Saturday, December 22, 2007

What A Bizarre Story!

Nothing's ever exactly new. Everything's been happening forever.

But this, this could only happen in modern times....
A 48-year-old man entangled in an Internet love triangle built largely on lies was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for killing his rival for the affection of a woman he had never met.
Thomas Montgomery, who posed as an 18-year-old Marine in online chats, pleaded guilty in August to gunning down Brian Barrett, 22, in a parking lot at the suburban Buffalo factory where they worked.
The motive was jealousy, investigators said. Both were involved online with a middle-aged West Virginia mother — who herself was posing as an 18-year-old student.
Prosecutor Frank Sedita argued for the maximum sentence of 25 years, describing Montgomery's "almost predatory" pursuit of the woman and his resentment of Barrett when she cooled to Montgomery's advances after 1 1/2 years and thousands of pages of Internet chats.
"The chats reveal an obsessive desire to make Brian Barrett suffer," Sedita said.
Barrett, a college student who aspired to be an industrial arts teacher, was shot three times at close range after climbing into his truck at the end of a shift at Dynabrade in Clarence on Sept. 15, 2006. His body was found two days later by a co-worker.
"My wife and I don't understand how this could happen, how such evil could walk the Earth," Barrett's father, Daniel, said at the sentencing hearing. "To gun down a boy over simple jealousy does not make sense to us."
Montgomery's lawyer said fantasy and reality blurred for the then-married father of two teenage daughters, who was involved in his church and was president of his daughters' swim club.
"Until September 2006, this was a man who held his head high," attorney John Nuchereno said. "By September 2006 — call it an obsession, call it an addiction, call it what you want — he was suffering from a diminished capacity of some sort."
Montgomery, now divorced, attempted suicide in his jail cell after his arrest. He chose not to speak at his sentencing.
Montgomery began chatting with the woman, identified in court as Mary Sheiler, in 2005. Occasionally, the woman would mail packages to his home. When one of the packages was intercepted by Montgomery's wife, she wrote back, telling Sheiler her husband's true age and saying he was married.
Barrett, whom Montgomery had mentioned in his exchanges, was drawn into the triangle after the woman contacted him online to confirm what she had been told by Montgomery's wife.
Justice Penny Wolfgang called the situation a "consequence of misuse of the Internet."

A Roundup Of The Year's Bullshit (This Is Not All)


Media Matters for America usually takes the opportunity at the end of the year to name a Misinformer of the Year, an individual or media entity who in that year has made a noteworthy "contribution" to the advancement of conservative misinformation. This year -- a year in which Don Imus was removed from his decades-long radio program following a reference to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" (Imus returned to the air in December) -- Media Matters has decided to change the focus of the year-end item. The Imus controversy resulted in intense media attention to the subject of speech concerning race and gender. At the time, Media Matters thought it necessary to remind the media that "It's not just Imus" -- that speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity permeates the airwaves, through personalities including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage. But offensive and degrading speech is not limited to conservative media personalities and "shock jocks," although they are, of course, well-represented on any such list. As Media Matters has documented throughout this year, speech that targets or casts in a negative light race, gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation can be found throughout the media, and it often bears directly on politics and policy. That speech has earned the title of Misinformation of the Year 2007.

Race or national origin

  • Fox News host John Gibson, discussing events surrounding the so-called Jena Six during the September 21 broadcast of his nationally syndicated Fox News Radio show, asserted that the demonstrators who had gathered the previous week in Jena, Louisiana, "wanna fight the white devil." Gibson aired news coverage of the Jena 6 protests and challenged protestors' claims that the incidents in Jena were representative of ongoing racism in this country. He said: "[W]hat they're worried about is a mirage of 1950s-style American segregation, racism from the South. They wanna fight the white devil. ... [T]here's no -- can't go fight the black devil. Black devils stalking their streets every night gunning down their own people -- can't go fight that. That would be snitchin'."

    Gibson also stated during the October 10 broadcast of his radio show, while discussing an incident in which a student shot four people at his Cleveland high school before killing himself, that "I know the shooter was white. I knew it as soon as he shot himself. Hip-hoppers don't do that. They shoot and move on to shoot again."
  • Nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage claimed on Martin Luther King Day (January 15) that "civil rights" has become a "con" and asserted, "It's a racket that is used to exploit primarily heterosexual, Christian, white males' birthright and steal from them what is their birthright and give it to people who didn't qualify for it."
  • On the February 7 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club, host Pat Robertson said that people who have received too much plastic surgery "got the eyes like they're Oriental" while he put his fingers up to the side of his face.
  • Discussing a dinner with Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem restaurant Sylvia's, during the September 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Bill O'Reilly stated that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Later, during a discussion with National Public Radio senior correspondent and Fox News contributor Juan Williams about the effect of rap on culture, O'Reilly said: "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, I mean, everybody was -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense of people were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all." O'Reilly also stated: "I think black Americans are starting to think more and more for themselves. They're getting away from the Sharptons and the [Rev. Jesse] Jacksons and the people trying to lead them into a race-based culture. They're just trying to figure it out. 'Look, I can make it. If I work hard and get educated, I can make it.'"
  • On the June 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz advocated building a "double fence along the Mexican border, and stop the damn invasion." Boortz continued: "I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. Let 'em. You know, then just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line, and somebody's gonna be a millionaire out of that."

    On the June 11 edition of his show, a caller asked, "Why can't we just load them on planes and keep on loading them until they're back?" Boortz later responded, "We're not gonna throw these people out of airplanes with taco-shaped parachutes."

    During his June 21 show, Boortz offered a suggestion he said he got from a listener's email: "When we defeat this illegal alien amnesty bill, and when we yank out the welcome mat, and they all start going back to Mexico, as a going away gift let's all give them a box of nuclear waste." Boortz continued: "Give 'em all a little nuclear waste and let 'em take it on down there to Mexico. Tell 'em it can -- it'll heat tortillas."
  • In his book Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart (Thomas Dunne Books, November 2007), MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan writes that America is "on a path to national suicide" and later asks: "How is America committing suicide?" answering: "Every way a nation can." He proceeds to claim that "[t]he American majority is not reproducing itself. ... Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see." On the November 26 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Buchanan asserted: "You've got a wholesale invasion, the greatest invasion in human history, coming across your southern border, changing the composition and character of your country. You've got the melting pot that once welded us all together, which has broken down."
  • On the May 17 edition of his radio program, Savage labeled Hispanic advocacy group the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) "the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people." Savage also said of NCLR, "This is the most stone racist group I've ever seen in this country!" despite noting, "It's true they haven't hung anybody."
  • During his July 5 radio show, Savage discussed a hunger strike organized by five students in the San Francisco area to show their support for The DREAM Act, a provision of the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill that was blocked in the Senate on June 28 (S.1639). The DREAM (or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act would provide a pathway to citizenship and other benefits for certain illegal immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16 if they graduate from high school and enroll in either college or the military. In discussing the students, Savage stated: "I would say, let them fast until they starve to death then that solves the problem. Because then we won't have a problem about giving them green cards because they're illegal aliens, they don't belong here to begin with." The DREAM Act was later brought up in the Senate as a stand-alone bill (S.2205). That bill was also blocked.
  • On the January 16 broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly agreed with a caller's assertion that illegal immigrants "bring corrupting influences" to the United States, including "a third-world value system" that "can corrupt the education system." O'Reilly replied: "Absolutely. And that's why the dropout rate is so high."


  • During the December 17 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while discussing endorsements Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) received for her presidential campaign, host Chris Matthews claimed: "Every day I pick up the paper and there's another quote out there from somebody who's a wannabe, saying whatever the Clinton people told them to say apparently." Moments later, Matthews asked Financial Times U.S. managing editor Chrystia Freeland: "[A]ren't you appalled at the willingness of these people to become castratos in the eunuch chorus here or whatever they are?"
  • On the March 20 edition of MSNBC show, Tucker Carlson said of Hillary Clinton: "[T]here's just something about her that feels castrating, overbearing, and scary." Carlson has also said: "[W]hen she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs."
  • Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh repeatedly used the expression "testicle lockbox," suggesting that Clinton has one.
  • On the March 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck said: "Hillary Clinton cannot be elected president because ... there's something about her vocal range." He went on to say, "There's something about her voice that just drives me -- it's not what she says, it's how she says it," adding, "She is like the stereotypical -- excuse the expression, but this is the way to -- she's the stereotypical bitch, you know what I mean?" Beck also asked: "[A]fter four years, don't you think every man in America will go insane?" and pleaded, "I'm sorry for being such a pig. But please, America. Please. I don't think I could do it for four years. I mean, sure the country is going to go to hell in a handbasket, but could we make this about me for a second? I just don't think I could take it from her." He also said that "there is a range in women's voices that experts say is just the chalk, I mean, the fingernails on the blackboard."
  • On November 12, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) fielded a question from a woman who asked, "How do we beat the bitch?" On the November 14 edition of CNN's American Morning, during a discussion with co-anchor Kiran Chetry about McCain's response to the question, Politico chief political correspondent Mike Allen said, "[W]hat Republican voter hasn't thought that? What voter in general hasn't thought that?"
  • On the October 15 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, Carlson asserted that "the Clinton campaign says: 'Hillary isn't running as a woman.' ...Well, that's actually completely false, considering the Hillary campaign -- and I get their emails -- relentlessly pushes the glass ceiling argument. 'You should vote for her because she's a woman.' They say that all the time." Guest Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, responded: "At least call her a Vaginal-American."
  • Discussing Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) speech following her election as the nation's first female Speaker of the House, Limbaugh noted on the January 5 broadcast of his show that Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) said that, in Limbaugh's words, "his 2-year-old daughter ... is inspired by Nancy Pelosi's ascension to the speakership." Limbaugh then commented, "His 2-year-old can't possibly know who Pelosi is other than as a cartoon figure on television. Maybe Pelosi breastfed him, I don't know, when the kid was pregnant. Who knows? She's capable of doing everything else." Limbaugh later added: "[L]ook at Ms. Pelosi. Why, she can multitask. She can breastfeed, she can clip her toenails, she can direct the House, all while the kids are sitting on her lap at the same time."
  • On the December 12 broadcast of his radio show, Savage referred to Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Pelosi as "yentas," said Harman should "[g]o home and cook verenikis," and suggested that the three were in office because they "have rich husbands who put them in power with their money, so they could have a little hobby in between getting their nails done." Savage later asked his "board operator" if he would rather "be waterboarded for 30 seconds or eat Jane Harman's ravioli" and whether he'd rather "be waterboarded or eat Nancy Pelosi's tortellini."


False attacks on Obama

  • On January 17, the conservative online news magazine published an article headlined "Hillary's team has questions about Obama's Muslim background." The article alleged that "researchers" connected to Clinton's campaign had "discovered" that Obama "was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia," and "spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia." The article cited only unnamed "[s]ources close to the background check" on Obama. The story was quickly debunked by CNN and others, who found that the Indonesian school Obama attended as a child was not a "madrassa," and that claims of Obama's "Muslim background" were based largely on incomplete and inaccurate reporting. After investigating these claims, the Chicago Tribune reported that "Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia." Moreover, as ABC News chief political correspondent Jake Tapper noted in a January 25 post, the allegation that the Clinton campaign was behind the Obama smear was a "charge that remains unproven and unsubstantiated." Despite the Insight article's thin sourcing and the fact that it was quickly debunked, the article became a flash point for a smear against Obama that has persisted in the media.
  • On January 23, KSFO Morning Show hosts Melanie Morgan and Lee Rodgers repeated the accusation that "researchers connected to" Clinton have said that Obama "spent at least four years in a so-called madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia." Rodgers stated that Obama "went to a Muslim school, a madrassa they call it ... those things are funded by Saudi Arabia," adding, "It's basically a school for terrorists." Morgan noted that there was "controversy" surrounding the story, but that "Insight magazine is standing by its story," and also charged that the story came from the presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC).
  • On the June 25 broadcast of his radio show, Savage said that Obama was "indoctrinated" by a "Muslim madrassa in Indonesia."
  • In the April 12 edition of her "Notebook" video blog, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asked, "Is America ready to elect a president who grew up praying in a mosque?" and proceeded to repeat debunked rumors surrounding Obama's childhood years in Indonesia. Couric claimed that Obama's "background sparked rumors that he had studied at a radical madrassa, or Quranic school -- rumors his campaign denied, declaring that Obama is now a practicing Christian." But Couric did not note in her initial posting that the rumors had been debunked. Couric's "Notebook" was later updated to note that the madrassa "rumors [were] later disproved" and that the source for the claim that Obama "grew up praying in a mosque" later backed off that assertion.

Smearing Obama's church

  • During the "Obameter" segment on the February 7 edition of MSNBC's Tucker, Carlson claimed the church "sounds separatist to me" and "contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity," a subject Carlson said he was "actually qualified to discuss." Carlson pointed to the "disavowal of the pursuit of 'middleclassness' " in the church's tenets, calling the church's mission a "racially exclusive theology" and "a theology that ministers to one group of people, based on race." Carlson claimed that Trinity's theology is "racially exclusive" and "wrong," adding that "it's hard to call that Christianity."
  • On the February 28 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity stated that "many" call Trinity "separatist," adding that "in some cases, even drawing comparisons to a cult." Guest Erik Rush, a columnist for the conservative website WorldNetDaily, said that the church's "scary doctrine" is "something that you'd see in more like a cult or an Aryan Brethren Church or something like that." Hannity has also repeatedly accused Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright -- Trinity's pastor -- of holding "these black-separatist views, about the Black Value System" without mentioning Wright's explicit denial on the March 1 edition of Hannity & Colmes that his church embraces separatism. And on the December 19 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity said: "You know, Barack Obama's pastor... has this whole list of the Black Value System. It seems like he's supporting a segregated church."

Coulter's comments about Jews

  • During the October 8 edition of CNBC's The Big Idea, host Donny Deutsch asked right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: "If you had your way ... and your dreams, which are genuine, came true ... what would this country look like?" Coulter responded, "It would look like New York City during the [2004] Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven is going to look like." She described the convention as follows: "People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America." Deutsch then asked, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" to which Coulter responded, "Yes." Later in the discussion, Deutsch said to her: "[Y]ou said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians," and Coulter again replied, "Yes." When pressed by Deutsch regarding whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws."

    After a commercial break, Deutsch said that "Ann said she wanted to explain her last comment," and asked her, "So you don't think that was offensive?" Coulter responded: "No. I'm sorry. It is not intended to be. I don't think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans for not being able to live up to all the laws. What Christians believe -- this is just a statement of what the New Testament is -- is that that's why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don't believe our testament." Coulter later said: "We consider ourselves perfected Christians. For me to say that for you to become a Christian is to become a perfected Christian is not offensive at all."

Attacks on Islam or Muslims

  • On the March 14 edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto, Richard "Bo" Dietl, a private investigator and former New York City Police Department detective, discussed a lawsuit filed by six imams who were removed from a US Airways flight in 2006 and suggested that instead of flying, passengers such as the aforementioned imams should "call their cousin up there, Ali Baba Boo, and go by cab."
  • On the June 12 edition of The 700 Club, following a report on Muslims in Minneapolis seeking religious accommodations at school and work, Robertson stated, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have to recognize that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world. And it is meant to subjugate all people under Islamic law." He characterized the American Muslim community as "Islam light" and went on to say Muslims "want to take over and we want to impose Sharia on you. And before long, ladies are going to be dressed in burqas and whatever garments they would put on them, and next thing you know, men are going to be allowed to have wife-beating and you'll be beheading adulterers and so on and so forth."
  • On the October 4 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Beck hosted Sharida McKenzie, a Muslim American who had recently organized the Muslim Peace March, to discuss a report that a Toronto mosque's website "says that Muslims should stay completely away from Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, anniversaries, birthdays, and Earth Day." During the discussion, Beck asked: "But how do we know the difference -- I mean, you're reasonable. How do we know the difference between you and those that are trying to kill us?"

Sexual identity or orientation

  • During a March 2 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Coulter said she "can't really talk about" Democratic presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (NC) because "you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot' " -- a comment that drew loud applause from the CPAC audience. Then on the March 6 broadcast of Hannity's nationally syndicated radio show, Coulter defended her comment, explaining: "I don't think there's anything offensive about any variation of faggy, faggotry, faggot, fag. It's a schoolyard taunt. It means -- it means wussy." She went on to conclude that "faggot" is a "totally excellent word."
  • In 2007, Savage claimed that same-sex marriage "makes me want to puke" and that same-sex parenting is "child abuse"; blamed sexual reassignment surgery for the Columbine massacre; pointed to sexual reassignment surgery and lesbian fertility clinics in claiming that the September 11 terrorist attacks "was God speaking"; referred to Media Matters as "a gay smear sheet," the "homosexual mafia," and the "gay Mafioso"; and declared that a "loving, kind lesbian" is "the type that stuffed ovens in Hitler's concentration camps."
  • On the July 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly objected to the San Diego Padres' decision to host a gay pride night and a children's hat giveaway promotion during the same July 8 baseball game, claiming that "cluster[ing]" gays near children is "insane" and "inappropriate." After a viewer challenged him by noting that "kids are around gays every day, O'Reilly elaborated on his position on the July 12 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, saying that "thousands" of gays in one place "can be confusing to children."
  • In an August 21 post on his blog, Christian Broadcasting Network senior national correspondent David Brody addressed a federal complaint filed against then-presumptive Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson by blogger Lane Hudson, writing: "Well, now Fred Thompson has an angry girlfriend. His name (don't go there) is Lane Hudson." Since then, Brody had appeared three times on NBC's Meet the Press and four times on MSNBC's Hardball to discuss the 2008 presidential race. Despite referring to a male blogger as Thompson's "angry girlfriend," Brody was invited to appear on the September 9 broadcast of Meet the Press to discuss the election.

This Is A Picture Of Whatever You Think It Is

And this is a photo of a leading GOP candidate getting ready to... well, you can imagine.... (To me, the sign is a sign.)

How We Tried To Win Hearts And Minds In Iraq

The Abu Ghraib story.

The Secret Life Of Santy

Is this worth dying for in the war against Xmas?

Accept Jesus To Defend Your Country

For US Army soldiers entering basic training at Fort Jackson Army base in Columbia, South Carolina, accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior appears to be as much a part of the nine-week regimen as the vigorous physical and mental exercises the troops must endure.

That's the message directed at Fort Jackson soldiers, some of whom appear in photographs in government issued fatigues, holding rifles in one hand, and Bibles in their other hand.

Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, has been telling soldiers at Fort Jackson that "government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers,"

Bussey's teachings from the "God's Basic Training" Bible study guide he authored says US troops have "two primary responsibilities": "to praise those who do right" and "to punish those who do evil - "God's servant, an angel of wrath." Bussey's teachings directed at Fort Jackson soldiers were housed on the Military Ministry at Fort Jackson web site. Late Wednesday, the web site was taken down without explanation. Bussey did not return calls for comment. The web site text, however, can still be viewed in an archived format.

The Christian right has been successful in spreading its fundamentalist agenda at US military installations around the world for decades. But the movement's meteoric rise in the US military came in large part after 9/11 and immediately after the US invaded Iraq in March of 2003. At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, soldiers on the battlefield have told disturbing stories of being force-fed fundamentalist Christianity by highly controversial, apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists, who have infiltrated US military installations throughout the world with the blessing of high-level officials at the Pentagon. Proselytizing among military personnel has been conducted openly, in violation of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution.

Perhaps no other fundamentalist Christian group is more influential than Military Ministry, a national organization and a subsidiary of the controversial fundamentalist Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ. Military Ministry's national web site boasts it has successfully "targeted" basic training installations, or "gateways," and has successfully converted thousands of soldiers to evangelical Christianity.

Military Ministry says its staffers are responsible for "working with Chaplains and Military personnel to bring lost soldiers closer to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out into the world as Government paid missionaries" - which appears to be a clear-cut violation of federal law governing the separation of church and state.

"Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways," the group has stated on its web site. "The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the 'good news.' We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB [Air Force base] and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals."

Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the government watchdog organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, whose group has been closely tracking Military Ministry's activities at Fort Jackson and other military bases around the country, said in an interview that using "the machinery of the state" to promote any form of religion is "not only unconstitutional and un-American but it also creates a national security threat of the first order."

A six-month investigation by MRFF has found Military Ministry's staff has successfully targeted US soldiers entering basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston, with the approval of the Army base's top commanders.

"I've said it before and I will say it again," Weinstein said. "We are in the process of creating a fundamentalist Christian Taliban and somebody has to do something to stop it now."

Weinstein points out that on Fort Jackson's Military Ministry web site, the basic training battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Snodgrass, and the battalion's chaplain, Maj. Scott Bullock, who appear in uniform in a photograph with Bussey, is a clear-cut violation of Military rules. MRFF contacted Bussey via email on Wednesday to request information about the "similar programs" he claimed Fort Jackson has for soldiers of other faiths. Bussey, responding to MRFF via email, did not provide an answer to the watchdog group's question, but, instead, he fired back a query of his own asking MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda to direct him to the place in the Constitution where it states there is a "separation of church and state."

Clause 3, Article VI of the Constitution forbids a religion test for any position in the federal government, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights says Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion.

A spokesperson for the Fort Jackson Army base did not return calls for comment. Earlier this week, after MRFF exposed the potential constitutional violations between Military Ministry and the Fort Jackson Army base, Bussey added language to Military Ministry at Fort Jackson web site in the form of a "notice to MRFF and ACLU types" in bold red letters that says the Bible study classes are strictly voluntary, not command directed in any way, allows soldiers to exercise for themselves the right of freedom of religion ... and similar programs exist on Fort Jackson for Soldiers of all faiths."

In July, the Pentagon's inspector general (IG) responded to a complaint filed a year earlier by MRFF that accused Pentagon officials of violating the federal law governing the separation of church and state. The IG did not address the church/state issue, but he issued a 45-page report admonishing several high-level Pentagon officials for participating, while in uniform and on active duty, in a promotional video sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ's Christian Embassy group. The IG report quoted one high-ranking military official as saying he believed his participation in the video was acceptable because Campus Crusade for Christ had become so embedded in the Pentagon's day-to-day operations that he viewed the organization as a "quasi federal entity."

The IG report recommended the military officials who appeared in the video be disciplined, but the Pentagon would not say whether it has in fact punished the military officers who appeared in the video.

MRFF uncovered another recent Campus Crusade for Christ promotional video filmed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that would appear to violate the same military rules detailed in the IG report. Cadets and academy officials appear in uniform discussing how Campus Crusade for Christ helped strengthen their bonds with Jesus.

Scot Blom, the Campus Crusade for Christ director assigned to work at the Air Force Academy, says in the video the organization "has always been very intentional about going after the leaders or the future leaders" and that's why Campus Crusade for Christ picked the Air Force Academy to spread its fundamentalist Christian message. Every week, according to the video, cadets are encouraged to participate in a Bible study class called "cru" short for "crusade."

"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world," Blom says in the video. "They're government paid missionaries when they leave here."

Weinstein said the recent promotional video for Campus Crusade for Christ, and the photograph of US soldiers holding Bibles in one hand and rifles in the other posted on the Fort Jackson Military Ministry web site, gives the impression the Pentagon endorses the fundamentalist Christian organization and underscores that the occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan appears to be more of a modern-day fundamentalist Christian crusade. That message, Weinstein said, could lead to more "jihads" against the United States.

Indeed. Weinstein, a former White House counsel during the Reagan administration, former general counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and a former Air Force Judge Advocate General, said he had an "unexpected" telephone conversation with several senior Bush administration intelligence officials this week who encouraged him "to continue to fight for the separation of church and state in the US military" because, these senior administration intelligence officials told Weinstein, US troops are being put in harms way.

Weinstein said the senior administration intelligence officials told him they too have been tracking Islamic web sites where people have been discussing on message boards the fundamental Christianity issues Weinstein has raised within the US military. The intelligence officials told Weinstein they are concerned the fundamentalist Christian agenda surfacing in the military could lead to attacks against US soldiers. Weinstein said he could not identify the senior Bush intelligence administration officials he spoke with because they contacted him with the understanding they would not be named.

Fundamental Christianity's Influence on the Bush Administration

While Weinstein has worked tirelessly the past four years exposing the Christian Right's power grab within the military, he says the White House continues to thumb its nose at the constitutional provision mandating the separation of church and state.

Indeed. This week a US District Court judge ruled the White House must disclose its visitor logs showing White House visits by nine fundamentalist Christian leaders.

The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and could very well show how much influence fundamental Christian leaders such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer and Moral Majority co-founder Jerry Falwell have had on the Bush's administration.

"We think that these conservative Christian leaders have had a very big impact," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. "The White House doesn't want to talk about how much influence these leaders have, and we want to talk about how much they do have."

Bush has been vocal about his fundamentalist Christian beliefs and how God has helped him during his presidency. A couple of weeks ago, the White House sent out Christmas cards signed by President Bush and his wife Laura that contained a Biblical passage from the Old Testament:

"You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you."
The inclusion of the Biblical passage caught the attention of longtime broadcaster Barbara Walters, who was a recipient of the presidential Christmas card.

Walters said she doesn't recall receiving "religious" holiday cards from past presidents and she wondered how non-Christians would receive such an overtly religious greeting.

"Usually in the past when I have received a Christmas card, it's been 'Happy Holidays' and so on," said Walters. "Don't you think it's a little interesting that the president of all the people is sending out a religious Christmas card? Does this also go to agnostics, and atheists, and Muslims?"

The Biblical passage inside the Christmas card did not amount to a constitutional violation because it was paid for by the Republican National Committee, but Weinstein said it's intolerable, nonetheless, because military officials believe they have the approval of the White House to allow fundamentalist Christian organizations and their leaders to proselytize in the military.

Recently, Bush nominated Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson, the deputy Air Force Chief of Chaplains, to replace the outgoing Air Force Chief of Chaplains, and is in line to be promoted to Major General. Richardson was quoted in a front-page, July 12, 2005, New York Times story saying the Air Force reserves the right "to evangelize the unchurched." The distinction, Richardson said at the time, "is that proselytizing is trying to convert someone in an aggressive way, while evangelizing is more gently sharing the gospel."

Weinstein filed a federal lawsuit against the Air Force in October 2005 after Richardson's comments were published alleging "severe, systemic and pervasive" religious discrimination within the Air Force. Weinstein is a 1977 graduate of the Academy. His sons and a daughter in law are also academy graduates. Weinstein's book, "With God On Our Side: One Man's War Against An Evangelical Coup in America's Military," details the virulent anti-Semitism he was subjected to while he attended the academy and the religious intolerance that has permeated throughout the halls over the past several years.

The federal lawsuit Weinstein filed was dismissed, but the Air Force agreed to withdraw a document that authorized chaplains to evangelize members of the military. Still, Weinstein said MRFF would lobby senators to oppose Richardson's nomination because of his past statements Richardson has refused to retract.

"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation will do everything in our power to convince the United States Senate to reject the nomination of Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson to become the chief of Air Force chaplains and his promotion to the rank of major general," Weinstein said in an interview. "We view Richardson as the prototypical poster child of the type of constitutional rapist we are trying to eradicate from existence within the US military."

In September, MRFF filed a lawsuit in federal court against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and US Army Maj. Freddy Welborn, on behalf of an Army soldier stationed in Iraq. The complaint filed in US District Court in Kansas City alleges that Jeremy Hall's an Army specialist currently on active duty in Combat Operations Base Speicher, Iraq, First Amendment rights were violated when Welborn threatened to retaliate against Hall and block his reenlistment in the Army because of Hall's atheist beliefs.

"When You Join the Military, Then You Are Also in the Ministry"

The executive director of Military Ministry, retired US Army Major General Bob Dees, wrote in the organization's October 2005 "Life and Leadership" newsletter, "We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation - through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens...."

Moreover, Military Ministry's parent organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, has been re-distributing to military chaplains a DVD produced a decade ago where Tommy Nelson, a pastor at the Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas, tells an audience of Texas A&M cadets and military officers when they join the military "then you are also in the ministry."

"I, a number of years ago, was speaking at the University of North Texas - it happens to be my alma mater, up in Denton, Texas - and I was speaking to an ROTC group up there, and when I stepped in I said, "It's good to be speaking to all you men and women who are in the ministry," and they all kind of looked at me, and I think they wondered if maybe I had found the wrong room, or if they were in the wrong room, and I assured them that I was speaking to men and women in the ministry, these that were going to be future officers," Nelson says in the DVD.

The Army Discovers A Simple Way To Strengthen Its Newtork Security: Get A Mac

For real. Link.

Economic Analysis

Bill Gross, founder of Pimco, one of the world's largest fixed-income managers, sounded a downbeat note on the US economy by saying it had gone into recession.

"If I had to be bold I'd say we began a recession in December," he said in a Financial Times interview, in which he called on the Federal Reserve to bring interest rates down to 3 per cent. The recession would last "four to five months", he thought, but would be prolonged if the administration and Congress failed to "take some rather unperceived and unforecasted measures in terms of fiscal stimulation".

Mr Gross, whose company has $750bn of assets under management, was critical of US attempts to stabilise credit markets, describing the "Super Siv" and plans to freeze mortgage teaser rates as a "temporary fix".

He said: "What needs to be done is something fairly radical compared to Republican orthodoxy, which means spend money and absorb the deficit as opposed to pretending that you're fiscally conservative."

He was highly critical of the complicated financial instruments that have exacerbated the credit squeeze, saying the trend of over-leverage was a "dying concept" that would "lead to an implosion at the edges . . . of this new financial marketplace".

He also had stern words for hedge funds, describing them as a "con". A hedge fund, he said, was "an unregulated bank. A bank isn't a con but a bank is a regulated entity. A hedge fund is not . . . it's been a con on the government in terms of their unwillingness to regulate the industry."

Mr Gross founded Pimco in Newport Beach in 1971, building it into a powerful bond manager that continues to operate from southern California. With California one of the first places to feel the effects of the subprime crisis, Mr Gross said, the company's location alerted him early to the danger that has since wreaked havoc in world markets.

Pimco switched out of mortgage-backed securities in 2006 and for the first half of 2007 fell behind its competitors. However, in the second half it has out-performed the market as Wall Street has racked up billions of dollars in subprime losses.

He said: "I think we had the strategy correct for a good 12 months. It's just that the markets and the economy didn't come our way until the last six."

How The World Works

War Room:
When Al Gore didn't say that he'd invented the Internet, when he didn't claim that he was a model for "Love Story" and didn't insist that he was the first to discover Love Canal, the mainstream media pilloried him as a puffer, a liar and a serial exaggerator. It still's happening, actually: Just last month, "Hardball's" Chris Matthews cited all the old false stories about Gore's not-false stories to declare that the former vice president had brought his troubles on himself by "vanity and showing off and trying to make himself cool."

Good morning, Gov. Romney!

When he could have been trying to make up ground lost to Mike Huckabee in Iowa or fending off a challenge from John McCain in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney spent a chunk of his day Thursday explaining that "saw" doesn't actually mean "saw."

In his carefully crafted "Faith in America" speech -- the one the campaign portrayed him as working on so diligently -- Romney declared: "I saw my father march with Martin Luther King Jr." But as the Boston Phoenix reported Thursday, there's "no evidence" that the elder Romney actually marched with King; the Romney campaign has relied on a 1967 book in which David Broder says that Romney's father "marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit," but the Grosse Pointe Historical Society says King never marched in Grosse Pointe. And even if he did -- and even if Romney's father marched with him there -- it's now clear that the younger Romney did not, in fact, see it happen.

Romney acknowledged as much Thursday even as he insisted that he was right to say that he "saw" it himself. "I 'saw' him in the figurative sense," Romney said at a press conference. "The reference of seeing my father lead in civil rights and seeing my father march with Martin Luther King is in the sense of this figurative awareness of and recognition of his leadership."

Romney said he'd "tried be as accurate as I can be," then added: "If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes 'being aware of' -- in the sense I've described."

"I'm an English literature major," he said. "When we say, 'I saw the Patriots win the World Series,' it doesn't necessarily mean you were there."

He's right on that one, of course: If you said you saw the Patriots -- a professional football team -- win the World Series -- the championship for Major League Baseball -- then you almost certainly weren't there.

The Martin Luther King claim isn't the first time Romney has been caught making the kind of exaggerated claims that Gore didn't make.

At a campaign event earlier this year in New Hampshire, Romney told a fellow in an NRA cap, "I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." When challenged, his campaign said that Romney had gone hunting just twice -- once when he was 15 and once last year, when he shot at quail on an outing with GOP campaign contributors. Romney subsequently argued that he'd done more than that: "I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter," he said. "Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times."

Guns got Romney in more trouble this past weekend, when he appeared on "Meet the Press" and cited -- as proof of his gun-rights bona fides -- "the fact that" he had "received the endorsement of the NRA" as governor of Massachusetts. That fact wasn't a fact: As Romney spokesman Kevin Madden later had to acknowledge, the NRA did not endorse anyone in the 2002 gubernatorial race. As Romney did with the Martin Luther King claim, Madden was forced to argue for the figurative truth of the candidate's literal boast, saying Romney had received a "very respectable B grade rating from the NRA." That's true as far as it goes. What else is true: His opponent got an A.

E-Voting Bombs In Arizona

Now four states find e-voting is inadequate.


Making Us Saafer By Turning Our Military Into Missionaries

A video made by Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian ministry group, shows Air Force Academy cadets being pressured to participate in religious activities and become "government paid missionaries when they leave."

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which released the video this week, says the video is "absolutely out of control."

"You cannot engage the U.S. government to propel your religion," said Weinstein.

The video, filmed in the summer of 2002, opens with tranquil shots of "Colorado's most frequently visited man-made attraction." The unnamed narrator describes the chapel in detail, which "resembles a formation of fighter jets shooting into the sky."

While the narrator says that students receive a "well-rounded education" at the Academy, the video focuses mainly on how stressful the environment is and not so subtly suggests that cadets can find solace in religion.

"I do a lot of counseling ... like any other college campus, there are a variety of needs that arise... spiritually and emotionally," says Major John Dider, who "considers himself a chaplain first."

"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world," says Scott Blum, the former Academy Campus Crusade for Christ director, who had no previous military experience but -- according to the video -- always "knew that God called him to invest in the lives of military men and women."

As a Church choir sings in the background, the video's narrator asserts that "each year, cadets are recognizing God's call which will make an impact in the present ... and for eternity."

Weinstein says the video is only one item on a "long menu" of unconstitutional evangelism going on in the military. The MRFF compiled a six month investigative report in 2007 on the Christian group, focusing on the group's Fort Jackson "God Basic Training" that they allege teaches the recruits that "when you join the military, you've really joined the ministry."
The video is here. But this may be it:

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Liar And A Thief

When a mayor of New York leaves office, little goes out the door but memories — unless he's Rudy Giuliani. Government rules discourage the city's most powerful officeholder from departing with more than token gifts collected on the job.

Ed Koch, mayor from 1978 to 1989, recalls keeping some neckties. His successor, David Dinkins, walked away with knickknacks from his desk, including a crystal tennis ball and a collection of photographs documenting his meetings with celebrities and business icons.

When Giuliani stepped down, he needed a warehouse.

Under an unprecedented agreement that didn't become public until after he left office, Giuliani secreted out of City Hall the written, photographic and electronic record of his eight years in office — more than 2,000 boxes.

Along with his own files, the trove included the official records of Giuliani's deputy mayors, his chief of staff, his travel office and Gracie Mansion — the mayor's residence that became a legal battlefront during his caustic divorce.

The mayor made famous — and very wealthy — in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has long described his City Hall as an open book.

In a Republican presidential candidates' debate last week, Giuliani asserted: "My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. ... I can't think of a public figure that's had a more transparent life than I've had."

But the public record, as reviewed by The Associated Press, shows a City Hall that had a reputation of resistance — even hostility — toward open government, the First Amendment and the public's access to simple facts and figures.

"He ran a government as closed as he could make it," said attorney Floyd Abrams, a widely recognized First Amendment authority who faced off against city lawyers when Giuliani sought to shut the Brooklyn Museum of Art because the mayor considered a painting sacrilegious.

Giuliani's decision to commandeer his historical records in late 2001, as he prepared to leave office, was just one of many episodes during his term, both in and out of the courtroom, that demonstrate his efforts to control, withhold or massage information to advance his agenda and hobble critics.

The litany of questions Giuliani has faced in recent weeks about undisclosed business clients and furtive billing practices for police security during trysts with then-girlfriend Judith Nathan are reminiscent of the dozens of lawsuits filed by news organizations to obtain public records, of the numerous state Freedom of Information Law requests that nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless were forced to file, of access to City Hall steps denied to protesters.

At times, the number of working water fountains in city parks was hard to ascertain without making a formal request. Under Giuliani, it became more difficult to determine the number of complaints filed against the city's home care program, the number of firearms discharged by police and the number of inspectors in the housing and buildings departments. Even details about the city's recycling program were hard to come by.

In a statement issued through the campaign, former Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro said Giuliani "ran an open and transparent administration," made himself available to the press daily, frequently participated in town hall meetings and released information about city services and the budget on a regular basis.

"Indeed, there was probably no elected official in this country who made himself as available to the press and public as Rudy Giuliani did when he was mayor of New York City," Mastro said. "Nitpicking aside, Rudy Giuliani ran a government based on the need for openness and transparency. These are basic principles Rudy will govern by and enforce from the top down as president of the United States."

Since 9/11, Giuliani has frequently cited security concerns as a rationale for secrecy. But history shows that he operated a secretive administration long before the jetliners knifed into the World Trade Center towers.

"Mayor Giuliani was in many respects a good mayor, but in regard to First Amendment-related matters, he is surely the worst in living memory," Abrams said in an interview.

More than two dozen lawsuits were filed during Giuliani's mayoralty accusing his administration of stifling free speech or blocking access to public records. The city lost most of the lawsuits, including fights against the state comptroller, the city public advocate and the city's Independent Budget Office. Giuliani often blamed such battles on political enemies.

In his time in office, determining how many police were on the beat became more difficult to ascertain. Critics of the mayor were sometimes denied use of public property to hold events.

Advocacy and oversight groups long accustomed to easily obtaining information about city services and finances — the Citizens Budget Commission and the Women's City Club among them — were required to file freedom of information requests for documents, often resulting in months of delays and added legal costs.

In a slap at Giuliani's City Hall, a judge in one such case wrote bluntly, "The law provides for maximum access, not maximum withholding."

Attorney Eve Burton, who represented the New York Daily News during much of the Giuliani era, said the newspaper submitted more than 100 filings in six years related to information or access requests, appeals or lawsuits involving the administration. In one case, she said, the city refused to turn over the names of people who held gun permits — unquestionably public information — until threatened with a lawsuit.

"It is an unblemished record for secrecy," said Burton, now general counsel at the Hearst Corp.

Giuliani depicted himself as a round-the-clock mayor, but his whereabouts were often fiercely shielded by his staff, particularly in the later years of his mayoralty when he was cheating on his wife with Nathan, using decoy vehicles and surrounding himself with a Secret Service-esque security team that traveled in a caravans of SUVs.

His personal life became a public riddle. In mid-2001, Giuliani fled the mayor's residence and began bunking with friends, a gay couple — an arrangement eventually disclosed by the Daily News.

In May 2001, in the midst of the mayor's divorce proceedings, one of Giuliani's top lawyers seized from a city library a document with blueprints to Gracie Mansion and blocked access to another copy. At the time, the mayor and his wife were arguing in court over whether Nathan should be barred from the official residence. Giuliani's office said the blueprints could pose a danger in the wrong hands, but the Police Department later ruled that the document was no security threat and it was placed back in public circulation.

In the name of heightened security, Giuliani all but cut off public access to the steps of City Hall, long a civic soapbox. New security cameras scanned anyone entering or leaving the building and kept watch on the grounds. Rules were eased somewhat after a judge found that the city had unfairly restricted access.

When Village Voice reporter Tom Robbins sought expense records for a city housing agency headed by the son of one of Giuliani's closest political advisers, he was told they had been lost. Finally released to the Voice more than a year later, after Giuliani left office, the documents led to an investigation that ended with the guilty plea of Russell Harding, who embezzled more than $400,000 in city funds to finance a personal spending spree and download child pornography onto his computer.

AIDS demonstrators were forced to hold a City Hall protest in a steel pen, as police sharpshooters patrolled the roof, an NYPD helicopter thumped overhead, and dozens of police kept watch on foot and motorcycles. Giuliani called the extraordinary security justified.

Giuliani's spiriting away of his mayoral records was particularly grating to many.

The traditional home of mayoral records dating to the mid-19th century is New York's municipal archives, a public storehouse where documents are sorted and indexed for the benefit of posterity.

But in a break from predecessors, and some argue the law, Giuliani in his final days in office shipped more than 2,000 boxes of correspondence, appointment books, audiotapes, e-mails, telephone logs, briefing memos, private schedules and thousands of videotapes and photos to a storage facility in Queens.

The materials were placed in the custody of a private, nonprofit group allied with Giuliani, under an agreement between the city and the Rudolph W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs, which, at the time, had no board and no permanent site.

After the arrangement became public, Giuliani promised that once the records were placed in the hands of a private archivist, they would be "more accessible rather than less." In fact, some records from prior mayors remain uncataloged in boxes, in large part because no other mayor has financed a private effort to catalog the materials.

But his assurances did little to ease the anxiety of historians and open-government advocates who wondered if his goal was to reshape — rather than protect — history.

Or worse, erase it — especially with a run for the presidency looming.

The records "were the property of the city. They were not his to take," said Robert Freeman, one of the most widely respected advocates for open government in the country, who heads New York State's Committee on Open Government.

Over time, the records were microfilmed and returned to the city archives. Giuliani aides have bristled at suggestions that documents were withheld, scrubbed of embarrassing details or destroyed.

But "there will always be questions," Freeman added.

The administration of Giuliani's successor, Michael Bloomberg, is confident the records were returned. City archivists echo that assessment but, when questioned, acknowledge the situation is less than definitive.

When asked if everything that left City Hall with the mayor had been returned, archives director Leonora Gidlund said, "That's not a question I can answer. I wasn't physically there."

In 2003, New York City enacted a law forbidding sitting mayors from hiring private firms to archive their papers.


Mitt The Liar

Of course, the winning GOP candidate must be able to tell the biggest, most outrageous lie (well, and be unwilling to run against eight years of patently failed policies).

Earlier this month, in a speech defending the racist, uhm, quirks of his proud but secret religion, Mitt Romney declared:

"I saw my father march with Martin Luther King."
So, well, that's that. Except, according to a report in the Boston Phoenix, it turns out that depends on what your definition of "saw" is. And "march." And "with." And "Martin Luther King."

Because it never happened.

"A spokesperson for Mitt Romney now tells the Phoenix that George W. Romney and Martin Luther King Jr. marched together in June, 1963 -- although possibly not on the same day or in the same city."

... Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom suggests that these two were part of the same "series" of events, co-sponsored by King and the NAACP, and is thus consistent with Romney's claim that 'I saw my father march with Martin Luther King.'"

Mitt, Fehrnstrom explains, was speaking "figuratively."

Although they never marched together, they did march separately. In that they were both in Michigan and ambulatory at the same time. And, by "the same time," I mean "different times."

Except, if you read the Phoenix story, George Romney didn't actually "march" anywhere. But he was present at an event. Where King was not.

And Mitt never "saw" it, because he was doing missionary work in France.


We can all agree that George Romney and Martin Luther King were both alive in June, 1963.



The Romney campaign is still looking for an event where George Romney might have marched with Martin Luther King. Romney seems to have been at King's funeral, but that doesn't count, since Baptists don't believe the dead walk and we don't know what Mormons believe. Mitt would tell you, but then he'd have to kill you, and rebaptize you against your will.

Another helpful lead from Team Mitt? The event where Mitt Romney might have seen his father marching with Dr. King and/or kissing Santa Claus occurred somewhere between 1963 and 1968.

So Mitt might not have been ministering to the French; he might have been in high school, to see it, if it happened or not, which is anybody's guess.

And a clarification from the candidate himself:

"When we say, 'I saw the Patriots win the World Series, it doesn't necessarily mean you were there -- excuse me, the Super Bowl. I saw my dad become president of American Motors. Did that mean you were there for the ceremony? No, it's a figure of speech."
It's basic etymology. When a man says: "I saw," you should know it's just an expression. For "I didn't see."

Except the American Motors comparison doesn't really work. Presumably there are pay stubs from that. Because presumably it really happened. A more precise analogy would be: "I saw my dad invent the internal combustion engine."

With Medgar Evers.

Your family might believe it. But it doesn't make it even figuratively true.

Another Threat To National Security Created By Our Leaders

Making our nation ever safer, now by weakening our defenders....
Matt Kapinos was born into the military, at a U.S. Army hospital outside Frankfurt, Germany. It was 1979, and his father was an Army officer, one of thousands of soldiers stationed along the plains of central Europe. Kapinos moved around a lot growing up-thirteen places in all, including upstate New York, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, and Korea. From his perspective, these locations all appeared pretty much the same. No matter where he lived, at 5 p.m. everyone paused as the American flag was lowered to the sound of a bugle. He attended schools run by the Defense Department, where many of the teachers were married to soldiers, and where military police chaperoned the school bus at times of heightened security. It wasn't until he was a high school junior that his family first lived "off post." His father, then a colonel, got a job at the Pentagon, and so the family moved to Springfield, Virginia. Unsurprisingly, by then Kapinos could imagine only one career for himself: he wanted to be an officer in the Army.

One spring afternoon in his senior year, Kapinos came home from track practice to find a FedEx envelope on the doorstep. It contained his acceptance to the military academy at West Point, the alma mater of great American generals going back to Ulysses S. Grant. Kapinos's father, who had also attended West Point, "tried to let me know what I was getting into, that you lose a little bit of control over your life and that the Army is not always fun and games," Kapinos recalled. "[But] my dad always pushed us to, you know, do something to contribute. I guess I wanted to do something that seeks glory, to do great things."

Kapinos thrived during his four years in New York's Hudson Valley. In particular, he loved learning the history of warfare, including twentieth-century counterinsurgencies-the French in Algeria, the British in Malaysia, the Americans in Vietnam. As a cadet, he excelled in the military training program. He was one of only six graduating students to wear six bars on his lapel and earn the title of cadet regimental commander. He graduated near the top of his class, one of the Army's most talented recruits.

A few months before September 11, 2001, Kapinos began training to jump out of a plane with a rifle and a rucksack. By then, he was a platoon leader assigned to an elite unit of paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. About forty enlisted men were placed under his command. In early 2003, they followed Kapinos aboard a C-130 plane bound for Khost, Afghanistan, a border town nestled below snow-capped peaks in a valley stretching east into Pakistan.

Kapinos was placed in charge of a "firebase," an abandoned Afghan home where he lived with his soldiers and patrolled local villages. At first, he loved the work. "I felt like this was what I'd always wanted to do," he told me. An air assault mission in the spring of 2003 was particularly exhilarating. He and his soldiers flew into a remote valley, streamed out of Black Hawk helicopters, and encircled the home of an insurgent leader who had been accused of killing a Red Cross worker. Rifles raised, they kicked in the doors and found the man, wearing a tan turban and a traditional cotton gown, and in possession of a stash of weapons and $10,000 in U.S. currency.

But from his reading of military history, Kapinos understood that fighting a counterinsurgency is about more than catching bad guys. He made an effort to build rapport with locals, even though no instructor had ever suggested that he do so. He requested medical supplies for local village leaders when no supplies had been provided. He told his soldiers to be cautious before using deadly force, and he scolded them for making derogatory remarks about the local Pashtun Muslims.

Kapinos returned to Fort Bragg in late 2003. His wife, Katherine-a smart University of Virginia graduate with career plans of her own-was relieved. They'd married the previous year and had hardly seen each other since. After a few months, they'd started to settle into married life. Then, at a holiday party for officers and their wives, a loose-lipped sergeant major revealed that the battalion was leaving for Iraq in two weeks. Matt and Katherine's first Christmas together was an anxious one.

Before boarding the plane for Iraq, Kapinos was promoted again. At the age of twenty-four, he was helping to lead a company of nearly 200 soldiers. In Iraq, he oversaw security at Camp Anaconda, one of the largest U.S. air bases in Iraq, home to tens of thousands of soldiers and contractors. From a high-tech command post, he monitored grainy video screens, spotting insurgents erecting mortar tubes and dispatching quick reaction units to kill or capture them.

Kapinos was accumulating lessons afforded few West Point graduates of recent generations-the chance to experience real war as a young lieutenant. Still, he was feeling frustrated. He worried that his superiors were slow to grasp the complex nature of counterinsurgency. In Afghanistan, he had suggested that instead of merely conducting nighttime raids, his men should camp in small villages to help local leaders root out insurgents and their sympathizers. His commanders repeatedly rejected the idea. In Iraq, he was full of similarly innovative proposals, but felt his commanders disregarded his input. "After a while, you just stop asking," he said.

Kapinos was questioning the Army's conventional wisdom at a time when it urgently needed independent thinkers. Indeed, as the Iraq and Afghanistan missions have floundered, the Army has begun to turn to unorthodox leaders who look beyond heavy artillery and tank battles. General David Petraeus is the best example of this; in the 1980s, while other ambitious career officers were stationed in Germany pointing tank brigades at the Fulda Gap, Petraeus was at Princeton studying counterinsurgencies and questioning military doctrine for his doctoral thesis, "The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era." Kapinos, who was similarly absorbed by both the practice of war and its more intellectual aspects, was rising swiftly through the ranks at the moment when the Army needed him most.

Kapinos, however, is no longer in the Army. Fifteen days after his initial five-year service agreement expired, he left military life entirely. When I met him, it was near the downtown campus of the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was taking a break from classes on corporate income tax law. Tall and fit, with close-cropped sandy brown hair and a green cable-knit sweater, he resembled both the lawyer he is preparing to be and the Army captain he once was. "I was a true believer at West Point. When Afghanistan kicked off, I don't want to say I bought the propaganda, but I wanted to change the world," he said. "I thought I was going to be a four-star general."

For several years now, we've been hearing alarming warnings about the strain that the Iraq War has placed on the military. Since the conflict began, around 40 percent of the Army and Marine Corps' large-scale equipment has been used, worn out, or destroyed. Last year, the Army had to grant waivers to nearly one in five recruits because they had criminal records. There are no more combat-ready brigades left on standby should a new conflict flare.

These problems are of vital concern, and are reasonably well understood in newsrooms and on Capitol Hill. But the top uniformed and civilian leaders at the Pentagon who think hardest about the future of the military have a more fundamental fear: young officers-people like Matt Kapinos-are leaving the Army at nearly their highest rates in decades. This is not a short-term problem, nor is it one that can simply be fixed with money. A private-sector company or another government agency can address a shortage of middle managers by hiring more middle managers. In the Army's rigid hierarchy, all officers start out at the bottom, as second lieutenants. A decline in officer retention, in other words, threatens both the Army's current missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its long-term institutional future. And though many senior Pentagon leaders are quite aware of the problem, there's only so much they can do to reverse the decline while the United States maintains large numbers of troops in Iraq.

In the last four years, the exodus of junior officers from the Army has accelerated. In 2003, around 8 percent of junior officers with between four and nine years of experience left for other careers. Last year, the attrition rate leapt to 13 percent. "A five percent change could potentially be a serious problem," said James Hosek, an expert in military retention at the RAND Corporation. Over the long term, this rate of attrition would halve the number of officers who reach their tenth year in uniform and intend to take senior leadership roles.

But the problem isn't one of numbers alone: the Army also appears to be losing its most gifted young officers. In 2005, internal Army memos started to warn of the "disproportionate loss of high-potential, high-performance junior leaders." West Point graduates are leaving at their highest rates since the 1970s (except for a few years in the early 1990s when the Army's goal was to reduce its size). Of the nearly 1,000 cadets from the class of 2002, 58 percent are no longer on active duty.

This means that there is less competition for promotions, and that less-able candidates are rising to the top. For years, Congress required the Army to promote only 70 to 80 percent of eligible officers. Under that law, the rank of major served as a useful funnel by which the Army separated out the bottom quarter of the senior officer corps. On September 14, 2001, President Bush suspended that requirement. Today, more than 98 percent of eligible captains are promoted to major. "If you breathe, you make lieutenant colonel these days," one retired colonel grumbled to me.

The dismay of senior leaders at this situation pierces through even the dry, bureaucratic language of Army memoranda. In an internal document distributed among senior commanders earlier this year, Colonel George Lockwood, the director of officer personnel management for the Army's Human Resources Command, wrote, "The Army is facing significant challenges in officer manning, now and in the immediate future." Lockwood was referring to an anticipated shortfall of about 3,000 captains and majors until at least 2013; he estimated that the Army already has only about half the senior captains that it needs. "Read the last line again, please," Lockwood wrote. "Our inventory of senior captains is only 51 percent of requirement." In response to this deficit, the Army is taking in twenty-two-year-olds as fast as it can. However, these recruits can't be expected to perform the jobs of officers who have six to eight years of experience. "New 2nd Lieutenants," Lockwood observed, "are no substitute for senior captains."

Even the pool from which the Army draws its future leaders is being diluted. Last year, the Army commissioned more officers as second lieutenants than it has since 1989, when the Pentagon was still planning for a cold war-era force nearly 50 percent larger than the current one. (The commissioning figures are partially a reflection of the Army's restructuring efforts since 2002, which created a greater number of smaller combat units and increased the need for junior officers.)

Those new officers, however, are not coming from the traditional sources of West Point and ROTC programs, which supply recruits fresh from college. Instead, they are coming from the Army's Officer Candidate School-mostly attended by soldiers plucked from the enlisted ranks, who probably entered the military straight from high school. The number of OCS graduates has more than tripled since the late 1990s, from about 400 a year to more than 1,500 a year. These soldiers may turn out to be good commissioned officers. But they are also needed in the noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps, the parallel structure of senior-level sergeants who form the Army's backbone, responsible for ensuring that orders are effectively carried out, rather than making policy or strategic decisions. Yet the Army is already several thousand sergeants short and has been reducing NCO promotion times in order to fill the gaps. Sending more soldiers who are NCOs, or NCO material, to Officer Candidate School is merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Iraq, in one way or another, is a driving force behind many officers' decision to leave. For some, there's a nagging bitterness that the war's burden is falling overwhelmingly on men and women in uniform while the rest of the country largely ignores it. While many officers don't oppose the war itself, returning repeatedly to serve in Iraq is a grueling way to live. One of the many reasons for this is that it corrodes their families; the divorce rate among Army officers has tripled since 2003. Internal surveys show that the percentage of officers who cite "amount of time separated from family" as a primary factor for leaving the Army has at least doubled since 2002, to more than 30 percent. And family is a factor even for officers who don't have one yet. One young soldier I met at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said his primary problem with military life was the difficulty of finding a girlfriend while spending more than half his time in Iraq. As officers prepare for a third or even fourth deployment, a new wave of discontent is expected to wash over junior leaders. Studies show that one deployment actually improves retention, as soldiers draw satisfaction from using their skills in the real world. Second deployments often have no effect on retention. It's the third deployment that begins to burn out soldiers. And a fourth? There's no large-scale historical precedent for military planners to examine-yet.

Still, the roots of the phenomenon of officer discontent go far deeper than multiple deployments or the war in Iraq. Since the 1970s, societal and cultural shifts have created a tough environment for the Army to attract and keep bright young officers.

After the Vietnam War, as the Army started to make the transition to a volunteer force, officers left the service in droves. Morale was miserable, and discipline was lacking. In 1980, Ronald Regan won the presidency promising to restore honor to the armed forces, and with an infusion of congressional funding officer retention improved during the rest of the decade. However, beginning in 1991, with the cold war over, Washington moved to reduce the size of the Army by about 40 percent. The Army in turn actively encouraged young officers to leave, and whittled down West Point and ROTC classes. The drawdown likely masked any mounting retention problems.

By the late 1990s, the Army had about 480,000 troops, and new complications had emerged. Without a major-league enemy like the Soviet Union, the Army felt less relevant. Other job opportunities were plentiful in a thriving economy. In 2000, nearly 15 percent of junior officers between their fourth and ninth year of service left the military, the highest rate since the 1970s; experts labeled this statistic a crisis. An upsurge of patriotism after September 11 briefly pushed retention rates back toward historic norms. But as the Iraq War has become increasingly unpopular, the cultural factors that underpinned the exodus of the 1990s are again driving officers out of the service.

At the most basic level, being in the Army is a government job. Baby boomers were once drawn to the officer corps by cushy benefits and generous pension packages. But since the 1990s, an Army career has seemed less attractive in comparison with the lucrative opportunities available to a young, educated overachiever in corporate America. (The income of an Army officer with a college degree and twenty years of experience currently tops out at about $90,000.)

Money isn't necessarily the main factor in a junior officer's decision to quit. But military officers are constantly made aware of better-paid opportunities. Corporate recruiters view a combat deployment to Iraq as a highly marketable qualification, and often spam officers' in-boxes with job possibilities. This fall, I attended a job fair in Philadelphia where I saw about fifty junior officers in their late twenties, dressed smartly in business suits. All the officers I met expected to receive several offers of midlevel management positions in sectors such as manufacturing or construction, with salaries starting at around $70,000 with the potential of reaching six figures within several years. The recruiters, in turn, were excited by the officers' leadership and stress management skills. "We're looking for leadership," one recruiter for a commercial real estate management firm explained. "We can teach them the rest."

Another cause of officer discontent is the geography of Army life. A military career has always involved a rural lifestyle, since sparsely populated places provide more room to test artillery and simulate warfare. These locations appealed to baby boomers, who came of age when many American urban centers were in decay, and Army garrison towns like Fayetteville, North Carolina, evoked the feeling of the small towns in which many officers had grown up. Today, numerous coastal American cities have been revitalized, and they attract the most educated and ambitious young men and women, many of whom grew up in suburbs. Meanwhile, Army towns like Killeen, Texas, or Watertown, New York, have devolved into impoverished, isolated outposts economically dependent on their military installations and notable mostly for a seedy proliferation of chain restaurants, pawnshops, and strip clubs.

Perhaps the most powerful new element affecting officers' willingness to stay in the Army is the shifting dynamic of marriage and the roles of men and women in the family. Even in the rather traditional realm of Army culture, fathers now expect to be more actively involved in raising their children, and women tend to be less deferential to their husband's career. Among baby boomers, officers' wives were usually homemakers. Today, however, many officers' wives are doctors or lawyers or have degrees in international affairs, and there are few opportunities for them in places like Kentucky or West Texas. Recently I met a former captain named Adam Ake, who had won a Rhodes scholarship after graduating first in his class from West Point in 1997. He spent seven years as a platoon leader in Korea, and wrote speeches for a three-star general at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Knowing he would be swept up into the Iraq deployment schedule, he reluctantly left active duty in 2004, due to the stress his service was placing on his family and his wife's career (she is an Army doctor at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda). "Something had to give," he said. He went to law school, and now clerks for a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Over the past three months, I talked to numerous former officers around the country. What struck me most was their dissatisfaction with the way the Army leadership is managing the war, and the part that played in their decision to leave.

In Philadelphia, I met Zeke Austin, a twenty-eight-year-old former captain at Fort Hood, Texas, who left the Army after five years to look for a private-sector job. Austin first explained that he quit because his fiancée was finishing medical school and couldn't find a residency program in an Army town. Suddenly, he veered into a scathing critique of his commanders' preoccupation with institutional process. "Rather than focus on important stuff, they focus on PowerPoint slides. They'd have me up all night to make one slide a little prettier," he said. "After a while, you start to think, What am I doing over here?"

In Houston, I met an officer who had taken the rare step of leaving only eight years before he was due to retire. When I inquired why, he described a generation of senior leaders who gained experience in the relative calm of the 1980s, and seemed most comfortable in Iraq behind a desk. "What did these guys ever do? Go to Panama?" said the captain, who now makes more than $100,000 as a logistics manager for a petrochemical services company. "All they know how to do is train. So you're out in a firefight and they're complaining because you're not wearing eye protection. The colonel says 'Why don't you have your knee pads on?' and you're like, 'Shut the fuck up, I've got a guy bleeding over here.' That has a lot to do with it."

In Washington, I met Matt Kapinos and his longtime friend Jim Morin for lunch. Like Kapinos, Morin was a history major from West Point's class of 2001 and then served with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan. He, too, left the Army for Georgetown's law school. Both men were frank, thoughtful, and occasionally sarcastic about their disillusionment with the Army; it was clear that they'd discussed the subject repeatedly before.

"You have a three-star general like John Vines come down to talk to us, and he says, 'Just go out there and shoot people,'" Kapinos said. "And you know that that is not how to fight an insurgency. Everyone who's ever read the most basic article on counterinsurgency knows that is not how you're going to win."

"Yeah," Morin agreed. "The general would come out and give these bellicose speeches, and every time he did that, I'd have to go back to my guys and say, 'What the general really meant to say was ...'"

Morin is a soldier-scholar type who frequently refers to military theorists in casual conversation. Like Kapinos, he always thought he would spend twenty-plus years in uniform. Morin became addicted to military history when he was twelve years old. When he was fifteen, he persuaded his parents to help him buy Civil War-era military dress and an antique musket worth several thousand dollars so he could participate in large-scale battle reenactments. At West Point, he took a special interest in counterinsurgency, writing his senior the-sis on how the British successfully quelled the French-Canadian rebellion in Quebec. "If you go read Clausewitz and the other military writers," he explained, "[you learn that] war is politics by other means. You have to offer them an alternative better than the other guy. You have to fight a bullet war, but you also have to fight an economic development war, you have to fight a PR war, and you have to do it all at the same time. From what I saw, that just wasn't happening. I felt like we were keeping people safe so they could starve."

As a young lieutenant, Morin once drafted a memo for his commander proposing an elaborate program to help fund humanitarian and infrastructure projects, using integrated teams of infantrymen, civil affairs specialists, and civilian aid agencies. He didn't receive a response, and quickly stopped making such suggestions for fear of being perceived as "a wet-behind-the-ears second lieutenant." Now, he laughs about the incident as an example of his naivete.

Of course, every generation of young officers is critical of their superiors. But the botched management in Iraq and a sense of squandered momentum in Afghanistan have intensified those feelings among today's young officers. It's one thing for young officers in the 1980s or '90s to stand around at a training facility at Fort Polk, Louisiana, complaining about the higher-ups; it's another when junior officers have to see soldiers under their command dying in missions they believe are strategically flawed or futile.

Like many young officers I met, Kapinos and Morin were particularly disturbed by the experience of a colonel named H. R. McMaster. McMaster earned a Sliver Star in Operation Desert Storm. In 2005, he commanded a brigade of several thousand men in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar. He was lauded as the first upper-level commander to introduce progressive counterinsurgency strategies, rather than the traditional security-based mission that most other commanders were pursuing. He sought support from the entire population of Tal Afar. When his men released detainees, they asked them how they felt they had been treated (this was dubbed the "Ask the Customer Program"). The results were impressive. As the rest of Iraq deteriorated in 2006, Tal Afar was relatively calm, and President Bush touted it as a success. Despite these achievements, McMaster has been passed over twice for promotion to brigadier general. Kapinos concluded, "The junior officers see a guy who they worship-he's smart and successful-and they see him get the short end of the stick. If he doesn't make one star, if he doesn't go on to great things, if the cream stops rising at some point-then the good guys are going to say, 'What's the point?'"

The consequences of shedding thousands of bright, battle-tested young officers are likely to be grim. In the short term, experts worry that military units in Iraq and Afghanistan-which have performed impressively despite staggeringly bad senior leadership-will degrade in effectiveness.

Many in the military are mindful of what happened when the Army experienced a similar flight of top young talent near the end of the Vietnam War. Then, critical midlevel leadership positions were filled by soldiers with less experience and maturity. Poorly prepared leaders drove relations between the officer corps and the enlisted men who served under them to historic lows. The Army documented incidents of "fragging," when outraged enlisted men turned their weapons on officers who they felt were gratuitously or ineptly leading troops into danger. "We got more of our own people killed than the enemy killed because of insufficiently skilled solders and lousy leadership," said General Donn Starry, a retired four-star general who was a commander in Vietnam. After the war, the military was undisciplined and struggled with crime and drugs. Top generals described it as a "hollow force."

There is also concern about the medium term beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the next five to ten years, experts foresee a high likelihood that the military will be drawn into humanitarian and counterinsurgency-style operations that require officers with foreign-language aptitude, cultural awareness, negotiating skills, and other specialized talents. Many of these skills are rarely, if ever, taught in formal Army training programs. Soldiers who have seen firsthand what works and what doesn't intuitively understand the need to be courteous but always ready to pull the trigger. Yet shifting from an Army culture that once revered ornery, pugnacious characters like General George Patton won't be easy. "If we think that our future wars are going to look a lot more like this one, we are losing a huge knowledge base," said Rachel Kleinfeld, a director at the Truman National Security Project in Washington. "And once they're gone, they're gone."

But the greatest concern is how the exodus of the best and brightest will affect the Army's long-term capacity to win wars, counter threats, and keep the peace. Today's lieutenants and captains are the pool from which three- and four-star generals will be chosen twenty years from now. If the sharpest minds aren't in that pool, we could wind up-to put it bluntly-with a senior leadership of dimwits.

Again, the Vietnam experience is instructive. After that war, the junior officers who did remain in the Army were promoted. During the 1970s and '80s, that generation of officers deliberately turned their backs on the study of counterinsurgency, believing they could simply avoid such conflicts in future. Many of the Iraq War's generals came from that generation (think Tommy Franks). Among the thousands of their peers who left the Army after the war ended, were there a small handful of exceptional leaders who might have helped the military better prepare for a post-9/11 world? "The senior leadership of the Army and Marine Corps were slow to understand the nature of the Iraq War," said Andrew Bacevich, a professor at Boston University and a retired Army colonel who served in Vietnam as a junior officer and who lost a son in Iraq. "Was there a brain drain in the 1970s in the Army? Yes, there absolutely was. Had that brain drain not have occurred, would the officer corps have been quicker and better at adjusting? It's impossible to say." However, numerous military experts I spoke with all agreed that the attrition of junior officers will harm the quality of the officer corps over the long term. Critics of the Army leadership often note that the highest positions in the military at large-the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commander of CENTCOM, and the commander of Special Operations Forces-are all held by Navy officers, which seems odd at a time when ground forces are at the center of war operations.

The good news is that some leaders at the top understand the gravity of the situation. This October, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made reference to officer retention in a speech: "There is a generation of junior and midlevel officers and NCOs who have been tested in battle like none other in decades. They have seen the complex, grueling face of war in the twenty-first century up close," he said. "These men and women need to be retained, and the best and brightest advanced to the point that they can use their experience to shape the institution to which they have given so much." A month later, General Petraeus was summoned from Baghdad to Washington to preside over a board that will select the next class of brigadier generals. This was an unusual move that signaled, according to the Washington Post, "the Army's commitment to encouraging innovation and rewarding skills beyond the battlefield."

The bad news is that an all-volunteer military has few tools at its disposal to staunch the loss of high-grade junior officers-especially if the war in Iraq continues much longer. The Army has set an aggressive goal of retaining 95 percent of company-grade officers (typically those in their first ten years of service). That would be a higher retention rate than the Army has managed since the cold war ended, and experts describe this target as completely unrealistic. Otherwise, the Army's solution has been to throw money at the problem. Pay is higher, bonuses more common, and institutional incentives doled out generously as the Army seeks to grow its ranks while fighting a war on two fronts. (The average cost of training and paying a soldier has risen 60 percent since 2000, from $75,000 to $120,000 in 2006.) The Army also offers to pay graduate school tuition or give a young officer the base of his choice in exchange for the promise of a few more years in uniform. It's too early to tell whether this will have any impact on officer retention rates, and expectations are mixed.

There are other ways the Army might ease pressure on officers' families. It could lengthen the time between combat deployments. It could do more to harness fresh ideas among young officers-for example, by pulling them out of the combat rotation and assigning them to help develop new training programs. Or it could allow them to take outside internships with civilian agencies, in order to gain expertise in economic development or civil administration. It could even allow them to serve in the reserves for several years before resuming full-time active duty. Still, there's a slight hitch to all these plans-the war in Iraq. "These guys are getting tired from being ridden hard, and we want to give them a break. But it's hard to give them a break, because we need to put them in the fight," said Dr. Leonard Wong, a retired colonel and a research professor at the U.S. Army War College.

Army officials say anything less than two years at home for every one year at war is unsustainable for soldiers in the long run. Yet the current scheduling calls for fifteen months overseas followed by twelve months at home. For the past several years, officers who wanted a break from repeated deployments could seek the relative comfort of assignments at training posts or as staffers at the Pentagon. But with some soldiers now having endured three or four in tours in Iraq, such refuges are disappearing. In November, General George Casey identified 37,000 soldiers-7.2 percent of the force-who have not been to a war zone since 2001 and have no legitimate (that is, medical) reason not to go. He told them to pack their bags.

When seasoned junior officers read that President Bush is negotiating a long-term occupation of Iraq, and that the Democratic presidential candidates are acquiescing to the notion of 50,000 or 100,000 troops being stationed there for five to ten years, they can foresee the future. They know that their Army life won't be like that of their parents' generation, when a foreign posting meant Germany in the 1970s, touring the Black Forest in a BMW with the kids. Rather, it means daily danger and the complexities of diffusing a civil war. The family will be back home in a remote place like Fayetteville, North Carolina, wondering if Dad or Mom is going to return alive.

Civilian hawks in the government believe that the way to reduce the grueling pace of deployments while continuing to prosecute the war for "as long as it takes" is simply to increase the size of the force. Rudy Giuliani, for instance, has called for adding ten combat brigades. But who is going to lead these new forces if seasoned young officers continue leaving the Army in droves? Calls to expand the Army are empty rhetoric if the military brass and their civilian bosses fail to grapple with whether the services can recruit and retain junior leaders in both numbers and quality. The Army has struggled to meet the increase of 30,000 troops authorized since 2004. This year, new laws call for an additional increase of 65,000 during the next five years. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, if recruiting and retention does not improve from 2005 levels, the Army's end strength will actually decline.

Kapinos has been out of the Army for more than a year now. He lives with his wife in a small home in northern Arlington. He gets up early each morning and works out at a nearby gym, a lingering habit from his Army days. From the gym, he drives the same Honda Civic he bought while a cadet at West Point across the river to law school. He's friendly with his classmates, but many of them seem relatively immature to him.

On Fridays, when he doesn't have classes, Kapinos often plays golf in Virginia. He started taking lessons with his wife, who left her career as a schoolteacher after they moved to Virginia and now works for a private equity firm in Washington. They recently returned from a trip to Tuscany, where they celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. Some weekends, they drive to Charlottesville for a football game at the University of Virginia, or they visit Kapinos's Army friends in North Carolina. Otherwise, they often stay in, taking turns cooking dinner and watching TV. "I like my life now. There's a certain predictability to it," Kapinos said. "It's totally different, because there is zero probability that I am going to get deployed next week to go fight away."

This summer, he plans to take the bar exam. He already has a job lined up in the Washington office of a prominent international law firm, where he'll start as an associate in the energy and utilities practice. Occasionally, he looks back at his Army life with regret. "Every so often I kind of put on the rose-colored glasses and say, 'Man, that was awesome. We were doing all this great stuff.' But, you know, you're only thinking of the excitement, which is only 5 percent of what we did in the Army."

Kapinos will probably make a great Washington lawyer. But rarely does anyone suggest that we'll need more gifted, dedicated, and seasoned Beltway attorneys in the twenty-first century. When the government struggles with its most elemental challenges-identifying geostrategic goals and designing the tactical missions to achieve them-it turns in part to its four-star generals. The generals who will appear before Congress in twenty-five years are in the Army right now. They're junior officers, probably captains. And keeping them in uniform might be the Army's most important mission.