heldt, a Marine killed in Iraq in June 2005. His wife collected the full $500,000. Kriete said none went to his daughter, from a previous relationship.

"It just needs to be thought out a little more carefully," Kriete said. "There are so many blended families that the suffering is very spread out."

The death gratuity, more than many other benefits, adheres to a strict next-of-kin rule, which Pentagon officials say makes it possible to pay out the $100,000 within a few days. They say that, in the "vast majority of cases," spouses are most in need when paychecks stop.

But there have been thousands of single parents deployed into combat zones since 2001. How many have died at war is unclear, but the Jaenke case shows that, in those cases, the benefit may be at odds with its original intent: to help the grieving family stay afloat when a service member's income suddenly stops.

Susan Jaenke said her family fell behind shortly after Jaime died - and has never caught up.

Larry Jaenke is a truck driver, and Susan worked as a letter carrier for 23 years until an accident left her disabled. Their daughter Jaime and granddaughter Kayla lived with them. Susan provided child care when Jaime worked, and Jaime contributed to the family income.

Jaime's passion for horses led the Jaenkes to start a business with her on their 10-acre Iowa property. When Susan Jaenke got an insurance settlement from her accident, she put much of it toward building a horse stable on the property, which was Jaime's dream. Jaime - energetic and skilled with power tools - did the drywall and flooring.

Not long afterward, Jaime - a reservist who was an emergency medical technician in her civilian life - went to war.

Unable to Make Ends Meet

It was a June afternoon last year, and the Jaenkes were returning from Kayla's softball game. She had made her team's only hit - and her first hit ever. In a celebratory mood, they stopped to buy ice cream.

When they pulled into their driveway, the scene was one that no parent of a deployed soldier wants to see: two uniformed Navy men, waiting.

They soon learned that a roadside bomb had exploded near Jaime's Humvee, killing her and a fellow Seabee.

At the funeral, Kayla stood solemn next to her mother's flag-draped casket, the folded flag laid into her small arms.

Then came the dawning of the family's new reality - the emotional, the practical, the financial.

There was a lawyer to hire to get legal guardianship. There were survivors' benefits to apply for. There was a trust to set up. There was health insurance to obtain for Kayla. Inexplicably, there was no official will left behind.

For the Jaenkes, the trouble was not that raising Kayla is so expensive but that their entire financial picture shifted with Jaime's death. Jaime's checks immediately stopped. Larry Jaenke was out of work for a time. The family paid $2,800 for a handsome headstone. The stable was still losing money.

Last fall, Susan Jaenke watched as Jaime's pickup truck, and then her car, were repossessed.

The family scraped by, thanks to acts of kindness, Susan Jaenke said. When the Jaenkes' dryer broke, nearby Seabee units stepped up to replace it. The Seabees have come three times to do finishing work on the stable, which Susan Jaenke says she will not give up. Kayla is there all the time, she said, and giving it up would be like losing what is left of Jaime.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars gave the family a $1,000 Target gift card, which she said made the family's Christmas.

Since October, the Jaenke family has been collecting monthly government benefits for Kayla's care - $1,700 in all - but not enough to replace Jaime's contributions. From Iraq, she had been sending home $3,200 a month, her mother said. The child's father, long estranged, does not pay child support, Susan Jaenke said.

The Jaenkes can request money from Kayla's trust for certain expenses related to the girl's "health, education, maintenance and welfare," but the process involves lawyers and court appearances. The court recently agreed to a $200 monthly stipend for the family.

"The court is just very conservative here in Iowa," said Mona Bowden, an attorney for the Jaenkes.

Clear Wishes, Clear Rules

Every now and then, Susan Jaenke rereads the letter that Jaime left behind for her:

"I have got all my paperwork done and here is what I did. My big policy [$400,000] goes to Kayla. That has to be put away for when she gets 18. You will know what to do and how to handle it. There is a smaller policy that goes to you. That is for 100,000. That is for you to raise Kayla with and 25,000 goes to the barn.... I can't wait to get home to my girl and my horses, so you had better take care of them all."

Patrick J. Palmersheim, executive director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, explained that the problem came down to the fine print on death gratuities. Jaime had written in her mother's name as beneficiary, but in the same blank the form said "No spouse or child surviving."

Susan Jaenke could be awarded the benefit only if there were no spouse or child to receive it.

The tight regulations are meant to guard against fraud and abuse, said Chief Petty Officer Randy Erdman, the Navy casualty assistance officer who has worked closely with the Jaenke family. "I see the need for the money going to the right spot and being protected," he said, "but at the same time I see what the family needs."

In Washington, Lt. Tommy Crosby, a Navy spokesman, said the Navy "recognizes the significant loss the family has suffered" and has done all it can, within the law, to help.

The death gratuity, created in 1908, originally was equal to six months' pay and was intended to ease financial burdens after a military death.

During the war in Iraq, the gratuity was increased markedly; it had been at $6,000, then grew to $12,000 and finally $100,000. Lawmakers had said the original award seemed offensively low, especially in contrast to the large settlements awarded to families of those killed in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Still, there was little rethinking about beneficiaries for the $100,000 gratuity, several experts said. To troops, the large lump sum came to resemble life insurance, said Raezer, chief operating officer of the National Military Family Association.

Jaime's handwritten letter and possibly her form suggest she did not realize the gratuity could not go to her mother.

Whether that is because she misunderstood what was said during a benefits briefing or was not advised well is unclear. "They don't always get that kind of counseling that they need," Raezer said.

The problem could have been avoided altogether if Jaime had directed part of her life insurance money, rather than the death gratuity, to her parents.

Steve Strobridge, government relations director of the Military Officers Association of America, said Jaenke's case suggests that the regulations should be reexamined.

"We certainly need to look at whether there needs to be some additional flexibility in who the member can assign the death gratuity to and whether we need to adjust the counseling requirements to help protect people from unintended consequences," he said.

In her three-bedroom house in Iowa, Susan Jaenke said she has been reduced to worrying about grocery money and dreading calls from creditors. "It just hurts bad in so many different directions," she said. "My girl was supposed to come back."

Some days, the whole episode overwhelms her. Three of her four children have served in the Navy, and she said she considers herself "a flag waver." But she gets angry that her daughter's wishes are not being honored and that the family now struggles.

"It's not bad enough that I lost my daughter," she said. "What else do they want me to lose?"

Iraq: Sure Loser Assured by Our Leaders

All spelled out, nicely, simply.

An American Hero

A lifelong resident of Baltimore, Md., Sondheim was appointed to the city's school board in 1948. He didn't think much of local and state laws that required "separate but equal" -- segregated -- schools for whites and blacks. By 1954 he was the board's president, and finally got his opening: the U.S. Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate. Sondheim called all the board members and told them what he was going to do, and then the next day he did it. "It was the first item to vote on, so I asked for discussion and then for the vote," he remembered later. "The whole thing didn't take 45 seconds, and then we went on to the rest of the day's business." That made Baltimore's schools the first district south of the Mason-Dixon line to desegregate, but the state school board president wasn't happy and tried to overturn the decision. He told the man "that he could come to Baltimore and try to unscramble the egg that we had scrambled if he wanted to," Sondheim recalled. After the board's decision, a cross was burned on Sondheim's lawn, but "He wouldn't back off," said former Maryland Gov. William Schaefer. "He wouldn't step aside. He wouldn't do anything except what was right. I've never known a man with so much integrity in my life." Sondheim's impact on education -- and Baltimore -- didn't end there. He led the redevelopment of the downtown area, and then chaired the governor's panel on school performance, which led the nation in demanding improvements in education, holding schools accountable for their performance. In 1995, at the age of 86, he was appointed to the state school board, and three years later ended up as the board's president. Sondheim died February 15 in Baltimore from pneumonia. He was 98.

Just in Case You're Forgetting What an Absolute Sack of $#!t Scumbag Rudy Giuliani is....

A reminder:
We've previously posted the tour riders of Dick Cheney and John Kerry, but those two pols look like pikers compared to the high-rolling, diva-like Rudolph Giuliani, wannabe Republican presidential candidate. The former New York mayor has been banking a whopping $100,000 per speech to corporations, trade groups, and university audiences, according to his standard appearance contract. The document, a copy of which you'll find below, notes that Giuliani, 62, requires private air transportation to his gigs. But, the contract states, any old plane won't do: "Please note that the private aircraft MUST BE a Gulfstream IV or bigger." Such a jet sells for about $30 million, in case you're wondering. Giuliani's speech contract also requires him to be lodged in a two-bedroom hotel suite, which is to be flanked by rooms occupied by his security team. Rudy's suite must be registered in the name of a representative of the Washington Speakers Bureau, which arranges Giuliani appearances. And Giuliani is very picky about how he is to be photographed at gigs, apparently concerned that "direct, on-camera flash bulbs" result in none-too-flattering images. He also imposes restrictions on press coverage of his appearances, during which he speaks for 45 minutes and answers audience questions for 15 minutes. A copy of Giuliani's contract was released by Oklahoma State University, where he spoke last March for $100,000 (and cost the school an additional $47,000 in jet expenses). Oh, one other thing: someone needs to let the politician's agents know that their client's name is spelled "Giuliani," not "Giulinni."

Please save us from him....

How Smart We Are!!

[Click on the image!]
Wording for the first disclaimer (top left) is taken verbatim from the sticker designed by the Cobb County School District ("A community with a passion for learning") in Georgia, which actually plagiarized Alabama's evolution disclaimer (view). Really, I'm not making any of this up. The other 14 are mildly educational variants that demonstrate the real meaning of a scientific "theory" as well as the true motivations of the School Board members and their creationist supporters. Ideally, the above stickers will deter other districts from using textbook disclaimers as a way to undermine the teaching of evolution. Please forward them to friends in school districts where disclaimers are likely to be discussed. Or make a big poster of your favorite and stick it on an easel in front of the school when nobody is looking. Or if you would like one of these on your car, bug Leighton over at Floating Point Digital Images, where you can get all sorts of pro-evolution stickerabilia. At the very least, print out the PDF version and send it to your kid's science teacher; if he or she is not amused, move immediately to another district, far, far away.

As of December 19th, 2006, the courts have upheld the initial ruling that the sticker was unconstitutional. The district is now on double-secret probation: it can't do anything that similarly undermines the teaching of evolution or that similarly supports the presence and activities of supernatural entities. Details can be had at the National Center for Science Education.

FAIR: Oops, They Did it Again!

So soon after bombing of the selling of the Iraq fandango and the 2006 elections, one would think Big Media would be a little hesitant to spread the manure....

You know, they wouldn't be quite so fast to publish such a load of dangerous crap a la Judy Miller.

One would think so but then one is surprised yet not really surprised to see them at it again. From the mentality that greatly enabled Our Leaders to invade Iraq for absolutely not a single good reason:
NYT Breaks Own Anonymity Rules
Paper pushes Iran threat with one-sided array of unnamed officials


In the wake of its disastrous pre-war reporting on Iraq, the New York Times implemented new rules governing its use of unnamed sources. Its lead story on February 10, promoting Bush administration charges against Iran, violated those rules.

In the report, "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says," Times reporter Michael R. Gordon cited a one-sided array of anonymous sources charging the Iranian government with providing a particularly deadly variety of roadside bomb to Shia militias in Iraq: "The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran." According to Gordon:

In interviews, civilian and military officials from a broad range of government agencies provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim, in a new National Intelligence Estimate, that Iran is providing "lethal support" to Shiite militants in Iraq.

Repeatedly citing the likes of "administration officials," "American intelligence" and "Western officials," the article used unnamed sources four times as often as named ones. Only one source in Gordon's report challenged the official claims: Iranian United Nations ambassador Javad Zarif, who was allowed a one-sentence denial of Iranian government involvement.

On the central charge of the article--that the Iranian government is providing the weapons to Shia militias in Iraq--not a single source was named. Instead, Gordon offered a peculiar, seemingly second-hand citation of an intelligence document:

An American intelligence assessment described to the New York Times said that "as part of its strategy in Iraq, Iran is implementing a deliberate, calibrated policy--approved by Supreme Leader Khamenei and carried out by the Quds Force--to provide explosives support and training to select Iraqi Shia militant groups to conduct attacks against coalition targets." The reference was to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian leader, and to an elite branch of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Command that is assigned the task of carrying out paramilitary operations abroad.

Who exactly is doing this "describing" is not made clear. This would seem to violate the Times' rules on quoting unnamed sources (New York Times Company, "Confidential News Sources," 2/25/04): "We have long observed the principle of identifying our sources by name and title or, when that is not possible, explaining why we consider them authoritative, why they are speaking to us and why they have demanded confidentiality."

The paper's rules also state:

The use of unidentified sources is reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy. When we use such sources, we accept an obligation not only to convince a reader of their reliability but also to convey what we can learn of their motivation - as much as we can supply to let a reader know whether the sources have a clear point of view on the issue under discussion.

The rules go on to advise:

In any situation when we cite anonymous sources, at least some readers may suspect that the newspaper is being used to convey tainted information or special pleading. If the impetus for anonymity has originated with the source, further reporting is essential to satisfy the reporter and the reader that the paper has sought the whole story.

Besides the sheer over-reliance on unnamed officials, Gordon never explained why these officials demanded confidentiality; nor did he attempt to convince the reader of the sources' reliability--a daunting job, considering how unreliable the current administration's intelligence claims have proven in the past. It's this poor record that makes it even more incumbent on Gordon to avoid unnamed sources when he can, and to forcefully challenge claims emanating from previously unreliable quarters. Instead, Gordon merely informed readers that the anonymous assertions in the article were "both politically and diplomatically volatile," which would hardly explain the necessity for obscuring their source.

Gordon's article was followed by the formal U.S. unveiling of their evidence against Iran, a bizarre press event in which reporters were asked to shield the identities of the Pentagon briefers. These charges appeared in the Times on February 12, under the headline "U.S. Says Arms Link Iranians to Iraqi Shiites." The report, while presenting much of the U.S. case fairly uncritically, did note that charges of official Iranian government complicity were "asserted, without providing direct evidence," and that "such an assertion was an inference based on general intelligence assessments."

Nonetheless, the Times agreed to the ground rules for the military briefing, explaining to readers only that officials said "that without anonymity, a senior Defense Department analyst who participated in the briefing could not have contributed." In other words, the anonymous sources have to be anonymous because they have to be anonymous. Nonetheless, this account was far less conclusive than Gordon's sneak preview on February 10, which asserted a much stronger link between these explosives and the Iranian government. And following the official briefing, some U.S. officials—including Gen. Peter Pace, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—were clear that they did not have strong evidence linking Iran's government to the explosives (L.A. Times, 2/15/07).

The similarity between the current New York Times reporting hyping an Iran threat and the paper's credulous prewar Iraq reporting are not coincidental. Gordon was co-author, along with disgraced reporter Judith Miller, of two of six stories singled out in the paper's May 26, 2004 apology for faulty Iraq reporting, including the Times story that falsely touted the now-famous "aluminum tubes" as components of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

The paper's mea culpa, in the form of an editors' note, explained some of the editorial shortcomings that resulted in publishing misleading and embarrassing reports: "Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.... Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried." Where are the editors who should be "pressing for more skepticism" this time around?

Five days after his original report, Gordon published another story ("Why Accuse Iran of Meddling Now? U.S. Officials Explain," 2/15/07) that defended the Bush administration against critics' charges they were publicizing two-year-old charges in order to establish pretexts for attacking Iran, or to blame Iran for coalition failures in Iraq. Once again, Gordon's follow-up piece was almost totally dependent on unnamed sources. As Editor & Publisher put it (2/15/07), Gordon, "aim[ing] to quiet the skeptics, cit[ed] only the following sources: 'American officials'…. 'one military official'…'military officials' …'American officials'…'American military officials.'"

In his original February 10 report, Gordon wrote, "Administration officials said they recognized that intelligence failures related to prewar American claims about Iraq's weapons arsenal could make critics skeptical about the American claims." While "critics" are surely skeptical, shouldn't reporters for the New York Times, given their recent record on similar matters, be even more so?

ACTION: Please contact New York Times public editor Byron Calame and urge him to look into why the paper's rules about anonymity are not applied to Michael Gordon--especially considering how Gordon's pre-Iraq War reporting embarrassed the Times.

New York Times
Byron Calame, Public Editor
Phone: (212) 556-7652

Our Next Leader Promises this is the Last Surge --

-- til the next one?

From the AP via the WSJ:
Presidential contender John McCain said Saturday there aren't any good options if the buildup of U.S. troops doesn't stabilize Iraq.

The Arizona senator said during a campaign stop in Iowa that he would be hard pressed to find an option that the public would support if the troop increase fails. "I don't know what the other options are because if we fail here I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain the support of the American people," he said. "And when the American people don't support a war ... then we aren't able to maintain a foreign endeavor."

Mr. McCain, a Republican, supports President Bush's strategy to add 21,500 troops in Iraq to try to end the violence. Polls show widespread opposition to the escalation of military efforts in Iraq, but a majority oppose cutting off funds for the troops.

Mr. McCain attended events in Iowa while the Senate voted on an attempt to rebuke Bush over his military strategy. Republicans foiled the measure by a vote of 56-34, four short of the 60 needed to advance it.


Mr. McCain said nonbinding resolutions on Iraq in the House and Senate are "insulting to the public and the soldiers" and that the U.S. would only defeat extremism with perseverance.

(Ed. note: WTF does that mean? It's insensible, even for a pol. "Perseverance" isn't needed. A plan is needed. Perseverance is not a plan....)


He reiterated that he is running as a "pro-life conservative" and was introduced by a slew of prominent conservative backers, including former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, and Maxine Sieleman, the Iowa-based founder of the Concerned Women for America.
America-hating scumbags all....

Odom for Dummies

HH: Welcoming now to the Hugh Hewitt Show General William Odom. General, a real pleasure to make your acquaintance. Thanks for being on the program, thanks for your service.

WO: Thank you for the opportunity to be on your program.

HH: Now I read with great interest your piece in Sunday’s Washington Post on February 11th, Victory Is Not An Option, and a piece very similar to it from 2005, General, and I’d like you to explain to the audience who haven’t had a chance to read it what you think America should do in Iraq right now.

WO: Well, we can’t do much of anything that’s useful for ourselves until we begin to withdraw. We are diplomatically and strategically paralyzed in Iraq. As we begin to move out, countries who are not very cooperative with us, or wish us evil, are going to be worried about the aftermath. We cannot stabilize the whole region by ourselves. We’re going to need really important allies, not just our allies that we’ve bought to come in there with us for the invasion. And we’re going to need them both on the borders of Iraq, and we’re going to need Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and others to help us.

HH: How quickly do you want us…

WO: They will, I think, begin to respond to us once we get out. They will not as long as we’re still there.

HH: How long do you want us to take to get out, General?

WO: Well, to me, that would be an issue that would have to be resolved with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Commander out there. But if we could do it in six months, I’d like to do it. If it takes nine, fine. I would not complain if we did it in four.

HH: Now let’s talk a little bit about two of the key points that really intrigued me, and I disagree with them, General, but I want to hear you out on them. The first is that the Arab and Muslim political cultures just aren’t ready for democracy. Can you expand on that for the audience?

WO: Well, they’re ready for democracy. They’re not ready for constitutional orders.

HH: Okay, and can you expand on that please?

WO: Yes, there are only about 24, 25, 26 countries in the world of 191 members at the United Nations that have truly liberal democracies. There are lots of democracies, but they’re illiberal, meaning that they have various levels of tyranny. Rights are not secure, Russia has elections, India has elections, it has a great reputation as a democracy, but your property rights are not stable at the lower, at the village level. A mother-in-law can throw acid in the face of a daughter-in-law and not be taken to the court. There are lots of illiberal things about it. Now those countries are all in the Western political tradition, with a very few exceptions. Japan and I would include South Korea and Taiwan now. The rule on political scientists is their constitutional order generally sticks if it lasts for a generation, about 20 years or more. So the countries I count are ones that have had stable, liberal orders for more than a generation.

HH: Now in the Washington Post article, you said none is a country with Arabic and Muslim political cultures. Does Turkey not qualify in your calculation, General?

WO: It’s a borderline case, but it hasn’t yet been 20 years since the last military intervention.

HH: And so that’s not a counterexample to your hypothesis?

WO: No, it’s not yet. I would like for it to be, and it is the white hope.

HH: What about Indonesia?

WO: Indonesia’s about as illiberal as you can get.

HH: But does it have a constitutional order? They’ve had a couple of elections…

WO: No. No way. Here’s what constitutes a constitutional order. It’s not a piece of paper. A piece of paper, as the Russians, they can put up with anything written on it. The British don’t have a written constitution. It is an agreement on three things at least. Rules to decide who rules, rules to make new rules, rights the state cannot abridge. Now who must agree? If you have a referendum, that’s irrelevant. The elites must agree. Who are the elites? Anybody with enough guns or enough money, or both, to violate the rules with impunity if they want to. Now every one of those countries have groups that violate the rules with impunity, even though they have a constitutional order, I mean, a piece of paper. So I’m looking at countries where the rules have been made stick. By this standard, when did we get a Constitution? Only in 1865.

HH: And so is it your proposition that Muslim and Arab countries simply can’t develop that constitutional order?

WO: Well, let’s put it this way. They have not yet done so, and people like Professor Huntington have looked at various groups, and said that some religious areas are more easily disposed to constitutional deals than others. Confucian societies and Islamic societies have been terribly resistant. Hindu Buddhist societies seem to be neutral. Protestants have been more easy to make into constitutional orders than Catholic, although the record on that’s improving somewhat. So just looking at the record, those are just facts. Now I have not said that Arabs can’t be good democrats. I said that in the article. They’ve become very good liberal American citizens.

HH: But what about Lebanon, General? Prior to Arafat’s arrival, and the ruinous introduction of the PLO in exile…

WO: They’ve never had a constitutional order, because there were always factions there that have made the rules when they wanted to. I mean, it’s been…there are almost no stable constitutional systems with three or four or five constitutional orders. Look how unstable Canada becomes occasionally over the French. Switzerland is a huge exception. Britain, with four tribes, is suffering devolution.

HH: But then…now, that’s where I get confused, because are you arguing that there’s just no hope, they need strong men there because they simply cannot support…

WO: No, I’m saying that we can’t do much about it. I’m saying if you’re going to go in, and by ventriloquy expect to create this kind of an order, then you’re not going to be able to do that. You’re going to fail at that. I’ve been involved in several practical cases. In Vietnam, I wrote a book after I retired, reflecting on three cases, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Philippines, but what I was always thinking about was my year involved in pacification and development in Vietnam.

HH: And so the purple finger elections of 2005, of no counterargument to you?

WO: Oh, look. Elections are easy to hold. I grew up in Tennessee, where Boss Ed Crump rigged the elections every year. We knew that. Mayor Daley, the Pendergast machine, boss Tweed? Come on, don’t tell me about elections in the U.S. being honest.

HH: I didn’t make that…I was saying what did that mean, the people, the millions that turned out?

WO: It meant that we held an election out there, and people came and voted.

HH: And what did that, do they aspire to order, General?

WO: Sure, they want order, but voting doesn’t produce order.

HH: I know that, but I’m trying to get at, do you think they aspire to freedom?

WO: Sure. But the question is, how do they get the elites to agree on the rules so that their freedom doesn’t just mean free to kill each other?

HH: And do we help them get closer to the order in which freedom can flourish?

WO: We have made it much worse.

HH: Much worse than Saddam?

WO: Yeah.

HH: You believe that people in Iraq…

WO: Oh, there’s many more people been killed each year we’ve been there than were being killed during Saddam’s period.

HH: How many people were being killed under Saddam, General?

WO: I don’t know, but it was not a very high number we’re discovering.

HH: General, the mass graves? Those are not signifiers?

WO: Well, look. You know, I haven’t counted the people in the mass graves, but I think that that would be a very instructive figure to get some hard data on and compare them. I’d like to see it. I don’t think that Saddam…he had enough intimidation so that he didn’t have to kill on the rate that we’re killing.

HH: And so…

WO: …or that they’re killing each other.

HH: Now you also write in the article that we must, that you dismiss the idea it will get worse if we leave.

WO: No, I said it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, it’s not going to get better by us staying there. You see, I’m not one of those…I personally think that we might end up finding less of a terrible aftermath than we’ve pumped ourselves up to expect, because the President and a lot of other people have really made a big thing of trying to scare us about that. What I’m saying is even if their scare scenarios turn out to be the case, that is the price we have to pay to get out of this trap, and eventually bring a stability to that region which if the Iraqis and other Arab countries want to become liberal systems, they can do it. They’re not going to do it the way we’re headed there now.

HH: From your Sunday Post piece is this couple of lines. “Lawmakers gravely proclaim their opposition to the war, but in the next breath, express fear that quitting it will leave a bloodbath, a civil war, a terrorist haven, a failed state, or some other horror. But this aftermath is already upon us. A prolonged U.S. occupation cannot prevent what already exists.” Do you…

WO: I think that’s a pretty accurate description of what’s happened over the past four years.

HH: So you don’t think it can get worse?

WO: Yeah, it can get worse. It’s gotten worse every year.

HH: But how much worse could it get if we weren’t there?

WO: I don’t know. I don’t think it…look, it will eventually get as bad it can get if we stay there long enough.

HH: But if we precipitously withdraw, do you expect genocide?

WO: I would call some of the things…I mean, you know, that’s a definitional term.

HH: Do the numbers…

WO: I mean, it depends on what you define as genocide.

HH: Do the numbers matter at all to your analysis? If someone came to you and said 100,000 people will die…

WO: Yes, they matter, and what I’m telling you is that we can’t affect, we cannot improve the numbers of survivors by staying longer.

HH: Well here…do you follow the work of John Burns, New York Times correspondent?

WO: Yeah.

HH: Here’s John Burns on that subject from last week.

JB: If the United Nations is correct in saying that 3,700 Iraqi civilians died in October, and that’s a morgue’s count. It may be an underestimate, we don’t know. But he said if it’s correct that 3,700 people died in October across Iraq, think about this. You take the American troops away in this situation, leaving Shiite death squads to move into Adamiya in force, without any kind of protection, he said it won’t be 3,700 dead in the month, it will be 3,700 dead in the night in Adamiya. Now that may be an exaggeration, but it reflects the kind of fears that are quite widespread, amongst Sunnis in particular, but also to some extent amongst Shiites in Iraq about the consequences of an American troop withdrawal.

HH: So General, should we be indifferent to that?

WO: Yes.

HH: Why?

WO: Because we can’t affect it. He’s assuming we can make it different, and we are the cause that that situation exists today. John Burns, he’s forgot that we invaded the country, and they weren’t having those deaths that rate when Saddam was there.

HH: But it was a nation of…

WO: You insist, you are arguing that they…you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that there were more deaths when Saddam was there, and say that we’re improving things by staying there, and seeing them get worse every year.

HH: Actually, I believe that we have some significant numbers of the number of killed under Saddam over the course of his lifetime, and that those are much higher than have died in the four years under the American occupation.

WO: Well, I’d be very surprised to discover that, because he’s not…he was not that efficient at killing people. Now Stalin was.

HH: Did you see any hope for Saddam’s regime to change, General?

WO: No.

HH: Would his sons have been at least as worse as he was if…

WO: Sure.

HH: And so…

WO: And I can think if dictators much worse than him that we don’t bother with.

HH: But of course, he had attempted…

WO: So why do we pick out this one among all the dictators in the world we could pick out and go overthrow?

HH: Well, because he shot at American planes because he…

WO: He…who…we shot at him.

HH: Well, he had U.N. resolutions that were being enforced by American planes…

WO: And we were doing a pretty good job of containing him.

HH: But that’s one…he was clearly hostile to the United States, right, General?

WO: Sure.

HH: And he had invaded Kuwait.

WO: He was hostile to his neighbors our there, too.

HH: Yeah, he had invaded Kuwait, he invaded Iran…

WO: Look, I mean, I…this a kind of a pointless argument. I mean, the issues…all of your things can be true. They don’t make it any better for us. We are on a path to suffer every month we stay. The defeat we face will be larger, and we will put off the time at which…and where we will have even less resources to recover. If you remember the Second World War, Hitler had 600,000 troops thrown into Stalingrad, refused over four, five months to withdraw them, at the plea by, from his generals, and he ends up losing them all. If he had withdrawn them as they said, asked him to do, and let Stalingrad go, he could have shortened his lines by seven or eight hundred kilometers, and had nearly, had over 600,000 troops survive. Now that’s…a military commander that doesn’t know when to retire from one area so he can approach the conflict from another area, is not a smart commander. And it seems to you’re advocating a kind of policy where you have a president who jumps off the Empire State Building, and he goes by the 50th floor, and he says I’m on course. Well, I want a president who knows how to change course.

HH: I’m actually just trying to figure out what you think Iraq would look like if after four months hence, we leave, what it would look like in a year?

WO: It’s going to look worse if we stay.

HH: I know that, but what do you think it will look like? I know you believe that…

WO: I don’t know. I don’t know. You don’t know, and it’s just a guess. And I don’t see killing more Americans based on your guess.

HH: Did you see Cambodia coming, General?

WO: And following…let me ask you. Are you enthusiastic enough to put on a uniform and go?

HH: No. I’m a civilian.

WO: Okay, but we can recruit you.

HH: I’m 51, General.

WO: And I don’t see all these war hawks that want to…none of them have been in a war, and they don’t want to go.

HH: Well, General, are you advocating that only uniformed military should have opinions on this?

WO: No, you can have an opinion, but if you…you can’t start telling me that you’re going to just pay no attention to what people like myself say.

HH: No, I am paying…that’s why you’re on this program.

WO: Okay.

HH: I want to hear it, and I want…but I want to know what you think it’s going to look like, because I’m not indifferent to the aftermath.

WO: I don’t know. I’m prepared to accept whatever it looks like, if it’s not killing Americans, and we’re not losing U.S. resources, because eventually, it will settle out out there, and our capacity to help it settle out earlier with allies will be greatly improved. I think actually, that it will come out much better than these scare pictures you’re describing, and I include John Burns as somewhat of a scaremonger in this regard.

HH: Did you predict or see coming the Cambodian holocaust after our withdrawal from Southeast Asia?

WO: That would have happened if we’d stayed.

HH: But did you predict it?

WO: We didn’t…we were not in Cambodia.

HH: But did you…

WO: We [helped] perpetrate that.

HH: Did you or anyone you work with at the time see it coming? Did you see the reeducation camps in Vietnam?

WO: No, we didn’t. I wasn’t focused on that then. I was focused on Vietnam.

HH: And what about the reeducation camps and the boat people?

WO: Well, what about them?

HH: Did we foresee that? Did anyone sit down…

WO: Well, we said that things much worse than that were going to happen.

HH: John Kerry, when he testified before the Senate, actually thought it would be a couple of thousand people that would be…

WO: Well, I’m not John Kerry, and I don’t…I’m not defending John Kerry’s position. I’m saying the big scare in Southeast Asia was that there will be a whole group of countries that became pro-Soviet bloc, and pro-Chinese. Well, two more went communist, but they were not pro-Chinese. We were pursuing a war to contain China, the Soviet policy had become containing China. We were presenting a half a million U.S. troops in pursuit of Soviet foreign policy objectives. Right now, we are pursuing al Qaeda and Iranian foreign policy objectives in Iraq.

HH: But General, what I’m trying to do…

WO: And you want to continue to do that.

HH: I’m trying to figure out if you and others have thought through how bad it can get in Iraq.

WO: I have thought this through, because I’ve seen it in Vietnam, and I’m prepared…

HH: So how many people do you think will die?

WO: …when you start these kinds of things, you have to take what you’ve bought into. You have bought into this situation, so you’re going to have to live with the casualties.

HH: And so how many do you think that will be?

WO: I don’t know. You don’t know, either. So why do you keep asking me a question that I’m giving you an answer to?

HH: I know, but do you have a scale of magnitude?

WO: No, I don’t.

HH: And as a result, that doesn’t matter, though?

WO: And so you can sit there and fantasize any scale you want to, to scare people into continuing to do stupid things.

HH: All right. Next in your article, you wrote, “We must continue the war to prevent Iran’s influence from growing in Iraq.” That’s one of the arguments you attribute to proponents of staying. And I do believe that’s a very important issue. Do you believe that Iran is intent on acquiring nuclear weapons?

WO: Sure. They’re going to get them.

HH: And should we do anything to stop that?

WO: No.

HH: Why not?

WO: Because we can’t. We’ve already squandered what forces we have, and we’re going to have more countries proliferate. If somebody told us not to proliferate, and that if we wanted to do it and we started, that they were going to change our regime, you damn well bet we’d get nuclear weapons. Well, that’s the approach we’ve taken. We could not have increased Iranian incentives for getting nuclear weapons faster, or more effectively, than the policy we’ve used to keep to prevent them from getting them.

HH: How many years have they been pursuing them, though, General? Long before we invaded Iraq.

WO: Yes, and we had been talking about changing the regime for many years before.

HH: Yes, but the fact remains that they’re very much closer now than they have been in the past, and you don’t think we should do anything to stop that?

WO: No.

HH: And do you believe the statements of Khatamei…

WO: If we can…look, we tried to stop Pakistan, we tried to stop India, and as soon as they go them, we turned around and loved them.

HH: Are the statements…

WO: Now that’s the policy of proliferation that we pursued.

HH: Are the statements of President Ahmadinejad alarming to you?

WO: No.

HH: Why not?

WO: Because I’ve done a study on Iranian foreign policy back from the fall of the Shah’s time up to about 1995. And not withstanding all the rhetoric, and which I believe some of, that we would find the Iranians pursuing a very radical foreign policy in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were not. They were pursuing…they did not try to steal nuclear weapons up there. They did not spend money into the hands of Islamic radicals. The money that came in for Islamic radicals was brought by Pakistani bagmen from Saudi Arabia. The Iranians pursued a very conservative policy. They’ve had two radical policies. One was toward Hezbollah and Israel, and the other’s been toward us.

HH: Do you believe that they were responsible for the massacre of the Jews at the synagogue in South America?

WO: They might well have been.

HH: Do you believe that they have armed Hezbollah with the rockets that rain down on Israel?

WO: Yes.

HH: Do you believe they would use a nuke against Israel?

WO: Not unless Israel uses one against them.

HH: Could you be wrong about that?

WO: Of course you can be wrong about the future.

HH: Are you gambling with Israel’s future, then, to allow a radical regime…

WO: No, Israel’s gambling with its future by encouraging us to pursue this policy.

HH: So Israel should not take unilateral action, either?

WO: That’s up to them, but I think it’ll make it worse for them. Israel’s policies thus far have made its situation much worse. If you read all of the Israel press, you’ll find a lot of them there are firmly in my camp on this issue. And I’ve talked to many Israelis who are very sympathetic with the view I have on it. You’re making it much, much worse for Israel.

HH: Are you familiar…

WO: If I were an Israeli right now, given Olmert’s policies and Bush’s policies, I would fear for my life.

HH: Are you familiar with…

WO: So I would say the policy you’re advocating is a very serious threat to Israel.

HH: Are you familiar with Mullah Yazdi?

WO: No.

HH: Or 12th Imam theology?

WO: No, I’m not.

HH: Would that matter to you if those…

WO: No.

HH: It doesn’t matter if they’re Millennialists who want to bring in…

WO: No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t.

HH: So what they think and what their intentions are don’t matter, General?

WO: You don’t know what their intentions are. You’re just listening to their rhetoric.

HH: Well, should we ever pay attention to what people say?

WO: Yes, we should pay attention sometimes, but I can…I’d pay attention to that, and when I do, I see that it’s very much really the way Kim Jung Il uses his rhetoric. He knows how to cause us to jump up in the air and get all excited, and cause people of your frame of mind, and particularly the neocons’ frame of mind, to start doing things that are not in the U.S. interests. And then as you hit the ground, we’d pay him off and bribe him.

HH: Now General, you are a distinguished and long-serving member of the American military, in the Military Hall of Fame, you’re a Lt. General. I actually served alongside of you in the Reagan administration when you were running NSA. So I mean no disrespect by this next question.

WO: Yeah, you’re obviously going to call me a son of a bitch or something.

HH: No, I’m not. No, I’m not, General. I would never do that, because I esteem your service quite a lot, and I know your reputation as an intelligence professional, because I was the special assistant to Bill Smith running the FISA stuff, when you were over at NSA. So I know your credentials, and I esteem you. But it sounds like…

WO: I am a hard-liner.

HH: You would have been with which party in Great Britain in the 30’s? Let me ask it that way. Was Churchill…

WO: I was…it’s not analogous to today at all.

HH: Why not?

WO: Because it’s completely different. Germany was a powerful industrial company that had been dealt a terrible injustice with the Versailles Treaty.

HH: 70 million…

WO: Lloyd George and the…Clemenceau struck a deal, and didn’t even invite the Germans who…and remember, it was an armistice. They were not defeated and invaded by France and Britain and the U.S. It was an armistice, and they weren’t even invited, and they were forced into a terrible period. Hungary was truncated. It essentially opened the door to Hitler, and it certainly opened the door to the Nazis.

HH: Yes, but did Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain ignore the statements of Hitler, and put it down as just rhetoric?

WO: This is…Ahmadinejad is not…he does not have German industry. He does not preside over a country which was becoming the major industrial power in Europe.

HH: Yeah, but he will have…

WO: He’s in a backward country with a group of people who are becoming poorer and poorer as a result of his policies.

HH: But he will have…

WO: And if you can’t see the difference between that, then I’m very disappointed in your judgment.

HH: But General, he will have the weapons that Hitler aspired to and never acquired. So in many respects, his 70…

WO: In another situation where we have many more of them, which ensure his annihilation.

HH: But it he’s not deterrable because of theology, does that matter? Earlier, you said no.

WO: How do you know that he’s not deterrable?

HH: I take very seriously what Yazdi writes, and what Ahmadinejad says.

WO: Well, are you going to…you’re betting your future on what he says.

HH: No, I am unwilling to allow Iran to have nukes, and I think we ought to take…

WO: Well, you don’t have the power to keep him from…

HH: Of course not. I’m just advocating. I’m just a pundit. I’m just a radio guy.

WO: Okay, nobody has the power to do that right now.

HH: The United States could deny him nukes, couldn’t it?

WO: No, it can’t do it, because we’ve used our military up. We can’t occupy the country. You can bomb and set it back. You will not prevent it.

HH: Bombing and setting it back, would that be a good thing?

WO: No.

HH: Why not?

WO: Because you’ll end up doubling or quadrupling or to the tenth power the number of enemies you’ve got in the area. We will never solve the situation in the Middle East, and bring some kind of stability there, until we work out some kind of deal with Iran. Now Iran has tried to make a deal with us when we were invading Afghanistan. And we just pushed them off.

HH: Now General, have you read the book, The Looming Tower?

WO: No.

HH: Are you familiar with Qutub, the founder of…

WO: Look, I’m running out of time.

HH: Okay, I’ve got three more minute, four more minutes. Are you familiar with Qutub, the founder of the Muslim Botherhood?

WO: No.

HH: All right. When you write that we must prevent, that, “We will not be able to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq,” what do you think al Qaeda will do…

WO: Be able to prevent them in Iraq?

HH: Well, I’ll read your paragraph here. “We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al Qaeda in Iraq as one of the reasons you offered on Sunday for people who are arguing to stay in Iraq.”

WO: Right.

HH: And then you go on to say, “Whether such foreign elements could remain or thrive in Iraq after the resolution of civil war is open to question.”

WO: That’s right.

HH: Now they are deterred by our presence there, are they not?

WO: No. They’re absolutely ecstatic over it. They’re killing us. They couldn’t get to us otherwise.

HH: Do you believe that safe havens for al Qaeda will empower them to strike the United States again as they did on 9/11?

WO: Look, they’re getting one back in Afghanistan. They’ve got one right now in Pakistan. They’ve got them in other countries. If you get out of Iraq, there’s one thing, two or three things you can be sure of. They cannot operate effectively in Kurdistan right now. The Shiites will catch them and decapitate everyone they can get their hands on. Most Sunnis don’t like them. They deal with him largely because they provided them suicide bombers, et cetera, to take on the Shiites. With us getting out of the scene, and if the Shiites were to win that civil war, the al Qaeda will be gone.

HH: And why do you believe we haven’t been attacked since 9/11, General?

WO: I don’t think…we’ve been attacked in Iraq. They’ve been killing us left and right over there. It’s over 3,000.

HH: Why have we not been attacked in the United States since 9/11?

WO: You don’t know and I don’t know. Mr. John Miller’s done a very good study saying they don’t have the capabilities. There’s a very lot of intelligence evidence that suggests they don’t have the capabilities to do it.

HH: And did we…

WO: All these so-called cells that the last administration, or this administration seems to have discovered here turned out to be mythical.

HH: Would Libya have disarmed its nukes and chemical weaponry, General, if we…

WO: It’s not analogous. If you are trying to pay a general rule to cause something to happen in all countries, that is…you know, I’d flunk you on a sophomore international relations course.

HH: I’m asking whether or not you thought the Libyan disarmament had anything to do with our invasion of Iraq?

WO: None.

HH: And do you believe that the Oil For Food scandal would have been detected if we’d left Saddam in power?

WO: Look, we would have been less worse off, much better off, had the food scandal gone on, and Saddam were still there.

HH: Fair answer. Last question, General, do you think David Petraeus is a competent officer?

WO: He’s a very competent officer. I don’t think he can afford to tell you what he really thinks about the prospects of counterinsurgency working.

HH: You believe when he testified to the Senate under oath that he was misleading the Senate?

WO: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.

HH: You think that’s a possibility?

WO: Well, have you ever been up there?

HH: Yes.

WO: To do that, when there was a civilian master sitting on your side, and making sure you don’t say anything they disagreed with?

HH: Oh, I have testified under oath before Congress with civilian…

WO: Yeah, but if you’ve been in a uniform with a civilian political…

HH: No, I told you I’m a civilian, but I…

WO: …with a politico keeping you in line?

HH: Are…you really…

WO: Yeah, the officer has a real dilemma here. He can do one of two things, and I used to discuss this with General Goodpastor who worked six years for Eisenhower in the White House. Should an officer, when he really disagrees, resign? Or should he knuckle down and do the best he can to get on inside? You can argue that both ways. When a lot of officers, my contemporaries, saw no senior officers resign in Vietnam, and we were unhappy about that, and you saw this young officer now, who was a colonel in the Army, H.R. McMaster. McMaster wrote Dereliction of Duty, damning the joint chiefs for not standing up to McNamara during the Vietnam War. I’m sure somebody’s going to do this on some of the senior officers today. The officers who’ve tried to stand up to it within have…were destroyed by Rumsfeld.

HH: Who would that be?

WO: Pardon?

HH: Who? Who?

WO: Well, Shinseki was probably the first one.

HH: Shinseki, though, had been, when he announced that we need 200,000 troops, had already announced his retirement, General.

WO: He hadn’t announced his retirement. He had a set period, four years in the Army. He wasn’t announcing his retirement, and he had more than a year left to go, and he was urged out precisely because he did that.

HH: All right, there are different accounts of that.

WO: And he was publicly abused by Paul Wolfowitz for having done so. And there were lots of other generals over there…look, a lot of them just pull their heads down. I did that in the Vietnam model, not when I was a general, but as a Lt. colonel.

HH: And has any…last question, General, has any general officer of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines resigned in protest over this war?

WO: No, I think the Marine general who was the J-3, I can’t remember his name right now, says he did.

HH: Batiste?

WO: No, that’s an Army major general. Whether they did that for that reason or not, I don’t know. But they have, as I say, I’m not sure that you can argue that they should, or you can argue that they should stay in. Goodpastor used to argue that they should stay in. I argued that they should not do so. Goodpastor persuaded me that I might be wrong. I think you can make that case both ways.

HH: Last question, General, do you believe you could be wrong about all this?

WO: Of course.

HH: I thought…I knew as a professional you’d say that. Thank you for your time, General William Odom, and for your service.

WO: Okay, right. Bye.

DO NOT GO TO THE THE SOURCE. The above is the complete interview. There no need to give the rightist scumbag a single "hit".