MoonDawg's Den: April 2006

MoonDawg's Den

Friday, April 28, 2006

28 days later

A report that summarizes an influenza pandemic simulation conducted during the World Economic Forum in January was released yesterday. The simulation predicts a "complete halt in everyday life" by Day 28 of a pandemic:
Hospitals are inundated with the sick, the very sick, and the "worried well". Businesses are reporting significant absentee rates, while school systems have been shut across the country for almost three weeks. Supply chains have been interrupted as truck drivers fell sick or refused to deliver their goods, afraid of putting themselves at risk. Food stores across the region have closed, unable to restock shelves. Hospitals are running out of basic medical supplies.
One very worrisome item in the simulation is a prediction that "the Internet would shut down within two to four days of the outbreak". Many organizations and businesses (my own included) have based their pandemic planning in large part upon repositioning staff to telecommute from home when the outbreak begins. But the report says that telecommunication infrastructures will likely be overwhelmed during the crisis and "telecommuting will not be a viable option".

Even more worrisome is the state of the federal government's continuity of operations planning by its own IT professionals:
Federal IT leaders are aware of the need to prepare for a pandemic but, according to specialists, haven’t grasped the scale and subtleties of the problem.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Libs don't get it - but Mr. Beamer does

David Beamer, father of Todd Beamer, has written a very favorable review in the WSJ about the movie United 93, which depicts the murder of his son and 39 others aboard that flight on 9/11/01. Part of what he wrote is apropos to the discussions that Jeff and myself have been carrying on in this blog over the past few days:
There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The left gets "stirred-up" Zbig-time

Yesterday I posted my reasons why I believe Democrats can't be trusted with national security. As if on cue, my liberal guest-blogger Jeff today provides yet more evidence for my side of the argument over at his own blog, where he lauds as "insightful" an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune by Zbigniew Brzezinski (Jimmy Carter's national security adviser). Zbiggy makes four main points in the op-ed:
1. In the absence of an imminent threat (with the Iranians at least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack would be a unilateral act of war. If undertaken without formal Congressional declaration, it would be unconstitutional and merit the impeachment of the president. Similarly, if undertaken without the sanction of the UN Security Council either alone by the United States or in complicity with Israel, it would stamp the perpetrator(s) as an international outlaw(s).
I don't recall Zbiggy making a big deal about President Clinton launching the Desert Fox bombing attack against Iraq - surely an "act of war" - without a Congressional declaration. For that matter, there was no Congressional declaration for Zbiggy's own Operation Eagle Claw, the botched mission to rescue American hostages in Iran. If sending armed troops and attack choppers deep into another country's territory to conduct a hostile mission isn't an "act of war", I don't know what is. Does Zbiggy think Clinton and/or Carter should have been impeached?

Neither of the above operations were conducted with the "sanction" of the UNSC, for that matter.
2. Likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing U.S. difficulties in Iraq and in Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and in all probability cause the United States to become bogged down in regional violence for a decade or more to come. Iran is a country of some 70 million people and a conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.
Er, Zbiggy, Iran is already supporting radical elements in the region - will passivity in the face of their increasingly bellicose threats cause them to scale back that support, or embolden them to become even more aggressive?

While we're on the subject, Zbiggy has some nerve pontificating about our "difficulties" in Afghanistan, given that he has bragged about being the architect of a U.S. plan to "give the USSR its Vietnam war" (thereby giving the Afghans years of horrendous misery), and supporting the Islamic radicals that later became the Taliban. Zbiggy in 1998 (emphasis mine):

"What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"

Brilliant, Zbiggy. What's to fear from some "stirred-up" Jihadist butchers? A mere four weeks after Brzezinski made this statement, Bin Laden issued his famous fatwa ordering all Muslims to "kill the Americans".
3. Oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians cut their production and seek to disrupt the flow of oil from the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely impacted, with America blamed for it. Note that oil prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of fears of a U.S./Iran clash.
Is Zbiggy actually saying defense policy should be formulated based upon the price of gas at the pump? And here's a newsflash, fella - Americans already get "blamed" for everything under the sun.
4. America would become an even more likely target of terrorism, with much of the world concluding that America's support for Israel is itself a major cause of the rise in terrorism. America would become more isolated and thus more vulnerable while prospects for an eventual regional accommodation between Israel and its neighbors would be ever more remote.
Ok, so the Islamic radicals who now completely hate us will really-really-really hate us if we strike Iran. It's true that Iran's government will likely respond with terrorism, since they are a terror-sponsoring state. But better to have a terror-sponsoring state without nukes than one with nukes, I say. Whether Israel will reaches a "regional accommodation" with its neighbors will be a moot point if Israel becomes a smoking radioactive hole in the ground.

I must thank Jeff for alerting me to the Brzezinski piece. The fact that leftists across the blogosphere are praising Zbiggy's simple-minded, ahistorical analysis only further reinforces my view that today's liberals should not - must not - be given authority over our national defense policy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The heart of the matter

I'll try to be as concise as possible in responding to the recent Epistle of Saint Jeff the Verbose, since we're both getting a bit long-winded in our posts. As mentioned earlier, I'm a single issue voter when it comes to national elections (state and local elections are another matter; I have no problem voting for Democrats if I feel that person is the better candidate): that single issue being national security.

I am sorry that Jeff found "insulting" my contention that the left is unserious about national security. To clarify: I am not saying that Dems wish harm to come to our country, but that many liberals - especially the far left - simply do not (or will not) grasp the nature of the threat we face from the transnational Jihadist movement, and therefore cannot be trusted with the defense of the United States.

Jeff lists several issues in this regard, let's briefly consider each:
the Democratic strategy to dealing with terrorism is to strengthen port security and border security which the Bush administration has ignored;
I don't know how Jeff can say this with a straight face, when just a few weeks ago Senate Dems scuttled immigration reform legislation. I'm all for strengthening border and port security, and the Repubs have a poor record in this area. But I that doesn't mean I'd trust Dems with the job. For example, would a Dem Senate build a security wall at the southern border, as most Americans favor? Not a chance.
strengthen diplomatic ties with our allies and the U.N. in order to apply diplomatic pressure on terrorist groups and rogue states like Iran;
Such a statement typifies the naive outlook that much of the left has regarding the power of diplomacy to mollify those who wish to annihilate us. As the 9/11 Commission Report put it, "Bin Laden and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the 'head of the snake', and it must be converted or destroyed. It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or negotiate. With it there is no common ground - not even respect for life - on which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated." (emphasis mine)

And merely suggesting that we entrust even a modicum of our security interests to the debased United Nations - the same U.N. that just made Iran - Iran! - the Vice Chair of the U.N. Disarmament Commission - is not merely naive, it is insane. Yep, that was great how the U.N. really put the "diplomatic pressure" on Iran by giving them the vice chairmanship of UNDC. The people of Srebrenica, Rwanda, and Darfur can tell you all you need to know about putting your safety in the hands of the United Nations.
find a suitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is extremely complicated and delicate;
Actually it's not that complicated at all. The Palestinian leadership's goal is to destroy Israel, and Israel would prefer not to be destroyed. Until the Palestinian leadership recognizes Israel's right to exist, no solution, "suitable" or otherwise, is possible. The U.S. has clearly stated its position on this fundamental issue again and again and again and again and again over the years.
end our dependence on foreign oil;
A laudable goal, but one that only indirectly affects our security. The Jihadists don't care how many hybrid cars we put on the road or how many wind turbines we build - they will still want to kill us regardless.
lower our trade deficit with troublesome nations like Saudi Arabia and China;
Again, a laudable goal, but again - the terrorists could give a damn about our bilateral import/export differentials.
continue to improve our intelligence gathering capabilities in order to avoid attacks (I actually would give Bush a pretty high grade on this, except for the domestic spying);
Jeff's caveat is another illustration of why Dems can't be trusted with national security - the ability to intercept real-time communications between persons in the U.S. and terror suspects abroad (without waiting hours or even days for a court authorization) is absolutely vital to thwart future attacks.
craft a strategy for troop withdrawal in Iraq within a year (our presence there is a catalyst for violence and terror recruitment);
There already is a withdrawal strategy, and U.S. troop presence is being drawn down even as we speak. But to put a hard date on final withdrawal helps nobody but the terrorists. In any case, the terrorists will pursue their agenda regardless of whether there are U.S. troops around. They needed no such "catalyst" for the bombings in Egypt yesterday, for example.
give proper benefits to veterans and active duty troops to help with recruitment drops (Bush gets an “F” on treatment of vets);
In what regard are veterans benefits not "proper", Jeff old chum? Why does Bush get an "F" on veterans affairs? And what "recruitment drops" is Jeff talking about? The Army and the ARNG have been meeting and exceeding recruitment and retention goals - perhaps Jeff has been misled by media spin on this subject.
and strengthen the middle class of our economy in order to foster less cynicism toward the government.
I cannot fathom why Jeff concludes his itemization of the "Democratic strategy to dealing with terrorism" with the above. The last time I checked, the U.S. middle class wasn't flying airplanes into buildings, strapping suicide vests to their children, burning embassies over silly cartoons, or threatening to nuke Israel. And I don't recall "cynicism toward the government" ever being a part of any Jihadist fatwa.

But at least it serves to illustrate my original contention: the left is either unable or unwilling to identify - let alone confront - the threat represented by radical Islam.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Welcome Back

As noted last week, Georgia's 48th BCT has started coming home (photo is from the 48th's big sendoff ceremony last May). Return ceremonies are being held at Fort Stewart so if you happen to be in the south Georgia area, try to attend one of the ceremonies - the troops deserve the biggest "welcome back" possible.

All ceremonies are being held at the Cottrell Field grandstand, about 1 mile from Ft. Stewart's Main Gate (schedule subject to change without notice):

April 27, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 0500 (5:00AM)
Major Units Arriving:
HHC/2-130 IN (IL ARNG)
HHC 48 BCT (Partial) (Macon)

April 27, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 2200 (10:00PM)
Major Units Arriving:
E/108 CAV (Griffin)

April 28, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 1100 (11:00AM)
Major Units Arriving:
B/2-130 IN (IL ARNG)
C/2-130 IN (IL ARNG)
HHC 48 BCT (Partial) (Macon)
A/148 FSB (Partial) (Dublin)
B/148 FSB (Partial) (Hinesville)

May 4, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 1600 (4:00PM)
Major Units Arriving:
248 MI (Atlanta)
B/1-115 IN (MD ARNG)
HHC 48 BCT (Partial) (Macon)
HHC/148 FSB (Partial) (Forsyth)
A/148 FSB (Partial) (Dublin)
B/148 FSB (Partial) (Hinesville)
C/148 FSB (Partial) (Macon)

May 5, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 1800 (6:00PM)
Major Units Arriving:
D/3-172 IN (Partial) (RI ARNG)
HHC 48 BCT (Partial) (Macon)
HHB/1-118 FA (Savannah)
SVC/1-118 FA (Brunswick)

May 6, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 0100 (1:00AM)
Major Units Arriving:
D/3-172 IN (RI ARNG)
A/1-118 FA (Springfield)

May 6, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 1600 (4:00PM)
Major Units Arriving:
HHC 48 BCT (Partial) (Macon)
A/148 FSB (Dublin)
A/648 EN (Statesboro)

May 8, 2006
Ceremony is scheduled for 0800 (8:00AM)
Major Units Arriving:
A/1-167 IN (AL ARNG)
HHC/648 EN (Statesboro)
HHC/148 FSB (Forsyth)

Friday, April 21, 2006

An Epistolary Response to Garry (Epistolary in length, not in inspiration)

This got way too long to go in the comment section, so I'll post it here. It is a response to Garry's response of my last post.

I just spent quite a bit of time wading through all of your links. I feel like I have information overload although some of the links were quite informative. As for me asking a lot of questions, I believe that the biggest problem in politics (mostly political discourse) is that people don’t discuss or debate things. And, if they do, they only do it to roast the other guy, not to come to some sort of consensus. We need to be much more willing to debate and compromise on the issues.

That being said, I’ll start with where we agree. For the most part, I support the Patriot Act. I do wish that some of the amendments proposed by Democrats during the renewal process would have passed to help protect civil liberties, but overall it’s a good thing. However, the Patriot Act was far from a Republican initiative. It has had bi-partisan support (the renewal passed in the Senate with an 89-10 vote) since its inception. Even Dems who have taken issue with it have only opposed 2-3 parts of it (access to library records, for instance). I believe that even with a Democratic congress, the Patriot Act would have still been passed into law--admittedly with a few adjustments.

As for the SCOTUS nominees, I’d say he got one good one--Roberts; one decent one, but a little bit scary with his views on the Unitary Executive--Alito; and one unknown, but probably bad--Miers. More like a .500 batting average (counting Alito as half), which still ain’t too bad. I thought Bush could have picked someone more moderate for the O’Conner seat and for some of the Circuit court seats, but that’s his prerogative. I really believe that the court should be all moderates. People like Scalia and Ginsberg are bad for the courts. Despite Bush’s rhetoric, they are both “activist judges, who legislate from the bench.”

To avoid making this a 10,000 word rebuttal, I’ll just mention one more thing I agree on--the President definitely “displays a certain tone-deafness when it comes to dealing with bipartisan demagoguery.” He is far from the “uniter” that he promised to be during the 2000 campaign. That is one of my biggest criticisms of him.

Now, to my disagreements. First, the info you supplied on the tax cuts was unconvincing. Maybe it’s because I see economic growth differently than you do, but the tax cuts have only aided investors and owners of capital, not workers. As reported in the NY Times last year, “as the economy grew, incomes stagnated last year and the poverty rate rose”; “the census's annual report card on the nation's economic well-being showed that a four-year-old expansion had still not done much to benefit many households”; “the rising cost of health care benefits has also eaten into pay increases”; “it looks like the gains from the recovery haven't really filtered down”; “the gains have gone to owners of capital and not to workers"; and “the poverty rate rose last year for working-age people, those ages 18 to 64.” So, while investors and corporations have done well, the working classes have suffered from higher health care expenses, increasing fuel costs, and stagnant wages. Some have even said that the Bush Administration has declared war on the middle class. Now, I know that conservatives and liberals measure economic success differently, and that is probably why we evaluate the tax cuts differently.

One other beef I have with the tax cuts is that we are falling farther and farther into debt as a country. Furthermore, much of that debt is to China and Saudi Arabia, which is hardly a way to keep the country safe--at least economically--from potentially hostile dictatorships. Passing massive tax cuts shortly before allocating $87 billion for a war makes little common sense. But, that is the “borrow and spend” attitude of Republicans that started in the Reagan administration.

Now, to your last point--national security. I’m definitely not a “single-issue voter” like you are, but I do agree that national security and Islamic terrorism are huge issues and huge concerns as does everyone in America. To say that liberals--except for Lieberman, who’s a conservative for all intents and purposes--are “utterly unserious about confronting threats to our national security” is insulting and wrong. The problem is perspective. Most liberals, myself included, do not believe in the concept of pre-emptive war, nor in a purely military solution to the terrorism problem.

From what I understand--and I guess I’m far from an expert, but I read a lot--the Democratic strategy to dealing with terrorism is to strengthen port security and border security, which the Bush administration has ignored; strengthen diplomatic ties with our allies and the U.N. in order to apply diplomatic pressure on terrorist groups and rogue states like Iran; find a suitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is extremely complicated and delicate; end our dependence on foreign oil; lower our trade deficit with troublesome nations like Saudi Arabia and China; continue to improve our intelligence gathering capabilities in order to avoid attacks (I actually would give Bush a pretty high grade on this, except for the domestic spying); craft a strategy for troop withdrawal in Iraq within a year (our presence there is a catalyst for violence and terror recruitment); give proper benefits to veterans and active duty troops to help with recruitment drops (Bush gets an “F” on treatment of vets); and strengthen the middle class of our economy in order to foster less cynicism toward the government. I apologize for not giving links to all of these, but that would take me forever. I’m an avid reader of liberal blogs, congressional websites, and news articles that deal with this issue, and these are the things being discussed there.

The problem Republicans have with these solutions is that they are not military solutions only. There are other ways to deal with terrorists instead of killing them. The War on Terror is a war of ideas, much like the Cold War, and it should be fought and won much like that war was, using all of our resources (including the military).

No leader in this country, Republican or Democrat, will sit back idly and watch us get attacked again. That would be criminal. However, allowing the Republicans to destroy our domestic welfare and freedoms just because they talk tougher is just as criminal. Thank God most voters are starting to see that.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety..” --Ben Franklin


Angels of the 101st

Instapundit links to a heartfelt essay printed in the Seattle PI from a trooper in the Washington ARNG, Aric Catron, who is serving his second tour in Iraq. Catron describes working a checkpoint one day when a little Iraqi girl suddenly runs into his arms, much to the soldier's surprise:
I looked toward her father and he immediately began talking rapidly in Arabic and gesturing at me. Our translator quickly explained that he, the father, had been locked in a prison for most of the child's life. He had been sentenced to death for being a Shiite dissident traitor. The man went on to say that soldiers wearing the same patch on the shoulder as I was (the 101st Airborne Division) had freed him shortly after we began the liberation of Iraq. His daughter from then on believed that the famous Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st meant that we were angels sent to protect her family.
Read the whole thing, it's short but nicely written.

Standing for Something??

In response to my April 19th post on my blog, Garry writes the following:

Dems might be able to take advantage of WH problems you cite (although I don't know by what measure you contend that Iraq is "going poorly"), if they had any serious alternatives of their own - which they do not. On Iraq, it's cut & run, on wages it's raise taxes, on gas prices it's...well, what, exactly? Nuke China and India? Exploding demand in those countries is the primary driver of oil price increases (emphasis added).
This statement piqued my interest a little, and I was forced to ask the following questions--What have Republicans done with their majority rule? What do they stand for?

So, that's the question here. What have Republicans done with their power in government. As I see it, they have increased the size of government, driven us into an extreme deficit, borrowed tons of money from China and Saudi Arabia, led us into a war that resembles Vietnam, and completely lost the support of the American people. If that's the case, what do Republicans stand for? What is their plan that is so much better than the Democrats? Why do they deserve my vote instead of the liberal candidates who are promising change? What have they done in the last year or two that is so good?

I think both parties are in shambles, but it's the Republicans that will suffer for it since they are the majority.


GARRY'S RESPONSE: First off, TGIF. It's been a long week! But to business - Jeff, as always, has many questions. As always, let's take them one at a time:

What have Republicans done with their power in government
It's been a mixed bag since Repubs took the WH, the Senate, and the Congress - there have been successes such as the tax cuts - which led to decreased unemployment, increased GDP, higher business profits, and increased disposable income - and such as the Patriot Act, which has allowed law enforcement and the intelligence community to better cooperate so as to locate and arrest terrorists and terror supporters. The President had two excellent SCOTUS nominees and one terrible one, but .667 isn't a bad batting average. His appeals court appointments have been pretty solid as well. The passage of CAFTA-DR was a notable accomplishment by the WH and Congress, and the Repubs have been surprisingly steadfast in supporting the painful (but necessary) BRAC decisions. The administration showed it is willing to be firm in its dealings with the feckless and corrupt United Nations. It's been reassuring that Congress and the WH have been moving full steam on pandemic flu preparedness (although they were a bit later arriving to the party that I would have preferred). And I was heartened by the President's renewed commitment to space exploration.

On the other hand, we have the unsustainable Medicare drug entitlement; Congressional dithering on immigration and Social Security; the egregious McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform"; the worthless Anti-Spam Law; ongoing incompetence by the Dept. of Homeland Stupidity, and absolute criminal negligence on border security. And the WH displays a certain tone-deafness when it comes to dealing with bipartisan demagoguery.

The jury is still out on other Repub initiatives - last year's Energy Policy Act may be beneficial in the long term, just too soon to tell; Sarbanes-Oxley provides some good corporate accountability and transparency reforms but compliance may be far too costly for our economy, and environmental cleanup under the 2002 Brownfields Act is proceeding well but could probably be better resourced.
What is their plan that is so much better than the Democrats?
You tell me - what of the above would the Democrats do "better"?

Why do they deserve my vote instead of the liberal candidates who are promising change?
Who one votes for is up to the individual. For me, I'm a single issue voter - with very few exceptions (e.g., Joe Lieberman), liberals have demonstrated they are utterly unserious about confronting threats to our national security. I don't see this changing since the far left continues to influence the Dem party with their dementia.
What have they done in the last year or two that is so good?
They've continued to prevent more 9/11s from happening on our shores, and continue to be resolute in confronting the radical Islamic movement abroad (whereas many libs refuse even to acknowledge that such a movement exists). That's good enough for me...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beware, you Taliban worms

From StrategyPage:

April 17, 2006
Afghans from the village of Khakeran in Qalat Province line up with their sheep and goats for de-worming medicine, provided by Cpl. Latchie Reginald (left) and Sgt. Jared Cross, from the 10th Mountain Division.
Photo by Spc. Leslie Angulo

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

McKinney and the Tupac Shakur Rap Defense

When a "belligerent, unreformed race-baiter, anti-Semite and homophobe" - who also happens to be your own father - tells you you're going too far, you should know you're in trouble. Will Cynthia McKinney take poppa's advice and chill the rhetoric a bit? Not a bloody chance in hell.

In any case, more details of McKinney's assault on a Capitol police officer emerged this week; i.e., that she struck the officer in his chest with a closed fist. There is also a report that McKinney has retained William Moffit as her defense counsel. Maybe Moffit can cut a deal for Cynthia like he did for Sami Al-Arian, the terror-supporting academic who has just pleaded guilty to raising funds for Islamic Jihad, the same wonderful folks that blew nine people to bits in Tel Aviv on Monday, and critically wounded a teenaged American tourist in the process.

At least Rep. McKinney isn't letting the controversy hamper her legislative agenda. "Mine is a Congressional office that is working for the people," Cynthia proclaims. Well yes, if you're a people named "Shakur". The one and only bill she has introduced all year is H.R. 4968, the "Tupac Shakur Records Release Act of 2006". The bill calls for the government to release all records "related to the life and death of Tupac Amaru Shakur".

Way to work for the people, Cynthia. Of course if she's an ardent fan of the deceased hip hopper, it could explain her attitude towards police officers - Tupac did croon about the joys of droppin' cops with his glock, and sang of "punk police" getting "shot down".

Cop killer Ronald Ray Howard invoked the "Tupac Shakur Rap Defense" at his trial, so perhaps Moffit will employ that same defense for Cynthia and claim that Tupac's lyrics drove her to violence (although in the end that argument didn't work out very well for Howard).

Cynthia will probably skate even without the Tupac Defense, however. If McKinney does escape prosecution, the brain-dead voters of Georgia's 4th District will almost certainly re-elect her in November - that is, unless, the intrepid blogger Dignan can pull one of the biggest upsets in the history of politics...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The 48th is coming home

The 4,300 men and women of the GaARNG 48th Brigade Combat Team will start returning to Georgia this week, after a year-long deployment in Iraq. They'll spend some time at Ft. Stewart dealing with outprocessing and then return home to their families. Homecoming celebrations are being planned around the state to welcome back the troops.

The 48th BCT accomplished a great deal during their mission, providing security in the southwestern Baghdad AO, training Iraqi security forces, and performing good works to help Iraqi civilians in need. The Brigade's soldiers and their families have much to be proud of.

One of the 48th's shining moments came last October, when the troops provided security for Iraqis during their critical consitutional vote. In an email he sent after the voting was successfully completed, the Brigade Commander, BG Stewart Rodeheaver, described the scene:

I am writing to tell you that the 48th BCT did an outstanding job during the Iraqi elections held on the 15th of Oct. Your soldiers provided security and assistance that allowed thousands of people, both men and women, that had never been allowed to vote, the opportunity to do so. It was an amazing process. I stood on the streets in Yusofyia, Lutafyia, and Mahamadyia to watch the processes, and saw hundreds of voters who had walked several miles to vote file into the polling places that our soldiers had developed and secured.

The voters voted, dipped their finger in the ink to signify they had voted, and came out the other side of the buildings, most of them in tears. They were so happy they were dancing in the streets, and the atmosphere was that of a festival. The Iraqis could not stop thanking our soldiers, and the best thing is we did it without firing a single shot, or without anyone getting hurt. It was a great day.

A great day indeed. Yet, we need to take a moment and remember those members of the 48th BCT who will not be part of the homecoming celebrations. We grieve with the families for their tragic loss as we honor these troops who made the ultimate sacrifice:

Sgt. Philip A. Dodson Jr, 42, of Forsyth, Georgia

Spc. Marcus S. Futrell, 20, of Macon, Georgia

Staff Sgt. Philip L. Travis, 41, of Snellville, Georgia

Sgt. 1st Class Amos C. Edwards Jr., 41, of Savannah, Georgia

Staff Sgt. George R. Draughn Jr., 29, of Decatur, Georgia

Sgt. 1st Class Robert L. Hollar Jr., 35, of Griffin, Georgia

Spc. Michael J. Stokely, 23, of Sharpsburg, Georgia

Spc. Joshua P. Dingler, 19, of Hiram, Georgia

Sgt. Paul A. Saylor, 21, of Norcross, Georgia

Sgt. Thomas J. Strickland, 27, of Douglasville, Georgia

Spc. Jerry L. Ganey Jr., 29, of Folkston, Georgia

Spc. Mathew V. Gibbs, 21, of Ambrose, Georgia

Sgt. 1st Class Charles H. Warren, 36, of Duluth, Georgia

Sgt. 1st Class Victor A. Anderson, 39, of Ellaville, Georgia

Sgt. Jonathon C. Haggin, 26, of Kingsland, Georgia

Staff Sgt. David R. Jones Sr., 45, of Augusta, Georgia

Sgt. Ronnie L. Shelley Sr., 34, of Valdosta, Georgia

Spc. Jacques E. Brunson, 30, of Americus, Georgia

Staff Sgt. Carl R. Fuller, 44, of Covington, Georgia

Sgt. James O. Kinlow, 35, of Thomson, Georgia

Sgt. John F. Thomas, 33, of Valdosta, Georgia

Sgt. Chad M. Mercer, 25, of Waycross, Georgia

Sgt. Charles C. Gillican III, 35, of Brunswick, Georgia

Monday, April 17, 2006

"Say you, say me, say Gaddafi"

On April 5th, 1986, a terrorist bomb exploded in the La Belle discotheque, a Berlin nightclub frequented by American servicemen. Two American soldiers, Sgt. Kenneth T. Ford, 21 (photo), and Sgt. James E. Goins, 25, died as a result of the blast. A Turkish woman, Nermin Hannay, 29, was also killed. About 250 other patrons were injured, many of them U.S. servicemen. The attack was planned by the Libyan secret service and facilitated by the Libyan embassy in East Berlin.

So over the weekend singer Lionel Richie performed in a concert honoring the victims of the Berlin terrorist bombing - er, wait, my bad - rather, the has-been pop star performed at a concert in Libya marking the 20th anniversary of the retaliatory bombing raid ordered by President Reagan against military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi:

With Muammar Gaddafi's home as a backdrop, U.S. singer Lionel Richie jived and rocked for an adoring Libyan audience on Saturday in a concert to mark the 20th anniversary of a U.S. raid on the North African country. "Libya I love you, I'll be back," the Oscar and Grammy award-winning singer songwriter said to roars of approval from more than 1,000 senior Libyan officials and diplomats gathered in front of the shell-cratered building.

Richie said that "This is about making a difference in the world." No, Lionel, this is about yet another dimwitted American entertainer serving as a propaganda tool for a butchering dictator.

Hat tip: Rudy Carrera

Friday, April 14, 2006

Desert Fox, Part Deux?

The new milblog Op-For discusses what a U.S. military operation to degrade Iran's nuclear capabilities would likely involve, notwithstanding idiotic speculation that nuclear weapons might be deployed in such an operation. Rather, a Desert Fox type of air campaign is envisioned, involving hundreds of strike aircraft and cruise missiles. Our capability to launch such a devastating blow obviates any need for a nuclear option, says John at Op-For:
It never fails to amaze me that after a century of air power completely changing a millenium's worth of tactics, doctrine, and applying force on the battlefield we still underestimate the destructive capability of air war.

It is because our supremacy in air and space are so well defined that arguments over "nuclear bunker busters" and "OIF II" are completely irrelevant and moot. We can do the job without resorting to our last line of defense, nukes, or committing ground forces needed elsewhere to a new Iranian theatre, something both the West and the Iranians understand.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

“I’m going home a citizen”

Yesterday the Georgia 48th Brigade PAO reported that nine of the BCT's troopers became U.S. citizens, and became a part of military history in the process. This story provides a nice counterpoint to the recent whining protests by people who believe that illegal immigration is a civil right:
Soldiers of the 48th Brigade Combat Team throughout Iraq representing varying cultural histories and countries proudly recited the oath of citizenship in the largest naturalization ceremony held in a combat zone.
"That flag means a lot to me," said a Nigerian native, Sgt. William Awopeju-Williams. "When I look at that flag, I know one piece of that thread belongs to me. Just the fact that I am here and what I have done makes me feel closer and more proud to have served for this country."

After the ceremony a Bahamas native, Sgt. Anethra Adderly, said "I'm going home a citizen". More than that, Sgt. Adderly - you're going home as a citizen and a hero.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

O Canada, we stand on guard for...H5N1

Over the weekend I participated in a GaSDF mission to assist US Public Health Service in preparing personal protective kits for field responders in areas hit by avian influenza. I was surprised and a little alarmed when the USPHS officer briefing us said that the bird flu virus was only 3-4 weeks from coming to North America. But actually this jibes with a posting last week by Dr. Niman at Recombinomics, in which he pointed out that the outbreak of H5N1 confirmed in Lagos last Thursday means that we will soon see the virus in northeastern Canada, since Lagos is well within the East Atlantic flyway used by migratory birds.

Now, this is cause for concern, not panic. At the very least however, it has serious implications for the poultry industry in North America and especially here in Georgia, which is the "Poultry Capitol of the World" - soon to be a dubious title, perhaps.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cowpeas, or WMDs?

Seems like everyone is back on the subject of Niger/uranium/Wilson these days. Yesterday Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece naming names on the Iraqi side of the Niger affair, saying that it was a high-level envoy, Wissam al-Zahawie, who made the 1999 trip to Niger for "expanding commercial relations" - the same trip that Joe Wilson learned about during his "investigation" in Niger but conveniently omitted from his New York Times piece recounting what he learned. Zahawie - a former Iraqi representative to the IAEA - was ambassador to the Vatican at the time, one of the few places in the world where Iraq still had normal diplomatic relations. Says Hitchens,
In February 1999, Zahawie left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious.
I would just take issue with Hitch on one small point - besides uranium (which accounts for nearly two-thirds of its export earnings), Niger is also known for other critical export commodities: i.e., livestock, cowpeas, and onions. So maybe Zahawie was just looking for a good deal on cowpeas or onions - right?

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Twisting the truth"

In the comments of his April 7th post, my friend Jeff continues our debate regarding the White House's release (or "leak", if you prefer) of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, and asks a number of questions.

Jeff: "First, do you believe that the 16 words in the SOTU speech were completely accurate? If so, why did the administration retract the statement?"

In his 2003 SOTU, Bush said that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The British still stand by their intelligence, so yes - this statement is "completely accurate". What made it problematic - at least politically - was that, as George "slam dunk" Tenet said, "This should not have been the test for clearing a Presidential address. This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for Presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed."

Jeff: "If they weren't completely accurate, then Wilson's assertions that those words were not accurate are true. That was his main claim."

The problem is that Wilson's "assertions" after the fact don't fully match what he himself
found in Niger - i.e., that the former Nigerian Prime Minister told Wilson he met with an Iraqi delegation in 1999, and that the PM believed the purpose was to "discuss uranium yellowcake sales". Wilson's report reinforced the analysis of those in the intelligence community who believed Iraq had indeed sought uranium from Africa - an important part of the story that Wilson deliberately omitted from his NYT op-ed. As a WaPo editorial put it just yesterday,

The material that Mr. Bush ordered declassified established, as have several subsequent investigations, that Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium.
Hardly a "little inconsistency", that.

Jeff: "Second, you made mention that the President didn't authorize the disclosure of Plame's name. We really don't know that yet".

Actually, we do already know that, if Fitzgerald is to be believed. See the quote from his court filing in the April 7th post.

Jeff: "Third, we do know that Cheney authorized the leak. What should be done about that? Did he, or Rove, or Libby, or anyone else involved do anything wrong in your view?"

The VP has the same statutory authority to declassify information - in this case, the 2002 NIE - as the President does. The only person accused of doing anything "wrong" is Libby, who has been charged with lying under oath. If Libby is indeed found guilty of lying under oath, then he should face the consequences.

Jeff: "The camel in the issue that you have to swallow to take your position is that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program".

Well according to the
Duelfer report, "Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability - in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks - but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities." Although "Iraq’s ability to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program progressively decayed" after 1991, "Saddam did express his intent to retain the intellectual capital developed during the Iraqi Nuclear Program. Senior Iraqis - several of them from the Regime’s inner circle - told ISG they assumed Saddam would restart a nuclear program once UN sanctions ended." You may disagree, but for me Saddam's intent to reconstitute his nuke program is just as alarming as if he was already actually doing so.

"and that exposing a CIA operative to score political points is okay".

I've said no such thing - you are conflating the NIE leak with the Plame name leak: they are two separate things. But the main person responsible for "exposing" Valerie Plame is Joe Wilson himself. Did Wilson not expect that once he went public in the NYT op-ed announcing his work with the CIA, people would start asking hard questions? Questions like, why was a retired diplomat with zero experience in nuclear proliferation and zero investigative experience sent by the CIA to Niger - a country he hadn't served in for 24 years - to investigate reported attempts by Iraq to purchase yellowcake from Niger? Ah, his wife at CIA set it up - that explains it.

Jeff: "If we're looking at inconsistencies, we can talk about WMD in Iraq and the reasons for war. Those have shifted 9 or 10 times."

Indeed? I suggest you read the 2002 joint Congressional
resolution for the use of force, which lays out the rationale for war - WMD was cited, but also cited was Iraq's "supporting and harboring terrorist organizations", the "brutal repression of its civilian population", the refusal to "release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq", the "continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States", the "firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council", Iraq's continuing to "aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations", Iraq's "obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections", etc. This was all explicitly laid out before the war, but folks like Jeff cry about "shifting" reasons whenever the administration refers to those rationales - why?

"Or we can look at statements made by Bush about firing leakers (Rove still has a job) or about leaks in general."

Bush was referring to unauthorized leaks. Authorized leaks are perfectly legal - and in fact are SOP. As the WaPo said in yesterday's editorial concerning the NIE leak, "There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual about that; nor is this presidentially authorized leak necessarily comparable to other, unauthorized disclosures that the president believes, rightly or wrongly, compromise national security."

Jeff: " Why was the summary of the NIE not leaked or declassified? Oh, it makes Wilson's case stronger. I see now."

I don't see how the conflict between DOE, State, CIA, and others in the intelligence community on Iraq's acquisition of aluminum tubes - which has nothing to do with the Niger issue - makes "Wilson's case stronger". In any event, the SSCI report had already revealed this
conflict long ago. The CIA viewpoint (which was wrong) won out over State's and DOE - but we already knew this. And note that DOE was only questioning the specific issue of the tubes; on the larger question of whether Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, DOE was in agreement with CIA:

"The Department of Energy (DOE) agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program."
Also, I find it highly suspect that the author of the National Journal article you link to, Murray Waas, makes zero mention of Wilson's lies, or of the full context of DOE's assessment of Iraq's nuclear program. And it is a distortion by Waas when he states that the tubes issue was "a key rationale for going to war". Bush's SOTU mentioning the tubes was in January, but the use of force resolution had already been voted on - and passed by both houses - nearly three months earlier. The tubes (or the "16 words", for that matter) were not in any way part of the debate during the time that the resolution was being considered. Well, others have noted past distortions by Mr. Waas, so we should not be surprised.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Scooter Libby testified that Bush gave the okay to leak some classified information to the press to help sale the war in Iraq. If this is true, is that grounds for impeachment?

Here's a link to my take on the subject.

What do you think?


GARRY'S RESPONSE: "Grounds for impeachment"? Hello? If the President of the United States doesn't have the authority to declassify information, then who the heck does? In any case, classification authority for the office of the President has been codified for a long time, such as in a 1995 Executive Order signed by President Clinton.

The information that was given to reporters by Libby came from the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, which was declassified in large part and released to the public only about one week after Libby talked to reporters. The info from the NIE was not released to "exact revenge on a political opponent", but to counter the lies of that political opponent - i.e., Joe Wilson.

Jeff responds:

Two questions:

1- Does the President have the authority to out a covert operative of the CIA? That's the classified information that was leaked that is of interest.

2- Wilson lied? Those 16 words should not have been in the State of the Union, which is what he said. Who sent him to Niger is irrelevent.

Ari Fleischer: Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.

Condi Rice: What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the President's speech -- but that's knowing what we know now.

George Tenet: These 16 words should never have been included in the text written.

About the real issue--if Iraq tried to buy Uranium from Niger--Wilson was dead on. Anything else is irrelevent, and even if he lied, the President does not have the right to out a CIA operative for political gain. How can you defend that? How is that okay?

Still frustrated,

GARRY RESPONDS AGAIN - Let's take the two questions one at a time:

1- Does the President have the authority to out a covert operative of the CIA? That's the classified information that was leaked that is of interest.
If you read the full text of the April 6 court filing by the OSC, you will see that it in no way indicates that the President was involved in leaking Plame's identity - in fact, Special Counsel Fitzgerald states just the opposite in the document (emphasis mine):

During this time, while the President was unaware of the role that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment, defendant implored White House officials to have a public statement issued exonerating him.
Again, the information that the President authorized Libby to discuss was from the 2002 NIE, which was released to the public just one week later.

2- Wilson lied? Those 16 words should not have been in the State of the Union, which is what he said. Who sent him to Niger is irrelevent.

Yes, Wilson lied - from the WaPo article I linked to earlier, emphasis mine again:

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.
Wilson was "dead on" regarding Niger? Here is part of what Wilson found (but never bothered to mention in his famous NYT op-ed) in Niger, according to the 2004 report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (this from a meeting Wilson had with former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki):

Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, (deleted) businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq. The intelligence report said that Mayaki interpreted "expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the UN sanctions on Iraq."
Thus Wilson's own report supported (or "bolstered", to use the WaPo's word) the findings by British intelligence, which is what the President cited in the famous "16 words". As the UK's own review of Iraq intelligence (the Butler Report) said:

a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.
b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.
c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government did not claim this.
d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it.
The "forged documents" being referred to were from an Italian journalist that purported to show a purchase of uranium from Niger by Iraq. These documents were related to another Wilson lie exposed by the SSCI report:
The former ambassador also told Committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article ("CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report of Uranium Bid," June 12, 2003) which said, "among the Envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because `the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong" when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. The former ambassador said that he may have "misspoken" to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were "forged."
"Misspoken" indeed - well, it's no less than one would expect from an operative in the Kerry Campaign.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Don't forget the crystals, Professor

A physics professor at UConn is designing a device that he hopes will prove that time travel can be acheived using circulating lasers to warp time-space - and perhaps one day allow humans to travel to the past or future:

“How soon humans will be able to time travel depends largely on the success of these experiments, which will take the better part of a decade. And depending on breakthroughs, technology, and funding, I believe that human time travel could happen this century.”

Hopefully the professor will have more luck with his time machine than Napoleon Dynamite did...Gawsh!

United 93

I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie about our first victory in the War on Terror, United 93, yesterday. It's difficult to watch; the trailer effectively transports you back to 9/11/01, reminding you where you were and what you were doing on that terrible morning when the planes struck the WTC Towers on a brilliant clear blue day, as though it just happened yesterday.

Rick Moran at the Rightwing Nuthouse says that the passengers of Flight 93 deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor for their selfless sacrifice in fighting back against the hijackers on that plane, likely preventing the White House or the Capitol from being destroyed. I agree; at the very least, they should be awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. If the likes of Jesse Jackson and Doris Day can be awarded a PMOF, then why not the brave souls who stormed the cockpit on UA 93?

United 93 will be in theaters on April 28th.

Good-Bye and Good Riddance

Tom DeLay called it quits yesterday. His reasons vary depending on where you read them, but from what I can gather, he didn't want to lose his reelection bid. He was facing a stiff challenge from former Rep. Nick Lampson. Fearing to leave his conservative district to an "evil" democrat, DeLay took the easy way out. So much for being "The Hammer."

I say good-bye and good riddance to the congressman. For many years he has used dirty politics, such as redistricting Texas to marginalize Democrats (Utah Republicans tried the same thing to oust Democrat Jim Matheson, but to no avail). The House and the country will be better without him.

Listen to what Jack Cafferty had to say. Amen, Jack!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Blogger versus moonbat

Atlanta-based blogger Dignan says he plans to run against Cynthia McKinney, the loudmouth moonbat Congresswoman from Georgia's 4th District, because of her latest escapade where she assaulted a Capitol Hill police officer.

I know nothing about Dignan, aside from what is posted on his blog. Nevertheless he has my full endorsement, simply because he is not McKinney. That ranting imbecile has embarrassed my state for far too long - enough is enough.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Avast, ye scurvy jihadists

Late last week heavily armed pirates hijacked a UAE oil tanker and took its 19 crew members hostage off the coast of Somalia. The pirates are demanding a ransom for the ship & crew, as was the case when Somalian pirates hijacked an Indian merchant ship in February and held the crew for a month before their release was secured.

The waters near Somalia have become notorious for pirate attacks during the past year, most notably when a passenger cruise liner, the Seabourn Spirit, was attacked by pirates with automatic weapons and RPGs. Fortunately the cruise ship was able to escape the pirate boats thanks to the crew's trained response.

Some worry about a potential connection between al-Qaeda and pirates, especially in the waters of Southeast Asia where there has been an "explosion" of pirate attacks on commercial shipping:
Actual attacks by terrorists have thus far been limited to temporary seizures of vessels and crewmen, but officials express concern over the ease with which large vessels such as oil tankers could be hijacked and used as weapons with which to block commercial waterways or attack one of Southeast Asia’s numerous busy harbors.
There was a lot of hyperbole recently spewed about a UK firm with UAE ownership managing some port operations in the United States. Last week's pirate attack on a UAE oil tanker is a worrisome reminder about where serious concerns should actually be placed regarding international shipping and terrorism.